In church yesterday, we had a lesson about strengthening the family. It was all going fine until it was derailed by a comment about gay marriage and an upcoming “assault on the family” waged by legislation and the courts. Being a good little Mormon, afraid of outing myself as a liberal to this room full of men, I kept my mouth shut until I could come up with a diplomatic way of expressing my utter shock at the suggestion of two folks that our families were somehow impacted by gay couples having the same rights we do as straight couples.
I ended up saying something like (paraphrasing, because I’m not sure exactly what I said – my face was red), “I’m going to try to say this very carefully. I would think that as members of a Church that has been legislated against in the past to the point that it was once legal and encouraged to kill Mormons, we would be suspect of government intervention in the name of ‘morality’. We are Christians. And as Christians, we’re not about judging people. I would think that if we want to bring more people into the Church, and to Christ, we would want to embrace them as people, and not try to further marginalize our brothers and sisters who happen to be gay. I think we should be very careful about supporting these proposed laws, because they are often viewed as a license to hate, and that’s not what being a Christian is about.”
What I didn’t say during the lesson, but wanted to, was that I don’t see how allowing a gay couple to have the same legal rights as a straight couples when it comes to survivor benefits, power of attorney and the rest of the legal rights that come with a marriage (to the state, really a “civil union” anyway), threatens our families. Homosexuals are easy targets because they’re “different” and “not like us”. If we really wanted to strengthen the “family”, we should look at the problems that already afflict families. We should look at ways to decrease the divorce rate, which is currently well over fifty percent (meaning your marriage is more likely to fail than to succeed), provide more help for single parents, and look at ways to promote marriage over co-habitation (since a couple is 33% more likely to divorce if they live together before marriage than not). We need to look at ways to strengthen family bonds, and create healthy and stable home lives for children. We need to break the chain of poverty, which causes so much stress on family life. I don’t see any of that happening through legislation. I don’t see what allowing homosexuals couples equal protection under the law has to do with my family. I’m not going to be forced to marry a man, and my wife doesn’t have to go marry a woman. It will most likely not have anything to do with my family or marriage.
We already have enough hate in our country. We have enough Fred Phelps to go around. Being Christian means hating the sin, not the sinner. By marginalizing those who choose different lifestyles than our own, we show them, and ourselves, that we lack charity. Since Christ himself said that we should love our neighbors has ourselves, and said it was the second of all commandments (Mark 12 30-32). Shouldn’t that pretty much trump anything you find in the Old Testament. Mark 12 is pretty much a refutation of the Ten Commandments, yet, those who proclaim their hatred for homosexuals constantly use the Old Testament in their attacks. Charity is the pure love of Christ. If we constantly attack those who are different from us, threaten to make illegal the love they can’t help but feel, and judge them ceaselessly, where is our charity?
This is way too much time to spend on a piece of legislation that is nothing more than a sop to the President’s religious conservative base. If he was truly interested in saving the institution of marriage, he would make it harder to get divorced, outlaw co-habitation and force everyone to be nice, happy, well-balanced people. But, of course, we know that no law will ever do that. By legislating something, it doesn’t make it go away. Homosexuals won’t just “see the light” and become straight because they can’t have the same rights we do as straight people. If we allow this law to pass, or the amendment to be added to the Constitution, they will know that we do not have charity, that we do not love our neighbors, that we are not Christians.
I’ve been thinking about this gay marriage thing a lot too, and I think the amendment is silly for a different reason. I think the whole thing should just come up for a vote and how it goes is how it goes.
Here’s my reasoning. Marriage is a socially defined construct (referring here to marriages performed by the courts–within a religion it’s defined by that religion, end of story). Therefore, ‘marriage’ is, in a sense, owned by society at large. The state’s involvement is just democracy, power to the people, or of the people, expressed in a more formal way.
If that’s what marriage is, no one political group should go running around making constitutional amendments to make a definition of marriage. Conversely, no small group of individuals should be able to force society as a whole to change their definition of marriage. It just is what we say it is. If individuals want to do other things, live together, make vows, have their own ceremonies, etc.; that’s fine. But they don’t have the right to force everyone else to change their conceptualizations of something.
Now, that being said, they have every right to do everything in their power to convince us to change our minds. When the more part of the people, i.e. society, decide to change their views, then we vote, and marriage is changed, or rather, the societally held view of it changes. That’s when and only when I think the law should change, to reflect the views of the populace, not to influence or coerce it.
As Mormons, we do our own thing anyway, so I do think you’re right that we don’t really need to worry about what other people call marriage. Wow, I think this is my longest post. To sum up, Bush is being a ninny, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why.
Putting it up to a vote is what people are trying to do.
What Bush said was activist judges shouldn’t be allowed to force their extreme interpretations of the law onto the public, even when it contradicts the will of the people or of the legislatures.
It’s not just as simple as saying everyone who disagrees hates homosexuals.
There is more to the issue, and it is not all religious.
Being a gay man, my take on the gay marriage thing is simple. Why should this be the first time discrimination is ever written into our constitution? Everything that has gone into the constituion has been to give rights to the people not take away rights. Who will be the next target?
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