Evolution, gay marriage, writers of faith

Can we vote on your marriage now? San Francisc...
Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr; San Francisco Prop 8 Protest

Life threw me some curve balls yesterday, so I didn’t blog (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa), and the curves just keep on coming, so I’m blog-cheating today to spend some time in the batters box figuring out my next swing by just offering some quick takes. Discuss among yourselves.

1. Ever wonder who the top 100 writers of faith are? Neither had I until this popped up in my e-mail inbox. Ray Bradbury? Who knew?

2. The Wednesday Happiness posts draw interesting private e-mails with some extra tips. For instance, if you want to take off on your own happiness adventure, you could use the Happiness Project Toolbox. Or you could join, which is a Web site offering tools and tests to measure happiness, as well as webinars and links like this to happiness apps for your iPhone.

3. And speaking of Happiness, the tiny country of Bhutan actually tracks happiness. Everyone else studies the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but Bhutan also studies the Gross National Happiness. In the study, the country also encourages happiness. Here’s just a snippet from the GNH Web site, written by His Majesty King Khesar:

“Henceforth, as even more dramatic changes transform the world and our nation, as long as we continue to pursue the simple and timeless goal of being good human beings, and as long as we strive to build a nation that stands for everything that is good, we can ensure that our future generations for hundreds of years will live in happiness and peace.”

I love the line about “the simple and timeless goal of being good human beings.” If only all of us could do that.

4. Nearly half of all Americans don’t believe in evolution. These two scientists – who are also believing Christians – explain why religious folk need to “fear not” when it comes to the intersection of God and science. The column brought me back nearly a decade to when I was interviewing one of the Vatican astronomers who told me that, as a young boy, he hid an evolution textbook under his mattress so his devout parents wouldn’t find it. Most boys his age were sneaking porn magazines into their bedrooms; he had The Origin of Species. (This link is about the Vatican astronomers, in case anyone is interested in them, but Dr. Funes is not the one I interviewed for my story.)

5. Marriage has been on my mind alot lately, partly because I read “Why Marriage Matters” in a July issue of Time Magazine and “Those Aren’t Fighting Words, Dear” in the New York Times in the space of three days. The first is a defense of the intact, two-parent family and reports on statistics showing how much better off children are with two parents than are children of divorce; the second is about a wife who decided, against all popular wisdom, to stick out a difficult stretch in her marriage with zero help from her depressed and distant husband. They are both compelling reads about the price (and necessity) of commitment in our society.

But the other reason I’ve had marriage on the brain is because I have an old friend who has been with her partner for nearly as long as my husband of 27 years has been with me. The other night she did one of those Facebook lists and one of the questions she had to answer was “Married?” Instead of writing yes or no, she penned, “How do I answer this?” It struck me as heartbreakingly honest. She was pointing out the obvious: What do you call what she and her female partner have? It is like the saying, “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck ….” We may not allow homosexuals to legally marry, but those in long-term monogamous relationships are really no different than people in long-term heterosexual unions, are they? If stability in relationships is what we want – and what some argue we absolutely need for the success of our country – shouldn’t we support things that increase stability in all partnered relationship? And if someone has been with the same person for two decades, what do you call that if not marriage?

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13 thoughts on “Evolution, gay marriage, writers of faith

  1. First, I love Ray Bradbury.

    I was married for a long time,  but he died pretty young. I’ve raised three kids for the last six years or so as a single parent(they’re pretty much on their own now, except my sixteen year old). I’m almost forty-six, and have no desire to remarry. When I got married I never thought about all the ‘issues’ (medical, financial, legal rights, etc) I was in love and wanted children and that’s why I got married.
    I guess marriage has different meanings for different people, but until laws change, if they do, it seems so exceptable to cohabitate.

  2. How about H. Ron Hubbard – seems to me he’s a more popular and influential religious writer.
    (Ray Bradbury has always been the most boring SF writer in existence, whose reputation has been entirely promoted by literary types.
    Give me good atheist SF authors like Azimov, Clarke, Heinlein any day).

  3. Well, my 24 year old single son asked an interesting question:  why does marriage have to be “permanent” till death or divorce, why not a 5 year marriage contract to see how things go, renewal upon expiration if desired by both parties.  How’s that for a different take on marriage, esp. since there are so many bitter divorces now?  And why not just civil unions for all, straight or gay?

    1. Carolyn: A priest I know has suggested something like that – civil unions for a couple until they are ready to commit for life and see marriage as a sacrament, then they can get married in the church. He was only speaking about people who want a religious ceremony, of course, but the point is similar…. then again, what your son seems to be suggesting is serial monogamy – which may be fine for some, but I don’t think is fine for kids, in the long run. The authors of the articles I cited were making a point more about marriages that have children involved. Some people have suggested that temporary marriage thing – in fact, I think that’s what you see with people who live together: they are “trying on” each other to see if it would “work” before “committing” with a marriage. As for me, it seems like that’s a little bit too insecure, too iffy, like “Well, I like you now, but I may not in a couple years so….” It seems like that level of non-commitment would really add up to a lot of insecurity in the relationship and I’m not sure it really fits my definition of love. Interestingly enough, the research by Judith Wallerstein – once a major proponent of divorce – shows that people who live together before marriage actually have a higher rate of divorce than couples who don’t. And while this is not scientific, I have seen a couple of “good divorces”, where people behave like adults and their kids are raised by them in a very good way. That’s really the key I think, being a grown up, even if the marriage fails, and being there for the kids.

  4. NICE blog, Renee. I love the thought of a young man hiding Darwin under his mattress! Such a shame he felt such conflict.

    Similarly, it would be great if we truly had separation of church and state. Legal civil unions/marriage for couples who want it should not be up for vote.

    Lastly, a comment on divorce. There really ARE situations in which it is better for a married couple with children to divorce; abuse, neglect, untreated addiction, violence, some forms of mental illness come to mind. As painful as it is, sometimes it is in the children’s best interest to separate them from one of the parents who has a harmful impact on the family…

    1. Hi Donna:
      You are absolutely right that there are cases – abuse, neglect, addiction, violence and untreated mental illness – where divorce is better for the kids than staying together. I think the authors of those articles were perhaps excluding those cases. In fact, the research on divorce cited in the first article doesn’t deal with extraordinary circumstances. Although, one sad thing is that in the case of abuse and neglect, often the children are removed from the home b/c both parents are complicit and then the kids get put in the child protection system, and as the news had shown last year, that is often far from the best case scenario.

  5. I would like to take this opportunity to answer the very last question in this article, which was, “If someone (a woman) has been with the same person (another woman) for two decades, what do you call it if not marriage?”  My answer to this question is that this relationship is not a marriage.  It could be a very special friendship where they share everything and get along really well.  I think most people would agree with me that a  lesbian relationship lasting over two decades is very rare.  I am a very traditional person and have always believed that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a women.  That’s the way God established this union and that is the way in which, if practiced right can be the most successful endeavor of our lifetime.  I recently read an article by Professor Richard Wilkins entitled Legalizing Same-Sex ‘Marriage’: A Modern Attack On The Future Of America.  He put the importance of marriage in perspective for us when he said,  “We in this country, and any society that hopes to remain strong and resilient, have an undeniable and compelling interest in preserving marriage as the union of a man and woman.  Alternative marital relationships, which by definition sever marriage from child bearing and child rearing, are fraught with profound difficulties.  Stripped of its place as the legally protected and socially desirable environment for having and rearing the rising generation, marital relationships would be nothing more than mutually agreeable sexual or emotional unions.”  I agree with Professor Wilkins in that if we want the human race to continue on for generations to come then marriage between a man and woman should remain sacred and any other type of relationship does not deserve the same status,  recognition or privileges (government or otherwise).  This also means dependent benefits from significant others employment.  I have a girlfriend who I’ve known since high school.  She is a professed lesbian and has a female companion that she has been with exclusively for 5 or 6 years.  They live happily and quietly together.  I never come down on her about her lifestyle and she treats my relationships with my husband just as respectfully.  She and her companion work their own jobs and receive their own separate health and life benefits from each of their jobs.   Not expecting any special treatment from any government agency or organization whether domestic or foreign, they live a good quality of life as far as they are concerned and I can not judge them.   She is not on a campaign to get married to her partner but I feel it my duty as a citizen to voice my opinion and protect the sacred institution of marriage.  

    1. Thanks for your testimony. It is a good example of the danger that religion, especially Mormonism, presents to our Democracy.
      As long as we tolerate religions writing their doctrine into our laws and trampling the rights of minorities we will have oppression, injustice and conflict.

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