Weighing In (Foolishly?)* On Prop 8


This time, I’m going to let someone else do the arguing for me…

The majority of Californians, including two-thirds of the state’s black voters, have just had their core civil right — the right to vote — stripped from them by an openly gay federal judge who has misread history and the Constitution to impose his views on the state’s people.

Most arguments about gay marriage that center on civil rights focus on the “right” simply to get married – even though marriage licenses are issued by states as a privilege granted, not a right with which one is born.  Driver’s licenses, likewise, represent privileges granted by states, not simply a right that any Tom, Dick, or Harry is “owed.”

What is most interesting about the CNN piece I quoted above – other then that it appeared on CNN’s website! – is not so much the substance or the “what” but the who.  The author, “Bishop” Harry Jackson is an African-American pastor in Maryland.  He, of course, is qualified and able to make a civil rights argument in a way that I- privileged white male that I am – never could.

And it’s at least questionable that the judge in the case is gay.  This is a bit like having a Grand Dragon judge the legality of  a Klan march: it is by no means a moral equivalence, of course, but in both cases the judge’s personal stake in the argument would be so great that no thinking person could possibly wonder at the outcome.

More interesting to me is the makeup of the Californians who voted in Prop 8 in the first place.  Many of my liberal friends (yes, I have them, and they like me) cheered with facebook statuses and twitters saying “about time” and “equal rights for all” and “down with bigroty” and the like when the news came that the proposition was overturned.

Really?  Who do you think did the voting in Calfornia?  Is there suddenly a tea-party majority in the state that boasts LA and San Francisco and UC Berkely?  No.  The folks that voted in Prop 8 are also the folks that voted in Obama.

There is a real discussion to be had here.  It can’t be as simple as “God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve,” but neither is it as simple as “Everyone in favor of Prop 8 is a homophobic bigot.”  Perhaps this seems like a pointless observation in today’s political climate, with our Glenn Becks and Michael Moores.  But for those of us, at least, who claim Jesus of Nazareth as Lord and Savior, we are called to do better than our surroundings.

Too often we don’t.  Too often we fall unwittingly into the camps of the larger culture, parroting the very talking heads whom we should be questioning, doubting, and for whom we should be praying.  Jesus was never a shill for any party, though God knows people tried hard to own him.  We, too, should be so dedicated to him that we can make the same claim.

*I say “foolishly” because this particular issue gets more attention than it deserves, especially in Christian circles.  I daresay that if we were this concerned about poverty, everyone would be fed by now.  If nothing else, we have allowed our fascination with homosexual culture to completely dominate all our thoughts about sex, marriage, and relationships.  In bowing before the golden calf of the gay marriage argument, the Church has all but lost its witness on issues like sex before marriage and divorce.  And of course, it is foolish because it is doubtful this will change anyone’s mind.  But hey, let’s be honest, this blog is more about letting me vent and opening up a dialogue to sharpen my own saw – I’m pretty sure your mind is made up.

9 thoughts on “Weighing In (Foolishly?)* On Prop 8”

  1. I acknowledge the fact that marriage is a privilege granted by state, but, unlike a private organization, does the government really have the option to discriminate?

    Thanks for this fresh perspective.

  2. If the state has a right to define who is and is not an eligible driver, then surely it also has the right to determine what unions are and are not eligible for a marriage license.

    Civil unions? Go for it. Just don’t call it marriage.

  3. The exegesis for the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Genesis is for adults and makes us nervous. Why? Because the sin Adam and Steve committed, according to the story, was anal sex–the mystery Saint Augustine almost solved 1600 years ago. (He thought the sin was normal penile/vaginal sex!) For more information google “WikiAnswers-What is wrong with Robert Hagedorn’s Blogs”

  4. Is it possible that the state doesn’t have a right to determine what unions are marriage? I’m thinking that, in regards to the state (and equal protection) ALL unions are civil unions. Marriage, on the other hand, is a tradition (often religious) and should be up to the religious community that you are a part of.

    It seems the prerogative of religious tradition to judge the proper end of genitalia, not the state. I have a hard time conceiving what possible benefit there is to the state defining what a marriage is.

  5. I’m inclined to agree with you, except that we’ve already allowed the state to decide the definition of human life. We invented this notion of trimesters to feel better about the destruction of innocent life, even though the Bible is very clear about the gift of human life in the womb.

    Power corrupts, as Lord Acton told us, and the state of all things is apt to corruption. In this case, taking powers that is not its own (notice the conservative in me coming out?).

    I suppose marriage is one of those churchly things in which we cooperate with the state. We tell people what marriage is, and, in our government, individual polities grant them a license to wed. I think the church is fully within its calling to stand up to state on this matter and say, “You can’t go there.”

    But of course, we should have the moral gumption to also say to our people “don’t get divorced – at least not so quickly” and “don’t sleep with anyone you feel inclined towards.” But, having accepted too much of the culture’s feelings about sex and marriage, we’ve lost most of our moral gumption in this whole realm. The argument over gay marriage is in some ways a pathetic attempt to reclaim what we’ve abdicated.

  6. I agree with you that we’ve lost our moral gumption. We let the state define marriage, but the Church has no nerve to do the same. I’m totally blown away that we wink at divorce when we worship the covenant-making god…and when one of his most prominent characteristics is that he is faithful.

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