Thursday, March 28, 2013

Poor Oppressed Christians Totally Lose It

Support for legal same-sex marriage has undergone a dramatic reversal over the course of the last five years. Today the majority supports allowing same-sex couples to wed, and with California's Proposition 8 and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act before the Supreme Court this week, the Poor Oppressed Christian community is going totally off the rails. The latest column from David Brody of CBN is a perfect example. Brody claims that Christians who "believe in the biblical definition of traditional marriage" are now more "scorned" than homosexuals.

But what about today? Let’s be honest: If you are a conservative evangelical who believes in the biblical definition of traditional marriage then guess what? You are one of the following: An outcast, a bigot, narrow-minded, a “hater” or all of the above. It's a different type of ridicule but it's still ridicule.

The tables have been turned. Evangelicals are now the ugly stepchild. In our American culture today, you can easily make the argument that it is harder to stand for biblical truth than it is to be a supporter of gay marriage in today's society.

Don’t believe me? Ask Kirk Cameron or Tim Tebow who both have been endlessly ridiculed for stating mainstream biblical positions on marriage and other topics. How about the comments by Chick-fil-A Founder Dan Cathy? Remember his comments in strong support for traditional marriage? He nearly had his head ripped apart by the mainstream media.

What Brody and other Poor Oppressed Christians don't seem to understand is that this "scorn" has little to do with their personal beliefs regarding marriage and everything to do with their insistance that civil law continue to reflect those beliefs. It would be a violation of the separation of church and state for the law to require that churches perform same-sex marriages, but at the same time separation cuts both ways. I've never seen any compelling reason to prohibit same-sex couples who want to get married from obtaining the same legal and tax benefits that married opposite-sex couples do, and granting them those rights in no way detracts from the rights of others.

To insist that civil law should be established solely on religious grounds is an unpopular position for good reason. Not all religious denominations, and not even all Christian denominations, disapprove of same-sex marriage. Those that oppose such unions do not have to perform them, and similarly those that do not should be allowed to do so. Again, this concept is fully supported by the Constitution, in that government is not allowed to impose laws that favor one religion over the other. Meanwhile on the civil side, it is similarly consistent with these ideals that religious ceremonies performed by all religious groups should be treated the same.

To my way of thinking the best solution would actually be to completely decouple religious and civil marriage. In effect, such a policy would be "civil unions for all" with "marriage" being treated as solely within the religious sphere. The civil side would confer the legal benefits, while the religious side would completely left to the individuals involved and their church to undertake as they see fit. That way the separation is complete and no conflict is set up between legal and religious authorities from either side. But if we're not going to go in that direction, it makes no sense for the law to discriminate on the basis of a religious principle that is not universal across faiths.

One more note about the Poor Oppressed Christians here - if their idea of oppression is being made fun of by people in the media, they have no idea what real oppression is. That's not particularly surprising - as Christianity is the majority religion in this country, it's unlikely that they have ever been discriminated against due to their religious beliefs. Pagans and occultists who become known as such can lose child custody cases and jobs, and are even on occasion charged with bizarre crimes solely because of their alternative practices. It's hard to imagine such things happening to even an extremely conservative Evangelical Christian simply on the basis of his or her religion.

Furthermore, I also want to point out that people should be free to follow whatever spiritual beliefs resonate with them. In short, if you don't believe in same-sex marriage, don't have one. There's nothing wrong with conducting your private life according to conservative Evangelical principles if you so desire. However, where it all goes wrong is when you start insisting that the way you conduct your spiritual life be enshrined into law so that others who don't share them are nonetheless forced to live as you do.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was a good one, Scott. Thank you!