In just the last 24 hours, since the United States Supreme Court handed down their historic decision allowing gay marriage to be legal in all 50 states, my inbox has been inundated with emails from panicked Christians from U.S. churches looking for guidance on this issue.
The Canadian Supreme Court passed the same law ten years ago, so this has been our reality north of the 49th parallel for a decade now. Welcome to the club!
Let me start here. The Bible is abundantly clear that a heterosexual, monogamous relationship as first presented in Genesis is the only model of wedded union and sexual expression that is consistently praised in both Old and New Testaments and is the standard upheld as the ideal throughout all scripture. Not once is homosexuality in any context ever praised or left as an example of something that should be emulated. (Genesis 1:17, Genesis 2:22-24, Matthew 19:4, Ephesians 5:22-25, Mark 10:9, Leviticus 18:22, 20:30, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:9-10)
What we are NOT saying . . .
To be clear, we are not suggesting that gays and lesbians are not nice people; some are, and some are not, just like heterosexuals. We’re not saying that gays or lesbians cannot form loving relationships – of course they can. It’s certainly not about whether gays and lesbians should be treated with dignity and respect. Every human being should be treated with dignity, kindness and respect, regardless of where we stand on theological issues.
God’s Laws vs. Man’s Laws
So how should we as followers of Christ proceed when the Supreme Courts of our countries makes legal something that we as disciples see as clearly going against God’s law? When faced with a similar dilemma, Peter exclaimed in Acts 5:29 “We must obey God rather than human beings!” What do we do then with Romans 13:1 that says “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Well, we are to obey all laws that are handed down by governing authorities, except in cases when the human law contradicts God’s law. Clearly then, for followers of Christ who, like me, live with unwanted same gender attractions, marrying someone of the same-sex would not be permissible, regardless what the state legally allows, because God’s law says I cannot. I respect God’s law over man’s law. But, for those who are not Christians, they have the right to live however they wish, and it would be out of bounds for Christians to expect people to live according to a standard that they never agreed to follow. We need to be on our knees in prayer imploring God for help, not on the issue of gay marriage, but asking for the Lord to open the hearts of gays and lesbians and others in our communities so that they can find Christ and have their souls saved.
From the Canadian perspective . . .
To the Christian, I will say that from my perspective as a Canadian, having gay marriage legalized in my country for the last ten years has not proved to be the one singular component that has served to destroy the social underpinning of the Canadian family. The truth is, I think it’s too new of a social experiment for us to see what kind of impact this will have. Ten years is not a long enough time to determine this.
What should we focus on?
So the argument over whether gay marriage should be legal is over. The governing authorities have spoken and have legalized gay nuptials not just in the United States and Canada, but also in The Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and several more countries are right behind them. We live in democracies, not theocracies, and so shouldn’t expect our judicial or legislative branches of government to agree with the traditional Biblical ethic on these issues. If there is anything we should fight for it is to make sure that the church will have the legal and protective right to unapologetically, radically and lovingly teach what the Bible does say on this issue, even if man’s laws do not agree with God’s laws.
Where DOES social reform fit in?
Other than this, the real issue facing us today is whether or not the disciple of Christ should protest these social policy issues in the public square and to what degree should a Christian involve him or herself in social reform?
While I applaud those among us who do involve themselves in varying causes in our society in order to improve the lives of others, I think overall, we as Christians would be wise to not allow social reform to be our ideal or top priority. While I’m sure it has its place at certain times, when it comes to issues like gay marriage, I’m not too confident that protesting this recent decision in the public square is our place, nor should it be our primary concern.
I do believe that compromise begets compromise, so I am not at all suggesting a loosening of the Biblical sexual ethic. Christians do need to boldly teach the standards that God has laid out for human sexuality, especially from the pulpit, but I do also believe that this must be done with a huge sense of humility and kindness that will urge people to actually listen to what we have to say as opposed to using a combative tone that will only turn people away. For beyond all of the politics and arguments and public declarations and headlines are real people, with real lives and careers and friends and hurts and hobbies and bills and problems and parents and siblings, the majority of whom are not “activists”, but rather every day people who just want to live their lives peacefully. Most want to contribute to their communities; they want to make a positive difference in the world. They are kind and generous and wonderful human beings who also are in need of hearing the true message of Christ. I personally believe that if Christians make it our primary goal to tackle the issue of same-sex marriage in the public and political arenas, we will become more known for what we are against than what we are for. We will become identified as protestors more than Christians. We will end up speaking so loudly on social issues that the lost will not be willing to hear what we say when we do finally get around to speaking about Jesus.
Regardless of our political and social beliefs, Christians imitating Jesus’ character should be focused on treating others with dignity, kindness and respect while we hold out the life saving message of the cross.
Taken from Strength in Weakness Ministry