Wendell Berry Speaks Out on Same Sex Marriage

Wendell Berry Speaks Out on Same Sex Marriage January 15, 2013

Wendell Berry is one of the most beloved authors in America today. He also happens to be a Christian author. Thus, he particularly loved by the hipster evangelical set (think Q, Catalyst, and the like). We’ll see how long that last, now that he has followed Brian McLaren and clarified his views on gay marriage:

Wendell Berry

If it can be argued that homosexual marriage is not reproductive and is therefore unnatural and should be forbidden on that account, must we not argue that childless marriages are unnatural and should be annulled?

One may find the sexual practices of homosexuals to be unattractive or displeasing and therefore unnatural, but anything that can be done in that line by homosexuals can be done and is done by heterosexuals. Do we need a legal remedy for this? Would conservative Christians like a small government bureau to inspect, approve and certify their sexual behavior? Would they like a colorful tattoo verifying government approval on the rumps of lawfully copulating parties? We have the technology, after all, to monitor everybody’s sexual behavior, but so far as I can see so eager an interest in other people’s private intimacy is either prurient or totalitarian or both.

The oddest of the strategies to condemn and isolate homosexuals is to propose that homosexual marriage is opposed to and a threat to heterosexual marriage, as if the marriage market is about to be cornered and monopolized by homosexuals. If this is not industrial capitalist paranoia, it at least follows the pattern of industrial capitalist competitiveness. We must destroy the competition. If somebody else wants what you’ve got, from money to marriage, you must not hesitate to use the government – small of course – to keep them from getting it.

And they continue to speak out, one by one, Christian leaders in favor of marriage equality. Friends, we’re seeing a civil rights movement take place, in pixels, right before our eyes. He goes on with some even more pointed words, for gays and for Christians:

If I were one of a homosexual couple — the same as I am one of a heterosexual couple — I would place my faith and hope in the mercy of Christ, not in the judgment of Christians. When I consider the hostility of political churches to homosexuality and homosexual marriage, I do so remembering the history of Christian war, torture, terror, slavery and annihilation against Jews, Muslims, black Africans, American Indians and others. And more of the same by Catholics against Protestants, Protestants against Catholics, Catholics against Catholics, Protestants against Protestants, as if by law requiring the love of God to be balanced by hatred of some neighbor for the sin of being unlike some divinely preferred us. If we are a Christian nation — as some say we are, using the adjective with conventional looseness — then this Christian blood thirst continues wherever we find an officially identifiable evil, and to the immense enrichment of our Christian industries of war.

Condemnation by category is the lowest form of hatred, for it is cold-hearted and abstract, lacking even the courage of a personal hatred. Categorical condemnation is the hatred of the mob. It makes cowards brave. And there is nothing more fearful than a religious mob, a mob overflowing with righteousness – as at the crucifixion and before and since. This can happen only after we have made a categorical refusal to kindness: to heretics, foreigners, enemies or any other group different from ourselves.

Perhaps the most dangerous temptation to Christianity is to get itself officialized in some version by a government, following pretty exactly the pattern the chief priest and his crowd at the trial of Jesus. For want of a Pilate of their own, some Christians would accept a Constantine or whomever might be the current incarnation of Caesar.


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