Why do Churches Fear Gay Marriage? November 26, 2008

Why do Churches Fear Gay Marriage?

Salon interviewed author Richard Rodriguez about Proposition 8, among other topics.

He offers a different take on why the church continues to oppose gay marriage:

As the American family fractures and the majority of women choose to live without men, churches are losing their grip on power and scapegoating gays and lesbians for their failures.

The possibility that a whole new generation of American males is being raised by women without men is very challenging for the churches. I think they want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things. I think the pro-Proposition 8 movement was really galvanized by an insecurity that churches are feeling now with the rise of women.

I still believe the Christian Church will get over this. As a new generation of leaders takes over, the Church will become less homophobic. It’ll take time, but most younger Christians don’t see any contradiction between what the Bible says and same-sex marriage. They support marriage, period.

(Thanks to Rose for the link!)

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  • RobL

    I don’t believe he has his facts straight. The last census data shows that divorce rates are lowering – down about .1% per year in the previous three years (last data point in 2005).


    I also cant find any information to support his claim that “The majority of American women are choosing to live without men”. On the face of it that sounds absurd. Seems like around here anyway hormones are still driving men and women to get married at the usual rate. I might believe (at least my wife tells me this) that the majority of women WISH they could live without men.

    Prop 8 was a horrible thing but making misleading arguments based on bad information is horrible too. Prop 8 passed because religious bigotry is alive and well even in a liberal state like California.

  • I look forward to the day when government gets out of the marriage business entirely. Let society define marriage, and let the government provide a high level framework to support any kind of union people want.

    I call it “domestic corporations”, since merging assets could be handled easily by corporate law.

    //I also think legal language should be refined until it’s Turing complete, but that’s another debate.

  • The church will get over this as the old folks pass on and younger people don’t care about this. But really, the old folks think gay sex is a sin. That’s really what it’s about. They think God created marriage for a man and a women:

    Genesis chapter 2
    21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

    22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

    23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

    24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

    Maybe a new version of the Bible with a less sexist translation will help. But really, I don’t think most evangelical Christians are bigots, per se (even though I have called them that, categorically myself in the past). They are still afraid of the 60s. They want the 50s back. They don’t remember that there was a lot of horrible stuff going on under the surface in the 50s. All they see is the stable, simple Leave it to Beaver world.

    They are afraid of the changes in society that they don’t understand, and they don’t know how to change.

    They want to put the genie back in the bottle. But that won’t happen. I believe that those who truly support family values will eventually accept all different kinds of families. Not just the nostalgic fantasy families of 1950s sitcoms that the old folks are longing for now.

    It is very encouraging to see these trends in the younger generations.

  • jedipunk

    The question to ask regarding your point is why are divorce rates down?

    I think they are down because more people are living together before marriage or just not marrying.

    Both are frowned upon by the old church order.

  • Yes the christians will get over being against gay marriage. Then years later they’ll be telling us that they’re responsible for giving gays equal rights.

  • Jeff Satterley


    //I also think legal language should be refined until it’s Turing complete, but that’s another debate.

    LOL! This comment puts an image in my head of judges spinning around in circles stuck in an infinite loop trying to determine the outcome of a court case. Well done 🙂

  • Miko

    I look forward to the day when government gets out of the marriage business entirely. Let society define marriage, and let the government provide a high level framework to support any kind of union people want.

    I look forward to the day when government gets out of the marriage business entirely. Let individual participants define marriage, and let the government provide exactly the same framework it does in all other areas of contract law.

    Seriously though, as desirable a goal as this is, it’s desirability-to-unlikeliness ratio is very low. Marriage is way too entangled into current law to make separation of relationship and state a tangible goal.

  • Larry Huffman

    I think the chruch fears gay marriage the way it feared the idea that the earth is round and revolves around the sun. It fears gay marriage the way it has feared jews, muslims and other religions types. It fears gay marriage the same way it fears evolution.

    The christian church fears all that can stand in opposition to it. It is a man made istitution…with no modern god helping people to understand how things really are…it is a snapshot of what men thought about their environment roughly 2K – 6K years ago. I think many christians know this…they know how fragile their entire premise is…and the only way they can keep it relevent is to loudly proclaim their righteousness and the wrong of everything else.

    Even if they look idiotic doing it. I would suggest anyone who wants to really see the lunacy of the christian church read an account of the trials of galileo…you know, where the church loudly proclaimed the earth was flat…and to say otherwise was heresy? To speak the truth was against god is in effect what they said. Over nad over. Until the proof was overwhelming…then they just got quiet about it. After all…during the trials, many leading theologians stated that if the earth was round and revolved around the sun, all of chrisitianity was false. They said it. You can look it up. They admitted, when they thought for sure the world was flat…that saying toherwise would completely refute their religion. Now, no one talks about the fact that god said in his perfect holy book that the earth was flat, under a dome, and everything revolved around it.

    The point is…the chrisitan church fears that which proves it wrong. Proof that the church is inaccurate it pretty devastating, since nothing can prove it true…only the bible supports it. Today, huge portions of the bible are ignored for this reason. One day soon, gay marriage will be allowed…evolution will be scientifically accepted, while creationism will be mythology.

    Flat earth – evolution – gay marriage…they all seem to be dissimilar, but they are not in this context. They are all things that the church has or still does fear. Why? They challenge the completely unsupported doctrine with common sense and proof and ethical high-ground.

  • RobL

    Jedipunk – you may be correct, I don’t have the data. I have always assumed that when financial times are tough the decision to divorce becomes more difficult and the rates go down. From personal experience I don’t think living together first made my wife and I less likely to divorce and that’s the consensus of my long married friends as well.

    I’m wondering if living together today is less socially acceptable than it was 21 years ago when I did it. In the Bay Area at the time no one thought much of it, including our Episcopal priest. With the resurgence of evangelical busy body’s and the country’s lurch right I wonder if the taboo is back and I am unaware of it.

  • I used to think it was sin to be gay, then I met some gay people. It’s not about fear. It’s about a deeply held belief and standing up for that belief. The cure is education and exposure to people not like oneself. This is how tolerance comes.

  • Brooks

    When you think about it though, isn’t homophobia sort of like a form of sexism in itself?

  • Same-sex marriage would disrupt the traditional power-structure of a patriarchal heterosexual relationships, because, in terms of gender at least, both partners are equal and this equality would be legitimized by the State. I think this is what Rodriguez is getting at. This is not to say that there aren’t equal heterosexual relationships, but they aren’t as obviously in opposition of patriarchal marriage as same-sex relationships. I mean, you look at a heterosexual couple and you instantly make assumptions about both people’s roles within the couple, and those assumptions usually follow traditional patriarchal patterns. These assumptions then inform the way in which you interact with both partners and view them. Non-traditional relationships, such as same-sex marriage, disrupt this view, because it isn’t immediately apparent how one should categorize each partner, and we humans do love our categories!

    I think there is some validity to this view of things. It isn’t enough to say that Prop 8 was supported by people who were bigots, because something has to be informing and feeding this bigotry. It’s fear of the unknown, the untraditional, the changing. It’s fear of challenges to a heterosexist patriarchy. Thsi is why a patriarchal structure like the Church is so afraid of same-sex marriage.

  • Ok, I just finished reading the whole interview. It’s definitely worth reading through to understand Rodriguez’s ideas. I think he posits a very valid and well-thought-out critique of religion and it’s position on gay rights.

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