Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The Federal Marriage Amendment Petition

Today's email had the following appeal:

Follow the link below to add your name to this important petition in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment. Go to http://www.nogaymarriage.com to sign.

It was from a family member, someone I love and respect; and so I felt I should send them a reply. This is what I wrote back in response to their request:

Dear _______,

Thanks for thinking of me when sending this. I'm not going to do as your email suggested; and I thought I'd tell you why.

Based upon my experience in working with the legislatures in Illinois and Arizona, I can tell you that things that come by way of form letters, preprinted post cards, and petitions, carry little or no influence in the offices of the legislators who receive them. They know that all people have done, for the most part, is sign their name -- making little or no other effort to deal with the issue beyond a moment with a pen. What carries far more impact is a personal letter: brief, and to the point; and in your own words -- or a telephone call (not part of an organized phone campaign). These types of activities get the attention of elected officials; while petitions and other things in the same category are just brushed aside.

Your elected officials (and mine) at both the local, state, and national levels already know that there are people who, because of their religious convictions, oppose the legalization by the state of same-sex marriages. They also know the number of these voters in their districts; and whether or not they can already count on your support. (They have access to excellent polling and demographic information; and don't usually hesitate to use it.) So, in a way, your opinion has already been counted. (This is not to say that you should remain silent; but, again, you have work to do to overcome a situation in which they've already taken your views into account, and decided how, if at all, they will be influenced by you and those who share your views.) By the way, the opinions of those outside of their elective districts, such as is the case when people nationally are invited to sign an on-line petition, counts exactly zero-zilch-nada-nothing...

There is a deeper problem here. We, the religious people, have failed to influence the public debate on marriage and morality; and now are in the position of attempting to use the power of the state to impose our views on others who do not share these views. Even if we are in the majority, we have to recognize that, at some level, this is an act of tyranny -- and sets the stage for the same mechanism to be used against us at some time. (It may already be under way; but that's a topic for another time.) What if God took the same approach with us? He makes His will known; but does not impose it. We are free to choose to obey; or to disobey. Each choice has consequences; but the decision is ours.

So: What if the state chooses to allow the definition of marriage to be redefined in a way that is not consistent with Christian beliefs and teachings? We must hold fast to what we believe, to what God has revealed; and not give in to the powers that will be brought to bear against us. Ultimately, this will be a far more effective form of witness than any constitutional amendment can ever hope to be. And, until that time, we must continue to take a stand, and say, with love and patience, why what God has revealed is the only true path for us, and for all mankind; winning hearts and minds one at a time, for the glory of God, and the salvation of their souls.

unworthy Priest John