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Gay Marriage and the Christian

May 17, 2012

President Obama made headlines recently when he declared his personal support for gay marriage. He even referenced the Bible as supporting his position, citing the Golden Rule as being applicable in this case. His endorsement of gay marriage and the coverage it has garnered (including a Newsweek cover that declares Obama ‘the first gay president’ – with a rainbow colored halo over his head, no less), forces American Christians, again, to consider the issue. Must we be public and vocal in our opposition to gay marriage?

Before addressing the issue ‘head-on,’ I would like to discuss briefly courage and justice. I recently interacted with some of Cicero’s writings, and though he wrote thousands of years ago, I found in them interesting thoughts on these two themes. For him, courage and justice were linked. Courage seems to be, primarily, for him, the determination to do what is just. And justice is affirming and doing what is morally right. Particularly interesting in his discussion was a distinction between active injustice and passive injustice. Passive injustice, he argued, occurs when one knows what is morally right and does not act to affirm it. In other words, the person who knows something is the right thing to do and refuses (or fails) to do it, engages in injustice.

For Christians, these ideas are nothing new. We do not need to listen to a pagan philosopher to learn them. Christians have long spoken of such things as the wrong (or injustice) of inaction. The writers of Scripture remind us that someone who sees his neighbor in need (or danger) and does nothing, is guilty of sin. This is why confessions are made for both the sins of commission and omission. Similarly, Scripture also speaks of courage, elevating it to a virtue that Christians will display. Indeed, the book of Revelation records the reality that the cowardly “shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.” (Rev. 21:8)

But as we consider such things, a pragmatism often settles down upon us. We scan the societal landscape, and, recognizing the extent and enormity of the needs, cast our hands into the air and retreat into a “thank You, Lord, for Your grace” response. It is as if the challenges of living the godly life have so overwhelmed us that we abandon hope of accomplishing anything at all. And we allow our urge to respond to the wrongs of our times to be filtered and determined by the question, “Is this the molehill I want to die on?”

The issues of omission and injustice, of constant vigilance and activism, are too big to address here, but I do think it is safe to say, from either standpoint – justice or pragmatism – this matter of gay marriage must be addressed publicly. We, the average, American, work-a-day Christians cannot afford to remain silent. Gay marriage is immoral and threatens to become a notable milestone on the road to America’s moral decline.

As we turn specifically to gay marriage, let me share a few beliefs I hold. These are not given in any particular order.

  • There is an absolute standard of right and wrong, and it is found in the Person of Holy God.
  • Homosexual activity is utterly sinful. It is the manifestation of a depraved mind.
  • All legislation involves the legislation of morality. This is an important truth that is often overlooked. Any time a society creates and enforces a law, it has determined, on the basis of someone’s morality, what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’ Additionally, it is not the law’s place to offer mercy. That is the role of the judiciary, if it chooses. – The natural outgrowth of this presupposition, for me, is to disregard any statement (by either side of an argument) that amounts to “you shouldn’t be legislating your morality.”
  • Christians should prayerfully, publicly, and actively encourage their governments to enact and enforce laws in agreement with God’s moral character. This may seem to non-Christians an insensitive and biased advocacy, but I would argue that all advocacy (even of legal indifference) is biased, and Christians who truly believe in God’s existence and holiness must live accordingly.
  • Marriage refers to a covenant between two complementary individuals, and it has been sanctified (deemed honorable and unique) by God.
  • Marriage is more than mere sexual union and/or cohabitation. This matter occasionally arises as believers interact with Paul’s comments about the union that occurs between a man and a harlot. There is no denying that a spiritual union of some sort does occur between those two, but it is not necessarily the same as marriage. (And, I would argue, does not constitute marriage.) This reality is recognized by society as a whole. No court would argue that a prostitute who sleeps with a man once is then one of his wives (and entitled to any privileges or responsibilities associated with being his wife).
  • Marriage is an act of God. And, it is work of God even between unbelievers. God joins a man and a woman in marriage – not the minister or the judge. The minister or judge can only declare the work that God has done. This raises the interesting question of whether a true marriage can even occur between two men or between two women. I would suggest it cannot, as God never says He will join them together and make them one.
  • Marriage was given, ultimately, by God, to serve as a picture of Christ and the Church. (Ephesians 5)

It is this last belief that most forcefully leads me to protest gay marriage publicly. Marriage is meant to be an object lesson, given by God to the world as a whole. It is intended to serve as a spiritual analogy that can and should be used to educate both believers and non-believers toward God. And if we allow our government to legalize gay marriage, we will then be allowing the government to pervert part of God’s witness to the world.

Will our protests prevent the legalization of gay marriage? Probably not. The winds of the present societal storm seem to be driving greater and greater depravity. But that does not excuse inaction, and it certainly does not excuse an increasingly ‘tolerant’ stand on our part. We must publicly express our hatred of sin and our grief over the public’s disregard of God’s holy standards.

Well, this was not an exhaustive treatment of the subject, but I did want to raise some thoughts and challenge you to remain engaged in society’s debate over this topic. We are called to be salt and light, and we should neither store the salt shaker in the cupboard or hide the flashlight under the bed. Let’s shake and shine!

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE

  • John MacArthur on Divorce: We Can’t Edit God. This article contains some of an interview with John MacArthur recently broadcasted on Focus on the Family Daily. It addresses two important issues for our day, the sanctity of marriage and the authority of God’s Word. MacArthur reminds believers that the truths of God’s Word must always reign supreme over one’s values. Find it at: http://www.christianpost.com/news/john-macarthur-on-divorce-we-cant-edit-god-75083/.
  • Editorial: Pull the Switch on the Death Penalty. This editorial is from the Baptist Standard, and it offers an interesting and informed perspective on America’s current use of the death penalty. Part of his argument against the death penalty is that the application of it is unjust. Is that an argument for eliminating the death penalty or simply an argument for reforming its application? Is it possible to apply it absolutely justly, and, if not, in a sufficiently just way? Do you support the Death Penalty as a Christian? Read the editorial at: http://www.baptiststandard.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13800&Itemid=9.
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