Thursday, September 5, 2013

Marriage Equality

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For the record, since some that read this would have no way of knowing, my disclaimer is that I am straight and married.

The title of this blog post is Marriage Equality, but it’s really just about Equality.

There are those that oppose marriage equality and claim that it's on the grounds of their religious beliefs, specifically referring to the Christian bible. The problem with claiming that you are against marriage equality because of your Christian faith is that it is contradictory to Christ’s teachings and it does make you a hypocrite.

Hypocrisy is part of the human condition. Few people that act hypocritical are aware of it at the time. It’s something I’ve tried to avoid but I’m painfully aware that I’ve been guilty of this in the past and will likely fall into this trap again. I will continue to strive to avoid it and do some reflection when it’s pointed out to me.

I don’t believe that changing your mind is hypocrisy. If you have a firm opinion at 20 and through investigation or reflection or perhaps by someone presenting new information or old information in a new light and you change your opinion at 21 or even 40, I don’t believe that makes you a hypocrite.

What makes you a hypocrite, is saying you believe one thing and then without stating a change in opinion, you do another. Hypocrisy is especially obvious when a person puts forth their opinion, acts contrary to that opinion and then states the opinion again, especially when casting judgment on the conduct of others.

With regards to the issue of homosexuality, you have two choices:

Either you believe being Gay is a choice, and since it is called out in the Old Testament as an abomination it is a sin.

Or,

You believe people are born gay in which case it is not a choice but how god made them and can’t be a sin.

Let’s assume you fall in the first example and you use the bible to argue against marriage equality. The odd thing about this is that despite it being the Old Testament, I don’t hear people of the Jewish fail making this claim. Christians fall under the New Covenant and have since the resurrection of Christ. The Old Testament is no longer binding. And while the Old Covenant held to the letter of the law, the New Covenant holds Christians to a higher standard by requiring them to meet the Spirit of the New Testament. So before Christ, you were only in trouble if you killed someone as it would violate one of the 10 Commandments, while after the Resurrection, you are now in trouble even if you spend night and day wishing someone were dead even though never act on the impulse.

Speaking of the Ten Commandments, let’s just say you’re old school and want to cleave to that old Covenant. Thou Shalt Not Be Gay is not one of the Ten. I’ve read through them and it’s a pretty good list of things you shouldn’t do if you want to be a functioning member of society. Then there are the Seven Deadly Sins: Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Lust, Pride, Envy and Gluttony. Nope, being gay is not one of the seven.

While we’re on the topic of sin, if you are a claiming to be a Christian, then you know that there are two types, venial (or minor) and mortal (which are pretty serious). Most Christian scholars claim that homosexual thoughts or urges would be venial, while acting upon those urges would be mortal. Why? Two reasons. First, that it is sex that occurs outside marriage, and second, that the specific act is considered unnatural.

The first is a catch 22, since if we allow homosexuals to marry then it will no longer be a sin to have sex with your spouse. The second one is pretty straight forward, but guess who else commits unnatural sexual acts? Anyone that does anything besides Missionary Position, that’s who.

I think this is the part where we quote the big guy himself:

John 8:7 “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Or how about this oldie but goodie:

Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

Matthew 7:1 is the perfect segue to my next point. Even if you believe and can prove once and for all beyond a shadow of a doubt that homosexuality is a sin and those that practice it are going to hell, it is none of your (what for it) fucking business!

A person’s relationship with whatever god they do or do not believe in is a personal one. It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s not your job to stop people from sinning. If it was, you should start with the Ten Commandments and the Seven Deadly Sins. When you manage to stop committing them yourself and manage to get the rest of the world to stop committing those, you can take on Homosexuality. In fact, let’s agree that it is #18 on the list. Go fix 1 through 17 and come back and talk to me.

But hey, let’s pretend that you have completed that miracle and you want to tackle #18. Even if you get to that point, you have no business trying to enforce your religious beliefs on others through the law of the land. Their soul is their business, what we are talking about is public policy.

The United States of America was not founded on Christian freedom. It was founded on religious freedom. Some people forget that. The constitution is there to protect people from your oppressive views just as it is there to stop others that may want to interfere with your right to worship Christ.

I know that’s a tough concept for some people, but you need to deal with it. People have the right in the USA to believe whatever they want to as long as those rights don’t infringe upon the rights of others. This could occur if some devil worshiper claimed sacrificing another person was a religious right. No, sorry but that crosses the line and impinges on the other persons freedom to live.

Our Constitution also claims that all people are created equal. We know that isn’t true. Blacks were 3/5ths for a long time and women only got the right to vote in 1920. The law is not always compassionate, but Christianity is supposed to be. It’s kind of a requisite for being a Christian unless you are a Hypocrite.

But it’s even worse than that. We aren’t just talking about some random public policy issue. Using any argument to fight against marriage equality allows an environment of intolerance to flourish. By not recognizing homosexuals as equal members of society, we allow some people to see them as inferior, just as blacks and women were seen as inferior and still are by some. I consider it counter to Christ’s teachings to allow a group of people to be treated as less than human. Whether you like it or not, you are actively contributing to the creation of the hostile environment where others, that also see homosexuals as inferior find it acceptable to take violent action against them.

You may lull yourself to sleep by convincing yourself that you are just against marriage equality for personal and religious reasons, but you are lying to yourself if you deny that you are actively contributing to a climate of hate and violence. Only through acceptance and equality, can we stop the cycle of violence. If you claim to be a Christian, you have no other choice than to stop the oppression of homosexuals. Your loud and angry voices only add fuel to the fire. They give strength to those that strike the blows in the USA and abroad. The intolerance and cruelty that translate into the culture of intolerance and hate is fueled by your words and deeds. It emboldens cowards to brutalize those they see as less than human and worse you manage to convince some people when they are young that they are less than human and unworthy to the point where they kill themselves.

Do you feel proud of these acts of violence? Do you truly believe that you are in no part responsible for these heinous acts?

For my part, I was never homophobic. Despite that fact that I am not a good Christian, I was raised to believe that people have a right to pursue happiness as long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others. In my twenties, I was ambivalent to the LGBT cause because I didn’t see how it affected me and I personally had nothing against them. If it was brought to a vote, I would vote for their equality, but it wasn’t something I gave much thought to. I felt that because I saw them as equal under the law and morally, I had the high ground and that was enough.

It took the violent actions and cruel laws passed in Russia for me to wake up to the fact that being on the side lines when it comes to equality for all people is not a justifiable position. I’m not sure why it took me until I was 47 to have this epiphany, but it isn’t good enough to simply stand idly by. Edmund Burke was right, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” We can update that quote to ‘good people’.

Does this mean that I’m going to start marching in LGBT parades? No. I hate parades, always have. What will I do? Try to change minds by posting up a blog on the subject, teach my children love and tolerance of those that are different from themselves, when given the opportunity respectfully debate the issue with someone that I think is salvageable and vote out politicians that contribute to the culture of hate and intolerance.

Is that enough? I don’t know, but it’s better than nothing.

3 comments:

  1. Good morning Scott.

    I am reminded of a joke in which a women tells her husband she is in favor of gay marriage. The husband replies, "Those poor people, haven't they suffered enough?"

    I too have not been much troubled by LGBT agenda issues. Perhaps it was because my mother's uncle was openly gay even in the 1970s (Minnesotans were pretty cool in the years before conservative talk radio). Likewise, one of the finest team members I ever had the pleasure to work with also happens to be lesbian. I was pleased to attend a wedding reception for her and her life long partner in California a few years ago. Same sex marriage seems like a big deal until you meet a couple who are doing a better job with their relationship than at least half of us heteros.

    Two minor quibbles...

    One. John 8:1-11, the excellent and useful story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery, is not found in early manuscripts, and is generally regarded as an interpolation that occurred in the 4th century of the Common Era.

    Two. "The United States of America was not founded on Christian freedom. It was founded on religious freedom." With respect, while some of the original colonies were founded by religious zealots who had to come to the New World to apply their theocratic ideals (~1620), the United States of America (1789) was organized primarily to ensure personal liberty (except, as you have noted, in the slave owning states and with regard to women). Assurance of personal religious freedom was wisely added in the very first amendment to our constitution.

    Scott, as always, your opinions and your gifted expression of them are as bracing as a mug of dark roast (not that I'm likely to cut back on my morning caffeination).

    Be well,

    Michael

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    Replies
    1. Michael, thanks for your comments. I'm no biblical scholar and that's for sure. My only reason for posting quotes was to try and capture support for my view on the teachings of Christ, which in my opinion leaned more towards love than hate. I especially to point out that with strict interpretation of the Old Testament, anyone that has intercourse outside of marriage, or for the sake of pleasure and not procreation inside the marriage, or engages in oral sex is committing unnatural acts. I wanted to point out the hypocrisy of people that focus on homosexual acts while ignoring their own conduct when referencing the old testament.

      The second point, I agree completely. When zealots of the religious right quote "religious freedom", they often mean only as long as we are talking about Christianity. I may not have articulated those points clearly enough, thank for the chance to clarify.

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