Some division is inherently neutral, needing no course-correction. Some things, however, are historically divisive. If a person or event or philosophy proves divisive—in other words, if he/it divides something, in real-time, as we’re watching—we had better think carefully about whether the new division-in-progress is justifiable on any grounds.
What follows here are meandering thoughts about two things that should be unifying, not divisive, in the long-term.
Marriage: the union that divides
Marriage is at once unifying and divisive, ironically enough.
I have lived only about six adult years as a single man; the married state, technically speaking, has been a norm for me and most of my friends. I do not discount, though, that certain single friends and I could never be too close because our lives were so very different.
The natural distinction between singles and marrieds is one way that marriage may prove divisive. It is incumbent on churches (and workplaces, and clubs, and support groups, and groups of friends, and . . .) to recognize that not everyone is, or will be, married. Single people are just as important as married people, period.
Now comes the U.S. Supreme Court’s action—and on its heels, a greater expectation of the long-term divisiveness of marriage in the U.S.A.
As others have said, the Supreme Court cannot actually define marriage. What it can legally do, it has done, but what it did has contributed to further divisiveness in the country. Some may applaud or sigh or hiss, but this decision will continue to divide families, and it will continue to divide believers, creating a deeper chasm than previously conceived of. I’m no sociologist, but it seems that, despite the emotional pain experienced by homosexual couples who have for years wished to be accepted and treated equitably across the board, the walls of the country’s canyon are being built up, granite-like, on both sides—whereas the division was previously a small river with but a shallow bed.
[See editorial comment below.]
I am logical enough about nature to know that, despite the justifiable financial equity secured by the recent Court action, it’s not a good thing that same-sex couples are increasingly considered to be another “normal.” Homosexual pairings are not good for the country . . . they’re not good for the human race, and they’re not good for children of those who identify as homosexuals. (Don’t glibly believe the results of all the “studies” you might see. Some will say one thing; some will say another. Just use your brain: to have two moms or two dads rather than one of each is contra nature.) See below¹ for an interesting, albeit fictional on one level, confirmation of the reality.
[Editorial comment: I probably won’t respond to any militant homosexual advocate who might happen in here to blast this post. If your opinion is expressed reasonably and kindly, without offensiveness, I’ll probably leave it on the server, but I am not looking for discussion with those who’ve landed so far on one side that all they want to do is peer over to the other side and launch missiles.]
I have been left wondering why a few specific acquaintances have celebrated the Court’s decision in various ways, including rainbowing it up. Frankly, I resent that both WordPress and Facebook shine rainbows in my face. Both outfits offer free internet spaces, so I shan’t complain directly to them, but the flaunting of the rainbow symbol ends up being divisive. Personally, I’m torn: while I do see the secular logic of granting equal civil rights to homosexual couples, the recent change goes much further than insurance/retirement benefits and funereal considerations in its ramifications for society.
The largely liberal media, of course, has a way of making all this seem like a never-ebbing tidal flow, as though pretty much everyone is moving toward one opinion, for the betterment of all. The few who remain, it is presumed, are mere holdouts, sticks-in-the-mud, bigots, etc. Of course that assessment is fallacious, but it’s true that newscasters and writers do have a great deal of influence; many more folks these days accept the move toward seeing homosexuality as normal. Both extremes of the media are divisive, actually.
Leaving alone the rampant questions that accompany the media-fueled acceptance of homosexual expression, the fact remains that this legal decision and its accompanying echoes are divisive. Speaking personally: I feel (potentially) divided from a few Christian siblings who have opted to fly the rainbow colors. I don’t know their reasons. (For all I know, they only inadvertently clicked on the Facebook option to superimpose the rainbow on their new profile pics.) A big part of me agrees that, in our society and economy, certain benefits ought to be granted to homosexuals in partnerships. That doesn’t mean I think homosexual activities and philosophies ought to be affirmed and celebrated. Rather, they ought to be recognized as non-normative, societally toxic, wrong in God’s eyes . . . and continually, honestly researched by those who do not have agendas and points to “prove.”
Toward a more personal division
I’m acquainted with a “straight” male—who is, by the way, active in a theologically liberal, Christian denomination—who made it a point not to marry his girlfriend in order to stand in solidarity with his homosexual friends whose relationships could not, at the time, be sanctioned as marriages. It was a personal thing: marriage would have been divisive among his friends, he thought. I found this resolve admirable from a relational standpoint but rather overwrought and unnecessary, not to mention spiritually detrimental and logically unfounded.
My own divorce in 2001 and second marriage in 2004 continue to stand in the way of relationships of all types. An ex-relaltive aggressively, un-Christ-like-ly butted in where unwelcome and ignorant, creating great divides which could otherwise have evaporated long ago. That person is now out of the picture, but I’ll not pretend any personal respect flowing in that direction. The divisions cemented (and several other, related ones) are painful for me, even today. Unfortunately, that broken marriage caused many to take sides (unpredictably, more took my former wife’s side), while a few have stood just to one side of the middle, not breaking ties with either party. My divorce has not only led to the expected, personal wounds, but also to division and distance within a) extended families and b) at least one church.
It is the height—no, depth!—of irony that marriage can be divisive. . . .
The rainbow was once a symbol of beauty and promise for all, but it has been re-appropriated. The U.S. flag has also supposedly been a universally unifying symbol for U.S. citizens, but it has become something else in the hands of a few. The flag of the defunct Confederacy has also clearly become divisive.
150 years ago, Christians were divided over issues of slavery and states’ rights, and we have progressed a bit in that sphere, but some whites in the Old South ought to realize, now in 2015, that it will not rise again (see here if you need humor right about now!). The historical facts related to slavery of blacks—as those facts are apprehended in today’s minds and subcultures—cause the Confederate flag to be divisive, at this juncture. The divisions are racially delineated, and racism² does appear to be a real factor. Wisdom and discretion viz. the flag of the Confederacy don’t require concealing history or banning the “General Lee” car from Dukes of Hazzard reruns, but it does mean the Confederate flag probably ought to be removed from some places—and removed it has been, in at least one notable case.
B. Casey, 6/28-6/30/15, 7/10-7/14/15
¹ The 4400, a sci-fi TV series produced only a decade ago, included a line about there being no homosexuals in the group selected to secure the future, because homosexuals were “superfluous.” I can imagine the conversations during the script-writing and editing of that episode! If a homosexual were in the production group, even s/he would have had to realize the logical veracity of the statement.
² About racism. I can’t comment with much depth or “street cred” about black-white racism, because I’m white. I can opine that I’ve been the victim of reverse discrimination, and I can guess up causes and results of racism on the whole, but the truth is, I don’t know much about it.
In my limited experience, I’ve found black-white relations to be more edgy in the mid-Atlantic area than in the South, but that’s just me. I don’t have a clue what the pleasant, polite, southern blacks say, and how they feel, when they’re not around whites. Maybe they have deep resentments about being downtrodden for a couple centuries, and maybe they simply behave better than a lot of northern blacks when in public.
If you want, call me racist for painting with a broad brush here, but the fact is, I have 3+ decades of observation to draw on, including years spent in several different areas of the country, not to mention a bit of world travel. My feelings seem mostly rational and personal, as opposed to unfair and inherited.
In case you wonder, I would never consciously use my past experiences or my developed feelings as a rationalization to treat someone I don’t know unfairly, no matter what the skin color. Also, I happen to be proud of the fact that my grandfather, as a faculty member at Harding during the 60s, was on the right side of the integration questions that beset the College (when key leaders were dragging their feet). I have not picked up that either set of my grandparents, despite their being southerners through and through, espoused any racist attitudes to their offspring.