Recently I have been barraged with comments from "Christians" who are using their supposed Christianity as an excuse to oppose gay marriage. This is upsetting to me for a variety of reasons, but especially because I myself am a Christian and I unreservedly support the rights of gay people to marry. Here's why using Christianity as an excuse to oppose gay marriage is stoopid, and why I am smart.
First of all, the Bible does, in fact, have passages that oppose homosexuality. I am in no way contesting that. But the Bible says a lot of stuff, and some of that stuff is pretty wacky. We all know about the passages condemning the mixing of fabrics, the eating of shellfish, etc. There are passages advocating smashing babies' skulls against stone walls in order to kill them. There are passages that advocate slavery. Most of the Old Testament advocates polygamy.
I can hear people protesting now - "But that stuff is all in the Old Testament! The New Testament is what counts to Christians, because the coming of Jesus got rid of all those old rules".
Well, the New Testament says some crazy stuff too. The New Testament has rules stating that it's wrong for a man to have long hair (umm....has anyone looked at at statue of Jesus recently?), rules against women speaking in church, rules against women uncovering their heads in church, and rules against women being teachers or "holding authority over men". Last I checked, there are plenty of female teachers in the world, many of them Christians, and women speak (and sing) in church all the time. Are female managers evil sluts who have been led astray by Satan? I say, of course not! And most Christians would agree with me.
But here's the thing. In order for Christians to say "Yes, it's acceptable for a female to be a teacher" or "No, we don't support slavery", Christians first had to deviate from following the Bible literally. It didn't happen all at once, it happened slowly. But eventually, Christians were able to change their minds about slavery, etc., because A RELIGION THAT DOES NOT PROGRESS WITH ITS PEOPLE WILL BECOME EXTINCT.
If you are a Christian, as I am, or a Hegelian, as I am, you know that humanity is constantly progressing, moving towards an ultimate goal. We are forever being tempered in the crucible that is Earth, changing and growing, becoming what God wants us to be. This is evidenced by The New Covenant, offered to us by Christ. The New Covenant frees us from the need to make animal sacrifices and follow strict and tedious and numerous laws, because by the time Christ came, humanity had progressed to the point that we no longer needed those kind of intense restrictions. The New Covenant gives us the ability to use our discernment to tell us what is right and wrong behavior. As humanity increases in compassion and intelligence, we are better and better able to make moral decisions on our own, from our innate goodness.
And we have done just that, in many cases. When compassion increased to the point where society found slavery intolerable, slavery was abolished EVEN THOUGH THE BIBLE SAYS SLAVERY IS OK. When women's rights began to be advocated, we we allowed women to speak in public, to be teachers, and to be managers in business, EVEN THOUGH THE BIBLE SAYS WOMEN SHOULD NOT DO THOSE THINGS. And that is as it should be.
And next, homosexuals will be allowed to marry, EVEN THOUGH THE BIBLE SAYS HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN. And that is as it should be.
It's going to happen. It IS happening - many gay couples are already legally married - and yet the sky has not fallen and society has not collapsed. The fact of the matter is, as compassion grows and grows, and as provincialism and backwardness diminish, the world will continue to change for the better. AND THAT IS AS IT SHOULD BE.
Bottom line, we pick and choose which parts of the Bible we are going to obey all the time. We have to! It would be impossible to follow everything the Bible says - it would be impractical in today's society, and a lot of the Bible contradicts itself because it was written by different authors in different times. AND THAT IS AS IT SHOULD BE. We are able to pick and choose which parts of the Bible we will follow because of the New Covenant, which gives us the discernment to make our own moral choices.
Here is the argument some people are going to make: "But according to your logic, Dana, a person could do whatever the heck she wants and justify it by saying she was just following her own moral code."
No. Because as Christians, we are still obligated to follow the teachings of Christ. Christ taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to treat others as we would like to be treated. So a person cannot run around murdering and raping and stealing, because those types of actions are harmful to others. As followers of Christ, we are bound to do no harm to others.
Being gay does not hurt others. Jesus never talked about homosexuality at all, of which we are aware, but I'm inclined to believe that Jesus would have been compassionate toward gay people, as he was toward all people.
Now, for the sake of argument, let's say that everything I've just said is complete and utter bullshit. Let's say that Jesus hates gayness and he totally opposes gay marriage. Lets say that being gay is a sin, for sure, and I'm totally in the wrong.
WE STILL CANNOT MAKE GAY MARRIAGE ILLEGAL, EVEN IF CHRISTIANITY FORBIDS IT.
Why? BECAUSE WE DO NOT LIVE IN A THEOCRACY.
In the United States, we have freedom of religion. "Freedom of religion" means that we cannot force our religious beliefs on others, no matter how strongly we may believe them. So if you are a Christian who opposes gay marriage, fine. Don't have a gay marriage, and you're in the clear. But you have to acknowledge that not everyone in this country is a Christian, and not everyone who gets married is a Christian. Why should a non-Christian have to abide by the Christian definition of marriage? After all, a non-Christian will not be celebrating Christmas like a Christian, or going to church like a Christian or praying like a Christian. Why should their marriages be based on a Christian tenets when nothing else in their lives is? That's not the way it works in a free society.
i have outlined why Christianity is not a good excuse for opposing gay marriage. We have the ability to use our compassion and discernment to allow gay people to be joined together in marriage, just as we were able to use our compassion and discernment to allow interracial couples to marry, just as we were able to abolish slavery, and just as we were able to allow women to have jobs outside the home, irrespective of what the Bible says. As a people, humans are always evolving and changing, progressing toward an ultimate goal. towards compassion, kindness and goodness.
But even if I'm wrong about all that, Christianity is still not a good reason to oppose gay marriage, because marriage is not the province of Christians alone. In the United States, marriage is a legal institution, not a religious one, though of course, many people infuse their marriages with their religion of choice. It is irrational and against the American principle of freedom of religion to force atheists, Shintoists, Buddhists, etc. to abide by Christian edicts. If their religion (or lack thereof) allows for gay people to marry, why should they be prohibited from doing so based on Christian values? They aren't Christians.
But let's get real here.
People who oppose gay marriage know all this. They don't REALLY believe that allowing gay people to marry will in some way diminish their own marriages. They don't really believe that homosexuality is harmful to society - no rational person COULD believe such a stupid thing. They KNOW that interpretations of the Bible change all the time. They KNOW that Christianity has been wrong about things in the past, and that it has changed its views on many subjects, and that it will do so again, as humanity evolves.
So why do they oppose gay marriage so strongly?
Because they think it's icky.
That's it. That's all. They think homosexuality is deviant and gross, and it bothers them. They are provincial and close minded, and probably don't have a lot of gay friends. They probably haven't even read the entire Bible, much less taken any college level philosophy courses, or studied the Bible in a rigorous, scholarly manner. They just believe whatever their parents told them about the gays, and don't bother to question it. All of this combines to make for an intolerant person who will be on the wrong side of history.
And so I say to you who oppose gay marriage - You know that friend you have with the creepy grandpa who thinks it's hilarious to call him "Arnold Schwartzenigger"? You know how he uses words like "jewess"and "octoroon?" You know how he embarrasses the entire family with his backward provincialism and his hate? If you don't change your mind soon about gay marriage, you will be that creepy grandpa, who no one wants to visit. The time is coming when it will no longer be acceptable to discriminate against gay people. And that time is coming soon.
Please change your mind in time. Come to the good side - we're nice people over here, and you will be welcomed with open arms. Like Jesus would have wanted.