Friday, February 25, 2005

Lasting split looms for Anglicans

Lasting split looms for Anglicans **

The Anglican Church's leader warns that divisions over the ordination of gay clergy could become permanent.
Like we didn't see that coming! Well, it was, I believe, inevitable. I mean the Christian church in general (like many other religions for that) matter has taught us that it is extremely slow in evolving/modernizing (Galileo, Coppernic, Martin Luther, etc.), and there was no reason for it to be different this time. It is simply not realistic - especially when you have in the midst such devoted conservative Christians as the Nigerians - to think that the Anglican Church would just bow down to its American and Canadian Provinces. And I contend, they shouldn't have too, unless CONVINCED to do so.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I personally support the GLBT fight for equal civil/human rights. And I definitely believe that states and governments who claim to be fair and democratic should not, in any way, discriminate on the basis of race, gender, ability, religion and yes, sexual orientation. That said, I am a firm believer in a healthy separation of church and state... and I believe that, within limitations, churches should be able to do whatever they please, within their communities. We can discuss the limitations, but separation church and state must go both ways.

How does this bear here? Well, it's quite simple, actually. The debate over same-sex marriage has been brought by religious conservative factions, onto the secular political arena, thus creating an unhealthy blurring of the lines of separation. In fact, it outlined a long-standing abberation, for those - like me - who believed there was some separation of church and state in the US: we were wrong.

In the United States, when a pastor/priest/imam/rabbi officiates in a wedding, he does so not only in the name of God (or the god(esse)s theu believe in) but also in the name of the State where the wedding takes place. The priest is therefore - literally - an officer of the State! This is why, in my opinion, the argument of "the sanctity of marriage" seems and feels so natural here: it is seen as a ceremony performed in God's church, with its rules and prejudices, in the name of the State/government.

Now, my country (Congo)'s constitution - nobody is pefect - defines marriage as between a man and a woman, so its not particularly a haven of liberalism. That said, in Congo, a secular country by the constitution, you get married at the mayor's office in the eyes of the law, and then - if you so desire - in church/mosque/synagogue/temple. I believe that would solve the problem here in the US too. Let the churches not recognize the Unions they do not want to recognize, but guarantee the rights of all couples under the law. And if religious groups claim the copyright to the term "Marriage", then maybe GLBT groups will have to compromise with another name (civil unions), but equal rights...

Sounds quite simple... well, maybe not. One could say : "what about inter-racial marriages? should churches be allowed not to accept them too?" Well see I don't think so but... I am still struggling with that one. In fact, that is exactly why I support gay rights groups in the first place. See I believe in God because no one has proven to me that He(She) does not exist. No one has been able to PROVE to me that homosexuality is unnatural or natural; I therefore think that until then I should treat it as natural until proven otherwise, and therefore help them defend their rights. I know it's an imperfect reasoning process, but once again, nobody's perfect.

The above not withstanding, it seems to me that opinions and demands in the political debate are going unhealthily fast in opposite directions, and it is politics that is manipulating the movements. The bottom line for me, is that we have ignored, avoided, hidden, criminalized, fled and circled the gay issue for too long, and something needs to be done soon. I understand - and sympathize with - the eagerness of GLBT people to be able to live their lives freely, and contribute to their societies. I am simply worried that the push for GLBT rights is going too fast for our societies to keep up and adapt, and there might be an unintended backlash that could be devastating. Look at what it is doing to the Anglicans. What next? I wonder...

No comments:

Donate to The Salon

Help us continue to do this important work of promoting freedom of expression about the Congo.

Explore The Salon