The Rev. Lisa Cressman, assistant priest at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Basswood Grove, MN, answers were selected from all the responses by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Star-Tribune when the paper asked Six questions for supporters of marriage equality. How would you answer?
1) Were our ancestors all dumb and bigoted because they thought homosexuality was wrong? Some may think that accepting homosexuality is innovative and progressive, but others say abandoning our previous norm may be presumptuous on our part. In other words, our ancestors might have been right, and we might be wrong.
2) Don’t our sexual organs exist for reproduction? How does homosexuality square with that?
3) It is no secret that the human sex drive is a lot stronger than is needed for reproduction. Do we just give into those desires, or do we try to control them? The ancients told us that controlling our physical desires is one of the things that distinguish us from the beasts. Sexual desires, if not controlled, easily lead us into trouble.
4) Most everyone still agrees that humans can take their sexuality to where it is morally wrong. Almost all will agree that, among other things, adultery, pedophilia and bestiality are wrong. Why should homosexuality, which was once included in this group, be moved to normal sexuality?
Is it based on an argument that there is no moral choice involved in homosexuality; that it is a product of nature?
Couldn’t others in the group above use the same argument — they just couldn’t help themselves — they were born with those desires? Why does the nature argument work for homosexuality but not the others?
5)Prevalent homosexuality has made its appearance in human history before and has never lasted. Why is it going to work this time when all the other appearances failed? Changes in norms require universal acceptance. Why should we go down this road again when many, probably a majority, will always see homosexuality as going against nature, not normal? Can’t we learn from the past that prevalent homosexuality will not work in society?
6) Here’s one religious question, directed not toward those practicing homosexuality but toward those who support others who do. Should we be trying to encourage others to repent of a wrong, or pat them on the back as they go down a road that could lead to perdition?
See some of Cressman’s answers below:
2. Reproduction is one of their purposes, but so is intimacy. If our sexual organs existed solely for reproduction, couples would have sex only at the times necessary for procreation. Moreover, if this were the case, physical fulfillment in marriage wouldn’t be enjoyed by couples who cannot have children (for medical reasons or by virtue of advanced age) or who choose not to do so.
4. Adultery is a problem because of the trust shattered when marriage vows are broken. Pedophilia and bestiality are anathema because there cannot be mutual consent — an adult always holds power over a child or an animal. Homosexual commitment is mutual between consenting adults.
6. The assumption is that homosexuality is wrong. Assumptions are fair to question, even religious ones. We understand now, in a way our biblical ancestors could not, that medically and psychologically, homosexuals are born, not made. Would a loving God deliberately create someone who is fundamentally a mistake?
If it’s a question about “love the sinner but hate the sin,” the way we discern whether something is, in fact, sinful, is to look at its consequences. The consequences that result from committed homosexual relationships are as positive as they are for committed heterosexual relationships: stable, tax-paying, caring-for-one-another-through-thick-and-thin families. These are the kinds of consequences that benefit all of society.
Marriage matters to the GLBT among us as much as it does to the rest of us. Surrounded by family and friends, to make a promise to cherish that one other person until parted by death, matters.
This is a big change, surely. I am persuaded, however, that change based on a commitment, a lifelong commitment of mutual joy, will benefit us all.
Read her answers to the other questions in the Star-Tribune.