Archive for society

Same-Sex Marriage, and Why the Church Should Just Drop It

Posted in current events, opinion, politics, religion with tags , , , , , , on May 11, 2012 by Kyle Fleming

In the past week, two vastly important events occurred regarding the LGBT community. First, North Carolinians make their voices heard in the voting booth on Tuesday, passing a state constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage by defining it as between one man and one woman.

Two days later, President Obama, in an interview with ABC News, came out personally in favor of same-sex marriage, becoming the first sitting US President to do so.

It’s been an absolutely bipolar week of achievements and heartaches, and it’s something that almost everyone has touched on, which is why I was hesitant to write this article. However, a Facebook friend of mine recently posted an article entitled Why Same-Sex Marriage Perverts the Relationship Between Christ and His Church. In it, the author argues that Christian marriage is defined in the Bible as between one man and one woman, because it is representative of the Church. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians:

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. — Ephesians 5:22-27

Personally, I thought it was a very enlightening article. That is, if you believe that marriage is defined by the church, and don’t completely understand why the LGBT community is fighting for marriage equality.

Any church denomination would be hard-pressed to redefine their definition of marriage because there is so much biblical backing for the “one man-one woman” definition of marriage, as evidenced by the citing of Scripture in this article. Everyone in the LGBT community understands this. It would be pointless to make the Church do anything, since they are an entity all of their own, exempt from taxes and protected to their own freedoms by the Constitution.

What the LGBT community is fighting for is LEGAL marriage equality, as defined by the government. Legal marriage gives couples over 1000 rights as married couples, such as being able to visit your significant other in the emergency room, government assistance benefits, and tax breaks, among other things.

The problem with this fight is that same-sex marriage opponents often conflate the two, thinking that what the LGBT community is fighting is some kind of “war” on traditional marriage. That’s not even close to the truth. Individual churches may choose whether or not couples can be married in the church, but even when same-sex couples are denied, they should still be able to go to the court house and find a Justice of the Peace, just like any other couple who doesn’t want a church wedding can do.

Having a “Christian” definition of marriage, to me, raises up a bunch of other questions. Like, if marriage is a Christian institution, why are people not as angry when straight Muslim, Jewish, or atheist couples get married? What is it about same-sex couples, some of whom have been together for upwards of 30 years, destroying the “sanctity” of an institution that has a 60% divorce rate?

Someone in the comments thread on Facebook pointed out that the crux of the argument in the article is that, in a same-sex marriage, there is no one to submit to the other. Two men can’t submit to each other because the man is the ruler of the household. Two rulers means no one is submissive. Which would be correct, if people still valued traditional gender roles and were as two-dimensional as some would believe.

As far as I’m aware, two people getting married has little to no effect on a massive organization like Christianity. I really don’t see what the big deal is.

The Gay Marriage Debate

Posted in current events, opinion, politics with tags , , , , , , , on February 8, 2012 by Kyle Fleming

Rick Santorum is an idiot.

Ordinarily I don’t like calling people names. However, Rick Santorum, Republican Presidential candidate, by sending the tweet above, proved himself to be an idiot.

In case you don’t understand the reference: The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that no state has the right to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marriage. There is no social or legal justification for denying same-sex couples all of the rights that married couples receive. It’s a great step forward for civil rights.

But apparently, telling the states that there’s no reason to deny all people equal rights is stripping rights away. Word of advice for those trying to figure that out: don’t bother. The more you think about it, the less sense it makes.

For me, this falls under the larger blanket of “wars on religion” that Republicans are so convinced that Democrats are waging, but for now, I’ll just focus on the gay marriage aspect.

I have never really understood what the big deal about gay marriage is. If two people absolutely want to commit themselves to each other for the rest of their lives, I say let them do it. There really is absolutely no reason for anyone to deny anyone else that right. Allowing same-sex couples the opportunity for marriage doesn’t mean straight couples aren’t allowed to marry. It just means more people are allowed to get married. It’s not a complicated issue.

Allowing same-sex couples the opportunity to be married doesn’t mean you have to have a same-sex marriage. I don’t plan on marrying another man, and I’m well aware that I never will be forced to marry another man if a gay marriage law passes.

There are only so many ways to say it, and yet people are still so ignorant and stupid about it.

But I have a question for Mr. Frothy-Mixture: exactly who’s rights are being stripped away? Seven million people are suddenly being oppressed because a court of appeals says it’s stupid for people to be prejudiced?

I just really, truly, have no idea what sort of logic–or lack thereof–is being employed with ignorant statements like Rick Santorum’s. If there’s someone that can explain to me that line of thinking to me, please do, because I’m so confused.

Lenten Focus #3 — What Is Your Calling?

Posted in religion with tags , , , , , , on March 10, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

This is part three of a six-part series of the Lenten Focus, done every Wednesday during Lent. Part One, Part Two.

In the Lutheran faith, when someone is considering going into the ministry, they’re told to look at their Inner Calling and their Outer Calling. The Inner Calling is easy to describe: it is that feeling inside of you that is pulling you in a certain direction. It could be your interests or hobbies, it could be something you feel passionate about, or it could be something that’s always been on your mind, but you haven’t quite decided what to do about it. It’s an inner burning, and inner desire, that you can’t exactly explain.

The Outer Calling is a little more challenging; a person’s Outer Calling is the social environment that they are exposed to. Friends, family, random people on the street, all of it affects the Outer Calling. This sort of calling is a little harder to pick up, because there are so many sources, but generally, if there is one thing people consistently say about you, it is more than likely your Outer Calling.

The belief is that if you Inner Calling and your Outer Calling are in sync, then that is what you are being called to be. I’ve seen this sort of experience as I reflect on my own life. Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m being called into some sort of ministry, and I’m now realizing that I’ve been hearing the Outer Call for most of my life.

I remember in the summer of 2006, when I was on tour with the Minnesota All-State Lutheran Choir, during a concert in Spicer, MN. We were at the point in the concert where the members of the choir scattered themselves into the audience and sang a hymn with them. I found a couple of ladies in the third row on the right side. I picked them because it was close to where I was standing when we were to surround the audience for the final song. I sat next to these ladies, and we had a couple of moments to chat it up. The first thing one of the ladies said to me was, “We were just talking about you, and we’ve decided what you should do with your life!”

It was disconcerting, because I had never talked to these ladies before–never even met these ladies before!–and they had already figured out what I was supposed to do with my life. I tried to think back to what I had done during the course of the concert and tried to figure out what they thought I should do. Really, the only things I had done during the concert was sing, and some narration during the musical that occurs halfway between the “formal” part of the concert. What possible career paths could they pick out of that? Professional musician? Professional choir member? I had no idea.

I decided to humor them. “I’ve been trying to figure that out,” I said. “What should I do?”

“You should be a pastor,” they said. And then we sang the hymn, sang our final song, and left. I never saw those ladies again, even though I was in the choir for two more years, and we were in Spicer for those two years. But that statement sticks with me, even to this day.

After first hearing about it, I laughed it off and said I’d look into it. Being a pastor wasn’t something that I had been considering. It was during that time that I was having some trouble with this whole Christianity thing, and if I was having problems with something I believed in, why should I become a leader of it?

But after continuing to reflect on it, I’ve realized that it was one of the most direct instances of the Outer Calling I’ve had yet. Those two ladies saw something that I had been ignoring. I gave a couple of sermons and children’s sermons before being in MASLC, and once I started college, I’ve been having this desire to give a talk, to have my message heard by the world. My Inner Calling appears to be leading me to a life of ministry, and the Outer Calling only seems to be stronger as I work on my Inner Calling.

The question this week is: what is your calling? What is your inner burning desire that you can’t rid yourself from no matter how hard you try? What are the people around you saying about you, or edging you toward? And how can you take these callings and turn it into something beautiful in your life?

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6)