“‘We always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love. But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman,’ the state’s Catholic Conference said in a statement.” (From the Yahoo News story entitled “New York Governor Signs Law Approving Gay Marriage, 06/25/2011)
Can respect, dignity, and love be conditional? The Catholic Church seems to think so. And lest my Catholic friends think I’m picking on them, so does the Baptist church, the Mormon church, the Nazarene church, the Church of Christ, et. al.
But freedom of religion protects the rights of churches to be bigoted, judgmental, and small-minded. I defend their right to believe they are morally superior to me. (Just because they believe it, doesn’t make it so.) But, I feel it fair to warn them that their contradictions are showing. When you speak out of both sides of your mouth, people will eventually see your duplicity. If the churches aren’t careful, their reputations will start to equal that of politicians or those poor abused used car salesmen.
Churches used to say what they really believed (some still do). They used to say that gays and lesbians were going to hell. They used to say that gays and lesbians were not allowed to be church members. They used to liberally throw around the word “abomination” in reference to their “homosexual brothers and sisters.” But slowly the social sand shifted and that position became seen as judgmental and unloving, especially by the younger generation. The churches began to realize they turned more people away than they attracted by being antigay hardliners. So they did what any political organization would do: they changed their message.
Now, lest you misunderstand me, the message from the Catholic church at the top of the page is an immense improvement over the casting-into-a-lake-of-fire messages of yore. But the problem with trying to balance in the middle is that the attempt to appeal to both ends of the spectrum is transparent. As a general rule, this gets little attention. Churches have been carefully crafting their stances for maximum impact for years.
I won’t get into the definition-of-marriage argument, the marriage-is-a-civil-institution argument, or the Solomon-had-300-wives-and-700-concubines argument. Those have been done, and you can find them for yourselves. The simple fact remains that if you claim to respect, dignify, and love another then you must not use your religious position to minimize that person’s equal standing in society. As many times as the church has done that already, against Native American Indians, African-Americans, and anyone else they had an interest in keeping subordinate, you’d think we would recognize the pattern.
Oh, well. Catholic church or no Catholic church, marriage equality exists in New York today. Three cheers for the rule of law.