The Freedom to Choose

Last week, my News Feed blew up with red. Red equals signs, red crosses, red equals signs crossed out. Friends and acquaintances and people I knew once upon a time all posted articles or blogs talking about the BIG ISSUE of late:

Marriage Equality.

Equality seems to be the buzzword all around me these days. Gender, race, marriage…every rights advocate in the book is preaching equality on the city streets and suburbs. More often than not, I think they’re preaching to the choir.

And that makes me sad. I have my own opinions on gay marriage or abortion or equality or whatever, but those are mine and I like to think that I’m entitled to think how I’d like to think, thank you very much. What saddens me is the incessant bullying and picking sides that comes from big issues like this and the absolute avoidance of viewing those subject to such inequalities as human beings.

One of the biggest things that always seems to come up is whether or not something is biblical or moral. Before I dive into what I want to say today, I feel obligated to preface with this: I highly value the Word of God and what it says, but I by no means take it absolutely literally. I see it as advisory and one of many ways that we can commune and understand God.

However, there are many issues that I don’t see as biblical, per say, or even moral. They are human rights issues. While all action may not be permissible by many religious standards, there are some that must be given their rights, simply because it is constitutional.

Take birth control: there are many religious and moral beliefs that see birth control as wrong, or sinful. That is just fine.

However, because we are a country that claims that all men are created equal and that we have the right to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, having/taking/providing birth control is not illegal.

But birth control was a really big issue. People wondered if it would change how couples had sex, if couples would have sex, if we would see a decrease in population, if abortion would become more common. And while that was a worry for quite a while, the issue of equality and human rights still stands. If you think birth control is not so fantastic, it is perfectly within your right to opt out of using birth control. If you do want to use it, by all means, take your pick of the many options that are available.

And now, take gay marriage: there are many religious and moral beliefs that see gay marriage as wrong or sinful. That is just fine.

However, because we are a country that claims that all men are created equal and that we have the right to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Americans should be given the option of letting their significant other be by their bedside when they die, or share in tax benefits or be able to legally say they are married in the eyes of the law.

But gay marriage is a really big issue. People wonder if it will change how families operate, how people interact, how children will grow up, and if that will increase our population of LGBTQ people. And while that is a valid worry for many people, the issue of equality and humans rights still stands. If you think gay marriage is not so fantastic, that’s fine, you don’t have to marry someone of your gender if you don’t want to. But don’t prevent your fellow Americans from a right that is theirs, even if it goes against your beliefs.

There are lots of things that go against my beliefs: universalism, laissez-faire economics, and abortion being some of them. However, I live in a country with people who do believe in those things and with people who don’t believe in those things. The important thing is the freedom of choice. Our rights are intimately connected with our free will, our ability to make decisions for ourselves. Obviously, murder is a bad decision. Everyone would agree with that. But we should have the right to choose.

Who we love, how we want to live, how we want to be governed, who we want to be governed by, what we can eat, where we want to live and what sort of clothing we can wear. We should be able to watch trashy TV or read raunchy romance novels if we want or watch news that covers the whole breadth of views on government, religion, economics and social issues and makes us think about what we want to be believe instead of simply being told.

Excuse me, while I get a tiny bit patriotic for a moment (I promise it will pass!). In America, we are among the luckiest ones in the world with the ability and the privilege to make choices that affect people’s lives. Even if we would not choose one way or another, we should at least allow our fellow human beings the freedom to choose for themselves.

Because isn’t that what the gospel is about? God didn’t force us to believe that His Son, Jesus died and resurrected and that the whole coming back to life after death thing saved us from an eternity in hell. He lets us believe on our own. He pursues us, yes, but ultimately, the choice is up to us. If we are to be Christ-like, shall we not allow our fellow humans that same ability to choose?

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