Merriam-Webster defines a bigot as a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.
It is important to distinguish common targets of bigotry and the moral neutrality or negativity behind the behaviors of those who are biased.
I don’t know very many people who would take to the streets decrying the bigotry of those biased against child rapists. If someone was to take that position, his views would immediately be countered by arguments against pederasty or criminal ickyness in general.
Most will distinguish between bias against a person or group singled out for morally neutral reasons, and bias against certain behaviors or persons on moral grounds. Are we biased against liars? Thieves? Murderers? Sure we are. Do we feel at all bad when someone calls us out for such a bias? Come on, be honest.
So, even in the light of Merriam’s definition, the common man would not judge me a bigot even if I was obstinately devoted to my prejudice against child rapists. Who would take to the op-ed page against me if I treated such a person with intolerance? We should not tolerate child rape, should we?
What truly defines bigotry as a detriment to society? It is prejudice against a person or group for morally neutral reasons: The color of one’s skin, his country of origin, her gender, and so forth.
Just as most people would not judge me a bigot for opposing child rape, neither would they judge me a bigot for opposing theft, murder, perjury, polygamy, or bestiality or those who practice those evils. These are broadly accepted to have morally negative connotations, and you probably didn’t sweat too much when you read the word “evils” in the last sentence.
If I was prejudiced against Hispanics because of their cultural differences, or people of color because of the pigment in their skin, or women because of their gender I should certainly be called onto the carpet. There is nothing morally wrong with being Hispanic or black or female.
There’s the catch. Morality. Even the “why can’t we all just get along” crowd has prejudices. It is mostly directed at the religious who haven’t gotten past the whole morality thing, but they, too, are prejudiced.
We live in a post-Christian, post-modern society that will eventually become post-moral without divine intervention. I didn’t used to believe that, but the more I see, the more I wonder. Not that I’m going to drop my own moral compass and run screaming into the wild woodlands, but society is becoming more and more tolerant of morally negative behaviors.
What should a person do in such a situation? As for myself, I’m going to be myself and uphold, promote, and live the teachings of the Catholic Church, no matter who thinks that because of it I’m a bigot.
I know why I believe what I believe in regard to faith and morality, and there are more than three thousand years of “why” that gives cogent arguments to underpin my beliefs.
So I don’t (because the Church doesn’t) see people in terms of “straight” or “gay.” If somebody wants me to define him according to those terms, I won’t play.
Even those who want to redefine what is moral or immoral still expect others to tell them the truth. It isn’t as easy as it used to be because even the definition of truth is under attack. There are some who say “what is true for you may not be true for me.” They say that there is no such thing as absolute truth. But in saying so, they refute their own argument because they are making a definitive statement that something is absolutely true: namely that their own statement is untrue (that there is no absolute truth).
[Insert sound of a head exploding].
All sexually immoral acts attack one central truth that has been the basis of human society from the beginning of recorded history:
Marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life, and the only morally good (and societal good) use of genitality is the unitive and procreative act within that marriage.
That isn’t just my truth. It is THE truth. Am I going to drag you down the street in chains behind a four wheel drive if you don’t live up to that? No. People have continually sinned against that ideal forever. I am surrounded by people who have sex outside of marriage, who get married and divorced multiple times, who have sex with someone else’s spouse, men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women, &c ad nauseum. I still have to go to work. I still have to go to the store. I know that not everyone lives up to the ideal.
The point is, as a Catholic and as a Christian, I’m not called to tolerate people, I am called to love them. And if love requires me to speak truth, I am not opposed to speaking that truth, because in doing so I am loving them. I love some of these folks dearly and have for years, and yes that includes people who consider themselves homosexuals.
So, if we must disagree on this subject, think of me as a throwback who just doesn’t get it, but someone who genuinely cares and loves anyhow, even if you think that I’m misguided. And I’ll think the same of you, but cherish your love in spite of it all and always have your best interests at heart. That is, after all, what love is.