I gave up fish for Lent. But then, I give up fish for Lent every year, and every year my good Christian wife rolls her eyes at me. Apparently there are no points to be made by foregoing something I had absolutely no intention of doing in the first place. I never eat fish.
I'm reminded of
that in our heated national discussion about gay marriage. It has
never so much as crossed my mind to have sex with another man, but
I seem to be on God's good side for not acting on the homosexual
impulse I've never had.
Unlike gay sex, I have tried
fish. Eating fish, after all, is explicitly allowed by the Old
Testament and implicitly suggested in the New. It's recommended by
dietitians, chefs and cardiologists alike. It is accepted even
among many who are otherwise vegetarians.
So, over the
years, I've tried pan-fried trout and fresh Atlantic swordfish,
those nasty baked fish sticks and elegantly seared rare tuna. I've
tasted everything from halibut to shark. And if I ever get to
Boston, I might even get scrod.
But it's always the same
result: I don't like it. I never have. I have no idea what lesson
to draw from that. It's just the way it is.
known and worked with gays and lesbians. As near as I can tell,
they embody about the same range of human attributes and failings
as anyone else. But the fact remains that I'd live on catfish and
carp before I would have sex with a man -- let alone adopt the "gay
lifestyle," whatever that is. As I see it, that too is just the way
Yet somehow homosexuals and their aspirations are
supposed to be a threat to the "institution of marriage." I don't
understand that. I don't even know what that means.
use the word marriage to describe the affairs of Elizabeth Taylor
and Madonna, what Britney Spears did as a joke and what Pamela
Anderson and Tommy Lee were supposedly consummating when they
filmed themselves having sex. We talk about marriage as sacred and
then apply the word to Dennis Rodman's drunken escapades and
ceremonies performed by Elvis impersonators.
want to ask which parts of that "institution" are worth defending
— and from whom?
That's not to say there aren't a
number of potential threats to my marriage. There's my tendency to
work too late, my unwillingness either to take my shoes off in the
house or scrub the kitchen floor, and my inability to understand
that my wife really doesn't want to hear the latest joke.
There's my proclivity for hogging the remote. There's my continued
appreciation for the work of Stanley Kubrick and Quentin Tarantino
when I should know that there is no reason to go beyond
The Sound of Music or Sleepless in
Seattle. Then there's my ineptness at multitasking.
My wife can cook breakfast, solve a work-related problem
on the phone and help the kids find their socks all at the same
time. If I'm cooking, that's all that's happening. But I can
simultaneously follow a movie I've seen nine times, a rerun of "Law
& Order" and yet another rehash of World War II on the History
Channel. ("Don't we know how that came out, dear?")
There's my habit of describing cars by make instead of color, and
people by body type instead of dress. And, there's my penchant for
saying inappropriate things. As my wife quietly reminded me during
the final game of the American League playoffs last fall, our lord
and savior was unlikely to pull Red Sox pitcher Pedro Rodriquez.
See the pattern?
I don't know how the issue of
gay marriage will be resolved. I hope the answer will respect both
individual liberty and freedom of religion. But it seems clear that
whatever happens with the "institution," my marriage is my
responsibility — and has little to do with what two other
people choose to do in San Francisco, in Massachusetts, in Oregon
or in Durango.
The same could be said of my diet. That I
don't eat fish doesn't mean I don't like seafood. I love shellfish.
I like all the stuff that's high in cholesterol, expensive and
biblically banned. Leviticus 11:12 says, "Everything in the waters
that has not fins and scales is an abomination to you."
Odd, isn't it, but nobody's ever said I'm going to hell for
ordering a shrimp cocktail.