Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Legalizing Homosexual Marriage, Part II
Note: This is a post of an essay that first appeared on my website October 26th, 2005. The original essay can be found here. This is part of an ongoing effort to put all of my soapbox entries onto this blog, to give a space for user feedback. A "new" retroactive post will be made every Monday.
26 October 2005
On November 8th, among other things, Texans will vote on Proposition 2, "The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."
Now, I know I've written about the issue of homosexual marriage before (2004-04-02 Soapbox Entry, but in light of the upcoming vote, and considering that I live in Texas, I thought it would be worthwhile to visit the issue on my website again (actually, this current essay began its life as an e-mail written in response to a chain mail that I received about Proposition 2). I won't try to cover all of the points in that original essay - no sense in repeating everything here since I've already written most of it down, once. However, there will still be some repetition, because I feel that the additional time to think has allowed me to reword some of the points in a better manner. This essay will also contain a few new points I've thought up since that original soapbox entry.
Just one quick note on Biblical references in this essay: in the few places where I reference a verse from the Bible, I link to the entire chapter. That's so that you can see the verse in context, not just as a verse on its own. Also, I've linked to the New International Version of the Bible, provided by BibleGateway.com. If you don't like the New International Version, BibleGateway provides several translations, including the King James verion.
I'm a Christian, and I personally believe that a marriage should be a sacred committment between people through God. That's why my wife and I got married in a church. However, I also understand that we live in a country that's supposed to have a lot of personal freedom, and that we shouldn't be basing laws off of certain people's interpretation of their religion. I know that my interpretation of the Bible is probably quite different from a lot of Christians, and I don't necessarily want those people passing morality laws that affect me (such as when the U.S. passed prohibition and outlawed alcohol). And if I want that respect for myself, I have to grant that respect to others, as well. To get back to the marriage issue, if we were going to base marriage laws on what I thought was moral, it would have to go further than this Proposition 2. There would be no more common law marriages, no more marriages through JPs, no more marriages of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists, or any other religion because they're not marriages through God. Heck, I could even go so far as to say no marriages outside Catholics because all of the Protestant religions aren't true Christianity because they're not part of the one, true church. I don't really believe that's the way it should be, but if I did think marriages should be based on what I thought was moral, that's the way I see it (except for that Catholic/Protestant part - my wife and I got married in a Methodist church - but that's the way a lot of Catholics do see it, including my former priest).
So, the main reason I disagree with this Proposition 2 is because I don't think religion should have much of a role in making laws, or else other Christians with different interpretations of the Bible might want to get laws passed that restrict my freedoms.
To look at it from a less political viewpoint, let's take a look at the morality of it. I'm going to look at it from a Biblical standpoint, since the majority of people in Texas are Christians who claim the Bible as the basis for their morality, and this seems to be the biggest reason why they have a problem with homosexual marriages. The Bible definitely says that homosexuality is immoral, no doubt about it. However, how bad is it compared to other sins, and does it deserve all of this attention, to the point that we're willing to pass a law to keep gay marriages from occuring? So now we have to determine how to classify the severity of a sin. There are some people that say all sins are equally bad. If that's the case, then this debate is moot, as we should then be passing laws against everything that's sinful, not just homosexual marriages. If we go under the idea that some sins are worse than others, we need to determine how to classify the severity of sins. One way, I guess, would be to look at the punishments called out for those sins. Homosexuality deserves death in the old testament (Leviticus 20:13), so that would make it pretty bad. However, there are many sins for which the old testament would punish by death. To name just two, that nearly everybody is guilty of at one point or another, are using the Lord's name in vain (Leviticus 24:16), and working on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2). So, if you use punishment to judge the severity of sins, homosexuality is on par with saying "Oh my God," or coming in to work on the weekend, or even doing yardwork on a Sunday, none of which do I hear any national debate over. (Actually, ReligiousTolerance.org has a list of a bunch of the sins punishable by death in the Bible.)
So, let's look at another way to classify the severity of sins. I think a lot of people would say that the 10 Commandments are the most important rules in the Bible, at least in the old testament. Those two sins that I mentioned above, using the Lord's name in vain, and working on the Sabbath are both addressed by the Commandments. Homosexuality isn't mentioned anywhere in there. So, if we consider the 10 Commandments to be a good measure of the severity of sin, then homosexuality isn't even as bad as saying "Oh my God," working on a Sunday, or doing yardwork on a Sunday (or Saturday, depending on how you interpret which day is the Sabbath).
As long as we're looking at the 10 Commandments, one of them is that "You shall have no other gods before me." I definitely agree, but once again, if we're going to try to base laws off of what we consider to be morality, that would throw away all of the religious freedom that exists in this country, and that's not something that I want to happen.
So basically, from the moral standpoint, there are lots of things that the Bible tells us are bad, that could be interpreted as being worse than homosexuality. I don't think we should make laws based on those other moral issues, and I think it's unfair to gay people to single out their sin, when it's no more sinful than what all of us do.
As far as homosexuality being unnatural, well, that's up for debate. Even if being "natural" were relevant to the law, most of the evidence seems to indicate that homosexuality is caused by biological factors (possibly genetic, possibly environmental), and that it's not a personal choice. (I've heard people argue that a predisposition towards violence could also be caused by biological factors, and that doesn't excuse violent people. But that's all up to your personal belief of what's moral and immoral, and I definitely wouldn't put homosexuality on the same level as violence.) On the "natural" part of it, there are many cases of homosexuality in other animals, not just people. How much more "natural" can you get? That's not to say that homosexuals are acting like animals, or at least not any more than heterosexuals, or else the same argument could be used to say that heterosexuals are acting like animals, because we see heterosexuality in the animal kingdom. It's just showing that homosexuality does occur throughout nature.
If you're a Christian who thinks that homosexuality is immoral, how would legalizing homosexual marriage affect you, really? It has no effect over your own personal ability to live a Christian lifestyle, nor any effect on your own marriage. It's not like passing a constitutional ammendment to outlaw it is going to erase homosexuality, and for all of you evangelicals, I'm sure it's going to do nothing to help convert them to Christianity. So what's the point? As far as the argument of homosexual marriage somehow cheapening the entire institution, I think that pales in comparison to the unbelievably high divorce rates among heterosexual couples.
Anyway, those are just a few points. I didn't want to repeat everything that I wrote in my previous essay, and I didn't want to spend so much time addressing every single issue that I wouldn't have this essay done before the November 8th vote, especially when others have already addressed many of those issues. Hopefully, this essay will at least get some people to think about this issue from a different point of view.
- 2004-04-02 Soapbox Entry on this Site
- Same-Sex Marriages, Civil Untions & Domestic Partnerships on ReligiougTolerance.org
- 10 reasons why gay marriage should be illegal Satirical List hosted on craigslist.org