I am often asked as a Pastor what my views are on gay marriage. The issue is once again in the press with President Obama in the States endorsing gay marriage and advocates in Australia taking to the streets. When people ask for my opinion they are often looking for a black and white for or against answer. I believe however that the Christian response is perhaps more nuanced. Some things to consider (in no particular order).
- While the values of loving our neighbour, compassion, doing to others as you would have done to yourself and so on are the higher values of scripture, it is hard to argue from a biblically orthodox position that God endorses homosexual behaviour (see Romans 1:21-27 amongst others)
- Christians are in their rights to advocate for legislation which they believe are biblical values if they are deemed to be universal and for the common good. Do not murder, do not steal are obvious, but we have also seen some great examples of this recently with Christians advocating for an increase in foreign aid, pokies reform, advertising standards etc
- What is more tricky is legislating around sexual ethics. While we may believe that gay marriage is outside of a biblical understanding of marriage, do Christians have the right to deny what a large percentage of society now deems morally acceptable?
- Is homosexuality a pastoral issue or a legal issue? I have huge empathy for gay people who clearly have homosexual inclinations. If we can just be honest for a second, I think it is tough either way. To remain a homosexual is difficult but to deny who you are is equally difficult. Any Christian who gets outside of the bubble will know the struggle that many people face with their sexuality (straight, gay or otherwise)
- Further, if gay marriage is legislated will western civilization (as some Christians have claimed) crumble into a moral quagmire? This does not seem to be the case in countries that have already changed the legal definition of marriage.
- Should Christians get our own backyard cleaned up before we start denouncing the immorality of others? Are the morals of the bible directed mainly towards those who are in Christ or are they expected to be followed by all humanity?
Like President Obama I am ok to say that my views are evolving. I am not at a place where I believe that homosexuality is God’s best for any human. Despite this I believe that gay marriage is inevitable and that Christians may be better off leaving this issue alone. Have we already lost a generation who will not listen to the amazing news of the gospel because they view Christians as intolerant?
The Gospel initially burst forth in the world through a Spirit filled, compassionate church that undermined a morally and spiritually pluralistic Roman world through the way they lived. It pointed towards a saviour who made people whole, forgave sinners (us) and valued everyone as created in the image of God. Perhaps communities of love, hospitality and generosity speak louder than placard waving Christians denouncing others sexual ethics.
So what is my view? Hmm… Well I don’t support gay marriage in the sense of advocating for a change in the legal definition of marriage, but nor do I join those who would fight to deny gay couples the right to marriage. Is this a cop out? Maybe, but that is where I stand. And in the meantime I am trying to listen to God, listen to my neighbour, to seek wisdom and to love well.