Following up “Sinning” in the series called “Love is the Why,” I delve into America’s most controversial sin.
Let’s just get the thesis out of the way:
Christians should not oppose legislation protecting the right for same-sex couples to marry.
Approaching this issue can feel like walking into a cluttered room. A room much like I’m in now. I’m sitting on the couch in my family’s library. There are shelves filled with books ranging from John Piper to John Grisham. There’s a buffet table overstuffed with board games. There are old trophies, a record player, a fishing pole, a gun, old art projects, lamps, nick nacks, and stuffed animals. This room is also, temporarily, where I keep a lot of the things I’ve reintroduced to the house upon my return from college, and various items, clothes, and more books lay stacked around the room in all states of unpacked-ness. Approaching this issue feels like walking into a room like this with instructions to make it orderly. Only there are scorpions hiding in the room. And someone’s playing all the types of music I don’t like.
There is so much swirling around in the gay marriage vortex. It is perhaps the most devastating collision of religion and politics in the present day. In order to come up with any answers, so many different arguments, counter-arguments, world views, and ethical dilemmas must be accounted for. Relating general rules to individual cases and vise versa becomes a continuous game of gotcha that might inevitably lead to conflict. This tends to happen when, on one side, there are people bound by what they believe to be a God-given mandate and on the other side are people fighting to be appreciated for the way they believe they were born.
But this issue must be approached nonetheless, even if it isn’t fun or easy. Questions of gay marriage will continue to force themselves into our government as well as our dinner-table discussions until it is, in a sense, resolved. When my generation grows old, we will look back at the second decade of the 21st Century as the defining years in the movement for what I suppose you would call “marriage equality.”
So in order to avoid being swept away into 50,000 words in the vortex of questions raging within this issue, and in order to keep the focus on what is most relevant to my angle on this issue, I will approach this from a religious perspective, not a political one. By that I mean this: there are arguments that one could make against same-sex marriage without involving their religious beliefs, just as there are arguments to be made for same-sex marriage that can bypass legitimizing homosexuality. Though they are relevant to the issue, they are periphery matters when it comes to discussing this issue from the American Christianity lens. (And, because this is such a big topic and I cannot possibly cover everything, please feel free to comment if you have any questions about my perspective – religiously or politically – that you can ask with civility).
If you are a Christian, I think you should believe that homosexual acts are not pleasing to God. The Bible makes that plain.
If you are a Christian, I think you should love every human being. The Bible makes that plain.
If you are a Christian, I think you should be “angered” by all sin, not just homosexuality. The Bible makes that plain.
If you are a Christian, I think you should not feel like the government of your nation is your concern. The Bible, I think, and Christian history, I know, make that rather plain.
If you grasp all four of those statements, then I think you understand where I’m coming from.
According to Christian belief, homosexual acts are not pleasing to God. Whether or not you believe people are born gay (I happen to think that, undoubtedly, people are born gay) is not necessarily what’s important here. The facts are that there are some men who have sex with men and there are women who have sex with women. They have the desire to do it and they do it. And, for most of them, it is not something that they fight against – at least not after they have come out as being gay. It becomes a lifestyle of sorts – a homosexual man who continues to freely engage in sexual activity with other men is practicing homosexuality. According to Christianity, this is contrary to God’s plan for human sexuality and is thus a sinful desire of the flesh and displeasing to God. This is the lifestyle that Paul condemns multiple times in his letters. A young man trying gay sex with another young man is not condemned to hell for that one act, just as the woman who desires other women but resists the temptation is not punished just on the grounds of having the desire.
Like it or lump it, that is the Christian belief: choosing sin instead of God is wrong, and embracing fleshly desires without repentance will incur God’s wrath. Just like carrying on in adultery, fits of rage, drunkenness, thievery, deceitfulness, envy, or any other sinful activity, homosexual acts are part of the world of the flesh which Jesus died to pay the price for.
But, if you accept that teaching, where in those instructions does it say to treat homosexuals unkindly? Where does it say that the lesbian is any worse than the thief or the adulterer? Where does it say Christians are superior people? And where does it say that Christians should use legislative clout to try to stop people from being homosexual?
It doesn’t. Believing that homosexual acts are sinful does not, in any way, mean believing any of those things.
And yet, we still have God Hates Fags. And, even if there are only a few Christians saying that, there are more than a few thinking it. There are even more who just think gays are weirdos. And there are many, many, Christians who want to see the government prevent same-sex couples from marrying, despite the fact that the people of this supposed democracy seem ready to make homosexual marriages part of the law of the land.
I am not calling for Christians to support gay marriage. And I’m certainly not saying Christians should stop seeing homosexual acts as sinful. But I am saying that AC is creating an environment for homosexuals that shows a serious lack of love.
What sounds like a more effective plan for “fighting” against homosexuality?
1. Treat homosexuals like anyone else. Show them love. Share the Gospel. Hate their sin by loving their soul. Accept them whether or not they follow Jesus and leave gay sex behind.
2. Use laws that make it illegal for them to get married. And maybe just tell them they’re going to hell because they’re gay.
Option 1, right?
Because not only is Option 1 the kind, merciful, gracious, loving way that models after the life of Jesus, but Option 2 is ineffective, narrow-minded, and an overall waste of time and effort that leads to hate and causes Christians to be unnecessarily despised by the rest of the nation.
Christians are not called to run the government. This doesn’t work. And it’s not the way it was done “back in the day.”
It wasn’t until Constantine (300’s) that Christians had any real political power. And when Christians had a ton of power (1000’s) they did things like massacre Saracens, burn each other for being heretics, and nice things like that. Ironically, the most notable examples of modern religion-run-governments are Muslim nations, and I think it’s safe to say that Christians who hate gays hate Muslims too. And don’t pretend like America is a Christian nation. It never has been. The Founders weren’t Christians – they were Masons. America does not exist to legislate based on the teachings of Christianity. No government except church government is supposed to work like that.
This should not make Christians uncomfortable. Christians around the world are in situations where they are not only out of power, but are actively oppressed by those in power. AC should not feel wrong letting the secular world run the government. Those are the rules of the game. And, at any rate, legislation is not going to stop people from being homosexual or doing homosexual things. So AC should practice some neutrality and do nothing. Don’t stand in its way, but don’t feel like you have to champion its advancement either.
I used to be homophobic.
And when I was homophobic, I thought nasty things about gay people. I said nasty things about gay people. And I let my belief that homosexuality was at odds with God’s intentions for people obscure my need for radical love.
And now, as I move away from homophobia, I can see quite clearly how ineffectual and unloving AC’s approach to gay marriage is. People are at the heart of this issue. People who are hurting because they might have to hide who they are. People who are called awful things. People who are bullied and discriminated against.
People, who, like me and all of the other sinful wretches born into the flesh, need a savior. People, who, like me and all of the other sinful wretches, are loved by God and have access to salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Let the politics play out. Let democracy have the day. Christians should pick other hills to die on.
I still believe that homosexual acts are displeasing to God. But I also know the solution to this sin is written in Jesus’ blood and not the ink of politicians.
So yes, I would like if gay people were not gay.
But I would also like it if I never had a lustful or unkind thought. And I wish drunkards would stop drinking. And I wish thieves would stop stealing and killers would stop killing and liars would stop lying. Rather than fence in homosexuals as being a certain type of weird and yucky and different, I’ll open the gate to my own heart and let them, like all people, in. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and far be it from me to categorize the different sins and sinners.
I love gay people. Not in the single white girl with her gay groupies way (although I do enjoy some of the stereotypical gay guy attributes), but I mean the type of love that genuinely cares for and accepts a person as more than an evangelization project. A love that prays for a renewal of spirit but will love all the same no matter what. Although I will not turn a blind eye to their rebellion against my God, I will also not do something that causes gay people to be treated differently from other people based upon my religion’s understanding of their sexuality.
Come on, I’m an English Major. What would I do without the gays?
Soli Deo Gloria