I want to take a break from talking about Haridāsa Ṭhākura and write about something else instead.
It would have been nice if I had no compulsion to discuss anything but the pastimes of the Lord and His pure devotees but that is just not possible for me at the moment. I still look at the world around me with unhealthy interest and I need to satisfy hankerings of my mind. Keeping a lid on it artificially is not a solution. I’ve tried that, after a while the lid just blows off. Steam must be released under controlled conditions.
Alternatively, we often justify our indulgence by providing some excuse that it’s about Kṛṣṇa and not about our undying interest in material affairs. We lie to ourselves and to others when we imply that our diversions are inspired by Kṛṣṇa Himself. We follow urges of our minds and only then link them to the Lord, which we as well should, but we’d better do the same thing without indulging in duplicity regarding our motives.
Anyway, the US is caught in the anticipation of a major decision by the Supreme Court regarding legality of gay marriage. It’s a complex battle between state and federal legislature and it’s being fought against the background of, perhaps, unintended but totally predictable consequences of a decade old previous ruling by the Supreme Court. I don’t think trying untangle this knot would do us any good here.
The fight for legality of gay marriage, or, conversely, the fight to preserve God’s intended way, is a long one and progress, or retreat, happens in incremental steps. This upcoming decision, however, seems to be important. I’m not sure it would change the tide, however, even if it goes against proponents of the gay marriage on this one occasion, which it probably won’t, given the media coverage of the proceedings.
Right now it’s all about presentation by the opponents on why gay marriage should be illegal and there’s a general perception that it was unconvincing. Popular news presenter/comedian Jon Stewart covered it under the heading “We got nothin'” and ridiculed anti-gay marriage arguments one by one. Major editorials seem to agree.
Does it really matter, though? And how much exactly?
Anti-gay marriage people have lost the main battle a while ago – a battle for public space and battle for public consciousness. The laws will inevitably catch up, following “the arch of the moral universe” observation by Dr. M.L. King half a century ago. Once acceptance of gay relationships has become a moral thing to do the “moral universe” cast its decision, too.
These days, no matter what the laws say, disapproval of gays carries extremely negative connotations and is synonymous with bigotry, you just don’t do that in public anymore, and god save you if you let it slip that you entertain such thoughts in private either.
There are plenty of offensive words directed towards gays but what is interesting is that uttering them has an exactly opposite effect. The only person going away ashamed and socially sanctioned would be the offender himself. The space where people can safely express their condemnation of same sex relationships has shrunk dramatically, and maybe it’s a good thing in an unexpected way. More on that later.
When looking at the case currently debated in the Supreme Court we must step back and look at the big picture. Why should we care about Supreme Court anyway? The days when our rulers and our courts were serving the Lord and trying to protect God’s laws have long gone. Governments might have their legitimacy ultimately backed by the Lord but it doesn’t mean they act in God’s interests. God’s plan for this age is total degradation so that the world could be destroyed and the slate wiped clean. Modern governments serve this goal very well but it’s not the one we should be concerned about as devotees.
If we think that, ultimately, the government and the courts should be on our side we are wrong. Our only shelter is mercy of Lord Caitanya who came to save us from reliance on mundane rulers. They won’t help us unless directly prodded by the Lord so we should really lower our expectations.
Christians who oppose gay marriage still hope that their government and their courts somehow serve to fulfill the will of their Lord but they are in for a severe disappointment.
Truth is Supreme Court’s ruling has no effect on legitimacy of gay marriage in Lord’s eyes, and it’s the only legitimacy that should matter to us. The effect of court’s ruling on the society is far less important.
In relative terms we can easily argue for both sides. Marriage is meant for procreation but, otoh, commitment between gays is better than non-commitment. Anti-gay marriage lawyers are right in arguing that without procreation marriage makes little sense but the society moved past that goalpost a long time ago.
The reality of the modern life is that sex is an activity for personal pleasure and enjoyment, procreation is only an unintended consequence. Every now and then people might decide to have children but for many it’s practically a once in lifetime experience, the rest of the time children are a mistake that needs to be avoided.
In this atmosphere arguing for the sanctity of the marriage is pointless, the horse has already bolted.
We, as well as Christians, should concentrate on keeping our own congregation clean. Let the rest of the world do whatever it wants and go to hell, we can’t stop them, we should be responsible for our own lives first.
So, personally, I’m not against gay marriage for the rest of the society and, perhaps, it should be acceptable on the fringes of ISKCON, too, but we can’t accommodate our siddhānta – any sex not meant for procreation is illicit and detrimental to the spiritual life.
While we can argue how gay marriage is better than gay non-marriage or how it should be condemned altogether it would be largely a waste of time. The world is steadily sliding into complete darkness and trying to simply slow down this process is not a solution.
Our solution is to give people the Holy Name so that they can solve all their problems in one decisive strike. It works on everyone equally, it’s not a relative but an absolute power, there’s no sin that it could not wipe out. It’s not like accepting gay marriage will break some imaginary threshold and the Holy Name would stop working.
Naturally, chanting of the Holy Name as yuga dharma WILL improve people’s material conditions and that improvement will be relative but its real power is in taking people into the much better next life if not straight to the spiritual world. We shouldn’t close our minds to Holy Name’s spiritual potency just because we don’t see it with our material eyes.
If, instead of pontificating on advantages and disadvantages of gay marriage we tell people straight that nothing can help them but chanting of the Holy Name and everyone in any position of life can, or even must immediately take it up we’ll save far more people than if we sit and wait for the world to be purified through material means so that when they reach platform of goodness we can finally mention the mahāmantra.
Earlier I said that shrinking space for offending gays has hidden advantages. First of all, offending anybody is unacceptable for devotees, no loss there, but I’m alluding to the fact that if no one is prepared to listen to our preaching against gay sex then we can stop trying to drill this point and instead focus solely on propagating chanting of the Holy Name. The less distractions the better.
People love to talk about issues that concern their false egos – gay sex, meat-eating, drinking, taking drugs etc. We should not follow them there but break them out of their mind boxes and talk about what is important to us – chanting and the power of the Holy Name. Of course if we don’t think it’s important ourselves it makes our mission so much more difficult.