Labels shouldn't matter

opinion
April 4, 2013
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sabrina Litavsky / The Silhouette

First off, I want to say that I am a Christian Baptist. I was born and raised in a family that believes the Lord is our saviour, and that the Bible is akin to a guide for how to be a good human being. I went to church every Saturday and listened to the pastor talk about reasons why the world we live in is flawed. My upbringing, to some, would indicate a lack of compassion for people who are not the Bible-thumping ideal – that is, people who are not white, not heterosexual, and generally not in agreement with what the Bible has to say.

For me, that is simply not true. My parents may have raised me to believe that homosexuality is wrong, and that I should act a certain way to gain access to heaven at the end of my life - but I grew up.

I grew away from the ideals set forth by my parents. I realized one day that we are all equal - there is no person greater or lesser than another simply because of what they believe in or who they are. There is no single person that is not capable of either violence or gentleness; we all have it in us to be good and we all have it in us to be bad, but at the end of the day, we are all people, and that is what’s important.

I grew up in a small town, surrounded by small town ideals, and the only friends I had were the children of other members of the church. Then, I went to high school. And the people there were not quite what I was used to. It was from them that I learned that the world doesn’t stop just because someone doesn’t agree with a certain set of ideals, that the morals I had known all my life weren’t a given for everybody. And I learned that even if someone claims to be liberal or open-minded, that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of being judgemental.

Like I said, I grew up, but only when my world got bigger.

There is a certain stigma attached to being religious. In our society, which is becoming more liberal and more open-minded, religion is becoming the new “bad-guy” so to speak, which, granted, is not without reason. Religious extremists - those who believe that the world will only be saved if they follow the letter of the law - tend to not know their own laws as well as they should. They cling to a certain kind of scripture, and they spout it at random, thinking it proves how good of a person they are while ignoring other critical points.

For example, the Bible bans certain things that are found in everyday life. The Bible says it’s wrong to associate with women who are on their periods, the Bible says it’s wrong to shave, the Bible says that women who are divorced should be stoned to death. The Bible says it’s wrong to be homosexual.

The Bible says all those things, but it also says that there are two laws every Christian should follow. The first is to love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and the second is to love your neighbour as yourself.

I have no doubt in my mind that people assume they are following the first one to the letter, but it’s the second one that gets overlooked. Love your neighbour as yourself. Can it really be called loving your fellow human beings, your neighbours, if all we do is tell them they’re wrong for existing?

Personally, I don’t think the religious extremists understand how to “love” other people that don’t share their ideals. They, unlike myself, are still living in their small worlds. They never allowed a chance for their world to expand, or were never given that chance. They still think the world will stop turning if they can’t convert people, and that accounts for their extreme reactions.

There are negative connotations attached to “homosexual” in the religious community, and there are negative connotations attached to “religious” in our more liberal society. We feel that we have to put labels on everything in order to understand people. We place people into categories that have no real relation to what kind of person they are or what kind of person they will be when they’re older. Sexuality is not a person’s defining characteristic, just as religious views are not a defining characteristic.

What it all comes down to is that we need to stop labelling people. Let people be people without having to shove them in to quaint little categories.

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