This week, there has been a lot of news about gay marriage. First, Vice President Biden said that he was very comfortable with gay marriage which led to President Obama declaring his support for gay marriage, the same day that North Carolina voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
As you would think, emotions are high between Christians who are against gay marriage and the homosexual community who are looking at this week being their defining moment in history. I thought I would take a moment to sum up some of the opinions that both sides have about the issue and then give my own thoughts about it.
The Secular Side
When I say the secular side, I am talking about how gay marriage is seen apart from Christ and the Bible. They see it as a political issue. People with a secular viewpoint may be Christians or not. They just don’t look to Jesus for a national bar on law and morality. People with a secular viewpoint are those who don’t see much (or anything) wrong with homosexuality or gay marriage. They don’t have to be gay themselves, they just have sympathies towards the gay community. Some just have an indifference to the whole issue. They are of the mindset “to each their own”.
I was sent an article that partially sums up the secular viewpoint. It was written by an evangelical Christian. Here’s a quote from it:
From a purely pragmatic standpoint, it doesn’t affect my own life negatively. For my friends and acquaintances that are GLBT,the ability to have a legal standing on par with heterosexual couples carries weight in every area of their lives. And the fact that two consenting adult people love each other and are committed to one another does not devalue me, my marriage, my religion, or the society I live in. If anything, it has created a more stable, tolerant, and accepting society.
In reading the article, I am sympathetic. I understand and I agree in part. When God is taken out of the argument (which is what America has done) there is no reason that homosexual marriage can’t exist. In fact, it makes sense. Christianity seems to be the only thing that stands practically against gay marriage. Apart from God, it seems that people (gay or not) should experience equal rights, privileges and benefits (such as tax breaks) regarding marriage.
The Christian Side
Before I summarize the Christian viewpoint, I want to set up a couple things. When it comes to political issues, there are two two types of Christians:
- Liberal Christians
These people tend to look at the issue with a practical filter only. They don’t take in account what the Bible says on a matter or what God’s heart is about the issue. They look at it secularly. (See “The Secular Side” for that viewpoint.)
- Conservative Christians
These people tend to only look at the issue through the Bible, practical or not. They believe the authority of the Bible trumps a person’s desires and that the heart of God should be the center of every debate.
The problem with liberal Christians is that they move quickly to licentiousness and end up supporting/approving/helping/working-towards things that God does not approve of. The problem with conservative Christians is that many of them lack love and go quickly into moralism — like if we just had good families, good & moral laws and the Ten Commandments back in school, people would be more godly (which is untrue).
Speaking as a (conservative) Christian, we can’t seperate ourselves from being Christians since that’s who we are not what we do. So, as Christians, we want to love/hate/approve/disapprove of the things that God does and love people without condemnation. In the above article, the writer pushed “to love” and made love seem like acceptance/toleration — that God only calls us to love each other and be at peace with everyone. At its roots, it seemed like a mix between a hippie declaration and a unitarian message.
But i think the focus is wrong altogether.
Question: What is mankind’s chief end? Most people would say “to love”. In fact, the whole article had that as its focus; that love is supreme, the highest priority and the greatest good we can seek.
But “to love” isn’t our chief end. “To glorify Jesus by loving” is.
This means that the chief end in everything we do, believe, support, help, protest, etc is to glorify God by loving Him first and loving others. Love doesn’t look like toleration. Love looks like a cross. When we talk about love, we view it through the cross. Jesus loved us so He died on the cross. We love Him so we pick up our cross.
So how is it love to accept something and help push for something that will not only destroy people emotionally/physcially in this life but also for eternity? How does that temporary toleration (in this life) of gay marriage glorify God?
Jesus loves us and glorifies Himself by calling us out of our sin not in making us comfortable and accepted in it. Gay marriage didn’t start with equal rights, it started with telling people struggling with homosexual tendencies to accept their condition. That “gay” was the way they were born.
So the question becomes, as Christians, how do we love God and love people truly, giving them what they need/lack and not by acceptance/toleration, and doing it in a compassionate way?
That’s the question the church needs to ponder on. There’s tendendacies to either say “you’re sinful and not worthy of compassion” or “you can’t do anything about this so it’s not sin and therefore live with all the joys of the free in Christ.”
How do we say “you’re living in sin” but in love and compassion? Some may say we don’t need to point out sin, but that is what love commands. We are called to call good, good and evil, evil. We are compelled to help people be free of the poisons that are killing them, both in this life and the life to come. Tolerance is not equal to love as Kevin DeYoung points out:
If Jesus can be against lovelessness (Rev. 2:4) and against tolerance (Rev. 2:20), then tolerance must not be the epitome of love.
This issue is closer to my heart than most, due to my being a homosexual in the past. By God’s grace helping me struggle with the tendencies inside me, I now stand free from the chains of homosexuality. This did not happen by marrying a girl or negative reinforcement. Jesus saw me wanting freedom and led me out of the pit of my own twisted sexuality.
With that being said, I cannot support gay marriage because:
- God doesn’t.
- It will destroy them. (read Romans 1)
- It leads them to believe that their issue is accepted, that it’s not sin.
At the same time, I realize that America couldn’t care less about God’s heart in all of this and that gay marriage will happen soon enough. It will not be the fault of a President or an organization. The American people’s hearts are dark and evil. They rejected Jesus many years ago so gay marriage is just the next step in living for themselves.
That said, I am concerned that the government would not call these civil unions but marriages equal with that of straight couples. It is very probable that the government would excerise its muscle by denying churches their 501c3 status if the pastors refuse to stop discriminating against gay couples who want to be married by the church. I feel that a civil union that provides the same tax breaks that married people get is better than the push for marriage equality. Marriage equality climaxes with the ending of Christian freedom and the true beginning of Christian persecution. In a world of toleration, there isn’t much room for absolutes. Since I believe gay marriage will eventually (most likely soon) happen, I am ok with the end of our Christian comfort. I’m sure it will be part of God’s plan in the end.
As for the church, I agree that we don’t need to brow beat people and standing on street corners with turn or burn signs. But neither do we deny that sin is damnable. At the same time, we need to proclaim that all sin is damnable. The church should never become a place where those surrendered and living in sin are comfortable and led to believe their issue is accepted by God. In love, there should be an atmosphere and culture that partners with them to lead them to the cross and freedom. We ought to preach the gospel and then bid people to follow Jesus, who calls/moves them to “come and die”. Jesus calls us to a cross and all sinners, gay or not, are required to climb upon it.
The problem isn’t gay marriage. The problem isn’t homosexuality, toleration, religiousness or hypocrisy. The problem is that we, as a nation, have rejected Jesus.
As Christians let us call everyone, including ourselves, back to Him.