Saturday, May 23, 2015

Straight Irish Couple Defend Gay Marriage - Christianity As It Should Be

I grew up under the mantle of Catholicism in small, post-colonial town in Africa and a parish where the bishop, who believed that women should give their husbands sex whenever they wanted it and even if they were divorced because the Catholic church doesn't recognize divorce, required people to kiss his large ruby ring before they spoke to him. The parish priest sunbathed naked but for a small towel over his genitals in an all-girls’ school and fiddled with little girls’ top buttons during religious instruction classes. Another priest, on holiday at the same time and place as a girl from the parish, appeared in her room in the middle of the night with a huge erection. Fortunately she had a mind of her own. But he didn't lose his job.

The concept of God was an all-judging, moralistic, all-punishing son of a bitch and Catholicism was about intolerance, rank chauvinism, the repression of women and the rape of young minds. Women couldn’t be priests or hold high office because men couldn’t control their sexual urges in their presence, which was women’s fault.

Later I learned that when my mother was a child the parish priest at her boarding school raped a girl who was a year older then would go and have Sunday lunch with the family and sit across the table from the girl and behave as if nothing untoward had happened. I also learned about how frequent a pastime raping children was, and that the Vatican was in bed with the Mafia; that bishops around the world used charity money to aggrandize themselves, investing in property.

Popes did nothing about any of this. With all the poverty in the world the Vatican was the wealthiest ‘organization’ in the world. My grandfather pointed out the irony of people with nothing begging at the gates of that grand city and being turned away.

Recently, in the past five years or so, I’ve become aware of the power of fundamentalist Christians who promote the violation of pretty much every human right if you’re not straight, or you're a woman or not a person with a white skin and, in many countries, if, God help you, you’re an immigrant. Just as jihadists find ‘passages’ in the Koran to vindicate their crimes against humanity so do fundamentalists and even main-stream Christians find passages in the Bible to back their vilification of anybody who is different to them.

And yet, out of the mud grows the lotus flower. A lot of people are increasingly disgusted with the twisting, from the Vatican to fundamentalists, of what surely was Christ’s intention—to create a tolerant world of love, peace and understanding.

Today I came across the most heart-warming video promoting just that. It was created by Brighid and Paddy Whyte, an Irish couple in their late seventies, whose son Padraic told them he was gay thirteen years ago, when he was twenty-three. They embraced and supported him then and now in their video they urged people to vote yes in the Irish referendum on gay marriage. In the video you can see how close they are and how much mutual respect there is. It’s absolutely beautiful. They alternate with each other in talking about their experience of gay people bringing love and joy into their lives and thus strengthen family values.

I’m so grateful to them for being who they are; not big-time, plastic celebrities, just straightforward, 'ordinary' people with big hearts and big minds who aren't ordinary at all. They’re a reminder of what Christianity is supposed to be about.

Kudos to Ireland for holding this referendum and to the majority of Irish voting yes. Kudos to gays around the world for persevering against a mindless and utterly inhumane persecution that’s gone on for generations. Their fight isn’t over but the momentum of support and recognition is like a tidal wave; there’s no turning it back now. They're an inspiration to anybody who has had to fight for their rights in any way.