Friday, November 20, 2009

A religious argument for same-sex marriage

A few days ago, I posted about the temporal argument for same-sex marriage. Since the secular debate about same-sex marriage in Canada has pretty much ended, I thought I would take on the more important issue that still faces Canadians and others of faith: what does the Creator, who created us man and woman, but quite possibly also Gay and straight, wants for us.

I believe this: the Christian church should affirm and give thanks for loving and committed and caring relationships, same-sex and otherwise. In Mark 12:29-31, Jesus says: Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ (NRSV) The Gospels make clear that no commandment can contradict these; that any interpretation of the scriptures that would allow us to act in a less than loving manner to our neighbour must necessarily contain an error. Luke records Jesus's answer to the question "who is my neighbour?" with an answer that takes us to the heart of the question: what does the Creator want us to do for one another. He says (Luke 10:30-37, NRSV) "...a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii,* gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ In other words, Jesus sets the standard of love for neighbour as practical compassion. Nor does Luke speak alone here: Matthew, in one of the few places where the gospels record Our Lord speaking in uncompromising terms of condemnation and judgment, says that Christ will call out as blessed those who have visited the despised and the outcast in prison and in sickness, shared food and shelter with them, and by doing so will have done so to Him. (Matthew 25:31-46)

What does this mean when we confront someone in a faithful, committed relationship with someone whom they deeply love, asking for our blessing? Consider the parable of the Good Samaritan, the summary of the law, or Jesus's teaching us about how He will judge the nations: these lessons do not suggest to me that we should say to people, sorry, you do the wrong thing with your pelvis, and the person you love has the wrong chromosome. And I emphasize once again: these lessons go to the heart of the Gospel message. Mark and Luke both drive home the point that the Great commandments of Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus 19:18 make up the heart of the Christian ethical message. I do not believe that condemning two people in a loving relationship accords with the spirit of these commandments, or with Jesus's teachings about them.

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