On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that bans against same-sex marriage are unconstitutional and therefore unacceptable. I support this decision and have long said that there is no other decision the court could come to if it is truly governed by fidelity to the U.S. Constitution, the 1st and 14th amendments in particular. Just as a reminder, the 1A prohibits our government from making laws that “respect the establishment of religion,” and the 14A guarantees equal protection under the law. It was the 14th that was specifically cited regarding the SCOTUS’s majority decision in favor of marriage equality on Friday. By contrast, the court rightly ignored religious claims against same-sex marriage, and the 1st amendment was not invoked in the court’s decision.
As I said, I believe that this was the right decision, but my conviction is not merely connected to the legal/ constitutional argument. I also believe that recognizing and supporting marriage equality is the right thing to do as a Christian. I am not ashamed of this.
Nevertheless, I acknowledge that I presently hold a minority position among fellow Christians in the United States. There are more than a few of them who want to “correct” me or judge me regarding my support of same-sex marriage (and almost always by quoting Scripture out of context or without any supporting rationale at all). They believe I am confused, at best, and downright deceived or in Bible-rejecting, God-hating, apostate territory at worst. Anyone who knows anything about me should know better than to go with the worst type of name-calling listed in the previous sentence. While I tire of all these accusations and the constant harassment and judgment of other Christians, I don’t necessarily blame them, at least not at first. The fact is that I used to be (perhaps too recently) among their ranks, and I used to believe similar things about the Bible and what God thinks about homosexuality.
So I don’t hate or ridicule Christians who are convinced that homosexual behavior is always sinful in all contexts at all times. I don’t troll their Twitter accounts or Facebook posts just looking for a chance to argue, judge, or inform them of my disapproval. I disagree with them, but I respect their opinions on the matter and their freedom to post whatever they like on their own social media outlets.
However, this does not mean they are welcome to post whatever they want to on my Facebook page. I do not often tolerate damaging words being posted on my page on the chance that they will hurt other friends who frequent my Facebook feed. I nevertheless understand that Christians who disagree with me believe their convictions are grounded in the biblical text. I accept that their opposition to same-sex marriage is connected to their understanding of morality and what good Christians should and should not do. If homosexuality (and same-sex marriage by extension) is always sinful, then they feel they would be remiss in not opposing it. I get it.
That being said, Christians who judge and speak out against homosexuality in general, and same-sex marriage in particular, are driving people (not just gay folks) away from Christians, away from the Bible, away from the church and even Jesus himself. This is another reason their right to free speech does not necessarily extend to my Facebook page. In expressing beliefs and opinions against the LGBTQ community, it seems to me that these Christians are actually working against Christ rather than for him. This deeply saddens me since I believe Jesus is legit and has a lot to offer our damaged world.
But how can I say this? If homosexuality is a sin, then how can I be for the LGBTQ community? How can I be against my co-Christians who call out the gay “lifestyle” as sinful, and how can I be for same-sex marriage? These are all fair questions, and as some of the commenters on Facebook have tried to prod me, they deserve a response.
For the sake of readability, I will be as brief as possible in describing my general advocacy for members of the LGBTQ community and marriage equality. Read on.
Here is my basic argument in support of same-sex marriage as a Christian:
A. God is perfect justice.
B. It would be unjust for God to make a person a certain way and then categorically deny them appropriate means to express how he made them when that exact expression is happily given to others.
C. God makes gay people.
D. God indicates that marriage is the way his people can express their sexuality in a healthy and meaningful way.
Therefore, same-sex marriage is God-honoring and ought to be celebrated by all Christians instead of being banned and denigrated. If Christians want sexually active adults to be in committed, mutually consenting, monogamous relationships, then marriage is the way.
It is the premise, “God creates gay people,” that anti-gay Christians will take issue with. They have no other option in the argument above. Nevertheless, asserting that all gay people chose their sexuality while heterosexuals were merely created that way by God is hypocritical and completely unhinged from science, the testimony of many gay people, and even the biblical text itself. The bottom line is this: If a person legitimately and honestly knows that God created them with same-sex attraction/orientation, then it would exceed all credibility for me to claim that I know differently or that I know how God created them better than they do. That just doesn’t add up, and ultimately, a person’s sexuality is between them and God, not me and them and God. Thus far, I have found no reason to reject my argument as outlined in the paragraphs above this one. So I will continue my advocacy and support of LGBTQ communities and marriage equality. People deserve friends, not oppressors.
Beyond this basic argument, below is a smattering of other issues I believe should be considered before anyone gives in to the temptation of presuming that our secular nation is subject to their specific religious interpretations and before any more Christians make judgmental and hate-filled pronouncements against LGBTQ communities and same-sex marriage.
1. Bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. This conclusion has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
2. Theocracy has been tried and been found utterly lacking and destructive by the history of the world. The USA has Christians in it, but has never been (and never will be) a “Christian nation.” It is therefore inappropriate (and illegal) to let anyone’s religious dogma and doctrine dictate laws in the United States of America. If a person wants their opposition to same-sex marriage be taken seriously in this country, they’ll have to find a way that doesn’t lean on their preferred interpretation of any religious texts.
3. Those Christians who nevertheless want to make others live by their particular religious interpretations are closer to Islamic extremists -who want to impose Sharia Law on everyone- than they are to Jesus, who never forced anybody to do anything.
4. Heterosexual Christians who want to deny others the rights they themselves enjoy are not “loving” their neighbor. They are being hypocritical and bigoted.
5. Condemning same-sex marriage and being hateful towards LGBTQ folks will not change anyone’s sexuality or spirituality.
6. Same-sex marriage is not like bestiality or sexual exploitation of children. We aren’t talking about sex anyway. We are talking about marriage, and unlike marriage among mutually consenting, monogamous adults of sound mind, marrying animals and children has never been legal for anyone in our nation. This is the difference between equality and legality.
7. Quoting Bible verses at people is not a proper way to engage anyone. This is especially the case for folks who don’t understand the Bible or give the it (or an anti-gay interpretation of it) any special authority. And it has to be said that the favorite verses that anti-gay Christians like to quote often have deeper nuances than they are comfortable with or even willing to consider.
8. Judging people won’t make them like you, other Christians, the Bible, church, or Jesus. In fact, it will drive them away.
9. Judging others’ salvation is exactly what Jesus told his people not to do.
10. Even if a homosexual “lifestyle” was always a sin in all contexts (a claim I reject), it does not follow that being “perfect” is required of anyone who wants to follow Jesus. If that were the case, then all Christians, gay or otherwise, would be totally screwed. Sinful or not, There is absolutely no reason that a gay person cannot be a Christian. Certain people might want to believe that gay people cannot be Christians, but (spoiler) it’s just not up to them.
11. Nowhere does the Bible feature the word “lifestyle.”
12. Nowhere does the Bible specifically speak of same-sex marriage, but it does hint at the goodness of committed, monogamous, marriages among consenting adults of sound mind. If people are gay, then why on Earth would anyone want to deny them the chance to be in a recognized, committed, monogamous relationship?
13. No bacon-eating hetero-Christian has any credibility when they quote Levitical Law to make negative assessments of homosexuality. And I love bacon.
And finally, a wise campus minister once told me, “Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care.” Pushing for oppression, spewing hate, and pronouncing judgment is a pretty good indicator that you don’t care about non-heterosexuals. At all. And if that’s you, you’re following somebody, but it’s not Jesus.
For my part, as a Christian advocate and friend, I support same-sex marriage in particular, and all LGBTQ people in general. I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon. Because, you know… Jesus.
Additional comments, questions, and arguments are welcome provided that they honor the spirit of friendly conversation. Posts that violate this spirit will be edited and may not be read or posted at all. There are already enough a-holes with internet access. Don’t be one of them. -CL
Commenters: Eric Lebs, Alex Toth, Lane K.