Sam & Socrates
Should I go to a marriage of a homosexual couple?
Socrates: How are you doing Sam?
Sam: Not very well. I am facing a real problem with my brother.
Socrates: What is the problem? You have always been very close to your brother.
Sam: That is the problem. We are very close and he has invited me to his wedding.
Socrates: What is the problem with that?
Sam: My brother’s spouse is another man. This will be a homosexual marriage.
Socrates: Why would you not want to go?
Sam: I believe in the historic Christian faith and we do not believe that people of the same sex who marry are doing the will of God.
Socrates: Why would that keep you from going?
Sam: Because by going to the wedding I would be saying I believe this wedding is the will of God, that God will bless it, and that I approve it. When we say “congratulations” to a couple we are expressing that we believe that what they are doing is a good thing. I do not think that any marriage by people of the same sex is A a good act since it is not what God wills for their lives.
Socrates: Why is this a hard decision for you?
Sam: Because I don’t want to hurt my brother’s feelings and we always have been close.
Socrates: Have you told your brother about your conflict of conscience?
Sam: Yes, and boy did he get mad! He said that how could I condemn him for how he was born. He felt that I needed to accept and approve of his wedding if I loved him. That if I did not attend then we may never speak again. I am afraid that if I don’t go I may lose my relationship with my brother.
Socrates: Whatever influence biology has on people being attracted to the same sex has nothing to do with if it is moral or not moral. Many people have desires, which are influenced by their biology, but this does not mean it is moral to act on these impulses.
For instance when we get angry our biology is involved. But being angry and expressing this anger becomes a moral issue. Our biology does not justify expressing our anger in abusive words and actions.
Morals and ethics calls us to not give in to these emotional impulses. This is where self-control as a key virtue must be noted. Self-control is where we say no to impulse, which we believe to be or is immoral.
Now for some people there is a biological basis of having a “short fuse”. This condition is called “intermittent explosive disorder” but people can learn methods and take steps to learn to exercise self-control even when they struggle with this condition. They have a moral responsibility to manage and control their tempers and are not allowed to abuse and harm others. There is no excuse for abuse. This condition makes self-control harder not impossible.
Morals and ethics focus on what is right and wrong. Now our biology may help us avoid doing wrong or doing right or it may make it more difficult doing right or wrong, but it does not change the objective standard of what right or wrong is since biology does not determine morals.
I think your brother is confused here.
His biology cannot make his marriage moral or immoral. He believes strongly that his desires for other men have a biological basis based on his subjective inward feelings. Since this is his self-testimony of his experience one cannot really argue with this.
This may be the case for him, however it is not an issue that science is clear about at this time. But that says nothing about your brother’s own internal evaluation of his own experience.
Regardless if science does find a replicated scientific study supporting specific biological etiology for homosexuality or not will not impact the morality or immorality of homosexual activity or marriage. Nor will it change the impulses some people have to be romantically and sexually involved with people of the same sex.
Sam: That means that I don’t need to tell my brother he is wrong when he claims he was born that way?
Socrates: It normally is not good to tell someone they are wrong when the real basis of their statement has nothing to do with science but their own internal experience and feelings. Also this reality, which is why your brother wants to have a marriage to someone of the same sex, has nothing do with the morality of the action. It also has nothing to do with your inner struggle over attending the wedding.
Sam: So what is the real issue or issues?
Socrates: Well first of all you need to communicate your love for your brother and that you understand that his feelings will be hurt if you don’t come to his wedding. Tell him that you are sad that you cannot be at his wedding as well. You understand his emotional pain and feel deep emotional distress not being able to share this special day with him as well.
Sam: What if he does not listen to me.
Socrates: That is outside your control but you can communicate on an emotional basis your empathy for him.
Sam: How does that help my brother understand my not attending his wedding?
Socrates: Once you have assured him that if there was any way to attend the wedding you would. Then you need to explain to him that to do this would violate essentials of your historic Christian faith and conscience. The historic Christian view held for 2000 years by all orthodox Christian is that sexual activities by members of the same sex and homosexual marriage is that it is against the will of God and a misuse of the gift of sexuality.
So, without compromising your core beliefs and conscience, you cannot attend your brother’s wedding. While your brother does not agree with your beliefs and values you are asking him to respect them.
It is normally not wise to go against conscience. Also it is normally not good to ask someone to violate his or her conscience and values.
Your brother believes that it is God’s will for him to have a homosexual marriage. He believes this is right and moral.
You do not believe it is God’s will for him to marry another man. You believe such an action is immoral.
Unless one of you changed their minds about this matter then you must agree to disagree in an agreeable manner. That is the path of love and respect.
Sam: What would this mean?
Socrates: It would mean that you both accept that the other will live by their convictions. Your bond of being brothers and family members would remain. But on this issue you will have to be divided..
You would not stop loving and relating to your brother even after he has a homosexual marriage and he would continue to accept you as his brother even when you choose avoid participating in his wedding.
This will require great maturity and self-control from both of you. But it is the only path that allows you to keep your family bond. It will be hard for both of you but it is possible to do this.
Sam: How could I help my brother understand this?
Socrates: Are there any marriages that your brother would not attend due to a matter of conscience?
Sam: What do you mean?
Socrates: Let us say that you abandoned your wife and children to marry your secretary. Would your brother come to the wedding?
Sam: I’m not sure.
Socrates: Let us say he had a best friend from a country that allows polygamy and he was invited to a wedding of one man and six wives. Would he attend?
Sam: I see what you are saying.
Socrates: Most people have a moral line of conscience, beliefs, and values in which they would know that it was not consistent with their moral views to attend a wedding. The only question is where is that line for each person. If your brother can see that he has a moral line he would not or should not cross and associate this with your choice that may help.
Sam: So I can love my brother and not attend his wedding?
Socrates: Yes, because love calls us to agree to disagree but in an agreeable manner. This does not mean that we cannot and should not have compassionate debates on which view is the right view. But it means that we can still have relationships even with people we have fundamental disagreements with.
However, to date there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality. Similarly, no specific psychosocial or family dynamic cause for homosexuality has been identified, including histories of childhood sexual abuse. Sexual abuse does not appear to be more prevalent in children who grow up to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, than in children who identify as heterosexual.
American Psychiatric Association, 1400 K St. NW, Washington, DC 20005
(Revised May, 2000)
Quoted from http://www.aglp.org/pages/cfactsheets.html – Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychologists.