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What do the teachings of Krishna consciousness say about gay marriage?

Our Answer:

The concept of "gay marriage" is neither condemned nor advocated in scripture—it's not even addressed—but at the risk of saying things you already know, it may help to begin answering this question by first discussing what Krishna consciousness means, how sex influences our thinking, and what marriage is for from a spiritual viewpoint.

Krishna consciousness means switching our focus from trying to satisfy our senses to trying to satisfy the supreme spiritual being, Krishna . When we make that switch, we become peaceful, self-satisfied, and we start to understand the huge difference between our true self and our temporary body.

The single biggest obstacle to our peace, satisfaction, and self-knowledge is sex. It's the highest pleasure available through the body, and the more we do it, the more ignorant of our spiritual nature we get. Sexual indulgence is the number one enemy of spiritual awareness, whether we're sexually attracted to the same sex or to the opposite sex. From the spiritual point of view, it doesn't make much of a difference; the same principle applies to everyone.

Any sexual orientation based on the external body is misdirected. We're all eternal, spiritual beings. Our outward bodily dress is temporary and full of troubles. We're meant to be attracted to Krishna, the supremely attractive, eternal spiritual person, not to temporary bodies that get old and die in the material world.

Krishna is pleasure-seeking by nature, and so are we. Everything—including our sex drive—comes from Krishna, and is meant to be used in His service. He says in the Bhagavad-gita that He is kama, lust, which isn't contrary to dharma, religious principles. Marriage is the formal institution within the codes of dharma that is meant to regulate our bodily urges in a way that we can also make spiritual progress.

Within Krishna conscious marriage, sex is restricted for the sole purpose of conceiving children. There aren't auxiliary concessions given in the teachings of Krishna consciousness for directing sexual urges otherwise. For making genuine spiritual progress, it's recommended that one either observe total celibacy or accept the restrictions of a principled marriage. The natural and expected outcome is that, as one practices Krishna consciousness while carrying out worldly responsibilities in the form of raising children and maintaining a family, one becomes less and less interested in sex and gradually gives it up altogether.

Same-sex partnerships can also be helpful to spiritual life if both partners share Krishna consciousness as their goal and honor the principles of celibacy by avoiding illicit sex. Such tapasya, austerity, strengthens our determination to develop our eternal relationship with Krishna. Whether same-sex couples get legally married won't necessarily affect their spiritual life for better or for worse.

Equally healthy for spiritual life and for human emotional development is sexual exclusivity. Tendencies for multiple or consecutive partners will undermine our spiritual aspirations, endanger our health, and hamper our ability to have mature, fulfilling relationships.

There's no official institution of gay marriage within Krishna consciousness. If Krishna consciousness is our goal, it remains our individual responsibility—whether "gay" or "straight"—to seek qualified guidance. The formula for success in spiritual life is the same for everyone; we'll experience the peace, clarity, and joy of spiritual life to the degree we're following the prescribed process for achieving it.