I responded to a comment line on facebook, which led to a lengthy discussion that actually got quite interesting! It's about the gay marriage initiative about to be voted on in Washington, which isn't really about gay marriage, but it is, so well, ya' know.
Anyway, too much work went into this on both sides, and I think that with both sides being somewhat reasoned and remarkably civil, (Yeah, I know!) I'd post it here for all to see.
As usual, the other voice (Name withheld so I don't get sued) is in black and my responses can be read in my usual purple prose.
The original post which set off the discussion (and of course became quickly moot) can be viewed here: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=199800974417&comments=
You correctly state that marriage is a religious institution however, it cannot be an institution AND a civil right. Civil rights are inalienable and given by God (and marriage is not one of them). Unfortunately, This IS a political issue because the debate is over changing the definition of marriage because we gave the government the power to ... manage marriage through licences. The government should not be involved in defining marriage. There is little stopping gays from having relationships or "marrying" (they deceive themselves that God recognizes it). I understand the need for government recognized contracts between persons who are not married, and I have no problem with allowing them, but don't call it a marriage.
According to Dictionary.com: CIVIL: 1. of, pertaining to, or consisting of citizens. 2. of the commonwealth or state...
(It goes on to give 10 definitions and in none of which is God mentioned. So to say that civil rights are given by God is by definition wrong.) What rights we as citizens have are to be determined by us on this mortal coil ... and that's the way it always has been. So is the way we define words like "marriage" or "God." If God wishes to chime in on this issue, he will have to register to vote and provide proof of citizenship like everyone else. Until then, let's keep this civil issue planted on terra firma thank you.
Brian, Thank you for correcting my mistake. You are correct that civil rights are not from God, the appropriate word would be 'natural' which was my intent, but I erred. It doesn't change my point that marriage is not a right. Additionally, God HAS chimed in on this issue, and given a very straightforward definition of marriage. Marriage is ... larger than the state. If it is redefined by the state, it is no longer marriage, it is a corruption. We already fail to apply marriage appropriately, lets not make it worse by pretending to validate corruption with a vote and a false name.
It is curious that you also believe God can be defined by man which implies you don't believe in anything absolute. What do you believe in?
PS - I should have done this earlier, but I actually read the text of referendum 71, it actually states that same-sex relationships are NOT marriages. It gives them the same rights (should be privileges not rights) as married couples. I incorrectly implied from Jennie's "marriage equality" plea that the referendum was on same-sex marriage. I have no objection to the referendum.
If we define rights as "natural" then free speech isn't a right, nor gun ownership, nor voting, as ALL of these rights exist in our society as legislative declarations voted into or out of our constitution. As a free society we are capable and obliged to determine what is and what isn't considered a right for ourselves. A right is not magical gift... , it is a decision made by the populace. Nothing mystical about them, except that they are blessings of history passed down from our founders to us. I hope to create and pass down the right to marry anyone they love to my children and grandchildren as blessings in that same tradition.
As to whether or not God has chimed in on this issue I have to ask, "Whose God?" I am of the belief that God is VERY powerful, and being very powerful he would write any opinions he wishes me to share firmly into my DNA. Since he has not done that on this issue, I maintain that he remains mute. (The bible being a collection of books clearly written by the hands of men attempting to define God--yes I have read it-- I give it no more credence on this issue than on its prohibition of "rounding the corners of ones beard," or "wearing clothes of two different cloths." To use such antiquated guidelines over our democratically reasoned constitution would be "absolute-ly" foolish.)
Brian, the point is that marriage is NOT a right it is a privilege. A right is an entitlement for all, a privilege grants a special consideration to a certain group.
I'm glad you believe that God is powerful, that confession gives you hope in contrast to your original claim that we (man) define God is if he does not exist. God is not mute, he has written this on your soul because our DNA is cursed. If you believe that God is powerful enough to create life than you understand that life (and liberty...) is a natural (self evident/inalienable) right given by God. Our government was setup to protect those rights not grant them.
As for your view of the Bible, the laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy are for the Hebrew nation to remain separate from the idolatry of their neighbors and do not pertain to us Gentiles. We have a better law, the law of Love (Galatians 5:14). I believe a sincere investigation of what the Bible really says and why will clarify what God has already revealed to you.
Um, if you're going to throw away Leviticus, you're throwing away the ten commandments. Does "thou shalt not kill" not pertain to Gentiles?
As far as Love thy neighbor as thyself goes, I married the person I love. I will allow my neighbor to marry the person they love, even if my neighbor chooses to marry a same sex partner. Love is not a "special interest right," love is a HUMAN right. Why? Because I do not wish to live in a world where that is not so.
Marriage is a right most of us have that should not only pertain to a "certain group." This same argument was used to keep women from voting. I don't own fire arms, yet that right is protected. I am not a criminal, yet criminal's rights are protected. Being able to enjoy the same legal status as the majority of people and yes, even calling it the same thing (marriage) is not a "special consideration." It is equality under the law.
Government grants rights. The reason the Bill of Rights was so unique and wonderful is because of the long history preceding it where it hadn't occurred to anyone that people could even have these "inalienable" or "natural" rights. (Curious that the Bible never mentions that "excessive bail should not be required.") When our government granted slaves the right to vote it was wrong to do so? Is it divined by nature that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The constitution, including all rights granted therein is simply law, and people make the law. We get to determine what is and what isn't a fundamental right with our votes and voices alone and that is the very most beautiful thing about the United States of America.
And as for sincerely investigating the Bible, I can think of no more sincere investigation of what the Bible says than reading the whole thing, as I have, as well as reading several books on the bible's origins, history and literary critiques. I'm a big bible nerd actually.
Almost named my child "Abednego" in fact. But if you really want to be spiritual you must look past God's supposed "word" and more to God's CREATION. A moderate study of science has taught me more about God than any Sunday sermon ever will. Einstein's definition of God as "the sum total of matter and energy in the universe," helps one function better in society than defining God as the Bible's human writer's did, as some petty tyrant who can't stand to hear his own name in an improper context.
Mark Twain once said, "Never let your schooling get in the way of your education." I would add, "Never let your churching get in the way of your spirituality." Yes, I believe in a powerful God. (The sum total of matter and energy in the universe is at last check, pretty powerful!)
A powerful God does not create "cursed DNA." A powerful God does not rely on an ancient book clearly written by fallible men to "define" him. A powerful God can at the very least "define" himself don't you think? A powerful God does not put a spiritual leader with a political agenda between you and him. Certainly not some spiritual leader who makes up things out of whole cloth like "cursed DNA."
Beware those who claim to tell you how God "thinks" or that they know what is "preordained" or "written." Beware those who would separate our society into "Those who can marry and the other ones." Beware those who claim that you are "cursed" and that "they know the way to fix you." They wish power over you, and if you believe what they say, they have it.