Homosexual Marriage and Christian Love
As the internet is still abuzz with discussions of Biblical view of homosexuality I thought sharing a few comments might serve to help clarify things. These thoughts aren’t original by any means, but they are especially apropos in light of the present culture war.
A legitimate concern. Many Christians are concerned that the latest round in the debate over the legal status of homosexuality (especially as it applies to the issue of homosexual marriage) is merely a power tactic of the Republican party to rally support from evangelical and otherwise Christian voters. Now, I don’t doubt that some in the GOP are willing to use whatever cultural conduit is found useful to bolster their voting base. It’s also worthy of noting that some Christians assume that politics is the crucial key to transforming culture in a godly and righteous direction. This is simply mistaken. This faction of Christianity must beware of the leaven of playing the world’s power game.
Another perspective. So, I’ll admit that opposition to homosexual marriage can indeed be used as a Trojan horse for a covert GOP agenda. But that’s not the only explanation. Such opposition can also be the result of individuals who do not believe the State has the authority to define (or in this case, redefine) marriage. That’s why the issue of gay marriage isn’t about homosexuality at all: It’s about the definition of marriage. The State does have the authority to grant civil unions, tax breaks, etc. to whomever it chooses. That is perfectly within their preview. What it cannot do is redefine an institution it did not create. That largely comes from other spheres (the family, the church, and behind that, ultimately the creation ordinance of God).
Now, homosexual relationships are a reality in this fallen world, and the government has to do something about that. I do think it’s within the civil government’s sphere to dole out tax breaks, etc. at it’s discretion , and perhaps civil unions are the best way to provide the quote of stability and financial and social protect many pro same-sex marriage advocates are looking for. Civil union strikes me as something that’s within the State’s sphere of authority. Refining a creation ordinance like marriage isn’t.
To recontextualize familiar words, “give to Caesar what belongs to him, and to God what belongs to him.”
Responding to Objections. There are two common objections to a Christian stance against homosexual marriage. First, there is the claim that voting against redefining marriage is anti-homosexual, or at worst, homophobic and hateful. Second, there is the claim that voting against homosexual marriage is “forcing” a Christian view of sexual ethic on people. I’ll start with the second objection first.
Notwithstanding the easily identifiable bigots (and others who make children sing such songs) how is maintaining “traditional” (read Biblical) marriage “forcing” a Christian sexual ethic on people? Two things need to be said here. First, defining marriage as the lifelong, monogamous, covnenantal relationship between one man and one woman (and seeing any deviation of this paradigm- be it homosexual or heterosexual- as a departure from God’s original purpose) isn’t unique to Christianity, but also of Judaism before it. The institution of marriage was God’s idea, woven into the very fabric of the creation order. Second, how exactly is voting in alignment with one’s convictions (regardless of their origin) “forcing” one’s views on anyone? I suppose one can argue that voting in favor of maintaining traditional marriage is tantamount to “forcing” one’s views on others, since the state’s power is coercive rather than persuasive, but that strikes me as proving too much since that is the nature of any public policy (regardless of the issue).
But what of the second objection, the claim that voting against redefining marriage is anti-homosexual, or at worst, homophobic and hateful? I suggest there’s another way to interpret any Christian opposition to redefining marriage: love. I love homosexuals, and want what’s best for their flourishing. I am more concerned with their long term happiness, praying that they be delivered from their homosexual perversions in the same way I pray that I would be delivered from my heterosexual perversions (rather than a temporary feeling of denial). And yes, that ‘temporary feeling’ may last their entire mortal life. Sure there are Christians who are jerks and want the earth to swallow up every homosexual on the planet. I grant that. It’s a tragedy and grieves the heart of God. But there are also many, many Christians who are willing to love, support, lose sleep over, and stand with those valuable image bearers as they struggle, fight, and claw their way to mortify their flesh as an expression of their treasuring Christ.
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