IDEMA: Why this Christian is for marriage equality

We once had in this country laws which prohibited a black man from marrying a white woman, and vice versa. When those laws gave way to marriage equality between the races, many were shocked at such equality.
Apr 10, 2013

 

In our own time, many view the marriage between gay men and between lesbians with the same kind of horror that some Americans once viewed interracial marriage (and probably some still do). 

I am sure that in biblical times, when marriage evolved from polygamy to monogamy, many were equally shocked.

The institution of marriage has been evolving for centuries, and the marriage of gay people to each other is simply another stage in this evolution, one having to do with equal rights and equal protection under the law. This is crucial when considering visitation rights during an illness, inheritance, health care benefits, and custody issues when children are involved.

What the states and courts are debating today is not the institution of marriage as it exists in religious institutions. I once thought it would be better to call marriages performed by the state "civil unions" and those civil unions blessed by religious institutions would be called "marriages." In fact, I still wish that all marriage legal contracts would be performed by the state, and the religious institutions would simply bless these civil unions, thus making them marriages in a religious sense by sacramental rites. 

Clergy should not be instruments of the state. But that is not the current debate, which is not about church rituals but rather legal status in the eyes of the state, whether we are going to have equal legal status for gay couples and straight couples.

I  believe that clergy should be able to bless as marriages some unions where no legal contract is going to be made. That would be appropriate for older people where financial considerations (Social Security benefits, pensions, etc.) come into play. That in my opinion will be the next step in the evolution of the institution of marriage. Such an idea, however, will be an argument for another day. 

Obviously, if a couple planned on having children, the legal contract would be necessary for their protection. As things stand now, clergy, at least in the Episcopal Church, do not perform marriages without first having in hand a marriage license — issued by the state — which the clergyperson as an instrument of the state then signs after the wedding.

The word "marriage" is in a tug of war, obviously, and it is probably too clever by half to think that only religious institutions have a claim on its use. Thus, I have come to terms with the state performing what we are now calling in some states "legal marriages" for gay people, and calling such unions a marriage. The role of religious institutions is providing the sacramental basis for such a marriage; e.g., providing God's blessing on a couple — gay or straight — or an entire family if children are involved (either from previous marriages, adopted or born to the couple before marriage).

To sum up, it is a clear case of discrimination — arising out of prejudice — for states not to offer same-gender marriages. To argue that we call gay unions "civil unions" and straight unions "marriages" is discrimination. That is where I have evolved. But I am in good company, with President Obama and Sen. Rob Portman, to name just two.

I believe the Supreme Court will one day offer a ruling on same-gender marriages in order to to unify the concept of marriage for 50 states, but I do not think that will emerge in the near future. I hope I am wrong.

If a state offers same-gender marriages, this does not affect religious institutions. No one is forcing churches or other religious institutions to perform same-gender marriages. That will be up to each denomination, and then within each denomination it will be up to each parish.

If I were still in active ministry within a congregation, I would begin a conversation within the parish on whether it would support the clergy performing same-gender marriages. Clergy and parishioners should be in conversation about this issue if they are not already doing so. Clergy are there to serve their congregations, not the other way around, so they better learn fast how the body of Christ feels about this issue.

It will be only a matter of time before Michigan approves same-gender marriages on the state level. How does your clergyperson feel about this? How do you? 

For me, Jesus stands for inclusion, affirming love between persons, and combating prejudice in all its forms. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, and for those with eyes to see, the Holy Spirit seems to be working to broaden the definition of marriage. 

Now about 60 percent of Americans support same-gender marriages, and perhaps —  knowingly or unknowingly — such people are letting the Holy Spirit work in their lives.

— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune religion columnist

Comments

Boater

If the same-sex marriage is forced upon us, what's next? A man marrying his son? What's wrong with that, if "they love each other"?

After all using YOUR words: Jesus stands for inclusion, affirming love between persons, and combating prejudice in all its forms.

I guess there is no right or wrong?

WhyDoesItMatterToYou

These people are just being ridiculous even mentioning gerbils, trucks, and sisters. Be a realistic, thoughtful adult and stick to what the matter truly is…..allowing gay people to have the same rights as their straight counterparts meaning, being able to marry the person they love, even if it is a person of the same sex!

Rainbow Joe mentions, “In the case of gay marriage, where is the discrimination? All men, straight or gay, are prohibited from marrying other men. All women, straight or lesbian, are prohibited from marrying other women. So who is being discriminated against?” Are you kidding????!!! The issue is that a gay person can’t marry the person they love….therefore it is discrimination.

A gay person can’t marry and be truly happy with someone of the opposite sex just the same a straight person wouldn’t be able to marry and be happy with a spouse of the same sex. I surely didn’t choose to be this way….when did you decide you were going to be straight??? Right, you didn’t you just were! Same with gay people! No decision, it just was. Why would anyone choose to be something that will surely be discriminated against and could even get them killed?! For years, I tried and tried and tried to be straight and then pretended to be, but it just didn’t work and it lead to almost a decade of depression and misery!!! If I could help it, I surely wouldn’t have gone through that voluntarily. I should be able to marry who I love, who makes me happy.

I am Civil Unioned to someone of the same sex, who I have been with for seven years, own a home with, share money and all possessions with, and live as a married couple, but we can’t actually be legally be married and because of that I am discriminated against….end of story! Rainbow also goes on to say, “Nowhere in the constitution does it say homosexuals can marry, but neither is it precluded, so that issue is moot.” He is right, but there is this little thing called DOMA and that is what is discriminatory……no one is really saying it is the constitution! We have more laws that are not from the constitution than are.

DOMA is the problem and that is what needs to go away! DOMA says, that by the laws of this great country, it will not federally recognize the marriage of same-sex couples nor will it force any state to accept a marriage or civil union from any other state. This is discriminatory and unfair….it is saying that straight people are better and deserve more respect and more rights than gay people. So what I gather the government and all of the critics believe, is that a marriage were the husband kicks the crap out of his wife, forces her to starve herself, be his sex slave, and doesn’t allow her to have friends or see her family is more respectable and deserves more rights than my family! My family is one were we are kind and respectful to each other, we love each other, no hand has ever been raised, arguments are few and far between, and there is a lack of jealousy. How can you honestly say that that straight marriage is better than mine!!

Rainbow says, “but I really have no problem with gay people or their private lives” if you have no problem with us, why do you want to deny us a right that you have, a right that our parents have, a right that our straight siblings and friends have. We grew up in this straight world and we just want to be able to share in the same traditions and rites of passages as the rest of our society. We see these things growing up and our parents said that one day you’ll grow up, get married, buy a house, and have kids, but the problem is we did grow up and we can have all of those things, but we can’t actually be legally married! Why does it matter to you or anyone if we are married by the government and call each other wife??! It shouldn’t matter any! Marriage is about responsibility and commitment. If two loving people want to commit to a lifetime together, that's a good thing. If you're against gay marriage, don't enter into a gay marriage. There is a difference between civil marriage and religious, holy marriage. Religious organizations have the God-given and constitutional right to discriminate on articles of faith. The state cannot, which is why DOMA needs to be repealed.

Wingmaster

Yup, that's the next evolutionary step in marriage. I can't wait to marry my truck. At least the thing won't talk back but it does pass a lot of gas!

H M

Grow up!

jvanabbema

I'm not sure where this is being "forced upon us." I don't think anyone is being forced to marry anyone else, regardless of sex. At one time I might have been ostracized, jailed, or killed for marrying my Korean wife. Fortunately we now live in a country with more freedom and liberty than any country in history: "The United States of America."

jvc

Good one.

Vladtheimp

We once had in this country laws which prohibited a man from marrying a gerbil, and vice versa. When those laws gave way to marriage equality between the species, many were shocked at such equality.

Now that we are enlightened, it's all about fairness, equality, and inclusion, ya know.

Highlander

Vlad is using the logic of a gerbil. Absurd.

Marriage equality affect you this much..... = 0.

Vladtheimp

Marriage between man and gerbil affect you this much....=0 (presumably)

Boycotter

We are living in Biblical times still Rev. Idema, views like yours confirm that we are in the end times . . .

Ironcop

Yes, we are on the slippery slope to destruction. When even men of the cloth condone acts the Bible says are immoral, we are headed the same route as ancient Rome. God forgive us.

rainbowjoe

Mr. Idema, in all his opinion pieces, seems more concerned with "evolving" in his outlook rather than holding firm to any core beliefs he might hold.
In the case of gay marriage, where is the discrimination? All men, straight or gay, are prohibited from marrying other men. All women, straight or lesbian, are prohibited from marrying other women. So who is being discriminated against? And if your view of marriage has "evolved" to include same sex unions, then it follows that your view of marriage must "evolve" to include marriage between adult siblings and marriage between multiple spouses. I'm certain "homophobic" insults will be hurled at me, but I really have no problem with gay people or their private lives. In this public and social matter, though, I think a line in the sand must be drawn or we will go down a road we don't want to travel.

gh01

hmmm....so what the bible says is all fine and dandy. But have you checked out the constitution that reads that religion doesn't get to dictate the laws in this country? Separation of church and state - what a concept. I don't know how some of you sleep at night knowing what a bigoted person you are...must be an unpleasant feeling to not be able to openly accept everyone for who they are or whom they love. I'm sorry, but it is insane to think that allowing two human beings to marry will lead to a person marrying their truck or gerbil or whatever other ridiculous idea you come up with. Grow up and open up your mind to the fact that we live in a different world than what is was many years ago.

Highlander

Zactly. Constitution.

Ironcop

I'm not saying religion should dictate laws. God gives us a choice of which route to take; which fork in the road, one right and the other wrong. It is our choice. Not to preach but I personally will not be the one to stand before my God at Judgement and say, "..but sir,I opened up my mind to the fact that we lived in a different world than what it was many years ago." Again, your choice but being wrong, in this case, is no option. Eternity is a long time.

gh01

Goodness - there is no "right" or "wrong" path. Obviously, you and I are not going to agree. You are of a conservative mind and I am of an open mind - each entitled to our own opinions. But I know I would rather live in a world believing that God will accept me for who I am and embrace me no matter the choices I make...even if they are the "wrong" ones.

Lanivan

Marriage is a civil contract, licensed by the government with legal benefits and liabilities. As such, any two consenting adults have the right to enter into that contract.

This has nothing to do with conservative or liberal. It has everything to do with fairness, rights, and equality under the law.

Ironcop

Excuse my obviously conservative viewpoint but have we finally evolved to the point of no return where we can pass laws to give us the "right" to do anything we want without a thought to right and wrong? I'm not sure I want to live in a world where conscience or conviction no longer exists.

gh01

I agree with you that actions must have consequences and we must still consider right vs wrong when it comes to certain issues...the world could not survive with out conscience or conviction as you put it. But marriage equality does not need to be an issue of right vs wrong. No one should be made to feel that they are eternally damned or publically shunned if they choose to enter a marriage with a person of any gender.

Lanivan

You have every right to your viewpoint, whether it be based on your political, religious, or moral values. Your personal philosophy can mold and influence how you live your life, marry, and raise your family. But there are no laws that prevent you from marrying because you happen to be conservative, low IQ, elderly, etc. But should you happen to be born gay/lesbian, and want to marry, you are denied that right.

The Declaration of Independence states,.."We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal". If we really believe this, how can we tell homosexuals that the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights were created for all of society, with one exception - them.

I think it's important to bear in mind that when we imply that homosexual people are "wrong", have no consciences or convictions, are somehow dysfunctionally inadequate to enter into a civil union, we are on a slippery slope towards the point of no return. Gay/lesbian people are children of God, who grow up in families, go to school, get jobs, pay taxes, attend church, have friends, etc. How can society tell them who they can or can not love? How can society deny them the right to join in a civil union? How can society tell them they were not created equal?

1dreamer2

There should be no question as to whether its right or wrong for anyone to get married. As long as their both human beings they should be allowed.

rainbowjoe

Then I pose this question to you: Can I get married to my adult sister? Can I get married to my adult sister and several of her friends? By your reasoning it should be OK, since we're consenting adults. This is what I struggle with. At some point we have to reach a baseline that is tolerable as a culture and society. Nowhere in the constitution does it say homosexuals can marry, but neither is it precluded, so that issue is moot. Is it a religious matter? I lean toward separation of church and state. I understand that gay couples have legal, financial and familial matters that need to be clarified, so let's address those in a way that doesn't redefine what we have historically and traditionally known as marriage.

PeopleAreAmazing

Well said, Rainbowjoe! By the way, Interesting name given the topic.

Wingmaster

Question if after gay marriage approved: Does a gay male couple then have the right to terminate a contracted females pregnancy if they decide they do not want the child?

Vladtheimp

The few "rights" not asserted or protected by liberals are the rights of the unborn child so the answer to your question is obviously Yes.

Lanivan

I'm relieved. Knowing how silly you tend to be, I was anticipating a discourse on the merits of human/gerbil partnerships and their rights to adoption.

gh01

That is a completely separate issue that is applicable to not only gay couples, but hetero couples as well - surrogacy is used across the board by all sorts of couples for a variety of reasons.

Wingmaster

Ah, so to my obscure point; we are messing with natures way. When we do so we end up with unintended consquences and dilemma's. Where does this stop? Why shouldn't men be able to play with boy's. As sick as that sounds, there is a group that believes this. It is not natural or morally right.

Lanivan

So you are saying gay people are unnatural and should never have the rights and privileges inherent in US citizenship? That they should be compared to pedophilia or some other potentially criminal deviant behavior and should be incarcerated?

Lanivan

And don't forget even pedophiles have the right to marry.

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