List of Arguments

So what are the arguments against gay marriage I've heard? These are the ones I've got so far, although if you know of others I'd be interested in hearing them as well.

  1. We're a christian nation
  2. The Bible says homosexuality is a sin
  3. 'One male-one female' marriage is the historical cornerstone of civilization
  4. Marriage should be just for child-rearing
  5. Homosexuality is unnatural

(links will become "live" as the posts go up on sequential days; thank you for your patience!)

Responses to Arguments

1. We're a christian nation

Um, no. We are not now, nor have we ever been, strictly a christian nation, and we can thank the Founding Fathers for that.

We can easily verify the historicity of the above statement by checking what our Founding Fathers have said on religious issues. For example, we have the gentleman who wrote our Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson. He wrote to Peter Carr, his nephew:

The Christian god can be easily pictured as virtually the same as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of the people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites.

Then there's John Adams, who wrote,

The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity.

More tersely, Ben Franklin wrote in 1758 in his Poor Richard's Almanac, "Lighthouses are more helpful than churches." Thomas Paine also had a nice turn of phrase when he wrote concerning the Bible, "I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator God by attaching His name to that book."

Let's face it, the overwhelming number of Founding Fathers were Deists, not Christians. Here are two interestingly informative articles, "The Founding Fathers Were Not Christians," and "America — Not a Christian Nation" on the web on this subject. The latter article has an excellent "Editor's Note" following the original 1995 article. I quote part of it here:

Which beliefs are true? If a politician appears one way in public and another in private, which do you think better represents their true beliefs? How do you reconcile the inflammatory writings above with various pro-Christian statements that the same men made in public over the course of their careers? Could it be called "politics," an attempt to appease Christians while ensuring a more rational government based on the separation of church and state? It certainly seems that way.

In addition, the Editor does not recognize any religious intentions of the so-called "Founding Fathers" as relevant to discussions of political process today. As a descendent of Native Americans the editor understands that America had already been "found." The "Christian" beliefs of a handfull of landed, White, male aristocracy enslaving blacks and murdering Native Americans hold little credibility and should be dumped along with the notions of slavery we so wisely dispensed with on January 1, 1863.

If the links are dead, try archived, text-only copies here: "Founding Fathers" and "America." I encourage you to go do your own research as well. Go to a library, read up on the Founding Fathers, and decide for yourselves. As the wonderful slogan goes, "Think! It's patriotic!"

Remember the First Amendment?

That's the historical context. In a more modern context, we have this wonderful document called the Constitution, which states quite clearly there in the First Amendment, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…" Overly-enthusiastic presidents notwithstanding, we are a secular state, not a theocracy, and espouse the separation of church and state. We all know of several modern theocracies, of course — the Taliban springs to mind. If that's what theocracy gets you, I for one am very happy we're not one.

Just out of curiosity, can anyone name any theocracy that didn't devolve into social self-mutilation?

What if we were, though?

But let's try looking at this from more than one point of view. Let's postulate a United States that was indeed truly a "christian" nation. In that case, I doubt there'd be any problem at all with marriage.

Consider — Jesus' message was one of forgiveness, tolerance, and kindness. He practiced what he preached, too. The people he spent the most time with were the social outcasts and fringe elements of his culture — ignorant country bumpkins, tax collectors, heretical Samaritans, lepers, and (*gasp*!) women.

So who might we consider the fringe elements or social outcasts of our own society, whom Jesus — and any christian worth the name — would greet with kindness, tolerance, and open arms? How about blacks, lawyers, homosexuals, homeless, and (once again) women?

Please note I intend no disrespect to those I've named above. If anything, I consider it a terribly sad thing that a) I can so easily come up with such a list, and b) we've made so little progress that women are still on the list. What this says to me is even if we wished with all our might to be a christian nation — we have a very, very long, troubled way to go to reach that goal.

If anything, I think we've regressed. Read the late John Boswell's Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe for a fascinating, scholarly history of both the social and spiritual aspects of love and marriage. The book left me with a lovely idea of what-could-have-been today, were it not for the tragedy of homophobia. As the former Yale professor notes himself,

The extent of early Christian hostility to same-sex eroticism has been exaggerated by modern Christians, who tend to overlook comparable Christian strictures against divorce or other common aspects of modern life also condemned by the early church, while focusing their energy and moral outrage on this particular issue.

If we truly want to be considered a christian nation… maybe we should start acting like christians first?

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