A Few (More) Myths About the Gay Marriage Debate

(This is a follow-up to my previous post on this blog site – for myths 1,2, and 3, scroll down.) 

#4  The religious beliefs of some people (i.e., the belief that homosexuality is wrong) should not be imposed on gays who want to marry.

The idea that religion should only be private and individual has an incredible amount of traction right now, among Christians and non-Christians alike. Meanwhile, the idea that society should accept and institutionalize a sexual behavior and unprecedented change in family structure simply because it feels right to a small number of people is, according to the pollsters, incredibly popular.

Is it right to push people’s religious beliefs out of the public square, and replace them with people’s feelings about their sexuality? If someone can give me the philosophical or ethical reasoning as to why same-sex marriage is right and will make our society stronger, I would truly be interested to hear the arguments. But what I hear is mainly a group of people saying, “I feel this desire, and I’ve felt it for a long time. It feels right to me and others who are like me.” Does that mean we should write it into our laws and make it part of the fabric of our society?

Why do this group’s feelings about what’s right have greater weight than the physical realities of gender and reproduction, as well as a centuries-old tradition of moral standards based in both Scripture/religious belief and reason? If we were talking about reinstituting “sodomy laws,” then we could have a conversation about religion intruding on private lives. But what we actually have is the private sexuality and romantic lives of a few seeking to institutionalize their view of family, while the religious community with it’s deep intellectual and moral tradition is expected to either accept it or shut up.

Which of these two sources of wisdom is better to draw on in deciding what one of the most foundational institutions of our society should look like?

#5   Because some people have felt same-sex attraction most of their lives, we must accept that they should act on that attraction and treat it as normal.

I will not dispute the idea that some are born with (or acquire at an early age) a tendency toward same-sex attraction. It may well be true – and we at least have a lot of anecdotal evidence that supports this idea. But I also think that some people are born with (or acquire at an early age) a tendency to be violent, or to become alcoholics. In the latter cases, we expect people to correct those desires – to exercise self-control, to engage in counseling to learn how to break free of these desires. But on this issue, we have ruled out any kind of self-control or correction.

In taking a Christian view on the issue, we cannot rule out one of the esteemed Christian virtues, self-control (which is also said to be a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in Galatians 5:22-23), in order to justify a sexual behavior which is prohibited in God’s word. But this is precisely one of the assumptions undergirding the movement to allow gay and lesbian relationships to be called “marriage.”

#6  Christians are called to love, and the best way to love LGBT community is by supporting their right to marry. Or at least, the church should avoid talking about it, because some people get offended when anyone says homosexuality is wrong.

The first statement is true: Christians are called to love; but the second statement shows that we have a distorted view of love, not grounded in Biblical teaching. In Romans chapter 1:21-31, Paul talks about the condemnation people bring on themselves by putting various things in the place of God – that is, by setting up created things as idols (false gods). He says that, because people look to authorities other than God, they then pursue desires that contradict the way God intended things to be. The first example he gives is homosexuality, followed by a whole list of other things like greed, envy, gossip and arrogance. The whole idea is that, whether we as humans worship an animal or a statue, or whether we follow our desires when they contradict God’s design for humanity, we are bringing condemnation on ourselves if we are not acknowledging him. At this point, we have been given over to the control of our desires, and have “exchanged the truth for a lie” (Rom 1:24-25).

I say all that to ask: if you love someone, do you want them to live in slavery to their own desires? Do you want them to follow a lie as if it were truth? It’s a well-worn analogy, but would a person who loved a child let that child touch a hot burner on the stove, without trying to stop him or her with a warning about how dangerous and painful it is?

If we call ourselves Christians, yet support making a form of idolatry and slavery to sin into an institution, we are being counterproductive to our calling to share with the world the freedom from sin and idolatry offered by Jesus in the gospel. If we as followers of Jesus keep silent about sin, we leave people who are lost – just as lost as we were before we met Christ – thinking that they’re actually okay, because we are silent about what many others in the culture are affirming.

The great question facing the church is how to speak and act in a way that humbly and lovingly points out that the homosexual lifestyle is one of the many ways people find themselves mired in falsehood and enslaved to sin. While we as the church have, sadly, often left out the humble and loving part of that equation, many people are genuinely seeking to approach the issue with these very attitudes. Articulating gospel truth in this way is something I attempted to do in an earlier blog post here.

(I also recommend Doug Hankin’s thoughts on how Christians might respond.)