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Sunday, October 24, 2004

What the heck was I thinking?

I guess I must have said it wrong. In the past couple of weeks, I made a couple of posts (here and here) calling for Christian support for the legalization of gay marriage. My argument was simple, but I probably got carried away with the melodrama of introducing a controversial and contentious issue. My suggestion that one ought to lay down one's life in protection of one's fellow citizen's rights might be a little over the top. Especially with the illustration of Nazi Germany; the comparison I tried to draw was in terms of the protection of rights, not in terms of the severity of the horribleness of the alternative. It was probably misconstrued by some of my readers as is illustrated here.

So I've had a few days to reflect on what I put out there and in between the busy-ness of the past few days, I have let my mind brew over some of what I was trying to say in the background. Further I have had the benefit of reading the input of others either via comments, email, or through blog posts of their own. All have helped me clarify what I am actually trying to say. In fact, I found an excellent similar argument over

I am not sure if what I have to say now presents a more coherent argument or add value to the on-going discussion, but since I had such a long nap this afternoon, I am still wide awake, so I thought I'd go back and tackle some posts.

What I should have said is that same-sex marriage is a matter of individual rights and that if we were to have no problem with freedom of religion, we should have no problem with freedom of marriage. In fact I am saying that since we champion freedom of religion in this country, we ought also champion freedom of marriage, for both kinds of freedoms are basic human rights covered by the Fourteenth Amendment.

There are at least two possible objections to this assertion. One is that Freedom of Marriage is dissimilar enough to Freedom of Religion, and the second is that Freedom of Marriage is not covered by the Fourteenth Amendment. My primary argument that Freedom of Marriage is covered by the Fourteenth Amendment is based on my analysis of the Loving vs Virginia case that I introduced in my first post. I believe the arguments there are sound and I don't think that there is a good refutation to that argument as it stands.

The second objection is that the Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Marriage are two different types altogether. While the freedom of religion allows the practice of one kind of abomination (the worship of other gods), the freedom of marriage might allow the practice of other forms of abominations (gay and other forms of sexual perversions). However, we might grant Freedom of Religion because when someone converts to the Christian faith, he or she no longer violates the very abominiation that the freedom allows. The same thing cannot be said for Freedom of Marriage. When a person who in a same-sex marriage converts to the Christian faith, that person will be in the unfortunate position of being part of a union that is considered to be immoral, contrary to God's standards, and opposed to his very faith. That person would be put into the unenviable position of having to choose between staying in a religiously unsanctionable relationship or to take part in another religiously unsanctionable process (divorce). What a catch-22!

The objection as it stands is strong. There seems to be a real difference between the two freedoms. Two answers can be provided to this objection. One, discrimination between types by appealing to different consequences brought about by a third event (faith conversion) is not valid. All it shows is that one is a simplier form of freedom while the other is a more complex one. The fact still remains that both are forms of individual rights and freedoms. If our laws allow one type of right, we ought also allow the other. If one is enshrined in the constitution, so is the other.

The second answer, in reply to the problem of the conversion of a person in a same-sex marriage, we will have to draw upon the notion of grace and mercy. To understand that point, we need to also understand the nature of sin. Put simply, we need to understand that sexual sin is not the unpardonable sin. Sin in the sexual realm has the same effect and the same offense as sin in any other realm. If no one ever sinned sexually, Christ would still have to die a horrible death. We overemphasize sex in our modern culture that we freak out over sexual sins. A couple of generations ago, it was all kinds of sex that would upset the normal Christian. Now, it seems only certain forms of sexual sin catches the ire of Christians. What I am suggesting is that we Christians need to exercise more grace and mercy in our dealings with fellow human beings. We need to realize that we too come under the condemnation of "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." And then we need to realize that if the Lord says to us, "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more," He also says it to the vilest gay sinner.

Oh, I can hear you jumping up and down at the "...go and sin no more." If a gay couple is married, how can we say honestly that they can go and sin no more? We need to chill. If it is easy for a gay couple to sin by having gay sex, it is just as easy for us all to sin just by being who we are! Yet our Lord says, "Neither do I condemn you."

What I think we all need to do is to realize that we are after all sinners. And, as Philip Yancey (or was it Tim Stafford?), once said, the only difference between us and them, is that we know it, but they are oblivious to it. Our job is to be their friends, nonjudgmental, loyal and loving, so that we can let the Spirit open their eyes so that they see, and believe that they too can enjoy the grace and mercy that we say we enjoy.