taking the words of Jesus seriously

Earlier this year, as the Supreme Court began the conversation around California’s contested Proposition 8, social media outlets were buzzing with opinion over marriage equality. In an attempt to show solidarity and support for our LGBT friends, many people changed their Facebook picture to a red and pink image of an equal sign. I did this as well.

I noticed that, for many of us who run in Christian circles, this change was followed by a number of our Christian friends expressing dismay at our departure from the “biblical definition of marriage”. I watched as many people began to post scripture to argue their stance, pointing to bible passages that refer to homosexuality as sinful.

What frustrates me most in this debate about marriage equality is that Christians feel so comfortable invoking the bible when we are talking about government matters. Our country was founded on religious freedoms. The right to worship (or not worship) is one that is afforded every person in this country. Most of us would agree that the separation of church and state was something our forefathers desired. And yet, so many Christians seem perfectly fine in using their own particular religious teachings while arguing about the rights of others living in this country.

Also by Kristen: The Damaging Effects of Shame-Based Sex Education: Lessons from Elizabeth Smart

Since when did the biblical definition of something become the litmus test for state freedoms?  A Hindu person does not agree with a Christian’s biblical definition of God. And yet, most of us would agree that Hindus have the right to worship, congregate, and apply to the state to  enjoy whatever rights are afforded to a religious organization.  Their right to worship in their own way does not detract from mine, nor does it threaten me in any way. It also does not diminish my own definition of God to affirm and support their rights.

This should apply to marriage equality as well. Guess what? If you affirm marriage equality, you can still think whatever you want to think about marriage, or homosexuality. You do not have to change your personal interpretation of scripture in order to affirm the rights of others.  You can read Genesis or Leviticus however you like and still agree that others have the right to behave outside of your own belief system. You can also find plenty of forums to discuss how to apply the bible to homosexuality. But the inconvenient truth is that government matters should not be that forum.

The relevance of your biblical beliefs on homosexuality in regards to marriage equality? THEY AREN’T RELEVANT.

When I see you arguing the bible against that red equal sign, what I hear you saying is, “I would like to impose my religious beliefs on others, regardless of whether or not they share my faith.”  I’ve heard a whole lot of nonsense about “slippery slopes” on Facebook this week, but this tendency to impose our religious beliefs on others is the most dangerous one I’m witnessing.


Kristen Howerton is the mom of four children within four years via birth and adoption, and has been blogging at Rage Against the Minivan as a coping skill since 2004. Kristen is also an adjunct professor in the psychology department at Vanguard University, where she teaches on diversity, counseling skills and addictive behaviors. Kristen uses her background as a family therapist to write an advice column for the local family magazine OCFamily and is also a contributing author to The Huffington Post. She likes to waste time on Twitter at @kristenhowerton.

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About The Author

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Kristen Howerton is a licensed marriage and
family therapist, mom of four children within
four years via birth and adoption, and the
founder of the blog Rage Against the Minivan.
Kristen has developed a loyal online following through her ability to capture the raw emotions of motherhood, while maintaining some levity and a willingness to laugh at herself. Her experience as a family therapist allows her to speak into parenting issues, as well as helping her to draw readers in by encouraging sharing and reflection in comments. Kristen can be sarcastic and weave a funny story, but she can also write poignantly and move parents to greater self-discovery in the same post. In addition to her own blog, Kristen is a regular contributor to Disney’s parenting site Babble, as well as to Huffington Post and OC Family Magazine. She has been featured on The View, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Headline News, CNN, and Good Day LA, and has been featured in numerous print publications.

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