Amara das asks, “Same-sex Marriage in the USA: Are you ready, ISKCON?”. . .

. . . because he wants to give it good and hard to ISKCON in the butt.

Really.

Let’s be frank here: whenever someone extolls the alleged virtues of same-sex marriage, he is talking about same-sex sex. Yes, the kind of sex in which a man inserts his generative organ in an orifice other than where it is supposed to go (or a woman tries to do something similar). That’s the kind of sex he is talking about. If he were only talking about roommates, friends, which have almost always been “same sex” no matter the culture and without even the presumption of sex, there would be no controversy here. Amara is talking about a relationship in which sexual activity is presumed. That is what it even means to call it marriage, a relationship in which sexal activity is in fact presumed.

When he asks, “Are you ready?”, that’s something to take seriously because, in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, it’s not only a forewarning of impending public opprobrium but legal challenges as well. Even if it’s not him that takes ISKCON to court for not allowing same-sex marriages on its properties, he belongs to a community that approves of such persecution by legal or sometimes extra-legal means.

Does this sound alarmist? Far from it. A recent article in the Federalist makes mention of popular, state-sanctioned animus toward conservative Christians.

In 2012, New Jersey judge Solomon A. Metzger ruled against a Christian retreat house associated with the United Methodist Church that refused to allow a same-sex civil union ceremony on its premises. Just a few months ago, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed sacked fire chief Kelvin Cochran, an African-American Baptist church deacon, for expressing his personal religious beliefs on marriage in a Bible study publication.

In Washington DC, religiously affiliated education institutions are now forced to allow gay advocacy groups to use their facilities, and parents have been disallowed from helping their children who feel unwanted sexual attractions in California and New Jersey.

Even the federal government is not innocent of wrongdoing here. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told state attorneys general they can ignore state laws about marriage (in violation of their oaths of office), and President Obama has decided support for natural marriage is reason to discriminate against religious organizations when handing out federal grants. His administration is also attempting to punish a Navy chaplain for expressing his faith. With the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision today, one can only imagine what is coming next, although Canada, Britain, and elsewhere offer disturbing prospects.

(John-Henry Westen, “Same-Sex Marriage Won’t Bring Us Peace”, 26 Jun 2015 The Federalist 28 Jun 2015 <http://thefederalist.com/2015/06/26/same-sex-marriage-wont-bring-us-peace/>)

What does this mean for us who are in ISKCON, North America? It’s not a matter of if but when the persecution begins. It will not be quite like the hostility of American Christians in the 1970s and 80s towards us, or the deprogrammers of that era. But in some important ways it will be worse and more debilitating, because the politics of sexual liberation that is at the heart of American leftist politics is something that many American devotees continue to self-identify with–even if out of sentiment for their time as hippies before joining the movement. That is, the vanguard for enforcing conformity with the sexual mores of mainstream American society are already within ISKCON North America. Amara is but one voice of this vanguard, but one that has been more frank than most.

Moreover, ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya Srila Prabhupada was unequivocal both in his condemnation of the gay lifestyle and his view that women should not have social, political or economic independence. Just his position alone on women has prompted a politically progressive “long march” through ISKCON’s institutions in an attempt to disestablish Srila Prabhupada’s authority, with the objective of jettisoning his stance on issues disfavored by today’s social and political classes but retaining him as a figurehead and spokesman for ideas he was in fact against. It is therefore no accident that ISKCON’s growing tryst with homosexual sexual liberation has followed women’s liberation within ISKCON. In society at large, many mainstream religious institutions have already followed the same trajectory. (Bolding added)

For many Evangelicals, the marriage debate isn’t really about marriage or families or sex—it is about the Bible itself. And that makes many evangelicals all the more uncompromising. The roots of the conflict are deeply theological. Evangelical faith prizes the Bible’s authority, and that has meant a core commitment to biblical inerrancy—the belief that the words of the Bible are without error. Genesis Chapter 1 says God created male and female for one another, and the Apostle Paul calls homosexuality a sin, inerrantists say, and for groups like the Southern Baptist Convention and its 50,000 churches nationwide, that is the biblical trump card. It doesn’t matter if the views are out of step with society or other Christian traditions. “We believe even stranger things than that,” Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, points out. “We believe a previously dead man is going to arrive in the sky on a horse.”

And there is another, just as fundamental, obstacle. So far no Christian tradition has been able to embrace the LGBT community without first changing its views about women. The same reasoning that concludes that homosexuality is sin is also behind the traditional evangelical view that husbands are the spiritual leaders of marriages and men are the leaders in church. It is one reason gay men have an easier time as evangelical reformers. Lesbians face the double whammy—an evangelical world where leadership has long revolved around straight men has twice the trouble hearing them because they are both female and gay. “It is not an accident that the women’s-liberation movement preceded the gay-liberation movement,” Robinson says. “Discriminatory attitudes and treatment of LGBT people is rooted in patriarchy, and in order to embrace and affirm gays, evangelicals will have to address their own patriarchy and sexism, not just their condemnation of LGBT people.”

(Dias, Elizabeth. “A Change Of Heart.” Time 185.2 (2015): 44­48. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29
June 2015.)

In ISKCON we have similar though not identical matters of authority in our own part of the Western culture war. And let us make no mistake about it, we are a part of their culture war whether we want to be or not. We may not be interested in their war, but their war is interested in us.

Nevertheless, more than any other religious tradition in the world, our Vaishnava tradition is most clear on the point that the fundamental principle of illusory (ungodly) life is the attraction between male and female. Pumsah striyah mithuni bhavam etam. Varnasrama principles are warranted on this principle alone. Indeed, Srila Prabhupada himself says,

So these regulative principles are there. So what is, what is the big plan behind these regulative principles? The big plan is: here is the attraction, pumsah striya mithuni-bhavam etam to cut down this attraction between male and female. This is the big plan. Otherwise there is no need of the varnasrama.

Lecture, Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.8, Vrindavan Oct 30, 1976.

It is because our theology is so clear on this point that it will be more difficult to subvert than has been Christian theology, whatever kind it is. Any attempt to change our Vaishnava principles more readily exposes itself as bald contempt on the part of the so-called reformers. If corruption of our understanding and religious principles concerning women is defended successfully, we will also be able to defend ourselves from the attempted persecutions from the pro-homosexual lobby.

There is hope after all.

And since we are part of a culture war, we could stand to make some progress against Maya where no other spiritual movement can prevail.

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