This one has been a long time coming. It started long before Obama stated his support for gay marriage, and therefore quite a long time before the ridiculous Chick-fil-a debacle. There are so many questions around the idea that I can’t imagine how I’ll be able to tackle the behemoth the issue has become. But when has that ever stopped me.
Let’s start with marriage. From a social perspective, the practice exists solely as a means of sustaining the society. Nearly every culture realizes the need to protect children until they are able to provide for themselves and benefit the community. Nearly every culture agrees this responsibility naturally falls on the two folks directly responsible for the child entering the community.
Now, there are lots of other reasons marriage existed, religious or otherwise; but from a cultural standpoint it’s all about the children. Orphans are expensive. For that matter, even children with a single parent tend to put more of a burden on the society. There is a natural incentive for a government to incentivize parents to build a home together for the sake of the children.
It should be noted that up until very recently, the government’s only real interest in marriage was that there were legal consequences to divorce. The license is really a government document crucial to establishing timelines should the terms of the “contract” be broken.
But like so many other things, once marriage became a legal status, certain rights and privileges began to be associated with it. There are tax implications, naturalization rights, welfare benefits, adoption preferences, and now health and insurance provisions. So now marriage can be beneficial without any concern for children.
A key point here is that anyone can say they are married. The government does not have any hold on the term, simply on the legal status. And the government has never needed to tie the legal status to a religious practice or ceremony. So, here we have our first real question. Is the issue of gay marriage about the legal status or the religious ceremony?
Religions are free to practice whatever sort of discrimination they deem necessary. They cannot infringe on anyone’s rights, but the government doesn’t have any power to tell any religious sect how they have to define marriage or anything else. So gay marriage has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with legal status.
In other words, you can feel whatever you want about the morality and ethics of gay marriage from a social or religious standpoint, but that has nothing at all to do with whether marriage should be a legal status for any two people regardless of gender.
I am not a fan of abortion, but from a socio-economic standpoint it is fairly easy to justify. I have no problem with the death penalty conceptually, but economically it’s a horrible practice. I wouldn’t smoke pot even if it were legal, but there are so many reasons to stop outlawing it that it makes my head spin.
So, put simply, regardless of whether it’s “right”, refusing to allow any two people the legal status of “married” is nothing more than outright discrimination. So, either we allow everyone the right to take on the legal status if they find a willing partner, or we dissolve the legal status altogether. This would not make marriage illegal, but it would make it illegal to discriminate based on marital status.
And now on to the next natural question: if gay marriage is legal, does that make it “right”. To my knowledge, the government has no authority to determine whether any act is holy or sinful in the eyes of God. Governments have the right to decide what laws benefit the society and what the punishment for breaking those laws should be. They cannot in any way restore your relationship with God or separate you from him. So, legal status cannot change what constitutes marriage in the eyes of God.
Which leaves us with the underlying question, the real reason anyone talks to me about this… is homosexuality a sin?
Before we leave the legal realm for the spiritual realm, let me just mention one more legal issue. Chick-fil-a vice presidents, whether you agree with them or not, have a constitutional right to say whatever they want as long as it falls within protected speech. You’re free to stop eating there if you want, but as for me, I will defend to the death the right for any American to hold any opinion they like about gay marriage or anything else for that matter, and the right for them to speak that opinion. I don’t know what the guy said (I do everything in my power to avoid the news) but if it qualifies as free speech, then more power to him.
Ok, so, on to sin. Is homosexuality a sin?
Let’s have some fun. Is it a sin to eat pork? It’s an unclean animal; God said don’t eat it. Of course, Paul had a vision that said it wasn’t unclean any more, so maybe that’s ok. Is it a sin to each a cheeseburger? It’s eating heated meat and milk together. Now, technically the Bible says to not boil a goat in its mother’s milk, but the Israelites interpreted this as forbidding eating any meat with any milk.
Is it a sin to dance? Tons of protestants seem to think so, but the number of times dancing is specifically mentioned in the Bible seems to easily refute that. Is it a sin to use vulgarity? If so, what constitutes too vulgar, and who gets to decide what is or isn’t? Technically the Bible says to not use God’s name in vain, meaningless or fruitless talk, obscene language, insults, or corrupt talk. That sounds to me a lot like “heck” and “gosh darn” aren’t any better than the words they’re meant to replace.
Is it a sin to be angry? And if so, then what about Christ turning over the moneylender’s tables in the temple? Is it a sin to eat a rare steak or sue someone or charge interest? Each of those things is explicitly mentioned in context with sexual immorality in the new testament, yet you very rarely find the christian community up in arms about the non-zero-ness of the prime rate.
My favorite is this one: is it a sin for me to be single? It’s an explicit command from God to be fruitful and multiply. Shouldn’t I be investing substantial time and effort in faithfully following his command? Is it a sin that in the past 10 years I’ve maybe dated 3 women, and that’s only if you’re willing to be pretty liberal in your definition of “date”?
What’s most interesting about all of these questions is that not a single one of these examples constitutes a “gray area”. They’re all cut and dry if you’re willing to pull out one verse and write it on a big placard and walk around yelling about how everyone but you is doomed because you know in the depths of your heart that the one sin you’re confident will never tempt you is going to be the downfall of humanity.
I am not here to judge. I have no idea what actions constitute sinful acts and which do not. It seems to me that the same action can be a sin in one case and not in another. But every time it is a sin, it is because an individual desires an identity apart from God, when the creation willingly desires to be cut off from the creator.
I do know the judge. We are acting out his plan for salvation. Those he has called he will draw to himself. They will enter his gates, not because they faithfully defended legal statuses and food preparation guidelines, but because he alone is God. By his word each of us exist, by his breath each of us breathe.
I do not fear gay marriage, abortion, legalized drug use, dancing, swearing, the death penalty, stem cell research, cloning, socialism, national health care, welfare, or flag burning. I am loved by the creator of all things. I am washed clean of all my sin, I live in grace, by grace, and for grace, not that I may sin without consequence, but that his name would be lifted high above the legal, the social, the economic, the political, the academic, and the rational. The things of this world will pass away; he who was and is and will always be is the final judge of what remains.
He’s told me I will remain, not because I want to marry a woman, not because I think babies are worth protecting, not because I think it’s wrong to sue someone, but because I believe he is who he says he is, that he will keep his promises. And I believe these things because he is who he says he is and he always keeps his promises; I believe because it’s true.
So, my opinion, either the legal status called marriage should not discriminate, or the law should not discriminate on marital status. Free speech matters to me more than someone agreeing with me. And sin is not about what you do, but who you do it for. If his spirit dwells within you, He will conform your will to his.
Posted with : Bare with Me