Friday, May 11, 2012

Having A Gay-Marriage debate With Myself

The issue of gay marriage is all over the news lately what with President Obama's election year "evolution" on the subject as well as the State of North Carolina being the latest state to vote down the idea. I have read all of the arguments on both sides and come away exhausted. Trying to flesh out one's views extemporaneously on a blog sounds like a terrible idea, but here we go.

I suppose I should state at the beginning my views on homosexuality itself. From a biblical perspective, I believe it to be a sin. The verses in the old testament and the new are famous and I won't repeat them here. I have heard the theological revisionism on the subject and believe it to be untenable, as it asks me not to believe the clear words that I read in scripture, and to ignore what I observe in creation. Having said that, as a theological conservative who attends a rather fundamental congregation, I have always been uncomfortable with what I consider to be our unhealthy obsession with this particular sin. In the great cosmos of transgressions, the practice of homosexuality ranks way down the list of offenses that threaten my hearth and home. Would that Baptists were as hyped up about adultery among heterosexuals, for instance, or the rampant use of pornography among the faithful. Scripture teaches me that we are all sinners in need of redemption, homosexual, and heterosexual alike. Salvation offered through Christ extends to all of us, and attempts to marginalize gays by some churches is one of the many transgressions that rank higher on the venal list in my opinion. Although it is true that sin is sin, and our views on which sins are "worse" than others says more about us than it does sin, I feel the need to point out the fact that our Lord uttered not one word on the subject in his time on Earth.

The issue of gay-marriage is a completely different issue for me since it involves questions of government, and law. The first question that I have to answer concerning the thing is this..."What does the government have at stake here?" Traditionally, government has gotten involved in the institution of marriage for several reasons, but primarily because marriage was the institution from which children were produced. There was a connection between erotic sex and the predictable result of children. Government then had a vested interest in the encouragement of lasting contracts between parents largely for the protection of the family unit, the building blocks of society, as it were. It was in the best interest of society that these family units stayed intact so that the children produced were not abandoned to become wards of the state. So Governments got involved, issuing licences and crafting tax law and inheritance laws to insure stability of the family unit multi-generationally. This was not the only reason, of course, since some couples never have kids etc.. but governments have much less interest in protecting or encouraging emotional unions like a father and son who join together to raise a child after the mother dies. The key point about marriage that attracted governments attention was the issue of procreation...period.

Which brings us to the issue of why should the definition of marriage be changed to accommodate same sex unions who by definition cannot procreate? Listening to the back and forth from both sides on this thing is  dizzying. Platitudes and non-sequiturs doing fierce hand to hand combat with straw-men. What it comes down to for many on the pro side is that homosexuals in our society, long marginalized and bullied need the social validation that can only be provided by marriage. All of the other legal and financial benefits derived from marriage can be provided through tweaks in civil union statutes, but only legal recognized marriage can provide the lifestyle validation and equally needed. The anti side counters that if we change the definition of marriage to accommodate "feelings" then what legal basis will there be to deny equal validation for other non-traditional relationships? Polygamy and Polyamory are thrown out as suggestions of where a rewriting of a 4,000 year institution might logically lead. I read the opinions of learned men and women and see their passionate defense of both sides and come away grateful that I am not a federal judge.

So, what to think? Not withstanding my personal views on homosexuality, I fail to see what damage could possibly be done to traditional marriage if gay people are allowed in to the club. I'm not sure that gays know fully what they are getting themselves in to since nearly 50% of traditional marriages end in screaming hysterical accusations of infidelity, and enormous alimony judgements. But, if there's a gay couple out there who want to commit themselves to be bound legally and emotionally to each other, I find no reason to stand in their way. Should my church be required against it's teachings to sanction that union? No. Will this rewriting of the definition of marriage lead to laws mandating that churches be required to perform such ceremonies? I certainly hope not, and if the phrase "separation of church and state" is to have any meaning, it BETTER not.

Two nagging thoughts. First, with 9% unemployment, 2% economic growth, a 15 trillion dollar national debt and the most powerful nation on the planet now in it's 1108th day without a budget, gay marriage is what the two presidential candidates are talking about. Really?? Second, how would my views on this issue change if my son or daughter or best friend were to inform me that they were gay? I ask this because it has been my experience in life that is easy to marginalize and demonize a group of people who you have no connection to, but much harder to do so when someone whom you love is involved. I feel certain that my theological position would not change. Maybe none of my views would change. But I do know this..they would still be my son, my daughter, my friend, and I would still love them. The bitterness and rage that I have observed on the various discussion boards on this topic have staggered me...from both sides. Nothing is quite as venomous and hateful as anonymity. Some from the conservative side seem to believe that those who disagree with them are evil sexual predators destined for hell, sent there by the same God that created the AIDS virus as his judgement. Some on the other side try to portray me as a diabolical cross between Adolph Hitler and Bull Connor, intent on nothing less than the extermination of every gay and lesbian on the planet.

I guess what it comes down to for me is this. Although I believe that homosexuality is not God's plan for the human race, I see no compelling reason why two committed gay people should not be allowed to get married. For this I feel certain that I will be vilified by both sides. Do I see a contradiction in the two views? Not really. Am I sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am right about this? Not really. But this is what I think right now.