HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

November 24, 2008
Children of a Spiteful God:
Proposition 8 Repeals California Gay Marriage

John R. Guthrie


My children are quite traditional in their relationships and marriages. They have become or are becoming, by their own courage and determination, accomplished and concerned citizens of the first order. It never occurred to me as they grew up to inject the venom of hatred. It never occurred to me to give them false and misleading information. When they asked what “gay” meant, I told them, with neither prejudice nor rancor

One of my “Christian” acquaintances said recently, “Oh, we don’t hate them. We love them. We just hate the sin.”

Horse feathers! I grew up in the American South. I hope my Baptist and other Christian family and friends there will forgive me for recalling those evangelicals who trumpeted, “We love our ‘Negroes!’ They just aren’t ready; to vote; for integration; to be police officers; to be cheerleaders; to use the Public Library. They told us how the “sons of Ham” were black and accursed of God. “Our little children, our families, our homes…,” they wailed.

There are many examples of gay marriage in the US and elsewhere. Like marriages of all types, some work well, some do not. It is quite obvious that if every gay person in this great nation were to marry tomorrow, it will neither wound my children’s bodies nor maul their youthful psyches.  

Yet the bigotry of this ill-considered yet well-heeled campaign, one funded primarily by the Roman Catholic, Mormon, and evangelical churches poisons us all. If a group of zealots can so abuse one faction of the population, they can do it to any.

Further, “Yes on Prop 8,” reveals to the community at large the grotesquery of churches that are paying from one pocket massive legal settlements for pedophilia while forking out immense sums from the other pocket for the abrogation of the civil rights of gays. This is by no means restricted to one particular denomination. To my knowledge, the only church that seems to be devoid of child sexual abuse is the Metropolitan Community Church, a church that caters to gays and lesbians.

If certain congregations are opposed to gay marriage, then no member of said congregations should ever, ever have to marry a person of the same sex.

If they choose to speak in tongues, to believe an angel named Moroni guards golden plates now buried in New York, or believe that a loving God is going to torture those with a  different belief system forever, no problem. When, however, they connive to deny others the civil rights they enjoy, that is another matter. No affinity group that pretends to moral authority can so abuse one group of citizens without bringing both their authority and their tax-exempt status into question. These church’s monies would be far better spent in attempting to heal the brokenness of their own marriages. Saint Matthew said it well:  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 

History tells us the biblical reason witches burned: “Suffer not a witch to live.”

History tells the source of the authority for the atrocities against our Jewish brothers and sisters. Those barbarities, often initiated by the restriction of their civil rights, lasted from the time of the first Christian Emperor, Constantine I in the 4th Century, until they culminated in the Holocaust of the 1930s and ‘40s. “Christ Killing Jews” was a buzz phrase I heard from certain troglodytes early on.

The perpetrators in each case shared the same peculiar delusion: That they perpetrated their brutal misdeeds under written orders from the Deity.

Yet I can say to my friends of whatever sexual orientation and whatever belief system; this homophobic frenzy will pass. The old guard dies off. The “Yes on 8” bunch are primarily older congregants. It was the young who stood on the street corners of my town and held up the signs saying, “No on 8.” One wise old Southern Baptist preacher of my knowledge said long ago in reference to the death of an aging curmudgeon, “Sometimes there’s nothing that improves a community like a good funeral.”

New standards of decency eventually supersede the more primitive ones. Quite often, even those among us who are as narrow- minded as a razor’s edge manage to respond to their better angels. This is certainly true in the current controversy, as some courageous individuals from all denominations take a stand against the official position of their churches.

We, including a goodly portion of church folk in this country, are far too good and too great a people to deny a basic civil right to our gay neighbors indefinitely.

I do not know when full civil rights for gays will arrive, but they will arrive. And when that day dawns, in the words of the Prophet Amos, justice will roll down as a river, and righteousness like a mighty stream.


John R. Guthrie is a former Marine infantry rifleman. He then garnered a formal education to include medical school and became the commanding officer of a U.S. Navy Reserve Shock Surgical Group before going into private practice in the Smoky Mountain foothills of Appalachia. He is the editor and publisher of the monthly webzine The Chickasaw Plum: Politics and the Arts Online. (Link)


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