So, here I am on my way to New York City for the 2012 Social Good Summit where I’ll spend three days hearing about how social media can and should impact out global culture. I’m also excited to be able to experience something with thousands of other people around the world who are just as concerned about the future of social responsibility in a world that is changing faster than most of us can keep up.
In the midst of getting ready for this event, my mind has been a little preoccupied with the upcoming election. Not only are we voting for the presidential office, but Minnesota also has two important issues on the ballot: the Voter ID law, and the MN constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. I’d like to take this opportunity to express my thoughts on one of these issues, from both a social and Christian responsibility perspective.
It’s no surprise that the biggest and most vocal group supporting the passing of this amendment is the church grounded in the Evangelical (note: capital E) practice. This group tends to be very conservative and fundamentalist, which means reading and interpreting scripture as it is written, in any given translation. They claim their support for this amendment is based on the biblical view of marriage, and what God intended for marriage to be. This argument would be valid, if they weren’t looking at only a few scriptures to make their point. What the supporters of the amendment are failing to realize is that the relationship we refer to as marriage has been changing since its birth in the Garden of Eden. From everything to polygamy, to forced marriage due to death of a spouse or a man taking a woman as his wife because he has raped her and now claims ownership, marriage has continued to evolve. How can this group both claim that the Bible-in its entirety- is true and God-breathed, and wanting to uphold the biblical understanding of marriage without attempting to uphold every kind of marriage that has ever taken place?
My next argument against the amendment is similar- marriage is a state-sanctioned union. I believe that by attempting to use the Bible as a measuring tool for issues that aren’t unique to the church, you’re now on a slippery to integrating church and state. Also, we live in America, where one of the greatest blessings we have is the freedom to practice or not practice any religion we choose. Why, then, should we be forcing people to live by ideals that everyone might not possess? This is an unfair expectation, especially when Christians are a becoming more of a minority every year.
Yesterday, I posted something on my Facebook page that said, “I’m Lutheran, and I’m voting NO.” I did this for a couple reasons. One, I am really proud of the steps my church (The ELCA) is taking to promote equality and human rights. Second, I want to be a voice for those who feel they don’t have one. But most importantly, for those who are not in the weeds of the religious circles everyday like I am, they may not understand that there are religious groups that are fighting for equality for Americans. This brings me to my final point on this- equality. I’m proud to say that I live in a country that recognizes the value of human life, and individual thinkers. I live in a country where the ideas that something could be a reality have led to the first air-flight by the Wright brothers, and the birth of the automobile. I also live in a country whose Declaration of Independence clearly states that we believe all men are created equal, and have access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Have these sentiments always been upheld? Absolutely not. We’ve seen the degradation of African Americans in things like slavery and the 3/5 law. We’ve seen women have to fight for equal pay and the right to vote. We claim these beautiful words as our own but are obviously a work in progress. Although those eras were far from perfect and we still fight some of these old ideals, many of us look back and realize how big of a mistake they were. America is progressive, and the issue of same-sex-marriage is just another’s elf those things weave to fight through. The overall issue we’re facing is the right to equality. For some reason, supporters of the amendment don’t see this as discrimination, but that’s exactly what it is. Right now, a particular group of people are being denied rights of their fellow citizens based on their inherent nature as a human. Just like the African Americans were discriminated against because of the color of their skin, anyone who isn’t heterosexual is being discriminated against because of their own nature of being. This is contradictory to what I believe America is supposed to stand for. And if America isn’t going to stand for the equality of her citizens, then it is time to draft a new Declaration of Independence.
Social responsibility is not just a “social” issue, but an issue for Christians to take under their wing. Many people think that the ELCA taking a stance on the two issues on the ballot is politicizing the church. I have two responses to that- first of all, if the evangelical church is going to try to bring their religion into the government by trying to ban something, than we should have the opportunity to bring religion into the government to do the opposite- however, I believe that having a religious reason to be involved is unconstitutional. However, from my own personal belief, I’m taking a stand because it’s a social and human right issue- nothing to do with my religious beliefs. It just so happens that my religious beliefs fall in line with my social beliefs.
My goal or wish is to be a voice for those who don’t think they are able to use theirs. I want to put out a call to my brothers and sisters to do the same.
I also want to take this opportunity to encourage you to VOTE. If you have a voice, USE IT. Please get out there and vote on November 6th, no matter your beliefs, although I hope you find courage to continue conversations that are important to the future of America, and the impact we, as Americans, can have on the social responsibility culture in the coming years. If you have moved since the 2008 election and/or are not registered to vote, you can do that at gottavote.org (sponsored by the Obama 2012 campaign) or rockthevote.org (no party affiliation).
Until next time, don’t forget to dream big.