Recently I outlined my draft of a “Human Bill of Rights and Responsibilities”. The very first one on my list was this –” By virtue of being infused with the spirit of life, all humans possess the primary right to express love and receive love fully.” In other words, one of the basic reasons that we exist as humans in my opinion is to give love and to receive love.
But in relation to our rights, I also mentioned that we all have responsibilities. In regards to love, there are two. We all have the responsibility to ensure that all other humans can freely express and receive love. And, in the expression of my rights, I may do nothing that harms you or prevents you from giving and receiving love.
Now this all sounds very nice on one level, but I recognize that even if you agree with me (and I know some of you don’t), you may find it hard to either accept your rights or to abide by your responsibilities.
Can you freely express your love? How many of us have known people who for some reason the chain of events in their life have led them to believe they cannot freely express love? I know a lot of men who grew up his sons of fathers who came through the Great Depression and World War II and these sons expressed frustration that their fathers could never tell them that they loved them. These fathers were “men’s men” who had been taught to tough it up, to show no emotion and in that learned not to freely express their love. How many of us have experienced cultures or families where showing love just was not the norm?
But the real norm of being human is to express love. Babies are born with a natural power to love. Most of us have experienced the joy of giving love at some point. Some of the high points of my life have been expressing love for my family, my friends, my pets and the generalized love of particular moments in life when something wonderful was being experienced. My father who came through the depression and the great war learned later in his life how to overcome the masculine training of his youth and to express love. Something in us simply wants to give our love out.
Can you freely receive love? How many of us have known people who had trouble letting other people love them? How many of us have felt unworthy of being loved at some point in our life? Yet our natural state is to want to be loved. Again, babies come here with a natural desire to be cuddled and loved. If you have ever opened yourself to the feeling of being loved, then you know it’s one of the best human experiences you can have. The sensation it provides just has to be my opinion one of the reasons we are here on earth!
Can you freely express love and receive love without in any way limiting the rights of another person to express and receive love in their own way? Even if you have moved to a place where you feel that you can express love freely and to receive it freely, it can still be tough when you bump into another person who has different desires.
Most of us, if we have loved another person along the path of our life, have felt the pain of rejection when that other person did not “love us back”. Somehow we believed that love just had to be a two-way street. If I love you, then you have to love me – and then all will be right in the world! But navigating through the human world of emotions doesn’t always go that way. I have loved others who did not love me back. I’ve had others love me who I did not feel the same way about. This is just part of the human journey. Being on either side of this equation is less than the highest joy of the feeling of reciprocal love. The contrast of a relationship of love not returned to one of unbounded love returned allows us to realize how special those reciprocal relationships are. We need to go through the pain to fully appreciate the joy.
But one of the toughest things that we can experience is loving someone who no longer loves us. I love you, you love me, but then one of us desires freedom from the relationship. If you love someone – really love someone – and they want to leave you, then the most loving thing you can do is to allow them to leave with your love. If you really love them, you don’t want to cling to them and limit them from their full expression. The right we have as a human to freely give and receive love comes with a responsibility to ensure that in the expression of our love we do no harm to another and that we encourage them to receive and give the love they are called to express – even if that’s not with us.
And beyond that, can I allow and encourage humans everywhere to freely give and receive love? Can I look out at the planet and all the billions of people on it and wish for them their highest expression of love? Can you? Again, it sounds easy, there’s plenty of evidence that many of us don’t really want everyone “out there” to experience love in its most deepest and profound way.
All of this brings me to the issue of same-sex marriage. For some strange reason, this human right to freely express and receive love has become a political issue. It’s not really a political issue, it’s a basic human rights issue. Interestingly, this same point was made by the spiritual organization for whom I work in a press release this past week. Here’s a link to that.
If I truly want all of my fellow humans to freely express and receive love the way they are called to do so, then so long as they are causing no harm to any other humans, my responsibility is to encourage their free expression of love. Why would I want to limit anyone in any way who is not causing harm to anyone else from expressing and receiving the love of their life? Why?
I’m happy that President Obama proclaimed that he’s for same-sex marriage. I’m happy that over the last 10 years we have moved from where a minority of Americans were in favor of same-sex marriage to where we are now where the majority is in favor. Yet, I’m amazed at the number of people, especially politicians and certain religious leaders, who are so vocal in opposition. I’m amazed that states are voting in constitutional amendments that prohibit same-sex marriage. Why?
The people who are opponents of same-sex marriage point at several reasons why they are not in favor of it. Yet none of these reasons are truly valid.
One reason they give is because the Bible outlaws homosexuality. They point out passages like Leviticus 18:22 or 20:13 as to why being gay is wrong. Now, most reasonable people recognize that the Bible was written by many men, many years ago and has a cultural context to it. We simply cannot take something written over 2000 years ago in a different culture and apply it as a strict rule for today. Context and culture matters.
I recognize that there are many people in our current culture who in their quest for something to believe in during these modern times have accepted the belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God handed down for all these years. Such a belief leads to a strict interpretation of these words such that their belief in the Bible’s being literally true has to be followed up by condemnation of homosexuality.
Yet if that’s the case, then why do these individuals who profess to believe so deeply in every word of the Bible actually pick and choose which passages to follow? Leviticus 20:9 says that if you curse your parents you should be killed. Leviticus 20:18 says that if you have sex while the woman is on her period, you should be banished. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 says that parents are supposed to stone their stubborn children. Leviticus 19:19 says we shouldn’t wear clothes made of mixed fabrics. Leviticus 20:10 says that if someone commits adultery, both adulterers are to be killed.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. My point is not to bash the Bible which I believe has a lot of beautiful writings in it. My point is that you cannot say you believe that the Bible is God’s word and then pick and choose which of those words you’re going to follow. If you’re hiding behind a literal belief in the Bible as for why you’re against same-sex marriage and you’re not pushing for instituting all of the other outdated laws written for a different culture in a different time that just happen to be in the Bible, then you are either a hypocrite or in denial.
Another reason people give for being against same-sex marriage is that it’s “not natural”. Marriage should be between a man and a woman they say. Of course, historians of marriage point out that the institution originally began as a means of “ownership”. Many believe it was a way of a man showing that he “owned the woman” so as to have exclusive rights to her sexually and assure the paternity of his children. Marriage became a legally recognized process by governments so as to allow the proper passage of property upon death. Only late in the game did religion co-op the institution and claim that it was theirs. Over time, marriage has gained significance as a means of showing the deep commitment of our love.
What is “natural”? Marriage was created by people for the needs of people. People have changed the purpose of marriage as people have changed. Belief in a static institution that has no flexibility to meet new needs is simply not recognizing how marriage has changed through history.
Finally, one other argument I hear against same-sex marriage is that it will cost our government a lot of money at a time when it cannot afford it. The point here is that if we allow same-sex marriage, then more people will be claiming tax exemptions for being married. The irony is that most people who make this argument are also politically pushing increased tax cuts and signing pledges for never increasing taxes. Yet given this opportunity to reduce taxes for this group of people, they are vehemently opposed. Talk about hypocrisy!
I would loving ask anyone who is against same-sex marriage to really look deep within themselves and to really—really get at the reason that they are opposed to it. It is my suspicion that if someone were to truly get at the root cause of their objections, they will find some kind of “fear”. It is a fear that needs to be healed and released for their highest expression.
Here is the truth – your responsibility and my responsibility is to look around the world and to assist others in giving and receiving love. We are here to create a world where we assist each other in freely experiencing the highest possibility of our lives. We are not here to harm one another but to love one another.
Jesus told us that the kingdom of God was within us. When his disciples asked him what the greatest commandment was he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In other words, that which is God or Spirit or whatever word you wish to use for that life that is infused within us is in everyone. It is in you. It is in me. It is in every person that we meet. Jesus told us that the most important thing we can do is to love – first and foremost, to love that power that is within us. Is that power it calls us to want to give and receive love. Jesus also said for us to love each and every person just as we love ourselves. That is, we recognize within our neighbors that they have this same calling to give and receive love.
If we are truly listening to our real self and we are really abiding by what Jesus proclaimed was the most important thing we could do – then we would be using all of our rights and all of our responsibilities to maximize loving kindness for all humans everywhere. We would simply “be love” every day, in every moment, with every person – no exceptions.
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!