"The Gays Are Coming!": Christian Cultural Warefare...

One of my friends recently put a "status" on Facebook, celebrating the passing of California's Prop. 8, banning gay marriage. He suggested that it was a sign of surprising "morality" in California.

Yesterday, on the first Sunday after a gay marriage ban passed in California, activists rallied in defiance, including hundreds of protesters outside Rick Warren's Saddleback megachurch, where Barack Obama and John McCain appeared together last summer for a "faith forum."

  • Is this type of "morality legislation" the role Christian churches should be taking?
  • Is the Kingdom of God furthered by suppressing supposed sins of the culture at large?
  • Is the church grown, enriched and strengthened by fighting these battles?
  • Are we fulfilling Christ's commission when we focus our energies on attacking what is wrong?

Some questions I'd enjoy response to,


Brandon K. Baker said...

Peter, an absolutely fantastic topic to tackle in the wake of three states writing gay marriage bans into their constitutions. I will try to outline my beliefs on the subject as succinctly as possible.

1. Marriage is not the corporate institution that some would have us believe. When two people get married they are not joining an exclusive club. Marriage is a relationship between two people (and as they see fit, God). The "institution" or marriage is not threatened by homosexuality any more than it is by infidelity, dishonesty, or apathy.

2. Religious opposition to gay marriage rests on the belief that homosexuality is immoral. The immorality of homosexuality as outlined by the Bible is also in question. There are many credible scholars who maintain that many seemingly anti-homosexual verses in the Bible have been mistranslated over the years in an agenda against homosexuality. Many references to homosexuality refer not to loving consensual relationships but child molestation and rebellious sexual behavior.

3. C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, "My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognize that the majority of British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members." While Lewis was writing in reference to the Church's meddling in divorce legislation, I think his logic applies to our current situation. I might go so far as to say that the government should not give out marriage certificates to any couples, straight or gay. The term civil union should apply to all people and then churches, synagogues, mosques and other institutions can make their own decisions about whom they will and won't marry in their buildings.

This is a very abbreviated overview of my opinion on the matter, but I think many of my arguments hold water. However, arguments aside, I do think that Christians have an obligation to live according to the command, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." If the proverbial shoe were on the other foot, I would want the emancipation of marriage for straight couples. God calls us to love, not to govern.

Peter said...

I've gotta say, I'm REALLY impressed with your comments here, and moved. Thank you... don't really have anything to add. Even in brevity, you've summed this up better than most theologians and pundits I've read.

Emily's Man said...

What a wonderful summery. Really well written and thought out!

Martin said...

Re #3:I agree with the CS Lewis quote. The CNN article your title links to contains what I think is clearly a mistake that fails to 'get' #3. Here is the quote: "The church announced that while it could no longer legally marry same-sex couples, it would continue blessing gay civil unions." I do not believe that the police would come in and stop the church from performing any marriage ceremony, and (my cynical self) I do not believe that the church thinks that either. If their word 'legally' means that they think that the state would no longer honor such a ceremony, yea - pfft so what.
Re #2: I can't believe that any religious person felt that "Christ instructed me to stop other people from doing 'x'". Jesus never said anything like that. This is the same idea as (I think) holds for "religious wars". Religious wars were wars done by religious people, against people of another religion. They were not wars described as being done under obedience to their scripture, and under the influence of their god (right?)

Martin said...

More cynicism regarding the pastor of church quoted above, the pastor of the 4,000-member All Saints Church in Pasadena:
If prop 8 had covered all marriage, would All Saints have stopped performing all marriage ceremonies?
Or if it had said: officials will be barred from distributing holy communion on Sundays, would they then just hand out bread from then on?

Jen said...

I appreciate your articulate and thoughtful point of view on this subject.
I want to relate your second point to the discussion you and I have been engaged in elsewhere regarding gender.
The immorality of homosexuality as outlined by the Bible is also in question. There are many credible scholars who maintain that many seemingly anti-homosexual verses in the Bible have been mistranslated over the years in an agenda against homosexuality.
I could just as easily substitute "patriarchy" or "inequality" in the places you've used homosexuality.
The institution of patriarchy has been responsible for the perpetuation of patriarchy through Biblical text (in writing and in interpretation). Letty Russell says, "The keystone of misogynist religion and of women's oppression is the Bible."
I would say the same is true of the "immorality" of homosexuality. And for me, the two are inextricably connected.

Martin said...

1.Isn't the phrase "in an agenda against homosexuality" over-reaching? For me, it only weakens the argument, since it goes to motivation.

2.Is the claim that some are mistranslated, while others are translated correctly?

3.The Netflix on "The Dark Ages" says that marriage was not thought of as between one man and one woman during the dark ages, and not before then I infer. The example given was Charlemagne.

Peter said...

Martin, thanks for your visit and illuminating comments. I appreciate your "cynicism."

I would argue from personal experience, when you said: I can't believe that any religious person felt that "Christ instructed me to stop other people from doing 'x'".

I have actively been a part of churches where this agenda was overt, militant, and underlying most of the church theology and practices. Unfortunately, fundamentalism is largely about imposing a set of religious ideologies on others.

Christ obviously did not preach such a message. Sadly, many churches do.

Monk-in-Training said...

It seems to me that Jesus told us to focus on our own sins (log) rather than the sins of others (speck). While living in a culture that had rampant and open sexual expressions that we can barely even imagine, Jesus focused on justice for the poor, etc.

And besides NOTHING will convince me that gay marriage would do more damage to the family than divorce, alcohol and drugs have already done.

rjlight said...

Thank you all for the great discussion. It is nice to hear people who love the Lord think this out instead of the knee-jerk reaction to say Yes to 8. It is sad that so many christians haven't taken the time to think through this.

Peter said...

Monk-in-Training, I totally agree. Always good to see you here!

Thanks for the visit. I too am blessed by the thoughtfulness of the folks who stick around here. We are so often too-hasty - so quick to step ahead of the Holy Spirit.


David Henson said...

Yup, ban marriage. All marriage. It's essentially a religious rite. The irony with the same-sex marriage movement (which I support) is that you have a lot of people normally militantly for the separation of church and state now arguing for the union of the two as a central goal for social change.

Prayer in schools? Hell no. Marriage in the courthouse? Hell yes.

Ironic, no?

Peter said...

David, thanks for the visit - I just checked out your site and appreciate a lot of what you're writing. I see you're a member of the CCBlogs network.

The inconsistencies you're pointing out here are just more reasons why I'm right there with you. The LAST place I want government is dictating my relational rights before God Almighty!

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