The Easy Way Out for Frederica Mathewes-Green (and everyone else) on Gay Marriage

Her series on this is a little different:

I could sum it up: 1, I haven’t spoken out against gay marriage because I don’t see it damaging marriage any more than straight people have already done.

2, my spiritual tradition has found by experience, over millennia, that sex apart from hetero marriage damages one’s spiritual health. (Actually, a lot of world religions have observed the same.) This is just one part of a much larger process of spiritual therapy, and I don’t expect it to make sense to those outside the faith. It’s certainly not the thing I’d first want to talk about with nonbelievers. Jesus comes first. So, as far as this issue goes, I just want to live and let live.

I’ve differed with her before on issues.  In this case, however, I think her greatest fault is that she has both oversimplified and overcomplicated the issue at the same time.

Let’s start with the positive: she’s right that straights have damaged marriage in a serious way.  And her statement about sex apart from hetero marriage is a major understatement.

Having said that, let’s start with the over-complication: it seems to me that she’s written diligently and at length with the central purpose of differentiating herself from other Christians who take a more militant stance on the subject.  Sooner or later she’s going to find out what Jim Wallis did: it’s not enough to make the militants on the other side happy.  In that respect it’s an exercise in futility.

The over-simplification is that she, in common with just about everyone else in this debate, doesn’t differentiate between Christian marriage and that meted out by the state.  At this point I must plead ignorance on one point: I don’t know if either the Byzantine Empire or the Russian one (the premier Orthodox states in history) required marriages to be registered by the state.  In the West, after the Roman Empire’s collapse the Catholic Church pretty much took over the process until it was taken back from them either via the Reformation or by state action, both violent and non-violent.  Today, of course, just about everywhere Orthodoxy has a presence requires state marriage with church ceremony following.

The easy way out of this is to advocate the abolition of civil marriage.  In this way everyone can do what they either want or believe God wants them to do, and their life together is unimpinged by the shifting sands of changing family law (like this).  Frederica envisions a long process about the truth of the differences between heterosexual and homosexual relationships, and that certainly applies to ending civil marriage.  But it’s worth the effort.  Doing so up front would have taken the wind out of many sails, but our leadership is unimaginative, to say the least.

It’s interesting to note that these days the main antagonist against the LGBT community in the West (outside of Islam) is none other than Russia, Orthodoxy’s “crown jewel”.  But Frederica may regard Russia for Orthodoxy the same way that Scotland and the Scots-Irish were to Protestantism: it may be the crown jewel, but the after effects are, to say the least, unpredictable.

One Reply to “The Easy Way Out for Frederica Mathewes-Green (and everyone else) on Gay Marriage”

  1. Don,

    Russia’s is not the only state involvement with Orthodoxy, The Greek Orthodox had a lively intercourse with the CIA for many years.

    I speculate, not entirely in ignorance, that the the financial problems of both Greece and of the Vatopaidi Monastery on Mt. Athos were facilitated by their flamboyant leaders’ ability to impress gullible bankers with their connections to Langley, Virginia.

    I do not know that this one, of the several Mt. Athos monasteries, had any CIA connections. One such monastery certainly did, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the, uh, financially adventurous Father Arsenios was able to convince banks it was him.

    As for Greece itself, I was in the room when the decision was taken in Washington to get rid of the Colonels. I know nothing of the Papandreos who followed, but observe that they spent their exile in the very well wired Berkeley, California.

    The superb Russian Orthodox choir of San Francisco was during the 1960’s financed by your Episcopal friends Bishop Pike and his wife, among others. The good Bishop’s widow was once my companion for dinner, but I know nothing of any connections they might have had to the intelligence community. We did, however, share a high regard to George Schultz, not yet Secretary of State and slayer of Latin American fascism because Ronald Reagan was still Governor of California.

    There’s more, but I won’t bore you with it.

    “George Shultz” brings a thought to mind. It is a puzzle to me why President Reagan is not celebrated more for his introduction of democracy to Latin America. When he took office most of the continent was under either military or fascist civilian rule. Eight years later the only non-democracy was the peculiar technocracy headed by the soi disant communist Fidel Castro. I forget the number, but something like a dozen countries went over to democracy with the help of Schultz, Reagan and a wee nudge of force from Maggie.

    America’s hard men have stayed involved: Dubya Bush sent the Marines in to Haiti to restore the Marxist-Leninist Fr. Aristide to his Presidential mansion, if not to power. Later the United Socialist Party President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela was protected from his own armed forces only by the men, and perhaps women, from Langley.

    Ahh, the travails of running an empire…




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