Around 10 years ago, one day, I was interviewing for the pastorate of a Presbyterian congregation — in the South — when I remarked that I support the idea of a gay person being ordained as an elder or a deacon or a minister.
Two things happened immediately. One of the elders on the search committee dropped my resume on a lamp table off to his left side. That told me: the interview might continue, but it was over.
Then the second thing happened. A member of the search committee enlightened me on the influence of “the gay lobby” in the United States.
While he talked, what enlightened me was that this fellow truly thought there was such a thing as “the gay lobby.” Granted, there are LGBT organizations advocating for equal rights, locally and nationally. But the way this church member meant it — he meant “the gay lobby” as if informing me about existence of The Abominable Snowman.
Anti-gay sentiment can rise to such a fury that these people believe gays are mythically powerful.
Once, I had a church-going father tell me, “The fall of the Roman Empire coincided with the rise of homosexuality.”
I’ve heard a devout, church-going, young mom maintaining, “Gays make up most of the staff of the Center for Disease Control.” (Thus, she insisted, the CDC downplays the harmful health effects of same-sex activity.)
Likewise, you hear people talking about “the gay lobby.”
It sounds like, “Yeti lives!”
Never mind that the LGBT population does not equal probably any more than 5% of any population in any country in the world. Specifically in the Republic of Ireland, yesterday’s vote in favor of same-sex marriage could not have been carried by the gay population. One supporter said the “yes” vote formed a majority because the minority population of gays becomes larger when supported by their families and friends.
But 5% of the population — even linking arms with family members and friends — would not form a majority.
Rather, the “yes” vote on same-sex marriage in Ireland arose not because of people caving in to some mythically powerful special interest; but because the issue is being seen more & more as NOT a special interest. It’s a universal interest. A human interest. People want to be treated decently. They want others to be treated decently. The “humanizing” of gays is finally overcoming the centuries of their “de-humanizing.”
In this trend, the majority of people in the Republic of Ireland have gone against the teachings of the dominant religion of their land. Roman Catholic doctrine on homosexuality is being taken as out of touch as its doctrines for heterosexuality. There is the blanket ban on birth control; there is the teaching that childless marriage is forbidden (regardless of the couple’s lack of income or other difficult situation) such that a childless couple having sex would be sinning even IN marriage.
How instructive that the people of Ireland are focusing on one another as people — while the Church is trying to divide them into categories of “normal” vs. “abnormal” (by way of “moral” vs. “immoral”). Jesus always directed attention to the way people are treated while others focused on the correct observance of religious rules. Jesus taught that true religion is relationships, not rituals.
Kudos to the Irish — they got it right.