Tuesday, November 11, 2008

#52 Not Legalizing Gay Marriage


Boy howdy, Christian culture does not like the idea of gay marriage. They really, really, really do not. Christian culture feels strongly that legalizing gay marriage would hurt the institution of marriage and that it would be a shock to our fundamental understanding of human social relations and institutions. They also feel that legalizing gay marriage would cause God to bring his judgment against America.

Dr. James Dobson, who has been referred to as "the nation's most influential evangelical leader" by Time magazine, [1] also made this statement on the subject:
“Indeed, those charges are already being leveled against Christians who espouse biblical values. How about group marriage? Or marriage between daddies and little girls? Or marriage between a man and his donkey? Anything allegedly linked to civil rights will be doable, and the legal underpinnings for marriage will have been destroyed." [2]
The possibility of donkey marriage becoming legal is terrifying to people who hold moral conventions close to their hearts. But Jesus did not endorse morals or politics. Jesus endorsed love and relationship. In particular, he endorsed showing unmerited favor (i.e., grace) to members of society whom the Pharisees deemed unsavory (i.e., tax collectors and prostitutes. Do homosexuals fall in this category?). Making same-sex marriage legal would mean Christians would have to relinquish some political and moral control and trust the issue to God. It is quite a conundrum for the Christian culture, indeed.


David G. said...

As if Katrina wasn't enough evidence that God is upset with the so-called Christian Fundamentalists, they try to ignore his Wrath and blame their sins on others.

Trev said...

Awesome post Steph! Your viewpoint is shared by at least one ;)

David G, could you please elaborate on your comment?

Simone said...

Great post Steph. I'll jump in here quickly before your anti gay marriage and naysayers jump in and remind them that to legislate the Bible or any other religious belief shows a complete lack of faith in your God.

I wrote about this several months ago at my blog which I will plug....here:

I would love someone to explain to me how aggressivly legislating shows any trust in God.

Rye said...

I'm biased. I'm gay and I'm (trying to be) Christian. Mostly, I'm just happy that the issue of gay marriage is still on the table.

Keith Olbermann Discusses Prop. 8:


Simone said...

Olbermann was SO amazing on that. I caught the tail end of it and waited two hours to see all of it. He was amazing.

Snap to it! Sanp in time! said...

An astute viewpoint, one that is enhanced by previous experiences and attitudes, not diluted. If we could all become reborn as the compassionate faithful!

David said...

On the "gay marriage will destroy 'marriage' as we know it" front, my favorite response has always been from the Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA.

Basically, she says that in her many years of counseling troubled marriages, never once has the problem been "That lesbian couple down the street." ;)

the nibbling marmot said...

I, too, love the Olberman piece.

Thanks for continuing to shine light on darkness, Stephy.

Anonymous said...

Again, I am reminded why I love this blog. Brilliant stuff.

Bruno said...

I would change the title from "not legalizing gay marriate"
"eliminating rights for gays" or "eliminating the rights of gay to wed"
either would be more accurate, because that is what was done.

Damn the constitution,, on to theocracy!!!

Anonymous said...

I think the high divorce rate in our culture is a much bigger threat to marriage. I'd rather see more time and attention given to shoring up heterosexual marriage.

shelly said...

Olbermann's piece was brilliant.

Making same-sex marriage legal would mean Christians would have to relinquish some political and moral control and trust the issue to God.

And isn't that what Christians in general are supposed to do anyway? "Let go and let God"? ;) Holy crap!

Mikey Lynch said...

there is a middle ground, surely, of having some kind of relationships register, isn't there? it allows more even rights for gay couples, without changing the definition of marriage?

Anonymous said...

Mikey: the word "marriage" is a secular word that can apply to the union of things like music and voice, or two companies, or ingredients in a recipe. It has many definitions, so it does apply to two gay people forming a union.

Bruno said...

That middle ground exists only if ALL couples are REQUIRED to use it and GO THROUGH THE SAME PROCESSES to be registered. And in these United States of America, which are a democratic REPUBLIC where the courts have the responsibility to ensure that equal rights and equal protections are not denied to any minority by the majority, the title used for such association or contract must be the same in the state registers. As Stephy pointed out, marriage is a secular word, as is family, spouse, partner, life long companion, husband, wife, heir, co property owner, health provider, care taker, final health decision maker, bill payor, tax payor, neighbor, parent, friend,,,,,

juls said...

i think my biggest complaint about the pro-8 campaign was their baseless accusations about the fear of "gay marriage" being taught in schools and that churches would lose their rights. ridiculous! the entire motivation behind the pro 8 campaign was malicious, it had nothing to do with marriage. that's why it turned me off so much. they swayed me to vote the other way. i couldn't see why i had the power to take someone else's rights away.

Caveat B said...

Government shouldn't tie policy to religious constructs (such as heterosexual marriage), any more than credit derivatives should be rated by government-chartered rating agencies.

The church shouldn't try to subsidize its interests and criminalize opposing beliefs. That goes for gay marriage, abortion, tobacco, marijuana, and individual prayer on public property.

Almost everyone is guilty. Except Jesus, I guess.

Micah said...

Hmmm... I think I had qualms with gay marriage until I moved to Canada, where it's totally legal and totally unremarkable. Good old heterosexual marriage is in fine shape.

I think even the Christian right recognizes that this is an issue of semantics-- as Dr. Dob noted, one thing could lead to another. His position reflects a sort of compromise-- he's not saying that it's "wrong" per se, but that it could result in other, much uh... "more wronger" situations like Donkey love.

In a away, he's conceding that gay marriage isn't so far outside 'the normative standard,' which is all of a few basic logical steps from conceding the point.

Rye said...

Micah--I love your comment.

Mikey Lynch said...

Marriage may be a secular word, but any word may have a variety of meanings, from loose to technical.

Clearly marriage has a technical meaning, involving things such as lifelong and love and (I would argue) heterosexuality.

I don't reckon this is religious ideology, I think it's just the definition of the term when used in this context. The gay-marriage line is changing the definition by loosening the definition.

Mikey Lynch said...

One more thing: all sides of this sort of debate should be very, very wary about assuming the answer to WWJD if he had lived as a regular citizen in a democratic republic.

stephy said...

I agree, and with all wariness feel that Jesus would "give to Caesar what is Caesar's" and otherwise not be threatened by what the government rules.

Anonymous said...

RE: "Clearly marriage has a technical meaning, involving things such as lifelong and love and (I would argue) heterosexuality."

Only because that is the way our society chooses to limit the so-called "technical" meaning.

But "technically" the word doesn't have a single "technical" meaning and never has. Even the part about heterosexuality.

The sooner the human race acknowledges this, the easier it will be on our gay friends and family members.

RE: "I don't reckon this is religious ideology, I think it's just the definition of the term when used in this context. The gay-marriage line is changing the definition by loosening the definition."

But don't assume that this context is the ONLY one.

The gay marriage line is just expanding the definition, not loosening it.

Why is this so threatening to you?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and with regards to "render unto Caesar" - here's the catch:

NOTHING belongs to Caesar.

EVERYTHING belongs to God.

Always has, always will.

Look at the story again in that light and see how it all changes.

Mikey Lynch said...

tracie: dude, i don't feel threatened, just have a different pov is all. no need to psychoanalyse me.

Anonymous said...

Mikey: I'm not a dude.

I'm a chick.

Want a pic of the DDDs to prove it?! LOL

stephy said...

Hey y'all, no dismissal please. If you're not going to be gentle please take it outside. Thanks. :)

Anonymous said...

I have always enjoyed the "there is only ONE meaning of this word" argument. As if language is static; as if the meaning of words hasn't shifted over time; and what can been contained in a word hasn't grown.

What did "citizen" constitute a hundred years ago?

Even more fun is the "there is only ONE use for this thing" argument.

Okay. No problemo.

In that case, you have to choose between peeing and sex, boys.

David said...

Mikey commented, "The gay-marriage line is changing the definition by loosening the definition."

Uh, yeah. So ?

There was a time in our history not too long ago that the definition of the word "person" didn't included African slaves. We managed to loosen that definition w/o doing damage to society (quite the opposite, actually).

The fact that a definition is being broadened doesn't, in and of itself, imply that something bad is happening...

Anonymous said...

I guess you must define Christian. Is it a go after whoever the leader is Christian? Is it a go after whatever everyone else is doing Christian? Is it a Christian that just happens to bear the name Christian?

If those are the types of Christians and there is no clear definition as to what is right or wrong, and political correctness is the foundation of the day. Hey, eat, drink, and do whatever pleases you, for tomorrow we die.

If however, it is a Bible believing Christian, a true believer, someone who seeks the true living God. Then the bible is more than clear:

1 Cor 6:9-11 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals,thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Does God love the homosexual? Of course, just like the greedy and the drunk

Will a true believer be incapable of changing to what His creator has created him to be? No, if he/she truly wants to change then God supplies more than enough for the true seeker.

I know that this is the place to laugh at Christians and make fun of their "culture". I wouldn't say I blame you, because there are quite some strange things done in the name of Christianity and God these days.,,,,but don't be confused, Christian culture matters not one bit....on the other hand it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the true living God.

Do you have a problem with Christian culture? Frankly there are many things in which I do too. Don't equate Christian culture with God, though. Don't call good what He has called evil. You may laugh today, because lightning hasn't fallen or earthquakes haven't swallowed you up, but that is because He is longsuffering and patient.

Did Jesus forgive the prostitutes? Absolutely....but he said...Go and sin no more!

Are you enjoying your sin? Or is sin politically incorrect and something only those "fundamentalists" use? Sin is real and its meaning is like that of pain to your health. Sure, you can take medication and take away the pain for a while, but cure the pain? Only finding the root of the problem will produce the cure.

What is at the root of sin? Unbelief. May God have mercy on those that read this comment and give them ears to hear and eyes to see. Only Jesus is the way the truth and the life. He walked among sinners, mingled with people of all sorts, died on a cross and has resurrected! Take an unconventional step out of your vast array of knowledge, out of your cynicism towards the Christian culture and read his word. Believe, not the actions of those you've learned to so dislike that you have a whole blog about it, but Believe the God that created you and cares for you. He is more than believable!

stephy said...

thanks for your comment. The problem I find is that in the Bible, God calls sin "sin" within the context of relationship. I'm thinking of how Jesus approached Zaccheus. They didn't have a relationship at that point and he was inviting him to relationship. Any change came by virtue of first being in the context of relationship and love.

I think Christian culture, like anything, can be idolatrous. In many contexts I feel strongly that Jesus is missed and the culture itself has come forward as a sort of idol. I think Christian culture is funny because it doesn't have much, if anything, to do with Christ himself.

You said "believe that God created you and cares for you," but that is confusing and hurtful because I don't feel cared for by you, someone who says they are God's follower. I don't know if you meant to come across that way, but I really do get a dismissive and sort of condescending vibe from your post. I really do appreciate your wanting to leave a comment and hopefully connect somehow, and I would hope that you would have empathy on me and my situation (which involves a long history of abuse in the name of Jesus and I talk about that a bit in some other posts and comment sections) and also empathy on anyone else whom God presumably cherishes and loves.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Hi Steph
I found your site after a speaker at our church mentioned it and I really resonate with your posts. They're both funny, convicting, and have many truths Christians need to be more aware of.
I will say though that I applaud people in the Christian culture for trying to keep the legal definition between one man and one woman.
I too believe that Jesus endorsed love and relationship, the most important one being us with himself. I think, just as in any relationship, you serve Christ out of love, not just because you have to.
But, I think God makes it pretty clear through his Word that he desires sexual relationships to be in a marriage between a man and a woman. Since our relationship with God should influence the types of relationships we have with others, I don't think we should put romantic love for someone of the same sex ahead of our relationship with God because I don't think it's an issue where you can have your cake and eat it too.
On the issue of legislating this, I agree we shouldn't be surprised that the U.S. legislates some things that the Bible does not, but I think it's right to influence the moral and political realms for Christ. After all, God had a beef with Israel when they wanted a king instead of relying on Him to lead them. Why not at least pass legislation that honors God in some areas even if the U.S. doesn't appoint God as their president?

stephy said...

Hi Anonymous,
I appreciate where you're coming from about the legislation. But God had a beef with Israel when they wouldn't rely on him, because Israel were (and still are) his chosen people. But America's not. I used to feel like you do, that we should at least pass legislation that honors God in some areas even if we don't have God as our president, but after spending a lot of time wrestling with this issue I think that legislation most definitely does not honor God, only our hearts can. And from our hearts flow our actions. It's not the other way around.
Thank you for your comment and for wanting to dialogue!

Anonymous said...

I'm not the anonymous who has previously written, I am just another anonymous.

It seems that the original post was correct...Christian Culture does not like gay marriage, which was made obvious by a few people's responses. I'm not sure why anyone would start criticizing and preaching to the author, who simply posted the truth...which, if I'm not mistaken is what Christians are supposed to be seeking?
As a believer, I think this blog is important and serves as a mirror to those who profess to be a christian for christianity's sake and not for Christ's. Thank you Stephy.

Pepe said...

Awesome post. I'm gay. I'm Christian and I've made these same arguments before, but I've never been able to connect with people like you have. Thanks.

Also, being a veteran, I really like that this was posted on Veterans Day - 11 Nov.

Sarah & Patrick said...

I agree with you that Jesus endorsed no political ideology or party (or whatever they would have been called back then). But he did endorse morals. I don't mean to start a semantic argument by implying that Jesus encouraged legalism or moralism, but he did call his people (followers, believers, whatever you wanna call them) to react to Him by repenting and living righteously. That's not to say that all the decisions on what is "right" are always black and white.
Should we consider the idea that the US Gov't remove itself from all of our marriages and consider only "civil unions" for tax purposes, regardless of sexual orientation. I think God calls homosexuality as a sin, but He calls the way Homosexuals are often treated a sin, too. Maybe instead of fighting against their marriages, we (generalized Christian community) should be fighting for their insurance and property rights...and their acceptance as sinners saved by the grace of the loving God.
Just a thought.

OJ said...

Forgive me if my biblical chops are a bit rusty, although I grew up in the Christian culture and went to christian schools my whole life in recent years I have strayed from the "churchiness" and Christian culture as it pertains to my personal faith. Perhaps someone can point the rest of the readers to the exact scripture referencing that we as Christians cannot expect to hold non believers to the same high standards that we might hold for ourselves. Is this not exactly what evangelical Christians are trying to do when they hold the rest of our society to the standards which only they believe in?

I am not here to debate whether or not homosexuality is a sin, a choice, a way in which one is born or any other argument one could make about it. Fact is, my neighbors homosexual lifestyle has no effect on my lifestyle whether or not he or she might be married to their significant other or not.

What does effect me is the thought that in our "land of the free" it is deemed acceptable to refuse rights to law abiding productive members of this society based upon the religious and moral reasonings of one particular demographic in the aforementioned society.

Mark Brown, Chief Markeologist said...

Just found this blog today. I admit - I have an intellectual crush on Stephy...lol!

@homosexuality & marriage: Shame on the church for not demanding the government stay out of our marriages LONG ago. They happily sold the right to the definition of marriage for tax breaks they've collected for the last 50 years or whatever it has been.

keep up the good work, stephy!

Danielle said...

I love all these comments and I appreciate all the different viewpoints.

As a Christian, I am against homosexual marriage. I am not pushing legislation nor do I think that people that do not believe in the Bible have to obey the Bible. I vote against homosexual marriage because I agree with the Bible and as it was quoted in the comments before mine, the Bible clearly states God's opinion on homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, etc. If I could vote on no sex before marriage I would do that as well (yes, I realise that would never happen:)). What I'm saying is that my focus is on loving people and that is what is most important, but my vote goes with the Bible.

Anonymous said...

"But Jesus did not endorse morals or politics."

he did.

rachel said...

thanks steph, i almost just spewed my coffee all over my keyboard when i got to your comment that donkey marriage would indeed be terrifying.

you're killin' me here.

keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I have lived among the brainwashed christian soldiers for more years than I'd like to admit. My feeling is that once they go over the edge they excise the part of their brain and soul that allow them to change their minds and accept different types of lives. The decision to go full metal fundie means that they "know" the right way to think about everything, therefore they no longer have to analyze and reassess their lives and positions. It is, in my mind, more an act of mental resignation and emotional sloth, than the great leap of faith they tout. For people who claim to relish the lessons the lord has tasked us with understanding they cheapen their own lives and impose suffering on others so that they can feel safe in the illusion that they have concrete answers to life's evolving questions.

The act of really living a life is to constantly struggle with that which we don't understand. This is the purpose of human consciousness in my opinion. This uncomfortable struggle with purpose and meaning is the only hard proof of "God" I have ever experienced. By "accepting" christ in the literal way these fundies do, you have in my opinion forsaken the only real task we have as humans. We are here to try to understand this thing, that is our purpose. It is absolutely terrifying and yet at the same time glorious. People who vote no on gay marriage no longer wants to engage in the search for true meaning as it is an arduous task. They instead chose to embrace the doctrine of their church. Sadly their church and her inner bigotry have merged into a weird amalgum of social rules which are consumed with what gets one into heaven and conversely sent to hell. Both heaven and hell are fictions as are most religions. They should serve as meditational books to help us work through our human dilemna, not stand as the literal documentation of events.

I think that deep down most fundies inwardly acknowledge their folly, but the righteous indignation that forces them to react by trying to out christian each other. This is why they can be whipped up in to such hysterics about issues that have absolutely no affect on their lives (gay marriage). It is a distraction and it is one that they will destroy their own lives over to entertain. In the end I actually harbor a fair amount of pity for them. Deluded and full of misdirected rage is no way go through life.

Anonymous said...

Marriage is not christian. Christian marriage, a man and woman being married by a christian cleric, can be extended to whomever christians want to extend it to. Meanwhile, the government of the US can and will extend marriage to whomever it will.

You no more have to recognize legal marriage as valid within your church than the government has to acknowledge church sacraments as valid in the legal system.

So what it comes down to is quite a lot of people wanting to use the government to disenfranchise a group of citizens, and pretending the government is 'stealing' something from them they never had to begin with when said government doesn't fall into line with their beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you're just like the people you complain about. Let's read the words of Jesus we LIKE!
"But Jesus did not endorse morals or politics. Jesus endorsed love and relationship. In particular, he endorsed showing unmerited favor (i.e., grace) to members of society whom the Pharisees deemed unsavory (i.e., tax collectors and prostitutes. Do homosexuals fall in this category?). "
OK, how about this: Woman caught in Adultery:
Jesus spoke about the immorality of those who are hypocrites and would judge and stone the woman. Jesus spoke to the woman about her immorality of having multiple husbands and having sex outside of marriage, and Jesus showed tremendous grace to her. But the end of his contact is VERY important. "Go and sin no more." That Jesus spoke of Grace without repentance is just not true. Yes Homosexuals fall into this category. God loves us, repent, go an sin no more.

stephy said...

You can only cast that stone at homosexuals if you are Jesus and you "go and sin no more." But you sin every day, and so do I.

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Karla said...

So Dr. Dobson has a problem with marriage between "daddies and little girls," does he? How does he feel about daddies assuming control of their little girls' hymens until it's time to turn said control over to her husband? I mean, isn't the purity ceremony framed as some kind of perverted marriage ritual? Don't tell me Dobson has a problem with THOSE.

Anthony David jacques said...

It's just marriage.

It's not gay driving or gay swimming or gay eating breakfast, is it?

So it's just marriage. That's the first thing we need to recognize. Sadly, Christian Culture has a long way to go to get even there.

Kent and Michelle Krabill said...


"Since I just made up a term I suppose I should define it for you. Here we go. Worship equality is the radical notion that God created us equal, that we each bear in us the image of God, and that we can and should all (regardless of gender or orientation) be welcomed to worship him with all our heart, soul mind and strength and that we should be encouraged to love people (our neighbors), all people as we love ourselves. This encompasses the radical notion that women are people and are equal in every way to men (notice equal DOES NOT SAY the same in every way, I am not the same as my husband just as I am not the same as any woman) and also that our LGBT brothers and sisters are equal to their straight counterparts in the eyes of God and therefore in our own."

Anonymous said...

"Go and sin no more" is pretty important, Stephy. It's the punchline of that scene. The Pharasees were condemned because they weren't giving her the chance to do that, even if she asked with sprinkles on top. They were ready to kill her to quell their own offendedness.

Jesus' point was not that she had not sinned, or that the others had no right to point it out, but that they had set themselves up over what they didn't have a right to--what punishment her actions will have. (That's God's job.)

That won't change whether I love or hate the rest of your blog. Or see myself as any stripe of Christian or not.

For the record, I really like it. And I am. But this should also change nothing.

"Then neither do I" ...Jesus is not condoning her behavior--he's giving her the space to change it. At whatever point she thought adultery would be a good idea, now I'm pretty sure she doesn't. She's been graphically shown the wages are death, which is why he STILL TELLS HER 'and sin no more'--they're death whether or not the Pharisees are around.

People protest gay marriage (whether their efforts are unwieldy, unsophisticated, alienating or otherwise)...but while we are dismissing them for being Pharisees, we miss that the basis of their anger is still correct. They are angry that sin is being officially condoned, by churches, not just governments.

God doesn't hate people who are attracted to the same sex, any more (or less, it should be said) than any other temptation.

Whether or not the method of sinning is an innate tendency, the method comes from the heart--from me. We each have our own topics that are much harder than others. James 4 says they 'entice' us.

And saying it's my right to have sex with someone because I desire them makes about as much ontological sense as CC's blithe line that we are all destined to marry, so there must be someone out there labeled 'for me' in the supplies somewhere. Not how a broken world works.

--Jordan (not anonymous)