11.14.2008

prop eight.


The argument that Prop. 8 infringes on civil rights is a convincing one. Why should large groups of religious people dictate what anyone else does in their life? What about liberty and justice for all? Equality? Since I am an art student, allow me to draw a comparison to Plato's aesthetic philosophy.

Plato believed that reality consists of archetypes, or forms, beyond human sensation, which are the models for all things that exist in human experience (MSN Encarta.) Take a chair, for example. (Every time someone explains this, they use a chair for some reason.) Plato believed that there was a perfect form of a chair, and that all other chairs were made to imitate it. The closer a chair came to being like the perfect form, the more beautiful it was.

Of course, as an art student, this concept strikes me as odd. First, there are many chairs made for many different purposes: office chairs, dining chairs, rocking chairs, etc. But even if you break it down to the idea that there is a quintessential model for each type of chair, you are left with no room for the idea of self-expression through art.

My favorite kind of art is that which effectively communicates the imperfect human experience. I love variety and diversity. This is the kind of art that speaks to us emotionally; that we respond and relate to.

I do believe, however, that this Platonic idea of a perfect archetype relates to the concept and institution of marriage. Art is created by us; imperfect people. Marriage was first instituted by God. I believe that the happier a marriage is, the more the couple is behaving in the way God intended them to behave. And while I think it is possible that same-sex couples could behave in many ways that God intended-- enough to be happy within their relationship-- I also believe that it does contradict some of the most basic commandments given to Adam and Eve at the beginning of the Bible.

What I mean to say, is that I believe strongly in marriage the way God intended. And although I believe that His intentions go far beyond what gender(s) the couple is; that the issue of gender(s) does lie at its foundation.

The great respect I feel for this perfect archetype could probably best be illustrated by my persistence in my own failed marriage. I spent 3 years in a terrible and often abusive relationship because I didn't take the idea of marriage casually. I tried as hard as I could to milk the goodness from it, to mold it into a "real" marriage. I left only when I was finally convinced that it could never be sculpted into the thing that God intended. Yes, I believe in a wrong and right way to be married. I believe that same-sex marriage will never be fully "right" the way that my failed marriage was never going to be fully "right."

So why should my opinion have any bearing on what other people are allowed to do?

To hand the title of "marriage" over to same-sex couples will make it okay to label me as a bigot for the rest of my life. The Christian idea of marriage the way it is found in the scriptures will be (and already is being) considered politically incorrect. I want to have the freedom to teach my children what I believe about marriage fearlessly. There are also legal concerns about churches that are unwilling to perform gay marriages losing their "non-profit" tax status. It's a pretty key issue.

Equal rights for gay people? Absolutely. I'm all for it. It think that gay partners should be entitled to life insurance, health insurance, hospital visitation rights, and all other benefits that married people enjoy. I would even help defend these rights alongside members of the gay community.

There are at least four gay people I can think of off the top of my head that I am happy to claim as friends. They are all intelligent and capable and I enjoy spending time with them. I am really happy that they have the right to vote, sit on the front of the bus, eat at any lunch counter they choose, hold public office; and I think that they should never face discrimination.

8 comments:

mim said...

I like the point about Plato.

WHITNEY said...

I agree. I love the chair/marriage analogy. I also like the point you made that a happy marriage comes from behaving the way God wants us to behave.

Cambrie said...

well put. amen.

Mark said...

Excellent! I would like to add the following: on "Why should large groups of religious people dictate what any one else does in their life?" Because some things have significant effect on the large group. Hence, the large group has laws against murder, rape, robbery, assault, etc. on "What about liberty and justice for all?" The homosexual community has this already or are rapidly getting this through civil unions. They are free to go in as opposite sex couples and get married as opposite sex couples. They choose themselves not to go down this path. But they are getting equal opportunity under the law to get married as heterosexual couples. on "Equality?" The meaning of this word is greatly warped and misunderstood these days! There is equality in the mathematical and scientific sense. And then there is equal treatment under the law in the political sense. No law can make equal that which is not equal in the mathematical or scientific sense. male is not equal to female. Humans reproduce bisexually with a male and female, not asexually. Even identical twins with the same genome do not remain equal since different genes get turned on or off by their environments and their spirits are not the same. So no two people are equal in the scientific sense. Yet man's laws must overlook many differences in us unequal human beings to give us equal treatment under the law. Amendment 1 to the US Constitution says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, . . ." In countries and states where the legal definition of marriage has been altered to include homosexual unions, churches are being persecuted for reading scripture which declares homosexual conduct to be sin or refusing to conduct marriages between homosexual couples and in the government schools homosexual lifestyle is being taught to kindergarten and up over the objection of religious parents. To avoid these things and preserve their constitutional rights, the religious majority finds it necessary to retain limiting "marriage" to heterosexual couples. It is totally unconstitutional for judges to legislate or create law. Governors, Presidents, and Legislatures should slap down this practice via executive orders and new, clarified legislation. But they have been too spineless to defend the state and national constitutions by doing this.

Dylan said...

Laura I love that you're blogging about this. And I'm hope I'm included in your group of four homosexual friends!

But it's hard to define a "happy marriage" as one where both partners behave the way God wants us to behave. Even the definition of a legitimate marriage seems to change over time within the church.

Think of polygamy. This was an accepted practice among God's finest for a time. Then it was banned and now defined as immoral. Was this just an interpretive mistake by church leaders?

There was even a time in the church when biracial marriage was frowned upon by church leaders. But now it's completely acceptable for young men in the church to marry women from overseas. It's actually very common.

So it seems to me that even in an institution confined by supposedly hard-set rules, there is flexibility in the definintion of a legitimate marriage.

mim said...

I have one thing to add as a biologist. Homosexual people are not the only group that is currently prevented from marrying. Siblings, closely related cousins, and parents and adult offspring are not allowed to marry. Why not?

The biological reason is that marriage has generally only been allowed between partners who are likely to produce healthy offspring. Now, of course there are exceptions of unrelated heterosexual couples who are not capable of producing healthy offspring, but they are the exception rather than the norm.

Society exists because of the production of healthy children. Therefore, stable unions that on average are likely to produce healthy children have been recognized through the institution of marriage.

From a biological perspective, stable homosexual unions will never be equal to those of heterosexual couples because homosexual unions cannot result in the production of offspring, healthy or otherwise.

Lindy said...

you're so right, but I have to add that there are also non religious reasons that gay marriage should not be supported by a society. A society that supports and endorses behaviors that are damaging to social structure, promotes it. It's an unhealthy lifestyle (studies have proven that lesbian women are more likely to be overweight for example) for the increased level of promiscuity, no stability and no balance for children who are raised by same gender parents. When you change the norm it encourages more negative behavior within the society.

laura said...

Dylan, of course you are one of my intelligent homosexual friends. The issue surrounding the ways that marriage has changed within in the church certainly is thought provoking. I think I have a different view, of course, still being a believing member. Polygamy has always been a tough issue for me though.

And Lindy, I think that statistics can always be found to back the argument on both sides. I have avoided arguments like yours because I think they lead to little mutual understanding and perpetuate stereotypes on both sides of the argument.