Hello, my name is Grace Hall. I am a devout Christian, and I support gay marriage.
You may be wondering why I haven’t blogged for about a year and a half. Well, it’s because I’ve been sitting on this very post. I’ve felt the need to write this post for even longer than that, but I’ve been struggling with how to write it and when to write it and whether it’s even possible for me to accomplish what I’m trying to do, which is this:
I simply want to discuss the topic of the legalization of gay marriage in a way that is respectful, insightful, and — above all — rational.
I want to preface this by saying that I have grave doubts that this will be successful. I never engage in Facebook debates, I try to remain apolitical on Twitter, and (apart from one odd year in high school), I resolutely keep my personal opinions and beliefs off of my car’s bumper. I think the problem with this debate, as well as so many others in our country, is that we no longer have to look the people we disagree with in the eye. It is so easy, when you are separated by time, space, and the infinite reaches of the Internet, to speak without compassion. It is a far more difficult thing (and a far, far better thing), to hold the hand of the person you disagree with, look him or her in the eye, and temper what you say with what you hear. I’m not ashamed to support gay marriage — I never have been — but I’ve been afraid of alienating, hurting, or simply being insensate to others. So I hope you hear me say that, regardless of what you believe on this issue or a multitude of others, I care for you, I care about you, and (in the immortal words of Mr. Rogers), I like you just the way you are.
Now, how is it that I, as a lifelong member of a (quite) conservative Christian tradition, am in favor of gay marriage? My answer comes down to one simple fact, the fact that, I believe, should have ended this debate before it even started:
This is a legal issue, not a religious one.
As much as we conflate Christianity and American nationalism, they are not the same things. Thank God. Separation of church and state works just as much for the protection of the church as it does the state, and I think it’s one of the best and most important tenets of our country. You are not required to be a Christian in order to be an American citizen. There are citizens — who are just as American as any WASP — who are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, or areligious. All faiths and creeds — or lack thereof — are welcome and valid. If Christianity is not a prerequisite for citizenship, then Christian morals cannot be a prerequisite for our legal decisions.
Our question is not, “What does the Bible tell us about this as Christians,” but “What do the legal documents of this country tell us about this as Americans?” And, frankly, that’s a pretty easy one. Is one consenting, adult American citizen of good standing afforded the same rights as another consenting, adult American citizen? A bit redundant, no?
Now, here’s where I usually hear arguments about how “gay marriage is a slippery slope,” and I would like to share with you now what I tell my beginning composition students. If this is a topic you truly care about, if you feel that this issue is worth your time, your effort, your energy, and your prayers, then make a better argument. A “slippery slope” is literally a logical fallacy. Like, literally. Not figuratively-literally the way people (mis-)use “literally” these days, but actually–literally. If you open a textbook on composition and rhetoric, in the section under logical fallacies — those arguments that are inherently flawed and which, in the eyes of professional arguers and wordsmiths the world over, are invalid — you will find the term “slippery slope.” It is simply not a valid basis for granting or denying citizens their rights. This issue is too important — people’s lives are too important; don’t do us all the disservice by using a poor argument.
I saw an article posted on Facebook several months back that offers five reasons to not give up on banning gay marriage. Wanting to understand those who think differently than I do, I read it, and remember thinking, “Yes, those are all reasons to deny gay marriage, but none of them are remotely legal reasons.” Another post seemed to struggle with the fact that gay marriage simply isn’t mentioned in the Bible, and welcomed discussion and instruction. To these friends, I would say, “Peace.” Questions about what the Bible says and what God expects of us, and how to best understand those things in order to best demonstrate Christ’s love to others, are good questions. I love those questions. They’re simply not relevant to this issue.
My hope is that, if you do not support gay marriage, you might now understand how a committed, Bible-reading, church-attending, serious-minded Christian might find some very valid reasons to support gay marriage.
On the other hand, if you do support gay marriage, and especially if you are an LGBT person hoping to someday get married, I hope that you see that you have Christian allies. Unfortunately, I feel like the Christians who speak loudest on the national stage are the ones with the most hate in their hearts. We are not all like that. Christ is not like that. Whoever you are, you are my friend, my brother, my sister, my fellow child of God, and I like you just the way you are.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
– Constitution of the United States, Amendment XIV, Section 1