two cents on gay marriage.

22 May

on gay sex, marriage, and obama.

…because not quite enough has been said about this yet.

if you’ve read a news magazine, been online or watched CNN in the past week, you know that may 9 president obama finally came out and declared he was for same-sex marriage – stirring the waters anew within the church regarding homosexuality, marriage, justice and jesus.

my friend tony jones jumped on the opportunity to praise the president for ‘doing something so deeply Christian.’

my more conservative friend daniel fick had a (guest) blog post monday entitled ‘The Golden Rule and Sexual Brokenness,’ asking, ‘But is the Golden Rule really helpful when it comes to the discussion of homosexuality, ‘gay marriage’ and social justice?’

but wait! there’s more. bob hyatt, another evangelical blogger, wrote an excellent post highlighting the intensity and tension present from both sides as we rethink the issues surrounding same sex marriage.

here’s the quote from obama that had many christians cheering and many others bemoaning that this president considers himself a christ follower ::

‘[My wife and I] are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others, but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know :: treat others the way you would want to be treated.’

so here’s my two cents || we need to ask :: is it possible for the church to view same sex marriage as a justice issue and not merely as a moral/ethical issue?

in other words – whether you agree with or approve of gay sex and gay marriage or not (and yes – i believe the LGBT community needs to concede that the deep convictions of many christians in their interpretation of scripture will not allow them, at this time, to approve in any way of same sex relationships) – is it possible to still be an advocate for same sex marriage on the basis of desiring for all people to be treated fairly, regardless of whether their personal convictions are the same as mine or not?

i think it is.

what do you think?

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13 Responses to “two cents on gay marriage.”

  1. Kathy G May 23, 2012 at 7:24 AM #

    I concur 🙂

  2. Whitney May 23, 2012 at 7:37 AM #

    This is such a ridiculously hard topic for me to wrap my brain around. As a Christian, I obviously think that it is morally wrong in every way. But I would also say that I advocate for LGBT unions. Maybe that makes me a bad Christian, I really don’t know. But I cannot in my heart condone the hate that I see aimed at the LGBT community by parts of the Christian community. They are broken sinners and so are we. I am sure that if my right to marry my husband was based on my sinfulness, then I would not be a married woman right now. In my opinion, they LEGALLY deserve to have the same rights that I do. I agree with what Bob Hyatt says… the state needs to get out of the “marriage” business. Churches and pastors should definitely have the right to refuse to officiate a LGBT wedding, if they so choose, without fear of being accused of discrimination, but if the state wants to allow it – then so be it. All we can do is love on these people just the way that Jesus would have. To the LGBT community, Christians and Jesus are hateful and unjust. Our goal should be to change that perception and truly show them Jesus. No sin they’ve committed is any worse than ours.

    • the WayWard follower May 23, 2012 at 10:22 AM #

      whitney, i love that you’re wrestling with this. while it isn’t an ‘easy’ conversation or dialogue, i believe it is a necessary one to grapple with if we’re to take seriously christ’s mandate (and follow his example) to love.

      i do know many christians who come to a different conclusion about the morality of same sex relationships (a good and thought provoking post on the subject can be found here or here).

      what i most appreciate is your willingness to change the unfortunate perception so often propagated by the church of hatred and intolerance rather than love and grace. you wrote, ‘i am sure that if my right to marry my husband was based on my sinfulness, then i would not be a married woman right now.’ i am convinced that when heterosexual christians begin to grasp the truth of that statement in each of our own lives, we’ll have a more gracious and compassionate response to our LGBT friends – each of us, living in full need of God’s grace and forgiveness.

      thanks for reading.

  3. gracetracer May 23, 2012 at 8:39 AM #

    Yes.

    The point is,”marriage” and “civil union” are not the same thing. Every time I “marry” a couple I declare, “By the power invested in my by God and by the State (of Minnesota) I pronounce you husband and wife,” I am doing the bidding of God in declaring a binding marriage of two persons before God and a community of faith and I am also acting for the state in creating a legal civil union. I would be happy to just do the former and not the latter. If we could, the best thing would be to separate the two entities, as they do in parts of Europe and have pastor-types like me pronounce the marriage but create the legal civil union at the county seat or city hall. I wish we could reclaim the word marriage in that way. I am not sure we can at this late date.

    Not that the war would be over. Churches would still have to decide whether to perform same-sex marriages and whether to allow their pastors to do so or to compel pastors to do so, etc. At least though, the civil justice issue would be set aside. On that we Christians have no leg to stand regardless of their views on same-sex marriage.

    • the WayWard follower May 23, 2012 at 10:31 AM #

      agreed. similar sentiments here at tony campolo’s post at huffington post.

  4. Ryan May 23, 2012 at 8:50 AM #

    I think it would be helpful to understand a little more about how you see it being a justice issue. Lots of people I know and love say that frequently, but I feel like it isn’t always really thought through.

    I would say a gay man and a straight man already both have the same right to marry a woman.

    If we’re going down the justice route, I think we need to do a couple of things:

    – change what we mean by “marriage”
    – offer the same civil marriage rights to single people

    What do you think?

    *Full Disclosure: I wrote the “more conservative” article on Daniel’s blog. 🙂

    • the WayWard follower May 23, 2012 at 1:09 PM #

      thanks for the full disclosure. 😉

      i appreciate the question, ryan. here are a handful of reasons why i view gay marriage as a justice issue ::

      • according to FBI hate crime statistics, there were 6,604 reported hate crimes in 2009; 18.5% of which were based on sexual orientation. most of these were violent in nature.

      • the federal government accords 1,138 benefits and responsibilities based on marital status (not civil union status). a few of those benefits are :: unpaid leave to care for an ill spouse (without fear of losing your job); social security survivor benefits and spousal benefits; the right to visit a spouse in the hospital; the right not to testify against one’s spouse, et cetera. by denying LGBT couples the right to marry, we are essentially denying them the ability to be treated fairly or equally – like being allowed to visit each other in the hospital.

      • fighting against gay marriage does not stop the behavior that some christians deem sinful – gay sex. whether a gay couple is married or not is not going to determine whether or not they are having sex (and the same is true for heterosexual couples :: recent statistics show that 80% of young people in the church are sexually active [ironically almost the same percentage of evangelicals that oppose same sex marriage]). for instance, unmarried sexually active gay couples before amendment one was passed in north carolina are presumably still sexually active after the ban has passed. it did not legislate morality; rather, it hinders their ability to be treated fairly in terms of the over 1,000 benefits afforded to heterosexual married couples.

      i suggest this :: the question is not whether or not you and i agree with the behavior or act of gay sex. instead, i believe as followers of jesus we need to elevate the conversation to this question :: is it right for someone to not be afforded the same rights merely because they go against my personal values?

      if the answer to that question is ‘yes,’ then i would challenge that we are inconsistent in implementing that. i mentioned that dilemma in a previous post as well ::

      why is it that folks fight so strongly to ban gay marriage, but have no problem with straight divorcees, hindus, muslims, mormons, buddhists, jews, agnostics and atheists getting married?

  5. Carlynn Jurica May 23, 2012 at 4:53 PM #

    I think that as our generation ages into power and raises the next generation, things will change both in the nation and in the church. Naturally, there will still be pockets of believers still desperately campaigning for defense of marriage or whatever, but in time I think that population will become more and more of a minority.

    Having spent my entire life living in states that don’t even allow civil unions, I’ve never seen my gay friends afforded anything near equal rights. In fact, my area of the country has gone the extra mile to take their rights away. But honestly, if the roles were reversed and my husband and I were the ones in the position of being allowed a civil union but not a legal or sacramental marriage like the majority of other citizens, that would make me feel like a second-class citizen and it would break my heart.

    I doubt that I could ever bring myself to darken the door of a church again.

    And that’s what bugs me the most about this whole thing. Christians are trying to do the right thing—I get that, I really do. And I’m glad they are so passionate about this nation having good, strong families; I want that, too. But all they’re really doing is pushing people away who need Jesus and need the kingdom to touch their lives—and making the families who don’t fit their mold suffer. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” isn’t getting us anywhere good; it’s losing precious people that Jesus gave everything for and commanded us to care for.

    Besides, a study of what the scriptures say about marriage should make it very clear that God does not consider a state-issued licence a real marriage. If anything robs the term of it’s endlessly deep and beautiful meaning, that does.

    • the WayWard follower May 23, 2012 at 5:42 PM #

      thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, carlynn. your last two paragraphs dovetail nicely to a post written this week by my friend michael danner. in it, he writes this ::

      I agree that marriage is being eroded in American cultural life. Yet, the thing that is causing all the trouble isn’t gay marriage. After all, how could it? It’s not happening. Straight folk need to take responsibility for the mess they have made of marriage. This is the problem; we’ve forgotten how to practice things like mutual love, mutual support, mutual accountability, loyalty, perseverance, fidelity, keeping one’s word, mutual respect, putting others first, and so on. Gay or straight, a good marriage contains all of those things and a bad one doesn’t. We need more good marriages. Sometimes I think gay marriage is a distraction that keeps straight folks from taking responsibility for the health of their own marriages. Straight marriage isn’t, by it’s nature, good. More goes in to making a good marriage than two straight people – there are other ingredients.

      wise words, in my opinion. what do you (and other readers?) think of this?

      • Carlynn Jurica May 23, 2012 at 6:40 PM #

        Being the daughter of a marriage that suffered from infidelity and an ugly year-long divorce, as well as a woman nearly halfway through her first year of marriage (and no one ever tells you how tough the first year is!), I totally agree. As a teenager, I got to observe firsthand what marriage isn’t, and I am currently in the hard process of learning what it is and how to survive it well.

  6. Jerome Graber May 23, 2012 at 8:30 PM #

    I believe the fundamental premise is flawed. Civil marriage does not exist as a convenient vehicle for granting rights to people. State sanctioned marriage exists specifically because, out of all the countless permutations of legal sexual relationships and household arrangements it is possible to engage in, we as a society have recognized one particular type as especially beneficial to civil society.

    It is more like the difference between business and not-for-profits than anything else. If a soup kitchen and a coffee shop opened up next to each other, the soup kitchen would be exempt from sales tax and the coffee shop would not. This is not a matter of being prejudiced against coffee shops. It is a recognition that running a for profit business is perfectly legal and you can do it, but a charity that helps the poor is providing a specific benefit to society that makes it deserving of special deference by the State.

    Civil marriage is like that. Other types of arrangements besides one man/one woman are perfectly legal. But this one particular type is the bedrock of society, and therefor it is in the State’s interest to preserve, promote, and protect it.

    • the WayWard follower May 24, 2012 at 3:21 PM #

      interesting proposal and perspective, jerome. glad you shared it.

      question :: what then happens when the state declares that they are open, receptive and supportive of same sex marriage?

      my understanding of our cultural shift is that same sex marriage will be supported in each of the 50 states within the next several years. would that then make you supportive of it?

      • Jerome Graber May 27, 2012 at 12:29 PM #

        No.

        I believe our society is right in recognizing the uniqueness of marriage as an institution. It would be a mistake to do otherwise. Just like it would be a mistake to place no greater value on a Starbucks than a homeless shelter.

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