Wednesday, February 2, 2011

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
--Hamlet, Act I, scene 5

Last night, Jordan and I watched Inherit the Wind, the 1960 Spencer Tracy/Gene Kelly classic based on the Scopes Monkey Trial. It was interesting watching a film where religious fundamentalists insist that any way of thinking that doesn't completely match theirs is a threat to everything that is good in this world on the same day that the Iowa House of Representatives passed HJR 6, the Marriage Amendment that not only puts a ban on gay marriage in the Iowa Constitution, but also a ban on civil unions and domestic partnerships. 

Part of me thinks that all of this has as much to do with the "ew" factor as with religion, that the opposition to gay marriage is mainly about thinking that gay sex is gross. But that can't be completely true, since so many gay-rights opponents have been found to have been shouting their opposition from deep within the closet. 

Most opponents of gay marriage claim a religious justification for their passionate support of discriminatory legislation. I won't argue against their claim that they found their beliefs in the Bible; I will argue against their claim that their beliefs are founded in the will of God. My own religious beliefs have their basis in the same Good Book as theirs, but my beliefs include the idea that if God is as truly great and mysterious as most Christians like to claim, then a few hundred pages transcribed from scrolls written in ancient languages and interpreted over and over again throughout the last 2000 years and beyond cannot even begin to reveal all of God's will in a way that can be understood by mere humans. 

At the end of Inherit the Wind, Spencer Tracy's character questions the prosecuting lawyer on passages from the Bible. While his opponent believes the questions are designed to mock the scriptures, the opposite turns out to be true. Tracy's questions demonstrate that the God who created the heavens and the earth also created in humans thinking, inquisitive natures that respond to information by wanting to know more; that creation is something beyond human understanding,  but it is in our nature to want to understand as much about it as we can. 

Hamlet was absolutely correct when he told his friend, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." The same is true for love, and there is far more to it than the narrow understanding that the Iowa House voted to put into the Iowa Constitution yesterday.

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