• Homosexuality •
September 12, 2005
The furor over California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s promised veto of the same-sex marriage bill that passed the state’s legislature has set off a firestorm of outrage among gay rights activists and the nation’s liberal commentators. Imbedded within this outrage is another perspective altogether — the confidence that time is undoubtedly on their side.
Before the Governor’s office indicated that he would indeed veto the bill, Assemblyman Mark Leno, the openly-gay legislator who sponsored the bill and pushed it (barely) through the Assembly, expresssed hope that Gov. Schwarzenegger would sign the bill [see article in The Los Angeles Times].
“I believe this is a governor who at his core is a libertarian on issues of social matters,” Leno said, “and that he is very fair-minded. I think he also takes the longer, rather than shorter, view of history.” Those last words are the more important part of his argument. When Mr. Leno calls upon the Governor to take “the longer, rather than the shorter, view of history,” he is threatening the Governor with the weapon of anticipated history.
Politicians in high office always have at least one eye on the history books of the future. Mr. Leno is warning the Governor that history will certainly see the affirmation of same-sex marriage as an inevitable expansion of human rights and sexual liberties — as well as the unfolding evolution of marriage as an institution.
A similar point is made by columnist Ryan H. Sager at Tech Central Station. TCS is a rather libertarian outfit, but Sager’s column still may come as a surprise to many readers. His argument:
September 9, 2005
September 8, 2005
From The San Francisco Chronicle: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, under growing pressure from his conservative supporters, promised Wednesday to veto the gay-marriage bill passed less than a day earlier by the Democrat-led Legislature.
The Legislature’s action trampled over Proposition 22, an initiative passed overwhelmingly in 2000 that banned same-sex marriage in California, said a spokeswoman for the governor.
September 7, 2005
From The Los Angeles Times: The California Legislature made history Tuesday as the Assembly passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. With no votes to spare, California’s lawmakers became the first in the United States to act without a court order to sanction gay marriages. The measure was approved after three Democratic lawmakers who abstained on a similar proposal that failed in June changed their minds under intense lobbying by bill author Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and gay and civil rights activists.No Republicans voted in favor of the bill. Forty-one of the Assembly’s 47 Democrats voted yes; four Democrats voted “no,” and two abstained.
The law would change the legal definition of marriage from “a civil contract between a man and a woman” to “a civil contract between two persons.”
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is expcted to veto the bill, though he has not yet publicly pledged to do so.
Civilizations stand or fall on distinctions like the definition of marriage. This vote by the California Assembly, coming fast on the heels of a similar vote by the state’s Senate, tells us a great deal about where we stand as a nation.
September 2, 2005
September 2, 2005
The California Senate voted Thursday to allow homosexual marriages. As The Washington Post reports, this represents the first time a legislative body has approved same-sex marriage without a court ordering it to do so. The bill redefines marriage as a union between two people, rather than a union of a man and a woman.
The bill passed by a 21 to 15 vote. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not indicated whether he would support or oppose the bill.
Just five years ago, California voters overwhelmingly passed a referendum defining marriage as the union between persons of the opposite sex. The action of the California Senate represents an incredible act of arrogance against the voters of the state.
OTHER COVERAGE: San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times, The Advocate, Baptist Press, The Dallas Morning News.
August 26, 2005
Unwilling to risk the financial and membership losses that would surely result from an open embrace of homosexuality, mainline denominations inch their way towards a progressive, if inevitable, embrace of homosexual practice. This progressive embrace of the homosexual agenda is propelled by activists who offer various rationales and arguments for the normalization of homosexual relationships and behaviors, which, over time, are intended to wear down conservative resistance and convince fence-straddlers of the inevitability of homosexual advance. The emergence of a new book, What God Has Joined Together?: A Christian Case for Gay Marriage, offers a summary of the arguments now common among the proponents of same-sex marriage.
August 13, 2005
Meeting yesterday, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA] turned back a proposal that would have allowed non-celibate homosexuals to serve as ministers. As The New York Times reports today, In an indication of the deep split over homosexuality in the church, which with five million members is the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination, the vote on gay clergy members at the church’s assembly in Orlando, Fla., divided almost evenly, with 49 percent in favor to 51 percent opposed. To pass, the measure required a two-thirds majority. The assembly also rejected a measure that would have allowed churches to bless same-sex unions.
July 26, 2005
The Church of England is trying its best to avoid achieving a clear position on the issue of homosexuality, even for clergy. Yesterday, the church’s House of Bishops found itself publicly embarrassed by its own statements, even as it attempted to clarify whether ordained ministers of the Church of England could enter into homosexual “civil partnerships.”
July 7, 2005
“The Presbyterian Church (USA) is at a crossroads,” declares a recently-released document from a group of concerned Presbyterians. The Presbyterian Lay Committee [PLC] is a venerable group of conservative Presbyterians who have been working for a Reformation within their denomination for many years. Even so, the PCUSA has been moving steadily leftward, and is set to debate the issue of human sexuality yet again. The PLC knows that there are even deeper issues at stake.
July 6, 2005
A Manchester, England financial institution, The Co-operative Bank, has asked a Christian organization, Christian Voice, to close its accounts because its convictions on homosexuality are “incompatible” with the position of the bank.
Here are excerpts from the bank’s statement, as quoted by BBC News: It has come to the bank’s attention that Christian Voice is engaged in discriminatory pronouncements based on the grounds of sexual orientation. . . . This public stance is incompatible with the position of the Co-operative Bank, which publicly supports diversity and dignity in all its forms for our staff, customers and other stakeholders.
The bank insisted that the decision had nothing to do with religion, but was made “purely on the issue of diversity.” So, what about Christian beliefs about homosexuality? Does the bank have no Muslim account holders? Will they be treated similarly?
The bank charges that the Christian Voice organization is an extreme group that has made scandalous claims against homosexuals. The organization came to the attention of the British public over its condemnation of the BBC for its plans to broadcast Jerry Springer — The Opera, which it described as blasphemous.
In a statement released after the BBC news story, the bank made this claim: We accept that everyone has the right to freedom of thought on religion; however, we do not believe that this entitles people to actively encourage and practice discrimination. In other words, the organization can hold to its beliefs, but cannot act on them?
Here we face another case of using the word discrimination as propaganda. All sane persons discriminate. We do not hire infants as police officers, child molesters as babysitters, or high school drop-outs as brain surgeons. Each of these decisions is an act of discrimination. In the course of a normal day, most persons make dozens of discriminatory decisions. The moral issue is whether an act of discrimination is right and proper. This bank is, to turn its own phrase, actively encouraging and practicing discrimination against a Christian organization — even as it condemns discrimination in all forms.
This news story is hard to take at face value. It is hard to believe that a financial institution can get away with this kind of overt religious discrimination. Who’s next?
LINKS TO UNCOOPERATION: News story from BBC News. See also the bank’s statement, posted on its Web site and a statement from Christian Voice, from its Web site.
July 5, 2005
Observers of Christianity in America have suggested in recent years that the most interesting controversies of our times are those within denominations. That generalization may be generally accurate, but the other big story is the great and widening division between liberal and conservative denominations. In reality, these two visions of Christianity represent two different religions. This was apparent to J. Gresham Machen and others early in the twentieth century. Now, it must be apparent to any honest observer.
Monday’s vote by the United Church of Christ [UCC] endorsing same-sex marriage makes this point clear. The UCC has been moving steadily leftward over the last several decades, and the main trajectory of the denomination has been consistent in rejecting the authority of Scripture. Yesterday’s vote did not emerge from a vacuum. A line of doctrinal accommodation and theological compromise necessarily produces such a development. Without the norming authority of Scripture, anything becomes possible, if not inevitable. If the Bible does not serve as the authoritative norm, anything can be normalized–even what the BIble condemns.
The Rev. John Thomas, the UCC’s president and general minister told a press conference after the group’s vote, “On this July 4, the United Church of Christ has courageously acted to declare freedom, affirming marriage equality, affirming the civil rights of gay — of same-gender — couples to have their relationships recognized as marriages by the state, and encouraging our local churches to celebrate those marriages.” This language is characteristic of those who would defy biblical authority and forge their own versions of the Christian faith. Just label a rebellion against Scripture and two thousand years of church tradition as courageous.
The two rival visions of Christianity now represented in American Protestantism operate out of radically divergent worldviews. The dividing issues range across the spectrum, including even the concept of truth and the meaning of language. Nevertheless, the fundamental line of division is the issue of authority. In the end, this issue determines all others.
DOCUMENT THE TRAGEDY: Coverage in The New York Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ABC News, UCC Newsroom [Atlanta].