Religion And Same-Sex Marriage Essay Examples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Marriage, Love, Relationships, Social Issues, Gay Marriage, Same Sex Marriage, Religion, Issue

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/12/29

The issue of same-sex marriage in the United States has highlighted the battle between the secular and Christian ideologies. For most of the nation’s history, same-sex marriage has not been recognized by the state. Starting in 2004, states began to legalize it mainly due to federal and state judges ruling that banning this practice was unconstitutional. Today there are currently 36 states that have legalized same-sex marriage, and the Supreme Court is expected to rule on this issue soon. This could provide the foundation for its legalization throughout the entire nation. The process to achieve this has been a long and hard fight, especially due to those who have religious beliefs supporting the traditional form of marriage. In 1996 Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which allowed states to refuse same-sex marriages granted under other states. This was a win for those who supported traditional beliefs, and it was not until 2013 that this law was overturned. In fact, most laws banning or failing to recognize same-sex marriage have been overturned recently in the courts, which has caused many religious people to protest this change.
The basic debate around the same-sex marriage issue is in an interpretation of the Bible, against secular values. The Bible has several passages against homosexuality, which leads many Christians to be against this practice. However, the other side argues that failure to recognize same-sex marriage is a violation of freedom and personal rights because religious texts cannot be imposed upon those who do not hold the same standards. Therefore, the same-sex marriage issue is also tied to the debate surrounding the separation of church and state. It calls into question which set of values should be followed in a pluralistic society.
Recently, the issue of same-sex marriage has been an issue of extreme controversy in Alabama. A federal district court ruled that the ban of same-sex marriage in Alabama was unconstitutional and allowed them to recognize these marriages. However, the Supreme Court of Alabama negated this decision by requiring probate judges to follow the already existing ban on same-sex marriage. The federal judge officially cited state’s rights issues for doing so, but has a history of conflicts with the separation of church and state. He is a known Christian and it is very likely his religious beliefs play a role in striking down same-sex marriage within the state of Alabama (Blinder). This recent case highlights the debate over the issue and why same-sex marriage is a controversial issue within religion. Ultimately, religion has been harmful to the cause of equal rights in marriage, showing one of the ways it can inhibit progress in a society.
When it comes to being against same-sex marriage, there are several arguments often used to defend this position. Glenn Stanton lays out the case in the book Marriage on Trial. Stanton starts off by showing the fundamental problem with same-sex marriage, which is that it redefines marriage away from Biblical standards. The Bible teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman, and anything other than this is not marriage. Because Christians hold to the belief that the Bible is the ultimate authority on moral issues in life, anything that runs counter to this cannot be endorsed (Stanton 22). This re-defining of marriage is also linked to the “slippery slope” argument. This belief states that if same-sex marriage is allowed to be recognized by the state, then other marriages like polygamy will also be considered and could be allowed using the logic applied to same-sex marriage (Stanton 28).
Stanton tries to show throughout his book that there is something intrinsically different about heterosexual marriage than anything else. The ability to procreate is also cited as a major reason why this is the best type of marriage, as this is one of the fundamental actions to why people would get married in the first place. Stanton also addresses the issue of parenting and how children raised by same-sex parents worse off than children raised by heterosexual couples. Stanton argues that children raised in this environment exhibit characteristic most commonly seen in divorced and step households, which does not suggest is in the child’s best interests. He calls into question the reliability of the studies because he is unsure about how well they represent stable heterosexual households. If the standard of comparison is off, Stanton believes the studies can be dismissed. Stanton presents a case that those who researched this issue were biased in favor of same-sex couples and did not research the benefits of heterosexual couples as detailed as they should have (Stanton 103). Ultimately, Stanton does not see same-sex marriage as an issue about equality, but that of a social norm. He argues nothing can stop two people from loving each other, but the actual definition of marriage should not be changed because it represents a universal norm (Stanton 35)
On the other side of the issue is Claire Snyder who argues that same-sex marriage is about equality and something that should be legal if one claims to actually live in a democracy. In his book Gay Marriage and Democracy, Snyder outlines the reasons why same-sex marriage is reflective of a liberal democracy. Snyder defines the American political system as one that emphasizes certain rights. Concepts like liberty, equality, individual self-determination, and equal opportunity are all aspects fundamental to the foundation of America. The lack of rights for same-sex couples is an inherent violation of these principles (Synder 5).
Snyder points to several aspects of same-sex couples that should grant them the same rights as heterosexual couples. First, Snyder argues that the separation of church and state are fundamental to determining the civil status of same-sex couples. Snyder believes that there is a difference between a civil contract between two individuals and the religious aspect of marriage. While churches may define marriage however they want, the state only recognizes the civil and legal constructs of marriage. Snyder argues that same-sex couples, by legal definitions, are already married. They make personal commitments to each other in the same way heterosexual couples do, but they are not granted equal protections and rights under the law. Because America is not a “Christian Nation,” that being ruled under the governance of the Bible, the religious aspect of marriage cannot define marriage out of respect the separation of church and state. The mere fact that heterosexual marriage is traditional does not matter, because others have different beliefs concerning marriage. The issue is equality under the law, and since same-sex couples qualify under the civil and legal arrangements of state sanctioned marriage, they should be granted their rights (Snyder).
The legal case for equal rights is strong, which is why 36 states today have already overturned previous anti-gay legislation. It is true that for many Christians, the concept of gay marriage goes against their beliefs. However, they have to realize the America is a pluralistic nation, which means that there are many different viewpoints and ideologies that shape many people. The only way people can live together in a civil society is by agreeing to follow a certain set of governing values. One of these is the constitution which clearly does not allow Christian values to trump any other belief system. The ideas of freedom, equality, and justice are the founding principles of the nation, which is why same-sex couples should be granted equal rights. The only evidence presented on the side for banning same-sex marriage is a religious argument, which does not hold in a court of law. Even scientific studies regarding the effectiveness of parenting by same-sex couples supports that fact that there is no difference between them or heterosexual couples. Therefore, in this case, religion has been a hindrance to progress and shows one example of how rigid ideology can harm a nation. This is not to say all religion is bad, or all aspects of Christianity should not be followed. Rather, in regards to the issue of same-sex marriage, the Christian church should adapt and recognize the equal protection under the law in fundamental to a pluralistic society.
The issue of same-sex marriage is one instance where religion has done more harm than good. Because Christians do not like the fact same-sex marriage is being pushed in many states, there is much hatred toward these groups which leads to increased tensions and paranoia between the two sides. Religion is a primary reason why same-sex couples have not already been granted equal rights, and many religious groups are still actively fighting against them for equality.

Works Cited

Snyder, R Claire. Gay Marriage and Democracy. Lunham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006. Print.
Stanton, Glenn T., and Bill Maier. Marriage on Trial: The Case against Same-sex Marriage and Parenting. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2004. Print.
Blinder, Alan, Richard Fausset, and Campbell Robertson. "Alabama Halts Gay Marriages After Ruling." The New York Times. The New York Times, 4 Mar. 2015. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. <>.

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