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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The IRD on Same Sex Marriage

The IRD or Institute for Religion and Democracy is an extreme right-wing organization with deep ties to radical Right segment of the The Episcopal Church. The Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner serves on their Board of Directors, the Rev'd Dr.Philip Turner is on the Board of Advisers.

Their latest press release is their most desperate attempt to discredit The Episcopal Church. You can find the entire article here.

It begins like this:

Washington, DC—New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signed a law on May 31 that makes civil unions for homosexual couples legal; it will take effect in January 2008. The governor stated his belief that the civil unions will not “threaten” marriage. The Episcopal Church’s bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire, the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, told the press that Episcopal priests in the diocese can bless civil unions: “Just like in marriages, every priest will have the option to bless or not to bless."

IRD Director of Anglican Action Ralph Webb commented,

Bishop Robinson’s allowance of blessing civil unions as a local option—even though such blessings are not required of priests—provides yet another illustration of how the Episcopal Church opposes the traditional definition of marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman.

Okay, so the gloves are off.

It's not enough that, to advance civil rights for LGBT people but so as not to scare the conservative horses, local governments like New Hampshire, Vermont, and New Jersey have engaged in an odious form of segregation, akin to the so-called "separate but equal" water fountains, schools and the back of public buses of another civil rights struggle.

The reasoning goes something like this: "Hey, we know some LGBT people. Heck, some of them are our best friends! One is even my doctor - and a damn fine one she is. Saved my father's life when he had a stroke last year.

Let's give them all the "local" rights of marriage, but let's just not call it "marriage." Oh, it won't fly in Alabama, but what self-respecting LGBT person is going to move to the Deep South anyway? Heh, heh, hey. We'll 'take care' of our own. Let others fend for themselves. That's the American way."

Don't get me wrong. I am grateful for civil unions. It's a good first step. But, a civil union is a civil union. It's not marriage. You would think that would make the folks on the Right happy.

So, why has the IRD got itself all in a lather about this?

Because they won't stop until LGBT people have no rights in the government and no rites in the church.

Perhaps someone ought to go over to D.C. and tell them that one of the founding principles of this country's government is a little thing we like to call, "separation of church and state."

On second thought, never mind.

Someone ought to go over there and tell them about what Jesus meant when he said, "A new commandment I give you; that you love one another as I love you."

Oh, and what you hear coming from the D.C. offices of the IRD is the distinctive sound of the desparate grasping at straws.


Ann said...

IRD is showing desperation - embarrassing I would think if I were Ephraim or Philip. Such a tired and discredited attack on TEC.

Lauren Gough said...

The real question is "Are hereosexual couples allowed to have their relationships
'blessed'?" That's when you really know if what is good for the goose....

The real question is what is marriage today? We have so many definitions that we can't come to any kind of commonality. It isn't the LGBT community that is tearing down marriage, it is the heterosexual community that is tearing down marriage by being unwilling to live within covenants that are obtuse at best.

If we want to save the institution of marriage, perhaps it would be good to define it a bit better than the opening lines of the prayerbook.

JimMollo said...

As my three year old says, "That's kooky talk, Daddy!"

Ok, here's the quote that gets me...

"Bishop Robinson’s allowance of blessing civil unions as a local option—even though such blessings are not required of priests—provides yet another illustration of how the Episcopal Church opposes the traditional definition of marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman."

Here is what I don't understand... really, it's not me being sarcastic. I just don't understand the religious right's perspective here and not one of them (I've asked many many times) has been able to explain it to me. Ready...

How does gay marriage threaten 'traditional marriages?'

Are there going to be marches on straight married people's homes to try and break them up? Are we suggesting that straight marriages be banned? Seriously, what the heck does it mean?

Yes, yes, I know. Kooky talk Daddy!

emmy said...

Jim, I believe our dear friend (and I am being sarcastic) Jerry Falwell would say that the American family is based on "traditional marriage" and the American family is the cornerstone of American society. American society is deteriorating because the American family is being destroyed--and one of the things destroying the American family is the dreaded "non-traditional" family/relationship/marriage. This is, of course, based on the idea that homosexuality is a sin and perversion involving pedophilia and child abuse. Homosexual persons, you see, are kind of like vampires who prey on children trying to satisfy their perverse sexual appetites and create more homosexual persons. And how can we let something like that run rampent in a Christian Nation such as the United States of America???

That's the "kooky talk" as I've been able to understand it.

Jim said...

Before the 03 General Convention, I asked the same question: how in the world does two people's desire to live a faithful monogamous life threaten marriage? I actually got one thoughtful, albeit scary to me, answer.

The lady replied that marriage is hard, being faithful, accepting the inevitable self-sacrifice as family goals limit dreams, forgiving when your partner does something outstandingly stupid, these are hard. If anyone can do them, she said, if she and other mothers were just like men in gay couples, not special, she saw no reason to bother.

I was then and still am, somewhat stunned by the idea. I do not love my wife because it makes me special. I am not faithful to her because it grants me some sort of especial virtue or membership. But, she at least does have some component of her relationship with her spouse that is threatened unless her being a wife and mother grants her special status.

I think she nailed the core issue. If anyone can be married, even people some think of as morally inferior to themselves then marriage looses some of the importance they attached to it. The answer to where the attack comes from is in the Bible, Jesus discusses it in the parable of the workers who objected when others received equal pay.

Of course, stripped to its core, the 'threat' makes the self-identified threatened look rather pathetic. Which explains the amazing convoluted sophistry the IRD and its fellows use to attempt to justify themselves.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Right you are "Emmy" and Jim.

The "problem" is that I'm not - nor is anyone - just "anybody."

Jesus promises that in our baptism, we are not just "anybody." We are children of God. That makes us "somebody."

Or, to put it the way one of our candidates said it in class on the Bible yesterday - "If any religion starts using scripture to exclude anyone, you know they know nothing about scripture - or God."

Someone give that 11 year old child an "Amen."

Jim said...

Rev Elizabeth,

There is a phenomena well documented in sociology and political science of the, 'exclusive club.' Belonging to such a club is for some of its members, its only reward -- they would leave if the club were not exclusive. To those pathetic loosers, you, I anyone who is not at least as 'holy' as they think they are, is indeed 'just anybody.'

Here in Chicago, we were blessed to have Bp. Anderson as our ordinary before he became presiding bishop. His family still lives here and we have a cornucopia of stories about a truly amazing man.

One such, is the reaction to one of his fiery (and they were, I have read some of them) sermons on evangelism and social justice. A woman leaving the service shook his hand and told him that he did not understand, "everyone who should be Episcopal already is!"

Stripped of all its pseudo-intellectual embellishment, that is precisely what Dr. Radner and the other advanced door closers are about. Their range is amazing, Bp. N. T. Wright told me that 'someone must set the boundaries.' Which begs the question why Jesus did not.

Letting the riff-raff in was offensive to the original pharisees too. ;-) I suppose that being Rrom, I understand what they are about easily as I despise it. My people have been the riff-raff since before the memory of history.

One of the first proverbs my grandmother taught me is, "never trust the nice Christians in the villages, Jamie" (Freely translated from the Rrom and Hungarian.) When. older, I asked her why she explained they always needed someone to blame for their troubles. Actually, that rather sounds like the IRD doesn't it?


Bill said...

They speak of tradition. Ok, let’s review some traditions of the past:
1. A man could set aside his wife if she was infertile.
2. An adulterer could be stoned to death.
3. Ten percent of your income went to the church.
4. Slavery was legal
5. Women had no say and no vote in anything.
6. Heretics were burned at the stake
7. Thieves had a hand lopped off, or an ear, or an eye put out.
8. A man could have more than one wife (Solomon).
a. Why anybody would do that is beyond me.

Jump in and feel free to add to the list of all the wonderful traditions from the past.

Tobias said...

Amen JimB. The threat is to the special status of normativity, the blessed hope of all fearful people.

muerk said...

I am someone who disagrees with you and if the owner of this blog allows, I would respectfully like to say what and why I believe.

Marriage is the basis for the creation and education of children - the womb of society. Whilst some marriages may not be blessed with children (say the sadness of infertility or the biological age of the man and woman) the purpose of marriage is more than the romantic relationship of two individuals, although that is a part of it.

All children have the right to be reared by their own biological mother and father. Whilst some children have the deep pain of being abandoned or abused by their own parents, this does not take away that right in the general sense. Marriage is the social institution that provides the foundation for these rights.

By accepting sexual relationships as marriage which are inherently sterile by choice (due to either their contraceptive nature or by their being same sex), the social understanding and function of marriage is changed.

- I will note here that abstaining from sex which is fertile to responsibly plan a family is different IMO. I could describe why, but atm I am talking about marriage specifically. So rather than muddy the waters I will keep on track with marriage. -

Marriage is the basis for family. The continuation of family through the generations is an inherent factor in its nature. Children are a good for society and a blessing for their parents. They are the concrete result of a one flesh union which makes the love of two people into an entirely new and unique person.

I know you disagree with me but I just wanted to say why I believe as I do.

Bill said...

With all due respect Muerk, you are wrong. You write, “Marriage is the basis for the creation and education of children - the womb of society” It sounds nice, but it just didn’t come about that way. Intercourse is the basis for the creation of children, not marriage. Marriage was invented to codify relationships between people. Marriages were arranged to strengthen and protect a tribe or people. It was a binding contract pure and simple. It was probably the earliest form of a mutual defense agreement. On a smaller level, marriage was the contract that protected property rights. It kept real estate and valuables in the family to be passed on to the next generation. It always protected the male and in some instances protected the female. It was a way of passing on the family name to offspring.

As far as education, in the earliest times, it was the village or tribe that educated the children. It wasn’t a function of marriage. Children, and very often women, were just not educated. Education usually came about when a young man was apprenticed to a master and began to learn a trade. Again, it had nothing to do with marriage.

So, what have we got today. We have a system called marriage that joins two people legally. It forms a corporation. It provides legal status and protection. It provides for certain rights that have been legislated specifically to benefit the corporation. Without that little document a gay man or woman can’t even visit a partner who lies near death in a hospital. Without that document, inheritance becomes a legal nightmare. The current instrument of civil union does not provide the legal status of marriage.

You also write, “Marriage is the social institution that provides the foundation for these rights.” (speaking of the rights of children to education, etc) Again, not quite correct. Marriage is the legal instrument to join two people. Before we had child labor laws, all those married folks were sending their ten year old kids into the coal mines. Before we had laws protecting children, you had young boys serving on naval ships going into harms way. In our own revolution, you had ten and twelve year old boys going into battle as drummers and standard bearers. So please don’t tell me how marriage protects children. Children weren’t protected until it was legislated so.

Jim said...


Much of what you say (straight out of the Roman Catholic textbooks) does represent a view of the sociology of marriage. There are I think problems here.

First, the simple fact is that marriage as we know it is fairly modern. You won’t find it in the history of 'Christian' cultures much before 1200 and even then it was rare until 2 or 3 centuries later. Marriage for the West was a way of transferring property and establishing alliances that was limited to the ruling class for most of the last two millennia.

Second, if its function is to protect children, it is an abject failure. If its function is to assure that kids are raised by their birth parents it is even worse at fulfilling its functions. When my 27 year old son went to first grade, the schools were reporting that a majority of the children coming to them were either in single parent or otherwise un-traditional families.

The social fabric you want to defend using a reproduction based view of what marriage should be simply does not exist. Its benefits are assumed, not demonstrated.

In the event, what we have done is to accrue to the married straight couple benefits, religious, legal, and social, based on the assumption. Ranging from white dresses and blessings to inheritance and alimony, married straights get the goodies. Which might almost be defensible if the benefits you mentioned were realized. But they are not.

So, we have the straight majority accruing to itself a series of unearned benefits. The simple fact is that the accrual is unjustified.

There is another factor; we know that some lesbian and gay couples live very loving, productive lives, as parents. Given the failure rates among straight couples, that should give you pause. Even if we concede, I don’t, that a mother and father living together is optimal, for those who cannot have it, why cripple what you might think of as sub-optimal? There is no justice in making the lot of those kids whose parents fail harder than necessary.

You are welcome to your idealized view of marriage and its social functions. In fact, you have at least three entire churches available that ate committed to it: Rome, Salt Lake and the diffuse Southern Baptists. What **I** object to, and I think this applies to most of my friends on the left, is the attempt to impose the view. In the context of the Episcopal Church, the clear intent to destroy us for not agreeing a problem arises.

TEC has made up its mind. We believe we hear the call of faithful monogamous people, straight or not, to be blessed, living out their lives seeking and serving themselves and children in devout lives. You do not have to agree, just as you do not have to be an Episcopalian. Absent demonstrated harm, and there is none, it is simply sinful to attempt to force us to your view.

Thanks for the note. If our hostess wishes us to stop this conversation on her space, we can move it to my blog. In either case, I hope you are a bit less ‘gun-shy’ after you read the responses. Reasoned disagreement is always appropriate, in my view. What is not is the attack posts one sees from both sides. I have enjoyed our exchange.


muerk said...

Thank you both to our host here and for your respectful disagreement.

I don't deny that relationships in this fallen world are imperfect and that terrible things do happen. I would also like to say that marriage is a foundation for not just children but also extended families. As an example, my disabled mother lives with my husband and I and our children.

I think Bill said it perfectly when he stated, "Intercourse is the basis for the creation of children, not marriage. Marriage was invented to codify relationships between people." I absolutely agree with this. This would be the central issue of my point even.

I have no problem with some form of private legal arrangement so that a same sex intimate relationship is protected in terms of things like hospital visits, funeral arrangements etc. And if various companies wish to extend partner benefits to couples other than married ones then that is a private decision for that company.

But as a nation IMO, marriage is a special institution because as Bill states, it codifies reproductive relationships. This provides stability for children and elderly - the most vulnerable members of society because they rely on others for their care.

I realise you disagree, but my point is, in the end this...

"How does gay marriage threaten 'traditional marriages?'"

I'm a left wing social conservative btw, but it is my belief that gay marriage is both an outcome of and a motivator for reducing the social understanding of a permanent sexual relationship that produces and cares for biological children (I would also add extended family who need help, eg. my mum).

The loss of social understanding of marriage leaves relationships that are more open to change and are less stable. I think this instability hurts people.

Bill said...

I understand your concern for what is happening to the institution of marriage but you are trying to point to Gay relationships as the source of the problem. That point of view is not supported by national statistics.

The National Center For Health Statistics reports

Number of marriages: 2,230,000
Marriage rate: 7.5 per 1,000 total population
Divorce rate: 3.6 per 1,000 population (46 reporting States and D.C.)

Also, Americans for Divorce Reform reports “Probably, 40 or possibly up to 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce if current trends continue”

The fact that the divorce rate is approximately fifty percent of the marriage rate cannot be laid at the feet of gay relationships. There just aren’t that many of us. There are numerous other reasons why marriages do not last. Some things come to mind immediately. The ease of getting married. The ease of getting divorced. The economy. To point to gay relationships as the cause is irresponsible and dangerous. That tactic has been used over and over again throughout history. You have a problem, so let's find a scapegoat. Let’s see, who can I blame for my problem. Oh, I’ve got it, Lets blame the Irish, or lets blame the Italians, or lets blame the Jews, or lets blame the Blacks, or lets blame the Gays. Then people start getting beat up and killed. You really have to be careful with the power of the written and spoken word.

You also quoted me as saying “it codifies reproductive relationships”. Actually what I wrote was “it codifies relationships”. That’s quite different. You don’t need marriage to have sex, but you do need it to protect your legal status.

So what is the problem with American marriages? Why don’t they last?
Well one problem is that young people enter into them without preparing. They don’t know what they’re getting into. They don’t know how to cope with problems. For the most part, they are in Lust, not in Love.

I never thought I’d quote a pope, but here goes. “Marital difficulties can take various forms, but in the end they all amount to a problem of love … it is always necessary to love the other spouse even when so many apparently justifying reasons, would lead one to leave . . .”- John Paul II, 1/30/03””

Gay and Lesbian couples have as much right to marriage as any one else. They are hard working and loving people. They are committed to one another and their children. I believe they are more committed than most, possibly because of what they have to go through to earn the right.

In the end, what do we have? Well, we have some statistics that say approximately have of all marriages end in divorce. And that is about all we have. Everything else is point of view and opinion. And point of view and opinion just isn’t enough to deny Gay and Lesbian couples the right to marriage.

muerk said...

I would agree that gay relationships are not the source of the problem, as I said before I think they are an outcome (and also a continuing motivator).

The source of the problem is that the concept of marriage as a sacred lifelong vow for unitive _and_ reproductive purposes has been lost by the wider community, which of course is mostly straight. And yes, radical love is at the center of marriage.

I agree with lauren's post above. "The real question is what is marriage today? We have so many definitions that we can't come to any kind of commonality."

In the end we define marriage differently and we each are bound to act as our conscience dictates. I think we need to see the good faith of the other "side". I have no doubt that your beliefs stem from what you see as the highest good. In the final end, we will all have to face our Lord for our lack of charity.

Weiwen Ng said...

I've said it before, but it's long been known that the Episcopal Church has been trying to destroy the institution of marriage by signing on to the homosexual agenda. Obviously people here haven't been paying attention.

Since no one's been paying attention, you probably also don't know that we've run into two big problems: one, most homosexuals aren't really interested in destroying anything, they just want equal rights and to be left alone; two, the institution of marriage is actually very resilient, it may look fragile, but people have been forming long-term relationships for thousands of years.

But don't worry, your church is going to try harder. Just a few more blows and I'm sure the institution of marriage will come crumbling down.

muerk said...

No, I don't think marriage as an institution will come tumbling down, but there will be some sad, mixed up kids out there. One example would be the kids who are trying to find their genetic sperm donor fathers.

In the end Heather doesn't have two mummies... She has a mum and dad and mum's intimate partner. It doesn't matter in some ways, what the government does, the natural reality of biology and the human psyche will have the final word.

JimMollo said...

Thanks everyone for your posts... I'm amazed that I started some of this dialogue with my question. I'm thrilled that this discourse has been so respectful... it has not always been so in the past and I appreciate the level of respect being shown.

I have been reading, but staying out of the conversations thus far. However, I feel I must respond to muerk's last post. I don't know Heather or the people in this article. I do, however, know several same sex couples with children. Some of those families were conceived via sperm donations, others from 'heterosexual marriages' that resulted in divorce. In none of the relationships I am witness to are the families made up of a mom, a dad and an intimate partner of mom. That simply does not do the relationships that exist in these homes justice.

The families I know are women who love each other... have nursed each other through disease and job loss, and celebrated birthdays and recoveries and new jobs and conceptions and new births. They are families in the truest sense.

I even happen to know a few VERY well adjusted adult children of same sex families. You'd be amazed.

In my eyes, these women simply are married. I won't call it anything less. Frankly, it makes my marriage with my wife stronger knowing we and our child support loving healthy families of all kinds. It does not destroy or weaken the integrity of my 'traditional marriage.' It helps build it up.


muerk said...

I think the most important thing here is respect. We have a difference of opinion, and in the end we all have to choose how we live our life and to do so in a way that respects our own personal integrity and our relationship to God.

Thankfully we live in democracies (I am a New Zealander) and I believe that this is the best way to resolve this debate at the national level. My personal experience of people is that even if you disagree with their choices, you still must respect their freedom and their personhood. As such I am a strong opponent of any legislation that specifically targets LGBT people, eg. making homosexual sex illegal.

In the end the democratic process will define the legislation, but as to the Anglican Communion, I have no idea how that could be resolved.

What concerns me most is the rhetoric that I see on both sides of the debate. This lack of charity is, IMHO, what will really harm the Anglican Communion. Both sides seem to take the level of debate into the personal attacking the integrity of individuals and this is an evil I think we could all agree on.

Jim said...


I have been told that in classical orthodox Eastern european Judiasm, a valid marrige requires fertility. This is part of our culture, for instance when an imability regardless of why, to 'consumate' (I hate that word!) a marrige makes it invalid. We see that in civil annulmentlaws in most States.

But, consider if you will a childless couple seeking to adopt and who have married. We never ask if the problem is sexual malfunctioning on the part of the couple. We simply congratulate them on their new baby.

If marrige is to be defined as a sacrement about parenting, let us go all the way. Marrige should only be available to parents. Bless the civil unions of straight couples too.

If the possiblity of adoption makes the straight couple's potential a basis for blessing their marrige, then we should note the same potential in lesbian couples via several technologies and both lesbian and gay couples via adoption.

It seems to me that a good part of the problem is that we link the civil and religious in ways that do not do us well. I would love to see a general convention require that every clergy person in this church surrender the State's licenses and stop officiating at civil events. Join couples in blessing their marriges, absolutely. Enable the State's linkage of the blessing to the formation of the civil union, absolutely not.


muerk said...

And here is where the rubber meets the road in this debate. It is my belief that ideally children need the complementarity of both a father and a mother. Marriage is IMO about the joining of a man and a woman with the normal expectation of producing life.

Yes, some marriages are not blessed with children, but that does not diminish the general definition of marriage as both unitive and reproductive.

Two men or two women are not a marriage. No matter how healthy and youthful their reproductive systems are, they will never conceive a child together. They can not join together and grow a new person.

A same sex relationship may be full of friendship and erotic pleasure, together they may care for children, either born to one of them or adopted. But it is never, ever, able to unite two people at the deepest level of bodily creativity to birth new life together.

Two men together will never be able to look at their own child and say, "She's got your eyes but my hair." Men and women were created to be together. This is God's truth borne out in our physical bodies.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Muerk says: "Two men together will never be able to look at their own child and say, "She's got your eyes but my hair." Men and women were created to be together. This is God's truth borne out in our physical bodies."

I have been listening with great interest to this very respectful conversation. Allow me to interject something here.

With all due respect, Meurk, the above statement reveals an innocence about medical and scientific advancement - not to mention diminishes the nobility and love of adoption.

There are many, many LGBT people who have had IVF and/or insemination with a member of their partner's family so that a same-sex couple can and do, indeed, say, "S/he's got your eyes and my nose."

As for adoption, well, even hetero couples see pass genetics and into the authenticity of family love.

It's a brave new world, muerk. And yet, some things about family are absolutely timeless.

I will keep this thread going as long as the conversation remains respectful. Kudos to all sides for this. You give me hope.

Bill said...

Dear Muerk, I agree and disagree with your last posting. Like Elizabeth, I don’t agree when you say, “She's got your eyes but my hair”, as an argument. If we carry that to the extreme, we could say, She’s got your eyes, but sadly she has my propensity to develop heart disease, or cancer or any of the myriad ailments passed on through hereditary genes. Getting what dad or mom has isn’t always a good thing.
Looking at the issue from a different view point, as a man, I have often wondered what it would have been like having a father around. I saw other boys doing things with their fathers and was often jealous. I saw them playing ball or riding bikes together. It hurt. I grew to hate him for leaving me. Later in life as I matured and could see life from more than my own narrow point of view, I stopped hating and began to regret. I even wrote a poem about the experience. It goes something like this.

Love - Hate - Father
He spilt his seed
In my mother’s womb
As a dog would lift
His leg to a tree
And piss.

I did him no harm
Except possibly to exist.
And yet he abandoned me
To life and world
To cold and death

A part of me . . is not
There is an emptiness, a hole,
I cannot name, what
I have never known.
I cannot feel, what
I have never felt.

But if he were not dead
I would hold him, kneel at his knees,
Cry endless tears and
Let my feelings consume him
Leaving only ashes
To fill the void in me.

If I knew of his grave
I would dig him up
I would kick, beat and curse him.
But most of all
I would talk to him
And say those things
A son can only say
To his father,
In the quiet of the night
And wait
For his reply.

To put this poem into perspective, I should tell you that when my father left, my mother was left to raise three children on her own. So, I guess you can see why I don’t have all that much faith in the “traditional” marriage. It was just after World War II. She worked as a sales clerk at a local department store in NYC. She did what she could for us, but couldn’t be there for us. She was busy trying to pay the rent and put food on the table. It would have been nice to have another adult to go to with problems; someone to discuss all those little things with, the things that seemed so important to a young boy. Growing up, I thought that had to be a father. But now I realize that it could have been a loving partner. My mother couldn’t do it all on her own. It doesn’t really have to be a man and a woman. It could have been two men, or two women. It’s just damn hard to do it all alone. We get so caught up in tradition, that we refuse to see other solutions to an old problem. If a loving couple are there to love and nurture their children, it’s a far better remedy than trying to go it alone.

toujoursdan said...

Your neighbour to the north has had gay marriage since 2004 with no change in divorce statistics. Come up to Canada and see for yourself! It's not the end of all that is good and holy... really!

Jim said...


There are any number of couples who will never look at their new baby and see their eyes. Infertility, age, economics, all play their part in that reality. If this is a basis for denying marriage to gays, why not those over 70?

At essence, I think I see two issues.

First, while for many, not all, many people you are correct that children lie at the center of their decision to commit. We see that now among our young people who live together for years then get married when a pregnancy is either contemplated or happening.

Some things are going on here:

They are violating the idea that traditional arguments offers that marriage validates sexual activity.

The decision to have children includes both the technical marvels of our age, and adoption.

Second, the culture is very much in the 'blended family' universe. So, do you really want to suggest that those relationships are deficient because DNA is not shared for every child from two and only two spouses?

There is nothing wrong with heterosexual, life long, committed marriages (no really, the can work sometimes!) But, we know that other family structures can and do arise. The question is whether we should somehow impose a hierarchy of worth so that one form of family is considered superior.

I submit the data do not support a hierarchy. In fact, to collect the data, we would need a level opportunity field over several decades, we have not and do not have that data field.

I honor the way you must have felt when that baby was your baby if you were so blessed. I know that when I first met my sons and grandchildren the moments were blessed and amazing. But, whether another couple reaches the moment my wife and I shared, or the sexual mechanics of how they get there, is not a marker of the worth of their relationships.

I think the problem is that if your criteria are used, a lot of straight marriages would be disallowed, in fact, it might be that most straight marriages in Florida would be. Those people are old!

Unless we are prepared to do that, it seems to me that what we have is a definition designed to disaffirm one very specific group. I think that is a problem in your approach that I cannot get past.


muerk said...

I morally disagree with reproductive technology, my main issue is that so many embryos die in the process of IVF. But I also disagree with donor sperm and eggs.

I am not unaware of the possibilities that science has opened up, I just disagree with their use. Adoption is there because a child has been abandoned by its mother and father, whilst another couple can lovingly raise an adopted child, it is not the ideal. And even with a wonderful adoptive family, many people still search out their birth mother and father and even extended family. Blood kin has a deep meaning.

Many things in life are not ideal. Not all children are raised by great parents, children are conceived through rape, spouses die or leave. Parents can be drug addicted or abusive.

But... we define our social institutions on a moral and ethical theory of what should be.

Other family structures do arise. But that does not mean they are "marriage". A loving relationship between any two individuals is not marriage. Marriage is a man and a woman joined together in one flesh, who assuming youth and health, will produce new life through a loving union of their bodies.

Jim said:

"I think the problem is that if your criteria are used, a lot of straight marriages would be disallowed..."

Not disallowed. Married elderly have an infertile marriage because of their natural state of their bodies. They are not choosing a sterile sexual union. It is still complementary in that it is a sexual union between a man and a woman and who know's look at John the Baptist's parents, a miracle may occur.

However a young couple who are contracepting are actively choosing a sterile sexual union. Does this mean they are not married? No, however it is a sin against the marriage state. They are not living their married life to its fullest.

I think that individuals should be able to have the freedom to make moral choices. If two men wish to have a sexual relationship, then that is their personal choice. Does this mean they should be treated badly? NO! NEVER! All people, regardless of who they are should be treated with love and respect.

Two people should have the right to go to a lawyer and make another person their legal next of kin. I am horrified that people would not allow the chosen partner of an ill person into hospital. Or that families would be so mean as to deny the partner the choice of funeral arrangements etc. That's just mean on a personal level. It isn't respecting the relationship that those two people have. That isn't loving.

But it does not change what a marriage is - its essence, its definition. Marriage is not being denied by a state or a church to two men or two women. It just not _is_.

I don't know how though, within a church structure these differences are resolved. In a democratic state it's easier. Both sides lobby, then accept peacefully the democratic process and personally live out their own beliefs.

Thus in New Zealand we have civil unions and de facto partners who are legally protected the same way as marriage is.

However, God's will is unchanging and perfect. Discerning what His will is and then being obedient to that is much more than democracy can handle because the majority could be very wrong.

In the end, if I die and come before my Lord and He says, no Teressa... marriage is any loving committed relationship. You were wrong. Then so be it, and I would regret my mistake deeply and I would suffer for that. I just want to do what God thinks is right, no matter my personal beliefs in anything.

I truly, sincerely believe in my heart of hearts that this is how God created marriage. I believe it is His Holy will. But I'm pretty sure you all feel the same. And I respect that.

But so where can we go from here? What happens in the church?