Saturday, May 27, 2006

Oppose the Federal Marrriage Amendment

The Senate will vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment the week of June 5. Here is the text of this proposed amendment to the Constitution:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:

Article -

SECTION 1. This article may be cited as the `Marriage Protection Amendment'.

SECTION 2. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
If you are a member of the clergy, I encourage you to sign the open letter to the Senate sponsored by Clergy for Fairness. Here's an excerpt from the letter:

...Regardless of judicial and legislative decisions defining the legal rights of gay couples, religious marriage will justly remain the prerogative of individual faith traditions in accordance with their doctrinal beliefs. And this is as it should be. It is not the task of our government and elected representatives to enshrine in our laws the religious point of view of any one faith. Rather, our government should dedicate itself to protecting the rights of all citizens and all faiths...
Members of the Laity are encouraged to contact their Senators and let them know you oppose this discriminatory amendment.

A group of religious leaders gathered in Washington on May 22 to voice their opposition to this amendment. Among those present were two Episcopal bishops; Larry Maze of Arkansas and retired New Jersey Bishop Joe Morris Doss. Here is a quote from Bp. Doss:

Marriage is a theological matter of first importance for the church...It raises some of the most fundamental, complex, and vexing issues of theology… Such issues demand the church’s most careful and profound deliberation, and that is to take place in our parishes, councils, seminaries, publications, and places of theological reflection. It is to take place within national and international units of each denomination and in ecumenical dialogue.

Congress, on the other hand, is not the proper forum for this sort of study, debate, and decision-making [on marriage]. The state is not to dictate doctrine to the church, or pre-empt a lively and extensive debate by precipitously deciding it for us. The church must determine the meaning and the parameters of marriage for itself… An amendment to define matters of theological controversy would set a terrible Constitutional precedent, and those in the church who think that such an action would be helpful to their theological position should take warning about what may come eventually.
The Rev. Dr. Jay E. Johnson, an Episcopal priest and theologian, offers us a sermon entitled Biblical Values for American Families:

...It is important to recognize, for example, that the most common marriage pattern in the Bible is polygamy; it is not a union of one man and one woman. Even in the New Testament, married life as we understand it is not presented as the model. The most prominent models of Christian life in the New Testament, Jesus and Saint Paul, were not married, and neither had children. Paul explicitly ranked being married below being single. And when Jesus was asked about his own family, his reply was radical: “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:48-50). On this basis, the early church developed a model of family that broke totally with ancient kinship patterns, monogamous or polygamous. The family in the New Testament is religious and nonbiological; more than anything else, it is like what we might think of as the “church family.”

The Bible does not provide us with concrete examples that we can directly apply to marriage and family as we understand these relationships today. In fact, the examples of what some might refer to as “biblical family values” are deeply disturbing...

...Religious opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples frequently turns to the Bible for support. For example, one denomination has based its opposition to marriage equality on “the biblical teaching that God designed marriage as a lifetime union of one man and one woman.” But, as we have seen, this claim hardly reflects what the Bible actually says or the ancient cultures in which the Bible was written. The structures of biblical families are rooted in cultural practices far removed from the values of Christians today...

...Societal definitions of marriage and family have changed, and will continue to change, over the course of history. What the Bible presents as the abiding standard is not based on biology or specific forms of legal contract, but on the quality of love that is shared. That is why many Christians today believe that if same-sex relationships exhibit such spiritual values, they deserve the protection and recognition that marriage represents in our society.

If we have any intention of preserving marriage and building strong families, we must base our support on neither ancient practices nor those of secular modernity; instead, our basis must be values that are unchangeable—faith, hope, and love. These are the biblical standards for Christian marriage and Christian families today.

No comments:

Post a Comment