American Slavery, Marriage Equality, and the Wrath of God

Reflecting back on the movies I saw in 2013, the most powerful movie was hands down 12 Years A Slave. If you haven’t seen this movie, I hope you will as soon as it is out on DVD– this is one of those movies that will seriously disturb you, but for all the right reasons. I’m a firm believer that those of us in the first world need to be disturbed periodically to shake us out of our self-centered Western worldview, even if the effects only last a short while. This is one of those movies that will do that, and will begin to lift the veil on the misconceptions we have about our country being somehow founded on “Christian” principles.

Clearly, it was not– and the movie 12 Years A Slave ought be all the proof you’ll need.

However, this movie brought up an issue for me that I didn’t expect it to bring up– marriage equality. Until a few years ago, my opinion sided with that of the old majority as being firmly against the secular government allowing marriage equality. My reasons against it were all of the go-to, pre-fabricated arguments that my tribe has planted into our collective minds, and I had no reason to question any of those opinions. Perhaps the most compelling reason I opposed the government allowing any degree of marriage equality was that I was afraid we’d invite the wrath of God to fall upon us.

When your brain still functions with fundamentalist programming, you’re always worried about God getting angry. Trust me– even after you begin rejecting fundamentalism, it can take years for us to de-program ourselves from living in constant fear of God (something I wrote about, here). It’s not a process that happens quickly or easily.

This message that certain behaviors, either individually or collectively will invite the wrath of God, is a message that is constantly conveyed to us by both fundamentalist and evangelical leaders. While I agree, that certainly there are things that make God angry, and the Bible clearly tells stories about “wrath” (such as when he destroyed Sodom for neglecting the poor), it seems that religious leaders have somehow singled out marriage equality as being God’s weak spot when it comes to wrath pouring.

Heavy hurricane season? Must be God’s wrath for all of those gay marriages.

Some gun nut shoots up a school? A gay person must have ordered a wedding cake in that town.

Economy slumping? Clearly, the only explanation is that it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, and God’s mad that there’s a gay wedding scheduled for 5:30.

Even in my small state of Maine, we were recently warned with this message. The American Family Association (a certified hate group with a deceptive name) said that the Pine Tree state was now experiencing “God’s judgement and destruction” because we have passed marriage equality. The AFA writes:

“…The Christian Civic League of Maine proved to be the only institution with the will to fight.  Overwhelmed, wearied and confused by years of  attacks of all kinds a slim majority of Mainers grudgingly handed the sodomy movement the keys to Maine’s home… Fourteen states have fallen to the radical homosexual agenda.  New Jersey is the latest state to pledge obeisance to this evil.  And make no mistake, a society’s decision to turn it’s back on God’s definition of marriage can end only one way.

Judgment and destruction.”

Silly when you get down to it, really. But, we believe it wholeheartedly because we are constantly being told that marriage equality is inviting the wrath of God, and being told this message enough times that eventually it seeps down deeper than we realize. The bizarre, over time, becomes what feels like common sense.

I’ve long argued that even for the Christian who believes this issue to be a sin issue, it is completely possible to support and vote for marriage equality. The secular government ought be able to make its citizens equal under the law, and individual religions ought have the freedom to maintain their own traditions. Since we don’t live in a theocracy, it is completely possible for you, even if you belong to a tradition that doesn’t support marriage equality, to support equality as a private citizen.

And, you should be able to do so without the fear that somehow supporting marriage equality will lead to our national judgement and destruction– because it clearly won’t.

Don’t believe me? Just go out and watch 12 Years A Slave. In this movie you’ll see the historic reality of the foundations of our country– not a Christian nation, but a nation founded upon the buying and selling of human beings. You’ll see a nation that had no problem separating children from families in the name of commerce. You’ll see a nation where Christians said “whipping them to death isn’t a sin, they are my property”. You’ll see a nation built upon the scarred backs of Africans who were stolen, raped, beaten, and murdered.

What you’ll see in this movie is beyond disturbing. It’s outright disgusting.

This, was the foundation of our country… and yet, for some strange reason, God didn’t destroy us. You might even argue, that historically speaking, our nation has been ridiculously blessed. Why he didn’t smite us off the face of the earth, I have no idea– because if anything was worthy of judgement and destruction, it was the sin of slavery.

So the question becomes: why on earth would we believe that God is going to judge and destroy us for allowing the secular government to pass laws making her citizens equal under the law?

Because if God didn’t destroy our country when we allowed this:

I can’t imagine that allowing this would push him over the edge:

If slavery didn’t earn us the wrath of God, the reality must be that God has a TON of patience and that he’s actually very gracious and tolerant. Certainly, not the type of God who’d send hurricanes and earthquakes because of equality laws.

If God tolerated slavery but blows a gasket over marriage equality, he’d certainly have some skewed judgement on when to pour out wrath on a nation.

And, I don’t believe he does.

About Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey, is an Anabaptist author, speaker, and blogger. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Theology & Missiology), is currently a 3rd year Doctor of Missiology student (a subset of practical theology) at Fuller Seminary, and is a member of the Phi Alpha Chi Honors Society. His first book, Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, is available now at your local bookstore. He is also a contributor for Time, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, Evangelicals for Social Action, Mennonite World Review, has been a guest on Huffington Post Live, and is one of the CANA Initiators. Ben is also a syndicated author for MennoNerds, a collective of Mennonite and Anabaptist writers. Ben is also co-host of That God Show with Matthew Paul Turner. Ben lives in Auburn, Maine with his wife Tracy and his daughter Johanna.

You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


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