Sunday, October 18, 2009

Difficulties on the Matter of Gay Marriage

It's a very difficult issue to decide upon. But ultimately what I had to do was go in and paint Christianity with the most Biblically liberalizing brush that I possibly could muster. And I really did. And I came up with two conclusions. One delighted me, insofar as it spoke to my sensibilities. The other was about as I expected, and unfortunately is unlikely to satisfy anyone on the other side of the fence from me.

There may be room, in a limited and highly chaste fashion, for gay/lesbian relationships. Certainly we cannot say that gays/lesbians should not befriend other gays and lesbians; this would be unreasonable. And I think even a friendship which carried some element of romance might be acceptable. It is to say the least not expressly forbidden in the Scriptures. But it would have to be highly chaste and without the near occasion to sin, because, well...Again, if we really want to be Biblically Christian, and we really want to give due credence to Tradition even in the historical sense...There is not room for homosexual sexual activity in the Christian Tradition. It is not there, and it is not there in a way which is mandated, and patently non-negotiable.

Does this sadden me? Yes. It does! It feels like homosexual relationships could very easily match every other part of even the most conservative Christian definitions of what love is, except that they be homosexual. Why then should consummation of these relationships be denied to them? Why should these people be deprived of being able to truly give themselves, mind, body, soul and spirit, to each other? The simplest, and hardest, and truest answer is that we honestly do not have a full answer. We submit because of God's truth as revealed in the Scriptures, in Tradition, in natural law. We don't necessarily submit because we like it.

Now of course it does comfort me—and it does comfort me—to know that if we take these things consistently, it's not as if the bedroom is suddenly a playground just for couples who are married and straight, but forbidden to couples who don't meet these qualifications. Indeed, nothing could be further from the truth. In the most consistent Christian traditions there are restrictions on everyone—it seems quite obvious to these traditions that when St. Paul said “everything is permissible,” he didn't mean it for the marriage bed. I suspect that when Christianity falls away from this sterner reasoning—which puts restrictions on us straight people, too—when we fall away from this sterner and more consistent reasoning, we fall away not only into a greater permissiveness, but also onto a shakier foundation for what we say on sexuality. It is possible that the greater the dichotomy becomes between what we permit for married couples and what we deny to unmarried couples, the less our basis lies in Scripture and Tradition (take this to be Catholic, or simply the history of Christianity), and the more we begin to seek shakier and shakier motivations for what we are saying. It may be that conservative, sola-Scriptura Protestantism, if it gets too far from the natural law tradition on human sexuality, runs the risk of becoming truly bigoted against homosexuals rather than morally opposed to homosexuality itself. So maybe this is some of what we sense, when we protest—“but if two people love each other...?”

But ultimately that is not the point. That is not the logic being put forth, really, by the tradition. Ultimately we are asking the question of what the way is that things were meant to be in terms of sexuality. This is a question that has profound significance for all persons—celibate, married, gay, straight, male, female, etc. Scripture and Tradition do seem to hold the answer for those of us who call ourselves Christians. I'm not claiming we have to like it. I am claiming that if we claim Christianity, it is a part of what we are choosing to believe. We do not have to understand it. We do not have to like it. But our sexual ethic is a part of our Tradition, and we are not free to excise it any more than a human body is free to bite off its own right arm, one painful piece at a time.


kj said...

You did not answer the question at the heart of the issue. You simply spoke of the morality or Christian view of homosexuality. Of course, I agree with many of them. But you did not deal with the issue...

The issue is the legality of gay marriage. Not the legality of being gay, expressing gayness, or something like that. The legality of two people combining resources and having things such as visiting rights, certain tax exemptions, and the freedom to say to society that they are committed to a person they are genuinely in love with (whatever the maturity of that love may be).

It is completely a separate discussion from Christianity and Homosexuality. Why? Because this is not the Catholic Church accepting gay marriage. And because this nation is not one that legislates Christianity. It is what makes this country great to not do so. I believe if one is going to find grounds to deny someone something in this country, it best be on legal grounds or not at all...

You argument here Daniel fails to address the proper issue - legality, not morality.

I await a response...

D.J. Lower / KKairos said...

For the record, morality of the act and of gay marriage within the Christian tradition was just about the only thing I really intended to address. That particular writing was in response to a couple of our fellow Christians who had begun a debate of the issue because of the upholding of Proposition 8. But it very quickly segued into the morality of the issue in general and away from the strictly legal arena.

I do agree that when it comes to legality things become significantly more problematic; I have no real knowledge of exactly how all the laws work.

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