Sunday, May 31, 2009
The Ongoing Debate on Gay Marriage
With the recent passing of Prop. 8 in California, banning gay marriage, there has been quite a bit of discussion in the media about whether or not gays should have the right to marry. The most staunch opponents to gay marriage seems to come from strict Christian conservatives and Bible fundamentalists. While I personally do have a deep rooted faith in the Catholic-Christian tradition, as well as being a staunch traditionalist in the Liturgical sense, I do differ greatly from my heterosexual counterparts on the topic of gay marriage.
We often hear the rhetoric that we need to preserve the "sanctity" of marriage as seen in Scripture, as well as what has been handed down to us through the generations. Namely, that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, developed from a deep seated love for one another. I'm very much in favor of marriage being about a committed and monogamous love, but the rest seems to be a bit fuzzy, especially from a historical perspective.
First, let's deal briefly with Scripture. While I make no claims to be a great Bible historian or a theologian, I can read. The only passage that I want to deal with in this entry will be from the book of Leviticus, which seems to be the most quoted. Opponents to gay marriage use this Old Testament book to show God's disapproval of same sex relations. Man shall not lie with man as he would a woman. It would be an abomination. Ok, pretty simple enough. If we interpret this literally, and believe that social and historical context of the time in which this was written (WELL before the birth of Christ -- when Moses and Aaron were taking the Israelites out of Egypt) make no difference, AND we impose those cultural norms and standards on the 21st century, then yes.. I agree... gay relationships are an abomination.
Let's however look at what else the book of Leviticus has to offer us. In this book (feel free to look it up.. I suggest reading the ENTIRE book, it's rather interesting), men are forbidden from "rounding the edges of their beards", or trimming them in the modern sense. So all of us who have goatees, we are committing a big "no no". Scarring of the body by any means, namly tattoos is strictly forbidden in this verse. Oddly enough, I know some Evangelical ministers with tattoos. Even though tattoos are no longer seen as marking ones self as belonging to a particular cult religion as it was in Old Testament times, since we are taking everything literally, these people have condemned themselves. I feel bad for the tattoo artists... God must not like them much at all. Lastly, for the brides and wives out there, if you were not a virgin on your wedding night, expect to be stoned to death. It's the law.
I find it ironic that fundamentalists use Leviticus to push their anti-gay agenda, and yet ignore the well-spring of other do's and don'ts that society has seemed to move past as our understanding of human nature and the world around us has evolved to a greater comprehenshion over time.
Now, as to the sanctity of marriage, and its traditional role model, I suggest we go back to the Medieval and Renaissance time period. After all, the 20th century was not a good time for marriages as divorces became more common, and even accepted by many Christian Churches, even though they are strictly prohibited by the Bible. In the late Medieval and Renaissance period, a woman was either married off or sent to a convent by the age of 12. Her husband would have been at least 30 years old, since they felt it took a male that long to mature. Women had no choice in whom they married, and love had nothing to do with it. It was a business contract between two families, usually to make a profit or merge power. In fact, most marriages were not even performed in a Church until much later.
Based on this model, I'd say our exemplar of heterosexual marriage resembles nothing of what we think of acceptable marriage today. Really, how many brides and grooms do you know are 12 and 30? How many are even virgins? Say what you will about the lack of morals in our day and age... Churches still marry these people and bless their unions. Tisk Tisk.
Since we obviously do not take EVERYTHING in the Bible literally (otherwise I know a few wives who need to be stoned to death, as well as a few tattoo wearing men), and have learned a wealth of information about human nature, sociology and psychology since the hundreds of years B.C., I think it's time to apply this updated thinking to EVERYONE, not just the heterosexual majority. For those out there who will forever believe that homosexuality is a choice, not a born condition, and will forever chastise those who want to publicly and legally solidify their union, I leave you with this popular slogan: "If you don't want gay marriage, then don't get one!"