My last article, Chick-fil-a, Dan Cathy, and… hate, drew a lot of attention and generated a healthy conversation in the comment section. One comment was from a high school friend of mine, and she asked a few good questions. This post will address each of them.
Why do you feel gay people should not be allowed to marry? Is it because God said so? Is it because gays don’t procreate? Do they detract from our society? As someone who has had zero religious indoctrination, its hard for me to understand. People are people and come in all sorts of flavors.
I cannot speak for all Christendom because there are different answers to this question depending on an individual’s particular focus. For instance, the Biblical thinker who’s highly engaged in the political arena might oppose the issue because they feel the federal government has no jurisdiction in this area. These are some of the most “conservative” thinkers I know and they oppose the Defense of Marriage Act as well. Their reasoning is the same, the federal government needs to stay out of it. Other politically motivated folks are all about DOMA and want the federal government to issue a decree. I don’t posses the political acumen to dissect the question from a political perspective, so I’ll stick to what I know.
Ultimately I believe the idea of “gay marriage” is illogical for a couple of reasons.
First, Marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. I find that definition rooted in Biblical scripture (Genesis 2:22-24, Matt 19:4-6, Mark 10:6-9, etc). To demand that two men be united in marriage is like trying to buy an iPad from Bill Gates.
Second, I do not accept the idea of “gay” in the first place. I’m referring to the idea of gay as a “sexual orientation” not the existence of same-sex attractions. I wrote at length on this issue in my article The problem with “Being Gay,” but I’ll highlight some points here.
1) The idea of “Sexual Orientation” is a moving target at best.
The concepts “lesbian” or “bisexual” are usually used to refer to these women, but their choice of partners and their sexual behavior no longer always accord with such descriptions of identity. There are self-defined lesbians who have sexual contact with men, even for money, and there are women who define themselves as heterosexual but have female sexual partners. (1)
Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes. Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions. Research over several decades has demonstrated that sexual orientation ranges along a continuum, from exclusive attraction to the other sex to exclusive attraction to the same sex. (emphasis mine) (2)
2) “Sexual Orientation” is not defined in any quantifiable way whatsoever. It’s a subjective designation based on an individual’s changing preferences.
Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as if it were solely a characteristic of an individual, like biological sex, gender identity, or age. This perspective is incomplete because sexual orientation is defined in terms of relationships with others. … Therefore, sexual orientation is not merely a personal characteristic within an individual. Rather, one’s sexual orientation defines the group of people in which one is likely to find the satisfying and fulfilling romantic relationships that are an essential component of personal identity for many people. (3)
“Sexual Orientation” aka “being gay” is incredibly difficult to define. Even the Kinsey Scale points to this fact. Someone might be “predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual” or “predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual,” among other greyish “orientations.” We’ve come to embrace the idea because loud voices – Ellen, Gaga, Oprah, Elton, etc – speak it, but psychology and medicine do not agree.
That being said, there’s nothing in our country’s legal statutes or in the Bible that prohibits two men from sharing a deep friendship, sharing hobbies and interests, or sharing a house. Sharing a marriage, however, is a logical impossibility and an inferred Biblical prohibition.
I’ll come back to the “inferred Biblical prohibition” idea a little later, but let’s first understand why, since it’s a religious institution, it is such a legal and political debate.
Advocates for gay marriage claim a civil rights violation because same-sex relationships are denied the same rights and benefits granted to heterosexual marriages. They are fighting for the right to file taxes jointly, enjoy hospital visitation privileges, and come under a single insurance policy, among other things. Very few are seeking recognition from any religious organization, they want acceptance from the government.
In the English common law tradition from which our legal doctrines and concepts have developed, a marriage was a contract based upon a voluntary private agreement by a man and a woman to become husband and wife. … Entering into a marriage changes the legal status of both parties and gives both husband and wife new rights and obligations. (emphasis mine) (4)
The changed legal status of both parties is the aim for those seeking to legitimize same-sex marriage. The tax, insurance, and legal issues could be addressed by each of the entities involved, but those are beyond my working knowledge base. Regardless of the individual benefits, proponents claim the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution should grant them the privilege of this “changed legal status.” Section I of the Fourteenth Amendment reads,
… No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (5)
At first glance this appears to win the debate for the same-sex proponents. But upon further review it’s not the case at all.
1) There are existing prohibitions, not against certain people being allowed to marry but to whom an individual may marry.
The majority of states limit people to one living husband or wife at a time and will not issue marriage licenses to anyone with a living spouse. Once an individual is married, the person must be legally released from the relationship by either death, divorce, or annulment before he or she may remarry. Other limitations on individuals include age and close relationship. Limitations that some but not all states prescribe are: the requirements of blood tests, good mental capacity, and being of opposite sex. (6)
2) Other than those exemptions, every American citizen has the right to get married. No one is excluded. What people are objecting to is their right to marry whoever they want. This is where the exclusions appear. I’m not free to marry another woman, or man for that matter, while I’m still married to Jeni. An adult is not free to marry a minor and close cousins aren’t legally allowed to marry either. We must also remember heterosexual people are also prohibited from marrying someone of the same-sex. A person might call the last example ridiculous because the heterosexual would not want to marry someone of the same-sex, but it illustrates the shared prohibitions and permissions of our marriage laws. None of these examples violate the Equal Protection Clause, and neither does the prohibition against same-sex marriage.
Digging deeper, one might say the prohibition of same-sex marriage is a basic violation of civil rights. Let’s explore this one too.
The word civil is derived from the Latin for Citizen. Civil rights, therefore, are simply citizen’s rights. Legally speaking, civil rights are:
Rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, the 13th and 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution. Civil rights include civil liberties (such as the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion), as well as due process, the right to vote, equal and fair treatment by law enforcement and the courts, and the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a democratic society, such as equal access to public schools, recreation, transportation, public facilities, and housing. (7)
Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class. (8)
This discrimination idea is where the battle is being fought, and the primary weapon is the idea of “Sexual Orientation.” If it could be established that a person’s sexual preferences constituted an inherent mark of identification, like race, then those who prefer same-sex activity would have to be granted the same rights as everyone else. Or so the thinking goes.
The problems with this have already been addressed. First, the myth of “sexual orientation” is just that, a myth. Second, no one is granted or excluded any rights based on whom they want to have sex with. These are issues of personal preference, not civil rights. A man cannot alter the amount of melanin in his skin, therefore he should not be treated differently because of his skin color. If the same man became wheelchair dependent from a car accident he should not be denied access to a job. In neither instance is the man’s choice dictating his situation. Denying rights to a “gay man” is impossible because the “Sexual Orientation” idea is unfounded and therefore “gay men” do not exist. Men who prefer homosexual activity are a plenty, but none of these people are denied any rights based on their maleness, race, gender, height, or any other inherent quality.
Also, there are thousands of people in our country who claim a sexual preference for children, animals, and dead people yet we aren’t debating granting them their rights, not yet at least. Actually, many same-sex marriage advocates seek to distance themselves from the aforementioned list due to the criminal and non-consensual nature of the practice, and I completely understand the distinction. However, this is logically inconsistent because the primary argument for same-sex marriage is the alleged involuntary nature of homosexual attraction in an individual. This same involuntary attraction exists in each of the aforementioned sexual preferences. Bear in mind, it wasn’t until 1974 that homosexual attraction was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and in many states homosexual behavior is illegal. My point is, the criminal nature of an activity can change over time, as well as its subjective designation in the psychological world. So aren’t the proponents of same-sex marriage violating the same principles they use to justify their position?
In closing, I want to go back to my phrase, “inferred Biblical prohibition.” There is not a single passage of scripture that explicitly prohibits two men or two women from marrying. Because of this omission many attempt to conclude that the Bible is silent on the issue of same-sex marriage. However, what you do read, over and over again, is the declaration of marriage existing between one man and one woman and commands given to men on their relationship to a wife, as well as commands given to women on their relationship to their husbands. So even though the Bible explicitly outlines the participants in a marriage – one man and one woman forever – some proponents for same-sex marriage argue scripture fails to address the issue directly.
This current debate was fueled by the comments of Dan Cathy, and read carefully what he said.
“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
“We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that,” (9)
These comments so offended people that boycotts were planned, same-sex kiss days were organized, and celebrities lashed out against Chick-fil-a, Dan Cathy, and anyone who eats there. But never in Mr. Cathy’s statements did he explicitly denounce a same-sex marriage. He did say he supports the Biblical view of marriage though.
The logical inconsistency is how Mr. Cathy’s statements are read to imply homosexual marriage is wrong, even though it was never directly stated. Yet, the Bible does the exact same thing and proponents of same-sex marriage claim it’s silent on the matter. It cannot be both. Either Cathy and the Bible said nothing about homosexual unions or they both spoke against them. You can’t have your chicken and boycott too.
Even though they don’t speak directly to same-sex marriage, there are quite a few passages of scripture that denounce homosexual behavior: Genesis 19:4-13, Leviticus 18:22, 24-30, Romans 1:18-32, 1 Cor. 6:9-11, Jude 1:4,7,19, and more actually.
I believe I’ve answered why I don’t support the idea of gay marriage, but one question is still unanswered, “Do they (homosexuals) detract from our society?”
This one’s tricky. A common refrain from the church a few years back was “hate the sin, love the sinner.” This was an effort to apply the concept of grace and truth in the face of clear sin. You would say to the drunk, “you shouldn’t get drunk.” But at the same time, you might give him a ride home and wouldn’t stop being his friend. The advent of the “sexual orientation” myth merged the behavior with the person, so now a rejection of the behavior is a rejection of the person.
As I’ve stated, I do not accept the idea of defining an individual by their sexual preferences, so I cannot answer the question as it was asked. Let me phrase it a bit differently; do I believe homosexual activity detracts from our society? Absolutely. It’s unhealthy to the participating individuals (10) and it undermines the family, and I believe the disintegration of the family is the reason for many of our society’s ills. In fairness, un-biblical divorce is as much, if not more of a contributor to those problems and the church needs to start clamoring for its end as loudly as they do for the end of homosexual activity.
Do I believe a person living rigidly in sin detracts from our society? Yes. The thief, murderer, adulterer, liar, crooked politician, drug dealer, promiscuous frat boy, corner cutting builder, price gouger, and yes, the person choosing to engage in homosexual behavior or any other sexual activity outside of a one man and one woman marriage is detracting from our society.
I know people who feel same-sex attractions and would call themselves homosexuals, and I do not think they are plotting evil to destroy the world. They would be welcome to play Monopoly at our kitchen table. The issue isn’t so much about an individual who experiences those attractions; the issue is with the aggressive marketing and political campaign to legitimize it. If the issue only involved my neighbor my conversations would only be with my neighbor. But the issue is a national issue, being discussed on talk shows, portrayed in movies and TV shows, debated in congress, and promoted in schools. Therefore, I feel compelled to add my voice to the conversation.
I hope this sufficiently answers the questions and I hope the discussion can continue. After all, my hope is to generate conversation not perpetuate condemnation.