This past weekend Treworgy Family Orchards became the “Chick-Fil-A of Maine” in that they exercised their freedom of speech to show support for traditional marriage, and as a result received backlash from the homosexual community and those that support their agenda. The simple act of placing a “NO on Question 1″ campaign sign in front of their family-owned business was labeled bigotry and hate-speech. Much of this backlash was expressed on their business Facebook page, but the Bangor Daily News reports that they were finally strong-armed into removing the sign by people stopping into the business to express their displeasure with it being there.
This incident is further proof that the crowd who continually cries for tolerance is only “tolerant” if you support their agenda. I expressed this sentiment directly on the Treworgy’s Facebook page, and was immediately bombarded with the usual, predictable responses.
One respondent informed me- “bigotry should never be tolerated. ever.”
Another quipped- “Yeah, and all those black guys who made such a fuss about their rights… they were so ridiculous for not tolerating bigotry…”
The civil rights comparison was evoked in further detail by another respondent- ”I suppose you would characterize MLK Jr. as intolerant then? Because if you don’t sit back and let others trounce upon or attempt to legislate against the rights of others, you are intolerant?”
And finally, someone enlightened me- “a difference of opinion is whether strawberry ice cream is better than chocolate. this is one group wanting to deprive another of their basic rights. that’s bigotry.“…
Where I stand on Question 1 is no secret to those who know me, but I have been hesitant to state my position publicly on this blog up to this point (even warning against the perils of yard signs). I feel strongly same-sex marriage and other politically divisive issues are distractions used by this world to spin faith and the saving power of Jesus in a negative light. However, to witness fellow Christians such as the Treworgy’s being persecuted for their heart-felt beliefs has prodded me to speak out. And while I’m just another voice in the wilderness, and by no means think I speak for anyone but myself, I’ve concluded the platform this blog allows must no longer be silent on the same-sex marriage issue.
Let’s take a step back and discuss these “talking points” one at a time. The first being why supporting traditional marriage through the opposition of same-sex marriage is not bigotry, and the second addressing the all-to-often evoked comparison to the black civil rights struggle.
First, let’s start with the definition- Bigotry: Bigoted attitudes; intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself. Well, we could stop right there and conclude just who the “bigots” are in this situation. But I digress…
Within this definition of bigotry we have another word that must be defined- “tolerance”- and specifically how the definition of that word has changed over the years. Tolerance used to mean to RESPECT other people’s beliefs, practices or actions. However, today’s definition of tolerance says we must ACCEPT (and in some cases even AFFIRM) other people’s beliefs, practices and actions. While the difference may seem small, the change in semantics from RESPECT to ACCEPT is that the latter leaves no room for disagreement before the group who doesn’t agree is branded with such names as “bigot” as happened with the Treworgy family. You can find a more in depth discussion of this evolving definition of tolerance here.
The people I know who uphold traditional marriage respect the gay and bi-sexual community, and as Christians embrace our command to love them as neighbors, family, and friends. We respect their right to live how and with whomever they want, and respect the rights of liberal houses of worship to continue to bless their unions without any backlash. We respect their current equal protections under civil law as allowed under current Maine state anti-discrimination laws. Where domestic partner relationships are showed to still not offer the same protections as is offered married couples, then we respect the efforts of those who work to correct those laws.
But this respect, love and acceptance of all our fellow human beings- and the yearning to want what’s best for them in this life and the next- doesn’t extend itself to accepting and affirming all lifestyles. And it shouldn’t.
Next, we look at the comparison gay activists make to the black civil rights battle- or more specifically- the connection they draw to the sad part of our history when just a few states once attempted to prevent interracial marriages.
Without question- gay or bi-sexual individuals in today’s America (and Maine) can go to whatever schools they desire, sit wherever they want on public transportation, vote in all elections they are registered for, attend any houses of worship they choose, go to any college they desire, eat at any restaurant, work in any profession they qualify themselves for, and of course love and live with whomever they want (within current age limitations as defined by law), and have their unions blessed by their chosen house of worship and family. None of this is prevented by any current law. Therefore, the rights fought for by black civil rights leaders of the past are all granted to the homo-sexual community of today- and rightfully so!
The obvious question to ask next of course is- well, what about marriage? Since the follow up to that question many times is the interracial argument, allow me to address that first. In fact, only a few states attempted to block interracial marriages, and once courts got involved it was rightly declared unconstitutional (against a person’s inalienable rights). The important difference is society’s definition of marriage was the same then as it is today, and did NOT have to be redefined to continue to afford a man and a woman of any race the privilege to marry. It was always allowed under the current definition of marriage because regardless of race you still had one man and one woman.
We can easily conclude now the stumbling block many people have with accepting same-sex marriage is that society must change the definition of marriage- something that was not necessary for those who wished to marry someone of another race. It is with this point that the interracial argument as it relates to the desire for same-sex marriage falls apart.
There are a lot of opinions and information out there for people of all beliefs and backgrounds to come to their own conclusion when it is time to vote, and I urge my readers to uphold the current definition of marriage- despite the persecution for doing so. I assert that the Treworgy story has brought to light the “intolerance of today’s tolerance” and will help strengthen the resolve of those who have always supported traditional marriage, but may have been wavering this election year- thereby impacting the vote.
But in conclusion, when it comes to this final question, I can only speak for myself. Why not same-sex marriage? Because I know that I can love, respect, and accept my gay and bi-sexual neighbor, friend, or family member, while also upholding marriage as between one man and one woman. How are those two actions not contradictions? Because both are commanded by my faith- and if you throw one out the window, then the other will undoubtedly go with it.
UPDATE 10/24: A Facebook event “Cash Mob at Treworgy’s Orchard” has sprung up to show support for the business and freedom of speech. Check it out HERE!