Gay weddings are legal. You do not like it. So now what?
To begin, I ask that everyone – both supporters and opponents of gay marriage consider the tone of anything they post about the topic. There is a point where celebratory remarks become gloating. There is also a thin line where voicing dissent morphs into disparaging criticism. However, this request is more for those who share my faith than those who do not.
As a Christian, the stamp of love should be the impetus of everything we do. I know this is not easily done and it is something that I struggle with every day. Regardless, this is what God has asked of us. Jesus told his disciples “All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.” The way we treat those within our own community should be an example that reflects the love that God has shown us. If we can’t get that right, how can anyone outside the church expect to be treated any differently?
Beyond loving other Christians, we are given the same command in reference to those who do not share our values. When Jesus was asked to identify the greatest commandment, he said to love God. Then without any prompting, he answered an unasked but essential question. “The second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’” Paul also encouraged Christians to expand the scope of their love beyond themselves: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else.” The definition of everyone else mirrors the term neighbor that Jesus used. This means other people who you may not like or whom you may not typically associate. It means that your love must extend to those who do not share your religious beliefs, social stature, political persuasion, and sexual orientation. You don’t have to agree with someone or even support them to demonstrate love and common courtesy.
This kind of love is opposition to selfish ambition. It is the kind of love that looks out for more than just your own good: “always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.” This is a love that aims for the greater good – even at the cost of self sacrifice. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” I realize what you deem good and I deem good may not be the same thing. In these differences of opinion, it is essential that we consider views of others and the possibility that we could be wrong.
I would also caution against dwelling in fear. All of the comments worried about the future of America or predictions that the church will now enter a new era of persecution accomplish nothing. God’s favor is no more upon us than the Christians of any other nation. We must remember that God does not have a covenant with the USA. At the end of his life, Jesus gave his followers the commission: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations.” We are included, but not exclusive.
Even if we are plunged into a darker era, why is this a concern? Isn’t this what Jesus told us would happen? He said, “All people will hate you because you follow me.” More than just a prediction, Jesus also told us “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” We shouldn’t fear persecution – but expect it.
Furthermore, an attitude of fear betrays the love that God has shown us. “Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear. It is punishment that makes a person fear, so love is not made perfect in the person who fears.” As I have watched the news over the past weekend, I have observed people claiming to be Christians, spreading a message of doom and gloom. I cannot comprehend how anyone can possibly express the love of God while simultaneously preaching fear.
Finally, we must recognize what this change in law is and is not.
The Supreme Court made a ruling changing man’s law, but they did not change God’s law. Whatever you view as God’s commands remain unchanged. No court on earth has the power to revise that. We live in a culture that is constantly evolving yet we worship an unchanging God. Regardless of what you think of Friday’s ruling, please don’t forget that God is still the same today as He was Thursday and will be tomorrow.
The ruling dictates how the government views marriage, but not how the church views marriage. Despite clarion calls from FOX News, Mike Huckabee, and your distant relatives on facebook, we do still have freedom of religion in America. You are still free to attend whatever church you desire and those churches are still free to operate with whatever doctrine they desire.
This ruling changes the way the government treats the LBGT community, but it won’t change the way you treat them. If you want to be homophobic, that is still your right. If you want to believe that gays should not be allowed to get married, go ahead. If you think that homosexuality is a sin, you can continue to do so.
The Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, but it did not mandate it. No one is going to force you to attend or officiate a gay wedding. You will not be required to send gifts to gay couples that are getting married. No one is going to compel you to be gay.
The Court’s ruling may (as Franklin Graham alleges) be endorsing a sin, but it is not the government’s job to dictate what is sinful or holy. That role belongs to the church. When Jesus told Peter “I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven,” He was giving that authority to Peter and the other disciples, rather than the government. Just because the court says something is OK, doesn’t mean that it is moral or religiously permissible. It only means that the law allows it. The law is also imperfect. We are told, “no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law,” and, “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming — not the realities themselves.”
While we are on the topic of sin, we tend to forget other acts considered sins that are legal according to American law. Pre-marital sex, cohabitation between unmarried partners, divorce, extra-marital affairs, pornography, gossip, alcoholism, cussing, eating shellfish. To judge members of the LBGT community, we do so with a plank in our eye.
I’m not asking you to change your opinion about the Court’s ruling. All I ask is that you respond with grace.