How To Respond to Marriage Equality?
When the Court ushered in Marriage Equality, some who were old enough had to have had an odd sense of Deja vu. They’d been here before, some forty odd years earlier, with Roe v Wade. Already, Christian Bloggers like the Gospel Coalition are calling for a response similar to the one Roe had in giving birth to the Pro-Life movement.
That’s exactly what the world expects. Christians will take to the courts. They will take to the ballot box. They will declare, “This is war!” Like with Roe, they will fight Obergefell v. Hodges with every legal and political tool they have. They will fight a worldly (political) battle using the world’s tools (ballot box and the courts).
I think that might be the exact wrong thing to do.
As I study the life of Jesus Christ (you know, the guy who is supposed to be the role model for the Christian life), I don’t see a guy who tried to change any political laws. He seemed much more concerned with addressing how people evaluate their relationship with God. Just about every argument he had was with the ‘religious’ people of his day.
I wonder if part of the reason the Church is seen as less appealing today by Millennials is how political it has become. Millennials grew up in the post-Roe timeframe. Before Roe, terms like Evangelical or Christian weren’t part of the cultural conversation. At that time, if you were a Christian, you were identified by your denomination. We referred to people as Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, and if you were really weird – Pentecostal. Now that is all lumped together under the terms Evangelical or simply Christian. We wanted to overturn Roe at the ballot box, where you need majorities. It’s much easier to build a majority when you lump together the Baptists, the Catholics, etc. into your little crusade. Too many young people don’t see the Church apart from its political associations.
What if, instead, the church surprised the world with its response to Obergefell?
When was the last time the body of Christ surprised the world with its response? It was the response to the brutal murders in my home town of Charleston. The world watched Charleston with a mix of respect, disbelief and awe. What surprised them was grace. The grace of the victims in forgiving the man accused of killing their loved ones. The grace of the city in rejecting violence and hate and embracing love and unity. That grace so moved our President that he broke into singing “Amazing Grace” during the eulogy of Senator Pinckney.
Now, in light of the Obergefell ruling, how do we extend to that grace and love to our culture? We don’t need to continue to communicate our position. They know exactly how we feel. We’ve plastered it on billboards and all over our Facebook and Twitter in case they had any doubts.
What they need for us to communicate is that we see and value their dignity. That’s the word that kept coming back to me as I read the Supreme Court’s decision. These people had less dignity. We no longer treated them by seeing the Imago Dei (the image of God) in them. We punished them with the power of the law for their sin. It took the Court to correct that.
Much of the passion is fueled because the opponents of same sex marriage have chosen control instead of compassion, and legalism instead of love. The people who opposed them now delight in that control being taken from them. Maybe they should.
What if we extend that grace by calling off the fight before it stops? We accept that Marriage Equality is the law the land. We expect that some people will use their God given free will to choose a life style that He doesn’t endorse and we acknowledge that somewhere in all of our lives we have made the same choice. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that Rome had far worse laws on the books during the early days of the Church? The early Christians had none of the tools for political change at our disposal, yet, despite the hostility of the culture, the Church grew and spread throughout the world.
It’s like we’ve got it all backwards. We want lifestyle behavior change first, even to the point of enforcing those lifestyle changes with the power of the LAW. We give love and acceptance only after that (if ever). Jesus never really got on somebody’s case about lifestyle changes until AFTER they made the decision to follow him. Once they did that, he wanted them all in. But before? His critics called him ‘a friend of sinners’. That just wasn’t done if you were a pious individual in Jesus time. He turned that all on its ear.
We were never called to make someone straight. We were called to clearly communicate that God loves them and loves them so much that He sent His one, precious Son to die a death He didn’t deserve so that they could have an everlasting relationship with their God both now and for all eternity.