Monday, January 12, 2009

Theology and Policy


This is something the gay rights movement should focus on as much as the Warren pick: Obama's understanding that American Christianity is not a monolith on the question of the sacredness of gay marriage.
Not really. What American Christianity believes about gays (and whether those beliefs are monolithic or not) is irrelevant to the present question. The gay rights movement should recognize that politicians either support or deny the equality of gay people under the law, and signal their position on this matter by the choices they make.

There are gradations to consider -- passing laws relegating gays to second-class status in every jurisdiction is one thing, whereas giving symbolically important ceremonial roles to anti-gay bigots like Rick Warren is a smaller thing. Giving a speaking part to Pastor Gene Robinson, who is openly gay, reverses some of the symbolic slight.

The gay rights movement, together with all other movements worth naming, should not indulge the notion that Christian theology -- conservative or liberal, monolithic or diverse, longstanding or freshly-invented -- ought to drive public policy. Suppose Christian theology, when thoroughly squinted over and properly expatiated, is found to support gay equality. That's fine but irrelevant because we separate church and state in this country, and should insist on doing so.

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