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PLANO: Rector Tackles Gay Marriage on National Public Radio


Weekend: All Things Considered

HEADLINE: Reverend Canon David Roseberry talks about the theological arguments against gay marriage


Gay marriage continued to grow as an issue this week as more gay couples chose to exchange marriage vows. In San Francisco, Rosie O'Donnell and her longtime companion were among the gay couples who decided to tie the knot. And in New Paltz, New York, just up the Hudson from New York City, several couples were married by the city's 26-year-old mayor. At the same time, the politics heated up. President Bush stepped into the fray announcing his support for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and several opinion polls pointed to the resonance of the issue.

Yesterday the Pew Research Center For The People & The Press reported that four out of 10 Americans say they would vote against someone solely because the candidate disagrees with them on gay marriage. In that regard, the issue now surpasses such hot-button items as abortion and gun control. It is a particularly important political issue for people who oppose gay marriage. Other polls show the country evenly divided over a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

All this controversy got us to thinking about what has made passion so high on this issue, especially among religious Americans, so we asked the Reverend Canon David Roseberry, rector of Christ Church in Plano, Texas, to help us out. He joins us from Dallas.

Pastor Roseberry, thanks for being with us.

Reverend Canon DAVID ROSEBERRY (Christ Church, Plano, Texas): Good to be here.

YDSTIE: Now just so our listeners understand, you're an Episcopal priest, is that right?

ROSEBERRY: That's correct.

YDSTIE: And you are opposed to gay marriage.

ROSEBERRY: Yes, absolutely.

YDSTIE: Tell us briefly why this issue is so important that you think it might actually require a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?

ROSEBERRY: Well, I think the church has for 2,000 years in the Judeo-Christian understanding from the Bible has recognized that marriage is not a human institution. It is God's idea. Theologically, spiritually, historically we see that marriage was created by God as an arrangement that was his crowning achievement. It is not our place, nor any civilization's place, to tinker with something that God has so wonderfully made.

YDSTIE: Let me ask you this--you're suggesting that this is an issue that is a religious issue. That also suggests that maybe the government has no role in endorsing a constitutional amendment that would weigh in on this at all.

ROSEBERRY: I think the goals of the church and the goals of the state here can be equally the same, which is the betterment of society. Society, families, children are strengthened by male-female marriages. That ought to be what we hold up as the ideal.

YDSTIE: But hasn't the institution of marriage changed over history? I'm thinking back to the biblical patriarchs, some of whom had more than one wife. Polygamy was sanctioned at one time and is still legitimate in some parts of the world. In Western culture, marriage has moved from being to a large extent about property to being more about interpersonal relationships.

ROSEBERRY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

YDSTIE: Isn't there room for marriage to develop in this direction?

ROSEBERRY: Not from a theological or biblical perspective at all. I think the Bible is very clear in Genesis, Chapter 3 and Jesus affirms this is Mark, Chapter 10. I will say that the biblical record shows that people took this vision and mutated it many, many different ways, some rightly, some wrongly, over the years. But they never brought it to the point where it was a same-sex relationship. Same-sex marriage is an oxymoron. It just doesn't work that way.

YDSTIE: If you look--if you came at this from a Libertarian perspective, that is if I do something that isn't harmful to someone else I should be able to do it, it shouldn't be against the law. How would gay marriage negatively affect the institution of marriage for heterosexual couples? If two gay people marry, they're not necessarily hurting someone else, are they?

ROSEBERRY: Well, I don't know. I think the unanswered question and frankly it's too big a gamble for me to take, is about the children. And I think same-sex partners cannot provide the kind of cradle environment that a husband and wife can do in a duly sanctioned, male-female marriage.

YDSTIE: So your feeling is that a child would be better off in a single-mother household as opposed to a two-mother household?

ROSEBERRY: Well, definitely I do feel that. However, I think that what the state should be encouraging and defending is marriage. To say from a Libertarian point of view, 'this doesn't hurt anybody,' I want to say, 'Not so fast. We've got children that are at stake.' Anytime that you get in and you change the landscape of what has existed for thousands of years, you're changing the very foundations of the house. A house is built on a foundation. There are walls, interior walls and then there are bearing walls. I think the culture's approaching this issue of same-sex marriage, that it's just an interior wall. It can be moved and shaped. But traditionally, historically we have to see that this is the bearing wall of our civilization and if you start to hinder it or break it down or in any way weaken it, you're dealing with forces well beyond our control.

YDSTIE: The Reverend Canon David Roseberry, rector at Christ Church in Plano, Texas, thank you very much for joining us today.

Rev. ROSEBERRY: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.


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