Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Another voice on marriage

Anthony and Erin on their wedding day. Yes, they got married in a corn field.

The debate over gay marriage in North Carolina has sparked a lot of discussion on line and face to face. This vile and divisive amendment has long reaching tentacles that could affect more than just marriage. Tod’s cousin’s daughter’s husband (we’ll need a Mormon to figure out his relation to me) is a pastor and penned an interesting piece on this debate for his blog.
While he has grown weary of the chatter on line and politics in general, he falls back on his faith.
While I have grown weary of the chatter on line regarding religion and God’s alleged plan for marriage, I have my tentative faith in the judicial system to make this wrong right.
Please take a moment and read what he has written.

From Anthony:
I’ve wanted to write this post for quite some time. I haven’t found an excuse for doing so, so I’ve just sat on it. Additionally, I am now a pastor, so I know that (against my wishes) my words now mean something that they didn’t used to. But with Kirk Cameron’s comments on Piers Morgan’s show and the insanity of a presidential election season, I just want to throw this out there now. 
Let me be clear on a couple things first:
1. The Bible is my standard for ethics because I believe it is the special revelation of the only true God of the universe. I make no apologies about that, even in regards to an issue like this one that can hurt so many people. 
2. I hate politics. Hate them. If you are a Christian who has politics for a hobby/obsession, bully for you. But I have no taste for the mutual back stabbing, insulting, and refusal to discuss things in an open, honest manner. What’s your political party? Whatever your answer, I likely have very little regard for them. So… just keep that in mind. I’m not part of whatever party you just mentioned. 
That being said….
I think many Christians in America are making a very serious mistake by throwing themselves into the political question of gay marriage. To go even further, I have no problems with legalized gay marriage. I will explain why on two levels: philosophy of government and the Bible.
For one, I think the government is far too involved in the institution of marriage. There has to be some involvement for the purposes of taxes. I understand that. But there is a couple who has asked me to do their wedding. And I have to meet a secular government’s criteria for overseeing their individual choice to marry one another. Is this not bizarre to anyone? Why should a gigantic, faceless, secular organization have any right to tell these two people what kind of credentials the person must have who will help them publicly declare their undying love and commitment to one another? That’s none of the government’s business! The government should not be in charge of marriage. And that includes telling people whom they can marry. 
Frankly, I don’t see how it’s Constitutional (this is our framework for government, remember) for the Federal government to decide that two consenting adults CAN’T do what they want if they aren’t harming anyone else. The fact that people are willing to amend the Constitution on this one issue based on one segment of the population’s ethical convictions is, frankly, alarming to me. What else will they amend into the Constitution? What about when I disagree with those Christians’ ethical decisions (i.e. Prohibition)? When the Hispanic population booms and Roman Catholicism explodes, will you feel good about the amendment for no meat on Fridays?
Or how about this… what about when Christians don’t have enough political power in this country to enforce their morality? What about when the day gets here (and it’s rapidly coming) when Christians are the distinct minority? Are you then so comfortable with a religious group imposing their religious, moral convictions upon the entire nation? Are you going to be such a fan of political religious power when/if Muslims outstrip Christians in America and enforce the ethics dictated by their religion?  Because that’s the precedent you’re setting. 
I am saying that this is unConstitutional. But it is also un-Christian in political philosophy. We don’t live in a theocracy. We don’t live in a Christian world. We live in a world in which Christians cohabitate with non-Christians. And Christians have been in the minority for vast tracts of history. What do you think Christians wanted, in regards to the government? “Just leave us alone and let us have the freedom to do as we feel is right.” But now that Christians are in a theoretical majority, do we treat other people groups as we want to be treated (see: Rule, Golden)? No. We want them to behave as WE want them to behave. It’s just not kind.
But it’s also not Biblical. 
Look, as I said, the Bible is my ethical guide. As such, my belief is that God, as Creator, has the right to define the boundaries of sex and marriage. And God blesses ONE specific scenario for sex: marriage between one man and one woman. That is the only kind of acceptable sexual activity in the God of the Bible’s eyes. So, therefore, it is for me too. God-ordained marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Any kind of sex that is not within those confines is sinful. Heterosexual, homosexual, whatever. None of it is ok. God gets to make the rules and that applies to marriage, too. I have never seen a Biblical argument that even comes close to arguing a compelling case otherwise.
(Note, too, that the Biblical condemnations are against the sexual act, not the attraction. So I find it perfectly believable that people are born homosexual. If Jesus is their king, though, I think that, yes, God would tell them, “You can’t act on what you feel.” Which, let’s be honest, is what God tells all of us all the time on about a million different issues.)
But, see, I believe that because I love Jesus. I trust Him. I can accept His rules because I accept HIM. And because I’ve submitted to God’s wooing, repented of my sin, and identified Jesus as my King, not myself, I’m obligated to His ethical demands. Not only am I obligated to obey, but I’m EMPOWERED to obey. 
Obedience to God never comes before repentance and return to God. Asking someone to behave like a Christian before they are actually a Christian is WRONG. It’s legalism. It makes a mockery of grace and redemption. 
You are asking people who have no regard for Jesus to behave as if they love Him by ignoring feelings and attractions that, for the vast majority of them, are as natural to them as my attraction to my wife is for me. That is incredibly hard-hearted and it defies the radical claims of the Gospel. The Good News of Jesus is that you CAN’T behave well enough to please God. You never can. Jesus doesn’t say, “Get your life straight (pun intended) AND THEN I’ll fix you.”
We’re basically telling people that if they’re living a life defined by their sexuality, the first thing Jesus cares about is their behavior. He does care about my behavior. But what He wants first is for me to trust and love Him. 
This gay marriage crusade is terrible. It’s a political ploy to stir up votes. And Christians walk right into, all the while painting a picture of a Jesus who demands conformity out of an unreformed heart. 
Please. Legalize gay marriage. I don’t care. I won’t stand in the way of you being allowed to marry who you want. But at my church, we will graciously and gently preach that Jesus is better and Jesus’ way is better. I’ll never do a marriage between two people of the same sex, but no one is trying to force me to do that. I’ll teach people that God made them to love Him and live the way He intended. And the Church, if it embraces that call, has an opportunity to demonstrate its nature as salt in the Earth. Contrast. Difference. 
Why are we so afraid of that? Love Jesus. Live under the power of the Holy Spirit. Let the world live as they choose, which we weirdly have no political problem with if it’s heterosexual sexual activity. We don’t need to politically bar people from living in a way that accurately reflects where their heart is (as long as it doesn’t hurt others directly). We need to preach the Gospel with our words and with our lives and appeal to their hearts. We need to WIN their hearts, not legislate their behavior.
We believe Jesus’ way is better because we believe JESUS is better. Isn’t that enough? 
Do we need to legislate that?