The Public Debate
In the public discussion about homosexual marriage, especially in Minnesota where the issue has come to the ballot, the popular press has made a large and false impression about how unified homosexuals are in their support for legalizing homosexual marriage.
I write as a man who has friends that I care for deeply, who are homosexual, some of them have been my friends since childhood and college. And they are not united in support for homosexual marriage.
Homosexuals are not united on this issue. In fact it has become a point of public irony in the homosexual community that so many self-titled "advocates of gay marriage" have proclaimed themselves advocates without even bothering to find out what homosexuality means to the less than 4 percent of the population that described themselves as homosexual in recent polls and the U.S. Census (data).
Homosexuals are not united on the legalization of gay marriage and there are prominent voices in the homosexual community who go so far as to mock those who have presumed to advocate for gay marriage on their behalf.
John Sandemann of the Australian Bible Society wrote an opinion piece on this issue on June 29, 2012 titled "What sort of marriages do homosexual people want?" after the Sydney Writers Festival titled "Why Get Married When You Could Be Happy?" In that post he transcribes a small bit of the relevant dialogue as follows:
Early in the Sydney Writers Festival discussion, Masha Gessen expressed the ambivalence of the panel towards marriage.The recording of the session is available at the Australian Radio National website. The recording is graphic and explicit with foul language, but it is useful to listen to this recording to understand how gay marriage is viewed in the homosexual community. The recording itself is at this link. The recording shows the psychological intimidation used in the advancement of this issue.
Masha Gessen: “It’s a no-brainer that we should have the right to marriage but equally I think that it is a no brainer that the institute of marriage should not exist.” (cheers from the audience)
“That causes my brain some trouble. Part of the reason that it causes me trouble is that fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there.”
“Because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change. It’s going to change and it should change. And again it should not exist. I don’t like taking part in creating fictions about my life. That’s not what I had in mind when I came out thirty years ago. I have three kids who have five parents, more or less.”
Shun Wah asked: “People in civil unions in Australia enjoy the same legal rights as people who are married so is it largely a symbolic battle?”
Dennis Altman: “Yes I think it is largely a symbolic battle but I want to make a couple of points:
Firstly I should say I signed the petition because I do not want Cardinal Pell to control the laws in Australia. (Cheers) Okay that is the easy applause line. What worries me about this debate is there always seems to be the assumption that somehow magically we all have long-term relationships.
One of the things that for me was important about coming out as gay was that we came into a community that accepted a whole range of different relationships, different possibilities, and the fact that lots of people are not in primary relationships or that they are in primary relationships which really are quite different to those of the heterosexual norm.
And the constant emphasis on same sex marriage as the goal, the language of this is the civil rights issue of our time, it seems to me further marginalises and sends very dangerous signals to people who are not in long-term relationships and who may not want to be.”
After an interchange with Jeanette Winterson on whether there are more important issues:
Altman argues “As I said at the beginning I would like to see the law changed, okay? I would like to see that very unpleasant line in the marriage act where a celebrant is required to say “marriage is between a man and a woman” removed and then I would like to see the entire Marriage Act repealed.
Shun Wah: This is a topic about marriage: it is not really about sex.
Altman: I am fascinated by how reluctant the people who argue vehemently for same sex marriage are to talk about sex. The original concept of marriage in the western world of course was based heavily on the idea of monogamy really so that the man could be guaranteed that the children were his.
Now I am going to speak now as a gay man: one of the things about gay male culture is that it is not a monogamous culture. All the evidence we have suggests that monogamy is a myth. There are many longstanding gay relationships. There are virtually no longstanding monogamous gay relationships. I happen to think that this is a good thing. I happen to think that this puts sex in a much better perspective than the concept that we are being fed.
But I do get very anxious when I am told that people want to have a marriage that is exactly the same as the ones that their heterosexual sisters and brothers have. What their heterosexual sisters and brothers are signing up for – whatever they do in practice – is a belief in life-long monogamy.
There is a level of hypocrisy in that – that is built into the marriage ceremony. That, I do not want to see replicated.
Winterson: Are you saying that the hypocrisy is built into the religious ceremony or in the concept of marriage altogether?
Altman: I would love to have the people who are out there arguing for same sex marriage say “lets be clear: marriage is about primary emotional commitment to another person and it doesn’t mean I won’t **** around.
Winterson: You are right about the gay male culture not being monogamous and why should it be, and the whole troubling question of monogamy. Whether it is natural … I think what you expose is something which is very uncomfortable for the male heterosexual or homosexual. Heterosexual men would prefer to screw around if they could, I think, mainly.
Gessen: And so would many heterosexual women.
Winterson: I think there is a difference. One of the things I worry about is that we are going to have an over-masculinised culture, in that we are always going to take the values of the male as the dominant values.
I am not sure that women necessarily feel this way. Which is not about anti sex or less sex but I think it is about a deepening, rather than endlessly separating, love and sex.
That is a much bigger argument about whether these separations are actually good for us as human beings. It might be good for our libido, it might be good for our self-esteem, but whether they are good for us as human beings I don’t know….
Shun Wah: If we change marriage so it is not monogamous, 80 per cent of television and movies will have to change their plots.
Altman: There is always the second series.
Winterson: In the gay male community, having sex with someone who is not your partner is not a signal that anything is wrong with your primary relationship. But very often it is a signal of that both in the heterosexual community and wider. It’s not about desire, it’s about a breakdown of intimacy or some wish not to put the work in there.
Look, if we all had sex with someone else tonight it would be much more exciting than if we went home and had sex with our partner, probably. But that does not mean it is a good idea.
I often worry about the way the gay male culture segues into the general obsession in the general culture, that says “don’t have any ties just go out there and have a good time”.
Benjamin Law: Thinking of one couple I know, they are Australian, they spend most of their time overseas but often they’re apart from each other. This gay male couple has built up rules for each other. They are married – I think they got married in the UK. If you go past a certain amount of time apart it is assumed things will happen. But they don’t talk about them. And you don’t get emotionally involved.
Those are the ground rules. One of the biggest advocates for gay marriage in the States is Dan Savage who is very much for gay marriage but is not a huge fan of monogamy.
I think those different options need to be discussed. And maybe homosexuals can teach heterosexuals about that as well.
The Real Issue?
So, what, then, is the real end-game of voting to allow homosexual marriage?
Voting means that the person who casts his or her vote is willing to have those who disagree fined, imprisoned, or even killed if they refuse to comply.
Allowing for same sex marriages means that any Christian congregation which might disagree with same-sex unions should suffer penalties under the law. That is, congregations or individuals who defend the institution of marriage as God created it can be fined, imprisoned, or even killed if they refuse to acknowledge and support a homosexual marriage.
Of course, the opposite is true as well. If marriage is legally defined as one man and one woman, then those who violate that law would be subject to the same.
Homosexuals already have legal protection under the MN Human Rights Act for inheritance, visitation, and next-of-kin issues. Marriage provides no advantage legally in any of these areas in Minnesota. So why insist on mandating that gay marriage be legal?
The only power that the state does not have is to fine, imprison, and put to death those who object to homosexuality. Under MN HRA, and EEO citizens who object to homosexuality are punished for discriminating against homosexuals, transgender, etc., in business, housing, employment, access, banking, and many other areas. The only areas that have not been required to approve and support homosexuality are the family and the church.
Permitting the legalization of homosexual marriage would require the family and the church to approve, support, and defend same-sex unions.
God's Law defines what real love is: both love for God, and love for one's neighbor. Any sexual union outside of what God defined as marriage in His Word is not love. It might feel like love, people may defend it as love, but it is not.
Christ suffered for the sins of lust, fornication, adultery, rape, incest, masturbation, sodomy, polygamy, everything that violates His divine institution of marriage. When a person claims that such things are not sin, but acceptable, that person is saying he or she does not want the forgiveness given by the life, death, and resurrection of the Biblical Christ.
If the Church and our congregation of believers is to truly love those who are entrapped by such sins, we must speak the truth in love that those behaviours, those laws, and those political positions are sin. And we must be willing to bear the shame of their mockery when they have the upper hand: to bear the cross of Christ in a pagan and sinful world. We must pray for their repentance and deliverance from their sin. And we must live humbly as citizens of this earthly kingdom, work, vote, and speak in such a way to show our utter need of redemption from our own slavery to sin by pointing to Christ alone.