Rant Alert: Marriage Equality & Christianity

marriage equality

I’ve sat and watched with increasing frustration the last few weeks as people on social media have debated the topic of marriage equality back and forth. It’s frustrating for a number of reasons. The level of vehemence on both sides. The ignorance. The intolerance. Often, the sheer stupidity of the statements, again, often from both sides. More than anything, what has both frustrated and angered me is the responses I’ve seen from self-proclaimed Christians, especially from people that I know and love. I’ve debated back and forth whether I really wanted to get into the fray by writing something about it. I didn’t want to get into heated debates with people. I’ve made some comments on social media in various places, but mostly I’ve restrained myself from really diving in. Tonight, after another one of these topics came up in a Facebook post, I decided I couldn’t hold back any longer. I’m not going to debate whether homosexuality is a sin or not. I’m not going to open that can of worms. I am going to debate why marriage equality should happen (or continue to happen), and why Christians should stop getting so up in arms about it. The main point is this:

It May Share the Same Name, But It Isn’t The Same Thing

The biggest argument I’ve seen against marriage equality is that it smacks in the face of God’s definition of marriage. It’s sinful, an abomination, and will be the downfall of society, America, and apple pie. Here’s why you’re wrong.

1.It’s not the same thing as the marriage you’re talking about.
It just isn’t. The Judeo-Christian definition of marriage is the joining of man and woman in a holy covenant between themselves and God. They are spiritually and physically joined together in a union that is meant to last until death. It has a HUGE spiritual significance. It is a huge deal, just like all covenants with God.

Other cultures and religions have varying interpretations and emphasis. For some you’re joined to Gaia, for others it’s a union blessed by Thor and Odin, or the moon and the stars, or whatever. Marriage has a different meaning for every different culture and religion. They all share a common ground, the joining of two people’s lives, but the significance and what that union means can vary and is entirely dependent on the couple and their beliefs. This is not the kind of marriage that you need a government to condone. This is the type of marriage that has gone on for centuries across most cultures in the world since societies began.

The kind of marriage that people are losing their freaking minds about is the other kind of marriage- a legal contract between two consenting adults that joins their lives in a legally recognized way and bestows upon them special privileges and selectively-apportioned state benefits according to that government’s laws.

It’s a legal.

Contract.

As far as the government is concerned it has nothing to do with love, God, Allah, Gaia, Thor, the entire Greek pantheon, or my chicken sandwich. Any other significance, beyond the legal, placed upon it from there is ENTIRELY dependent upon the beliefs of the couple. Arguing over this topic to the point of violence is as dumb as arguing over whether “sinners” should be allowed to sign the Apple Terms of Service Agreement.

Christianity doesn’t own the concept of marriage. We don’t have a trademark on the term. Marriage of one kind or another has been happening in societies long before God made His covenant with Abraham or before Moses wrote the Ten Commandments. It is an ideal that has been practiced by cultures that had never even heard of Yahweh,  Jesus, God, or the Holy Spirit. Hell, Native Americans were practicing a form of it before the rest of the known world invaded and gave them the gift of smallpox and introduced them to the concept of eviction.

Now, if said homosexual couple wants to have a religious wedding, then that is another topic for debate; but it has nothing to do with the marriage license or the legal side of things, which is all the Supreme Court decided. Either way, there are two different versions of marriage at play here. One is legal, the other holy. Stop confusing the two and getting up in arms about it.

2. It is Incredibly Hypocritical 

The “baker” question has been floating around quite a bit on Facebook lately. Should Christian bakers bake cakes for gay weddings? Would Jesus? (I’m not touching on whether they should legally be forced to, just the idea of willingly doing it or not.) I said this in a Facebook topic earlier today and I’ll share it here, and note that this is me with my “Minister” hat on now:
I’m wondering, for all of you hypothetical bakers, if you’d refuse to bake a cake for a couple who had a sexual relationship before the wedding, or if they’d committed adultery, or been previously married but divorced for a reason other than adultery? If the answer is yes, how, exactly, would you plan on staying in business?

When did homosexuality suddenly become this line in the sand and thus worse than all other “sinful lifestyles”? Why is a homosexual wedding any different than a couple who had lived and had sex together out of wedlock before the wedding, or what if they’re wiccan, or agnostic, or atheists? They’re all considered “sinful lifestyles”, yet you don’t see these bastions of Christianity denying cakes to everyone else. Is it only okay as long as the baker is ignorant of the lifestyle in question? Should we start having sin questionnaires just to be sure? Should we have to call their pastors and confirm that they’re card carrying Christians? Do we not see how hypocritical this line of thinking becomes?

Further food for thought, for the ones so aghast at the thought of “Jesus the baker” baking a cake for these sinful people- he WAS a carpenter. Do you think he refused to make furniture for “sinners”, knowing that they may use said furniture to celebrate acts of gluttony or even for use during a wedding of other hedonistic sinners? Did he tell the Samaritan at the well that they must not drink from the same water as the Jews because they were a “sinner,” as the Pharisees and Sadducees did? (Note: Yes, I’ve heard the wooden idol argument. No, it isn’t the same. That is a symbol of idolatry used in a religious ceremony. A cake is not.)

It’s out of love and compassion that He wanted His followers to be known by, not the same self-righteous judgmentalness that the Pharisees and teachers of the Law displayed. I’m seeing so many people hurl insults towards homosexual individuals as though these people are somehow worse than the rest of us. You don’t have to agree with the lifestyle, but you should keep in mind that we are ALL sinners and we’re all equally filthy in the eyes of God without His forgiveness. So I say this in love:

Grow up, get over it, and stop being such a hypocrite.

We don’t live in a Christian theocracy. You can’t expect a secular society that is a melting pot of all different kinds of religions and ideologies to conform to your way of thinking or sense of morality. Nor should you to expect to be treated better, or given legal benefits and privileges  solely based on what’s going on between the legs or by skin color.  You think homosexuality is a sin? Don’t do it. You don’t agree with homosexual marriage? Don’t do it. You do you, and stop worrying about everyone else- particularly in areas that don’t affect you personally one single bit.

Added from a comment I made below, which I think sums things up well: What it really boils down to is those against gay marriage are really saying that homosexual couples don’t deserve to have the same legal government/insurance/financial benefits and protections as other couples, and I have yet to see one solid reason as to why without people injecting their personal religion or beliefs into it.

 

Note: I decided to open the comments section because this is a topic that’s important to discuss. That said, I have to approve every comment before it’ll show up, so keep it civil. If you disagree that’s fine, but I refuse to let this degenerate into anything ugly.

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4 Comments

Filed under Rant Alert

4 responses to “Rant Alert: Marriage Equality & Christianity

  1. Too much to really respond to, but I’ll take the time to focus on a few points.

    [“The kind of marriage that people are losing their freaking minds about is the other kind of marriage- a legal contract between two consenting adults that joins their lives in a legally recognized way and bestows upon them special privileges and selectively-apportioned state benefits according to that government’s laws.”]

    Because everyone is waving the #lovewins banner, I have to ask this question: When you and your significant other go in to get said marriage “contract,” as you’re filling out the papers and answering questions from the rep and the form, is the question, “How much do you love each other?” asked? Obviously if a person is married they know the answer to this question (I don’t know if you’re married or not so I won’t assume one way or the other), but if this question isn’t asked, why is that so?

    [“Do you think he refused to make furniture for “sinners”, knowing that they may use said furniture to celebrate acts of gluttony or even for use during a wedding of other hedonistic sinners?”]

    That’s not the accurate form of the question you’re asking, and it’s spinning the proper Christian view on this aspect of the topic. Of course Jesus served sinners – He *served*. There wasn’t one person He served that wasn’t a sinner. The proper question is, if someone came into Jesus’ workshop and asked if He would carve a wooden idol of a god that they worshiped, would He do it? I’d like to think anyone with at least three Sunday School classes would know that answer, but I’ve been surprised in the past. When someone speaks of Jesus and gives out a whole “WWJD” idea, I need to ask proper questions from them to see if they really do know what the historical Jesus (not the Americanized, “Barney” Jesus) would do.

    When you state the whole “Bake for Them Two” argument, again, this is misinterpreting the question. Similar to what I stated before, here’s what I have to ask (along with the idol question I presented earlier) –

    Is Jesus saying that if a man forces you to steal another man’s cloak that you should steal for him two?
    Is Jesus saying that If a man asks you to make one pornographic movie should you make two?

    Carrying a cloak for a Roman soldier is amoral. It’s not wrong to carry a soldier’s equipment in and of itself. In regards to same-sex unions, the classical Christian view is that it is immoral, and therefore shouldn’t be celebrated.

    What if it was a white supremacist that wanted a baker to put anti-black comments on a cake for a ceremony? What if it was a Christian who went to a gay baker and asked them to write anti-gay comments on a cake for a celebration? Do you think those people should be forced to do those as well, and if not, why?

    I suppose this answers your question,
    [“If you’d refuse to bake a cake for a couple who had a sexual relationship before the wedding, or if they’d committed adultery, or been previously married but divorced for a reason other than adultery?”]

    It isn’t about their past history, it isn’t about their characteristics; it’s about what service/event/ceremony the cake is being baked for. This is why bakeries, for instance, don’t ask for a full background check for people that order cakes, but do ask for details about the event/ceremony. When you’re celebrating at a ceremony, you’re promoting whatever the ceremony is being held for.

    You stated you were in ministry for 18 years, so I was surprised to see the following statement:

    [“I studied theology in college. I’ve read the Bible countless times. Not once do I recall Jesus mentioning homosexuality.At all. Ever.]

    Not only is this unsound logic (an argument from silence isn’t proof of the contrary and is fallacious – Jesus never mentioned automobiles in His ministry either, so should Christians be driving cars?), but instead of asking where Jesus spoke of homosexuality, the proper question is how many times has Jesus affirmed heterosexual marriages throughout His ministry? Also, since the proper Christian view of Jesus is that Jesus is a part of the trinitarian God, what has *God* stated about marriages and homosexuality? Since you claim to have gone through theological studies in a college, I’d like to suppose you know the answer to these questions, and stating that you’ve read the Bible “countless times” is purely anecdotal and doesn’t lend to the discussion at hand. There are plenty of others who have read the Bible “countless times” and have come to a different view on the subject – obviously just “reading through” the Bible doesn’t give everyone the right answer. It simply isn’t sound to appeal to your own authority.

    I’m glad you thought the subject important enough to write a rant about – you thought right on that! It’s important that people keep dialoguing about this topic because even though same-sex unions are now legal, there have been plenty of things in this country alone (slavery as the most well-known example) that were legal at one time but are morally unjustifiable. I encourage you to look up books/resources that offer arguments against same-sex unions that aren’t formed primarily on a scriptural basis – they’re not hiding in the intellectual corner or anything! This isn’t appealing to authority, mind you, but simply offering an idea to look at the subject from a holistic perspective and not just a holy perspective. 🙂 Have a good one.

    • {Because everyone is waving the #lovewins banner, I have to ask this question: When you and your significant other go in to get said marriage “contract,” as you’re filling out the papers and answering questions from the rep and the form, is the question, “How much do you love each other?” asked? Obviously if a person is married they know the answer to this question (I don’t know if you’re married or not so I won’t assume one way or the other), but if this question isn’t asked, why is that so?}

      No, because it’s a legal document and it’s not pertinent as far as the government is concerned. They aren’t in the God business, and they aren’t in the love business. You’re signing a legal contract that joins your assets with another individual (to put it in very simplistic terms) and legally binds you in other various areas. The “love wins” signs are no different than the signs Christians tote around about how America is going against God’s definition of marriage- legally it doesn’t matter either way.

      [Comments on Jesus]
      Yeah, other people threw out the idol thing as well, but that’s just as false an argument as saying Jesus was mean to sinners because he made a whip and kicked people out of the temple (that one was used on me in the same post). One is a celebration of joining two lives, the other is desecrating God’s temple or breaking God’s commandments (idolatry). More to the point, a wooden idol is a religious symbol used in worship, a cake is not.

      Which was the point of this whole article: Christians are being hypocrites about this topic in general. Technically speaking, any marriage outside of a Judeo-Christian marriage is not a Godly marriage and is not according to God’s definition. Sure, they may have the man and woman thing right, but the Judeo-Christian God isn’t anywhere in the picture. Depending on their religion it could be any number of other gods, the Earth itself, or the holy taco (people can be weird). For Atheists and Agnostics God/gods don’t factor AT ALL. That’s not the Biblical definition of marriage either, but I’ve never seen Christians protest their right to get legally married. I never once advocated that bakers should have to bake a cake for homosexuals, or that pastors should have to marry homosexuals in a religious service, nor will I. People should be free to act as their beliefs and conscious dictates. My point in bringing up the baking example was to make people examine why they wouldn’t want to bake the cake for homosexuals when they might not have a problem with any other type of non-Godly wedding. What’s the difference? None of them are Godly marriages, all of it is technically sin and sinful lifestyles according to Christian doctrine, so why is homosexuality suddenly worse than everything else? Because people think it’s “icky”? Again, if said homosexual couple was pushing for a religious wedding, that’s a different story and open to debate.

      {Jesus and not commenting on homosexuality}
      You’re right, perhaps it was a bad point, or rather, it was worded poorly; but yours was equally preposterous. Jesus discussed a lot of very pertinent issues regarding the society that they lived in and how God’s people should act within that society. My point was that if homosexuality is such an abomination, and gay sex was a very common and socially accepted thing in that same society that Jesus lived in, it is interesting to note that the subject never came up once in any of the Gospels. Of course omission doesn’t = condoning, but it’s still something worth considering, especially when one examines the other biblical mentions of homosexuality and the context- but that’s a whole other can of worms that I’m not interested in really opening right now. It has nothing to do with this topic because we’re not debating whether homosexuality is a sin or if they should be allowed to be married in the religious sense of the term. (Edit: In fact, I completely removed that section from the article because you were right- it was horribly phrased and it completely detracted from the point I was making. It only served to muddy the waters. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.)

      Legal marriage has absolutely nothing to do with God. Nothing. It’s just a legal contract. Any meaning put upon the act after that is entirely dependent on the couple being married and what significance they choose to put there. For Christians like myself (and yes, I am happily married) it is a covenant not just with my wife, but with my God, and therefore it has a much greater significance to me than it might to others in that regard. But not everyone believes what I do or worships the same God, or has the same view of what a marriage should be as I do- and legally speaking, that’s perfectly fine. Democratic country. Freedom of religion.

      What people against gay marriage are really protesting is that homosexual couples don’t deserve to have the same legal government/insurance/financial benefits and protections as other couples, and I have yet to see one solid reason as to why without people injecting their personal religion or bigotry into it.

      I do appreciate you taking the time to comment, and for you being respectful even though we may disagree. Have a good day yourself. 🙂

      • [“No, because it’s a legal document and it’s not pertinent as far as the government is concerned. They aren’t in the God business, and they aren’t in the love business.”]

        So what business are they in? You haven’t answered my question. 😉 What reason(s) did they have before to not legally recognize same-sex unions?

        [“My point was that if homosexuality is such an abomination, and gay sex was a very common and socially accepted thing in that same society that Jesus lived in, it is interesting to note that the subject never came up once in any of the Gospels.”]

        Historically, “gay sex” was not common in the least bit in the immediate society and culture that Jesus lived in and experienced (which was in Nazareth). The Gospel writers were in no way obligated to write about every single subject that came up, or came out of Jesus’ mouth. (When someone records minutes out of a meeting, is that person obligated to record every single facet or word of a discussion that was had?) (Be reminded of John 21:25 as well.) But again, your last sentence begs the question. You claim that the subject never once came up in any of the Gospels, but how much did Jesus preach in regards to heterosexual couples, marriage, etc.? And, because classical Christianity (again, stressing the “classical” because it has been twisted to many other things in the past 40 years or so) states that Jesus is God, this presents a problem to your statement, because God certainly had things to say about “gay sex” in the Old Testament, no?

        Let me put it this way. If someone commits a murder in a town, and all of the collective evidence points to said murderer’s conviction, does the detective still have to interview every person in the town to find out what really happened? In the same way, we can infer from the many things that Jesus *did* say on marriage and heterosexual relationships that Jesus did, in fact, have a view on same-sex relationships, even if it was not specifically recorded in the NT scriptures (and again, we can find those views in the OT, because God’s laws, nature and design is unchanging). If I tell someone that I love Fords, and I constantly talk about Fords, root for Fords in various forms of motorsports, and drive a Ford, is someone going to believe that I love Chevrolets in an equal manner? No, we’re not talking about moral subjects here, but the logic exercise is the same.

        [“Legal marriage has absolutely nothing to do with God. Nothing. It’s just a legal contract. Any meaning put upon the act after that is entirely dependent on the couple being married and what significance they choose to put there. “]

        Again, why have it at all, then? Why is it a contract to being with? Why is the state interested?

        [“What people against gay marriage are really protesting is that homosexual couples don’t deserve to have the same legal government/insurance/financial benefits and protections as other couples, and I have yet to see one solid reason as to why without people injecting their personal religion or bigotry into it.”]

        That’s blatant generalization and again, fallacious. I suppose I should have started my comments by asking if you believe yourself to be a tolerant person, since from this comment (and others in your original piece) it doesn’t appear that you have tolerance for those that balk at the legalization of same-sex unions (using words like “bigotry” is just ad hom), but regardless… Like I said, you should look into resources and books that have been written on the topic. More specifically, for starters, the many studies that have been performed on matters of crime/law/justice, the poor, and children in regards to growing up in a single parent or same-sex parents home versus the mother(female)+father(male) foundation. Not gonna spoonfeed you here – if you have yet to see one solid reason as to why someone can support the institution of heterosexual marriage without injecting the Bible into it, you should really spend time looking for the sources that give arguments to the contrary instead of making generalizations. It helps to really know the other side thoroughly, not just the loudest ones selected by the media or on your Facebook feeds. 🙂

        Thanks for your reply.

      • {So what business are they in? You haven’t answered my question. 😉 What reason(s) did they have before to not legally recognize same-sex unions? Again, why have it at all, then? Why is it a contract to being with? Why is the state interested?}

        I’m not a historian and am far from an expert on the subject. That said, legal/financial/insurance protection of the family and the raising of children is certainly a big part of it. The legal joining of two household incomes, assets, for the purposes of taxation and, again, protection, especially in the case of a divorce or split (whether children are involved or not). I’m sure there are many more reasons, legally speaking, that it was seen as a good idea. As to why not homosexuals up until now? I’m sure you know it had everything to do with social norms/what was socially accepted, and for many of the same reasons that interracial couples couldn’t legally do it either until 1967.

        {Homosexuality & Jesus}
        You may not have seen but I removed that section from the article and edited the comment to thank you for bringing it to my attention. It muddied the waters and had nothing to do with the current topic. It was also admittedly horribly worded, and opened a can of worms I really don’t want to debate right now. So I concede that topic to you.

        {That’s blatant generalization and again, fallacious. I suppose I should have started my comments by asking if you believe yourself to be a tolerant person, since from this comment (and others in your original piece) it doesn’t appear that you have tolerance for those that balk at the legalization of same-sex unions (using words like “bigotry” is just ad hom), but regardless…}

        You misunderstood what I meant, and I certainly never meant imply that all people against same sex marriage are bigots. Perhaps I should have just said “personal beliefs”. My mistake. I’ll be sure to fix that in the actual article to avoid this kind of misunderstanding. But generally, yes, I am a very tolerant person. Admittedly, that tolerance is tested, and in fact, strained, when it comes to things I see as a social injustices, or when I see people being hurt or personally attacked (which I have seen A LOT over the past few weeks, which prompted the writing of this article). I’m only human.

        That still doesn’t change the fact that for me, personally, I’ve only seen either arguments based on religious belief, or yes, unfortunately bigotry against homosexuals.I guess I should throw in “political capital” there too. That’s not to say there are not legit arguments to be made from other perspectives, but I’ve not personally seen them where they’ve had any sort of significant weight behind them. Even when someone brings up other factors it was often within the same context of a religious debate IE: “And see, this research just proves that God’s way is the best way!” or some variation, and they often just cherry pick the parts of the research that backs up their personal beliefs and points or they take the research out of context. Which brings me to…

        {Like I said, you should look into resources and books that have been written on the topic. More specifically, for starters, the many studies that have been performed on matters of crime/law/justice, the poor, and children in regards to growing up in a single parent or same-sex parents home versus the mother(female)+father(male) foundation. Not gonna spoonfeed you here – if you have yet to see one solid reason as to why someone can support the institution of heterosexual marriage without injecting the Bible into it, you should really spend time looking for the sources that give arguments to the contrary instead of making generalizations. It helps to really know the other side thoroughly, not just the loudest ones selected by the media or on your Facebook feeds. :)}

        I have a masters in Criminal Justice with a focus on social work (I was a youth pastor, so it seemed like a good idea at the time). In fact, if I remember right, I had to write a paper on the subject at one point. So yes, I’ve seen that research as well, but the argument isn’t against support for the heterosexual institution of marriage. I’ve seen just as many scholarly studies (often the in same papers) that show that, all things being equal, children raised in homosexual homes do just as well (if not better in some areas) than those in heterosexual or single parent homes. Especially those studies that have been done in the past few years where homosexual families with children have become more common and socially acceptable compared to, say, ten years ago. Social class, education, and economics have a LOT to do with the results as well, as does the nature of the study and the areas that the study focuses on. In almost all cases children do better in two parent homes, regardless of the sexual orientation of the parents, over single parent homes.

        Hence the reason that, even with such research, I’ve not seen a valid argument against the legality of homosexual marriage without the mention of religion or personal beliefs, because said research isn’t exactly overwhelmingly slanted towards traditional heterosexual family structures or damning towards homosexual-led families. That said, not every homosexual couple adopts a child or intends to ever do so. Even if the research did overwhelmingly go against homosexuals raising children, that’s still no reason to legally ban the entire group and restrict them from being able to have access to the other benefits and protections that legal marriage offers. It’d simply be a solid argument against them being able to legally adopt.

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