With respect to the gay-marriage debate, I don't support granting marriage as a "right" to gay partners--but I'm not out campaigning madly against it, either. Facing facts, outside of the Bible, there is no unassailable argument against our government granting the legal status of marriage to same-sex couples. (Sure, if the entirety of humanity was homosexual, we'd die out in a single generation, and that doesn't indicate that homosexuality is healthy for the human race in general--in fact, in the strongest possible terms, it's a practice that doesn't have any potential for engendering the continuance of life: its inevitable biological result is death. From that perspective, it's not something worth embracing. However, I don't think anyone seriously thinks that the entirety of humanity is going to abandon heterosexuality, so while this is a powerful philosophical argument, it's not going to go anywhere in the actual legal debate against gay marriage.)
Our government, no matter how much we Christians want to believe otherwise, does not base itself on the Bible. (And indeed, if it did, it would be favoring one religion over all others, and would thus be inconsistent with itself.) I'm not saying that this is a good thing--in fact, it's a pretty bad thing, since the philosophical basis for unalienable rights is thus eroded right out from under us--but considering that the instances of the Church being in bed with the Government in human history has NOT turned out well for human rights, I think the real answer here is the one that Jesus gave when people were trying to trap Him into choosing between "God's government" and "Caesar's government": give to Caesar what is Caesar's and give to God what is God's. (Matthew 22:15-22)
And what is God's here? Good question.
While I believe reality is as the Bible assumes it is, not everyone else does. This is simply a fact. As a Christian, I can either hate those who do not agree, or I can follow Jesus' pattern and lay my life down for them instead. Also a simple fact: the truth of God will stand, regardless of how empires rise and fall. We must live consistently with our consciences within whatever that empire may be. We simply live in a world that is departing from God and is thus decaying. Based on our government's laws, there is no reason why homosexuals cannot get the legal status of "marriage". There are some who are pursuing a Constitutional amendment to deny this "right" to the gay community. It is interesting to note that most of the Constitutional amendments are designed to increase people's rights, not abridge them. There is only one that took them away: Prohibition. We all know how that ended. Good Christian folk were behind that one, too, with the best of intentions. (Despite, of course, Jesus turning water into wine and Paul telling Timothy to "don't just drink water; have a little wine for your stomach's sake." But I digress.)
The government granting gay couples what it defines as the legal status of marriage does not confer on them the status of true marriage, which was defined by God long before any governments came into existence and will be around long after all of them cease to exist. The precedent that this sets is that the government is granting rights based on the "might is right" principle instead of on the original 'God-said-it' basis: if most people are in support of it, it will become law. That's the nature of democracy, and we can't support democracy only for people we agree with...because then we'll be inconsistent with ourselves. Anybody want to go back to a theocracy? :)
Oh wait--we're already in one, no matter where we live in the world. :)
My fear is that Christians who oppose gay marriage on principle will eventually become regarded like members of the Klu Klux Klan or some other hate group that our culture has zero tolerance for. Will the government's support of gay-marriage rights eventually force religious groups to honor that status of marriage and be discriminated against or shut down entirely if we resist? I think it entirely possible. Not, perhaps, now...but eventually?
An objection I've heard to legalizing gay marriage: children will be raised in same-sex households. My counter to this is: children already are being raised in same-sex households. Children are being raised in abusive heterosexual homes and in single-parent homes and in foster care and in orphanages and in the sex-slave industry. No, it's not ideal. No, it's not following God's pattern. Gay couples are often offering regular meals, attention, protection, and financial provision to unwanted children. This does not make the situation perfect but it's better than many of the possibilities listed above. If those who defy God in the realm of their sexuality are the ones who are offering help, it is rather an indictment on we who are supposed to be Christ-like for not standing in the gap and doing it!
But what are we "Christ-ian" people doing? We're getting red in the face and popping veins and shouting hateful rhetoric (the same stuff) over and over and over. We are not
- reaching out to (not dragging in!) the gay community, or
- reaching out to help those that the gay community is reaching out to help.
Contrary to popular (Christian) opinion, offering help and friendship to those rebelling against God is not signalling the implication that we support and embrace their lifestyle. It is Christ-like. It is lifting Christ up in a place where no one can see Him, and He will draw all people unto Himself. What do you think Christ was doing, hanging out with the dregs of Judean society and talking with them about God and life in general? Why do you think the religious leaders were so offended by Him? Because He wasn't doing what they were doing: standing in an supportive religious location and condemning the masses.
We don't need to feel the pressure to drag, berate, or guilt anyone. Instead, we lift Him up in word and deed. We pray for them to be able to see Him with the eyes of their hearts. We offer help without expecting conversion in return. We state what we believe is His truth when people indicate interest and ask, and we do it without fear or shame or anxiousness, but rather by praying to our God and then speaking with grace and peace and humility. (Nehemiah 2) I always liked this quote:
"When I long for God to communicate in ways I can see and hear and feel, I need to remember that He is doing something even better. He is living in me, so that through my life the world will be able to see and hear and feel Him." - Julie A. Link
Those in the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community already know that we Christians disapprove strongly of homosexuality; we do not have to shout it in their face and rant on about how it is death. Yes, it is. But it is such with great pain and aching sadness, not with, "How can I crush you further?! BAM!"
I always find it most telling that Jesus only ranted and shouted against the "righteous" people. His Spirit is shouting to us now: "You have not obeyed Me! You have not taken care of the weakest among you! Examine your own hearts before Me and repent and turn from your wicked ways, and I will heal your land and give you peace!" But only a small remnant is listening; everyone else is content to stand on their high moral ground and shout like a broken record.
Yes, hate sin. Die to yourself for the sinner!
Would it hurt you so much to be quiet? Your message is truth but your means is without grace. Instead of preaching the umpteenth sermon on how abhorrent homosexuality is to God (I agree with that premise: it is a rejection of His diverse nature, which is perfectly complementary and amazing in its mysterious unity), why not take yourself and your congregation down to the nearest gay domestic violence help center or foster care center or abortion counseling center or drug rehabilitation center or gay nightclub and ask if they need a janitor, who possibly works on a volunteer basis if the place is non-profit?
Yes, you'll clean up used condoms and vomit and used syringes and see hurt people hurt each other and themselves even more, blindly wallowing in darkness. And your stomach will turn. But if you really are quiet and invisible and obedient to the Holy Spirit, you will weep and not rant.
And you will not attempt to surreptitiously plant Christian tracts around these establishments, because the people running the organizations would often not appreciate that (would you appreciate a janitor who left Muslim literature in every bathroom stall of your church? Of course not; you'd be annoyed and if you were management, you'd fire them, thinking to yourself, "He only offered his services as a janitor so that he could sneak his literature in here. Another reason to distrust Muslims; this is not what our project is about.") Sometimes Christians are rejected not because it is religious persecution but just because we're annoying.
No, you go to be a janitor because it's the lowliest job and the one nobody wants and because you wouldn't be able to get direct access to people for you conversion agenda. You'd have to humble yourself and let the excellency of the power come from God and Him alone. If we obey Him and put ourselves in a place that is spiritually, physically, and motivationally humble, He can and will use us, but not until then.
We are janitors so we can clean. So that perhaps it will take years to build trust and relationships and evidence of faithfulness and humility. (You don't notice salt is in something until a long time has passed and that thing is still not rotting!) We may never see impressive results, but we cannot see everything. We do our work heartily, as unto the Lord, and in so doing, we lift Him up. He will draw, because He simply will. He is that beautiful, that awesome, that real.
My approach to the gay marriage debate is to not answer it directly when someone wants to argue with me on it. Rather, I say, let's step back and see who Jesus is, and see how He saw the world, and why the way He sees it is a much better way entirely. Let's give context and draw the conversation back to the real point. Dickering on the symptomatic issues of sin is a dead-end approach with those who have no willingness to understand the context behind the beliefs.
If we do not reach out to help the hungry, the sick, the naked, the imprisoned, others will. Perhaps gay men and women. Perhaps those who support abortion rights. If we do not worship Him, the rocks will cry out their praises. They will serve and build the trust; He will reach the hurting with the tools that make themselves available, even if they're not perfect or if they don't fully understand.
Do you want to be replaced by a rock?
Then why are you still standing there ranting? GO!