Sunday, January 18, 2009

Why This Christian Guy Won't Stand in the Way of Gay Marriage

For several years now, people in the United States have debated about the rights of homosexuals to marry. Those of the Christian faith, at large, have typically disapproved on account of the biblical prohibitions of homosexual relationships as outlined in the book of Leviticus (Ch. 12, v. 13) in the Old Testament and by the Apostle Paul’s writings in the New Testament (1 Cor. 6:9). As a Christian, I disapprove of homosexual relationships, including gay marriages. However, unlike a great many of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I believe it would be in our best interest to allow gay marriages in our country.

One thing we have to keep in mind is that, even though many Christian men founded our nation, we are not a Christian nation. Our founders were wise enough to create a nation with religious freedom, wherein the government cannot establish any one religion above another, or impose any set of religious beliefs on its citizens. That being the case, we are allowed to believe whatever we want to believe, and, unless an action causes some form of abuse to another, we are allowed to live our lives as we see fit.

In a secular world, some people do not believe homosexual relationships are wrong. If I were not a Christian, I would see very little wrong about homosexual relationships either. One of the arguments many homosexuals make in favor of gay marriage is that nobody is harmed by it. If two men (or two women) choose to unite themselves in a committed, loving relationship (marriage), how does that harm anyone? It is a personal decision between the two, just as it is with heterosexual couples, and would affect them alone. That being the case, why shouldn’t gay marriages be allowed in our country?

If the reason is that we’re concerned about our children being negatively influenced, well, perhaps we should do a better job influencing them ourselves. But from a Christian perspective, anyone who engages in sinful behaviors or a sinful lifestyle is harming themselves—they’re allowing the devil into their lives, separating themselves from God. So, as Christians, we are eager to prevent or stop people from living a life of sin. It’s been our mission to fight sin as best we can. But, I suggest our methods of doing so are sometimes flawed in the sense that we tend to impose our values, morals, and beliefs on others in an attempt to save them. But are we right to do this? I think not. We as Christians should never be trying to force our beliefs on others. Whenever we push our ideas like this we actually turn people away from us. In consequence we potentially turn them away from church, religion, God, and the very one who can save them for all eternity, Jesus Christ, as well. With that in mind, just because we as Christians believe homosexual relationships are wrong, that does not mean we should prevent others who do not believe they are wrong from deciding for themselves whether or not they should be in one. They should be allowed to make their own decisions on the matter and not have it made for them.

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis suggests that there is more than one particular form of marriage already in this world. He suggests there are actually two—Christian/religious marriage and secular/worldly marriage. A Christian marriage, for example, would typically be described as one man and one woman united together in a committed, loving, monogamous, lifelong relationship. A secular marriage, however, can also be that, but can be a marriage of convenience, and far less than loving, monogamous, or lifelong. Today, we have many married people who do a lot of sinful things. People are entering into open marriages, committing adultery, and behaving far less than lovingly toward their spouses. Marriages in this country aren’t perfect, whether they’re secular or religious in nature.

The point is that heterosexual marriages are allowed in almost all of their various sinful forms in this country. That being the case, why not allow homosexual marriages as well? When we allow heterosexuals to enter into a secular, open marriage, but won’t allow two gay men to enter into a loving, committed, monogamous marriage, how is that exactly fair to them? When we say a secular heterosexual marriage is okay, but not a secular (or even religious in some cases) homosexual marriage, how is that right or balanced? If you shouldn’t force your religious beliefs on others and you can’t keep heterosexuals from engaging in various sinful, but lawful, behaviors, then how can you argue you can do that toward homosexuals and yet match equality between the two groups? You can’t. To do that shows a bias against that group. When you try to do that, you come across as singling out homosexuals out of hate, prejudice, or intolerance. And if that’s the impression you leave on a person, how then can you win them over to the Lord? You will only do that if you allow people to make their own choices in life. When a person has to face the consequences of their own actions and finds those consequences to be rather harsh or displeasing, you then have an opening for which to influence them to something better. That something better is Jesus Christ. When you allow people to make their own choices, and, even if you feel they are making wrong choices, still treat them with love, dignity, and kindness, you are in a far better position to then befriend them, speak the truth to them, and influence them toward Christ and away from sin. But when you try to force others into believing as you do, into believing, in this case, that homosexual marriage is wrong, all you do is turn away those very people who want to enter into such a union. And if you do that, your whole case for wanting to fight the allowance of gay marriage—in order to save them—is no longer valid. You can’t influence someone you’ve turned off. They won’t listen.

The real issue here is that if people want to engage in homosexual activity, they’re going to, regardless of what we have to say about it. Not everyone will always listen to us, or believe as we do. That being the case, we have to look at best results. Currently, there are gay and lesbian couples that aren’t allowed hospital privileges if their partner is hospitalized. Homosexual parents who have raised children from the moment they were born, have to face the reality that should their partner die, they may lose custody of the very children they’ve loved and helped raise. Should one partner in a long-term homosexual relationship die, the other may not always be able to claim any inheritance from their deceased partner, potentially crippling them financially. Neither of these instances would happen if we would recognize these relationships as legal or on an equal level with heterosexual relationships, at least on a secular playing field.

We don’t have to like this, but in our dislike, we should never do anything to intentionally make the lives of those we disagree with harder than they have to be. In our disapproval, we should never strive to add an extra burden onto the lives of gay and lesbian couples. When we as a society allow straight couples certain rights and privileges, but not homosexual couples, we add a very heavy burden onto them that is unnecessary to say the least.

So, can gay marriage coexist with straight marriage in our country? Yes, I believe it can. If we are truly free to believe as we see fit, then it has to be allowed. And if we are going to be fair, we have to recognize that by not allowing homosexuals to marry, we do cause them some very serious hardships that otherwise they’d not have to face. But is it okay to be a Christian and accept this? That depends. Did Christ make others lives easier or harder for them? Did he force his ways onto people? Did he have compassion for the lost, or contempt? Did he say, “You have to stop this” or “You can’t do that?” or did he simply speak the truth and allow people to make up their own minds whether to follow Him in obedience or not? As Christians, we will all have to decide on our own how to respond to this issue. Are we going to be compassionate, understanding, and loving, or are we going to be tyrannical and intolerant? Either way, we must realize, whether gay marriage is eventually allowed or not, that doesn’t prevent us from continuing to speak God’s truths. In the end, our real challenge is not how to prevent gay marriage, but how to show others there is something so much better than that.