So... What Gives?
From the later part of the seventeenth century onward settlers came to this continent for a myriad of reasons. Some were commisioned by the govenments of Europe. Others were indentured servants looking for a better life. Some were slaves who had no choice. However, the vast majority were religious persons who came to escape persecution from the religion-dominated governments of Europe at the time.
Those last group of settlers, be it that they were Quakers, Mormons, Jews, or members other religious sects, came here for freedom. They came for the freedom to pratice their religion without fear. The only reason that they had fear was that they were not the majority. Religion was an integral part of the government back home. Be it England where the official religion was membership in the Church of England, or Spain where it was Roman Catholicism, or other countries with comparable situations. Therefore, the settlers came to escape persecution from religious groups.
Their desendents then over time fought for more freedoms. In 1776, they declared their freedom openly. Their freedoms were based on individual equity, tolerance, acceptance. They believed their freedom came from God and that no man nor government of men had the right to take away that which God had granted them: " all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Those people won their freedom. After a inept attempt the founding fathers met in Philidelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation. What came of it was the Constitution. The absolute law of the nation of America. Any law that goes against it is struck down as null and void. The Constitution still emphasized the importance of individul rights, individual equity, and the seperation of Church and State; however, it allowed for and created a more firm federal level of government to uphold those principles.
So what gives? What has changed centuries later? Why is it that so much has changed? "The pursuit of happiness" is an interesting notion. If we our foundation was in this ideal and we have blantantly gone away from it how much longer until the rest of our priciples fade away? The "seperation of Church and State," another point which we now overlook. Individual freedoms are more oppressed in certain forms now than ever.
What am I talking about-- homosexuality, of course. If everyone is guaranteed the right to the attempt at happiness why is same-sex marriage being made illegal. If a person's wedding day is in theory one of the happiest days of their life should not everyone have the option to experience that? If Church and State are seperate, why do a set of people's religious beliefs become written into the law of the land? If we are all free and equal under the law, how can any court deem to find such laws in line with Constitution and its principles?
I have heard many arguments for and against same-sex marraige. As an egalitarian I believe in human equity. As a Christian I believe we should love our neighbor as ourself. When I meet the man of my dreams and we develope a relationship I have the right, priviledge, and joy to marry him. Should not then, my neighbors also share in this right? Who am I also then to pass judgement on them. Would not doing either of these things make me a hyprocritical viper?
Socially, we are all equal under the law untill we go against the law and are subject to its condemnation. Therefore, there is little reason for me to go into any argument under this field any further. I cam sum it up as such-- the seperation of Church and State neccesitates that no law passed by federal, state, or local legislatives infringe upon or finds it base in a set of religious beliefs.
Like it or not religion will always play a role in politics. Politics are at least in the American democracy a representation of its people. Up to this point in history and for many years after, religion will continue to shape and impact our values and lifestyles. In America today the majority of the nation identifies with Christian values. Due to this, and my lack of extensive and needed knowledge in the other prominent religions I shall focus on it. In my understanding there are two main treacts of arguments presented against same-sex marriage: the first being from the Old testement, and the later based in the letters of the apostles.
The Old Testament consists of the history of the nation of Israel and the laws ordained by God for his people. Among the more notable passages that discuss marriage include the following:
Leviticus 18:22 - "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." The wording here intrigues me. It does not say if you do this you will go to Hell. It does not say it is illegal or immoral. It just says it is not neccesarily likable. Also, I would prefer to be able to look into this passage in terms of the Hebrew context and origin of the wording. What further intrigues me is that the laws were written by the Levites who were in charge of such things.
The biggest inconcistency to me in any argument based on passages from the Old Testament is that not once in the Ten Commandments is homosexuality outlawed. It is n ot even mentioned. Surely if God saw it as a great abomination he would have passed that along to Moses when he was on Mt. Sinai.
The New Testament consists of the Gospels, or the accounts of Jesus's life; and is followed by letters of advice written by his apostles to the people; and ended with Revelations, a prediction for the end times. Jesus himself does not once broach the subject. This in my mind is key indication that whether or not those around us are homosexual or heterosexual is not a thing of great consequence.
Paul however, an apostle who converted to Christianity at least several years after Christ's death has quite a bit to say on the subject. He is considered one of the most authoritative figures in early Christianity and yet he never met Christ in the flesh. He wrote many epistles(letters) which make up the bulk of those included in the New Testemant. This is what he had to say:
lists "homosexual offenders" among "the wicked" (1 Corinthians 6:9). rebukes those who "approve of those who practice" homosexuality (Romans 1:32)
Basically Paul addresses the issue in most of his letters as it was a pertinent topic during his lifetime. However, it is my belief that the majority of what Paul has to say is quoted out of context. At the time in Roman and Grecian society one common practice was for a man of intellect to take on a pupill. They would experiment and wrangle with many common topic os discussion of the day. They would also commonly engage in an exploration of their own sexuality. It is to these people and them alone that I believe Paul's words are meant. I do not think that they apply to two commited people, but instead to such things as male prostitution or cult sexual acts. It is even considered due to the original wording that Paul may have been talking about extramarital sex in general.
Thus all being the case I do not suscribe to religious beliefs as a valid excuse for being against same-sex marriage. Jesus himself did not address it. What he did tell people was to love God and fellow man. How can one love man if they demand that same-sex marraige be outlawed? Is that not casting judgement, which Jesus does repetitivly warn against ardently? Yes Paul addressed it but was he not a mortal? Furthermore his words of advice were tailored for a set group of people at the time which they were written.
What gives? Why is this such an issue? America as founded on the idea of freedom. The settlers came here to escape persecution for the religious establishment of their day and age. This experience and desire shaped all of our founding documents. So why is it, nearly four hundred years later that we have the audacity to go against all of these principles?
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