Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Ashley Peel 

“Hate for hate only intensifies the hate that is in this world…Hate totally distorts the personality of the hater…Love has within itself a redemptive power…as you love, even your enemy, as you bless those who curse you, often times, something amazing happens.” – Rev. Schaefer

We all know one of the biggest political debates today is the fight for marriage equality within the gay and lesbian community. State by state, politicians are voicing their opinions to increase (and decrease) voter ratings, cities are holding gay pride parades, and equal signs of varying colors litter Facebook feeds and profile pictures.  But most of the efforts to recognize the need for equality for all marriages do as much as wearing pink on Fridays does to bring us closer to a cure for breast cancer. Mackelmore’s song “Same Love” is an amazing song with an amazing message that’s spreading through teenagers’ and adults’ stereos across America. He may have taken the fight one step further. But there’s one man whose position places him so far on the defensive line against gay marriage, and yet, his family places him right in the center of the offense.

So much of the fight against equality is fed by religion. The justification for such bigotry and prejudice against homosexuals is always found somewhere between Genesis and Revelations. “Homosexuality is an abomination!” “Gays are going to hell!” (And my favorite) “If God had thought being gay was okay, then it would have been Adam and Steve…(pause for affect)!” I’ve heard them all from the mouths of a people who also preach the love for all people and non-judgment.

But Reverend Frank Schaefer interprets the Good Word a little differently, living the type of lifestyle that he preaches and putting his career and his faith on the line for his gay son. In 2007, Rev. Schaefer of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, Pennsylvania officiated the marriage between his son and his son’s partner in a small ceremony in Massachusetts. It only took the Methodist Church six years to “press charges”—and yes, that does exist—and take Schaefer to trial. (That also exists.) On Tuesday the verdict was in. Thirteen of Schaefer’s peers (fellow preachers) found him guilty of defying his faith and breaking Methodist church law by supporting his son’s nuptials. He was suspended for thirty days and advised to decide whether or not he can embrace church rules in their entirety or risk being defrocked.

Photo courtesy of Cathy Husid-Shamir (Schaefer family spokesperson) via NY Daily News.
Photo courtesy of Cathy Husid-Shamir (Schaefer family spokesperson) via NY Daily News.

During his trial he took his defiance of Methodists and their ancient codes of obedience and conduct and offered to conduct same-sex marriages even during his suspension. And it’s this type of activism that needs to be recognized.

The word love is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “an intense feeling of deep affection. Rev. Schaefer says, “Love is seeking goodwill for all people. When you rise to the level of Jesus love, you seek only to defeat sin and sinful attitude but not the person.” Methodism is one sect of Christianity that recognizes homosexuals as people and welcome them into their ministry. However, they still believe against the matrimony of same-sex couples, and as Schaefer said, treat them as “second-class Christians.” It’s a level of hypocrisy that other sects have yet to embrace, but it’s still hypocritical. We can let them into our home but can’t embrace their love and affection?

As someone who most identifies as a Methodist (if push came to shove and labels were needed)—I was raised Southern Baptist but the last church I voluntarily stepped foot in for a service was Methodist because of their leniency for modern practices and their leniency to modern lifestyles—I’m happy to see a religious figure push against ancient opinions and open his arms to all people.

It takes a lot of courage to go against everything you once believed in and to defy your superiors and followers in order to support your true beliefs. Schaefer admitted to once believing that homosexuality was a sin, but that his opinions changed over time and were challenged when his son, Tom, came out. In fact, three out of four of his children are gay and, now, Schaefer believes it is his new calling to advocate for the LGBTQ community.

I support and envy Schaefer’s courage and love. Activism comes from the word active which is described in the Oxford Dictionary as physically energetic pursuits. Therefore, activism does not equal passiveness, it means engaging physically and vigorously in pursuit for social change. Nothing will change by sitting back and posting one love images, but making stands, taking risks, and voicing our opinions through out actions might bring our country closer to same-sex equality.

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