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« The Heart of the Scriptures | Main | Why Not Speak Out on Gay Marriage? Part 2 »

Why Not Speak Out on Gay Marriage? Part 3

[October 12, 2013]

Well, we’ve about exhausted that topic, haven’t we? Sometimes I have to talk something out completely before I understand what I actually think.

I could sum it up: 1, I haven’t spoken out against gay marriage because I don’t see it damaging marriage any more than straight people have already done.

2, my spiritual tradition has found by experience, over millennia, that sex apart from hetero marriage damages one’s spiritual health. (Actually, a lot of world religions have observed the same.) This is just one part of a much larger process of spiritual therapy, and I don’t expect it to make sense to those outside the faith. It’s certainly not the thing I’d first want to talk about with nonbelievers. Jesus comes first. So, as far as this issue goes, I just want to live and let live.

But I think there’s a 3, that people like me who want to live-and-let-live are sometimes attacked and accused of being hateful, wanting to take away civil rights, of wanting children to bully other children, and so forth.

I expect there is a debating term for this. Is it the ad hominem argument? That’s when, instead of responding to what your opponent actually said, you accuse him of being a vile, despicable person. You attack the person (hominem) rather than his ideas. That’s unfair, and more importantly, untrue. People following ancient religious traditions should be allowed to hold their faiths without false allegations and abuse. Like they say: Coexist.

Here’s the complicating factor, though. America was founded in rebellion. We love rebels. We idolize rebels. A story we can’t hear too often is the one about people who were small and oppressed but who rose up bravely in resistance. If you’ve ever found yourself on the “rebel” side of that story, you know how deeply exhilarating it is. It’s very hard to relinquish.

As the American public understands this current story, the people who want to quietly go on observing their ancient spiritual tradition are (quite illogically) the ruling oppressors. The storyline needs somebody to fill that bad-guy role, or the rebels can’t claim to be rebelling against anything. The story requires an opponent, a powerful, oppressive opponent, and the only one in sight is the live-and-let-live crowd. 

Now, truly hateful anti-gays can be found, though they don’t represent much of a following. Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church is often cited. It’s telling that in this church’s 22 years of anti-gay activity and plentiful media attention, it still not grown much beyond Phelps’s own family. Phelps has never been accepted by the evangelical community (actually, they have denounced him). He has not written a Christian best-seller. He is not invited to conservative events. He has no following besides his relatives. But the media keep going back to this pipsqueak because he supplies the thing the storyline absolutely must have: a cruel opponent. And from there it’s a short step to charging that all live-and-let-live types secretly agree with him. That’s what happened to me these last few days.

Fellow believers have also asked me some good questions, for example about possible rolling effects of accepting gay marriage, and about the biblical command to call nonbelievers to repentance. There are questions I don’t have an answer for. But I thank everyone for participating in the discussion. 

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