May 27, 2018
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Gay marriage, contraception and theocracy

By Anita Siegenthaler, Special to the BDN

In response to the Feb. 27 news story “Maine’s gay marriage effort: what’s different?” the BDN Feb. 2 editorial “Insuring Contraception” and Bishop Malone’s recent statements about “natural law,” here’s an exercise that would win an F in logic class.

According to natural law, the purpose of eating food is nutrition. Therefore, eating non-nutritious (junk) food for enjoyment is a sin. The purpose of walking is to go somewhere. Therefore, walking without going anywhere (exercise) is a sin.

The purpose of marriage is procreation. Therefore, marriage between nonprocreating (nonfertile) people is a sin.

Based on the clear purposes involved in eating, walking and marriage, natural law deems that all junk food should be banned, aimless walking should be punished and persons intending marriage should first pass fertility tests. Ludicrous? Yes. Why? Because oversimplification to achieve so-called clarity inevitably leads to ridiculous conclusions.

Human activity and life itself are a bundle of related purposes that are constantly illuminated by science and human understanding. We learn as we go.

By trading common sense and human achievements for oversimplification, religious fundamentalists and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have painted themselves into a theological corner.

As people have known for centuries, and the fundamentalists well know, the purpose of marriage includes relationships and family support that go beyond birthing children. As they well know, common sense and laws differentiate civil marriage from sacramental or religiously sanctioned marriage. Couples can be married by a cleric in a cathedral or a guru on a windy hill in the boonies, but they still need a marriage license. As they know, common sense and medical science differentiate between contraception and abortion.

If a religious institution wants to deny sacramental marriage to a gay couple, fine. If a religious group wants to extend that denial to civil marriage, not fine. If a religious institution wants to deny contraception or abortion to its own believers, fine. If a religious group wants to extend that denial to those who are not members of their congregation, not fine.

This country is not and was not founded as a theocracy. If it were, then all religions could, and should, do political battle over gay marriage, contraception, abortion, blood transfusions, stem cell research, organ transplants, surgery that changes the “natural” body, food supplies, non-natural medications and any other issue that might transfer particular religious beliefs into law. The churches can hammer out which belief is the right one, and which belief should determine the laws of the country.

Separation of church and state made sense to the founding fathers. It also made sense to a street preacher 2,000 years ago when He said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”

If we forget to make such common sense distinctions, then we shall repeat the Galileo censorship, the Inquisitions, the Crusades, the burning of witches, the Holocast and other regrettable atrocities that are falsely clustered under God’s name.

Anita Siegenthaler lives in Port Clyde.

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