The Current Trend in the United States toward Marriage Equality and the Untenable Position of Those Opposed to It
by: Reverend Keith Bennett
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In the recent past, several states have either voted for or against marriage equality (i.e. allowing two people of the same gender to marry one another). The Supreme Court of the United States has held several times that a state law restricting marriage equality is unconstitutional (Waters v. Ricketts, Searcy v. Strange and Strawser v. Strange, et al).
So what argument can a person opposed to marriage equality possibly bring to the table? So far, the only argument I have heard is a religious one. Since the first amendment of the constitution forbids making laws regarding religion, this argument is untenable at best. In part, the first amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It is clear from this passage that laws in the United States are not to have a religious only justification (I say “only” because some Christians like to say that murder is illegal and that is a Christian law. No it is not – murder has been wrong long before Christianity was a religion).
Christians like to argue “persecution” when their ideals are not held up in court or made into laws. This is the exact opposite of persecution. The persecution is happening on the other side of the argument – in this case, Christians are persecuting homosexuals by trying to force them to live by Christian law. Interestingly, many of these same Christians will march in protest against sharia law – which is exactly the same thing, but for a different religion.
There are two glaring problems with using the Christian Bible to justify a law against marriage equality: 1) There is nothing in the Christian Bible (that I know of) that would forbid two women from marriage – only two men; 2) the passage that is used to justify Christian’s opinion on this matter is Leviticus 20:13 which states (King James version, emphasis added) “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” This passage says nothing about marriage. The only interpretation one can get from it is that if two men have sexual intercourse with each other they should be killed (and because it is a justifiable killing, no one will be to blame except the men in question themselves). So, based on this second fact, if Christians really want a law outlawing marriage equality for two men based on their Bible, then what they are really saying is that they believe that homosexual men should be killed without repercussions. That is a horrible belief to hold, in my opinion.
But let’s go further. One way you hear Christians arguing against marriage equality is they say they “believe in Biblical marriage”. Well, let’s explore that. Biblical marriage can be defined as:
- A rapist and his victim (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)
- A man, his wife and her handmaiden (Genesis 16)
- A soldier and women prisoners of war (Numbers 31; Deuteronomy 21)
There are also numerous instances of polygamy (multiple wives) throughout the Bible. I am sure there are other examples, but I’ll let you research that for yourselves.
Also, note that the Bible equates a wife to property. According to many passages in the Bible, a woman is subservient to her husband. A woman should be seen, but not heard and it is strictly forbidden for a woman to teach (1 Timothy 2:11-12) yet we see several women teachers – especially the wives of church leaders. In some cases, the woman is the church leader – how can that be justified when the book they hold as the holy, divinely inspired word of their god strictly and specifically prohibits it?
Regardless of the origin of marriage, it has become a civil, contractual practice. There are several legal aspects of marriage such as tax breaks, insurance coverage, and other legal implications. Therefore, any laws passed regarding marriage should be free from all religious influence.
If Christians (or any other religion) want to define marriage a particular way that is fine. They should adhere to that belief. However, they should not force that belief on others. I have no problem with churches saying they will not marry two men or two women. I do have a problem with anyone trying to make any law that would hinder two men or two women marrying anywhere a properly licensed officiant is willing to perform the ceremony (if you are looking to be married in Oklahoma, I will gladly perform the ceremony).
By the way, I personally see nothing wrong with polygamy*. It is not for me (I can’t even handle the one wife I have!), but who am I to say that three, four or more people (of any gender) can’t love each other? Why shouldn’t this be allowed? Certainly Christians wouldn’t have an issue with it since their Bible is full of polygamists.
In closing, let me say that this whole debate can be summed up in one simple, well-known sentiment: Live and let live!
Reverend Keith Bennett
* NOTE: I am referring only to mutually accepted and agreed to polygamy. I do not mean that a man should be able to marry subsequent wives without the consent of his current wife (wives). Everyone involved must give their uncoerced consent. Also, this could be any form of polygamy: polygyny - wherein a man has multiple simultaneous wives; polyandry - wherein a woman has multiple simultaneous husbands; or group marriage - wherein the family unit consists of multiple husbands and multiple wives.
Related video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u4Z3n2Fnyc
This is an interesting video on topic from August 2012. Be patient and watch the whole thing – it is only a couple minutes long.
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