Gay marriage/separation of church & state — Steven Kalas

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Gay+Marriage+Images&qpvt=Gay+Marriage+Images&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=2FF19BD78F7DF43612EDF37E0527091C3CC6B7A7&selectedIndex=0

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Gay+Marriage+Images&qpvt=Gay+Marriage+Images&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=776A4B123749BC7B6E31D2723C362FA0AD7FCF9E&selectedIndex=2

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separation of church and state photo: separation of church and state FreeDist.jpg

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separation of church and state photo: Church and State separation.jpg http://media.photobucket.com/user/theelenchus/media/separation.jpg.html?filters[term]=separation%20of%20church%20and%20state&filters[primary]=images&filters[secondary]=videos&sort=1&o=2#/user/theelenchus/media/separation.jpg.html?filters%5Bterm%5D=separation%20of%20church%20and%20state&filters%5Bprimary%5D=images&filters%5Bsecondary%5D=videos&sort=1&o=2&_suid=1366752464914035806993855880087

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http://lvrj.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/beginnings-matter-when-determining-success

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Here’s how I read the sociocultural tea leaves: If you’re fighting in the army that’s waging war against gay marriage, or, said another way, if you understand yourself to be fighting to protect and preserve the institution of marriage from being diluted, distorted or otherwise offended by including homosexual partners … well, I strongly encourage you to run a white flag up the flagpole right now. Stop the metaphorical scorched earth bombing runs. Give up. Quit.

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Because you lost.

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It’s only a matter of time. America is speaking and has spoken. If I were a betting man, I’d put gay marriage right up there next to legalizing marijuana. It’s gonna happen. At this point, protesters don’t look any less silly than Alabama Gov. George Wallace who, 50 years ago this June, stood in front of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama to take on the National Guard and a federal court order by “shouting into a snowstorm” to prevent black people from enrolling at the heretofore all-white school. He then stepped away proudly, having fulfilled his campaign promise to defend our right to be irrelevant.

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This is not to say that historical struggles for racial justice are in every way analogous to current struggles for psychosexual identity justice. Nor am I saying that every critical inquiry or protest to gay marriage is evidence of ignorance, prejudice or that tired conversation stopper (cue drum roll) homophobia.

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I have critical questions about gay marriage. My concerns have to do with symbols and that which symbols articulate and protect — meaning! (see C.G. Jung, Joseph Campbell, et al.). When symbols devolve or die, meaning is threatened. And when meaning is threatened, human beings feel threatened. Off balance. Unsure. People unwilling to honestly face these uncertainties and insecurities have no other alternative but to behave oddly. Or prejudicially. Or badly. Or violently.

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Speaking specifically to Jews, Christians and Muslims , each of these groups trace the symbolic meaning of the word “marriage” back to the creation stories in Genesis. God creates humankind in God’s image. “Male and female did God make Man.” The theological conclusion of these religions is that marriage is a symbol and witness to the world of God reconciling the wholeness of Godself in love, fidelity and steadfastness.

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Marriage, in these traditions, isn’t a container for romance and great sex, though certainly quality marriages grow plenty of both over a lifetime. Rather, theologically understood, marriage is a symbol and a vocation.

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I take it as self-evident that men aren’t women, and women aren’t men. So, if two women or two men decide to enter upon a life partnership of love and fidelity wrapped in a symbol, and if they call that symbol “marriage,” then it follows logically that the symbol would have to be in some ways deconstructed and reconstructed.

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But, Jews, Christians and Muslims lost the argument the moment their theology got in bed with the U.S. government and the issuance of marriage licenses. In so doing, theological concerns rightly were subordinated to a nation bent on keeping “church and state” separate. See, seen from a completely secular, objective “American” viewpoint, my Christian theology of marriage (described above) is nothing more than Steven’s religious preference and prejudice. Which he’s welcome to have in this country. But he’s not welcome to advance his religious worldview onto other Americans.

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If they asked, I would tell the Christians, right now, to radically separate the solemnization of marriage vows from the event of acquiring a marriage license. Then any couple could acquire a marriage license (gay or straight). Couples with marriage licenses could then approach their preferred religious group and seek religious solemnization vows. Individual denominations (Baptists, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, etc.) would be free then, to include or exclude any couple (gay or straight) from the marriage symbol (as they understand the meaning thereof.) They would also be free to craft a new, emerging theological understanding of gay life partnership, articulating its own unique witness and vocation in the world.

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From a strict constitutional view, gay marriage is not a moral issue. It’s a justice issue.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/separating-church-and-state-could-relieve-pressure-marriage-debate

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Separating church and state could relieve pressure in the marriage debate

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Recently, I offered up some speculations and musings about gay marriage in America (“Examining gay marriage, separating church and state,” April 21, 2013). One reader responds:

Interesting piece, Steven. What does this mean in practice: “Individual denominations (Baptists, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, etc.) would be free then, to include or exclude any couple (gay or straight) from the marriage symbol.”

Your words are wise and carefully chosen, your thinking layered and fair-minded. I see you want to bifurcate the institution into secular and religious arenas. That seems reasonable but presupposes those brands have any inherent meaning that differentiates them here on the ground. Marriage is a wholly inorganic construct, and it is our cute anthropological vanity that compels us to vociferously pretend otherwise and then hit one another with placards like morons. It’s like hosting a social schism over the rotary engine. As a custom, marriage is beginning to sow painful discord. Surely not what it was invented for. — J.W., Santa Barbara, Calif.

If they made me king, here’s what I’d do about the controversy:

Individual states would issue a license called “domestic partnership licenses.” The domestic partnership license would be a binding contract. It would dictate how you filed your taxes. It would enable you, as a couple, to manage a shared, family estate. It would give you the authority to visit a spouse who was hospitalized. It would qualify you as a “spouse” who could be named in a family health care policy from your employer. It would also require a legal action (divorce) to dissolve this domestic partnership.

Any two citizens in good standing, 18 years of age or older, who had the license fee and picture ID in their pocket, could acquire a license and enter into a binding domestic partnership.

There would then be no civil right, legal or economic opportunity (or responsibility) that would be denied a gay couple based on sexual orientation. This resolves the justice issue I mentioned in my original column.

This would also preserve the meaning of the word “marriage” for the symbolic and theological sensitivities of the Jews, Christians and Muslims. Like me, for instance. Though, as I said in the first column, I think we lost this argument when we first “got in bed” with secular government to issue marriage licenses. Americans can’t have “separation of church and state” both ways.

And, if religious folks thought through this, they would remember it has already happened. Since forever there have been American heterosexual couples who have sought and acquired marriage licenses, entered into a binding, legal marriage before a magistrate or justice of the peace, yet never sought the solemnization of the relationship under the banner of any synagogue, church or mosque.

I’m saying there is already a precedent for recognizing the difference between a secular marriage and a Christian marriage. So what’s the big deal?

Regarding traditional heterosexual couples, individual Christian denominations and individual clerics serving those denominations already reserve the right to offer or withhold the rite (or sacrament) of holy matrimony. And there is an astonishing variability in practice. I know mainstream Protestant clergy who moonlight at various Las Vegas resorts, hotels and wedding chapels. Having barely been introduced to you, they’ll preside at your Vegas wedding as long as you have a marriage license in your possession.

On the other hand, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Orthodox clergy are known for a much tighter, stricter grasp on the sacrament, and require candidates for holy matrimony to move through formal requirements, classes and waiting periods.

I know individual clergy who, in certain extreme circumstances, will use their clerical authority to preside at holy matrimony even absent a marriage license. Like the time I led a dying hospice patient and his longtime domestic partner in marriage vows. As an obedient Anglo-Catholic, I reported this “irregular” act to my bishop. But I didn’t ask permission.

I’m saying that, with there already being such a variability amongst the branches of the Christian family tree (evangelical, mainstream Protestant, liturgical/Catholic, LDS), individual Christian Churches would then continue to practice what they see fit to practice regarding gay couples. They would be free, respectively, to include gay couples in religious solemnization or not. They would be free to say that any couple in possession of a domestic partnership license — gay or straight — also qualifies for holy matrimony. Or that only heterosexual couples qualify. They would be free to articulate a new and distinct theological understanding of gay covenant love, and to develop a liturgy for solemnizing same. Or not.

And the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., would be free to continue to hate homosexuals and to lawfully protest the funerals of folks whom God has killed because God is so upset about homosexuality.

Ah, America.

We disagree, by the way, about marriage being “a wholly inorganic construct.” If it was, I don’t think it would be this powerful. My view here is Jungian — archetypal! Something in the collective consciousness of human beings compelled us, as early as Neanderthal, to contain sexuality, fertility and eventually family within symbol, rite and ceremony. Different cultures do it differently, but the need to do it is universal.

I’m saying that marriage and the marriage symbol are quintessentially organic.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/gay-marriage-column-continues-attract-responses

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The word “marriage” has a very specific theological meaning for Jews, Christians and Muslims. In the column, I counted myself (you silly person) as one of those folks with said theological sensitivities. I described how including homosexual union in the word “marriage” must needs deconstruct and reconstruct the symbol of marriage. How, D.B., does describing something mean that I am in favor of that “something” happening?

Hmm?

Listen carefully now: I … am not … in favor. I said two things and two things only: 1) that religious people are going to lose that argument and 2) I understand how we lost that argument. We lost the argument the same way Rotarians lost the argument to be male-only. You can’t have it both ways.

On a separate subject, may I suggest there’s an obvious reason you don’t “shout your heterosexual preference from the rooftops.” To wit, the culture of your birth does not render you or require you to be invisible because you are heterosexual. Like you, I find it off-putting when sexual identity is stridently advanced into conversation as non sequitur. But I understand it. It’s a predictable, albeit awkward, sometimes tantrum protest against the injustice of remanded invisibility.

We agree that it will be a states’ rights matter, if by that you mean it’s unlikely the feds will intervene with FBI, Supreme Court orders and military presence as the feds did when individual states refused to protect the civil rights of black American citizens, circa 1960s. But let a gay couple marry in Massachusetts and then move to a state (as you say) “with largely a religious community.” That religious community is free, of course, not to recognize the Massachusetts marriage as marriage, to judge and scorn, etc. But should the state refuse to protect civil rights, there will be federal lawsuits the state simply can’t win. And won’t.

By the way, there’s a distinction between polygamy and bigamy. I don’t think gay marriage opens the door to bigamy. But I think it does force us to rethink how and why we argued against polygamy. Christians are uncomfortable to admit this, but strictly speaking, the Bible doesn’t teach monogamy. The Bible teaches marital faithfulness. Biblically speaking, there is such a thing as faithful polygamy. Moderns are a little stunned to wrap their heads around that fact.

American homosexuals are themselves all over that map on this issue. Some want no part of the heterosexual, largely Judeo-Christian view of marriage. They see themselves as distinct and different and don’t give a rip about this discussion. Others have no investment in the word “marriage” but definitely feel they deserve some legal recognition as they manage their estates, health insurance and in some case qualifications to adopt or foster children. But some gays and lesbians are convinced that until and unless they can share the word “marriage” with their heterosexual brethren, they will be forever cast into second-class citizenship.

I think they will eventually win that fight. State by state.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/justin-lee/4-ways-christians-are-getting-the-gay-debate-wrong_b_3219665.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

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Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly — like premarital sex between heterosexuals. … If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality — adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be — I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.

Some have argued that the backlash proves Christians are now an oppressed minority who can’t express their religious beliefs. As a Christian with friends on both sides, I disagree. Instead, I believe the bigger issue has to do with the mistakes many Christians make when they talk about homosexuality.

Here are four ways many American Christians are getting this whole thing wrong.

1. Equating “being gay” with “having sex.”

If an unmarried person tells you they’re “straight,” would you assume that they’re having sex? Probably not. Most straight adults are having sex, but not all of them are. The same is true for gay adults. In his coming out article, Jason doesn’t say anything about his sexual beliefs or practices; he says only that he’s single. Why, then, does this suddenly become a debate about the morality of gay sex, with comparisons to sexual behaviors like “fornication” and “adultery”?

I grew up in a Southern Baptist church with strict beliefs that people shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage. When I finally, tearfully admitted (after years of trying to avoid it) that I was attracted to guys instead of girls, I found myself on the receiving end of lecture after lecture about how being gay was a sin “just like adultery or premarital sex.” But I wasn’t having any kind of sex at all. Being gay isn’t like adultery or premarital sex, because being gay isn’t a sex act. Even if I never have sex, I’m still gay.

2. Using that (assumed) sex act to define us as people.

It’s one thing to believe gay sex is sinful, but it’s quite another to define gay people and our lives by that one act. This is where that devious word “lifestyle” creeps in. (I’ve written in the past about why I hate that word.) Even if Jason Collins is having sex, that doesn’t mean he’s living a particular kind of “lifestyle.” Do all sexually active straight people live the same lifestyle? Was Billy Graham’s lifestyle the same as Howard Stern’s?

Typically, the phrase “gay lifestyle” is just a euphemism for “having gay sex.” But by using the word “lifestyle,” you end up defining gay people’s lives entirely in terms of that sex. Notice how Broussard stumbled when he tried to apply the same terminology to his other examples: “I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly — like premarital sex between heterosexuals.” It’s as if he started to say “an openly ‘premarital sex’ lifestyle” and then realized that made no sense. Because if two straight people have sex before marriage, Christians might call that sinful, but no one would refer to that as their “premarital sex lifestyle.” We view it as one particular act, not a definition of the entirety of their lives.

3. Treating gay people as symbols of a culture war instead of as human beings.

Jason Collins is a person. By his own admission, he’s been through a lot of struggles in figuring out who he is and whether to talk about it publicly. But it often feels that when someone like this comes out, many people view them as just a symbol for us to celebrate or bemoan, so that we all must rush to express approval or disapproval.

I wish, instead, that Christians’ first reaction to news like this were to want to understand, to ask questions like “Why would a Christian in a decidedly anti-gay field feel the need to publicly identify himself as gay? What brought him to this point? What obstacles did he overcome? What has his experience been like?” These are the questions of a compassionate person, one who is willing to put the other person’s humanity first. Unfortunately, it often seems that when you come out, you cease to be someone’s friend and become only a representation of an issue.

4. Assuming that being gay is a choice.

Whom you date, marry or have sex with is a choice. Whom you are attracted to isn’t. “Being gay” only refers to whom I’m attracted. It’s not something I chose, and it’s something many of us were, frankly, afraid of when we first realized it about ourselves.

Perhaps if more Christians understood this, they wouldn’t say things like the commenter who wrote that “living as an open homosexual is open rebellion to God.” Think about that for a moment. If “living as an open homosexual” is rebellion against God, what choices do I have? I’m already gay; I can’t change that. I could choose to lie and not to be “open” about it, but I don’t believe in dishonesty. Other than that, the only way I could avoid “living as an open homosexual” would be to stop “living.” I don’t have to tell you where that kind of thinking leads.

Is that what the commenter intended? Of course not. But that’s how the message comes across, day after day, to gay people across the country and around the world.

Let me be clear: I think everyone has a right to their moral views, even when they disagree with mine. But this isn’t just about a moral disagreement; it’s about how we treat one another and how we talk about one another.

If we Christians can’t show more love and willingness to listen, it won’t change one person from gay to straight, but it will turn a lot of people against Christianity.

 

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One Response to Gay marriage/separation of church & state — Steven Kalas

  1. Pingback: Same-sex marriage: In Mark 12:28-34 when Jesus was asked, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus could have selected from the Torah any of the commandments. He could have chosen one of the passages that have been used to justify sexism, racism

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