Let’s agree not to legislate sin.

I recently stumbled across this blog post from The Atlantic, posted in April of last year, in which a young woman explains her position opposing gay marriage. I always appreciate reading opposing points of view that are written thoughtfully, and I have to commend this young woman for sharing her perspective.  And now I’d like to explain why she’s wrong.

Everyone in the whole world has sinned

The center of her argument is that she believes that homosexuality is a sin as defined in the Bible; but where others stop there, she does go further and acknowledge that even believing that homosexuality is a sin doesn’t mean that she believes that gay people are evil or bad.  Everyone is a sinner.

My belief is that sin is anything that goes against God’s design and His rules. People who don’t believe in sin obviously do not see anything wrong with homosexual behavior and they don’t know why people like me speak out against it, so their reasoning is that what I say must come from hatred.

But if I hated all sinners, I’d hate myself.

There are lots of sins that exist, and in fact, everyone in the whole world has sinned.

I have no interest in making an argument whether or not the Christian Bible does define homosexuality as a sin, although there are certainly a large number of Christians who would happily engage in

that debate.  My obvious issue is that the Christian Bible does not define my legal rights.

Do you really wanto start legislating sin?

yay-10050992If you really want to start legislating sin, let’s start with the Ten Commandments.  Let’s make it illegal to work on Sunday, to curse (or if you want to be more literal, specifically taking the Lord’s name in vain), or to commit adultery.  Should you have to pay a fine if you are jealous of your neighbor’s boat?  When you are mean to your mother, you spend a couple of nights in lock-up.

That all seems ridiculous, of course.  Even for Christians, sin is a part of life.  Some sins are also crimes, but there are a lot of sins that we know we’re going to end up committing from time to time – and we don’t expect to be arrested, fined or censored for them.

We legislate to protect citizens against acts that damage our society and hurt other people.  Gay marriage hurts no one.

Is it really just semantics?

The young woman in that original blog post did say that she wasn’t sure if maybe government shouldn’t just get out of marriage entirely.  I could argue that no one should be legally “married”, but all couples have a right to a legal commitment that is equal for hetero and homosexual couples.  However, a lot of members of the gay community feel strongly about that word “marriage”.

If it comes down to definitions, can we agree that we define words differently in a biblical sense than in a secular sense?  When you watch American Idol, are you really worshipping a false God?

In the end, if all individuals who are against gay marriage were as well meaning and well reasoned as this young woman, we could have a reasoned discussion and almost certainly end up on common, equal footing.

You are a feminist. Yes, YOU. Go ahead and say it proudly.

Gentlemen, please don’t stop reading. I wrote this because of a man in my life who said he wasn’t a feminist, and I think he’s wrong. I’d like to explain why. I wanted to post this for International Women’s Day, but I was a little late.

feministThere was a time in my life when I shied away from using the word “feminist”, buying into the belief that to be feminist was to be anti-male. Not only can I now recognize that I was wrong, but I fully appreciate the need to use the word feminist proudly, loudly and often. We’re allowed to continue to evolve as human beings, and for anyone out there who still doesn’t like that word, let me help you to evolve, too.

Feminism is…

  • Feminism is the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. (Per both Merriam-Webster and Beyoncé.)

Feminism is not…

  • Feminism is not a belief that women are superior to men.
  • Feminism is not a belief that men and women are the same and does not ignore differences in gender.
  • Feminism is not a liberal movement.
  • Feminism is not anti-religion or anti-tradition.

So why do we use the word Feminist instead of Humanist or Egalitarianist?  

First, Humanist means something different entirely. Please stop using it to indicate a belief in human equality. (I am also a humanist and it makes things very confusing.)

Egalitarianism is similar – in fact the definition is almost identical. Egalitarianism is a great word for the belief in equality in a broader context – race, gender, nationality, sexuality, class, and ability. I encourage you to also be an egalitarianist.

The use of the word Feminist is important, because while it means equality, it acknowledges the historical record of global oppression of women and the existence of male privilege in almost every society around the world. Right now and right here at this moment in history, we need feminism. We need to focus on raising up the rights of women so that they are equal to the rights of men.

That’s not to say that feminism is simple or that all feminists are the same.

Some aspects of feminism are so basic and so simple that I hope that they go without question. Female infanticide, child brides, and honor killings are all global epidemics are unquestionably horrific – and highlight in the most awful of ways the need for a global focus on women’s rights. We are still fighting globally for the rights of women to LIVE.

Even in much more female friendly of cultures, women are still battling for equal rights in ways that seem so basic. In the United States, women do not receive equal pay for equal work and a woman’s right to make decisions about her own health care is not guaranteed. Women are far from having equal footing with male counterparts professionally, women are under-represented in technical and scientific fields, and we live in a culture that continues to objectify women as entertainment.

We can go further with feminism to talk about the ways in which traits and characteristics that are traditionally “female” are not valued in the same ways that traditionally “male” traits are valued. Most people view physical strength, for example, as a more valued characteristic than emotional empathy. Traditionally male past times, such as being an avid sports fan, is viewed as more valuable to society than traditionally female past times, such as enjoying fashion. We encourage girls to try out for sports teams and to not get caught up in all things “pink”, but most people wouldn’t dream of encouraging their sons to play with dolls or take dance lessons.

If I started to lose you as those last three paragraphs went on, I’ve made my point about feminism not being simple. Not all feminists see the world the same way – and that’s fine. We are all still feminists – and we need all of our feminist voices (male, female and everything in between) speaking up about the need for equal rights.  We don’t have to be in perfect agreement to agree that things are far from perfect.

You are a feminist.  Say it.  Share it.  Pass it on.

I don’t usually ask my audience to share the things I write, but I’d love to see all of you fellow feminists share with your social media circles. If it’s easy to just share the blog post – go for it. Or just a note about your take on feminism.