Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works, a designer and editor at GenderAvenger, and a speaker who has spoken across North America. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.

Gay Marriage And The Lovely Jains

I really have a bone to pick with the Christian right. I was watching “100 Huntley Street” this morning, and I would have been yelling at the television if not for my cement-block lungs and wretched throat. (No, it is not a part of my regular television viewing, but I do indulge when I am ill. That show is one of the best places to find out where the Christian right stands on things). I had read somewhere a while ago that David Mainse, the “100 Huntley Street” host for twenty-six years, was retiring from the show and leaving his son to take over. Mr. Mainse Sr. was leaving the show in order to pursue his evangelical ministry across the country, because he has become very concerned about our native peoples and also wants to represent the “...Canadian clergy’s concerns regarding the redefinition of marriage at the federal level and within the public sphere.” What this actually means, as he was stating as a guest on today’s episode, is that including room in our laws for gays to be able to declare their unions on a public and legal level like everyone else is “evil” and against the safety of our children. Then Mr. Mainse Sr. suddenly launched into how a police officer he knows called the internet “a window of evil.” With barely a breath taken, he held up what he called a “resource sheet” called “The Fight Against Child Pornography.” Without bothering to explain the links he was making between these topics, he attempted to tie them up together neatly by what he assumed were the obvious connections his audience would make, be they uneducated and emotional responses or not. It is absurd. Homosexuals in long-term, committed relationships who want to get married are somehow deeply connected to the “window of evil” that is the internet and so are obviously the controlling major force behind child pornography. He managed to find time to hold up and mention this "resource sheet" three times while talking about his church's stance on gay marriage, marrying the two ideas in the viewers' minds. This is not out of hate, mind you, because Christians can feel anger and still love, he assured us, the listening audience.

Why does this bother me so much? It bothers me, in part, because these people appeal to a lot of other people’s knee-jerk reactions on the subject, and so have the ability hold a good deal of political sway if they play their cards right. It also bothers me, because they do not seem to see the difference between their religious culture and government law. These are two different things. The Canadian government has no intention of forcing churches to marry homosexuals against their church body's beliefs. The church has hardly made a stink about the fact that the government started marrying people non-religiously. They do not seem to mind much at all that the government saw fit to move such a holy union partially out of the church's grasp and to give itself the right to unite man and woman in a legal union by the same name the church gave it. There is a distinct difference between church and state marriages – one is done under the eyes of God and one is done under the eyes of the law, one is religious and one is secular. So why do some Christian groups feel that they have the right to lobby the government to change its standpoint because these views go against their religious beliefs and practices? Our government should not be an extension or a representative of any particular religious organization, and as the Bible says: “‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s’” (Matthew 22:21). Church and state are separate matters, folks. No matter what decision our government comes to on this matter, although I am hoping it falls on the side of allowing all who want to marry to do so, it does not bear on the spiritual values of any church body. Marriage, as it is known by the state, is not about making us holy, but is about a legal definition and the social rights it affords to those who have entered into such a commitment. Honestly, I can’t figure out why they are so up in arms about this issue. Christians can still continue to hand out or take back whatever rights they see fit amongst their church members no matter what the state says.

The third thing that truly gets my goat, (and I promise I will stop after this point): certain Christian groups feel that they have the right to lobby a non-religious organization, the government, on a religious basis in order to limit what I, as a non-religious member of this society, believe in whole-heartedly and see as a great leap forward for humankind. Honestly! The nerve! Wouldn’t we all be super pissed off if particularly puritanical Jains came along and insisted on strict vegetarianism (this means no beer!), covering our mouths to avoid inhaling any life forms, and sweeping the ground before us as we walked to avoid crushing bitty creatures? Those of us who are not Jains would be incensed, because we are not Jains, and no beer is no fun. (I mean no offense to Jains, because they are not the imposing kind whatsoever). So, to all Christians who are being politically vocal about stopping gay marriage from a religious standpoint, shut the fuck up! Maybe you haven’t noticed, but this is not a solely Christian country with a Christian government. There are many of us here who would prefer not to be under a religious group's political leadership. Religious arguments have no place in a secular government's decision-making when it affects a great number of citizens who cannot abide by that rationale.

Jainism Facts and Links:
* If you are into religious texts here are some sacred Jain texts.
* I have always loved cartoons based on religion.
* Listen to the different “Obeisances.” They are short and not very loud, so you won’t have to worry about alerting too much attention.
* Check out "Saroj’s Cookbook" for Jain recipes.
* A brief introduction to Jainism.
* Somehow, reading about great ascetics and the lengths to which they will go is almost pornographic, or am I alone in this? (Again, no offense meant to Jains. This is only a personal feeling).

Lord Mahavira was a Jain monk, and Jain monks may often take a vow to accept food only when it is possible to observe a set of pre-determined special conditions. The practice originates with Mahavira himself. A few months before he attained Keval Jnan, continuously fast until offered food by only that individual who met 10 untold and seemingly impossible conditions. He would accept (1)only urad lentils,(2) offered in a winnowing basket, (3) given by a person standing sideways with one foot on the threshold of a dwelling place and the other foot outside, (4) who was a princess turned in to a slave, (5) who had a shaven head, and (6) whose legs were bound by chains. She had to be (7) a chaste woman, (8) at the time performing the penances of attham (3 days’s fast), and would serve him (9) only after all other mendicants had rejected her food offering, (10) with tears in her eyes.

* And last but definitely not least, a jam-packed Jainism site that will keep you busy for hours if you so desire. I did not.

Mammalian Bonsai, Conspiracy, Nipple Fever, Pontiki, and Lynda Barry

Phlegm And Quentin Crisp, God Rest His Soul