Sin and same-sex marriage

My name is Enyo and I’ll be a guest blogger this week. My blog is Redfish. I’m sorry about this post being a bit scattered, but I just haven’t been able to get my thought together very coherently.

* * *

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about same-sex marriage recently. I believe that banning same-sex marriage is a violation of civil rights; I am in favour of legalizing it.

When the same-sex marriage debate erupted in Ontario, and I waited to hear logical, coherent arguments against legalizing same-sex marriage.

Three years later, I’m still waiting.

Since I’m not Christian, it isn’t surprising that I find religious arguments somewhat less than convincing, but my disagreement with the arguments presented goes beyond my lack of belief in Jesus Christ. Religious-based arguments advocating for a ban on same-sex marriage don’t make sense. Not even internal sense based on the belief system from which they arise.

I have a hard time explaining what I mean by this, so I’d like to provide some links to someone who provides an example of what a consistent Christian position on homosexuality and same-sex marriage could look like. R.J. Anderson is a fellow Canadian and an evangelical Christian who believes homosexuality is a sin and has written posts about her views on Gay Marriage, Gay Marriage II and Homophobia:

“So to have an attitude of “fear and hatred” against those who commit a particular type of sin, just because it isn’t a sin that I personally happen to be engaged in, would be arrant hypocrisy, to say the least.”

Thoughts?

-Enyo Harlley
enyo_harlley@yahoo.ca


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6 comments for “Sin and same-sex marriage

  1. April 6, 2005 at 8:41 pm

    wow.thanks for posting those links. I haven’t seen that particular religious perspective before, and it makes a lot of sense and seems so reasonable. (unlike the anti-same sex marriage arguments, which as you say, don’t seem to make any sense whatsoever)

  2. A. Pang
    April 7, 2005 at 10:49 am

    Nice to see a Canadian guest poster, and as a fellow U of T’er interested in both classics and contemporary religious debates I read your blog and R. J. Anderson’s with great interest. I must confess that R. J. Anderson’s well-written posts brought tears to my eyes. (Now…tears of what?)

    Although Anderson’s tolerant attitude is remarkable and certainly praiseworthy, I cannot entirely believe that she isn’t a homophobe. She says right off in her second linked post, “It is sin, and therefore ultimately destructive to the sinner and to others, regardless of whether people believe that to be the case. In fact, if every person on the face of the earth ceased to believe the practice of homosexuality was wrong, it would still be wrong […] (Romans 3:4).”

    She attempts to mitigate her position by adding that homosexuality is only one, and certainly not the worst, of a whole host of human sins: “And although homosexuality is condemned in both the Tanakh and the New Testament, there are far more frequent mentions of other, more common sins like unbelief, rebellion, greed, and slander.” In her first linked post she also notes, “Anyway, I don’t question that the level of commitment, fidelity, and mutual devotion in some gay marriages may greatly exceed that of many heterosexual unions.”

    But this argument entirely misses the point. At the root of it, she believes that homosexuality — *unlike* heterosexuality — is intrinsically sinful. A functional homosexual relationship, Anderson writes, is not in the same class as a functional heterosexual relationship, healthy as it may be. It is in the same class as dysfunctional heterosexual behaviours such as infidelity. She is a sinner insofar as she lies, is selfish, commits small cruelties, etc., but a gay person is a sinner insofar as they are gay *and* are selfish, etc.

    I don’t want to accuse anyone of homophobia, but certainly Anderson’s position is not as tolerant as that of a person who sees homosexuality and heterosexuality as morally equal. Does anyone else see the difference here?

    (Jeez, what a long comment…I should get a blog already.)

  3. Enyo
    April 7, 2005 at 10:58 pm

    I see what you’re saying, and to a great extent I agree with you. I’m glad that you posted this, because although I’ve thought of some of these things before, I never considered them in quite this way. You’ve put your finger on something that’s always nagged at me about her beliefs, though I could never figure out exactly what it was.

    But are her views homophobic? I can certainly see how her belief that all homosexual relationships, even loving ones, are sinful could be very hurtful to any gay person. The fact that she chooses not to judge the sinner based on the sin doesn’t change the fact that she is still judging homosexual relationships.

    So I guess my answer is that I’m not sure. Anyway, I don’t think it’s up to me to give the last word on an issue like this. As always, the most important judge of whether oppression or discrimination is occurring is the (potential) target.

    A few weeks ago, my roommate and I had our former English teacher over for dinner. She’s a great person, very intelligent and progressive. She is anti-racism, and anti-oppression, in just about any way you can think of. She has a deep understanding of all forms of oppression. We were talking about Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, a novel which I had to read for her OAC English class. I hated it, with an absolute, bone-deep loathing. She said she was surprised that I felt that way, and I mentioned that the racism in it had really bothered me, and that I wished I hadn’t ever had to read it. She said something about how it’s important to know that such forms of racism exist, and that it was an important book to read, especially as a prelude to Things Fall Apart, which we also read, because the latter was written as a response to Heart of Darkness. I know all this, and I mostly agree with it, but all I could think was, “but you’re not black!” I didn’t say it, but I thought it. And I still think it, because in reading Heart of Darkness I wasn’t offended intellectually. I felt personally attacked by Conrad’s racism, a feeling I’ve never gotten from a book before.

    So yeah, as much as I can try, I don’t think I can ever really know how I would feel toward R.J. Anderson if I was gay. I do know that a God who would punish people for being gay, or having gay sex, isn’t one I would be comfortable worshipping or even respecting.

    And you should get a blog–I’d read it!

  4. April 7, 2005 at 11:32 pm

    i want to add to my comment…i don’t want to leave the impression that i think the idea that homosexuality is sinful is reasonable. because i don’t, i think it’s ridiculous. but what i appreciate about what she says is that even though she thinks it’s a sin, she doesn’t see that as justification for legislating against it. that seems reasonable to me because at this point, in the usa, we’ve got people pushing for their particular religious ideology to be codified in the law of the land. which is not just unreasonable but freaken scary.

  5. April 8, 2005 at 8:17 am

    Morning.

    I agree with Alley Rat’s latest comment — that’s why I called R. J. Anderson tolerant. It takes quite a lot of…integrity (?) for her to say that she wouldn’t have her beliefs become the law of the land. She would let people live in peace — that’s tolerance.

    Now, is she being respectful? Is this a judgment we can make? Excuse this sidetrack: I’ve had many conversations with evangelical Christian friends of mine who say that tolerance is not a virtue, as it implies that in permitting people to do their own thing you implicitly endorse their behaviour. Yet I don’t see them policing the streets forcing people to convert. Like R. J. A, they’re clearly tolerating (allowing people to adopt) behaviours or beliefs they don’t themselves like.

    The word my friends were looking for, the supposed virtue they wanted to avoid, was respect. They did not feel that certain beliefs had intrinsic worth and validity. They were being tolerant (by not forcing beliefs and lifestyles on people), but in their refusal to accept that others are justified in having other beliefs and lifestyles, they were being disrespectful. Respect and tolerance are used so often in conjunction that they’re hard to disentangle, especially when you must do so in defining concepts like homophobia.

    As to whether R. J. Anderson is homophobic: some people, like R. J. A., exclude all but the most visceral “fear and hatred” of gays (i. e., intolerance) from their definition of homophobia — defining it as a reaction or behaviour, not the nature of a belief. (I must admit, these are often — but not always — the people accused of being homophobic themselves.) Others would say that calling homosexuality a destructive behaviour or a sin (i. e., disrespect) is homophobic. And I’m sure there’s some who’d so classify being uneasy or ignorant or just frightened of something they’ve never seen before. You’re right, Enyo; who are we to say?

  6. April 8, 2005 at 11:02 am

    I’ve had many conversations with evangelical Christian friends of mine who say that tolerance is not a virtue, as it implies that in permitting people to do their own thing you implicitly endorse their behaviour

    that whole “tolerance” thing has always really bugged me, because it seems like there’s a kind of arrogance in it (which you’re kind of addressing in your discussion of respect v. tolerance). if you’re “tolerant” you could be filled with hate of various sorts – racism, gay hating, whatever- but you just control yourself and “let” the people you don’t like be. (sort of like how your friends think tolerating is condoning..)

    but now i’m starting to realize that I am going to have to be “tolerant” of those Christian friends of yours, A. Pang, and all of the others who believe these things that offend me. I’m willing to tolerate that they think homosexuality is sinful (because that’s not going away) but what I am absolutely not ready to tolerate is their efforts at forcing the rest of us to not just tolerate their beliefs but live by them.

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