Apparently, I pushed a few buttons. Apparently, too, a few who felt their buttons had been pushed did not feel comfortable enough to reply in the comments section of a previously published post. It would have been nice if all those who emailed had done so from legitimate email accounts and not anonymously, but what's a person to do?

I tried to reply, but they bounced back.

A few who emailed did so quite openly, and were willing to engage in real conversation; they weren't just taking pot shots and screaming at me behind the anonymity of a computer.

This isn't for them. This is for the bouncees.

You'd understand if you were a Christian. Anyone who is knows that civil matters don't matter. You fight for your Christian principles even when it's unpopular.

Who says I'm not a Christian? Is it because I don't subscribe to your particular version of Christianity? Look, I honestly feel there is no conflict in believing both in a particular religion and also in the separation of church and state.

If you're Catholic, then you live that life; you go to Mass, you observe the High Holy Days, and you fight to keep your life as righteously Catholic as you can. If you're Mormon, you get yourself clean enough to be allowed a Temple Recommend. Serve a mission. Proselytize gently. If you're a generic, don't-need-a-label Protestant bent on digging through religion and finding the parts that work for you and jive with what you believe in, discarding what doesn't, that's terrific. I don't have a problem with Cafeteria Religion. As long as you work at keeping your beliefs on tune with how you live and aren't engaged in ritual sacrifice or the beating of small children and animals.

While you're living your life according to your principles--Christian or otherwise--do you want the government to step in and tell you to stop doing this and replace it with that? Is it all right for some government body to tell you that your church head is wrong; you have to prescribe to the wisdom of the Pope, or the Dali, or George Bush?

In terms of Christianity, I believe that if you accept Christ as your savior, you admit that you're a sinner, and you're working on're a Christian. The state needs to stay out of it so that it can't define how you have to approach your religion.

I bet you're one of those who wants to keep prayer out of schools.

Do I believe in prayer in school? In a public school, with organized prayer--absolutely not. Why? Because how do you choose whose prayer the school says? Rote Catholic prayer? Formal-language LDS peppered with thees and thous? Informal, off the top of your head protestant have-a-conversation-with-the-Big-Guy prayer? Do the kids have to pray in the name of Christ? What about Buddha? What about the Jewish students?

Kids who want to pray in school, quietly, for the sake of their own souls...definitely. Let them. Don't stop some kid from bowing his head in the cafeteria and praying before his lunch. Never berate a kid for asking God for a little wisdom right before a test. But if you want organized, enforced, group prayer, send your kids to a parochial school where your values will be enforced and where your belief system will be fostered.

You're going to hell and when you do I'm going to cheer.

That's not very Christian of you.

This country was built on the principles of Christianity. Our forefathers are probably spinning in their graves, seeing what a mockery the atheists and agnostics are making out of their hard work. It doesn't matter if you like it or not, the USA is a Christian nation and homosexuality is known to be abnormal based on the Bible. You're not going to get a good argument against gay marriage that doesn't have religion in it because all the reasonable arguments are naturally religion based.

If my house was built on a foundation of dirt and straw, does that then mean I can't find something that is better suited to my environment? Something that weds itself to that foundation and makes it stronger?

I don't think the USA is a Christian nation. It's a diverse nation, a true melting pot of every belief a person can possibly hold. We have freedom of religion, and that is a truly beautiful thing. But the flipside of that is that we also (should) have freedom from religion. I shouldn't be able to demand you follow the tenets of my religion any more than you should be able to say I have to follow yours. Those who find organized religion a waste of their time shouldn't be pigeon holed into worshiping in a way for which they have no use.

If you believe that marriage between two men or two women is abnormal, I'm not going to try to talk you out of that. It's a part of your belief system and a fundamental right to hold onto that. I don't have to agree with you to respect your right to believe in it.

Where I draw the line is accepting that because you believe it, that has to be enforced onto large groups of people that don't share your point of view.

Why won't gay groups accept a compromise? Why not settle for a Civil Union? It gets them what they want.

Simply because it still says that their relationships aren't worth as much as the union between a man and a woman. You have two people who are telling the world that they want to commit to each other, for better or for worse, ‘til death do they part. It might be simple semantics to the unaffected, but to the people involved it carries a significant weight of meaning and intent.

Marriage goes beyond being able to point to someone and say "this is my legal partner, this is who I file joint income tax with, and who I can finally get on my insurance policy." Marriage is being able to say "this is the person that holds my heart in their hands. This is the person I want to sometimes take for granted, and for whom I always want to be there. This is the person for whom I would swallow molten lead, if it meant they would get to dance on the edge of forever and feel nothing but happiness."

A civil union is legal; a marriage is emotional, and anyone who wants to make that level of commitment... Marriage is certainly more than a piece of paper. It's intent. It's a promise.

As far as civil unions go, I really think there ought to be a legal mechanism in place that allows two people to form a legal commitment to each other so that they can make legal decisions on behalf of each other. One that doesn't mean they're "together" it in love and want to share forever; just something that would be more concrete than even a Power of Attorney. Face it, everyone has heard the horror story of the person lying in an ICU somewhere with no hope of recovery, and family members who haven't been heard from or spoken to in 30 years swooping in and making all the decisions about care and whether or not a DNR is valid, and what happens to their estate after. And sitting in chair in the hallway is their other half, the person they spent a lifetime with, shut out of being able to enforce what they know their partner wanted.

It doesn't matter if they were a straight couple who chose to live together without marriage, lifelong roommates of the same or even opposite gender with no romantic association; they're shuffled off to the side, without a legal leg to stand on.

In the end, no matter what you think, trying to use logic, it's still a sin. You can love your gay friends and want everything for them, but it's still a sin.

And if it is...? I do believe in the principle of hating the sin but loving the sinner. But you know what? That doesn't mean blocking someone from doing what they honestly believe is right. We’re all sinners, and God will sort us all out in the end.

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