‘Churches are free to bless or not bless gay marriages’


To the editor:

There has been much talk in the news that America was founded as a Christian nation; that states should decide who can or cannot marry whom; that the Bible states that marriage is to be between one woman and one man; that monogamy and one-man-one-woman marriages have been the established pattern for thousands of years; and that the courts may order churches to marry gay couples.

First of all, the United States was not established as a Christian nation. The Founding Fathers, to avoid the history of religious conflict in Europe, provided for the freedom to practice any religion or no religion so long as its practice did not infringe on the rights or welfare of others. One reason America attracted European immigrants was not because we were established as a Christian nation, but so that newcomers to our shores would have the freedom to practice whatever religion they preferred with the constitutional safeguards of a secular government.

Second, the right of same-sex marriage is implicit in the Declaration of Independence which states “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Such rights cannot be qualified by popular vote.

Third, the Bible clearly sanctions marriage between male and female but it does not state that same-sex marriage is forbidden. St. Paul was against the practice of pederasty among men and boys in Roman society. He had nothing to say about formal marriage between people of the same sex. If he had, he would have been reflecting the values of his Jewish heritage.

Fourth, just because monogamous one-man-one-woman marriage has been the assumption for thousands of years is not an argument against same-sex marriage. We now live in the Modern Era where the Earth is not the center of the universe, where slavery is outlawed, where women have equal rights, where divorce is a socially approved option, where parents no longer decide whom their children can marry, etc.

Fifth, the idea that the government may take away churches’ tax-free status, if they do not marry gay couples, is not going to happen. Gay couples’ right to marry is guaranteed when they apply for a marriage license in a local county courthouse. Churches are free to bless or not bless gay marriages. Why would any gay couple want their marriage to be blessed in a church that does not welcome them? The church does not even need to be in the marriage business. Heterosexual couples often use non-church venues to celebrate their marriages. Moreover, a church ceremony is no guarantee that a marriage will be happy or lasting.

The issue is not the status of the two persons wanting to be married, i.e. their race, social class, ethnic background, religion, or sexual orientation. It is the quality of their relationship that counts. This is where the rubber meets the road. Note the high rate of divorce in states with high rates of church attendance and belief in conservative evangelical Christian values. These are the folks who need to get their house in order before advocating against gay marriage.

Lee H. Lybarger


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