Monday, February 13, 2012

I have a sign.

It is a source of constant amazement to me, the amount of seething hatred that lurks all over the place over things that really are NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. It beggars logic, in my head, for the website of a CHURCH – a Christian church, you know Christianity? That religion that has ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’ (Matthew 5:5) , and ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ (Luke 6:31) in its texts – would have as its website.

And THIS is the sort of thing they think is OK….

A kid. Wearing a t-shirt. And apparently they’re against corrupting children. *facepalm*

They even have a special page about how much God hates stuff. Seriously.

I was entertained by this one appearing amongst them:

“Proverbs 6:16-19 - "These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

But this isn’t meant to be just about WBC, as much as I think they are among the worst offenders. Hatemongers.

It’s not even meant to be about the word hate, but about the sentiment of hate running rampant in certain topics. Hate breeds hate. It’s very hard not to see someone spreading hatred about a topic close to your heart and not feel angry. It’s hard to not respond with anger. But if it’s the hatred in their statements that we abhor, then that is exactly what we must do. Answer anger with reason. Answer hatred with understanding.

This is where this became a topic I would no longer ignore, a topic that I feel the need to make a better effort to treat properly myself. There are a number of men in the United States currently vying for the position of presidential hopeful. A number of men full of spite and self-righteous hatred. Men full of arrogance, bigotry and self-importance. Men that it frankly terrifies me to think of in charge of such a powerful nation.

Riding a family values ticket with a clear history of adultery and broken homes behind. Riding a Christian beliefs ticket with a sheaf of misdirection and scare mongering. Riding a moral right ticket while trying to remove rights from many. Every one of them unable to even try to see things from another point of view. Every one of them set to take the whole of his country on one giant leap, backwards.

How does Gay Marriage even become a presidential platform? Are there not far more relevant to everybody things to be looking at? How does one religion become the central theme of a candidate when among the basic tenants of his country is the freedom of religion? That no ONE religion stand over any other? There seems to be a basic failure to understand the concept of a state apart from religion.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-religion. Not at all. Being very ‘live and let live’ it would be hypocritical of me to be anti something that gives so many people so much hope. It doesn’t work that way for me, but that is a personal choice. I am however against religion as a part of civil policy. Especially in countries where there are multiple belief systems at play. I am against people using their religion as a bludgeon to beat their own agendas through.

This term that keeps coming up, I think just about all the candidates have used it, ‘traditional marriage’. What does that even mean? Even the bible that they all seem to be leaning on isn’t actually clear on what an appropriate marriage is. Marriage between a man and a woman. Ok that certainly exists in the bible, but it is far from the only acceptable form in there. A man and his wife, and his wife’s sister, and both wives handmaidens. That’s in there too. Is that ok? Because it doesn’t seem like that’s considered ok in this day and age. For a start those ‘handmaidens’ were slaves. And didn’t actually get any say. A man and his wife and 300 concubines. Ok with that are we? A man and his rape victim. Pretty sure we wouldn’t get THAT one to pass by vote. But hey, one of those candidates isn’t going to give that same rape victim the grace to remove the baby her rapist put in her either.

So here we have the idea that it’s ok for a man and woman to marry, in a country that has an appallingly high divorce rate. (I’m talking about the US here, though my own country hardly stands much higher on that front). But Gay marriage isn’t ok because it’s a threat to traditional marriage and the family unit. I have just been reading an article which quite rationally puts forward an argument against Gay marriage. I disagree with it, but it was rational(ish) and well written, without the language of hate. The premise of this article revolves around procreation. The idea that a marriage between a man and woman can produce children where a same sex marriage cannot. But what makes them think that marriage was ever about children? To a lesser extent there could be made an argument that since a marriage provides legitimacy to a child which adds primacy to their inheritance rights, then being able to bear children is a part of what marriage is about. But in this day and age how seriously is legitimacy treated anymore? How much does legitimacy affect inheritance rights anymore? Rarely it does make a difference, though generally only when a deceased parent has great wealth to fight over. Greed conquers all.

But where does this lead us? What does that do to a marriage between a man and woman that cannot produce children. If someone in the relationship turns out to be infertile is their marriage automatically annulled? Does that infertile person now no longer have the right to marry? What about a couple who CHOOSE not to have children? Technically their marriage can produce children, but it isn’t going to. Is their marriage invalidated too? Or do they get a free pass because they could have kids if they so choose? What if a couple marries intending to have children, but then circumstances change their minds. I’m only making this argument because of the slightly ridiculous direction this article took.

Apparently it’s a threat to humanity too. I can’t, even after reading about it, figure that one out. OK, so Gay marriage doesn’t TECHNICALLY produce children. But the wonder of modern science allows for in vitro fertilisation so a baby can be genetically one of a couples. And Gay couples adopt, helping the community by raising children whose own parents are unable to for whatever reason. So the idea that there is some threat to humanity’s continued existence is laughable. Unless Gay is catching as so many people seem to be trying to scare us into believing. Actually when you think about it, even if we all ‘go Gay’ in vitro will still allow the human race to continue quite merrily along. It’s a threat to humanity’s morals. Really? Really, really? Gay marriage is a threat to humanity’s morals because…. I think we’re on that ‘catching’ thing again here. All that immoral and disgusting Gay sex is going to have us all thinking its ok to do all manner of disgusting things. Whatever. All those rapists and serial killers out there don’t seem to have affected my ability to run a fairly decent family.

My point here is this: What is the states part in the decision to allow Homosexuals to marry? There's a couple of points being made out there that sound a little bit like what I'm going to say. Except that they aren't. They're diametrically opposed to what I'm going to say. Marriage in most countries exists in two or more forms. There's the service that your church performs, that marries you in the eyes of your god. And the civil service, that marries you in the eyes of the law. You can have one without the other. Many people choose to only have a civil ceremony. It's less well known but sometimes people choose to have only a religious service. Because the marriage they are undertaking is NOT considered a legal one. For example, religions that allow polygamy in a country (or state) that does not. In the eyes of their God they are married. But not in the eyes of the law. Religious groups SHOULD have the right to refuse to perform a ceremony that goes against their beliefs. But the state should be deciding their eligibility on different grounds. Are they consenting adults requesting a marriage that is allowed by the laws of the land? Are all parties capable of making the decision to join together freely and of their own accord? That's it. That is all of it. Yes, I am aware that brings up the possiblity of some other configurations, I don't actually think this is a bad thing. Free will. It's awesome.

There’s another issue upon which these people are revolving. (Several actually, but these are the ones that are particularly annoying me right now). The abortion debate. There are slightly different stands from each of them, from ‘no way no how, never ever ever’ to ‘well maybe, in extremis’. I think there are several issues here and it’s a bit more complicated than it’s being portrayed. For most I think the line comes down to when a bundle of cells counts as being alive. In the human sense. It becomes complicated because people have very different definitions of what they mean by that. If you’re going to suggest that life is life from the moment of conception and then follow with murder is murder as soon as something is alive, you open a whole other moral argument. I’m having beef for dinner. It was once at least as alive as any other random bundle of cells, at least as sentient as the average foetus. Am I complicit in a murder when I buy and eat my packet of mince? Some would say yes. I would say: I’m an omnivore, eating meat is a regular part of my diet and the cow I’m eating was raised to be eaten. Its right to life gets shunted under the bus when it comes to the ‘right to life’ argument. But really how much difference is there between Bessy and the bundle of cells that hasn’t actually started thinking yet? Bessy is probably considerably smarter. Do humans have some extra super-special right to life? We seem to think so. As trite as the argument may seem, I actually find it very hard to take any anti-abortionist who still happily eats meat seriously. Because I don’t think humans are particularly special. We’re all animals.

But here’s my point: Where should the state stand in this argument? Well as we are talking about the potential taking of a life, I think the state should be taking part in this debate. In so far as it should decide what constitutes a life, what constitutes a human life and who is responsible for any decisions regarding it until which point. This decision should be made based on facts. It should not be based merely on the opinions of any group. And to make this very, very clear it should not be based on mans perception of his deity’s opinion. If God wants a say, he can get up and have one. Until he does, I take ALL the religious doctrines of the world with a pinch of salt. Man wrote them. Man is subject to being fallible. And also to being liars.

Here is the largest part of my problem with religious beliefs entering into state decisions. People stand up and say, ‘God said, such and such, we must stand by God’s law’, now I understand the sentiment behind this. Even as an unbeliever I can understand the concept of following the rules as set down by your deity. But, once again, God’s laws have been written down by people. And we are all fallible. Everything I’ve written here could be entirely wrong for example. And in 500 years people might read this and see an entirely different message to the one I intended. Which is precisely what has happened with most, if not all, religious doctrine. We interpret it. And we re-interpret it. All of the biblical passages currently being used in these various arguments are open to different interpretations. On the same subject, in the context of US politics, the American constitution is open to re-interpretation. Or at least so it would seem. But, the idea is that we can learn new ways to look at the universe, that allow us to re-interpret our understanding of words written long ago.

Read a Shakespeare play sometime. I almost guarantee you that what you take from it will not match with what the Great Bard meant. Because times and attitudes change.

I have said something to this effect before, but here it is even more important than it was then. Ask yourself: if, when you face your judgement day, you can stand before your maker and say I stand behind my behaviour. Now imagine you have just found out that what you thought your maker meant is almost the opposite of what they actually meant, can you still stand behind your decisions?

I would rather take the path of tolerance and be wrong, than take the path of intolerance and be right. I would much rather take the path of tolerance and be wrong than take the path of intolerance and be wrong.

Peace. Out.

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