Christian Extremism and Marriage

English: American politician Tony Perkins.
English: American politician Tony Perkins. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For Christian extremists like Tony Perkins (Family Research Council), there was a "bright side" to yesterday's historic ruling in U.S. v. Windsor: it did not legalize same-sex marriage in every state. Evidently, Perkins was pleased that the court did not legislate full marriage equality. Is there any real doubt that this will eventually happen? With public opinion shifting toward support of marriage equality and younger survey respondents wondering what all the fuss is about over people wanting to get married, isn't it just a matter of time before same-sex marriage is legal in every state? While it would have been wonderful for that to happen yesterday, it will happen in the not too distant future.

Perkins, and his fellow Christian extremists, are determined to see this particular form of marriage as less "natural" than the alternative. Maybe they don't feel they have a choice. After all, their 2000+ year old "holy" book condemns homosexuality. But that possibility falls flat the moment one realizes how much of the same book they are perfectly content to ignore. And for growing numbers of Americans, especially the younger generations, same-sex marriage is every bit as natural as any other marriage between two consenting adults.

The name says it all - the Defense of Marriage Act. Defense of marriage from what? How is "teh gay" threatening Christian extremists' marriage? It isn't. Marriage does not need to be defended from anything; however, large swaths of the American people do sometimes need to be defended from the bigotry of their neighbors. Mr. Perkins may not have learned anything from the women's movement or the Civil Rights movement, but many of us did.

I bring up these movements to remind my readers that we are witnessing merely the latest example of a lengthy pattern. Christian extremists opposed abolition and used their bibles to argue in defense of slavery. This is now recognized as bigotry. Christian extremists opposed suffrage and used their bibles to argue that women should be denied the vote. This is also recognized as bigotry today. Christian extremists would do the same thing to African Americans, but they'd take it a step further and use their bibles to oppose miscegenation as well. Such attitudes are also correctly viewed as bigoted today. Now they oppose same-sex marriage, and they are once again using their bibles to justify their hate. And growing numbers of Americans are now recognizing this as bigotry. The pattern is evident: Christian extremists are once again on the wrong side of history.

I wrote a post a couple of years ago in which I predicted that after the Christian extremists lose their battle against marriage equality, that secularism may well be their last stand. Christianity can survive - even flourish - in a secular society; I'm not so sure about Christian extremism. Christian extremists like Perkins really don't have a place in a secular society.

H/T to Peter Montgomery (Religion Dispatches)