What a bizarre time—when the two issues at the forefront of current events are gay marriage and a film that focuses in on the story of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
Well, religion and hypocrisy have never made for particularly strange bedfellows, and in the case of gay marriage, this is no exception. Ask yourself: if the State were now proposing laws to limit marriage in ways that would affect traditional couples, would religious activists not be screaming invocations of the Constitution (“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion…”)?
In fact, you can’t get more fundamental, more basic, more to the essence of religion than the institution of marriage. As such, the State has no business whatever meddling with it, and the religionists of this country should not be so damned stupid (yes, damned stupid) as to have the State come in today and wield its power to fix their “problem” and not realize that tomorrow, that very same power will be used to fix someone else’s “problem” at their expense or pain.
The issue of gay marriage is best left up to religious institutions. If some churches wish to recognize such unions, sanction them, and perform ceremonies, then what business is it of the State’s? What does it mean to have religious freedom if matrimonial unions between people of the same gender cannot be tolerated if done within context of religious tradition and within the sanction of an established religion?
I have not seen the film The Passion of the Christ. Isn’t it odd that the debate surrounding this sort of film focuses in on whether it’s an accurate portrayal or not? Only someone with a lot of loose marbles could take such a story literally. But in arguing the film’s (or Bible’s for that matter) accuracy with respect to true history, the whole point is missed. The religious right should learn something the religious left (including many Catholics) learned a long time ago: it’s not in literal truth that the Jesus myth (or any dogma) derives its power, but in the myth itself. It’s the story and how it “plugs into” the human experience that ultimately determines the success or failure of such myth.
Just because a myth is not literally true does not mean that it cannot contain meaning, power, wisdom, or even “truth.” By focusing so much on literal accuracy, some religions actually drive people away, particularly those more to the right. Truly intelligent people could never accept everything within any particular religion’s catechism as 100% literal truth.
But the other side of this particular coin is to examine the message itself. The mythology of Jesus is a wide sweeping one. Personally, the entirely of the message that is truth to me is that Jesus bucked the authority of the State and was killed for it. As to the symbol of his sacrifice, I’ll refer you to an except from a Playboy interview with Ayn Rand in 1968.
Now you want me to speak about the cross. What is correct is that I do regard the cross as the symbol of the sacrifice of the ideal to the nonideal. Isn’t that what it does mean? Christ, in terms of the Christian philosophy, is the human ideal. He personifies that which men should strive to emulate. Yet, according to the Christian mythology, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins of the nonideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that sacrifice. If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the non-ideal, or virtue to vice. And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves for their inferiors. That is precisely how the symbolism is used. That is torture.