In what may be the capstone of a controversial and tumultuous turnaround in popular culture and politics, the Supreme Court ruled that there is a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and therefore same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states.
As promised, I will share some of my reflections. To begin with, I want to offer some links to resources written by wiser and more knowledgeable people than myself.
FOCUS ON THE FAMILY has an expansive slate of articles, including a brief read entitled 7 Reasons to Support One-Man, One-Woman Marriage.
CHRISTIANITY TODAY offers some insightful commentaries that I highly recommend. One is entitled, Six Things To Do after the Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage; and another is Same-Sex Marriage is now the Law of the (U.S.) Land: What Now for Christians?
TIME magazine online has many interesting reads, including a piece by writer Brandon Ambrosino, who was immersed in a conservative religious background and yet claims he “chose” to become gay. His article is called, This Is the Time to Move Past the God vs. Gays Debate and is an interesting challenge. Also there is a well-written piece that sums up the fears of many followers of Jesus called, Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn to Live as Exiles in Our Own Country.
Lastly, a coalition of over one hundred evangelical leaders assembled by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has released a statement called, Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage.
As you know, it was a bitterly divided Court that ruled 5-4 in favor of Gay Marriage. To highlight the divide, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the minority, wrote this: The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment… The Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?
My earnest prayer is that this will not be a divisive issue at Crosswalk. Over the past 17 years, we have been blessed with a remarkable sense of unity.
The Crosswalk philosophy has been this: In essential beliefs – we have unity; in non-essential beliefs – we have liberty; in all our beliefs – we show charity (love).For those who need to refresh their memory, our website offers THE ESSENTIALS OF WHAT WE BELIEVE. The matter of gay-marriage and homosexuality is not an essential belief. In our church, we have gay people and straight people, and people who are on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate. I sincerely hope we can love and respect each other and continue to model Christian love and unity in this regard.
The tricky part of this debate is that one of the essentials we hold is that the Bible is God’s word to us, the real supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. That means that whatever we believe about gay marriage (and everything else), it should have its foundation in the teaching of Scripture. Of course, there are scores of interpretive issues Christians have disagreed upon throughout the ages, but until relatively recently, gay marriage was not one of them. Reputable Bible scholars who respect the Bible as God’s word have been in relative unanimity in their understanding of the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality and marriage. Modern liberal, or progressive Christians have to do some interpretive gymnastics to get the Bible to agree with their conclusions or simply say the Bible’s teaching in regard to marriage and sexuality is no longer relevant. Personally, that is not a road I’m ready to travel on.
Another issue is the question of imposition. “What right do Christians have to impose their beliefs about marriage on to the rest of society?” Of course, the question can be reversed, “What right to progressives have to do the same?” Some worldview will impose its belief on society, and many believers want to follow Jesus in being the salt of the earth and the light of the world to our culture. Timothy George, of Samford University, explains why:
“At stake in the debate is the very nature of marriage itself. Thinking biblically does not allow us to regard marriage as merely prudential or preferential (I like strawberry, you like pistachio), but as a covenantal union of one man and one woman established by God for a purpose that transcends itself. Marriage is not a “right” to be defended or exploited but rather a union of one man and one woman offering their lives to one another in service to the human community.”
So how should Christians engage homosexuality, and the various issues it presents to our culture, going forward? Here is my hope for Crosswalk, and at least for myself:
- Any church of Jesus should be a loving and accepting place. Homosexuals and heterosexuals, whether they are repentant of their sins or not, need to experience the passionate love Jesus has for all. Crosswalk was always intended to be a healing and hopeful place. Jesus followers must not be homophobic; they must not give in to irrational fears, but must joyfully fulfill the two greatest commandments of loving God and our neighbors.
- I think it is important for us to accept that gay marriage is now the law of the land. We need to show grace to law abiding people who may disagree with our interpretation of biblical marriage.
- We need a grace filled tone and demeanor that focuses on the homosexual lifestyle just as we would any other lifestyle that needs to have its deepest needs infused with the gospel of Jesus. Those who believe that the homosexual lifestyle is broken sexually should also affirm it is no more broken than the adulterer or the person addicted to pornography. Members of God’s church should advance an attractive and compelling vision for life in Christ that includes our sexuality and offers the promise that Jesus loves and forgives all who come to him in faith.
- Those of us who are convinced of the Bible’s teaching regarding what is now called traditional opposite gender marriage must not back down from our convictions. As always, there must be grace and truth. Here’s how I think Jesus would answer the question, “What is your view of marriage?”
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4-6 (NIV).
- Taking all this into consideration, I could attend a gay wedding and offer the couple my wishes for their happiness. I could even bake a cake for their wedding. To me, that is showing love and grace. But I could not in good conscience conduct the wedding. Again, for me, that is living the truth as I have it in Jesus. Our Church Council will need to work with me to establish Crosswalk policy, but this is where I am.
- Lastly, we must continue to rejoice in the Lord always. John Wesley said, in a moment when many were fearful, “I see God sitting on his throne and ruling all things well.” God has not left his throne, so let’s submit to his Lordship and encourage others to do the same!
Please feel free to respond to these thoughts, and please be in prayer for us as we move forward with grace and truth.