Religion and Gay Marriage
Good morning, Hank, it’s Tuesday. I really liked your tutorial about marriage equality on Friday, but today I wanted to approach the question of gay marriage from a specifically religious perspective. But to do that we have to first figure out what exactly marriage is, which turns out to be incredibly complicated. All right, so to illustrate this, I’m gonna make yellow thingamajigs men and blue whozeewhats women. Let’s begin with the idea that socalled quot;traditional marriagequot; is a union between one man and one woman. Well that’s simply not accurate: There are some very traditional marriages that did not feature just one man and one woman. For instance, in the Bible, King David was married to. 18 women,.
And Solomon, who was known for his good judgement, was married to seven hundred! Which is not even to mention his three hundred concubines. Frankly, it just seems greedy. In fact I think almost everything we associate with traditional marriages from white dresses, to monogamy, to scripture readings, to saying quot;I doquot; is not very traditional. For the vast majority of Christian history until the 16th century, it was uncommon for Christian marriages to happen in churches, or to be overseen by clergy, or even to feature witnesses! People became married by agreeing to be married and then honoring that commitment.
It was just, quot;I marry you,quot; quot;I marry you,quot; quot;Mmmmmmarried!quot; And then often, but not always, they let the church know that they got married, because the church kept the records. Furthermore the idea that marriages always occur between one man and one woman imply that everyone is either a man or a woman, which is simply not the case it and it never has been! A significant portion of the human population somewhere around 0.5% has always been intersex. Intersex people might be chromosomally XXY, or XYY, or have androgen insensitivity syndrome, or a bunch of other conditions that make them neither unambiguously male nor unambiguously female. Historically, many of these people have gotten married without the social order falling apart.
And many of them still get married today, but laws like the one just voted on in North Carolina make it unclear whether intersex people are allowed to marry anyone. Right, so marriage and sex turn out to be very complicated. Well I’m about to make it more complicated. So for many religious people, including lots of Christians, Jews, and Muslims, marriage is not just a legal agreement, but a covenant. You’re making a promise to God that you will stick together for life. And for many religious people, marriage is only really marriage if that covenant is involved.
And that means that for lots of those people, gay marriage is impossible, because quot;homosexual relationships are inherently sinfulquot; which means that God cannot be present in and bless that union. Now Hank, I should add that lots of religious people and institutions don’t believe that, but some do, and I’m not going to try to convince those people or those institutions that they are wrong, because 1) it won’t work, and 2) I read the comments from your last tutorial. It was a little discouraging. But Hank, if we’re gonna say that the legal benefits of marriage should only be extended to people.
Who have made this covenant with God, then we get ourselves into a HUGE problem! Like you and The Katherine got married in a field does that mean you’re not really married? Like should you be allowed to visit The Katherine in the , or share custody of kids you adopt, or file taxes together? Or should those privileges only extend to people who got married in a church, like me? And do all church weddings count, or only people who get married in certain kinds of churches? Because then I might be in trouble. Hank, that line of thinking does not lead to a good legal definition of marriage.
The truth is, marriages are intensely personal, and they are defined not by courts or by voters, but by the people who live inside of them. That’s traditional marriage! People making a private, daily, lifelong commitment. We can’t make gay marriage illegal because gay marriage is already happening. It has been happening, in fact, for as long as human beings have been pledging themselves to each other. But tragically, in most of the world, we deny gay people the rights and obligations that are associated with their marriages. And that is just discrimination. There are going to be marriages you don’t like.
10 Tips for Interfaith Couples
My friend Dale McGowan has written a couple of amazing books about raising kids, if you’re an atheist parent. And he’s coming out with a book very soon called quot;In Faith and In Doubtquot;. And it’s about couples who have interfaith marriages, where they both believe. They both have different religious beliefs. And how do you make a relationship like that work? And it put out a list of. At least some advice you can give to people if they are in interfaith relationships, and I wanted to offer that advice to you here with my own.
Thoughts mixed in there. I should say, just to make this really simple, I’m gonna just say I’m an atheist and my wife is a Christian, and I’ll work off of there, but please feel free to apply this to whatever gender your partner is and whatever situation you guys are in when it comes to religion. Never try to convert or deconvert your partner. It would make very little sense for me to go into a relationship knowing my partner is a Christian and then saying, quot;You gotta become an atheistquot;. Or for her to tell me, quot;You gotta become a Christianquot;.
If we know that going into the relationship, and we’re both very headstrong in our own beliefs, we have to accept that as it is. There’s. You’re not gonna win any points by trying to convince the other person that they’re an idiot, or that they’re wrong, or that they should come to your side. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t have debates or discussion about it, but you definitely should learn not to have fullon arguments over why that person believes what they believe. And if you can’t have those discussions, maybe that’s not a relationship you should be going into.
Discuss your beliefs early on in the relationship. I’m not saying this has to be a firstdate topic of conversation, but if you think this is gonna go somewhere, if you think this is gonna be a serious relationship, then, as soon as possible, you should get out in the open what it is you believe and what your partner believes. Because you definitely don’t want to wait to have a baby until you finally have an argument over whether not to baptize it. Or whether or not to circumcise your baby, like that conversation should have happened a long time ago. And the earlier you can get your differences out there, and say quot;This is what I believequot;.
and you know what your partner believes the easier it’s gonna be for you to navigate those differences in the long term. Figure out how you’re gonna deal with these religious differences as you grow in your relationship. You know, if you have kids, are you gonna go to church? Is my wife gonna go to church with the kids? Do I have to go to church with them? What are we gonna teach our children about our differences of beliefs. You know, if you’re an atheist married to an Evangelical Christian, are you gonna teach them about Jesus, or are you gonna teach them that evolution is, you know, the proper way that life is formed on Earth?.
Are you gonna teach them about Creationism? Figure those types of things out before you get to the point where you have no choice, but to make a decision. Figure out where you overlap because even if you have religious differences, there may be a lot of places where you both actually do believe the same thing. You know, if my wife loves giving gifts because it’s Christmas time, and I like giving gifts because it’s just a festive time of the year, then let’s make that into a tradition of our own. And we can believe those for different reasons, but let’s embrace the idea that we like to give around this time of year.
If you both like to meditate, maybe she likes to do it for religious reasons and you like to do it just to clear your mind. All right, fine! Find this time when you both can meditate together, even if you have different reasons for doing it. Find those places where you like doing things together, even with your religious differences. And just make the most of that overlap. Learn how to disagree amicably. And that’s not an easy thing to do. I know sometimes when I hear creationists talk or I hear pastors preach,.