Friday, January 28, 2005

Things That Make You Go..."Hmmmmm"

While flipping through OutletWire today, I noticed several stories on Thursday's rally in front of the Maryland State House calling for an amendment to ban gay marriage. In reading the reports from the Washington Post, Washington Times, and Baltimore Sun (via Newsday), you notice a marked difference in coverage -- the Post focused more on people protesting the rally, the Times on the protesters (it doesn't even mention the people protesting the rally), and the Sun somewhere in-between.

What I'll focus on for now are points taken from the Times -- because it brought up some very applicable issues and also illustrates nicely the conundrums currently faced in the marriage debate.
"We are in a moral war," said the Rev. Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in College Park. "The bombs are not aimed at our military outposts. They are aimed at our families."

The crowd was predominantly Christian and an even mix of blacks and whites. It responded collectively to Mr. Jackson's sermon, which urged every church to oppose same-sex "marriage" and reject the comparison between the homosexual movement and "the black struggle for civil rights."

"Civil rights are not the same as sacred rights," he said.

NDT's take: Fair point. The gay community needs to knock off the references to the black civil rights movement and respect that our situation, while similar in several respects, is fundamentally different in others. This is not an idle point, because if we force blacks to choose between us and their churches or a movement that they view almost as a religion in itself, we're not going to win -- and worse, we'll increase the problems of black glbts by linking homosexuality to antireligious or "white" behavior.

Delegate Don Dwyer Jr., Anne Arundel Republican, urged voters to hold their elected officials accountable for how they vote on the issue.

Mr. Dwyer, who has led the legislative effort against homosexual "marriage," did not exempt churches from criticism. He "condemned" their past response to homosexuals.

"The church has failed miserably to embrace the homosexual and to love him as a sinner," he said. Homosexuals "are no different than us."

Mr. Dwyer said churches "must open their doors" to homosexuals "so they can see God's saving grace."

NDT's take: I applaud wholeheartedly his third sentence. I'd like to know a few of the conditions of "saving grace" on the last. Call it a mild, sneaking suspicion that one of them is choosing to no longer be gay.

Otherwise, though, this is a great example of what you could call "moderate creep". It's a good sign that the people leading the charge for these amendments are now at least acknowledging that we aren't different; however, as I might gently put it, they're still advocating legalized discrimination against us.
Tonya Gross, 38, came with three busloads of fellow members from Rock City Church in Baltimore.

"It's not hard to take a stand on this issue," she said, holding a sign that stated: "Maryland opposes same-sex marriage."

"We had to take a stand," she said. "It's moral decay. Two men cannot reproduce. It's not what God intended it to be."

NDT's take: God's overall intention on the matter, I think, can be best summed up in Genesis where he says, "It is not good for man to be alone". However, Jesus also says in Mark 10: 6 - 10, "But at the beginning of creation God `made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

What I think that this establishes is that the heterosexual relationship is the highest and most achievable form. I have heard it interpreted, and I believe that this is correct to some extent, that the "two will become one flesh" part also refers to procreation, since a child is one flesh from two parents. Taking a more-modernistic view, the natural traits of male and female complement each other to take a synergistic whole.

So where does that leave us poor queers? To answer this question, I return to the fundamental tenet of my reconciliation of my religion to my sexual orientation -- God intended that I would be and created me gay so that His purpose would be best served, just as he intended that they would be and created my siblings and my parents straight. Because of the fact that I am gay, my purpose cannot be to procreate or know the sensation of "one flesh". However, just because my purpose is different than my siblings' and my parents' is neither better or worse -- just different.

I liken this to another often-misunderstood Scriptural passage about the husband being the head of the wife (Ephesians 5:23). When I was younger, I asked my mother how she could possibly put up with that. She laughed and pointed out the rest of the chapter, namely v. 28, "Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." As she pointed out, for whatever reason, God chose the man to lead...but at the same time charged him to serve. Her words:"God knew we were different, because He built us that way. Not superior or inferior, but different. At the same time He put your father in charge....he ordered him to serve me. How can that be inferior?"

My point to Ms. Gross would be this.....I agree with you on the religious, but I can't agree on the civil. Heterosexual marriage is indeed the highest in God's eyes, but that's not the principle on which our government is based -- nor should it be.
John Leck, 44, of Frederick, Md., said marriage has been between a man and a woman "for centuries."

"Gay people have a choice to be gay," he said. "They are not born that way. I have no problem with gays living together. Marriage is different."

NDT's take: Mr. Leck is correct in terms of people choosing to act on their attractions to the same sex. However, it is a falsehood to say that those attractions are a matter solely of choice, just as it is to say that homosexual behavior is "born and not a choice".

I applaud his tolerance. However, this is definitely one where I would want to dig a little deeper and explain why marriage is "different".

One of the thornier problems to me in this whole discussion is the affirmation by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that civil unions, even with the full civil benefits of marriage, were not sufficient because of the "intangible benefits" that flow from marital status. The issue, though, is that obviously one of those "intangible benefits", at least in my mind, is the perceived affirmation and ordination by God of marriage and the social benefits thereof provided to that couple. In that sense, this decision IS a direct threat to a religious tenet, even though the Court didn't intend it to be that way, because it creates a perceived equivalent status for homosexual unions to heterosexual unions.

What it all boils down to is this. I believe that gays should be allowed to unite just as heterosexuals are in a civil sense, with no "separate but equal" system. However, from a religious standpoint, I am not in favor of holding homosexual unions at the same level of heterosexual unions. If I were able to wave my magic wand and change the world, every mention of "marriage" in law would vanish and be replaced with the term "civil union", with the word "marriage" being reserved solely for religiously-blessed unions, be they gay or straight.

I know that's a mouthful....any thoughts?

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