Some Thoughts, on the Saturday before Easter

I am not very good at Lent.  I find the common exhortations of the Lenten season, especially in Holy Week, uncomfortable to contemplate and draining to pursue.

Am I a sinner?  Certainly.  But I am also saved by Christ’s work, His death on the cross and resurrection.  I can maintain this in serenity.  An exhortation to “take up your cross” I can absorb with equanimity, even while I note that I do not do very well at following this requirement.  Do I give all I can spare to charity?  No.  Do I too often regard my time and effort as my own?  Yes.  The list could, of course, go on to list all possible sins of omission and commission: but these things I know – I believe myself to be fairly self-aware.  In short, the contemplation of myself, even in relation to God, is no great hardship.  Imperfection can be freely acknowledged – who else has no sin?  who can expect to equal God?  And I am saved, in the end – let grace abound.

But if we turn from this introspection to consider Christ, the vague self-satisfaction of, “I am as good as you other humans,” becomes uncomfortable and starts shifting in its seat.  Here is another human – yet when posed the questions I use to compare myself to others, Jesus can say, “No, I have not sinned.  No, I cannot ‘compare myself’ to God: I am God.”  And not only does Jesus live His perfect life, He then dies His perfect death and in His perfection overcomes death – in order that I might live, and you might live, and those awkward people over there might live (and likely better than me), if only they will acknowledge His Name and come to Him.

The Resurrection is easy to glamorize.  This Man rose from the dead!  His life gives us life!  And living is easy – at least for those of us with easy lives, and I have one of those.  If we read Scripture correctly, though, I wonder: does it not seem like our “life” on this earth is to be compared to Christ’s life and suffering on this earth?  By this I do not mean that we should abandon the really good things God sends us: instead, we are instructed to put away the pleasant follies and comfortable sins for the sake of the witness to Christ.  If Jesus, God, could put aside real power and knowledge and infinity for some thirty years to bring us His life, we can, should, must, in imitation of Him (but not in our own confidence) put aside the trivial things and useless idolizing we in our pursuit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil have fallen into.

And this seems hard, and awkward, and uncomfortable.  Much easier – for someone like myself, at any rate, as I think of things intellectually first and only then in physical reality, or with emotion – to live in the sun of “believe” and kick the “repent” under the couch when visitors come over while making only the expected show of “love”.  Then maybe this is the use of Lent.  I would never try to tell someone that they “must” – likely not even that they “should” observe the season: I take little notice of it myself, beyond my delight in noting signs and seasons for reasons mostly numerical.  I doubt anything I written is a great insight on the matter.  But as someone who (despite my love of clouds and rain) prefers the comfort, the season’s contemplation is useful to me.

I Would Like to Believe I Am Not a Bigot

There are two very simple reasons I do not support “gay marriage” – or even accept the legitimacy of the term.  The key, in both cases, is the assumptions I make.

Rejection by Faith

Most people reading this know – and if you are new I will tell you now – that I am a Christian.  Specifically, I believe the Reformed doctrines of the faith to be correct, including the inerrancy of the Bible, our Christian Scripture.  And Scripture is clear that God considers homosexual relationships one of the greatest human deviancies: under the Law given to Israel it was a crime punishable by death; in the Church the Apostle Paul identifies it a a mark not just of sin but of judgment – a sin only common in a society abandoned to its own desires – and Scripture repeatedly warns Christians against it.

(This is worth noting, highlighting, and repeating, by the way: just like greed, gluttony, envy, drunkenness, gossip, and all the rest of what we tend to think of as “normal” sins, sexual sins are temptations, even ordinary temptations, for Christians as for the World.  Christian charity and the offer of salvation extends to all sinners, all people, not just the “respectable” ones.)

As a Christian, then, I am distressed by the state of the country I live in (and the world generally), that this is even an argument.  I am deeply concerned that activism in the legal, judicial, and media realms is pushing forward an agenda I believe to be not only poorly conceived but downright immoral.

Are Morals a Basis for Law?

It is commonly accepted today that civil law should not be based on the private or religious morals of any person or group.  Supposing (as is not the case in fact) that my only objections to homosexuality were religious, would I be justified in attempting to enforce this view on society?

I believe the answer is still, “yes”.  There is one reason so simple it seems almost like cheating, and that is this: if I believe something is evil, not only should I avoid it myself, I should discourage others from pursuing it themselves.  For example, assuming we agree that murder is wrong, not only should I not murder anyone myself, it also is clear that if I can stop another committing the deed I should do that as well.

You may say, “But murder does harm to others.”  Very well, what if the act is suicide?  I am aware that some accept suicide now, as other cultures have in the past.  But the general opinion of our culture is still (rightly) against it, so the example remains (for now) valid even in that court.  I should not kill myself: I should also do what I can to prevent others taking their own lives.

So if homosexuality is wrong, I should encourage others not to participate in the act – I am in fact morally bound to do this.  I am less clear on what, exactly, should be the case of civil law in a society which is explicitly not sectarian.  I personally would feel uncomfortable with any penalty, let alone capital punishment, for homosexual activity – but am I making an analysis in justice, or am I just being a 21st century American?  However, when the government would authorize homosexual relationships as “marriages”, and thus call evil good, it is clear that this is a line which cannot be justly crossed.

The Argument on Its Head

No one advocating for “gay marriage” is prepared to admit it, but the fact is that homosexual people, just like everyone else, are already allowed to marry legally.  There is no litmus test of “orientation” on the marriage license.

Of course, marriage is a partnership with someone of the opposite sex.  Presumably a homosexual individual simply would not want to get married.  But this is too simple to accept: instead, theirs is a movement crusading to have homosexual relationships called “marriages”.  This is not questing for equality as such – it already exists, and the homosexual rejects that equality for his or her own desires – but rather special treatment.  “Yeah, well marriage has always involved men and women, but I want it to include men and men now so that my desires are recognized in society as legitimate.”

It is sometimes pointed out that marriage has taken many different forms in different societies, and so there is no particular reason not to assume we cannot do our own thing.  This is not entirely accurate; the differences are, to my knowledge, confined to the following: the ceremonies involved; the number of wives (or more occasionally, husbands); and allowed degrees of consanguinity.  In all arrangements there have been a man and a woman – sometimes with additions.  Appealing to varieties in marriage customs as a basis for accepting “gay marriage” on the basis of “love” is rather like studying the history of dress-making, and then deciding that a kilt is a dress because it has a skirt.

But in all of this I am making a second assumption, and that is that men and women are different in substantive ways.  I consider this self-evident – men tend to be stronger, taller, faster, physically speaking – and especially obvious when it comes to sexual roles.  The simple fact that women carry children and give birth and nurse, while men cannot do this, is sufficient indication that the sexes have some naturally determined differences.

And I assume that these differences are complementary, and – as the rest of human societies of which I have any knowledge have recognized – necessary for marriage.  This argument, at least as a public issue, is, at a guess less than twenty years old – certainly not much more.  To pretend that “gay marriage” is a matter of justice and liberty – somehow submerged for centuries – even in cultures which openly practiced homosexuality – is appallingly short-sighted.  The quickness with which it has risen to prominence as an issue makes it seem like nothing so much as a fad, the avant garde sujet du jour.

In Conclusion

These are, then, my logical arguments, based on two assumptions: first, my faith; and second, that men and women are different, and both necessary to the human race.  Before calling me ignorant, a bigot, a hater, a homophobe (a term which enrages me, as fear (“phobos”) and dislike are very different things, however connected), or whatever else occurs to your rhetorical vocabulary, please at least make some effort to disrupt one assumption or the other logically.

Placeholder First Post

In which Jon makes notes and writes some things so that he has a post on which to experiment with themes.  Jon will be writing here on politics and religion; will review and discuss various books and performances; and will vary the pace with observations on sports and personal life.