Monday, June 05, 2006

You Know, I'm So Sick of Congress I Could Vomit

Yes, all of this has been said before, and probably more eloquently than I can put it. But this is my bully pulpit and I intend to use it! Besides, writing about it makes me less likely to YELL AT C-SPAN, thereby scaring the bejesus out of my coworker. I'm nice like that.

Stop. Just stop. Enough with the gay bashing already; I'm sick of hearing it. Putting down other people just because they aren't like you won't work for you now anymore than it did in high school. (Oh wait...)

Seriously, you all need to get over yourselves.

First, marriage is -- and always has been in this country -- a secular institution. Marriage, whether conducted in a courthouse or a church, confers upon the parties certain legal and property rights. You know that "by the power vested in me by God and the State of New York, I now pronounce you husband and wife" part? Read that line again. THE STATE OF NEW YORK grants the minister power to declare two people married, in the eyes of the government.

Marriages are not universally recognized between church and state. My church, for example, does not recognize a marriage performed by anyone other than a Catholic priest. That's its prerogative. Similarly, not all marriages performed by religious groups are recognized by the state. (See: Polygamy.) No church should be forced to recognize a marriage between two men or two women, if it conflicts with church teachings. But that's not what most church leaders are concerned about. They know it'll never happen.

No, what many church leaders are concerned about is the so-called sanctity of marriage. Perhaps we should review what Jesus had to say about marriage:

"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.'

But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:31-32)

Seems pretty clear to me. Divorce, bad. Adultery, bad. You want to protect the sanctity of my marriage? You want to bring morals to our amoral society? Let's start enacting new and enforcing existing adultery statutes. The gay married couple next door isn't a threat to the sanctity of my marriage; the hussy down the street is. [Editor's note: Not that there's anything wrong with being a hussy. I love hussies. Can't get enough of them. People should feel free to be hussies. Just don't act like one openly, don't tell people you are one, don't live down the street from me, and for Pete's sake, don't go looking for special treatment, like being able to love/have sex with/marry whomever you want.]

Finally, a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is nothing short of legislating bigotry. It's bad enough that church leaders are willing to rely on shaky biblical evidence, theological hypocrisy, and blatant double standards (Divorce is ok! Adultery, pshaw! But NO GAY MARRIAGE - God said so!) but the worst part of this episode is the bigotry embodied in the proposed amendment. Of course, there is the obvious bigotry of preventing gays from enjoying certain legal rights that the rest of us can avail ourselves of. But more sinister is the underlying argument that what this country needs is moral values -- CHRISTIAN values. This is insulting to anyone who does not subscribe to Christian doctrine (some 20% of the U.S. population, according to an ARIS study).

And, quite frankly, it's insulting to me as a Christian. In promoting this kind of bigotry, we are being judgy, not welcoming.

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." (Luke 15:1-2)

We are not recognizing the love that God bestows on all of us -- the same love that should be embodied in a strong marriage.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John:7-8)

And we are certainly not loving one another in the way in which we were called to.

When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them [a scholar of the law] tested him by asking,

"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"

He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:34-40)

The theological question? That's for churches to decide. The legal question? That's for policymakers and the courts to decide. But you have a decision to make, too. Are you going to remain silent, tacitly agreeing with those who are vocal and powerful? Or are you going to work for justice and give voice to the persecuted?


At Tue Jun 06, 08:31:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a tough one. I agree with your point about the double standard. The problem is that divorce, adultery, AND homosexual behavior (as well as greed, gluttony, etc) are all sinful according to the Bible. Focusing on one over the other is not going to solve any of the issues. When it comes right down to it, NO legislation is going to make the heart change that Jesus says he will give us when we give ourselves to him.

I'm not sure where I stand on the legislation decision. Making a law is not going to change anyone's heart. Rather, it's the other way around -- the "heart" of the nation creates our laws, and in that, whichever way legislation goes on this is more an indicator of where we really are as a "Christian" nation. And ultimately, I believe that God cares less about a "Christian" nation and much more about where you and I stand. Do we know him, do we serve Jesus and commit our lives to him? If that's in place, everything else becomes almost a non-issue.

Tough stuff. I appreciate your thoughful treatment of it.

At Tue Jun 06, 09:55:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Heather said...

In one of my other favorite blogs ( he was discussing this issue as well. He raised a very interesting point/question: In an election year where the GOP hasn’t shown a lot of leadership ability, they know it’s over unless they can somehow divide and conquer. What better than a wedge issue? Are you buying it?

I don't have time to launch into the Christian debate segment of this topic, except to say that as a Christian I am saddened by the issues the Christian community decides to champion and to those they turn a blind eye. There are far worse things in this world that deserve our attention at the present time (IRAQ) than two people wanting to lovingly commit their lives to each other(IRAQ). Let's try to keep things in perspective (again,IRAQ).

At Thu Jun 08, 05:54:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Stephen said...

Good stuff, Katherine. I didn’t read too much of it, but I scroll-scanned it. (I don’t trust blogs. In part because of their authors’ unfiltered take on world events--news is too raw not to have a filter--and also because of all the sentences.) Anyway, what I saw told me this much: you write from your gut, not from your head, which I like. Tip of the hat to ya. I especially appreciated your use of the word “judgy.” Shows me you’re not getting caught up on all that verbal accuracy the way the leftist-educated twenty-something wordstapo who hang out in the coffee shop at Clark and Belmont before they go out to their piano bars and discotheques would. I just wish those jokesters on the ol’ U.S.S.C. (the “Activist Nine,” I like to call them) would get the message and start acting a little more judgy and a little less thinky. Seriously, how many justices have to die before my dream of a Limbaugh-nonagon can come true? Now one gripe I have with your blog is your over-citation of Scripture. Not your overuse of it--I think Jesus is the best, and I devote my whole self to him every Sunday of the week--but the fact that you insist on indicating to me the exact place in the Bible that you’ve lifted all your material. Have a little faith in America, Kate: if you say that George W. Bush said that Jesus said it to him, we’ll believe you, no questions asked. Don’t give me all these names and numbers--what do I look like, a sudoku master? But in the end, you hit (or should I say bash? the nail on it’s head--no, Nation, on the issue of gay marriage we will not “remain silent, tacitly agreeing with those who are vocal and powerful,” as you put it. You’re right, there should be nothing tacit about the way we agree with the vocal and powerful. We should blindly and loudly repeat the opinions of whichever red-state Congressman or Fox News pundit is able to most succinctly boil this complicated issue down into an easily-speakable sound bite, perhaps along the lines of, oh, I don’t know, “We need an amendment to stop the gays.” Now I’m not sure if Jesus ever put that in the Bible or not (never read it myself, don’t care for books), but if two-thirds of the states think me He should have, then isn't it time for Him to release a new director’s cut? Until then, I’m happy to allow Rick and Pablo their American freedom to wear assless chaps and dance a gay Macarena while listening to Starlight Express til all hours in the privacy of their loft down the street--as long as that street is somewhere in Scandanavia, and as long as they're not married.

At Fri Jun 23, 07:26:00 AM PDT, Blogger Carolie said...

You rock. Thank you for a cogent, literate, Christian argument to stop the bigotry and concentrate on the real issues -- complete with biblical references NOT ripped out of context! Why do so many "Christians" think that allowing gay men and women a secular marriage would somehow damage heterosexual marriage? What kind of dog-in-the-manger attitude is that? I think the things that damage heterosexual marriage are divorce, adultery, dishonesty, abuse, disinterest, getting married too quickly, without forethought and for all the wrong reasons...

p.s.--is the post above Stephen as in Colbert?? My goodness!


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