Sunday Times: Contemporary Worship - 8:45 AM / Sunday School - 10:00 AM / Traditional Worship - 11:00 AM
Oh, my, but has a maelstrom hit the world of social media. While social media has many great attributes, it also has its negative side. A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook, "Do you remember the good old days, when you didn't know your friend's opinion on everything and that was OK?" (I think I may have paraphrase the post)
Well, several people have asked me what my opinion and thoughts are regarding the whole issue of the Supreme Courts decision concerning same-gender marriage. Actually, NO ONE has asked me my opinion, but in a time when we think the world cannot go on another day without our opinions, I thought I would pass mine along. I intend to start blogging on a more regular basis. Why? I suppose it is because I am not only a glutton of food alone.
Therefore, allow me to begin with my humble opinion on same-gender marriage. At the risk of being compared with Bill Clinton, it depends on your definition of "marriage." Is marriage a Christian thing, a civil thing, or both? Unfortunately, it seems that in the minds of a lot of Americans, it is both and therein lies what I see as the real problem. You see, it has always been my belief that in the United States of America there is a confused, blurry line between church and state. Sometimes it is so pronounced that many Christians cannot distinguish between the two. As the number of people who identify themselves as Christian has declined to the point where Christians are the minority it is inevitable that the tide would turn. How did this happen? We Christians have ALLOWED it to happen by living hypocritical lives.
All of this to say that we, the people, passed and enacted laws that made a very messy amalgam of what was once a primarily religious rite with a legally binding contract. It has been further complicated by additions over the years dealing with inheritance, child custody, etc. It is so intertwined that while we thought of it as mostly a religious thing, it has become something else. I believe when I officiate a wedding two things are happening, a marriage (Christian) and a civil union (legal). In fact, what I do in a wedding ceremony has no bearing whatsoever on the legal side of the union. It is the marriage license and the state that really count as far as the law. Why, for a few dollars on a website, you, too, could be approved to officiate a ceremony and join two people in "matrimony" legally.
Then when other, homosexual citizens began to want the rights and privileges afforded to their fellow, heterosexual citizens the stuff hit the fan. Then many Christians began to say, "Hey, wait this is not what God intended for marriage." Sadly, for them, the boat had already set sail and, indeed, has arrived safely in harbor. I agree with many of these Christians, that marriage, as God intended, is between a man and a woman. This doesn't mean God doesn't love gay people or that gay people are the worst sinners in world. We are ALL sinners and deserve God's wrath, but thanks be to Jesus, the Christ, for changing that. At the same time, as an American, I believe every citizen should be entitled to the same rights and privileges as every other citizen. Therefore, I have been in favor of all states allowing same-gender couples to be united in a civil union with the same rights and restrictions as traditional couples, but I do not consider that a marriage. I believe God's will for us does not include living in a gay relationship. Did God intend people to be gay? I really don't think that any more than he intended for me me to develop cancer. I don't believe sex defines me. If I were gay, I feel that God would want me to live a celibate life. Would that make me less of a human being because I do express myself sexually? NO. Does that mean I would be destined for a sad and lonely life? NO. I hope I am clear in expressing my thoughts. I have several friends and some family members who are gay and I love them with all my heart and would do just about anything for them. Here's the kicker! Most of them are Christians who in many cases live more Christ-centered lives than many heterosexual Christians I know. They would disagree with me on my opinion about God's will for them, but that is OK. It doesn't change my love for them. As to my gay friends who are not Christian, some of them are not Christians because of the way the church has treated them by calling them into accountability while ignoring their own lifestyles. For those who do not believe in God at all, how do we purport to holding them to a standard in which they do not believe. We are called to love.
But here's my main point, I keep reading how people think the government is infringing on their religious rights, in fact, trampling them in the ground all in the name of equality. I hear fears that the government is forcing churches and clergy to go against their religious beliefs. Calm down. Peace be with you. No one is forcing anything on churches. The Court's decision specifically included a statement that their decision does not put any mandate on churches or clergy. As a clergy I have the right to refuse marriage to anyone regardless of their sexual orientation and that isn't going to change.
"But it will!" some of you may say. "You just wait! People will sue you and the government will side with them!" When did we Christians become such wimps? Since when are we afraid of any government? Sure, we in America have enjoyed abundant freedom for over two centuries, but that could change at any moment. However, I, for one, will NEVER defy what I feel God calls me to do in favor of what any government wants me to do. "Greater is He who is inside of me than he who is living in the world." Fine me. Jail me. Ridicule me. Punish me. Execute me. I would be in excellent company.