kerravonsen: Cally: Silent but sure (Cally-silent-but-sure)
[personal profile] kerravonsen
So, the US Supreme Court has ruled that gay marriage is legal. Many people are celebrating. Others are gnashing their teeth. Me, I am doing neither.

I haven't posted on this issue before, because it would have just been asking for trouble. There have been things I've said repeatedly in person, but I haven't discussed this in depth with anyone; sometimes because I couldn't get that far, sometimes because the person made assumptions they couldn't get past (either that I agreed with them, or that I disagreed with them), or because there were things I just couldn't unpack fully. I'm not sure that I can untangle it all in a well-ordered way, so I'll just touch on points, bit by bit, in no particular sequence, and hope that some sort of order will emerge.


A. I am not for gay marriage. I do actually believe the Bible, that homosexual intercourse is a sin. Not the desire; the act itself.

On the other hand... there are a lot of "other hands" in this. And I generally don't get past the first statement without people making a whole lot of assumptions about what else I believe and stand for, based on that one sentence alone.

B. Where in the Bible does it say "Thou shalt prevent Unbelievers from sinning"?

That's one of the things that has puzzled me about the virulence and passion that has gone into legislating against LGBT things, or indeed, legislating against abortion or other things which ought to be up to the conscience of the individual. There has only ever been one government in the history of the world which has been a Theocracy, and none of our present governments is one. Maybe it's because I'm an Australian, but I can't understand bringing religion into government. The government is secular; if it makes laws that go against my religion, I'll just have to disobey them, won't I? (shrug) I don't expect my government to obey God. Of course I'm going to campaign for things which I consider to be moral, just, and right (as far as my understanding goes, informed by God's Word) but I do not consider "preventing Unbelievers from following their own beliefs" to be one of them.

I mean, controlling people's actions isn't going to change their beliefs, it it? Sometimes I wonder if these "impose Christian laws" people are afraid that God will smite their country for its sins. Which is really really dumb, because if they were really afraid of that, it's a stupid way of going about it; if they are afraid of God smiting their country for unbelief, they should be trying to foster belief, shouldn't they? Not preaching hate. I really don't understand these people. Possibly they don't understand themselves, either.

C. I have NEVER EVER condoned violence against LGBT people. EVER. I consider it hideous. There is no justification whatsoever for beating up a gay couple or anyone like that. None. Never in my name, never in God's name.

D. I voted Greens, even though they were for gay marriage.

Why? Because it was the only issue which I disagreed with them on. All the other parties fared much worse on the issues I care about, such as the treatment of asylum seekers, the poor, health care, education, and so on. When it comes down to it, I do not think gay marriage is as important as many people (on both sides) think it is. How many times is homosexuality mentioned in the bible? Once, or maybe twice. As a contrast, how many times is the wickedness of the rich, of the oppressors of widows and orphans, mentioned? Tons of times. Over and over again, the bible speaks out against the oppression of the poor by the rich. I consider that a pointer for my own priorities: social justice outranks gay marriage.

E. The destruction of marriage as we know it? Too late, it's already happened.

Yes, really. Because nobody would ever have been able to say the phrase "gay marriage" with a straight face if the meaning of "marriage" hadn't already changed. Marriage used to mean a lifetime contract entered into as the basis for forming a family, the primary socioeconomic unit of society. Back in the days of matchmakers, love and romance had absolutely nothing to do with marriage. Oh, it would happen if you were lucky, but it wasn't what defined what marriage was. Now marriage is defined entirely in terms of love and romance; sex is purely recreational, and children are an afterthought. Those who are pro gay marriage have all been talking in terms of "love"; those against it have often talked in terms of "family" and "children". They are speaking different languages; no wonder nobody can understand each other.

When did the meaning of "marriage" change? As ever, it was a gradual thing. You could blame the "free love" of the Sixties, you could blame contraception, you could blame all sorts of things. Whatever you blame, it's not really relevant, since the meaning has already changed. The Supreme Court didn't change the meaning, they simply codified a change which had already happened.

Those fighting against gay marriage were trying to close the barn door after the horse had escaped. Mind you, I don't know enough history... but I know that homosexual acts were illegal in many countries for many years. How were those laws repealed? Was there as much fuss about it then as there is about gay marriage now?

The institution of marriage has been breaking down for a long time now. The ease of divorce, the attitude that "I'll love you until I don't feel like it any more", the expectation that it is all about romance rather than being in it for the long haul... it has already caused great suffering, the breakdown of families, psychological damage to children. And will continue to do so. Will gay marriage make things worse? I don't know, but I do know that gay marriage isn't the cause of the current troubles with the institution of marriage. More of an effect than a cause.

Thing is, it doesn't mean that marriage is dead. It has never meant that. Because the laws defining marriage, the usage of the word "marriage", they have never prevented anyone from having a true, committed, marriage, until-death-do-us-part. My parents had such a marriage. My siblings have such marriages. And may they set such an example that my nieflings will have such marriages.

Marriage is not dead. The world is not ending.

F. My feelings?

Indifferent. I mean, it's nice to see so many people being happy; may they enjoy it while it lasts, because all happiness is fleeting. Am I upset? No, because I consider this day to have been inevitable. All the fighting against gay marriage has been a rearguard action, because once marriage started to mean "two people who love each other forming an exclusive sexual commitment", the battle was lost even before it started; they just didn't realize it yet. And maybe they will keep fighting, and maybe they won't. I remain unmoved. Why should I care whether unbelievers sin or not? Or even whether believers sin or not, if they aren't people I know personally? Nothing I can do about it, is there?

Yes, this is possibly quite cold of me, but this isn't an issue I even want to feel passionate about. It is so divisive, why would I want to throw more axes into the fray? Of course, my very neutrality will make everyone on both sides hate me, but heh, that was inevitable too.


(Note, because this is a contentious issue, I am screening comments except those on my flist. I trust y'all to be nice to each other.)

Date: 2015-06-27 02:04 pm (UTC)
tptigger: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tptigger
legislating against abortion or other things which ought to be up to the conscience of the individual.
If the right wing nuts of my country could understand that, it would be a much better place.
I'm just going to stop there.

Date: 2015-06-27 02:11 pm (UTC)
cheyinka: A Blargg (a lava crocodile) emerging from lava. (aggravation)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
For me it's not a matter of keeping someone from sinning. Twelve years ago the Supreme Court ruled that Texas's law against homosexual activity was unconstitutional, and even though that ruling probably led to the terrible ruling yesterday, I still think it was a good ruling; the government should not have any interest in keeping people from doing sinful or immoral things, and the only reason for a law against homosexual activity is to express governmental disapproval of a particular set of sins.

On the other hand, with yesterday's ruling, once again, a court has decided an impossibility is possible, like saying that structures with six identical square sides may be certified as pyramids or structures with four identical triangular sides may be certified as cubes. I don't think that two people of the same sex can marry, whether or not permission is extended to them to make the attempt; they may have loving, life-long relationships, certainly, and those relationships might well be stronger and more beneficial to society than some marriages, but they aren't marriages. The government has no interest in recognizing friendships, not even if those friendships include romantic love and sexual attraction. It does have an interest in recognizing marriages, because marriage existed before governments did, as the bond between two people who might produce children and who need to be supported in remaining together so that those children have a stable place to grow up.

(And before someone asks, 'what about infertile couples?', there's no non-intrusive way for the government to know whether someone is unable to have children or to inquire whether someone is intending to have children, and in any event fertility can change as can intentions. On the other hand, as long as official identification includes gender, the government can rely on that identification to know whether a couple could theoretically be the parents of children, even if the government might sometimes be misled in that assumption because gender markers may be changed.)

Date: 2015-06-27 04:03 pm (UTC)
cheyinka: A Blargg (a lava crocodile) emerging from lava. (aggravation)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
It's a fair argument, but civil unions that extended some of those benefits (being listed on death certificates, getting worker's compensation claims, hospital visitation) would be acceptable to me but not to people who want marriage because they want the social recognition and don't want their relationship to be seen as something different from marriage. Wanting social recognition is not wrong, but I don't think the government should grant it, because their relationships are something different from marriage.

I also don't think that same-sex partners of a parent should have any custody claims on that parent's children that a stepparent would not historically have had - so I'm okay with, from [livejournal.com profile] drinkingcocoa's examples, an "other mom" being able to sign permission slips, but not with that "other mom" having any sort of custody claim if the relationship ends, unless that woman also adopted the child. (And I use that example specifically, because that exact situation happened in Montana; a woman adopted a child before entering a same-sex relationship, and when it ended her former partner successfully sued for partial custody because she had helped raise the child.) The other child-related objection I have is that I do not think two women, or two men, should ever in any circumstance both be listed as a child's parents on that child's birth certificate, but I think that battle was lost as soon as birth certificates were amended to show adoptive parents.

Date: 2015-06-27 06:35 pm (UTC)
kaffyr: The ninth Doctor (Pink Doctor)
From: [personal profile] kaffyr
I have been aware of your beliefs, and have appreciated more than I can truly say the way you have handled dealing with those who have different beliefs.

I probably believe just as strongly that God does not hold any sexuality a sin unless it is something based on fear, coercion, and power imbalances (such as anything dealing with children and young teens.)

However, I have found that - surprise, surprise - communication between you and I has been possible (*gasp*). As in your support of the Green Party, I find that you and I agree on far more things than we disagree on. I'm also in awe of your ability to weave and crochet and create mail and such, and I love seeing the pictures you post of your creations, but there, I'm wandering off topic ...

... and perhaps that last is the best way to make my point. I like you. I enjoy our electronic conversations. We understand where we differ in beliefs, and ultimately, God, whoever he, she, or they may be, will let us know what's what.

Also, you write great fic. Ahem.

Date: 2015-06-27 09:20 pm (UTC)
deird1: Fred looking pretty and thoughful (Default)
From: [personal profile] deird1
You're approximately where I was a decade ago. Which is a position I can totally respect.

Date: 2015-06-28 09:21 am (UTC)
fred_mouse: cross stitched image reading "do not feed the data scientists" (Default)
From: [personal profile] fred_mouse
I've spent a day thinking about this, off and on, and I think that I both whole-heartedly agree, and completely disagree.

On the agree - what we have is currently not 'marriage' in the sense that many would try and define it.

On the disagree - I think that this is a great start, in moving towards a legal definition of marriage that matches up with the predominant social definition - that it is a legal contract between individuals with a certain set of parameters. I actually believe that procreation is a completely separate topic from marriage-as-it-appears-to-commonly-be. That what marriages are predominantly going to do (if they last) is be a stable support base as people age, a commitment to hold together, that hospitals and the government will recognise in situations where it becomes medically (or otherwise) necessary. That while sex is a common part of this, it doesn't have to be; while monogamy is commonly considered to be part of this, it just as often doesn't work like that (and that 'cheating' is more common than appropriately negotiated open relationships).

I, personally, am completely meh about the idea of marriage. And yet, I've been married twice. The first was probably equal parts safety and romance, the second was because it was something my life partner (we had kids and a mortgage, I didn't feel the need for more legal entanglements) valued, and I did particularly care not to. For many, the fairytale that they are after isn't the fabulous wedding day, but the signing of a contract that says that they are 'one' (in my head that should read 'a single legal entity', but I'm guessing it is more complicated than that). And when our society appears to be defining marriage about the couple, and not about the family, I really don't see that it matters who the two are.

Date: 2015-06-28 10:28 am (UTC)
watervole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] watervole
You're a wonderfully sane person with views that I regard as pretty sensible and internally consistent.

As a non-Christian I can't really comment on Christian actions, but, like you, I do wonder why so few focus on the distribution of wealth rather than gay marriage. Sadly, I suspect it is because one requires personal sacrifice and the other does not.

I think you and I agree on many many things and disagree on a few. And life is too short to actually waste time arguing on the few.

Like you, I'd rather focus on the positive.

I don't post much these days - work and commuting seem to soak up all my energy, but I still read and still love you. (in the friendship sense of course)

I'm Green enough that I will never fly again. I think you're the friend that I most regret not seeing again because of that stance.

Date: 2015-06-28 01:22 pm (UTC)
waterfall8484: The Fifth Doctor raising his arms with enthusiasm and the text "yay!". (Yay! by alocin42)
From: [personal profile] waterfall8484
Fair enough. :~)

I tend to say that people can believe whatever they want as long as they don't force that belief on others (which includes harming others because of it). I've rarely seen that happen, and yet here you are and it makes me really happy to see it! I don't agree with your belief, but why should I argue with you? You're not hurting anyone, you're actively caring about the well-being of others, and that's all anyone can ask of other people. Does it sound silly if I say thank you?

Date: 2015-06-30 12:12 am (UTC)
travels_in_time: John Watson facepalming (SH--John FML)
From: [personal profile] travels_in_time
These are pretty close to my own views. Sadly, I'm far too right-wing for my social-network friends, and far too left-wing for my family and church community, so I can't really discuss this with anyone in RL without getting hate from both sides.

Date: 2015-06-27 12:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drinkingcocoa.livejournal.com
Actually, a lot of the definition of current U.S. marriage has to do with things like who gets to put loved ones on their health insurance and how people file taxes. It's not just about love and romance. It's about extending practical societal benefits to people who live in couples that are same-sex, for decades, with children and with elderly parents and so on, buying property together, etc. Not penalizing some couples who live that way while giving benefits to other couples who live that way, depending on gender.

Date: 2015-06-27 12:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drinkingcocoa.livejournal.com
And it's about legitimizing realities that are there whether they're recognized or not. There have always been, for example, lesbian couples who raised children born to one or both of the women from previous male-female marriages. But were they allowed to put these kids on their health insurance? What if one mom worked a night shift and the other mom was available to sign permission slips for the next day's field trip? What if, as happened to one of my daughter's classmates, there is discriminatory drama toward the kids during school celebrations of Mother's Day and Father's Day? What if, as happened with one of my other daughter's classmates, there's a man with an extremely time-consuming job who rescues a child from an unspeakably abusive home, adopts her, and lives with another man whose schedule is (slightly) more flexible? Shouldn't they be able to claim that they are both legally her parents so that either dad can protect the kid in case her incredibly crazy and dangerous birth family comes to make trouble? It's really not about love and romance; you're talking about dating. Marriage is different from dating and it's about making an entire life.

Date: 2015-06-27 01:47 pm (UTC)
dreamflower: gandalf at bag end (Default)
From: [personal profile] dreamflower
Your point B. Is a great stance, (it's more or less how I feel, though I've never articulated it that way before) because it is absolutely right that we should not be legislating morality that only affects the people directly involved and in which no one is harmed save the participants. I wish more Americans understood the reality behind the constitutional phrase "separation of church and state". This means that not only Christians are free to follow their religion, but so are Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and pagans and those who practice Native beliefs, and even people who belong to peculiar cults, so long as they don't hurt or coerce anyone. We even allow churches whose main tenent is that God hates certain other people.

We are a very strange and messed up country, though, and too many people here don't seem to grasp this concept; they usually seem to be the same people who can't understand that people of color deserve the same protections as the "white folk", that even the poor deserve health care, and believe that corporations are "people" who have the right to unfettered obscene profits. I have gotten to the point I can't even watch certain politicians because it makes me want to throw things at my TV.

My own feelings about homosexuality are not what they used to be, and I am still working through them even now. I've had it pointed out to me that what was called sodomy in the Bible is not what I always thought it was. I won't go into it all here but it has been enough to make think and re-think, but it's certainly not enough to make me try and convince anyone else of it.

I really like and agree with your point D. I so wish that we had a viable third party in the US.

Date: 2015-06-27 04:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] izhilzha.livejournal.com
Man, I wish we could vote like that. I'd feel a lot more optimistic about elections!

Date: 2015-06-28 12:46 am (UTC)
dreamflower: gandalf at bag end (Default)
From: [personal profile] dreamflower
I was just about to comment to ask if that was true, the compulsory voting, I mean. I'd heard it somewhere, but wasn't sure if it was so.

I wish it was compulsory here! So many people (usually the ones who complain the most) not only fail to vote, but actually brag about it. I can't fathom that attitude--no matter how disappointed I may be by the process, I still vote.

How does that work? I mean as a practical matter, how is it enforced? What are the penalties for not voting?

I like the other idea of ranking, too! Such GOOD ideas.


Date: 2015-06-27 04:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] izhilzha.livejournal.com
I used to feel much as you do. Since moving to the church I now attend in Los Angeles, and worshiping alongside many gay couples whose commitment to Christ frankly puts me to shame at times, I've changed my mind somewhat.

I don't know that I can prove from the Bible whether homosexuality (as a lifestyle, commitment, action, etc) isn't a sin... but I do see Jesus welcoming people from a wide variety of condemned classes, and I wish to follow in his footsteps.

Also, watching couples in my church who have been together for 50 years or more, I see the same things I see in any heterosexual marriages I know: lifelong commitment to love each other and to grow each other in Christ, to be family to each other and care for each others' families as part of their own; in some cases to raise children in the Lord together; certainly to be, in their faithfulness and love and hard work, the face of Christ to the world around them--all the vows I took with my husband when we married.

So before yesterday happened, I was already pro gay marriage.

If I'm wrong, well... I'd much rather err on this side than on the other; attempt to not quench the Spirit of God than to declare I know enough to decry the good fruits (by which we shall know the work of God, per scripture) that I see in the people around me.

My 2 cents to your 2 cents. :) Thanks for posting, btw, I've been thinking a lot about this topic lately.

Date: 2015-06-28 03:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] izhilzha.livejournal.com
If I find a good article with more about the Levitical context (because yes, that plays a role in how I see this, for sure), I will pass it on; I am all in favor of deep thinking and of not approving something which radically goes against one's reason.

This may end up having to be one of those things where I step back and say "I don't understand this yet".

Which is where I lived for about ten years, so I get that. And whichever way you end up understanding it, I get that, too.

Date: 2015-06-27 05:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marta-bee.livejournal.com
I'm really not a big fan of what I call "id days" or in this case weekends, where people are so celebratory and excited there's no room for reflected or nuance, let alone respectful difference of opinions. #LoveWins, everything is rosy, and everyone (at least everyone who's not a bigot) feels exactly the same way, etc.

As it happens, I'm a lifelong committed Christian who thinks the parts of the Bible other Christians take as condemnations of same-sex activity are being misinterpreted by those people. It's not that all sex is okay, but that those condemnations are given in a certain historical context that just doesn't apply easily to today. This actually comes out of a lot of study, including going back to the Latin Vulgate (sadly I can't read Koine Greek, or Hebrew) as well as looking at several historical commentaries - it's really not about reading the Bible the way the "world" approves of, or just saying God is love so how could any kind of love be wrong, or anything like that. That might be an interesting convo for another day, if you're ever interested, but right now passions are just too high to really allow it.

The upshot for me is I don't face the challenge you do. I do struggle in other ways, though. As someone who doesn't really frame her life around romance I find this SSM glee really troubling in other ways, because I think it dishonors or at least downplays other kinds of love and relationship. And I think putting this in terms of love is disingenuous in the extreme, because most people I know who have changed to supporting gay marriage in recent years, it's less about approving of homosexuality, and more about thinking the government shouldn't be approving or disapproving of certain lifestyles. It's more #(Formal)EqualityWins than #LoveWins, as I see it.

Anyway, I'm blathering. What I really wanted to say was I think your ability to take a more measured view to something you don't agree with is really admirable, and way too rare these days.

Date: 2015-06-27 10:12 pm (UTC)
delphipsmith: (thinker)
From: [personal profile] delphipsmith
A thoughtful, balanced meditation on this topic -- very interesting, thank you for posting.

[C]ontrolling people's actions isn't going to change their beliefs, it it? Sometimes I wonder if these "impose Christian laws" people are afraid that God will smite their country for its sins. Which is really really dumb, because if they were really afraid of that, it's a stupid way of going about it; if they are afraid of God smiting their country for unbelief, they should be trying to foster belief, shouldn't they? Not preaching hate.

Yes! Or at least one would think so. Yet somehow logic doesn't seem to enter into it for many of them :/

There has only ever been one government in the history of the world which has been a Theocracy, and none of our present governments is one.

Well, there's Vatican City :) And there are several Middle Eastern countries that I'm pretty sure qualify as theocracies.

But yes, I'm with you, I can't understand bringing religion into government -- much simpler to keep it out, and let each individual be responsible for his or her own conscience. It is paradoxical that in the U.S. we enshrine separation of church and state in the Constitution, yet our politicians make extensive use of religious language (and one of them is always trying to meddle with people's morals). Just another example of the quixoticism of homo sapiens, I guess.

Those who are pro gay marriage have all been talking in terms of "love"; those against it have often talked in terms of "family" and "children". They are speaking different languages; no wonder nobody can understand each other.

Actually many proponents of gay marriage, at least here in the U.S., argued for it precisely on the basis of family and children: the right to be recognized by the law as a family, the same as any other couple with children. Things like adoption, custody, things requiring parental permission (e.g. a class field trip or a medical procedure) have been far more problematic for gay couples who were not legally married.

"Marriage is not dead. The world is not ending." Very true.

Thanks for the food for thought!

Date: 2015-06-28 02:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] helenarickman.livejournal.com
Very well explained. So many facets of the issue are covered - some which I didn't consider.

Thanks for sharing. We may not all agree with each other, but as long as we respect each other and their right to have their own opinions, we're doing well.

Date: 2015-06-28 03:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lindahoyland.livejournal.com
An excellent post.A' is my view, though I know some people interpret the Bible in a different way. I was tempted to vote Green for the same reasons but in the end didn't as they had so little hope of winning in my area.

I agree marriage has changed out of all recognition. When I was young, it was a lifetime commitment for almost all and far more revered.

Thank you for posting this.

Edited Date: 2015-06-28 03:16 am (UTC)

Date: 2015-06-28 03:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaxomsride.livejournal.com
The allowing of gay marriage is as important as any decision regarding abortion or anything else that has to do with what we choose to do with our own bodies. The choice should not be dictated by a religious group based on their beliefs and so forcing the entire country to bow to their standard of morality.

Looked at logically, sodomy is an unhealthy practice especially in a desert environment so it is not surprising that culturally it becomes taboo. Hence why Muslims, Jews and hence Christians came to ban it.

As for it undermining the family, there are many stable gay parental units out there. So what if they use sperm donation or surrogates to have a child, many heterosexual couples do the same.

Date: 2015-06-30 01:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaxomsride.livejournal.com
It was very late at night for me when I wrote that so no I was not meaning it as hostile. Perhaps I could have phrased it better.

Are the LGBT dictating to the rest of the country? You've already answered the question, they campaigned and used democracy to overturn years of prejudice, so no they aren't dictating to anyone, just requiring they be recognised as equal under the law.



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Kathryn A.

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