Taking Offense At Same-Sex Marriage

I’m going to be wrapping up blogging today–though with the full quota of twelve posts!–because my pastor has asked me to assist at a wedding this afternoon. As it happens, it’s a same-sex wedding, for a couple that can’t get legally get married back home in Kentucky (though the state may soon have to recognize their California marriage). I’m delighted these men have chosen our little church for a ceremony they are going to so much trouble to celebrate.

In this state of mind, I was unhappy to see my friend Damon Linker write his second column of the week warning that same-sex marriage (and the Obamacare contraception coverage mandate) are in danger of turning U.S. Christians who object to these developments into a persecuted minority. He wrote this as a response to Isaac Chotiner’s TNR piece which from a secular liberal perspective may have suggested religious opponents to same-sex marriage will get over it. But as I did yesterday with Damon’s original column, I beg for a little attention to those of us who have a different perspective on the real threats to religious liberty.

Most obviously, is the burden on conservative Christians (or adherents of any other faith) to live in a world that accepts same-sex marriage really greater than the burden on same-sex couples denied the right to marry? Are they really so fragile; is their faith so weak that it requires state sanction? Or are some of them, at least, captive of the Calvinist notion that obedience to God demands imposing their understanding of God’s commandments on the whole world? And beyond that, what about the sensibilities of us Christians who feel a religious obligation to honor committed same-sex relationships?

I’m less confident that Chotiner that conservative religious opponents of same-sex marriage will “get over it” but far less sure Linker’s right that they cannot come to live with it without returing to the catacombs or forming revolutionary groups. The conservative Christians I grew up with (Southern Baptists) were at least as adamant about fighting legalized liquor as any Christian Right leader today is about fighting same-sex marriage. Most of them haven’t changed their minds about John Barleycorn, but they’ve adjusted to living in a society where they are a distinct and self-selected minority. I don’t think that’s too much to ask in exchange for the right of other people to get married like anyone else.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.