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Six questions for supporters of marriage equality

Six questions for supporters of marriage equality

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.


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James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

@ Don,

Homosexuality is a behavioral choice regardless of orientation. You still have the choice to sin or not. Some people have a “natural” affinity for hurting others; that doesn’t make it right. It is “natural” for men to burn in lust for women other than their wives. That doesn’t mean men have the right to have sex with any woman they find attractive. Liberals use a similar argument to justify homosexual behavior, that it is a matter of “natural” feeling. It’s all about choice, not orientation. Additionally, some criminals have inherent traits of psychopathy. It’s all part of the fallen condition of humankind.

@ Bill,

None of the things you mention are mentioned in Scripture. You’re argument is too easy to pick apart since it comes from human arguments and not from biblical ones.

James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

Bill Dilworth

#1 is my favorite question. Why should the idea that our ancestors were wrong about something in the spheres of morality and science come as a shock? They were wrong about left-handedness, witchcraft, the demonic origin of epilepsy, racial superiority, and whether menstrual blood blighted crops and caused dairy cattle to stop producing, after all. The fact that some people now living still agree with some of these notions doesn’t make them any more likely to be true.



The difference is that no mainstream body of psychologists, psychiatrists, academics, clerics or social workers regard polygamy and incest as anything other than voluntary social arrangements. People consciously choose to enter these arrangements and leave them at will. Whole societies have transitioned from polygamist to monogamist societies without much fuss at all (including in the Old Testament.) There is no innate sexual orientation of polygamy or incest whereby one must have that kind of arrangement or can have none other. So this is an apples to oranges comparison.

Bestiality and paedophilia are, by definition, non-consensual given that neither animals nor children can give informed consent (evidenced by the fact that neither children nor animals can sign legal documents, swear legally binding oaths or enter into contracts – all of which are needed to secure a civil marriage in this country.)

Homosexuality, on the other hand, is a recognized innate sexual orientation, not just a “behaviour”. People are homosexual whether they have sex or not, since sexuality is based on more than just what you do. Supporters of marriage equality seek the right to enter into the same civil contract that heterosexuals enter into, and receive the approximately 1040 legal protections that come with it. The State has no compelling interest to limiting a civil contract on the basis of gender. Adult same sex partners in an equal relationship are just as capable of meeting the requirements of that contract as opposite sex partners.

Apples to oranges comparisons and logically fallacious slippery slopes are a very poor way for traditionalists to respond to this challenge. Anyone with a grain of common sense will see right through them. But don’t let that stop you, you’re helping the other side. And we thank you for that.

Dan Sloan

James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

Mr Gilbert,

What slur do you suggest we create for those of us who disagree with polygamy? Polygamophobe? What about incest? Incestophobe? I think you get my point. For those of us who disagree with the soteriological and sacramental relevance of homosexual behavior, it is grossly irresponsible to use such words to smear people who don’t see your POV. Do you suggest we recognize polygamy and incest if they occur in “committed relationships?” Or am I bigoted toward polygamists and incestuous people, too?

James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

Gary Gilbert

I particularly liked, “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.” Believers or religious types may fight with each over unverifiable claims, but two people committing to each other benefits their family and society. Actually, according to some recent psychological studies, same-sex parents may be better parents because they have to jump through more hoops to become parents.

It is to be expected patriarchal religion can’t deal with homosexuality or women. Richard Holloway, retired Primus of Scotland, says women and gays are seen as “impossible possibilities” for the tradition. Women and gays constitute a “return of the repressed.” Gays are not supposed to exist, according to the traditional narrative. But they do, which calls into question many claims of the tradition, in the same way a multireligious world today calls into question the longstanding antisemitic and racist traditions of Eurocentric theologies.

Churches need to get over their homophobia. Homosexuality is not a problem but bigotry in organized religion is a huge problem.

Fundamentalists may choose to believe whatever nonsense they wish but they do not have the right to impose such nonsense on others. Civil law must protect everyone and not discriminate against certain groups to prop up the weak egos of a majority.

The churches need psychotherapy.

Gary Paul Gilbert

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