Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gay Marriage...Crammed Down My Throat

Gay marriage is everywhere lately.  The CEO of Starbucks recently came out and said that he supports gay marriage.  Politician after politician, including the President, are coming out in support of equal marriage rights for homosexuals.  The military policy of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is no longer in effect.  With this recent news, it brings out the opposition.  This blog serves to address the concerns and arguments for, and against, gay marriage.

When we find that someone is opposed to same sex marriage, the argument can almost always be summed up from two different perspectives.  One is the argument of tradition and how gay marriage could destroy the sanctity of traditional (male, female) marriage.  The other is the argument from the basis of religion, almost always Christianity.  Some Christians feel it is their duty to enforce what they believe to be God's law as found in the Biblical text.

Before I jump in to the holes found in each of those avenues of opposition, I want to make a few things clear.  This is not a post about religion.  Due to the topic and arguments, I will talk about religion but I won't attack it.  I don't expect to change your mind, however, I do hope to enlighten you as to why your opposition may not be as grounded as you believe.

First, I wish to approach the issue of traditional marriage.  For many years now, marriage has been between a man and a woman.  It wasn't always that way.  Centuries ago marriage was more of a business deal between families and was often arranged.  Men were allowed to have many wives and divorces were granted quite often.  Several ancient Kings were known to have hundreds of wives.  The goal of marriage was not romance, but was procreation.  Men in their 30s and 40s were often arranged to marry teenagers.  These men would divorce the teenage women if they were found to be infertile.  Rather than jump in to the different scenarios of ancient marriage here, I would like to challenge you to read up on your own.  You will find that the idea of traditional marriage which you hold so dear, isn't traditional at all.

Now, from the point of religion.  This will be a bit longer as I feel that this angle deserves a bit more scrutiny.  First off, Christians do not own marriage.  It existed long before the Bible and in many other cultures.  Marriage is not exclusive to the Christian religion.

We all know the argument.  "It was Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve!"  "The Bible says that being gay is an abomination!"  "God hates fags!"

We do find in Biblical text that God does condemn homosexuality, just as he condemns the wearing of different types of fabrics, the death penalty for working on the Sabbath, planting more than one type of crop in a field, women being silent and submissive, that a rapist must marry his victim or pay off her father, etc.  It should be blatantly clear that a book which supports slavery and even tells us how to beat our slaves in order to inflict pain but not kill them is not a book to establish our morality.

This argument against homosexuality is basically a dehumanization of those who are homosexual.  We are often told, "hate the sin, not the sinner".  This is implying that homosexuality is a choice and the homosexual is choosing to live in sin.  The logic fail behind this is that in order for someone to believe that being gay is a choice, they must then believe that their own sexuality was a choice.  They then must admit that they constantly have to choose to suppress an attraction to the same sex in order to keep from sinning.  The logic behind this thought process is quite absent.

Here's the problem with the religious argument.  The Biblical God does hate gays.  We can dance it up all we want but it's clearly there in the Bible.  The real question at hand is why the moderate Christian church is moving away from what the Bible says about homosexuality.  When it comes to the rules of God in the Bible, God is not a moderate.

Here are a few Bible verses that show that the Christian God does condemn gays:

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."  - 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10Leviticus 18:22 - "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable."Leviticus 20:13 - "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."Romans 1:26-27 - "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion."Even though these verses are unsettling, it's important to remember that they were written by primitive man.  However, many people in today's world feel it is necessary to organize their lives around the prehistoric ideas of primitive, Bronze Age man.

When we look back on the Inquisition or the Crusades, we find that not many modern day Christians will say that either of those was a good idea.  The problem with the Inquisition and Crusades is that they were not a perversion of Christian doctrine.  Instead, they were an expression of Christian doctrine.  During the Inquisition, thousands of Jews were persecuted and killed because the Christian church believed that Jews were drinking the blood of Christian babies in order to be saved.  They believed that Jews were all born blind and with their fingers attached to their forehead.  The only believed cure for this "curse" was the blood of Christian babies which would be extracted by the Jews using a reed type device.  This was not a perversion of Christian doctrine.  It was expression of the doctrine.  The hatred of homosexuality is the modern day Inquisition.  The condemnation of gays is an expression of Christian doctrine, not a perversion.

The most common argument to that is that we have Jesus now and he forgives us so none of that ancient stuff applies anymore.  It's important to remember that the Crusades, the Inquisition, the witch hunts, etc., all happened after and under the doctrine of Jesus.  The Bible that the church used to murder hundreds of thousands of Jews and witches and non-believers is the exact same Bible we read today.  Exactly.  Sure, it's be translated a few hundred times but the message is the same.  That is the problem with Biblical literature.  Taken in some verses it is very easy to justify the love shown by missionaries and the good done by believers.  Taken in other verses it is easy to justify the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church or the murders of the Inquisition and the Crusades.

Back about 4 years ago, I organized a protest against the Westboro Baptist Church as they planned to come to Branson, MO, and protest a show done by Charlie Daniels.  I did radio, TV, and newspaper interviews.  I built a Facebook page to gather support.  Long story short, hundred of people showed up to support this cause of keeping the hatred of Westboro Baptist Church out of Branson.  The diversity of the people there was astonishing.  I've never been so touched in my life to see a community come together as we did to keep the WBC out of our hometown.

At that time, I considered myself a Christian.  I had my doubts but if you would have asked me, I would have proclaimed to be a Christian.  Since that time, I have read countless books of Biblical literature including reading the Bible in it's entirety, twice.  The thing that disturbed me is that the Westboro Baptist Church is justified in their belief.  The God of the Bible does hate fags.  This in no way changes my feelings towards WBC.  If I could use each of them for target practice and not spend a life time in jail for it, I'd do it in a heartbeat.  They are a hateful group, but just as the participants of the Inquisition and the Crusades were justified in their actions according to the Bible, so is the WBC.  The actions of the WBC are not a perversion of the Christian doctrine, they are an expression of it.

It should be painfully clear that our morality does not come from the Bible.  I say that as someone who has read the Bible in it's entirety, which seems to be a rarity in today's world.  When we read the Bible, we find things that are disturbing and unsettling, such as slavery, arranged marriages, stoning of non-virgin women, burning of witches, stoning of non-believers, etc.  We all easily dismiss those are ancient practices and we think nothing more about it. Where does that sense of morality come from?  Did it come from that book or is it innate?  I have much more faith in humanity than to believe that we must get out morality from a book.  As Albert Einstein said, "If people are only good because we fear punishment, and hope for reward, we are a sorry lot indeed."

If you ask someone, "Who is God?  What does he want?", every single person will have a different answer.  We have all interpreted God to be something fitting to us, and all of us are right.  We read through the Holy Books and decide which verses we wish to apply to our lives and we disregard the rest.  We do not justify the values of the Bible (which is a good thing), instead we use the Bible as a tool to justify our own values.

Now that we have established that the Bible can be used to justify good and bad, that brings up a very pressing question.  Why should my civil rights be dictated by your interpretation of the parts of the Bible you chose to believe in?

It's very easy to stand behind the veil of religion and claim that you oppose the rights of others.  It's often said that gays will be getting special rights if they are allowed to marry.  It is not a special right when another group of people gets to enjoy a freedom that you already have.  It's religious suppression, plain and simple.    A coward stands behind freedom and goes with what he believes is the norm.  A courageous person stands out in front of freedom and defends it for others.  When a religious person demands that others observe their taboos in public, that is not asking for respect.  That is demanding submission.

We need to stop hiding behind the arguments of opposition to gay marriage.  The only way that gay marriage is a threat to you is if it seems like a better option.  If someone says to me, "I don't want gays to get married because gays are nasty", I can honestly respect that.  It's truthful and it's honest to that person.  I'm not trying to say that this position is moral or ethical, but at least it isn't hidden behind the veil of something else.

As a straight man in a relationship with an amazing woman, I will admit that I don't understand homosexuality.  My heterosexuality was never a choice to me.  It is who I am.  I feel no attraction to other men and I do not believe that my sexuality was a choice.  My sexuality was innate.  I do not have to understand the feelings of homosexuality in order to respect my fellow human beings.  Just as our grandparents dealt with black and white segregation, we deal with the dehumanization of homosexuals.  We will look back on this time in our history with disgust, but we will be grateful that we have come so far as a society.

Homosexuality is a form of love and it should be treated as such.

2 comments:

  1. Very well thought and well said. You feel much the way I, my daughter and my granddaughters do, but my sons feel just the opposite.

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  2. Hello Tim
    You are correct, the Christian church does not own marriage. However, the practise in Judaeo-Christian society has been a monogamous male/female union for many centuries.
    However, it is not same sex marriage I am concerned with, but the possibility of churches being forced to celebrate (preside over) same sex marriages, if they wish to continue to celebrate what has become their tradition. If the State legislates for same sex marriage, it should also protect those celebrants who refuse to preside over the union, and then I have no issue.
    With regard to the WBC, although I live on the other side of the world, this hate is not unique to them. As a Christian, l am deeply sorry for this. Almost any behaviour can be justified from readings in the bible, as you have pointed out, but love, compassion, caring and forgiveness and respect for others dignity and humanity, should be the ones we aspire to.
    It is every individual's right to have an opinion on same sex marriage, but they should not he villified for that opinion, whether for or against. Neither position makes you evil, and given the valid arguments available for both viewpoints, neither position makes you right.
    Unfortunately, with any emotive social issue, there is rational debate and hysteria at the same time. Lets hope the rational debate of the greater public drowns out the hysteria of WBC and others.

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