Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What's really incompatible with Christian Teaching?

One of the things I don't understand about marriage amendment initiatives and "defense of marriage acts" (DOMAs) in various states and in our federal government is the idea that my idea of who you should or shouldn't love should somehow be encoded into law. I can have my opinion about whether someone should love another person. I can even believe that my opinion comes straight from God. But I don't have a right to stop them from living their lives. My right to an opinion on your life stops where your right to live your life begins.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, we're seeing exactly how devastating the effects of "protecting" marriage--at the cost of other people being able to live their lives--can be, as this article from 365Gay.com indicates.

Louisiana has a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and prevents the state from recognizing any legal status for common-law relationships, domestic partnerships or civil unions. Mississippi and Alabama both have defense of marriage acts which also deny rights to gay and lesbian couples.

The Federal Defense of Marriage Act prevents FEMA from providing any relief in the form of family benefits to same-sex couples.

The laws also will directly impact gay and lesbian families where one partner has died as a result of the hurricane.

Federal DOMA bars Social Security survivor benefits. State benefits would also be denied.

If the deceased partner were the birth or adoptive parent of the couple's children those children could be removed from the care of the other parent and placed in foster care.

Should the family home be in the name of the deceased partner the survivor would have no rights. Any insurance payouts could go to the estate of the deceased and if there is no will would go to the closest blood relative.

In cases where one partner is hospitalized the other partner would not be guaranteed visitation rights or any say in medical care.

Surviving same-sex partners even could be denied any say in funeral or burial decisions.

Even in those cases where couples had legal documents such as living wills, powers of attorney or other agreements that could be valid in the states in which they were prepared and notarized there is no guarantee they would be honored in states where survivors were relocated.

This is a travesty. If I lost my husband in a tragedy, my pain would be no greater than the pain of someone who lost their same-sex partner or even opposite-sex significant other. My need to keep my house and for financial support is no greater than that of a GLBT person who has lost their partner. If our family needed rescuing and relocating, our need to stay together as a family is no greater than the need of a same-sex couple (with or without children) or the non-married opposite-sex couple (with our without children) to stay together with their family. To believe otherwise, to believe that my marriage license makes my pain, my need greater than yours is pure ego-centrism.

I may have an opinion about whom you should and shouldn't love. But that won't stop you from loving them and my opinion should and must end where your right to live your life begins. This is why we need equal domestic partnership rights. Call it marriage or don't; I don't care. But when we behave in ways that remove people from those they love and don't help them through their losses because we are so arrogant as to determine that their love doesn't count because we say so, then we are not following Jesus. We are going 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church says that "homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." Sure. Fine. Whatever. But what does Jesus say? Jesus commanded us to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
By definition we aren't doing the first if we aren't doing the second, and we aren't doing the second if we are looking down our noses at our neighbor because they don't love whom we think they should. Full stop. That's what's really incompatible with Christian teaching.


At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

good job. -jk

At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post!


At 2:36 PM, Blogger Dean Snyder said...

This is a painful reminder of how we discourage our GLBT sisters and brothers. Thanks.

At 6:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well put. As a resident of Ohio, I am embarassed beyond wordsthat my state has passed a defense of marriage constitutional ADMENDMENT. This is going to make it that much tougher overturn. I suppose that we will have togo to the supreme court. I am appalled that we have deisenfranchised our Gay citizens from entering into a legal contract if they so chose. ( Why should we heteros have all the heartache of divorce). As to spiritual consecration of such unions, we are fortunate to have a few enlightened clergy to perform that deed. Let us cont to keep the dialog going Thanks Phillip North

At 3:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like you're actually dealing with a couple of different issues here. First of all, lets be analytical about the church embracing homosexuality. Of course it's incompatible with Christian teaching. So, how come Christians are divided on this issue? Well, because the homosexual community has been very loud of late and some people find themselves choosing feeling over conscience. Consider how the homosexual message has changed over the years. Originally, the message was about toleration. Now, the message is about equality. But, what does equality mean? Bottom line, we know that union of a man and a woman has been a time tested success. Is a homosexual relationship equal to that? If you answer yes, how do you know? But if you wonder why people would pass a constitutional amendment, consider the possibility that all laws may be an attempt to enforce morality.


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