On Newsweek’s Cover Story, “Our Mutual Joy”

11Dec08

I’m in a committed relationship for 10 years, albeit on-and-off, and we would love to get married. I’ve met lesbians who are considering marriage in the future, when they find The One. I’ve met lesbians who are worthy of walking down the aisle with.

Yet, we are all stopped by one thing — its legality.

There are many issues about gay marriage being raised lately, especially after Proposition 8 was passed in California. But the biggest debate seems to be fueled by religious and traditional beliefs.

I won’t delve into the intricacies and complexities of this debate. Lisa Miller’s article in Newsweek (15 December 2008) gives but a glimpse into the arguments against and for gay marriages and how the Scripture and religious scholars seem to interpret and take their stand on the issue.

I’ve chosen to highlight the passages from the article that I agree or disagree with, find liberating, and/or feel inspired with and empowered by. Overall, this article should stir us — lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, and others — to vie for equality and justice.

“Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.”

Miller’s article isn’t so much about what the Scripture does say about gay marriage so don’t be surprised when you don’t find any direct references as to why gay marriages must be allowed. 🙂


“The argument goes something like this statement, which the Rev. Richard A. Hunter, a United Methodist minister, gave to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in June: “The Bible and Jesus define marriage as between one man and one woman. The church cannot condone or bless same-sex marriages because this stands in opposition to Scripture and our tradition.”
To which there are two obvious responses: First, while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. And second, as the examples above illustrate, no sensible modern person wants marriage—theirs or anyone else’s —to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes. “Marriage” in America refers to two separate things, a religious institution and a civil one, though it is most often enacted as a messy conflation of the two. As a civil institution, marriage offers practical benefits to both partners: contractual rights having to do with taxes; insurance; the care and custody of children; visitation rights; and inheritance. As a religious institution, marriage offers something else: a commitment of both partners before God to love, honor and cherish each other—in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer—in accordance with God’s will. In a religious marriage, two people promise to take care of each other, profoundly, the way they believe God cares for them. Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married—and a number of excellent reasons why they should.”

It’s quite simple, really. Gay people want the same civil rights as any non-gay person. Add to that, gay people also desire for commitment with their partner in front of God and their loved ones. To deny someone — anyone! – of that is plain cruel.


Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition
(and, to talk turkey for a minute, a personal discomfort with gay sex that transcends theological argument). Common prayers and rituals reflect our common practice: the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer describes the participants in a marriage as “the man and the woman.” But common practice changes—and for the better, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Well, there ya go! Custom and tradition! Those can be forgotten, discontinued, and outgrown. But wait! Are we going to wait until such time that the current traditions are passe or forgotten? What about now?

 

We cannot look to the Bible as a marriage manual, but we can read it for universal truths as we struggle toward a more just future. The Bible offers inspiration and warning on the subjects of love, marriage, family and community. It speaks eloquently of the crucial role of families in a fair society and the risks we incur to ourselves and our children should we cease trying to bind ourselves together in loving pairs.

 

More than anything, isn’t this what the Bible speaks of? With so many concerns and conflicts plaguing our society, we seem to have forgotten basic truths such as love and commitment, justice, fairness, and equality. Because of our own stringent beliefs, we have caused division amongst ourselves. It may be impossible to unite everyone, to get everyone to agree and adhere to the same beliefs, but is it hard, too, to simply respect what others believe in and stand for?

There is so much more to this debate than what the article can fully discuss. Nevertheless, this should be enough to instill an awareness, if not an awakening, in us, to truly understand that at the core of it all, gays and lesbians just want what everyone else wants — love and commitment.

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2 Responses to “On Newsweek’s Cover Story, “Our Mutual Joy””

  1. as ive said on a blogpost of mine, id rather we not fight the bible war

    • Yeah! I so agree. It gets so complicated and heated, right?

      Came across this Newsweek special from your blog, by the way. Thanks for posting that link. 🙂 Cool blog! 🙂


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