on free speech (or ways to disguise our disgust with those who are different)
April 8, 2014, 6:57 am
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Peter LaBarbera is coming. The outspoken, divisive and many would argue , hate-filled (at the very least mean-spirited) leader of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality. Sounds very official, I know. Just remember, anyone can build a website. The internets gave me one. Doesn’t make me legit.

I don’t know what to do about this guy. I hate that he’s coming. To a small town close to where I live, basically in my backyard. He compares gay people to pedophiles. He calls people who oppose him “homo-Marxist”…whatever that means. He believes in reparative therapy, which I believe to be damaging and destructive at best, and that’s being generous. A group is organizing a protest during the event and even started a petition trying to stop him from speaking. Free speech is a tricky thing. We all have a right to it until someone says something we don’t like. But I don’t blame them. I’ll even join them. After all, aren’t protests just a form of exercising free speech?Labarbera claims they are trying to eliminate his free speech. We are exercising ours by telling him we disagree with what he stands for.

To top it all off, he bases his beliefs on the same God I worship, and that bothers me. Or maybe he doesn’t , as our views of what God is like are very different, but we’re at least using the same title. I have a hard time seeing God the way he does.

To those who don’t believe in God, you might call us both ignorant. You’d even level the accusation that we are to blame for this fiasco, and that’s true and fair. I would agree that I’m pretty ignorant. I don’t know much, but what I do know is that God is love. And if that’s true, AFTAH and the Sask Pro-Life organization that invited them here are not being loving to the LGBT community.

Jesus defines love in John 15:13 as “laying down ones life for ones friends.” In Matthew 22, Jesus tells us the greatest command that covers all others is to love God and love our neighbour. In other words, lay down your life for God and for your friends. Sacrifice. I think Jesus of all people understands this concept. But who are our friends? One could argue Jesus isn’t talking about the gay community. After all, the church hasn’t been very friendly to them. Jesus tells us to love our enemies in Matthew 5, so I’m guessing that the boundary isn’t too exclusive. If we are to love our enemies, doesn’t that make our enemies into our friends?

Jesus speaks clearly on who we are to love and how we are to love in the parable of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10. Our neighbour is the one we’d least expect, the one despised by the religious elite. Jews hated Samaritans and thought they had no place in their religion. Sound familiar?

Jesus even tells his stunned, Jewish audience at the end of the parable to go and live merciful lives, emulating the Samaritan, the person they so strongly think isn’t in line with their values and morals. Talk about a twist in the story.

Enough preaching. Get to the point.

So if the greatest command as a follower of Christ is to lay down our life for God and our friends, and our love is supposed to extend out to those who would even be our enemies (notice how just because the Samaritan is the enemy of the Jew does not make that person the enemy of God. Important point to remember in this discussion), those we would not want to associate with, then I fail to see the logic in AFTAH so called ‘biblical’ stance being anything but hate, or at the very least, ignorant disgust.

How are they loving gay people in their opposition? They might say it’s loving, that true love speaks the truth and brings about repentance. But Jesus doesn’t say “The greatest example of love is to tell everyone what you think is true and make sure they change their wrong actions and thinking.” Love sacrifices for those who we would consider enemies. How is calling gay people pedophiles loving? How is attacking those who would accept LGBT rights loving? Not to mention the fact it’s completely false and ignorant.

The right to free speech seems to be the go to argument here. People opposing gay marriage argue they have a right to say what they want. And that’s true.

(A side note here…not all Christians are bigots. I know many who think being gay is a sin, but they are not all bigots. I also know many Christians who support LGBT equality. They can’t all be lumped into the same category. Hence the difference between myself and Peter.)

You can have your right to free speech, but don’t use it as an excuse to be a jackass in the process. Because if you do, don’t be surprised when people get upset and try to get you to shut up. That’s why I oppose Peter LaBarbera. Not because I’m against free speech. Rather, it’s because I think he’s spreading terrible, destructive lies, and I want to say that not all Christians are like that. He can say what he wants, but I can also say what I want. The hard part is to do that with love for the other, for both of us.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Peter LaBarbera might need to do a better job of truly loving gay people, but how am I doing a better job of loving Peter LaBarbera? Because the God I believe in doesn’t discriminate. He loves all us punks equally.

I don’t care what you believe, just don’t be a jerk. That goes for me, too, and I don’t always follow my own rule. So hold me accountable. It’s pretty simple, really. I support LGBT equality in society and the church, and I will stand for that. That doesn’t mean I cut off communication with anyone who disagrees. And I hope it doesn’t mean you will cut me off.

So what should I do about Peter LaBarbera? I’ll go to a peaceful protest and add my voice to the many who disagree with him. I’ll do that respectfully, and I hope others will too. I know some hate this guy. I don’t hate him. I just feel sad for all the damage these culture wars have left in their wake, and I wish he wasn’t a part of that. I’ll go to a protest and I’ll write this blog, and I’ll keep speaking out where I see LGBT people being treated as less than human.

Welcome to Saskatchewan, Peter. I hope some good comes from this, if in no other way than by forcing people from opposite ends of the spectrum to talk and be heard. And I hope the protest doesn’t stifle your free speech, but I do hope it makes people realize our society doesn’t stand silently when hurtful ideology is being spread. I just truly hope it can be peaceful, and pray that we’ll all listen and love the other.

Remember…the enemy of us is not the enemy of God.

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