Would Jesus Fight a Legal Battle Against Same-Sex Marriage?

Would Jesus Fight a Legal Battle Against Same-Sex Marriage? December 5, 2012

Recently I asked, “Is it Time for Evangelicals to Stop Opposing Gay Marriage?”  I followed up with “Ten Things I Believe About Evangelicals and Same-Sex Marriage,” where I think I put the issue much more clearly.  The question is not whether evangelicals should abandon beliefs that have become unfashionable and culturally detrimental.  The question is whether evangelicals should approach this issue much like they approach the issue of divorce for the sake of convenience: teaching that it is wrong, seeking to build marriages and provide counseling and making their case in the public square, but accepting that others in our secular democracy feel differently and the law should not force everyone to adhere to our understanding of marriage.

Amongst Patheos bloggers, I’m grateful to Owen StrachanBill Blankschaen and Joe Carter for their thoughts.  I also asked Greg Scott from the Alliance Defending Freedom to explain what he and his organization view as the negative consequences for religious freedoms that would follow on the legal permission of same-sex marriage.  I continue to look for different perspectives, so I asked Andrew Marin of the Marin Foundation (link below) to respond.  Andrew and his wife live intentionally in a predominantly gay neighborhood in Chicago and seek to bring about reconciliation and understanding between evangelicals and LGBT communities.  His response is below.  For the record, the title is my own.  And since the piece is a little long, I have put the assertions I consider most central to Andrew’s message in bold.  As with all guest posts, I may or may not agree with every point, but I have great respect for the author.

Would Jesus Fight a Legal Battle Against Same-Sex Marriage?

By Andrew Marin

I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this series because I am neither a philosopher like Tim nor a legal expert like Greg. I am a practitioner through my work with the Marin Foundation. My daily experiences are intentionally spent in and among the tremendously painful juxtapositions of the philosophical, legal and existential battles that inhabit the spaces of the LGBT and conservative disconnect. I am a bridge-builder — some have called me a translator — between these two communities to facilitate a new medium of engagement beyond the currently accepted way in which “the fight” is conducted from both ends of the spectrum.

My experience is housed within the global community through local churches and LGBT communities, higher education institutions and government agencies. My relationship with these outlets have provided a clear perspective on the structural composition that is shaping the umbrella encompassing this disconnect. What stands out the most, specifically in an American context, is that both communities’ talking points are exactingly consistent and unchanging:

The LGBT community’s messaging revolves around equality in (a) the right to enter into a government- (and some would argue for a religiously-) sanctioned marriage union; (b) the ability to access the legal benefits afforded to those who are married over those who are not married, in a common law marriage or in a civil union; and (c) having the Fourteenth Amendment upheld for US citizens who are gay and lesbian the same as it is for their US citizen heterosexual counterparts.

Conservatives (and I must note here that conservative Christians — specifically evangelicals and Roman Catholic leadership — take the majority of the heat for all other conservative sects of Judaism, Islam and other notable religious entities because of their perceived public status as the representatives that speak for all) advocate for (a) governmental policy to reflect conservative Scriptural interpretations that marriage is only between one man and one woman; (b) the upholding of the First Amendment allowing places of worship to practice their interpretation of their holy text without legal penalty; and (c) legal protections for private citizens, companies and large corporations to govern their practices under the same understanding.

The ultimate sticking point in our society’s system of thought is the view that unless the aforementioned talking points change, neither will the conversation. One step further, in order for the talking points to change, so must the core beliefs in each community’s argument. And that is not going to happen. Moreover, the expectation of what it means to live in a pluralistic, post-modern culture governed by a secular government should not expect anything different.

Too often LGBTs and conservatives work not from a recognition of reality, but from the vision of an ideal scenario they wish to see happen, against which they measure the current situation. This is illuminated in conservative circles recognizing the secularization of government, while holding on to the expectation that America will once again — with enough numbers and/or legal victories — be governed through a conservative Christian worldview. LGBT circles recognize that evangelicalism is the dominant religious force in America and yet function in a worldview where they do not legitimize the reality of conservatives’ claims against same-sex marriage. Whether each agree with the other’s ideal claims, those are secondary issues to the validation of their claims’ legitimacy. The disconnect in both of these scenarios is the difference between each communities’ reality and ideal.

Here are three points that I believe are hampering any ability to work towards common ground in this debate: First, I believe the talking points listed above from LGBTs and conservatives do not have to change in order for the conversation to change. The mistaken assumption in contemporary society is that all have to agree in order to love well; including loving well within the spaces of equality, rights, legality, relationship, religious freedom and dignity.

Second, I do believe there is a culturally acceptable hypocrisy within certain contemporary progressive ideologies, specifically with their self-imposed label of being “inclusive.” It is not “inclusive” unless all, everyone, are included—which is not the case. Most contemporary definitions of “inclusion” include only those who are chosen to be included (e.g. when was the last time an ex-gay or fundamentalist Christian were “included” in progressive circles beyond a debate or panel discussion?). I should not, however, expect anything different from this current practice because it is the same system that white male conservatives practiced from our country’s inception: “We are inclusive by including only the people we choose to include.” That is not “inclusive,” that is a new form of segregation under the auspices of “progress.” Same illogical argument, just implemented by a new group of people, with a new topic, in a new century.

Third, I have no problem with anyone utilizing their inherent freedom within the United States to advocate passionately for whatever they believe. However, what is frustrating to many is the cause and effect relationship irrefutably attached to said free will activism. What does anyone expect the result to be, in a legal system where there is a clearly defined winner and a clearly defined loser, other than what we currently have? Laws either pass or they do not. Simple. It does not matter the law, case, proposition, amendment or scenario; there are only two options. And in a win/lose system the fighting for each side to end up, as Charlie Sheen makes abundantly clear, “winning” (the group that claims the new power structure), must also show that one side is the loser (the group that is relegated as the minority).

The biggest problem in the same-sex marriage debate is not the beliefs, but the system. Yet short of the democratic legal structure in the United States dismantling and starting from scratch, a new set of expectations must be implemented within the current system if this debate is to move even one inch past its current state of dysfunction. By “dysfunction” I am referring to the high levels of buy-in into a system in which both communities are placing their entire worth, livelihood and legitimacy of belief on a winner/loser outcome.

My unique positioning in this debate means that my perspective on its structural components is shaped not through the lens of an activist but through daily on-the-ground personal experiences with both LGBTs and conservatives in joint spaces. These experiences intentionally do not enter the back-and-forth court jostling or the latest and greatest theological, historical, or cultural context to definitively prove one Scriptural interpretation right or wrong. Thus I am free to root my experience in humanity: real people in real time in real life situations. And that is what shapes what I am about to say.

I expect more from those of faith, specifically my own evangelical tradition who read the same Bible I read and believe in the same Jesus I believe in. I am not concerned in the least bit about what those outside my community do or how their belief defines them — not because I don’t care, but because I have not earned any right to dictate to them. Just because I am compelled by my understanding of biblical Truth does not mean anyone else has to be so compelled. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 will not one day turn into the Great Reality. Neither I nor any of my evangelical brothers or sisters can control even in the smallest measure those outside our community. So the question then becomes, what do evangelicals do with those not functioning in the same worldview, in light of the judicial battle over same-sex marriage?

Do not play in their system. Give to God what is God’s and give to the government what the government believes it owns. How can religious conservatives dictate certain governmental aspects to those who are not working from the same worldview (1 Peter 2:13-17)? The best of American democracy is freedom and equality. Both of those variables must function simultaneously while being applied in numerous contexts to groups of people with significant differences. Jesus holistically compartmentalized these variables in a way that gave equality under the law while upholding religious convictions — compromising neither (Matthew 22:18-22).

Evangelicals cannot expect LGBTs or their allies to change their medium of engagement. If they do, great. If they don’t, it does not matter because we will change ours first. That’s right; if there is to be any shift it has to start with us. Evangelicals, and conservative Christians in general, need to let go of the same-sex marriage fight and invest in figuring out how to love like Jesus regardless of what system is in place.

“Loving like Jesus” also includes loving within the cultural context we inhabit. Jesus had a strong set of convictions and a definitive theology. Yet he continually engaged not through the court system, but relationally through people; whether the legal system or people agreed or disagreed with him. The people Jesus engaged in turn influenced cultural structures — not through the courts but relationally. Reading through the life of Jesus makes abundantly clear a challenge that evangelicals overlook today:

To what extent was Jesus willing to make a stand for his message at the cost of cultural capital?

Two brief examples come to mind: In John 2:6-11 Jesus turned an intoxication-inhibitor (water) into an intoxication-accelerator (wine) by serving a steady flow of newly formed alcohol to already drunk guests. Jesus did this within a cultural structure that demanded such actions, regardless of health or theological implications. To what expense was Jesus willing to make a stand for his message at the cost of cultural capital?

Then in Mark 1:40-45 Jesus heals a man with leprosy and tells this man to go to the temple (the building Jesus came to destroy and rebuild in three days), submit to the Law (a law Jesus came to fulfill and usher in a New Covenant), and listen to the priests who teach the Law (listen to the people who will hang Jesus on a cross and kill him). A strange set of directions, especially in light of the fact that Jesus could have set the record straight with this man by telling him, “I am the way, the truth and the life and you know the Father through me, as I have shown you by healing you.” But Jesus did not do that because he knew how people in his present day revered the temple, law and priests. So again: To what extent was Jesus willing to make a stand for his message at the cost of cultural capital?

The Bible showed that cultural capital meant a whole lot to Jesus in how he disseminated, and lived in, his message. My experiences in the middle of people’s lives on both ends of the spectrum reveals that cultural capital means a whole lot to the effectiveness of how one peacefully and productively builds bridges within such divisive spaces. These personal examples have shown me that the legal battle over gay marriage has greatly hindered the ability for children of God to relate to each other, and to the outside world, in real and tangible ways…Ways that are centered on the principles of Jesus. Ways that use God’s lens of love for his creation to shine bright and clear as we look upon each other.

Do not look anywhere else but in a mirror for these answers. If the sacrificial nature of what it means to be a reconciliatory agent for the Lord is being stifled by court cases, those who represent the Lord need to stop focusing on spending time, energy and financial resources in the worst economic state in 100 years on something continually hurting the Church’s ultimate message of a saving grace. To what extent was Jesus willing to make a stand for his message at the cost of cultural capital?

You’re right. It’s not fair. It means those with evangelical convictions will “lose.” And where will that slippery slope take society after a capitulation to the secularization of society, government and the gay agenda?

The Lord gave his followers big shoulders and a bold faith worth living for a reason. The season of martyrdom has passed — or maybe it has just begun. I don’t really care which one it is. I’m going to be spending my time learning how to live and love in a world where same-sex marriage is already federally legalized. If it never reaches that point, it wasn’t meant to be. Either way, however, it was good practice on living like Scripture commands. And if it does reach that point, I’m ready to lead the Church and society in reclaiming the name of Jesus not by his follower’s legal battles but by their unconditional love for all of God’s children regardless of time, place or amendment.

Doing so does not make Christians, or myself, a sell-out. It makes us a people of strong faith with strong convictions who are not defined by rulings of the court — for or against. We are, rather, a people intently concerning ourselves with living in the Way of Jesus over continuing to fight a legal battle that should not influence how we view and live into the tenets of our faith in the first place.

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation. He is the author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009) and its interactive DVD curriculum (2011). Since 2010 Andrew has advised various agencies of the United Nations on civic engagement, bridging opposing worldviews, and cultural and theological aspects of reconciliation. Stay connected with Andrew on Facebook and Twitter

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  • Mr. Marin, I thank you for your thought and your words. Even if I disagreed with everything you said, I would still leave this page with a deep appreciation for the courtesy and respect you have given both sides of a heated argument.
    As happens, I agree with you. I am likewise sad that dialogue between the two sides is limited(if it exists at all) and usually hostile. If we on the Christian side of things want to make a difference, we do need to consider the rules and needs of our culture and learn to speak in their language.
    I wish we could say that the whole debate about same-sex marriage and the tension between LGBT and Conservative Christian isn’t about control, but actually about improving people’s lives…but I don’t think we can say that. Not yet anyway.
    In any case, you have challenged me to become more aware and considerate of both sides, their cultures and rules. A good reminder for everyone anytime. Thanks, and peace be with you!

  • Michael Bussee

    Wow. I really wish I had a translator right now. I admit I am really confused about how Andrew personally feels about the marriage equality issue, Biblically and legally.

    Andrew seems to be saying (without coming out and saying it) that he opposes it, but that he and other evangelical Christians may just have to make the best of it if same-sex marriage is legalized.

    • Michael – Thanks for writing. This article was to answer a question for those of the evangelical faith tradition, if they should stop opposing gay marriage; many of whom are quite opposed to it. This article was not a treatise on my views but something that stepped inside the evangelical framework to help a thoughtful discussion (at the very least inside individual’s heads) surrounding a very divisive topic, begin.

  • Blake Askew

    You’re basically saying you’re against gay marriage using big words and that believers need to stand up to the point of martyrdom  possibly . You’re very good at dancing round the issue, Andrew but it truly feels like there is very little integrity here. I’m completely aware you are not pro- gay in the strictest sense – which is fine-but you’re upsetting a lot of people by not being honest. Tony Campolo is clear what he believes and no one resents him but respects him. I’m tired of the dancing around.

  • artiofab

    LGBT circles recognize that evangelicalism is the dominant religious force in America and yet function in a worldview where they do not legitimize the reality of conservatives’ claims against same-sex marriage.
    Which claims? The ones I quote below?

    (a) governmental policy to reflect conservative Scriptural interpretations that marriage is only between one man and one woman
    Why is the governmental policy of a multireligious nation supposed to based on one religion’s ideas?

    (b) the upholding of the First Amendment allowing places of worship to practice their interpretation of their holy text without legal penalty
    Marriage equality does absolutely nothing to challenge this; it’s still legal for churches to discriminate about who they are willing to marry.

    (c) legal protections for private citizens, companies and large corporations to govern their practices under the same understanding.
    Marriage equality does absolutely nothing to challenge this; it’s still legal for companies and citizens to discriminate against LGBT people to their wildest dreams.

    PS: “the gay agenda”? This perjorative terminology was being used in jest, right?

    • “the gay agenda” as well as the rest of that sentence were in deed in jest. Those are frequent response I get from other evangelicals who don’t like my work/message.

      • artiofab

        Okay, good. It’s tough to tell when someone is using that term ironically or not.

  • Andrew,
    I appreciate the way you’ve framed the conflict. I wonder, though, if you’ve rally answered your titular question. Do you think Jesus would have told John to back down in his conflict with Herod? When would he have said to John, “Let Herod “win”?” My point is not to compare the LGBT community to Herod (and I apologize if that’s what I seem to be doing). My point is that I’m not sure you’ve given me a clear picture of when Jesus would have me back down from a public affirmation of what I believe to be Biblical morality.

    • Hi Craig – Thanks for the question. A great one at that. I had to go back and study to be able to respond adequately. My response is that John did not do his work in the context of winning a court case to uphold/solidify his understanding of biblical morality.

      One could even make the argument that John understood the laws of the government were not going to change, and neither was the Law the Jews were functioning under, and yet, he still continued his work regardless (not even attempting to any spend time, energy and resources trying to change policy; but rather hearts). And his message was received by commoners and kings alike. I wonder if there would have been a different response had John attempted to solidify his understanding of biblical morality through the judicial system?

      A few additional thoughts:
      1. John was a prophet, who, for the majority of his public ministry was out in the wilderness, not in their version of the court system of his day.
      2. Mark 6:20b reveals how Herod “liked listening” to John talk, in their many conversations. Once again, this was done in the context of dialogue and relationship, while also highlighting John and Herod’s strongly held difference in convictions. e.g. “Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.” That is another justification that opposing worldviews, including differences on biblical morality, do not have to agree in order to make a peaceful and productive difference in one person’s life, or throughout culture (e.g. Mark 6:19-20a)
      3. I am still yet to see a time recorded in Scripture where Jesus did say, or at least elude to, “winning” some type of legal, religious or political battle surrounding governmental policy at the expense of relationships and cultural capital. I am open to be proved wrong on this.
      4. I don’t believe Jesus framed anything in terms of win/lose (even evangelism or the kingdom). I believe he framed everything in the context of kingdom establishment. The reason I brought up the win/lose language, is because win/lose is contemporary society’s current acceptable medium of engagement (specifically with politics and religion), and thus, the perspective in which many view the gay marriage debate. Working within contemporary contexts, then, when those live as I wrote within Jesus’ kingdom establishment model, many involved in the upholding traditional marriage debate would consider living a kingdom establishment model as “losing.”

      I am not suggesting in the article Jesus wants anyone back down from their understanding of his teachings/biblical morality; it has everything to do with how you engage your understanding of biblical morality in everyday life under how you best see examples in Scripture. And how I view cultural engagement in Scripture is how I attempted to communicate in this article about how evangelicals should engage the gay marriage debate.
      I hope that clarifies things a little. Thanks again for your question Craig.

  • First off, I APPRECIATE the work Andrew Marin is doing in being a peacemaker and seeking reconciliation in a place where few dare go. Therefore, please take my comments in LIGHT of that heartfelt agreement in practice. My only push back on this article is in 3 areas: 1) SOME Scriptural interpretation (such as in John 2:6-11, Mark 1:40-45; 2) In light of the presumed “un-relational” aspect of our court system vs. reaching out as Andrew is effectively doing, and in the context of the gift sets and cultural perspectives of those who can CIVILLY and even RELATIONALLY stand on their core convictions in a court setting while allowing society to view and therefore judge the final outcome they wish to have.
    So FIRST, it seems to me that John 2:1-11 was less about Jesus’ concern for “cultural capital” and the short-lived whims of cultural desires, and more in obedience to the wishes of His mother Mary. He even border line rebukes her in vs. 4 and says, “Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come.” When we go farther in the context in 2:12-25, Jesus goes to Jerusalem and violently turns over the temple tables, yells at the people selling stuff, and stands against the acceptable “cultural norm”. Imagine the “cultural capital” He lost that day! Then in Mark 1:40-45, the purpose of Jesus wasn’t to hold on to “cultural capital” as much as He was trying to lay low in the towns so He could hang out with the people. Jesus was simply honoring the Law of Moses by telling the man to go and show himself clean so He could engage in society once again. That is what God had set up long before, and Jesus was simply honoring that arrangement within the culture. Perhaps “cultural capital” was a byproduct, but I do not think it was His motivation (actually “compassion” was what moved Him-vs. 41) to “hold back” on the message. If that was the case, then He should not have healed the man, because by doing so, verse 45 says “He could no longer enter a town openly, but had to stay out in the lonely places,” because it could have endangered His GREATER purpose of going to the Cross before it was time. I am no theologian, and I am prone to error, but it appears to me that Jesus is LESS concerned for cultural sensitivity and “capital” and MORE concerned with OBEDIENCE to his mother re: the wine (thereby reaffirming the Mosaic Law to “obey your parents”…even the Son of God obey’s his mom), and later on OBEDIENCE to His Father and the PURPOSE for God’s House to be a place of prayer & worship, not for money and capital gains. I do not think Jesus was against cultural capital if it was obtainable, but His greater concern was His obedience to the Father and FULFILLING His purpose of going to the Cross to redeem humanity. Therefore, if the purpose and purity of the MESSAGE defied “cultural capital”, then yes, the message of HOPE in light of God’s Word properly applied and spoken, is MORE important than gaining favor in the eyes of the culture. Again, I appreciate all that you are doing to reach across dividing lines, wherever they be, so this is in no way an assault on that, rather a gentle push back to recognize that Jesus was always “on mission” to glorify the Father, even if that was counter cultural and gained Him NO capital. The message was WAY MORE important and it would be spoken whether people received it or not. Thank God it was! 🙂
    SECOND, re: the issue of the courts being an automatic negative, I think this is a sad perspective, since the courts were established for peaceful resolution to otherwise irreconcilable differences. In other cultures, a submission to the court system may be a submission to worldly systems, but ever since the Pilgrims, our “court systems” have been based on the 10 Commandments and Scripture. Our whole system of government, as flawed as it may be, was based out of Biblical perspectives and Christian world view, therefore the foundation of truth that SHOULD guide our judges and juries, can be trusted. Is it wrong to seek justice as a Christian in a court of law if a son or daughter is molested or murdered? Is it wrong for a church to stand against an atheist in court who wants to tell them they can’t have a Nativity Scene on their front lawn because it is out in public for all to see and it offends him/her? Wouldn’t that be non-relational? Shouldn’t Christians just “give up” any hope for justice and protection under the Constitution and let be things as they are? Tell that to the Christian Counselors in California who will now not be able to encourage a youth under 18 that they don’t HAVE to be gay, and can find freedom through Jesus and sound therapy (READ HERE: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/12/05/two-rulings-on-law-banning-gay-conversion-therapy-for-teens/). The difference is we have a system of law that was founded in Biblical principles, ad if properly understood and applied from that foundation, works in the whole of our society. The interesting factor now is that our foundations are being uprooted at every turn. Even if a Christian says, “I am against gay marriage, but not you; I love you and here is my hand of peace extended to prove it…” said person will be called a bigot and horrible names. I do not think it is wrong or unloving to STAND on centuries old traditional values in American society, while still extending a hand of peace and hope to those who want to truly live at peace, and not just push an agenda to destroy good foundations. Why can’t we allow those who are gracious and yet full of conviction to preserve religious liberty, to do so in a court of law in a civil and kind manner? This is ALL OF OUR nation. All parties not only have the freedom, but the responsibility to be KIND, CIVIL, and SUBMISSIVE to the good laws of the land. Therefore, i think it is naiive and presumptuous to say that evangelicals should NOT engage in the courts to at least attempt to PRESERVE that which has been preserved by way of moral conviction for centuries: Marriage as between ONE man and ONE woman, as designed by God, and as our society has recognized without question, in obedience to God’s good commands. If our society chooses to go the way of an increased godlessness in its institutions of government, then such is the end of all things that once were sanctified and good. But until it is all gone, should we not lovingly, passionately, graciously, and proactively speak up for what we believe with RESPECT for all persons? Just my take on things. I could say more, but I’ve said enough. Thank you for what you’re doing and I support what you (Andrew Marin) and those who are standing up for righteousness (Defense of Marriage Coalition) are doing, so long as it is all done with BIBLICAL conviction and JESUS-CENTERED love (which sometimes can appear “unloving”-ie// temple tables being tossed and statements to “go and sin no more” (John 8) 🙂 ).

    • Joe

      How on earth did you escape the spam filters?

  • Frank

    Loving like Jesus does not allow the condoning, accepting, affirming or remaining silent about sinful behavior.

    • Jeremy Forbing

      But loving like Jesus also does not require the laws of a nation to reflect our own beliefs.
      People should choose to avoid sin because it is sin, not because it is illegal.

      • Frank

        I agree but as Christians we should not support sinful behavior. Not saying we need to legally fight against every sinful behavior but everyone chooses their battles.

        Many people work against SSM because they know its important to maintain the unique social construct of man, woman, child and that other forms are not in the best interests of children.

        • artiofab

          There’s no evidence that same-sex couples are not able to raise children as well as opposite-sex couples, so if you’re going to claim that non-traditional forms of marriage “are not in the best interests of children”, you’re making that statement based on your beliefs, not facts.

          Which is okay, you just should admit your biases.

          • Frank

            A new study that finds children of a gay or lesbian parent may be more likely to have social and emotional problems has sparked controversy on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate.

            The study, from Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, surveyed more than 15,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 39, asking them questions about their upbringings. Its findings are published in the July issue of Social Science Research.

          • Basil

            The Regenerus study was discredited as there were almost no actual same sex couples raising kids in his sample pool (I think there was only one such couple). It was a case of academic bait and switch and Regenerus got busted

          • Joe

            In greater fairness there were many many same sex couples raising kids in his sample pool. The problem many found was that many of the children being raised by same sex couples had come biologically from one or other of the members of the same sex couple with another biological parent and the biological parents’ relationship had broken up, despite Regnerus’s repeated disclosures prior to the study’s release and in the study that this was the case.

          • Joe

            contd. Many complained that same sex couples in a stable relationship who raise children in that stable relationship from start to finish weren’t represented. SSM hardly if at all existed in the period the study covered so this was likely the case. Regnerus’ study was actually ground breaking in that it was the first non-random study of its kind. Previously studies had selected their pool by un-divulged criteria which he found conspicuously congruent with the modern liberal spirit and conspicuously unscientific. For example the stereotype of a same sex couple with children is white and upper class though Regnerus remarks that studies show that non-white same sex couples are more likely to want children. His study allowed the data rise to the surface for all children being raised by parents who had previously had or currently were in a same sex relationship not just those selected for the purposes of liberal doctrine.

      • Joe

        Privatizing marriage is the solution. The laws of the land will then not reflect any statement of belief on what marriage is or is not. Civil unions would be available to anyone combination of sentient beings. But Christians would be able to administer, regulate, and exclude from marriage as the sacred institution in Scripture indicates should be done.

        • Joe

          EDIT: Regnerus’ study was actually ground breaking in that it was the first *random* study of its kind.

      • Joe

        Jeremy, should people choose to avoid pedophilia because pedophilia is sinful or because it is illegal? I know you will say that pedophilia is qualitatively different than homosexuality but describe for me the criteria by which some sins are widely agreed to be illegal and others not?

        • kenneth

          If you can’t truly can’t draw that distinction in moral reasoning for yourself, no amount of explanation can help you.

          • Joe

            That may be true or hyperbole. I’d sure want to help someone learn that distinction. Fortunately this hypothetical situation you refer to is not the case. I should have made that explicit for you there I guess.

          • Joe

            A tad less pejorative, shall we?

          • kenneth

            Any time the anti-SSM movement wants to drop the passive-aggressive juxtaposition of gay rights and pedophilia, we’re game for that. Until then, we’re going to call it out for the idiocy it is, every time.

            In many hundreds of posts over probably a dozen years, “Christians” just cannot resist getting in that little dig to try to equate SSM and pedophilia (and invariably bestiality and incest). They absolutely cannot engage the issue without going to that within a couple of posts. It’s almost always done in a snidely sideways manner by dressing it up in hypothetical and academic terms and just dangling it out there in the wind.

            Apparently you figure that way, you have deniability. “What? I never said you were just like pedophiles? Did you ever hear me say THAT? There must be something wrong with you all if you think there’s any hate in our movement.”

            At the end of the day though, slippery slope arguments advance the gay rights cause. Every time your movement makes these vile slanders, it has to lower its mask. If only for a moment, the public at large sees its true face.

          • Joe

            You call it “idiocy” but maybe you should appraise the historical discussion of pedophilia before you act as if rejection of it has for all time been a primary article of moral consciousness. In fact the age of consent was raised from 10 to 16 only at the beginning of the 20th century. What made having sex at 12 fine in 1910 and vile in 2010? Should we reject behavior that is sinful only because it is sinful or should there be laws against some sins? The question of whether pedophilia is wrong has been vigorously debated throughout history most notably before Christianity and after the Enlightenment. Are you sure that your revulsion to pedophilia is not just conditioning from the Christian views that long dominated American discourse? For your research there Kenneth start here:

            and here:

            I repeat my question for Jeremy. Should people choose to avoid pedophilia because pedophilia is sinful or because it is illegal and what are the criteria by which some sins are widely agreed to be illegal and others not?

  • This is a wonderful and powerful blog that every one of my evangelical friends should read. Homosexual behaviour is a sin. That is undoubtedly true. But we tend to forget that it is seen as sinful by us and NOT by the world. How then can we, through the courts or the government, convince the outside community that homosexual marriage should not be made legal? Our campaign would not make sense to them. Christians in America forget that we are not of this world and therefore, using the institutions and structures of this world to enforce our world-view will only backfire. But that is not to say that we should just keep quiet and go along with whatever the government or society proposes. We should stay strong in our beliefs even if that means we have to go to jail for not endorsing what we believe is wrong. Thats how we can make a stand without enforcing our worldview on those who reject it. Most importantly, we need to be influencers not enforcers. We need to change minds not laws. When minds are changed then that will reflect upon the law. Our job is to inform and influence the Truth. If the world does not accept it, then leave them to God and pray for them. Let God be the judge.

  • kenneth

    You should all count yourselves lucky that Jesus was not a litigious sort. If He were, he’d come back tomorrow, retain the top law firms in every country on the planet, and sue for 2,000 years worth of actual and punitive damages (plus interest) and costs. He would obtain judgments against every church and pastor who has ever deigned to appoint themselves his sole agent and licensed retailer of salvation.

    Every fancy church building, every mega-church and televangelism holding, every Vatican palace and Mormon holding company would be sold to settle the claims, running probably well into the trillion-dollar range. Every red cent of that money would go toward the care of the poor who were left to rot when many Christians decided that politics and morals policing was their main mission in the world.

    • Tom

      @ Kenneth: Great comment, and so very true. Each time I see a MEGA CHURCH sprout up I shake my head and ask myself how this is helping anything but the minister’s ego.
      WWJD? indeed.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I hope that was a satisfying rant, but it’s so over the top that I have a hard time taking it seriously. Christians — even megachurches — devote enormous amounts of time and resources to serving others, from the poor and the oppressed to the suffering, the sick and the dying. I find some of the televangelists (like Creflo Dollar, for instance) profoundly obscene and betrayers of the true message of Christ, so I can agree with you in some cases, but let’s avoid the absurdly sweeping judgment over 2000 years of Christian churches. It’s not as though there’s no justification for church buildings and not as though the church had no argument to make for crafting cathedrals and other beautiful sacred spaces. There is a place for beauty and grandeur. Jesus did teach that we should serve the least of these, but it’s not the only charge that he gave to his followers.

  • Arthur

    I want to believe these things you write, Andrew; moreover, it’d be convenient to believe that you believe what you’re writing. But your use of the phrase “the gay agenda” and your history of comments advocating for “intervention” in emerging LGBT identity awareness (http://www.signorile.com/2010/07/more-of-that-false-prophet.html) make it clear where you are in this debate: for the invalidation of LGBT identity and persons. I’m glad you’re making a call to give up the opposition of LGBT civil rights, I just wish that was actually motivated by moral conviction that LGBT persons are worthy, healthy children of God.

  • Hilary

    Marin –

    If/when gay marriage becomes legal at the civil level, what would be the ideal protections for Christians to still have religious freedom, as they saw it? Could you describe an acceptable compromise for me (a lesbian, 10 years with a partner) to have FMLA available if I needed it for Penny, or survivors benefits for Social Security for her, ie all the legal rights and responsibilities of civil marriage, and at the same time for Tim to not feel oppressed for his religious beliefs about my marriage?


  • artiofab

    I want to reply to Frank but I don’t see a Reply button on his comment, so I’m replying here.

    The Mark Regnerus study is not comparing children raised by stable same-sex couples and stable opposite-sex couples, it is comparing children raised by a variety of parents, coupled and single. Dr. Regnerus has admitted to a Focus on the Family affiliate that his study did not show that stable same-sex couples are worse at raising children than stable opposite-sex couples:

    So, no, that study did not show what you think it does, and it’s untruthful to claim that it did.

  • Jack

    (Thanks, Andrew. Spotted the following web blast and would like to see reactions to it.)

    By signing same-sex marriage into law, the Bible-loving Washington State Governor is helping to fulfill the predicted “days of Lot” (Luke 17) – days Jesus said would precede and hurry up His return as Judge – and she is thus making the Bible even more believable! After swelling up with pride, Mt. Rainier will be having a blast that Seaddlepated folks can share in lava-land!

  • Joe

    It was the first such study to take a random sample, a more scientifically honest sample. And it did show how few stable same sex couples there were in the period before SSM came into being. It is useful data when thinking about homosexuality and raising children though it does not settle the comparison between same and opposite sex parents.

    • kenneth

      It was junk science and contributed absolutely no novel or useful data to the field. Yes, he had the money to get a nice statistically random sample. Then, he immediately threw that advantage down the drain by making useless and invalid comparisons in the study.

      His data showed nothing more than what has been known since the 1800s: children of stable homes do better than children of chaotic environments. The Regnerus study says nothing, absolutely nothing, about the effect of gay parenting as an independent factor. The study was funded by anti-SSM religious culture war groups so that they could float the idea of “scientific evidence against SSM” into the wind, even though the data don’t back it.

      The anti-SSM forces want to dress up their sectarian religious arguments in the language of science, but they refuse to acknowledge any findings which challenge their assertions, and they refuse to underwrite any research which would put the questions to a fair test.

      • Joe

        His data cannot validate or invalidate SSM which he repeatedly acknowledges. But thank you for pointing it out.
        There is no ability currently, to conduct a study with a random sample of gay parents in stable environments because so few exist. SSM being muscled into public favor by white wealth and power will surely provide opportunities for such a study in several decades. I would refuse to underwrite research that… can’t be… done… too?
        How could any properly scientific findings in support of stable same-sex households exist if there are too few of these households for a random sample? I wouldn’t acknowledge findings that unscientifically challenge my assertions either.
        A fully valid question the study raises is, “Were gay households unstable and thus unhealthy because of a self-interested elevation of sexual identity above the welfare of children or because of a brutal march to civil equality through destabilizing discrimination.”

        • kenneth

          That study can’t even raise decent speculation on these last points, let alone valid question. The study didn’t even establish the sexual identity or political/civil rights leanings of those involved. We have no idea if any of those parents even identify as gay. All we know is that some of them were in a same sex relationship at some time. Were they gay? Were they struggling to figure out their identity? Was their same sex experience just the product of drunken one night experimentation or a tear of bipolar mania?

          • kenneth

            We don’t know, and neither does Regnerus. We don’t even know if any of these people raised children with a same sex partner. Anyone who had any same sex experience after having a child magically became a “gay parent”. All we do know for sure is that the study was funded by groups with a single issue agenda and that the study was designed to achieve their pre-determined findings, albeit in a sloppy fashion. No community college kid in a 200-level research seminar would be allowed to pass with this level of work.

          • kenneth

            I also don’t buy the notion that there’s just no way to do good science on the question. There are plenty of gay couples with children living in committed long term relationships. Legal recognition, if not termed “marriage” has been going in in some countries for 20 years now. If nothing else, we could do longitudinal long term studies following well-matched gay and straight headed families to measure outcomes in coming years. I don’t think the anti-SSM movement has the stones, quite frankly, to stake their position on a truly fair scientific inquiry.

          • Joe

            I forgot to use Regnerus’ own terms for that last question and slipped into improper terminology. Thank you for pointing that out.

          • Joe

            Let me rephrase.
            “Were households of those parents who engaged in same-sex sex unstable and thus unhealthy for children because of a self-interested elevation of adulterous sexual exploration above the welfare of children?”

          • Joe

            Or were households of those parents who engaged in same-sex sex unstable and thus unhealthy for children because SSM and the now well-developed sexual identity constructs had not yet emerged to provide…..

          • Joe

            contd. ….a foothold against discrimination, more stable household transitions from heterosexuality by conformity into honest homosexuality, and room for first partners to form stable homosexual households?

          • Joe

            There might be plenty of stable long-term gay households in your experience but there just aren’t enough to support a random sample pool which factor your proposal once again falls prey to. Going forward it does seem that the question Regnerus wanted to investigate (instead finding data for different considerations entirely), whether two parents of the same sex lead to worse, equal, or better outcomes than traditional parenting by a man and a woman, may be more greatly influenced by socio-economic factors as the financial barriers to entry for adoption, AI, IVF, and surrogacy are prohibitively high. Would this reveal that socioeconomic factors are more important in raising a child than the sexual “identity” of its parents? I suspect so, but pure speculation.

          • Joe

            A more apt test to my mind for conservatives would be a long-term study charting the number of biological children of homosexual households per homosexual in a given nation year by year juxtaposed against a chart of that nation’s corresponding year by year percentage of the population that self-identifies as gay, and fertility rate. A conservative (Catholic esp.) argument is that homosexuality feeds economic decline by contributing through far below replacement level fertility itself to below replacement level fertility rates nationally and thus to decline (which is itself quite the debated point). This study would investigate what, if any correlations, varying levels of acceptance of homosexuality had with a nation’s fertility.

          • Joe

            too much decline!

  • Pastor Al Brodbent

    I agree partially with Dr. Morin. I do not beleive God wants us to legislate Morals. I bleive when that happens the grace is removed from being obedient to God. I can lock my 16 year old daughter in a bedroom, taking her meals and other necesities, from the time she is 12 till 20. She will recieve no grace for living a pure life. if she figures out a way of getting out and doesn’t then she will recieve grace for being obedient to her parents.

    On the other hand, when legislation is being proposed, or we feel certain legislature should be introduced, we should work for it as citizens of our great democracy. This has nothing to do, particularly with religious beleifs, but what is best for our country.

  • J. Morales

    Great piece Mr. Marin, I have to humbly disagree. First, there are grounds beyond the religious and moral to stand for traditional marriage and against same-sex marriage. Frank Turek details those in his book “Correct, Not Politically Correct”, I won’t go into them due to space and time constraints.

    Beyond that, I disagree more in the general. You seem to correctly acknowledge that a society where same-sex marriage is legal will be a society much less receptive to the gospel and less tolerant of Christians. God is in control and if it comes to that, it comes to that. Some persecution may even wake up the American Church. Regardless, I don’t see how that means we should just roll over and let it happen. I don’t see why I can’t work to love my homosexual neighbors and work to keep our laws sensible. The law is a great teacher and people tend to assume that anything is legal is also moral. Allowing such a drastic legal change will lead to drastic consequences. Is God big enough to work even if the law isn’t in accordance with His will. Yeah sure, but once again, I don’t see how that means I should simply consign myself to that fact.

    Last point, I think to the pro-life movement. At one time, they seemed dead in the water. Pro-choice was the mantra of the day and all the elites supported it. Lately, the pro-life movement has been making a big comeback. They did so because of their determination and they’re not just changing the laws, but the culture as well, to the point where the elites have to at least give lip service to the pro-lifers even if they disagree. Times may be bleak now, and they may get bleaker, but I just don’t see how it is responsible to abandon the fight. Should SSM become legal, I will of course, do as you say and love people and call them to come to Christ, but we’re not there just yet and I’d like to see if we can keep from getting there.

    • kenneth

      The abortion issue is a perfect textbook example of why attempts to legislate morality and conscience always fail. The pro-life movement has focused almost exclusively on a top-down approach of trying to maneuver ultraconservative politicians and judges into position to try to legislate Roe away a piece at a time.

      Well, 40 years have passed since Roe, and it’s still the law of the land, and there is still a strong consensus in our society that abortion ought to be legal in at least some circumstances. That movement spent virtually no effort to change hearts and minds in the culture. You were either for them, or evil, and by God, you were going to get the government to pull us all down the right path. The gay rights movement, which also started 40 years ago, had zero political or legal clout until very recently. They put in the leg work to engage the culture.

      • Joe

        Who was for who or evil and who was going to get the government to pull who down the right path?

  • Angie Raess

    The tension on this subject is well illustrated in the comments above. The tension won’t dissipate over night, it will take continual work on BOTH sides but you have to be willing to LISTEN. That means while the party we oppose or disagree with (whether LGBT or Christian) is speaking you LISTEN and take to heart instead of preparing your next legendary rebuttal. The question that keeps coming to my mind: Is being “right” becoming more important than being Christ-like?

    A lot of LGBT folks I’ve met know theology as well as and sometimes even better than their fellow Evangelicals because often times they were once in the Evangelical community but are now rejected and displaced. Theologies and the importance of being right have often overshadowed moments that could have been filled with God’s grace and compassion. It IS possible to love Christ, keep your theology and love folks that are different from you and sometimes even oppose you. I see a Christ who illustrates this in scriptures time and time again. Please take time to listen and engage in A CONVERSATION not A DEBATE.

    Thank you for your messages Andrew- I don’t think you’ll ever know the impact you’ve made on mine and so many other lives. Praying for all of you at The Marin Foundation.

  • Dan Watkins

    Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for your article above. I like and agree with alot that you do and say. We definately need you around stirring things up!
    I do however find it difficult when you ask the question: “To what extent was Jesus willing to make a stand for his message at the cost of cultural capital?” and then support this with two scriptures which I feel have been ‘adjusted’ to back your argument! Take John 2:6-11 for instance. Nowhere does it suggest that Jesus was providing wine to drunk guests!! (bit of poetic license there, my friend!). Then in Mark 1:40-45 what Jesus is doing is helping the healed leper’s re-entry back into society! The preist would verify that the leper was in fact ‘pure’ or whole and therefore be instrumental in this person’s welcome into a community that had, up to that point, rejected him. Again, I like what you say – I may not agree with all of it, I need to ponder! – but for me, Andrew, it does affect your argument when you use scripture out of its context (cultural or contextual) or, as in the John verses, just make things up!