I keep coming back to this

There is one simple point that I keep coming back to when I think about the issue of gay marriage.

Proponents of gay marriage insist that it is an issue of equality. We are denying them fundamental rights, treating them like second-class citizens, etc. “Love is love.”

Marriage isn’t just about love, though. If it was, why do so many people who love each other live together, instead of getting married?

And the thing we keep forgetting: the relationship between one man and one woman is fundamentally different from the relationship of two individuals of the same gender. They will interact differently; physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, they interact differently.

Examine it from the level of friendship for a moment. Two women who are friends interact differently from two men who are friends, and from a woman and a man who are friends. This is why the books in the series “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” have sold so well. It is a fundamental truth that we communicate and relate differently, as different genders. Women have women friends, and they get together for certain types of activities. Women have men friends, and they do different things together. I know some of this is stereotypical, but in this case, I think the stereotypes hold fairly true. I love my husband, but if I wanted a shopping buddy, he’s not who I would take. If I want to play a video game or watch sports, though, that’s a different story. And I accept that my husband needs to talk sports and action movies with people who know more than me and enjoy those things more. (Although we both enjoy baseball and can talk about that fairly knowledgeably.) These are surface level examples of what I’m trying to get at.

I remember being in college and crying on a roommate’s shoulder over life in general being rough at that point in time. I would never have expressed those feelings to a male friend. I needed female companionship at that moment, because I trusted that my friend would respond the way I needed at the time. I knew, woman to woman, how she would react.

Then there’s the physical interactions, which are obviously different between heterosexual and homosexual couples. I’m not trying to say here that one is better or worse than the other, I’m just making the point that the interactions are different. The anatomy is different. Physically, most heterosexual couples can also create offspring. A homosexual couple can never, on their own, create offspring. The consequences of their actions thus are different.

From my perspective, I believe that these two types of couples interact differently on so many different levels. (Personally, I think that is may be why some people choose a gay or lesbian lifestyle. They enjoy the emotional and social interactions with people of their own gender more than with people of the other gender.)  The relationships are not the same. Why do people keep insisting that they are? And if the relationships are fundamentally different, why do we have to call them the same thing?

Separation of Church and State

I haven’t blogged about any of this in a while for a few reasons. First, the election is over, and I was hoping everything would die down. While it has a little, the fight to preserve traditional marriage continues. And frankly, I got a little worn out. I don’t like arguing with others. I don’t like when people are angry. I know this is a sensitive issue, but I still wish we could all just talk about it calmly and, even if we just aren’t going to see eye to eye, accept that we have different opinions and that’s okay.

But I decided to start writing about this again, because it’s still very important to me. One thing that I keep hearing about that is indirectly related, is the issue of separation of church and state. Opponents of California’s prop 8 keep arguing that it was unconstitutional for Mormons (among MANY other religious groups) to work together in support of an issue they felt strongly about. Our country’s laws do permit any agency to work together in regards to issues. Churches can promote issues, but not individuals.

But what about separation of church and state, you say? Well, there’s a very vital piece of information that people tend to forget about the concept of separation of church and state.

It’s just that, a concept.

There is no law concerning separation of church and state.

The First Amendment simply states that Congress shall “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereofmake no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” All that means is that they cannot force people to practice or forsake any particular religion. That’s why so many people left Europe in the first place – they wanted to practice a religion other than the state religion, free from the persecution which dogged them in Europe.

There is no law that says you can’t practice religion in public. There is no law that says you can’t pray in public for fear of offending others. There is no law that says a public official can’t mention God for fear of offending someone.

The idea of separation of church and state mostly comes from the philosophies of Thomas Jefferson and John Locke. (See the great wikipedia article on the subject here.) My favorite part in the article is this wonderful quote from Jefferson:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

He’s praising the First Amendment because it protects each individual’s right to worship how he pleases. It PROTECTS OUR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Religion was that important to the founding fathers; they made sure our right to worship was one of the first things addressed in the constitution. By prohibiting people from expressing their religious beliefs in public, I believe we are stripping ourselves of our religious rights. Schools can’t have Christmas trees, public prayer is now a shameful thing, and heaven forbid you ask someone not to take the name of the Lord in vain. How come they can offend me as much as they want by swearing and using offensive language toward the God I love, but I can’t offend them by mentioning that very same God in a positive context?

Back to the issue at hand… The 1st Amendment DOES mean that a public official cannot use his or her office to promote a specific religion, or force others to believe it. Expressing one’s beliefs, however, is not necessarily promoting them.

If I’m a teacher, and one of my kids asks me about my religion, and I say, “I believe in God and His Son, Jesus Christ,” are you turned into a believer? Of course not. It simply informs you of my beliefs.

If I said, “I believe that God will strike you down right now, if you don’t bow down and pray to Him,” then that would, in my opinion, be crossing the line. That’s threatening, forcing my beliefs on others.

In my opinion, this is part of what’s wrong with modern America. In our eagerness to avoid giving offense to – let’s admit it – the minority of Americans who do not believe in God, we strip ourselves of our rights to worship. Judges have used the phrase “separation of church and state” so frequently, in justifying their case rulings, that they have, in essence, created a new law, one that our lawmakers never intended. Judges are not intended to make laws, but to interpret them. (And legislators aren’t supposed to influence judges by telling them that they disagree with the laws the people just voted on. We DO believe in separation of powers, but hey, who cares about that part? Not our judges or legislators, evidently.)

Publicly elected officials are now scared to death to do anything that might be construed as religious, because they might get slapped with a lawsuit, and they might not get re-elected – the most terrible fate on earth, I know. In our society’s eagerness to be “politically correct,” we avoid any semblance of religion, including many “old-fashioned” values that seem too closely related to our Christian roots. And this is where the whole issue ties into prop 8 – our society has decided that it’s unfashionable to believe in being modest, honest, chaste, and polite, or anything else having to do with the Ten Commandments. It’s too religious. And heaven forbid we should use that freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by the First Amendment.

Unless, of course, your religion is Atheism. Because even believing that there is no God is a religion. It’s a way of looking at the world, and it informs your choices and beliefs. It’s different than 99% of the religions out there, so we tend to forget that it’s a religious way of life too. By not allowing those of us who believe in God to admit it in public, we are forcing the religion of Atheism on our country.

Where’s that idea of separation of church and state when you need it? Maybe I should go protest down at the courthouse.

Opening a discussion

After seeing the huge response that I got to my post on California’s Proposition 8 on my regular blog, I decided to move the discussion to a better location – most of the readers who come to my main blog are looking for updates on my family, not my views on politics. Feel free to join in the discussion, whichever side you believe is right. Just keep your comments clean, and no personal attacks please. We can have a discussion as adults and respectfully disagree without namecalling and hurtful remarks.

Published in: on October 13, 2008 at 2:53 am  Comments Off on Opening a discussion  
Tags: , , ,