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Thursday, May 03, 2012

I'm Christian. I'm called "conservative". I'm not voting for Amendment One.

I will not vote for Amendment One.

Neither will I vote against Amendment One.

Because the more I have thought about it and the more that I have seen especially during the past couple of weeks across North Carolina, Amendment One is by far the worst thing that I have ever seen on a ballot in the Tarheel State. And that's sayin' something about this place...

For this blog's readership in various and sundry places not between Manteo and Murphy, Amendment One is the measure on next week's ballot that would make the Constitution of the state of North Carolina explicitly state that marriage will only be between one man and one woman. As you can probably imagine, this is widely perceived to be a measure attempting to circumvent the legality of "gay marriage".

I've been wrestling literally for the past several weeks on how to articulate what I believe about this, and not be misunderstood. Because my stance about Amendment One is not something that could be squared away as either "conservative" or "liberal". Which will likely honk off many who can't think beyond such ultimately meaningless ideologies. But I don't care. Because that's just how I roll. I'm out to follow as best where God leads me, and not the capricious wendings of man's temporal politics.

The initial reason why I will not be voting on Amendment One is that marriage is instituted by God and is not left to us at all to define. I've no doubt that there are many well-meaning people who will be voting for Amendment One because they sincerely believe that marriage is something that "must be protected".

It's not. It's really not. Not by a political gimmick anyway. And if it must be protected that way, then we as a society have vastly bigger problems than "gay marriage" could ever be.

There is no such thing as "homosexual marriage". It's a contradiction in terms of the most obscene kind. Marriage by definition is the uniting of two entities of distinctly different yet complementary natures into a new entity greater than the sum of its parts.

What does that mean? A man cannot naturally reproduce on his own. Neither can a woman. And neither can two men unite to create new human life between themselves.

I contend that this is the essence of the universal concept of marriage: that the potential for natural reproduction exists. This is not a "biblical" concept, as I have seen many across this state argue in the months leading up to the vote on Amendment One. "We support biblical marriage"? Bah! As if only marriages performed according to Judeo-Christian standards are valid in the eyes of God. The greater balance of cultures and faiths across human history have held that marriage is between one man and one woman. Are the proponents of Amendment One willing to assert that the vast majority of people today should be legally declared whores and bastards? But I digress...

Marriage of one man and one woman is as fundamentally an aspect of moral law as is the knowledge that murder is wrong. I have seen many statues on the books defining punishments for murder: I have yet to see a constitutional amendment saying that murder is illegal. It's something that merely is not needed, or should not be needed anyway.

And "gay marriage" is already illegal according to North Carolina law. Amendment One would not be changing anything.

"But Chris, some liberal activist judge could decree from the bench that gay marriage is legal in this state and that would be it! We need Amendment One to prevent that from happening!"

If that's true, then... wow, we really are screwed. Like I said before, we'll have inherently graver issues than gay marriage if that's the case. In the mind of this writer, it will means that we as a people have surrendered that wisdom and fortitude that the Founding Fathers meant for us to have as a free people. It will be a sad acknowledgement that we no longer possess the liberty of mind that too many men and women fought and even perished that we might enjoy. If we have arrived at a place where fear-mongering and worse, fear of nebulous ideologies drive our actions, then what does that say of us as We The People?

And this brings me to the most conscientious reason why I refuse to vote on Amendment One: because as a follower of Christ, as one who chooses the renewal of the mind in defiance of the patterns of this fallen world, I will not be motivated by fear and hatred and lust for political power. And unfortunately it has been those base drives which I have long observed have been behind the push for Amendment One.

Ever wonder where Amendment One came from to begin with? You should. It originated with Return America, an organization created and headed by Dr. Ron Baity, the pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.

I will not dare judge the condition of Baity's soul before God. However, I am compelled to wonder aloud about any man who revels so much in the use of the word "queers" against his enemies as Dr. Baity has done, including in a number of Renew America newsletters and publications (which I have on hand). I also found it curious that Baity is fond of referring to President Obama as "Hussein Obama" in his group's official literature. But again, I digress.

Do people like Ron Baity truly believe that God needs their "help" to protect marriage? Because if so, presuming that He does indicates horrendous pride on our part.

I am not going to support Amendment One because I'm a Christian and "expected" to look down upon homosexuals with loathing and scorn and fear. Indeed: I have many friends, some of whom I have come to trust and be entrusted with counsel, who are homosexual. They know that I cannot approve of their lifestyle, that I do believe it to be sinful.

But how as one saved by the grace of God do I dare condemn them as being more sinful and less righteous than I?

I can't. Nor can anyone else. Whether or not they feel empowered by public referendum.

A little over a year ago I went public with my having bipolar disorder. It is what destroyed my first marriage. Among other things it made me extremely hyper-sexual, even though at NO time was I ever unfaithful to my wife. However, let's just say that my own mind drove me to do things that I would have otherwise never have thought myself capable of.

I don't believe God made me do that. It was just a symptom of something that for whatever reason, He allowed me to be born with. But as a result of it I do now see how some people could very well have a homosexual drive.

I do not however believe that is what in any way should define a person, any more than heterosexual drives should define others. As a follower of Christ I must accept that we live in a broken, imperfect world that can NEVER be made right in the hands of man. We are each, every one of us, beset with temptations and thorns in our flesh (as Paul put it). I did not want to be compelled toward pornography, but it happened and I wasn't strong enough to fight it. It is only by the grace of God that I have moved forward, and allowed God to bless me with things that I could have never found on my own.

That is why I can not condemn homosexual people. I don't know what their struggles must be like, but I DO know that they struggle with the flesh just as much as I have my own. Who am I to believe that they are any more lost than I have been?

At the same time I could never accept that a homosexual relationship could ever qualify as "marriage" in the traditional, historical and natural sense. If two people of the same gender wish to live together as "civil partners" or somesuch, then fine. That's their right. Calling it "marriage" however would put us on the slippery slope toward some attempting holy matrimony with barnyard livestock (I shall leave it as an exercise for the reader as to whether or not this has been attempted within this state). And there again, there is a terrible rot within our cultural soul if that is the case, for which a "pro-marriage" amendment would be akin to placing a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound to the head.

I cannot see any legitimate Christian love and concern, tempered with the quality of humility, in regard to Amendment One. If the same people who have most pushed this ballot measure had been living for Christ all of this time for His sake, out of a meek and humble spirit, this may not even have been an issue at all. As it is however, there is an impure motivation for Amendment One. And I absolutely believe that if the motive is impure, the work will be corrupted and in the end, do much more damage than we can perhaps understand.

The biggest reason Amendment One is on the ballot is because there are some who seek to exploit our hate, for their own gain.

But I refuse to give them that satisfaction.

Amendment One is just another political game... and I for one will not be playing it.


Tony Hummel said...

Great article, Chris. I wanted to give you the exact verbiage from the amendment:

"Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts."

The amendment, although referred to as the "gay" amendment, could reach so much further, if actually passed. It happened in Ohio where domestic violent offenders were released because the domestic violence laws no longer applied to them.

The thing is, I understand people of faith being against "gay marriage." To those people I say, don't get a gay marriage.

If people vote NO on amendment one, the simple truth is, nothing changes...gay marriage is STILL illegal. If amendment one passes, there are so many unknowns that "could" affect everyday court proceedings that nobody could possibly know the outcome. And for this reason alone, amendment one is scary!!!

Anonymous said...

Chris, I was not going to vote on Amendment 1 but now I am voting against it and I would urge you to vote against it too. You present the best case I've seen against it in a most civil and intelligent manner. Because of what you've made me think about it, I will be voting against it next week. I don't understand why you won't vote against it as well.

Bob Ceres said...

Good read.

Ashley M said...


As always, you pour vast research and thoughtfulness into a heated topic and make readers think carefully about themselves. I commend you.

A very similar state constitutional amendment was approved two years ago in CA called Proposition 8, defining marriage between a man and woman. At the time, I voted "yes" on this, but I much regret that vote after deeper searching of my heart.

This proposition was declared unconstitutional by numerous courts in various appeals. (I'm glad it was.) I, as well as everyone else in this country, have NO authority to determine if two people should be unionized or not.

To my (formerly) fellow Carolinians: Don't make the same mistake that California did. Vote no.

I think the bigger problem here is that "marriage", a once-religious institution, has been commandeered by the political realm, thereby completely violating "separation of church and state".

Those who desire domesticity, joint tax returns, health insurance, a chance of children (natural or adoption), and all the other benefits of a partner (homo OR hetero) should ALL get "civil unions" from the government, and allow those civil unions to become marriages in the appropriate religious facility.

Let's keep politics OUT of marriage. Such unions are difficult enough without them.

Anonymous said...

I think Chris was very brave to make such a non-committment to anything. With said, sir.

With enough such strong voices, we are carving a new frontier for those who would take all our rights away.

Brett said...

Chris it looks like Richard is back being an ass again. I bet he's mad that you aren't voting against the law that wouldn't let him finally marry Charles.

Very brave to talk about your own problems and how you've learned from them and applied to the debate.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Chris is very brave.

Anonymous said...

Thoughtful, respectful, humorous, and original. Kudos on a great essay Chris

Old Friend At The Coast

Anonymous said...

In the amount of time you spent writing the piece (and it was quite good), you could have gone down to an early vote precinct and cast a vote. Civic duty does not include doing nothing. And, you are correct that the issue is all about rallying a political base using hate and bigotry. Religion has nothing to do with it. The farm animal thing was a stretch though ... straight from the conservative blogs.

Chris Knight said...

On the contrary, I am not "doing nothing". I made a conscious and conscientious choice to abstain from what is in my mind a thoroughly meaningless matter.

That is what I attempted to convey with this post. Fortunately, based on the feedback I received throughout the day, most who read it apparently did "get" that.

I cannot recall reading anything about the barnyard animals from any "conservative blogs", mainly because for the most part I honestly don't read the "conservative" blogs. Or the liberal ones for that matter. I prefer my reading material to be more intellectual and engaging. It just seemed like a funny extreme to use given the circumstance.

I am going to let Brett's comment stand, which I found out about when my girlfriend read it to me over the phone (causing me to honk with laughter) because he's perhaps more right than he realizes, parse that as one might.

This entire thing about Amendment One reminds me too much of that episode of The Andy Griffith Show when Barney found that case in the courtroom files from 20 years earlier, and before long the entire town was split into two warring camps punching each other in the nose. THAT is what this stupid referendum has done to this state. No, I for one won't be part and parcel to any of it!

Jessica Britton said...

Chris, I like your blog, have followed it for several years now. I empathize with your mental health struggles, having been there myself with clinical depression. But choosing to not vote on this at all is a cop-out and I expected better from you. And frankly I expected better from you than bringing the "barnyard animal" nonsense into the discussion. I'd expect that from Baity, but not from you. I can almost understand your objection to using the term "marriage", I grant you that, but while you say you'd support "civil partners" you do realize that this amendment would ban those as well?

I wish you well in your continuing battle with Bi-Polar disorder, Chris. But I wish you'd reconsider not voting. No matter what your reasoning, it's still a cop-out.

Anonymous said...

Richard will have to get Johnny out of the hottub first if he wants Charles to himself.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ron Baity of Berean Baptist Church in Winston Salem, is married twice. He teaches like other fundamental baptists that divorced men can't be pastors.

What most don't know is that Ron Baity tried to get a divorce from his first wife but then she died. He said he was free to remarry and be a pastor after that.

Thought you should know.

A former Berean Baptist member who got fed up with Baity's fear and hate mongering.