One More Hot Potato: A Comment about Gay Marriage

Today I’ll go off-topic and talk about another divisive issue – whether people of the same gender should be allowed to marry. Some of my recent workshops on Bridging the God Gap took place in North Carolina, a few days after voters in that state approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-gender marriage. Most participants in these workshops were Unitarian Universalists, who typically support gay marriage. So I asked them to try the following communication exercise:

In this exercise assume that you strongly support freedom to marry, and one of your neighbors tells you the following: “I voted for the ban on gay marriage, but I feel torn. Some of my family members are gay, and I do not think they should be executed for that, even though that is what the Bible says. But my pastor says that God has ordained marriage as being between one man and one woman, and that sounds right to me.” Write down a constructive response to your neighbor’s comment.

I invite you to try this yourself, writing a constructive response rather than just thinking about it. In my next entry I’ll discuss this exercise, along with similar exercises I have suggested in previous posts that relate to theism versus atheism.

Roger Christan Schriner

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2 thoughts on “One More Hot Potato: A Comment about Gay Marriage

  1. My response would be to ask questions like: “What have you discussed with your gay relatives?”, “How well do you know them?” and “Do you think it might help to talk with them further to help you explore what you think?” and perhaps give examples of other gay couples in committed relationships known to me, to try and get them to see them as having the same emotional needs as heterosexual people.
    I wouldn’t try to argue with them about the Bible as I believe (and research has shown) that it’s through friendship that you develop empathy towards gay people and become less afraid of the unknown, and then your beliefs have to adapt. Your emotions change first. (The emotional tail wags the rational dog, as Jonathan Haidt said.) Rational arguments that threaten a person’s religious identity as a Bible based Christian won’t work!

  2. A response: I appreciate your honestly in your reasoning. You say you “feel torn.” One piece of advice I’d recommend above all others is that doubt is never, ever a bad thing. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about being torn on an issue. It means you are open to seeking the truth and you are skeptical about absolute claims. I encourage you to explore your thoughts and feelings on this matter, and be honest with yourself. I come from a similar background as you. I once held those very same beliefs, but when I was honest with myself I had to face the doubts I had about why I believed what I did, and now I hold the beliefs I do today. Your pastor speaks from a position of authority so understandably you respect his opinion on the matter. However, pastors, churches, and denominations are not united in this area of belief. There are many Christian leaders, theologians, and authors who would say you can accept marriage equality without betraying your faith, and that this position has a strong foundation in the Bible. Would you be interested in reading some of their opinions?

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