Dear American Conservative Christian,
You don't know me and you probably don't know much about my world, but I do know something about yours. See, all my life your news and issues have been on my TV and in my newspapers. I think it would be fair to say that I am as familiar with your pastors and politicians as I am with my own, if not more so. In fact, I find myself purposefully following news and opinion stories on American politics these days because, well, if you knew South African politics you'd understand... I know you guys get a lot of hate and snark from foreigners who act like they understand your issues better than you do and rest assured, I'm not one of those guys. I've been to America and I loved it. I loved the place, the people, the culture and most definitely the food! Are you concerned for the future of America? Believe me, so am I. I believe that America is worth fighting for and worth saving. So I'm not writing this letter to tell you what to do or what to think. It's just that I noticed that a lot of you are very upset right now and I think my story may just bring you a little bit more peace of mind.
It has come to my attention that you guys are pretty upset about the recent ruling in New York giving gays the right to marry. Many of you are worried, outraged, saddened and/or shocked by this development and how could you not be? After all, so many of your leaders have been telling you for years that gay rights will bring down the wrath of God on your country, bringing disaster and devastation to you all. I know those warnings all too well because they were given to us too.
See I grew up in Apartheid era South Africa, in a situation many of you would envy. Easy now, that wasn't a backhanded way of calling you racist, I'm not referring to that part at all! It's just that we had prayer and Bible study in school - state schools mind you - and no one was taught evolution. We had super strict laws about media content to the point where even porn magazines were printed with naughty bits censored, so you can imagine how clean our TV programming was! The only religious programs broadcast on national TV were Christian ones. That is what I meant by "situation many of you would envy". Unless I'm severely misunderstanding many of your leaders, that is how you would ideally like the USA to look as well, isn't it? Well I had that and then it all changed.
Believe me when I say you have never in your life experienced political and cultural change as radical as I have. Virtually (almost literally) overnight our government went from conservative, Christian nationalism to extremely liberal secularism. Suddenly we had a new constitution that was more progressive than just about anyone else's and everything changed. A few years later government gave full equality to homosexuals. Suddenly gays could marry, serve openly in the military, adopt children and were legally protected against discrimination. When that happened, believe me we heard all the same warnings you are hearing now.
Here's the thing though, this happened years ago and things are still pretty OK here. Society did not collapse, heterosexual couples are still getting married and having children, the nuclear family has not become extinct, we did not all get "converted" to homosexuality - in short for most of us absolutely nothing changed at all! Both Christianity and the institution of marriage seem to be thriving. We did not fall down a slippery slope of deviancy and so pedophilia and bestiality is still totally illegal and going to stay illegal. There have been no natural disasters, not a single tornado or earthquake last I checked, so no wrath of God there. Despite what my pastor told me back then, not one preacher has been jailed for calling homosexuality an abomination and as far as I know not one priest has been forced into marrying a gay couple against his will either. In fact (and you're going to love this part!) people are still free to consider homosexuality sinful and no one is being forced to like it. In fact you are allowed to very loudly dislike it on TV or in a letter to the editor or in your local church as much as you like!
Now you may be saying "wait a second, I've heard that giving gays the right to marry causes anarchy in society and from what I've heard, you folks in South Africa have a whole lot of anarchy on your hands!" You would be right about the anarchy. Violence, crime, corruption, disregard for the law is pretty rampant here but to blame all that on same sex marriage would be massively dishonest. The anarchy in question is what you might call a "pre-existing condition" around these parts. It didn't start with gay rights and throwing the gays under the bus will do about as much to end it as human sacrifice did for the problems of Aztec society...
So while you have a lot of very real threats to your way of life to deal with, let me assure you that gay marriage isn't one of them. Trust me on this, I have lived through this and with this for years now. I have heard all the same predictions of doom as you and I've lived to see them come to nothing. So please, for your own good, rather use your energy to address real problems. I know it's hard to hear this but gay rights are no threat to you. Really. The sooner you realize that homosexuality isn't going to destroy your society the sooner you can focus on the things that actually will. But then again, I'm a foreigner so it's not my place to tell you what to do or how to do it. Still, I hope you would at least take the time to think about what I said and then look at the countries (and states) that have legalized same sex marriage and see for yourself if what I said has any merit.
A friend from South Africa
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