Ephesians 5:22-25: “Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting.” [Mess.]
Ephesians 5:26: “Christ’s love makes the church whole.” [Mess.]
Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” [Mess.]
Matthew 15:12: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” [Mess.]
1 Corin. 6:9: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
The topic of homosexuality, like the topic of abortion, has become a flash point of debate in our society. People feel very strongly about these issues because the debates focus on the fundamental question of “right” and “wrong” and go right to the core of our value systems: Is marriage to be exclusively between one man and one woman? Is sexual coitus to be practiced only between a man and a woman? We see on the one hand that these are “private” issues, not to be addressed publically, but on the other hand we see that these “private” issues have broad ranging public implications: is marriage more or less special to heterosexual couples as a result of gay marriage? Is life enhanced or degraded by the taking of fetal human life?
As a follower of Jesus, my temptation is often to consult only my own heart and scripture, and I fail to realize that most of the world, and in fact, most of my neighborhood, sees these issues outside a Christian perspective. Even I must admit that I am less than fully informed of just what Jesus would have me think or say about these issues. I do know this: He would have me speak and act lovingly. He would have me pour out an abundance of grace and kindness, and he would silence my tendency to judge or condemn, reminding me of how I was condemned by my own sin, but for His unmerited love.
Here is the problem of how heterosexuals address the issue of homosexual advocacy for gay marriage: we haven’t developed a convincing case for why God intended marriage to be only between a man and a woman. It simply isn’t sufficient to the non-believing community to say: “Because God (or the Bible) says so.” A related problem is that we heterosexuals, including the heterosexual Christian community, have justifiably been attacked as hypocrites because we have shown so much disrespect for marriage and family by our sexual infidelities and high divorce rates.
We have another issue to address: we have a spiritually immature tendency I think (or at least I have that tendency) to engage in “black and white” and “all or nothing” thinking. We get so focused on our point of view that we close our minds to the merits and arguments of the opposing views. The result is that civil debate and cordial conversation ceases.
I heard a message at my Church recently that spoke of the inclusive message of Jesus. Jesus reached out to the people the traditional “church” of his day excluded, and it angered the establishment. I’m convinced Jesus would reach out to the homosexual community, and would include them without condemnation to celebrate the “Good News” of God’s mercy and grace upon a fallen world.
We all know that metaphor of the “speck and the plank” Jesus used to point out that we need to take a close look at our own flaws (the plank in our own eye) before we begin to pick apart the failings of another (the speck in our brother’s eye). If I am tempted to exclude a homosexual from the church community because of his or her sin, perhaps I should look at my own history of fornication, adultery, and divorce. I was a total mess morally and spiritually before God overcame me with His love.
As a discrimination lawyer, I never hesitate to represent homosexuals in cases against employers who discriminate against them on the basis of their sexual orientation. Holding a job, and pursuing one’s chosen livelihood or profession is central to being able to function successfully in our society, and to provide for our selves and those we love. Depriving a person of that opportunity because of his or her sexual orientation is immoral, illegal, and violates the teachings of Christ.
Many people in and outside the Christian community confuse a rejection of sin with rejection of the sinner. Rejecting the sinner is the very opposite of the Christian world-view. Rejecting homosexuals because of their homosexuality is contrary to Jesus’ teachings and brings both anger and disgrace to the Church. We are to recognize that we are all broken and sinful, and in need of Jesus and the Holy Spirit to work a total life change we cannot accomplish on our own. No one has the luxury of pointing out the sin of his brother or sister. Stated simply, any judgment, condemnation, or attack of homosexuals is itself a sin, and a serious grievance to God.
We all know persons who are homosexual, and know many of them to be wonderful people who are positive, decent and hardworking folks that add to the richness of our friendships. We appreciate the goodness we see in them, and enjoy their company. This is just as it should be. A person’s value and worth is not defined by his or her sexual orientation, but by their hearts, and their God-given identities as members of the human community. It was this basic idea of human dignity and “inalienable rights” that was a foundation principle of the U.S. Constitution.
But a debate has erupted in our society on the question of gay marriage, and it is before us as a nation, and before the courts of our individual states, because of the aggressive agenda of a segment of the homosexual community that wants “full equality” of marriage. The homosexual community, I believe, perceives that the denial of the right to marry as homosexuals stigmatizes them as “second class citizens.”
I do not believe the focus of the debate should be how denial of homosexual marriage rights harms homosexuals, but how conferral of that right would harm us all as a society. Biological differences produce psychological and behavioral differences. Biology generally cannot be legislated to conform to a social agenda: it simply is, and as much as culture can shape and influence these biologically driven manifestations, it cannot radically change them. Men and women offer one another a powerful exchange of qualities that influence both one another and the children they produce. Generalizations are hazardous, and each human personality has a wonderful and unique mix of male and female qualities, and it is the predominance of these qualities that will generally determine “manly” or “womanly” qualities.
We even see how very similar the sexes are in their chromosomes. Just a slight variation in the genetic code produces a remarkable (and delightful) difference in the outcome. Yet, what a difference this difference makes. The balance of domination and submission, of initiative and passivity, of exploration and domestication, of justice and mercy, of analysis and synthesis, of hardness and softness, of intellect and heart, of mechanics and art, of practicality and whimsy, of power and service, the very “yin” and “yang” of life, all flow out of these polar differences.
The homosexual community has searched vigorously, but without success, to find a biological, genetic coding that explains the “inevitability” of homosexuality. Putting aside the influence on environment in producing genetic variations even within an individual’s genetic structure within his or her own lifetime, genetic differences have not been found that account for the origins of homosexuality. But even if these variations could be found (and they likely will), the question would remain whether these variations are in themselves justification to extend equal marriage rights to homosexuals.
Marriage has one unique function critical to society: the creation and development of children to grow into contributing, healthy members of the society. The legal and moral debate must focus on this question. The larger social and political debate generally must address this question as well, because the U.S. family has been in crisis for years, and the costs are shocking: kids are lost and alienated, and without sufficient models of nurturing and care to form lasting loving relationships as adults. The long term scientific studies on how homosexual parenting impacts the development of adopted or in vitro produced children are not available, but there is abundant evidence of how fatherless or motherless homes affect children. It is not merely the absence of one of two caretakers that produces developmental problems for a child, but the absence of a “father” or a “mother,” that is, a model of masculinity and femininity.
Some may argue that the passive and dominant homosexual partners in a gay marriage provide adequate “male” and “female” role models for children. The implied argument here is that a dominant homosexual in a gay relationship is the “same” as a father in a heterosexual marriage (or that a passive homosexual male is the same as a “mother.”)
Stated differently, the argument is basically that a passive gay man is the parenting equivalent of a heterosexual female, or that a dominant lesbian is the parenting equivalent of a heterosexual male. These “equivalencies” are quite a stretch in social engineering. If trusted as true, they would have profound social consequences into future generations. Usually, in a debate, the proponent of the proposition has the burden of proof. The evidence for healthy child development in a homosexual marriage setting is lacking. Contrary evidence that inadequate parental modeling produces developmental problems is abundant.
Putting this complex social issue before courts to decide is foolish, and oversteps judicial bounds. There are some social issues the courts are simply not equipped to address. They lack the wide based political forum that is accessible to an elected legislature. A court’s fact finding is limited to the facts of the case presented to it, and those “facts” on appeal are limited to the record of the trial court from which the appeal is taken. The ability and motivations of the parties before a court determine what evidence, and how much evidence is presented. These limitations guarantee a lack of robust data or social debate, and invite “social engineering” errors. The issue of homosexual marriage is one such issue that should not be addressed by the courts. Rather, the individual state legislatures should address that question.
In conclusion, the issue of homosexual marriage will remain with us for decades to come. Christians and non-Christians must find a way to dialogue respectfully. In the words of John F. Kennedy: “Civility is not a sign of weakness.” Christians must get out of talking in the closed vernacular of church circles, realizing that quoting scripture is not an effective approach outside that circle. Christians must also trust that God’s laws are not arbitrary, but are road maps for our highest good based on the way he designed us, including the design of our bodies. We can therefore confidently rely on physical and social science to support those scriptural principles. I recommend that Believers fund think tanks and research centers to access the best of that science to support the argument for limiting marriage to one man and one woman. The debate is complicated because the gay community will charge that opposing gay marriage is an act of condemnation of gays themselves. That charge must be proven false by the respect and dignity we accord the gay community during the debate.
(c) FXP 2010
(c) FXP 2010