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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Same-sex marriage and religion

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jun 30, 2015 10:25 AM


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What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, June 30, 2015:

The U.S. Supreme Court decision last week that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states has raised some questions related to religion.

Some religions and denominations embraced the ruling while others didn't.  Those that didn't support the decision claimed their First Amendment freedom of religion rights were being superseded when the majority of the justices on the court cited equal protection under the law as the basis for their ruling.

Justice Anthony Kennedy raised the issue in the majority opinion when he wrote First Amendment protections are in place for religious objectors, who "may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned."

But in his dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts predicted a battle down the line between religious freedom and same-sex marriage.

"There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this court," Roberts said.

Tuesday's Smart Talk focuses on same-sex marriage and religion with Father Paul Schenk of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and Rev. David Mellott, the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean at Lancaster Theological Seminary.

Published in News, Smart Talk

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  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 10:06

    Thomas ask...
    As a catholic, I would like to ask one question,

    Is there any verse in the bible both the jewish texts and the christian text, that gives approval to same sex marriage.

    What i read, is that it is not so much the marriage but the sex acts between same sex persons.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 10:13

    Manuel ask...
    The argument of the sacrament being for those “open to reproduction” is a false conception. The church has never placed a ban on the marriage of those who are barren or impotent, and those beyond child bearing years.

    Additionally, how does the church handle the issue of intersex and hermaphroditic peoples and their ability to marry?

  • Michael img 2015-06-30 10:42

    What a bunch of bigoted claptrap cloaked religion! I bet at least one of the guests would have used very similar arguments regarding interracial marriage 65 years ago. It is the height chutzpah to favor descrimation against other Americans and fellow humans and then insist they be allowed taxpayer dollars for their religious schools and other institutions that teach this twisted philosophy. So many so many people with so called strong religious beliefs insist on telling others how to live their lives,but cringe at any body would tell them how to live their lives. Hypocrisy of the first magnitude! The last straw was when one guest (schenk) proclaimed homosexuality a disorder...WOW! That was stricken from mental health community,s book of "disorders" a long time ago.Time for the Catholic church and a lot of other religious orders move int the 21st century and leave the middle ages to the historians. I will tell you what a "disorder" looks like it is pedophilia which is and has been rampant in the Catholic church. Perhaps the good priests should direct their efforts in that direction and not demonizing fellow Americans and humans who have done nothing wrong.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 10:55

    Ben comments...
    I cannot understand the total imbalance when Christians spend so much time on same sex marriage but are so (relatively) totally silent on 'traditional' marriage that ends in spousal abuse, child abuse, violence, household alcoholism, ... on and on. I'd be much more inclined to listen to the ministering about same sex marriage if equal time was spent on 'sinful' relations between the sexes.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 11:04

    Rev. Ruth Shaver writes...
    I am a single, straight woman who physically cannot have children. I am also past the age at which starting a family through adoption is practical. Does this mean that any marriage into which I might enter would not be considered legitimate by those who place procreation at the center of the meaning of marriage, regardless of whatever other pillars might also be in the center?

    I pray that Friday's ruling by the Supreme Court will move more and more Christians to understand that God's creative love as reflected in humanity is not bound by the commandment to "Be fruitful and multiply"
    in a literal sense, but informed by it in myriad ways that include but are not limited to the bearing and/or raising of children.

    Rev. Ruth E. Shaver
    Pastor and Teacher
    United Church of Schellsburg UCC

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 11:14

    Travis adds...
    Leviticus 20:13
    "If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

  • AnyDayNow img 2015-06-30 11:21

    It was disconcerting to hear the Catholic religious dogma described in such particular details, so singularly focused on the apparently eternal and inherent difference of "complimentary" gender if an individual man and an individual woman are more absolutely separate ontologically from each other than to members of our own gender, yet people are often closer, more similar in heart and mind (and soul), with friends of the other gender. This kind of religious thinking describes a radical difference that we don’t experience in real life, as people find more or less similarity with others, connections that often have little or nothing to do with gender.
    Gender is certainly essential to one’s identity, but does it describe the human person’s totality? Certainly identity is inescapable in this life, but I am human, nothing less, first and last.
    I suppose it's useful to hear the belief in gender “complementarity” to get a handle on some of the overwrought reactions to the SC decision acknowledging civil rights to same gender couples. One also understands that the reactionary impulse perceives a dire threat to the patriarchal gender distinctions that are (in their view) the primary foundation of social interaction.
    But this perspective, coated in theological language, doesn't come across as very credible in this postmodern era, as science, philosophy AND even some theology has come to terms with the complexity of human understanding. Apparently the culture of some religious institutions will be some time catching up with the implications, that the human comprehension of ourselves and G-d is inescapably contextual. Even when the mystics, from diverse traditions and eras, try to express the Mystery, they fall back upon limited cultural symbols to mediate the Inexpressible, but those symbols should never become concretized into prisons that people are forced to inhabit.
    Concretization is almost always a form of devolution.
    Cultural change is one of the two inevitables; we must come to terms, and find the deeper faith, in Unknowing. A bit of trust in the Unknowable, and a bit of humility in the face of human incomprehension, might be useful when making dogmatic pronouncements.
    So I never expected to hear that people have a girl or a boy soul, nevermind what the great mystical genius, St. Paul, wrote long ago at the birth of Christianity’s genius:
    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28; ESV).

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 11:27

    Brigid ask...
    I am a 29 year-old female, was raised Catholic, and attended 16 years of Catholic school.

    The Catholic church discourages the use of birth control, but counsels married couples to have sex at the time of the month that they are least likely to conceive a child.

    How is this consistent with the "double sided coin" of a sexual act having the dual purpose of unity AND procreation?

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 11:39

    Noelle comments...
    It's 2015, gay marriage shouldn't even be an issue- what right does any religion have in equality and humans living in a tolerate environment? Furthermore, the cherry picking of sins ( divorce, masturbation, pornography, slavery, underage marriage, multiple wives, rape, wife ownership, over indulgence, death penalty , incest , sexism etc etc) all are mentioned in some aspect of acceptance or condemnation. Come on, it's like fixing the curtains while the house is burning. All religions have a uniting thread, to show man basic principles of life, not to be interpreted as one sees fit. They are stories to be used as guides not weapons of harm. Stop taking the beauty of life / religion and torturing people who do not fit a representation you hold as your belief...also, how do you explain the science of sexuality and attraction, or babies born with both sex organs? It's so ridiculous that so much wasted time and energy using a book to make so many suffer.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 11:43

    An anonymous listener writes...
    Why do theists (of any religion or denomination) think they can define marriage in our nation? We're a multicultural secular nation with seperation of church and state.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 11:49

    Allison ask...
    Thank you for bringing consistently relevant topics to Smart Talk.

    I will appreciate hearing your guests respond to my thoughts below.

    Lastly, I don't think gay marriage is the issue - the biggest issue is the ongoing rule of the majority denying all citizens their civil rights. Why aren't LGT individuals entitled to their civil rights? Since LGT individuals have been denied their civil rights, since they are not being served maybe they should stop paying taxes.

    Retail businesses are open to the public, period. Have those retailers ever served an Adulterer, a child molester, a thief, a rapist? These behaviors are also "sins," according to the Bible.

    The example of the Reverend's daughters putting on a sweater while on an Amish farm exposes his belief that being Gay or Transgendered is a lifestyle choice.

    For those who believe that being gay or transgendered is a lifestyle choice, I issue a challenge:
    Tomorrow morning greet the day with the ideal that you will choose to be gay. When you get out of the shower stand in front of the mirror and imagine yourself in the opposite body. People are who are they are, period. The essence of identity is not a lifestyle choice, who would choose to be excluded from the protections of civil rights, the support of society and the joys of celebrating marriage.

    First, I am interested to hear the perspective of your guests on literal and selective translations of the Bible. Leviticus also says that eldest daughters can be sold into slavery and if your neighbor offends you, burn a bull. Why is it acceptable to select verses that suit the agenda of the Christian right?

    Secondly, the idea of the definition of marriage has not always been one man one woman. Abraham had three wives. Mormon fundamentalists have multiple wives. Cultures around the world practice polyamory. Its' not for me, but I respect the rights of others to live their lives as they choose.

    Thirdly, the concept of marriage as a vehicle for procreation ignores marrying later in life, remarriages after divorce, childless marriages. People who are agnostic or atheist are married, are their unions invalid?

    Fourth, why does the Christian right insist on imposing it's will, it's doctrine and it's interpretation of the Bible on all Americans? Why can't opposing ideas co-exist?

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 12:00

    Carolyn comments...
    I would like to thank the presenters for their honest and respectful dialogue. I have two questions that I have never heard addressed in all of these discussions over the past several years. The first question is about the Biblical truth that God creates all humans male and female. As a pediatrician, I can assure you that every year children are born whose sex is unknown/unclear. This, of course, is a very complicated issue, but, as an example, a person whose chromosomes are XY can look completely female but have normal testicles. She will not know that she is "male" unless she goes for a medical workup because she will not get a menstrual period during puberty, and can not have children. This condition occurs because the body's cells can not recognize testosterone, even though the testicles are producing testosterone normally. So, "she" is male, but looks female, but can not have children or menstruate. Conversely, an XX female can look completely male at birth if the fetus is exposed to abnormal hormones, either from the fetus' own body, or from the mother. "He" may develop other medical problems that bring this to light, and then "he" will likely become "she". There are many other variations on this theme, and some are so complicated that deciding whether a person "should" live their life as "male" or "female" is a very complicated question involving endocrinologists and surgeons. So, sometimes, medical science "makes" them male and female. I just think there should be an honest acknowledgement of the complexity of this supposedly "simple" "truth" because it has enormous repercussions for individuals and I think it should lend some humility to our discussions of sexual identity, and I think that humility is sorely needed on both sides! My second question involves the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality. In the discussion today, my second question was almost addressed, when the mention that committed homosexual relationships were not recognized in the Biblical Israel, and when the word "lifestyle" was debated. My question is to ask if the condemnations involved "homosexual lifestyle" rather than "homosexual persons/feelings". When homosexuality is feared, persons are forced into promiscuity, predation, and clandestine "hook-ups" which would certainly be anti-Biblical. However, that is a far cry from loving, committed relationships, which are celebrated in Biblical values. If we would substitute "homosexual lifestyle" for "homosexuality" in our Bible interpretations of the original Scriptures, a lot of the hatred and fear should be mitigated. Thank you for reading my questions.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 12:10

    Dave ask...
    Does Father Schenk feel that the Catholic church will suffer a loss of followers, specifically the younger people, based on the traditions of the church in regards to same-sex marriage?

    I can say from my own personal experience, I'm a catholic who is completely turned off by the church these days and it's seemingly archaic views. I think the bible is being translated to tailor to specific traditions. Why not ban the consumption of pork as it states in Leviticus for example?

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 12:12

    Cathy writes...
    Seriously, did Catholic priest who is currently on your talk show just compare autism to same-sex attraction? You need to get him off the air immediately. This is completely unacceptable. I am so saddened.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 12:21

    JD says...
    It is my understanding that “biblical marriage” includes polygamy (but not polyandry). I’m puzzled as to how the Rev. Father’s definition (one man and one woman) is biblical.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 12:22

    Maria writes...
    This morning on Smart Talk, Fr. Paul Schenk made some comments about the "bakery" situation which I think need clarifying. Baking a cake for a wedding is in a way contributing the celebration of that wedding. So, I think it is perfectly appropriate for a baker (or other person) to deny to participate in that. Though I don't think the same holds true for a birthday cake, which celebrates the person's existence. In the same way, I might go to my nephew's birthday party, but not his same sex "wedding".

    Just as we would not expect, or legally require, a musician to write a song celebrating a position he does not agree with, so we should not require the same of any other worker/artist/craftsman, no matter how humble their art may be.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 12:23

    Thomas ask...
    Just for clarification if a female or male become infertile, then engage in a sexual act, they are therefore sinning?

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-06-30 12:23

    Angelina comments...
    Couldn't be happier, Scott! It's about time everyone has equality in this country.