I live in a country which on 20 July 2005, became the first country outside of Europe and the fourth in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
In the decade following the passage of the Canadian Civil Marriage Act which made it possible for same-genders couples to pledge themselves to each other in faithful, monogamous, life-long commitment, I have observed a number of startling realities.
1. Armageddon has not come.
2. The institution of marriage has not been destroyed any more than heterosexuals destroyed it decades ago.
3. Immorality has not become rampant in our streets.
4. Society has not crumbled; disease has not destroyed our children; and miraculously many versions of “family” continue to prosper.
In Canada the issue of same-sex relationships is over. Canadians affirm gay marriage and for a decade have witnessed the healthy life-giving family units many gay couples have managed to establish.
I have little interest any longer in debating homosexuality. However, there are still people for whom this human reality remains a source of turmoil. This morning I received the following comment on a blog post I put up two years ago:
God is the God of love and peace. That’s all anyone wants to say.
But, there is a side to God that people don’t want to acknowledge.
He is the God of chastisement. A God who will punish for all sins All.
We are all born into sin and shaped into iniquity.
Sin is sin. Adultery, lieing, smoking drinking. Not disciplining our children.
If you continue to practice any sin you will be punished period.
We’re not perfect but everyday we’re to take one day at a time and strive for perfection. We have to work on our relationship with God, Daily
In this flesh dwelleth no good things. That’s why we have to take one day at a time ask God what he wants us to have and who does he want us to be with.
Consult God about everything in your life. Cause her cares about the things that concerneth you.
God’s word strictly prohibits sin including homosexuality. God calls it an abomination.
So if that is your sin of choice then it and like all other sin. We will be punished and sent to he’ll for our sins of choice.
We all need to read the bible but ask God himself to reveal his word to us.When we sin you have to repent get away from the people and placed and things that are making you sin.Daily communication with God. He will direct your path.
As I reflected on this comment, I thought about two people. I have changed the details of their story enough to honour their privacy; but here is their story:
I will call the first person in this story, Ted.
Ted grew up in a loving stable Christian family. His mother and father were married for 52 years before Ted’s Dad died. Ted’s one brother and and one sister married their heterosexual partners in their twenties and continue to raise their children in the town where they were born.
Ted left his hometown to attend university. He graduated and has conducted himself responsibly and compassionately in the caring profession to which he felt deeply called. Ted has continued throughout his adult life to be an active part of the church and finds deep sustenance and strength in his faith.
Over the years Ted dated women attempting to forge a bond with a member of the opposite sex. But, somehow nothing ever clicked. He had many friendships with women but never felt drawn to carry a relationship with a women any further than warm affection.
During his youth, Ted had experienced romantic and, at times sexual, attraction to a few men. Ted knew these “temptations” were wrong and so had struggled to repress the urgings he felt towards intimacy with men. But they did not go away. Although he had never acted on his feelings, Ted prayed for forgiveness and sought healing in his sexual life. He stayed “celibate” and determined he would live the rest of his life without sexual intimacy.
Then one day in church Ted met Joe. Ted and Joe became friends. As their relationship grew Ted discovered something stirring in his heart that he had never experienced for any other human being. Reluctantly, Ted came to realize that he was deeply romantically in love with Joe and longed to express his love in the most tender acts of intimacy.
After knowing each other for two years and struggling together to understand God’s will for their relationship, Ted and Joe were among the first legally married couples in Canada. Sadly, of course, they could not be married in their church. Their church did not believe it was possible for Ted and Joe to pledge life-long, faithful, monogamous commitment to each other as long as their commitment included the intimate expressions of love that every heterosexual couple assumes will be part of their marriage relationship.
Ted and Joe have been married for eight years. Five years ago they adopted two children with special needs. Without Ted and Joe these two children would almost certainly have spent their childhoods being shunted from one home to another in a foster care system in which they would never find stability and certainly not the kind of love and nurture they receive from their Dads.
Ted and Joe and their two children have a stable loving compassionate home. By any definition, they are a family worthy of respect and support and their relationship is a “marriage”.
Whether we like it or not, the meaning of words changes over time. It may be unsettling but language is not static.
To Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and King David, “marriage” meant one man with as many women as he could afford until he found one of them displeasing at which point he could write her a certificate of divorce and leave her destitute.
The idea of “marriage” as one man and one woman joined for life, only came into existence in the Western world sometime between the sixth and the ninth centuries, largely for economic reasons. The pattern that eventually became the norm lasted only until the 1960’s when “marriage” was again redefined to mean one man for one woman, until divorce did them part and they were then free to pursue another marriage with a different partner. In many cultures, even today, “marriage” is an arrangement organized by the family without consultation with either the man or the woman involved; romance, without which most of us would find “marriage” unimaginable, plays no part in the arrangement.
Human relationships are deeply complex. There is no single pattern by which anyone can guarantee, that a relationship will prosper.
Human sexuality is probably the most profoundly mysterious dimension of human relationships. I could no more choose to direct my sexual desires towards a man than a person who is homosexual can choose to orient their sexual desires towards a person of a different gender.
Why is my sexual orientation viewed as a given fact of my nature, while Ted and Joe’s is merely a “sinful choice”?
If they could possibly do otherwise, why would anyone intentionally choose a relationship that for generations guaranteed they would be ostracized, possibly arrested, and in some situations have their lives threatened? If Ted could just as happily have chosen Mary instead of Joe, why would he go to the trouble of choosing Joe?
What harm are Ted and Joe doing?
What other behaviour we label “sin” has no victim? Seriously, who is being hurt by Ted and Joe’s relationship?
What possible objective evidence is there to suggest that Ted and Joe are causing damage to anyone? Canadian society has not imploded since the legalization of same-sex marriage. In fact, it can be argued that the gay community at least has stabilized in the past ten years as much of the stigma associated with being gay has diminished.
Why should Ted and Joe’s love be judged less worthy than my love for my wife?
By what right do we dismiss Ted and Joe’s experience of their loving relationship as healthy and good, merely because it does not conform to some arbitrary standard that has been the norm for only a few hundred years? How can we claim to know better than Ted and Joe what is best for their lives?
How do we justify overlooking the undeniable good that has come about from Ted and Joe’s marriage simply because we have condemned their relationship?
Why is a manipulative, disrespectful, loveless heterosexual marriage acceptable while Ted and Joe’s loving nurturing marriage is apparently an “abomination” simply because they are men?
There are no easy answers to why human relationships unfold, and sometimes unravel, as they do. But surely, society can only be enriched if we learn to affirm and support all people who seek to live in respectful, loving, faithful, committed, monogamous relationship regardless of their gender.