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

The Voice

This is really way to easy.
1. Get rid of DOMA
2. Get rid of any federal laws or benefits related to marriage (IE remove it from the tax and entitlement codes)
3. Create a a Legally defined Status such as 'Legal Concord' or anyother name you prefer...
A. Define personal property and family laws for those wishing to enter a 'Legal Concord'
B. Allow any two individuals in the world to enter a legal concord agreement, mother brother, father daughter man and man, or woman and woman....doesn't matter just sets up laws regarding the sharing off any personal property...it doesn't have to define you socially or sexually....

4. let churches perform marriages in accordance within their own beliefs and dogmas. If you don't believe in it, join a church who doesnt agree with it...if you do join a church that allows it...

5. Then stop talking about it, stop wasting everyones time, emotions and federal money on this silly crap....

Lanivan

Isn't it funny how it's "silly crap" until it personally affects us and our rights......

The Voice

The United States Gvernemnt has no right to define or undefine what two people want to have between them physically or spiritually...so yes it's silly that people keep asking the Government to make this legal or that illegal....take them out of the equation and enjoy your life and rights...

Wingmaster

"History affords us many instances of the ruin of states, by the prosecution of measures ill suited to the temper and genius of their people. The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy... These measures never fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosities between the people favored and the people oppressed; whence a total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connections, by which the whole state is weakened."-Benjamin Franklin

Lanivan

Huh? Translate please.....

Wingmaster

And I thought you, the intellectual centrist would be able to interpret. Guess we can call this interpret from behind on your part! Well you can now tear a part my channeling of Ben: We tear ourselves apart trying to favor one group over another. Treat each other fairly but don't tear apart the state writing and rewriting the rights, privileges and advantages that we enjoy.

That's exactly what we have in leadership today! Tearing apart the fabric of our country to gain political favor which is going to forever ruin the "state." Use every issue small and large to divert attention from what's important while the country and people fall into ruin.

This president will go down in history as the "leader" (used very lightly) of the country when it began its fall from grace, and inspiration!

Lanivan

Thanks. It was late, too absorbed with Boston. Interesting that Ben was warning about government and the all too human tendency to manipulate and divert for political gain - back in the late 1700's. Some things never change.

The problem is in defining what those issues are. Same sex marriage, for example. Some people see it as an immoral social issue drummed up to divide the country and hasten it's journey down the road to perdition. If only we didn't have to think about it! Others see it as the last bastion of official discrimination.

The Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law, and this should include the right to participate in a civil contract and receive those benefits inherent in that contract. Like all civil rights battles, the vision is in the eye of the beholder.

We have to dare to think outside the box. "Roger Williams didn't believe in forcing others to believe as he did. He thought that killing or punishing in the name of Christianity was sinful. He respected the beliefs of others, including the Native Americans. He said that church members should pay the bills for their church instead of taking the money out of everyone's general taxes. Then he started preaching that land shouldn't be forcibly taken from the Indians. He said, Hear It Now - Roger Williams "[It is] against the testimony of Christ Jesus for the civil state to impose upon the souls of the people a religion…. Jesus never called for the sword of steel to help the sword of spirit Check The Source - Roger Williams's "Plea for Religious Freedom"."

Especially regarding your penchant for blaming Barack for all our social ills dating back to 1630, it's better for one's health to think outside the four corners. Don't be a ..."Little Wing", Eric Clapton.

Wingmaster

So let same sex unions happen just don't call it marriage. Everybody is happy.

WHEN did I blame Odrama for all the social ills dating back to 1630?? My aren't you a little drama queen! "Little Queenie - Chuck Berry

Lanivan

So glad to see you've come around. See how easy this can be? In a spirit of compromise, I am willing to admit perhaps I did overstate re: President Obama's influence - let's go with 1830.

Although some on this forum seem to have a flair for drama ( the name Wing - MASTER for example), it's not my forte...some fancy themselves "Macho Man" Village People.

Vladtheimp

Don't mean to intrude, but I think you (Lani, Lanny) have uncharacteristically underestimated our great President's influence: http://youtu.be/K-l4wkmWFRw

Lanivan

Bob & Tom - love those guys! They are so right - he IS a miracle worker!

After Boston, I needed this laugh. Thanks!

Sincerely,
Lanni

Wingmaster

Keep trying with the name as its hilarious to watch you try and push buttons. Your ignorance of its origin is entertaining.

H M

Why can't it be called marriage? If it looks and acts like marriage...it probably is. Don't understand the problem some people have with it, truly. I know gay couples who have sustained a relationship for much longer than I have. (Yes, go on, as you probably will, and say something about that) If you want to be a crashing bore and quote Leviticus, I suggest you read ALL of it. According to it, we are all going to burn. If we are willing to make exceptions for those who grow wheat next to corn, why not this?

Lanivan

Remington model 870?

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