Saturday, April 20, 2013

Marriage Equality Is a Christian Concern by David McFarlane


I came across this piece by David McFarlane, who writes a blog called Anxious Gay Christian,  and thought it would make a wonderful Sunday post.  David McFarlane is a twenty-something writer living in Portland, Oregon. He's gay, Christian, and less confused by it than most of the people around him. Some days he wishes he wasn't either one. Usually he spends those days writing.  Here is what David wrote for the Huffington Post and his blog.
I probably err too much on the side of grace in most of my writing, but I believe some things necessitate taking a firm stand. Marriage equality is important for any number of civil reasons. I think it's critical for preserving the essence of Christianity. Many have told the Church, on this issue, it's standing on the wrong side of history. I believe it's standing on the wrong side of theology. I say this more as a person of faith than as a gay man: I don't believe one can truly claim to be a Christian and oppose marriage equality.
Faith is a cosmological framework to interpret everything from conflict to purpose. It guides me in such a fundamental way that offering others a glimpse of mine requires more emotional energy than I usually have. Describing faith requires, too, a vocabulary I often don't possess, which makes sense in the context of what I believe God to be -- a being beyond the comprehension of the human mind.
As someone who values empathy, I have to assume this is similar for other genuine people of faith. Knowing it manifests differently throughout lives and cultures, I try to avoid making moral proclamations and condemnations. I appreciate the respect of friends with dissimilar beliefs, and I want to show the same respect to others' faiths. But in the weeks since the SCOTUS hearings, I'm at a loss.
I don't understand how Christians oppose marriage equality.
I don't. I've tried: I've read conservative blogs; I've read my Republican friends' Facebook posts; I've reread the Bible verses (supposedly) relevant to the issue. It's confounding to me, and writing about it is difficult because whatever inspires many of my family members and a minority of Americans to oppose marriage for gay and lesbian couples stems from something beyond my understanding of faith, the faith responsible for my joy and peace in this chaotic, troubled world.
"God clearly forbids..."
"My heart has convinced me..."
"Leviticus 18:22 says..."
Declarations such as these are personal convictions, and they're grounded in a narrow theology. They don't reflect the humility true faith inspires.
Depending on whom you ask, marriage equality is about family, society or moral law. It's about civil rights or theocracy: sanctity, liberties and normalcy. It's about politics and philosophy and the pursuit of happiness to Americans, children of the enlightenment and gay citizens. I have deep convictions about all facets of this debate, but it's primarily as a Christian that I support marriage equality, because ultimately, more than anything else, it's about others.
Of course it affects me as a man who hopes one day to marry a man, but my convictions transcend self-interest. If I were straight, they wouldn't change. Maybe they'd strengthen, liberated to stem unequivocally from my faith, a faith that drives me to love others, not morally control them.
However you interpret the Bible, combating marriage for gay and lesbian couples with ballots, lobbying dollars, bumper stickers, wheels-off former SNL cast members, and any other secular means you have access to is not biblical. It doesn't reflect the ministry of Jesus or Paul, who never advocated establishing the Torah as law over the tyrannical Romans. It doesn't reflect the notion of sin: any impediment -- internal or external -- to communion between a person and the divine. Rather Christianity advocated a revolution of faith; it made religious practice personal and humble. The imposition of a moral code is the Pharisaical doctrine that incited Jesus to fury, and yet it's what's driven the Christian right to support traditional marriage more than education reform, clean air initiatives, or the only caveat that according to Paul reflected pure and undefiled religion: caring for orphans and widows.
Personal convictions are exactly that: personal. Even if I don't share them I have to respect them. But as a person of faith, who reveres faith and grieves the defamation of it in our modern world, I can't stay ambiguous about this issue. Opposition to marriage equality slanders God, true adherence to the Bible, and the revolutionary practice of faith Jesus brought to this world. I don't understand how Christians oppose marriage equality, and I believe until they revise their politics, faith will deservedly appear antiquated, bigoted and dead to a growing majority of our world.
Sent from my iPad

4 comments:

Jay M. said...

Now we need to mail this to all the bigoted "Christian" haters who spew the vomit that constitutes their beliefs. I'm not sure I can respect them, it's clear they have no respect for me.

Oh for more Christians like Mr. McFarlane, and for him to have the pulpit the others get through such sources as Fox "News."

Peace <3
Jay

Coop said...

I'm tired of feeling like I have to apologize for "christians" who quote the old testament from beginning to end but treat Jesus' whole ministry like a mine field.

Yeah, some days I wish I wasn't Christian either.

Coop said...

Upon reflection, I think my anger on this comes from the "if you need religion to make yourself feel like a good person, you really are not a good person".

My local paper has a "sound off" column. People can call or e-mail in to complain about anything anonymously and a few will get printed. One thing in the wake of the marathon said that "praying for somebody" was pathetic. It was worse than not doing anything at all.
Needless to say my blood started boiling because I was not in Boston on Monday and the only things I know about medical care I learned in boy scouts. Other than donating to the One fund, or reaching out another way when the call is made, what can I do?

naturgesetz said...

McFarlane's point against theocracy is valid, and therefore, he is correct to oppose those whose position is based solely on the Bible, and I suppose such people exist. But since he makes no response to the opposition to gay marriage based on the natures of marriage and of the state's interest in it, ultimately he does not establish gay marriage is sound public policy, much less that Christians are under some sort of moral obligation to support it.