Gay Marriage: A New View
For my Aunt
By: J. Marlando
I suppose that some readers will be wondering why I have chosen this subject. After all, why should I care one way or another since I am a straight, old married man? Well, truth be told, I do not care who marries and who doesn’t but, as I see it, that is the point. In fact, I believe that, by and large, the real point of “gay marriage” has been missed by both the advocates as well as those opposed to it. I first of all see it in the framework of so-called American freedom—we, as a society of individuals, either have the right to pursue our own happiness or we don’t.
Obviously, we don’t. The pursuit of happiness is a myth but let us not stray from the subject at hand. Gay Marriage!
When a lot of people think about gay marriage their minds usually tunnel toward homosexual sexuality and the thought of two men or two women in the romance mode turns them off, “It just ain’t natural,” they are apt to say. Well we need not go into the graphics because all adults know precisely what occurs between two human beings in the marriage bed.
What we are talking about here are human rights.
In order to grasp gay marriage as a serious moral/legal issue we need to have a clear and nonbiased understanding of “what” a homosexual is.
There are exceptions of course but the common view from organized religion is that homosexuals are evil doers and an atrocity in the sight of God’s eyes. And so, we will be addressing the religious view as well as the moral/legal view as this article unfolds.
Perhaps the reader will remember Jerry Falwell
What I intend to do in this article is twofold. (1) I will attempt to cover the entire topic of homosexuality as briefly as possible and (2) convince the reader that gay marriage ought to be as common as mom and apple pie.
With the above said, let’s get going.
Homosexuality: A brief history
Homosexuality has no doubt been around long before the advent of so-called civilization which is, in and of itself, an “unnatural” environment. In any case, by the time we reach Classical Greece both bisexuality and homosexuality were the norm.Even the city’s heroes like Herrades
Homosexuality was also prevalent in ancient Rome. However, in the first century A.D., Philo of Alexandria
The church adopted Philo’s interpretation and that along with Jewish repulsion toward homosexuality and the superstition that the “Sodomy” was the cause of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and later, the plague. As a result homosexuals were deemed as enemies of the state.
During the 1700s homosexuals were being burned at the stake but Napoleonic law lessoned the severe punishment and actually most French citizens became nonchalant about homosexuality including lesbianism. As a result, the participants stopped hiding their same-gender preferences and some homosexuals (transvestites) dressed up openly in certain sections of the city.
In most countries, however, homosexuality remained a criminal offense. Indeed, the famous intellectual, poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde was somewhat of, as we say today,” a flame” so his homosexuality had never been a real secret amidst the art and literary communities in spite of the fact that homosexuality was considered a serious social taboo. His two year prison term however inspired one of his most famous poems, The Ballad of Reading Goal with the following becoming, by far, his most famous stanza:
Yet, each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard
Some do it with a bitter look
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword.
During the 1800s in America homosexuality was openly flaunted in seaports such as New Orleans and San Francisco, at least in specific areas of those cities. In other places there were strict moral laws such as in Virginia where oral and anal sex was considered a crime by anyone who participated in such acts which included heterosexual alliances.
Over the centuries homosexuals have been imprisoned (sometimes for life) tortured, tar and feathered, placed in stocks, horse whipped, burned at the stake and hanged; ostracized from their communities, turned away by their own families and rejected by religions. I had an aunt who spent a miserable lifetime “in the closet” well hidden from the world because of her drive toward lesbianism. This was something that I was unaware of until I was a full grown adult and old enough to understand such things. She died back in the 1970s as she lived, unfulfilled and alone because there was such a prejudice against human beings with same-gender drives and tendencies.
The major cause of the injustices belongs to the common drive of people to dislike and distrust anyone different than they are. Certainly racial prejudice is based on this rather ugly feature of the human psyche.
Indeed, the indigenous Americans were murdered by the millions because of their unique lifestyle and so-called paganism. And so, just as Hitler labeled the Jew subhuman, the Native American was deemed subhuman by the white supremacists that took away his land. And just as the “good hearts and gentle people” of Christianity (and other religions) has deemed the homosexual subhuman and…expendable. As we look at all this in overview, we should not be able to resist repeating that sensitive request for those without sin to throw the first stone.
We will talk about “sin” next.
Homosexuality and Sin
From the very inception the United States has proclaimed individual freedom as its cornerstone. The country’s first lobbyists, however, were religious leaders who dictated the social mores of the land. Those men and women of mostly white-Protestanism have always held uncanny power in Washington regardless of the so-called separation of church and state.
It was the cruel and ignorant Puritans that spread their self-righteous moralities into the bloodstream of American life. As a result, the land of the free was corrupted by the creating of consensual crimes. Indeed as the Catholic Church entered into the private life of people two thousand years ago and the demagogues of modernism have continued the tradition. And, while religions have had the arrogance to speak for God, the politicians have had the audacity to create religion’s mores into laws. (Even as I write these words there are hundreds of thousands of individuals locked away in prisons and jails for doing what ought to be nobody’s business but their own).
Returning to Jerry Falwell again, he actually said: The idea that religion and politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country. It is this kind of absurdity that has historically dared to speak for God since the old god/kings who first ruled unfolding civilization. The roots of all sin are in cruelty, not the pleasure principle. Indeed, if we are to be receptive to God’s love, we must at the same time be receptive to the idea that God’s love in unconditional. And so, it is not God who condemns the homosexual but those who make up the rules who condemn homosexuality.
The question is should homosexuality be condemned at all?
First of all sex and sin was never thought of as being synonymous before the Church of Rome assigned Augustine to interpret genesis in the 4th century AD. This was a time when the church fathers were seeking ways of justifying their repulsion of human sexuality all together along with matrimony itself. The religious cult of Manichaeism at the time summarized the Church’s view of the “sins” of the flesh. Tannahill reports that both the Manichaeans and the Gnostic taught that the flesh was inherently evil and “…by the Severian argument that women as a whole and man from the waist down were creations of the devil.”
It was not difficult for Augustine to create “original sin” and blame it all on Eve for tempting Adam to eat the fruit that alerted him to…lust.
Augustine’s interpretation has been passed down from generation to generation by both Protestants and Catholics until a great number of people endure guilt for their sexual behaviors in both the heterosexual and homosexual camps. (This reminds us of Augustine’s famous prayer: Oh God, give me chastity…but not yet).
A common argument against homosexuality is offered from religious folks who love quoting the bible to make their point. In Leviticus 18:22 for example we read: You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female and in 20:13: If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them.
So who was Leviticus?
At bottom line Leviticus simply means “matters of the Levites” and more directly refers to the “law of the priests.” When this is explained to Bible thumpers, the result is generally something like, “Yes, but the Bible is a book inspired by God.”
And so with this in mind we turn to Numbers 31:13-18: In Numbers God himself orders Moses to attack the Midian who had been disobedient to the Lord. When his returning soldiers return victorious Moses is furious. He wants to know why they have left the women alive. He sends the troops back to kill every boy and every woman who has had sexual intercourse. His troops however are permitted to keep the virgins for themselves however.
The Bible even gives rules for capturing women: “When the Lord your God gives you victory in battle and you take prisoners you may see among them a beautiful woman that you like and want to marry. Take her to your home where she will shave her head, cut her fingernails and change her clothes. She is to stay in your home and mourn for her parents for a month…and the instruction continue. If the Bible is inspired we must assume then that God clearly approves of murder and rape and was himself a warmonger.
In Deuteronomy 22:20 we are told that—if a bride was accused of not being a virgin her parents must bring proof like a bloodstained wedding sheet. If the parents were unable to supply such proof then the woman would be stoned to death. Was this also a work inspired by God?
At the time when the Bible was being written the kings and priests claimed that God spoke through them and thus what they said was exactly how God wanted it. Indeed we are given that sort of nonsense even today—for two major examples, the Catholic Pope
As for the New Testament and human sexuality, it is certainly well known that the writers of the gospels constructed many of them to support church dogma such as the demands for chastity. The clouded minds of the early church father such as Arnobius called normal intercourse filthy and degrading…Jerome named it unclean while Ambrose called sexual intercourse defilement. And, as said earlier, the great sin of Sodom was said to be its practice of homosexuality.
It just becomes too apparent that mankind, in his ignorance, created his “civilized” god in his own image and gave “him” his own values. In fact, there was once a time in Babylon that it was said that God had his own bookkeepers and concubines. So to say that God approves or disapproves of homosexuality depends on which religious demagogue one listens to which is much like deciding which politician is honest.
Homosexuality simply is and as far as we know, it has existed for as long as our kind has existed and perhaps long before that. Yet, there are those still accusing the homosexual of being “sinful” by choice and an abomination in God’s eyes. And so, we need to ask is homosexuality a result of nature or nurture so we’ll address this question next.
Is Homosexuality a Choice
Most gays do not know why they are gay any more than we heterosexuals know why we are straight. Certainly nurture might play a role in how we develop our sexual preferences but since small children begin to feel “different” long before they are old enough to even comprehend sexuality is a strong indication that nature, not nurture is the primary source.
My aunt who permitted her lesbian tendencies to condemn her to a life of loneliness and isolation felt that she was different even as the young girl. While she was far too young to interpret her “difference” she nevertheless recognized it. And when she grew up she sadly enough spent a lifetime hiding it.
I am personally appalled by anyone that places judgment values on gay men and women; it is too akin to placing judgment values on racial and gender issues or deeming the one armed person half capable. In other words, it reveals ignorance and preconceived projections. And anyway, I am always suspect of those who hate homosexuality as having a fear of their own secret tendencies.
For one thing, in Jungian terms we all have other-gender qualities in our psyches. Indeed, Jung tells us that even the most masculine male has the feminine in him just as even the most feminine woman has her masculine side. He named these two shadow personalities “the animus” which is the male component of the female personality and “the anima” which is the female component of the male personality. The Chinese called this yin and yang which everything in the universe possesses.
None of this implies homosexuality but rather that if there wasn’t this balance we would be a species that was either absolutely passive or absolutely aggressive and therefore would die off from the results of either.
What my curiosity has been is why the anima becomes so blatant in some males and the animus becomes so blatant in some females. Is this genetic or the result of chemical changes in the brain?
Science has never found a “gay gene” but as there is subtle differences in the brains of males and females, differences from both have also been found in the brains of homosexuals. We’ll be returning to this subject but first let’s address the homosexuality in other living things.
For example, I have had the privilege to work a lot with both wild and domestic animals and have witnessed homosexual motivation in monkeys and even lions—male and female! I have read that homosexuality has been observed in dolphins and especially herd animals. A recent article said that homosexual behavior has been observed in 1,500 animals. The entire species of dwarf chimpanzees is bisexual. Still, there remain hard-nosed people who deny that this is natural and rather accuse the animals of being perverted.
Such persons most commonly also advocate that gays should be denied marriage and both social and religious acceptance until they either “choose” to change or, in a term, disappear into the woodwork. It is clearly this kind of ignorance that once jailed, tortured and even murdered human beings happened to be gay.
I am sure there are exceptions; that some people do choose to be bisexual or homosexual for reasons that have manifested from responses to strong-mother experiences to child abuse to simply being a highly sexual orientated person. And, not everyone that has participated in homosexual activities is gay. Young boys and girls are well known, for example, for testing their sexuality with members of the same sex. Nearly all grow up to be committed to heterosexuality and live “straight” lives.
In regard to the above, people born gay are known to respond differently to sexual images and phenomena such as the odors that serve to create sexual arousal. And, as research continues, it is now being concluded by some psychologists and neuroscientists that there are some genetic or hormonal factors that predetermine peoples’ sexual orientation. Beyond all the research and science, however, common sense tells us that (most) homosexuality is a product of nature and determined by biological factors. And so to name homosexuality dirty, perverted and/ sinful is to accommodate the narrow mind and not to describe human action. In fact, the most recent studies are offering that while homosexuality is not written in our DNA
Does any of the science really matter?
The science matters because we human beings are a curios species but the truth remains while most people are born “straight” others are not. In other words, those who are born gay are…well, born gay! Most would not trade their gayness for straightness; they are content in their lifestyles and their sexuality. The fact that some heterosexuals wish to condemn or change them is, beyond all else, a holier-than-thou arrogance. Indeed, the idea of naming homosexuality an abomination onto the Lord, a personality disorder or a social degeneracy are all terms of blind prejudice; a hating the apple because it is red. What was it that deranged preacher announced: AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.
As a quick aside, It has always amazed me how some representatives of Christianity, an enterprise of the Jesus principle, can advocate hatefulness, non-forgiveness and intolerance. That is, I am so often amazed at how frequently the golden rule is turned into pyrite.
For most gays, homosexuality has left the closet many decades ago. This does not mean, however, that the social stigma has been lifted altogether; there are still pockets of prejudice against gays; still religious fanatics calling them the devil’s handiwork and still homophobic individuals who have neurotic fears of and/or repulsions for them. Nevertheless, at bottom line, it is simply no one’s business what consenting adults do especially in the United States where freedom of individuality is held in such political-socio esteem. After all consensual crimes are left to the tyrannies of the world…are they not?
In any case and in light of all the above, we have enough information now to discuss Gay marriage and so to ask the question should gays have or not have the legal right to marry.
Gay Marriage Yes or No
I will start my view on gay marriage by first talking about my own marriage: I have been married to my wife for going on 35 years. We have been through a great deal together and have had triumphs and tragedies; our good time and our struggles as we’ve weaved through our lives together. We have never taken life’s hardships out on each other and with very few exceptions we’ve always gotten along. As far as being my wife, she has always been my partner and my best friend. And, our love for one another has never diminished over the years but has grown and expanded. We’ve had and we continue to have a great and loving committed relationship.
Indeed, what I am about to say will no doubt shock or anger or disappoint some readers but our relationship has had NOTHING to do with our being married. Marriage, in spite of the ritual, is not and has NEVER been a “holy” matrimony or the joining of two people by God.
If marriage was holy and/or made cohesive by God there would be no divorce attorneys and the large population of single moms would be reduced to only a few.
Historically marriage has always been about acquisition, making heirs and the legalities of owning stuff…together. In fact, love was NEVER a criterion for marriage until Freud came along and introduced unconscious motivations to men and women. This does not mean that husbands and wives never felt love for one another only that love was not the incentive to marry. Love, as the incentive to marry is a modern, mostly western notion and not a world expectation or anticipation for pair-bonding.
A degree by the Catholic Church reads: “The intimate partnership of life and love that constitutes the marriage state was established by God and endowed by Him with His own proper nature and laws. According to Divine law, the nature of marriage is defined as a covenant between one man and one woman by which they establish a partnership of a whole life, which is ordered to the good of the spouses and the precreation and education of children. Jesus Christ affirmed the privileged place of marriage in human and Christian society by raising the union to the dignity of a sacrament…” The degree continues, denying the rights of gays to be married.
This policy by the Archdiocese of New York represents the Catholic view and its historic demand to control private life. We need not go into the aspects of our kind making up God’s rule to correspond with a societies mores and morals. Indeed, it was the early Catholic authority that created human sexuality a taboo except for the purpose of children by married couples.
The Church, however, returning to Tannahill, “Saw marriage as a series of concessions to human weakness.” This is why, in the 11th Century AD, clerical marriage was prohibited. This neurotic obsession with the evils of sex was inherited by Protestantism that permitted marriage but maintained that marital sex be disciplined except for the purposes of procreation and never for pleasure. This Protestant belief evolved directly from St. Augustine’s interpretation of Genesis and nothing else. There is also the strange and neurotic belief in most organized religions that somehow concludes that pain is the path to salvation while pleasure is the path to damnation.
In ways when we think of gay marriage, we think about gay sexuality but sharing sexual pleasure has never really been restricted to the marriage state except symbolically. Neither gays nor straights have ever needed marriage to celebrate a good romp in the hay. In fact, the very idea that the church and/or the state have assumed the powers to sanction and so to legalize human sexuality is an arrogance to say the least; a tyranny in the guises of morality. There remain laws on the books that prohibit certain sexual conduct even between married couples, much less same sex relationships. While such laws are no longer enforced we clearly see an intrusion into private life by self-ordained authority when, especially in a so-called country that advocates freedom, only non-consensual sex that is either coercive or restrictive to someone else’s freedom ought to be outlawed. What people do in their private lives is nobody’s business but their own.
Matrimony, however, is merely socio-religious symbolism and ritual having nothing to do with either love or sex in actuality. It certainly doesn’t take a certificate to make a baby or even commit to living life with another person. This is not to say that there is nothing beautiful and enchanting about weddings
Gays have ever as much right to the “social/business” benefits of marriage as anyone else. And, the old idea that marriage is consecrated by sexual intercourse is nothing other than religious conjecture and cultural mythology. And, in any case, human sexual drives are obviously natural to the human condition and what if we advocate it or not, we humans are as naturally promiscuous, polyandrous, monogamous, polygamous, gay or straight as Nature has made us.
To take away socio-legal rights from gays because of their gayness is no different than taking away rights from people because of their blackness or subordinating people because they happened to be born female. In other words, we are all human!.
Homosexuality has always been part of the human condition. In most instances it can legitimately be called “a third gender.” As far as Creationists, it is such an hypocrisy to say that God created ALL things with the exception of homosexuals. I in fact feel secure in saying that it is not God who is hateful against homosexuals but rather people who are forever making the tragic error of judging self by others and others by self.
Who are homosexuals—they are our brothers and our sisters, our doctors, our pilots, our school teachers, our plumbers, our farmers or, in other words, they are ever as human as the rest of us. And, they live in the same world of uncertainty with the rest of us too with the right to pursue their own happiness just as the rest of us desire.
To deny gays the right to marriage is a product of the witch-hunting mentality, a hatred for those who for one reason or another live outside the center. In regard to all of this, it is simply time to live and let live and love ALL our neighbors as ourselves.
As for marriage itself, while the cornerstone of the union has always been about legality, business and acquisition, how devoted, happy, loving and lasting it becomes has always depended on the committed couple in the marital relationship which demands both compromise, cooperation and caring.
Reference: Tannahill, Reay * Sex in History *Stein and Day
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