Gay Marriage – Answering the Arguments
Gay marriage continues to make headlines. In December 2009, the District of Columbia council voted (11-2) to make D.C. the sixth place in the union to legalize gay marriage. Currently, same-sex couples can be legally married in five states: New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Iowa.1
The opposing votes were cast because, according to the two dissenting members, the majority of their constituents were against the measure. Those votes may have been small in number, but they represent a problem that is deep and wide for the gay lobby: popular opinion.
Against the handful of victories for gay marriage in recent years, are referenda defeats in 31 states. In fact, in every instance where the novelty of same-sex “marriage” has been put “to the people” in a public ballot, it has been voted down. So what accounts for this negative public attitude toward gay marriage?
A couple of inner-city pastors believe they have it figured out.
Gay Marriage – Homophobia?
Dennis and Christine Wiley are the African-American pastors of a congregation they describe as a “traditional black church” in the DC area. Theirs is also the “first and only” black church in the nation’s capital to perform same-sex unions—extraordinary, given that African-Americans are one of the most resistant groups to gay marriage.
As the Wiley’s see it, the sentiment toward gays in the black community is the result of “homophobia” which, according to the Anti-Defamation League, is “the hatred or fear of homosexuals.”
That’s a serious charge. And notice how it frames the debate by placing opposing voices, from the outset, on the bottom of the social-moral spectrum. If you disagree with the gay agenda, you are irrational, ignorant, or hateful. It is a shop-worn script that I am well familiar with.
In discussions with members of the gay community over the years, I have been told, on more than one occasion, that my views are nothing but hatred, bigotry, or ignorance. Recently, one suggested that my views were a challenge to the very existence of gays; as if the defense of traditional marriage is tantamount to promoting the genocide of the gay community. Ridiculous.
Playing fast and loose with the homophobia card may generate a quick, emotional pop, but it is a sure sign of desperation. When you can’t advance your position through rational discourse, you play the victim of misanthropes targeting you for the endangered list.
Gay Marriage – Bibliolatry?
When examining the gay marriage debate, what accounts for the putative homophobia in the African-American community? According to Wiley and Wiley, it is the over-emphasis on “what the Bible says.” In their “innocent” (read: naďve) approach to Scripture, religious blacks in particular, and Christian America in general have, succumbed to “’bibliolatry’—the practice of worshiping the Bible rather than worshiping God.”
No—unlike Muslims who do treat their Book as an object of worship, Christians worship the Author of theirs by taking seriously the words He has written and applying them in their lives.
Then, arguing for their privileged viewpoint, the pastors claim objectivity for their take on Scripture, while charging that the understandings of traditionalists have been unwittingly shaped by cultural influences. Well, that has things quite turned around—as it is the traditionalist who searches for the plain meaning of the text within its cultural setting, and the gay advocate who imposes culture, modern culture, upon Scripture with “personal experience” as a moral touchstone.
Gay Marriage – Personal Experience
When discussing the gay marriage controversy, I’ve been lectured a number of times by professed Christians for not properly considering the “personal experiences” of gays. I’ve responded that those experiences may be genuine, intense, and heart-felt, but they are not a reliable guide to the truth, for them or the general population.
If we depended on our experiences for truth, we would still think the earth flat in a geocentric cosmos where time and space are absolute. It is only because we have discovered laws transcending personal experience that we know that reality is something radically different than what our experiences suggest.
That goes for moral truth as well. The experiences of one person convince him that homosexuality is intrinsic to his personhood, while the experiences of another convince him that it is not. A woman named Kim is of the latter:
As a person who was once in a same sex relationship for many years, I know first-hand how people can be fooled to think that this is the will of God for their life… I was unable to stop the lifestyle that I was living no matter how hard I tried, but when I really started to seek God for deliverance through prayer and His Word, I was able to stop seeing myself as someone who was gay and started to see myself as God created me to be. I have only been delivered from homosexuality for 13 years and in that time God has given me a loving husband and 2 beautiful sons, but as the years go by I see more and more how God has given me everything back that I was so willing to give up.
Gay Marriage – Love and Inclusion
Another argument in favor of gay marriage (and a criticism leveled against traditional marriage) is that it is counter to Jesus’ teaching on love and inclusion. Well, no it’s not.
The foremost Object of our love once said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” Among His commands is the prohibition of sex outside of marriage. And as He gave no expressed or implied allowance for gay marriage but, instead, affirmed the institution as originally designed, His prohibition includes entertaining homosexual desires and engaging in homosexual behavior, regardless of a “committed” relationship, church “blessing,” or civil union.
As to loving others—if I believe that my neighbor’s lifestyle is not in keeping with God’s best for him, and I keep silent, I am not loving him as Jesus loved me.
But what about Jesus’ warning, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged?” Contrary to popular sentiment, Jesus was not suggesting that “love is never having to say you’re sinning.” Rather, as made clear in the full passage, He was warning the disciples to, first, examine their own moral conduct, so that they could discern the truth about themselves and their neighbors.
Far from telling His followers to be silent about moral judgments, Jesus said, “If your brother sins, rebuke him.” Jarring words falling on modern ears, but no more so than what He had to say about inclusion.
Jesus’ comforting invitation, “Come to me, all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest,” includes a tough condition: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” Elsewhere, Jesus stipulated that the Christian life requires denying self, carrying our cross, and following Him.
The yoke is a symbol of submission and obedience. In wearing it, we yield to his instruction, direction and correction. Our cross is a symbol of death. In carrying it, we crucify those attitudes, desires and behaviors that are out-of-sync with God’s Word and His created order.
1 Stats in this article were correct at the date of writing.
Compliments of Regis Nicoll. This article first appeared on BreakPoint at www.breakpoint.org.
Regis Nicoll is a Centurion of Prison Fellowship’s Wilberforce Forum. He is a columnist for Breakpoint, Salvo Magazine, and Crosswalk and writes for Prison Fellowship’s blog, The Point. He also publishes a free weekly commentary addressing the pressing issues of the day.
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