On Gay Marriage
Gay marriage is a topic I tend to avoid in public forums. As is true with abortion and immigration, conversation is rare. Usually people just go straight to angry diatribes and restating tired rhetoric. But along with the rest of our nation I have been processing these things more deeply in the past few weeks and so I decided to share some of that processing here.
I suppose there’s no way to avoid having people get mad about what I’ll write. That’s fine. I’d love to have pushback. I would appreciate if we could keep it civil though.
Before my thoughts, here are a few blogs/articles I’ve found interesting and helpful.
Andrew Arndt, Pastor of Bloom in Denver
Hugh Halter, Leader of Adullam in Denver
Evangelicals Face Growing Tension Between Political and Personal Views of Gay Marriage, A Huffington Post Article
So here are some thoughts. They aren’t complete, but pieces of my processing.
Christians are picking a convenient time to “protect marriage.”
For a few years now the Christian line on gay marriage has been that we need to “protect marriage” from distortion.
First, I agree with Hugh that as Christians we believe marriage is something God has created and therefore we do not need to protect it from anyone. I also think it is telling that gay marriage is the issue that has led us to the line of needing to “protect marriage.” Marriage has been distorted for a long time. We have not protected marriage from being ravaged by divorce (for any and every reason or non-reason). We’ve often sanctioned it with our silence. We have not “protected” marriage from the abuse of husbands who are supposed to lay down their lives for their wives (Ephesians 5). Sometimes we’ve promoted marital distortion by telling men to be “spiritual leaders” in their homes without defining what that means. Leaving them to apply their distorted views of leadership to their marriages in God’s name. We haven’t protected marriage from the flood of pornography that objectifies women, dishonors wives, and defiles marital sexuality.
So deciding that now we are going to “protect marriage” says something about our view of marriage and sexuality. The hard truth that people don’t want to admit is that many Christians do think homosexuality is worse than divorce (for any and every reason or non-reason), abuse and neglect, and all kinds of sexual immorality that produces destruction of marriages.
Civil union and marriage.
Some are advocating that all government sanctioned unions be referred to as civil unions and those that take place in the church be called marriage. I understand the distinction being made (and don’t theologically disagree) but at this point marriage is the language used in our society for a committed sexual union between two people. So at this point it’s all going to be called marriage.
Despite this, I think there is a sense in which all marriages that do not include commitment to God in the vows are in a sense civil unions. They are recognized by the state and federal government and really have nothing to do with God. A marriage that is understood to be a vow to another person and to God, however, is a spiritual union (and assuming the right paperwork is filed is a civil union as well).
In the debates about gay marriage, we are talking primarily about the civil definition of marriage, not a religious one. In the United States the State should not be beholden to the Church, and neither should the Church be beholden to the State. Therefore it seems the State should define marriage as it sees fit, but this will only be a civil definition. The Church should also have the freedom to define marriage in a religious/spiritual manner.
Our culture is not advocating “marriage equality” even though that’s the term now applied to this issue.
Words are powerful. They frame perceptions. Why do you think people against abortion aren’t called anti-choice or those for it called pro-death? We pick words that will frame our particular perspective in the most positive light possible–even when it’s misleading.
In our culture we are not debating marriage equality, we are talking about a specific group obtaining the legal rights that come from marriage. I don’t hear anyone advocating the right to marry for minors. I don’t hear anyone advocating for the marriage rights of polygamists. We are talking about state-sanctioned marriage for homosexual couples, not marriage equality.
At this point it is a foregone conclusion that gay marriage will be legalized across the country. The only question is how long it will take. In one sense I’ll be glad. Maybe it will allow us to move on from the debate to focusing on loving our neighbors well–to being people again instead of sides in an argument.