An Evangelical Argues for Legal Same Sex Marriage

An Evangelical Argues for Legal Same Sex Marriage May 24, 2012

Out of Ur is the staunchly evangelical blog of the staunchly evangelical magazine Leadership, published by the staunchly evangelical Christianity Today International. Nevertheless, minority voices are sometimes heard there, and this is one of those times. Chad Hall prefaces his post by saying that he thinks homosexual practice is unbiblical and that he’s against same sex marriage. Yet, in an argument that resonates with my own ebook on the subject, he doesn’t think that evangelicals should fight the legalization of same sex marriage:

First, I see no biblical warrant for imposing our Christian standards for same-sex behavior on non-Christians. For the most part, our jurisdiction is within the church (where I see strong biblical mandate for not affirming homosexual practices, including cohabitation and marriage). When we see Muslim countries forcing non-Muslims (including Christians) to live according to strict Sharia law, we cringe. But we Christians are all-too-willing to force non-Christians to live according to our standards. In fact, there is history of us doing so, dating back to (but not before) Constantine.

Certainly there are times when Christians should seek to impose our Bible-based understanding of right and wrong on the society at large, but my reading of Scripture leads me to limit such attempts to issues of justice. We should strive to make the world a more just place, pushing for laws that protect victims of all kinds of injustice: abuse, slavery, trafficking, theft, rape, violence, oppression, and discrimination. We do this out of concern for the oppressed, a concern fueled by the indwelling Spirit of God. But even on issues of justice, a still more powerful witness than our efforts to pass justice-based laws are our efforts to eradicate injustice in our own communities. For instance, slavery in the United States would have ended centuries earlier if only Christians had promoted biblical justice among their own families and communities. Christians should strive to make the world a more just place, but passing laws that restrict whom sinners can marry does not make the world a more just place, and thus is none of our business.

Read the rest of his arguments: Out of Ur: Why Legalizing Gay Marriage May Be Good for the Church.

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  • Agreed. One doesn’t have to accept the Biblical morality of same-sex sex in order to take a more libertarian approach to it in the context of a secular nation.

  • Curtis

    I wonder, would the term “civil union” be adequate, for all civil marriages done by the state, allowing the word “marriage” to be reserved for church weddings? Or has the term “marriage” been so co-opted by secular society that even those not interested in church weddings won’t want to give up the term “marriage” for their unions?

  • I do think the word “marriage” is now equated with societal and legal legitimacy. “Civil unions” is a term now equated with a sort of second-class, compromised position,granted by some states and not by others. It is reminiscent of the phrase “separate but equal” during the civil rights movement. I would love to see the government get out of the marriage business entirely–redefining all legally sanctioned unions as “civil unions” rather than “marriages.” But it won’t happen. Heterosexual couples would feel demoted–and gay couples would feel they had been denied something valuable. I think we’re going to have to grant full marriage equality to all couples of legal age who desire it. Once it is done at a federal level, it will gradually become less of an issue. In a few generations, it will be considered normative. Gay people will be like left handed people–a permanent minority, yes, but without controversy.

  • Basil

    You should see the comments on the Out of Ur website. What a bunch of self righteous bigots

  • I agree with Susan. “Civil union” has a second-class feel to it. This would not be an acceptable compromise. However, couldnt we keep “marriage” in the name but still separate the two rites (legal and sacramental)? If churches are afraid that legalizing same-sex marriage will destroy the “sanctity of marriage,” then they dont have to sanction this within their congregations.

    I havent read Tony’s book yet, but i think this is (or near) his view too. We might have to find a different name for the religious (another unacceptable title) marraige though because a lot of conservative protestants would “protest” against the title “sacramental” marriage for sounding too Cathoic.

    • curtis

      But if “civil union” were the name granted to all civil marriages, would it still be considered second class? We could even go the next step and officially decree that all couples who are still alive and were married outside of a place of worship are now officially called “unioned”, not “married”. How can something could be considered second class if everybody gets the same thing, and every uses the term “civil union” outside of church?

      Houses of worship would then be free to grant marriages, and call them “marriages”, to any couple, as they see fit. If I were single, I can go out right now and get “married” to another man in a church ( among others). Of course, that marriage carries no legal weight. Why not have all “marriage” have no legal weight at all, and we re-name the legal instrument “civil union” or something else?

      I just don’t see how some people are not going to feel personally hurt or confused if we try to squeeze two separate meanings, legal marriage religious marriage, into one word, “marriage”. It seems we would have much more success putting clearly different names onto two clearly different concepts. Naming two things the same thing is just going to cause a lot of fighting and strife, for a long time to come, and I don’t see what the benefit of that much fighting and bad feelings can possibly be.

      • Erp

        ‘marriage’ is a term in international as well as US law (think immigration, international child custody disputes, etc) so it might be better for churches to refer to religious marriage (note the Catholic church already does not recognize civil marriages where one partner is divorced so religions not seeing eye to eye with the civil authorities on marriage has a long history) and leave marriage as the general legal term. You don’t want a situation of traveling overseas and your spouse is seriously injured and you have no rights to visit (you only have a ‘civil union’ and we don’t recognize that and yes you were also married in a church but it isn’t a legal marriage in the eyes of your country and so not in our eyes either, oh and since you weren’t married to their mother we will have to take her children into foster care until the legal situation is sorted out).

        • Curtis

          Good point. It is not just a U.S. custom, but a worldwide tradition, to refer to civil, secular union as “marriage”. There is an Evangelical “Covenant Marriage” movement out there, that tries to make a clear distinction between religious union and civil union, but I don’t think it has gained much traction. Looks like we are stuck with using one word for two distinct things; I guess we’ll eventually get used to it.

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