In this summary article, the thoughts of many are posted in reaction to the recent news that New Jersey must allow same-sex marriage.
The summary article itself is fair and offers up comments from both those who agree and those who disagree. I’m not responding to the article, but to one comment that repeats a line of bullshit we’ve all heard before:
“Its a mockery of traditional marriage,” wrote James Furman. “Gay couples should have the same rights as straight couples but to call it marriage is a slap in the face of those with religious beliefs, who believe marriage is between a man and woman. I think it’s rude and offensive to those who have been raised by traditional families who have Christian values. Im not going to cheer for either side.”
A mockery. A slap in the face. Rude and offensive. Religious people have used these terms since marriage equality came to the forefront of public policy and social evolution.
The word ‘baptize’ comes from a long line of words, all the way back to the Greek New Testament word “baptisma” — a ritual washing, dipping, immersion. That’s what the word actually means — complete submersion, to signify a full cleansing (from “sin”).
In the Catholic church, both marriage and baptism are among their seven sacraments. Among most Protestants, only baptism and communion are considered sacraments (a few churches include foot-washing) — holy rituals with spiritual meaning for believers. Whether Catholic or Protestant, baptism is a Major Big Deal, as it is a symbolic act that identifies you a “Christian”.
Based on clear New Testament teaching, a believer’s baptism is ALWAYS by immersion (and always in living water), and always done for a person old enough to choose to be baptized. It is not done by mere sprinkling, and not done on those who cannot choose it for themselves. This is a fact of New Testament teaching; anything other than immersion by request is not, in fact, baptism. And yet Catholics sprinkle infants and call it baptism. So do Anglicans/Episcopalians, and many other Protestant denominations.
And yet, you rarely hear someone loudly proclaim, “You’re not really baptized because you were sprinkled upon as an infant. Sure, you can have all the rights and benefits of joining a church and calling yourself Christian, but calling yourself baptized is a mockery and slap in the face to those of us who believe what the New Testament says about baptism.”
So much of the rhetoric around “Marriage” and “religious freedom” revolves around words that are NOT the property of the church, or any other religion, but to which they have added their own layers of meaning. No religion invented the concept of marriage; marriage has been around since before there were any religions at all. Religions merely added layers of spiritual meanings and obligations beyond the simple act of two (or more) people deciding on their own to live together and make babies, and to be recognized in their own communities as being a family.
Religious people are free to believe whatever they wish concerning their rituals and the added-on layers of religious meanings. They are NOT entitled to prevent other people’s ideas and practice of marriage, or to enact laws prevent other people’s version of marriage simply because it is different. The religious beliefs of one person have absolutely no bearing on the beliefs and practices of someone else.
If there is a ‘slap in the face’ at all, it is coming from the arrogance of religious folks claiming “religious liberty” while using their liberty to thwart and diminish the liberty of others.