Posts Tagged ‘supreme court’

Okay, it is unarguably time for a post on the issue of gay marriage.  Last night I was praying to God that he might move the justices of the Supreme Court to overturn the bans on gay marriage and the discriminatory policies.  This is an issue that, regardless of opinion, is very near and dear to the hearts of many, many people in our country.  I am a liberal evangelical Christian and I support gay marriage.  My support for gay marriage is not despite my religious convictions, but because of them.


Let’s first start with the acknowledgement that no one—except for those of you who are Orthodox Jews, who I’m guessing are a rather small percentage—believe in every rule in the Bible.  After all, the Bible says you shouldn’t charge interests on loans, yet I don’t see many Republicans running out to pass new laws on the banking industry.  We decide what rules we follow based on what we feel is God’s will.  We all add our own interpretation when we read the Bible.  However, as Christians, for better or worse, we prioritize.  We put the gospel above Galatians and we put Romans above Leviticus.  Jesus said absolutely nothing about gay marriage.  He did say that it’s wrong to get divorced, which is legal despite that.  So Jesus said nothing about gay marriage…but Jesus did say an awful lot about love.



We are more aware than ever of the horrible things that happen in our world.  Previously we were confined to the horrible things that happened locally.  Earlier this year, a dozen little children were shot to death in their classrooms.  In parts of the world, systematic rape is a tool of war.  Not just ordinary rape, though I find it absolutely despicable that there are so many rapes in the world that such a concept exists, but sometimes gun rifles are shoved into women, bayonets.  America has admitted that it tortured people in Guantanamo Bay.  There are children carrying machine guns.  A fourteen-year-old girl was flogged to death for accusing her cousin of rape.  Malala was shot in the head for saying that she wanted an education.  Women get beaten by their husbands, kids get sexually abused, people with disabilities are tied up and neglected.  There is a lot of hatred in our world.  I don’t think God objects to there being more love, no matter the gender of who’s loving who.  The Bible says that all good things come from God.  Love comes from God.  Therefore, I believe that the love between two people, regardless of gender, comes from God.


Marriage is a changing institution.  The marriage of the Bible isn’t the marriage of today.  There are no dowries and hopefully there aren’t a lot of people who marry to form alliances between families. The marriage of today isn’t even the marriage of fifty years ago.  Does this cause problems?  Yes.  Does this shake our identity?  Yes.  But I think that’s good and that it’s necessary.  Allowing people who are gay to marry will change the institution of marriage, but sometimes the institution needs to be changed.  The institution of marriage has changed so that I expect my future husband to do the laundry with me and pick the kids up from school.  I’m glad for that.  I think that the fundamental core, one of love and respect, is the same, and I don’t think that’s going to change.


I am a deeply religious person.  I believe in the sanctity of marriage.  That’s why I think there’s no reason for the government to be regulating it.  Short of minors getting married, I think people should be able to have whatever arrangement they want.  I personally think that everyone, gay or straight, should get civil unions from the government and marriage can happen privately or in front of their friends and families.  There’s a lot of fear about whether ministers will be forced to marry people who are gay when they don’t believe in homosexuality.  This is a baseless fear.  Ministers should have the right to marry whomever they want.  Rabbis have the right to not marry an inter-faith couple.  Evangelical preachers have the right to not marry a couple that is living together.  For better or worse, that is respected and I don’t see why that would change.  I also think that ministers should have the freedom to marry whomever they want.  Ministers are meant to serve God, so why does the government get to tell them whom they’re allowed to marry?


The truth is that gay marriage already exists.  Not just in Massachusetts or the other states that have laws on it.  Marriage isn’t a piece of paper.  Marriage is two people who are building a life together.  People who are gay are already doing that.  They are buying houses and adopting kids and caring for each other when sick.  They have committed to each other and they are married.  The fight for gay marriage isn’t the fight to allow it, because in reality it cannot be forbidden, but whether we as a nation will recognize those marriages.  Marriage just is.



Corinthians 13:4-8 says: “4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.”  This passage does not say “love should” or “love can”, it says “love is”.  These are statements of truth.  Love cannot be anything but its nature and for those who don’t support gay marriage, there’s nothing you can do to change that.  Gay couples, while having all the same problems as straight couples, are patient and kind to one another.  They protect and trust one another, and for years they have been hoping and persevering that their country will recognize their love.



Many of you are familiar with the show West Wing.  I feel that a quotation here can apply to this situation.  It is about a father whose son was killed in a hate crime because he was gay, and some were worried that he was ashamed of his son.  To the question, he says: “I don’t understand how this President, who I voted for, I don’t understand how he can take such a completely weak-ass position on gay rights.  Gays in the military, same-sex marriage, gay adoption, boards of education…where the hell is he?  I want to know what quality necessary to being a parent the President feels my son lacked.  I want to know from this President, who has not served one day in uniform…I want to know what quality necessary to being a soldier this President feels my son lacked.  Lady, I’m not embarrassed my son was gay…my government is.”  That sums up how I feel.  And I ask the same question of the supreme court justices, congress, and our entire government.  What quality is lacking that you think my friends cannot care for and raise a wonderful child?  What quality is lacing that you think they should not be able to be ordained in their own church?  Because I don’t see anything lacking.


Now, to the argument people make that gay couples shouldn’t have children.  I think an argument could be made that gay couples might even make better parents than straight couples.  There’s one very simple reason: they all want children.  There are thousands of children who are born to parents who don’t want them or are so-called accidents.  This risk simply doesn’t apply in cases of gay parents.  Same-sex couples have to truly want a child and be dedicated to the idea.  Dedicated parents, no matter their gender, make better parents than heterosexual couples who are absent or neglectful.  Besides, you know what, maybe kids with gay parents will have things they need to talk about in therapy one day…and they can join the club.  I don’t think children feeling their parents could have raised them better or done something differently is anything special to a certain type of family.



Recently, a modern family episode aired and a woman getting married said: “It turns out that when you’re with the right person, you can change shelf paper at ten o’clock at night and not want to be anywhere else.”  At which Mitchell and Cam started crying.  I think that’s a beautiful meditation on married life.


I think gay couples should have the right to all the messed-up, maddening, joyful, crazy, exciting, enlightening parts of family life.  They should have the right to have knock-down, drag-out fights about who promised to empty the dishwasher.  They should have the right to spend exorbitant amounts of money on a wedding that they will fight with their parents about.  They should have the right to embarrass their children on field trips.  They should have a right to be in a marriage, not just a gay marriage.  They should have the right to sleep in the uncomfortable chairs in the hospital rooms of their spouse all night.  They should have the right to have both their names on their child’s adoption papers.  They should have the right to not worry about losing their insurance or their house if something happens to the other.  They should have the right to argue with their kids about whether that skirt is too short.


While I’m hoping that the Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage, I know that it will not fix everything.  We know this from experience.  Decades after civil rights, there is still racial tension in this country.  Years after the ADA is passed, people who are disabled still have to fight for their rights.  Years after the ERA was passed…oh…well…that’s awkward.  Yes, well, let’s just move on.  If gay marriage is legalized, the sad fact is that kids will still be bullied in school.  The truth is that someone who’s gay might still have to endure some not-really-funny jokes at the office.  But at the end of the day, they get to go home to someone who loves them and vent while that person listens.


And that makes all the difference.


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I know I haven’t posted in awhile, my apologies.  The past few weeks have been rather crazy.  Here is the long-promised Part 3 of 4 on Religious Literacy.

Religious Literacy: what every American needs to know and doesn’t is written by Stephen Prothero. It both discusses the history of religious literacy and illiteracy, chronicles the increased lack of religious literacy in America, and proposes solutions to religious illiteracy.

His first chapter is entitled “A Nation of Religious Illiterates”, discussing the staggering lack of informed knowledge that many Americans have on religion.  He mentions the odd paradox that while religion has fallen from prominence in the debate in many European countries though religion continues to be taught in schools, here in America, religion has flourished in the public debates, despite the fact that there are staggeringly few instances of the Bible or religious classes being offered in school.  The religious literacy quiz that you see below?  The vast majority of Prothero’s college students failed the exam.  When I was reading this book a few years ago, I sometimes informally administered it to friends and family, my observation was that performance on the exam was directly correlated with age.  Older people were much more likely to be able to answer the Biblical questions, but younger people were much more likely to be able to answer about other faiths (though it has been pointed out, and is true, that the test is more geared to Judeo-Christianity, I probably should have come up with a new test, but I’ll admit that I’m not sure enough in some of my knowledge of other religions to really create one I felt was really accurate and represenative, though I continue to try to improve my knowledge of other religions).  What I found troubling was his quoting of the statistic that apparently “two-thirds of Americans believe that the Bible holds the answers to all or most of life’s basic questions”.  Since Biblical illiteracy is so ubiquitous, the idea that while the majority look to it as authoritative but know little about it, I find concerning and dangerous.

Prothero goes on in quotation of statistics from surveys on Biblical illiteracy.  Half of American adults can name one of the four gospels…most Americans cannot identity the first book of the Bible…many believe that Billy Graham gave the Sermon on the Mount (for the record, it was Jesus)…most believe Jesus was born in Jerusalem…oh, and ten percent believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife (I’m holding out hope that about half of those were just messing with the person taking the results).  In 2005, there was a bill in Alabama that proposed to protect public displays of the ten commandments.  A reporter interviewed all ten cosponsers of the bill and only one could name all ten.  A gallup poll found that 8 percent of teenagers thought that Moses was an apostle.

Propthero continues on to emphasize the importance of religion and to discuss both the religious literacy we once had (much do to the Protestant focus on reading the Bible at the start of our nation) and then how the literacy diminished.  Prothero also discusses an interesting phenomenon, that many of the organizations that were assumed would instill religious values and knowledge in their children, church, family, et cetera, now are not.  Prothero discusses that “some friends tell me that they don’t bring their sons and daughters to worship services or talk with them about their faith because they want their children to be free to choose a religion for themselves.  This is foolhardy, not unlike saying that you will not read anything to your daughter because you don’t want to enslave her to any one language.  The fact of the matter is that you cannot avoid teaching religion to your kids; if you offer them nothing, you are telling them that religion counts for nothing.”  I have to agree with much of this statement.  While I can accept that many parents do not want to repeat their parents’ mistakes by enforcing worship or dogma on their children, I think not bringing children into faith is equally a mistake.  I do not mean that every child should go to church or synagogue, etc.  Many parents do that, bring their children to church because they think they should and not out of any personal faith.  Except in rare cases or when there is a strong community in the church as a pull, most of those children will leave the church soon, and so will their parents.  Worship or religion is going to do little good if you don’t tell your kids that it matters.  I also think that the opposing idea, that we shouldn’t constrain our kids by teaching them a faith, is while well-intentioned, is rather naive.  There is a difference between explaining what you believe to your children, and telling them that they have no choice but to believe that too.  It is a crucial difference.

The rest of the book is Prothero’s argument on the necessity of religion in education.  He argues that every school should have a required Bible course and a required world religions course.  He discusses how many people are afraid to teach or mention religion in school because they feel it is unconstitutional.  It is not.  It is illegal to teach religion, it is not illegal to teach about religion.  We cannot advocate any particular creed or religion or idealogy, but that does not mean that we cannot teach information on it so that our students can be informed citizens.  Prothero maintains that his push for increased teaching of religion in schools is civic, not religious.  Prothero’s book is interesting and informative.  However, there’s a good likelihood that if you want to read the book in the first place, he’s preaching to the choir, but it still might be worth reading if you want to be more informed on issues of religious literacy.

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