How Religion Fails us- Covenant Marriage

This post may seem politicaly based, but I decided to post it here due to the religious motivations behind the law being discussed in this linked blog.

This is a story about something called Covenant Marriage, a type of legal marriage began as an attempt to stem divorce rates, begun in Lousiana, but now available in several states. My purpose in writing about it is to illustrate the ways in which conservatives apply a double standard when it suits them.

You can follow te link at the bottom to the full story. I have pulled out some stuff, and it is displayed as quoted text, and the rest are my comments/text.

The Definition of Marriage may not be re-defined!

The first line of attack towards same-sex marriage is that it would be redefining marriage, as if the definition of marriage has never been re-defined. Covenant Marriage is one example of a redefinition of marriage. While it remains a marriage between a man and a woman, it is still a different definition and type of marraige. If there can already be 2 types of marriage with 2 different sets of rules or qualities how would adding another destroy the definition of marriage?

The definition of marriage is biblical and may not be altered!

There are 2 sets of scripture often used to justify marriage as between a man and a woman. Adam and Eve as the original husband and wife (even though I’m not sure the Bible ever says they were married), and the words of Jesus. Jesus was actually talking abot divorce, and the passage ends with te idea that who God has joined no one may tear apart. Interestingly, even though the Bible says there can be no divorce, Covenant Marriage allows for divorce.

Ending a marriage is still possible, though no-fault divorce is eliminated, and grounds for divorce are limited. They include physical or sexual abuse (of either a spouse or child), infidelity, a felony conviction or abandonment.

Note, that sexual abuse is an acceptable reason for divorce, and yet rape is not an acceptable reason for abortion (according to some such as Governor Jindal of Louisiana). where conservatives draw the lines varies even where the Bibler does not. Why must the Bible be followed literally at times and at others it can be modified?

Don’t use the government to advance social change!

When legislation is advanced that gives GLBT people more rights, it is attacked as an attempt to force social change upon people- or blamed on activist judges. Covenant Marriage was developed by a professor at a law school and a congress person. The purpose? To advance a social agenda.

…an attempt to strengthen the family and protect children.

Critics called it a potentially dangerous injection of religious belief into a civil commitment…

The sky will fall!

Conservatives have a very hard time predicting the results. They are sure that if same-sex couples can marry, that all hell will break loose. They were also sure that Covenant Marriage would take off big time, and it has totally not happened. It hasn’t done what it set out to do, and has not been embraced by the american people, even in some of the most religious states.

Then-Rep. Tony Perkins, R-Baker, predicted, “I think in about a year a majority of couples will make it [covenancy] part of their marriage plans.” Today, nearly 12 years later, the total has edged closer to 2 percent. Nor has covenant marriage reduced general divorce rates. In 1997, when covenant marriage became law, 13,836 divorces were granted in Louisiana. In 2003 (the most recent year for which statistics are available), the divorce total was 15,230.

Gays want special rights!

“Louisiana has elected to confer special benefits on covenant marriages, such as a 10 percent cut in auto insurance rates,” wrote Pat Buchanan…

So it is OK to provide special benefits to some but not others. How hyocritical is that?

Being gay is a choice!

If gays can marry, then there will be no limits, anything goes!

According to our opponents, being gay is a choice and therefor, we do not deserve to be a protected class. But the truth is, choice makes a difference. Straight couples who chose Covenant Marriage, had a lower divorce rate. These are couples who actively chose to define their relationship as special and more than just being together.

Though covenant marriage has had little effect on divorce as a whole, those who opt for it do have lower divorce rates.

But so many of the gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage are already in a committed relationship. They are chosing to define their relationship as more than just being together.

For gay and lesbians don’t mean it! They are only doing it for the show!

…then-Gov. Mike Huckabee ­— who, though he was an ordained Baptist minister, did not “upgrade” his own marriage at the time. And Bush and his wife Laura chose not to upgrade their own. Later, Huckabee did in a very public way. Columnist Margaret Carlson saw the $65,000 spectacle as a political ploy: “If moral values helped President Bush win the White House, why not Gov. Huckabee?

Don’t force tour ways on the American people!

Though the 2008 Republican Party platform made no mention of covenant marriage, the Texas GOP platform called for it, along with the complete abolishment of no-fault divorce, as well as making it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple ­— this despite the fact that during the 2007 Texas legislative session, a proposed covenant marriage bill failed to clear the state house.

Covenant Marriage is an idea that some want to push on the American people, who have shown that it is not their choice. And even though it has been shown not to create the desired results, andhas not been embraced, even in religious states, conservatives don’t give up.

But Perkins says he has not given up. “When the Jindal administration gets through some of these challenging times,” he says, “I hope they’ll focus on some of these family laws.”

The Independent – I Don’t

Commentary on Dobson and Focus on the Family

While I usually post this type of stuff to my other blog, thomascwaters.com, I thought this was really appropriate here.  Focus on the Family bases its message on christian values and the Bible. How easy it is (or is it?) to lose track of one’s original message and go off on some side path, that seems connected but maybe doesn’t have the same value in the end?

If Christians want to uphold the Family and strengthen Family Values, they can do that by focusing on families, not by trying to keep others from having rights.

When groups like “Focus” take the focus away from the family, everyone loses out. The real issues that are destroying the family become lost in the shuffle as the attention s turned towards other things. The problems facing our society  and the traditional family unit will not change if same sex couples can get married, or if GLBT people have equal rights.

I’m all for strengthening families, including traditional families, and if people find the power for that in the Bible, that is fine by me. I’m even OK, of traditional family types do not want to accept that “Family” can mean different things to different people. But, as long as there are reports of sexual abuse in heterosexual households, and drugs and violence, and physical abuse, and a lack of good communication and love, then you folks have enough to worry about. You don’t need to turn your focus to gay people.

IndyStar.com | Thou Shalt | The Indianapolis Star.

Do Family Values Lead to Family Violence?

Wanted to post think link here, as so much of the arguments raised or discussed are biblical.  A long article well worth the time to read it.

Matthew Herbst : Do Family Values Lead to Family Violence?: A consideration of the idea of family – Quodlibet Journal.

Are the Religious Obsessed with Sex?

The Year of Living Biblically

I’m reading a new book, and it seems that within the Judeo-Christian traditions, people have always been obsessed with sex. I began reading, “The Year of Living Biblically” by AJ Jacobs, and thought I would blog about it as I move through the book.  So, far it is pretty good, but I’m barely half-way through the first chapter, and I’m a slow reader. So bear with me.

Got Religion?

So, Jacobs decided to begin a journey of living as biblically litterally as he could for a year.  Jewish, but raised fairly secular, his life hadn’t had much of a place for religion.  But following his previous book, which involved reading the entire Britannica  encyclopedia from cover to cover, he was looking for a new book idea, and thus embarked on this project. Jacobs, like myself, sees how influential the Bible is in today’s culture, and that played a role in his decision.  He starts with a premise that many religious people today, even those who claim to take the Bible literally, pick and choose which passages they want to observe and which they don’t. So he isn’t going to do that, or so is his plan.  He is going to jump in with both feet, and be as 100% literal as he can be. He writes:

If I had a God-shaped hole in my heart, this quest would allow me to fill it.

That’s a very cool notion, but there lies a problem.  For a number of biblical admonitions are now illegal, and/or require other people (like his wife’s) full acceptance and participation. but I’m a big fan of spiritual quests, and setting out upon a journey to find something that you are not sure is there or isn’t!  I was hooked a few pages into the introduction. I think Religion would “work” for more people, and play a role in making the world a better place, if more people took that approach- that of choosing to go on a journey open-minded enough to see what one might find along the way. Too often, a person embarks upon, or holds fast to their beliefs out of fear.  They don’t want to see what they find- they want to know and confirm that they are right so that they do not have to explore and come to new understandings.

Be fruitful and Multiply!

Jacobs writes:

Conception was a huge preoccupation of the ancients. … Bible’s most famous stories center on the quest to get pregnant.

He doesn’t say much (yet?) about why that might be, but I think it is is a really significant note.  It explains much about why homosexuality and abortion are probably the two hottest controversial issues that seem to divide us today.  I’ll write more about my thoughts on that later. Interestingly, the few stories he decides to consider at first (Sarah and Abraham, and Rachel/Leah and Jacob, don’t seem to be a positive image for the notion of “true marriage” as a marriage between 1 man and 1 woman for procreation!  In both cases (my interpretation) the focus is not upon the family unit of man, woman and child.  But rather, the focus is on women, who can not bear children who try anything to create a baby (let’s get real- they wanted a son and not a daughter), and who in the end could only get what they wanted though God’s action.  Human procreation meant nothing/ was not possible in these stories. This is worth thinking more about.

Prayer

I’ve just passed page 20, and Jabobs is talking about beginning a prayer practice.  These few pages have been wonderful reading, and I think I am really going to love this book. His honesty and openness about what he is doing is refreshng and touching.  He writes roughly a page about what he is doing and then says:

I glance at the clock. I’ve been praying for only a minute.  I’ve promised myself I’d try to pray for at least ten minutes three times a day. 

Reminds me of when I started to meditate! How much can happen/ go through your mind and your body in a minute!

Off to work now, looking forward to reading more and will post again!  Have you read the book?  Anyone interested in getting it and reading along?  We can have a dialogue as we go?

Why Even Atheists should Care about the Bible

 

What do you believe?
What do you believe?

Even atheists should care about the Bible.  Care about does not mean believe in or support or follow, but to ignore how influential it is in today’s culture is a bit like sticking your head in the sand.

 

Queer Look at the Bible was originally (and will return to be) a podcast I began back in 2006.  For a variety of reasons, I stopped adding episodes, and it has sat, dormant since then.  This isn’t confession, and I have no need to sort out all of the reasons, but one of them, was that by the time I started to produce the podcast, my own personal beliefs had changed dramatically.  Perhaps one of these days, I will write more about my own beliefs, but for this post, suffice to say I think there are three types of people who ought to follow my blog and podcast.

  1. GLBT people who are Christians and for whom the Bible holds meaning.  Maybe those who already feel somewhat liberated from more conservative fundamentalist readings, but also for those who are still stuck hiding within their churches and struggle with their sexuality and their beliefs.
  2. Open-minded Christians and people who are willing to think outside-the-box and consider different perspectives.
  3. Atheists and other non-believers who do care about the world in which we live, and for lack of a better descriptor- our culture. 
So how about that last broad group- atheists and non-believers.  For me, this includes people who don’t necessarily not believe, but aren’t practicing believers; people who aren’t sure they want to believe, but are afraid to admit that they don’t for fear of what might happen; people for whom it isn’t an issue of “believe in” who realize that being a religious person is about action not thought or feeling; as well as those who are sure there is o such thing as God- the true atheist.
No matter where you fall in the spectrum, you have to admit that the Bible affects everyone and everything.  Attitudes based within it affect the laws and government.  Consider the backlash to gay marriage.  The very notion that marriage is fundamentally about one man and one women… Or how prevalent prayer is…  We even have a vice presidential candidate that believes creationism should be taught as science.
No matter if the book or the belief system has personal meaning for it, it shapes much of our world, our government, and the establishments that make up our lives and our culture.  So how do we combat that without taking it (The Bible) away from those who have faith in it?  For they deserve to believe as they wish.  The world really is big enough for everyone’s perspective. The way we maintain a balance and let the believers and the not believers exist in peace is to broaden the discussion.  To be able to answer and counter oppressive viewpoints by offering other ideas.  By bringing light and reason to the mix.
What the Bible has to say- how to understand it, and what it may or may not mean is a topic for everyone if we are going to move our world, our lives and our culture forward instead of backwards into the dark ages.