The third and final installment of the “What We Really Need Now is No” series.
I voted yes on California’s Proposition 8, and I’m sick of hearing that this somehow means that I’m an ignorant, bigoted hatemonger. I’m saddened that people assume that because I supported Prop 8, I hate or fear gay people, that somehow I want them to live without the rights that I enjoy.
My opposition to gay marriage has nothing to do with rights. I’m fine with gay couples receiving all the basic civil rights anyone else is guaranteed in this country.
No, I’m opposed to gay marriage because, well, because I think that it is a moral distortion and I cannot support it being affirmed as equally sacred as heterosexual marriage. I realize that “marriage” has taken a beating in our culture with divorce, infidelity, Britney Spears, etc… But marriage is still a sacrament that has throughout time been a religious rite of symbolizing the sacred merging of male and female. It is a slap in the face to orthodox views of morality to equate male-male, female-female with the traditional male-female union. I’m fine with gay couples getting civil unions, having the state recognize their commitment, etc. But I can’t bring myself to endorse church-sanctioned, “just like any other couple” gay marriage. It all comes down to the fact that I cannot affirm homosexuality as a right or pure expression of human sexuality.
Of course, this is the real heart of the matter for gay activists—the thing that has them screaming outside churches, harassing nuns, and sending white powdery substances in envelopes to the Mormon Church. They’re rebelling against the fact that there are people—52% of Californians, as it is—who do not affirm their lifestyle, at least in part. They are seething with anger not necessarily because any rights have been revoked, but because they perceive an attack and condemnation of their very existence in the passage of “Prop H8.”
Speaking for myself here, my vote for Prop 8 was not an attack on anything or anyone, and it certainly was no exercise in hate. I lament that it is perceived as such. It especially pains me when my gay friends perceive it as such. But I hope they understand where I’m coming from.
My support for Prop 8 was an affirmation of a principle I hold dear and will never apologize for: that wrong should never be called right, regardless of the sincerity or well-meaning of its practitioners.
Here will come the inevitable arguments that homosexuality is not a sin or is not wrong. You are welcome to think this, of course. But my moral system, as informed by orthodox Christian interpretations of Biblical teachings (as well as, frankly, my soul’s intuition), deems it as such—a sin—no more and no less than illicit heterosexual improprieties or pride or greed or gluttony are sins.
Is it not right to say no to the things one’s religion says is wrong? Would I not be making a mockery of my faith if I were to say, “well, because so many people are so sincerely and emotionally arguing that homosexuality is a valid lifestyle, I guess it can’t be wrong after all?” I wonder what the abolitionists would have to say about that type of reasoning? And yes, I did just go there.
Here’s the bottom line: it pains me to write something that sounds like a condemnation. But it’s not a condemnation. It’s an affirmation. In saying “no” to gay marriage I am really just saying yes to the moral system of restraint, discipline and piety that I believe is God’s best plan for humanity. I struggle with it in my own life, to be sure. It’s not easy. I’m no saint. I’m a child of the screwed up, fallen world as much as the next guy, as much as my gay neighbor or racist landlady. We are all unfortunately slogging through identities that have been marred and twisted and disordered by forces and circumstances often out of our control. But as much as it isn’t our fault that we have wrongheaded desires and unconscious impulses toward the wrong, we must nevertheless answer for them.
This may seem unjust, and yes, from our human perspective it sort of is. I can totally sympathize with feeling the dissonance between something that feels right or natural but that we are told is sinful or wrong. I understand and grieve with those who, because of abuse or damage done to them in their childhood, suffer from psychological issues today that they in no way chose or seek out. It is true that our environment, and often our parents or elders, screw us up. But that doesn’t mean that immorality is excused. It doesn’t mean that our damaged psyches can be normalized and accepted rather than redeemed. But they can be redeemed, thank God; but only when we deny that they define us. We must first orient ourselves upward, outward, and say no to our inward, narcissistic pull.
When I say no to gay marriage, I’m saying no to things in my own life, too. It’s an act of solidarity—this struggle to deny one’s self in service of a higher truth. But we’re all in it together. And I’ll let that be the last word.