Sunday, July 17, 2005

Another Position on Gay Marriage

When I was a kid on the ranch, one of the smaller ways we had to amuse ourselves between bouts of work involved raiding the arsenal of firecrackers we kept on hand for coyote-scaring (in theory), then lighting a Black Cat or two and sliding them into an ant hill. The resulting explosion would send ants flying left and right, the remainder scurrying around crazily like shoppers at an IKEA opening. This was the best way to remove these vermin before they took over the place -- or at least, that was the explanation Dad got the day we set the lawn on fire in the process.

In the gay blogosphere, mentioning the word "marriage", especially with the words "the conservative position on" attached, is the rough equivalent of my childhood destruction from the ants' perspective, so it should be no surprise that GayPatriotWest's post on the topic has generated a similar level of frenetic activity over on GayPatriot. In that same vein, after last week's discussion on my positions, which included a mildly-provocative statement about what I believe concerning gay marriage, it's high time to put electrons to screens and go a bit farther in depth.

First off, when it comes to civil and legal marriage, I simply believe that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. No "separate but equal", no "gives all the benefits of", no "marriage by a different name" -- just the simple realization that, if you're going to have legal recognition of peoples' relationships at all, the same rules apply regardless of sexual orientation and gender. Period.

Now comes the really-controversial part.

Gryphmon over at Gryphmon's Grumbles republished, in response to GayPatriotWest's post, a wonderful commentary on the spiritual and theological applicability of gay marriage in which he makes the following point:

A gay or lesbian union is in fact not exactly the same as that of a heterosexual union. But it is still the union of the man in the woman and the woman in the man. It still takes place in the Blood of Eden.

It's in a different, but completely natural configuration and proportion than that of an opposite-sex couple. It's merely a different expression of Complementarity. And it also deserves respect, because it is the design of the Creator, and it's a beautiful and intricate dance.

The sheer elegance and genius of the way in which God created the male and female principles of men and women to work with each other, in all it's permutations should be acknowledged, celebrated, and respected but above all else, understood.

As one of my theology professors so eloquently put it, what sin is in a nutshell is the introduction of complications to a world that didn't have them. In the Garden of Eden, things were pretty simple -- do what comes naturally, as long as you stay away from those two trees. It was when Adam and Eve started playing with subtleties (did God tell us not to eat that fruit because He was concerned about us, or because He was concerned about us becoming like HE is?) that the problems came and the simple order of the world was shattered.

To plug into what Gryph talks about, I believe that, before the Fall, sexuality only came in one color and was clear as a bell. After, to use the apostle Paul's words in II Corinthians, we see "through a glass darkly". Anyone who's ever tried to make out interior details on a car with heavy window tint knows that it distorts colors and details and obscures the picture. You can see several different variations and possibilities, but as long as you're looking through that glass, you don't know what the "real" one is -- unless you have the car's spec sheet standing next to you, and even then that depends on your interpretation of what things like "wheat" and "bone" constitute for interior colors.

In this case, we have the Bible as the spec sheet, and it says that the only relationship that there is a clear divine imperative to recognize and promote is the male-female union. However, I do not believe that the Bible precludes the recognition of any other, and in fact I do believe it would be in churches' best interest to promote that which affirms the commitment between two people to love, cherish, and support the other in the name and to the glory of God.

The point of the admonitions against homosexuality in the Bible is the same as those against adultery, sexual licentiousness, gluttony, greed, and others, which is very simply that anything you value more highly than God or that interferes with your relationship to God will cause a problem -- and that can INCLUDE an unhealthy marital relationship between two people. For example, the problem with the men of Sodom can be neatly shown by the fact that their sin would have been the same whether they wanted the men in the house or whether they took Lot's daughters. Regardless of WHO they gang-raped, they were still gang-raping.

In short, I believe that the issue of religious recognition of relationships is not one of which relationship is lesser, but which is more. It makes sense on several levels to accept the simplest, which is the male-female procreative union, as the highest. Some churches may choose only to recognize that; some may choose to recognize others in addition to that.

Ultimately, the question how do we get from point A to point B? While I believe wholeheartedly that gay marriage is the only legitimate legal configuration that can be had, at this point, the temper of the country, given the large majorities against gay marriage, is to oppose it. In addition, we have the issue that a slim majority of the country still considers homosexuality itself to be "morally wrong", which is going to color and complicate the issue further.

From that perspective, I would say the next logical step is to make an end run around the marriage traditionalists by doing the unexpected. First, we should lobby for the right of domestic partnership or civil union, where it exists and where it's being discussed, to be extended to straight couples as well as gay couples. Second, when gay marriage is proposed, it should come in the form of covenant marriages, NOT "conventional" marriage. Finally, assuming that covenant marriages are given, the right of same-sex couples to adopt children should be limited to covenant marriages.

While you clean up where you spit out whatever beverage you were drinking when I said that, let me explain. First off, it makes it clear that our point is marriage equality, as in that whatever's available to one orientation should be available to the other. Second, given the culture of the gay community, it makes sense that we would have short-term legal partnerships and long-term committed marriages; furthermore, I doubt that any gay couples in existence who truly want marriage would chafe greatly at the additional conditions placed on covenant marriages. Finally, it co-opts and defuses the argument of the religious right that gays will destroy the institution of marriage when we are willing to accept and lobby for marriage with stronger restrictions based on ideals than heterosexuals are willing to place on themselves -- in short, seizing the moral high ground.

The floor is now open -- as is the bar. (grin)

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