Thursday, March 28, 2013
To my Christian brothers and sisters on both sides of the Gay Marriage debate
For those against Gay Marriage
I see your point and admire your commitment to scripture. You are in a difficult place and we need people to hold the line and keep us honest. However, I implore you to be mindful of the fact that other committed members of Christ’s body may disagree with you. It does no one any good for you to accuse them of “not reading their Bible.” Believe me when I say that the other side is serious about the Bible too. Accusations like that are deeply personal and often end with people ripping verses out of context and throwing them at each other. That benefits no one and hurts the name of Jesus. If you must probe them for answers a better thing to say is, “How did you come to that conclusion, help me understand where you are coming from.” If you really listen you may be surprised at what you agree on.
I know that the “clear” words of scripture are on your side. However, can you be honest about the fact that you make some interpretive moves to come to the conclusion that Gay Marriage is wrong for all time? Yes, the Bible does condemn homosexual rape, the use of homosexual practices in worship, pedophilia, and homosexual promiscuity but it does not say anything about monogamous homosexual marriage. Such a thing did not exist then. You make an interpretive move to come to that conclusion. The same book of Leviticus you cite to condemn homosexuality declares that marriage is between one man and as many women as he can afford. Let’s be honest about the fact that we all pick and choose a little bit more than we care to admit.
As Christians we need to reframe the “sanctity of marriage.” It is no secret that Christians have used the Bible to justify women staying with their abusers and enduring rape out of “respect” for their husband’s needs. I believe strongly that these things are a distortion of the Bible but you have to admit that the church has a poor track record when it comes to sex and marriage. While we are divorcing at the same rate as everyone else we are telling the LGBT community they can’t get married because it is "sacred." When it comes down to it we have little authority or moral ground to be telling the surrounding culture what a good marriage is or isn’t. We should be looking into our own homes and taking the plank out of our own eye before we mount a protest. A little more humility and a little less righteous indignation would go a long way. It may even be the Christian thing to do.
For those supporting Gay Marriage
I see your point and I admire that you are willing to stand up for your beliefs even though they tend to be unpopular in Christian circles. I too get a little bit twitchy when a majority tries to suppress the rights of a minority. That said, I implore you to see your brothers and sisters on the other side of the street with the same compassion and tolerance you extend to the LGBT community. Not all of “those people” opposing gay marriage are homophobes and haters; some of them are even homosexuals themselves! Try to make this less about bigots vs. those of us that love people. You have your convictions and they have theirs but you both love people. Give each other the benefit of the doubt, call out intolerance on both sides of the street and allow the peace of Christ to rule in your hearts.
I know that some of you have been called heretics, hell-bound and soft on doctrine. You may have even lost a job because of your beliefs or been marginalized in your church. I know what that is like and believe that this grieves the heart of God. That said, do not take this as an opportunity for revenge or to gloat about how you are more evolved or more compassionate. These “bigots” are also your grandparents, parents, friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. You still need to extend the bread and the wine to them even if you believe they would not do the same to you.
Some of that criticism comes from a genuine place and may have more truth than you are willing to admit. Have you really examined your convictions and measured them against the scriptures? Many of you have and I am encouraged by some of the challenging and credible theology coming out of this section of the Church. Also recognize that there is some very poor theology coming out of this movement too. It is highly doubtful that David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi or Jesus and John were gay. This kind of stuff makes you look like you are grasping at straws and is easily dismissed by robust theologians. Work out your faith and ensure that you are making your decision because you have carefully walked through the text; not because you are afraid of offending a gay friend or because an equal sign makes a better tattoo than a multiplication one.
For all of us together
Remember that there are actual people behind this issue. This is not just about the “gay agenda” or an opportunity to do some activism tourism. Nor is this an opportunity to impress your gay friends or your straight friends by claiming you have gay friends. This is about children who do not enjoy the same legal protections that their peers do because they happen to have two mommies. This is about young people who would rather commit suicide than go to school because of intolerance. This issue effects real people with real lives that Christians of all stripes are called to extend compassion toward. You can support or oppose gay marriage all you want, just remember that this is not a faceless issue that will go away with a vote.
Above all we should be seeking to live at peace with all people. When this debate is over what impression of Christ do you want to leave with others? Can you honestly say that after you make your stand on Facebook, Twitter or the courthouse steps people will “see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven?” If conviction is not tempered by love we are no better than the priest and the pharisee. That goes for both sides of this debate.
Some resources that may be helpful:
If you find yourself wanting to know more about how these two views can live in harmony I encourage you to look at the marriage of Tony and Peggy Campolo. Tony believes that homosexuals should be celibate and Peggy believes that they can be married. Somehow at the end of the day they can share a bed together and respect each other’s faith. The Gay Christian Network hosted a dialogue between them that you can listen to here.
There are several books that cover this issue but there are two I would highly recommend.
“Torn” by Justin Lee
“Washed and Waiting” by Wesley Hill
These books illustrate the two different sides really well. I would encourage you to read both of them and make a decision. They put a face and a name to how being a Christian and a person with same sex attraction plays out in the church.
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