Culture · On Being Christian · Relationships

thoughts for christian leaders on prop 8 decision

prop8Earlier this week Christianity Today posted a timely article: What Is the Gospel Response to the Prop. 8 Decision? – a collection of observations by Christian thinkers, primarily academics.

I’ve read through it several times, and find myself feeling… well, disappointed. But if there’s one thing I know absolutely about Prop 8, it’s that it’s incredibly difficult to discuss. We simply have too many predetermined thoughts to accurately hear each other’s views with any real understanding. So I assume the best. CT’s article provides a helpful review of the traditional, conservative position on marriage. And there is genuine encouragement towards grace and compassionate relationships as we advocate for our position. For the record, I am in 100% agreement.

My disappointment comes because I am not sure how this helps us in the debate. It primarily clarifies what we already believe, and that may have been their intent. But for a lot of us, merely affirming our beliefs with very clear admonitions to be nice about it is no longer enough. Again, my intent is not to criticize these writers, but to draw attention to what I perceive as a giant, gaping hole in Christian thinking on this topic.

The gay marriage/gay rights issue may be the most defining and divisive controversy of our time, and I have a sense that believers are hungry for real ways to talk about it. In fact, I think they’re desperate for practical, effective ways to interact with gay friends and family whom they love. And language such as “God’s universal laws,” or “covenantal unions of one man and one woman established by God” – while true – is not it.

One problem is that it now appears our willingness to shower ourselves with grace while taking full advantage of no-fault divorce turns out to be the proverbial shot in our own foot. With so many Christians who’ve been married and divorced – some more than once – it’s difficult to champion God’s “ideal” for marriage. (I’m divorced too, fyi… I’m just makin’ an observation.) Besides choosing to live that ideal, we need other ways to talk about the issues. We need more insight and direction. Where are the Christian thinkers who can help us with that?

One is Dr. Jennifer Roeback-Morse, though her CT article omitted any of her socially-informed thinking on this subject. One example: The essential purpose of marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another. And it must be noted the goal is not weapons to win arguments, and there’s still plenty of disagreement. But it’s another way to think about things.

Another is Andrew Marin, author of Love is an Orientation, a book that is perhaps the best bridge between the Church and the GLBT community, and a must-read for anyone interested in intelligently, graciously, and meaningfully entering the discussion.

Here’s what I know: I affirm the traditional views in the CT article. I also care about gay people as human beings created in the image of God. I care about their feelings. I care about them feeling marginalized by the Church and by the very views I just admitted I affirm. I care that they’re hated by some people of faith, and I care about their need to be loved and part of a relationship as we all do. I don’t really know how to reconcile all this in a conversation. But I do know I want to learn how.

(Photo Credit: Gabriel Bouys/AFP)

6 thoughts on “thoughts for christian leaders on prop 8 decision

  1. To me, sitting here in Sydney, hardly affected by the Prop 8 decision, I just keep coming back to other relationships which God does not agree with – such as people living together. Although God does not want this, it happens, happens a lot, and as Christians we can either accept people doing so, because they are not living under God’s law, but believe it is not right, or we can sit and condemn them and shame them and attempt to make them feel ashamed.

    Can we expect non-Christians to do as the Bible says? No. And so I don’t think I can tell them not to, however much I think it is wrong.

    It’s a whole different matter when Christians are in relationships that the Bible says are wrong though….

    That’s just some of my thoughts, from half a world away.

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  2. Good thoughts and thanks for your transparency! I must admit, I’m not yet brave enough to deal with the complexities of this debate on my own blog–it’s so politically charged that it’s hard to have an open and honest conversation without fear of being attacked. Thanks for being more courageous than me. šŸ™‚

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  3. I believe we have an obligation as followers of Christ to speak up regarding sin in today’s world. Jesus said we are called to be the “light of the world”. God’s law is to be used as a mirror to show the unsaved their sin of breaking God’s law. There is a difference, though, in how we share. Instead of US telling people they are wrong, we need to tell them what GOD has to say about it – in a very loving and caring manner. Jan, I liked your last paragraph. They definitely would be able to see and feel your love and caring for them. The next step would be to help them see and feel God’s love for them as well.

    Part of the love of God is to give us laws to obey – as parents do with their children. The Bible says “Thou shall not kill” and “Thou shall not steal”. Don’t we expect the unsaved to obey those laws? If we didn’t, there would be total anarchy and chaos in this world. God says the sexually immoral are going to Hell. If our neighbor’s house was on fire, I would hope we all would be concerned enough to let them know. As for you, Jan, I think you would.

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    1. I think we agree on the main point, which is it’s important HOW we share. Your differentiation between us telling them they’re wrong and God telling them they’re wrong is really a moot point, however. Most gay people I’ve talked to or followed on blogs already know that God thinks it’s wrong. This is not news. In fact, it’s a huge part of the difficulty for many who were raised in church, or in Christian families. Why would a loving God create them with these “perverted” feelings and then judge them for having them?

      I know you will argue God didn’t create them that way – but I think that’s also beside the point. It seems as if we don’t even consider how genuinely painful & conflicting this is for some. My point is not about whether they’re right or wrong, but about the need for compassionate, sympathetic conversations with people we actually care about.

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