Some people quote poets, some great books, others quote politicians. I am not that well read, so I quote movies. If you have never seen the movie Malice with Alec Baldwin and Nicole Kidman, well you aren’t missing much. But I happen to love this scene, where Baldwin’s character, a brilliant surgeon, tells the lawyer suing him for malpractice, that in the operating room…”I am God.”
Unfortunately, I think God Complex syndrome might be contagious within the ranks of religious conservatives. Bob Portman came out in favor of gay marriage the other day, and the Supreme Court just heard oral arguments. But regardless of what they all do, I have had this post in my head for a while now. And for the record, I didn’t come to this realization because of them or because I have gay family members…all of that is a copout. I like to think this is a rational analysis of a question, the second I have tried for a social issue. We’ll see how it goes.
So as you might guess, I wasn’t going to just rely exclusively on some web site for background, I decided to go to the texts. I didn’t read the whole thing, but here is what I found in my copy of the Bible that was given to me for my confirmation on May 20, 1988. No I don’t remember the day, it is signed by Suzanne Paley. Page 6, Genesis 2.24 after God creates woman “Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.” The Book of Mormon starts much later, with the First Book of Nephi, so there is no equivalent to Creation. Yes I have a copy, drives Megan crazy, but I always talk to those guys when they walk through the neighborhood. The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower has the same line on page 9, with a slightly different translation. Yep, have one of those too.
I have read and heard that the big problem is with the word “marriage”. Religious conservatives say that a marriage is between one man and one woman for the basis of procreation. I am not sure that argument holds, since Adam and Eve “became one” before they had eaten the apple. In that case, God created Eve because no “fitting helper” could be found among all of the animals that were brought before Adam to name. Therefore, the family unit wasn’t even considered.
Getting married for the sake of a family doesn’t make sense either; what if a woman has passed menopause? What if a couple decides not to have kids? What if one party is sterile? I have heard arguments in the reverse that kids are best served in childhood by a mother and a father in one house. The notion of love is secondary. What of an abusive father? What if the couple neglects the child? Would we turn to Brave New World style childbirth permitting?
I go back to the notion of “marriage” as a religious institution and a contract between a man, woman and God. I am fine with that as a definition of marriage in the Judeo-Christian classical sense. But if that is the case, then the Court should strike down the ability of the government to certify a contract with God as a breach of the separation of church and state. In that case, the state is allowed to grant civil unions and that only. This institution should be between any two adults who wish to form a legal union based on mutual affection (I reserve the use of the word “love”). Spousal and all other legal rights formerly known under the institution of “marriage” should be conveyed on the couple. Clearly we grandfather all existing marriages under the institution of “civil union”, although the wedding industry would surely love it if we all had to do it over again.
If a religion wants to grant a civil union as the legal component of its definition of “marriage”, the state can deputize those religious organizations to that responsibility. Catholicism may decide that a “marriage” is only between a man and a woman, but some other religion may choose to define “marriage” differently. A freak religion could even grant “marriage” or any other word as between any two parties (say between a man and a muscle car), but that would not then be afforded the rights of a “civil union” as legally defined by the government. We allow beliefs in any craziness, so long as it doesn’t supersede legal authority or harm others.
My intent here is not to make some big deal about what “marriage” is or is not. In my opinion, the time spent writing this post is already wasted from a civics perspective, because we have WAY bigger problems than this. Therefore, I say it is rational to recognize a public notion of an adult two person union that needs legal benefits while at the same time there is a private religious notion of a union that is based on something different. I have heard people argue that we must protect the institution of marriage as a sacred bond. That’s fine with me if people want to think that way in their own private world of religious piousness. A violation of that commandment (if it even is one) doesn’t hurt other people similar to the fact that violations of the laws of keeping Kosher, doesn’t hurt other people. In these cases, there is no reason to think that you are so important that you MUST enforce these laws on others. I worship God and my relationship is with him, not you. Do people that feel this way really think that the all-powerful and omnipotent God needs help in enforcing his law? Why would someone deputize themselves with some sort of God-complex, that they need to impart their (God’s) will on everyone?
Remember the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah? When God sent Abraham into the lawlessness, he said he would save the cities if even just ten righteous people could be found. So all we need to do is make sure we are represented before God by these righteous religious followers, ten per town. Lucky for us, their sheer presence will save us from God’s wrath and certain destruction. In the mean time, if a gay couple chooses to violate one of God’s laws in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone else, I tend to think that if God is really bothered, he can pretty easily destroy them on the spot. If he chooses to deal with it later, well then rest assured, all you pious zealots can say “I told you so” from heaven while all of the “sinners” rot in hell. There, you win. Now can we get back to debating important stuff?