Gay Marriage—a big stick to beat the church with
A line in the sand issue for Christians
Currently in the US and many other countries, so-called ‘gay marriage’ is being promoted via the media. In the secular, politically correct world we live in, the reporting of this issue is rarely balanced and dissenting views are treated as marginal. For example, at the time of writing, laws opposing homosexual behavior (or at the very least, not condoning it) in countries such as Russia and Uganda have made international headlines. One supposedly apolitical radio station here in the US called NPR (National Public Radio—it is funded by donations) described them as ‘draconian’ laws. Because legal acceptance of gay marriage is being celebrated as a victory for civil liberties, it seems as if the media is really out to shame any country, person or group who does not toe the politically correct line on this issue. So this will be an increasing challenge to churches and Christians.
Will religious views be exempt?
To some extent, common sense has prevailed on this issue in the past by allowing dissenting views under the banner of religious freedom, and individuals who have publicly spoken out against homosexual unions have generally been exempt from prosecution. Inside churches, Christians have been safe, but the tide is turning rapidly because the exemptions can be easily overturned. For example, in our booklet Gay Marriage: right or wrong? And who decides? we documented the case of a Swedish pastor who was actually jailed for delivering an anti gay marriage sermon from his pulpit—that’s right—in church!
Recently, the owners of a Colorado bakery faced a year in prison for refusing to make a cake for a homosexual couple who wanted to celebrate their recent marriage. A spokesperson for the ACLU who filed a complaint against the bakery said:
“Religious freedom is a fundamental right in America and it’s something that we champion at the ACLU … We are all entitled to our religious beliefs and we fight for that. But someone’s personal religious beliefs don’t justify breaking the law by discriminating against others in the public sphere.”1
Such volatile actions by the gay lobby are actually causing churches and individual Christians to retreat from engaging this issue for fear of being branded and out of step with the culture, and worse still, actually having to break the law. And this is exactly what the gay lobby wants. In response to this some governments in the more conservative southern states in America are trying to formulate laws that will protect Christians from being targeted by militant gay lobby groups seeking to force their agenda onto unwilling participants. But there have been public demonstrations in some of these States opposing such legislation (by a vocal minority that the media loves to overplay). So it is doubtful that they will be very successful in passing legislation that provides religious exemptions for Christians and others of faith.
Discrimination? On what basis?
Even the black mayor of a major US city in the conservative South (Atlanta) said that he would look to change laws in favour of gay marriage. He likened the ‘struggle’ of homosexuals to the discrimination and battle for equal rights that many blacks faced in the US years ago. When Christians hear such emotional wrangling they unwittingly get hooked up by the misinformed rhetoric that surrounds the debate. But there are double standards at play because it is seemingly only the Christian worldview—the one that underpins most of our Western societies—that has to change. In Toronto, Canada, a lesbian woman went to a Muslim owned barbershop (because she wanted a man’s haircut). Under Sharia law the Muslim men who ran the shop are not allowed to touch a woman’s hair other than that of their own immediate families. When the lesbian complained, The Human Rights Commission intervened and demanded that the barbers cut her hair, even after the barbers offered to have someone else cut her hair. One wonders why she didn’t just go somewhere else. But, note, in this case, the Muslims’ refusal was not based upon her sexual preference but just the fact she was a woman (in a men’s barber shop!). Perhaps this is why the case only went to mediation whereas many Christian owners in the same position have been threatened with criminal prosecution and possible jail terms. There are plenty of female only and men only establishments in all sorts of service industries so the complaint is ridiculous. Of course this woman, like many in the gay lobby, wants to pick a fight and force others to accept her lifestyle. But she refuses to accept anyone else’s religious ‘preferences’. Christians need to show similar resolve to these Muslims when it comes to matters of defending our faith.
As was said in the Toronto Sun:
“They’ve ordered bed and breakfasts owned by Christian families to take in gay couples. They’ve censored pastors and priests who have criticized gay marriage. Gays win, because it’s a test of who is most outraged and offended. But in the case of the Muslim barbers, the gay activists have met their match.”2
A civil rights issue?
But how does this issue get linked to racial discrimination? First, we need to recognize the subtle language change used to describe a person’s sexual preference. Instead of being called a ‘preference’ anymore, it is described as a person’s ‘sexual orientation’. In short, someone can no more help being ‘born’ a homosexual than they can choose their shade of skin at birth. The ‘born that way’ argument is one of the many myths used to defend gay marriage. One of the motivations for writing the aforementioned booklet (coauthored with my colleague Lita Sanders) was because of something my youngest daughter shared with me. At the time she was attending a local college (university here in Atlanta, US). She told me that whenever the topics of abortion or gay marriage were raised in the classroom, she was actually shocked at how many professing Christian youth were in favour of same. (Christian parents please take note. It may be prudent to ask your own children their opinions on these issues).
She said they would raise the stereotypical arguments like:
- It’s unloving and discriminatory to oppose gay marriage.
- It’s acceptable if they love each other.
- Ten percent of the population is homosexual and so this represents a significant portion of the population.
- Homosexuality is normal in the animal kingdom.
- And of course, the idea that homosexuality is a genetic predisposition.
We are all born that way!
In our booklet we deal with all of these claims and many more. On the last item we would agree that people can feel like they have a predisposition to act as a homosexual (although there is no evidence for it having a genetic basis). We accept the fact that many people, including Christians and members of their family do actually struggle with such desires, and in many cases they feel powerless to control them. But what if someone feels similarly emotional desires to steal, commit arson, or even to murder? And many do. The fact is that we all have a propensity to sin—we are all born that way and so it is part of our nature. But this is not recognized for what it is, because the real issue is that traditional Judeo-Christian values based upon God's Word are being rejected in favour of a human-centered view of the world. After all, if there is no Creator God who made us, then humans are ultimately free to embark upon any lifestyle they wish as long as it doesn’t break any laws. But if enough people feel disposed to indulge in a certain lifestyle then the laws can continually be changed to accommodate ever-increasing sinful behaviours. After all, we can’t discriminate … right?
The tragedy in all of this is that because laws are being changed to appease such behavior, along with increasing pressure upon the church to conform, it is becoming more difficult to help people struggling with addictive behaviours to receive help—and the ultimate help of course, is freedom from sin that comes through salvation in Christ. Part of recognizing that all humanity is fallen and needs help goes back to the events in the Garden of Eden, but the book of Genesis is under attack like never before due to the one-sided teaching of evolution in practically every country in the world. A further tragedy is the increasing acceptance in the church of evolution (or theistic evolution) at the hands of groups like Biologos, who teach such a low view of Scripture (and original sin) that it is barely recognizable as Christianity.
One church at a time and one individual at a time
Christians should not sit on the fence on this issue. Indeed, the purpose of this article is to demonstrate that gay marriage is not an issue Christians can ignore. It will increasingly be used as a club to beat Christians into submission and silence. And also, as demonstrated earlier, our children in colleges are being exposed to emotional arguments that cause them to reject the authority of Scripture. The origins of this debate, although not immediately obvious to many, stems from the foundational beliefs about where we (humans) think we came from. It's crucial to the cultural thinking that is generating the changes we are seeing in our societies today. In response we need to teach critical thinking skills to all Christians who will encounter the gay marriage rhetoric. We won’t win by just changing laws. A culture and even a country are changed by winning minds and hearts for Christ. In short, a heart change is required, but we often need to deal with the surrounding arguments that are causing deceitful hearts to reject God.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4–5).
This is part of the Great Commission given to us:
“in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (emphasis mine, 1 Peter 3:15).
Buy in bulk and save
Our little booklet Gay Marriage: right or wrong? And who decides? has received lots of positive reviews from families who needed information to help deal with this issue, and for its nice tone. It contains some wonderful testimonies of former homosexuals who have been set free from their bondage to sin. We’ve also had several churches order many hundreds of copies to give out to their congregation and in particular their youth, to help them when encountering opposition or arguments to defend gay marriage. If you click on the links to our store you will see substantial discounts for bulk purchases.
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” [and even homosexuals] (Romans 1:16).
Update: 05 September 2015
The above article CMI predicted that in the wake of the Obergefell decision Christians would face difficulties and maybe even persecution based on their faithfulness to Scripture against the immoral gay marriage ruling. This has been confirmed, as Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis was jailed on 3 September 2015 for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The judge who jailed her said that she would remain in jail until she complies. This, in effect, imposes a religious test on elected officials—a faithful Christian cannot comply with gay marriage laws, because Christianity teaches that homosexuality is a sin and a violation of God’s created order.3 Ultimately, this is religious persecution by the government and something that Christians should be actively protesting against. As this article said, it is a ‘line in the sand’ issue. If we don’t draw the line here, more persecution on a range of issues will follow.
Note: some have written in to alert us to the fact that Kim Davis belongs to a Oneness Pentacostal church, which denies the Trinity and is therefore outside the bounds of Christianity. While this is true, the Kim Davis case has definite implications for those who wish to live out their faith in all areas of their lives.
References and notes
- Healey, C., Baker Faces Jail Time for Refusing to Serve Gay Couple, spectator.org, September 2013, accessed February 2014. Return to text.
- Levant, E., Gay activists have met their match with Muslim barbers, torontosun.com, November 2012, accessed February 2014. Return to text.
- McLaughlin, E.C., and Shoichet, C.E., Kim Davis stands firm on same-sex marriage; the Kentucky clerk stays in jail, edition.cnn.com, September 2015, accessed September 2015. Return to text.