Same-sex marriage comes to Alabama

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Flag of Alabama


Flag of Alabama

Flag of Alabama

Flag of Alabama

Bill Armistead, the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, is worried. He returned from a week in the Holy Land only to find same-sex couples getting married in and around Montgomery, Birmingham, and Huntsville.

So he took to the party’s website to declaim, “The State of Alabama and the United States of America will reap God’s wrath if we embrace and condone things that are abhorrent to God, such as redefining marriage as anything other than a union between one man and one woman.”

Truth to tell, the best Armistead could come up with regarding divine abhorrence of non-one-man-one-woman marriage is Genesis’ account of God creating man and woman, whereupon “Scripture then teaches that ‘a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24).” Saith Armistead,”God’s word never changes” and “This is God’s word.”

That put me in mind of this week’s Torah reading, Mishpatim, which includes among the laws given by God to Moses: “If he marries another, he must not withhold from this one her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights (Exodus 21:10)” — about as clear a divine definition of something other than a union between one man and one woman as the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party could ask for.

As for divorce, Deuteronomy allows it, Matthew forbids it, and Paul offers some concessions — such that no less an authority than the Christian Broadcasting Network teaches that it is only permitted in cases of adultery, or if one spouse becomes an unbeliever, or possibly in cases of domestic abuse. Now it turns out that the states with the highest divorce rates are the ones with the most evangelicals, and as a native wag once told me, “Here in Alabama there are more Baptists than people.”

So I’m thinking that if I were the God worshipped by most Alabamians, I’d be more wroth with them regarding their second-highest-in-the-nation divorce rate than because a federal judge opened the doors to same-sex marriage. Which suggests that if Armistead were really serious about having his state in line with God’s marital word, he’d be leading a campaign against Alabama’s no-fault divorce law. Which so far as I know he’s not.

Perhaps the best way to understand this anomalous situation is that while God’s word may or may not change, the culture war is always moving on. Over time, evangelical religion has taken stands against dancing, and violating the Sabbath, and drinking, and gambling, and miscegenation, and of course divorce, and probably some other things I don’t know about but which could be proof-texted by any self-respecting Baptist preacher, bless his heart.

Yesterday, Federal District Judge Callie Granade blew up Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and ordered a Mobile probate judge to distribute marriage licenses to same-sex couples forthwith. And in due course the U.S. Supreme Court will probably declare that marriage is a constitutional right that extends to same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples.

And verily, the Alabama Republican Party will learn to live with it. And will find something else that’s abhorrent to God to declare war upon.

  • samuel Johnston

    Yes Mark,
    There is a resentment here that longs for expression. It is part civil war (my grandmother advised my sister “you know my dear, yankees don’t have souls”),
    part resentment against any authority, and part just plain meanness of spirit.
    My father called it “gang- ism”. For them the Bible is a guarantee that God will avenge their grievances. It’s a tough place to be a non conformist. I do not venture my opinions in public carelessly. That said, it is slowly getting better as the middle class grows and is leavened by immigration.

  • I dunno, a little fire and brimstone in the forecast might make Jim Cantore’s job interesting.

  • Glenn Harrell

    Mark Silk–A bright, aspiring young man–you must know that Jon Stewart is leaving the Daily Show, and thus swinging wide open the door for other theologically astute, humor endowed gentlemen, such as yourself.

    First Episode:
    How about those Evangelicals every body. They are everywhere.
    How can you tell if you are an Evangelical youth?
    By whether or not the last rock concert you attended had an altar call!

    OK–so I won’t get to be one of your writers. But with writing like this article (I assume you wrote it), why would you ever ask anyone else to assist you?

    Let’s pray about that question.You know, cause of all that inspiring wrath, sex, divorce and such. (not to mention the future of comedy)

  • I see you scrubbed the headline and replaced it.

  • Doc Anthony

    What? Fire and brimstone for the soon-to-be United States of Sodom?

    Nahhh. Can’t possibly happen. There’s no such thing as divine judgment.

  • Larry

    You are absolutely correct. There is no such thing as divine judgement. 🙂

    (Sarcasm doesn’t work well in print without some indication)

  • Jack

    Interestingly enough, the two groups with the highest divorce rates in the country are, in order (1) Jews and (2) evangelicals. No matter how you do the statistics, both groups come out high, but the evangelical numbers are inflated at least somewhat because, especially in the South, everyone and their uncle call themselves evangelical even if they never go to church or read the Bible or believe the things that evangelicals are supposed to believe. It’s how you advance in that particular subculture. Denying evangelicalism in Alabama is like denying liberalism in Silk’s neck of the words……you don’t get to hang with the cool kids…..and if you’re an adult, it won’t be good for your career. .

  • cken

    We all have sinned, and almost all of us have broken several of the ten commandments. I know I won’t be the one casting the first stone against the gays. I am content letting God be the judge when our carbon based temple expires and it is time to change vehicles. That time for me is rapidly approaching, and although I would rather be around for awhile longer, I am excited and curious about what happens next.

  • Karla

    Romans 1:18-32 makes it very clear homosexuality is wrong and so is abortion
    but all sin is wrong! 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 lists many sins right along with all of
    the homosexuals so we all need to Repent! 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 the whole
    chapters need taught. Luke 13 says to Repent or perish! We all must Repent!

  • Rev. Dr. Norman Martin

    Mark Silk,
    Mark, you didn’t spend enough time in my beloved Atlanta, Georgia to earn the right to cover criticism with “bless his heart.” Now I do admit that during the sixties, when asked where I was from, I would sometimes say “the state of Atlanta” which meant (I was a smart a..) that we had integrated schools and restaurants. I once rode an integrated crowded public bus, because we were so tired we didn’t care to separate, before the Montgomery bus boycott. Hey, I could have written a letter to that evil editor of the Atlanta Journal, Ralph Mcgill about it. How could a guy born near Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee be so pro-integration?

    Now for why you hurt my feelings. After living in Georgia for most of my nearly seventy-five years, my wife and I are living in Auburn, Alabama. After two years I am still in culture shock.
    You see, I still have my baptist ordination and you painted me along with those preachers who take our Holy Scripture out of context to prove a preconceived point. By the way, did you notice I used my full title, aren’t you impressed? Of course I did get my last degree from a “Pres-bye-terian” Seminary.
    Trouble is I’d like to preach sometimes, yet I belong to the only “going to split hell wide-open Baptist Church in Auburn”. We are CBF and have not only women deacons but the Chairperson of the deacons is a woman in a committed relationship with another woman and they have a child. Also our Sunday School class has a banner that reads, “We Reserve The Right to Accept Everyone.”
    Now my only outlet is writing comments on your blog and speaking at senior living places.

    I hope you and your readers don’t believe all Baptist preachers, bless their hearts, preach as you accused them. Some are died in the wool baptist some are seventh day baptist and I’m hoping to start a John Leland Baptist.

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  • Jimmy Mac

    “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” Anne Lamott

  • just wandering

    The popular Chief Justice has also declared that he and every state judge, including the probate judges (many of whom are not even attorneys) have equal authority to interpret the U.S. Constitution and that only the U.S. Supreme Court has the authority to overrule state of Alabama Judges, particularly when they are not named as parties in the suit. (unless the judges disagree with Roy Moore.) How many Judges has he asked to step down because they didn’t agree with him

  • Doc Anthony

    No Larry, I said it the way I wanted to say it.
    If readers have to think about “Did he really mean that?”, that means they’re at least thinking about what was said.

    It’s so easy to laugh at or blow off the concept of divine judgment falling on the world’s top nation. After all, we’ve never had to sign anybody’s surrender treaty. We’ve never been nuked by a single missile. We’ve always either won or simply walked away. No foreign army has ever taken a big chunk out of any of our states.

    And 9-11 didn’t stop us at all. We’re the top of the heap. We even do Mars, for heaven’s sakes.

    So surely, SURELY, God would never allow the United States to personally find out what happened to Sodom, Canaan, and Israel in the Bible. Surely God approves of gay marriage. Surely he’s okay with the United States of America, the nation with the biggest blessings and freedoms in the world, spitting in His face.

    (Is that sarcasm? Let the reader decide. )

  • cken

    Baptists in my experience are no different than all the other denominations in that if you are not one of them you are going to hell. I think if John 3:16 is you ticket to heaven it will be punched no matter what Christian sect you subscribe to. This whole business about one sect being better than another is purely man-made as are the dogma and creeds each establish.
    I go to a particular church solely because I like the people there, but my spiritual growth has never been in or because of the church regardless the denomination. Churches just aren’t concerned with spiritual growth or as I call it the maturation of the soul. Churches confuse spiritual growth with how much you donate, volunteer, and how well you follow their rules. It is truly a sad state of affairs.

  • samuel Johnston

    You are acting like an A**h**e. Nobody can doubt my atheist bonafides, but it is easy to throw rocks from a safe distance. As the Jesuits say, the best is the enemy of the good. Rev. Martin is a good and constructive person in Alabama. You may hate Alabama, fine, but the Rev is not the enemy. Aim you vitriol elsewhere. Some of us actually live here and try to behave decently.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Just,
    This is more about politics than substance (surprise, surprise) The Democrat Probate judges ignored C.S.C. Judge Moore, but the Republican judges where put in a bind (to openly defy Judge Moore would be political suicide). Even so, many Republican Judges simply shut their doors, rather than take sides. I know that is less than ideal, but it better than refusing gay couples and issuing licenses to others. Easy to ask another to sacrifice themselves to a cause. Ask yourself what you would do.

  • samuel Johnston

    No Doc. it’s not sarcasm, it’s just stupidity.

  • samuel Johnston

    Just to clarify. Probate Judges are elected, and the only way to make them “step down” is for the State Legislature to impeach them. Judge Moore has no such power.

  • Doc Anthony

    Is that the best you can do, Samuel?

  • CarrotCakeMan

    Poor, poor Doc, constantly demanding that everyone pay attention to his insistence that God shares all his phobias and hatreds.

  • CarrotCakeMan

    Got any evidence that Jewish Americans divorce that often?

    “Divorce is higher among religiously conservative Protestants – and even drives up divorce rates for other people living around them, a new study finds.

    The study, slated to be published in the American Journal of Sociology, tackles the “puzzling paradox” of why divorce is more common in religiously conservative “red” states. If religious conservatives believe firmly in the value of marriage, why is divorce especially high in places like Alabama and Arkansas?

    Researchers also discovered that people living in areas with lots of conservative Protestants were at higher risk of getting divorced, even if they weren’t conservative Protestants themselves. Community institutions in such areas might encourage early marriage, affecting divorce rates for everyone who lives there. “Pharmacies might not give out emergency contraception. Schools might only teach abstinence education.” On top of that, “if you live in a marriage market where everybody marries young, you postpone marriage at your own risk. The best catches … are going to go first.”,0,7835151.story#axzz2qllXU5CS

  • CarrotCakeMan

    Karla is so very desperate to try to cause others to share her hatred and fear of LGBT Americans and to convenience her desire to force all Americans to live the way she wants to force us to live. The evidence suggests she has failed. Support for marriage equality is growing.

  • Norm Martin

    Glenn just doesn’t understand “tongue-in-cheek” comments addressed to Mark Silk, bless his heart.

  • Glenn Harrell

    I’m sorry daddy.
    Reverend Norman started it. I had a feelin if I chunked a rock at him, you’d jump my bones. I’ll bet you told momma too.

    You must remember that I am one of those #%$^&%* from birth. I was born this way and I would appreciate it if you would leave me alone, you #%$^&%* phobic you.

    “We are CBF and have not only women deacons but the Chairperson of the deacons is a woman in a committed relationship with another woman and they have a child. Also our Sunday School class has a banner that reads, “We Reserve The Right to Accept Everyone.””

    This is the invitation of my rock and sling at the Holy Temple of the new and improved, obviously superior, CBF.

    See, If you are an Atheist, you thought I was demeaning the Roll Tide State. Also, if you are an Atheist, the above statement would possibly impress you and all the gooey evil Atlanta Journal muck meant to impress everyone that “he ain’t prejudiced.”

    If you ain’t an Atheist, have you considered rock chunkin?

    In the context of what Mr Silk wrote in this exceptional article, Mr. Norman (not Stormin Norman–but gentle, kind and good Norman)
    is all afraid of being lumped together with all the yucky divorced, Homophobic, Republican, Evangelical, most probably divorced, other than CBF Baptists in the world referred to by the Silkster.

    How in the world did the good name of Alabama get mixed up in all of this? see Mark. Alabama is #1. Go Tide!

    (It’s bad when you have to explain your own joke)

    So, not to be outdone. CBF will ordain your parakeet to preach as long as he too is atheist in doctrine, fearful of the worlds hatred, and will keep a banner in the parakeet school of theology that reads, “We reserve the right to accept every bird out there. All other rights are reserved for that just right moment.”

    Please close your ears daddy while I have just one more tirade.

    We are CBF and have not only women deacons but our (“good and constructive person”) parson is an LGBT in a committed relationship with a man and a woman of like desires, and they have three little tots, two on the way, and a parakeet preaching each week!”

    Nya Nya Nya Nya Nya Nya.

  • Larry

    So you are reduced to: “Don’t do it or it makes God very very angry”


  • CarrotCakeMan

    Larry, I’d say it’s more like, “My imaginary friend is gonna HURT YEW!”