Supreme Court Just Validated Gay Marriage. Now What? 5 Gay Marriage Concerns (and Your Thoughts…)

Love

Today the Supreme Court of the United States ordered that state bans outlawing gay marriage are unconstitutional. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote these words that will echo through the ages…

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

I am overjoyed to hear this, and deeply saddened that I’m presently unable to bring myself to risk family torment by stating my joy on Facebook. I feel like a coward and can’t wait to come out of my own southern-baptist conservative closet. Am I alone in here? I will celebrate here, on this private blog, with those of you who share that view and anyone else willing to listen.

Concern

I write this from a church where my two daughters go to daycare. I’m working from here today because I jogged here with our double jogging stroller and didn’t want to spend the work-time making several trips between home and here today. Our 5-year-old just finished the celebration at the end of Vacation Bible School where they celebrated not turning to the left or the right, but following God down the narrow path by following the Bible and trusting His word. I was struck, as I usually am, by the peer-pressure demonstrated when the crowd of children erupted in cheers for those slightly older than my daughter who had accepted Jesus during the week. That kind of pressure from others is no way to evaluate truth. I was also uncomfortable with how this week’s theme to “obey the Bible” seemed to stand in stark relief (by most biblical interpretations) against the court’s ruling today. There are certainly Bible-believing Christians who allow for gay marriage within their view of scripture (see Pascal’s previous post and my comment there), but that view is presently more uncommon in the micro-culture where we live. Unfortunately, most of the opposition for same-sex marriage seems to be religiously based. I don’t want that for my precious, sweet daughters. It’s probably just my INTP personality thinking too far ahead, but these tensions are uncomfortable for me and seem unnecessary.

Arguments

I’ve heard many arguments for why marriage equality is bad (moral slippery-slope, etc.). What I haven’t yet heard is any significant argument against marriage equality that both a) stands up to scientific scrutiny and b) is not ultimately based on biblical interpretations (and accompanying biases that tend to run more deep because their based on perceived divine authority) and/or the genetic fallacy (and other of the less-known fallacies). That certainly does not mean that such legitimate reasons do not exist. I am ignorant of many things and this may just be one more. That’s why I hope we can all benefit from your thoughts.

In my view, the road ahead may be challenging as we work out how, when, where and the degree to which state or federal laws should impact personal liberties, but that’s a constant struggle in a free nation. Equality under the law is how things should be. We should start there and then figure out the implementation specifics. I agree with Pascal that perhaps churches should volunteer to give up their tax exemption status in order to become more politically active about this and other issues.

Top 5 reasons to object to gay marriage – and an atheist’s rebuttal

I saw the following older video (2009) from The Atheist Experience about a year ago. I remember that in the video Jeff addresses the top 5 arguments (from a certain website at that time) against gay marriage. He talks through those issues from the perspective of an atheist. I don’t remember the video well enough to know if I agree with every point, but seeing these clips may help some of us understand one another better. First, a warning. I’ve seen many videos from The Atheist Experience over the years. While I agree with the vast majority of what I’ve heard from them, I very often do not agree with the way they say it – it is quite often lacking in gentleness and respect. Still, if you can get past the anger and condescension that you occasionally find there, the content is often incisive. Here are the arguments people voted for as the primary reason that they oppose gay marriage – Jeff will be going through them in this reverse order.

5. It’s bad for the kids or it will cause problems for the family.

4. The purpose of marriage is to make children.

3. Homosexuality is unnatural and/or abnormal.

2. Marriage is defined as “one man and one woman.”

1. Watch the videos to find out. Hint, it starts with an “s”…

What is your take on these? I encourage you to comment on any that jump out at you. My goal, as always, is mutual understanding and compassion in the midst of difficult and polarizing topics. I know I’m not unbiased and I hold some false beliefs. The more I hear from you, the better chance I have of recognizing my own blind spots. In addition to the objections above (and Jeff’s rebuttals), here are more questions you might discuss to help us all understand…

Questions

If you’re for gay marriage, why? What do you wish opponents of gay marriage would understand? Are you for LGBT protection under anti-discrimination laws?

If you’re against gay marriage, why? What do you wish your proponents of gay marriage would understand? Did the video help clarify anything? Did it make things worse? Will you fight marriage equality now after the supreme court ruling? How? Are you for LGBT protection under anti-discrimination laws? Do you think you’ll ever be able to celebrate a gay wedding and accept a same-sex married couple to the same degree that you accept their peers in a heterosexual marriage?

Sign-off

This is a historic moment in time. I’m very glad you’re here. Thank you for taking the time to read and contribute your unique point of view for the improvement of our shared understanding and a better, more compassionate and moral future – whatever that may look like. You have my sincere gratitude.

To all same-sex attracted people who may read this, I hope you feel the warmth I’m sharing with you right now. To all those who have same-sex attracted friends or family members, please spend time with them, give them a hug, and pass on the love. Today, I openly celebrate them from my corner closet – and I’m straining against the door.

Gentleness and respect,
–Russell

P.S.

J, someday the perceived hurt we will cause our families (admittedly, primarily yours) will be outweighed by the real need from hurting people who are desperate for our support. All it may take is for one of them to stumble to the ground in front of the crack in your closet door. Then I won’t have to strain anymore because you’ll break through to them before I can blink. You always do. I sincerely hope that if that time comes, you can bring Jesus with you. I love you. 🙂

6 comments

  1. I know you’re in an awkward position, but I commend you, Russell. I have no problem making my position known, but I fully understand that some people often have a lot to lose. You seem to have found an outlet in this blog, and only you will know the right time to take a further step.

    I’ve always thought the Bible was quite clear on its disapproval of homosexuality, and that’s but one of the problems I have with it. Liberal Christians whitewash a lot of scripture, and while I appreciate the progressive mentality, I think this may perhaps be one of the reasons Christianity has been able to survive. One of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain is “The world has corrected the Bible. The church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession- and take the credit of the correction.”

    As you noted, there don’t seem to be many valid arguments against homosexuality–most being unscientific, purely biblical, or (my favorite) “it’s just icky.” If you haven’t read it, there a great book called The Chemistry Between Us that covers the science of sexuality. http://www.amazon.com/The-Chemistry-Between-Us-Attraction/dp/1591846617
    I think the time will come when the world will accept homosexuality, but it will obviously take time for conservative religion to find a comfortable way to circumvent traditional dogma.

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  2. Truly? We move with the universe, and as it shifts in time, so our perception must to.
    Yesterday, today and tomorrow is all the same thing – it is simple our understanding that is lacking and escalating in this time.

    I cannot point to all these ‘facts’ and ‘points’ it is so logical and wise. (well I possibly could but I really don’t want to as it is a Friday evening 😉 )
    I can only think that for me, from going from a place of completely blind faith to a place of knowledge (and still far too much to glean yet) –
    All is as it should be through to where we as humanity must go under our sun.

    Thank you for such a well thought out write.

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  3. I was very happy to see this result as well, Russell. I can totally understand your desire to celebrate openly, but I think your wording was too hard on yourself – I don’t think you guys need to feel like “cowards” at all. You are both making an intelligent decision to carefully choose your conversations with your families so that the already strained relationships do not completely fall apart.

    I also can’t think of a valid reason to deny anyone the right to share in the healthy, beautiful tradition of commitment, love and family.

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  4. I’m so glad to see this historic moment in time. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see same sex couples finally be awarded the dignity, rights and privileges heterosexuals enjoy. I literally jumped for joy when I read the news story.

    I also have no problem saying I’m an atheist or that I’m glad to see this moment. I sympathize with your position though. Hopefully, that too will change in the near future.

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  5. I’m frustrated by all of it. I don’t judge or condemn homosexual people. I would prefer the government stay out of marriage and allow people to marry as they define it. That is the way we all live, anyway. I don’t like the government, through the court system, bestowing ‘rights’ that belong to us in the first place. So…I understand your feelings of inhibition around this issue. I think there is a lot of that going around and it shouldn’t be that way in a free country. Free speech is a right we are born with too. The government gives and the government takes away!

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