Faith In America recognizes that marriage is a human right that should be empowered and protected by civil government. Marital union provides companionship, commitment and personal growth in the context of a supportive community. Every American citizen has the right and freedom to marry the person they love without regard to race, gender, nationality, religion or any other social category.
The Sin of Promoting ‘Traditional Marriage’
The term “traditional marriage” is a term employed by anti-gay religious groups and individuals to promote bigotry, prejudice, hostility and discrimination toward gay and lesbian citizens.
The term is used to justify a social injustice both in terms of denying gay and lesbian individuals equal treatment guaranteed by our Constitution and also denying them human dignity. The use of the term is an action that promotes constitutional unfairness and human indignity and therefore one which is morally wrong.
If a person of faith agrees that a practice that promotes looking upon a segment of society as inferior, unworthy and undeserving of that which we find as good in our lives, the use of the term “traditional marriage” therefore also must be sinful.
Regardless of their particular faith, the person would be hard-pressed to say that love, compassion and wanting what is best in our lives for others around us are not the core principles of most religions. When a person of faith stands opposed to those principles, their attitude and actions stand opposed to the principles which they strive to uphold in the everyday interactions with those around them.
There is also deceit involved in the use of the term “traditional marriage” because those who employ the term attempt to perpetrate an untruth and ulterior motives of hostility and prejudice.
The untruth comes when “traditional marriage” is offered up as a term that defines a religious concept of a God-blessed union of a young man and woman who fall in love, get married with no prior sexual experience, have children and remain together into old age. They are implying that this is how God ordains marriage.
If it is, it took him until just 50 years ago to arrive at that conclusion.
The tradition of marriage in Old Testament times meant the man and his wife could have the same father.
- In the Bible, the patriarch of the Hebrew people, Abraham, and his wife, Sarah, couldn’t have children so Sarah put forth her slave Hagar for Abraham to have children by.
- In Old Testament times, it was normal, sometimes even required for a man to take multiple wives. A man having multiple wives was accepted by the church as late as the 5th Century, 500 years after the teachings set forth in the New Testament. The church for a very long time apparently did not interpret biblical teaching as an edict for one-man, one-woman marriage.
- The tradition of marital unions in the 1700s and 1800s in America doesn’t seem to measure up to God-ordained – especially from the female perspective.
- One third of brides were pregnant at the altar in Concord, Massachusetts during the 20 years prior to the American Revolution.
- In this quote from a wedding couple in 1855, we see that the church had no problem blessing a legal marriage that was considered by many – including this couple – as a violation of the woman’s dignity and civil rights:
“We believe that personal independence and equal human rights can never be forfeited, except for crime; that marriage should be an equal and permanent partnership, and so recognized by law; that until it is so recognized, married partners should provide against the radical injustice of present laws, by every means in their power…”
So we can look back and see that religious teachings which uphold the ideals of love, dignity, compassion and respect for each person within marital unions throughout history has taken a back seat.
In other words, the definition of a God-ordained tradition of marriage has never been constant rather it has evolved.
History shows us it’s the marital union that should be uplifted…not the evolving traditions of a social institution. In other words, it’s not about how we come together but why.
Rev. Mark Gallagher, a Unitarian minister, in 2004 asked “what about a marriage could have that quality of spiritual beauty? What makes for sacredness in a marriage?” He names four things.
“First and foremost, mutual love. A feeling of heightened affection, respect, concern, and appreciation between marital partners. It gives a certain sparkle to the time spent together, and potentially to the entire experience of life. The presence of love makes a marriage sacred.
“Fidelity contributes to the sacredness of a marriage. Commitments fulfilled. Coming through. Hanging in. Placing the integrity of the relationship over personal preference and convenience. It builds a powerful trust. Fidelity makes a marriage sacred.
“Intimacy brings sacredness in a marriage. When two people reveal themselves to one another over time, they cannot help but gain acquaintance with the deep regions of the human experience. They get to know one another, of course. But more importantly, they get to know themselves.
Through relating intimately over time, deeper honesty and authenticity become possible. This is the spiritual journey to know and be known, behind the public charade, however subtle or crude that may be.
“And forgiveness generates sacredness in a marriage. We all make mistakes and need forgiveness. Our spiritual liberation requires that we become masters of forgiveness letting go of resentment for slights and injuries. The prolonged togetherness of marriage will present myriad opportunities for the practice of forgiveness. When forgiveness flows freely, there is a palpable quality of gentleness and compassion.”
Does the heterosexual couple uniting in marriage today lift up the union as characterized by love, fidelity, intimacy and forgiveness. We expect they do and we suspect those characteristics as Gallagher concluded in his sermon are what exude sacredness.
We also know that gay and lesbian couples uphold those same characteristics for their unions. Why would they not? Why would a parent of a gay son or daughter not want their child to enjoy the happiness derived from a lifelong devotion to those characteristics? Why would a brother or sister with a gay sibling not want their brother or sister to enjoy the happiness derived from a lifelong devotion to those characteristics?
Why would a person of faith not want the gay or lesbian individual to enjoy the happiness derived from the pursuit of marriage sanctity?
Why would we as Americans not want our government and its laws to recognize that same marriage sanctity for gay and lesbian individuals in their pursuit of liberty and happiness?
There can be only one reason and that is because many of us have been conditioned by years of misguided church teaching to look upon gay and lesbian individuals as morally inferior, unworthy and therefore undeserving of that which which we uphold as good and sanctified in our lives.
The use of the term “traditional marriage” embeds in our minds and hearts a moral and religious stamp of disapproval on gay and lesbian individuals and that brings immense harm to their lives, their happiness and their well-being.
Faith In America therefore believes the use of the term “traditional marriage” is without question morally unacceptable and equally sinful in the religious context.