Today the Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act, which essentially said that the federal government cannot discriminate against homosexual couples. Many Christians (and non-Christian conservatives) who rallied against homosexuality felt like this came as a huge blow to their cause while many others celebrated this as a move towards equality. What I’m about to say is actually not an easy thing for me to say, which is probably why I put up the title that I did. In fact, what I’m about to say will most likely alienate me from conservative Christians, liberal Christians, and everyone in between and outside.
I’m very happy that the government is no longer allowed to discriminate against someone because of his or her sexual orientation. I admit it, when it comes to social politics I tend to be very libertarian (even my view on abortion is libertarian based because I believe the fetus is a human and therefore endowed with the natural right to life). Thus, I think the government should have nothing to do with marriage to begin with. It is not up to the government to decide what is and is not a mariage; that is up to religious institutions, individuals, local non-government communities, and so on. This is something I have previously written about; from a legislative view, I think state governments should only issue civil unions, and at that point who cares who it issues them to so long as there is not a victim?
The whole debate over gay marriage has been over who gets to define what is and is no marriage. The debate has been over the definition of the word marriage. That is not a debate the government should involve itself in. If an Episcopalian believes marriage is open to same-sex couples, then the government has no right to say, “Okay, but we won’t recognize your religious definition.” If a Baptist believes otherwise and therefore won’t wed a same-sex couple, then so be it.
Now that I have the conservative Christian crowd after me, let me grow that crowd and get the liberals to come after me as well.
I have many homosexual friends. I don’t believe they can help which gender they’re attracted to. No one wakes up one day and goes, “You know what, I think I like my same sex.” And no, they didn’t suffer some abusive relationship in the past. Most of them (if not all of my gay friends) grew up in relatively normal homes, they just ended up liking the same sex. But as an adherent to the Christian Tradition, the one that teaches that marriage exists for more than love and procreation, that it exists as an icon of Christ and the Church, that there is an economy to marriage that God developed, I believe that homosexual actions are sinful.
Now, before you skip to the comment section, let me answer a few things for you:
* No, I do not believe that being a homosexual, or even an active homosexual, will send you to hell. If being stuck in a sin and not even recognizing it as a sin sends us to hell, then I think we’re all doomed.
* Yes, I do believe unrepentant sin is a major issue and can harm our relationship with God. I do believe in hell (Hades) as well. But my belief is far too nuanced to simply slap into a post here. You can check out Dare We Hope All Men Be Saved? by Hans Urs von Balthasaar and Christ the Conqueror of Hell by Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev. Or you could read the Church Fathers, wherein you’ll see an incredibly complex teaching over Heaven, Hell, sin, and salvation. You’ll find a lack of consensus (though you won’t really see any universalism, you may see some hopeful universalists, those that hope all will come to Christ).
* I see no reason to treat my homosexual friends as “different” or as “other” when I wouldn’t do the same for a heterosexual couple that lives together, or a friend addicted to porn (which is far worse than homosexuality as porn encourages sex-trafficking and creates victims).
* I refuse to believe that a pastor who brags about the size of his congregation and is so prideful that he makes Napoleon seem humble is still “a flawed brother in Christ,” but a homosexual couple is going to Hell. That just doesn’t make sense because I fail to see where in the Bible it says that the unforgivable sin is having sex with another man. What about a Christian husband who cheats on his wife, divorces her, marries another woman, begins to attend another church, and then realizes he was wrong in what he did? Even though the Bible says he’s still committing adultery while staying married to his mistress – even though he knows what he did was wrong – he’s considered free and clear, but a gay couple isn’t? How does that make sense?
* I do think that sexual sins are existentially worse than some other sins because of what sex represents (they are not the worst sins, so long as there isn’t a victim involved). That is, while all sins harm our relationship with God, some sins can cause an existential crisis for us while other sins may not. That being said, homosexuality would fall in the realm of fornication, consensual pre-marital sex. Both are a sin by the standards of Tradition and Scripture, but one is not worse than the other. Being a homosexual is not akin to adultery, wherein there is a victim. It is not akin to child molestation, because again, there is a victim.
* No, thinking that homosexual actions are a sin does not mean I think less of homosexuals or hate them. You are more than what you do with your sexual organs. I think my sins are far worse than homosexuality, so it’s hard to hate people or think less of them when you think that in spite of their sin, they’re still better than you. Thinking that homosexual actions are a sin doesn’t mean I hate homosexuals, no more than thinking pre-marital sex makes me hate those who engage in it.
Again, I do think that homosexual actions are sinful can ultimately do harm one’s relationship with God. I also view arrogance and pride as sinful (and even harmful to others), but I find myself neck deep in those sins. If a homosexual is going to hell, then I’m probably destined with him because my sins are worse.
And that brings me to my ultimate point – perhaps now Christians can settle down and focus on the Gospel instead of needless political posturing. While I do think Christians should be involved in politics, especially to protect the innocent, what exactly has been accomplished by railing against gay marriage? How has the Gospel, the good news that we can be free from our sins, been spread or declared by using the government to make people holy?
There’s a huge movement within the far liberal components of the evangelical church called “Liberation Theology.” Liberation theology can come in many forms, but it essentially defies the government, makes it God, and seeks to enact religious ideals through revolution and the government. While adherents would probably take issue with my summary, that is essentially what it is in a nutshell. It really is a heresy because it strips Christ of His position and makes the government a god. It removes all the supernatural from Christianity (or most of it) and treats the Gospel as a social commentary, that salvation is here on this earth from oppressors.
Conservative evangelicals, however, have their own type of liberation theology. Instead of pushing for social justice, they attempt to push for moral justice. Instead of relying on the Holy Spirit to convict and change lives, they rely on Uncle Sam. More energy has been put into fighting the government recognition of homosexual marriages than has been put into serving the homosexual community or protecting them from bullying. This is conservative liberation theology, the idea that Christ will use the government to liberate us from “sinners.” And it’s just as much a heresy as its liberal counterpart.
In the end, I’m hoping that Christians will wake up and realize that there is a world that really is in need for Christ. I’m hoping they’ll realize that the United States government is not the Holy Spirit, nor is it Christ; it is finite. Why are we relying on the power of the finite when we are indwelled with the power of the Infinite?
At the end of the day, even if Christians “win” the war against homosexual marriage, what have they won? Has love been displayed? Will people go, “Wow, I can’t legally get married, guess that means I better stop being gay?” What has been accomplished? A nation isn’t made holy by its laws, but the laws do reflect the holiness of a people. If you want to see true change in this country then get out and live the Gospel. Go and serve people, regardless of their sexual orientation. Go and love them. If Christ, who is God and perfect and holy can walk amongst His creation, a creation where everyone has sinned against Him, say He loves them, and then die for them, surely you can be kind enough to at least say “hi” and treat them decently.