Frustrated with my class today - gay marriage


#1

I’m in a social work graduate program at a public city state university. Today in my policy class, we had to do presentations on different policies or laws that we chose to research. One of the groups in my class covered the Defense of Marriage Act. I suppose it was too much for me to expect the group would cover all the arguments, instead of just the pro- gay marriage side. Throughout the presentation, they kept referring to all the discrimination gay and lesbians received as a result of banning gay marriage. One point was that gay persons are much more likely to have a psychiatric diagnosis because of all the stress from not having equal rights in our society. They kept saying it wasn’t fair to deny gay people basic civil rights, and those who thought otherwise were “untolerant”. Several times it was said that our country was “the worst” in the world as far as discrimination because gay couples are not allowed to be married.

I just felt so frustrated during this presentation. Not all Christians are intolerant, and I don’t think being against gay marriage makes me untolerant. I’m very tolerant of all people, but that doesn’t mean I always agree with what they do. The point that as social workers we need to be accepting and provide quality services to all people I of course agreed with. I would never say that people with a homosexual orientation are bad or evil, like the presenters said many people consider them. As Christians we’re called to treat our neighbors as ourselves and I wouldn’t think twice about doing that. But does that mean I’m not tolerant if I don’t agree with homosexual marriage?

Also, any advice on how to defend my opinion from a rational thought point of view. I can defend marriage from a Christian point of view, but of course that cannot be used in a secular class with people who think Christians are bigoted.

The only think I could think of off the top of my head was the errors in some of their arguments:
Presenters said that people don’t choose to be gay. Last I checked, there’s still no conclusive research to suggest that homosexuality is either ingrained or learned.
Presenters also said that Sweden and the Netherlands were much more tolerant cultures that legalized gay marriage. What I know about these cultures sociologically suggests they’ve become cultures of death, allowing euthanasia, legal drugs, abortion, small families, etc. etc. So I don’t necessarily think those cultures are doing good things or having good results with being “tolerant”

Any help or advice would be great. I’ll be dealing with this for two more years, so I need to learn how to handle secular viewpoints and if it’s better to offer a defense or just stay silent.


#2

I’m currently in graduate school (done in May!), here’s my advice. You’re going to have to do projects and work with some of these people for the rest of your time in school. If asked (by someone who sincerely wants an opposing viewpoint) give your opinion. Otherwise, zip it. Seriously.

If there are those out there who think im giving advice to hide from the faith, believe what you want. Set an example. Those who are guided to seek you out know where to find you.

John


#3

One aspect of the issue that you may want to explore, which is often overlooked by those who advocate of gay marriage, is the effect it will have on freedom of religion, which is written into our Constitution.

If gay marriage is allowed, those whose religious beliefs say that gays cannot marry will be discriminated against because they will be required to say that a marriage exists when they believe that a marriage does not exist. It is not a matter of discrimination, it is a matter of definition.

The Christian understanding is that a marriage is impossible between two people of the same sex. It’s not that something is being denied to them, it is that it’s just not an ontological possibility. People can try to call it what they like, but it’s not a marriage. That is a religious belief.

If gays were allowed to “marry” in a particular area, then those who believe that such a marriage is an impossibility would be required by law to say that it is an actuality. This would exclude from the public arena those who have Christian beliefs. No longer could a Christian be a county clerk, a family law judge, a claims adjuster for a life insurance company, what ever would require a Christian to recognize such a union as a “marriage”.

The status quo does not deny homosexuals the right to perform whatever actions they want to perform. It does not deny them the right to call among themselves a union between two people of the same sex a “marriage”. They can put whatever they want into a will, including a living will granting their partner visitation rights in the event of a hospitalization, one of the things the media tries to use to garner sympathy for the cause of “gay marriage”. They have complete freedom of action and association. A legal recognition of “gay marriage” however would deny Christians the freedom to act and associate. No longer could a Christian hold certain jobs. A Christian would be required in the public arena to deny his/her faith and state that something is a marriage which he/she does not believe to be a marriage. The rights of Christians would be violated to satisfy the private desire for recognition that the gay lobby has. Christians would be required, by law, to bow down before Caesar and deny their faith, the exercise of which is guaranteed by the Constitution. Heaven help us if this ever comes to pass.

My advice to you would be to direct attention away from gays and what they want, and toward the freedom of religion that is guaranteed by our Constitution.

Doug


#4

John Higgins is on the money with his answer. You have to decide what you are trying to achieve. In this case, an education. Getting into heated debates that won’t change anyone’s mind accomplishes nothing, and could be an obstacle to your goal.

Furthermore, this will be good practice for the field you have chosen. Unless you end up working in a religious setting, you will be following secular guidelines in assisting your clients. If one of them had a gay marriage in Massachusetts, telling him that his “marriage” is a lie will not usually be constructive. If you can’t help sharing your opinion, great - this site is the place for you. But keep it online, unless the occasion truly calls for it in the real world.

And as well-meaning as happybrew may be, I think his approach is misguided. It is not unusual for our religious beliefs to conflict with public policy. The government says abortion is an acceptable approach to the condition of pregnancy. Laws permit people to divorce pretty much at will. If you don’t believe your neighbor is truly divorced in the eyes of God, does that mean the law discriminates against you and your religious definition of marriage? Yeah, I suppose it does. That and 50 cents will buy you the morning paper. Complaining about discrimination on this basis just isn’t productive, and may even lose you some sympathy from undecided observers, who may conclude you are seeking special treatment for your definition.

If you feel you must, a better approach may be just to rein in the more outrageous statements made. Like the one about the US being the worst in the world in discrimination against gays. Worse than Saudi Arabia? China? Russia? Mexico? When push comes to shove, they’ll probably only be able to come up with 5 or 6 countries that are more tolerant than the US with regard to gays. But again, it doesn’t really matter, because some classmates will relish the opportunity to escalate this into a more heated argument.

Good luck getting through the next couple years, it sounds like it will be a challenge. The important thing is to keep your faith intact. That will keep you strong, and help to inform your judgement, even as you follow the secular rules of school and work.


#5

[quote=digitonomy]It is not unusual for our religious beliefs to conflict with public policy. The government says abortion is an acceptable approach to the condition of pregnancy. Laws permit people to divorce pretty much at will. If you don’t believe your neighbor is truly divorced in the eyes of God, does that mean the law discriminates against you and your religious definition of marriage? Yeah, I suppose it does. That and 50 cents will buy you the morning paper. Complaining about discrimination on this basis just isn’t productive, and may even lose you some sympathy from undecided observers, who may conclude you are seeking special treatment for your definition.

[/quote]

It wasn’t my intent to emphasize the conflict between belief and public policy. It was my intent to point out how the rights we are guarranteed in the constitution could disappear under a policy that recognizes gay “marriage”. This is quite different from how our rights are affected by abortion and divorce.

As long as Catholics aren’t being forced to perform or have abortions, our rights are protected, despite a social situation that we find distressing.

If one see’s two people if the opposite sex with a civil marriage, we are required by charity to consider such a marriage valid. Even if we have knowledge of a divorce and re-marriage, we are still compelled by charity to not make a judgement, as the first marriage may not have been a valid sacramental marriage.

With gay “marriage”, the situation is different. One can see on the face of it that there is no marriage. The demands of charity do not require us to withhold judgement, as it is quite clear that there is no valid matter for a marriage. Yet, one would be required to bear false witness and state in the public sphere that there is in fact a marriage.

Imagine Bob the employer taking an application from Sue the employee for health insurance, which Bob provides for employees and their spouses. Sue, divorced and remarried, puts down “Frank” as her spouse on the application. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that she has also had an abortion. On the face of it, Bob sees that there is a man and a woman. He does not know she has been divorced and remarried, nor does he know about her abortion. He pays for the health insurance. In no way have his rights been violated because he has not been forced to state against obvious evidence to the contrary that there is a marriage where there is none. He has not been forced to participate in any way in an abortion.

Imagine Bob now taking an application for health insurance from Sue, and Sue puts down Darlene as her spouse. Bob can see on the face of it that Sue cannot be Darlene’s spouse. It’s not that Bob dislikes either Sue or Darlene, and wants to deny them anything. He’d happily provide health insurance coverage for Sue. But now he is required to state that and behave as if Sue and Darlene’s relationship is a marriage, when he knows that to be false. If Bob does not comply with this he will be the object of scorn, anger, accusations of hatred, and legal action which would deprive him of his property and possibly his liberty. He would in effect be forced to retreat from public life or face legal and social sanctions.

This is a very real concern. Even concerning abortion, in my county a few years ago a public health nurse was fired for refusing to make referrals for abortion. Catholic Charities in California was recently the subject of negative court decisions regarding providing contraceptive coverage under their health plan.
The impact upon religious liberty has been small under divorce and abortion. Under gay “marriage” it would be quite large. Are people likely to listen to this argument? It has been my experience that they are, except for the hard core fringe that will listen to no argument at all.

Doug


#6

Unfortunately, you better zip it. The gay lobby is a powerful one. If someone in that school finds out you don’t embrace gay sex you will be out in the cold before you know it.


#7

This is exactly what I’m talking about. :frowning: In the name of “rights”, even though homosexuals are not prohibited from doing whatever they wish, religious liberty is currently looked down upon. The desire, though, is to get legislation or court decisions which would gut religious liberty in this country and force us to abandon the truth. We will be required to burn incense before a statue of the emperor, so to speak, or else face legal sanction. It’s already happening, bit by bit.

When we remain silent, we encourage the other side. By speaking out we might fail. By not speaking out, we will certainly fail. Of course, we need to choose the proper time and place to speak out. No point in charging directly into the cannons, and I’m not advising making oneself a target. But we do have a responsibility to speak out.

Doug


#8

I’ll repeat what I said on a thread in the Moral Theology forum. Same sex marriage should be opposed in the public arena for public policy reasons, not religious reasons. I oppose it for the same reason I oppose allowing pedophiles or ephebophiles to marry their adolescent lovers–not because it’s against Church teaching, but because it’s bad public policy.

Marriage law is discriminatory by design. We provide certain public benefits to married couples because marriage is considered to be beneficial to society–in the first place by raising and educating the next generation of citizens.

Are anti-counterfeiting laws unfair? After all, just because you produce thousands of fake dollars, how does that affect the real dollars I have in my wallet?

Well, it devalues them, for one thing. Produce enough counterfeits, and the real thing is of less value.

Real marriage, and real children, and real families are important enough to society that they should be given favorable treatment under the law. Counterfeit marriage should not be so protected.

Favorable treatment (like other tax breaks, for example) is by nature discriminatory. Tax laws favor homeowners over renters, for example. That’s discrimination.

If same sex “marriage” is allowed, there is no particular way that it could be limited to those with same sex attraction. Two business partners, for example, might find the marriage laws more favorable than the laws concerning business partnerships.

Two straight roomates might decide to marry solely for tax reasons.

And assuredly, those whose sexual affinity runs to children, would then clamor for a lowering of the age of consent so that they could marry their lovers.


#9

My class is different, but i’m in a similar situation. I’m taking an int and nat. environmental policy course, and the prof allows students to ridicule christianity. he and my classmates go so far as to call them stupid and uneducated. I have a meeting with him on Tues to discuss my prob with his course. I don’t see why i should have to pay money for this kind of intolerance. there was no prerequisite that listed ‘must be of the new age movement’, and i’m there to learn about environmental policy, not their morality.


#10

I feel your pain! It’s a difficult argument for a Christian or Jew to make without resort to religion. On purely legalistic grounds, they probably have us cornered. I just hope they won’t then be able to force the Church to recognize the “marriages.” You know some of the mainline protestants are so desparate for new members they’ll be falling all over themselves to sanctify it.

The problem is that we are opposed to homosexual practices in themselves, not just marriage. Marriage just validates those practices, which is exactly why gays want this momentous change none of them seemed to care about 10 years ago.

Dennis Prager has a wonderful article called “Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality” that lays out the whole history and what is at stake for us, how much we have to lose. (The article was linked at OrthodoxyToday forever but now I can’t find it.) Here are some of the better parts:
To a world which divided human sexuality between penetrator and penetrated, Judaism said, “You are wrong — sexuality is to be divided between male and female.” To a world which saw women as baby producers unworthy of romantic and sexual attention, Judaism said “You are wrong — women must be the sole focus of men’s erotic love.” To a world which said that sensual feelings and physical beauty were life’s supreme goods, Judaism said, “You are wrong — ethics and holiness are the supreme goods.” A thousand years before Roman emperors kept naked boys, Jewish kings were commanded to write and keep a sefer torah, a book of the Torah.
… Asked what is the single greatest revelation I have derived from all my researches, I always respond, “That there had to have been divine revelation to produce the Torah.” The Torah was simply too different from the rest of the world, too against man’s nature, to have been solely man-made.

[font=Arial][size=2]The creation of Western civilization has been a terribly difficult and unique thing. It took a constant delaying of gratification, and a re-channeling of natural instincts; and these disciplines have not always been well received. [/size][/font]

It sickens me that so many younger people just don’t care, so that when we old people are gone it will no doubt all come to pass. But they’ll never know what it is they have lost.


#11

[quote=caroljm36]Dennis Prager has a wonderful article called “Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality” that lays out the whole history and what is at stake for us, how much we have to lose.
[/quote]

Here is the link:
Judaism’s Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality


#12

[quote=TreeHugger]My class is different, but i’m in a similar situation. I’m taking an int and nat. environmental policy course, and the prof allows students to ridicule christianity. he and my classmates go so far as to call them stupid and uneducated. I have a meeting with him on Tues to discuss my prob with his course
[/quote]

Tell him (and the administration) that more intellectual DIVERSITY at the university would be a good thing.


#13

This whole conversation illustrates the red/blue divide so well. People cannot understand who “the other side” is, because those on “the other side” in their own midst are cowed into hiding their true opinions. (I wonder sometimes how many of us would be stunned to know how our friends vote?)

You can, however, get into the conversation with the admittedly odious, “Let me play devil’s advocate, here.” That will be accepted as questioning not their stand, but their intellectual rigor in defending it. You will stand out as someone who understands both sides of the issue.

Then ask them: Why should we have to be married to get what it is our right to have? What makes married people so special? What interest does society have in encouraging marriage? Do you think society should put any limits on marriage? For instance, why wouldn’t a man be able to marry his brother? It’s not as if they can have deformed children. Why wouldn’t five men be able to marry each other? In other words, uncover the fact that they haven’t done their homework.

What they will wind up with, in my opinion, is a situation where couples marry and same-sex persons form communities in which sex is of no interest to the state (aka monasteries and convents) or in which the state stays out of the lives of people who can’t procreate. In any event, the state needs to make sure that everyone, even the unmarried, are treated in a just manner.

If you’re asked your own opinion, you might say, “This class is about how well we discuss the issues. My opinion is quite beside the point. These guys will get nowhere with their opinions if they haven’t taken the time to listen to the objections of those who oppose them and don’t respond to others with more than name-calling and feel-good sentimentality.”


#14

family.org/cforum/extras/a0032427.cfm
family.org/cforum/fosi/marriage/ssuap/a0032017.cfm
family.org/cforum/citizenmag/features/a0031884.cfm
frc.org/get.cfm?c=PROTECTMARRIAGE
weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/938xpsxy.asp
narth.com/docs/accurateinfo.html
sdnewsnotes.com/ed/articles/2004/0409jm.htm


#15

It is true that in school you are going to have to deal with these things, though I think it is ridiculous for them to have focused soley on gay marriages, when it appears from your post that that wasn’t supposed to be the only focus.

Personally, I think this whole “equal rights” thing is taken too far. Yes, everyone should be considered equal, but these days, people will look for any reason to say that they are being discriminated against. And the way it seems to work out is that by giving minority groups (either by race, sexual preference, etc.) “equal rights”, they are actually given more privileges and others have to walk on eggshells around them, at the risk of being accused of “discriminating” against them. This is not equal rights, this is still favoring certain groups.

I personally have no “problems” with gay people, although I do not necessarily support this type of lifestyle. I also do not really like the way it is being flaunted so often in society lately. As for gay “marriage”, I view marriage as a union between a man and woman (in part) to procreate and raise a family. The argument may be made that gay people can raise a family through adoption, but (as far as I know) unmarried people can adopt as well. If anything, I would say, fine, let gay people have civil unions. That doesn’t bother me at all. What bothers me is that when the option of civil unions are given to them, they complain that it isn’t “good enough” and that they want to get married. From some of the research I have had to do on civil unions/marriage for a short essay in one of my classes, they are virtually equal legally. If this is the case, there is no reason for them to “need” to get married, other than they want to complain about discrimination.

As for the people that think this is the “worst” country in the world. Fine, if you don’t like it, you can leave.


#16

[quote=BLB_Oregon]This whole conversation illustrates the red/blue divide so well. People cannot understand who “the other side” is, because those on “the other side” in their own midst are cowed into hiding their true opinions. (I wonder sometimes how many of us would be stunned to know how our friends vote?)

You can, however, get into the conversation with the admittedly odious, “Let me play devil’s advocate, here.” That will be accepted as questioning not their stand, but their intellectual rigor in defending it. You will stand out as someone who understands both sides of the issue.

Then ask them: Why should we have to be married to get what it is our right to have? What makes married people so special? What interest does society have in encouraging marriage? Do you think society should put any limits on marriage? For instance, why wouldn’t a man be able to marry his brother? It’s not as if they can have deformed children. Why wouldn’t five men be able to marry each other? In other words, uncover the fact that they haven’t done their homework.

What they will wind up with, in my opinion, is a situation where couples marry and same-sex persons form communities in which sex is of no interest to the state (aka monasteries and convents) or in which the state stays out of the lives of people who can’t procreate. In any event, the state needs to make sure that everyone, even the unmarried, are treated in a just manner.

If you’re asked your own opinion, you might say, “This class is about how well we discuss the issues. My opinion is quite beside the point. These guys will get nowhere with their opinions if they haven’t taken the time to listen to the objections of those who oppose them and don’t respond to others with more than name-calling and feel-good sentimentality.”
[/quote]

Wow, BLB, that was truly an inspired approach to this problem. I’ll remember it next time I get into a discussion about this or any other topic.

Another question to ask: What rights are homosexuals being denied? They have the same marriage rights that heterosexuals have.


closed #17

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