Christianity & Politics

In the last 48 hours two related things happened: North Carolina passed a state Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage; and President Obama announced his support for the legalization of gay marriage. Naturally, because people are stupid and obnoxious, both sides have been yelling at each other and to no one in particular all day. Here's the thing: neither of these groups have anything to be excited about. At least, not to this extent.

Gay marriage supporters, let's deal with you first, because it's easier. There is no denying that the President coming out in support of marriage equality is a huge deal. He's arguably the most powerful man in the world, and he just said he's got your back. That's big. But calm down, there's a long way to go on this thing. The President doesn't make legislation, so this doesn't really change anything, legally. Also, quit yelling at North Carolina so much. They're the thirtieth state to pass this kind of legislation; and in fact there are only 8 states that allow same-sex marriage outright (here's a handy guide). So, sure, be offended, but unless you live in New England there's a really good chance that your state isn't much different.

Also, quit yelling at religious people so much. You're not helping anything by being obnoxious. People are allowed to believe things, and you're allowed to believe different things, but harassing each other about it instead of being rational and calm doesn't help anyone.

Now, religious people (here meaning Christians). Dear, dear religious people; you really make it hard to claim to be one of you sometimes. Look, I get it: Scripture is very clear that homosexuality is a sin. Scripture is very clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. But check it out: when it comes to law and government, that doesn't matter. We don't live in a theocracy, so scripture of any sort—not the Bible, not the Qu'ran, not the Torah, not the Vedas, none of them—don't matter one whit.

What does matter is the Constitution (you may have heard of it), and the responsibilities and limitations it places on the government. In case you're not familiar, it handily summarizes itself in the preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

You'll notice there's not a single mention of forcing Christian values on others. It goes on to specifically forbid the government from "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"; the Supreme Court ruled this to mean not only can the government establish a state religion, but it cannot promote a specific religion: "government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion" (Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet).

Yes, we are free to practice our Christianity, and that's an amazing freedom to have, one that many, many people do not; but people of other faiths, or of no faith, also have a right to their beliefs or lack thereof. To get offended and protest that your child's teacher isn't allowed to lead their class in a (Christian) prayer, or that the local courthouse isn't allowed to post the (Judeo-Christian) 10 Commandments, is to get offended and protest that your child's teacher isn't allowed to lead the class in a Hindu/Buddhist/Muslism/etc. prayer, or the courthouse isn't allowed to post passages from the religious texts of other religions. Furthermore, the very laws that prevent us from forcing Christianity upon the masses are the same that prevent them from forcing their beliefs/non-beliefs upon us. It's part of the deal of being American. You don't get to love it when it goes your way and whine about it when it works against you.

What that means, circling back around to the original point, is that if you want the government to recognize your marriage to your husband/wife and give you certain benefits because of it, they have to do that for everyone. Just like the color of someone's skin can't matter to the government, nor can what they have in their pants. Plain talk! It's ok to believe God's not OK with it; it's OK to not perform the ceremony; it's not OK to treat someone like a lesser being, for any reason.

But what about all the laws that reflect Biblical rules? you may ask. Well, let's take a peek. Stealing, lying (under oath, at least), murder, rape, beastiality, and so forth, all of these have a commonality: they have either a victim, hurt society at large, or both. Sins of the flesh, of which homosexual activity, are sins against one's self.

Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. —1 Corinthians 6:18 (New Living Translation)

There's no victim here, no criminal harm to society. It is in the same realm as someone participating in extramarital sexual activity, or solo sexual activity: a sin, but not something in which the government needs to be involved.

And lastly, if you want to talk about the government allowing gays to get married, let's look at some statistics. On average, 42% of Christian marriages (which presumably are between a man and a woman) end in divorce, a mere 8% fewer than those of non-religious couples. It's harder to find statistics on these things, but spousal abuse occurs in Christian marriages; infidelity occurs in Christian marriages; neglect occurs in Christian marriages. Anecdotally, it occurs less than it does in non-religious marriages, but, again, anecdotally, Christian spouses are less likely to report on these things because of ill-founded beliefs and mores. We're not better than them at this stuff, is what I'm getting at.

So, y'know, stop, the both of you. You're obnoxious.