Gay marriage was the topic of today’s M section in the Commercial Appeal. I was shocked to see that they actually had editorials on both sides of the issue.
Then they asked religious leaders around town their view on the issue. This would seem fair, too, except upon closer examination they were carefully selected.
I noticed there was no Muslim cleric asked. Odd, because the newspaper usually includes them on all other topics. Not this time. I wonder if it is because Muslims don’t believe in homosexuality? Odd, two, that they only interviewed one Catholic. Catholic priests may be the biggest religious group affected by Obama’s embrace of gay marriage. What will happen if the law says they must marry gays, but their own religion forbids it? Odd, three, that they did not contact J. Terry Steib, Catholic bishop of Memphis. He is the most authoritative Catholic to ask. Could it be that he declined? Steib seems to be in support of it if you look at some of the programs going on at liberal Catholic churches.
Instead, they turned to Monsignor Val Handwerker, rector at the cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the bishop’s home parish.
From him they got an answer they liked from what I can tell. Handwerker gave the usual touchy-feel goody answer of priests today who don’t like the Church’s position. He recounted visiting a sick lesbian at the hospital with her partner of 25 years at her bedside. “It touched me deeply,” he said, “and the experience has prompted me to think further of what makes a marriage..These times many people of faith are having experiences like I did that evening at the hospital, and they are thinking anew of what makes a marriage.”
If my dog were 15 years old and I was standing vigilant at his bedside would that, logically, mean I should be able to marry him? What kind of an argument is this? Besides, she is able to stay with her dying partner without marriage, and no one interferes. Does this argue there is prejudice or make the case for gay marriage?
He needs to go back to his catechism or to read what doctors of the church have written. What does “these times” mean in matters of the truth? What was true with humanity 2000 years ago is true today. The ethics of it are the same. When someone says, as Shepherd Smith did on Fox News, that the president was dragging us into the 21st century with his evolution on this issue, he is giving a false argument.
Some of the other answers were just as obtuse. A black representative of the Memphis Theological Seminary framed it in terms of equality. But don’t civil unions take care of that? Steve Montgomery of Idlewild Presbyterian Church uses the old idea that married people feel threatened by same sex couples and so deny gay marriage. OK, but same sex marriage opens the door to all kinds of marriage. I bet he wouldn’t agree with the old Mormon practice of multiple wives. I bet he would feel threatened by that. Aaron Rubenstein of Beth Sholom goes so far as to say that gays are “people in our society who have tasted the lash and been marginalized.” The lash as in slavery? Last time I turned on my TV or went to a movie, there were gay characters throughout. So marginalized? I think not.
Rabbi Micah Greenstein of Temple Israel said the admonition to “be fruitful and multiply” is not always a factor in heterosexual marriages…more importantly, it is not up to us to judge people who are born gay or lesbian.” First, a man and a woman technically fulfill that intention, even if they are sterile. As for judging people, being against gay marriage is not a judgment. It is an acknowledgment of what constitutes marriage.
The pro gay marriage guest commentator, Elaine Blanchard, had a particularly odd take on the issue. She went off on a tangent about lawyers offering a quick divorce for $300. So because some heterosexual marriages fail or are not entered into seriously, this is a point in favor of gay marriage? Very strange thinking.
She then went on to chastise North Carolinians for going to the polls and voting to keep the state amendment signifying that marriage only consists of relationships between one man and one woman. “They might have been spending quality time with their families. They could have been walking in the park and enjoying God’s natural order while shielding the children’s faces from the homosexual activity among the animals at the zoo.” Huh?
In support of her argument Blanchard went on to say that “Cain and Abel were obviously allowed to mate with their sisters.” Does she argue that incest means gay marriage is OK? Is she chiding God?
More of her anger surfaces when she points to former Senator John Edwards and his immoral conduct. By contrast she seems to think her own 13 year old relationship with her partner is better and thereby more worthy of marriage than John Edwards.
None of her arguments really offered a positive reason for gay marriage.
Most of the clergy ignored the ramifications gay marriage would have on society. We can’t predict what it would do. If you inject something so radical into the Judeo Christian ethic we’ve had for thousands of years, there will be repercussions. Drastically altering our society’s framework certainly would change the country. But that’s really what the advocates of gay marriage want. They might not be so pleased with the results.