Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chinese Christian Evangelical Religious Group Opposes Same-Sex Marriage

There are many opponents to same-sex marriage in the United States. The most common however are religious organizations and individuals. In the Bay Area specifically, Chinese Evangelical Christians make up one of the largest and most vocal groups that are in opposition of same-sex marriage. Hak-Shing William Tam, a prominent leader of the community, went to court on Thursday to take stand in the federal trial Perry v. Schwarzenegger that questions the constitutionality of the ban on gay marriage. Mr. Tam’s opponents claim that he is simply homophobic. This argument has some support after Mr. Tam wrote that homosexuality comes with pedophilia and prostitution, and the propositions failure will only legalize it. Regardless of his controversial opinions about homosexuality, he continues to have the support of his fellow Chinese Christians. Gerry Shih examines whether or not the desire to ban same-sex marriage is related to purely religion or perhaps culture.

Although the Chinese Christian Evangelical Group is religious, their reasons for opposing same-sex marriage are traced back to their cultural roots. Most of these individuals strongly believe in the Confucius value of family. It is important to them to maintain their family culture, which most common in China is the nuclear family. A nuclear family consists of a mother, father and their children. The family is also in charge of educating the children, who will eventually become the leading members of society.

I respect this groups desire to remain close to their cultural roots in a world where values and traditions are disappearing. My understanding is that this particular group does not accept homosexuality and same-sex marriage because it threatens the traditionally Chinese family structure. If all aspects of modern society that threatened the Chinese culture were rejected, I could understand the foundation of their argument. However, like Shih hints in his article, there are many modern American values that contradict their culture, but are nonetheless accepted.

For example, according to Confucius, women and men are not equal. In Ancient China, women were denied education and were even rarely given names. With regards to marriage, women were supposed to serve their husbands and give birth. They were not supposed to think, or express their emotions. Obviously it is 2010 and we are no longer in Ancient China. However, even today Chinese women are still going back and forth with regards to having an equal role in society. In traditional Chinese culture women are not supposed to be independent, but an increasing number are leaving China to pursue a better life for themselves.

So, how can this particular group claim that homosexuality is wrong because it threatens their culture? If this is true, then they should openly claim that women and men should not be equal and they should deny their wives and daughter’s education and employment. I don’t see how same-sex families would threaten their culture any more than having interracial families; neither is the traditional family structure. It is interesting to reason with the idea that same-sex marriage may not be a religious issue, but a cultural one. 











Rob K said...

I think that the author of this post has hit the nail on the head. The analysis of religion versus culture as the root of opposition to gay marriage is key in the issue at hand, as Mr. Tam seems to be opposed to homosexuality first, and marriage second. It is currently not illegal to be homosexual in the United States, thereby nullifying his argument that same-sex marriage would legalize it. In my opinion, his argument holds no water whatsoever. I understand that his Chinese culture and his Evangelical Christian beliefs condemn homosexuality completely, but that holds no bearing on one’s sexual orientation and should not be considered in that person’s choice or ability to marry another person of the same gender.

Justin M said...

Mr. Tam’s argument against homosexuality being based on the Chinese culture brings up an interesting distinction. As was previously noted, there are many differences between the current American culture and traditional Chinese culture. A possible reason for Mr. Tam citing homosexuality as a threat, instead of other differences, is that it is still being strongly debated in the United States. While this may be hypocritical in some ways, Mr. Tam may feel that he is still able to contribute to “protecting” this aspect of his culture. Regardless of whether his motives are based in religion or culture, it is hard to see the connection between homosexuality and the traditional nuclear family. The numerous compositions of families in America depict that both homosexual and heterosexual couples can raise and support happy and loving families.

Dallas M said...

I agree that Chinese culture played a more important role in the Chinese Christian Evangelical Religious Group argument over same sex marriage than religion. Most often people who come from a traditional nuclear family background see same sex marriage as a threat to their own existence. Instead of admitting openly that it is more culturally opinionated, the Chinese Christian Group tends to use religion, like many other religious groups, as the argument for their reasoning. To say it is a cultural reason would only stigmatize all Chinese as being homophobic in general, thus religion provides the perfect shield against such accusations.