At the same time as the presidential election, the state of California voted on Proposition 8 – whether or not to amend the state constitution by adding, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Doing so passed.
Now I recognize that this issue is quite contentious in my native Christian circles. The widely-respected Focus on the Family, (though even writing the name makes me cringe) using language like states being “vulnerable to pro-homosexual forces” and warning us that “the Senate in 1996 came within a single vote of passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have wreaked havoc on American culture. This legislation would have made sexual orientation a protected class equivalent to racial minorities under federal civil rights laws.” That made me feel quite enraged, Mr. Dobson, if that’s what you want, but somehow not at the “homosexual activists”.
This reddit comment made a better point, but still not quite where I would place my views:
I am an evangelical Christian … Personally, I do believe that the practice of homosexuality is morally wrong. I also believe most abortions are wrong. At the same time, I do not believe that it is the government’s prerogative to legislate on these matters except insofar as there are scientific or otherwise objective (i.e. not moral or religious) grounds for said legislation. If demonstrable harm to society results from a certain practice, generally that’s a good reason to restrict or outlaw it. Until that is shown, however, I will not speak against the government recognizing civil unions between people regardless of what I believe the moral status of that union is. Marriage is indeed a religious institution and I believe that the government’s choice to recognize that institution as having civil ramifications is a good one. Who am I, and for that matter, who are religious organizations in general, to say that the government cannot or should not also recognize other unions in the same way?
However, I question this person’s assumptions that (1) the government acts, or ought to act objectively, and (2) the domain of religious organizations stops where government begins.
Rather, some observations:
- There are many generally accepted laws that fall short of enforcing Christian “values”. For instance, it is not illegal to conceive a child out of wedlock, although most Christians I know would say doing so is immoral.
- There is no one set of “values” that all Christians hold. For instance, according to the Pew Forum, even on the hot-button issue of abortion, 24% of evangelicals say abortion should be “legal in most cases”.
- I wish to challenge the concept of “values” altogether. I would define such as moral conclusions. Would not the route taken be of more interest? I also have a huge amount of pent-up distaste at groups such as those lead by Dobson, which use the concept to make it morally unacceptable to disagree.
I thus am not afraid to say I would have voted against Proposition 8, had I been a Californian.
My original train of thought would be that marraige ought to lie outside the state’s domain. However, there are things that only the state can provide that are beneficial to married life, such as visitation rights in hospitals.
Rather, I think that since the state needs to get involved, it ought not to care who marries. I pay taxes, regardless of whether I am Christian, Muslim or Hindu. I am allowed to use the roads, regardless of my gender or sexual orientation. In the same vein, if the marriage must be a state “service” (for lack of better word), it ought to be disinterested in who I am.
Also, I see no pragmatic reason the state should care. I don’t feel allowing homosexuals to marry would endanger marriage at all, especially in light that divorce is legal and common, even in evangelical circles, (13% are divorced, not including those who have remarried, according to the Pew Forum) which is by all accounts, incredibly destructive. Should I ever get married, (cue Ryan: ha ha-ha ha) I would find divorce much more “devaluing” (if indeed I was to care) than allowing a gay person to visit their partner when they are about to die.
Perhaps if people wanted something worthwhile to complain about, officially changing the spelling of “marriage” would help a lot more.