son of two Lutheran pastors, Vaughn Roste has since worshipped and worked in Episcopalian
and Presbyterian Churches, but his current employment is in a United Church. Holding
degrees in theology and music from two different church institutions, he currently
freelances as a writer and musician in Edmonton.
attended several debates
about same-sex marriage thus far, it is still my firm conviction that there has
yet to be proposed
a single reason why same-sex marriage is bad for the country that is not based
on religion or that has not been sufficiently countered. Most of the reasons proposed
against same-sex marriage are in fact arguments against homosexuality in general,
which is a useless argument to be had in the first place (as if one chooses between
homo- or heterosexuality based on logic). While I can understand the opposition
on religious grounds, I cannot understand why those same people cannot appreciate
that other religious people might legitimately disagree with them. It seems shocking
to some that Christians could support same-sex marriage, yet there has been a
faithful contingent of religious pro-same-sex marriage supporters at every rally
or event (for or against) that I have attended thus far. I thought it may be timely
to explain how some Christians can do this - and further, why all Christians should.
Opposition to same-sex marriage need not be labelled religious, as the Christian
camp is by no means united on this matter. Naturally, I can only speak from the
perspective of my own religion, Christianity, but I thought I would offer my own
contribution to the debate: ten reasons why Christians should support same-sex
Because Christians support equal rights for all Canadians (indeed, all humans).
The “special rights” argument is patently false - this is obviously a clear case
of all citizens being treated exactly equally with respect to all of the societal
approbations that are associated with marriage: inheritance, taxation, hospital
visitation rights etc. What is special about gays and lesbians being granted the
same rights as heterosexual couples already have?
- Because Christians
have long benefited from the freedom of religion in this country, and would want
to continue to respect that in the future. Even if you personally don’t approve
of same-sex marriage, you might at least recognize that there are several other
denominations who are in favour of same-sex marriage: the Society of Friends,
Metropolitan Community Church, Lambda Christian Church, and the United Church
of Canada are only four Edmonton examples. To deny any religious groups’ belief
to practice same-sex marriage in Canada violates a belief in the freedom of religion
- Because modern Christians realize that marriage has nothing
to do with procreation. Often a primary objection to same-sex marriages is
that they cannot bear children. Not only is this narrow-minded and untrue (many
creative solutions are available to the same-sex couple that desires to raise
children), it’s a double-standard. No one tests heterosexuals for their fertility
or desire to raise children before determining their suitability for marriage
- on the contrary, churches today regularly marry couples known to be infertile
(post-menopausal women being only one example) Inasmuch as any heterosexual couple
that has remained childless has been recognized as married by the church, it is
hypocritical to resort to this fallacious logic in the same-sex marriage debate.
- Because Christians should support marriage in all of its forms.
Some claim that same-sex marriage is an attack on family values, but this is incorrect.
On the contrary, it is an attempt by GLBT people to be legally recognized as having
families in the first place. It is a non sequitur to claim that only the “traditional”
nuclear family model is legitimate when less than half of Canadian families conform
to this model currently anyways. Same-sex marriage can be seen as enhancing and
strengthening marriage instead of the opposite.
- Because Christians
realize that the Church has been discriminatory in the past and would seek amends
for that. Formerly the Church denigrated “homosexual promiscuity” without
making available any other option (a recognized covenanted relationship). The
Christian support of same-sex marriage thus can end a hypocritical position of
the Church and give the Church more relevance to contemporary society. Many agree
that Christians should be opposed to discrimination in any form. The “have-your-relationships-but-don’t-call-it-marriage”
argument is specious as it promotes a South African-type apartheid: the “same
water coming from different fountains” is not equal. As the American Supreme Court
has decided “separate but equal” is not.
- Because Christians realize
that marriage has never been a static institution, and therefore there is no reason
that it should be now. From its early origin as a property exchange, to a
method of ensuring peace between nations, to being recognized as a church function
only in the thirteenth century, to the recent questioning of the “God-given” roles
for men and women, the institution of marriage
has always been in a state of flux. Things once illegal, such as miscegenation
and the marriage of the mentally handicapped, are now permitted. To arbitrarily
decide that now marriage has evolved as far as it should according to an 1960’s
definition is to deny any possible subsequent influence of the Holy Spirit in
- Because Christians support the separation of Church and
State. Hardly anyone believes these days that the Church should define the
law in this country - this position is ignorant of the centuries of problems that
that historical situation created. In accordance with the freedom of religion
in Canada, modern Christians realize that the insertion of the Christian God into
government only spells trouble for those who (everyone agrees) have the right
NOT to believe in that God. Christians do not want their denomination to dictate
law for the rest of the country.
- Because Christians have long known
that the Church should not determine legal policy. Further to the above, Christians
universally believe in following one’s own conscience, even when that entails
opposing the official policy of one’s church. Catholics believe that each person
has a solemn moral obligation to adhere to the dictates of his or her conscience
(even if that conscience is erroneous), over and above the dictates of the Church.
As Cardinal Ratzinger has written: “Only the absoluteness of conscience is the
antithesis to tyranny.” Thus for Catholics convicted that all Canadians should
be treated equally and that the Canadian freedom of religion should be respected
as above, not to promote the legalisation of same-sex marriages is sinful. Within
Protestantism the case is even easier, as the entire tradition is ultimately based
upon an individual acting according to the dictates of his conscience by nailing
up 95 thesis to the wall of a Wittenberg church, an act commemorated in most Protestant
churches this week To stand up and challenge the dominant authority is a practice
firmly rooted and celebrated in Protestant tradition. Even those opposed to homosexuality
in general can logically support same-sex marriage as a decidedly “lesser evil”
than the alternative.
- Because Christians realize that to hold up
marriage as for heterosexuals only is not only discriminatory, it also borders
on idolatry. Just as the Pharisees in Jesus’ day were maligned for counting
their dill seeds while neglecting justice and mercy (Mathew 23:23), Christians
today realize that marriage was created for humankind, not the opposite. Jesus’
words in Mark 2:27 are an interesting parallel to the contemporary situation.
Marriage is a tool for developing honest, voluntary, long-lasting and mutually
accountable relationships between two people, and Christians realize that that
is a laudable goal for two people of any gender and seek to promote that.
Because Christians believe in the supremacy of God, not the supremacy of government.
Even those who consider homosexual behaviour to be sinful can believe in the equality
of all people under the government. Christians realize that many sins are not
covered by the Criminal Code, nor should they be, as they are more matters of
individual conscience. Ultimately, Christians can take solace in the fact that
all will be judged fairly before God, and leave it to God to do the judging. In
the meantime, one can work toward the most equitable society possible on this
earth: this is what Jesus would have us do.
yet another reason, educated Christians are also aware
the inherent difficulties in defining marriage as the exclusive
union of one man and one woman: Olympic Committees and lawmakers alike realize
the surprising impossibility of legally defining the terms “man” and “woman.”
True, for the majority
of the population these things are self-evident, but a universal law applying
to all Canadians must also take into account the 1 in 1,000 babies that are born
intersexed (with anatomical, hormonal, or chromosomal differences that render
them unable to conclusively determine a child’s gender, let alone subsequent questions
of orientation). The modern world is painfully beginning to realize that nature
does not boil down into binary categories nearly as simply as we might like it
to. The artificial dichotomy on sex and gender will be one of the final barriers
to post-modern thinking to be lifted. If Christians are to seek justice in the
world for all people this needs to include transgender individuals and intersexed
people as well.
of appearing reluctant or divided, the Christian church should be among the leaders
in taking a progressive and prophetic stance in this matter. By doing this not
only would the Church be thus opening itself up to the moving of the Holy Spirit
in the world, but this would also enable it to regain a sense of relevancy to
contemporary society. It is only through supporting same-sex marriage that the
Christian Church will be able to live up to its own standard of communicating
the unconditional love of God and the radical inclusiveness of the Gospel of Jesus
Christ to the entire world.