05 June, 2006

The Controversial One Where I Talk About Gay Marriage

Like many people I sit in the apex of this discussion. We're Christians, from very conservative backgrounds, who consider ourselves to be conservative. But we also have myriad close friends, family members and professional role models who are gay, lesbian or transgendered. We all do a lot of personal questioning and prayer about this issue. It's not one we tend to treat with any degree of blaise.

From my particular point of view I think I can safely say that in all the talk of pro- and anti-gay marriage, most people seem to be talking around the most sensitive part of this issue for a lot of Christians. That's what I'm going to lay out there.

For all the talk of the sanctity of marriage and it's role as a foundation for society, we've done a poor job of walking the talk over the last seventy-five years. The United States in the wake of World War II has been rapidly evolving socially and culturally as well as technologically. It should be abundantly clear to anyone studying the nature of the country that there are about 50 flavours of Christian, about 5 flavours of Jews, several flavours of Muslim, various other religions and those who are wholly secular. "Marriage" is something slightly different to each and every one of those people. Already, many Christians are endorsing the idea of Covenant Marriage as a sort of divorce reform. This is a type of marriage with a religious basis that requires additional counseling to institute and is harder to dissolve with divorce. It's been a way for many people to say "we want to marry according to our beliefs, rules and traditions. What the state offers is not in keeping with our religiocultural definitions of marital union."

After a lifetime of reading celebrity gossip with varying degrees of interest I think it's safe to say that we've already got a de-facto variety of marriages in this country. What marriage means to me is clearly not the same thing it means to Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones and Brittney Spears. So why are so many conservative people against gay marriage?

Because they believe that legalised gay marriage will lead to a reduction of their rights.

In other countries, ministers are being thrown into jail for preaching that homosexuality is a sin. As it stands now in the United States we have freedom of speech. One person should be able to say that homosexuality is a sin, while another should be allowed to say that it isn't a sin. That's what makes us America. But the standard belief seems to go like this:

If gay marriage is legalised, then churches will eventually be forced by law to marry homosexuals. Churches and parachurch organisations can also be forced to recognise homosexual marriage.

Since in many churches, synagogues and mosques view homosexuality as a lifestyle not in keeping with the faith, this idea is an anathema. I can understand that.

I've long felt that we need a legislated two-tier marital system, such as that we've already begun to practice with Covenant marriage. A state-sanctioned union for all citizens, with the religiously sanctioned union in accordance with the practices of ones church being seperate. We've been trending this way for the last 65 years. We may as well just get it over with. Not only would this allow gay people the right to marry for which they are clamouring, but it would allow those Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faiths a safeguard for their freedom of religion.

11 Comments:

At 11:18 AM, June 05, 2006, Blogger dolphin said...

I've always found the justifications you listed for those on the right to be weak at best. I ask the question,
"what exactly is it you're opposed to?" If one is opposed to the legal institution of civil marriage being granted to all American citizens in accordance with the equal protection caluse of the Fourthteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, then one should argue against THAT.

Arguing against some hypothetical future hate speech laws or forced religious recoginition is a seperate issue all together. I ask that the government offer me the same legal protections for my family as it does for other families and nothing more. If "hate speech" laws start to appear or the government tries to force churchs to recognize or perform any type of ceremony they'd rather not, I'll be right alongside of the right, fighting against those things.

I've often wondered though why the evangelical right hasn't attacked the marriages of those of other religions, if the basis of their argument against legal marriage equality is they don't want to have to rcognize marriages not endorsed by their God.

 
At 12:40 PM, June 05, 2006, Blogger HUCK said...

I've long felt that we need a legislated two-tier marital system, such as that we've already begun to practice with Covenant marriage. A state-sanctioned union for all citizens, with the religiously sanctioned union in accordance with the practices of ones church being seperate.

I agree. The government has no right to affect religious policy, and the church has no right to affect government policy. This is how it should be.

Churches in the government's "eyes" should be seen as private organizations. Although I may or may not agree with the membership restriction policies of the Boy Scouts of America, their orginization has its right to restrict membership according to their organizational beliefs.

I despise the KKK more than any other group of people on this planet, but I still believe that the government should not restrict their policies until those policies may or do impede the rights of a U.S. citizen.

This all being said. The government should not prohibit any rights of services offered to any citizen based on religious doctrine, however, the only arguments I've heard against gay marriage have been so irrelevently justified.

 
At 4:21 PM, June 05, 2006, Blogger melusina said...

I'm totally on board with your suggestion of a legalised two-tier marital system. It makes a lot of sense.

If you want to hear some irony, though, my American church wedding is considered a civil wedding by Greek standards. Which totally goes to show, marriage is different everywhere you go.

 
At 6:05 PM, June 05, 2006, Anonymous nm said...

We already have a two-tiered marriage system of civil and religious marriage. To call oneself married in this country one must get a (civil) marriage license. One then gets whatever kind of marriage service one wants-- with a judge, a minister, a priest, an imam, a rabbi, whatever. And you know what? Civil marriages exist that are not condoned by one religion or another: lots of Catholics are in marriages their church doesn't recognize--so, they don't have a priest marry them. Lots of Jews are in marriages that no rabbi will perform. They're still married. But no one has ever tried to force the priest or rabbi to perform a service they can't accept. The idea that because a couple can have a civil marriage a religious functionary can be forced to give them a religious service is ridiculous.

What we don't need is more legislation about this--just to make civil marriage stop discriminating against homosexuals.

 
At 8:55 AM, June 06, 2006, Blogger HUCK said...

What we don't need is more legislation about this--just to make civil marriage stop discriminating against homosexuals.

I like that idea even better.

 
At 2:44 PM, June 06, 2006, Anonymous sbk said...

I would be curious to know what you guys think is the purpose/reasoning of the state sanctioning any marrige in the first place?

 
At 2:55 PM, June 06, 2006, Blogger dolphin said...

The state sancations marriage in large part because it makes more sense for the state to view family units as family units as opposed to individuals for many purposes.

It's always important to keep in mind that marriage was a civil institution before the Catholic Church rose to poer and declared it "sacred."

 
At 6:11 PM, June 06, 2006, Anonymous sbk said...

"The state sancations marriage in large part because it makes more sense for the state to view family units as family units as opposed to individuals for many purposes."

Yessss...but the question is WHAT are those "purposes" and why does it benefit a government?

 
At 8:19 PM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Chance said...

I get Katherine's point in that it seems that things are either forbidden or coerced. That is, it is not enough to have the so-called right to an abortion, I must have it government subsidized. It is not enough to have birth control legal, I must demand that my pharmacist provide it. It is not enough to have the freedom to show religious icons covered in urine, but I must have it subsidized by the National Endowment for the Arts. Now, of course, this is not an argument against legality of birth control or free speech (the first thing is another issue), but I can understand her apprehension. We live in a society where we have freedom to do so many things, but we often mistake freedom to mean guaranteed access.

 
At 8:57 AM, June 07, 2006, Blogger Patrick said...

Yessss...but the question is WHAT are those "purposes" and why does it benefit a government?

Those government purposes are:

1. taxation

It all boils down to "they're getting something I'm not getting."

 
At 4:31 PM, November 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what happened to separation of church and state? The government does not want the church making rules concerning them they do the same thing

 

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