Those who risked responding to my blog on same-sex marriage with differing viewpoints did us all a favor by kindly but clearly raising cogent arguments supporting same-sex marriage. Neither Christians nor non-Christians should fear open and honest conversation; rather, I hope that we can all “speak the truth in love.”
In John 9 when Jesus heals the man born blind, Jesus’ disciples did not really see the blind man as Jesus did. They saw a theological problem: who sinned, this man or his parents? They might have continued their conversation while walking right by the man himself.
Jesus, however, saw a person in need of healing, both physical and spiritual, for the glory of God. I try to remind myself that in all of these difficult conversations, we are talking about our neighbors, our family, our church members, about classmates, co-workers, about people whom God loves! That helps me with my tone of voice when responding.
But the love of Christ compels us (2 Corinthians 5:13-15) to speak and to say what God would say because “Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” I believe; therefore, I speak out.
So let me extend the conversation in response to those comments:
Argument: Christians should not force Christian views on non-Christians.
Response: I agree completely. God doesn’t force people to believe, Jesus did not force people to follow him, and those who follow Him should not either. However, my counter-question is how should it work in a democracy or representative government as we have when the political question involves what Christians believe to be a God-revealed truth? Can only non-religious people have a seat at the table? Can only non-Christians campaign and vote on these issues? Why are Christians who speak out and vote according to their faith “forcing” their views on non-Christians? And should any majority OR minority group, simply because they believe their cause to be moral and right, be silenced, be segregated, be harassed, or be hated?
Argument: Marriage is a civil institution, not a religious one; therefore, the definition of marriage can and should be determined by the State.
Response: I agree and disagree with this argument. There is certainly a civil aspect to marriage. The State (and I am not using that term pejoratively) regulates the societal aspects of marriage in many ways, such as:
- Who can get married? Not 10-year-olds, not siblings, not people currently married, etc.
- When can people get married? Some states have waiting periods; some require blood tests, etc.
- Who can legally perform weddings? Some states allow anyone; others require ordained ministers and/or particular government officials.
- Which marriages are recognized? If you marry in a foreign country, the U.S. may not recognize your marriage. This is regulated by federal law.
In my opinion, everyone—including Christians—should “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” We all should submit to the legal authorities in every way with one exception, and that is, if required by law to violate the higher laws of God.
But I also disagree that marriage is only a civil institution. Marriage precedes the existence of civil states. Marriage exists outside of political states. For example, I was just watching “Finding Your Roots” with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who discussed the fact that prior to the Civil War in the United States free African-Americans could marry legally, but slaves could not. He continued to say, however, that, of course, slaves did marry, but that it was not recognized by the State.
Marriage, according to Jesus (Matthew 19:6) is God joining people together. The earliest biblical revelation states that the reason for marriage was that “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Adam was meant for Eve and Eve for Adam. No legal ceremony occurred, only God joined them. And the writer goes on to explain that because of God’s actions in the beginning, future men who marry will “leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 2:18,24)
I also believe all of the references describing Jesus as the bridegroom and the church as His bride made repeatedly from Matthew to Revelation are witnesses to the holy nature of marriage. And the metaphor is consistent with the Genesis passages and the words of Jesus in that only God joins people to Christ. We are born again, not by human will but by the will of God (John 1:13).
This is the “holy” side of marriage that Christians want to preserve. Of course, they carry those convictions into the political discussion—and don’t they have the right to? They are just one voice, not the only voice, in the political debate.
Next we will talk about the argument that opposing same-sex marriage is bigotry—a very serious charge.