So with the Prop 8 bill being taken to the Supreme Court yesterday, it seems like a everyone has an opinion about whether gay people should be allowed to marry. Now I’m generally of the opinion that the government doesn’t need to play morality police and as long as you aren’t directly hurting someone else Uncle Sam doesn’t need to get involved. This makes the legal aspect of it easy for me, but where it get’s difficult for me (and where I think it really matters) is whether or not gay marriage should or should not be endorsed by the Christian faith.
I personally don’t care what the government says is right or wrong, but God is another matter entirely. If YHWH is as opposed to gay marriage as some Christians would lead you to believe, then I’d have to side with God. He is, after all, God. We don’t get to vote on an absolute moral truth, and popular opinion does not add to or take away from the validity of a divine reality. The problem I come across is not that I am afraid to pick a side because of some public backlash. I’m a pro-life, anti-war, pro-gun, and anti-death-penalty Christian so I’m used to controversy and backlash. My problem is that I legitimately don’t know what the answer is. Honestly I’m surprised there don’t seem to be more people in my shoes.
Yes there are OT holiness codes that seem to prohibit same-sex intercourse, but anyone who knows the first thing about historical context knows that these laws are not applied today. These were a part of a holiness code whose purpose was to keep the Israelites separate and distinct from the pagan worship practices that surrounded them. I’m wearing a mixed fabric shirt right now, and earlier today I’m pretty sure I shaved in an inappropriate way. I’ve also eaten shrimp and probably at some point sat in a chair after a woman on her period (though I don’t like to think about that). My point is that Christianity has long since abandoned the laws of the OT as our guide for righteousness. We instead cling to the grace, mercy, and forgiveness that comes from Christ through the events of the death and resurrection. We have abandoned legalism (or at least we should have) long ago and I don’t think these hold up.
Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction seems to be a popular passage about homosexuality, but upon re-reading it I just can’t get myself to read it that way. For starters I think the bigger problem in Sodom was the mob’s willingness to gang-rape visitors than it was that the visitors happened to be males. Rape is bad, we can all agree with that. Plus in Ezekiel the sins of Sodom are listed and they have nothing to do with homosexuality.
“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”
– Ezekiel 16:49
Now Jesus himself is never recorded as mentioning anything about homosexuality (how easy this would be if he did) but that isn’t to say the subject was never brought up in the NT. In Romans and other Pauline epistles a modern-day reader might be able to read certain passages and find verses that seem to condemn homosexuality. Here once again I have to throw my hands up in the air and confess I don’t know. I don’t think these passages are as crystal clear as a lot of people try make them out to be. Monogamous homosexual couples just weren’t a normal thing in Paul’s day, at least not as common as the extra-marital homosexual affairs that Rome was full of. In the context of Paul’s day people probably envisioned any homosexual behavior as a form of extramarital erotic excess. It wasn’t uncommon for wealthy men to have wives and young male sexual servants. Sex was quick and loose in a lot of the Roman empire, but monogamous gay marriage was not at all common. When we try to look through Paul’s eyes instead of our own, we can see that what he was addressing in these letters was probably not the same issue we are addressing today.
Much to my frustration, I just don’t think scripture adequately addresses gay marriage. The Biblical authors probably never even thought to address the concept of monogamous homosexual marriage. To the OT writers homosexuality was a pagan practice and to the NT writers it was a freaky extramarital hedonistic thing. Neither had the same problem or view of homosexuality that we are faced with today, and neither really give much in the way of practical application.
I’ve stressed enough the problem I have with outright declaring monogamous homosexual marriage a sin, so why don’t I just join the “marriage equality” side and be done with it. Well though the Bible doesn’t address gay marriage in a way that I find satisfying enough for me to condemn it, it also fails to address it in a way that I find satisfying enough to outright embrace it. There are no positive portrayals of homosexuality found in scripture, and while that is probably a product of the time these writings were written in, it does not make my decision easy. I don’t want to disqualify something just because the Bible doesn’t openly praise it (if that were the case I couldn’t drive a car since the Bible says nothing about them) but I feel like too many people who find the anti-gay marriage arguments lacking quickly run and jump over into the pro-gay marriage camp. This is a decision that will have long-lasting consequences no matter who is wrong or who is right. When the scriptures say nothing that doesn’t really mean that the thing in question is moral or amoral, it simply means it was not addressed.
So while I’m busy being a “hypocritical fence sitter” as some have called me, what do I do when the problem comes up? To put it bluntly, I shut up and listen.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
– James 1:19-20
Let the gay christians speak. Let those people that will be effected by the church’s stance speak for themselves. I can’t help but feel like this entire debate bing waged in the church is predominantly a bunch of straight men who don’t understand homosexuality. I’d count myself as one of those. So I choose to reserve my judgements and let those who deserve to speak speak for themselves.
At the end of the day my opinion in this debate is just that, my opinion. The ultimate truth behind this moral quandary does not change based on which side of the coin I land on. My “vote” doesn’t count, and wherever I land it won’t really have an impact on me at all. At most my opinion might help others figure out where they stand, but that’s about as far as it goes for me.
The people who really need to be involved in this debate, the ones who have a voice that matters and a stake in this game, are those LGBTQ Christians out there seeking answers. If you are gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or some other variation then I think that you are the ones who really deserve to have an opinion in this fight that matters. I’m not going to marry another person of the same-sex, but some of you might be considering that option some day and it will be up to you to figure out and make peace with God in regards to that. It’s the LGBTQ Christians who will have to face these challenges and it is the job of their straight brothers and sisters to love and support them as they embark on this spiritual journey.
Now that I’ve gone on and on about all the things I don’t know, I figured it is time for me to share something I do know.
I know is that no matter who you are, what you have done, what you will do, or who you choose to be…. God loves you. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.