Our country is changing rapidly. Change is disconcerting and causes anxiety, whether for the better or worse. I would not presume to tell you what to think about the decision of the Supreme Court legalizing marriage between two people of the same gender. But I will venture to offer you a few observations from the standpoint of the Christian faith and scripture. I offer these in the spirit of open dialogue, not as the final word. In fact, I’m going to purposely make this annoyingly brief so that you have to do the chewing instead of me indulging in pastoral spoon feeding.
1. The first desire of the Christian is that people come to know Jesus and look to him as Savior and Lord. No law can ever do more than attempt to compel or restrict outward behavior. Laws may more or less embody Judeo-Christian morals, but they do not make a single Christian because they do not change hearts.
2. People make claims about “the entire history of marriage” being one man and one woman. This is clearly not the case, even in our own Bible. Even a couple of the biggies – Abraham & Jacob – didn’t conform to the one man, one woman standard.
3. Arguing for or against laws based on the Bible leads into a dangerous territory, politically speaking. Imagine a USA in the future where people of another religion have become the majority. If you don’t want their religion legally governing your life at that time, then you ought to think twice about wanting your religion to govern their life now. If one wants to argue against marriage for homosexuals in a way that is safe for the future of our republic, the argument had better not be some variation of “God says so” because ISIS is using the same type of argument except that it’s from a different book.
4. Personal liberty is a biblical principle. If there was anyone who ever had good grounds and reasons for forcing his will on others, it is God with respect to mankind. But God offers us freedom of choice. We can turn away from God’s call. We can resist the Holy Spirit.
5. All this being said, Jesus did indicate that God’s design is that marriage be monogamous and heterosexual (see Mark 10).
So, what is a Christian to do? And how is a church to respond? My answer is to continue in love and compassion, not judging other people (Who am I to judge someone else’s servant? Romans 14:4), speaking in love what I believe to be the truth. That’s how we will all grow instead of grouping into enemy camps. According to the Bible, homosexuality is really a symptom of the brokenness of humanity. I have within myself plenty of symptoms of the brokenness of humanity!
Each of us must think through this as a Christian and a citizen of our republic. With regard to my Christian faith as a citizen in a country that values freedom (thank God!), here is the question I feel compelled to ask: I don’t believe homosexuality is of God’s design but why should what I believe be the law of the land any more than what someone else believes?
In addition, I must think through this as a pastor who officiates marriage ceremonies. Here is what I think today. Being a sinner is not near as big a problem as calling sin, “righteous.” Homosexual behavior certainly isn’t the “unforgivable sin” but neither is it, according to the scriptures, something God has blessed. Therefore, I cannot perform a blessing ceremony on a homosexual marriage any more than I could perform a blessing ceremony on a divorce. Both happen. Neither is according to God’s design. But neither makes those involved terrible people. And neither cause me to reject or move away from the people involved because every person is deeply loved by the one I serve and follow, Jesus Christ. My not blessing homosexual marriage is just me following Christ to the best of my ability.
Is there more to say? Of course, tons! It was a split decision by the Supreme Court, 5-4. The dissenting judges offered some compelling arguments against the ruling. As a pastor, I restricted this article to Christian thinking, but there are many other ways to explore this issue as citizens and what this decision might mean in the long-run for our society. Let’s have a beer sometime and talk about it.