President Obama talks at length about bipartisanship and about how he is the president of every American. He has reached out to the Republicans, and he’s gotten his hand slapped for his troubles. Still, he keeps trying. He truly seems to want to get past the bitter partisanship that has divided this country for the last few decades. To that end, I am writing an open letter to the religious right in which I will NOT call them names or be overly-snarky. I can’t promise that no snarkiness will creep into my typing because let’s face it, snarkiness runs through my veins instead of blood. Still, I will do my utmost to keep my tone civil. Here we go.
Dear Religious Right,
Hiya. It’s been a long time since I’ve written–wait. I don’t think I’ve ever written you a letter. Oops. My bad. Sorry about that. It kept getting shoved down my list of important things to accomplish, and it never got moved back up again. To that end, let me introduce myself.
I was born and raised Evangelical Christian. I attended a Taiwanese church for the first eighteen years of my life. I never truly believed what I was taught, but I tried oh-so-desperately to find the Spirit. However, it seemed to me that if there was a (big g) God, then He didn’t give a shit about me. It’s ironic that I completely stopped pretending to have faith while attending St. Olaf College, a Lutheran college. It bothered me inordinately that every sidewalk led to the chapel until a friend of mine pointed out that every sidewalk led away from the chapel, too. That made me feel much better.
My family is Christian, but the real kind–you know, replete with love, compassion, charity, and all that silly nonsense. They actually help out those who are less fortunate (silly people! They need to read their Bibles more closely, I suppose), and they refrain from judging others. In other words, they actually practice what their Jesus preached.
Which brings me to you. See, there has been too much rancor between the right and left for far too long. There are two big issues which separate the two sides–abortion and gay marriage. Now, my flippant answer would be, “If you are against abortion and gay marriage, don’t have either one.” That wouldn’t be very uniting, though, so I am going to try to follow the example of our new president (What Would Obama Do?) and find some middle ground.
Indeed, there are already people on both the left and right who are forging common ground by agreeing on the mutually-desirable goal of reducing abortions. This is a good thing as nobody on either side wants more abortions or even the number we have right now.
As to the latter topic, well, polls have shown that if Prop 8 were to be voted on today, there would be an 8% point swing to the no side, which means that slightly more than half of Californians were against banning gay marriage, once the archane proposition was fully explained to them. In addition, more of the country supports full benefits for gay couples than do not.
However, I know that neither of these arguments are going to sway you from your position of absolutely no legalized abortions and no gay marriage, no way, no how, uh uh, not on your watch. Never mind that both of these positions are basically penalizing poor people because rich women will always be able to fly to a country where they can get abortions and gay people can move to Canada if they really want to get married. Never mind that there will always be abortions which means endangering women’s lives if they have to resort to back alley hack jobs and that gay people have been able to marry for awhile in other countries (like Canada) with no negative effect on the society as whole. In the spirit of reaching across the divide, I am putting all that to the side.
Instead, I will respectfully suggest a few helpful ways you can attain your purported goals (protecting life and protecting the sanctity of marriage). See, the problem right now is that as things stand, you don’t have to do anything other than protest and vote against gay marriage. Now, while it may seem like hard work to protest health clinics and target abortion doctors, you aren’t actually contributing to the health of children.
I know, that’s hard to hear, but it has to be said. See, the problem is, you stop thinking about the fetus once it becomes a baby. You are thinking about a life in abstract, not a life in reality. In other words, you are living in a fairytale world. Most women who get abortions are not doing so on a whim. They are not making the decision lightly. Often times, it’s the best of the bad choices. A woman may be too young or too poor to have a child; she may have been raped by her father; she may be afraid to tell her parents for fear of being beaten; she may not be mentally able to deal with having a child.
I know many of you will insist that a fetus’s life trumps all these factors, which makes me wonder if it’s more about punishment to the woman for whatever perceived misdeed she committed in your eyes rather than concern for the unborn. If every life is precious, what about the woman whom you would force to breed against her will? Doesn’t she matter? Or is she merely a vessel for the fetus she carries?
In addition, if you really cared about the welfare of children, you would support programs like Head Start. You would volunteer at shelters. You would adopt a crack-addled baby whose mom is in jail. You would donate money to any and every child-focused agency. You would want to raise the minimum wage so people on the brink don’t have to work sixty hours a week just to get by. You would support healthcare for everyone. You would put as much energy into revitalizing the public schools as you do trying to get vouchers for your kids to go to whatever school you want. You would help out single moms who might need a break from childcare, just once a week. You would support employers giving generous parental leave.
These are just a few things you would do if you truly thought every life was worth living. No, I fear your stance against abortion is more about dogma and forcing other people to do things rather than any inherent love for the species.
Ok. Let’s move on to point number two: The sanctity of marriage. There is no arguing against bigotry and prejudice, so I’m not going to even try. However, I am going to point out that once again, you aren’t actually doing anything to preserve said sanctity. You are once again forcing others to follow your moral code, even though you yourselves do not follow the same code.
Here are my suggestions for protecting the sanctity of marriage. One, ban divorce. If marriage is between one man and one woman until death do they part, then, well, it’s obvious that divorce is ripping apart the sanctity of marriage right down the middle. This way, people would think more carefully about marrying because they would know IT’S FOR LIFE. No more second, third, and fourth marriages. No more celeb news about who’s fucking whom. Just, one man and one woman. For. Life.
Number two, make adultery punishable by death. Hey, that’s what the Bible says, so don’t shoot the messenger. Leviticus 20:10. And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and adulteress shall surely be put to death.
I used the King James version so there can be no doubt. It would definitely make people think twice before cheating if they knew they would be killed for it! Talk about your sanctity of marriage.
Of course, King David had eight wives, children by other wives, and slept with Bathsheba before sending her husband, Uriah, off to die. Jacob had two wives (sisters!) as well. As for Abraham, well we do know he married his half-sister, Sarah, as well as had children with Hagar, Sarah’s servant. Are these the traditional values of marriage to which you refer when you speak of the sanctity of marriage? Sure seems rather nonmonogamous to me, and definitely not about one man and one woman.
In conclusion, I ask you to actually read the teachings of your Christ and to follow his example. I know the chances of you actually listening to me are slim as I firmly believe you would lock Jesus up in a mental institution if he were to return.
Well! Now that I have extended the figurative olive branch, I will await your reply. I’m not holding my breath.
P.S. Take a look at the Margaret Cho video I posted yesterday. I think you might enjoy it.