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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What's Love Got to Do With It?

The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision. ~Lynn Lavner

War. Rape. Murder. Poverty. Equal rights for gays. Guess which one the Southern Baptist Convention is protesting? ~The Value of Families

What are you trying to protect heterosexual marriages from? There isn't a limited amount of love in Iowa. It isn't a non-renewable resource. If Amy and Barbara or Mike and Steve love each other, it doesn't mean that John and Mary can't. ~Ed Fallon

In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation. ~Simone de Beauvoir

The plague of mankind is the fear and rejection of diversity: monotheism, monarchy, monogamy and, in our age, monomedicine. The belief that there is only one right way to live, only one right way to regulate religious, political, sexual, medical affairs is the root cause of the greatest threat to man: members of his own species, bent on ensuring his salvation, security, and sanity. ~Thomas Szasz

Minnesota Public Radio's station, KNOW, recently broadcast an interview with Paul Landskroener on the subject of gay marriage. Landskroener is the clerk of the Twin Cities Friends Meeting (St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN). The religious group, perhaps better recognized by the name "Quakers", is one of a handful of Quaker Meetings nationwide that has made the decision to stop signing the marriage certificates for opposite-sex couples until the state of Minnesota legalizes gay marriage.

While a recognized religion, Quakers, or Meetings of Friends as they are also known, do not ordain ministers. Marriages are conducted by couples reciting their vows in front of the congregation, after which witnesses sign the marriage certificate. In the context of this new decision, the signature of a Justice of the Peace or Judge or other officiant will be required to make the ceremony legally recognized. The Quakers have been holding wedding services for both same sex and opposite sex marriages, despite the lack of recognition for those same-sex wedding ceremonies.

After a three year period during which this new decision was considered, this group of Minnesota Quakers made the decision that this form of protesting the lack of gay marriage recognition was consistent with how they perceived the will of God.

Some Meetings of the Friends feel that not recognizing gay marriage is unjust. Others do not. There is much less centralization within the Society of Friends, each local group sets their own policy. A web site for an Ontario group, Religious Tolerance.org, addresses the range of positions held by the local meetings which are similar to the range of positions professed by other Christian denominations regarding homosexuality and bi-sexuality.

For example, according to the web site, as far back as 1963 in the UK, British Quakers published the book "Towards a Quaker View of Sex" embracing the position that God can be present in any relationship "where there is a measure of selfless love", and the Westminster UK Quakers accepted the view that God loves all people regardless of their sexual orientation, and that sexuality was God-given.

In the United States, the Hartford, Connecticut Quakers as far back as 1986 issued a statement recognizing both same-sex and heterosexual celebrations of marriage, and in 1988 the Beacon Hill Quaker Meeting of Massachusetts also issued a statement in support of recognizing same-sex marriage ceremonies. The Beacon Hill Quaker Statement says, in part,

"Mindful that only the heterosexual couples among us currently have the right to legally sanctioned marriages and its privileges, the Meeting asks Friends, and particularly couples preparing for marriage, to examine how best to respond and bear witness to the inequalities still present in the system."

The Quakers in Madison issued a statement, "Madison Affirmation on Homosexuality and Christian Faith", declaring they believe homosexuality was "neither a sickness or a sin", and finding that "homosexual persons have been condemned and mistreated by the followers of Jesus Christ".

In New Zealand, the Aotearoa Quaker Meeting in 1995 similarly pledged "to seek formal ways of recognizing a variety of commitments, including gay and lesbian partnerships." That statement also asserted the beautiful words "Love has many shapes and colors and is not finite. It cannot be measured or defined in terms of sexual orientation,"

Other Quaker groups just as emphatically do NOT share this view of marriage and sexual orientation. In 1992, the Evangelical Friends Church Mid America Meeting affirmed an opposing position, comparing homosexuality to adultery, condemning both. They issued the statement, which included the view "Homosexual activity, like an adulterous relationship, is clearly condemned in the Scriptures." and "We as Evangelical Friends believe that sexuality has moral implications unlike race, gender, and or national origins."

Although certainly 'Mid-American' here in Minnesota, the Friends Meeting of the Twin Cities has sided with their co-religionists in Madison, Wisconsin rather than the position of the Evangelical Friends.

3 comments:

  1. This is another well-written posting. It is informative, too.

    Broadly speaking, I have always wondered about the notion held by many people that gay marriage, etc., would serve to "undermine traditional marriage."

    It seems to me that the only thing that truly undermines any marriage--traditional or otherwise--would be what goes on inside that particular marriage.

    Sometimes outside pressures (economic and otherwise) factor in insofar as stress levels, etc., are concerned. But do other people's committed relationships factor in, as well? I would tend to find that difficult to believe.

    The truth, it seems to me, is this: each marriage is unique, because each relationship is unique. My mother-in-law often says this, and I believe that she is correct.

    It doesn't matter to me into what sort of committed relationship my neighbors engage. What matters to me is the fact that they are well-meaning, good, conscientious people.

    Our society's real problems are the real problems of most societies: uncaring, selfish, narrow-minded parents (of any sexuality, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, etc.) giving their children a bad start in the world. Some of their kids overcome such starts. Others do not.

    And, in the latter case, the negative cycle continues.

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  2. The bible contains 6 admonishments to homosexuals...

    And of those, if my recollection is correct, 5 are in the Old Testament - you know, the satisfied covenant. At the time the Covenant was satisfied were there not homosexuals? Clearly, to Christ, this was not a overriding or compelling issue. Rather, with only one passage (in John if I recall) addressing homosexuals in the New Testament, and probably more than 100 addressing the excesses of wealth, it seems rather plain that God is more concerned with self-inflated importance, false piety and man's failure to recognize that we are not empowered with God's law to redress our fellow men, but rather that we had best look into our own house, and pretend only to know God's word in the way of a child seeking a guide and wisdom from a parent.

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  3. The Gospels are basically silent on the subject of homosexuality. However, Paul addresses the topic in his Letter to the Romans. " (24)Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. (25)They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (26)Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. (27)In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." Romans 1:24-27

    The Roman Catholic and many protestant denominations have a policy that marriage between members of the same sex is in conflict with biblical teachings. However, its also true that with the exceptions of a few zealots who are not sanctioned by their superiors, most Christians believe that Christ taught a message of love, not hate. While many faithful Christians believe that homosexual behaviour is a sin, Christ commands us to hate the sin, and to love the sinner, just as He did.

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