Same Sex Marriage
Editorial on Same-Sex Marriage
Finally, writing as a Mainline Protestant, Kristin J. Tremba points to "centuries" of tradition in the Christian Church that have understood marriage as the union of male and female. As she puts it, "Two men united in marriage remain two men, and two women united in marriage remain two women. However, a husband and wife united in marriage creates something new - a ‘one flesh' union. This marital oneness reflects the oneness of God, and as the oneness of God creates new life, marital oneness has the potential to create new life via children." Tremba recounts her own story of "turning away from homosexuality and of finding freedom from same-sex attraction" -- a story she claims should not be surprising to Christians who believe in the transformative power of their faith.
Two authors take the opposite position and affirm the intrinsic goodness of loving homosexual relationships. The first is a Mainline Protestant counterpoint to Tremba. As Sharon Groves frames the decision, Protestant denominations must decide whether they will "stand with the gatekeepers" who keep the unwanted outside the church or "truly follow Jesus ministry and honor the spirit of love" by acknowledging and welcoming LGBT couples. Many persons of faith, she says, are passionately convinced "that marriage equality is theologically in keeping with the teachings of Jesus and, indeed, with the moral tenets of love and compassion found at the heart of all major religions."
Then there is Cory Ellen Gatrall, writing as a Pagan, who likewise focuses on the goodness of love in itself. Homosexuals find in Pagan traditions a "welcome spiritual home," she claims, because both homosexuals and Pagans have trod a "path from invisibility to pride, and from oppression to something approximating equality." Both have fought against prejudice to create a space for themselves legally and socially, and many Pagan traditions are strongly affirmative of homosexual unions. The only rule is love, Gatrall writes, so loving relationships of all kinds, heterosexual and homosexual alike, are deserving of respect and celebration.
Same-Sex Marriage and (Secular) Society
When it comes to the effect of same-sex marriage on society as a whole, the authors presented in the public square offer a variety of arguments. Rosemary Ruether, renowned Catholic feminist and professor of religion, rejects the notion that homosexual marriage threatens the institution of marriage. "The gay marriage movement is precisely a rejection of casual and plural relations," she writes. "It is an option for a committed, monogamous relation with one other beloved person for the rest of one's life." In this way the desire for same-sex marriage, and the legalization of it, represents the strongest possible affirmation of the institution of marriage and its enduring value.
Whatever the potential effect of legalizing gay marriage, Rabbi Steve Greenberg (the first openly gay Orthodox Rabbi) claims, religious norms of marriage cannot be imported into civil law without a violation of the separation of church and state. When the state determines that only some committed relationships merit the status and privileges of marriage, it effectively chooses one religious model of marriage over others. Also, in his response to Rabbi Weinreb, Greenberg writes that "Rabbi Weinreb's words are as strident as those of Evangelical Christians who are also insisting that their particular religious perspective be employed to ground the civil code."
Dr. Timothy Dalrymple is the Associate Director of Content at Patheos, and writes weekly on faith, politics, and culture for Patheos' Evangelical Portal. Follow him at his blog, Philosophical Fragments, on Facebook or on Twitter.