Our commission is to create disciples, not to protect the sanctity of marriage or anything else. Those things which we hold sacred can never be made less so by external definitions or the rule of law. Spending time, energy and money organizing and campaigning to oppress people we disagree with is entirely wrongheaded. Support for Prop 8 is not even a peripherally implied aspect of the Great Commission Jesus Christ gave to His disciples, and it does not, in any sense, mirror the divine example of our Savior. Such political action, in fact, denies His words, denies the model He set for us. It is the religious invention of man, not the infallible commission of God.
overwhelmingly supported Proposition 8. I’m trying to find a way
to explain the sad irony of an oppressed people making history
by electing the first African American president while, at the
same time, opposing one of Obama’s key positions: his
inclusivity and acceptance of same-gender loving people. While
Obama himself personally opposes gay marriage, he clearly abhors
gay bigotry and opposes constitutional bans on civil liberties.
And yet his most ardent supporters overwhelmingly backed the
California constitutional amendment by some 70%. These folks
apparently reject the notion that any denial of civil rights can
ultimately be used as a weapon against they themselves. The fact
that language used to argue for the ban on gay marriage is
identical to language once used to ban interracial marriage was
either inconsequential or unknown to them. Nutty claims that gay
marriage somehow undermines the sanctity of straight marriage is
totally ridiculous. First: whatever you consider sacred is,
therefore, so. Those things which we hold sacred can never be
made less so by external definitions or the rule of law. Second:
the notion of gay marriage being a threat to the sanctity of
marriage is ridiculous. Marriage, as an institution, was screwed
up by straight folks long ago.
I’ve never understood this fascination about what people do in their bedrooms. I mean, if you take sex out of the equation, gay people are, well, people. Just like everybody else. So why do we get so mad when we consider that, retiring from our day, some people will be sharing a bed with folks of the same gender? Why do we even care?
God never called us to protect the sanctity of anything. Not even the church. In our tradition, we treat the church sanctuary as though it were the Holy of Holies. It's not. Jesus Christ died to eliminate all of that nonsense, ascribing religious significance to objects and, yes, institutions,. The church is not your sanctuary, not your building--it's your people. It's the body of believers who have come together to tell the world about Christ's love. That, beloved, is our mission--not protecting the sanctity of marriage. As believers, we are well within our right to affirm same-gender relationships or not to. I'm uncertain that I'd campaign for political solutions to these problems, to either grant special rights or make special definitions. But, taking rights away is oppression. Worse, it sets a precedent that we can allow, heck, petition, the government to take rights away. Well, pastor, we're just taking rights away from those people. Brother, the first time you allow the government to take rights away from anyone--anyone at all--you are creating an avenue for the government to oppress us all. It is a slippery slope to the very repression the church claims to dread most: government interference in our right to free speech and, as a result, religion. These very same hateful tactics employed by conservative Christians can and, I promise you, eventually will, be turned back on them--on all of us. It is wrong to turn to government to resolve what are moral, ethical and spiritual matters. It is especially stupid to open the door to our own oppression by doing so.
These days, people treat marriage like it is the same as dating, people having “starter” or “trial” marriages—all of which I find offensive, and all of which undermines the sanctity of the institution. People, so committed to one another that simply dating is no longer enough for them, who fight for the right to be married, who risk their livelihoods and, in many cases, their personal safety if not their lives in order to marry—I can’t imagine in what way that kind of dedication undermines the institution of marriage.
Personally, I don’t affirm gay marriage. I don’t believe that’s what marriage is about. But, that’s my belief. I don’t feel some compelling need to force people to agree with me or to live their lives the way I do. Moreover, there’s a terrible and slippery slope that begins with the denial of anyone’s civil rights. It’s quicksand: the more we do it, the easier doing it becomes. That people can’t see the connection between Prop 8 and The Patriot Act and FISA and Jim Crowe is utterly stunning to me, demonstrating how poor a job we do at educating our children, ourselves, not only about why America is great but about how easily the freedoms we take for granted can be stripped from us.
The religious right is most especially troubling because of the uniformity they demonstrate in falling in step behind religious leaders. It amazes me that they can’t see the connection between radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr and James Dobson, a comparison which will no doubt offend many of the faithful. But an extremist religious nut is an extremist religious nut. The goal and expression of their nuttiness differ, but the formula is the same: blind adherence to the guy with the microphone. You round up a random sampling of Christian conservatives—I mean, just grab 'em off the street—and most could not tell you, in any coherent way, why they hate homosexuals. Most would deny they hate anybody, but the expression of their faith, is, in effect, hatred. Some may quote a scripture or two, but most will just hand you a, “Well, the bible says…” and then ramble off Focus On The Family talking points. The overwhelming majority of these folks, and like-minded black Christians who supported Prop 8, are lemmings. They don’t read. They don’t question. Their main education about such matters comes from the guy with the microphone. And he, himself, is often just as uninformed as they are.
The notion that God is so weak that He needs our help to enforce His law is, literally, blasphemous. The fact is, we are no longer under The Law but under Grace--something the religious right routinely seems to ignore as they go about their Old Testament methods of smiting the infidels. Regardless of what you believe, there is no biblical model—none at all—for Christians oppressing others or denying them their rights. Jesus never organized a boycott or urged His followers to vote down a ballot amendment. He never backed a political candidate or attempted to force Himself or His views or His values on anyone. Instead, He said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” He told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Christians attempting to change or build the kingdom of the world in the name of Jesus really need to fundamentally asses whom it is they’re following. This is behavior Christ, in word and deed, clearly denounced. Which leads me to believe the lemming law: that the vast majority of Christian political activists—of any ethnicity—get their information mainly from the Christian right propaganda factories. For, if these folks actually knew Jesus, or, failing that, actually bothered to *study* Jesus’ life and His words, they’d find an enormous gulf between the things they do and the personal example of the Man they claim to follow.
Our commission is to create disciples, not to protect the sanctity of marriage or anything else. Spending time, energy and money organizing and campaigning to oppress people we disagree with is entirely wrongheaded. I can only imagine what we, the body of Christ, could accomplish if instead we put all of those resources into telling people about Jesus--which is what He actually asked us to do.
These religious folk who want to run around banning things: if they really want to uphold the sanctity of marriage, they should get a vote passed banning divorce. Jesus condemned divorce while saying nothing at all about homosexuals, and yet the divorce rate among Christians is nearly identical to that of non-Christians. Supporting Prop 8 on religious grounds is, therefore, hypocritical on so many levels, not the least of which is that running around passing laws and banning things is not our job. It is not even a peripherally implied aspect of the Great Commission Jesus Christ gave to His disciples, and it does not, in any sense, mirror the divine example of our Savior. Such political action, in fact, denies His words, denies the model He set for us. It is the religious invention of man, not the infallible commission of God. It is the behavior of Sanhedrin, the wrongheaded legalistic zealots whom Jesus condemned. That is the model we mimic when we use our liberty in Christ to oppress people.
The biggest threat to the sanctity of marriage—according to Jesus Christ—isn’t gays, it’s DIVORCE. Go ban THAT, and you’ll get my attention.