Wednesday, October 20, 2010

If Your Religion...Part 5

Oh, hello there! How're we doing today? Good, to hear. So I bet you're here to find out what I'm going to rant about next, huh? Then I'll just get on with the show, shall I? Without introduction...

If your religion preaches hate instead of love, you're doing it wrong.

This seems like it would be a pretty big, "Uh...Duh Red..." but if that were really the case, then the issues we're having with homosexuals and people of other religions and races just wouldn't be happening would it?

In the US we're just about to have our mid-term elections, so the political machines are churning out massive amounts of advertising for their chosen platforms. One of the favorite targets this season is gay marriage. With the national coverage of Prop 8 in California, many conservatives are using this issue as a soap box to draw in people interested in "saving the family", "protecting the sanctity of marriage", "protecting our children from the homosexual agenda" and several other phrases of dubious meaning.

So what's really at stake here? At its core, the gay marriage issue is about civil rights, not religion. Marriage in the US comes with responsibilities and rewards, things like joint taxes, health care, decision rights concerning a spouse in a critical health situation just to name a few. By banning gay marriage, people are discriminating against a portion of the American people, and I'd thought we'd gotten past that after women were given the right to vote and black people no longer had to sit in the back of the bus.

Why am I talking about this issue then? Because it's the "religious right" that is making the most noise against gay marriage. "It's Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve" is a popular phrase when talking about homosexuality in general from a religious standpoint.

Recently a video from made the rounds on Facebook. (WARNING! If you are offended by the "F word" or are in a place where watching such material would not be approved of, do *NOT* watch the video.) Someone shared the link off my wall and someone else commented that "to my dying day, I will not believe in gay marriage". When I mentioned that marriage is a civil issue and that civil rights are involved, I was informed that the Bible said no gay marriage and that's all that mattered.


I am fairly certain that there isn't anywhere in the Bible that says anything about gay *marriage*. It does say something about man not lying with man as with a woman, but that has nothing to do with marriage, does it? (If I am wrong and there is actually a passage in the Bible that deals with gay marriage, please let me know and I will happily correct my statement.) In fact, the idea of marriage as we know it today is very young compared to its history. An abbreviated account can be found here (among other places).

I really don't get it actually. As far as I can tell, someone's sexual preference should only matter to you if you plan on participating in it. And if living with someone you're having sex with outside of marriage is "living in sin" wouldn't the religious right want gay people to get married? Or would that be double sin? I've lost count. >.>

People screaming about the sanctity of marriage should really only be concerned with one marriage...theirs. They also should actually know what their book says about the subject before they try to thump other people with it too. (WARNING! The video is *very* tongue and cheek and pokes fun at the Bible. If that's likely to offend, ya prolly shouldn't watch.)

And then there's all those poor children committing suicide because they are gay and are being bullied. W...T...F...when did it become ok to traumatize someone so much that the only way out they can see is death?

Yes, I am putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of the religious right. It is because of their doctrines of hate and segregation that these tragedies are happening. I cannot endorse or even be content to agree to disagree when the rights and lives of other people are involved. If the witch hunts and crusades taught us nothing, it should have taught us that blood spilled in the name of religion is just as damning and wrong as blood spilled for any other selfish reason. And just because it was a suicide, doesn't mean that religion didn't have a hand in putting the gun there in the first place.

And then there's the Mormons. I struggled writing this part because I know many devout Mormons who don't hate anyone and I consider them true and trusted friends. But I'm not really talking about individuals, I'm talking about the leadership, the doctrines, and how they were connected to Prop 8.

This letter written over 10 years ago shows that the issue of gays in the church is not a new one. It's just getting new attention because of recent publicity. This letter written earlier this month demonstrates that the issue is reaching the point where someone is going to have to bend...I can only hope that it will be the religious leaders that currently continue to preach ignorance and hate.

Because it is hate. You can coat it in beliefs of choice and selfishness, you can spin it in such a way as the church looks like the victim, or that it is a matter of saving the soul, but it doesn't change the fact that it's irrational fear and hate speaking. I seem to remember, back when I was a Christian, that Christ preached a doctrine of love. Wasn't it, "Love one another as I have loved you"? Yeah, I'm pretty sure it was and not, "Love one another as I have love you, except those people over there." It is a shame that those with the power to enforce dogma and the will of the collective seem to have forgotten that and have twisted his words into something else.

This rant has been riding me for about a month now, and I am grateful for the chance to get it out there. If you've waded through my words this far, I thank you, and hope you understand that I know there are those who are devout and reject the principles of hate. To those, I say thank you, and hope that your example can help bring clarity to others.

To those who say, "My views may be outdated, but I thank God I will not be on this earth too many more years to see what it looks like when people like you take over everyone's thinking."

Well, I choose a different way, and so should you, whatever it may be.

Till next time, be well,

PS, for those that might say I'm only this up in arms about the issue because I'm gay and want me to admit the truth...unless you plan on trying to sleep with me, it's really none of your business.


  1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Love the postscript.

    I read an article that was quoted that 60+ percent of all American Catholics support gay marriage, despite what the pope says. Now see why we hid in the Catholic for so many generations, and why even when we disagreed, we still respected the ideal of the church even when we didn't agree with it's dogma.

    I firmly believe that most Christians wish there were several political issues that they didn't have to grapple with according to their beliefs. But most of them are do so within the context of their conscience and family and religious community.

    And most of those understand that of all the issues facing this country's future, this is so small a blip on the radar that they have better things to talk about.

  2. Repeat after me everybody: SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE! I don't get why some religious groups bother to stick their noses into a civic matter that has to do with consenting adults. It's ridiculous to enforce a particular religious standard on people who don't belong to that religion.

    I can understand better why there's a debate *within* churches about this issue as it pertains to their own members, and I can understand better why there's a debate about abortion on the larger political stage (since there is a belief that the unborn child needs an advocate), but it absolutely makes NO SENSE why any church would bother interfering with a civic issue that involves something that a large portion of the (consenting) adult population wishes to do amongst themselves.

  3. As a mormon and a friend I just have to state the facts of the church's stance and the reason for Elder Packers address...

    The church has ALWAYS told its members to love thy neighbor. We know that it is not our place to judge others, thats all for god. The church takes a no gay stance because the bible (and the book of mormon) says that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. It also says that a man should not lay with a woman unless they are married... nor should he be married with several concubins.... but we see this ALL THE TIME in our everyday lives. The church follows this too the tee but no one slams us for these other beliefs... All of this is steming because the Government decided to get involved in something that has from the begining of time been a church issue...

    Marriage... In general marraige has been a thing of the church not of the state so i agree with the SEPARATION OF THE CHURCH AND STATE issue. the problem is here that the GOV is sticking their nose in something that has been a church issue in history NOT a gov issue. I was married in the church by a church athority, not by one of the state. My marriage is recognized by the state but it was sealed and made offical by the church. Thats how it should be. If the LGBT community wants to start a church and perform marriages within their own religon then i say go right ahead. The issue i have with the STATE alowing gay marriage is that if we approve it in NV i as a wedding planner will be forced to marry them or i may be sued for discrimination. And i refuse to marry a gay couple because of my religous beliefs.

    When Elder packer made this address he was speeking to the members of the church during conference. conference is a time that the church athorities address the members about important topics that we should be aware of. Usually it has something to do with current events. In this particular talk the whole "gay" part was 3 or 4 sentences long... its not even what he was truly trying to talk about. Everyone just took it out of context and twisted the meaning cause people need something to be angry about it seems. The talk was on the evils of temptaions... among other things... but the main portion of his talk was about pornography!!!!!

    Did you know that 90% of men from the ages of 12 and up have seen some form of pron? thats really sad. We are tought that our bodies are a temple, a sacred thing. Its not something that should be lusted over. Elder packer was simply trying to reach out to those mombers who were strugling with a pron addiction.

    Also something else i wanted to address is the whole bullying thing... It think this is a joke. Just because someone all of a sudden decides that a few suicides were linked to gay bullying, all of a sudden its a HUGE deal... what about all the other bullying going on? I have been bullied because of my religon, my lack of smarts, my glasses, the fact that i cant spell, my white glowing legs, my mole on my face.... you name it... I tryed to kill myself in highschool because teenages are the meanest people on earth... i guarentee if i would have suceeded it would have not been national news... Bullying is nothing new and other than teaching our children right from wrong, there is nothing we can really do about it.

    Ok im done talking. every time someone starts on this rant i have to give my mini rant back because there is nothing we can really do. Most people that have a religon are there because their personal beliefs go along with the religon that they have chosen. Hence why most mormons are consirvitives and republicans... just an example. The church is not hating on anyone. We are not telling you you CANT live that way. You have free agnecy! They were just telling the members of the church how to handle the sencetive topics of today...

    all done. To many it makes no since but whatever. With that said, Love you Red!

  4. I’m sorry, but the church does not own marriage. Marriage is something that has been happening in most cultures, religions, and civilizations all over the world for millennia before the church ever existed. By your argument, no Muslims or Sikhs or Buddhists or atheists or followers of indigenous faiths have ever been married in the past or present, and cannot be married in the future without entering a church.

    If you want the legal rights of a marriage, which are granted by the government (which creates and administers the law), then you need to be married on the government’s terms. If you want the religious rights of a religious marriage, then you need to be married according to your religion’s traditions. Your religion simply doesn’t have the inherent right to confer legal rights or status, it must be granted that privilege by the legal authority of the government. Your church can legally marry you because the government has given them the authority to do so, not vice versa.

    Many (perhaps most) same-sex couples don’t give a crap about a church wedding. They just want the same legal status and rights as heterosexual couples, as granted by the government (tax breaks, next-of-kin rights, etc.). And no, calling it a “civil union” or whatever doesn’t cut it. Granting the same rights as marriage but calling it by a different name is just a new flavor of segregation and discrimination. Same-sex couples don’t want a back-of-the-bus marriage.

    My father, a Mennonite pastor, has pointed out that in this age when the institution of marriage is weakening due to skyrocketing rates of divorce and co-habitation and common-law unions, it is very interesting and hopeful that a group historically rejected by the church is so very insistent that the institution of marriage *does* matter, and are fighting to take part in it.

  5. It seems to me that there are some fundamental differences of opinion going on here. Let's see if I can pin point a couple of them.

    "Marriage as a thing of the church, not the state." Historically this is just wrong. For centuries marriage was exclusively of the state, it was about property rights for the husband and his family. It was about what the fathers could get out of the couple getting married.

    The truth is, we live in a country with laws, and those laws have to apply to *everyone*, not just particular groups of people. This is why racial minorities no longer have to use separate drinking fountains and women have the right to vote. Keeping homosexuals from being able to partake in a civil ceremony is just like telling Rosa Parks she has to get out of her bus seat. And as far as I am concerned is wrong.

    So, most Abrahamic faiths are against gay marriage. Then don't let them be married in your churches. I find these doctrines hateful, but there is a reason I am not Christian. However, no church should have the power or right to dictate civil rights.

    "Married in the church by a church authority." Actually, the government chooses to recognize your church as such and gives permission for the clergy to perform legally binding marriages within their religious structure. If the Mormon church wasn't recognized by the US government, then your temple sealing would have no value outside your church's doctrines. You'd have to go to a Justice of the Peace to get all the civil rights that come with marriage.

    I suppose we could just take away all the civil rights that come with marriage for everyone. That'd make things fair, no? Then gays would have no reason to complain about the discrimination, since there's nothing they're being kept from. I wonder how many religious people would accept this.

    As for the gay bullying not deserving media coverage...I think it is a shame that the issue exists to such a degree that someone had to bring it to the public. I think as a nation, we should be ashamed that bullying of this level is continuing to happen in our schools.

    I am tall, red haired (in grade school, I was often the only red head), freckled, smart, kind...I too went through my share of bullying, so I know what it's like to stand on the outside.

    There's just one small having red hair isn't considered a sin. I don't have to hide the fact that I have red hair, and panic that I am some how sick or damaged because of it. I don't have to listen to arguments on whether my red hair is natural or a choice, one that I could, with the right counseling, overcome.

    On some level, yes, gay bullying is worse. And it needs to stop. All of it needs to stop. If it takes something like a handful of kids in Salt Lake killing themselves to bring it to our attention then instead of feeling bad that my bullying went unnoticed, I should feel hopeful that maybe someone else won't go through what I did because we've become smarter.

  6. Here's in interesting bit of trivia:

    In Germany, the government has chosen to NOT give any religious institution the authority to legally marry anyone. You can only get a legal marriage in front of a Justice of the Peace at city hall.

    What do religious people do? They have two wedding days. One at city hall, and one in their church, temple, etc. One wedding ceremony confers legal rights, the other has religious significance.

    Do German religious folk feel discriminated against? No. Everyone is treated equally in the eyes of the law, the church is separate from the state, and everyone has religious freedom. It's just considered normal to do things this way. No big deal.

  7. I think that's the coolest thing I've ever heard Germany do.

  8. I still like it better that my religious wedding ceremony also counted as my legal wedding. But the German way is also fair, so I wouldn't complain. I don't feel churches are entitled to perform legal marriage ceremonies, but it's cool that our government lets us. It shows generous respect for the important place religion holds in people's lives, and I appreciate it.

  9. I have to give a "thumbs up" for the correction that marriage has NOT always been a sacrament of the Christian religion (or any religion for that matter). For the Apostles, in the first 100 years of the church, celibacy was the preferred state of being for a Christ follower. The church saw marriage as nothing more than a consent to have sex. All sex was base, vulgar or an outright sin to most of the church leaders for the first 300-400 years. Early church authors believed that the Second Coming was immanent, so if everyone stopped having children the rapture would arrive sooner.

    The first written account of a Christian wedding was dated in the 9th century and was identical to the wedding rituals of Ancient Rome. Marriage was so NOT sacred that it took the church nearly 900 years to outlaw rape as a legitimate form of marriage. That's 900 years after the death of Christ before CONSENT was included in a definition of marriage. Sacred?

    Throughout much of the Greco-Roman world, monogamy in the propertied classes was a social institution for the purposes of property management. Lower classes did not actually "marry" even though their permanent monogamous couplings were similar in function. Marriage was the business of the upper classes. Poor marriage is another study and why "common law" marriage is still a legal issue.

    Wealthy marriages were secured for three reasons: to increase a man's property/wealth in the "bride price" offered by her family, to dissolve a woman's right to claim further inheritance from her biological family and to guarantee exclusive sexual access to a woman in order to secure the pure lineage of children to whom said man could bequeath his property/ wealth.

    It wasn't until the 16th century and the Council of Trent (1545-63) that church elders declared marriage a sacrament. Marriage was pretty much still deemed too base to even hold the religious ritual IN the church. Thus, most “sacred” marriages were performed on the church steps, OUTSIDE the church. Both John Calvin and Martin Luther scoffed at marriage as a sacrament.

    The concept of Christ’s love in marriage is effectively no more than 300 years old employed by European Romanticism in poetry in the 18th century. While you can find some historical notations to support variations on marriage having a religious component or at the very least not being evil, there were many more religious writings that marriage was essentially about fornication.

    One quote that is used in support of sacred marriage is by St. Paul saying that marriage was one way to express Christ's love of the Church; conveniently omitting that he considered celibacy as the first state of a true Christian and marriage only as a last resort as a cure for the sin of lust for it was "better to marry than to burn." (1 Corinthians 7:9)

    Marriage was invented by the rich as a contract to secured property rights. Women (and children for that matter) were considered property until about 150 years ago. Interracial marriage was illegal up to only 50 or 60 years ago. The courts changed the laws of marriage to redefine who could participate. The churches and those who spoke for god had to take the lesson from the courts and now you will find few churches who will openly refuse to marry interracial couples.

    What is sacred about marriage has been redefined over and over for centuries. And the only place that the sacrament of marriage has any validity is in the hearts of those to partake of it.

  10. You can make a few different arguments here. The fact is religion is not all that good a guide for morality. The fact that the Bible managed to condone slavery should make any thinking person look askance.

    As for marriage, the definition of marriage has changed a great deal throughout the ages. Some of what used to be considered marriage would now be considered pedophilia.

    In Europe girls were routinely married off as young as 9.

    And speaking of Mormons and marriage, didn't the Elder have a revelation that outlawed plural marriages right about the same time they were outlawed by the state? That means even the Mormon church's stance on marriage can change fundamentally.

    The fact is gays want civil rights, they haven't asked for the "sacrament" of any churches that oppose them.