This has been quite a hot topic in the UK recently. In light of tonight’s vote in the UK House of Commons, I’ve brought an old post out of the archives and am re-presenting it. We have made considerable progress on the rights of gay people and the differently gendered, in my view we should be pleased with how far we’ve come.
The opposition to gay marriage seems to me to be mostly religious conservatives, I’ve seen no secular opposition or religious liberal opposition. To my eyes, this opposition seems to be based on two arguments. The first is an argument from religious dogma, which boils down to what the religious book says. The second is based on an idea of the ownership of marriage by the religious. Note that I avoid naming a specific religion, this is a deliberate choice on my part as I think my comments are applicable to more than one faith.
Let’s look at the first argument, the argument from dogma. This really isn’t an argument, I’ve taken aim at religious dogma so often in the past that you can probably guess what I’m going to say here. This dogma is the unverified writings of a stone age priesthood, whatever it says was not written with a modern audience (or the modern world) in mind. I can assert this as the writer could not have known the future and so couldn’t be expected to anticipate the world these writings now find themselves in. What we have is two people in love, trying to be happy together, being blocked by some stone age dogma of highly dubious origin and transmission. Remember, the only claim this dogma has to authority is the idea that it’s the unaltered world of a god. I’ve aimed at that before, and will cover that ground again no doubt. On a personal level, I am mystified why it should be called “Gay Marriage”, or even “Marriage”, wouldn’t you want to lose the religious baggage that this label brings with it?
The second argument is that the religions they think they own marriage. No, I am not making this up. The argument is that because the word “Marriage” is defined in their religious texts which pre date the modern state, then the state cannot redefine them. Let’s look at this claim. The notion of marriage is recorded by the ancient Greeks, but we know that the Sumerians (3000 – 2000 BCE) had marriages. I think this casts doubt on the idea being exclusively owned by any current “in play” religion. Same sex unions are recorded during the Zhou (1046 – 260 BC) and Ming (1368 – 1644 AD) dynasties in China and in also Rome (the Emperor Nero). I think this disproves any idea that it’s purely a modern phenomenon.
For my part, I know that the world is in constant change. History flows like water, the evolution of the definition of marriage is simply that flow. It has changed between civilisations over time and will, no doubt, continue to do so. The institution of marriage is defined by the people in the marriages, they do this every day with the Karma they create through their actions and interactions. These ripples spread into the world, as if in a pool, not owned by either a religious institution or the state. This is about the right of two people in love to join together and make a formal commitment. That love and that commitment are what’s important, not the arguments surrounding a religious institution or secular state based view of marriage.
Finally, a quick note on the religious definition of marriage as “one man and one woman”. In the Bible, the old Testament prophets are show as having more than one wife. In both Exodus (21:10) and Deuteronomy (17:17 & 21:15-17) instructions are given for how they are to be treated. So, even the bible violates that definition.