Monday, June 27, 2011

Taking Positions


Is this why the radical 1960s called me wishy-washy liberal?  It almost always seems to me that questions, or “issues”, as stated in the media, can only be debated in terms that preclude obvious reasonable solutions.  Is it only because these seem to be politically impossible that they are carefully avoided?
Let me take one question prominent in the News over the last weekend, that of gay marriage.  The word, marriage, itself does not imply a religious rite or consecration, but in common parlance it is felt to entail a divine blessing and a holy vow.  Fine.  A word’s meaning is not necessarily identical to its etymology.  Be that as it may, the question seems to me simply a question of the separation of church (vel sim.) and state:
(a) the state cannot demand of a religious institution that it consecrate a civic right or privilege.  Thus, a church, such as the Roman Catholic (but not her alone), cannot be required to give its sacraments to those outside of it and/or at odds with it, whether it be a sacrament such as communion or marriage or last rites or burial in cemeteries of its own, consecrated to the use of its members.  Also,
(b) in a pluralistic constitutional democracy (in our instance) none of the faiths that are free to worship as they believe has the right to impose its own institutions on the citizens, whether many or few, who believe otherwise.  It is the state that determines what is necessary to keep us civilized.  Nor can the state privilege any one religious institution’s social traditions.  All of the rights of citizenship as such must be available to all.
Thus, if everyone must register their marriage irrespective of their religious beliefs, if any, and obtain divorces, when needed, in the legal way, those who wish the wedding consecrated by the religious faith that they adhere to will arrange for the religious rite of their own kind; and if divorce or non-belief or their sex should preclude the consecration of marriage or the administration of last rites, or whatever, religiously, so be it.  The religions in a pluralistic democracy decide what is essential to each of them.
But I can just hear the claims during a political campaign: that would be requiring a “Soviet union” of everyone.  Is that why the obvious solution is politically impossible?
Can it be (I don’t know) that our president is afraid of alienating the Baptist churches?
Therefore, I do not rehearse in my blog postings what seems obvious to me.  After all, I am too old for the question of marriage to be urgent for me, and I come from a part of this nation where partnerships are just as respectable as marriages.  I am sure that questions such as inheritance could be worked out legally, in any case.  I confess, in fact, to being a little leery of marriage, since my parents made a rather poor job of it, but that is no reason to deny its excellence to others.