Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

“Marriage Equality Means Abiding the Constitution and Not Conveniently Throwing it Out Because We Religiously or Politically Disagree With It.”

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Many Christians in general and black Christians in particular are upset at President Barack Obama for his recent decision to support same gender marriages. Many of these persons have vowed not to vote for President Obama in the November election and refuse to support his future political agenda for America.

While as a trained Christian ethicist, I understand their feelings on this subject, many of them are missing the whole point of President Obama’s decision.

Instead of allowing emotions or religion to render judgment on who should receive equal rights in this country, we should stop, take some deep breaths and put the entire matter into proper perspective.

Many Christians who have strong anti gay and lesbian views, forget that there are other people in this country who do not share their religious beliefs. Many of them also forget that we are not living in a theocracy but a democracy which means that the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States becomes the primary foundation undergirding his decision to provide equal protection under the law and vouchsafe the rights of all citizens.

Theologically speaking, we also forget that God calls us to love persons as ourselves and to provide the moral equivalent of  love in the personal realm with justice in the social realm.

Rights entitlements should not be excluded on race, eye or hair color, height, weight, sexual orientation, gender, religion, theology, cosmology, political philosophy, family or country of origin, ethnicity, or any other basis. The issue here is the equality Americans deserve as citizens of our Constitutional Republic. The fact that they are Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Baha’i, Atheists, Agnostics, Women, Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Transgender or other people should have nothing to do with whether they receive equal rights under the law .  Therefore to use religious, moral, political, or other arguments to deny their civil and human rights is a basic violation of the Constitution of the United States and sanctions discrimination against them.

The President of the United States as Chief Executive Officer and Commander in Chief is under moral and legal obligation to make decisions that will uphold the Constitution. This is the point and until we get this point we miss the point entirely. By deciding in favor of marriage equality, the President is using the Constitution as his ultimate guide for determining fair and equal treatment of citizens in this country.

In contrast to politicians who treat the Constitution as just another piece of paper, President Obama is taking his constitutional obligations very seriously by applying it across all segments categories of the American public.

A recurring problem today is that we too conveniently “cherry pick” who we want to have rights this country. We filter and choose what items of the Constitution we will or will not abide. Part of our current political quandaries are due in part to politicians who have “shredded” the Constitution, conveniently walked over and disregarded it and use it as a cudgel or pinata to punish people who don’t share their political or religious views.

What is needed in this country is a Constitutional Revival where every citizen knows, understands and abides by it and politicians do not simply read it aloud on the floor of Congress as a pretentious show of support, but live it each day and use it as a proper guide to ensure that every single citizen has equal protection under the law, equal rights under the law and complete justice under the law.

Both the text and context of President Obama’s decision are Constitutional, not religious, political, social, racial, relational or even sexual per se. If we finally use the Constitution as our guide as we are supposed to in this country, we can eradicate many of the woes and ills, the wounds and alienation still plaguing many citizens of this nation who feel that they will never be free and will always remain second and third class citizens because their rights have been continually abbreviated.

President Obama may have made a decision with which Christians disagree religiously or politically, but must be commended for daring to  act constititutionally to grant full rights and equality to yet another oppressed minority.

We should thank God that we have a President willing to put his “political hide” on the line to make the decisions that are constitutionally correct so that all citizens including members of the LGBT community can finally enjoy the justice, freedom and equality that we so fervently promise and advocate as hallmarks of American Representative Democracy.

6 responses to ““Marriage Equality Means Abiding the Constitution and Not Conveniently Throwing it Out Because We Religiously or Politically Disagree With It.””

  1. Dorothy Merchant Avatar
    Dorothy Merchant

    Pastor Stewart,
    Tradition is often a greater magnet than logic and facts. For many religious zealots tradition is the only law. Fear of being a blasphemous infidel and suffering damnation, persecution or murder still remains a potent deterrent to breaking out of the “safety” of tradition. As you are well aware, many of our traditions are no longer viable. If one has the patience to delve into history the root of many traditions in various belief systems served political agendas rather than holy ones. This was the justification of many transgressions across the millennium. Burning, torturing,stoning of heretics and in Jesus’ case; crucifixions. I have no answer to the situation. I certainly hope that the African American churches do not sabotage the Obama re-election. That would be playing right in to the oppositions hands.
    P.S. Do you know what criteria will be used to define “marriage”? Suppose two people of the same sex want to live together to share health and other benefits from each other’s jobs but are actually heterosexual. Would a company have to provide coverage under the family plan? Which person would have to pay child support if they adopt? Marriage needs to be defined. From an international stand point, marriage is a business arrangement in some cultures. In other cultures it is practically slavery for the female. What is the definition of marriage in this new proposal? That is the key question. If you know please share …

    1. cfstewart Avatar

      You raise some important issues in terms of defining marriage. I think that we often get focused on the word “marriage” and what it means semantically and connotatively. Traditionally the term is used in relation to the covenant made between a man and woman, but in a broader sense could not marriage also signify a commitment by any number of people to share in common those values, resources and other amenities that are mutually beneficial to them and their communities?

      The issue of relationship responsibilities between people and who will be responsible for providing various types of support is also important. I think that the state, government and or other civic entities should begin to more broadly define the meaning of that type of commitment and the circumstances and conditons that are covered in those relationships. There are so many ways that people who live in community with one another can be supportive of each of in financial and other ways.Acts 4:32-37 talks about the early Christian communities and how they held everything in common where there was no one was left in need among thme.

      This is food for thought requiring a much more definitive analysis and explanation of understanding the many ramifications of the word marriage and what it can legally cover in terms of support, enhancement and the life realities of couples and or individuals who have committed to share resources together.

      I think that issues of this type can be beneficial in discussions with small groups about the meaning and implications of various living situations between people in this society.

      Again, thanks for your response and your deep thinking on these issues. It is obvious that you are a great thinker and bring a whole realm of resources and experiences that give you a broad progressive understanding of issues of this type.

      God bless you.

      Pastor Stewart

  2. Neiman Avatar

    As a minister of Gods word u r disappointing Sir! The Bible, God, Jesus is very clear on the matter and he has not stuttered. Let every man, minister, and president be a liar but God be the truth!!!!

    1. cfstewart Avatar

      Thanks for your response. I appreciate it very much. However, you missed a major whole point of my statement which is that President Obama as commander and chief of the United States of America made his statement within the context of the Constitution of the United States of America, the fourteenth amendment and the equal protection clause. We are not arguing a biblical perspective here. We know what the Bible says about this subject, but even here some scriptures have been taken out of context.

      Robert Gagnon’s “The Bible and Homosexual Practice” provides a traditional interpretation from the Bible on this subject. Daniel Helminiak’s “What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality is another eye opening piece on how certain scriptures that have been traditionally summoned to justify biblical condemnation of homosexuality may have been taken out of context as well.

      Thanks for your comments I will upload a sermon that I preached on this last Sunday to provide a more thorough explanation of the president’s point of view.

      Again, my thanks to you, Sir.

      1. Neiman Avatar

        No need to up load the sermon I was there thanx though! And I understood you attempting to explain what the President was saying but with all do respect that’s speculation. My hunger is the Shepards exhaustive explanation of what the bible has spoken on already regarding this institutIon and its intent! One final question sir, Matthew 19:4-5 doesn’t it make it clear for us? Is not the Christians call to spread the good news “your sins are forgiven go and sin no more” The good news to the world that Jesus the Conquering King Has set the captive free! ! People who continue to commit sexual sins, who worship false gods, those who commit adultery, homosexuals or thieves, those who are greedy or drunk, who use abusive language, or who rob people have by faith the opportunity to c JESUS! And inherit the kingdom of God; not that these sins, any or all of them, are not unpardonable; for such who have been guilty of them may, through the blood of Christ, receive the remission of them, and through the grace of the Spirit of God obtain repentance for them, and have both right and meetness for the kingdom of heaven? I humbly chose to argue this alternative this cause. We must as Christians like Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel and Mordecai pledge allegiance not to the constitution but to the Kingdom…..

  3. Glenn Avatar

    But as President, your mandate is to defend the constitution of the United States of America. His role in this is not religious but civil. So as a defender of the constitution, he is to defend the civil rights of all people, not defend assumed doctrine of the Bible. And I think we as Christians are living witnesses, yet many of those passages were speaking directly to the Apostles and disciples themselves for the “Go Ye…” mandate. Not that we as laity cant follow such an example. But Pastor Stewart is pointing out that the President’s position is not based on his Christian citizenship but as a defender of the basic human rights of all Americans in his role as commander in chief. Must he discriminate against his own countrymen just because some believe his religious mantra expects him to? America is not just for Christians but all people of many stripes. And as the President, you must consider all stripes because you represent the people, not just a special group that feels they are entitled to favoritism

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