I could not remain silent after constantly seeing the mindless connection of bigotry with the widely held Christian position on marriage. It is becoming more and more common to portray the Christian view of marriage as bigoted. This is a deeply flawed point of view. And it is extremely dangerous because it violently polarizes good people on both sides and endangers the religious freedom of Christians.
This is not how the issue should be framed.
I wrote about “gay marriage” and this flawed logic on my blog last week and I am still reeling from the aftermath. Heated arguments with friends on Facebook. New Twitter followers who keep tabs on hateful people like me. Yikes. I am not the kind of person who likes to get involved in these things. Or, ok, maybe I am. But I am not the kind of person who likes to get involved in this particular issue.
I think there are a lot of Christians out there who feel the same way. Like me, you probably pulled up your oars for a while and thought, “Heck, there is a lot of discrimination and hatred against homosexual people. I’m against that and I am glad that people are fighting to change it. I know in my heart that the Christian teaching on marriage is true but why talk about that when homosexual people are fighting for the right to be treated fairly and with dignity?”
But this past week, I suddenly realized that I, along with many other Christians, have stopped rowing for way too long. We are all on a boat, clutching our oars, heading straight for the precipice of a waterfall. If we do not begin to speak out in love, our point of view on the beauty and value of marriage is going to become one for the history books. Christians will be unfairly counted as the new racists of the 21stcentury and the criminalization of teaching the Christian view of marriage will not be far behind.
So, what should we do?
Here are some ideas to get the discussion rolling:
1. Don’t Mix Issues – Young people are not on board. The Christian point of view has been successfully connected with bigotry and they aren’t joining us on that boat. I don’t blame them. We need to work on framing this in a way they understand. To me, that means we must stop conflating the issue of marriage and the sinfulness of homosexual behavior. We are not against same-sex marriage because we believe homosexual behavior is a sin. We are against same-sex marriage because we believe marriage excludes any other human relationships, sinful or not. Marriage speaks for itself.
2. Introduce Nuance and Subtlety – gasp! – How can we ensure that same-sex attracted people are not discriminated against while at the same time protecting marriage? That’s right, I said it. We should be concerned about their rights too. Christians cannot just be on the defensive. We need to promote a resolution of this issue from a uniquely Christian point of view. There is a reason the “gay rights” movement happened and it was not to just legitimize homosexual behavior. It was a response to violence and hate against a marginalized group of people, many of whom have been wounded and have suffered very much. If we can’t see that, then we are missing a very important part of this issue. As Christians, we are in a unique position to promote the human dignity of all.
3. Suggest Possible Solutions – If not marriage, what? What do we propose to address this very real problem in society? Should there be some kind of legal recognition of homosexual relationships? We may not agree with people who become involved in these relationships but that does not mean that, as a society it, makes sense to pretend they do not exist. It would make our argument a lot more effective if we put forth viable, realistic solutions.
4. Silent Christians Need to Start Talking – We need the silent Christians. The ones who snuck off to Chick-fil-A on Thursday, not because they like fast food, but because they sense something is starting to go wrong, very wrong. The ones who have homosexual friends and love their homosexual friends. The ones who don’t want to talk because it might offend. These are the people who are going to bring balance and gentleness to this discussion. You do not have to know all the right answers. In fact, it is better if you know you don’t have all the right answers. All you need is humility and love – this will be much more powerful than the right answers.
Nothing is more difficult than to be seen as a bigot. It is everything antithetical to being a Christian. But if we continue to pull our oars up and keep coasting, then the Christian point of view on marriage will be criminalized in the future. It is already happening all around the world. In Canada, Scotland, Spain, and many other countries priests and ministers who speak in support of the Christian view of marriage are under the threat of lawsuits, and jail time.
So, are we ready to put down the oars? Let’s bring balance, love, peace, and truth to this vitriolic debate.
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/tnoble2.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Theresa Noble is a postulant, aka nun in training, with a religious congregation of sisters in the US. She left her job in California with eBay to follow God two years ago. She currently lives in a convent in St. Louis where she prays, evangelizes, bakes bread and blogs at pursuedbytruth.blogspot.com.[/author_info] [/author]