Acceptance and love trumps condemnationPublished 6:17am Sunday, October 21, 2012
Column: Pass the Hot Dish, by Alexandra Kloster
I am a Catholic. I believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe in the resurrection, transubstantiation, commitment to the poor, respect for life, the good works of Catholic Relief Services and that Notre Dame will win another national championship, though maybe not in my lifetime.
I am a Catholic. I’ll be a Catholic forever. I’ll raise my children Catholic and teach them that the church is good even when its leaders fail to live up to that goodness because the church is Christ, and Christ is love and love is always good.
I am a Catholic and on Nov. 6, I will vote no on the amendment that would place a constitutional ban on marriage between persons of the same sex.
Proponents of the amendment, many of whom identify themselves as members of the Minnesota Family Council, claim that gay marriage puts the sanctity of the institution at risk.
If they were seriously worried about a breech in the inviolability of marriage they’d be pursuing bans on a lot more than gay unions. They would demand that divorce be outlawed immediately. It would behoove the Minnesota Family Council to jump hard and fast on that moratorium because in the worldwide contest of who boasts the most broken marriages, the United States ranks an impressive third, and obviously the only way to protect marriage is to force people to stay in unhealthy, unhappy relationships provided they are between a man and a woman.
I would expect the Minnesota Family Council also to censor reality TV shows like “The Bachelor,” its counterpart “The Bachelorette,” “Wife Swap,” “Who Wants to Marry My Dad?” “Farmer Wants a Wife,” and “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?” None of these shows about marriage is concerned with the sanctity of marriage. They make a mockery of it. Some are no longer on the air, but enough of them are that if the council is going to fight for the sacred union of a man and a woman, the bowdlerization of television programming should be first on its to do list.
Friends, all joking aside, institutions cannot protect marriage, neither can political parties or special interest groups. The only people who can protect a marriage are the two people in it and maybe a good counselor. There is no evidence to suggest that a man and a woman will work any harder than two men or two women to stay together in a committed relationship.
Because other threats to heterosexual marriage are virtually ignored, it seems the Minnesota Family Council isn’t so much about being pro-marriage as it is about being anti-gay. It warns that we are in danger of redefining marriage. I can’t help but think the real danger we face is failing to redefine our priorities. I went to the council’s Facebook page and there was not one post that didn’t have to do with the gay marriage amendment. The last time I checked, families were worried about a lot more than whether Chuck was allowed to marry Steve.
We will elect a president in a few weeks, and it is crucial that he figures out how to create jobs, establish and keep the peace, resolve the health care situation once and for all, improve our schools and protect our borders. In the words of the Steve Miller Band we need to “feed the babies who don’t have enough to eat/shoe the children with no shoes on their feet” and “house the people livin’ in the street.” There is a lot to do, friends, and we don’t have time for ideological catfights about who should be able to marry whom.
For the life of me I can’t understand how gay marriage would affect anyone but those individuals who want to marry. No one is forcing churches to change their doctrine. No one is insisting that anyone change his or her moral code. Gay and lesbian couples just want the same rights that everyone else has. They want to legitimize their relationships. They don’t want to have to explain to their kids that their country refuses to recognize them as a family, the same country to which they stand and pledge allegiance every morning at school.
I am a Catholic. Some might label me one of the cafeteria variety who picks and chooses what rules she wants to follow. I reject that label. I don’t think searching your conscience and deciding to do what you think is right makes you fickle or weak even if it does run contrary to religious dogma. My conscience tells me that voting no is the most Christ-like decision I can make. It may not follow a literal interpretation of the Bible, but as a wise priest once told me, “Don’t get so caught up in the history in the Bible that you fail to see the mystery in the Bible.”
I am a Catholic. I believe that acceptance and love trumps exclusion and condemnation every day of the week and twice on Sunday. If either of my daughters marries a woman I will say the same thing to her as if she marries a man: Be kind, be patient, always have a bathroom with double sinks and God bless you all the days of your wonderful, miraculous life.
Woodbury resident Alexandra Kloster appears each Sunday. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and her blog is at alexandrakloster.com.