The last time I felt "culture shock" was when I moved to Brazil, as a little innocent, yet arrogant 17-year-old. It wasn't the casualty of making out or string bikinis, but everyone's looseness in regards to time that sent me into "shock". To put it simply, everyone was late, I don't mean by minutes but by hours. This was a new concept that happened over and over and my Amerian state-of-mind couldn't get in sync until many months later.
I've made it my life mission to live and travel through time and space... preferably spaces that are new and different, seeking and finding life-changing experiences. Like many travelers, I'm clay, shape-shifting with each new impression, hardening and figuring out what my final art piece might look like. It shapes a person to see rich vs. poor, dirty vs. clean, passion vs. politeness and all that lies between. But, it wasn't until this summer that I experienced the greatest culture shock of all. It was in my own country, specifically the Southern United States.
I was driving into North Carolina. Within about 45 minutes I had passed several "Jesus Loves You" or God-themed billboards, as anticipated knowing that I was riding along what they call the "Bible Belt"of the USA. The sheer mass advertising of Christianity was unsettling, to begin with, as if they had to buy expensive billboards to convince people this was the faith of choice, like a new Nike sneaker vs. Adidas. Same show, same sport, different brand. But then the one sign came that threw me over the edge of comfort. It read:
Marriage = 1 Woman + 1 Man
In short, this is an anti-gay marriage sign.
I am restraining from typing a bunch of swear words as I write this and pounding on my keyboard with a lot of gusto. My stomach turned when I first read the sign. I felt as if I was entering some odd f*cked up district in the Hunger Games where everyone is armed with weapons full of homophobic hate. Fast forward 30 minutes of me driving in North Carolina, I'm crying, actually balling out of fear, sadness, and compassion for not just the gay community but humanity.
In what God designed world would he restrict love and who loves who?
If anything that sounds like the most ungodly thing I've ever heard, and how can a society truly ban two people from being together? Where's Shakespeare when you need him to re-write Romeo and Juliet to Romeo and Homeo? Elliot and Juliet? Maybe that's my next book?
I turned to my friend in the car and told her I thought that was the cruelest thing I've seen in a long time, restricting love, sending that message as a ripple effect through the hearts of the gay community that God and the people of Christ are against what their hearts naturally desire.
Love is love no matter how you want to cut it up, bake it, shake it, disintegrate it and the world needs much more of it. No one and nothing should come between love for each other. Have we forgotten that love is what we live for?
As much as I wanted to turn around and graffiti that sign to say "Love is love," I thought about ways to help, change, and encourage everyone to think more clearly on this topic. If you're reading this and even if you're someone that is all for gay rights - know that, your thoughts aren't enough. We need to be extremely, overly, and overtly supportive on this topic. We're going to look back when we're old and tell our grandchildren, "When I was your age, gays couldn't even get married!" And they're going to gasp at us fossils like we lived in some sort of savage society...because it is true, we do. Look around, love your neighbor...especially your gay neighbor.