From Your MAMMA

From Faith In America

The Tradition and Sanctity of the Right to Marriage

"Traditional marriage" … "sanctity of marriage" … "protecting marriage."

The next time you hear these phrases think code language – words or phrases that are used to conceal a hidden meaning or motive.

The motive of those who use these phrases is quite clear – they want to punish gay and lesbian citizens by denying not only their human dignity but their individual pursuit of happiness.

SSmarriageHandsAnd why do they want to do that? Because their religious perspective is such that they see homosexuality as a sin, an abomination before God and therefore seeing a twisted moral appropriateness in rejecting, condemning and even discriminating against a minority group of Americans.

Some will even go as far as saying their opposition to marriage equality has nothing to with religion. That's hardly the truth.

Everyone knows it's all about religion — or certain church teaching to be more precise. All we have to do is take a look at the millions of dollars that the anti-gay religious establishment is pouring into Maine. It's why those same anti-gay religious established have tried to organize North Carolina churches in support of writing discrimination into that state's constitution.

There's a reason why these anti-gay religious groups do not want you to think they are using your religion to oppose gay and lesbian citizens having the right to marry. It's because religion has been misused many times in the past to deny minority groups their human dignity and equality and every time society in the end has rejected such religion-based bigotry and prejudice as wrong and morally corrupt.

And that really speaks to the crux of the anti-gay religious and political opposition to marriage equality for gay and lesbian citizens — forcing a majoritarian religious perspective on the lives of all Americans and using church teaching to look down on a particular segment of the population.

Fair-minded Americans, particularly those within faith communities, know how wrong that is.

People within faith communities understand this perhaps better than some because they are reminded every Sunday or Saturday as they sit among their Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Muslim or Jewish peers. They understand the reason they are allowed to practice their various different forms of religious worship is because we do not live under a government that forces any particular religious belief on its citizens.

Societies have tried that before and some still do. When was the last time you met someone who wants to go live in countries ruled through theocracy.

The father of what we know as Protestantism today was Martin Luther, who challenged the majority position in his day that one state-sanctioned religious perspective should be forced upon all. Luther was not that far behind America's founders who went to great lengths to make sure our Constitution clearly forbade the establishment of one religion over another.

History is full of examples of when majorities tried to use church teaching to justify treating others in hurtful and unkind ways.

Church teaching was used to mistreat African-Americans by promoting the notion that the Bible justified colonial and post-colonial slavery; it was used to justify saying different races should not marry; and it used to justify treating women as inferior.

And today, church teaching is again being used to look upon gay and lesbian individuals as unworthy and unequal and to deny them the human dignity of traversing life's journey with a soulmate of their choosing.

The longest surviving tradition of marriage is having the freedom to experience life with a partner of your choosing. That is the sanctity of marriage. And it is that right which we as a society must protect.

But first, we have to make sure everyone is allowed to enjoy that right.

Learn more:

Whom God Hath Joined Together an essay by Bill Sinkford

Marriage: Who, What and Why? a sermon by Rev. Mark Gallagher

©2009 Faith In America