Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Now What?

This is directed at all of the Christians who supported the initiatives in California, Florida, and Arizona to ban same-sex marriage. This is also directed at the Christians in Arkansas who supported the initiative to ban adoption or foster-parenting by unmarried couples (which, of course, includes same-sex couples). I'm not going to say what I think of those initiatives. I'm a bit of a political agnostic in that arena (Well, not about the adoption thing. Since I eventually want to adopt as a single man I absolutely oppose the Arkansas voters right now). But regardless of what I think, the conservative Christians in those states have gotten what they wanted. Congratulations. Democracy prevailed.

But now the main question, if you are a follower of Christ, is "Now what?"

Heaven forbid you consider this the end of your dealings with the gay community. If you think, for even an instant, that your ballots consisted of a "victory" and you can rest easy now, you are an utter disgrace. Because all you did was pass laws; you did not change hearts.

Gays in your respective states can no longer marry, so in your view you "protected marriage." Good, bad, whatever. You know that's not how they see it, right? You know they weren't trying to destroy marriage, right? I don't care what you think; try to put yourselves in their shoes at this moment right now. You may disagree with their views or choices, but remember that you are both still human, and thus you both contain shadows of the other within you. Their pain is just like your pain, and right now, trust me, they're in pain.

How would you feel if you were told that the person you loved most couldn't be your wife or husband? How would you feel if you were told you weren't allowed to have children? How would you feel if the people around you essentially told you that your family was pretend or illegitimate? Could you say that to their face?

It's not that these initiatives passed that really bugs me. It's that they passed with seeming glee and joy from Christians. I can respect a reasoned argument that said, for one reason or another, that these initiatives were a political or moral necessity. Fine, vote that way then. But don't jump for joy at the prospect that you are hurting others. Be solemn, have respect, and try to think about how to move forward from here.

Because like it or not, hurt has been caused to the gay community. You might think it was necessary, but that does not take away your duty as a Christian to try to connect to others. And I mean really connect, people. See where they're coming from; try to understand their pain, anger, and frustration. Don't let your Christian witness end at the ballot box (though I am very discouraged right now, and I fear that it will).

Talk to gay friends and neighbors. Try to listen and engage and understand their pain. Show that you care. And if you actually find that you can't do these things, because you don't want to understand or because you don't care, then pray, search your heart, and ask God to give you a heart for them. Wrap your head around the difficult questions. Because, come on, it's not easy. Let's say you know a monogamous, nice, hard-working gay couple who has adopted a child together. What would you want to happen there? How would you respond as a Christian? How would you show that you legitimately love them just as Christ loves them?

I know, these are a lot of questions. I didn't plan to write so emotionally, but I guess there just really isn't another way to write about this subject for me. Even though this issue is so very close to my heart, I don't have all the answers either, and I need to pray and meditate and ask God to guide me in all my future interactions. I hope that all of the Christians who voted for these measures will do the same.

Unfortunately, I just have a deep and horrible fear that they won't, and that their answer to "Now what?" will be "Nothing. We've won, and we're done."

68 comments:

B.T.Carolus said...

Hi Jay,

(this is Ellie, but I'm going back to B.T.Carolus)

I just wanted to reiterate what I said last night on Randy Thomas's live blog, which is that Christians need to start supporting something like Reciprocal Benefits, just as much as they oppose same sex marriage.

And I totally support your call for people to actually engage with and emphasize their gay friends and neighbors. It's something not many people have ever bothered to do.

JadedSapphist said...

Beautifully put.

I have long felt that it is not the stance Christians take on the issue that matters most but rather the way we respond to Christ's call to love others as ourselves.

I find it odd that many Christians fail to recognize the significance of their attitudes. They fail to realize why they are perceived the way they are by others.

It's not about being right.

(enjoying reading your blog btw)

Dan in Michigan said...

When talking about this issue, we tend to forget that the institution of marriage was instituted by God, as a sacrament. And I say sacrament not as a Catholic, since I'm not one, but as a believer. Marriage has always been a sacred union between a man and a woman, and it has always demonstrated the closest symbol that we can ever see on earth of the relationship between Christ and the Church, His bridegroom.

Through this analogy we see how husbands should love their wives, i.e., laying their lives down in sacrificial love of the beloved. And in the confines of marriage we see the blessing of life that is created as an expression of love--love giving of itself, sacrificially, producing life. I'm convinced that our enemy, (and I do believe in our "enemy") desires to attack the institution of marriage from any and all angles--through divorce, through "living together," through gay "marriage." I believe we must be vigilant against these incursions.

These proposed laws are a direct attack against something instituted by God. Some day, I suspect in our lifetimes, secular society will condone marriage between a man and a man. But calling it a marriage does not make it so--it would only be a mockery of God's ordination of marriage.

It is interesting to see how many heresies throughout history have undermined marriage, either through an overly liberal view of marriage, for example the views of Carpocrates, who taught that all women were available to all men, or on the other side, a view of marriage that was incredibly ascetic, with proponents saying that to marry was against God's will since it was done by heathens. Both positions were attacks against marriage, and there have been numerous heresies throughout history that have held similar beliefs.

The movement towards approving marriage for gays is indeed an attack on marriage and I believe Christians need to be vigilant and fight this with everything we have. To do so is to love even those who would desire to be married to another gay man or woman.

Love is the key--I agree with you, as a man who has the same struggles as any other Christian man who wants to be with a man--love them, listen to them, understand their pain. But loving them is also praying that they would not rely on earthly relationships for the source of their fulfillment and joy. Like C.S. Lewis has said so often about desire, the problem we face is not that our desires are too strong, but that they are too weak. A desire to be married is a desire that needs to be strengthened and emboldened through a challenge rooted in love that says that the union and marriage that matters most is the one in which we unite and betroth our hearts to God, and to turn the whole view on its head: those who struggle with homosexuality have a remarkable gift to be united with Christ in ways that a married man or woman never can be.

To quote another line of Lewis, the desire for marriage on the part of Christian gay men and women is like a child messing about with mud pies because he doesn't know what is meant by a vacation at the sea.

Let us understand their pain, but help point them, through their pain, to the one who can take it away and transform it into a gift that will be cherished far more than the earthly desire to be married.

Jay said...

Ellie: Absolutely! I really hope that Christians will support benefits for gay couples outside of marriage. But you saw Randy's response to that... (rolls eyes).

Unfortunately, some Christians think recognizing gay relationships (which can certainly be loving) in any way, shape, or form is wrong. I really don't know how we're going to convince them otherwise.

Jaded Sapphist: I have long felt that it is not the stance Christians take on the issue that matters most but rather the way we respond to Christ's call to love others as ourselves.

Right. Christians seemed so concerned with getting these propositions passed that they forgot to be loving. People tend to forget the strength of love sometimes. Thanks for stopping by!

Dan: Let us understand their pain, but help point them, through their pain, to the one who can take it away and transform it into a gift that will be cherished far more than the earthly desire to be married.

Um, you can't point someone to Christ through their pain if it's pain that you caused. That's the point I'm trying to make here. Christians need to ask forgiveness of the gay community for some of their attitudes, which have been the furthest thing from Christlike this election cycle. Not everyone has as principled reasons as you have.

I'd say the majority of the votes in Florida, California, and Arizona came down to simple bigotry, and it is reprehensible for a Christian to support a product of bigotry.

Also, you said: Those who struggle with homosexuality have a remarkable gift to be united with Christ in ways that a married man or woman never can be.

And those are? I agree, but our argument is not that obedience to Christ will make us happier than gay relationships (I can't say that's necessarily true for me at this point in life, for example). It's simply stressing to people that they need to be obedient.

Like the example about the monogamous couple with a child in my post. What would your response be to them? If they both came to Christ, what would you have them do? Split up? Stay together but be celibate? What would happen to the child? These are questions that you need to answer.

Dan in Michigan said...

I think you have an oversimplistic view of this pain that resulted. You said "because like it or not, hurt has been caused to the gay community." Much greater hurt would have been done to the gay community by approving their very desire! I say this in light of a belief in a God who proclaims that sexual union between members of the same gender is immoral. Just as we should urge a married friend who is thinking about having an affair not to do it, even if it brings him pain.

Don't you think that a married man or woman, in a "loveless" marriage is in pain? And don't you think that through that pain, we should urge him or her to seek out solace from Christ? By encouraging him or her in his desires would actually be an act of hatred, not of love. So too with gay men and women and marriage. The pain that you say "we caused," was done partly out of a motivation of loving the truth, loving the truth enough to not accede to the demands of the gay lobby in California.

You say that the pain was caused by those who voted against gay marriage. But I submit that to have supported them would have incurred much more pain, even though there would have been dancing in the streets. Isn't this the story of God's love for us so often? We don't get what we want...because He loves us. We may throw a tantrum, we may say that God has pained us, but even though we view Him as the source of that pain, He leads us to Himself. So too with this issue.

I do agree with you that many Christians have been unChristlike through this election cycle--amen to that. And this needs to be called out and confronted when it rears its ugly head.

I don't agree with you that most of these votes stem from bigotry. Perhaps some people cast their votes with a beer in one hand and a gun in the other, saying, "they ain't gonna get that!" But most people in Christian communities that I'm a part of have compassion for gays, but they view this movement towards gay marriage as another chip against God's call to morality. I think it's an unsupportable statement to say that most of these votes were cast out of bigotry.

As to the question of how God can use this struggle as a way to unite us with Him, I'm writing a book about it. :-)

I've become convinced that homosexual attraction is allowed by God, and the very pain of unfulfilled desire is redeemed by Him in such powerful ways that at the end of one's life, one would choose to go through every moment of pain caused by this struggle because the beauty of God's redemption is so profound that we wouldn't want it any other way.

That is what I have found in my life. Men and women say this: no one would CHOOSE to be gay, because it's such a difficult life. I have reached a point where I would choose it all over again, in humble gratitude and amazement as to how God has used this very struggle to transform me into the child of God He wants me to become.

Thomas Merton writes about the desert and the wilderness. I think the life of the Christian man or woman who has desired to live a celibate life is a life walked in the dessert. Merton talks about the Israelites and the 40 years in the desert. The Israelites wanted more than anything to be out of the desert but Merton writes that God viewed this as an idyllic time alone with them...just God and His chosen people.

I have come to view my single life as such a state, and at this point, I wouldn't have it any other way.

The happiness found in the company of God cannot compare with any earthly relationship. Are gay couples happier than the single man or woman who has chosen to pursue God with all of His heart? Perhaps there will be more tangible moments of "happiness," and perhaps even less tears, even amidst tears, Christ comes to us in sweet mercy, with tears Himself calling out to us to lean against Him and unite our suffering with His. Union with Christ is the only source of Joy and true happiness to ever be found, which is why Paul said that he could rejoice in suffering. I think a sham marriage protects from earthly suffering, but robs us of the beauty of God's transformation of that very suffering into the most cherished possession we can ever have: God's deep and profound love that resurrects our pain.

This is what I'm talking about when I quote Lewis and our desires being too weak.

Jay said...

You're making it sound as though gays will look at the fact Proposition 8 has passed and go, "Well, I guess my desires aren't approved now. Might as well go be a celibate Christian!" And then you're calling me simplistic?

You said: Isn't this the story of God's love for us so often? We don't get what we want...because He loves us.

Yes! It's the story of God's love for us. Not the government's! Yet you seem to be looking at the two as one in the same. It's not the government's place to tell us what God wants for us.

Christianity rests on a foundation of freedom. It is not freedom if someone faces stigma and bigotry on one side and Christianity on the other, and then picks Christianity to escape stigma. They haven't picked it because of Christ; they've picked it just to survive.

Likewise, I am thankful for having liberal parents who would support me no matter what I decided to do with my faith or sexuality. I have the freedom to know that I picked celibacy on my own terms, because of Christ, and not because I feared getting kicked out of the house (or worse).

But Christians have been bullying gays for decades. They've been trying to stigmatize them, shun them, and hurt them in order to provoke them to Christ. What a twisted view that is! Yet it's something that we see happen all the time, and we don't raise an eyebrow.

You can't sell Christ by telling people they'll be happier, because the only happiness we really know here is the tangible kind you spoke of. And like I said, a lot of times life isn't happy for the SSA Christian. But I don't need happiness; I need Christ. That's who we have to offer to gay men and women, but we have to offer Him in the way that He would offer Himself, by laying down our lives for our gay friends and neighbors.

That brings me back to the question about the hypothetical couple I mentioned. How would you respond to them? What would you want them to do?

Brady said...

Dan- I am going to have to agree with Jay on this one. I feel like your attitude in all of this is excatly what his post is warning about. Basically...Christians *might* have made the right decision, maybe, but even if they did, the attitude and lack of communication they did it with makes the right decision end up being a bad one, or the wrong way to go about it.

Jay is asking for empathy and understanding for the people that have been hurt by this, and your answer is to basically convince them that they are better off this way. I just can't see that message getting across.

How do you go to a gay person in CA and say, "hey, please ignore the fact that we decided to spend $34 million dollars to fight against you marrying your partner instead of doing anything about our own problems like divorce or other real threats to marriage. Please disregard that we spent that kind of money instead of spending it to feed the hungry or help the poor. Please ignore the falsehoods and half truths we used in our ad campaigns trying to scare the public into voting against gay marriage. Just know that you are better off thanks to our decision."

It doesn't sit well. It's not the way to spread Christianity, and in the end I see it pushing more gays away from the Church than it does bring them towards it.

RikFleming said...

Jay,

I think you have forgotten about the lawyers. The gay marriage battle isn't over yet. In California legal hacks are more abundant and more infesting than cock roaches, so what we will see now is an onslaught of court battles that will eventually make its way to the Supreme Court where (by then) Obama appointed judges will decide the issue.

JadedSapphist said...

The reality is that the Gay community is one that has a long history of being very poorly treated by those in the Church. The crux of the issue is NOT that Christians largely supported Prop 8; it is the underlying attitude that many of those Christians hold that does the damage. There is a lack of love being expressed in ways that are tangible and understandable by this community.

Perhaps the motive for many who have voiced their opposition to the homosexual “lifestyle” (whatever that means) is pure. I have no quarrels with that. But, so many seem to have this idea that they have a monopoly on Truth – that they have a monopoly on what it looks like to follow the teachings of Christ. There are all kinds of Christians, and not all of us have interpreted the scriptures in the same way, but the unifying factor ought to be that we have all taken part in the redemptive plan of God.

It is not the fact that you disagree with us that wounds us; it is that you dismiss us so easily and elevate your ideas and ideals beyond those of all others. Many in the church are so consumed with the idea that they are “right” that they miss the point all together and the miss the chance to engage with a group of people that have much to offer – to whom Christ has much to offer.

The original post here does NOT condemn the voting in favor of Prop 8 – It expresses sadness in response to the attitudes held by many of the proposition’s proponents. All are entitled to their opinions and all should assert them in the voting booth – but Christians are called to a standard of love that goes beyond what you check off on the ballet.

Imagine how it would feel to have lived your whole life having no hope of ever having the right to marry the person you loved, and then suddenly hope is rekindled and you are granted that right but then as quickly as it was given it is snatched away – as your hopes are dashed, there are those who claim to love you who are celebrating. I would imagine your relationship with those people would be somewhat damaged, don’t you?

B.T.Carolus said...

Jay,

Well, Randy did say that he has warmed up (a little, tiny bit) to the civil union idea. Dobson already supports Reciprocal Benefits, so that seems like the way to go (I don't know why I always capitalize Reciprocal Benefits, I should probably stop).

Rachael Starke said...

Jay,

I know that today has been very hard for you. It's been hard for me too. While I haven't experienced the bigotry you have on the sexuality side, I have on the ideological side. I chose to "come out" of the ideological closet as a Christian conservative after Sarah Palin came on the scene. (I live in the Bay Area and work in the high-tech industry. This was not a small thing :) ) The insults and vitriol have been, at least, helpful in offering up a little taste of what you might have experienced. No doubt the hurt and betrayal I feel at the ugly words and attitudes of people I once considered friends is miniscule to what you have experienced.

There seems to be a theme to both this post and the previous one. It seems to be the desire for companionship and family/community. Not trendy, fuzzy, lack of definite or indefinite article "community", but the kind of permanent human relationships that are expressed customarily in marriage and parenting. Those desires are 100% God-given, natural, and (here's the kicker) seemingly out of reach for many.

There's my friend Cindy, who is brilliant and is a devoted follower of Christ, and yet her body is totally imprisoned by cerebral palsy. She has all the desires and functions that come with being a woman, and almost no likelihood that they will be fulfilled. She lives alone, and each morning prays that her aide won't get stuck in traffic so that she'll arrive in time to help Cindy out of bed and make it to the bathroom. No husband to wake up next to, kiss her good morning and bring her coffee.

Then, on the flip side, there's another friend I have, who is married and has 3 cute kids. Yet, because of her husband's serial infidelity and unkidnness, she desires with all her heart to be married to another man. Her own husband rarely thinks to kiss her good morning and bring her coffee, but there's another man she wishes could. That might be another example, I would suggest, of unnatural desire - it is rebelion against her nature as a child of God to be married to one man and desire marriage to another. In all these cases, a natural desire has collided with the direct and indirect effects of a fallen world and the flesh.

So what's the answer? The answer, in every case, is to ask God to help us look at what the pictures of intimate marriage and family relationships represent, rather than the picture themself. God has a perfect,intimate relationship with His Son, and the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus, God's children are a spiritual family.

Earthly families are the picture. God's spiritual family is the reality. (John 17 has a lot to say in this regard.)

And here's where the church has gone off the rails. The church often forgets that God's spirtual family is made up of all its members - single (straight and gay), married, divorced, widowed. All of us are spiritual mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, children. Let's not forget that Jesus Himself was a single man, who lived perfectly on earth for 33 years with a spiritual family, but no physical family beyond his brothers, his mother and adoptive father, and no wife or children.

And yet, the church often forgets this and spends an inordinate amount of time focussing on ministries to physical families. Our womens' Bible study has been studying James, specifically the caring for widows and orphans as the most basic expression of our faith. We forget sometimes that orphans and widows aren't just cute little five year olds in a foster home and white haired ladies that need help doing their taxes. They are a physical representation of what we all once were - without family, without husband - until God gave us both through His Son. When we neglect those without family in our midst, we are forgetting our own past.

So, that is a terribly long way of saying that I have been praying that you would be able to share some of these struggles with friends and leaders at your church. And that if they are not of the sort that "get it", that God would bring you to a place that does. He is doing so many other good things in your life. And when you read John 17, you may see there that Jesus Himself prayed this for you. And God always says "yes" to Jesus.

Much more to say, but for now hopefully this has been a help. Please know that I do see you as a "spiritual son" in the faith and am praying for you, and for the church at large, about all of this.

Ophir said...

The fact that Prop. 8 passed in California but Prop. 4 (requiring parental notification before performing abortions on minor women) was rejected reflects the warped priorities of many people.

And by overwhelmingly approving Prop. 2 Californians seem to have more compassion for chickens than for gays and babies in the womb.

Jay said...

Brady: Thanks. Like I said, I go back and forth on if Proposition 8 was the right decision. I'm glad I didn't live in California, because I can really see both sides. My heart goes one way and my head goes another, you know?

But either way, it's definitely the way Prop 8 was promoted that has me mad. Honestly (this is going to sound really cheesy), but this reminds me of my favorite TV show, Survivor.

It's like watching a good strategist win the game, but also realizing that he lied and back-stabbed and hurt others to get there. I can appreciate that he deserved to win, but I really wish he had gone about it in a more dignified way. Yes, I watch too much TV. :)

Rik: Gosh, don't even get me started... I'm sure we have lots of ugly legal battles ahead, and that makes this post all the more urgent. The Christians in these battles need to put on much of a better showing than they did for Prop 8.

Jaded Sapphist: Yeah, that's basically what I was trying to say. :)

Ellie: I didn't know Dobson supported reciprocal benefits. I guess I can despise him that much less now. (Kidding, kind of...)

Rachael: That was an absolutely beautiful comment. Thank you so much.

I know I'm very selfish about this kind of thing, especially today. Every negative thing I've been hearing and seeing has just kind of come to a boil. Plus, I've been spending so much time debating these issues here (and on other blogs, including the one I have on Open Salon.com) that I've really just let it affect me emotionally.

I know that I'm not the only Christian who feels isolated. Sadly, we live in a very isolated age, and the effects of the fall are the main things that drive a wedge between us. I'll pray for your two friends, that they find comfort in Christ. I wish I could more often, too.

And that's why I am very grateful for your post (and your writings on your blog and elsewhere). You really do seem to be a Christian who "gets it," or if you don't, you try. I pray I can find more like that in my everyday life. I'm happy to see you as a "spiritual mom" as well (I have quite a few of those online, to be honest). ;-)

God bless you. Oh, and I think your comment would make a lovely addition to your own blog.

Brian said...

Thank you. A deep, abiding thank you.

Dan in Michigan said...

Hi Jay,

As usual, your post has provided good fodder for an interesting conversation. I wish I knew how to make quotes appear as italics...I don't know how to do this in Blogger, so I'll just put them in quotes, the old fashioned way.

"You're making it sound as though gays will look at the fact Proposition 8 has passed and go, "Well, I guess my desires aren't approved now. Might as well go be a celibate Christian!" And then you're calling me simplistic?"

This isn't what I'm saying--what I'm reacting to is the claim that by passing these laws we have hurt gays. "Hurt" is such a vague term. Because one "feels hurt" doesn't mean that they were "hurt." I contend that to prevent gays from being married is actually an act of objective love, of Christ-like Agape love. Now that is not to say that the methods used could have been reprehensible, and you and I both agree that this is wrong of Christians, if reprehensible campaign ads were used. I don't live in any of those states, so I don't know.

I agree with you completely: see where they're coming from...try to understand their pain, anger and frustration. But Christians should not be contrite for voting to uphold prohibitions against homosexual marriage. Reach out in love, of course, but love includes upholding the truth.

"Yes! It's the story of God's love for us. Not the government's! Yet you seem to be looking at the two as one in the same. It's not the government's place to tell us what God wants for us."

Would you say the same thing about laws that prohibit stealing? They're in line with God's laws, right? The way you're discussing this could lead someone to conclude that because God said it was wrong, we shouldn't have that prohibition in our government because government shouldn't be telling people what they can or can't do if God told us it was wrong. That would toss out nearly all of our most fundamental laws. So why any exception in this? I don't think this is what you mean or believe. We have been given a moral code, by God, and we should work within the confines of the government that we have been given to uphold the moral code that God has provided us. Since we are Christians, we can objectively look at casting this vote, in accordance with what we have discerned God's moral law to be, and yet still have compassion for those who are gay.


"Likewise, I am thankful for having liberal parents who would support me no matter what I decided to do with my faith or sexuality. I have the freedom to know that I picked celibacy on my own terms, because of Christ, and not because I feared getting kicked out of the house (or worse)."

Would you say that love is reflected by those who support someone in whatever they do? I don't think that's a good definition of love. I don't know your parents...would they support you completely if you had chosen to live an active gay lifestyle? Would they have become members of PFLAG out of love for you? Would their love for you modify their moral code? I obviously don't know your parents' world view, or their moral views about homosexuality, but "support" is not the highest good, if it means "supporting" someone who is living a sinful life, don't you think?

"That brings me back to the question about the hypothetical couple I mentioned. How would you respond to them? What would you want them to do?"

I am writing only concerning Proposition 8 and similar propositions. I don't know much about any of the other propositions about adoption and the like. Of course we can sympathize with this situation, but because someone isn't happy isn't a very compelling argument for me, ever, since I don't think happiness is our ultimate goal on this life, and often I tend to think we're better off in terms of eternity when we're not "happy." That's not to say we should avoid happiness! Difficult will surely follow us, and usually it in those times that are difficult where we grow most. God forbid that happiness should be with at all times! That would be a curse! You're a big C.S. Lewis fan, if I recall. I was blown away by an essay of his in God In The Dock that really changed my thinking about all that I felt I was missing out on in life. It's called "We Have No Right to 'Happiness'".



"Dan- I am going to have to agree with Jay on this one. I feel like your attitude in all of this is excatly what his post is warning about. Basically...Christians *might* have made the right decision, maybe, but even if they did, the attitude and lack of communication they did it with makes the right decision end up being a bad one, or the wrong way to go about it."

Whether or not a right decision was reached it is still objectively right regardless of the methods used to reach that decision. That doesn't justify all the methods, but at the same time it doesn't negate the validity of a right decision either.

"Jay is asking for empathy and understanding for the people that have been hurt by this, and your answer is to basically convince them that they are better off this way. I just can't see that message getting across."

I'm a Christian guy who would love to be with a guy. I get it...the pain, the disappointment, the denied desires. I'm close to being 40, and so I've lived with this for a long, long time. What I'm writing about is a caution against taking empathy, sympathy and love so far that one actually reaches a point where we're not loving the object of our empathy any longer. This happens all the time--well meaning people, filled with heartfelt compassion, saying things such as, "imagine how YOU would feel..." This is all well and good, but God forbid it reaches a point where sympathy becomes complacency against immorality. What motivated my comment was a caution against taking love so far that it is no longer love.

"There is a lack of love being expressed in ways that are tangible and understandable by this community."

Agreed...but what is your definition of love? What do you want that to look like? We do not define love, or how it is expressed. It just is, and sometimes love can look like quite the opposite. I know it did when I was a child and my parents told me no so often! I believe the battle against gay marriage is an act of love, though no one who is gay would ever view it that way.

"Imagine how it would feel to have lived your whole life having no hope of ever having the right to marry the person you loved, and then suddenly hope is rekindled and you are granted that right but then as quickly as it was given it is snatched away – as your hopes are dashed, there are those who claim to love you who are celebrating. I would imagine your relationship with those people would be somewhat damaged, don’t you?"

Yes, but that has no bearing on one's moral convictions. I don't expect Christians and gay activists to ever become allies. Indeed, I view this as the latest front in what is an important cultural battle ground for the very souls of future American generations. Sometimes it's important to choose a side, to take a stand against immorality. But this should never be done by castigating gays as pariahs. That is clearly the worst thing Christians can do. I view this as a battle ground which Christians should engage in reluctantly. And in the mean time to minister to gays as much as they can. But there is a great divide that is beginning in this country and I fear that out of a desire for some sort of feel-good warm fuzzies, that by reaching out across this great chasm, moral convictions that have been espoused by Christians for 2,000 years will be dispensed with out of a distorted view of love.

I suspect these comments will not be welcome, but I do hope they are fodder for more discussion.

Jay said...

Ophir: The fact that Prop. 8 passed in California but Prop. 4 (requiring parental notification before performing abortions on minor women) was rejected reflects the warped priorities of many people.

A-freaking-men!

Brian: And a very deep, abiding "You're welcome."

Dan: You really need to make your comments shorter, perhaps only five or six paragraphs. I'm a busy college student, and I don't have time to go over everything you said. I doubt we'll ever agree on these issues anyway so there's little point in discussing them.

However, you didn't answer my question about the couple. I'm asking what you think the proper Christian response would be. If they both came to Christ, should they stay together but be celibate? Split up and shuffle the child between them? Get married to women and thus add that much more confusion to the situation? What is your answer?

JadedSapphist said...

Dan:

The problem isn’t that you disagree on the gay issue. The problem is that you (come across as though you) believe the gay issue is the point. It’s not.

Very few arguments change people’s minds, but love, genuine love (not a “distorted love”) has an amazingly remarkable power to change hearts – what’s more important? Perhaps Christians should re-exam Christ’s response to those the “church” judged to be morally corrupt, unclean, and unworthy.

When someone feels harmed (whether or not you agree there has been actual harm is irrelevant) you damage your credibility as a source of Truth and Love and as a messenger of the Gospel of Christ with people if you appear to be celebrating in the wake of their personal tragedy.

In short, you may win the battle, but the likelihood of winning the (spiritual) war is reduced significantly.

Our community doesn’t need a watered down version of the Gospel, it needs an accurate representation of Jesus – by and large I haven’t seen that.

Emily K said...

We'll never EVER agree on most religious (and probably, political) topics because I am a staunch Jew and you a staunch Christian.

That being said, this is the best post you've ever written that I've seen. you held your own with Randy on the live blog which is not easy to do since you are worlds ahead of him in maturity and growth, despite him being nearly a generation older. You don't need to agree with me on this out loud because your actions and active words speak for themselves. And here you are saying things I would never expect to come out of the mouths of professional ex-gays. Keep up your efforts. I'm going to try to keep up my spirits.

kurt_t said...

I think I have to agree with Emily. This is probably my favorite post of yours, and I've read them all, believe it or not.

This whole Prop 8 battle has made me think of the parable of the good Samaritan. Remember the whole point of it is who is the robbery victim's neighbor? The Samaritan is his neighbor. The heretic. I think the lesson is, you can be outwardly observant and inwardly righteous and still be a lousy neighbor.

I hope that the Christians out there who push for this kind of brutality-by-ballot will ask themselves what kind of neighbors they're being and what kind of neighbors they want to be in the future.

Rose said...

Dan said,

"Would you say the same thing about laws that prohibit stealing? They're in line with God's laws, right? ... That would toss out nearly all of our most fundamental laws. So why any exception in this?"

The same reason that we don't pass laws forbidding people from worshipping false idols. It is *exceedingly* clear in the Bible that the worship of false gods is not permissible in a way that dwarfs the prohibitions against homosexual behavior (see "Commandments, 10"). So I challenge you (and any 1st through 3rd graders who may be reading this blog, as I think they could answer this question too): why is it we legally prohibit stealing in the USA, but do not legally prohibit the worship of false idols?

Pomoprophet said...

Wow Jay... you're so popular! I hope you don't forget your old friend Pomo :)

Great post my friend. I pray others listen to your words!

Joe said...

Goodness... there is alot to read and process here. I do not think I could possibly interact with all that it here. But to the discussion of this issue and the protection of marriage.

One thing that has begun to intrigue me is the zeal that goes into the support for banning Homosexual marriage because it is detrimental to God ordained marriage. Yet I see a major unbalance here with regards to this issue. Take the issue of divorce for instance, which is also clearly detrimental to traditional marriage. (it is also interesting to note that though it was never in Gods original plan he still allowed it because of the hardness of Israel's heart) Last Barna poll I checked divorce rates were higher among evangelicals than with ubelivers, the same evangelicals who hold this militaristic stance against Gay marriage on the basis of its damage to biblical marriage. There is clearly a double standard here, I know most churches don't support divorce, but I have never heard of them trying to change legislation about it, and attack it with the same zeal and "joy" as Jay put it as with this issue.

Personally I do not support a "Gay Marriage" but I definitely do support the idea of a union and reciprocal rights. However, given the baggage that is around this issue I would air on the side of liberty, and allow such a concession. I do not have my view of this totally ironed out yet but I do agree with Jay, and there is much more going on here then simply protecting marriage, and we as Christians have a higher calling of being involved in others lives, seeking to know them and create disciples. This involves personal interaction, love and care, not legislation.

naturgesetz said...

I think the state should not allow same-sex marriage and I think Jay is right.

The reason I think there should not be same-sex marriage is that it treats two different things as if they were the same, implicitly saying that the marriage of man and woman is nothing more that the union of two men or two women.

We know from Genesis, of course that it is the union of man and woman which God commanded. But even the nonbelieving citizens of a secular state ought to be able to see that two men or two women, by themselves, have no possibility of procreating children simply because of the sex of each. But in the union of man and woman there is that possibility. If a given couple can't conceive, it isn't because one is a man and the other a woman. So to say that the two are the same is false, and it has the unfortunate effect of saying that the propagation of society is not of interest to the state: all it cares about is that people love each other and are committed to one another.

I think it is entirely rational, fair, and desirable for the state to treat different things differently.

That said —
This morning at Mass, the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin were proclaimed. The preacher noted that the Church must preach what is right and what is wrong, but he suggested that that message should go mainly to the 99 who have not strayed. He further suggested that the people in the pews are the ones who come into daily contact with the lost sheep, and those lost sheep need to see the love of Jesus coming to them through the faithful. There may be some occasion when they can suggest, "Do you really think that is what you should be doing," but always, always they must show the love.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

aujaharris said...

I see lots of comments about Christians on one side and gay activists on the other. FOR THE RECORD: There are many many Christians that voted "No" on Prop 8. A distinction should be made between Evangelical Christians and Liberal Mainline Christians. Not ALL Christians think alike. In fact there are many people who are "Gay Christians".

Greg said...

I'm glad to see your challenging of the Christian community to go further than happiness and glee in passing legislation. If you take the element of "gay" out of the equation, there would be no glee. In Michigan, when domestic partner benefits were taken away and many children lost health benefits, there was joy and happiness in the Christian community. That's sad.

David said...

Hey Jay!

It looks like you've gotten quite a number of comments on this one. I just want to respond to a few comments from 'Dan' - comments I see widely repeated among evangelical Christians - and address some things I'm not sure you brought up, and I'll be on my merry way. :) (And, btw, I think I've found part of what I was looking for in philosophical convo's from Our Dear Catholic friend.)

When talking about this issue, we tend to forget that the institution of marriage was instituted by God, as a sacrament.

This is one of the silliest things I have heard, and continue to hear, in this debate. Marriage was not considered a sacrament but a government institution by the church until the 13th century. If you believe God expressly forbids homosexual relations, that is one thing - but to use a scant few verses (the ends of Ephesians and Colossians are the most popular) to argue that marriage is historically seen as a sacrament within Christianity is an anachronism. The sacramental element of marriage was a concept developed over time.

These proposed laws are a direct attack against something instituted by God. Some day, I suspect in our lifetimes, secular society will condone marriage between a man and a man. But calling it a marriage does not make it so--it would only be a mockery of God's ordination of marriage.

Which is precisely the thing - neither you nor any church has to recognize these legal marriages as God-ordained marriages. The laws neither attack God by demanding him to agree nor do they attack you. They are what they are: human laws ensuring liberty of choice, which may mean choices you dislike. But that is liberty, and the constitution forbids the state from from imposing religious belief on any citizen.

You say that the pain was caused by those who voted against gay marriage. But I submit that to have supported them would have incurred much more pain, even though there would have been dancing in the streets. Isn't this the story of God's love for us so often?

But this is precisely the problem, Dan: the story of the government is not the story of God's love for us. You respond to Jay saying that stealing is God's law, and we enact that - but again, stealing is a law which can be come to by secular reasoning. We do not need a book or divine revelation to know it is wrong. And so we, for the benefit of society, rule against it. Humanism and even raw pragmatism are equally as capable as Christianity on this point. But laws requiring divine revelation - dietary restrictions, sodomy laws, and church attendance - are outside of the reach of a free society to impose.

Shall we also, not out of hate but out of love, and even with tears, prohibit Mosque attendance in this country? For how could a man or woman come to Christ while worshipping at the feet of Allah? No, for their own sake, we must help them to come to acknowledge the true God and not allow them to continue in this sinful parody - for the very God who allows them to recognize not to kill one another asks that they worship him. And I say this filled with love and compassion for those who are Muslim.

Your arguments lead nowhere but to theocracy. And for the sake of freedom and the liberty of men, they must be rejected. If you have a non-theocratic basis for laws such as proposition 8, I would love to hear it.

Devlin said...

David, you mimic my thoughts exactly.
It would seem that theocracy thinks humanity cannot figure out a way to actually develop and live in a sane society, and that somehow theocracy needs to save mankind from doom and gloom. It's like a superiority/saviour complex. I think the Dan's of the world may find their personal lives in turmoil and seek answers through theocracy for solace. But it's Dan's bubble, of which most do not subscribe. To make Dan's take on things public mandate is dangerous, and painful as we are currently seeing.
I think human nature likes drama, as we are seeing with this issue. It's the forever present right wrong winners losers game. But I try to remind myself, that it is just that, a game. I like to think how one plays the game is more important than if we win or lose. Here however, the game was played dirty, and that has produced much sadness, gloating and at worst snickering, of which I feel deeply saddened. It ruined my joy time for our new president elect. I think Jay, you are right at the end or your post where you said you feared Christians will not pray about the matters at hand. Many just react, and never pray. Particularly the uneducated ones, that actually made Prop 8 pass.

I think we just have to look at where we fit into the puzzle and ask ourselves, are we helping or hurting humanity (and ourselves) with our beliefs? Hopefully we can make proper changes if we are hurting others and holding, or "lording" over them . Cuz that ain't right to do and the courts will slap it down eventually. One can lord over themselves all they want, but to do it to others is negative control, not freedom. This is what I think is so sad about the passing of Prop 8. It was like a bunch of Dans saying "we're better than you, you will do it our God's way, or else, and we're going to bash you till you get it" going down. There is nothing quite more off putting than a crazy dude on a street corner flailing negs with a Bible in one hand and a panhandlers cup in the other. This is where I think the Dans of the world have to remember they live in a bubble, and it's their bubble. Unfortunately, I think this was the jagged emotion that fueled the Yes vote to pass.

Jay, I like your heartfelt post. I have found when you use your emotion to write, you really do excel at piercing your viewers in a profound way. .... my sadness is subsiding and I sincerely hope yours is too.

Thanks......D

donsands said...

I didn't read all the comments, but skimmed them. Some were just too long.

The post was from your heart for sure, and it is always great to hear another Christian's heart, who has a bit of a different view on things.

Thanks for caring for those who are in the homosexual community, and are without hope.
It's different from the heterosexual unbelieving community.

And the Church has fought instead of simply speaking the truth in love.

I would have voted for #8. I like the word marriage, and think God surely wants it to be a sacred bond of a man and woman.

But at the same time we can surely say to the homosexuals who want to get married, "You can't get married, because it is for male and female. You can surely have all the benefits an American is intilted to, whatever they may be.

if you want to live together, then it will probably be treated as a man and a woman who live together, but have not married.

I'm not much on all this, to tell you the truth.

I know what the truth is. And I had better share it with anybody in love, and with compassion.
Not sure if any of that makes sense really.

Have a great Lord's day Jay. And may His mighty power and love be with you in even greater ways. All for the Cross.
Don

Anonymous said...

Jay,

I have always enjoyed reading your blog but have been greatly turned off by the tone of some of the comments on this current topic. Some of this I will address by private e-mail to you and will only say that I think some of the statements toward Dan are unfair such as describing him in terms of the "Dan's of the world", etc... I do not know Dan other than what I have read from him when he comments here and take him at his word that he is a brother in Christ. It is time to keep that in mind and treat him with the love and respect that we all hope to get.
Respectfully,
Steve

Jay said...

Hey everyone! I did not expect this post to get so many comments, and everyone has made so many points that I really don't have time to respond to them all. I hope you all keep up the discussion, but remember, be as respectful and gracious as possible.

I know it's a heated subject and emotions can really influence our writing, but remember that we're all people, and I think everyone here just wants to do what they feel is right.

I do, however, want to say hi to Don. It's an honor to have you stop by. You may not know it, but your constant quest to seek the truth in love (both in comments here, on other blogs, and on your own blog) has been very inspirational to me. Thank you.

And Steve, I didn't make the comment about the "Dan's of the world." That was the commenter Devlin. I actually have a lot of respect for Dan. As a faithful SSA man approaching his forties who is still content in his walk with the Lord, I greatly admire him. We disagree about several things, but I have tried my best to treat him (and every other commenter I disagree with) with great respect.

I'll admit I'm a rather blunt individual. I don't dress up my words and I try to sound professional, which can often end up sounding cold. It's just my personality. I don't think I ever called Dan anything other than a brother in Christ. I know he is, and in fact, I see him as someone to emulate in many respects (just not all of them).

That's all for now, folks. Thanks for taking the time to add to this discussion and tackle the tough issues.

MR said...

Jay,

Thank you for posting this! Thank you for being who you are...truthful and compassionate. I have great respect for your courage in this blog, risking all kinds of offenses and invasions of your privacy, all to help us understand and face reality. It is accomplishing something good.

As you, David, and others know, debating is just not something I do well. I tend to be more of a diplomat than a fighter, so I will not add my 2 cents worth to the debate.

I will say that you have definitely given me some very helpful ideas to share with my straight Christian friends to help THEM be more compassionate. I will do my best to help Christians promote compassion and understanding rather than hatred and stigmatizing.

aujaharris said...

Personally I am not concerned about the defeat of gay marriage. It's only a matter of time before it becomes legal nationwide-because you see those us who are gay and lesbian are very stubborn group. We, along with our straight allies (Christian and Non-Christian) will eventually prevail on this matter.

donsands said...

aujaharris,

Cna I ask you a question?

How do you have two husbands and have marriage? Or two wives?

I think this is an impossibility, if we define maariage the correct way. And if we define male and female the correct way.

I'm just wondering how that works, if you don't mind me asking.

aujaharris said...

donsands,

My question to you is this? Who determines what the "Correct definition of marriage is? Evangelical Christians? The last time I looked this nation believed in separation of church and state. Why should one group get to force their religious beliefs on the rest of the nation with regard to marriage?

Definition of marriage " A convenant between two people who love each other" End of Story.

Jon said...

Well, in the history of the West, gays could never marry. Fifteen years ago all of this was a non-issue. So why is it "hurtful" all of a sudden?
Even in the history of man, through all civilizations, it has been extremely rare.

The courts made a terrible move and were slapped on the hand for it. We simply cannot allow judges to keep thinking in this way or all the rights we think we have n the Constitution are out the window and at the mercy of their fiat.

Sometimes these things are much, much, larger than you or I.

Some people who voted "Yes" understand this, and I don't think your other points are invalid; but the idea that the people who voted are "just being mean" (you never said this but it is common) is simply untenable.

I think "society" does have some limited moral interests; and above all the definition of a family is one of them (as society is made up of families).

Jon said...

Dan said:

"I've become convinced that homosexual attraction is allowed by God, and the very pain of unfulfilled desire is redeemed by Him in such powerful ways that at the end of one's life, one would choose to go through every moment of pain caused by this struggle because the beauty of God's redemption is so profound that we wouldn't want it any other way."

This is what I have come to see myself.

God exists outside of space and time and that we cannot see past our own noses. God has something bigger and better in store that we cannot envision even n all our vanity.
We have not seen the whole of "reality".

Mind you, many conservatives would not like the idea that God allows this to happen "for a purpose".

Jon said...

Jay, I must say that your response to dan was extremely disappointing. I do think you should stop hiding behind "I'm busy" and engage with what he is saying.

Specifically, he brought up the question of "What is Love?"

That is the fundamental question of our time, because God is Love, and the enemy of our souls is hard at work trying to destroy the character of God by implanting false ideas of what "love" is in popular culture.

Engage with the comments he has made. He has stated some profound truths, and I think you are letting your emotions get the better of you.

The truth does not come in easy sound bites; it is subtle and powerful.

Gay marriage cannot be wrong for you and right for someone else if the Bible is true. Christianity is not also an intellectual exercise divorced from reality. Marriage was invented by God, not man. Do not be duped into cheapening it by defining it as a "rush for state benefits" so to speak.

donsands said...

"Definition of marriage " A convenant between two people who love each other" End of Story."

That's your definition, and it's final. Thanks. Now we can all know waht marriage is.

Sorry for the sarcasm, but your answer is quite incredible really.

How about this definition: Marry vb mar-ried; mar-ry-ing 1 : to join as husband and wife : wed

Husband : a male partner in a marriage.

Wife : 1 . woman 2 : a woman acting in a specified capacity. 3 : a female partner in a marriage.

You can not have two wives, nor two husbands.

God created them male and female, and He instituted marriage as a wonderful foretaste of Himself as the Bridegroom, or husband, and the church, the people who love God as His Bride.

But you certainly can make anything you want to be what you want it to be, even though it's not.

BTW, I had a brother who died of AIDS. He was a wonderful brother, and a better man than me in so many ways.

I just recently spoke with Tom, my brothers friend and partner. I shared my joy that he was visiting my Mom, and I wish I could have been there to greet him.

I have shared that he needs to repent of his sin, as my brother did, before he died. I must speak the truth. And I must always remember: "But for the grace of God, there go I."

I didn't really want to share all this, because it makes me look like I'm trying to win a disagreement; but I'm not.
I'm simply sharing my heart on Jay's blog, if he allows me to. And hopefully God will bless us all through my meager attempt to help others to hear the truth, and perhaps challenge others to seek the truth for themselves.

May the Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, bless all who come here to Jays blog. Amen.

otrolado said...

jon,

"The truth does not come in easy sound bites; it is subtle and powerful."

I would definitely agree with this statement. However, I wonder if you are not contradicting yourself with your response. You say that "God exists outside of space and time..." yet according to you he was quite specific when it comes to the invention of marriage. It required him to come into our space and time to dictate this specific message. Also, if you are against the marriage of gay individuals you most certainly have "proof texts" you can quote. Unfortunately, these are those "easy sound bites" you warn against.

I know I will not change any minds with this comment, but I hope you realize that what "God has to say" has evolved over time. Originally marriage was really men owning women (multiple women) as property. It evolved into one man and one woman due to Christianity, but it was still highly tied to the idea of a woman being property. Really, marriage for love is a recent phenomenon. It has not until very recently (20th century) become about love. In fact, it has been about social status and financial security. This contradicts the "bridegroom" analogy used so often by Christians who opposed gay marriage. Historic marriage has not been about creating a Godly household, it has been about survival.

Ophir said...

There is no one definition of marriage. For most of history marriage has been a religious institution and different religions had and have different definitions. Even where the two major variables (sex and number) are the same, there are other variables which are different from culture to culture.

It is important to differentiate between two things here - marriage as a religious and cultural institution and marriage as a civil institution. Not only is gay marriage a recent "invention" so is civil marriage. There already are gay and polygamous marriages in the United States and some if not most are recognized by a religious or cultural institution of some sort. If you are religious you will no doubt marry according to the rules your religion stipulates. This can be different not only between different religions but between different branches of a religion. Even if between one man and one woman, a Catholic wedding, a Baptist wedding and a Mormon wedding are three different things, to say nothing of Jewish, Muslim and Hindu weddings. So unless your particular religion somehow is unconstitutionally declared the official religion in the country or your state or city, what your particular religion has to say about marriage is of no relevance to the civil law.

Some religions and sects of Christianity accept gay marriage, and some reject it, some accept polygamy and some reject it. The claims about the state having a stake in marriage due to reproduction or encouraging healthy families are nonsense and have been debunked. And even if the state does not recognize marriage - people who view marriage as important will still get married!

And all this talk about "the sanctity of marriage and family" is total hypocrisy unless those who put so much effort into preventing gays from marrying spend even half as much time worrying about divorce and adultery. Where are all the state propositions and iniatives to outlaw divorce?

I wonder how many divorced people, or people with children out of wedlock voted for Prop. 8. I wonder how many women who have had an abortion or how many spouses who have been unfaithful voted to "protect this sacred family institution". And another thing, marriage isn't sacred! According to your religion it may be (indeed, if I'm not mistaken, in Catholicism marriage is a sacrament), but the institution of civil marriage, the one at the center of all these silly disputes, by definition cannot be sacred.

I, as a secular person who struggles with issues of faith and am sympathetic to religion overall, am offput by the completely unproportional amount of attention many (but by no means all) religious people put on sexual sins and the joy many seem to derive from mocking those they percieve as sinners.

In short, before you go out and point at other people's littered yards, take a long hard look at yours. Are you without sin? If you answered yes, you're already guily of two: lying and vanity.

Ophir said...

Just to clarify, my previous comment wasn't aimed at anyone specific. Where I wrote "you" or "your" I just meant people in general.

aujaharris said...

Donsands,

I am not really sure what the point of your rambling comments was with respect to your brother with AIDS, however I am sorry you lost him. Thats very sad.

I am understand all too well your point of view about the "traditional definition of marriage".. I just dont happen to agree with it..I mean after all you asked for my definition and I gave it to you.

otrolado said...

ophir

I like you. Great taste in children's literature (Amelia Bedelia) and great blog comments!

donsands said...

auja,

We understand each other. That's cool.

There's only one truth. That's for real.

I trust in Christ. He died on a cruel cross for the sins of the world. He came back to life three days later. And He lives and reigns, with all authority.
Do you happen to agree with this?

aujaharris said...

donsands,

I think we can agree on that much :)

Jon said...

otrolado,
I understand where you are coming from. I think it is a valid question based on what I said. But I think a lot of people place too much false emphasis on the so-called "proof-texts".

On the Right side, it is because they really don't want to have much else to do with gays. So they work as nice sound bites.

On the Left side, it then provides a nice concise package for them to "strike down" so-to-speak.

But the opposition to gay marriage in reality stems from what I would call a wholesome reading of the Bible and the themes that run through it (including those texts and many more). This includes general tones, a determination of the symbolism of marriage, male and female and the importance of it in God's eyes.

For a peek at this approach you may want to check out a video by Peter Ould on his blog:

http://www.peter-ould.net/2008/11/08/lecture-at-st-johns-nottingham/

I will put the link in my "name" above too so you can just click on it.

Listen when you have the time; but the issue is much, much deeper than "proof-texts".

Jay said...

Thank you to everyone who had a part in this discussion. I guess with the amount of comments I got for this, I really didn't have time to respond to everything. I know, bad blogger. :(

I do just want to thank everyone for being as gracious and respectful as possible about this very touchy subject. I didn't have to use my comment moderation powers at all, which is good, because I never want to. :)

Although, Jon, with all due respect, do not tell me what to do on my own blog. When I say I'm busy, I'm busy. I'm not "hiding" behind anything. I'm a college student in my Junior year. I'm a double major in English and Education with a minor in Creative Writing. I'm a resident adviser, a desk receptionist, a member of two different honor societies and two different scholarship programs beyond that. I'm also involved with a campus ministry and my local church, and somehow between all this I have a social life (I wish!) So you're lucky I'm blogging at all. We clear?

The Vegas Art Guy said...

good post, I'm adding you to my blogroll. As for an option, I'm not sure. If it's merely legal rights then there are remedies to make sure that same sex partners get benefits at work etc... But as far as social equal?

Rachael Starke said...

Holy cow, Jay. You need to develop the spiritual gift of napping.

;)

BTW, I've taken your encouragement to heart and started blogging/thinking about how to love an SSA person in post prop-8 world. You don't need to wear the mantle of "Sane Christian SSA voice". You need to keep up with your homework. :)

desert mom said...

Jay, I just clicked over to your blog from Justin Taylor's blog. I was very blessed by what I found. My daughter is a college freshman and called home a couple of weeks ago to tell of a good Christian friend who has told her that he is gay. And, I was very blessed by Rachel's comment as well. I will pray for you as I pray for my daughter's friend and hope to read more of your writing in the future.

Brandon said...

Jay,

I haven't had time to read through all the comments, but in regards to your post... Amen to that!

In fact, I think I'll post something I'd been holding off on now, which goes along with this. Feel free to check it out soon.

God bless.

The boy with the green tambourine said...

The main problem with this vote was the argument used by the anti-SSM crowd, namely, "I'm going to take away your human rights because you're upsetting my invisible friend."

I find it rather sad that people can still be influenced by such poor arguments.

Tambourine/TRiG.

The boy with the green tambourine said...

Two relevant links.

1. Extracts from various news sources, discussion the way the Mormon Church was particularly responsible for this outcome.

2. A video of a media commentator emotionally discussing the issues involved.

TRiG.

Boo said...

Dan in Michigan-

Your disgusting advocacy of using the government to force your religious views on other people aside, there's another salient point that your arrogance appears to have blinded you to-

You are not the gay community's mommy and daddy, and we are not your children. It is not your place to "lovingly" punish us so that we fall in line with your standards.

And as we're both fans of C.S. Lewis, try this one on:

"You are indeed teaching me about kinds of love I did not know. It is like looking into a deep pit. I am not sure whether I like your kind better than hatred."

Dan in Michigan said...

Wow, Boo...I haven't checked in with this thread, but I'm really kind of taken aback by your vitriol.

We certainly all wrestle with convictions and with deciphering truth. I for one will stand with the long held moral convictions of Christendom that state that to live as an active homosexual is immoral, just as adultery and all other sexual sins are immoral. And yes, I will proclaim that truth from the mountain tops, regardless of the vitriol that it may incur from people such as yourself. There is a time and place for taking a moral stand, and I will take such a stand because I believe that souls are in the balance. And indeed, I believe that to allow a mockery of marriage in our civil system, by stating that two members of the same gender can stand in "marriage" is paramount to blasting out the very foundation of what has built our civilization. Anthropoligists have long argued that civilization was built on marriages between men and women that produced the conditions in which mankind could flourish.

As to love and hatred, one of the most powerful expressions of love is often expressed by telling others no. I, and others like me certainly are not your mother or father, but we have as much of a right as you to define this civilization and society as we deem will best guard its continued survival. You have your views, and I have mine. We can continue to debate the topic in the field of public opinion. I have no doubt that one day soon gay marriage will be legal, but I believe that will be a dark day in American history.

You have missed Lewis's point in taking your excerpt from Till We Have Faces. It is an expression of love that resulted in Psyche losing her bridegroom, the joy of her life. But she is willing to give all of it out of love for Orual. It is the most supreme expression of love, a love that is painful and difficult, hard and unswerving, but a love that gives all.

That is the highest form of love: a love that gives all. It cost Psyche everything she held dear, just as the Father's love for us caused him to give up all that He held dear.

You miss the point of the novel, Boo. All of that pain is redeemed in the end in one of the most beautiful expressions of redemptive love in the English language.

The point is this: Orual's demands that were placed on Psyche felt like hatred towards her, but in the end, the power of love redeemed it all.

You believe that for someone to say no to gay individuals who want to marry is hatred. I argue that to encourage and bless them in that endeavor is the highest form of hatred anyone could bestow upon them, for whenever we encourage or bless anyone in our society in choosing a way that is contrary to God's law, we are not loving them at all...quite the opposite.

Of course I don't advocate going into people's bedrooms and stopping them from doing whatever they choose to do with their lives. Society indeed isn't anyone's "mommy and daddy," but it is a different issue entirely when people are attempting to redefine what marriage is or isn't in the legal system of our society. Everyone has a responsibility in our society to have their voice heard on issues of importance. Prop 8 was defeated--that doesn't mean that people hate gays! It means that they value the institution of marriage as it has stood for thousands and thousands of years and believe that maintaining it as such is a necessary cornerstone of the future of our society.

Jay said...

Dan: I understand you're very passionate about this topic. But I'll be very honest. I don't think the majority of the people who voted for Prop 8 voted for it out of the ideals you have. I think it's naive to say they were trying to "protect marriage." That may be your intention. I don't think it's most peoples'.

To be frank, I think a large percentage of the voters voted out of a homophobic bias. Do you think a similar measure that would limit divorce would pass? Surely not! Yet divorce makes more of a "mockery" of marriage than gay marriage ever has or could. Where is the outcry against it, though? There is hardly none. What does that show you? To me, it shows a lot of people worried about the speck in my eye rather than the log in their own.

That was the point of my post. Christian idealists such as yourself have been used by people who don't share such ideals, but who simply want to express heterosexism through law. That just isn't right, and it isn't right to be blind to it and pretend that every supporter of Prop 8 was a godly Christian trying to uphold civilization. Many were just downright homophobes, and it's not hard to see that.

The boy with the green tambourine said...

I believe that to allow a mockery of marriage in our civil system, by stating that two members of the same gender can stand in "marriage" is paramount to blasting out the very foundation of what has built our civilization.

You believe all sorts of interesting things, it seems. Tell me, what relationship do your beliefs have with observable reality?

I'm going to take away your human rights because you're upsetting my invisible friend.

Dan, you're an interfering busybody.

Thanks.

TRiG.

Jay said...

TRiG: You're getting close to outright name-calling. Please review my comment policy before commenting again, and lay low on the sarcasm, too. It's not productive towards a discussion.

The boy with the green tambourine said...

But ... but ... but sarcasm is the only thing I'm good at.




More seriously, sorry. I really should avoid making brief posts. They're just an outlet for (justified?) narkiness. I do better when I write little essays, but I seem to have lost the knack recently. Life's been a little stressed.

I'll try going for a few more long walks.

TRiG.

Dan in Michigan said...

TRiG,

I agree with Jay--name calling isn't productive. Far from being an interfering busybody, I am a man who has been dealing with SSA for over 30 decades and has thought about, read about, and reflected on what it means for me to be a Christian in today's society and struggle with this issue. My viewpoints are in alignment with the historic view of Christendom. It has only been since the middle of the 20th century that a movement towards modifying traditional teaching on God's prohibition against homosexuality has come into our cultural dialog. As a member of the Church, I indeed believe that it is still immoral. I am one of many who are not interfering busybodies but who have tried to honestly confront their own strong desires and reconcile them with their beliefs in God. That is what I am, and it can only be perceived as interference when it comes up against someone else's view of morality, particularly when it is viewed as something that might get in the way of someone doing what they want. Calling people such as me busybodies only means that you don't agree with me, which is fine, but there is a time and place for taking moral stances, and I will be unabashed in believing what I believe, and will also stand on the history of Christendom as a much better foundation than the writings of John Boswell or Melvin White or any of the other modern day gay revisionist theologians.

Jay: when I think about Prop. 8, I know that there were certainly many who were homophobic in their opposition, but I think it's far too easy to paint a broad brush and say that everyone who opposed Prop 8 is hateful towards gays. I don't think it takes into account the broad diversity of opinions on the issue. I know plenty of my friends who know about me and my issues, who love me in my very struggles, and yet would also vote against Prop 8. I think there are far more of those kinds of people than we give them credit for. They weren't the ones out on the streets, spinning vitriol...they stayed quietly at home and then voted their conscience. That doesn't make them homophobic, per se, unless the definition of homophobic can now be defined under the rubric of being opposed to anything the homosexual community wishes for. Standing up for one's convictions and beliefs is not automatically an act of hatred, particularly when it is in regard to something so charged with emotion.

I found the vitriolic ad campaigns against the Mormons to be some of the most shocking parts of Prop 8 of all, and yet few have decried the injury done to Mormons. It would seem that many who were in support of that ad campaign would love to take Mormons out into the street and stone them. Vitriol and hatred on either side obviously needs to be confronted, and I know this is something you agree with. All I'm saying is that I agree with you that indeed not everyone had a stand based on high ideals, but I think more did so than we give credit to.

Dan in Michigan said...

Sorry...slight modification...I've been dealing with SSA for over 3 decades, or 30 years. Yikes! 30 decades? Thank God we don't live for 300 years!

The boy with the green tambourine said...

Again, Dan, you're saying a lot about what you believe without giving us any reasons why you believe it. Have you ever read Sam Harris' little book, Letter to a Christian Nation? I recommend it. It might disabuse you of your notion that your concerns are moral. They are not.

"Questions of morality are questions about happiness and suffering. That is why you and I do not have moral obligations towards rocks."

And again:

"One of the most pernicious effects of religion is that it tends to divorce morality from the question of human and animal suffering. Religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are not -- that is, when they have nothing to do with suffering or its alleviation. Indeed, religion allows people to imagine their concerns are moral when they are highly immoral -- that is, when pressing these concerns inflicts unnecessary and appalling suffering on innocent human beings."

He goes on to mention some examples. Christians spend more energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide. They preach against condom use in sub-Saharan Africa, while millions die from AIDS. They oppose research funding for a HPV vaccine, on the basis that HPV is a useful illness for putting people off premarital sex. "These pious men and women want to preserve cervical cancer as an incentive toward abstinence, even if it sacrifices the lives of thousands of women every year."

Perhaps, Dan, you disagree with these dangerous nutters. But any disagreement you have with them is of degree, not of kind.

You say you agree with the historic view of Christendom. Christendom, historically, has believed that heretics should be executed. Luther and Calvin both taught this, as did the Roman Catholic Church. The historic view of Christendom is no guide to morality.

***

Let me put this clearly. Human rights should be granted by default, and withheld only with very good reason. And I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but My imaginary friend doesn't like it does not count as a good reason.

You are eager to restrict people's rights (i.e., to interfere) even though their exercise of those rights does you no harm (so you have no sensible reason to mind). Therefore, you are, by definition, an interfering busybody.

Agreed?

TRiG.

Dan in Michigan said...

I have no intentions in engaging in a debate in this thread about "my imaginary friend." It seems readily apparent that you're an atheist, and since Jay's blog is ostensibly a blog by a Christian struggling with SSA, and I am also a professed Christian struggling with SSA, my comments reflect a given assumption that accepts Christendom and a belief in God as fundamental to the discussion.

You may disagree with my belief in this imaginary friend, and call my beliefs a delusion, but that's irrelevant to me, since obviously I believe that your beliefs are equally misguided as you seem to think mine and every other Christian's beliefs are.

I have debated the point within the framework of a Christian viewpoint, but it is certainly not the only reason why I am opposed to gay marriage. As I have mentioned before, I believe the very fabric of our civilization was built on the nuclear family of one man, one woman and a family. This is not a quaint argument made up by opponents of same sex marriage, it's a standard belief of anthropologists. Civilization blossomed from within the framework of the safety of a family, then the tribe, then the state. There are cogent reasons to argue that this is still the basic foundation of a society, and for that reason, I oppose gay marriage.

Let me pose this question to you: is it a fundamental human right to marry?

It's an absurd proposition to state that it is so. Countries all across the world have limitations on marriage which have been arrived at for the very same reasons I oppose gay marriage: the preservation of each country's society as the members of that society have deemed they want the society to be. Polygamy is banned in most countries, and so is marriage with adults and minors, and among minors. If a right is a fundamental human right, it exists from the very birth of a child until his or her death. There is no cogent argument that can be made to imply that marriage is a fundamental right. It is by it's very nature defined and controlled by the state, based on the wishes of the citizenry. In California, the citizenry has spoken, as in many other states throughout America. So be it. It's no violation of human rights, by any stretch of the imagination.

Incidentally, I find Sam Harris's quote regarding morality absurd. Morality is not a question of happiness and suffering--morality is a question of behavior. Often the moral choice results in less happiness and more suffering for the individual, which is often why living a moral life is so incredibly hard. Morality without sacrifice is no morality at all. And in this context, I'm talking about sacrifices made by the person who chooses the hard path, the path of traditional morality.

Of course I don't agree with the nutters who would like to keep condoms from Africa, and incidentally the Catholic Church recently lifted their opposition to this--go figure, so perhaps they're not as "nutters" as you and Sam Harris would like to believe.


As to your critique about Christendom not being a guide for morality, because of historic abuses, I would agree with you IF the Church had never decried its own mistakes! This is usually where people like to jump in and argue and say, "OK...since the Church has made mistakes before, then it's very possible that they're mistaken on this issue." Concerning sexual morality, the Church has been constant in its prohibitions: divorce is wrong, adultery is wrong, sex before marriage is wrong, homosexuality is wrong. These are constants that have existed since the very foundation of Christendom, and they will remain until its end. Self-acknowledged mistakes by any institution, or even any individual for that matter, do not negate every decree of that institution. They either are true or false, based on their own inherent worth. I stand by Christendom's historic stance on sexual morality, which has been constant regarding the issues spoken about by the Apostles in the Church's infancy. They are unchanging, and will continue to be so.

As to the "interfering busybody" comment, I find it humorous that this is coming from someone who I assume lives in Ireland.

I agree to disagree--will you?

Jay said...

Tambourine and Dan: I'm really not enthused about this shouting match starting up again, so I would kindly ask you to take this elsewhere. I certainly disagree with both of you on several points, and right now I don't think I have the energy to join (or even moderate) this discussion.

Here's an article from one of my favorite bloggers about this issue, and I think both of you can learn something from it.

http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2008/12/of-course-she-says.html

And with that, I would ask that this conversation completely end.

The boy with the green tambourine said...

Jay, thanks for your patience.

Dan, you're welcome to pop by my blog any time (my name here is a link).

naturgesetz said...

Jay —

Thank you for the teampyro url. That's a great article, and I'm forwarding the link to several people with whom I have "discussed" the marriage issue.

This is the sort of thing that should be part of the public discussion, rather than just the slogans and sound bites. It is unlikely to persuade anybody other than a Christian, but it can show others, even those who support same-sex marriage, that the opposition to it is not necessarily dependent on hatred.

Dan in Michigan said...

Happy to oblige, Jay.

The boy with the green tambourine said...

Now what?

This is what.

That's what.

TRiG.