Friday, August 10, 2012

Why I'm for Same-Sex Marriage

Here I share about what in my background and thinking leads me to my view on the issue of gay marriage. And, in doing so, I share a lot about who I am as a person. The ideas in here affect my attitudes to, well, pretty much everything.  Or a lot of things, anyway. (Note that while this post has a heavy dose of religion, my way of thinking does not require belief in God or being religious.)

Growing up, homosexuality wasn't addressed in my religious education. Or elsewhere, for that matter. I wasn't taught it was bad, not because I had enlightened teachers, but simply because it wasn't seen as an issue. At least, so it seems to me based on what I remember. My experience was that homosexuality was something out there in the greater world, and not an issue for me or the people in my life. (As an aside, I can see how, for a homosexual, coming to terms with being homosexual can be a challenging process if coming out of a similar experience growing up.)

I did learn, in my religious education, about morality. I learned we are responsible for making good moral choices. Part of that was that the Holy Spirit guides us, each of us. What I came to understand is that we each are responsible for choosing to do what is right in our own life. The church guides us and helps us, but we, ultimately, are responsible for choosing what's right.

I also learned that we are not supposed to judge others. That judgment belongs to God.  And this value is pretty central to who I am.

I learned that we are supposed to love one another. Everyone.  Love your enemy.  If they are human, love them.  That and not judging really fit together closely for me.

Along with that, I also always understood homosexuality as something innate. That finding one's own gender attractive is not something one chooses. And, thus, not something that can be a sin.  I also feel that the feelings I have for a man I find attractive, even when I can't act on that attraction, that's not wrong, and there's beauty in being able to see someone that way.  It doesn't make sense to me to think the same reaction is wrong or bad when a man feels it.

I'm pretty thoroughly heterosexual. The morality of homosexual relationships is not an issue I've had to consider in my own life. Nor have I ever, thus far in my life, been in the place of helping someone else deal with relationship choices in a homosexual or bisexual context.

With all that background, my default position is that each homosexual person must make their own choices about what's right or wrong for them. It's not up to me to decide if homosexual relationships are right or wrong. That is something for people to decide on their own. With help from the community, yes, but making their own choice rather than blindly following.

I think tobacco use is wrong (smoking or otherwise). Yet I don't judge the smokers that I know.  I don't even share my viewpoint that it's wrong.  I've nothing to say to them on the matter that they don't already know.  Yes, they've made a choice that I think is a poor choice.  But we all make poor choices sometimes.  I don't condemn them.

And I don't even see them as smokers.  They are people.  They happen to use tobacco sometimes, but they are people.  I interact with them just like the people I know who don't smoke.  I like them or not for their many personal traits.  I see their humanness.

I am called to do that with every person who has a trait I don't like or disagree with.  Sometimes that's harder than with smoking.  Still, I am called to love those I disagree with.

So, seems to me that, whatever my view on the morality of homosexual relationships, I am called to love those who choose such relationships.  To see them as human, as every bit as human as I am.  I am called to love them.  To see them as an "us", not a "them".

Without even considering whether their relationship choices are right or wrong, I know I'm supposed to love them, to see them as a whole person, and not to judge them.  And to respect their right and ability to make their own life choices, based on their own understanding of right and wrong.

Which brings my to my view on the morality of homosexual relationships.

I come from a church with a tradition of celibacy, the Roman Catholic Church. Our church believes that some people are called to celibacy.  That is, called to not marry, not date, etc.  I too, believe that; I believe some individuals have that calling.  And I also believe that, if they have that calling, the Holy Spirit will speak to them in their heart.  They may need someone to suggest the possibility to them, but they don't need anyone to make the choice for them.

The Catholic Church position on homosexuality and homosexual relationships, as I understand it from reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is that being homosexual is not a sin, but that all homosexuals are called to celibacy.

My view is that the church has no place to make that blanket judgment about their calling.  Each homosexual person discerns for themself whether they are called to celibacy or to something else.  If the Catholic Church is right, they will each receive that calling individually.  There's no need for an authoritarian judgment.

Observation suggests to me that, on the contrary, most homosexuals are not called to celibacy.  There seems to me to be enough sound homosexual relationships out there for me to come to that conclusion. Homosexuals don't do any worse a job at these relationships, and making choices about them, than us heterosexuals do, from what I see.

Many homosexuals feel they are called to a life-long, committed, monogamous relationship with someone of the same gender.  I feel I am called to respect their judgment about their own life.  To recognize those relationships as a marriage just as I would any other couple.  And I believe they should have the right to be legally married, and to have the rights and benefits that come with being legally married.  The same rights and benefits that I have.

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