After my post yesterday about gay marriage, I was able to gain some clarity about the issue from the push back I received. It seems like those who agreed with my position did so because they believed Christian ethics should not be the basis for governmental laws. And those who disagreed with my position did so because they believed that it should.
It really isn’t about sin but about the relationship between church and state. Those in group 2 will disagree with this statement but now I think I see why.
Group 1: Christian morality should not be enforced by the government
For those in favor of gay marriage because of the separation of church and state, the question of whether it is a sin or not is irrelevant. Not because we are spineless compromisers who aren’t willing to take a stand on sin, as some asserted, but because we simply believe that the gospel, and the ethic of the Christian community, cannot be legislated politically. To coerce people who are not a part of the Christian community to obey the rules of the Christian community is, we believe, both politically unjust and biblically inaccurate. For example, as one commenter suggested, just because some conservative Christians believe that getting a tattoo is unbiblical, doesn’t mean they fight for the closure of all tattoo galleries. They just don’t get a tattoo. I think this is a good analogy and wonder if there is a good argument for why gay marriage is different. If not, if you think gay marriage is wrong for Christians, then say so in your church . . . and most importantly, don’t get married to someone of the same sex.
For us, there is a world of difference between preaching about sin to your congregation, as they try to be a set apart people, light to the world, an outpost of God’s Kingdom on earth — and telling our government that they should make sure everyone acts like us.
Group 2: Christian morality should be enforced by the government
But for those who believe we should determine laws based on a biblical ethic, the question of whether homosexuality is a sin or not is extremely relevant. If it is a sin, we should outlaw it and not allow for gay marriage. If it isn’t a sin, we should make it legal and allow for gay marriage. The hinge for this group is the sinfulness of the act, unlike the group above.
But why would anyone think that non-Christians should obey a Christian ethic? One commenter gave a very good reason: because God’s laws are not arbitrary. If God says to live in a certain way, it’s because that is what is good for you as a human, not just because you are a Christian. I have two quibbles with this: first, we have to arbitrarily which of God’s rules are “good for me as a human.” If we are going to be consistent, then we have to admit that the best human society would be that society that obeyed ALL the laws of the OT — out with cotton/polyster blends and mixing our crops, in with bearded men and tassels on our garments. Second, it assumes that the Bible is a book designed to tell us how to live as humans. I personally believe that the Bible is designed to tell us the specific story of God’s people in the world and how Jesus allows us to be a part of that story.
So, despite all of the emotion and polarizing, and in spite of conflating a Christian conversation with a political one, it seems then, that the heart of this question is not about homosexuality at all, but whether Christians ought to support the idea that all Americans should obey Christian morality as a rule of law.
And as such, I stick with my belief that we should support those who do not receive the same benefits that I do from the government, regardless of whether I agree with their lifestyle based on a Christian ethic.
Is this a fair assessment or have I missed some major points? I am still processing all of this so feedback is appreciated.