Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Friendship, Maine, and Marriage
Since my conversion/reversion, I've stood in a rather awkward position vis-à-vis my gay friends (having been a female opera singer in New York, they are rather many). One dear friend and colleague of mine expressed his distress that I was marrying a man who believed that my friend's behavior was aberrant. "God made me this way," he explained. Several years ago, before I understood that such things were really sins, I attended an old friend's gay wedding in Toronto. I had no problem with it at the time, and didn't see why anyone else should. The two had been together for years, loved each other, owned a house together. Love is love, I told myself, and I was happy that someone appeared to have found it.
In the light of conversion, I see things differently now. I still feel uncomfortable with the Church's injunction of celibacy for homosexuals, but no more so than I do about the same injunction for single heterosexuals: not because I think it's an undue burden, but simply because I know how hard and painful it can be. I am also very sympathetic to the feelings of hurt and exclusion that every gay person I know has felt at some point. Their suffering is not helped by the fact that some among my own faithful Catholic cohort effectively shun them.
However, my Facebook news feed is all abuzz today with cries of woe and outrage over Maine's adoption yesterday of a ballot proposal that would overturn the new state law permitting gay marriage. One friend wrote simply, "Muck Faine [sic]," while another, a deeply religious man who sincerely loves Christ, quoted Psalm 69: "Those who hate me without reason/outnumber the hairs of my head;/many are my enemies without cause,/those who seek to destroy me./I am forced to restore/what I did not steal."
I wish I had a good argument to refute them. To say that marriage is between a man and a woman, which I think now is a no-brainer, appears to gay-marriage advocates to be an argument based on a lack of charity and an outmoded morality. To be honest, I don't quite understand why gays even want to marry, other than for symbolic reasons of equality. Most states guarantee hospital visitation and property transfer rights to gay partners, and some recognize civil unions. Some of my gay Christian friends point to David's intense friendship with Jonathan in Samuel 1:18-20 as an example of a homosexual union blessed by God. I am no scriptural authority, but, as a musicologist, I'm all too familiar with recently-popular posthumous ascriptions of homosexuality for which there's no real evidence to certain great composers and musicians. (As for the Schubert claim, all I can say is that the construct of male friendship was very, very different in early-nineteenth-century Vienna from what it is today. And as a colleague of mine once noted as we browsed in the classical music section of the late, lamented Tower Records at Lincoln Center, recording companies need some filler for those "Gay Classics" anthology CDs, since it would be too boring if they were all Tchaikovsky.)
As it stands, I will have to refrain from making comments on my friends' posts, because I fear I have no consolation to offer. But I wish I knew exactly how to be a good friend to them, which I feel at a loss to do right now.