This week, the forms for the Marriage Equality Postal Survey go out all around Australia. After some to-ing and fro-ing on the subject, I decided that even though its not really related to being an Uber driver, its still important enough that I should get my thoughts out there. Just for the record, I’m a cis-gendered, heterosexual male, raised Catholic but currently agnostic, I’ve got no particular knowledge or experience in politics, the law (except perhaps as it related to the road rules in NSW), theology, philosophy, history, or any other area that might make me even remotely considered an “expert” for the topic, and apart from this blog I have debatable skills when it comes to putting my thoughts into words for other people’s consumption.
With that in mind, I’m going to try and put out several posts relating to the topic and my thoughts on it. I humbly ask that you share them as far and wide as possible, and that if you want to engage in debate with me, I’m happy to as long as its civil; I’ll ignore anything that I deem to be intentionally hostile, insulting, degrading or otherwise inappropriate. At the same time, if I say something that offends you (on either side, as I may unknowingly use incorrect terminology) then I apologise as that is not my intent. Please let me know if I do, so I can make any appropriate corrections as quickly as possible.
Whenever the possibility of same-sex marriage has been brought up, or for that matter any potential changes to laws regarding the rights of the LGBTQI community such as allowing adoption of children, people raise religious-based objections. I absolutely don’t have a problem with someone deciding that they can’t do a certain thing or can’t do it in a certain way or at certain times because of their religion. As it applies to marriage equality, most of the religious objections I’ve been aware of have seemed to come from Christians. Again I’m no expert, but I’ve got some past experience with Catholicism, so…
There are a number of requirements that Catholics are supposed to meet to continue to be “true Catholics”. (Just to be clear that’s my term, not an official term I’ve ever heard used by a priest, bishop or other official of the Church.) Growing up, I was expected to go to church every Sunday, though technically we more often than not went on the Saturday night to the Vigil service, but apparently that counted as being on the Sunday. We weren’t supposed to eat within an hour of taking Holy Communion, which at some point I remember equating to not going swimming after eating. We also had to go to church on the special holidays like Christmas and the three days of Easter.
Speaking of Easter, as a symbol of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, going without food and water and being tempted by Satan, as kids we were supposed to give up something for the 40 days of Lent. As we got older we became aware of the rule against eating meat on Fridays and Ash Wednesday. (That’s the first day of Lent. The day before Ash Wednesday is called Fat Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, referring to the fattier, richer foods you would eat before the fasting of Lent. Also by the way, Fat Tuesday in French translates to “Mardi Gras”.) Lent used to be stricter, and may still be for some Catholics, with varying levels of self-denial, such as not eating meat at all during Lent, not eating anything on the Fridays.
The point I’m making about all these rules is that they affect the believer, not those around them. If your beliefs require that you wear certain clothing, groom yourself in certain ways, are selective about the foods that you can and cannot eat, then there is absolutely no issue with you choosing to follow those rules and beliefs. But to expect everyone around you, even the non-believers to also follow those rules is problematic. And there is no reason why, even in Western culture where the legal systems are influenced and to a certain extent based on Judeo-Christian morals, that those beliefs must be reflected in law.
The Bible does suggest that homosexuality is sinful. I’ve seen various people attempt to examine the specific verses that refer to it, with some analyses that confirm that homosexuality is a sin, and others that suggest the interpretations of those passages had become too broad from what was intended, conflating homosexuality in general with other concepts such as rape, and it is those other things that are sinful. I’m not going to pretend to know which is the correct intent of the Bible authors, let alone of God. I will however point out that there are a great many things, particularly in the Old Testament, that are considered sinful outside of what might be considered the obvious such as the content of the Ten Commandments. I don’t have the eloquence with words that Aaron Sorkin does, so I’ll just point you to this clip from The West Wing, season 2 episode 3, “The Midterms”…
If we’re going to look to the Christian beliefs for guidance on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry under Australia’s secular legal system, perhaps we should look to something Jesus himself said: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” That’s from the Gospel according to John, chapter 13 verse 34. By the way, none of the following verses have any exemptions, let alone ones based on gender or sexuality.