Gay marriage. This is a very difficult and controversial issue. There are fiery voices on both sides of the debate that make it difficult to discuss respectfully. But respectful discussion is an integral part of life in the west. Problems begin to erupt when both sides toss out insults, instead of respectfully disagreeing.
The Supreme court legalized gay marriage in 2015. And much of the church is divided on this issue. How do Christians respond? What about religious liberty? It's difficult to deal with. I have strong views regarding this issue. And this topic definitely brings strong emotions to the surface for me.
But I don't hate or fear any individual with an LGBTQ preference. I have friends who hold such sexual views presently, and some who have previously held such views, but discarded them in pursuit of Jesus Christ. I don't hate them, or fear them. I'm not homophobic or bigoted. They are friends, and I love them. But I also don't agree with their behavior. And they are aware of that. As the church, the body of Christ on Earth, I think it's important to continue to invite such individuals to have a change of mind about their sinful behaviors. There is nothing new about that.
Homosexuality is a sin. Not because I say so, but because within the pages of the Bible it is clearly described as such. If anyone can suddenly claim that the Bible is no longer correct on this issue, then they might as well toss out the rest of the Bible with it. They might as well toss out the 66 books of the Bible and make up their own religion from the ground up. There really isn't any way to disambiguate the many scriptures regarding homosexuality.
It's discussed in the Old Testament and the New Testament and even clearly mentioned in the flagship book for all Protestants, the book of Romans (Leviticus 18:22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:24-28). Some will probably try to say that those scriptures regarding homosexuality are culturally bound. But there's no reason to think that. And if we can approach teachings in the Bible that we don't like, and discard them as "culturally bound" then which scripture is next on the cutting board? If a scripture doesn't agree with our inclinations, our idea of what's right, and we get to decide that they are "culturally bound" and therefore "no longer applicable" whose to say what scripture we will discard tomorrow? Eventually might we take the axe to "grace through faith in Jesus Christ" because it's not tolerant enough? Maybe we'll decide that Jesus Christ is culturally bound and no longer applicable?
It's a slippery slope. Two hundred years ago the world thought slavery was a good idea. Some even cited slavery in the Old Testament to garner biblical support for it. Of course slavery was wrong. And the culture changed. The culture will always have changing views. The Bible doesn't change. It is the word of God. And my opinion is immaterial. My opinion will tend to change based on what my heart tells me. But I'm not suppose to trust my heart as a Christian. I'm suppose to trust the Bible, and the Holy Spirit's inspiration toward it.
If Jesus were walking the Earth today, what would he say about gay marriage? I think if a man who had engaged in homosexual behavior was before a group of Christians who were condemning him, I think Jesus Christ would say to the crowd "Which of you who has committed no sin may cast the first stone at him." Then the crowd would leave. Then Jesus would say to the man "I do not condemn you. But go, and don't sin again."
If Jesus came upon a gay couple who wanted his endorsement for their practice, I think Jesus would explain to them God's design for marriage, which is between one man and one woman. As Matthew 19:4-5 (ESV) says "He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?"
I definitely understand why the church is so divided on the issue of gay marriage though. The culture has a firm grip on the mind of the public. They have brilliantly portrayed gay marriage as a civil rights issue. They have portrayed LGBTQ individuals as subjugated and driven to suicide by bigoted homophobic religious types. But is that narrative really truthful? I don't think it is. But the cool new thing to do is to support gay marriage. Facebook even offered an option for their users to change their pictures to the gay pride rainbow flag. Young people jumped right on that band wagon in droves. In my heart at times I wanted to jump on that band wagon too. My heart aches for the minimized and lost. I want to help those who are marginalized by society.
And we all read about the civil rights movements lead by Martin Luther King Jr. It seemed like the gay marriage issue was my generation's chance to stand for civil rights. And part of me, part of my heart wanted to join in on that. But my mind told me differently. And the word of God told me differently. My heart sways back and forth on issues, politics, society, but my firm rock is the word of God. I have to trust that above my emotionally based opinions.
But of course, I must love my neighbor, including those of LGBTQ persuasions. My love and respect for them as people will speak volumes. I can appose same sex marriage based on my biblical beliefs, while still respecting and loving my friends and neighbors who disagree with me. Even if it means I get called a "homophobe" and "bigot" every once and while by an inflamed activist who doesn't understand my position or my love for all people under God. We can disagree and still talk, be friends, and live as neighbors.