What’s a Christian’s Responsibility re. Equality in Marriage?

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The Supreme Court is hearing arguments this week for same-sex marriage. This may be the most explosive issue since abortion, if not since slavery. Both sides see their opinions as self-evident; both sides cannot believe the other side is so thickheaded. Christians are certain about what they read in the bible; gays cannot fathom why their choice of a life partner is Christian’s (or the government’s) business.

I’m reminded of a story from my childhood. Like most kids, I could hardly wait for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, I would try to get my family to go to bed so Christmas would come. Christmas comes only after people are in bed, so get going! Don’t you people want Christmas to come??! My mother said, “You go to bed and Christmas will come. We don’t have to go to bed – just you.” That made NO sense to me. Sure, I can trudge off to bed but if Mom and my sister Katie are still in front of the TV, Christmas will NOT come — how could it?? She was right, of course — if I go to bed, I sleep, and the next thing I know it’s Christmas! Yet my view made sense to me because Christmas does not come while people are still up watching a movie.

How does this relate to the gay-marriage debate, you ask? Because Jesus came to the earth to offer us reconciliation with God. Period. He did not change the government or stop people’s sinning or rectify abuse of the ruling Romans, or any of the changes the Jews expected. He says, “You worry about you. Just you. Let me deal with everyone else. You get to love and embrace them. I’ll deal with their issues — and yours.” Jesus’ answer was so different, in fact, that many missed it. They completely missed His offer.

We, too, are very concerned about drawing the line on people’s behavior. While Christians are split on the sinfulness of homosexuality (and as you can see from my other posts, I do believe gay marriages is within the will of God), our response remains the same. Many Christians believe their job is to reduce sin. It is not their job. (How long have we tried to eradicate sin? How successful have we been?) Every other group in the world tries to direct behavior. Every religion, every school, every club, has agreed-upon behavior they want their adherents to follow. Not so with Jesus. Jesus entreats us to follow Him! It’s a completely different orientation.

When we follow Him, He works out our behavior. Jesus talks constantly about knowing Him and His love for us. The times He addresses actual behavior, He does so to point out how we have no hope of producing right behavior. (Why else would He ratchet up the standard so high that we cannot possibly meet it?) I have never heard Jesus tell people to try to stop others’ sin. It’s not our job. On the contrary, Paul tells us clearly that our own conscience will convict us. We keep trying to tell other people their behavior is sin instead of letting Jesus deal with them. Who’s better equipped to handle this issue — us or Jesus? I think we’ve got our hands full listening to Jesus for ourselves.

Click here to read “Now That I’ve Come Out of the Closet.”

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  • http://theemancipatedplate.wordpress.com theemancipatedplate

    A very wise, peacemaking stance. Thank you!

  • Steven

    Unfortunately, you’re quite wrong. It’s this type of attitude that turns people off to Christianity. We must be careful.
    That’s not at all what the Bible says. It says that the “Father doesn’t inherit the sin of the son, not the son the sin of the father”. This means that we will not be responsible for what others actions are. Our goal and mission is supposed to be teaching others God’s Word. It is not up to us if they will accept it and heed it. That is between them and God. We have no right or authority to condemn people. We only have the responsibility to teach them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ruth.wentsel Ruth Wentsel

    Would you agree that love is good, and that hate is bad?

    If a god teaches us to hate love, then wouldn’t that god be bad?

  • TrentD

    Very thoughtful post here, there is one thing, however, that I disagree with. You say that Jesus never tells people to try and stop others sins…this is actually not at all accurate. In Matthew 18 Jesus is speaking and says, plain and simple, “If a brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you…if they will not listen, take one or two others along…if they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or tax collector.” So when I hear you say that Jesus NEVER tells us to try and stop other people’s sins, that’s just not at all the case. It may not be a popular thing to do, it may be very hard in fact, but isn’t that kind of what Jesus was all about, doing things that weren’t really popular. It takes boldness to follow Christ, but we are not able to just pick and choose when and what we want to follow. I respect everything you write, as I have read a decent amount of your work, but I would just recommend you take great precaution when quoting scripture or claiming that Christ did or did not say certain things.

  • http://freedhearts.wordpress.com Susan Cottrell, FreedHearts

    Holly, our minds should be blown, every day, by the power of God in us! I have been around for a long time, and the most growth that ever happened was because of the work of the Holy Spirit in me. I have tried to end my own selfishness, heal my own wounds, change my husband, direct my kids — and none of it did any good. Because, alas, I am not God. But the Holy Spirit has come in, to areas where I had no power to change, and He changed me! In His good time and not before. Our minds should be blown, every single moment, but His amazing power! He is more abounding and more capable than I could ever think of being. John did not say, Jesus came that my behavior might improve; he said, “Jesus came that I might have life and have it more abundantly.” I did not say behavior doesn’t matter, but I am no match to stop that behavior by grit and determination compared to freedom from the drive for that behavior. I know this is hard to grasp when the church teaches behavior modification. But Paul has direct words in Galatians 3:1-14. “Oh foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?” Because they think they will gain righteousness by keeping the standards (the law). He says, no, the law is only the tutor who brings you to Christ. Once you come to Christ, you no longer need a tutor because, He is your Tutor! Isn’t that happy news! The many works performed in us come from faith, not law (v. 5). The freedom you say I give is freedom from the church’s or other Christian’s requirements (basically become straight or be lifelong celibate), and invite these real people into the presence of God who can take of any of this Himself. I was told to love God and love others. That’s a big enough job that I’m not going to take on changing people’s behavior as well. Loving people is much more fun. Thank you for your questions. I understand how new this is to our thinking. But no newer than what Jesus told His disciples, or Paul taught the Galatians! I pray God reveal His truth in this along your journey.