Monday, March 24, 2008
I Never Thought I'd Say This...
...but I sort of relate to Barack Obama (but only slightly). Said Obama during his now famous race speech:
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely - just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
Now, it's easy to call Obama a hypocrite, a panderer, a man who will do or say whatever it takes to maintain the support of the American public during this contentious primary season. I have to admit, though, that the more I think about it, the more I know where he's coming from. Being that I am a social libertarian (for the most part) in an evangelical church, I have had my share of disagreements with my pastor. In recent weeks, for examples, the church has been encouraging people to provide their signatures in favor of the California Marriage Amendment, the so-called "Voter's Right To Protect Marriage Initiative." Now, I am just as much a Christian as anyone else in the congregation (though some of my more conservative friends might dispute that notion), and I personally oppose this measure, quite vehemently.
My question to anyone in support of barring same-sex marriage is this: What would such an amendment accomplish for the betterment of society? Folks like Dr. James Dobson will tell you that for a society to accept gay marriage sets a precedent that opens the door for polygamy, group marriage, and somewhere down the line perhaps even bestiality. Then you have to (heaven forfend!) allow gays to adopt kids, which will cause the kids to become all screwed up in the head, and before you know it we're living in Sodom and Gomorrah.
Now, I don't pretend to understand the psychology of a homosexual (although those of you familiar with my love of musical theater have probably had your suspicions about me); I do not have feelings of homosexuality, and the legality or lack thereof has no direct impact on my existence, so this is not some personal vendetta of mine. This is simply a matter of recognizing that the government has a place in society, and the marriage business is not it. It might surprise some people to learn that the federal government had no established place in marriage until 1920, and even state governments didn't get involved until after the Civil War, when slaves were freed and some feared the evils of interracial unions. The only way to prevent such unions and effectively institute anti-miscegenation laws was to keep an eye on who was marrying who. Prior to that time, marriage was simply a personal matter; there were no government licenses, and nobody felt as though their union was invalid because of a lack of federal recognition. So if conservatives wish to be angry about the government undermining the sanctity of marriage, then they should be upset about their government ever having gotten involved in the first place. Our leaders have done more to undermine the sanctity of marriage over the past 150 years by using heterosexual unions than most people even begin to realize. Marriage as it is defined today is more of an IRS matter than a spiritual union.
But since the damage is already done, the government has a responsibility to extend equal rights to everyone. I don't believe we can ever return to the days when marriage was truly a personal matter, and allowing gays to marry is not going to usher in the great tribulation. In fact evangelical Christians are shooting themselves in the foot by opposing such unions because we are only further alienating people who already think we're bigots, and since so many Christians are concerned with "making disciples of all nations," this really isn't helping matters.
And just another quick word about Barack Obama. I can happily say that although I believe my pastor to have some misplaced priorities, he in no way embodies the vitriol and hatred of Obama's former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. If he did, I would have nothing to do with that church, as my ability to respectfully disagree with someone can only go so far. When a man can passionately refer to American troops with the statement, "America's chickens are coming home to roost," that is beyond reprehensible. If it were discovered that a Republican candidate attended Westboro Baptist Church, that person's political career would be over immediately, and rightfully so. Something to think about.