United States Congress Representative Lois Capps “has introduced legislation that would remove the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ from the language used in federal law,” according to Newsmax.
I don’t know if this is feasible or if it will go through. Capps has said that this is her response to the recent Supreme Court Ruling that homosexual domestic arrangements can be legally considered marriages.
I would like my fellow Orthodox Christians, most of whom support the legality of what is euphemistically called “gay marriage,” to consider what this means for us.
Many Christians who support this new institution of homosexual “marriage” do so, not because they think it’s morally right, but because they think it’s socially proper. The “Christian definition of marriage” is seen as something that we, as Christians, should not be legally forcing on others who do not believe as we do. We should not be constraining non-believers to live by our moral code, especially since this means unhappy endings to the romances of thousands of our fellow-citizens.
Interestingly, Orthodox approval for gay marriage seems linked to Orthodox participation in secular state-sponsored education. It seems that American Orthodox have not been taught to reason in a manner that supports the validity and reasonableness of Christian thought.
If my objection to homosexual “marriage” was indeed based on a desire to force non-believers to live by my moral code, then that would probably be inappropriate in the setting of American government.
However, that is not actually the basis of my objection or the objection of many Christians who oppose this new legal situation. And Representative Lois Capps illustrates that homosexual “marriage” is not really about religious freedom or equality. Homosexuals were free to invent their own institution all along. Instead they have forced their way into an institution that was not invented by or for them, in which they do not fit, and are now eagerly trying to reinvent it from within.
Is it really marriage if no husbands and wives are involved?
When the day comes that federal law no longer recognizes the existence of husbands and wives, but only non-gender-specific “spouses” or “partners”, we will all be living in a State which does not legally recognize the most ancient and basic of human relationships. We will be living in a State which does not recognize the reality we live with. We will be living in a State which does not recognize complementary sexuality – the only sexuality endorsed by our normative biology. We will be living in a State in which all marriages will be gay marriages.
While the Christian faith, properly taught, may enlighten us about our human relationships, the relationship of marriage is far from being a narrow, religiously-based institution. Christians should oppose gay “marriage,” not because marriage is Christian but because marriage is normal and is human, and Christians should protect human normalcy. Bhuddists, Muslims, Mormons, Hindus, and in fact every faith should do likewise.
So it is not the duty of human beings to their faith to force their faith on others. But it is the duty of faiths to societies to stand as witnesses to human goodness and authenticity.
Every human being who does not wish human nature to be violated should do likewise, in fact. But what is the relationship of religious faith to this legal problem?
First, let us establish what religious faith is.
Religious faith is not a set of utilitarian or arbitrary moral prescriptions and proscriptions. Religious faith is something that human beings creatively established in order to have something in their lives that is timeless. Human beings are like trees. While most of what we see is not very mysterious at all, there is a root complex beneath the surface that cannot be seen but is greater than the growth above. This root complex must tap into something that a tree can live on, or else the tree will gradually die.
The human being, likewise, must tap into something infinite, timeless, universal, and life-giving, or else it will die.
Religious community is timeless because it is the way in which human beings have always sought to tap into that life-giving universality.
It is also timeless because it links all its members, past, present and future.
It links them through faith, which is more than just belief but is an orientation of the human spirit toward the good. The good is timeless because it is eternal; the human spirit which is oriented toward the good is tapping into the satisfying eternality on which it must live.
It links them through ritual, which is timeless in that it is a cycle that is repeated endlessly – you find yourself speaking the words and completing the actions of people who died thousands of years ago, and you know that your own descendants will do likewise.
It links them by linking Heaven, Hell, and Earth and opening the gates between these places in our spirits which, in ordinary experience, are discrete and closed to one another.
In order to do this, all religions must be in a sense catholic. They must dig deep into human nature and human history, and find the things that are universal, and find a way to express them.
The moral teachings of religion are not there to control people. They are there to provide a path by which people can enter into these universalities of human nature and the eternalities of Being. Thus when religions correctly encode morality, the resulting guidance is simply a recognition of reality, rather than an attempt to force people into unrealistic situations.
The nature of a path is that it is narrow, compared to the broad open fields in which people wander without any sense of direction, trying to “invent” their own “meaning” in the absence of a destination. The narrowness – the limitations – of the path are defined by the moral teachings. But the boundless and free nature of the path is expressed by the fact that if you are moving down the path – if you are in accord with the path – you can progress endlessly, going as fast as you are able, reaching as many destinations as you are able.
Human beings cannot bear coercion, but they cannot live without form either.
Paths are not only outside of us but within us. Blood only helps us because it travels down those paths we call veins and arteries. Likewise, the energies of the human immaterial is meant to run in channels, in paths.
“As above, so below.” The material is always an image of the immaterial.
The human sexual energy can run outside of its paths for many reasons.
One reason is that the proper channel gets blocked by fear, shame, anger, or some other problem.
Another reason is that the energy is running so high that it simply overflows its banks. This is accidental and spontaneous.
Sometimes the energy is diverted through experience and training – it is led into the wrong channel.
Once I read the comments online of a young man who had been cultivated sexually from a very young age by his uncle. They had a sexual relationship from before the time that the boy could have been considered responsible for his actions, and yet he felt enormous shame and regret. His comment was that his therapist had helped him to see that his homosexuality was not the result of his uncle’s molestation of him, but instead had been there all along and the uncle had simply awakened it inappropriately.
I wonder what the therapist’s evidence was that this young man would not have have been a homosexual if he hadn’t been trained to be a homosexual. Does behaviorism offer no truth at all, then?
We cannot agree that sexuality is immutable when all around us are people who can “go both ways” or who have been homosexual in the past but now are not. In fact this evidence is so strong that queer apologists are reduced to imputing “suppressed” queer orientations to people who are happily living in heterosexual marriages.
While it would have been wrong of the therapist to make the young man feel shame for what was clearly not his fault, the therapist in fact furthered the damage done by the uncle, when he normalized the abnormal situation with the young man’s sexual energies that had resulted from his abuse. Now the young man does not know that he has any hope of healing or normalcy. Now he must live every day with the situation forced on him by his gay, pedophiliac uncle.
What were the therapist’s actions based on? Were they not based on his beliefs about sexuality? And where did he get those beliefs? Didn’t he get them from the teachings of a profession that only a few decades ago viewed queer sexuality as a medical abnormality?
While psychologists wander about in a broad field, staking their experimental and unproven positions first here, then there, religious faith sounds a steady and sure trumpet-call to the path worn by billions of feet and proven by billions of hearts.
Proponents of religious faith sometimes defend it because it supposedly is based on revelation that is “inspired, absolute, and final” to quote the words of a billboard I saw by the side of the road the other day. Such claims are hard to believe not only for unbelievers but for believers as well. The reason is that such claims set up an untenable situation in which every word of a given text must be more or less deified and placed above human beings, who are then expected to be controlled by them.
I can accept the teaching that human beings can be deified; after all we are made in the image of God. God and humans are at home within one another, just as man and woman are at home within one another. But I cannot accept the idea that words can be deified. Words are acts. They are the act of a human mind. If any divinity resides in a word, it is only by extension from being spoken by a divinized human being. Therefore the divinized human being is greater than the divinized word.
No humane and honest religious faith can consider its adherents to be “People of the Book.” We are people of God, or we are animals. There is no other option. The Book is the Book of the People, rather – and the people are holy and the residence of God.
So the truth is that religious faith finds its validity, not in being “right” or “correct” but in being authentic and authoritative.
Many faiths invented by people have faded and died because they had nothing to offer. Faiths survive only when they offer insight that awakens truth in the heart and a path that leads to some genuine experience. Their authority comes from the only kind of proof that matters – the consent of the human heart when it is offered something that it recognizes to be good, through its own participation in that good and its life-giving effect.
Now let us examine what law is.
Law, like religious faith, was creatively established by the universal movement of human nature. Law, like religious faith, links generations of people in something that transcends generational whim. Law, like religious faith, can be unfortunately reduced to mere textualism which coerces people in the name of some words – forgetting that words are the acts of human beings and that nothing truly has the right to rule us which is lower than ourselves. Law, like religious faith, gains its authority from the consent of the human heart to what is good.
Law, then, can never create human nature. It can never design societies. When it tries to do so, it cuts people off from the universalities that their nature craves, and causes them to whither, sicken, malform, and die.
Law is the permanent expression of justice; and justice is not inventive. Justice cannot invent situations; it can only make a judgment about what must be protected and what must be repudiated within the complexities of an existing human situation.
Many people defend or support or are simply OK with the idea of legal homosexual “marriage” simply because they believe that marriage is none of the government’s business anyhow. Why should the government say who is and is not married, they ask? Similarly, many Christians who don’t believe in “gay marriage” but are OK with the recent Supreme Court Decision in its favor say that it doesn’t matter how the government defines marriage – Christians can simply withdraw into a purely religious sexual institution and possibly come up with a new word for it, leaving gays with a hollow victory.
The instinct behind this thinking is correct, but the conclusion is wrong.
The instinct to say that the government cannot define marriage – that the government is not the author of marriage – is indeed correct. Neither the government nor religious faiths invented marriage and neither one can reinvent it and expect it to thrive. I myself recognize the validity of common-law marriages which bypass state licensing – and interestingly enough, so does the government!
The conclusion, though, is wrong because it supposes that, because faiths have been defending traditional marriage, traditional marriage is somehow the property and progeny of faiths – that faiths can simply reinvent it and still have something just as authentic as they had before.
This thinking shows just how far removed both government and faith have become from human nature and human life.
Marriage has not been invented by government or by Church. It was invented by human nature (witnessed not by a few individuals’ aberrant feelings but by all generations) and it is the consent of the human heart, collegially expressed, which gives it its validity.
We must conclude, then, that those who wish to reinvent marriage are waging war on human nature, on human history, and on the human heart. They may use human government to wage this war, but ultimately they are waging war on human government as well.
And in fact, this is not a difficult conclusion to reach. For they own up to it themselves. Progressives endlessly criticize everything about “society.” It is clear they do not like what human beings have done with themselves. They willingly manipulate the legal power of our government in ways we would hesitate to do, simply because they do not recognize the greatest law of all – the law written in the heart. For the progressive, any law can be changed at will because its authority is arbitrary and based on force, on leverage, and on power. They do not recognize the fact that ultimately, all law and all government is the act of human beings, to which other human beings consent because their hearts agree.
Regardless of the “form of government” question, every government is successful to the degree it remains close to the people it governs. It must rise from them. They will only bow to it when it bows to the truth they find in their own hearts. Anything else, and we are not free.
This, then, is why it matters what the government and its laws have to say about marriage. Marriage belongs to us – the people – not to the government. We will respect the laws of the government regarding marriage so long as the government respects the law written in the human heart which produced marriage in the first place.
We must expect government to do what it is there for: to work justice among human beings and recognize their institutions.
And we will not, must not, surrender the legal recognition of marriage to those who hate marriage because their nature excludes them from it. They will not do anything good to it.
If the government so far separates itself from the people as to force on them alien laws which coerce them into ways they have never known, that government has lost the true authority which blesses people, and has become instead merely an engine of force which terrorizes people.
We realize, then, that marriage came first – that it arose from the conditions of biological sex, the production of children, the loyalty deriving from intimacy between husband and wife, and most importantly of all, the witness of all societies and faiths that “the two shall be one flesh” – which is, in fact, the experience of married people everywhere.
The reason that civil law insists that the property of husbands and wives are common is not because governments decided it should be so. It is because men who governed conceived it to be their duty to see justice done, and justice was thought to be the giving of each one his just rights. And when two were one flesh, how could it be right to deprive one of the two of the property of the other?
So government involvement in marriage is simply its recognition, as religious blessing is the recognition, of the truth of humanity. Man and woman, joined bodily, generate a new creature – a unity out of duality.
Homosexuality offers no duality and therefore its unity is pre-existing. Where unity is pre-existing there can be no “joining” which is the literal meaning of the word “marriage.”
So governments recognized what already existed before them, and protected it, and administered justice regarding it.
This is what religion has to do with marriage laws. Faith is the witness, linking all generations, to the fact that all human beings everywhere have lived with the institution of marriage – and therefore it encourages us and confirms us in our own nature. Marriage has not been always happy or perfect but the first societies were marriages, and families derived from marriages and tribes derived from families, and kings were heads of tribes and states derived from kings.
Homosexual domestic arrangements could never have produced families, tribes, governments, and societies, because they cannot even produce children. They cannot produce the intimate oneness that comes from the joining of bodies, and therefore they cannot produce the network of loyalties from which all human society and cooperation is derived.
Homosexual domestic arrangements are essentially self-indulgent and private. They are not generative, as marriage is. They are intimacy without union; orgasm without sex; parenting without begetting and bearing.
Homosexual domestic arrangements have nothing to do with society and therefore society should have nothing to do with them.
It is marriage that created law and government; law and government cannot repudiate it.
Newsmax also reports the comments of a queer activist who notes that the Boy Scouts of America has not gone far enough when it lifted its ban on homosexual leaders. According to Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, The Boy Scouts of America should force all religiously-based troops to allow gay leaders, despite their beliefs. This, of course, is his way of saying that Boy Scouts of America should force out its religious membership – which Newsmax reports is 70% of its total membership.
In other words, Chad Griffin does not believe that Boy Scouts of America should continue to exist in any recognizable sense. The name, the uniforms, and the programs can be allowed to exist – for now – but the membership and the substance and the ideas and the history should be extinguished.
Whether it is the rupture of the Boy Scouts of America from within, of the institution of marriage in the same way, or of the people-based governing style of the Unites States of America, progressivists and queers are trying their hardest to leave us living in a state which does not recognize, protect, or administer justice to our way of life. They do not seem to care that our way of life was not invented twenty years ago by decadent and confused post-war marginals. Our way of life is older than history itself. That is as authoritative as anything can be short of a light shining out of the sky and a voice speaking like thunder – which such people would probably be unable to hear anyhow.
It is true we American Christians have denied homosexuals admittance to an institution of which they were incapable of meeting the requirements. However, we have never forced them to do what they would not.
They on the other hand clearly want to use force on us. They have already forced themselves into our heterosexual, generative institution. Now they want to force us out of it and burn it and our organizations to the ground.
Even if you can see your way clear to being OK with a particular stage in the queer agenda – say, just allowing gays to call their domestic arrangements ‘marriage’ – the Christian collapse on this issue is strategically stupid. Progressivists ever since Marx are deliberate and dissembling. They have not been acting spontaneously, pushed by their sense of values, as we act. Progressivists have manifestos and programs and schedules and they believe, always, that the end justifies the means.
It is foolish to lie down for any single step of their programs because even if they present it in terms of our most sacred values (such as “equality under the law” and “the pursuit of happiness”) the true aim of every single one of their actions is to eventually arrive at pre-determined endstate.
The predetermined endstate of progressivists is one in which no institution exists and no loyalty is suffered except the institution of the state and the loyalty to the state.
In such an environment marriage, family, faith, and clubs will not legally exist. They will have been stamped out, stage by stage. If you do not believe me, read the manifestos.
In such an environment, being human will be criminalized.
Every Christian should stand up against these things, in defense of humanity. Every Christian should pray and think. He should learn to reason clearly and write ably. He should not allow his children to be infected through secular media and education. He should brave the tide now, before it rises any further and washes his descendants away.