Gay Marriage—How Should Christians Respond?

Once again gay marriage is all over the news. Within one week both Iowa and Vermont legalized gay marriage, and DC passed a legislature that recognized gay marriages performed in other states.  Also, New York is currently considering joining the bandwagon. For gay rights activists, all signs point to victory, but for others it is a cause for concern.

This past Sunday, the debate even took over the Miss USA pageant, when Perez Hilton, one of the judges and an openly gay celebrity blogger, asked contestant and eventual runner-up Carrie Prejean what she thought about gay marriage: “Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit. Why or why not?”

Prejean, a Christian, answered: “Well, I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be—between a man and a woman. Thank you very much.”

Hilton, decidedly unimpressed, later described Prejean rather unfavorably on his blog and others in Hollywood have followed suit—including Twitters from Shanna Moakler, Giuliana Rancic, Holly Madison and Heidi Montag all decrying Prejean’s words about gay marriage. Rancic, an E! News anchor, Twittered that “I know i’m a journalist, and i should be objective ... but she is an ignorant disgrace and she makes me sick to my stomach.”

But Prejean says she’s received an outpouring of support from those who agree with her position: “Lots of phone calls. I’ve gotten over 500 Facebook friend requests, hundreds of messages from people I don’t know, saying how proud of me they are that I stood my ground.”

Why does this issue keep coming back around? Why is there such a deep, deep divide over it? Is there really no way for us to all “just get along” and live in harmony?

Many Christians worry that legalized gay marriage will infringe upon religious liberties. Conservative blogger Rod Dreher says there are many religious organizations currently facing legal consequences for their moral convictions. According to his blog, such cases include a Christian photographer being fined for not photographing a gay wedding, a psychologist fired for not counseling a lesbian about her relationship, and Christian fertility doctors facing the Supreme Court after refusing to artificially inseminate a lesbian patient. “If opposition to same-sex marriage is to be understood as pure bigotry, then no accommodation for religious believers will be made,” Dreher writes. "This is what people have got to understand is at stake in this conflict. It is not a scare tactic, or a made-up charge: there really will be a substantial effect on traditional churches, synagogues, mosques and religious institutions if gay marriage is constitutionalized.”

Gay blogger Andrew Sullivan, on the other hand, says that it is all a scare tactic. "I have nothing against the voluntary and peaceful activities of any religious group, and regard these organizations as some of the greatest strengths of America," he writes. "The idea that gay people somehow want to persecute these churches, that we're ‘out to get you,’ and hurt you and punish you is preposterous. The notion that there are rampaging mobs of gay people beating up on Christians is also unhinged.” Sullivan, a practicing Catholic, believes that the Bible condemns homosexuality only if it is connected to either prostitution or pagan ritual. He is married to actor/artist Aaron Tone, and is a vocal advocate of gay marriage. “Rod [Dreher] believes that accepting my civil marriage as equal to his somehow erases the meaning of his own union,” Sullivan writes. “But it doesn't. He is free as a person of faith to regard my civil marriage as substantively void and his as substantively meaningful; he is simply required as a member of this disenchanted polis to accept my civil marriage as legally valid. That's all. Is that so hard?”

It would seem that some evangelicals, at least younger ones, are starting to agree with Sullivan. According to a Faith in Public Life survey, younger evangelicals are two and a half times as likely to support same sex unions as older evangelicals. This gap has grown by nine points over the last two years.

“Younger evangelicals are doubtlessly shifting their views on marriage,” says Jonathan Merritt, a faith and culture writer who serves as national spokesperson for the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative, and who has recently written for USA Today and The Advocate (a LGBT publication) on the relationship between the Church and the gay community. “While it may be a sad reality depending on one’s beliefs about marriage, rising generations will not fight for traditional marriage with the same fire and in the same numbers as previous generations.”

Indeed, according to PBS’ Religion and Ethics Newsweekly research, 58 percent of younger, white evangelicals support legal recognition of same-sex civil unions, and yet are still as solidly pro-life as their older evangelical counterparts. Younger evangelicals are not splitting in total from the values of their parents' and other older generations—they are not simply bowing to the pressures of a liberal media, as some might think. They just don’t believe that abortion and same-sex civil unions are as equally worth public debate and constitutional decree.

"Rising generations need to articulate a stance that protects the nature of marriage in a way that is both logical and loving," Merritt says. "We must move away from the us-versus-them, culture war mentality that treats our gay and lesbian neighbors only as our political enemies, and begin embracing them as people of mutual goodwill who happen to see things very differently than we do.”

Eric Bryant, author of the book Peppermint-Filled Piñatas, echoes Merritt’s call to love our gay neighbors. “Christians are known for who we hate rather than how we love,” he writes in his blog. “This moves us out of the conversation and polarizes those involved so quickly, no progress can be made.” Bryant says that it's crucial for Christians to love people we disagree with, and to discuss the gay marriage issue with civility. “We cannot influence others we have pushed away," he writes. "This includes those who are struggling to figure out what to do with their sexual desires while growing up."

This reminder to keep things personal and not just political resonates with many younger evangelicals who now, more than ever, know members of the gay community. According to Public Religion Research, 37 percent of young evangelicals have a close relative who is homosexual, compared to only 16 percent of older evangelicals.

"Our beliefs are most effectively communicated within the confines of a loving, trusting relationship—not barked over a political podium to the applause of jeering crowds," Merritt says. "As we begin to form meaningful, motive-free relationships with gays and lesbians, our tone will doubtlessly change and our witness will be made stronger."

Top Comments

Stephen Harris

4

Stephen Harris commented…

Culture changes, God's word doesn't.

Now, that may sound a little harsh to a non-Christian or even to a liberal Christian but it's just the way it is. I think that some Christians have gone the wrong way about how to deal with the issue but if we actually take a step back and look at this whloe same-sex marraige fiasco we see that the Bible clearly calls it sin, and it definitely doesn't condone it and so as Christians we must stand firm on the Bible, showing love, but not compromising the word of God.

There's always going to be liberal Christians that try and take passages in the Bible out of context to somehow justify their sin, whatever that sin may be but at the end of the day we are all going to stand before God one day and give an account.

We must speak out against things that are contrary to the word of God but we must do this in love. May I also add that the "judge not less ye be judged" verse is probably the most misused verse in the whole Bible. It's taken so out of context & people use it against Christians to try & say here is proof Christians shouldn't speak out against anythng, and that is wrong.

Read all of scripture & let scripture interpret scripture! The Bible says we're to judge righteous judgement. We're not to condemn someone to hell because of their lifestyle because we don't know what God maybe doing in their life but we are definitely called to speak out against things contrary to the word of God & judge wrong doctrine, it's our duty as Christians. Do it in love but do it nonetheless.

Christians need to get back to the Bible & study to show themselves approved & stop taken verses out of their original meanings in order to condone their actions!

So in closing we must take a stand for what is Biblical, but do it in love, but we must also remember that doing it in love IS NOT compromising or keeping silent on the issue or condoning the sin, rather, it is explaining why it's wrong in a loving way.

165 Comments

85,364

JAMIE REID commented…

THE BIBLE STILL STANDS

Michele Ready

1

Michele Ready commented…

Just watched Lincoln, and after this week's historic national debate, I am reminded of the quote "The arc of history is long and bends towards justice." Often credited to Martin Luther King but goes further back. http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/11/15/arc-of-universe/

People, hear this: marriage equality is the civil rights issue of our time. Spiritually, we would do well to examine all cultural bias that blinds any of us many to the beautiful, life-giving truth that Paul recognized so long ago, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

From the little I've read, the debate here sounds to me like the opponents of the 13th Amendment, ending slavery, on the grounds that it would lead to Negros being able to vote, and worse marry whites, and (gasp!) women voting.

Any biblical argument supporting discrimination against the LGBT community is fighting the arc of history towards justice and inclusion. Since the concept of same sex committed relationships didn't exist 2000 years ago, I can't consider anything other than the general themes. I go with "love thy neighbor" over "complementary" private parts. One reminds me of Jesus Christ, and the other sounds homophobic.

Now that my denomination (PC USA) has moved forward on this issue, I believe we are on the right track towards health and wholeness. May it be so for us and for all who are seeking to discern God's will.

Shalom.

Stephen Harris

4

Stephen Harris commented…

Culture changes, God's word doesn't.

Now, that may sound a little harsh to a non-Christian or even to a liberal Christian but it's just the way it is. I think that some Christians have gone the wrong way about how to deal with the issue but if we actually take a step back and look at this whloe same-sex marraige fiasco we see that the Bible clearly calls it sin, and it definitely doesn't condone it and so as Christians we must stand firm on the Bible, showing love, but not compromising the word of God.

There's always going to be liberal Christians that try and take passages in the Bible out of context to somehow justify their sin, whatever that sin may be but at the end of the day we are all going to stand before God one day and give an account.

We must speak out against things that are contrary to the word of God but we must do this in love. May I also add that the "judge not less ye be judged" verse is probably the most misused verse in the whole Bible. It's taken so out of context & people use it against Christians to try & say here is proof Christians shouldn't speak out against anythng, and that is wrong.

Read all of scripture & let scripture interpret scripture! The Bible says we're to judge righteous judgement. We're not to condemn someone to hell because of their lifestyle because we don't know what God maybe doing in their life but we are definitely called to speak out against things contrary to the word of God & judge wrong doctrine, it's our duty as Christians. Do it in love but do it nonetheless.

Christians need to get back to the Bible & study to show themselves approved & stop taken verses out of their original meanings in order to condone their actions!

So in closing we must take a stand for what is Biblical, but do it in love, but we must also remember that doing it in love IS NOT compromising or keeping silent on the issue or condoning the sin, rather, it is explaining why it's wrong in a loving way.

Christopher Chambers

1

Christopher Chambers commented…

None of us change the words of The Bible to support our "liberal agenda". Grow up and learn to read (let alone, comprehend). We all know the choice quotes from Leviticus and we all know the one from Romans. They've been shoved down OUR throats since day one. The FACT of the matter is this; YOU are the ones who pick and choose what is a sin and what is not. In the very same chapter of Leviticus you seem to ignore so much. For instance, do ANY of you eat shellfish. Same sin. That's just one. Remember, too, these are the laws strictly for the family of Levi (the priestly family in ancient Judaism...thus, "Levi"ticus). YOU are a follower of Christ. Christ, who said nothing regarding this matter. He did, however, mention shellfish. He also mentioned you can't have sex with a woman other than one week out of the month.

All this, however, is beside the point. YOU'RE believes can't control me anymore than mine can control yours. You don't want to marry me? Fine. I don't care, I'll find someone else. I don't WANT you to marry me anymore than I'D be willing to marry you! Just don't enforce YOUR believes on MY being an equal citizen. You are perceiving this as an "attack" on your bigotry ONLY because YOU are the ones playing a political game. In other words, don't claim for yourselves "separation of church and state" once YOU have been the ones who've breached that defense.

You have every right to hate. Just as I have every right to PROVE you wrong.

In closing; learn your history before spouting what something in The Bible means. "Thou shalt not lay with a man as with a woman" is simple (even in those days, Jews had male "servants", even the Levites); Men are in control. If you "take it" then YOU are being the female, thus, a disgrace to your manhood. Every ancient culture held this belief and every ancient culture had "servants".

My God, people, grow up and become literate. At the very least, READ your precious Bible in it's entirety.

Galactus Schroeder

3

Galactus Schroeder commented…

As a Christian and an American I have had to step back and look at the world as a whole. Americas purpose as a country is to be a country of freedoms, not of Christianity. There are several European countries with official state religion of Christianity. But not America.

With that in mind I leave it up to the courts, because God's Will Be Done means just that.

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