This article is not written as an attempt to make excuses for Christians, to forcefully impose my Christian beliefs on non-believers, or to justify homosexual behavior. My purpose here is to give my perspective, as a Christian, on this controversial topic. I want my friends to be at peace with one another. If you are deeply offended by my first point, move on to the second point (you’ll like that one a lot) and then read the first one last. My intent is not to offend anyone, but instead to give a fair assessment of two opposing viewpoints and to maybe become some kind of mediator.
Following is a list of reasons why the political legalization of same-sex marriage doesn’t concern me:
1) Same-sex marriage doesn’t exist.
You’re thinking, “Wow, did he really just say that?” Yes, I did. I realize this is somewhat of a bold statement to make in today’s culture, but allow me to explain what I mean. I’d appreciate it if you would hold your “Stephen is a bigot” comments (or thoughts) until you have read the entirety of what I have to say. If you skipped right to this numbered list and didn’t read the opening paragraph, now would be a good time to do so.
Yes. From a Christian viewpoint, same-sex marriage does not exist. I am a Christian. I believe God plays an intimate role in marriage, and I think it is fair to say that the majority of Christians share this belief. Christians share a general consensus that God instituted marriage and that biblical marriage can only be between a man and a woman (Gen 2:24, Matt 19:4-6, Mark 10:6-9, et cetera). I don’t expect all of society to share in my Christian beliefs, and I don’t expect all of society to agree that the Bible is a reliable source of information (I’m willing to have that discussion in a different forum). I’m simply explaining what I believe as a Christian. Biblically, God defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Biblically, no marriage is complete without God as the ultimate wedding Officiant. Therefore, biblically, marriage can only exist between a man and a woman (in my Christian understanding).
I’m amazed at how often some atheists are deeply angered by a God who they don’t believe exists. For me to be angered by same-sex marriage would be akin to atheists being angered by God. It’s almost as silly as being angry with an actor because of the way his fictional character is portrayed in a movie.
Of course there is a legal definition of marriage (which I will get to in a moment), but as a Christian, I believe that marriage has a spiritual quality as well. To me, marriage is not only a political institution; it is a spiritual connection that is biblically defined as between a man and a woman. This will remain true to me and to the majority of the Church regardless of how the U.S. government chooses to define marriage. This brings me to my next point…
2) The same-sex marriage controversy is a political issue, not a spiritual issue.
Christians, please understand. The LGBT community wants equal rights. They want same-sex couples to have the same tax benefits, employment benefits, government benefits, medical benefits, and other benefits that married heterosexual couples are afforded. I am empathetic to these desires. I understand why the LGBT community is offended. After all, why shouldn’t they be offered the same financial and medical benefits as others?
The allowance of domestic partnerships (DPs) and civil unions (CUs) seemed to settle this issue temporarily by presumably attempting to appease same-sex couples without causing the inevitable outrage in the Christian community which is now evident. Democrats and Republicans are equally responsible for this. They both want your votes. But again, this is not about politics. DPs and CUs worked for a short time, but people now want more.
Of course they want more! Americans who have DPs and CUs are given similar rights to those of married couples, but with limitations. A civil union offers more rights than a domestic partnership, but not quite all of the rights given in marriage.
Furthermore, this issue actually seems to be one of terminology. I don’t remember experiencing uproar in the Christian community when domestic partnerships and civil unions were legalized in certain states. It was fine. It was two people living together and sharing finances. But now that the term “marriage” is being used, people are literally freaking out. I can’t help but think that this whole debacle could have been avoided if civil unions would have just given same-sex couples equal rights and benefits to begin with. Instead, my Facebook feed has to be filled with scrumbumbula (yes, I made that word up) from everyone with an opinion.
And without an effective transition, my third point…
3) This is not a battle worth fighting.
Everyone knows how Christians feel about same-sex marriage. Legalizing it will not change what the Church believes about homosexual behavior. (I’m talking about the universal Church as a whole, not individual churches). Legalizing same-sex marriage will not change anyone’s behavior, aside from lots of arguing, rallying, and protesting of course.
I’m a Christian speaking to the American society I live in. And in this society, I don’t have to broadcast the fact that I think acting on homosexual behavior is sinful (as is any sexual immorality). In this culture, everyone already knows what I think. Check out Daniel 1-6 to see how a man of God dealt with laws made by a secular government. Also, see Jesus’ constant commentary about focusing on God’s kingdom instead of earthly kingdoms. It’s good stuff. Jesus is not worried right now.
I am a youth minister. Of course, I will never intentionally censor what the Bible says. And there will undoubtedly be certain times when I will have to address marriage and homosexuality in discussion because they are things God addresses in scripture. But I will attempt to address them only to the extent that God addresses them. Here are some other things I will address that I think are sinful: idolatry, poor hospitality, using God’s name in vain, not loving a neighbor, lying, divorce, sex outside of marriage, dishonoring parents, drunkenness, hating people, and many more. Even though homosexuality will not dominate discussion on Sunday mornings, the congregation will undoubtedly know my stance on the issue. Enough said.
And now, it’s time for my fourth and final point…
4) Legislation does not stop people from sinning.
I intentionally composed the above “sin list” of things that aren’t necessarily illegal. I did so to make the point that legislation doesn’t stop people from sinning (e.g., Prohibition). A law against same-sex marriage doesn’t stop people from engaging in homosexual behavior any more than a law against divorce would stop marriages from failing. Obviously things like murder, drunk driving, and theft need to be illegal because they are directly harmful to society. They cause people to physically die. But I can’t see how same-sex couples receiving the same financial and medical benefits as heterosexual couples is directly harmful to society.
To conclude, I hope you now have a greater understanding of both sides of this debate. To the LGBT community, I hope you understand that Christians aren’t bigots for believing what they believe about marriage. To Christians, I hope you understand that most homosexuals aren’t people intentionally making a mockery of something sacred. And of course, to everyone, I hope you are prepared to engage in peaceful, loving, fruitful discussion.
And Church: don’t allow for divisions among you! “Who’s right?” is not always the best question to ask. Let’s try asking, “who can I show love to today?” Unite in love, and unite in Jesus Christ! Thank you.
Since you’ve made it this far, why not click here to read my thoughts on Ferguson, Missouri?