Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration and Gay Marriage

A Christian coalition is vowing civil disobedience and even vowed to face jail if forced by law to officiate at homosexual "marriages".

The Washington Times reports as follows on the "Manhattan Declaration", a document signed by a broad spectrum of Christian clergy.

"More than 150 leaders across a spectrum of conservative Christianity on Friday released a 4,700-word document vowing civil disobedience if they are forced to take part in "anti-life acts" or bless gay marriages.

Called the "Manhattan Declaration," the six-page, single-spaced document was drafted by Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson, an evangelical, and Princeton University professor Robert P. George, a Roman Catholic, and included a bevy of Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox bishops, archbishops and cardinals as signatories along with dozens of clergy and laity."

There is a web site for the Manhattan Declaration with over 1200 signatories. The document quotes extensively from Christian scripture and speaks glowingly of Christian history in the Middle Ages. The document comes at a time when traditional marriage is under attack at a level that could not have been imagined 20 years ago. Even states that have not approved homosexual marriage are now faced with the legal question of whether or not to recognise same sex marriages performed in other states. There is a genuine crisis of conscience for those who view marriage as a sacred covenant consisting of a man and a woman. Shall such individuals be prosecuted?

The fundamentally Christian nature of the declaration made it unfortunately a document that I as a Jew could not sign. My opposition to homosexual marriage is rooted in the Jewish Scriptures. I would welcome a chance to engage in common political action with Christians who are of like mind. I recognise that there are overlapping and separate aspects to our beliefs. I feel that a united front on common practical matters is a very good idea.

The Jewish vow of marriage is very simple "Behold, you are consecrated to me with this ring according to the laws of Moses and Israel." These words are uttered in Hebrew by the groom as he puts the ring on the finger of the bride. There are a number of laws governing marriage and intimate relations. There are laws against adultery, incest, fornication and homosexuality. By definition, a same sex marriage is no more a marriage than that between brother and sister or a woman to two husbands. To ask a rabbi to officiate at such a "wedding" is against his religion.

Christians and Muslims are in the same predicament. The first line of defense should be to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. But a clergy person who officiates at a marriage should sign a declaration that he or she is solemnising a marriage according to the laws of his or her state and his or her religious denomination. If it is not possible for the officiating clergy to so attest, he should be free of any obligation to do so. Indeed, it should be considered a false declaration to declare that a wedding is lawful according to the faith of officiating clergy if this is not the case.

There should additionally be a way to bundle the services of clergy, caterers and others involved in the wedding party so that those who provide their services to a wedding not be forced to transgress their conscience.

We have reached the point where "gay rights" are being asserted in a way that abridges the religious freedom of Christians, Jews, Muslims and others whose religious beliefs do not condone homosexuality.

We need a declaration that unites Christians, Jews and Muslims in defense of shared convictions and beliefs, no matter how different the scriptural underpinnings may be. There are many forms of intolerance In Massachusetts, a man named David Parker was told by the courts there that he had no right to have his son excused from lessons in kindergarten in which homosexual rights are promoted.

Those who preach loudest about inclusiveness and tolerance have proven most unwilling to extend it to others. There is a malignant quality to this attack on our freedoms. It is time to unite and protect those who define marriage as being between a man and a woman. The Manhattan Declaration is on the right track. It needs some serious fine tuning. But if non Christian supporters of traditional marriage are to be included, then a broader declaration is in order.

1 comment:

Jason said...

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