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.


jennypo said...

I can agree with you wholeheartedly on this. Our fight against sin is not outside, but inside. That our society is degenerating is not reflective of our failure to create better laws, but of our failure to respond to the grace of God in our own hearts.

We are always looking for someone else to blame. The enemy is us.

Jim Jordan said...

Brandon--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.

Great post, Brandon. I just finished my MLK Day post for tomorrow and pointed out that the reason why Dr. King is the greatest American is that he changed the way we think. Indeed, our Lord is not a Lord of binding contracts, but of molding the way we see the world; He is not a Lord of laws, but of love.

Brandon said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. :)

Giraffe Pen (기린 만년필) said...

I couldn't disagree with you more on tis, even though I'm a fellow struggler with SSA and a Christian. When gay people choose to live in their sin, which is a complete rejection of natural order of male-and-female and marriage, they therfore forfeit all rights to getting the things that they reject. Why should they get the things they want, just because they demand them? By choosing to be gay they forfeit the rights to have marriage and family. Romans 1 is clear that the lifestyle is a rejection of natural order and as such they receive the due penalty for their perversion. As Christians we need to protect marriage and family, keeping it exclusively for male and female ONLY. Otherwise, why not let humans marry animals, adults marrying 5 year olds, animals marrying animals? All those things are just as unnatural as letting gays getting married...
Keeping marriage out of their grasp is not about making their lives deliberately hard but keeping marriage Biblical, as prescribed in Genesis 2-3. That model is not just for Christians but for everyone and I find it sad that you, a Christian who struggles with SSA, would be content to give the green light to gay people to have marriage and family. In Australia (praise God!) the previous Prime Minister tightened the Marriage Act to limit marriage to only male and female.

Think about it too. The average gay person goes through more relationship than a pair of knickers in a week, and their lifestyles are so promisuous that by its very nature contradicts the things that are required for healthy marriage and family (e.g. fidelity, exclusive love of the other, etc). The emotional instability and health risks involved (e.g. drug abuse, alcohol addiction, early death, etc) are hardly conducive to a family life... Should Christians allow such people to have access to the good, God-given gifts of marriage when they reject His ways? Hardly!! It's like letting a 2 year-old drive a car.

Brandon said...

GP, I understand where you're coming from, but I think you've missed my point. As a Christian, I personally think gay marriage is wrong. I agree with you about that. It is sin. But, does the state, or the government, have a right to tell people how they should or should not live in this regard? I think it shouldn't. You see, the problem is that the government allows many other sinful things of an equal measure as this to go on. So, to not allow this, well, it just seems disciminatory to me. If two gay men want to be married (remember I mentioned "secular" marriage), why not let them? You see, whether you agree with this or not, it's already happening. You can't prevent two gay men from choosing to live with each other, love each other, have sex with each other, and maybe even raise a family. That's been going on for a long time. So, why shouldn't the government recognize that this relationship is a valid one? If it will recognize a sinful marriage between two straight couples switching out partners for sex, why won't it recognize this? Is heterosexual sin somehow less sinful than homosexual sin? I think not. And where you are probably correct in saying that homosexual men tend to be more promiscuous and live unhealthy lifestyles, you would be wrong in saying all are like that. If I were to decide to be with another man, it would only be with someone I loved and wanted to share the rest of my life with. And it wouldn't involve drugs or promiscuity. There have been plenty of gay couples who have committed themselves only to each other and lived out a life time like that. But you see, the couple is already in sin. You're not stopping them from anything sinful by not allowing them to be "married". Many gay couples already considered themselves married. It's just not a marriage recognized by the state or the church.

My point about us Christians is that we can't fight the world through politics. That's not our place. When we do that, we only turn people away from us. The world will always allow sinful things to go on. Our job is to do all that we can to show the world there is something better than sin.

Think of the gay couple I just mentioned. Right now, the church is the big bad enemy to them. They are just trying to live their lives as they believe is best for them. But here we are butting into their lives, dictating how they should live. Well, that's not what we should be doing. If they want to marry, then let them. Doesn't mean the church or Christians have to recognize their marriage, nor does it mean we have to stop preaching what is Godly marriage, but if letting this happen causes us to no longer be the enemy (at least not the enemy to such a greater extent), then isn't that a good thing? It might actually open up the gay community to at least consider the Christian viewpoint. Right now, many seem to care less. And why, because we're the enemy.

My point is that we as Christians shouldn't be telling people how to live. Christ never forced salvation onto anyone. He lets us all choose. That's how we in the church should act as well. Let the world be worldly. Meanwhile, we can be holy, and help show the world there's a better way. Not by force, but by example.

Yes, I struggle with SSA. I do think gay sex is sin. I have to trust God about that. But I do understand the wrongs the church has done to homosexuals. I'm not a practicing homosexual, but I feel as though I've practically been kicked out of my church because of my struggles. That's wrong. And I've seen a lot of the wrongs of the church and how its actions have done more to hurt people and turn people away from Christ, rather than reach out and love people to Christ. So, we have to stop being the enemy and start being the loving friend and caring parent.

I hope you can better see now where I'm coming from. And thanks for commenting.

Brandon said...

Just one more thought here. For the church to be so concerned about protecting marriage, I have to admit it's a rather curious thing that Christians divorce more than any other group in this country. Why isn't the church as enthused or energetic about fighting against divorce as it is gay marriage? Just food for thought, but I think it's because a lot of Christians do indeed view homosexual sins as more sinful than heterosexual ones. But this is just another example of where the church needs to be working on itself before telling others how to live. You see, it's things like this that also make us the enemy. Things like this just make us look like a bunch of gay-hating hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

I am firmly on the fence about this. Part of me wants to give up the fight since the straight people are not behaving anyway and the ones that behave don't even like me.

On the other hand, I'm afraid that after this, society will go plunging off a cliff. Straight people don't even bother to marry anymore in Northern Europe.

If we decouple marriage from the nuclear family and classify it as a "rush for benefits from the state" for any "two people who love each other" then I'm afraid the birthrate and the family will never recover and worse yet, the Church will become irrelevant when in 100 years' time it still insists that gay marriage is wrong.

What happens to all the gay families (with children) that will exist then? Will the church be recommending that they split up?
That partners become celibate when they find Jesus?

Anyways, that is how I see it.

Brandon said...

I feel the same worries about this as you do. The problem is that if sinners want their sin bad enough, they're going to get it. With or without anyone else's approval. As I already mentioned, a lot of gay couples already are living in a marriage like state. It's just that their "marriage" isn't recognized by the church or the state. Because of this, my argument is whether we as Christians are fighting the right fight. Are we fighting gay marriage in a way that is tolerant, understanding, and merciful to those who want that sort of thing? Are we, perhaps, attempting to be too tyrannical with the way people live their lives? It's things like this that I wonder about. Maybe we're fighting this fight in the wrong way. But regardless, I do wonder seriously about the things you mentioned.

As for gay couples having to split up because of Christ, I would hope that nothing is too much to have to give up for him. I know it would be hard, but if it's what would pull a person out of sin, then it's what's best.