The first thing we have to do is be honest: this debate isn’t about so-called “marriage equality,” rather this debate is about the practice of homosexuality. The only reason people have any sort of objection to same sex marriages is because there is an underlying objection to homosexuality in general.
With that in mind, I offer a few points that every Christian should consider before deciding where they stand in this debate.
- Practicing homosexuality is a sin. There is no biblical sense in denying it. Some "Christians" can try to rewrite the Bible all they want, but the Bible has much to say about sex and when it comes to homosexuality, it is a sin (Romans 1.27). Heterosexual sex before marriage is a sin. Adultery is a sin. Pornography is a sin. It would be nice if the church would be consistent in its sexual-sin objections and speak out on all forms of sin and not just homosexuality, because if it did, then Christians might not look like they are picking on one segment of the population when we are silent about so many other sins.
- God detests all sin. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6.23) The text does not say the wages of some sin are death, but the wages of sin are death. That sin includes (among many others): insolence, hate, envy, maliciousness and gossip (Romans 1.29-31). The old lady who gossips in the church is just as guilty of sin that is punishable by death as the Gay porn star is guilty. To paraphrase Tim Keller who is the worse swimmer: the one who swims 3 miles from shore, drowns and dies or the one who swims 50 miles from shore drowns and dies? They are both dead, what does it matter? (Luke 13 for your consideration)
- Everyone is born inherently sinful. A homosexual who says they were born this way is probably correct. God is the one who cursed creation following the sin of Adam and Eve and it is because of that sin that we are all born with a genetic disposition to commit sin (Genesis 3/Romans 8). Think of it as a spiritual disease. You will sin. You have no choice in the matter. We are all born sinners. We all have a predisposition to commit some sin. We are all attracted to something we should not be and all of us, if we seek to follow Christ, must deny that part of our self daily for the rest of our lives. For an alcoholic that means every social function where alcohol is present, they may have to be absent. For a glutton that means every time they drive past a fast food restaurant they are going to have an internal struggle about whether they should go through the drive-thru and get a bite to eat. For a people-pleaser this means they have to accept that every day they will probably let someone down. And for a homosexual that means they will have to live a life of celibacy. If you want to talk about equality then let us talk about sin—there is no greater source of human equality then the recognition that we are all sinners in need of grace; there is no better reason to restrain from judging others than an honest awareness of your own sinfulness.
- Happiness does not equal salvation. I'm so baffled when I encounter Christians who seem to think that happiness in this life is the goal of human life. We were created to glorify God and enjoy him forever--that is it. Our only comfort in life and in death is the knowledge that we are not our own. I know many have taken sides in this current debate because they think everyone should be happy, as if the gospel that we proclaim is one of warm feelings and temporal joy. Such an attitude actually disqualifies one from being a servant of Christ (Galatians 1.10).
- Everyone needs the grace of God in Jesus and nothing else. The only way out of this mess is to let go of all of our dreams, aspirations, false righteousness and sins and embrace the love of God in Christ. What an opportunity is being presented to the faithful to proclaim the gospel of God’s grace. If someone wants to know what your thoughts are about “marriage equality” tell them the truth! Tell them who are we, wretched sinners that we are, to spend so much of our time consumed with so-called human rights as if we were owed anything? As the missionary Helen Roseveare said, “To be a Christian… you must embrace the fact that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, sacrificed His all, dying for us on the Cross, that we might be forgiven. Surely we should expect to live as closely like our Savior as we can. And in this world of ‘What can I get out of it?’ we can expect to sacrifice. Our whole emphasis has to be ‘What can I put into it?’ A Christian who speaks as you suggest cannot have fallen in love with Jesus, nor understood what God has done for him or her. We are so totally undeserving of God’s grace, how dare we demand anything?”
- Do not be surprised that not everyone agrees with you. Remember, “has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” (1 Cor 1.20-21) Sometimes we speak to people in a rational way, pointing to Scripture and the plain truths there, and somehow they walk away disagreeing with the truth. As D.A. Carson writes, “the utter bankruptcy of all the world’s efforts to know God was part of God’s wise design…not only did the wise and the scholars and the philosophers fail to understand, God in his all-wise providence actually worked it out that way.”* We will not win people over by well crafted arguments, but rather by pointing them to the cross and preaching Christ crucified, which is foolishness to the world but displays the splendid wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1.22-25).
- This is Holy Week. Tomorrow night the Western church will commemorate Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper and the agony of the Garden of Gethsemane. We will sadly anticipate the brutality of the cross on Friday and joyfully celebrate the good news that he is risen on Sunday! Surely Christ did not go through so much in order that we could change our profile picture (to either a red = sign or a red + sign) feel good about ourselves and think we are actually making a difference did he? I don’t think so. What a sad state the American church is in and what a sad witness during this holy time.
- Love is an orientation. The biblical teachings on sexuality and marriage are crystal clear (Matthew 19.4-6, 12 for one example). The biblical teaching on love is also crystal clear. After loving God the most important thing we can do is love our neighbor (Mark 12.39-41) and our neighbor is anyone we may randomly encounter (Luke 1525-37). Andrew Marin’s book has a wonderfully memorable title and he is right, love is an orientation. Regardless of what happens Christians are called to love our enemies and even pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5.43-48).
So for a Christian, there is no marriage debate. The Bible has already settled the matter. Society can debate it; they can have their simple fun; they can advance the cause of "progress" and further the delusion of self-created righteousness, but no matter what law is made or unmade nothing can change what God has already said. The true debate is actually how will we as Christians respond? Will we learn from this and start living out our faith, loving God and our neighbor, speaking the truth and proclaiming Christ crucified?
* D.A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry, page 18.