May 10, 2012

If it is ever legal, I certainly plan on getting married with a Buddhist ceremony. ~ Chad Woodland

Not Submitted for Your Approval.

Yesterday, in what can only be described as historic, the President of the United States came out on the side of gay marriage.

What a change from his predecessor who came out against gay marriage before it was even really talked about.

It has always seemed strange to me that my life and sense of self-worth should be dependent upon someone else’s judgement and approval. It’s a paradox of the Judeo-Christian society we are (hopefully) evolving out of. The Christianity predominant society today is one of judgement. When the Pope castigates a group of nuns for helping the poor and the sick instead of supporting his anti-social initiatives, one has to wonder how much value is left in that religion?

Most people I know are uncomfortable simply dismissing Christianity. It is too woven into the fabric of our psyche. Too ingrained too deeply that its “right” and hence people disillusioned with the church end up coming off as apologist making excuses for the bile and vitriol so often spewing from the pulpit. Or they want to have polemical debates about what the Bible really says regarding homosexuality.

Truthfully, I don’t care.

My parents never attended church but would ship me off with our neighbors. I would go through times of being very devoted and then for six months I wouldn’t go at all. I loved vacation Bible school because it rescued me from working on our farm for a week while I got to make arts and crafts projects such as a cross out of burned matches and memorizing bible verses. I also loved singing hymns because I loved to sing not because I resonated with any of the words. Baptist hymnals tend to be depressing.

My being gay was evident enough at the age of five for my Mother to sit me down and tell me it was unnatural to play with girls. I couldn’t help it. We had so much fun! I never really understood the humor of boys or the need to get dirty and play sports. As I got older, the other kids got older too. Growing up wasn’t much fun. In fact, it was extremely painful, and every day I’m surprised I made it.

My partner J and I have been together 17 years, the same number of years that I have been a practicing Buddhist. Once when we were walking into a movie theatre in Plano, Texas a group of high school kids yelled “Fags” at us. We’ve had a few occasions of not just bad service but obviously “disapproving” service.

There were some big bumps when it came to his and my family adjusting to “us” but now everyone is fine. So, for the most part I would say that we’ve always been treated very well. I have friends that are mixed couples (black and white) who have had it much worse.

Christianity teaches that we are all fallen. We are all fundamentally flawed. Buddhism teaches that we are all perfect that it is the learned obscurations that cloud our true nature. Christianity teaches that only Jesus can save us—only other can approve of us. Buddha teaches that only we can save ourselves. That the work that must be done is our own. It is up to us to decide how to proceed in this life. There is consequence but ultimately we decide on our actions.

I have a friend who is extremely religious and opposed to gay anything. He told me that in this country I can vote my conscience and he will vote his and whoever wins the vote—wins the argument.

I wondered how the Christians felt about that when they were being fed to the lions in Rome. The majority of Romans must have supported feeding Christians to the lions, so therefore it was okay to do so. That is the logic employed. However, religious fervor and logic rarely walk hand in hand.

The President should be applauded for his support of gay marriage. Regardless of your political affiliation, it took a tremendous amount of courage.

If it is ever legal, I certainly plan on getting married with a Buddhist ceremony, of course. J really wants to get married. I’m honestly a bit uncomfortable with the theatrics of the ceremony and I’m not wearing white.

But then again my life—our lives—are not submitted for your approval.


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Editor: Kate Bartolotta.
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