Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gay Marriage

"Phil, I'm sorry to hear about your divorce."

"Me, too.  I don't know what happened.  We were in love and then . . ."

"You grew apart?"


"You had an affair?"


"What was it?"

"Gay marriage?"

"I'm not seeing your point.  Was your wife actually a lesbian?"

"No, but the mere existence of gay marriage was a threat to the institution of marriage and therefore killed our marriage."

I've known about six or seven guys who have gotten divorced in the last few years.  None of them mentioned gay marriage as the cause of their divorce.  None of them saw the institution of marriage as something frail and weak and near death.  Instead, they saw their individual actions, the incompatibility of their relationship and the larger societal pressures (time spent away, the bad economy) as contributing to their relational problems.

Christians who see gay marriage as a threat to the institution of marriage, often miss the following points:

  1. Marriage is a civil and religious union.  Atheists are allowed marriage despite the fact that they don't believe in the religious union whatsoever.  Moreover, Christians and non-Christians get married quite often, despite the fact that this is considered a sin in many churches.  So, what's the point in using only the Bible 
  2. Another point I'll hear is that gay people can't procreate.  This argument makes little sense.  Can elderly people get married even if they are passed their child-rearing days? Gay people, on the other hand, can adopt and often have families together.
  3. The biggest "threat" to marriage is divorce.  One area where churches have some influence is in their depiction of masculinity and leadership.  Teaching men to be overbearing and controlling in the name of being the "spiritual leader" crushes a woman's spirit.  
  4. The second biggest threat to marriage is people never getting married at all.  Again, the church does a poor job presenting some of the positives of marriage - how trust can lead to better sex that occurs more often, how living together for years without making a formal commitment is more laughable than sinful and how marriage can be fun.  
  5. Allowing for gay marriage would be a social act of compassion.  When a child has to worry about being taken into foster care because one of her moms died or when a man can't see his partner in the later hours at the hospital, there is something wrong.  Whether the church defines it as a sin does not nullify an act of mercy toward people who love one another. 
  6. When churches fight battles against gay marriage, they turn gays off to the faith entirely.  They shut off the dialog. If you call it a war, people will assume that you are making them out to be an enemy.  I can't think of the last time I took advice, especially on larger existential questions, because someone who viewed me as an enemy told me how to live.
  7. Focussing so much time and energy being against one issue that the Bible hardly addresses moves the church away from issues like immigrant's rights and poverty, which the Bible addresses thousands of times.  

1 comment:

  1. On your last two points: I am really embarrassed as an evangelical by our priorities as a subgroup. The Bible references the poor over 2000 times, but homosexuality only gets seven mentions. What does that say about God's priorities?