Friday, June 24, 2005

Sin and the law

There is a fascinating dialogue about faith, politics, and same-sex marriage in the comments of this entry in Bad Catholic's blog. Since the entry is not the most current and the comments are numerous, I wanted to point it out for people to check out.

I also want to reiterate here some points I made there (comment #21) because they are at the crux of why I believe Christians should oppose laws that seek to define sin in the civil legal system.

Q: Isn't it incumbant upon Christians to "Love the Lord your God" by following his will and advocating the things you believe about him?

Of course! But there is a universe of difference between advocating what you believe in and compelling others by law to behave like they believed what you believe in. I have zero problem with a Christian having the belief that same-sex relationships are inherently sinful. None. If someone wants to do their level best to convince GLBT people that their relationships are wrong in the eyes of God, they should go for it. But don't force it on them through the legal system. Again, I use the Catholic position on birth control as an analogy. Would those of us who do not believe the use of birth control is a sin want the devout Catholic to convince us we're wrong by trying to change our hearts, or by making it illegal to practice birth control? When a group tries to define sin through civil laws, it is taking away the ability of others to freely practice their faith. If my faith says it's okay for me to use birth control, and there is no reason that it clearly is a detriment to society, then why shouldn't I be allowed to do so, even if to another person's faith I'm sinning?

Christ advocated what he believed, but never once did he advocate changing the laws of the land. On the contrary, he completely rejected the role of political leader. Now that doesn't mean people of faith can't be political leaders or that their faith shouldn't inform their politics. But when it comes to laws, if the only reason you support something is "my paticular faith says that's sinful" then stick to trying to change hearts, not legal remedies.

Q: Progressive and moderate Christians talk about "loving your neighbor" as if believing same-sex relationships are sinful and loving your neighbor are mutually exclusive. Won't you concede that advocates of GLBT rights are not the only ones who love their neighbor?

If you're talking religious conservatives can be "loving their neighbor" by arguing that same-sex relationships are sinful, then yes, I concede, they are loving their neighbor.

If you're talking religious conservatives advocating laws that take away rights from same-sex couples, or don't allow them rights in the first pace, then no, I don't concede that this is "loving your neighbor." Telling someone they can't visit the person they love in the hopsital is not loving your neighbor. Taking a child away from one of the only parents she's ever known when the other parent dies is not loving your neighbor. Not allowing someone bereavement leave from work when their loved one dies, or family medical leave when their loved one is ill and needs care is not loving your neighbor. I could go on and on about the ways laws against same-sex marriage, and specifically the really draconian amendment initiative out collecting signatures in AZ right now are definitely not loving your neighbor.

When everyone is treated fairly under the law and then you tell them, "Go and sin no more" and you passionately advocate for GLBT people to not live a sinful life through your words and not taking it from them by force, then you are loving your neighbor, however much I might disagree with your point of view. This is Jesus' example from John 8. First see to people's safety and physical well-being. Then and only then, when their equally sinful accusers are gone ('cause straight or gay, we're all sinners, right?), then tell them to go and sin no more. That is loving your neighbor.


At 9:13 PM, Blogger catholic_girl said...

I said it before and I'll say it again: Amen, sister.


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