I wrote in to the National Review the other morning. As you’ll read later in my post, I pepper in a bit of the ultra and moderately conservative rhetoric into my daily dose of ultra to moderately liberal media each day (I like to hear both sides of these pointlessly polarized debates). I figured that whether they posted my letter or not, I would pop it up onto my blog. Here ya are (with a link the original editorial piece is below):
To the Editors of the National Review,
While these questions of love and equality through the eyes of one nation sets fire to every fiber of my being – I’m not mad. And though I’ve hung my head on so many days, ashamed at how a country with such deep, cross-cultural roots and the potential for unprecedented social harmony could continue to stumble in circles, led by some cracked moral compass – I’m not disappointed. My spirit is aching, my heart is broken, my brain is exhausted – but my faith in you grows stronger each and every day. You may be asking, “Faith in what, exactly?” Is it the faith in knowing that people may unequivocally commit to traditional values without serious reflection or asking questions? Is it the faith in understanding that there is a yin to every yang? Or is it simply an unwavering faith in humanity – that out of the darkness comes a new dawn; a brand new age of reason and compassion? An age of reason where God is not dead?
I’m remembering the timeless adage of the old dog and the new trick; timeless because it always seems apt at times like these – when old school will not or cannot compromise in spite of their better selves. But who can blame them? Change is hard, especially when the effort it takes to simply engage in the conversation is, well, exhausting. And at this point, I don’t think I’m the only one who is worn out over the argument of Church V State, no matter whose side you speak with. I can sympathize with your weariness, but you cannot justify denying anyone a right to happiness and – as I’ll touch on later – opportunity.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable [and all that difficult] to want to keep religion from having so great an impact on politics and legislation for much the same reason it was important to give everyone the right to celebrate and practice their own religious customs. Hypothetically speaking, I suppose we could have stopped with the settling of the Puritans, founded the United States of Scorned English Protestants, and done away with the freedom to express our own unique faiths entirely, but that would defeat the purpose of why we came here in the first place. The idea today is much the same as it was back then, “If I can’t change your religious institution, then at least allow me the right to practice my own.” The legalization of gay marriage doesn’t change your Christian, Jewish, or Muslim Institution, nor does it mean you are required to marry someone of the same sex – in fact, it has no bearing on your faith whatsoever! To prohibit gay marriage, however, infringes on my civil liberties and flies directly in the face of the same freedom our country has mercifully granted you to practice your religion and your ideals.
With that said, I’m not naïve. While our nation’s responsibility is to protect and celebrate our human rights, religion – in one way or another – has either been at the center of campaign polemics or has surreptitiously shaped legislation since the time that this country was founded. It quietly and not-so-quietly defines us, whether we are for it or against it. But while our Democratic system has had to go through quite the overhaul since the late 1700’s, religion – on almost every front – has not. As if the saying goes, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry…so try and try again.” Religion is invaluable and I don’t mean to come off sounding too critical, but it does have a tendency to devalue other people’s convictions and humanity despite its best efforts to stress compassion and community. It’s the hypocrisy that drives me crazy and that same hypocrisy appeared in a paragraph I read in a letter from your collective editors:
All people, whatever their sexual orientation, have equal dignity, worth, and basic rights, by virtue of being human beings. We have previously explained why we believe that this premise does not entail the conclusion that the marriage laws should be changed (and defended our views from critics). For now, we will merely repeat one point: The only good reason to have marriage laws in the first place — to have the state recognize a class of relationships called “marriage” out of all the possible strong bonds that adults can form — is to link erotic desire to the upbringing of the children it can produce.
While you haven’t gone so far as to say that marriage is about procreation before any real, true love or deep connection between man and woman (as I’ve heard many others suggest for some inexplicable reason), I’m curious how you might recommend preventing dissenters from entering into this ‘recognized class of relationships’? By dissenters, I mean married women who can’t conceive, but are admonished by the Catholic Church for researching in vitro fertilization in order to satisfy their desire to have and raise children. I mean the men and women who enter into a marriage with the understanding that neither one ever wants to have children and prevent conception by using contraception, abstaining from sex, or (worst case scenario for the best of any practicing Christian, Jew, Muslim, etc.) abortion. I mean the men and women who ultimately get divorced and break their vows to one another, creating a familial rift and emotional disconnect while trying to raise children in a relatively dysfunctional environment.
Perhaps we’ve lost sight of the point. If the idea is really to link erotic desire and love with the intention of rearing children in the process, then humor me and consider this radical, new idea: Support gay marriage for the sake of supporting the many children left to the state after their drug-addled, dead-beat parents lost custody and who need a happy, healthy couple willing to raise them. Or you can support gay marriage because that same-sex couple is a great alternative to raise the child of a young, unwed, pregnant teen in lieu of her having an abortion – a procedural option of far greater retribution and scorn in the eyes of the Church. Or you can support gay marriage because many same-sex couples have as much the same desire to raise children as the infertile woman or man that I mentioned earlier (neither one has a biological shot of procreating, but their want-to is undeniable and should be admired).
Or you can support gay marriage because it’s simply the right thing to do and because we all have a right to life, liberty, and our own pursuit of happiness, not the least of which is love. Then again, I wonder if it’s the word “marriage” that gets us so upset – as if we can’t separate the secular from the religious definition. Perhaps the idea of marriage is evolving even faster than we are and we’re simply too slow or too stubborn to catch up. Whatever the case, you – editors of The National Review – are intelligent enough. I began reading your website to offset some of the other online publications I subscribe to at the request of my father (another smart man). And while I’ve managed to see a few things from your perspective, this is one issue where I know that you are dead wrong, but still have faith that you might come around one day and change your opinion on the matter.
That is unless, of course, you’re an old dog. In which case, I would suggest tucking your tail between your legs and getting back into that proverbial cage to watch this wonderful new world pass you by.