JACKSON, Tenn. – Dec. 9, 2003 – (BP)--It was not a very good start to the holiday season. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade stopped just short of featuring a same-sex couple as Santa and Mrs. Claus. Had this happened during the nation's most famous parade, America would have seen not Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, but Mr. and Mr. Santa Claus, with the supposed "Mrs. Claus" standing in drag beside "her" jolly old husband.
The day before the parade in a New York Times op-ed column entitled, "You Better Watch Out," actor Harvey Firestein gleefully boasted of his upcoming debut as Mrs. Claus on the much-anticipated annual Santa Claus float. The primary purpose of his column seemed to be the self-congratulatory justification and promotion of his own sexual preference -- one that would have been slyly paraded throughout the streets of New York as well as in living rooms across America.
It certainly was not the spirit of Christmas which motivated his comments. Rather, a strong desire for his alternative lifestyle to be accepted by all was abundantly clear. After calling those who oppose such relationships "grinches," he listed famous homosexual Americans throughout time, lauding their contributions to society -- somehow implying that their fame and offerings were due solely to their sexual preference. Zeroing in on the Bush administration and speaking to a segment of the population as "you people," he asked why they might be scared that "gay folk will show you up?"
His article immediately produced a fury of debate, and without delay Macy's Department Store began distancing themselves from Fierstein and his flamboyant agenda. Appealing to the traditional nature of the historic celebration, they claimed, "It's a parade, not a pulpit." Fierstein subsequently was moved to another float where he purportedly depicted his Broadway character, Edna Turnblad, who was in turn supposedly playing Mrs. Claus. You can almost hear it now, "Here he, er, 'she' is folks -- the beloved Mrs. Claus, played by none other than Mrs. Edna Turnblad, who is played by none other than Mr. Harvey Fierstein." Such semantic gymnastics seem to have been employed by Macy's in order not to offend the American people.
One might ponder, "There is no harm in a man dressing up as Mrs. Claus." Indeed, there is not. One has every right to do so. However, underneath Mr. Fierstein's Mrs. Claus costume and his delight in cross dressing is the much deeper issue of same-sex marriage. At its foundation, same-sex marriage is not about rights. Should America condone same-sex marriage simply because there are those who believe they have the right to be married? Is it just a person's desire for something that legitimizes it as a right? (What will be next -- adults demanding that pedophilia or bestiality is not only a personal preference, but a universal right?)
It is the nature of marriage itself and not a person's right to be married that is the crux of the matter. Redefining marriage according to personal preference makes a mockery of its establishment. The purpose of an object is determined by its creator. In many ways, using marriage for a purpose other than that for which it was created is akin to ignoring a car's intended purpose and driving it straightway into the ocean because of one's desire for the car to be a boat.
Society mocks the sacred institution of marriage by perverting it for selfish purposes. This includes perversion by heterosexuals as well as homosexuals.
Mr. Firestein almost succeeded in surreptitiously parading such perversion before America. The day before, with seeming heartfelt conviction that inadequately masked his careless frivolity, Firestein imagined himself as Santa's same-sex partner and hoped that this Christmas season would be marked by "love and acceptance," rather than "fear and bigotry." While this sounds admirable, do not be blinded by his passionate plea. It is neither love and acceptance nor fear and bigotry which ultimately must guide our thinking about this issue. It is truth. As we think about the institution of marriage this Christmas season, let's not only pray for peace on earth. Let's pray for truth on earth and goodwill toward men.
Todd Brady is minister to the university at Union University, one of the nation's oldest Southern Baptist institutions of higher learning.
By Todd Brady