I wasn’t going to write about this. I really wasn’t. Because everyone is writing about it, and I’m pretty sure I’m shouting into a hurricane at this point.

But after today, I have to. I heard too many Christians whom I know and love saying too much apocalyptic bullshit about what gay marriage is going to do to us. And I think a lot of it has to do with being afraid.

So let’s start here: Cheering for the SCOTUS ruling that the 14th Amendment protects gay couples’ rights to legally marry isn’t celebrating sin. It’s celebrating an end to codified hate of people. It’s loving our gay friends by celebrating that the law now recognizes them as the full, embodied, spirit-endowed people that they are, who ought to have the same legal rights as their straight brothers and sisters. It’s celebrating that the fact that all people might be free to seek after God. Jesus didn’t make people be Christians. He allowed them to live their lives. He wanted people to follow him, but he didn’t force them to. It is a beautiful thing to have free will.

Also, legal marriage is a piece of paper that is independent from any transcendent context. What it means to be married is defined by the people in the marriage. For Christians, marriage is a sacred and binding promise between two people before God. For others, it means something else. The laws of man can’t prescribe what marriage means to people who consider themselves married. If tomorrow, the U.S. decided to change its public policies, stop issuing marriage licenses, and invalidate the ones it’s already issued, would married Christians be less married? Of course not!

So if you want to have a debate about how sinful homosexuality is or isn’t, within the context of a single faith which lays out a moral system we have chosen to adhere to, we can do that. We can talk about whether churches and pastors should marry gay couples. But that’s not what’s going on here. What we can’t do is impose our beliefs on others who don’t share them. This is a two way street. Extend blind hate, and we will receive blind hate in return. Extend respect for our fellow man, and we will receive the same in kind. Seek to understand, and the personal relationships will follow that allow us to productively debate the issues where we do disagree.