5.18.2008

Gays and Marriage

A lot of people are talking about California's decision this week to legalize gay marriage as a landmark civil rights case along the order of Brown v. Board of Education.  Others are in a lather and vowing that the fight isn't over.  I've posted on the general topic of gay marriage a few times in  this space, and feel compelled to reiterate my general support of the movement in this direction. 

It would seem to me that if we conservative Christians want to uphold the sanctity of marriage, it would be to encourage one another to adhere to the higher standards we understand from the Bible, most notably abstinence before marriage, monogamy during marriage, and avoidance of pornography and lust throughout.  Sadly, as a bloc, we're not doing very well on these fronts.

Not to say that we shouldn't influence the world, that we have enough problems keeping ourselves on the straight and narrow.  But rather that the way that we should influence the world is to live lives that express the fullness of Christian life, in and out of marriage, and to encourage others to consider such a life for themselves. 

I reject a Christianity that cannot say homosexuality is a sin because it's socially unpopular.  And I equally reject a Christianity that seeks to make second-class, morally and legally, others who choose different lifestyles, whether because they are gay and/or promiscuous.  Or does it make us feel good to think ourselves better than others, morally and legally, because their sins are more outwardly out there?  To the extent we do so, we are on shaky ground, morally and legally.

So let's be careful to buy into the rhetoric that allowing gays to marry somehow mars the sanctity of the institution of marriage.  Every day, heterosexuals who are not virgins get married, and we don't get worked up; although, perhaps we should, not to vilify them, but to double down on our commitment to teach our children that God's plan for us is abstinence before marriage.  Even within Christian circles, I know people who have had sex before marriage, and while they lament their past decisions, they live in the forgiveness and healing provided to them by God, before whom they exchanged vows and who ultimately smiled down on them as they wed. 

I'm also a little concerned about the need to define marriage as between a man and a woman because that's what it takes to make a baby.  Does it sully the institution of marriage for a man and a woman who enter into their marriage with the knowledge that they cannot biologically conceive a child?  Isn't marriage about love and commitment between two people, and not about what it can physiologically produce?  After all, aren't there a lot of loveless marriages that have produced kids but not much else?  And, even in the parenting realm, isn't it more about raising kids than making them?

I believe the Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin.  And while I do not believe some people are born gay, I do believe some are born with gay propensities, just as others are born with greater propensities to violence or lust or deceit or addiction.  Sin is sin, and we're all born with the propensity to choose it instead of God, and we all need help to beat it, help from others who will take the time to understand where we're coming from and firmly love us towards the truth.

And I also believe, while we're on the topic of sin, that we Christians have a lot of repenting to do when it comes to the gay community: we have used them to make ourselves feel better about our own sinful natures, we have not been sensitive to ways they need to be served and loved, and in too many cases we have been the hands and feet of hatred.  We Christians also have a lot of repenting to do when it comes to our own sexual sin: our own promiscuity, our own lust, our own divorces. 

We should neither excuse others' sin in these areas nor point fingers as if we are without sin ourselves.  God is calling us instead to repent: to confess where we are wrong, to turn from those wrongs, and to invite Him to show mercy and bring healing instead of the wrath and punishment we deserve.  Some may receive California's legal decision with great applause, and others with frothy ire; but this is my response to the subject.



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