A BUDDHIST'S PERSPECTIVE ON GAY MARRIAGE


Not every marriage involved a religious ceremony. Independent of any Jewish tradition and existing long before Christianity and Islam, Buddhism accepted marriage without claiming to have created it.Since marriage was a custom that predated religion, no one religion can rightfully claim ownership of it.


Marriage was not invented by religion. It took an already-existing institution, turned it into a sacrament, and imposed its own regulations, including prohibiting marriage to someone of a different religion. Happily, many of these outdated and repressive guidelines for marriage imposed by religion have been abandoned as our peoples' freedoms increased.


Marriage has been honored by all religious traditions because it does have a spiritual component. I have officiated at numerous Buddhist weddings, so I am aware of the difference between marriage and commitment. The profound beauty of a wedding ceremony cannot be compared to other long-term commitments one makes, such, for instance, committing to uphold the terms of a mortgage over a thirty-year period with one's bank manager. The idea that a legal contract is sufficient for gays and lesbians is therefore absurd and amounts to feeding the starving. Both they and any other rational person find it intolerable.


Marriage is the formal expression of adult love—that singular leap into vulnerability and trust—in front of family and friends. Two people place their trust on emotional and physical intimacy rather than in a higher power. After getting married, they make an effort to focus only on "us," rather than on themselves or their spouse. Their spiritual development increases as they find significance in these tightest of relationships, not in themselves. It cries out for a religious component as a flower cries out for water because of this.


The term "religion" used to refer to a belief in a supernatural being, which unfairly excluded Buddhism. Buddhism is now included in the definition of "religion," which has changed over time.Just as the definition of the word "gay" has evolved, words can modify what they imply. Therefore, there is no logical justification for maintaining that the definition of "marriage" cannot evolve to include more people, just like the definition of "religion" has.


There will always be individuals who try to impede progress by instilling apprehension about moral decay and the loss of ideals that are essential to society's well-being. The same way that outlawing child abuse wrecked society, allowing homosexual marriage won't do the same. We owe it to the marital institution and to those who are already wed to welcome those who are now being excluded. A better society can only result through the extension of love.


I don't understand why religion should forbid homosexual and lesbian unions from using its spiritual resources. Once more, marriage existed before religion. Marriage is not a religious institution's property, and religion has no right to control it. I would be honored to officiate at the Buddhist marriage ceremony for gays and lesbians in my capacity as a leader of the religion. Why should Buddhists be excluded from this chance? The laws established by other religions may apply to their own adherents, but not to Buddhists.

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