Religion, marriage and Proposition 8

 

In response to the “Let California Ring” (No on Prop 8) video I posted, I received the following comment:

I know some people in California are not for Prop 8 passing and I completely understand why and i feel like a jerk in a way for supporting proposition 8. My reasoning is this. It is clearly a desire for gays to have religion sanctify their way of life. It can not be so. Any good religion will not sanctify stealing or murder or adultry or premarital sex and yet people want to force religion into sanctifying homosexual relations. It is clear homosexuality is not condoned by the bible. Because of that, homosexuals should not want the religious symbol of marriage to bind them. If i was a homosexual i would not want a religious term to bind me to my lover. I would want a union established by a secular source. Because if religion says my way of life is wrong, why would i want any part in it.
Likewise, to those that are religious, marriage is sanctified and allowing it to homosexuals would debase it. Churches would be sued for discrimination and they aren’t discriminating. They are just choosing friends that are like them. Not that they don’t like gays, they just don’t condone their behavior and so like a person who is totally opposite from you, you don’t hang out like you are best friends.
I feel like homosexuals are trying to make religion and sexual sin best friends.

Taken from a certain perspective, the comments make sense.  The position was arrived at, apparently, after thought and reflection (if not research) and there is no hatefulness in it.  The basic premise of the argument seems to be “homosexuality and religion make strange bedfellows” – so to speak.  For a Christian (I’m assuming the comments are from a Christian as the term “Church” was used, not “Temple” or “Mosque”) who believes homosexuality to be a sin, there is logic in this argument.  I don’t want to argue sincerity of the comments, I merely wish to point out that if you scratch the surface of the argument – and I think it is worth doing so, because it is the same argument I hear over and over again – it falls to pieces.

 

Why do people get married?

… [marriage] is clearly a desire for gays to have religion sanctify their way of life. It can not be so.

The reasons why members of the LGBT community wish to marry are as many and varied as those of the heterosexual  community.  Anyone would be hard pressed to argue this point and I’m not about to argue it here.  Suffice it to say the desire to build a life together, love, expression of commitment, financial considerations, an unexpected pregnancy, family or cultural obligations, legal protection and, yes, also to receive the blessing of a religious institution – all these reasons, alone and in combination, influence a couple’s decision to marry.

While the statement above may be true for some, it is not at all true for me.  When I am allowed to marry my partner it will be in a civil ceremony.  I have many reasons for wanting to marry and not one of them is to receive the blessing of a church, Christian or otherwise.  I’m quite certain I am not alone in this.

This is true within the heterosexual community as well.  Many straight people marry in civil ceremonies.  Would we even think to deny them that right; as if Christianity (religiosity) should be a litmus test for the right to marry?

For millions of people the purpose of marriage is not religious, but (if they are straight) they are allowed to marry anyway.  Why?  Because as far as the State is concerned, and rightfully so, religion has nothing to do with marriage.  Let me say that again.  Legally, religion has nothing at all to do with marriage.  Nothing. 

 

Who can and should a church marry?  

Whomever they chose – that is the beauty of the separation of church and state.  The legalization of same sex marriage will not force any religious institution to marry same sex couples.  If a church or temple or mosque chooses not to perform same sex marriage ceremonies, that is perfectly legal and appropriate.  The separation of church and state ensures that the state will not interfere with the rights of a church and its members to practice their beliefs freely – including the freedom to refuse marriage to anyone.

Any good religion will not sanctify stealing or murder or adultry or premarital sex and yet people want to force religion into sanctifying homosexual relations.  It is clear homosexuality is not condoned by the bible.

… to those that are religious, marriage is sanctified and allowing it to homosexuals would debase it. Churches would be sued for discrimination and they aren’t discriminating. They are just choosing friends that are like them. Not that they don’t like gays, they just don’t condone their behavior and so like a person who is totally opposite from you, you don’t hang out like you are best friends.

These statement is rich with contradiction and confusion.

  1. Who is qualified to decide what a “good” religion is?  I’m not religious, but I’m confident many people would disagree about a the definition of a “good religion” (extreme understatement) and where such a religion would stand on the issue of homosexuality.
  2. There is no agreement within the Christian church about homosexuality.  There are many Christians and Christian institutions which don’t believe homosexuality is sin.  The Bible is, actually, not at all clear on this point.  There are even “homosexual churches” and “straight churches” with homosexual ministers.  For a brilliant, beautiful examination of homosexuality and the Christian church, you should watch the film “For the Bible Tells Me So” before you totally make up your mind on this issue.
  3. The sins of stealing and murder are sins that harm people.  Homosexuality does not hurt anyone.  You may not agree with that statement so here’s another one, homosexuals do not infringe on the rights others to pursue their lives free of fear and harm by virtue of their homosexuality.  Both stealing and murder do just that.  I find it appalling that anyone would compare homosexuality to either stealing or murder in terms of sin or otherwise.
  4. As far as condemnation of sin as it relates to marriage, the Christian church regularly marries people who have engaged in sins such as adultery and premarital sex – as well as the sins of murder and stealing.  The church may not condone the sinful activity, but it marries people who engage in it.

There is contradiction and confusion within the Christian church (and every over religious institution on the planet) regarding marriage and homosexuality.  Which is why, legally, religion has nothing to do with marriage in the United States of America.  The laws regarding marriage must be consistent and fair, and apply to all people regardless of religious affiliation.  That means, from a legal perspective, religion cannot and should not be allowed as a argument either in support of or opposition to gay marriage.

 

Homosexuality and Religious Affiliation

Because of that, homosexuals should not want the religious symbol of marriage to bind them. If i was a homosexual i would not want a religious term to bind me to my lover. I would want a union established by a secular source. Because if religion says my way of life is wrong, why would i want any part in it.

On this point, I could not agree more.  I have no interest in being affiliated with or married by an institution that rejects me as a sinner.  And, I believe it would be wrong to force one into an association with me (not to mention a violation of separation of church state mandates).  As far as a secular source of marriage; that is exactly what I want… a secular source through which to establish a same sex union and, here’s the kicker, which grants us the same legal rights and protections as heterosexual couples.  I do not want a civil union, domestic partnership, or any other legal construct that does not grant my partner and I the EXACT SAME rights as heterosexual couple.  That’s why I, and millions of people both gay and straight, are voting No on Prop 8.

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