Friday, June 16, 2006

"Gay marriage?"

This has been on my mind a good bit lately, and I've been struggling to figure out exactly what I believe. Our elected representatives are not very helfpul since, from what I can tell, they have not put much thought into the issue. From what has been included in the news, a lot of them have just been droning on about their own great marriages and the "sanctity of marriage." Neither are very compelling or logical arguments. For every senator or representative who has a good marriage, there is another who has had an extra-marital affair or divorce. Oddly none of the elected officals in the second group are speaking up about that.

The sanctity of marriage argument is an interesting one. I wonder if it came up when states passed laws to permit "common law marriage" which gives heterosexuals marriage benefits despite the fact that they are "living in sin." I somehow doubt it. And if we get down to it, I'm not sure that permitting gay marriage is any more dangerous to the "sanctity of marriage" than the incredibly high rate of divorce and the divorce laws that make it incredibly easy to sever that union. Or television shows like the Bachelor. I guess my point is that our government does not otherwise seem very concerned about the sanctity of marriage. It's predictable that this issue has come back into the spotlight as it obviously gets the religious right out to vote.

The saddest part about this is that so many Christians express their disapproval of "gay marriage" in such an ugly, hateful, and non-Christian way. This response is a good example of how Christians can be the biggest threat to Christianity. Homosexuals' sin is no worse than any other sin, and in fact, the sin of homosexual sin is easily analogized to the sin of two unmarried heterosexuals. It saddens me to see how riled up Christians get about homosexuality, yet they don't have that same passion for the continual sin in their own life. Nor do they say a word about the unmarried couple in their Sunday school class who live together.

And alas, abstinence is a homosexual's cross to bear just as it is my cross to bear as a single person. So for a homosexual Christian, the answer is clear; pursuing a homosexual relationship is not God's will. I know that must be so tough for a homosexual Christian to conclude, but God's amazing love for us makes it so much easier to put aside our sinful ways and follow Him.

While I believe in the separation of church and state, I do not believe our government should permit "gay marriage." Doing so would force Christians to approve and support such sin--whether it be a business owner having to extend healthcare benefits to a homosexual's partner or a court clerk having to issue a marriage license to two men. This is asking Christians to do much more than tolerate sin; it is asking us to approve sin and in a sense, encourage it. Sure our laws permit a lot of sinful behavior, but I cannot think of any existing law that could potentially require me as a Christian to support sin.

As for what our government should do, I'm not sure. An amendment to the Constitution seems inappropriate. Practically, however, we might have an issue if a state permitted these unions. And already we have real issues given the fact that homosexuals have families, whether through artificial insemination or adoption. The problems arise when their relationships end, and only one parents has a "legal right" to the children from their union. Some issues can be circumvented with well written wills and other existing legal methods, but some cannot under the current state of the law.

I'm sure I'll have more to write about this at some point as my opinions and views on this issue are constantly evolving as I consider all of the different perspectives and considerations involved. I hope those that speak publicly on this issue will proceed with compassion and love rather than disdain and condemnation. We are all sinners after all.


=lance= said...

the life of a christian is one of truth and love. there has to be a balance of the two. lots of christians have no problem speaking truth but lack love (see the definition of "clanging cymbal"--1 corinthians 13:1, romans 12:9-12, colossians 4:6). meanwhile others want to love and not ruffle feathers with the truth. as a christian it is NOT my responsibility to bring conviction, that is the work of the holy spirit (john 16:5-15). it is my responsibility to love as live as christ in truth and love (ephesians 1:18-19, 5:1-2). often times we forget that except by the grace of god WE ALL could be in that situation.

should christians continue to fight for marriage as god defines it even though sins like gluttony, pride, envy, and others are seemingly being overlooked. i think so. should we continue to overlook those sins? negative. i do not think it would be wise for those who claim to be christ followers to sit back on our hands and allow such a public issue to be won by those opposed to god. we must stand and be "foolish" for him if that's what it takes to bring glory to god (1 corinthians 1:16-31, 2:3-5).

be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. let all that you do be done in love. (1 corinthians 16:13-14)

Ally said...

Thanks for the apt comment Lance. I especially like the first paragraph which is a needed reminder and is often a delicate balance--especially for someone like me who generally has no trouble speaking the truth.

I would love for you to write a blog or comment about what the ideal balance of truth and love would look like in a church. So many churches lack any sense of community, and truth and love (and therefore any real sense of community or accountability) seems to be lacking.

Anonymous said...

Ally, I must add my opinion that there really is no such thing as " a homosexual marriage" . I believe the closest two people of the same sex can come to the aforementioned "marriage" would be a "union". While I cannot quote all the scriptures as I may take some out of context I do know that the Bible condemns homosexuality. On the other topic I do believe that sins cannot all be lumped into one category. Stealing a nickel from someone is not the same sin as murdering someone. I feel that most of our society feels the same since the penalties for laws are generally dependent upon the severity of the infractions as you well know. Many, if not almost all of our laws are based on the Ten Commandments as well as certain other Tenets in the Bible. While I can respect homosexuals as human beings I can not in any way respect their perverted choices. The U.S military recently reversed itself on a change that it had made in l974 and now classifies homosexuality as a "mental disorder". (Look it up). This is certainly not to say that the military is correct but I am quite certain that psychiatrists would have had a role in such a decision. Dr. Ridge

Anonymous said...

If you were as much of a Christian as you claim you wouldn't question gay marriage. You'd just say that IT'S WRONG AND THEY'RE ALL GOING TO HELL and leave it at that. Insert grumpy old man face here. :=)

kimberly said...

I hope that the comment above was a joke...but the issue is serious.
Matthew 7:3 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"
The way that the church deals with the issue of homosexuality will have a huge impact on the witness we send to the world - hopefully this will be an issue we address with love, grace, honest self-examination and understanding rather than condemnation, self-righteousness and hate. Personally I'd rather have gay members in the church who want to love and serve Christ than hateful, prideful and hypocritical "Christians". Then again...we are all hypocrites, so I might just be kicking myself out.

spam_price said...

All sin is a personal affront to God – our Creator and Redeemer. None of us can escape this fact and our disobedience taints us all with unrighteousness before Him. But what does He see when we have given our lives over to Jesus Christ? A blameless, spotless holy figure that is able to stand before God without being destroyed.

So when we answer questions about gay marriage we should keep in mind that no one is more offended by it than God and we are already sentenced to death before Him unless we have put our trust and faith in Him. As Lance alluded to with the balance between truth and love, without love there is no truth and without truth there is no love. What you are left with in either case is disobedience and sin.

Gay marriage would be an endorsement of sin by the government, which no Christian should support. Gay people are in as much need of the Gospel message as the tax collectors, prostitutes, Jews & Gentiles of the New Testament. Just as the act of disobedience is personal sin against God, so must an act of repentance be a personal plea for forgiveness from God. Bringing that message of hope in truth and love is our calling.

Ally said...

Thank you guys for the comments. I agree with much of what has been written, but I still struggle with what our government should do as a practical matter. I do NOT think "gay marriage" is the answer as I think my blog made clear, but I wonder if we need to make laws to accomodate the fact that homosexuals have children with other homosexuals, etc. Or is that wrong too? What is the balance between church and state?

Jeff, I agree that Christians should not support our government's endorsement of sin. Why don't Christians protest when legislation is introduced for "no fault" divorces? I guess I'm struggling with this issue because it seems like it gets the "Christian right" out in such a loud and sometimes offensive way when other issues, which are just as important to our Christian beliefs, do not.

In their defense and like Kimberly said, we're all hypocrites. Sometimes the lines I draw in the sand, especially with purity issues and other tough stuff, is contradictory as well. I guess we're all works in progress.

Ally said...

Excuse me--are contradictory. Our President's frequent subject verb disagreements seem to be rubbing off on me.

spam_price said...

I think the practical answer you are looking for; at least when it comes to property rights or asset/pension/etc protection is to create the ownership society the President has talked about. We have this to some degree, but Social Security reform is an area that this could be changed, so that citizens actually own their money. That way (gay or not) you have the right to choose who the beneficiaries are and not be limited by government. When it comes to child adoption by homosexuals or even a single parent, I think that there should definitely be preferential treatment given to heterosexual couples. That would begin to limit the impact of child custody issues. How are child custody issues treated differently for an unwed heterosexual couple? I’m not sure I see the distinction you are making, but then again – I’m no lawyer.

Christians have been upset about no fault divorce, abortion, teen pregnancy, pre-marital sex, and a host of other issues that deeply affect families. That’s what organizations like Focus on the Family and the like are all fighting to prevent and maintain traditional family values because they are Biblical values. That shouldn’t be a right or left issue that should be a Christian issue. Although if you perceive it to be a more right of center position then perhaps you are more Republican than you give yourself credit for and can be a little more forgiving of the President’s grammar ;-)

Ally said...

You make a good point about unwed heterosexual couples in the case of adoption (because the current Georgia adoption laws as I understand them contemplate two married individuals). Heterosexuals, however, can get married and cure that problem. The other example I am contemplating is the lesbian couple who chooses for one of them to be inseminated. Under my current (and limited) understanding of the law, the other half of the couple cannot have any legal claim to the child. So if the birth mother dies, the other partner (even if she has been the child's parent for a decade) has no legal standing to pursue custody. These types of problems can be cured with adjustments to existing laws and would not, of course, necessitate "gay marriage."

I'm still struggling with the separation of church and state and still have a lot of thinking to do before I fully understand what I believe. I might have to write a blog about abortion to get you guys' two cents because you all have a lot of thought-provoking comments that help me better understand what I believe.

spam_price said...

I suppose my question would be are the changes to existing laws you are inferring simply to give family court judges more flexibility if they are currently limited? I know that aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc are able to petition the courts for custody and that the best interests of the child are what is focused on in reaching these decisions. I don’t know what would limit the courts in reviewing a petition for guardianship in a case like you described. That would also mean that lifestyle, income, home situation and so on would need to be evaluated to determine suitability. I just don’t see a need for additional legislation that would grant rights to people solely based on their sexual preference that isn’t already afforded to them as a citizen.

What I do find interesting is that when these debates about families come up that generally people reduce the arguments to the best case scenario “stable homosexual couple” and compare them to the worst case scenario “abusive heterosexual couple”. This isn’t a fair comparison and is a specious argument. That’s why judges are in place to interpret the law and judiciously apply it to the unique situation that is before their court.

Ally said...

After talking to an attorney more familiar with adoption law than I am, I now know that an unrelated individual (i.e. a lesbian parent) could petition the court for custody. I doubt that a superior court judge in Georgia(as he is an elected official) would ever find a lesbian parent to be in the best interests of the child even if she was. With that being said, there could be many blogs written about the tragedies that occur day in and day out in family court at the hands of judges who must just not care. I heard another one this morning.

I think we often look for the "extremes" in arguments to best or most dramatically illustrate our points, and this debate has been no exception (on both sides, I'm sure). To be honest, I didn't realize that homosexual couples were able to adopt in the United States. I thought that perhaps they could adopt children from other countries or opt for the insemintation route, but I did not know they were adopting and/or being given any preference over heterosexuals. I think that (obviously) all things equal that a heterosexual couple should be given a strong preference. There are so many unwanted children (not so much with babies) that I'd be hard pressed not to allow a loving homosexual couple to adopt a child over it being placed in foster care. Those are tough issues though, and I can see both sides of the argument.

spam_price said...

Honestly, I don’t know that I could ever say definitively that a lesbian or gay parent was ever in the best interests of a child. The lifestyle that is modeled for a child in that type of home is defined by the sexual preference of the guardian. That doesn’t mean it should be made illegal, but that government shouldn’t play a role in promoting, condoning or endorsing it either.

Look at the word “love”. I think this is a word that many people distort and overuse on a daily basis in their personal relationships, so there is no signaling out here of hetero or homosexual relationships. If God is love and the fulfillment of that love is found on the cross in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for His people. And if the marriage relationship between a man and a woman is meant to reflect God’s glory in the way He relates to His church showing our obedience as a form of love. Then obviously there is something set apart about that relationship between a man and woman within marriage and their Christlike, God reflected love for one another. How can a homosexual couple, whose basis for “love” and display of “love” that at its very foundation is disobedience and sin, actually be considered “love” as God defines? While this doesn’t mean that every heterosexual couple reflects God’s love, there is still the potential that it will and no potential that a homosexual couple will.

As I said above, there is a difference between not making something legal (which maintains a certain level of neutrality as much as that is possible), and making something illegal or legal which conclusively discourages or encourages certain behaviors. That is where the separation of Church and State comes into play, that not all sin should be made illegal because that would carry with it consequences and punishments that are reserved for God alone. And conversely that doesn’t mean that all sin should be legal because our society is built upon a common thread of mutual accountability that ensures civility. What proponents for gay marriage don’t realize is that they muddy the waters of that separation and this is what causes the religious right to champion causes like the Federal Marriage Amendment – to preserve not to oppress.