Christianity and Marriage Equality.

As a Christian, this is one of the most difficult topics to speak openly about, which means it is probably one of the most important in our culture.

Gay marriage should be legal, regardless of what the Bible says about it. God gave us the ability to choose whether or not to follow His commands, so we should allow others to decide whether or not to follow them. Moral right and wrong, when it does not harm outside parties, should not be made into law. If we make any law based solely on religious beliefs, then we should also outlaw pork because of Islam and Judaism, we should outlaw coffee because of Mormonism, and we should outlaw prayer because of Atheism. I love that I have freedom of religion, and I recognize that the same amendment that protects my right to follow Christ also protects the right of every other American to not be a Christian. We need to stop trying to force non-Christians to follow Christian culture. Christianity should always be a choice.

As Christians, we should be secure enough in our faith to do what we believe is right even when the law does not dictate our actions.

That was the least controversial part of this post, now for the hard part. I wish that I could say that homosexuality is not a sin. I wish that I could say that God doesn’t care, and that homosexuality is not addressed in the Bible. I really wish I could! That is what I want to be true, but I can’t say that. I cannot stand up and say that homosexuality is not a sin, because only God can say that…and to my knowledge, He hasn’t.

The Old Testament lists homosexual activity as sexual immorality. Paul condemned homosexuality in Rome. Jesus didn’t address homosexuality directly, but he did talk about “sexual immorality” which was well defined under Jewish law and included homosexuality. Old Testament law and Paul should both be put into cultural context, but not ignored outright. Christians like to put some laws into cultural context, but not this one. Other Christians will flat out ignore many laws, but not this one. The fact that Jesus did not make amendments for homosexuality when He talked about sexual immorality is something I can’t ignore. I cannot find any Biblical passage that condones homosexuality. I have read several commentaries that say that God is okay with homosexuality, but they are always a stretch or strip context and I just can’t get behind them. I want them to be true, but that is not up to me. It is up to God.

So the question is how do we, as Christians, approach the gay community? Should we call them sinners? Should we hold up Westboro Baptist-esque signs? Should we bake them cakes? Should we attend gay weddings?

The most important commands that Jesus gave us are to love God and to love others. Everything that we do should be rooted in these two things. It is always better, as Christians, to err on the side of love. I hear people say all the time, “Hate the sin, love the sinner!” but then they do not act like they love the sinner, because they still treat the person differently than they would if it were a different sin. It is not our job to make judgments about other people’s sin, but it is our job to direct people toward God, because only He can judge their sins. Here are some things that the Christian community does that do not show the LGBTQIA community that Christ loves them:

1. Telling them that they are going to Hell. Whenever I hear this pronounced by a Christian, it tells me that they have an over-inflated sense of their own power. Only God can judge someone for their sin. I’m not saying that the LGBTQIA community is going to heaven, but I also won’t say that they are going to Hell. All I can say on this is that God will be the judge of each individual person and that I hope that He shows them mercy, grace, and love. Instead of damning them, I need to pray for and with them. At the same time, I need to work out my own salvation and my own sins in hopes that God will show me the same mercy, grace, and love. I know that I am more like them than I am like God, and that we all fall short. God’s judgment is not something to take lightly, but it is also not something to take into our own hands.

2. Denying them services. If you truly love someone and believe that their soul is in jeopardy, why would you want to drive them away? What statement does it make to refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding? Does that open up conversation? Does that show mutual respect and understanding? Does it make them feel loved, or that you are there for them even though you disagree on the morality of their sexual orientation? I know that you don’t want to show support for something that Jesus did not support, but baking a cake does not declare to the world that you think that homosexuality is good. All it says is that you love and respect people who are different from you. I also don’t think that you should lie about what you believe. In my opinion, it makes more sense to bake the cake and say, “I want you to know that I am a Christian, and I do not believe that the Bible supports homosexuality. I understand that you believe differently than I do. I will bake your cake to the highest quality that I possibly can for your special day, but I thought you should know where I stand in case you would prefer to have your cake baked by someone who shares your ideologies.” You can stand firm in your beliefs without condescending, disrespecting, or rejecting the other person.

3. Comparing homosexuality to non-comparable sin. I often hear Christians compare homosexuality to adultery, pedophilia, rape, and bestiality. Even though some of those fall under the same category of Jewish law, this is not a fair comparison. All of those sins have victims, while homosexuality between two consenting adults does not. You wouldn’t compare pride to murder. I often hear people say, “sin is sin,” as a way to lump homosexuality in with sins that everyone agrees upon, but do not treat all other sins as equal. If you are going to compare homosexuality to something, it should be to something similarly victimless. Jesus made passing references to homosexuality, but one thing he was VERY clear about is divorce and remarriage. It is under the same category of law, and it is a committed relationship between two consenting adults. If you must make a comparison, this one makes the most sense.

So, what does the Bible say about second marriages?

…everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” -Matthew 5:32

Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” -Matthew 19:8-9

Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” -Mark 10:11-12

“…be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. ‘The man who hates and divorces his wife,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘does violence to the one he should protect,’ says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.” -Malachi 2:15-16

There are several other Biblical passages about divorce and remarriage being equated with sexual immorality. The only thing in question is if it is okay for a person who is cheated on to divorce their spouse and then marry someone else. Most scriptures imply that a person’s original spouse must die before they can remarry. One scripture which has other implications comes from Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:15, but in verse 11 he stated that this message was coming from himself, and not from God. In any case, many divorces are not Biblical, and there is a strong argument to be made that if your ex-spouse is still alive, then to remarry is a sin. I’m not saying this to cast judgment on second marriages, but to address the fact that Christian culture is being selective about when to be legalistic and when to show grace and love. I have never heard of a baker refusing to bake a cake for someone’s second wedding. I have never heard of a church telling a remarried couple to stop “living in sin.” I have never heard Christians debate whether or not it is right for them to attend a second wedding. Less than two percent of marriages are between same-sex couples, while between 20 and 50%(studies differ) of straight marriages end in divorce. Who is destroying the sanctity of marriage? Why do we care about one, but turn a blind eye the other?

It is hypocritical for us to be so outspoken against gay marriage while so many Christians are on their second or third marriages without anyone caring. We need to worry about the shortcomings in our own community before(if ever) we turn our focus to other communities. My wife and I have come to the conclusion that we can’t accept one and reject the other. If we reject same-sex marriages, we must also reject second marriages. If we are going to approve of second marriages, we must also approve of gay marriages. We know that many Christians disagree with us, but unless they can show us with scripture why these two kinds of marriage are different, we will treat them equally.

No one but Christ has all of the answers, which is why we are all called to work out our OWN salvation with fear and trembling. Jesus told people to stop sinning and to follow Him, but that doesn’t mean that we should be telling people the same thing. Jesus can say that because He is God. We need to stop pretending to be God in our judgments. Christianity is more than following a set of rules. It is doing what God wants from you out of a direct relationship with Christ. If someone is rooted in Christ, then it is God’s Word which corrects and redirects them. If someone is not rooted in Christ, then why do we think that our own words and judgments have any meaning or power over them?

As for my wife and I, Instead of judging the marriages of others, we will focus on our own marriage and how it can glorify God.

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