Editor encourages putting religious beliefs aside, thinking of what’s best for society
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 09:11
While living in New York over the summer, I was exposed to many different kinds of people and ideas. One of the biggest issues being discussed among various people in New York was the debate on legalizing same-sex marriage. Recently, I became convinced, through many thought-provoking conversations with knowledgeable people on both sides of the gay marriage issue, that by not allowing gay marriages we are doing more harm than good to social society. David Blankenhorn, the founder of the Institute of American Values, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times that I found very insightful. Blankenhorn, previously a huge proponent against same-sex marriage in the Proposition 8 trials, recants his view to say, “The time has come for me to accept gay marriage and emphasize the good that it can do.” The op-ed can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/23/opinion/how-my-view-on-gay-marriage-changed.html.
As a Christian, I feel that same-sex relationships rob believers of God’s very best for them. So as a believer, I suppose I do not support gay relationships —civil union or marriage. However, with that said, I think their are several very strong reasons why I have chosen to bow out of the strong, emotionally charged argument against gay marriage.
First, of all, I believe that God calls me to love people and demonstrate that love to all people regardless of their race, social status or sexual orientation; not judge them or argue with them about their choice— (which, by the way, is rarely effective anyway.) A gay friend of mine has said that when we confront gay individuals about their lifestyle, it is like going up to an overweight person and telling them, “You are going to hell for your decision to live this gluttonous lifestyle; quit eating so much and hit the gym.” We would not think of embarrassing an individual like that; instead we love those of us who like to indulge and generally don’t even classify gluttony in the sin category, although the Bible specifically calls it out as one. With that said, imperfect as I am, I do not feel like I am in any position to judge or condemn anyone. I have many friends who partake in this lifestyle, and as with all my friends, they are people that I respect and admire (or they wouldn’t be my friends!).
“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.” John 8:6-8
Secondly, as a citizen of the United States and a supporter of the Constitution, I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state as expressed in the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; as a result, I do not think mine or anyone else’s personal religious beliefs should dictate public policy. My brother, who spent three months in Qatar last spring, shared stories of what life would look like if we had a government that was controlled by a religion. They have alcohol, dress and entertainment restrictions. You cannot enjoy a movie without several interruptions of scenes simply being deleted. I want to be free to use my own moral compass to choose what I will or will not participate in.
Working closely with an institution whose mission is to study and research civil society, I have been forced to think long and hard about this issue and required to read many opinions from people all over the world. Through this study, I have decided that, although this doesn’t agree with my religious views, the best thing to end this cultural war would be for the government to allow same-sex marriages. As a Christian I oppose same-sex marriage, but I don’t think it is the government›s job to regulate people’s morals. I do think that there will be some bad to come out of legalizing same-sex marriage, but I am convinced that more good can begin to happen if we allow this, instead of continuing to partake in the “war.” Both sides have their pros and cons, so for me it comes down to this question: Which lifestyle will hurt civil society more? And to that question, I do not know what will be best in the end, but moving forward is the best option I see.
A pro for legalizing same-sex marriage is the mending of wounds from the hatred and constant “cultural war” that people have gotten so caught up in. If we as Christians can get past trying to dictate people›s lives through government, wouldn›t our love be more appealing and accepting to non-believers? Isn’t that how people are won to Christ?
Chick-fil-A’s owner, Dan Cathy, caused waves in this debate this summer. And honestly, the conflict has made me lean towards David Blankenhorn’s view that this “war” is doing more harm than good. Although I think the smartest and maybe wisest thing Cathy could have done was to opt out of commenting on the issue, I commend him on his honest opinion. But maybe saying he thought legalizing same-sex marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation” was a little harsh. I don›t believe he is in any position to judge. I wonder if Cathy was embarrassed at the public’s reaction to his statement. I’m not convinced he intended to start a “war” based on hate, ridicule and judgment.