Gay Marriage

Gay Marriage October 30, 2008

With the election coming up, and the vote in California for Prop 8 – otherwise known as the gay marriage bill – I have been receiving a lot of emails wondering my take on the whole issue. My bridge building goal is to elevate the conversation between the GLBT community and the Church, and so here it is:

Recently I was being interviewed on a national radio show and the host retold a story about speaking at a political rally outside of a courthouse. The rally was geared toward the fight to protect the institution of traditional biblical marriage. As he was walking toward the park where the rally was being held he noticed a not so subtle pack of GLBT protesters roped off across the street screaming at anyone seemed to be going in the rally’s general direction. The protesters held up cleaver signs in support of gay marriage and called the passer-bys names; dubbing them “religious right bigots.” The host went on to talk about “the gay agenda” in broad, non-specific generalizations; an “evil agenda” that has such a strong controlling influence that it poisons the minds of the GLBT community. His conclusion was that “rank and file” gays and lesbians blindly perpetuate political and religious upheaval around the country. “They [gays and lesbians] don’t even know what they’re doing. They just do it because every other gay and lesbian is doing it.”

I don’t know if I heard him right or not, but it sure sounded like he was blaming an agenda for brainwashing individual people’s actions. And I swear that is the exact same accusation the gay agenda folks blame the religious right for doing to Christians. During this particular interview and the next six interviews I gave, each host told me that the gay agenda was the single driving force of hatred towards evangelical Christians.

I’ve caught on to the pattern and this whole thing is ridiculous. All this talk of agendas is now officially wasting everybody’s time.

One of the main fighting points is over the legalization of gay marriage. Christian parents all over the country are already forced to have difficult conversations with their children about why their kid’s friends have two moms or two dads—regardless if the two moms or two dads are legally married or not.

In research done by The Williams Institute and the Urban Institute, more than 65,000 adopted children are living with gay or lesbian parents in the United States. The same research also showed that over 14,000 foster children (3% of all foster children) are living with gay or lesbian foster parents.

Preventing legalized same sex marriage, or legalizing it, is not going to change the conversation for any Christian family.

As Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw acknowledge in their book Jesus for President, we find ourselves in a fallen world that dominates government and culture in ways that are not of our Father. It is not the Christian community’s responsibility to govern a world that we do not belong to; fight in wars that are in direct opposition to Jesus’ peaceful, non-violent approach; or reign over a government we are not a part of.

“For Jesus and his followers, the central question was, How do we live faithfully to God? It [the central question] was not How do we run the world as Christians … how do I run this profit-driven corporation as a Christian … how can we make culture more Christian … how would a responsible Christian run this war. But Jesus taught that his followers—or even the Son of God!—should not attempt to “run the world” (p. 167).

Let the politically active have what the politically active think belongs to them. Christians should think in God’s terms, not in human terms.

“Caesar could brand with his image coins, crowns, and robes, which moths would eat and rust would destroy. But life and creation have God’s stamp on them. Caesar could have his coins, but life is God’s. Caesar had no right to take what is God’s. We are also reminded that just as Caesar stamped his image on coins, God’s image is stamped on human beings.” (p. 117)

The political world means too much to Christianity, and people mean too little. Love is a tangible and measurable expression of one’s unconditional behaviors towards another; it’s not a legalized rule written into governmental documents.

And whether or not gay marriage is politically accepted or denied, it still should not change how we as Christians live in relation to and relationship with, anyone who is gay or lesbian.

Much love.

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3 responses to “Gay Marriage”

  1. Would you apply your principle in areas other than gay marriage? Are you encouraging Christians to be apathetic toward politics as though they are insulated from it? For instance, would you encourage Christians to turn a blind eye whilst the government began teaching that creationism is bunk? Would you encourage the same apathy if Christians' tax dollars were being used to pay for agencies whose sole purpose was to remove the Bible from public libraries, government buildings etc? I don't think your principle can be pushed any further than this isolated issue. As a result, your advice is a stop gap measure rather than a defensible position the likes of which Christians ought to take up. It is simply not capable of surviving scrutiny.Shane

  2. Thanks for your comments. I am going to have to respectfully disagree. I believe that each individual area within culture deserves its own, specific treatment of well thought out biblically related principles. With gay marriage, I take this topic from an "elevated stance" of how to best continually engage the GLBT and conservative communities without the political battlelines being seen as the only means to dialogue. The conversation must be changed in order for peaceful growth and understanding to commence – knowing that those with different theological and political belief systems can still come to the table and know that together, the culture war can come to an end. This treatment of gay marriage removes the political war and focuses on pognient Christian living in present day culture, whether or not either side agrees with the other. There is a way forward.

  3. Thank you for your article, yet you are very vague on the issue of whether you believe gay marriage should be legalized and that gays should be afforded all the same legal rights as their heterosexual counterparts.

    My standpoint is that religion should be choice, not something that is forced.

    The United States is not a Christian nation, as many would like to believe. It is a multicultural nation, with people from many walks of life and many religions.

    But when it comes down to it, we are all humans. We all have our failings, our wants, and our desires. And we all deserve equal rights under the law. I am tired of the whole debate between “gay rights” and “heterosexual rights”. It’s “Human Rights”.