Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Religious Argument

This is the second in a series of rants I introduced in my blog post of May 19th (Change!). You might want to check out my introduction to that rant, as well as its content.


Inevitably in our little neighborhood discussion the religious argument came up. The "proper" response to the religious argument is to point out that we are talking about CIVIL rights, not religious rites. But there is an excellent case to be made to sincerely religious people. I tried to make it here:


For anyone whose religious beliefs give them pause when considering marriage equality, I highly recommend the book "God vs Gay? The Religious Case for Equality." The author's thesis is, essentially, that the bible does not condemn loving, committed same-sex relationships, but it does condemn quite clearly the oppression of people who are "different" and it clearly states that the one law we should abide by above all others is the law of love.


Another excellent book is "Unfair: Why the Christian View of Gays Doesn't Work."


Many people who take their religion seriously are beginning to realize that the so-called "clobber passages" in the bible that have been used to oppress gay people do not stand up to close scrutiny. Biblical scholars seeking to truly understand those passages by studying the ancient languages of the original texts are coming to the conclusion that the "clobber" interpretations are based more on outdated cultural biases than on the true meaning of those passages.


Anyone who is seriously considering taking an anti-gay position re: marriage equality has a duty, in my opinion, to inform themselves fully about current thinking in religious scholarship before they add to the oppression that future generations will be apologizing for, just as we now apologize for slavery, which was once defended by another set of biblical clobber passages.


(The fact that a majority gets to vote on the rights of a minority baffles me. As Rachel Maddow said, "Here's the thing about rights. They're not supposed to be voted on. That's why they're called rights.")


At the start of this discussion, [name redacted] said:
I assumed I was totally for gay marriage, but then I thought, marriage to me is pretty sacred.


I would remind you that it is love itself that is sacred. Marriage is sacred because love is. If the love between any two people, gay or straight, is sacred, then the marriage between any two people, gay or straight, is sacred.


However, we certainly don't hold all marriages up to this ideal yardstick. If the "winners" of reality shows can get married for a few weeks, why can't a gay or lesbian couple who have loved each other and remained together for decades despite all the efforts of others to tear them apart?


As a non-religious person, I really don't care if we all have marriages or civil unions, as long as we use the same term and apply the same rules to everyone. For those of you who think civil unions (separate but equal) are enough for gay people, please educate yourselves about the over a thousand rights that marriage confers that civil unions do not and cannot. Over a lifetime gay and lesbian couples will spend tens of thousands of dollars more than their heterosexual counterparts to try to approximate all the rights that marriage confers. And even then, they will come up short.


If your spouse dies, do you doubt that you will continue to live in the home that you and your spouse lived in together? Or will you be presented with such a huge tax bill that you will have to sell your home and move?


Do you assume that, if you are the widowed spouse of your family's primary or only wage-earner, you will receive your spouse's Social Security benefits so that you can enjoy the secure retirement that your spouse earned for you?


Do you take for granted that your spouse and children are covered by your employer's health insurance?


Do you fear that your spouse's biological child whom you have known and cared for from birth will be taken away from you if your spouse dies or divorces you? Or do you rely on family law to protect your right to a role in that child's life?


These are the very real obstacles that are placed in the path of every same-sex couple, even in states that have marriage equality, because many of them are federal benefits, and the federal government does not recognize any same-sex marriage.


Granting marriage equality to gay and lesbian couples requires heterosexual couples to give up absolutely nothing! No one is asking straight people to take a little less so that others can have a little more.


Finally, if I were a religious person and concerned with what I would be hearing from my Creator when I meet him (or her) face to face, I would rather hear that I had erred on the side of love than that I had failed to remove the plank from my own eye before trying to remove the speck from my brother's eye.


Catherine M Wilson


For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:2


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