The separation of church and state wisely dictates that civil marriage equality be decided solely on the rule of law, on the full inclusion, civil rights and equal protection for all citizens. Iran is a theocracy. The Taliban is a theocracy. The state of Maine is not a theocracy.
But since so much of the opposition to marriage equality is coming from religious conservatives seeking to inflict their particular religious views on the population at large, it is important to understand that there are thousands of people of faith in Maine from all traditions, and hundreds of clergy, who support marriage equality because of, not in spite of, our faith.
A fundamentalist reading of scripture has never been any but a minority view in Christendom, and my own Episcopal church in particular has always been based on a firm foundation of scripture, tradition and reason. Our faith is ever evolving and, as with the end of slavery, the full inclusion and eventual ordination of women and the increasing emphasis on the environmental issues of faithful stewardship of the earth, our faith agrees with what Canon Charles Ravens wrote in 1916, “The Holy Spirit of our Lord does not encourage us to believe that nothing should ever be done for the first time.”
As a Christian I know that there is nothing in the words or Jesus or in the gospels that leads one to exclusion or rejection of any human being. Jesus was constantly outspoken in the defense of others whom his society had declared to be outcasts. Indeed his closest friends and followers were among them.
I want to say to those who reject homosexuals, what part of “love your neighbor” don’t you understand? The very essence of the Christian faith is love, a love that casts out fear. And is there no greater “family value” than the witness of hundreds of thousands of gay couples whose most fervent desire is to pledge publicly and in the sight of God their lifelong commitment to each other and their hope to raise children together? We straight couples who often take marriage and family so cavalierly should be humbled by their intensity against all the odds.
As to the notion that homosexuality is evil because it is a “lifestyle choice,” that is bad science, bad psychology and bad theology. Sexual orientation in either direction is as innate as is left handedness or blue eyes and is a consistent percentage of human beings as it is more widely in nature.
It says right on page one of the Bible that God made everything and called the whole Creation good. It also declares that human beings are made in the image of God. We must therefore conclude that homosexuals are as much a good part of creation and as much bear the image of God as the rest of us.
The “marriage is for procreation” argument taken out of context from Genesis also falls unless there is an equal movement to deny marriage to postmenopausal women, people who are barren or impotent and all couples who choose not to have children or to adopt. There are a myriad other ways to live a full and fruitful life.
Many learned volumes have addressed the scriptural and theological issues surrounding homosexuality and marriage in much greater detail. Let me simply affirm that I worship a God who has promised, “Behold I make all things new.” I deeply and prayerfully believe that the Holy Spirit is in this movement for the full inclusion of gay people and full equality in marriage, and as a Christian and as a priest I urge you to vote No on 1.
Rev. Dr. Diana Lee Beach is an Episcopal priest and psychotherapist in Thomaston.