Friday, August 03, 2012

LATE POST: Gay Marriage: Political Windfall, Religious Red Herring

[Note: I wrote this post seven years ago, but somehow forgot to publish it.]

In a post-mortem discussion of the 2004 election, Karl Rove, campaign advisor to George W. Bush, said that the elevation of moral issues helped Republicans in both the Presidential and Congressional races. A poll published in the Chicago Tribune supported Rove’s claim. It revealed that 22% of voters polled cited moral values as the election’s key issue and overwhelmingly chose Bush as the candidate with the strongest moral stance. Rove cited, in particular, the role of the same-sex marriage debate. He said that Massachusetts’ move to legalize same-sex marriage had "captured and colored the national imagination."

Prior to the election, I had seen countless news reports and articles about Christian organizations and churches coming out in support of Bush, and his position against gay marriage and for the Constitutional ban of gay marriage. There were even interviews with Black pastors and parishioners, who typically skew more  Democratic, proclaiming the same support for the Republican candidate.

Most surprising to me were discussions of these news stories with my Black, Christian friends. I jokingly mentioned that Black people were on the news campaigning for a Republican candidate, en masse, without insisting that their faces be blurred. In response, I was scolded for not doing "the Christian thing" and supporting the candidate that stood for Christian values. My voting along traditional party and racial lines was considered a compromise. Stern references to Sodom and Gomorrah were bandied about.

It was these interactions that led me to develop what may be considered a radical position in the same-sex marriage debate: none. I don’t care. What’s more, I’m convinced that God doesn’t care either. As such, I think it is wrong for the Christian church to take a stance one way or the other in this debate, especially in the name of upholding Christian morality.

Don’t get me wrong, the Bible is very clear on God’s stance on homosexuality. Rarely one to mince words, God calls homosexuality an "abomination" in Leviticus 18:22, and has other choice words to say on the topic in various Old and New Testament verses. That fact established, I have little doubt that God doesn't care about same-sex marriage. Admittedly, I did not comb the Bible for a verse describing God’s position. So, my conviction is based solely on the Godly principle of logic.

The gay marriage debate is not a matter of "sin," as some would like to claim. It is, instead, one of sin management. That is, it explicitly or implicitly makes allowance for sin, by stipulating a subsequent condition or action. The position being put forth as the religious and moral imperative is essentially, "as long as you are a homosexual, you cannot get married."

According to the Bible, being a homosexual is a sin. What one can and cannot do as a homosexual is not really discussed. The reason, I propose, is that God’s only goal for a person operating in a given sin is to get them to stop committing that sin, not to inconvenience them while they are operating in that sin. It is the equivalent of saying people who commit adultery can only have sex in cars and cheap motel rooms. Like homosexuality, God is clear in His assertion that adultery is a sin. So, would God’s interest be in dictating where a couple can commit adultery or would He be more interested in their not committing adultery? The Ten Commandments say "Thou shalt not..." They do not go on to say, "But as long as thou doth..."

Speaking of adultery, for an illustration of how God would have Christians to deal with people operating in sin, we need look no further than Christ himself. In John 6, we see how Jesus interacts with a woman who was caught in the act of committing adultery. One of the reasons I love Jesus is because he had a sarcastic streak, which only came out when he was dealing with hypocritical religious fundamentalists. In this instance, they told Him they caught the woman and reminded Him that according to the Law she was supposed to be killed by having heavy rocks thrown at her. After ignoring them for a few minutes, Jesus said, (and I’m paraphrasing) "Sure, go ahead and kill her, and whichever of you has never done anything wrong gets to throw the first stone." None of them wanted to voluntarily admit to being perfect, on the record, so they all left. Once they were gone, Jesus told the woman that she was safe, he forgave her, and she should stop sleeping with men who are not her husband.

Elsewhere, namely in Romans 13:14, Galatians 6:1, and 2 Corinthians 5:20, the Bible confirms that the Christian position on any matter of sin is to be one of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration into right relationship with God. It’s not about judgement. It’s not about self-righteousness. And, it’s not about making allowances for sin.

While I could argue the merits of the alleged Bush/Kerry dichotomy in the same-sex marriage debate, that is not my point here. My issue is with the merits of the Christian Church, as an agent of God, taking a stand on one side or the other in this debate. If neither side in the same-sex marriage debate is arguing the stated position of God – a position of love, forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration – then the Church has no place in the debate.


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