• North Carolina gay marriage debate

    January 31, 2012

    As some of you may know, there’s a move in North Carolina to amend the state constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage. There is already a law on the books to this effect in North Carolina, and this new effort is, as I understand it, to ensure state lawmakers don’t do what New York’s legislators did in reversing anti-gay marriage laws. Anyway, the Charlotte Observer on Monday reported on a couple of Charlotte Baptist pastors who took up the matter in their Sunday sermons this week. You can read the full article here.

    Michael Gordon of the Observer writes,

    “At Myers Park Baptist, the Rev. Steve Shoemaker gave a sermon he called ‘The Opposite of Love.’ In it, he urged his congregation to vote down the amendment, calling it an affront to the Bill of Rights and the Golden Rule.

    Meanwhile, Mark Harris, senior pastor at First Baptist of Charlotte and president of the Baptist State Convention, announced further plans to get the amendment passed May 8. The convention represents about 4,300 churches and about 1.3 million members.

    Interviewed a few hours after his own church service, Harris repeated his belief that homosexuality is condemned in the Bible, that same-sex unions threaten traditional marriage, and that a link between the laws of God and man has long been the basis of the country’s – and the state’s – legal system.”

    The article quotes Mr. Harris as saying, “Government doesn’t regulate friendship. It doesn’t regulate dating. You can have sexually intimate relations without any government involvement. But marriage is a special relationship reserved exclusively for heterosexuals for one reason. Only intimate relations between men and women have the ability to produce children.”

    For one reason, huh? The ability to produce children. What about the elderly who are past child bearing age, or couples who know they are infertile? Should they be denied marriage because they cannot procreate? I suppose in some bizarre sense their copulation might be potentially procreative if some miracle occurred. But if we’re counting on a miracle, how does that exclude gay couples?

    What about men who undergo the “snip, snip” or women who have their tubes tied, deliberately thwarting the procreative process so that they may enjoy sex without the consequence of conception? Should we outlaw this too? Should we nullify the marriages of folks who have these operations? I know pastors who’ve had a vasectomy. Should they step down in scandal? Be forced to divorce because they willfully made their “intimate relations” no longer procreative? I wonder if the Reverend Mr. Harris has gone under the knife, himself, and why the Observer‘s reporter didn’t ask.

    Think I’m being silly? Back in the early church days, the first few centuries after Christ, there was serious discussion among Christian leaders about what sex was appropriate for the faithful and what sex was “contrary to nature” (the phrase Paul uses in Romans 1, where we’re headed soon). Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 AD, c. 215 AD) is quoted as saying, “It is clear that we should reject sex between men, sex with the infertile, anal sex with women, and sex with the androgynous.”

    “It is clear.” Heard that before. No sex among men, of course, but also no sex with the infertile and inter-sexed. Thankfully, good sense and compassion won out over the centuries so that we no longer forbid intimacy among these people, but this was once a very serious matter, as is gay sex for many people in the church today. I guess I just wonder when or if compassion wins out in this situation.

    To be fair to what Mark Harris said, in his mind government should not forbid these people to have sex; government should simply deny them marriage. I’m not even sure ol’ Clement would have said the government should get involved in what is a matter of theology. Maybe he would have. Who knows? But seriously, can the Reverend Mr. Harris and his congregation find nothing better to do in their community than oppose the relatively few gay people seeking marriage so that they can benefit legally from their relationship with one another, help each other decide health matters if they are in the hospital, and so forth? Is it at all of Jesus Christ to interfere with this, or to, as in the case here, directly oppose it? Would Jesus, were he walking around on earth today, be spending his time trying to amend a state constitution to prevent gays from marrying? Because Jesus is walking around on earth today … in us.

    I don’t believe for a second Mr. Harris’ real concern is the lack of procreative potential from homosexual coitus. I suspect his real problem is that he simply doesn’t approve of homosexuality, period. He doesn’t like it, is probably repulsed by it, so he wants to outlaw the state’s recognition of gay unions. He wants to legislate his ideas about right and wrong. What damage is this man doing to the reputation of Christ among gay people so that he can have his moral sensibilities inscribed in law?

    Posted in: The Gay Posts

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