Same-sex Marriage as a Religious Issue

Introduction

Same-sex marriage refers to matrimony between people of the same gender identity. Gay marriage is the term commonly used to refer to this type of marriage as it applies in some parts of the world. The idea of same-sex marriage has been in existence for many years now. The first mention of same-sex marriage occurred in the course of the early Roman Empire, and since then, the practice has gradually spread to other regions of the world.

Same-sex marriage is viewed as one of the most controversial social issues facing the world today, probably due to the many legal and social factors involved. However, no mat,ter the many challenges facing the practice, its legalization has gained a lot of support from influential organizations and individuals across the world, including President Obama, who has recently expressed a definitive stand on the matter by publicly endorsing this form of marriage.

This rising efforts of making same-sex marriage legal has led to promising developments that have indicated that the practice is likely to become increasingly widespread in the world shortly. As it would be observed, the biggest war for and against the idea of same-sex marriage involves religious organizations.

While those in support of gay marriage have their better reasons for doing so, those against it view it as a sinful practice which has many flaws as far as social issues are concerned. This paper examines the issue of same-sex marriage from a religious point of view of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam or the Abrahamic faiths.

Backgrounds on the religions

Judaism

Judaism is a religious tradition with origins that date back over four thousand years. This a religion associated with the Jews. Judaism was the first monotheistic religion to be introduced, and it is regarded as one of the oldest religions in the world. This religious group is believed to have originated from the culture, values, and beliefs of the Israel people, popularly known as the descendants of Jacob (Neusner 2000).

The Jewish sacred text is known as Tanakh, but there are also other sacred books such as Midrash and the Talmud, among others. Judaism is made up of four main groups that include Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, and Reform.

Even though Jews tend to vary a lot in their observations and views based on the religious teachings of the above movements, they are unified on a collection of teachings that express their close connection with God. Judaism followers worship in places known as synagogues, and their diverse religious rituals are overseen by rabbis.

Christianity

This religious organization is believed to have originated from Judaism in the 1st century C.E. The foundation of this religious organization is based on the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of the Son of God Jesus Christ, and in that case, its followers are known as Christians. Generally, the organization is made up of three major branches, which include Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy (Burgos 2010). Until the last part of the 20th century, most followers of this religious group were found in the West.

However, religion has spread to other parts of the world over the years, and today, it is the largest religious organization in the world. Among the major beliefs of Christianity is the Holy Trinity which emphasizes on the faith in God the creator of the world and the universe, who exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Schuman 2007).

Christians also believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, who was sent by God to save them from sin. In this regard, Christians see Jesus as the main component of their religion. Even though there are other sacred books that would be associated with each of the three branches of Christianity, Christians generally believe in the holy Bible as their sacred book. Christians assemble in worship centers known as churches, where they engage in fellowship and worship through various social practices.

Islam

Islam is among the largest religions in the world today. Even though non-Muslims tend to believe that the religion had originated from Mecca, Islamic followers have always discharged this claim by pointing out that their religion has been in existence since the period of Prophet Adam (Schmidtke 1999). According to Muslims, the main purpose of existence is to praise and worship God, whose sheer command had brought about the creation of everything in the universe.

Islamic values and principles are expressed in the Quran, which Muslims believe was a revelation of God to Muhammad through angel Gabriel. Islamic followers see the Quran as the only sacred book which offers the true teachings of God as they were revealed many times throughout the world through prophets. Islamic faith is based on five pillars that include compulsory giving, declaration of faith, a pilgrimage to Mecca, fasting in the month of Ramadan, and obligatory prayer (Ankerberg, Weldon & Burroughs 2008).

Point of view of the religions towards same-sex marriage

Judaism

As it would be observed, same-sex has been a big subject of debate within the various denominations of this religious group. The traditional views of Jewish followers observe same-sex marriage as a practice which has been despised by the Torah (Schnoor 2006). This view has been maintained by followers of Orthodox Judaism allover the world, while it is otherwise for the other groups whose position on gay marriage unions seems to have taken a different course over the last few years.

Orthodox is deeply ingrained in the traditional teachings of Judaism that direct a strong position against unethical sexual relationships and marriages. The stand of Orthodox Judaism on such matters was recently manifested in the United States, where the group’s followers publicly expressed their support on a federal Constitutional amendment interdicting gay marriages in the country.

However, the other three groups that include Reform Judaism, Conservative, and Reconstructionist Judaism have all expressed strong support on same-sex marriage unions.

Even though it is clear that some Conservative Judaism synagogues have not fully recognised this type of marriage union, they do allow celebrations of same-sex marriage commitments. This way, the choice seems to be left to individual religious leaders and not the entire denomination. This, however, is a clear indication that the position of Judaism followers on gay marriage unions is rapidly changing in most parts of the world.

Christianity

While there are those Christian groups who are supportive of gay marriage, others view the practice as immoral, since it violates the objectives of human sexuality. Some Christian organisations who have been vocal against gay marriage have also expressed their concerns that legalising same-sex marriage unions could ruin the conventional objective of marriage in the society.

Christian opposition of this controversial form of marriage is also based on the presumption that gay marriage fully supports homosexual practices that are unacceptable and this can be a bad idea to societies. Roman Catholicism, who are known for their unwavering support on monogamous heterosexual marriage unions, have constantly observed that gay marriage unions cannot fit in the definition of marriage which recognises a union between parties of different sexual identities (Olson, Cadge & Harrison 2006).

Christianity point of view on same-sex marriage is based on God’s guidance as it is shown in the scriptures. One good example of God’s message on marriage can be observed in the book of Mathew of the Holy Bible, Chapter 19 verses 1 to 6, where Jesus tries to explain a point about marriage to the Pharisees (Wax 2005).

In this episode, the Pharisees had approached Jesus with the question of whether it was acceptable for a man to divorce his wife in any circumstances. While responding to the question, Jesus reminded the Pharisees that God who created both male and female has made it clear through the readings that a man shall leave his parents and be united to his wife, and in that case, the two will become one thing. This is a clear manifestation of God’s true directive on monogamous heterosexual marriage as the acceptable form of the marriage union.

It is also interesting to note here that, Leviticus 18:22 is one of the most frequently quoted Bible verse which has given a clear stand on the same-sex marriage issue by pointing out that it is unacceptable for one to sleep with a man as one sleeps with a woman. These two valid explanations from the bible and many others that have not been mentioned in this report have been very influential in determining the position of Christians on the controversial issue of same-sex marriage in the modern world.

Based on these observations, the stand of Christians on straight marriage involving a man and a woman is not going to change at any one time. As some Christian leaders have constantly observed, marriage is a sacred union which has been defined by our creator, and therefore, no one can redefine it. In this regard, Christians cannot be incited to support the idea of same-sex marriage.

Islam

Just like the other Abrahamic religions, Islam also has its own point of view on the issue of gay marriage. As a matter of fact, Islam is one of those religious groups that have strongly expressed resistance to same-sex marriage, except for the few who have decided to establish support groups among other Muslims after getting absorbed in homosexuality and lesbianism (Fassin 2001). Muslim religious leaders have in many occasions come out publicly to express their position on the matter.

Islamic traditions and values have never been loose on matters regarding sexual relationships and marriages. Same-sex marriage unions are totally unacceptable by the Muslims, who tend to view the practices as horrifying wicked acts that go against the demands of Allah. Muslims term homosexuality and lesbianism as two plain evils that have been forbidden by almost all prophets of Allah as it is evident in the Quran and other sacred texts of Islam.

This stand is clearly expressed in verse 49 of Az-Zariyat of the Quran, which observes that all things have been formed in pairs and this should be reflected as so all the times. There is no doubt that the pairs expressed in this verse are of different identities, not of the same identity. In this respect, Islamic followers are always advised not to take part in this sinful act which has been forbidden by Allah through the prophets.

The impact of Christianity on the current same-sex law

Christianity remains the strongest opposition when it comes to the idea of same-sex marriage in the modern world. Even though gay marriage unions have formally been legalized in some U.S. states, various Christian religious organizations across the world have strongly opposed the move. This, however, should explain the reason why it has proved so hard for the practice to spread to other regions of the world at the same rate it has done in America.

With their strong claim that the bible only recognizes and supports monogamous relationships involving a man and a woman, Christians have managed to stage a serious war against the idea of same-sex marriage (Pinello 2006). With the highest number of Christians being against the practice, it is clear that same-sex proponents will have to work harder before they can succeed in subjugating the entire world to their beliefs.

Conclusion

As it is shown in this report, same-sex marriage is one of the most complicated and controversial social issues of the modern times whose resolution may not come to an end soon. The matter involves a lot of social and legal factors that have continued to stir serious arguments between the two opposing sides; those in favor of and those against the idea of same-sex marriage.

However, Abrahamic religions that have staged a real war against the vice seem to have had a massive impact on the issue. In this regard, it is patently clear that the idea of same-sex marriage may never get to be universally accepted as long as these religious groups are in existence.

Reference List

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Burgos, R. 2010, The Origin of Christianity, Xulon Press, Longwood, FL.

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Neusner, J. 2000 ‘Defining Judaism’, The Blackwell Companion to Judaism, vol. 9, no. 5, pp. 3-19.

Olson, L., Cadge, W. & Harrison, J. 2006, ‘Religion and Public Opinion about Same‐Sex Marriage’, Social Science Quarterly, vol. 87, no. 2, pp. 340-360.

Pinello, D. 2006 America’s struggle for same-sex marriage, Cambridge University Press, New York.

Schmidtke, S. 1999, ‘Homoeroticism and homosexuality in Islam’, Bulletin-School of Oriental and African Studies University of London, vol. 62, no. 11, pp. 260-266.

Schnoor, R. 2006, ‘Being gay and Jewish: Negotiating intersecting identities’, Sociology of Religion, vol. 67, no. 1, pp. 43-60.

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Wax, A. 2005, ‘Conservative’s Dilemma: Traditional Institutions, Social Change, and Same-Sex Marriage’, San Diego L. Rev., vol. 42, no. 16, pp. 105-109.