One of the more contentious issues in 2004, was the question of Gay Marriage, and in reviewing the year, I found myself wrestling, once again, with the moral issues surrounding the debate.
I'm pretty set in my ways, personally, but I try not to be an hypocrite. Since I am male, heterosexual, white, American, a Christian and consider the Bible to be correct and true, I start from a pretty defined perspective, and in the course of my life I have always tried to balance my own experience with valid alternatives, emphasis on both 'valid' and 'alternatives'.
On the one hand, Homosexuality is conduct, and so cannot really be considered in the same light as race, gender, or ethnicity. Also, the Bible is pretty clearly set againt the Homosexuals portrayed in its pages. On the other hand, I am struck by the consistency of Homosexual representation, demographically, throughout the world. Even where the culture considers Homosexuality to be a crime deserving death, still there are those who practice it, compelling evidence that it is more than a casual decision. Also, when I read through the Bible more closely, I am struck by two very important facts. First, Jesus Christ had nothing to say about Homosexuals, strange behavior if they were all that repulsive to God. Also, in the various verses where Homosexuals are mentioned in the Bible, what I see are connections to idolatry or lust, so that the condemnation refers mostly to the spirit; when Paul refers to "unnatural" desires, he can just as easily be addressing heterosexual lust as homosexual lust. And the Ten Commandmants are pretty interesting on that point. If I drift off into the Scriptural connotations, I will not finish the though today, so for here I want to consider the matter from a point of logic. It seems to me that there are three levels on which I may consider the morality of what I call Sexual Civics.
First, the easy part. The United States of America is essentially a nation founded on freedom, and for most of us, it's not a hard definition - you can do whatever you want, right up to the point where you affect someone else's freedom. So, you can't choose violence or theft or defamation, but the 4th Amendment gives a reasonable expectation of privacy. No one can come into your home without your consent, unless you have violated the law, and by the law, I mean that line between your rights and someone else's. If you are beating your wife, you have no right to privacy, but if two people want to have and neither is married to someone else, that's their business and no one else's. Like it or not, it's not my right to compel my neighbor to follow my idea of morality.
The second level comes down to your faith. Yep, here comes God. Now, like the first part, it's just common sense that even if I believe someone else's faith is sheer lunacy, I have no right to step in and tell him what he must believe in. Further, I happen to believe that even if you can compel someone to go to your church and pray as you do, all that will do is drive some further away in their hearts. Love and adoration for the holy cannot be forced. But, if you choose to join a church or congregation, whatever the faith is, you cannot be part of their group and demand they agree to your terms. You're either in or out, and if you're in, you have to agree that you will believe as the group does, or else you cannot be part of that group. There is usually room in faith groups for some differences, but on the vital and basic issues, you can't split hairs.
Now, the tricky part. I don't happen to like anything about Homosexuality, from what I know about it. The practice seems unnatural biologically, and there is a strong risk of disease in some of the practices, but then, I didn't much hold with the guys I knew in school who thought sleeping around with a dozen women was cool, either. The thing is, though, I also know enough to know that people are built differently, and just as one person really craves sex while another has no real appetite, there are wide variances in what attracts people, biologically as well as physiologically or psychologically. I still know a couple people who think sex with someone not your own skin color is somehow wrong. So, the issue comes down to a basic morality, after which a working system may be developed.
Sex is not evil. It's pretty obvious that it can be a very good thing. The restrictions to it, I think, come from the fact that Adultery and Divorce and STD's are horribly destructive, and should be avoided like the plagues they are. Also, I rather like the section of Proverbs, where Solomon warns his son to stay away from prostitutes, because that cheapens people, making a person no more than a loaf of bread, something to be used. Lust is wrong, because it calls attention down to the lowest level, and avoids any of the commitments and responsibilities that come with many sexual relationships. Therefore, marriage is much, much better than sex alone can ever be, because it comes with a clear price, but also later shows the rewards amd maturity that can only be had with commitment and a disciplined heart.
It follows then, that if a person is Homosexual, they should be allowed, even encouraged, to marry (or at least commit to civil unions). That is, provided that marriage or civil union would carry the same weight and responsibility as a heterosexual marriage does, and that society might return to the day when cheating on your spouse was shameful and rare, not the sidelight of a network sit-com.
I am a little tired, so doubtless I am missing something along the way in this road of reason, but that's what the 'Comments' section is for.
Happy New Year.