The Social Liability

7816654368_3ac4430d3b_oUntil recently, I was ambivalent about the redefinition of civil marriage.  My gut feeling – or perhaps it was a default to my parents’ view – told me I wanted to preserve the definition of marriage, but I had no idea how or why.  As a normal college student with plenty of friends and a reputation to protect, I didn’t want to get involved.

Before my senior year, I started to read What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense by Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson, and Robert George, but abandoned it when school became busy.  As I am not one to sit idle once convinced of a certain truth, I evaded any political or social discomfort by avoiding the question altogether.

The marriage debate – or lackthereof – was happening across the nation.  While the media claims that the youth are decided on the issue of marriage, I observed that most students were not making decisions at all.  Rather, they seemed to shrug and hop on the bandwagon.   I, too, gave my tacit consent through silence.  When I finally decided to engage the argument in What Is Marriage?, I found it to be compelling.  In fact, I was convinced of its truth. (Regardless of your views, I encourage you to read the book.)

A small group of students formed on campus in the spring to stimulate conversation among the students and to rally support.  The goal: to preserve the definition of marriage in the Indiana legislature.

I agreed to join the club.  Secretly, I gave myself a different mission than that of the group. My goal: not to be a social liability.  This little club was not going to ruin the second semester of my senior year.

The first warning sign that I might fail came on a Tuesday night in February.  I was reading for class when a friend knocked on the door.  It didn’t take much convincing – after all, it was senior year – before I pulled on my boots and we braved the snow for the bar.  We chatted about class and friends and the future – the usual conversation – when suddenly she asked about the controversy on campus.  I felt nauseous.

“Please, God.  Not here. Not at a bar.”

Despite my attempt to derail it, the “marriage conversation” came hurtling down the tracks and there I sat, playing chicken with a train.  In a decisive moment, I wistfully resigned myself to social outcast status and began to explain.

As I talked, I braced myself for the impact but, to my surprise, the train never flattened me.  It was surprisingly anti-climactic.  She didn’t even storm out of the bar.  Instead, she took another sip of her drink and said, “Oh. Well, I guess that makes sense.  You don’t hate gay people, you just don’t think the government has any interest in recognizing their relationships as marriages.”

I was shocked.  Hating people based on their sexual attractions had been the furthest thing from my mind.  Like most young people, that made no sense to me.

Perhaps my friend only remained to finish her drink, but I think she stayed because she saw that I had reasoned views, even if we disagreed.   This eased the worries of my one-track mind: perhaps I could still be a normal college student after all.

Despite my best efforts, this conversation continued to hound me, especially as our club became more visible on campus.  An angry group of students rose up against us, protesting the club’s existence and calling for its removal.  A few friends stopped responding to text messages or gave me a decidedly cold shoulder.  At dinner, one challenged me on the issue.  The air bristled over our dining hall trays.

“Please, God.  Not here.  Let me eat my burger in peace.”  I braced myself for the impact.

Once again, “Oh.  I thought you were crazy but, explained like that, I see your reasons.”

Over and over.  In bars, on the quad, in the hallway of my dorm, on long runs.  Each time a friend gave me that tell-tale incredulous look, my throat tightened and my stomach dropped.  And each time, if given a chance to explain my argument, he or she was amazed at how logical was this seemingly “ignorant” position.

Did the club achieve its goal? Pending.  Did I achieve my goal?  Debatable.  I spent much of my senior spring talking about how to keep fathers around and, believe me, that is unusual bar talk.

I wanted to bury my head in the sand, but I had to be intellectually honest and I will not lie about what I believe to be true.  There are things for which it is worth being a social liability.

So know your arguments and don’t change the subject.  The truth often looks uncomfortable and dauntingly heavy.  Upon picking it up, however, you may find that the yoke is easy and the burden light.



Categories:Marriage New Evangelization Youth

21 thoughts on “The Social Liability

  1. May says:

    Hey Rich, you say that on “national Organization for Marriage (NOM) site you will witness horrific ant-gay and homophobic diatribes”.

    Hmm… That could be for two reasons:

    1.)There are hateful people everywhere but let me reassure you, those who believe in God and His loving laws for humankind which includes honoring the natural law (Homosexuality is not according to the natural law) are not hateful if there are some on that site that are they are out of line and do not reflect what most on this site believe. 2.) Gays are posting this stuff on that site to try to make Traditional Marriage proponents look bad.

    It is probably a little bit of both. God bless you and may we keep Marriage according to God’s plan, that is between one man and one woman.

    1. Rich says:

      Thank you May. I am certain that there are always both sides to blame when the rhetoric becomes heated. My contention is that there are too many on the NOM site who claim to be Christian but then spout some of the most vile, anti-gay and, yes, homophobic comments one could imagine. NOM has given up trying to filter the comments so the site has become pretty much worthless when it comes to having a civil, respectful debate. This is why I truly like this site. I don’t get any sense that there are people here who hate gays. So, my purpose in posting is to share the other, civil side to the debate on marriage and how it has played out across the country.

      Marriage, according to your God’s plan, has never been threatened with extinction. There will always be a sacramental, Catholic, form of marriage where only one man and one women can partake. My marriage to my husband is a civil marriage. This is in keeping with the requirement by government in order to be recognized as civil married. I assume you didn’t know that I am married as are many thousands of other gay couples. And why should you; our marriages have no impact on you. This, really, is the crux of the issue. You and our God have what you want. I and those who want civil marriage have what we want. The Constitution is upheld as is your freedom of religion. This, to me, seems like a win-win for everybody.
      Thank you May, for the blessing.

  2. Sarah says:

    Excellent article! Thank you for standing for the Truth!

  3. Rich says:

    Hi pchristle and thank you for your pronouncement that your support for real marriage (whatever that means) does not mean you are anti-gay. I would suggest that if you access the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) site you will witness horrific ant-gay and homophobic diatribes. These people are doing nothing to advance your claim of a lie. I think that, in part, the sheer volume of rancor is because we, as a nation, are at the doorstep of ME.

    The state constitutional amendments succinctly clarify that marriage is for man-woman only. That most people interpret that to mean it bans gay couples from marrying should come as no surprise to you. But, again, thank you for your support of reasoned debate without any of the hateful commentary that exists elsewhere. This is why this site is refreshing. Take care.

  4. pchristle says:

    The first big lie that needs to be constantly exposed is that favoring real marriage (that is, marriage between a woman and a man) means a person is “anti-gay” or “homophobic” (whatever that means). No, all that favoring real marriage means is that one believes that adopting a novel definition of marriage is not in the public interest — period.

    The second big lie is that some states have voted to “ban” homosexual marriage. No one has ever voted to “ban” any marriage. All votes have simply been to reaffirm the definition of marriage that was understood by everyone for centuries without needing to be codified. The Associated Press and other liberal media outlets routinely use the phrase “gay marriage ban,” thus perpetuating this lie.

    Catholics need to stop accepting and using the liberal media’s language when discussing marriage because it is clearly biased in favor of the homosexual activists’ point of view. Speak the truth uncompromisingly, and people will hear the truth.

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