Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

Gay Marriage — A Debate WITHIN Christianity

A reader at Andrew Sullivan’s blog makes this point:

I am another gay man who has no problem with a church refusing to conduct a same-gender marriage rite. What I don’t understand is why the conservatives/fundamentalists can’t get it through their collective skull that their insistence upon enforcing in civil law their particular interpretation of theology is also an excercise in religious discrimination.

The Unitarians have been marrying same-sex couples for some thirty years, and likewise some congregations of the United Church of Christ, the Metropolitan Community Church, and I’m sure a number of other religious groups I don’t even know. Why do the fundamentalists get to discriminate with the force of civil law against the U/U, the UCC, and the rest? When did they get the right to have their religious interpretation enshrined in civil law at the unavoidably explicit expense of the others ‘ interpretation?


Speaking of which, we have a fascinating conversation between two devout Christians who disagree on gay marriage: Tony Jones and Rod Dreher.
Writes Tony:

I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state.

An excerpt from Rod’s reply:
I believe in traditional Christianity. I believe in traditional wisdom. I believe that we, in our modern times, have dangerously, dangerously separated ourselves from the source of truth and wisdom, and are in mortal danger as a civilization. I really do believe that. This is a philosphical and metaphysical issue for me more than anything else. Emotionally, I’d just as soon say, “Let everybody marry, it’s nothing to me.” I want my gay friends to be happy.
But truth is not determined by emotion, as I see it, and certainly I find it epistemologically arrogant to assume that an early 21st-century white American bourgeois male can stand in judgment of Scripture and the Church, and the long, long experience of humankind on marriage.

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posted November 24, 2008 at 7:29 am

So now Dreher joins the list of religious conservatives who, like Palin, Buchanan and others, claim to have gay friends. I doubt this very much. For Dreher, this is a philosophical and metaphysical issue, is it? Hogwash. Sexual orientation is first a matter of science. Biology and genetics continue to produce evidence that sexual orientation is more complex and rooted in our humanity than any Biblical writer or medieval theologian or pre-20th century human society could ever have known. Dreher’s refusal to adapt his Christian belief and extend his Christian fellowship to his lgbt neighbors is shameful and sinful.

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posted December 12, 2008 at 12:27 pm

I, too, am a gay man who has no problems with any Church (or mosque, temple, synagogue, etc.) refusing to marry gay couples, just as I have no problems with the Roman Catholic Church refusing to re-marry divorced persons. It’s their Church and they get to set the rules – for their Church.
What I do have a problem with is them setting the rules for other faiths to set and abide by teir own rules. In addition to the U/Us, the MCCs, and the UCCs you mentioned above, you can add both the Reformed and the (ahem) Conservative branches of Judaism and the Quakers – yes, the Quakers!
I’m not Catholic so I’m not sure why I should be forced by law to abide by their tenets. And I’m equally not sure why those faiths that disagree with gay marriage have the right to push their faith’s tenets into laws goverrning all citizens.
I have been making these points for several years now here on B’net. Mr. Dreher has seen fit to ban me from his blog because he says my arguments are “hysterical”, yet his other anti-gay comboxers get to call us “cancer”, and our relationships are the equivalent of “marrying a plant” (or an animal, or a child), the equivalent of beastialists, child-molesters, rapists, necrophiliacs – and these are not considered hysterical but “reasoned discourse”. Dreher constantly calls for “civility” yet allows, nay, encourages such attacks.
You see politicians like the Governor of Oklahoma call us “worse than terrorists”. Mike Huckabee compared – oops, still compares our relationships to “marrying a child or an animal”. America has lost or forgotten its promise of liberty and justice for all because of hate-speech like this. I call it that because 1.) it’s untrue, and 2.) its sole purpose is to diminish us in the eyes of the public, to demean us and debase us so that people with think of those comparisons and believe us to be less than fully human.
Whatever DID happen to the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Whatever DID happen to equal treatment under the law?

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