Tag Archives: Same-sex marriage

On the Definition of Marriage

For some time now I have not written in this blog. With each post in the past, I have tried to find something uplifting to write about. But I am a news junkie—after more than 42 years as a working journalist—and I have found it difficult to see uplifting things in the events unfolding in our world today. Undoubtedly, in order to find the good, I need to look more closely, at the near view rather than the cosmic view.

More about that in an upcoming post. But this time I am going to tackle a very difficult topic from current events. I know there will be many who disagree, and feel strongly that they have the right on their side. We will simply have to say that the freedom of religion we all enjoy allows for differing viewpoints.

Call 2 BWI believe that God defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman when he gave Adam and Eve to each other and put them in the Garden of Eden as man and wife. I believe that men and women have differing but complementary roles in marriage—roles that overlap in many ways. I believe that neither one is more important, nor meant to be more powerful in the relationship, than the other. I believe that the original marriage vow was eternal, and that all others between God’s children were meant to be that way too. But He allows us to enter into a less enduring form of marriage when we are not prepared to make eternal covenants with a marriage partner and with Him. There are on this earth people authorized to administer eternal marriage covenants. When a man and woman marry by any other authority, they are entering a marriage with an automatic divorce clause—“till death do us part.”

In marrying, they form a new family. It is a union in which they can accomplish things in life that cannot be achieved in any other relationship. In their complementary roles, they can accomplish things together that could never be accomplished by two partners of the same sex. If they become parents, they can each contribute strengths, guidance, and emotional inheritance that will be essential to their children.

Is it possible for parenting to be successful where there are not a man and a woman in the home? Yes—and sometimes there is no other way. I was reared by a single mother, a widow who never remarried after my father was killed when I was 21 months old. I feel that God strengthened her according to the need. I also had two fine grandfathers and several uncles as good male role models. But there were definitely times when having a father would have eased my way through areas that were difficult for me. It has taken many years of marriage and fatherhood to learn some things that I might have known early on if I had seen my father and mother acting in partnership together.

I believe the eternal, God-given definition of marriage cannot be changed by custom and tradition, majority opinion, or any civil authority on earth—not even the Supreme Court of the United States.

This is not an effort to pick a quarrel with anyone who believes differently. I also believe that individual moral agency is a sacred, God-given right. Each of us has the right to choose how we direct our lives, and the responsibility to accept what comes as a result. If anyone wishes to live with a partner of the same sex, it is not my right to deprive him or her of that choice. I believe that every individual should have the right to choose who will administer his or her affairs if there is a need, who will inherit any belongings or estate. I would defend the right of every individual to enjoy housing, employment, and the other privileges of a free society without discrimination because of either sexual orientation or religious belief.

In current events, however, I see evidences of bigotry and intolerance on both sides. I see defenders of traditional marriage who want to punish people making other choices. I see advocates of same-sex marriage who want to punish and ostracize those who do not agree with their view. I foresee attempts to use the law to punish those who do not accept, spiritually and intellectually, that which some say is now “the law of the land.”

The law of the land is not going to supersede the law of God, in my view. But others may see things differently.

I doubt that any amount of cudgeling with philosophy, social theory, or the law is going to change the views that each of us holds dear. Can we simply acknowledge that we do not agree on this issue and move on? There are still problems of human deprivation, unconscionable violence, poverty, and environmental degradation that need to be resolved if we can put aside our differences. Can we still be friends and move forward together?

Sticks and Stones and Same-sex Marriage

Call 2 BWThere is a collision coming—a collision of ideas—that I fear will be damaging to freedom of thought. It is yet another clash between freedom of belief and political correctness. I fear that in the zeal of political correctness many people would be willing to give away some of our freedom of belief.

I’m thinking of the conflict between those who believe in same-sex marriage and those who believe that marriage is ordained of God to be between a man and a woman.

I am in the latter camp. I firmly believe that marriage between a man and a woman was ordained of God from the beginning of this world. When God gave Adam and Eve to each other and declared that they should be one, it was a pattern for the ages. Men and women are to marry, form a divine unit called a family, and, if they are able, bring daughters and sons into this world. In doing so, they participate with God in providing mortal life for others of His spirit children.

To make marriage into something else is to go against His plan for His sons and daughters.

Some people will say here, “Then you don’t believe in equality for all of His sons and daughters.” That is not true. And the issue of marriage is not an issue of equality.

I believe that every individual on earth should enjoy the same basic civil rights. This would include the right to designate someone to make life decisions if the individual is incapacitated, someone to receive the benefits accorded to a partner under law, someone to receive or inherit the benefits of a pension or retirement fund if the individual dies, and any other rights one might wish to confer on a partner in life. Each individual should have the opportunity to choose with regard to these things, guaranteed by law.

People may choose to share their lives with whom they will, whether that person is of the same sex or not. But to call such a relationship between two people of the same sex “marriage” is to defy the will of God, I believe, and beyond the power of man to decree.

Still, there are social and political leaders in our world, up to and including the president of the United States, who seem inclined to make same-sex marriage an institution with the force of law which everyone must accept, no matter their moral beliefs. That is wrong. It is a violation of freedom of belief.

Many seem quite willing to place political correctness ahead of personal liberty—a liberty they like to claim for themselves but would not mind restricting for others. They would be willing to marginalize those who disagree with them socially and legally, to penalize them for believing what might be unpopular, to restrict their ability to worship or act according to their conscience. After all, what the true believers feel really ought to be moral, so why not try to coerce everyone into practicing it? Thus people who believe abortion is morally wrong can be required by law to support it with their tax dollars. Thus those who believe marriage between people of the same sex is not according to the plan of God nevertheless should be forced by law to recognize and accommodate same-sex marriage.

The doctrine of my church does not accept same-sex marriage, but if such marriages become generally recognized by law throughout the United States, I fully expect that there will be legal challenges to my church’s right to refuse to perform same-sex marriage or to refuse full fellowship to those who enter into such marriages.

People who are convinced that they are morally right and that anyone who disagrees is simply unenlightened have a propensity for creating laws to force their will upon others. Many seem convinced that they know the will of God better than He does—if indeed there is a God—because how could an intelligent God not see things their way?

People inclined to compel others to go along with their thinking do not understand the meaning of freedom of religion and freedom of speech—indeed, of freedom at all.

One of the most influential books I read in college was called Freedom for the Thought that We Hate. It argued that if we truly believe in freedom of speech, we will allow people to voice thoughts that are abhorrent to us without trying to suppress them or trying to force the people to change their thinking.

This is particularly challenging in a world where there are so many vile and repugnant ideas floating around. There are dedicated pedophiles out there who believe sex with little children ought to be acceptable. There are those who twist peaceful, moral doctrines of Islam to support mass slaughter, to validate their actions in depriving women of their rights, or to justify punishing women for actions inflicted on them by wicked men.

While there is no way I could countenance the actions espoused by some of these people, I cannot think of a morally or practically effective way to control what they believe. Freedom of thought, no matter how malignantly they may misuse it, is a gift given to them by God at their long-ago beginning—a characteristic of their eternal spirits that no one else can control.

Many rational, intelligent, morally respectable people believe differently than I do. I would do nothing to take that right away from them. I simply hope that in the clash of ideas in our society, they will not be inclined to take away my right to believe and practice my religion according to my own conscience, so long as what I do does not bring physical or emotional harm to anyone else.

It may be argued that my way of thinking could do emotional or intellectual harm to other people. If that were true, it would be equally true that trying to force me to believe and act as others do could cause emotional and intellectual harm to me. It seems that we are all going to have to live with the increasing probability that we will be associating with others whose beliefs clash with ours. When clashes come up, we will have to practice something that people who believe in political correctness like to preach: tolerance.

We will have to relearn that singsong bit of wisdom from childhood: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

As we face the inevitable clashes, let us learn not to pick up sticks and stones—especially not the sticks and stones of prejudice, name-calling, categorization, and dehumanization. We might not like the way another person thinks, but he or she is still a child of God and a fellow pilgrim in this mortal world.