By Tom Quiner
Gay marriage is a passionate subject.
A gay marriage advocate responded with great passion to my recent post, “What’s wrong with gay marriage?”:
I appreciate him taking the time to present his side of the debate:
“This is the problem with religion. It leads to people like you deciding you have the right to state whether someone can/or cannot get married to someone they love; not because of their sexuality, but because they love them.”
There are two sides to marriage, civil and religious. Let’s separate them.
Civil society created marriage for somewhat different reasons than our religious institutions. Civil society designed marriage as a mechanism to provide more security for children that could be produced from such unions.
Two women can’t produce children. Nor can two men. Thus, there was no need to include same sex couplings under the definition of marriage.
Love, emotions, and feelings, had nothing to do with the establishment of the marriage covenant. That is not to say that they shouldn’t be present, but that wasn’t the crux of marriage. Rather, it was a contract to protect children and their mothers from men who might otherwise love ’em and leave ’em.
Marriage made communities more stable.
Religious institutions view marriage as something even more. In the Catholic Church, it is one of our seven sacraments. A sacrament is:
“A visible sign instituted by Christ to give grace, a sign that is perceptible to the senses. Through them divine life is bestowed upon us.”
Catholics believe that Christ is truly present in the union of a man and women in Holy Matrimony, not symbolically, but in actuality.
Nothing has ever touched earth that is more beautiful than Jesus Christ. That is why Catholics view marriage as a covenant rich with beauty and holiness.
Our Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim brothers and sisters each view marriage as sacred in their own way in their religious ceremonies.
So when the Quiner’s Diner reader says this “leads to people like you deciding you have the right to state whether someone can/or cannot get married,” that’s not quite right.
My Church tells me who can and can’t get married. I am bound by Her authority. A union between two women or two men can never be a marriage, regardless of what someone else wants to call it. And frankly, there is no functional reason for civil society to redefine marriage. People with same-sex feelings are free to pursue such relationships without marriage.
The Quiner’s Diner reader bristles at religion:
“The crux of the matter for me is, you’re telling people how to live their lives by the rules of a book older than anyone alive. If religion didn’t exist today, and you found this book in a used book shop, you’d immediately think the author was smoking something strong as they wrote its hateful words. The only thing I can respect you for is actually following the bible, on this point at least. So many people who pretend to be Christians, of whatever denomination, love to ‘pick and choose’ what they’ll follow.”
We must not be reading the same Bible. The entire sweep of the Old and New Testaments is about God’s unfathomable and delirious love for man. It is the story of salvation for men who don’t deserve it, but who receive it simply because of God’s boundless and inexplicable love us.
The Bible is a love story.
Yes, it tells us how to live our lives by presenting limits to protect us from the weaknesses of our human nature. As parents, we do the same for our children out of love. God does the same for us.
The Quiner’s Diner reader is certainly correct that so many of us have been guilty of “picking and choosing” what they choose to follow. That’s what sin is all about. I have quipped that I am a practicing sinner, because I have a human nature. The Bible is my guide on the direction my life must take to find peace and fulfillment.
How I wish the man whom I quoted in this post would revisit the Bible once again.
There is such beauty in its pages.
There is such hope.
And it has a happy ending.