A phrase that can be repeated over and over again without risk of getting old was said by a man as he took his first steps into a new world. Lance Armstrong declared that being on the moon was “… one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” When those who huddled around a single television set with family and neighbors heard this for the first time, they must have known that humans had taken a crucial step in the direction towards advancement, and that everything from that moment on would be different.
This advancement in science was good. Other advancements of the 20th century, like gender and race equality, were first met with opposition but in time proved to advance the common good as well. Perhaps those who were disgruntled about an African American sitting at the front of a bus or a woman entering the work force were silenced by the cries of support that overpowered their complaints.
As one who has seen only the positive effects of these advancements and not the struggle to secure them, I recognize the progression of science and human equality as positive. It is normal to sit in class with a colorful array of peers, and to be blessed with the same rights as men, and to enjoy the many amenities that science has brought about. These advancements, at one time, were new and different but are now common place and necessary. This provokes me ask… will my children view gay marriage in the same way?
Is gay marriage something that is receiving opposition today but in the future will be so common place, if not a necessary fiber that makes up America? Or does the legalization of gay marriage in a nation whose currency reads, “In God We Trust,” go against our very core?
Everything new has the ability to divide a people group. For instance, the Civil War was sparked with the idea of a new citizenship for slaves. This divided the nation into regions of north and south. What about the two-party democracy that our new, young nation, America has been governed by since its conception? And recently, take abortion and artificial insemination? A new technology with the ability to create or take away a fetus separated us into “pro-life” and “pro-choice” camps. So, with this new concept of legal marriage between two people of the same sex, how will we be divided?
The most obvious answer is religion. There are a number of religions that have defined stances opposed to same-sex coupling, but to be more specific, the religion that will most definitely stand out in this division is Christianity.
For years people with ties to Christianity have been outspoken about their convictions involving this “alternative” lifestyle. Whether it has been approached with love or condemnation, the message has been clear: Those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender are living with sin.
Chuck Colson, a famous evangelist in the world of politics once said that the word “sin” is the most politically incorrect word that one could use. And it is... but it is more than politically incorrect, it is downright hurtful. It is a word that means an individual or a group of individuals is doing something wrong. And in a world where the line between right and wrong is not defined by laws but by personal beliefs, what classifies an action as sinful? The word is subjective but does hold a common understanding; sin is an act that is wrong and imperfect. Yes, it is an ugly word, but one that is commonly used by Christians.
In fact, it is one word that is necessary to understanding the Christian faith. Why? Because no human is perfect and therefore we all must sin. And I’m not just writing to those who have sexual relations with someone of the same sex! Even the most devout Christian on his or her best day partakes in actions that can be classified as sinful. Which brings up another word that is equally important (if not more important) in the vocabulary of Christianity. Grace.
Grace is the solution to our human shortcomings because it is applicable to every person. For this reason, it is a word that brings us together in unity: Black and white, female and male, homosexual and heterosexual. The reason why this one word can bring unity to people so divided is because it means that something dull and coarse can become polished, lovely and refined. And who isn’t dull or coarse? (In my personal opinion, an incorrect perception of a Christian is that we are dull, and a wrongful stereotype of someone in the GLBT community is that he or she may be coarse.) But the good news is that we can all be refined, polished up and made perfect again, for God gives us Grace and in return we can give grace to others. And when we realize that we can bestow grace on other people then we recognize that we have the ability to make another individual feel lovely and comfortable in their own skin.
As the story goes, Grace was birthed when Jesus Christ died. In fact, the sole reason why we even hear of this man, Jesus, is because God sent him with a mission to ensure that humans could become sinless. When he died, we became cleared of all sin, which, as we established, is otherwise impossible for humans!!!
Being gay isn’t the sin, just like being African American or a female isn’t a sin, as was commonly thought once upon a time. Our human actions are sinful—but Grace makes them obsolete…for all of us. This is why it is so unifying.
In a country that is all too often divided into parties, camps, and regions why not attach to something that is unifying? Instead of opposing people who desire to advance the group they identify with, or ostracize another group of people for what they believe, why not find the ground that holds us all together?
We are American. We are human. We are living under a larger God. What is different might frighten us and what is new may turn us away. But as we each wake up every morning and take one small step for ourselves and possibly stride for the people whom we identify with, why not take one larger step for unification? When we decide to do this it will result in a giant leap in the direction Grace.