Christianity and Marriage Equality

Christianity and Marriage Equality May 9, 2012

“Absorbing the blow from last night is hard. If a victory for marriage equality happens, straight couples can go about their lives and nothing will change. If a defeat occurs, gay couples must live in fear of retaining joint custody of children, access to hospital rooms, health insurance, and on and on. Our families and friends, our children and nieces and nephews, come to realize that their family members are beneath civil equality – and that their inferiority is written into their very constitution.”Andrew Sullivan

North Carolina is not the first American state to enshrine opposition to same-sex marriage into their constitution, but last night, with the issue of marriage equality strong in the minds of our nation, voters overwhelmingly decided that some couples aren’t deserving of any recognition, be it marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships.

“Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”

Episcopal postulant David R. Henson, a North Carolina native who blogs at Patheos, dares to step forward and speak the truth about what power is behind this move towards enshrining the second-class status of same-sex couples.

“And, as a Christian, I think it is time to admit who bears responsibility for atrocities like Amendment One and all other anti-LGBT legislation.

It’s Christianity.

I might want to say I’m not like those Christians over there who stood for Amendment One and other such legislation. But they are my brothers and sisters in the faith, no two ways about it. I might want to say those Christians don’t represent what Christ stood for. But I bet they would say the same thing about me. I can try to split hairs and divide the Christian community so I don’t have to think about the hate my faith tradition has spawned and let loose in the world like a legion of demons.

But I can’t say any of that with a shred of integrity.

Tonight, Christianity is to blame. To say otherwise would be a lie.”

This admission is a needed one, because as a non-Christian I have become increasingly frustrated with the game of theological and political “hot potato” when it comes to this issue. It’s always “those” Christians over there, not the “good” Christians who are “evolving” on the issue. When the Catholic Pope calls for a grand anti-gay-marriage religious coalition, when our country’s most popular Evangelical leader defends himself from the mere perception of tolerance, you simply can’t pretend that opposition to the basic humanity of LGBTQ individuals is some extremist fringe living in the wilderness. The real, unfortunate, truth is that Christianity is working against the lives of gay men and women, save for a small percentage who have broken away.

These laws not only tell gays and lesbians to get back into the closet, to forget legal protections or societal acceptance, they also work to limit the religious freedoms of non-Christian faiths. Belief systems that don’t endorse their views on marriage or morality are swept aside, invisible within the lens of Christian privilege. The fight for the equal rights and treatment of same-sex couples ultimately benefits the religions that support those rights, and destabilizes the ones that don’t. So it’s little wonder that opposition to same-sex marriage is regularly portrayed as a struggle against “paganism.”

“Marriage may be done for this culture in certain sectors, in certain pockets, but marriage most certainly is certainly not done because it is the God-ordained institution that mirrors the analogy of Christ and His church, it is the human institution that most closely reflects the heart of God the Father in Christ Jesus our Lord. That’s why they’re attacking it, they don’t know that that’s why they’re attacking it, they’re attacking it because they’re looking at all the advances in medical technology. I can have a baby without a man, so why do I need a man? I can earn more than a man, so why do I need a man? You can have a baby by adoption, and you can do it with a same-sex partner, so why do you need marriage? This is exactly what the pagans did, way back when, this is exactly what they did: destroy marriage. It’s shaking a fist in the face of God.” – Christian radio host Janet Mefferd

I have no doubt that justice will eventually prevail in North Carolina, and throughout our country, that laws banning gay marriage will someday been seen in the same light as laws banning interracial marriage. That documentaries a generation from now will look back on this time and find too many of our appointed moral leaders (including many on the so-called “religious left”) on the wrong side of this issue. We are at a crossroads now, and Christians must decide which side they are on. Will they stand with those who deny the humanity of some, or will they stand for the equality and dignity of all? I know many Christians of good conscience who will proudly stand with their gay brothers and sisters, and I hope they aren’t still a minority when the shift finally happens, and the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice.

ADDENDUM: President Obama just publicly embraced marriage equality. The first sitting United States president to do so. Quote: “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”

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