Originally published in The Daily Toreador.
As a slightly independent but pretty conservative Christian, my view on the gay marriage debate has in the past been something like, “I don’t care if they have the same rights as heterosexuals, but I wish they wouldn’t call it “marriage.'”
I have both family and friends who are homosexual, and I don’t think any less of them for their sexual orientation. Whether or not I agree that their actions are unhealthy for themselves and/or society at large, I’ve never been one to support the banning of things that I may or may not agree with. I don’t like people getting drunk, but I don’t want to ban alcohol. I don’t like Jar Jar Binks, but I don’t think we should ban the “Star Wars” prequels. (Well, maybe that one would be OK.)
But at the same time, I treat the idea of marriage as very sacred: two people united by God to spend an eternity together. I acknowledge, though, that the ceremony and practice of marriage is a very human invention. All God or Jesus ever said on the subject was that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined with his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Matt. 19:4-6)
He didn’t talk about marriage certificates or laws or wedding receptions. He just talked about man and woman being together forever as partners. He spoke a little about divorce, but he was still addressing Jewish law as it stood at the time more than saying, “Here’s the book on marriage.”
But if marriage is really supposed to be two “soul mates” entwined for eternity, then the word “marriage” was tainted a long, long time before Proposition 8 was reversed.
We’re living in a culture where atheists are married by justices, pastors marry divorcees, and drunkards are married by Elvis in Vegas. It’s been a very long time since marriage was just for the religious, and none of us (religious or not) are setting a very good standard for the practice anyway.
Knowing this, I have to ask: What have my fellow Christians really been fighting for? That battle has already been lost, but some of us have failed no notice. Let’s focus on more important fights.
Yes, I would love for other people to follow God’s commands and advice not because “God said so,” but because His advice seems to be pretty good, on the whole.
But trying to force people to do so is, I believe, the wrong course of action.
It used to be said, “They will know you’re a Christian because of your love.” Now people say, “I know you’re a Christian because you’re against abortion and you hate gays.” Regardless of how we feel about certain issues of morality or politics, we should be trying to show people Christ’s love in more effective ways.
With the money we’re spending to fight a lost battle, we could be making serious dents in the battle against AIDS. We could be helping the homeless and feeding the hungry. We’re wasting our time and energy fighting for an already lost term.
All that said, earlier this month I proposed to my girlfriend. We intend to get married by a pastor in a small ceremony in front of family and friends. We’re following tradition, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, I’m not sure that any of that really defines what I think of as “marriage.” We’ll have a license from the government and the approval of a church, but that isn’t what’s most important. What is important is that she’ll be the Eve to my Adam, a partner that I wouldn’t be able to live without. We could call it marriage or a union or whatever, but that doesn’t change what it is and should be.
Maybe it’s time to give up the fight for marriage, the term. Fight instead for marriage, the idea, which no government can ever change or taint.