Once again, the US is talking about gay marriage. Amidst pre-school carpooling, laundry-folding, and making vats of spaghetti sauce, I catch snippets of Nina Totenberg’s commentary on Proposition 8 arguments to the Supreme Court. Many on Facebook have donned red “=” profile pictures. There are renewed calls for Christians to boycott my beloved Starbucks over Howard Schultz’s alleged chastisement of one traditional marriage supporter, telling him to sell his stock and go (the real scoop on that story can be found here.)
In the midst of this media blitz, let’s talk about how we should engage the world, Christian friends.
First, what the Bible says about marriage is relevant if you have acknowledged Christ as your Lord and King. The Bible is our primary tool for discipleship and using scripture to proclaim who God is and what He has done for your personally is the expectation for His children. But when it comes to public policy, most non-Christians feel it inappropriate to cite scripture in the discussion- just like you would likely reject the use of the Quran in arguing for the laws of our land. Despite the flawed perception that the US is a “Christian nation,” we are not a theocracy. Following God’s law is not something that we are to force on unbelievers (1 Cor. 5:13), rather obedience to God’s commands is how we, His followers, show God our love (see all of 1 John).
In this debate, it’s easy to throw down a Bible verse or say “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” but it is not effective or fair. Christians, it is important that we have a convincing, secular, and statistically-supported case when we advocate for traditional marriage. Yes, God ordained marriage. And if He did, we don’t just have to “take it on faith.” There will be measurable social, physical and economic indicators that support the goodness of His design. There will be drawbacks and deficiency when we deviate from it. Studying and understanding these factors is harder than quoting a bible verse here or there, but it is more effective.
This is one example of how to approach the issue. The status below was posted on Facebook yesterday followed by a thoughtful discussion:
A question for those of you who support “marriage equality”: Same-gender-headed households with children necessitate the denial of access/relationship to one (or both) of the biological parents. As far as the children are concerned, the family will always begin with brokenness (dispossession of a relationship with one parent) and loss of the benefit of input from both genders for life. The desires of the adults may be satisfied, but the natural rights of the child are denied from birth. Do the civil rights of adults negate the natural rights of children? Should we endorse and institutionalize a family structure that requires loss for a child? Which parent is unnecessary, the father or the mother?
Here are several posts that were written for the purpose of equipping you to engage in this discussion on civil policy:
- The five-part piece: You’re only against gay marriage because of your religion.
- On how gay marriage legislation effects children’s rights: Chapter Next.
- asktheBreeder- The question of discrimination.
- An excellent autobiographical piece that illustrates much of what is discussed in the above-referenced posts: Growing Up With Two Moms, The Untold Children’s View.
- An explanation of the two views of marriage currently being debated in the Supreme Court: Gay Marriage: Our Agreements Solve our Disagreements
Second, because you are an ambassador of Christ, how you engage this topic is as important as what you say. Ask God what He wants you to do. Perhaps it is not to initiate a conversation at all (especially on Facebook), but rather to “let your light shine before men,” in other ways and other venues (Matt. 5:16). But if you find yourself in a discussion on this topic, please conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. (Col. 4:5-6) When things get heated, stop. Do not continue the conversation until, before God, you have honestly blessed the one with whom you are speaking (Romans 12:14). Perhaps you need to bless them and pray for them, or with them, right then and there. Winning the argument is not God’s highest priority for your, them, or Him. Demonstrating what life with Christ looks like, especially in difficult situations, gives the greatest credibility to His Word and truth. Don’t miss the opportunity to die to yourself and magnify Christ to the world.
Third, take courage and stand firm. We are not called to be aggressors, but we are called to be immovable. Know your stuff, and then prepare yourself for combat (Ephesians 6:12-17). This life is a battle, not against people but against the powers of this dark world. When we are born of God, we overcome the world (1 John 5:4). But this takes courage.
I have seen Revelation 21:8 quoted in discussions on homosexuality to point out that the sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God. But look at what is listed first in that verse: “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
There is no attacking of people in the true Christian life, neither is there a shrinking from justice- in this case, advocating for children’s rights. This battle will be used by God to refine, purify and make us spotless until the time of the end (Daniel 11:35). And in the face of an increasingly hostile culture, we need courage to stand for Christ so that both His grace and His truth are made manifest.
Unlike the “=” sign for the support for marriage equality, there may not be a pithy symbol for those who would stand for man/woman marriage. There is only you. Living, breathing, imperfect you. You who are seeking to be salt and light and preserve a culture descending into all manner of brokenness. You who find strength as you sit at Christ’s feet daily so that He can direct every thought, word, and step. You whose mind must be trained on truth and whose heart must be set on love and justice. You who must always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks of you, and to do so with gentleness and respect.
Your method will give power to your message.