Good Friday Thoughts on RFRA
Someone wrote to me and said they were surprised I hadn’t written about my thoughts on the “religious freedom” bill yet, and the fact is, all I’ve managed is a Facebook post here and a few tweets there and maybe one sarcastic blog comment for good measure because I am so, so, fucking beyond about the whole thing. Beyond angry, beyond hurt, beyond sad, beyond betrayed by my own fellow Americans and, infinitely worse, by my own fellow Christians. So I just can’t. I can’t write a thoughtful, helpful blog post about how thoroughly fucked it feels to live in a country where legislation is passed with the express purpose of keeping “your kind” out—and so done in the name of the very faith you hold dear. It’s too much.
So instead I will tell you a story on this Good Friday.
We met with the small group leaders of our church, my love and I. They had concerns—they understood we were a committed couple, and they could abide it, but they simply could not allow us to participate as full members of their church. Our service in the name of the Lord would be muddied by (un)virture of our lowly state. We could attend, but we could not serve. We wept, and I screamed, and I pounded the chest of the man who made the final pronouncement, who spoke for the majority, who said we were not equals, not good enough to collect the crumbs of the Table, not quite right.
We left that place that we thought was our home and began a long walk.
As I kicked up dust and rocks from the path, I realized I was alone—she’d been transported without explanation or concern, as often happens in these places. So I journeyed on, tears drying to my face, spackling the dirt to me, and it felt fitting. This is how they saw me, how the holy and the lawful saw me, and I rubbed it deep into my pores, taking it in, believing it more and more with each furious smudge. Fuck it. Fuck them. Fuck the whole thing anyway. I don’t need their goddamn cakes and consecrations.
And then I saw a man walking down the road to meet me.
He wasn’t dirty like me, but he didn’t look so hot either. He looked worn. Weary. As he got closer, I could tell he was looking right at me, but deeper than that, and to say his eyes were sad isn’t enough, but language limits me to tell the truth of what I saw in him.
He held out both hands to me, like he knew me, and somehow I knew him, perhaps, again, as these things happen in these sorts of places. I thought he wanted me to take his hands, but before I could decide whether to extend my own, he spoke.
“Give it to me.” His voice was so sad but so sure.
“Give you what?” And I started to cry again, but this time without anger, and I knew the answer as he said it.
He didn’t want my gayness. He wanted what was destroying my heart.
So I put it in his hands, somehow, as you can do in those places. I gave him the anger, the sadness, the hurt, the betrayal. I gave him what was killing me in the middle of that rocky dirt road.
And then I watched him turn to go up the hill to the dying place. “But what does it mean?” I called after him, and the desperation in my own voice surprised me.
He turned toward me one last time.
“It means you can forgive them.”
All this time—because somehow, in this place, I suddenly had always known him—I had thought he was going to be a sacrifice, a punishment. But as he walked away with my hurts in his hands, I finally understood: He was a vessel. There was only one place that could hold all ills and not allow them back out, and he was the only one who could transport them there and still get out himself.
Soon I was with my love again, and, hands emptied, I could just hold her.