Being on the wrong side of history

In the past few weeks, we have seen a major change in public sentiment on gay marriage. Notable senators such as Republican Rob Portman have come out in favor of gay marriage. In November for the first time 4 states voted in favor of gay marriage or against restricting it. Polls suggest that majorities now favor it. So many pundits have suggested that those that oppose gay marriage are on the “wrong side of history” and that 20 years from now we will be looked back on as bigots and the equivalent of those that defended slavery or segregation. 

I don’t really deny any of that. The tide of public opinion has swung dramatically. The viewpoint of traditional Christians is more and more pushed aside to the margins. I realize every time I comment against gay marriage that I am closing a door. Already, I have lost good friends because of my position and  I realize that opposing gay marriage vocally will make it harder for me to get hired in the future.

And yet, I have covenanted with God to speak out and share my faith in all times and places and ways. That is true even if it means being unpopular or going against conventional wisdom. Having only come to this position after long prayer and consideration…I simply can not do otherwise. I have written in depth about my struggling over this issue and those who know me know how conflicted I have been over this topic. Yet, I feel my conviction actually increasing as I see the tide of public opinion turn against me. 

Some things are true no matter what history writes about them. Truth will win out in the long term even if in society we see a march in the opposite direction. Marx was certain that history was on the side of communism and yet in time communism failed. More importantly, Christ was on the ‘wrong side of history’ and yet he will one day come again and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that he is in fact the Christ and savior of the world.

I do not do so out of hatred for people that have homosexual tendencies. I want deeply for them to feel loved in society. I want tolerance to prevail. And yet, I know that the recognition they seek now will damage the institution of marriage and will take away rights from believers. I know from the words of the prophets and from my own observation that the result will be oppression and hatred towards believing individuals. That I can not countenance or support. I wish for a middle ground and yet those most vocally agitating are increasingly vocal that it is their way or no way at all.

The Supreme Court is hearing the Prop 8 case today. I pray that they will have the wisdom to see a way through this culture war and to reach a result that will be equitable for all. Unfortunately, I don’t really see how. Whoever prevails, the battle will go on. And so, even though I fight reluctantly still I march onward. God and not history will ultimately be the judge of my conduct. God and not history will decide who is right.


12 thoughts on “Being on the wrong side of history

  1. I am not sure that I understand your argument. Is there a reason why you do not support this beyond your internal feelings? While I respect that others have divergent opinions, I am not sure I understand why a religious belief should impact the legal rights of others. There are countless examples of actions that particular religions do not condone but that the state has no reason to forbid.

    • Caroline

      I have written a lot about why I oppose gay marriage. It goes far beyond my own feelings and to a large extent stems from the fact that requiring same sex marriage will lead to a large amount of discrimination and law suits against Christian individuals and organizations. Things like Catholic Charities being forced to close down in 3 cities will become more common. Individuals will be fired or punished because of their religious values or not given degrees in fields like psychology or counseling. These things are actually happening across the country as we speak. The fear is not merely emotional or religious but practical and legal.

  2. Caroline –

    Talking about legal rights in this arena is probably more complex than people want to think.

    Homosexuality is behavior. Nobody–and I mean nobody–really understands what’s behind it, and in all likelihood it’s a composite of genetics, environment, individual temperament, etc. To the extent that it’s a tendency, strongly correlated in people’s minds with identity and a person’s deepest ideas of fulfillment (which is what makes the issue so difficult and troubling), it’s a very shaky foundation to try to build law on. Person A might be particularly susceptible to substance abuse. Person B might be particularly susceptible to sexual addictions or even perpetrating sexual violence. Person C might be particularly susceptible to perpetrating domestic violence. But nobody’s going to argue that those behaviors should be legally protected or legitimized. Indeed, to do so would wrong all involved; everyone pays the price for these behaviors. But people make decisions and sometimes discriminate based on behavior all the time; what principled foundation is there for forbidding discrimination–not just locally but nationally and constitutionally–based on behavior? When society wants to impose sanctions based on behavior, what principled distinction can you make between one very strong urge and another equally strong and compelling, even if the one urge is clearly and obviously destructive and the other less obviously so? If you set that precedent, what other kinds of tangled precedents do you set?

    Of course, the counterargument is that homosexuality isn’t shown to be harmful like these behaviors. But when it comes to same-sex marriage, we’re not talking about government penalizing homosexuality or even just tolerating it…we’re talking about government promoting it and providing all kinds of benefits and protections to that behavior as if it provides society the same benefits as a traditional marriage. I think time will prove that it doesn’t and can’t offer the same benefits. In fact, I think time will prove that it does, indeed, harm everyone involved and is particularly harmful to children and families. We may not understand why we’re designed to be the product of both male and female (I like to think it’s the universe’s way of telling us both sexes are equally valued and are only fruitful when they work together.) But we are. It’s easy to discount genetics and blood bonds, but it’s proven that people invest more in and take better care of children who are blood kin. Same-sex couples can’t produce children. At best they “borrow” children from at least one genetic parent. That’s not fair to the kids, who are cut off from half of their genetic and cultural heritage for no better reason than that it suited the adults involved. Children have a right to a mother and a father, male and female role models, ideally loving each other and providing an example of harmony, love, and interdependence between the sexes. In fact, tons of research shows children prosper with this and tend to suffer greatly without this. If we can’t always give them that because of the foolishness of the adults involved, we can at least forego providing incentives to put children in this situation. A homosexual couple can be loving and even by all outward signs seem to parent effectively, but they’re still wronging the child. And when will the effects show up? Only, probably, when the children have grown up. How is a boy supposed to learn to be a man and relate to a father from two women who’ve clearly rejected men? How is a girl supposed to feel valued as a woman being raised by two men who’ve rejected women? If the child wonders about their unknown genetic parent or their “parents'” sexual orientation, then the child naturally feels disloyal to the people that raised them. The child is almost forced to become an advocate. The child shouldn’t be put in this position. One can argue that this is all just a matter of social training, but I’m not sure I’d ever want to live in a world where some of these ideas of gender meaning nothing were drawn out to their logical conclusion.

    Only in a traditional, heterosexual marriage are children likely to be born without planning. One purpose of marriage is to provide an incentive for those heterosexual couples to form a stable bond and home to serve and socialize those children. There’s no reason to incentivize or protect same-sex marriage in the same way.

    Now, one can argue that children are beside the point, as plenty of heterosexual couples don’t have them. But I think our position on homosexuality and same-sex marriage tells children a lot about how society values and regards them. After all, they are male and female.

    But there’s a deeper meaning to traditional marriage. Marriage is supposed to be both a spiritual and physically symbolic union of the sexes, a union of two equal and different yet compatible individuals. Take that away and what meaning does it have? Marriage becomes no more than the whim of any two consenting adults; there’s no further principled reason to deny it to anyone. Divorce marriage from gender and you divorce it from its original purpose (to serve as a building block for the family) and, ultimately, its meaning. You destroy its very foundation, and sooner or later you undermine marriage both for heterosexuals and homosexuals.

    Just a few thoughts…

    • I am infertile due to chemotherapy and premature menopause in my early 20s. Are you making an argument that my future marriage will somehow be worth less because my future children will not be biologically related to at least one (and likely both) of their parents? Or, even worse, that I should not bother to attempt to build a family because I will not be the biological parent? What are you telling adopted children?

      My boyfriend knew both of his biological parents. He was horrifically abused by them before he and his sisters went into the foster care system. Because homosexual couples and singles were not able to adopt at that time (and tend to adopt older children or special needs children by a statistically significant margin compared to married heterosexual couples), a large chance at him having a relatively normal upbringing was taken away “for the sake of the children”. Instead, he spent 10 years in the foster care system where he suffered emotional, physical, and sexual abuse as well as instability.

      Your position tells me a lot about how you view ME: a cis-gendered, straight woman who through no fault of her own is unable to bear children, but healthy enough and full of love and desire to raise them. It tells me that you don’t value me or my relationships because I will not be able to produce biological children. It also tells me that you do not value my boyfriend’s life because he was not worthy of anything but orphanages known as group homes (and later homelessness when he aged out of the system) because potentially being placed with a gay couple is somehow worse.

      Still waiting for an argument against gay marriage that does not root in being a fundamentally morally corrupt person.

      Waiting eagerly for your response, JustAPerspective.

      • Allie

        Thanks for your comment.

        I am absolutely not saying that your future family is less valuable because you will adopt in the future. Quite the opposite, I think that often adoptive parents do an immense amount of good and help children in great need.

        In regard to adoption I think that gay couples are often a much better option than being in foster care/ protective services and support allowing gay couples to adopt if they are otherwise qualified in all ways.

        On the other hand however, catholic charities should not be required to adopt children (most often those given up by religious parents that want their kids in traditional families) against their moral values. In a pluralistic society can’t we have some adoption agencies that do adopt to gay couples and others that do not?

        Gay people are deserving of legal protection and to be treated as valued human beings in society. I am not in the slightest suggesting otherwise. I just want people that oppose it for deeply held personal reasons to be accorded the same respect in society.

      • I was responding to the other commenter who clearly devalues my future family as well as all adoptive and foster families with,”It’s easy to discount genetics and blood bonds, but it’s proven that people invest more in and take better care of children who are blood kin. Same-sex couples can’t produce children. At best they “borrow” children from at least one genetic parent. That’s not fair to the kids, who are cut off from half of their genetic and cultural heritage for no better reason than that it suited the adults involved.” Not to mention, it’s clear that this poster is a fan of making things up.

        Catholic Charities are more than welcome to not adopt to same-sex couples. They just can’t accept any federal or state funding for their services. Fair trade.

        Growing up in the South, many people opposed black people for deeply held personal reasons. In fact, your own church supported very negative stances until relatively recently (guess G-d changed his mind?). That doesn’t mean I should respect those views or allow businessowners who hold those views to be able to act on them.

  3. Acid delivered with honey is still acidic. While I appreciate your friendly tone, it does not excuse your embrace of inequality and discrimination. You put the imagined threat to those who preach your gospel of division over the very real rights of couples who just ask for equal treatment under the law. You are perceptive to notice that moral arc of society is swinging inexorably toward equality, but what you fail to realize is that a spirituality that continues to embrace inequality will be socially marginalized as a consequence. I cannot convince you to abandon your idea of homosexual behavior as a moral failing, but I do hope you realize that the continued opposition of conservative Christianity to equality in legal (as opposed to spiritual) marriage will only serve to make the faith irrelevant in modern society. No, gay marriage is not a threat to Christianity in America — it is your own intellectual inflexibility that is the real problem.

    • Like you, I am standing up for the rights of people that are increasingly marginalized in society.

      Personally, I have no problems with gay people. If I ran an adoption agency I would let them adopt, if I ran a photography studio I would photograph their weddings and as an attorney I would defend a gay individual or couple in the same way as I would a straight couple. However, I am standing up for the right that individuals have to be a part of civic society and follow their conscience. Feel free to label them as bigots or boycott them, but let their be diverse views and values in society. The thing I object to is the attempt to bludgeon people into agreeing.

      • “Like you, I am standing up for the rights of people that are increasingly marginalized in society.”

        But you’re not. If this were the case, you would actually be protesting those instances in which Christians are unable to follow their consciences. It’s a very roundabout way to do so instead by limiting the rights of another group. What you are doing is putting the rights of those who think like you over the rights of those who are born different — something that always looks like moral monstrosity in hindsight. I see a very possible world in which both groups have their rights respected, not just one, and it is that world which I work towards. Far from “bludgeoning” you, I invite you to join me in that struggle.

        In fact, I think the traditionalist Christian community will do itself a huge favor by embracing same-sex marriage now. If so, they can credibly claim, “We respected your rights when they were in question, and our support helped put your battle for equal representation over the top. Now, we ask that you do the same for us.” As it stands now, in a few years, the struggles you fear will not look like genuine pangs of conscience born from a place of love. They will look like the last remains of bigotry from a group that has fought equality at every turn. Being on the “wrong side of history” does not merely mean that you end up looking wrong; it means that you end up looking evil. Is this really a battle worth fighting?

        By opposing gay marriage, what it seems you oppose is the normalization of same-sex relationships, which will in turn make personal opposition to them look more marginalized. I agree that gay marriage will contribute to that, but I think it is far more of an effect, rather than a cause, of a change in public sympathy — the shift in polling which you allude to bears that out. If you really want to combat the normalization, then you’d need to outlaw all that contributes to it — including adoption from same-sex couples, positive portrayals of homosexuality in media, or even open homosexuality in general. You can call those steps unconstitutional, but I notice you don’t really try to make a constitutionality argument against same-sex marriage. In all likelihood, the Supreme Court will soon find marriage discrimination to be unconstitutional, and you must admit that it takes a fairly tortured reading of the Constitution for it to be otherwise. Instead, you seem to support that current status quo, a situation that only looks like an equilibrium without a sense of its place in history. In addition, it is a status quo that you already admit leaves you on the “wrong side of history”. A better world that either the one you fear or the one you support is possible — one in which everyone’s rights are respected. Why should anyone settle for less?

  4. Reuters on Huffington Post:

    “You have billionaires telling Republicans ‘Vote our way and you’ll receive more money than you’ve ever seen. That was new.”

    Pro-gay marriage groups have routed their opponents financially, outraising them three-to-one in November 2012… The single biggest fundraising change between 2008 and 2012 was the disappearance from the political arena of the mightiest foe of gay marriage – the Mormon Church. The $20 million difference between the two campaigns last year is close to several estimates of what the Mormon Church and its supporters gave to California’s Prop 8 in 2008.

    More than 800 Utahns gave $2.7 million to support Prop 8 in 2008, state campaign finance records show. In 2012, a total of 16 Utahns gave $1,264 to the main ballot committees against gay marriage. “The Mormon Church left as a major funder,” concluded Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign

    When former Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman in 2010 came out as gay, it was critical mass. Dozens of Republican leaders, including former California candidate for governor Meg Whitman and former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, have signed a brief to the Supreme Court in favor of gay marriage. Some 278 businesses, including Goldman Sachs and hotelier Marriott International, whose chairman and major stockholder is Mormon, have signed a similar brief opposing the Defense of Marriage Act.

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