Earlier 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)