Tag Archives: same sex marriage

Laying Down the Law

Last week, I read a few posts on friends’ FB walls about the Supreme Court hearing arguments for and against legalization of same-sex marriage. Friends who lean left are delighted at the prospect of marriage equality. Friends who lean right lament what seems like a further shifting of moral standards away from Christian values. Some discussions popped up about whether pastors could be prosecuted for refusing to condone or conduct same-sex marriages in their churches.

My gay friends hope that one day the government might afford them the same rights as heterosexuals. 

On the other hand, religious friends fear that one day the government might punish the faithful for so-called hate speech and Orwellian “thoughtcrime.” And it makes them all the more adamant that they must stand up and stand firm on their beliefs in the face of the changing culture, no matter the odds stacked against them.

After all, that’s what devout people do.

I pondered the comments and posts I saw from my Christian peers last week, and one question came to mind: Why are we hoping in the law on this issue? What drives this all-consuming (and often failing) Right Wing push to stop same sex marriage? Since when did a law accomplish the kind of redemptive work of grace that we as Christians praise and proclaim?

Consider Paul’s words to the early church in Galatians 3. Did Christ die on the cross to put in place more laws, or to free us from them? Do we get right with God by strict adherence to the law or by grace through faith? If faith makes us right with God, then why would we set our hopes on establishing laws–a system that our holy book clearly shows could not and will not save a soul? And if the law doesn’t save a person, yet saving souls is the very mission Christ gave His church, then why are we putting laws in place to enforce Christian morals and beliefs on a secular nation?

And why limit our law-making to this one area? Why not fight for laws against greed? Pride? Gluttony? Laziness? We talk a lot about “America was founded on Christian values” and people fight to keep the Ten Commandments in front of the courtroom as though that’s the foundation for the American legal system or some kind of Bill of Rights. But where then are the laws against worshiping other gods (Commandment #1) or creating idols and symbols of worship (#2)? Why is our God’s name used in profanity with impunity (#3) and why do so many Americans work on Sunday (#4)? Where are the laws requiring honor and obedience toward parents (#5)? And why aren’t there laws making adultery illegal (#7)? Why can people get away with lying everywhere but when they’re under oath (#9), and why is it acceptable–even encouraged–to desire what belongs to others (#10)?

Admittedly, some of those were once laws on the books in various parts of the country. And over time, they’ve been removed. Not as an evil plot to draw America away from God and drag our nation down to hell, but out of respect for the idea that our government was never intended to legislate a religion, and our religion is founded on the idea that legislating morality is inherently doomed to failure.

Yet we’ll trot out our arguments once more, and claim this is the battleground of the day, the place where the line must be drawn in this culture war.

Well, I find myself waving the white flag. Not at the opposition, as if to say I give up my beliefs or my faith in God or my adherence to biblical principles. But at my own side, to say, “Cease fire, we’re shooting at the wrong target, doing more harm than any perceived good. Lay down the guns, lay down these attempts to use law as a weapon.”

I know most of my side is just going to keep firing away, convinced–in spite of our own doctrine to the contrary–that human nature can be fixed by a legal statute or amendment or court decision. And I’ll probably look to them like an enemy or at least a supporter of the opposition.

But I’ll keep making my own and waving that flag despite the odds. After all, that’s what devout people do, right?

White Flag, by Jan Jacobsen, available for use through Creative Commons.

Doubleplus Ungood Thoughtcrime

For the sake of future celebrities, CEOs, and spokespersons, I have a risk management proposal. I suggest the following application for anyone in a public position:

1)      Do you support same-sex marriage and consider same-sex sexual activity morally acceptable?
Yes? Continue to question 2.
No? Please sign at the bottom and turn in the form.

2)      Do you intend to positively advocate, in the form of advertisements, announcements, or personal interviews, for same-sex marriage and activity as well as the LGBTQ community?
Yes? Continue to question 3.
No? Please sign at the bottom and turn in the form.

3)      Are you free of the influence of any deeply held personal beliefs?
Yes? Congratulations, your application is complete.
No? Please sign at the bottom and turn in the form.

I, the undersigned, accept disapproval for consideration for this position through no fault of the employer based on the above.
Sign: ___________________

Based on recent events, tolerance is not enough. Acceptance is not enough. Only full-fledged outspoken public support will do. Anything else means you’re a homophobic bigot.

If your pasta or fast-food company isn’t making ads for same-sex couples, expect questions. Because pasta, chicken, and every other product on the market is all about the same-sex marriage debate. If you’re a star in an ongoing reality TV show and you express an unapproved but entirely expected opinion, prepare for indefinite suspension.

Corporations are willing to make millions off you in the short term, while cringing on the inside saying, “Lord, please let them not get asked about gay marriage today so we can keep raking in the cash.”

But eventually, the disgusting hypocrisy of such corporations might cost too much, making even huge short-term gain unprofitable. Thus, the litmus test err application I have provided above.

Your tolerance is required. Our tolerance is on back-order.
Your tolerance is required. Our tolerance is on back-order.

The message is clear. There is an unwavering standard. There is no acceptable form of dissent on this issue, no expression of disagreement respectful enough, no divergence from the correct position:

You must not think ill of homosexual activity. You may not speak ill of it. Your mere acceptance only buys you time until you are caught expressing homophobia. Your tolerance is allowed but will not be returned.

Homophobia is thoughtcrime; violators will be prosecuted.

Only in the court of public opinion.

At least, for now.

See what Phil Robertson actually said. Crass, yes. Hateful, no. Homophobic? Not at all, unless we redefine the word.

Pasta Politics

So there’s trouble boiling over in the world of noodles.

The chairman of Barilla Group said there’s no plans for the company to have same-sex family pasta ads. His comments are attracting lots of negative attention, and his apology is viewed as hollow and insincere by some.

To which I ask, do we need same-sex family pasta ads? I understand debate on marriage rights, on legal benefits, on laws that discriminate. I understand frustration with how the LGBT community is treated in certain places and certain circles, and outcries against violence. I am outspoken among my Christian friends about the vitriolic and disproportional manner in which the church in general responds to homosexuality. I even argue with folks like the Southern Baptist Convention concerning their policies for chaplains in the military, delineating which service members defending our country can receive ministry and care from a chaplain and which cannot. So while I am probably considered no friend to the homosexual community due to my faith, I still fight for them in several ways.

But this one I just don’t get.

It’s pasta.

It's obviously the ravioli
Can YOU pick out the pasta of hate?

Is there gay pasta and straight pasta? Wait, don’t answer that. Yes, there is straight pasta.

But is pasta the battlefield on which issues concerning homosexuality should be fought?

Is there an activist watching TV somewhere, checking off companies that include a same-sex couple in at least one ad? Is one ad enough? Or do you need two?

In a minute, I’m going to drive my Ford minivan to band practice. I’m going to play a Korg piano. The whole time, I will be paralyzed with fear, because I just don’t know if Ford or Korg have ads that show non-traditional families and same-sex piano playing!

I mean, I look around the room and wonder what other bastions of advertising prejudice I might be supporting. I have a Logitech mouse and I’m typing this on an Alienware laptop. Do they have same-sex ads showing a couple using their Logitech products? Are there ads for homosexuals using Alienware computers?

Do there need to be?

Come on. This is Chik-fil-A all over again. And we know how that turned out: a tidy profit for the “purveyors of hate.”

I’ve eaten at Chik-fil-A. I’ve eaten Barilla pasta. I’ve tried other places and similar products. At no point did I find myself exposed to hatred, nor have I been motivated to look down upon the differences of others.

Sometimes a product is just a product.

Fight the battles worth fighting.

Conditional Virtues

whatthePatience is a virtue.

And so are a lot of other things, it turns out.

Ancient Greece had four cardinal virtues: temperance, prudence, courage, and justice.

The Church has three: faith, hope, and love. Alternatively, some look at “the fruit of the Spirit” Paul put down in his epistles: love, joy, peace, patience, kindess, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Buddhism has its Noble Eightfold Path, Hinduism its Dharma or moral duty, Islam has a long list derived from the Quran, and so on.

Even Ben Franklin, no particular bastion of religious devotion, had his own list of moral virtues.

The key to virtues is that, without fail, they are meant to be practiced regardless of how someone else behaves.

We treat others with love even if they are hateful. We respond with kindness when someone snaps at us. When others would be arrogant, we strive to be humble; when others prove unreliable, we demonstrate diligence and faithfulness. Self-control and temperance do not depend on how wild or disciplined someone else may be.

We practice these virtues because they help us be our best selves. They give us the tools to respond to life’s struggles and difficulties with grace, maintaining dignity in spite of opposition.

Now our society is dealing with the debate over same-sex marriage and whether to recognize it as a right in America. Pitting long-standing religious traditions against the ability to openly express love and fidelity – that’s not just a spark near the fireworks. That’s a nuclear meltdown in progress. The trouble is there’s also a lot of prejudice and ignorance on the religious side, and there’s a lot of defensive lashing out due to past hurt on the same-sex marriage side – understandably so. On top of all that, there seems to be enough hate on both sides to go around.

Which is especially sad since we’re all supposedly talking about expressions of love.

There will always be political disputes and debates, but there doesn’t have to be so much vitriol in our rhetoric.

That brings me to this popular virtue I keep hearing about, called Tolerance.

Tolerance has come to mean that we must not only accept differences in others but also approve of them. When we speak of tolerating a thing, we simply mean acknowledging it, accepting the fact of its existence. I have pain in my foot following surgery. I can tolerate the pain. That doesn’t mean I approve of it. Even the term “acceptance” gets used as if to say “endorsement.” I accept marijuana is used throughout the United States and is even legal in some states. I do not endorse its use.

Equality means treating everyone with respect.
Equality means treating everyone with respect.

Treating each other as equals means tolerance is not a one way street.

If tolerance is indeed a virtue to which we should aspire, then it cannot be limited to those with whom we agree. We cannot demonize the other side as if everyone is either Westboro Baptist Church or NAMBLA. We cannot jump to conclusions and rush to judgment about what motivates supporters or opponents of same-sex marriage.

No, I don’t believe the activists are out to destroy the families. Most of them are just trying to have a family of their own. And no, I don’t believe most of the opponents think anyone is less than human or not worthy of dignity and respect, contrary to popular belief. Yes, there are too many bad apples. We tolerate their right to speech, even ignorant speech. And we counter their ignorance with prudence, temperance, and respectful disagreement.

We cannot justify intolerance and hatred toward others because “they were intolerant first.”

That’s not how virtues work.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” 

Likewise, if we only tolerate the tolerant, then what sort of virtue is it?

We’re always going to have important discussions in America, on subjects where both sides are very passionate. We owe it to ourselves to focus our energy on the viewpoints, not the participants… on virtue, not venom.