A Response to the Equals Sign Photo–So What?
Part of me is surprised by the number of people who have reached this blog looking for information or guidance on the current Human Rights “social media campaign” if you will. Amidst the supporters and the opponents of the “red equal sign” there is also plenty of those who raise the question, “so what? It’s facebook”
Changing my photo will not really influence the supreme court.
No, probably not. However, it is doing something else which is possibly more powerful, albeit subtle and without any noticeable, immediate effects. Facebook and Twitter provide mediums through which we can exercise our first amendment right of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I believe that the “campaign” has allowed those who, perhaps may not otherwise reveal their feeling about the issue in public, share their opinion because they feel the safety in numbers. They see how many of their “Friends” have posted in support of gay marriage, and they know that if anyone rips on them they will be defended. They can gain confidence that if they were unsure about supporting gay marriage, maybe it is, in fact, an ok idea because they see so many friends from so many circles in support of it. An uneducated Christian might quickly read into this as “well, what IS wrong with me? Why IS my faith so intolerant. Something is wrong with my church, and I must conform my opinion” This is a danger which is particularly frightening in regards to our youth, who are currently so malleable, and so very attached to the social media.
Facebook Fights Don’t Change Anyone’s Opinion
No, they don’t. Some of the fiercest (and most ignorant) debaters can be found in the bowels of Facebook and twitter discussions, on message boards and even blog posts. Even in posting truth, we run the risk of being called intolerant bigots so most of us shy away from taking a stand at all. But as Orthodox Christians, we should be smart and we should not be afraid. Remember the words of Christ!
But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.
We can use these medium to post truth, and perhaps we can reach a friend or two of ours who is wavering in a decision. Not everyone who uses and reads Facebook necessarily posts often. In fact, late last night one of my friends told me she enjoyed my marriage posts amidst all of the rubbish of the day. This was particularly uplifting for me, because she came from the same church program that many of our former participants who were posting FOR gay marriage also came from.
There are Too Many Idiots on Facebook for me to Waste my Time
Yes, there are a lot of them. But just as truth might reach one or two of your friends, idiocy does as well. I saw this picture posted by one of my Orthodox friends with the comment “YES”.
Let me repeat that for you:
An Orthodox Friend.
An Orthodox friend who attended a 2 week-long program at the seminary with me. And yet, everything about the sign in this picture screams “false teaching” The faithful of our church are very illiterate in our faith, and those of us who are blessed enough to recognize that something like this photo is wrong, on several very fundamental levels, are responsible for speaking truth. If this photo spoke to my friend, who is outspoken, how many others who are not outspoken will this reach?
So… What? The decision is inevitable. Even if it doesn’t come for another decade
Probably true. But think of this. When we ended segregation, it did not take long for us to “get over it” Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968 and today there is no major driving social force trying to reinstate it. 5 years later abortion became legal under Roe v. Wade and today the fight is stronger than ever for life. Why is there such a difference? Because ending segregation is the right thing to do. Protecting life is also the right thing to do, but it is not legalized. Protecting marriage is the right thing to do, and this debate will not go away, even with the legalization of gay marriage.
What the Church Needs to Do
So What? So we need to stop ignoring this and throwing our hands up in the air. As a church we need to mobilize. We need parish priests to stop being scared of preaching the truth of the church about gay marriage and we need those priests to educate our faithful about why its wrong, not just state that its wrong. We need the parents in our communities to be educated so they can and will talk to their children about sex and marriage as taught by the church. These parents need to be armed so they can talk to their children about gay marriage. We need to include homosexuality in our religious education curricula so our children learn the truth from the church.