What appears to be a simple question, see the title, with a slam dunk answer is full of nuance. And it is an important question in the light of President Obama's recent statements on the subject. But more than that, this is one of the most emotionally charged questions that many Fundamentalists try to answer.
Whether Christians should support gay marriage depends on location, location, location. Location here, does not refer to a geographical place but to a sphere. So we need to clarify the question and ask whether Christians are being asked to support gay marriage in the church, in society, or in both.
Those who adhere to the whole Bible must firmly and gently say no to gay marriage in the church. Though Jesus never mentioned the subject, some of his predecessors and followers did and did so unambiguously. The basic gist of the Biblical objections to gay marriage is that it is contrary to God's creation. Here, we are talking about His creation before the fall. He created men and women to be in physical union with one another other rather than with those of the same sex. That doesn't mean that we should not celebrate the love any 2 people have for each other since there is simply not enough love in the world to do that. But, if we are to remain faithful to all of God's Word, we cannot agree with any love that includes the physical union of two people of the same gender.
Because God's Word tells us that homosexual relations are wrong, and since God's Word should be the rule for the church, it is logical to say that Christians should not support gay marriages in the Church. Christians should challenge the practice of some denominations that support gay marriages in the church or recognize gay church officers. But they should only do so after they have first learned why those denominations lend such support for gays. Denominations that support gay marriages and ordain gay officers often do so to stand in solidarity with those who are being oppressed and for equality. Certainly such churches are going too far in their standing with others; but they are Biblically correct in standing in solidarity with gays who are not treated as equals.
But what about supporting gay marriage in society? Should Christians do so? Here, the question must be clarified. Does support here mean encouraging or does it mean defending the right to do so? Though the church should not encourage what goes against the God's Word, the church must defend the right of gays to marry in society and have equal rights.
Many of my fellow fundamentalist Christians struggle with making such a distinction. According to them, right is right and wrong is wrong and you cannot defend the practice of doing what is wrong. However, if we use that same logic for all other practices including our faith, we would end up merging Biblical law with civil law and every personal sin could be punished by both the state and the church. For example, having a different faith would make one a criminal and thus eligible for a prison sentence. Also, history, more than strongly, suggests that such a merging is extremely tragic for both the church and its victims.
The real question for the Church regarding gay marriage is whether or not the church will take a legal or evangelical approach to addressing it. If we take the former approach, we move towards making God's law the law of the land. Here, not only will we go beyond what the New Testament prescribes, but we will reveal something disturbing about ourselves. We will unveil a deep desire to control those who are different. To justify this control, some of us will overstate our case and even demonize homosexuals. And in so doing, we have forgotten that Romans 2:1 follows Romans 1:26-27--the verses that condemn homosexuality. For Romans 2:1 tells us that those who judge are as guilty as those whom they judge because all sin. In other words, heterosexuals and homosexuals are equals in that they all sin.
Those who wish to control others have cut the words equal and equality out of both their dictionaries and, if they are fundamentalist, Bibles. Those who desire to rule over others must make the case, and that will almost always be both overstated and unsubstantiated, that they are superior to those they wish to rule over. And, such people are either unaware of or apathetic to the past atrocities committed by the church as previously hinted to.
Those who rely on evangelism alone trust in the Gospel and respect the listener. When a disagreement remains, they part as equals and one cannot part as equals while not defending the rights of the other. This is not enough for those who want to control. For they want both guaranteed results, and to look down on others.
I can't join my fellow fundamentalists who choose to rely on control rather than evangelism. I cannot join them for Biblical reasons. And I cannot follow them because I have gay friends some of whom have made very important contributions to my life. And despite the fact that I cannot agree with these friends on homosexuality, I know that each of them has strengths that I don't have and I have weaknesses that they don't have. I am not the only fundamentalist who can say this. And despite our disagreements, I believe they must have all of the rights heterosexuals have. I can't condone using the law to control their behavior.
I'm also afraid for many of my fellow fundamentalists. That is because while Obama's latest statements on same sex marriage will inspire them to reacquire homosexuality and gay marriage as targets, pride and hatred will fly under their radar to conduct their insidious attacks. For pride is described as being the antithesis to faith (Romans 3:27) and one cannot both love God and hate those made in the image of God (James 3:9ff; I John 4:20).
And though I applaud how the liberal churches stand in solidarity with gays who have been ostracized and abused and how they defend their rights, I cannot join them in saying that involvement in gay relations is acceptable before God.
The above points to a common error committed by both conservative and liberal Christians regarding sensitive issues like gay rights. The error is the belief that agreement and support go hand in hand. Conservative Christians find it difficult to support equal rights for gays because they cannot agree with their behaviors and lifestyles. Liberal Christians struggle with expressing disagreement with gay relations because they realize the moral imperative of standing in solidarity with gays when they are not treated as equals. However, just as Jesus' real test for love was when it was for someone who did not belong to one's own group, the real test for belief in equality is found in whether we defend the rights of those with whom we disagree.
All of this points to the need of making careful statements and well-thoughtout distinctions regarding issues like gay rights. It is important to be precise as to where we agree and disagree with others. It is also vital to understand how we could sin against those with whom we disagree particularly when we call our desire to control and rule over them "concern" or "love." This desire to control, whether it is out of ambition or fear, is a major cause for much of the suffering and violence we see today.
|This Month's Scripture Verse:|
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil -- I Timothy 6:9-10a