Tag Archive | marriage

The Supreme Court, Prop 8, and Tough Questions

US_Supreme_CourtAmy Hall has written a good post over at the Stand to Reason blog (link) on the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on Prop 8 and DOMA.

If marriage is a particular thing, then everyone has a right to take part in that institution as it stands, regardless of their personal characteristics. But to be part of the institution, they must be part of the institution. They don’t have a right to change that institution into something different simply because they don’t want to be part of it the way it is.

The post links to an entry over at the First Things blog (link) where Glen Stanton points out some of the tough questions that are finally being asked in the public debate. And not just by conservative judges:

Justice Kennedy and others illustrated the historical imbalance between natural marriage and this new proposal. Kennedy expressed that he thinks “there’s substance to the point that sociological information [on same-sex parenting] is new. We have five years of information to weight against two thousand years of history or more.”

An exchange between Justice Roberts and Solicitor General Verrilli is particularly refreshing — Especially in a time where logic and rationality are all but absent from public discourse:

We see the argument made that there is no problem with extending marriage to same-sex couples because children raised by same-sex couples are doing just fine and there is no evidence that they are being harmed. And the other argument is Proposition 8 harms children by not allowing same-sex couples to [marry]. Which is it?

Verrilli could only go to the stock “poor them” response which only made Robert’s question more relevant:

Their parents cannot marry and that has effects on them in the here and now. A stabilizing effect is not there. When they go to school, they have to, you know—they don’t have parents like everybody else’s parents.

Opponents of Prop 8 argue that same-sex marriage doesn’t harm children because we see children raised in those homes now and they’re fine. But we need to allow same-sex partners to marry because their children are not doing fine.

The First Things article is an excellent read, and I’ll stop here before I simply quote the whole thing.  I’ll just leave you with this final quote:

As Alito colorfully remarked, same-sex marriage is “newer than cell phones and the Internet.” Why has this “fundamental human right” not been a long-debated (much less recognized) issue like slavery and the standing of women in society have been for thousands of years to varying degrees? It is a very good and central question.

I love good questions.

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Same-sex or “traditional marriage.” Two Questions.

If we look at both human nature and human history, can we reasonably conclude what the ideal situation for marriage is?  Wouldn’t that ideal reflect the natural order of creation (i.e. the sexes?)

 

 

A Response to “My Lesbian Daughter, The Bible, and Sex”

On January 6th there was an opinion piece at FoxNews.com written by Shari Johnson entitled “My Lesbian Daughter, The Bible, and Sex.”  It’s a very moving admission by an evangelical who learns her daughter is a lesbian and the ensuing journey to acceptance with that fact.

First, as an Evangelical and parent myself, I can understand how hard it would be to be confronted with someone you love who admits they are what you’ve always thought was wrong.   However, my concern with the article is that it’s an example of how we as Evangelicals (and a culture as a whole) have two modes:  Intolerance or approval.

Tolerance these days does not mean tolerance in the classical sense.  To be tolerant in that sense you must first disagree, then still respect the person while not accepting their views.  When we use the word these days what we really mean is that we’ve moved from disagreement to approval.

This article is about that journey.  And while I completely sympathize with the situation (my family has always been evangelical and my uncle came out as gay, so I do know something of how this can play out) the article troubles me for a few reasons.

In my beating on Heaven’s door, telling God He had to change her, He instead changed me. It seems that He was far more disturbed about my lack of love than He was about her homosexuality.

Where did this information about God come from?  Now, it may be the case that God views a lack of love more severely, but that’s not the point.  What’s the basis?  Feeling?  Scripture?  Logic?  Divine revelation? None is given, though I imagine it’s the first.  I may be wrong.

When I hear terms like “God’s design” and “Biblical marriage” I have to wonder who decides these things.

Well, for one Jesus does:

2And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,[a]8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:2-8 ESV)

Yes, this passage is about divorce.  But Jesus answers the question on divorce by explaining marriage itself.  God made them male and female, therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife.  It’s rooted in the created order of male and female.  Paul echoes this in Romans 1.  The Jewish law forbid homosexual relationships.  A law Jesus said he did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.

You have to go through quite a few mental gymnastics to get out of it.  Now, you might disagree with what the Scripture says.  Fine.  But it’s consistently clear on this point.

Our cultural adaptation of marriage has certainly evolved through the ages—had God not intervened, Joseph could have had Mary stoned to death for being pregnant with a child that was not his. (An engagement at that time was considered the same as a marriage.)

In order for there to be a “cultural adaptation of marriage” there has to first be a basic idea of what marriage is before it can be adapted.  Same-sex marriage isn’t about adapting, it’s about redefining.  But marriage can only be defined by the Definer.  Cultures may distort the ideal (as they often do), but marriages pre-existed governments and cultures.  Heterosexual marriages are how society will naturally organize itself.  This is a historical and sociological fact.

Marriages have looked different in different cultures.  So what follows from that?  The cultural adaptation of marriage may have changed, but it’s still rooted in a natural order.  The argument here is that marriage has always changed and now it’s changing again.  But this time it’s outside the natural order or design.  Even in polygamy one sex is married to other sexes and people are not married all to each other. In that instance, one person is married multiple times.  A little different than what’s being advanced now. (It too falls outside God’s parameters for marriage, but that’s another topic.)

That is just one example—so many books could be written on the history of marriage. Yet we keep a death grip on the scriptures that suit us—and the translation of those scriptures becomes more a matter of tradition, opinion and convenience than the Word of God.

Which scriptures are we holding to that suit us?  What scriptures are we rejecting that do not suit us?  This is a statement that must be backed up to be taken seriously.  Translation of scripture (and I think she means interpretation, not translation) becomes a matter of “tradition, opinion, and convenience?”  It’s true that many interpret scripture this way.  It’s unfortunate.  However, the irony here is that this is exacty what Johnson is doing.  In essence: “My daughter is gay, therefore my interpretation of the bible must change.”  Convenient.

If one can find anything amusing in all this, it is that those who are upset about sex outside of marriage are the same ones who are opposed to marriage equality.

I think this is supposed to mean: “Look, if you want people to stop having sex outside of marriage, quit denying marriage to people.”  But again, sex outside of marriage is wrong for the same reason homosexual relations are:  they both fall outside of the parameters God established for sex.

As for the term “marriage equality” I think it actually comes closer to stating what the marriage issue is about.  It’s not about individual rights.  It’s about saying this relationship between these two types of people are the same as the relationship between those two types.  It’s about saying these relationships are identical.  And they aren’t.  One results, by nature, in the next generation of society and one doesn’t.  And the only reason government should be involved in these type of relationships at all is to preserve the next generation of society.  For two relationships that are supposed to be “equal” the outcomes for each are not.

The principles for heterosexual marriage are the same for same-sex marriage—love, commitment, faithfulness, loyalty, honor and respect. How can we deny that to anyone?

The claim here, and I think it’s an unintentional one, is that if same-sex marriage isn’t passed then we will be denying those couples the above things:  love, commitment, faithfulness, etc.  But this makes no sense.  You don’t need government endorsement to set up housekeeping and do those things.   Again, the government doesn’t care who we love, they (should) care about ensuring the continuation of society.   And as stated above, one type of relationship does this, the other does not.

When I asked a wise friend how she reconciled the scriptures with her daughter’s homosexuality, she said, “I can’t. So I just let God sort it out.” I took her advice and I learned things about God I would never have known if I were still telling Him what His scriptures mean.

Maybe the issue here is that we don’t know how to love those who disagree with us.  And if that person is close enough to us, something’s got to give.  In this case, we claim we don’t really know what the Bible says about the issue, so we don’t have to deal with it.

This story will resonate with many readers.  Honestly, it resonates with me.  It’s powerful.  It’s emotionally moving.  But emotions have to be kept in check with reason.  And while this opinion piece tries to make the case that “hey maybe we’re wrong about God and homosexuality” it does not give one solid reason why the “traditional” interpretation is wrong.  Instead this trades on the most effective rhetorical device of the 21st century – a moving story –  and in going straight for the heart bypasses the head altogether.

Gay Marriage: Creating “Equal” Rights out of Thin Air?

One of the most mindlessly used terms these days is “equality.”

Every word has a range of meaning, but we never hear this term defined.  It’s usually thrown around as a way to shut up opposition.  “There should be equality, so X should be supported.”  “Those who don’t agree with X are perpetuating inequality.”

Mostly we hear this in the same-sex marriage debate and, more recently, in regards to the economy.

I was watching a debate between Dennis Prager and Perez Hilton when Prager said that men and women were equal but not the same.  Hilton reacted as if Prager had uttered nonsense which tells me that “sameness” and “equality” are synonyms in Hiton’s mind.  But the question is sameness in what regard?  Equal in what? 

There may be equality among individuals, but that does not mean that all relationships between those individuals are equal.  And the marriage debate is about relationships, not primarily individuals, even though individuals are involved.

So when a man and a woman are in a lifelong committed relationship, they are not in an identical relationship as two men or two women in a same-sex committed relationship.  How do I know?  I know because:

  • 1)The natural outcomes are not the same* (heterosexual relationships naturally produce the next generation of society, as a rule)
  • 2) There are innate differences between men and women. 

Though many would contest #2, the fact is a man can never truly know what it’s like to be a woman and vice versa.  That innate distance creates a dynamic between heterosexual couples that does not exist between same sex couples.

Individuals may be equal in terms of basic human rights, but that does not mean individuals have a right to everything.  I do not have the right to engage in certain things just because others do.  And incidentally, every American citizen currently has the same rights.  Everyone (straight and gay) can engage in, through marriage,  the type of relationship that results in the next generation of society and is with someone of  the opposite sex.  No one (straight nor gay) can engage, through marriage, the type of relationship through marriage that does not result in that end, and is with someone of the identical sex.

Everyone currently has the same rights. No one has ever been able to legally engage in the relationship they are trying to legitimize through legislation. Those who champion gay marriage as a right that has been denied are simply wrong.

 

 

*Obviously not all heterosexual relationships are able to result in children.  But those are exceptions.  I am talking here about categories as a whole.  Childless heterosexual couples are still not the same as same-sex couples because #2 still holds.