Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rainbows and Modifications: The Hill I'm Willing to Limp Across

Boring Introduction:

I've been following the Gay rights debates for a long time now, getting involved occasionally.  While in MA, I had a letter to the editor published in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.  Visiting from Boise a few years later, I enjoyed my proverbial "15 minutes" when I was interviewed by a Salt Lake City TV news station about the California court overturning the Prop 8 decision.  (Hello?  In America, we vote, then go by the decision.  I was in MA when Gay marriage was legalized.  This isn't my first rodeo.  Did the court overturn that result? But I digress.)

I've heard several debates, and read many articles and essays.  The one I love the most is by Glennon Doyle Melton.  You can read it here:  She's one of my favorite authors, I own her book, follow her blog, and really love her as a person.  But I disagree with her on this one.

This is a tender subject even among my own family members, and I am not writing this directed at anyone.  I just feel a need, after seeing and hearing so much in favor of the subject, to express my reasons for being against it.  I want to express that there are (to me) logical and moral reasons to oppose granting marital status to homosexual couples. I also have my own theories about what leads to homosexuality, but that is for another day.

It's obviously a very emotionally charged subject, and one I feel passionately about.  But it's really hard to talk about, to express one's beliefs in a way that won't offend, hurt, or cause serious misunderstandings.  How can a Christian stand firmly for something in a loving, Christ-like way?

Here is my answer, and these are my words alone.  I am willing to agree to disagree.   This is a mountain I'm willing to die on.  There is just too much at stake.   I'm also warning you up front, this is an open blog, but all inappropriate comments will be trashed.  I'd also like to ask that if you pass my words along, you also site your source, with my either my name or my blog address.


Hi.  My name is Jeri Keeley, and I am an alcoholic.

I was born this way.  It's written in my genetic code.  My maternal and paternal grandpas were both alcoholics.  Many of my relatives are alcoholics.
I am one of more than 12 million alcoholics in the United States.
There are many who would condemn me, but why?  I would argue that if I was born this way, and that if there are so many like me, then your judgments against me and the laws that punish me are discrimination.

If I choose to drive under the influence, there should be a special lane for me, with safeguards to help me arrive at my destination.
There should be free healthcare to help me with the unique challenges that I face because of my special needs.

My way of living should not prevent me from having any rights that anyone else enjoys.  I should never have to spend a day in jail.  We are no better or worse than others with anger management issues, low education levels or poor judgement.  We don't criticize your choices, you have no right to criticize ours.  There are no studies out there to suggest that what we do in our own homes is having any effect on society.

I say, if you are a kleptomaniac, we should excuse you and make allowances in society for your behaviors.  Each man is an island.  We all have weaknesses and we  must all compensate for each other.  We can't control ourselves, and we shouldn't have to.

If you are addicted to porn, we respect your uncontrollable urges. We'll just accept that some people are liars and cheaters and move on. We all have a right to our lifestyle choices.


Maybe, thankfully, I was alerted to the fact that I was predisposed to alcoholism as a child, by concerned parents. Perhaps I chose then to never take that first drink.  I know that all were not blessed this way, and this is where mercy is so important.

As I took prescription pain medication for migraines, I made sure that there were several controls in place so that addiction could be avoided.  I get it; there's a fine line, and I can see how easy it would be to cross it.

But would I be blameless?  Would I be entitled?  Would it be discrimination if I crossed that line and broke that law and then faced consequences?  

Even if 12 million of us rose up and wore rainbows and demanded our own driving lanes and no jail time for damage done?

Would we deserve compassion?  Yes, oh, YES! Would we need love?  For sure!  Help?  Definitely.


Here's where I'm going with this, in case you're not following.  As gently as I can, I'm saying that I've read and I've heard many of the arguments for gay rights and gay marriage.

I've seen many homosexuals get offended and hurt, and it is such a tender topic now, that those who say that marriage should only be between a man and a woman are now mostly viewed as closed-minded, homophobic (really?  frightened?) hateful, etc.

We really don't seem to have any compassion, or any kind of logical leg to stand on.

It is a terribly emotional issue that seems to have the self-worth of the homosexual at its core.

But just as my self-worth has nothing to do with my potential weakness with addictions, neither does anyone else's worthiness hinge on something that he or she struggles with or faces as a weakness, (in my opinion).  And just as I would hope for compassion and kindness, so I would extend it to all.

If I were trapped in an addiction, it would be a disservice to me for you to enable me.  (And just as I was angry when I was hit by a drunk driver, and later when I spent my morning in court waiting to testify because he had driven drunk again; so would someone else be justified in their anger at me if the tables were turned.)

And if you are struggling with any weakness, join the club.  And my heart goes out to you.  And I'm not going to bend societal rules and change morality laws to cater to you.

Right is right, and wrong is wrong.  And I believe that a person's gender is a divine part of who that person is.  I believe that the powers of procreation are an important part of God's plan, and that they are only to be used between a man and woman within marriage.  

I believe that God gives each of us weaknesses to conquer, and that He doesn't give any of us any challenges that we can't handle.  When He says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" and then allows us to be tempted by our neighbor, he expects us to turn away from that temptation, and not see how close to the line we can get. By resisting temptation, we grow strong. We then can use that strength to build His kingdom.

There is a point of no return, where it becomes nearly impossible for us to resist, and it is our job to stay far away from that point.  If we cross the line, we need to get help and turn back.

So, even though it is easy to be misunderstood, I am standing up against "Gay Rights".  I am willing to extend compassion.  I am hoping to be a source of love and healing.  Everyone is worthy, everyone is important.  Every act is not permissible.  Morality is not up for debate.  Good and Evil are not negotiable.

No matter what anyone claims, society is harmed by these ethical changes.  Families are damaged. The sacred union of marriage is being weakened as it is watered down to a meaningless redefinition of "anything goes."

This is not just about homosexuality.  Whenever there is a opportunity to stand against abortion, pre-marital sex, or anything that promotes immorality, you will find me quietly protesting.  These things weaken the family and thus society.  You will NEVER convince me otherwise.  Marriage is not just a piece of paper.  It is a sacred covenant with God, your partner and society.

If my child stands before me and declares that he or she is gay, the first thing that I hope that child sees is the unconditional love in my eyes.  I hope he or she feels my arms around them.  I hope that this is not the first time that we have talked about this.  I hope that my child has felt comfortable enough to come to me when he or she first felt confusing feelings of same-sex attraction. I will be embracing the child, but not the homosexuality.  (And it's just as well that this is my stance, because if you've read Glennon's essay, you'll know that this is the part where she would buy some darling, appropriate apparel and possibly accessories; and if you know me at all you will realize the futility of that idea.  My clutsy, blue-light special  fashion-find would somehow manage to be a rainbow shirt with clashing colors.)

My children know what we believe in our home.  The alcoholic is welcome, the liquor is not.  We've had homosexuals in our home and I'm sure we will again.  Any person with any belief is accepted, as long as that person is willing to leave all contention behind.  We open the door to everyone with a spirit of love and peace. 

Any immoral behavior will not be accepted in our family.  Your shack-up lover will not be treated like your spouse.  We will not bail you out of jail, or fight to eliminate consequences of bad behavior.  But nothing that you do will make us stop loving you.  

Some of the choices you make will have lasting consequences, as we will not put other family members in danger for any reason or any person.  But our love will not diminish.

My name is Jeri, and I am an alcoholic.  By the grace of God, I chose never to have the first drink.  If I choose to allow any of my appetites to lead me to break laws (God's or society's), damage my family, neighbors, friends, or other members of society, I expect justice--not societal adaptations to fit my inclinations.  I also hope for charity.  There must be a balance.  You will never find me throwing a grenade at Planned Parenthood.  Does no one see the irony in this act!?!

I will not sit quietly and watch society be systematically torn down, one family at a time, one liberal agenda item at a time.  I will blog, I will vote, I will speak, I will write, I will pray.  (Even when I feel vulnerable and unqualified, which is all the time.)  Our families are too valuable to lose without a fight.

I believe that marriage should be defined as a  legal union between a male and a female, husband and wife.  I believe that time-honored values of chastity and marital fidelity should be embraced, taught and upheld in society.


Anonymous said...

I have wondered the exact same thing about the "God made me this way" argument, but society won't let that question be asked. If God made you nearsighted, do you not wear glasses? If you have a congenital heart defect, should we withhold surgery?

I don't believe, as some do, that *being* homosexual is a sin. I'm not sure about acting on the feeling, but it's not my job to keep track of other people's sins.

When it comes to "marriage," however, I cannot make myself believe that man + woman = man + man = woman + woman. It's like saying that two spoonfuls of chocolate syrup or two glasses of milk is the same as a glass of chocolate milk. It just isn't.

Jeri said...

I like that.

Mandy said...

Well said...nice job!

The Fitch-Jenett Family said...

Hi Jerianna,

I'm a Monkee and found your post on the Momastery page. I am a lesbian and a mother. I have a special place in my heart for LDS folks as y'all were my crew in high school as I didn't drink, do drugs or sleep with boys. I know your heart is in the right place. And...I think your stance has more of an impact on me than my being gay has on you/society. I ask you, as a fellow Monkee, to read this post I wrote on this topic: I actually got a response that was quite unexpected and moving:

-Jaime, a fellow Monkee

The Fitch-Jenett Family said...


I went back and re-read your piece and I have a genuine question (hard to convey tone over the internet- I really am asking gently). I have a question about this part: "No matter what anyone claims, society is harmed by these ethical changes. Families are damaged. The sacred union of marriage is being weakened as it is watered down to a meaningless redefinition of "anything goes."" I honestly don't understand how my having a strong and loving relationship with my wife and raising a happy, healthy child is bad for society. I totally get that you don't like it and it goes against your personal religious beliefs, but I can't see the evidence that anything negative is happening to other people as a result. My family doesn't look like yours, which may be uncomfortable, but I don't understand how it damages other families. I hope that you can tell that I am not trying to be inflammatory. I would love to hear your thoughts.



Jeri said...

Dear Sweet Jaime,
I just read your post, and the response, and I had actually read the guest blog you had written on Glennon's blog. I've been trying to find it and re-read it. I'll keep looking. I watched cutie-pie Simon sing "Bringing Home a Baby Bumble Bee" on YouTube. I'm in love with your family.
Thanks for reading my post, and for your loving response.
I want to use the right words, and need some time. I'll respond here, and also on your blog. It may take a while, as my life spins out of control sometimes.
Just wanted you to know I saw, and you made me think. Thanks.

Beard #1 said...

I have the privilege to be friends with the Fitch-Jenetts. I disagree with your feelings about homosexuality and gay rights in general, and Jaime and Laura are a perfect example of why. Their love, and their family have had a positive impact on my family in so many ways, but the most important is the way that these two women have loved each other and treated each other through the most difficult of circumstances. The level of commitment and support they have shown and continue to show to each other is the standard I try to achieve in my own hetero marriage. They have taught me to cherish the time I spend with my family in a different way, and to connect and process and communicate with my wife in a different and more intentional way. These two women are exceptional individuals and human beings, and to consider their relationship somehow "Evil" is anathema to everything I know about the teachings of Jesus Christ, in who's name homosexuality is often condemned.

If the preservation of the family is paramount to you, then fighting against the prevalence of divorce, infidelity, domestic abuse, alcoholism and addiction, child abuse - these seem like a more worth-while pursuit, certainly a more Jesus-like pursuit, then the fight to deny two consenting adults who love each other the right to engage in a legal contract and be entitled to the same legal consideration as anybody else.

The world needs more love in it, don't you agree?

dk said...

I came down to the comments to respond to a quote, only to see it was already brought up by Jaime. So, I'm not trying to pile on, but I am honestly curious as to what made you write this:

"No matter what anyone claims, society is harmed by these ethical changes. Families are damaged. The sacred union of marriage is being weakened as it is watered down to a meaningless redefinition of "anything goes.""

First, allowing gay marriage certainly isn't saying "anything goes" - it's simply saying that marriage, as recognized by the government, means two adults committing to each other. (Nothing is stopping religious institutions from forming their own definitions, by the way.)

But more importantly, like Jaime, I would love to hear more from you as to how you believe society is harmed, families are damaged, and marriage is weakened. In my mind, society benefits from couples having more financial security, families are encouraged by the legal ties, and marriage is strengthened by the equal access.

I am a woman, married to a man. I live in California, and was devastated by Prop 8. The recent Supreme Court case was a triumph, as far as I'm concerned, and my marriage and family have not been harmed in any way since then. I've never been able to understand why two women marrying each other instead of marrying men causes any harm or concern to the rest of the world. Since you've put your words and thoughts out there, I'd appreciate hearing more.

Jeri said...

Beard--You're lucky to know them, and I think we should fight anything that weakens family and brings misery. I agree, the world needs more love. Working on a blog entry. Thanks.