Friday, September 09, 2005

Another Gay Marriage Note

From the Exodus Media Synopsis Blog, I found this article by Bishop Fred Henry in Calgary. The article talks about a few things, but I specifically wanted to address his statements about marriage and gay marriage.

In the article the Bishop says, "By virtue of nature itself, marriage is a union of a man and a woman with an inherent capacity of bringing children into the world." This claim, of course is absurd. Marriage is and always has been a creation of man. Nature and marriage have nothing to do with one another, and to claim that marriage is a creation of nature rather than a social construct is simply deceptive.

He goes on to say:

"It is not unjust, or a limitation of anyone's legitimate rights and freedoms, to insist that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman. If one were refused such positions because of race, or religion, or ethnic background, or something not related to the nature of the reality at issue, then that would indeed be an injustice and a denial of individual rights.
If, however, one were refused because one excludes basic elements of the role itself, that is not in any way an injustice. "

The last sentence here points out the fallacy of this second claim. His argument is that gays cannot be married because they are unable to produce children. But, there are definite groups of people that also are unable to produce children but are still allowed to marry--the elderly, for example. According to the logic of the Bishop, it would perfectly reasonable to deny marriage to the elderly because by their very nature (their age) they are unable to produce offspring.

This is not to mention how similar this type of arguments sounds to the argument of interracial marriage just a few decades back.

As much as this Bishop and so many others hate to admit it, they are trying to justify their own prejudice rather than address them outright. Rather than taking a deep look at the relationships that gays actually form with their partners--relationships based in love, caring, happiness, etc., the Bishop has hooked on one issue. To admit that gay relationships have everything that straight relationships have rather than just referring to gay people as being "intrinsically disordered," would be to discount his whole worldview. I guess it's just too much to ask, though, to have someone like the Bishop admit that gay couples do have the same type of bond as any other couple in the world. He probably realizes he wouldn't have a leg to stand on at that point, so he'd rather make up a concocted idea that marriage was born of nature rather than of man.


At 9/9/05 10:16 AM, Blogger JJ said...

I believe that there is an argument to be made that marriage is an institution ordained by God. As you know if you've read my blog, I'm trying to decide if God instituted it to be between a man and a woman only, or if that was just a sort of basic outline. I believe that marriage was instituted because "it is not good for man to be alone"...

I do totally agree with you that the idea that marriage has to involve the potential for children is such a cop-out argument. I've heard a few people say this ("marriage is for procreation"), and unless they are hard-core catholics, I totally call them on this, because none of them would bar the elderly, or the infertile from marrying... or even the people who just don't want children (and I know a few Christian couples that don't)... it's an excuse, not a reason.

At 9/9/05 12:54 PM, Blogger Brady said...

Hi JJ,

I also agree that marriage is an institution ordained by God. And obviously God created nature, so I guess by following the logic somewhat loosely, the Bishop could arrive that marriage is an institution created by nature because God created nature. But, I dont think that is what he meant. My feeling is that he meant to make people think that marriage was a creation of nature (whether or not one believes in God). I would have preferred him to be more upfront like you were.

I also think that your quote that man was not created to be alone, is a good one. It is why God created Eve and why God created marriage. Now the question is, where does that leave gay people?

At 9/9/05 1:41 PM, Blogger JJ said...

Now the question is, where does that leave gay people?

Yeah, that's the big question. I don't know... at least not yet.

At 10/9/05 9:37 PM, Blogger Stojef2005 said...

From what I have read, the Church, at its inception was totally against marriage. It wanted both men and women to devote themselves completely to God. The reasoning behind marriage was that if people were going to have sex, they might as well be married.

I know that the Bible says to be fruitful and multiply because the ancient Jews were literally building a civilization. That is why same-sex relationships are considered such an abomination. Although I think female-female couplings/relationships might be considered even worse because - gasp - there are no men telling the women what to do and how to live their lives, which is basically the crux of all religions.

Is there anything in the Old Testament about marriage?

If we are just supposed to be fruitful and multiply, I'll take a calculator to bed with me and my partner (bad joke - groans).

At 18/9/05 4:49 PM, Blogger thinking girl said...

Hi there,

I hate to be the voice of dissent -well, actually, that's not true, I love being the voice of dissent, and I will warn all of you that after many years of theological study of all kinds of religions, I am at best agnostic, at worst atheist, but my counter to the argument that god ordained marriage is multi-faceted.

Firstly, if god created all nature, then that includes homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, hermaphrodites, etc. All these categories of sexuality and sex are naturally occurring. The argument that god made Eve and Adam, so that means marriage and sexual relationships are only for heterosexual couples and this is the only "natural" type of sexuality, is delusional considering the natural existence of other categories of sex and sexuality. there has to be sex diversity in order to ensure propagation of the species; this should not equate with the oppression of other types of naturally occurring sexualities whose couplings are not capable of producing offspring.

Secondly, marriage is a social institution sanctioned by the church. Marriage is a social and legal contract. don't you think if god had intended humans to marry, he would have explicitly expressed this to his followers? there is no 11th commandment that indicates thou shalt marry, much less thou shalt marry someone of the opposite sex as thyself or thou shalt not marry someone of the same sex as thyself.

Thirdly, marriage as a social institution has always been a way to control and limit the rights and freedoms of people - women, homosexuals, bisexuals, etc. There is absolutely no good reason to prevent homosexuals and bisexuals from marrying. It is quite simply an infringement on the rights to equality and freedom of a large group of members of our society. Marriage is an out-dated institution in need of major renovation and reconstruction, as are many other social and religious institutions.

thanks for allowing me to post.

At 19/9/05 9:07 AM, Blogger Brady said...

Hi thinking girl,

Thanks for posting. I don't think there is a lot of dissenting on your part from us. While I'm not sure I 100% agree with your take on religion/marriage, I do agree that marriage is a socially constructed institution that should include gays as well as straights. Hopefully some day the majority will realize that this Chicken Little game the right is playing is just a bit too obvious and isnt at all addressing the real issue--that marriage is an institution for everyone.

At 19/9/05 12:55 PM, Blogger clint said...


You hit exactly the relevant quote. (genesis 2:18: "It is not good for the man to be alone.")

Once we all admit that homosexuality does exist (as an orientation, not just as a behavior) then you're stuck with God's clearly stated intention that we should all pair up. And the assertion that gay people choose to act gay will be an eye-rolling historical artifact in another generation.

At 19/9/05 1:05 PM, Blogger clint said...


The passage you're looking for is 1st Corinthians 7 which starts: "It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. ... I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all men were as I am. [i.e. celibate]"

Of course, if you read the whole chapter, his reasoning is that the end of the world is so close that trying to raise a family in the few short years we have left would be pointless. So, obviously, St. Paul was a little bit confused.

Re: lesbians worse?

Actually, while male-on-male sex is explicitly condemned in Leviticus, lesbian sex is not. Recall that men were permitted multiple wives... and perhaps you'll think of some reasons why this might not have been forbidden.

Re: Is there anything in the OT about marriage?

Pages and pages and pages. Not quite about an institution we'd recognize, of course. It's really about men, quite literally, purchasing a woman (or women) from her father. In the OT legal codes, rape was a crime against the woman's father, which could be made right by paying financial damages and marrying the woman. (If she was married, it was considered adultery -- which was much more serious.)

In OT terms, same-sex marriage would have been an abomination against the dignity of manhood -- to suggest that another man could be in the lowly position of wife.


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