I’m stuck on perennial eye-roll here. That’s because Religion News Service–a characteristically left-leaning site–has called Christians who objected to Governor Nathan Deal’s veto of HB 757 “reactionary.” HB 757 and other bills which protect the right of Christians who choose, as a matter of faith, not to participate in gay weddings are, according to David Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University, who writes for RNS:
“…rearguard actions by frustrated religious conservatives who have lost the broader national debate over gay people despite decades of strenuous effort.”
Gushee’s contempt for the Bible as it is actually written, and as it has been understood since the dawn of Christianity, is evident here:
“…based on a particular reading of the Bible, Christians have been taught moral contempt for gay people…”
Um, no, Reverend Doctor Gushee. I mean, if you consider the Westboro Baptist Church to be the standard by which all Christian denominations and the Catholic Church should be evaluated, then perhaps you can make that case. But I challenge you to find one Christian who has “contempt” for gays. Unless you count among your friends and associates some pretty unusual folks, I’ll bet you find that the Christians you know are compassionate, even loving, toward their gay brothers and sisters–even while disagreeing with their actions or their political philosophy or their understanding of sexual relationships and the spousal meaning of the body.
As a Catholic, I believe that marriage between a man and a woman is lifelong and that marriage is designed by our Creator, having both a unitive and a procreative purpose. That is, the sexual bond between husband and wife strengthens their love for one another, and it is fruitful–it opens them to the possibility of children. Any other sort of relationship handicaps one of the intrinsic purposes of the marital act, and hence is not in God’s perfect plan.
In this secularized era, when contraception and egg-freezing and surrogate parenting have become commonplace, it’s easy for society to ignore and isolate that second purpose, the generation of offspring. But on honest reflection, it’s pretty easy to see that God intended us to become parents, to share with Him in that most amazing and unrepeatable act, the creation of a new human being who will live forever in the heavenly kingdom.
There’s another reason, too, why homosexual marriage is not a part of God’s plan: namely, disease. The sexual act between a man and a woman respects the God-given nature of the human body and is a source of pleasure which, in an exclusive relationship between the spouses, has no deleterious health effects. In contrast, sexual activity between two men is much more likely to inflict injury (I’m not going to get graphic here) or to open the body to disease. In a 2013 report, the CDC notes that
“…while homosexual men make up only a very small percentage of the male population (4%), MSM account for over three-quarters of all new HIV infections, and nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of all new infections in 2010 (29,800).
“Men who have sex with men remain the group most heavily affected by HIV in the United States,” the fact sheet states.
US News reports that if HIV infections among men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to rise at the current rates, more than half of college-aged homosexual men will have HIV by the age of 50.”
But ignoring the health risks inherent in homosexual sexual relations, let’s consider just the bill in question.
Dr. Robert George, professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University and the Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, disagrees with Dr. Gushee, too. Professor George explained the bill on Facebook:
If ever a governor deserved to be impeached for being craven and hypocritical, it’s Nathan Deal of Georgia—the obedient servant of the big financial bullies.
And for my friends (you know who you are) who think that the religious liberty bill was “discrimination”: NO! The Georgia bill that Deal refused to defend was modest in scope, protecting the right of clergy to solemnize marriages consistent with their religious beliefs, protecting the right of faith-based institutions to use their property and resources to advance their religious mission, protecting their rights to hire and fire employees on grounds consistent with religious belief and practice. It ensured that individuals (like me) could practice their faith without having the opposing viewpoint ground into their faces.
Texas Values president Jonathan Saentz called foul as Disney and other major corporations threatened to boycott the state of Georgia if Governor Neal did not veto the legislation as presented to him by the state legislature that would have protected religious freedom for Georgia’s churches, clergy, small businesses, and citizens. In a statement issued after the governor’s veto, Saentz wrote:
“It’s striking that the day after Easter, churches in Georgia are told their freedoms are not that important to protect. It’s clear that corporate giants like Apple, Disney, NCAA, Intel have finally come out of the closet and declared public war on the religious freedom of clergy and religious schools, as was the protection in Georgia’s very modest HB 757 that they worked to bring down.”
I’d have to say that the real “reactionaries” here, if indeed anyone is speaking without genuine reflection, are the LGBT advocates who demand, not just widespread acceptance and endorsement of their own political and sexual viewpoint renamed as “rights”, but who also insist upon the inhibition of the actual “rights” of Christian churches and individuals.
Image: Religious Liberty by Beyond My Ken (Own work)