Why I’m Not Worried About Same-Sex Marriage (and You’re Not Either)

This post was originally part of My Obama Year project and posted in January of 2013. I’m reposting it here so you all don’t get bored while I’m gone.

In just a minute I’m going to talk about a “big” issue that I’ve got some questions about but first I’d like to talk to you about a friend of mine who I’ll call “Bob” because if you’re going to use fake names, why bother being too creative with them?

Bob hired me for a job where I worked for almost five years and he rates among the best bosses I’ve ever had. Bob is a considerate guy with a big heart who treated me to countless lunches because he knew I couldn’t afford to eat out when the rest of the office went. When my daughter was born six weeks early and didn’t tolerate the cheaper types of baby formula it was Bob who showed up with a grocery bag full of formula cans and told me that he and his lovely wife of five years, Linda (a pediatric nurse), wanted to make sure my new baby was taken care of. Bob and Linda are wonderful people. You’ll never meet finer.

Now is the point in the story where I admit that I’ve led you astray with one tiny little detail. Bob’s wife isn’t named Linda. He’s actually named Louis and even though they wear wedding rings and share a house, two dogs, and a pickup truck they’re not legally married because the state of Georgia doesn’t go in for that kind of thing. They can’t even get a civil union.

So here’s the big question: how would Bob and Louis being legally married change anything? Would matrimony suddenly stop them from being nice neighbors and good people? If the issue for Catholics and evangelical Christians is sex then is gay sex somehow more wrong when married people do it? I’ve heard all of the reasons to keep same sex marriage illegal for years but the my Obama Year gives me the freedom to take a step back and realize just as the President has that I just don’t believe them any more.

When I started this post I had originally written out a long list of detailed reasons why I really don’t worry any more about gay people getting married (and reasons I really don’t think you do either) but I’ve decided to simply put down the some of the big questions surrounding the issue so we can have a conversation about it in the comments section.

My questions are:

1. Does the US Government exist to enforce the views any specific religion? If so, should that religion try to make laws to enforce EVERY view a particular church holds?

2. Is marriage just a church thing? Would you still oppose same sex marriage if you were certain your church would never have to perform one if they didn’t want to?

3. If certain religious views are correct that gay sex is a sin, does having married gay sex make it more sinful?

4. If we want to save “traditional marriage” is it more important to prevent same-sex couples from getting married or encouraging the rest of the population to get married in the first place?

5. Why have I never received a newsletter from a Christian right-wing group about homelessness, child abuse, poverty, or racism but I have received several about the “attack” marriage? Why does this issue seem to trump so many others?

6. If God really was sitting in heaven just waiting for the big fat gay wedding line to be crossed before pouring out the fire and brimstone on nations then why are Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden not smoking craters by now?

7. Last and most important of all: can you explain to me how my friends Bob and Louis getting married will hurt you personally? Can you tell me where it hurts anybody at all?

Bonus Question: If you’re a conservative who feels they have really good answers for all of the above then can you tell me on a strictly pragmatic level what the upside is to the fight against same-sex marriage that is making conservatives look mean, petty, and stuck in the past? Is it worth the cost of turning off voters to your more important ideas to keep fighting about this one?

There are some things the left and right will perpetually fight over but I honestly don’t think this needs to be one of them. Can we take the time to do some radical listening? I think we can.

503 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Worried About Same-Sex Marriage (and You’re Not Either)”

  1. Yet how many of those pastors are veritable recruiters for the military? As if when the government comes for them it would be the town dogcatcher.

      1. I think the government is a useful device to refer to “the other”. Whereas the military contains the sons and brothers they sent off to shoot other sons and brothers. With God on their side, of course.

      2. I remember hearing about preachers celebrating that the post-Vietnam Military was now heavily salted with Born-Again Bible-Believing Christians (instead of the pinko hippies of the Vietnam era).

        And during that big Congressional paralysis/threatened Governmet shutdown a couple years ago, the loudest calls for a Military Coup were coming from the pulpits.

        Did they actually figure on the military seizing power and then handing it all over to Pastor like good little pew sitters?

  2. Wait, Kentucky is importing crazies now??? As if we didn’t have enough stupid to deal with. Speaking of which, did you all hear that one can tour the construction of Ham’s Folly (“life-sized” Noah’s ark)? The website says that tours may be cancelled in the event of inclement weather. The irony is not lost…

    1. “Tours may be cancelled in the event of inclement weather.”
      Can that possibly be true?
      Maybe Fundies DO have a sense of humor.

    2. And despite all modern tools and construction design it would never float and couldn’t hold but a small fraction of the species on earth. Not to mention how impossible it would be for 8 people to care for them sans electricity. Forget about food and water! Waste management would be a shitstorm!

      The YECs believe the messy side of biology doesn’t happen.

  3. American “churches” today are hell-bent on keeping their tax exempt status under their 401(C)(3) limited liability corporation. What they fail to remember is that a New Testament church is not a corporation, but rather a gathering of believers who make decisions for a specific purpose.

    If they are so afraid of being raped in prison, then perhaps they should shed their attatchments to the Federal Government (cut the purse strings), sell all the assets concerning which they would not be able to afford being taxed, and function like a visible representation of the body of Christ in the earth.

    Power and Money; This is what it is about. The Mogs would never admit it, but this is what drives their anger and frustration. They do not regard Christ’s expectations of His followers, but rather react negatively to anything that affects the bottom line:

    1. The free will of the believer.
    2. Anyone who expresses a differing viewpoint, or opinion from that of the Mog.
    3. Any believer who may be more gifted in ANY area of their lives than the Mog.
    4. Any action that questions the coporate model of today’s churches.
    5. The current Acute Political Emergency.

    What is the angst? Cannot God defend Himself? The church needs to first and foremost take a good, hard look at herself. Why should the church demand that the world look and act like Jesus when she looks nothing like Jesus?

    I would suppose that looking and acting like Christ doesn’t fill the bank account, pay the mortgage, or fill the pews with those who will give of His tithes and their offerings.

    In all honesty, what REALLY motivates a pastor to take on a $1,000,000.00 mortgage with a handfull of people? First, he knows he will not be taxed on the property (401(C)(3)). Second, he probably has the expectation that once people see the nice, new building they will flock by the hundreds to sit in the cushy seats and hear the awesome preaching! And third, he will gain church-cred amonst his peers who will pat him on the back and hail him with honors and titles.

    My point? Go back to the New Testament and be follower-learners of Jesus Christ. Rely on Him and not your titles, educations, lands and buildings, and civil liberties. What is it that we trust?

    B.R.1

    1. Well stated. I often wondered why all churches get the tax exempt status when a lot of them are only about being the best little profitable corporation they can be. Shouldn’t you have to prove that you are actually a “charitable” organization ? And if all you are interested in is building a campus in the white suburbs and spreading your colonialism by bussing the less fortunate to your ivory tower for a candy toss then NO that doesn’t cut it for tax exempt status.

  4. To all my friends at SFL who have been praying for me and my search for work.

    Thank you. I was offered a position in Indiana today. Details will follow, as I am given them. I will be teaching high school mathematics, and I think I will enjoy being there! I don’t start until August. There are details still to work out.

    Please keep praying. Now begins a busy time.

    1. Glad that you have this new position, rtgmath!

      We’ll be watching you zip around the Indianapolis Speedway next May!

      Yes, now begins a very busy time, especially if buying or selling a house is involved.

    2. That is fantastic news rtg. I am very happy for you. Being that you are in Indiana we look forward to your field reports from the mothership in Hammond. Although my guess there are also plenty of small IFB churches in Indiana.
      Anyway, get your shirts pressed, shoes polished, hair off the ears and collar and be 15 minutes early or you are late.

    3. Congrats! High school teaching can be challenging. First day of class, force a few of the students to give you their lunch money. This will assert dominance.

  5. Of all the discussions on the web, this has to be the least relevant and most poorly reasoned — that is to say, the stupidist — of them all.

    1. There are many really great homosexuals, many in great, long-term relationships. That isn’t what the decision is about.

    2. There are lots of things that are “wrong” (against God’s character, which defines “good’). When people do them, they don’t get destroyed on the spot. That is the long discussion of common grace in the Bible.

    3. Argentina — it still exists. So does Satan — does that mean he must be ok, too?

    This post was a waste of your time and it makes anyone who reads it with attention worse off than they were before they read it, no matter what their position is. It is a post-length bag of red herrings.

      1. I’m just wondering when Carson had time to read ALL the discussions on the web.
        I didn’t think that was even possible.

    1. Yeah, good point Carson, why does Satan exist?

      Didn’t God foresee when he created Satan that he was crafting the entity who would become the Father of Lies?

      And that through Satan’s wiles, his Children would be led astray into untold years of suffering, evil death and destruction?

      And that according to Paul in Colossians 1:17 everything subsists only through God, therefore by extension Satan’s continued wreckage of the human race continues due to God’s continued enablement?

      So to your question of "So does Satan [exist] — does that mean he must be ok, too?" I rather think the answer is yes! He’s not only OK, but essential and necessary to the theology of the Christian church.

      Without the boogy-man/scapegoat, there can be no Christianity.

    2. Wow! Thank you for your opinion, but do you actually have something to contribute?

      God’s character, you know, is inferred from the Scriptures, and there are multitudes of interpretations of those, yours being only one of them. And there are some really great things about treating others the way you want to be treated. You know, like Jesus said.

      And then is heard no more: it is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. Enter a Messenger.

  6. OK I’m going to weigh in on this, I will preface that this is just my opinion and the way I see things, just my feelings/ramblings:

    It needed to happen, the tax code was set against gay’s and now they will be treated equal. For that I am happy.

    We are all created in God’s image and are commanded to love our neighbors, no matter what our neighbors do or don’t do, just love them.

    You can stop the parades now… you won. Maybe a parade to celebrate the supreme court decision …once a year should be fine.

    Please also celebrate us that are straight, and I know you do… everybody has biological parents.

    Now that marriage has been defined as “consenting adults” please realize the ramifications. Where this leads is anyone’s guess.

    I really can’t believe that I’ve come this far, I’ve changed what I thought was true many times and I’m happy about that. I want to learn and grow, but only as it relates to the gospel. The gospel of Jesus has made me face some things that in my mind I already had figured out. Many of you have challenged my beliefs and for that I’m thankful.

    I have gay acquaintances…my decorator is gay and is awesome, my former roommate is gay, he helped me pick out clothes. I like to shoot guns and drink beer and don’t care about Hermes, unless they start making beer or guns. That said, I have no close gay friends. I hate how some men act effeminate, I guess that is my problem. They would say that is the way God created them and I would say that is the way God created me. Who’s right? God, not me.

    I will say that the co I work for sent out a email the day after the supreme court decision and had new guidelines on how we deal with gays. In essence we treat them like any other “married” couple. I was proud of my company and thankful for those who were discriminated against.

  7. Darrell thank you for this post. I think you have posed some very common sense questions. Frankly I will not support anyone that suggests that this country should be governed by any sacred text or prevailing religious opinion. If you take their argument to its logical conclusion there are some scary things in the bible (and any sacred text) that would and has made for horrible governing and countless atrocities (have you seen the news?). Putting religious preference and interpretation aside the correct judicial decision was made. Of course conservatives cry “lawlessness” then encourage others to break the law while criticizing the Supreme Court… Oddly enough they were just fine with the court when they made the hobby lobby ruling. But just like bible passages they pick the ones that suit their agenda. I can say that cause I used to be one of the passage pickers and hobby horse breeders.

    1. How to breed a hobby horse:
      1. Pull out thine KJV bible.
      2. Close thine eyes or have thy pastoral assistant apply a blindfold to thine eyes.
      3. Open the bible as it falls open naturally to the old testament.
      4. Take the forefinger or index finger and point to a verse. [The most useful passages are typically an old testament prophetic warning to Israel that used out of context sounds vaguely like a warning to America]
      5. Prepare sermon to preach on the street and in the church-house to warn of impending doom because of the Sodom and Gomorrah supreme court rulings.
      6. Research “how to survive prison rape if imprisoned for homophobic street preaching”.

  8. What we find out over time is that fundies yell loudest about what they struggle with in private. Example: Jack Schaap yelling about teens having sex while he was banging a teen.

  9. My employer Ted was an amazingly nice guy and his partner was even nicer: pulled me from a lake when I was drowning, took a bullet for me. But Ted wasn’t his real name, it was Alice and she believed that 2 + 2 was 5. That puzzled me at first but now I don’t have any fears or reservations because she was such a totally swell gal and, hey, all my friends agree with me! All my friends who post here agree, too.

    And things like this — who marries whom, is cannibalism ok, what is 2+2, is Pluto a planet, abortion, death penalty, euthanasia, polygamy (Larry had two partners, both of them incredible human beings), … all my posters agree and the supreme court voted on it and that is how we decide these things … we just ask 9 people who went to law school is it ok? And, guess what, if they say ok and if the people are really really nice and give us stuff, well, I don’t have any reservations and, you know what, you shouldn’t either.

    This is about the lowest level of thought on this possible: a poll of SFL readers agrees and that gives everyone here confidence on who to marry, how many to marry, who can die and who can live, and it solves those nagging arithmetic questions, too.

    Welcome to the echo chamber — it is the mirror of “homos are bad people” as a basis for reason you hear in IFB churches where they also take a poll. Gag.

    1. If you don’t think a real-life example of two responsible, good citizens in a successful same-sex union is relevant to a discussion of same-sex marriage, that’s your prerogative, (Ben?) Carson.
      But why should it make you gag?

    2. Wow. Carson, you are really stretching it there.

      From where do you get things like cannibalism from same-sex marriage? Your other examples are pretty crazy, too. If you are a fundamentalist, you probably agree with the death penalty, though you probably disagree with euthanasia (or more properly, assisted suicide). No one except idiots and Congressmen assert that 2+2=5. Pluto’s designation as a planet or a planetoid is a matter of definition, and science definitions are done by scientists with a lot of collaboration. And you should be okay with polygamy. God was in the Old Testament, you know. Or are you saying God was wrong?

      Guess what? If you believe in the Constitution, you also believe in the Supreme Court and the rule of law. You also recognize that you may not agree with every ruling they make. But you absolutely love some of them. Those you like you tell people who disagree they have to suck it up. So why be a hypocrite now?

      We solve math problems using math principles. And we solve societal issues using principles agreed on. One thing we agreed on in the US was the principle of the equal protection of the law. We also agreed on the right of people to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

      So let me guess. You are probably in favor of people having a more or less unfettered right to bear firearms. That right has cost the lives of huge numbers of innocent people. Gay people have had committed relationships for lots of years. How many innocent people have lost their lives because of that? How low can you go?

      You are angry. But gay people aren’t hurting your relationships by having theirs. Get over yourself.

      1. From where do you get things like cannibalism from same-sex marriage?

        From the same place that one preacher on an old YouTube video got bestiality from homosexuality.

        1. Was that our good friend Steven Anderson? He preaches that *all* “Homos” are Pedophiles

        1. here is an article that has three videos of Anderson, two are clips from his notorious “Aids” sermon, the third was the whole load of shit in its entirety. In the second clip he claims that all “Homos” are Pedophiles.
          http://www.rawstory.com/2014/12/arizona-pastor-predicts-aids-free-christmas-if-all-gays-are-killed-as-god-commands/
          on one occasion was tackled about this claim by a reporter who told Anderson he was gay, but , no he did *not* molest little boys. Anderson outright called him a liar. There is no reasoning with this nutball

  10. My questions are:

    1. Does the US Government exist to enforce the views any specific religion? If so, should that religion try to make laws to enforce EVERY view a particular church holds?

    No, the government does not exist to enforce the views of any specific religion.

    2. Is marriage just a church thing? Would you still oppose same sex marriage if you were certain your church would never have to perform one if they didn’t want to?

    No, marriage is not just a church thing. Yes, I would still oppose same sex marriage because I do believe that it is morally wrong. Also, there are some calling for the churches to lose their tax-exempt status if they teach that homosexuality or gay marriage is a sin. Those that wish for this see gay marriage as a political rather than a religious matter thus violating the separation of church and state if gay marriage and/or homosexuality is preached against. Also, it is not out of the realm of possibility for the United States to embrace hate speech legislation that is similar to that which is found in Canada and many European nations. http://www.salon.com/2010/03/22/canada_5/ Pastors have been fined and jailed in both Europe and Canada for preaching against homosexuality. This is no joke. The fines and imprisonments are not right wing hysteria.

    3. If certain religious views are correct that gay sex is a sin, does having married gay sex make it more sinful?

    It doesn’t make it any more or less sinful, but it still does remain sinful.

    4. If we want to save “traditional marriage” is it more important to prevent same-sex couples from getting married or encouraging therest of the population to get married in the first place?

    It’s more important to encourage opposite sex couples to marry. The real problem here is the unfair family law courts which are doing the most damage to scare men out of marriage. Ironically, in decades past, many feminists spoke against traditional marriage and now many of the same feminists are aggravated that many men refuse marriage (because by refusing marriage, it limits a woman’s often received financial reward in a divorce). It’s as if these feminists want to have their cake and eat it too.

    5. Why have I never received a newsletter from a Christian right-wing group about homelessness, child abuse, poverty, or racism but I have received several about the “attack” marriage? Why does this issue seem to trump so many others?

    Because these right-wing groups rarely preach the full counsel of God’s word. They like to ignore the welfare system in the Bible where the poor, widows, and fatherless (who have a special place in God’s heart) were permitted to glean in the fields after the owners of the fields went through them the first time (and the owners were also not allowed to glean the corners of the field. The corners were left untouched for the poor).

    This issue seems to trump so many others, I believe, because many pastors are secretly hiding sexual sins such as adultery or pornography. Also, I think that this issue seems to bring a stronger judgment from God in the Bible than many other issues. Incidentally, one of Sodom’s great sins was its neglect of the poor.

    6. If God really was sitting in heaven just waiting for the big fat gay wedding line to be crossed before pouring out the fire and brimstone on nations then why are Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden not smoking craters by now?

    Well, it is a just bad theology for anyone to have ever presumed that God was sitting in Heaven waiting to pour out his wrath at the sight of a gay wedding. God is longsuffering and patient. He gives mankind space to repent of his sin. Also, let us not forget that God frequently used wicked nations to judge wicked nations in the Bible. The scriptures teach that God creates evil and judges when and how he sees fit and most often through the sword, famine, or pestilence. But, we also know that sometimes the wicked live out abundant and prosperous lives and face few hardships in this life as attested by Job’s words and that the righteous are sometimes poor and face an early death. So, there is no scriptural certainty than God will judge one’s homosexuality in this life.

    7. Last and most important of all: can you explain to me how my friends Bob and Louis getting married will hurt you personally? Can you tell me where it hurts anybody at all?
    Personally their marriage will not directly affect me. However, I still have the concerns I relayed in my answer to question 2. Also, by changing the definition of marriage, it will help revive polygamy and possibly adult-child marriage. There was recently a trio that applied for marriage licenses in Montana and were denied. They are threatening a lawsuit if their polygamous union is not legalized. Even John Roberts warned of this in his dissent.

    If polygamy is legalized most polygamous relationships will probably involve a man with several wives as opposed to a woman with several husbands. In polygamous relationships the man dominates and if polygamy ever took hold in America it could possibly erode the rights of women.

    Bonus Question: If you’re a conservative who feels they have really good answers for all of the above then can you tell me on a strictly pragmatic level what the upside is to the fight against same-sex marriage that is making conservatives look mean, petty, and stuck in the past? Is it worth the cost of turning off voters to your more important ideas to keep fighting about this one?

    For the first question, please see my above answers. For the second question, conservatives must reconsider their positions on welfare, minimum wage laws, socialized medicine, and labor unions if they wish to stay politically relevant. There are many voters who vote Democrat even though they are pro-life and anti-gay marriage but often find themselves torn between voting to keep their union jobs and voting to keep in place traditional moral values.

    1. Well, hi there, Boethius, it’s nice to hear from you. I thought you died in, like, 524.

      You may rest assured that no church (at least in the USA) will ever, ever be forced to conduct or approve of same-sex weddings. It simply won’t happen. There are still churches censuring divorce and interracial marriage and blood transfusions and all manner of other practices that are widely accepted in the general society. None of those churches has ever been penalized in any way by any part of the government.

      The USA will never pass a hate speech law like Canada’s as long as our Constitution still has the First Amendment. It just can’t be done.
      I have noticed that most people love the First Amendment when it protects their own free speech, but don’t like it much when it comes to speech that they find objectionable. But still, I think the First Amendment will be around for the foreseeable future.

        1. A very good explanation of a reasonable law.

          In the U.S. we also have some restrictions on speech. Nobody admits to this, however. And I find it funny that the very ones worried about their freedom of speech are the ones trying to outlaw the speech of those who disagree with them.

        2. I apologize for getting riled up there but I am trying to image what would happen if I complained about finding a US law offensive, as a non-US citizen. Some people are so blinkered and insular that they do not even understand that the world is not full of people exactly like them.

        3. There is this irrational fear that somehow, if we allow ourselves to listen to reason and actually be reasonable we shall become as all the other nations and lose our freedoms.

          Of course they believe you are living in chains, my dear. Real ones, not virtual. They are pretty much convinced that since you have a Socialist society, you must have the other trappings of the USSR, like Secret Police and all that.

          Imagine having to have some form of politeness! Imagine a nation where the police aren’t out on a killing spree! Imagine having to be registered to own a gun! Imagine having health care!

          Why it just isn’t so if one is Free. Free is the state of being able to trouble others and ruin other people’s lives, don’t you know!

          And of course, as United States provincial idiots, we are qualified to tell you what’s best for you. And you’d better listen! If the next President is Republican, he has an itchy finger on the nuclear button. Even if he can’t say “nuclear” correctly.

        4. I know that there are rational Americans. Of course there are! Thank you for reminding me of the fact, rtg. It is just that the other kind are so very loud.

    2. Boethius, how very kind of Prof. Houle to warn a foreign national. who might not have researched the laws of the country she was proposing to express her hateful opinions in, of the the danger she might be facing should she do so.
      Yours, a creepy Canadian.

  11. Somehow legalization of same-sex marriage is unfair for some people. In my honest opinion, it’s only a status. It doesn’t give any impact in my life because I never make a connection with a guy community. However, I know what they feel that they want other people admit that they are exist.

    1. How would legalization of same-sex marriage be unfair to anyone? It doesn’t take away anything from straight couples who marry, except perhaps their feelings of exclusivity. But it doesn’t cheapen anything.

      Marriage is what you make of it. Period. Even Charles Stanley ruined his own marriage, and despite years of preaching against divorced pastors, he decided to stay as pastor anyway despite his sin. Suddenly it was a different situation and he wanted grace where he never gave grace.

      And yes, gay people exist and want to be acknowledged as legitimate. They are human, with human needs for love, compassion and freedom to pursue happiness. You have lots more contact with them than you think. They don’t wear signs, you know. There may be gay people in your church. Many gay people have straight, miserable marriages. But again, they don’t advertise.

  12. I’m a conservative who recently decided that politics is mostly a waste of my time. That said, I still think that the liberals’ fight for gay marriage makes them look freakish and silly. They are seeking to change laws and times. It is not pleasing in God’s sight or mine. If God allows this to happen, I am no one to stop him. God knows what he is doing.

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