Culture at the Crossroads
Gay Marriage and the Gamaliel Moment
My suggestion is let go of the power game, and instead preach the gospel.
Our culture has sexuality deeply, deeply wrong. We have come to believe that it is a matter of self-expression, an act of freedom. That belief is radically impoverished, though. It is like the person whose craving for sugar has arisen because he has not nourished his body: he seeks what is most available, thinking it an act of freedom, when the reality is that he lacks what he unconsciously needs most. Our culture is spiritually starved for social practices of love, of generosity, of caring, of companionship: the kinds of rich interpersonal relationships that arise out of loving families and compassionate communities. Lacking these, so many people (especially the young) will take any kind of connection to another person that brings a temporary high. To make things worse, everyone with a product to sell uses that craving in a bait-and-switch game to sell products. Free sugar for starving bodies.
In such a context, the faithful friendships of gay people represent one kind of healing, a kind that many Christians fail to recognize as rooted in love. For a faithful friendship is better than the kind of transient sexual experiences that so many experience today.
Christians need to witness to a model of sexuality, marriage, family, and community that more fully satisfies the human heart. The root of the gospel about sexuality is represented by Jesus' words about marriage: "what God has joined together, no human being must separate" (Mt. 19:6; Mk. 10:9). Seen through the lens of human history, sexuality is both a destructive force (especially toward women) and a profoundly constructive one. Jesus' words suggest a radically hopeful proposition: to allow sexuality to be the glue through which God re-unites the broken halves of the human family. To enter into the model of marriage proposed by Jesus and those who follow him is to be a prophetic sign, a sign of reconciliation between men and women for the sake of peace.
My thesis is that Christians ought to let go of the legal argument about what states should call "marriage," and simply model the radical call of Jesus to live "what God has joined together."
Our Gamaliel moment toward gay marriage is this: if it is a response to our social sickness about sex, then we must let it be. I believe that we are called not to address the symptoms of our social sickness, but rather the root cause: the lack of love that gives rise to false desires for sex.
Tim Muldoon holds a Ph.D. in Catholic systematic theology and is an award-winning author and Catholic theologian of the new evangelization.