Another Random Thought about Gay Marriage


This is not the final word. I’m convinced that, as long as the Church exists, there never will be a final word on the topic.  You all know my opinions on the matter, if you’ve read my blog at all, so I’m not going to bore you with a defense. First, the numbers:

Pew Research. Data released March 20, 2013.
Pew Research Center. Data released March 20, 2013.

OK, folks. I understand these statistics are ultimately “meaningless”. The more people who like something does not make it more correct or incorrect. I got enough of the Logic Bug in me to understand this. Almost 2 years ago, I posted a blog about this topic. That day, I was angry. Christians were attacking a close friend of mine and in an overnight snarl, I wrote out my thoughts. It was probably not the most intelligent thing, blogging-while-angry is about as brilliant on the Decide-o-Meter as driving-while-drunk. But I did it anyway.

I soon realized two things. Gay marriage is a hot-button topic for Christians. Duh. I’ve never had a more active post, before or since. It made people angry, and viscerally so. People who I admire, and whose company I enjoy, deleted me from Facebook as a result. In the interest of being fair, I should admit that I also got dozens of private messages thanking me for taking a stand. I wasn’t completely alone in my desperate thoughts of equality. I realize many of my friends stand with me.

The second thing I learned: In my fit of blogging pique, I described the Bible as a “musty old tome”. Boy, oh boy! More people deleted me from Facebook for that one statement than *ever* did my stance on Gay Marriage. I got a message from one former subscriber who said “you did irreparable damage to the Kingdom of God.” Really? God can’t defeat little-ol’-me and my 800-word post where, once, I said the Bible was musty?

Anyhow, I was struck by a thought today as I reminisced. The question for Christians isn’t “Do the LGBT folks deserve the same rights as others?” They’re asking a completely different question: “if Christians accept gay marriage, is the Bible still inerrant, and as a consequence, is God still God?” It’s not about gay marriage at all, when it comes to it. It’s about inerrancy.

This fight has been fought many times, as we’ve dismantled our cultural fences for, first foreigners, and then slavery, and then women. Read the Pentateuch. Little by little, come to accept (like it or not…) the Bible as a NON-inerrant work. We Christians no longer hold to Jewish food restrictions. We kind of unintentionally pick on impoverished people, but aside from them, but  today, no group is rejected  and denied status more vehemently than those who differentiate themselves sexually.

I believe that LGBT folks are the last group Christians are allowed to marginalize as the “People of God.” I don’t think we recognize it as such, be because we think ourselves, we good citizens of the 21st century world, as beyond bias and marginalization. A wise friend told me once, we all have bias and prejudice, whether or not we choose to admit it. I’ve tried to remember that every day. Is the sanctity of our holy Book worth the pain it causes yet another group of folks?

Take it or leave it. Argue if you like. I know there are lots of facets I haven’t covered, but I’ve tried to limit myself to around 500 words. Blessings upon you all, and espeically you who I’ve offended or hurt with my thoughts and actions in the past.

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17 thoughts on “Another Random Thought about Gay Marriage”

  1. I heard an interesting story the other day. Native Americans from several tribes were sitting around a campfire along with a priest. The native told a story of his god, the sun god. When he finished, everyone said great story! The second storyteller told of the moon god. Again those around the campfire said great story. This happened again and again until the priest told the story of god’s son and how he died for our sins. When he finished, they all said great story.

    But the priest got pissed off and told them they were all going to hell.

    I have many friends who are LGBT. Many of whom were afraid until recently to tell me the story of how they found love, companionship and wanted to start a family. When I hear their story and compare it to my own, I want to say great story!

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  2. Perhaps, in the interest of brevity, I should have cut and pasted this:

    God is active in our lives. It is He who joins a man and a woman in a relationship of mutual love. The Sacrament of Marriage bears witness to His action. Through this Sacrament, a man and a woman are publicly joined as husband and wife. They enter into a new relationship with each other, God, and the Church. Since Marriage is not viewed as a legal contract, there are no vows in the Sacrament. According to Orthodox teachings, Marriage is not simply a social institution, it is an eternal vocation of the kingdom. A husband and a wife are called by the holy Spirit not only to live together but also to share their Christian life together so that each, with the aid of the other, may grow closer to God and become the persons they are meant to be. In the Orthodox Marriage Service, after the couple have been betrothed and exchanged rings, they are crowned with “crowns of glory and honor” signifying the establishment of a new family under God. Near the conclusion of the Service, the husband and wife drink from a common cup which is reminiscent of the wedding of Cana and which symbolized the sharing of the burdens and joys of their new life together.

    (In case the link doesn’t come through, this is from an article on the Sacraments in the “Faith” section of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America web page.)

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  3. Is it wrong that my reaction to some of these comments was “JESUSMARYANDJOSEPH! Don”t you have more to worry about in your life?” (I actually said the JMAJ out loud – and made my kids say “huh?”)
    Oh… and glad you are blogging again. 🙂

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  4. Adam and Eve were created in God’s image and given a place and a law. They broke the law, the image was shattered and covered, first with plant matter and then with animal skins, and the place lost. In the millennia following our ancestors’ expulsion from Eden, God revealed Himself to people who sought Him in faith. Faith, revelation, and action (or praxis) led to the establishment of a community to which God revealed Himself clothed as a mortal. The Incarnation of Christ, the second Adam, is the earthly foundation of His relationship with (or marriage to) the Church, whose mission it is to help mankind participate fully in His life. The Sacred Tradition that surrounds the services, the Sacraments, and the Scriptures of the Church are there to help the faithful shed the old man and put on the new. The Saints provide an example of what mortals are capable of when we clothe ourselves in Christ and enter into a synergistic relationship with God. Abandon Sacred Tradition, alter the services by eliminating the celebration of the Sacraments, expurgate the Scriptures, and whitewash the lives of the Saints and the community of the faithful is shattered. What remains are scattered individuals clinging to the tattered rags of once beautiful raiments. Some hold up a remnant and a proclaim a special revelation or private interpretation, while others abandon the cast-offs and in their nakedness rummage through fallen nature in search of some covering ideology. In either case, without the guidance of the Church and the Grace God affords mankind through her Sacraments, it is scarcely surprising that we children of Adam and Eve find it so challenging to create a self-image, define our place in the world, and rule over ourselves.
    Different adjectives get applied to God: God is love; God is Good; God is merciful; God is great; God is long-suffering; and so on. Think about a loving, merciful, and long-suffering God, and then consider what the geological record suggests about the age of our planet. “For God so loved the world that {over 4.5 billion years ago He brought into existence out of nothing the materials that now form our solar system and planet; over the next couple billion years He created life in the form of bacteria, algae, plants, insects, archosaurs, and mammals before He introduced Adam and Eve to each other in the Garden of Eden; in the thousands of years that followed, He extended His mercy to the children of Adam and Eve who called upon Him in faith; and then in the eighth century after the founding of the City of Rome} He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believed in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Forget the patience of Job, putting a plan into effect billions of years ago and then patiently waiting for billions of humans to work out their relationship with each other and with Himself takes the idea of long-suffering to another level. However, God being loving, merciful, and long-suffering does not mean that He turns a blind eye towards sin or that there are no consequences for transgressing His law. True, Christ came to the world to save rather than to condemn it, but that was the First Coming. Humanity’s chance for salvation is the present time, either before we die and stand in front of God or before the Second Coming when the world will be judged. One of the chief spiritual works of mercy is “to admonish sinners.” Another is “to instruct the ignorant.” These things need to be done in love and with patience and prayer.
    I have not directly addressed your blog topic in this comment yet. I’m not avoiding the issue. Rather, I want to emphasize that sin, regardless of how it gets categorized, is still sin. Transgressing God’s law, or “Missing the mark,” always results in separation (or further separation) from our Creator and in a continued fracturing of His image in us. It is never popular to talk about sin, but it is especially jarring to do so in a society that advocates using the body as an amusement park. It is as if the grievous sins of pride, greed, lust, gluttony, envy, sloth, and anger are main attractions, while humility, liberality, chastity, mildness, temperance, and diligence are mothballed because they are bad for business. (Happiness is the only capital virtue society seeks to enjoy, but it is often out of order because it is difficult to maintain in the absence of the other virtues.) As a sinner, I can attest that the main attractions are indeed diverting, but once one becomes aware of the separation from God and tires of the fleeting if not downright elusive nature of happiness in the absence of all the other virtues and fruits of the Holy Spirit, one must either repent and start to dig through the mothballs or else delude oneself with the notion that that sort of thing isn’t fashionable these days.
    The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed affirms in its opening words that the One Triune God created everything that exists, and according to the Creation account(s) in Genesis, God saw that each stage of His creation was “good.” Adam was formed in a manner unique from the rest of creation. The first “not good” occurs when God saw that the man He had formed was alone, so He made Eve. It is God, not man, that established the law of marriage as a great and holy Mystery, one that occurs when “… a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery at the birth of the human race foreshadows an even greater mystery, the one that occurred when Christ left His Father, became Man, and married His Bride, the Church. An Orthodox Christian marriage is not a juridical contract, it is a spiritual bond, one that unites a man and a woman in an eternal union before God. This marriage of man and woman, and of Christ and the Church, is begun on earth and is fulfilled and continues perfectly in Heaven.
    When Adam and Eve fell from their created state in the Garden of Eden, the negative effects extended from the spiritual into the physical. With the Fall, illness took root in our ancestors and many aspects of the human mind-soul and body were altered, and with each successive generation the ailments that came into being with the Fall mutated and spread. Currently, it might be in vogue to look at society and say that the Church’s Sacrament of Marriage is obsolete. One might argue for a change in custom by looking to the past for examples of marital practices that have fallen by the wayside (some of them quite justifiably; e.g. Droit du seigneur or jus primae noctis, “the right of the lord” or “right of the first night”). One could draw from other cultures or religions examples of conjugal customs different to those of our own and argue that there is no definitive human rule regarding marriage, and one would be correct. However, any argument based on current opinion polls or abandoned practices or cultural comparisons is flawed because each of those examples would be drawn from a point in time after the Fall when, with the exception of the Incarnate Christ, all humans have been fallen beings in need of salvation.
    What the legislative and legal system of a country that has been around for just a little over two hundred years decides to define as marriage does nothing to alter the sacred mystery that God established between a man and a woman many thousands of years ago before the Fall. All the politicians and judges in the world could unite to say there is no such thing as sin and that would not change the fact the every man, woman, and child of us is ill and in need of the Sacraments Christ offers the world through His Church. Let the god of this age wear whatever he deems fashionable, and yet there will come a time when the unchanging, unfailing, long-suffering God Who in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens will take the works of His hands and, like a cloak, fold them up and exchange the old creation for the new.
    May God grant us the grace to repent all our sins and return to Him so that we might be with Him on the day when He shall wipe away every tear, when there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. Lord, have mercy.

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  5. Good job Brian!
    What always makes me wonder/laugh is when people (Christians or otherwise) get so angry when you have an opinion/idea that differs from theirs. It’s called an opinion, look up it in the dictionary! It makes me shake my head that people would delete you as a “friend” on Facebook because of your opinion. Obviously, that is what Facebook is for, so you can delete someone when you don’t like what they say. By the way, I would never delete you even if you started writing mean things about Disneyland. =) I have friends that are gay and Christian, some Christians believe that those two things can never happen in the same person. I remember a couple of times that people (from a certain higher institution that we both attended) have disowned (I guess that’s the right word) someone when they found out that they were gay. Here’s my theory on that, you were my friend before I found out and you’re still my friend, I love you no matter what.
    If we followed the “musty, old tome” to the letter, I couldn’t eat my bacon cheeseburger and I couldn’t go to work everyday and tell 40 guys what to do. I thank God every day that we don’t live in Old Testament times and we can live by grace!
    I always enjoy your blog posts. Mostly because they usually make me laugh and make me think!

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  6. “We all have bias and prejudice.” This is a true statement. I find myself trying to consciously think of what triggers these emotions in myself and find that I cannot. My mind is saying ‘You don’t judge people from their appearances or beliefs’ but isn’t having that initial thought about someone whom you know nothing about (even if you squash it flat almost before it is fully formed) biased and prejudiced? We are raised biased and prejudiced whether it be under the guise of religion or the familial ways that ‘things have always been done’. Our earliest years and first memories are ingrained on our psyches and it is only when we are old enough to form our own belief system that we can choose to hold on to those prejudices or follow our own system of belief. I refuse to allow first impressions or the convictions of others to control what I believe. I feel that if a person finds love with another they are the luckiest of all whether they be gay or straight. It is not my place to judge others. My place in this world is to live my life as best I can without harm to those around me and to gain wisdom through the acceptance of others who do the same. Life is too short to condemn someone for love.

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  7. I think what I’d love to hear from Christians is something along the lines of this:

    I don’t know. There have been things in the Bible we’ve been sure of, and we’ve been wrong. God is very big, bigger than our culture, bigger than what we can grasp with our finite minds. Since I realize that I don’t know everything there is to be known, I’ll simply love people. I don’t need an agenda or a stance. I’ll ask God, every day if I want, what He thinks, but in the mean time, I know God’s love extends to everyone. I want to hand out that love in a way that doesn’t leave bruises…

    My faith doesn’t hinge on issues of sexual orientation, but it does hinge on love. I choose to love. And I trust that God is big enough to see to the rest.

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  8. That may be the issue for some folks. That’s not quite the case for me. I concluded long ago that the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy simply didn’t hold water. I do continue to think that the Bible should exercise authority over Christians, but that’s not quite the same thing.

    Putting that aside, my primary concern about gay marriage is simple: “gay marriage” isn’t good or bad or healthy or unhealthy. It’s simply *not possible*, because that’s not what marriage is. Marriage is a “thing” the way that a dog is a “thing”: there are things that are dogs and there are things that aren’t. There are personal commitments that are marriages and there are personal commitments that aren’t. The idea of “gay marriage” has gained traction primarily because people have forgotten what marriage is, and consequently, it’s been cast as a matter of equality rather than (as it should be) a matter of reality.

    Here’s another way to put it. I absolutely, 100% believe that gay people should be able to get married if they want to. But it makes precisely zero sense to talk about two gay men getting married *to each other*. It’s not that I don’t want them to: it has absolutely nothing to do with what I want or don’t want. Two gay men spending a lifetime together in a monogamous commitment to each other may be a very fine thing. But it’s not marriage, and never can be, even if the government decides to call it that. The government can legislate that we should call ducks dogs, but that doesn’t change the fact that a duck can’t be a dog.

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    1. Sorry, Ken, but I have to call bullshit. As much as I am reticent to take you on – knowing that your debate and argumentative skills far exceed my own – your argument doesn’t exactly hold water either.
      That is not what marriage is *for you*, and granted, for many other people in this country. Marriage is not just a thing, and it’s not a physical thing like a dog that one can point to and say, “Yup, that’s a dog.” Marriage is an abstract thing, a concept, and in addition, it’s a social construct. And as a social construct, it is mutable and has evolved, and will continue to evolve, over time. Marriage has not always been, and even to this day, is not always a monogamous commitment. In this day and age, in our country at least, it’s generally believed that a marriage is between two consenting adults, that’s not always been the case, and isn’t the case in many cultures. And don’t forget that it’s only been in the last century that the concept of a wife being an equal partner in a marriage was an accepted norm, and even today, it’s not accepted in many cultures. Until fairly recently in the history of the human race, in most cultures, a marriage was considered an agreement (oftentimes a financial or political agreement at that!) between a man and a woman’s father, and the female participant in a marriage was the *property* of the male participant in the marriage, and she had no rights of her own, except as ceded to her by her husband. Although you don’t explicitly state your personal definition of marriage, I’m fairly certain that’s not it.
      And while I will fight to the death that the social definition of marriage should include any two consenting, sane, adult humans who wish to be married, in my opinion, the argument going before the Supreme Court next week isn’t over the social definition of marriage, it’s over the legal definition of marriage, and the civil rights accorded to two people who are considered to be married. Married people in our country have certain rights, conferred by law, that are not accorded to people who are not married. By law, it’s not the fact that Brian and I stood up in front of a minister, our family and friends that makes us married, but the fact that we went down to the county courthouse and obtained a State Marriage License. That license gives us certain legal rights and responsibilities with regard to each other. If I die without a will, Brian gets to keep my property (although what he’ll do with all my ceramic cat figurines, I’m not sure) or dispose of it as he wishes; he also inherits any debts I owe, the lucky bastard. Because we’re married, he can legally be a part of my health insurance policy. The list could go on and on. Because our local, state and federal laws are littered with references to people joined by ‘marriage’, the issue is: are we going to, *by law* grant equality of rights and responsibilities to any two consenting adults, regardless of race or gender?

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      1. The argument that marriage is a “thing” is a complex one, and in this day and age, it’s not one that’s immediately obvious to everyone. That in itself is quite surprising, given that just 10 years ago, it pretty much was. Until very, very recently, the “thing” that was marriage was quite obvious even to most LGBT folks. I don’t know that it’s ever occurred to anyone that gay people *could* marry until the very late 20th century, and until maybe the last five years, pretty much everybody was still scratching their heads at the idea. And that’s because they still knew what a marriage was. But I agree, something has changed. What I don’t think has changed is the social need for the “thing” that marriage is, whether we understand it or not.

        I agree that there’s a need for something like civil unions. Government is supposed to provide a framework that helps us solve problems, and the problems that you outline – visitation rights, inheritance, and all the rest – are legitimate problems around which I think government ought to provide a legal framework. But that’s not marriage. The mistake we’ve made in our culture is to think that marriage is about two people. (Though why, under the current thinking, it should be limited to two people, is beyond me.) Marriage is actually and fundamentally, in its order and structure, about children: about providing a social construct which humanizes the biology of sex and provides a context in which children can be raised. But in order to play that role, it needs to behave in certain ways: it needs to exclude some sorts of personal relationships even as it includes others. It needs to have an internal logic, ordered around children and complementary gender differences. And this internal logic is what makes it a “thing”. (And of course, “marriage for all” is just a silly slogan. There are always going to be lots and lots of adults in their right mind whose marriage society will not countenance, whether that’s fundamentalist Mormons, or the Czech “twincest” brothers.)

        Here’s another way of putting it. Yes, society’s understanding of marriage has changed over time; in the same way that our understanding of the laws of physics has changed over time. But the question we need to ask ourselves is, “Does this changing understanding take us closer to the real thing, or further away?” If the fundamental moral reality is, “I shall choose for myself,” then I think you can make a case that this recent change in understanding brings us closer to what it should be. But if the fundamental moral reality is, “I live in a complex web of social and specifically biological obligations which I did not create and in which my preferences are only one small consideration,” then I think you can make a pretty strong case that our recent changes in understanding are moving us backwards: as if society had decided to encourage polygamy.

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    2. This is actually a reply to your 22 Mar. reply.

      Two of my favorite eikons are have families as their subjects. The first is of Sts. Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Theotokos, presenting the infant Mary at the Temple in Jerusalem. The second is a generation later when Sts. Joseph and Mary are at the Temple with the Christ-child. Family and the Sacrament of Marriage is, as you write, about children. Not every marriage produces children, and not every family succeeds in raising their children in the faith, but the holy example set for us in the eikons and the lives of the saints is of a man and woman united before God in a holy, eternal union through which another generation is raised up in the knowledge and love of God.

      Another favorite eikon of mine commemorates the conception of the Theotokos. The eikon shows Sts. Joachim and Anna standing and embracing each other in front of their bed. They were without a child after fifty years of marriage, but after going to separate places to ask God to work in them the wonder He had done for Abraham and Sarah, each was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and told that God would answer their prayer. Joachim returned home to Anna, they embraced, and shortly thereafter the Mother of God was conceived.

      Another eikon I like is of the Wedding at Cana. It usually shows Christ seated at the wedding table along with the bride and groom. St. Mary is standing next to Jesus with the request that lead to His first miracle. In the foreground of the eikon there is usually a servant shown pouring the water that would become wine into clay jars.

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  9. What I don’t get about Christians is how they pick and choose the Biblical laws they live by, based on what’s convenient for them. Levitical laws from the Old Testament, which is where most Christians base their anti-gay attitudes, are alongside mandates to not eat pork, don’t touch animals that walk on their paws (sorry dog and cat lovers!) and do not oppress foreigners. It seems like when its convenient for Christians they quote scriptures that back up whatever it is they’re for or against, but when something is inconvenient for them, they ignore the scripture. This inconsistency and unethical behavior ultimately drove me away from Christianity. The message of Jesus is simple, Love, Acceptance, Tolerance, Forgiveness. The message of the bible, Old and New Testament, is much more complex and is sometimes in direct opposition to Jesus’ message. I choose to follow the message of Christ, Love, and I value his teachings above and beyond the rest of the bible, including Paul.

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