Bible Bites

Bible Bites

Some Thoughts for Conservative Christians Regarding Gay Marriage

President Obama made headlines this week (the week of May 6, cls) by reversing his opposition to gay marriage. At the same time, voters in North Carolina made that state the 31st to constitutionally ban gay marriage. Both moves prompted outrage on the right and on the left, and guaranteed that this issue will come to the fore in the presidential election this fall.

I am not a prophet, but I believe that it is inevitable that within 20 years gay marriage will be legal in most states. This prediction isn’t the result of divine inspiration (obviously!), but simple demographics. Polling shows that older Americans generally oppose gay marriage, while younger Americans support it. So the passing of time will lead to legal recognition of gay marriage.

From a practical point, what does this mean for us as Christians?

We need to be cautious about the dire consequences we imagine will result from this shift in public opinion. It is of course troubling that a generation is rising which sees this moral issue so differently from what I think the Bible plainly says about marriage (not to mention several centuries of traditional wisdom which never gave public legitimacy to gay marriage, even while widely accepting other same-sex relationships).

We have reason to be concerned since laws reflect the shared values of a culture. Life, property rights, and honesty are important values for Americans, so we have laws against murder, theft, and perjury. It is clear that the value of traditional marriage is no longer shared by a wide consensus of Americans. BUT I don’t think much is gained by making hysterical, apocalyptic predictions about the end of America if gay marriage is accepted. Canada recognizes gay marriage, and I don’t think one could argue that Canadian society is on the brink of collapse. I do worry that legal acceptance of gay marriage may be part of a trend that could lead to the use of state power to muffle the voices of Christians who speak out against gay marriage or homosexuality in general (as is happening in Canada), but Christians have often had to speak truth to hostile powers.

Suppose gay marriage is officially legally recognized, as I think it eventually will be. That will not change my ability and my responsibility to:

  • Love my wife in holiness and honor.
  • Show love and compassion to those whose lives are broken by this particular sin.
  • Point out the hypocrisy of heterosexuals who condemn gay marriage while dishonoring their own by adultery, divorce, and neglect.
  • Share the gospel of King Jesus.

The reality is that laws exist against murder, theft, and perjury, but people still commit those crimes, because the issue is sin. The civil law, while a great reflection of a society’s values, does not and cannot create moral transformation. Only the gospel can do that. Which means therefore that whatever the law may say about gay marriage, the message of the gospel can change a person’s heart such that they will stop doing what the civil law may allow.

There are two approaches to stopping gay marriage. One is through the coercive power of the state. The other is through the transforming power of Christ. Legally, the battle may eventually be lost. But spiritually, the battle can always be won. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10.4-5).