I didn’t want to go here. But I can't sit back in silence for one more moment.
Thirteen months ago, if you had been at a dinner party and Oscar Pistorius was seated at the same table as you, even if you were, as I am, a completely un-athletic person, you would have been enthralled. South African Wunderkind, Icon of the London Summer Olympics of ’12, fastest man on no legs. Now, if you were sitting with him anywhere, you would only hope that it’s not in a courtroom on trial for murder, or in jail.
There was a time, not so long ago, that people of colour were not allowed on benches, beaches, roads and buses with whites. And not only in ‘racist’ South Africa was this the case. Blacks and coloureds were seen as inferior to whites. In some countries, they were slaves. In other countries, indigenous people were hunted like animals. There was a time, also not so long ago, when women were banned from certain buildings, institutions and privileges. They needed to wear certain clothes to display modesty and were allowed no position of power. In certain countries, sadly, the latter is still the case. Societal norms and levels of acceptance, levels of ignorance, levels of prejudice and levels of understanding are changing all the time. Non-whites, who were once seen as lesser mortals, are now largely and correctly given equal status to whites. Women, who were once seen as lesser mortals, are also largely and correctly allowed equal status to men. These ‘lesser mortals’ were at first ousted for ‘evils’ one could see – dark brown skin, female genitals. The prejudice and discrimination was based purely on face value.
But something deep within me cries out when I see injustice based on known ‘evils’ when there is so much going on below the surface that we can’t see. No one suspected Pistorius to have a secretly (allegedly) violent streak in him. None of Jeffrey Dahmer’s neighbours knew they would have been in line for the dinner table had he invited them around for a meal. Josef Fritzl was a ‘normal’ man until they discovered the secret life he had lurking below his floorboards: he raped his own daughter over three thousand times! These are what I like to refer to as ‘secret sins.’ These people, like a philandering father or a molesting mother or a drug dealing A-student, all wear facades of ‘normal’ and ‘socially acceptable’ while behind closed doors, are living wicked, arguably reproachful lives.
And then Anderson Cooper argues with an Arizona senator about gays being denied certain services in the state's “Right to discriminate bill” and it sparks a media outrage that honestly, is so uncalled for. I don’t mean its uncalled for because the cause is unimportant, but rather, it's so passé. Surely there are bigger things to worry about? Surely we have moved past the age of pardoned prejudices? His (Anderson’s) argument that Jesus found divorce and fornication sinful was met with ignorant answers. The debate shows clearly that religious freedom is deemed more important than freedom to co-exist. I cannot come to terms with the fact that we live in a society where people can commit heinous crimes against innocent people and get away with demanding civil rights. That same restaurant owner who wouldn’t allow homosexual to dine in his venue would allow in a paedophile who was out on parole. Why? Well, because it’s an unknown evil. Because his crime is still in the closet. Watch the Anderson Cooper interview here
Please understand something about me. I am a Christian. A seriously born again Christian. As part of my beliefs in Christ, I love all people; regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation. Some of the best people in my life are homosexual. A lot of my family members are atheist, agnostics or (surprisingly) ‘Buddhists.’ We differ on our views of eternity, creation and salvation. They know where I stand. I know where they stand. I pray though, that although we have differing views they still know that I love them. Thus, when I use the term ‘evil’ I mean it. After all, that’s what the gay-bashers are calling homosexuality and doing so in the name of Jesus. I may as well jump on the semantics band wagon.
So, having said all that, I know that, Biblically speaking, there is no such thing as a more serious sin or evil. That a fornicator and a murderer are seen in the same revolting light. Those who lust and those who envy are seen in the same cesspit as those who murder and rape. I know that watching porn and sleeping with a mistress are equally sinful. Having a night with a hooker is as bad as being a hooker. That being gay is as bad as being a gay basher. When Jesus died, He took the sin of the whole world on His beaten and lacerated shoulders. Do you know that the word excruciating comes from the word crucifix? That just tells you that His burden of our sin was more enormous and painful than any mortal can imagine.
Part of my faith that I take almost as seriously as the part which states that Jesus died so that I may live with Him, is the part that states that ALL have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. Which is why I ask, where do we get off forbidding people anything based on race, gender or sexual orientation? When the next person who asks for the same liberty will, in all likelihood, have a secret sin of their own, which in God’s eyes, (or society’s eyes, for that matter,) is equally repulsive? Who the hell do we think we are?
We can’t ban gays from restaurants, or bars, or freaking cake shops, because of our so-called religious freedom if we aren’t willing to apply the same standards to all ‘sin’. Uganda making homosexuality a criminal offense punishable by life imprisonment? What??? This is a country that allows polygamy. And not in the Jacob Zuma style Mrs Mrs Mrs Mrs, which is only by traditional law that he is married to multiple women, in Uganda, the land of the ‘kill the gays bill’ men may legally marry many women. The barometer for right and wrong seems to be out of whack. In fact, if religious freedom means freedom to spew hatered and segregation, let's also say that it's okay for a Christian baker to deny bread to a Jew. And an Islamic cab driver to deny access to any Christian. And atheists should be allowed to skip the part in our national anthen that refers to God, but they have to work on Christmas and Easter because their religious freedom frees them from religious holiday timetables.
Maybe we should have a questionnaire and an access card issued to people of ‘higher moral standing’: We can all start off with a morality score of 10 – You had sex outside of marriage? Well, that’s a -5 sin. You masturbate? Well, that’s a -3 sin. You lied on your tax return? That's a -8 sin! You’re homosexual?? Oh, well, now that’s a -1000. Only those who score 0 or more will be allowed in. We could apply the access card rules to all organisations! Imagine how great church would be if we could control access to not allow in those smelly poor folks? They must steal all the time in order to eat, so their sin scores will be ridiculous. And as for the prostitutes? The tax men? The crooked lawyers and plastic surgeons who make money off vanity or self doubt in others?? And what about people who shoot their lovers (fornication -10) even if in a rage (anger -4) and perhaps under the influence of medication necessary to deal with the fact that you are an amputee (inebriation -6)?
Aside from the obvious problem of finding trustworthy score calculators, how would we calculate scores if people were mischievous and hid their personal flaws? I mean, gay-bashers often comment about the fact that gay folks seem to feel the need to ‘make it known’ that they’re gay. “Why do they have to be so open about it? I've got no problem so long as they're private?” you’ll hear some old fart say. No one seems to mind a heterosexual talking about who they love. And anyway, I say rather the ‘sin’ you know. But often the worst stuff happens behind that facade. Often the most hurtful, dangerous and evil stuff is going unseen and unheard until it's too late. I find it sad that prejudice seems to flow through the bloodlines of human beings, regardless of how much enlightenment we enjoy or life we witness. Somehow our history books will always be filled with stories of hatred among people who already have so many other greater battles to wage. Corruption in government, crime, pollution, hunger. .. These are problems affecting us all and affronting our race. There will never be a hundred percent consensus as to what constitutes acceptable moral behaviour. Not even Christians can all agree on the 'right way to do things,' and if you don't believe me, sit down with a Charismatic and a Catholic and discuss baptism.
I'm so grateful that we don’t all have flashing neon signs above our heads spelling out for all the world to see what we think and feel for real. Yes, lives would be saved. Oscar would probably have slept alone on Valentine's night last year. OJ's wife would perhaps have returned to her faithful ways. Poor old Tiger would be single for teh rest of his life. We would all lose a few friends, I'm sure. The only bonus would be, no one would have time to worry about being prejudice then. Maybe it's time we started living as though we were all being equally judged. Let’s face facts. If there were some morality scorecards doing the rounds, we would probably all be equally screwed. We all fall short. I know I certainly do. But since I'm a heterosexual-Bible-reading-white-female-and-mother-of-two, you probably think I'm perfect? Right?