Friday, June 02, 2006

Gay Marriage

Gay Marriage is coming to a vote this year, in a parliament near you. (Or not, if you live outside of Ottawa).

Ahhhhhhhh. Time to lean back, relax, and pound out a good rant......

I wish this topic was that of the morality of homosexuality, rather than the State’s benign and magnificent blessing of it through the redefinition of a word. What’s the difference between a ‘marriage’ and a ‘union’? Who cares, but the Statists, and more importantly, God’s people? At any rate, the answer to the ‘riddle’ of same-sex marriage is found in the realm of semantics; and God and God’s children have ownership of the meaning of the word marriage, and across cultures, religions, and classes, the word ‘marriage’ means a spiritual connection between a man, a woman, and God. And God (otherwise known as Allah, or Yahweh), like his children, isn’t interested in having non-believers change His word. Therefore, the State should not have the power to recognize ‘marriages’ between two homosexual people. It’s sad that this topic is worthy of public debate in a handful of societies. After all, those that want a redefinition of the word are homosexual, or atheist, or possibly both, but more importantly, they are devout ‘Statists’. You don’t see the Christians(except maybe the United Church), Jews, and Muslims lining up at the public pulpit advocating gay marriage, and this group, in Canada at least, represents over 70% of the population (StatsCan, 2001); so I’d suggest that the people whom this issue affects are not interested in the redefinition of their Lord’s terminology. Further, if this large portion of the population can claim to know God’s will, who amongst the remaining 30% which are atheists, gay, or members of the United Church, can hope to claim otherwise? Lastly, why would that 30% (or less) really care about taking down the pan-religious, anti-gay-marriage crowd anyway? Really, the majority of Canadians, Americans, or any other civilized nation’s citizens want gays to hook up if that’s their desire. It doesn’t seem all that scandalous to them, as long as the newlyweds don’t come asking God to accept them, either as unrepentant followers, or as a married couple, which is why a gay civil unions are not unreasonable, and the redefinition of marriage is.

‘Marriage’ is a religious term found in the Bible. ‘Ketubah’ is the Hebrew translation found in the Tanakh, and ‘Nikah’ is the Arabic as found in the Quran. It is a symbolic joining of a man, woman, and God. When a man and a woman are symbolically joined outside of religion by a Justice of the Peace in Canada, the procedure is called a ‘civil union’. The followers of God seemingly have no quarrel with the State over its practice of civil union. Further, Christians, Jews, and Muslims all agree that humans ‘sin’, even though they shouldn’t. The relative ‘immorality’ of a sin in the eyes of a follower is crucial to this argument, and it’s important to note that God seems to regard homosexuality as a sin, regardless of the Christian/Jewish/Muslim perspective. Modern Christians, Jews, and Muslims, mindful that their religion is their own moral guide, have to allow their co-worshippers to find their own way through the guide, even occasionally contradict it (by sinning), but they are vigilant against the subversion of this guide, particularly by others who are not followers of God or his moral guidance. Their (correct) view is that allowing the term ‘marriage’ to be redefined as a union between either opposite sexes or same sexes is a subversion of the moral guide provided by God to his followers.

The previously mentioned ‘Statists’ believe that they have a moral guide that should supersede the one provided by God. Good for them. However, the troubling, insinuation-laced hyperbole spewing forth from some prominent figures in this ‘debate’ ( ie. That all those who oppose same-sex marriage are neo-conservative homophobes) seems to indicate that they believe that theirs is the final and all-authoritative moral guide, and that not only do they believe it should supersede God’s word, they believe they’ve got the moral authority to forcibly impose this guide upon their God-worshipping opponents.

If social mores dictate the content and perspective of our laws regarding morality, then this argument is already settled. It seems as though, as long as the vast majority of a society’s members believe in the ‘word(s) of God’, the moral ‘law of the land’ must support opposite-sex marriage, and limit the term used to describe the union of two (or heck, three or four) homosexuals to a ‘civil union’. However, if some Hedonistic, Utilitarian, Kantian, or other contrived theory of morality must be used to determine the morality of same sex marriage, then the debate is open, but at least the debate can then be reframed to be one about the extent of liberty to be enjoyed by the religious majority, and not the liberty of homosexuals, if you’re a Utilitarian. Or if you’re a Kantian, perhaps you’d debate whether a law legalizing homosexual union was the right kind of rule for people who want to freely choose how they are governed. In other words, can there be social justice for religious people who want to be free to be happy, and worship a God who condemns homosexual marriage?

The answer is clear. The meaning of a word can belong to a group. It may end up being subverted in the popular, common vernacular of the day by other groups, but as the word ‘Kleenex’ can only ever really mean a Kleenex-brand tissue - yet is commonly used to name any tissue, so ‘marriage’ remains a religious concept that is subverted by non-religious people. That said, it seems a little improper for the State to absurdly decree that officially, Kleenex must be the term that is used to describe Sneezy brand’s competing product. In fact, the absurdity of the State dictating semantics to the populace at all with reference to religious moral code is staggering, given I’m writing this essay while living in a country that (so far) allows freedom of religious belief. Making same-sex marriage a legal definition would open a door for making certain religious beliefs legally immoral, and in Canada’s case could make preaching the Christian belief that homosexuality is immoral a hate crime. Further, in Canada it has already happened that marriage commissioners (who are public employees) have been told they must be willing to perform same-sex marriages or resign. Clearly a Christian marriage commissioner must have the same right to that job as any one else, regardless of his religious convictions. Particularly because a marriage commissioner is a public employee, his or her employer must not be able to infringe upon that commissioner’s Charter right to freedom of religion.

Cough, cough. Ahem.

UPDATE: It's already happened. The Saskatchewan thought police have charged a couple priests with hate crimes for upholding the Catholic Church's view on homosexuality. And found them guilty.

No comments: