Gay Marriage: “Tell me why I shouldn’t hate you…?” asks the straight Christian to the lesbian by Marie Cartier


MarieCartierforKCETa-thumb-300x448-72405This is the third of a series exploring gay marriage as a game changer within religion and politics. I have explored the topic as political animus and earlier as almost fairy tale come to life. Today I am examining it from a very person view.

Consider a gay woman (myself) being asked by a straight attempting to understand the “right” for gay marriage, “What does it matter if I know you’re ‘gay’ if I’m not attracted to you?”[1]

Then consider that another right of “marriage” –or being known as “gay”—is the right to be admitted into the hospital room of a loved one, who is considered one’s primary partner, or “spouse.” Yes, one wants to say to the questioning woman in the above scenario, the rights for marriage include the crucial family relationships which allow one person to be able to take sick leave to care for a partner, or a partner’s child; being able to make critical medical decisions, and the right to be together in crisis situations (such as a hospital emergency room).[2]

Imagine the gay woman speaking to the straight woman and saying, “Because I am more than someone you might or might not be attracted to. I am my own person with my own life. I want to among other things, get into the hospital room of my partner, my loved one, the one I am actually attracted to.”

gay marriage long beach

Gay marriage legal in the US at the federal level in fall, 2013 — not in all state. Prop 8 declared unconstitutional in CA.

Gay people/homosexuals have been seen as a threat to straight marriage, to the definition of marriage, so that the states which have denied marriage rights to same sex couples have consistently leaned on the justification that marriage is between one man and one woman, rather than the articles of Amendment 14 being applicable to all. Gay marriage is seen as a dissolution of marriage—whereas the conversation above (captured from actual conversation) leans into the heart of the problem by striking the center of what is endemic to the problem—the fear of and therefore absence of homosexuality as a discourse that is explored realistically within communities ruled by religious fever and religiously enacted state laws which see themselves above the actual laws of the land.

If a person believes their God does not believe gay people have the same rights as non-gays, i.e., are sinners, there is no reason for gay people to exist as independent human agents—except as sinners in need of saving.

The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

Genesis 3:17-19

Sinners are tempters as well as easily tempted, by definition, who strive to pull people from a righteous path and to sin with them. If gay people are not in fact sinners, then they are people—with the same rights under the Constitution. If they are sinners however a priori- they are agents of the devil/ Satan/ an evil force and deserve to be routed out—without due process. This has been the routine process of communication between those who wish to “help” homosexuals/ i.e. sinners a priori until quite recently. (Although there had, and also has been, a strong counter narrative in millennial GLBT scholarship to “love the sinner, love the sin.”[3])

long beach gay pride during 2008 when prop 8 was still in place

long beach gay pride during 2008 when prop 8 was still in place

The strength of sin is the law. This follows that, GLBT scholarship notwithstanding, if one is named as a sinner—then one is against the law. The power of naming one as sinner carries with it by implication, the power to mete out punishment and/or judgment. What was seen as progress by conservative churches was a move against the hate of such a person, and to administer the power of hate on the sin/act itself. What remains remarkable about this is that by its language one realizes that until this recent mandate was put into place in conservative churches—these conservative populaces felt free to hate not just the sin (homosexual “acts”) but homosexuals themselves.

Therefore it is only in the millennium that we began to see a movement within even conservative churches to “love the sinner, hate the sin.” This is seen by these churches as a positive step. For instance, conservative churches postulated suggestions, and courses of actions, regarding how one might accomplish this complicated task—love the sinner, but hate the sin. As late as 2013, we can easily find a website for “non-conformists” that suggests that if one manages a company and must manage gay employees, there are six suggested ways to “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

They are:

        1) Remember the gospel… salvation is really impossible if a person refuses to recognize their sin.

2) Don’t approve of homosexuality. In all your interactions with homosexuals, remember that their identity is rooted in a practice that God calls sin. There is no [other] group that has strived to justify their sin as much as      this group…

        3) Have compassion on homosexuals because Satan is a hater and a destroyer.

        4) Demonstrate love to homosexuals—Get to know them, pray for them, and don’t shrink back   from sharing the gospel with them.

         5) Don’t tolerate any divisive or hate speech. If you manage a secular company, and you have employees that can’t work alongside someone who is gay without being unprofessional, you have to deal with that unprofessional employee.

          6) Be honest with a homosexual…Explain that it is your desire to see him [sic] come to faith… [4]

Spring 2008... Summer gay marrage legal in California By the fall prop 8 in place in California

Spring 2008…Summer gay marriage legal in California
By the fall prop 8 in place in California.

Therefore an employer is directed to discuss an employee’s homosexuality with him or her, with the ulterior motive of changing that person’s sexuality – in order that she/he may be saved in the employer’s faith of choice. The homosexual is seen as an agent of Satan, easily corruptible, and one who wants to sway people to his or her side. These directives encourage relations with homosexuals in order to remind them that they are sinners. This example is emblematic of a mindset which is used to enact not just workplace attitudes but to also enact laws against those who in this definition are “sinners” in need of “care.”

This is the type of conflation that has been used in the gay marriage debate; sinners don’t deserve discourse, except as it befits “saving” them from themselves and their actions.

What we have seen in gay history and its fight for marriage is that the religious argument has been the argument that holds fast in terms of creating and keeping legal sanctions against gay marriage in place in several states.

How is this possible in a country that purports to keep church and state separate?

What is the history of the conflation of church and state that has allowed gay marriage to be ruled by public religious opinion?

FAR readers…let me hear from you and as I further develop this material.

[1]Actual unsolicited conversation.

[2] Bruno Leone, At Issue: Gay Marriage (San Diego: Greenhaven, 1998).

[3] Janet R. Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini, Love the Sin : Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance, Sexual Cultures. (New York: New York University Press, 2003).

[4] Jesse Johnson, “Homosexuality: Six Ways to Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin,” The Cripplegate, http://thecripplegate.com/homosexuality-six-ways-to-love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin/. Access date April 12, 2015.

Marie Cartier is a teacher, poet, writer, healer, artist, and scholar. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University; and a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.

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Categories: Activism, Feminism and Religion, Gender and Sexuality, General, LGBTQ

Tags: , , , ,

18 replies

  1. Well, as you say, tolerance of the religious other has its limits, when the religious other classifies you as a sinner and this gives her or him the so-called right to repress you personally, on the job, and politically.

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  2. Hmm..why is this coming up as by Gina? Let me know when corrected and I will share it

    Sent from my Samsung Epic™ 4G Touch”WordPress.com” wrote:

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  3. What I like about your topic, thanks Marie, is that it is framed as a dialogue!! And certainly that’s the route to the solution, but that sort of interchange needs to come alive, more publicly. One great place where there truly is some super “in your face” discussion of gay rights, along with other liberation topics, is the Rachel Maddow show, and itself even hosted by a Lesbian. A tape of the show is posted online every day the next morning, so you don’t even need American TV to access it.

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    • Fabulous reminder — thank you! And a great reminder of how far we have actually come in the US and Christian centered discourse and media- where an “out” lesbian can be herself even on TV!

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  4. You wrote, “…sinners don’t deserve discourse, except as it benefits “saving ” them from themselves and their actions.” I see this type of conservative mindset extended to all ‘sinners’- including their co-religionists of a different sect!
    The example of how the “boss” should behave was very insightful- but are the rules different for the person employed by the gay boss (in other words, the conservative Christian is not in a position of power). They might need to add this section, considering the CEO of Apple is gay.

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    • interesting comment– as this posts is from a conservative Christian website…I wonder what the rules of behavior are if your boss is gay and you are employee?

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  5. I just can’t understand why two people who love each other can’t be married if they want to be and have legal rights like hospital visits and decisions involving life, death, and finances. Manifestations of love should be honored, yes?? These manifestations of love add to the aura of love on the planet, whereas people who follow the anti-gay “conservative” positions (not all conservative people, of course, are evil) sort of shovel the love away from the planet.

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    • Yes– agreed. I think the millennial view of “love the sinner, hate the sin” is a move towards loving — and away from hate…but in my opinion (and yours I believe) it has a long way to go towards actually being a “loving” practice.

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  6. Reblogged this on Adventures and Musings of an Arch Druidess and commented:
    Every hospital but one I have ever been in and I’ve been in quite a few, my partners or friends have had to lie and say they were my sisiters. The one that didn’t was oddly enough, a Catholic hospital. They asked everyone that came in my room if they needed a bed to stay over night with me because they couldn;t figure out who my partner was. Me, being under morphine at the time thought this was hilarious.

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  7. There is a man in a local church who is very wealthy. He is also a pedophile, yes, convicted of such. He is allowed to come to church where children are because a church elder personally escorts him every Sunday to make sure he doesn’t do anything weird.

    So perhaps the solution is just for gays to become wealthy. Then our other “sins” may be overlooked. I daresay most churches would be thrilled to be in our wills.

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  8. Having spent the early part of my life in a community that believed homosexual people were “led astray” and needed “salvation as offered in the gospel,” today, I feel I can understand, but not agree with, the heart-felt belief of many conservative Christians on the topic of homosexuality. Many times Christians who are against gay people living an authentic and full life will use Scripture to back up their claim that homosexuality is sinful and therefore wrong. (Whether Scripture says that or not is not the point–they believe it does.) They defend their “truth” as something viable to be brought into “secular space” in the same way they “stand behind” the “truth” that murder is wrong because Scripture prohibits such “and you don’t find people in the secular world complaining that murder should be legal.” Of course, there are lots of holes in this way of thinking, but many conservative Christians cannot (or will not) see.

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    • Agreed. That’s why they are finding out that the best weapon against this kind of bigotry is “coming out” as gay if you can in situations like this– they are finding out that when someone knows and likes and is in community with someone who is gay they are much less likely to believe this kind of anti-gay rhetoric. Thanks for posting!

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