Gay Marriage. it’s the big topic of the day around the water cooler.
The Supreme Court has made it the law of the land. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has been quoted as saying he thinks Jesus would approve of gay marriage1. Perhaps you have made up your mind. Perhaps you have not. Are you unsure whether you can reconcile the law of the land with your abiding faith? Wondering how to even begin thinking about this hot topic? We’re here to help!
Here, for your kind consideration, some questions to ponder, when exploring faith and gay marriage.
- What is Gender Identity… and How Many People are Gay? Is a sense of gender identity – the subjective experience of one’s own gender – a permanent and unchanging aspect of a person? If so, this has consequences. Any minimizing of another human being as “lesser” based on an aspect of themselves that they cannot change – e.g., height, age, skin color, gender, – is non-Christian. It traces back to an old Pagan concept, the great “chain of being” and has very difficult ramifications, including much of man’s inhumanity to man. Although Americans may believe that there are many with untraditional gender identities, the actual number hovers around 2% – so, 98% straight. This, according to The Atlantic.
- Are Gays at Risk as Underdogs? If you’ve committed to a nonharming path, then this means sticking up for society’s underdogs, even when that choice may be unpopular. So, a key question is whether this group qualifies. Historically, has it been hard to be gay? Are they more at risk for suicide? For minority stress? Do they need a defender? This is easy to find out. There is an authoritative paper at the National Institute for Health website that says they are. If you concur, then perhaps they could use your advocacy.
- Is Marriage a Path to God? If, in Genesis 1:26 God said “let us make humanity in our image” then, one might perhaps argue that the image of God is kinship relationship itself. In olden times, marriage was seen as a road to better understanding and relating to God, and historically, rabbis were expected to be married. Is that still true, today? Can marriage still provide a path to knowing God, and an opportunity to practice self-emptying love?
- What is Marriage, Anyway? Perhaps marriage is meant as a relationship that might be termed “dear one,” going beyond what the Irish call an “anam cara” or soul friend. While some folks say men/women are ideally suited, “irreducibly unique,” because they can conceive children, sadly not all male/female marriages are fertile in this way. Does this mean that infertile marriages have lesser value? Civil union – which some argue could be stretched to mean even relationships between any person for any reason – may not fully capture that special experience of one-to-one beloved endearment. To the state, marriage is also a legal contract, with privileges and responsibilities, and tax advantages.
- What Effects Does Marriage Have On Adults? If marriage is meant as a relationship that nurtures and protects life, then perhaps a good marriage is beneficial. Find out about the wide-ranging health benefits of a happy marriage in the research report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, by clicking here.
- And… What About Kids? Kids do better when raised in loving, unbroken homes. So, what can that look like? The American Psychological Association studies show that gays are good parents… to find out more, see their website.
- How is a Heavy Focus On This Topic “Eisegesis?” Eisegesis means taking a passage out of context for one’s own purposes. As a Christ follower, it is important to consider the entirety of the biblical narrative with Jesus as a “viewing lens,” and coming to an overarching conclusion. What would that mean, given that Jesus was silent on gays, and was quite loud about the fundamental equality of souls?
- Are there Unintended Consequences to Saying No? – If a stance is seen as arbitrary and inhumane by today’s youth, what’s the fallout? Will an unintended consequence be that many people from today’s generation will be put off by Christianity, with a closed stance on this issue?
- Would Legal Gay Civil Marriage Harm (or Help) Christianity? If Christianity has survived cultural shifts in the pasts, will it survive this shift, as well? Yes, biblical interpretation has always evolved over time, even on issues close to this one. For example, there was a time when the same passages now being used to deny gays the right to marry were used to deny that right to marry between races. Are there other interpretations of the difficult stumbling block texts (hint: there are) and how do I feel about them? Can I comfortably reconcile my faith with this issue? Might embracing this change actually strengthen Christianity, bringing young people – who are now disaffected by their elders’ position – back into the fold? Or, could it splinter the Church into many factions, all in their own camps on this issue?
- Can Folks Coexist? Is there a way to coexist, allowing same sex marriage to be recognized by the state (and those ministers who would like to bless same sex marriage), while allowing folks who feel strongly against (for whatever reasons) their space, or is a clash sadly inevitable? And, who or what could help foster harmony, and how might they set about the task?
1James Earl “Jimmy” Carter. Interviewed in USA Today by Lori Grisham. July 8, 2015