March for Marriage and the Presbyterians: Contrasting Religious Responses to Same-Sex Marriage

My friend Sarah Jones of Americans United poses with “Ben Franklin” at the March for Marriage. No, they weren’t getting married. Sarah reports she got the plague from the attendees, and I reminded her that they didn’t have vaccines in Franklin’s time.

Here’s two diametrically opposed religious responses to the growing consensus in favor of same-sex marriage rights.

On the more predictable side, we have last week’s March for Marriage at the Capitol. Rick Santorum was there, of course, because what else does he have to do these days? Heather Adams at Religion News Service reports:

Faced with a string of losses in the court and a rapid shift in public opinion in favor of gay marriage, planners of Thursday’s rally aimed to show lawmakers — and especially courts — that they will not give up without a fight.

Can you imagine being so angry about who strangers decide to marry that you’d drop everything and head to D.C. for an hours-long protest? What must your own life lack, what hole has not been filled, that can explain this kind of active loathing?

As one attendee put it, who brought her 8-year-old daughter with her:

When you take time from your busy schedule to come out for an event like this it shows them that it’s important.

And I guess that’s what you want to teach your kid is important.

Anyhoo, apparently there weren’t that many who felt that way, as Adams reports, “The rally drew a far smaller crowd than organizers had expected.”

Now contrast this with what happened at a meeting of the U.S. Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly at the same time. While in 1991 and 2009 the Presbyterian Church voted to forbid its pastors from performing same-sex marriages, on Thursday they overwhelmingly voted to actually change their definition of marriage from “a man and a woman” to “two people,” as well as reversing their ban on clergy performing said marriages.

The measure still has to be ratified by a majority of “presbyteries” (kind of like its congressional districts), but that looks like it’ll happen.

The New York TimesLaurie Goodstein reported on the vote, and spoke to several attendees, and this one stood out to me:

“My heart breaks,” the Rev. Steve Wilkins, representing the New Harmony Presbytery in South Carolina, said during the debate. “I don’t think it’s up to us to change the definition of marriage; in fact marriage has been defined by us and revealed to us in God’s word.”

What that makes me think about it how “God’s word” seems to be losing some of its potency, even within religions. I’m no theologian, but I have to think that according to “God’s word,” the reverend is right, the Presbyterians are rejecting something that God himself has ordained. They obviously aren’t too worried about what the Big Guy will think about it, or else they think he’s always been cool with gay marriage, or that he’s not sufficiently interested. Whatever the reason the Presbyterians decided to go this very positive route, it’s indicative to me of the rise of compassion as a driving force in modern and future “religions,” and the waning of supernaturalism, factionalism, and dogma.

And think about those angry folks at March for Marriage. Their numbers are dwindling, fast. God’s rules about this kind of thing just don’t hold the sway that they used to.

About Paul Fidalgo

Paul is communications director for the Center for Inquiry, as well as an actor and musician. His blog is iMortal, and he tweets as @paulfidalgo, and the blog tweets as @iMortal_blog.
The opinions expressed on this blog are personal to Paul and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for Inquiry.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X