To Christians in California, Arizona and Florida (Vote NO on Marriage Amendment)

marriage

How do we truly love our neighbor? If I may contextualize a bit: Jesus says do as the homosexual prostitute did when he, not judging or condemning, had compassion and cared for the needs of the church-goer who had been left for dead in the alley outside of the ministry she worked at, even after a fellow church member and a pastor drove by. (LUKE 10:30-37).

Some in our community feel that loving your neighbor is best done by voting yes on Marriage Amendments that would restrict “marriage” to be recognized only between a man and a women; I’m fearful of that action. We must be very clear that a Yes Vote on those amendments (Prop 8, Amendment 2, Prop 102) is NOT a stand against homosexuality as sin, but a political statement concerning the rights of those already practicing homosexuality. 

Jesus’ public condemnations where almost always directed to the Religious authorities within the religious community that he was a part of. In the early church we see most rebuking and moral standards being dealt with within the church, not to non-Christians. Paul even says, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?” (I Cor. 5:12)

The Support for these amendments are coming primarily from churches. The loudest statements being made by churches are a statement to oppress homosexuals (it’s not to “support family,” just ask a homosexual what they think). If this is passed it will define in many minds a view of Christianity and Church in direct relation to this issue. Literally using a secular governments physical force and laws to mandate religious views.

How did Jesus address the idea of using physical punishment or the threat of to uphold morality? He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone.” (Jn. 8:7) We are not to use the law as a means to force adherence to our moral standards. You want to love your neighbor who is a homosexual? Go hang out with them, be with them. Work with GLBT Teens, sit at the bedside of someone dying of AIDs whose family has disowned him or her. That is where you can share Christ love.

Before we try and take the speck out of others eyes (and I think by “brothers” Jesus meant other believers), have we made sure there is not a plank in our own? I’m not sure exactly how we go about doing that but I have some ideas of statements that we could make to the greater community that would at least be a step in that direction.

I have two suggestions for possible proposals and resolutions that I think we can as a Christian body collectively pass and send to every major organization that is fighting for gay rights. First, as it relates to the support of marriage. I think we can be humble and admit that Christians have not been a very good example of the sanctity of marriage. We can let the world know that we know that we too are sinners and fail to live up to God’s ideals. We can explain to others that God is and will forever be the one who has defined marriage, and no matter what we the church or the rest of the world does we cannot change that. And we can commit to being an example in years to come of what true marriage is, as a union before God.

The second statement I think we can make, relates to the homosexual people who this impacts. We, the church, have been a horrible example of Christ love to the homosexual community for years. Christ would have sat by the bedside of dying homosexuals in the height of AIDs in this country, yet we stood outside with signs saying they would burn in hell (or we passively stood by while those statements were made). We can beg forgiveness from the homosexual community for the hurt and hatred that has been dealt to them by members of the Christian community. We can commit to spending much more time personally showing and spreading the love of Christ in genuine ways to people who practice homosexuality.

If you believe it is best and most loving to vote Yes on these marriage amendments, then I pray you are doing equally as much to assure the that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons know the love of Christ. My personal opinion? Vote NO on the Marriage amendments and start a movement within the church to be a shining example, a light on the hill, of what a God-ordained, Christ-centered, loving relationship looks like.

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24 thoughts on “To Christians in California, Arizona and Florida (Vote NO on Marriage Amendment)”

  1. “You want to love your neighbor who is a homosexual? Go hang out with them, be with them. Work with GLBT Teens, sit at the bedside of someone dying of AIDs whose family has disowned him or her. That is where you can share Christ love.”

    YES!

  2. Ariah,

    Thank you for this post. For years I have wondered where the love and compassion of Christ went when some Christians have repeatedly rejected, protested, and condemned homosexuals.

    I appreciate you expressing that these things are not for us to judge, and that you can still be compassionate toward someone even if you do not agree with their life choices.

    I really enjoy reading your blog; you are very objective and compassionate in your views and by sharing them I think you are setting a wonderful example.

    Best,

    Nicole

  3. That is the best argument I’ve read for voting no. Is it yours, or did you borrow from someone? I’m quite impressed.

    I’ve felt for a long time that we’re in an odd situation in the history of Christianity, having part in governing ourselves. I’ve also been of the mind that we have no place expecting non-Christians to live by “Christian” morals. That’s how so many Christians have ended up thinking that following Jesus means “being a good person”…whatever that is.

    Of course, the other problem is that for too long the only options have been to virulently oppose a particular behavior, or support it with the same energy. Neither really works for me.

    But this idea of leaving the definition of marriage to God, and not our constitutions, then doing our best to show Christ’s love regardless of the law, that’s powerful.

  4. Wow, thanks for all the encouragement everyone.

    To answer your question Charles, it is my own post and ideas. I don’t recall hearing similar arguments anywhere.

    I actually originally wrote much of this back in 2004 when I was at Wheaton College. Some of the student government was trying to send a campus statement affirming the Federal Marriage Amendment. It became quite a hot issue on campus and I discussed it (argued) with a number of folks. That’s when I sort of formed a number of these thoughts. Haven’t heard others pick up on any of it and spread it.
    So feel free to, if you think it’s worthwhile.

    peace.

  5. Ariah,

    I have to say that I respectfully disagree with parts of your assessment of the situation.

    “Go hang out with them, be with them. Work with GLBT Teens, sit at the bedside of someone dying of AIDs whose family has disowned him or her. That is where you can share Christ love.”

    Absolutely! That is right on IMO.

    However, I do not feel that allowing gay marriage to be legally sanctioned is the best way to show a Christ-like love to the world. I think it has to do with acceptance and tolerance. We can accept and love people without tolerating their lifestyle choices.

    The greatest example is from Christ himself. He loves and accepts me despite my sin. But he does not, cannot, tolerate my sin.

    Even taking an example from the advertisement on your blog about “Free Trade Footwear”. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that you do not agree with some shoe manufacturers means of production, so you do not support them by purchasing their product. This idea is the same as not supporting gay marriage.

    One example: By allowing gay marriage to be legally sanctioned, it allows for mandated financial support of gay couples in the terms of group insurance coverage, State employee insurance, etc.

    As a Christian, I believe it is should be my choice to financially support gay marriage (or not) and not government mandated. After all, it has been said a good gauge of your heart is to see where your time, talents, and tithes are spent.

    Just some thoughts.

  6. Jason,
    thanks for chiming in. I think I understand your distinction between acceptance and tolerance, but I’m not sure if that’s even what’s at issue here.

    Let’s sort of address your last part first, about “mandated financial support”. I’m not sure what particulars your referring to, but it seems a lot of states and on a federal level (both candidates support civil unions) already recognize “civil unions” which allow the same government “benefits” as legally recognized marriage (California).

    Does that make sense? The issue is primarily about recognizing couples legal as being “married”.

    P.S.
    But you bring up an interesting point. I would help advocate with Christians to remove all “benefits” that our tax dollars support as it relates to marriage if your bothered by what it says of our hearts. In other words, if we removed government benefits, then we wouldn’t be forced to support gay marriages, and no one would be forced to support heterosexual marriage either.

  7. I completely agree with everything you said! Couldn’t have said it better myself. And I’m glad to see that I’m not the only Christian who thinks so. (it’s certainly seemed that way to me these days!)

  8. I see your point. But, I think stopping anything over a disagreement is always bad. It’s like when you were a kid, and you and your brother are arguing over the last glass of kool-aid. You mom comes in and says “FINE! Then nobody gets it!” and pours it down the drain. Never a good solution.

    Now, kool-aid is trivial. Gay marriage is another beast.

    You mention of civil unions could greatly widen the scope of the argument on marriage in general. In the spirit trying to be succinct, I will try to get straight to the point.

    What defines “marriage”? A certificate? A nod of approval from the government? Or is the Lord God himself?

    At the end of the day, as Christian I feel it is completely wrong to liken in deed, meaning, and even basic nomenclature God’s great gift of marriage with an act/lifestyle He calls an abomination.

    For me, voting to approve of gay marriage would put me in the category of Romans 1:32 and that’s just not where I want to be.

  9. SO…let me join in the conversation by posing a question. If you believe a monogamous union between two gay people is ruining the sanctity of “marriage” what are your thoughts on non-believers getting married, or Christians getting divorced? Should those things be banned by our government as well??

  10. Jason, that’s my point exactly.

    “We can explain to others that God is and will forever be the one who has defined marriage, and no matter what we the church or the rest of the world does we cannot change that.”

    But, since we’ve been okay with a secular government using the term “marriage”, we shouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t used the way you might approve of. As Jamie points out, “marriage” is already legal used by non-Christians. And I guarantee it’s used by “slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful” people as well.

    I understand your afraid acknowledging homosexual people to be in legally-recognized committed monogamous relationships would put you in “the category of Romans 1:32”, but I’ve got news for you: you probably shouldn’t vote period. we’ve got far too much to take care of in the church to worry about those outside of it.

    We can start with all the stuff that is even furthermore “depraved” then the homosexuality your so opposed to. We can start by outlawing envy, strife, deceit, malice, and disobeying parents; or being senseless, faithless, heartless, or ruthless.
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans%201:28-32;&version=31;

    Might as well throw me in prison now.

  11. I feel the need to clarify a few things.

    “We can start with all the stuff that is even furthermore “depraved” then the homosexuality your so opposed to.”

    Two things.

    1. From my interpretation of scripture, I don’t think one sin can be more “depraved” than another. If you have any scripture references supporting the contrary, I would sincerely like to know and study them.

    2. I am opposed to all sin, especially my own.

    This debate is incredibly deep. Far too reaching to be contained in this forum. Before I continue, I want to offer a disclaimer of sorts. My purpose here is to contribute thoughts from another perspective. I just enjoy the dialogue. When all is done, I celebrate the fact the God is big enough to give everyone the freedom to choose. And this choice is offered from the depths of our origins. In the beginning, God gave us choice. We can choose Him, or not. We choose candidates. We choose policies in referendum votes. We choose daily to do the right thing, or at least try. We choose all the time. But it is worth remembering, God gave us consequence as well.

    God has called us, as Christians, to uphold truth and to uphold it regardless of personal politics. In my opinion, we are called to shape our culture and we can do that with the voice of our vote. While I agree that we need to “start a movement within the church to be a shining example, a light on the hill, of what a God-ordained, Christ-centered, loving relationship looks like”, I strongly believe that voting for something that God is clearly against is not the answer.

    And to Jamie: Of course I disagree with Christians that divorce, unless it’s over adultery (because that’s the exception Jesus acknowledged) and non-believer’s can be married (there are examples in scripture, 1 Cor 7).

    And finally, just to offer some more eloquent words than my own.

    http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/2004/177_Discerning_the_Will_of_God_Concerning_Homosexuality_and_Marriage/

  12. Jason,

    Sorry, when I looked back, I think my words in that last comment sounded to strong. I didn’t mean to sound attacking. Sorry for that.

    1. As to the more depraved comment, I was referring to the scripture you were referencing in context. After the oft referenced verses in Romans 1 about homosexuality (1:27), it says:
    “Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.”
    Note: this is after the verses about lustful unnatural sexual relations. It’s after the “furthermore” that it lists these many other sins and behaviors.
    I’m not arguing one sin is worse then the other, but it seems an accurate translation/interpretation that “furthermore” a “depraved mind”ed person will be doing these other things.
    Does that make sense?

    I read the John Piper sermon. as an aside, Piper has been extremely foundational in my faith and theology. I found most of his sermons fascinating, and I fully agree. I can even appreciate his reasoning for voting against an amendment, that all convictions, etc come from a worldview, I just disagree with what vote we should make from the Christian worldview.

    I find it odd the Piper did not address any of the other sins that are in the Romans 1 passage. He referenced the verse that I mentioned above, but his sermon seemed to imply that that verse was referencing just homosexuality, rather then the other behaviors after it. I know Piper swears by the ESV, so here are those verses from the ESV:
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans%201:26-32;&version=47;

    It doesn’t say “furthermore” but it does say “And” to start that section, and seems to me to still indicate what I said above.

    Your thoughts?

  13. Ariah,

    “Furthermore” is not an indication of degree, it’s the equivalent of saying, “And on top of that…”

    That list is not presented as the result of a depraved mind, it was an expansion (albeit incomplete) of the phrase “every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity.”

    Also notice that God “gave them over” to depraved minds. That means their minds were already depraved, and he decided to let them be, because they had chosen not to retain the knowledge of Him. You can see that in v. 21-22.

    Also notice that this last phrase the third in a succession of parallelisms. God gave them over to sinful desires of their hearts, shameful lusts, and depraved minds. Heart, soul, mind: The three things that we are meant to love God with. In verses 21-22 we see that those things were already focused inward, before God “gave them over.”

    I think the point is that everyone knows we’re against envy, strife, and malice. They know we’re against heartlessness and ruthlessness. But this can give the impression that Christians are not against homosexuality.

    That being said, I’m still undecided, because I don’t think laws can change people’s hearts or lead them to God. And isn’t that what we’re trying to do? I’d probably have to abstain if I lived in one of those states.

  14. @Charles,

    Thanks for the exegesis, it lent some new insight to the passage for me. I agree with you that it’s not an indication of degree. However, I do think with the parallels and the “And on top of that” it seems to indicate some sort of emphasis on that last part don’t you think? Not degree, but simply emphasis of some kind? And even if we don’t agree on emphasis we can agree, they are equal issues.

    As to the idea that “this can give the impression that Christians are not against homosexuality.” I can certainly assure you whole heartedly that the world knows that Christians are against homosexuality, I think they know it far too well.

    But I think you answer your own question with your following statement: “I don’t think laws can change people’s hearts or lead them to God.” The message, voting no, or abstaining, sends to homosexuals, is that Christians recognize that though they might disagree with others choices, we do not believe discrimination by the state is a way to carry out our beliefs.

  15. Just for the record, there ARE Christians out there who are *not* against homosexuality…loving, spirit-filled followers of Jesus that do not believe homosexuality is a sin. Just wanted to point out there are opposing views on this debate even within the Church.

    Peace,
    Jamie

  16. Jamie,
    If homosexuality is not a sin, what is it? To me sin is anything that is in opposition of God’s original plan for humanity. I don’t believe that homosexuality, stealing, lying, cheating, adultery, killing, pornography, gossiping, alcoholism, divorce, incest, anger, etc., etc. were part of God’s original intent for man. Everything that goes against God’s original plan when He first created life, is rooted in our separation from Him…in sin, and so it must be seen as sin I would think?! We are all lost in sin and our only hope is reconciliation with our Creator, through Christ Jesus; for the homosexual, for the one addicted to drugs, or alcohol, or pornography, and on and on goes the list! Sin is sin no matter the disguise it comes dressed in.
    God Bless!

  17. Alice,

    Honestly, I don’t know if homosexuality is sin or not. I am still struggling with that one. I was just pointing out there are *many* other people out there within the Church who feel with all their heart and soul it’s NOT sin and they are living true to their convictions in following Jesus. What I do know is that the Bible defines sin as “missing the mark”. What you or I say sin is really doesn’t change God’s definition.

    Honestly, I’m still very much wrestling with my views and ideas on homosexuality, but regardless of how I feel about it, I know with all certainity that we are called by God to love our neighbor as self…and that includes everyone in the GLBT community.

    God’s desire, his heart’s desire, is that the world will know we are His by our love. I think we all need to give that our best shot.

  18. Jamie,
    I wholeheartedly agree that we need to love the homosexual and everybody else dressed in the cloak of sin. I, myself, am searching for how that looks like (how it’s fleshed out) in today’s world where so many things seem to running amuck! Maybe it’s best to let sin have free reign and perhaps then all people will see how black life has become, and then maybe they’ll turn back to their Creator who stands ready with loving arms to welcome them home. Same sex marriage is not so much at stake here as the lost souls of mankind! It is all very disturbing to me to see how far humanity has fallen from God’s original intent, and keeps on falling at a rapid rate! Let the darkness become darker, so that our Light might shine brighter!

  19. Ariah, thank you for clearly expressing your understanding of the heart of God in the area of Judgement. I had not linked the question of legalizing gay relationship committment with Jesus’ strong statement about applying the punishment of law to sin as shown in the interaction with the woman caught in adultery. Thank you for revealing that to me.

    We will know a tree by its fruit. Have bans on gay marriage produced fruit of greater honoring and fidelity to heterosexual marriage? Have bans, as the one passed in my state of Wisconsin which forbids even civil unions or “anything comparable” in addition to “marriage, produced fruit of righteousness? Have we raised the bar in terms of society’s recognition of the sanctity of marriage? Have we seen gay people turn to Jesus because they are convicted of sin?

    I’ve been watching and what I have seen is deeper wounds among gay people who conclude that Christians hate them. “They hate me and they don’t know me,” I’ve heard said. “What have I ever done to those Christians?” Another gay friend loves Jesus. Sometimes she goes to an area church because she is hungry to sing worship to God – but she slips in the door and out again. No conversation. No relationships. Of course she feels false and uncomfortable participating in the church because she’s a lesbian.

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