A Minnesotan and pastor’s kid offers these ground rules for my fellow citizens as we debate the marriage amendment, on the ballot this fall:
Let all Minnesotans remember that:
There is no one Christian position. Some, like the state’s Catholic bishops, advocate for the amendment on Christian grounds. Others, like the majority of delegates at the recent Minneapolis Synod Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, oppose the amendment. As a Christian pastor myself I would be the last to say that one’s religious convictions should not influence choices at the voting booth — anything but. However, it should be noted that Christians hold varied and complex positions on the amendment. We cannot be seen as one voting bloc.
We all support families. I believe both those supporting and opposing the amendment have the well-being of families at the heart of their position. In this way all voters are “pro-family;” they just deeply disagree as to what sort of families should have the legal status of marriage.
Gays and lesbians are not “others” or “alien;” they are our neighbors, our family members, our coworkers and our friends. In heated debates, we too easily jump to alienating rhetoric, even if we intend to act out of love. Bearing that in mind, we must carefully monitor our public conversations so that we do not demonize those with whom we disagree.
The Biblical argument is hotly contested. What the Bible has to say about homosexuality and marriage is still being debated. Thousands of pages analyzing the Bible and homosexuality have been published in recent years. The Bible will certainly be a deciding factor for people on both sides of the issue, but that does not solve the problem of its diverse interpretations.
Traditional labels do not always apply and may not be helpful. Consider the Log Cabin Republicans, a grassroots conservative organization supporting freedom and equality of gay and lesbian Americans. Similarly, I have friends who are progressive on most issues, but have a very traditional position on marriage. Not too long ago I heard a gay man speak about the death of his partner in the 1990s. Someone asked him, “Did your partner die from AIDS-related complications?” The man laughed. He said, “No, he didn’t have HIV/AIDS. He died in a car accident while driving his Harley Davidson to a motorcycle rally.” Stereotypes do us no good, no matter on which side of the amendment debate we fall.
HT: Mark Prasch (on Facebook)