Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"What does your marriage have to do with the sanctity of mine?"

Great op-ed in today's Mansfield News Journal!

"I don't really understand how one man looks at another man and falls in love. The idea is alien to me. I don't really have to understand it, though; I know it happens, and I know homosexuals want to enjoy the same rights and privileges I enjoy. They're as American as I am, and as human as I am, so I don't see why they shouldn't enjoy marriage as much as I do." -- Steve Goble, Mansfield News Journal

By STEVE GOBLE -- Mansfield News Journal

Massachusetts. Connecticut. Iowa. Vermont. California, for a while, at least.

And now, Gov. David Paterson has introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. In announcing this, he pointed out gay and lesbian couples are denied numerous civil protections -- such as health care and pension rights -- because they cannot marry. He's correct, and that needs to change.

It's an uphill fight, but things are changing, aren't they?

It's a slow turnaround, though. Even in states that have approved gay marriage, the battle isn't over. Appeals, petitions and ballot issues will keep the pot stirred for a long while. Still, attitudes are slowly changing.

As events unfold, we'll all hear a lot about the sanctity of marriage. We'll be told that allowing gays the same marital rights heterosexuals enjoy will somehow obliterate that sanctity.

That argument doesn't wash for me. I apparently have one of those really cool marriages with bulletproof sanctity, in which things other people do in their relationships don't affect my marriage in the slightest.

For instance, suppose some bimbo marries a rich old geezer hoping he'll die soon and leave her a mint. That makes a mockery of marriage, if you ask me -- but it doesn't affect the sanctity of my marriage one little bit.

How about a couple of teens who go too far and end up rushing to the altar before she's showing? Sometimes such marriages turn out just fine, often they do not. Many people would agree it's probably not the ideal way to start a marriage -- but I'll wish them the best and notice that it doesn't affect the sanctity of my marriage one little bit.

Consider people who have open marriages, in which husband and wife don't worry too much about extramarital flings. It's not my idea of marriage, and it's probably not anything most Americans would condone -- but it doesn't affect the sanctity of my marriage one little bit.

The way I see it, the sanctity of my marriage depends on me and my wife. If it's sacred to us, and we keep it that way, that's all that matters. What other people do simply doesn't count in my marriage. How could it?

When considering whether to support or reject gay marriage, I ask myself whether I have any right at all to vote against it. I don't think I do, considering that other people's relationships have no bearing on my life.

Now, I don't really understand how one man looks at another man and falls in love. The idea is alien to me. I don't really have to understand it, though; I know it happens, and I know homosexuals want to enjoy the same rights and privileges I enjoy. They're as American as I am, and as human as I am, so I don't see why they shouldn't enjoy marriage as much as I do.

Some argue that if we sanction gay marriage, we'll eventually have to sanction pedophilia and beastiality, too. It's a pathetic argument -- animals and children aren't consenting adults. I'm all for protecting animals and children from abuse, but I don't see where gay marriage has anything to do with that.

Some point out the human race could hardly continue if everybody was gay -- which would make some kind of sense, I guess, if we were talking about building some magic "gay ray gun" to turn everyone homosexual. I'm fairly certain, though, we'll continue to procreate even if gays are allowed to marry.

Many will tell me all about how homosexuality is a sin. I don't know a lot about sin, but I notice theologians who supposedly do know a lot about sin exist on both sides of this issue. So, I'm willing to let God sort that part of it out if God wants.

Me? I'll just look forward to the day when we really are all equal under the law.

We are getting there, slowly.

Steve Goble is a copy editor and page designer for the News Journal. Look for his column, "It's Debatable," in the Community Conversation section every Sunday, and visit his blog on our Web site. E-mail him at sgoble@nncogannett.com.


So here's my question du jour: Can anyone -- in 100 words or less -- explain just HOW my marriage undermines the sanctity of yours? Not why you think homosexuality is a sin -- not what sexual acts creep you out -- not whether or not the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks marriage equality is a good idea.

I'm after the sanctity of marriage argument because -- frankly -- I'm a big FAN of the sanctity of marriage ... and figure the more examples of life-long, loving, commited in-sickness-and-health-til-death-do-we-part relationships we have around the stronger the fabric of our society will be.

So give it your best shot ... we're all ears. "How does my marriage undermine the sanctity of yours?" Ready, set ... write!



Kirkepiscatoid said...

Amen and amen.

When people stop getting married by an Elvis impersonator in Vegas, I might at least give a listen to what they have to say about "the sanctity of marriage." Meanwhile...ehhh, nope.

When heterosexual clergy stop running off with the church secretary and the money, I might give a listen to what they say about whatever they think Leviticus means. But meanwhile...again...ehhh, nope.

It's just so inherently evil to want to take a vow to be the committed life partner of another human being, or to be a minister of God's word, right? (NOTTTTTTTT!)


susankay said...

I can do it in WAY less than 100 words.

Q: "What does your marriage have to do with the sanctity of mine?"

Short A: "Nothing."

Long A: "The more that people who value marriage can get married, the more role models my husband and I have."

gerry said...


Thank you for this post. This really one of the best "man on the street" pieces I've seen on the whole matrix of issues around the great question before the Church and the World.

Oh and I second what susankay says ... nothing, not a thing...

Kay & Sarah said...

Great article Steve Goble!!

Brian F said...

Susan - If we are both Christian, united in the body of Christ by the work and power of the Holy Spirit, then there is a mystical spiritual union between you and I, which I don't fully understand. There is also a different kind of union between my wife and I - we are one flesh, in some way I don't fully understand. But the effect of all this is: because of the spiritual union between you and I in the body of Christ, then of course the sexual unions you engage in has an effect on the sanctity of my marriage, in the same way as any kind of infidelity, abuse or impure motives amongst heterosexuals devalues my marriage in our community's perception. In short, we are not islands.

if that was over 100 words, just put some of the text into footnotes.

LisaDiane said...

Absolutely nothing! I am lucky enough to have a wonderful husband, and, I believe, a great marriage. The way I see it, there are only two people who could mess that up. Me. or my husband.

While the sanctity of my marriage is completely unaffected by the actions of others, a horrible inequality acted out against anyone affects everyone in a society.

The mothers of my godchildren suffer on a regular basis because they do not enjoy the legal benefits of a married couple. Seeing those I love jump through hoops, pay for legal fees, and generally struggle to protect their family is a constant reminder of the injustice in our midst.

I pray every day that we as a society can let go of our obsession with trying to control how other people live their lives, and that everyone who wants to marry can do so!

MarkBrunson said...

So, as there's nothing wrong with said sexual relations, no worry.

IT said...

Susan, you have it backwards. I want to know how the sanctity of MY marriage with my wife is affected by:

Britney Spears and her 1-day wonder Vegas marriage.

Larry King and his....is it 5 serial marriages?

Newt Gingrich and his 3 marriages. oh but the Catholics gave him at least one annulment for the marriage where he cheated on the wife and had the fling with the intern --so he could marry the intern, who is a good catholic. Go figure.

Republican congressional candidate Jack Ryan, who took his wife Jeri (aka 7-of-9) to sex-swapping clubs to watch her have sex with other men.

the fact is despite the best effort of straight people to disrespect the complete and total commitment of my marriage, to engage in affairs, divorce, and to fail to take it at all seriously,

BP and I have been faithfully monogamous for many years and intend to remain so. Our union is spiritual, emotional, intellectual and only then, physical.

And bigoted Brian isn't going to get any cooties from us. Indeed, he'd be fortunate to have the complete faithful union that we have (and if he does, he's darn lucky.)

So who, exactly, is the threat to marriage?

Boring BP and IT, or....?

JimB said...

I think Brian about 50% correct. The Spirit links all the baptized. When some suffer the discrimination, hatred and injustice the homophobes visit on them; all suffer. When ministries are lost because of discrimination; all are diminished. When awareness of God's love diminishes in the preaching of hate by leaders; all loose.

Marriage is damaged not because two women marry. It is damaged when society condones common infidelity, domestic violence and inequitable divorce. All are harmed by what society permits our straight selves.

So Brian has a point: he made it incorrectly.

(The above is 92 words by the by)

Brian F said...

IT - thanks for your sensitive loving inclusive accolade. I notice that you are either incapable or unable or unwilling to deal with the issue in my post, which was simply responding to Susan's request for an answer to the question of how the sanctity of my marriage is diminished by the push to redefine marriage to include same sex unions. I gave an answer and all you do in response is call me a bigot - how intelligent is that? I look forward to a rational response from you.

I know you can point to all sorts of flaws of marriages among celebrities and other public figures - that doesn't mean that marriage is flawed per se, or that it is therefore wrong to limit marriage to heterosexual couples, but simply shows that the people themselves are flawed. What these tragedies do result in though is many young people having a lower regard for marriage, and becoming reluctant to make the commitment to the other person that forms a true marriage. And applying "marriage" to same sex couples is not going to fix their endemic infidelity, low longevity and domestic violence which occur at much higher rates per 1,000 couples among homosexuals than among heterosexuals. Don't forget that despite your recitation of a very small number of high profile incidences of failure, the success rate of marriages is around 70%. Do you really expect us to believe that homosexual partnerships even come close to approaching this figure? And don't just point to a few isolated examples of longevity among homosexual partnerships in the same flippant way you disparage married couples, what are the broad statistics of longevity and fidelity among homosexual couples?

IT said...

Hmmm, you can't ask homosexuals to have the same commitment of marriage if you don't give them access to marriage. I should think this is obvious. How well do straight unmarried couples do in that regard? Try working that through and having a think about it.

And you can't point at a handful of promiscuous gays and draw conclusions on the broader behavior of all gays, any more than I can do it with high profile straights.

But the point here is, regardless of religious views, in the concept of CIVIL marriage, there is no justification to deny gay people the same access, of course with the same demands responsibilities and expectations, because the fact of my marriage to BP (which is at least for now intact, waiting for the CA supreme court) has had NO EFFECT on any other marriage in CA, or the country.


LGMarshall said...

PS. You will never find your answers in the way that Man does things. We're sinners!, we're flawed, we don't do Marriage how God intended it. (That includes 'Britney Spears' & Newt Gingrich.) Let's talk about Salvation. If you want to be SAVED in eternity with God, if you want to be seen as Pure and Washed by the Blood of Jesus, Faultless, Innocent, so that you will be 'Passed Over' and not Destroyed.... then you need to get with the program, Repent, & Believe. Read Genesis, God's Word is supremely evident re His Order of Sexual Unions. He made us. Man & Woman -- specifically to be united in One Flesh. It's the epitome of arrogance -- to think that You Know Better than God. We all have 'Feelings', but we are asked to Not Give In to our Feelings. Obedience is primary & required to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. (It requires a Sacrifice!--- Die to your flesh, says Jesus.)

LGMarshall said...

How Does Same Sex Marriage effect the sanctity of my Marriage?

It doesn't.

The Book of Genesis describes human sexual relations as God prescribed it. There's no such thing as same sex Marriage in God's eyes. God does not recognize same-sex unions. He didn't create it and he didn't plan on it. He doesn't sanction it, nor promote it. He calls it unnatural. None of God's Children would conceive of such a union. Demanding, Whining, Begging, Clamoring for your own desires will not put you closer to God's Laws. He expects nothing short of Obedience in that area of our Lives.

JCF said...


In your first post, you ALMOST (*) made a legitimate point...

...about religious marriage (specifically, Christian marriage).

However, as Susan asked her question in the context of civil marriage, your argument has no validity.

[(*) The "Almost": your argument lost its validity in the context of Christian marriage, when you compared 1M/1W marriage to "the sexual unions you engage in". On the remote chance that was an honest mistake, the relevant comparison is of 1M/1W marriage, to 2M OR 2W marriages (when legally/religious possible), where ALL of said marriages are between faithful, consenting, Christian couples. HTH.]


It requires a Sacrifice!

So why not sacrifice YOUR marriage for celibacy (as St. Paul urged), LGM?

If heterosexuals, not otherwise called to celibacy, made EXACTLY this sacrifice as a model to LGBTs, then their sacrifice MIGHT prove to have some powers to persuade. Otherwise---MYOB, and Go Chaste Thyselves, Hets! ;-/

IT said...

Well, LG, as I'm the atheist in these parts, I don't give a fig about anyone's concept of GOD. That's the point.

You can live your life in agreement with what you think GOD says, but for those of us who don't believe in GOD? You don't get to force us to live your religion.

i don't know why this is so hard to understand.

Brian F said...

JCF - an interesting point to distinguish between a Christian marriage and a secular marriage. Marriage is marriage. In Australia, there is only one Marriage Act (1961), and marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman, whether performed by a civil celebrant or by an ordained minister. Don't forget that God is god over the believer and the unbeliever alike - so marriage between unbelievers by a civil celebrant is as much a marriage as between believers by a minister. I thought Susan was asking how her relationship affects the sanctity of my marriage, and assuming she is a Christian I answered it from a theological point of view.

But in any case, the agenda of Integrity is to push ultimately for marriage to be recognised between, or applied to, same sex couples within the church, ie in a Christian context is it not? It seems to me as if the blessing of same sex unions is only a penultimate goal, and once that is brokered in, then the next goal is to redefine marriage in the canons and the prayer book to encompass same sex couples.

Brian F said...

IT - in response to your post on 12:14pm, giving homosexuals access to marriage will not increase their commitment to marriage or to monogamous faithfulness in marriage. The evidence from European countries that have legalised marriage for same sex couples is that 1. only a small percentage of people take advantage of the facility; 2. even when they become married there is no reduction in their promiscuity - open relationships are more common; 3. marriage does not increase the longevity of the relationship - the vast majority last less than 5 years; and 4. the incidence of domestic violence within same sex couples is still higher than among heterosexual couples.

Homosexual marriages are far less virtuous, measured in terms of monogamous fidelity, mutual respect, and longevity, than heterosexual marriages although there are the few exceptions on both sides, where some homosexual marriages are better than some heterosexual marriages - but this is not true of the majority of cases. Do you expect us to believe that the Americans are going to any better than this to the Europeans?

I also believe that there must be some way of ending the disadvantage that many experience in terms of state awarded benefits by way of legislation other than changing the age old definition of marriage.