COMMENTARY: The Ethics of Gay Rights and Same-Sex Marriage

Over the years, my views on the issue of gay rights and the legalization of same-sex marriage have evolved considerably. I’ve moved from benign tolerance and acceptance to passionate advocate.

As a missionary of ethics and virtue with the hope of inspiring and encouraging everyone’s moral ambitions and instincts, I covet every mind and conscience I can reach, so it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Thus, I rarely comment on religious or politically controversial issues when it’s likely that my remarks will antagonize those who disagree with me.

Still, some issues involving deeply held political or religious convictions have such profound implications on my ethical principles that calculated silence to maintain popularity would be a form of cowardice. After all, my own definition of character is the willingness to do what you think is right even when it costs more than you want to pay.

With that preface, I boldly and unequivocally support the legal rights and full extension of not merely tolerance but true acceptance of and support for every son and daughter, brother and sister, friend and colleague, and complete stranger who loves and is committed to someone of the same gender.

I understand and respect the sincerity of those whose religious views lead them to a different conclusion, but I have the privilege of knowing, admiring and loving a number of extraordinarily kind, talented and highly ethical gay men and lesbian women, and I am distressed that they must bear insults, prejudice, condemnation, and legal discrimination. It’s more than an issue of civil rights; it’s a matter of respect and caring; it’s a matter of human compassion.

Now let me disclose a crucial fact: My views have been influenced, I think enlightened, by the fact that among my five children, one is a gay female and another a trans male. I love every one of my children with all my heart and what I’ve learned about LGBT issues clearly informs my opinion.

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Note: In preparing this commentary I did some research on various religious views of homosexuality and came to realize the irreconcilability of some perspectives, especially those of conservative Christians. I found the website ReligiousTolerance.org  particularly helpful in differentiating between conservative and liberal Christian perspectives. Here’s an excerpt:

“Conservative Christian theologians … [believe] all homosexual behavior is sinful, regardless of the nature of the relationship. Homosexuality is a chosen, unnatural, abnormal, changeable, and perverted lifestyle, which is hated by God. Liberal Christian theologians tend to follow a wider variety of translations, and to be more concerned with instances of copying errors in the original Hebrew or Greek, of forgery, and of biases among the translators. They consider some passages (e.g., those referring to slavery, burning some hookers alive, raping female prisoners of war, etc.) as not being valid today, as immoral, and against the will of God. They differentiate among various homosexual and heterosexual sex practices, treating some (rape, prostitution, temple sex rituals) as immoral and some (within committed relationships) as positive. Homosexual orientation and behavior is seen as a normal human sexual expression among a minority of adults. It is not changeable or chosen. Like all sexual behavior, it can be a sin if it is exploitive or manipulative or not carried out safely within a committed relationship.”

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