As of the recent Supreme Court decision, most pastors have felt the need if not the obligation to weigh in on the topic of gay marriage. First, I would like to say, if this decision has been joyfully anticipated by you, that I am very happy for you in many ways. I know that you have been wounded, that you have struggled with acceptance, and the need to accept yourself as gay seems fundamental to your happiness in life. That being the case, gay marriage symbolizes a milestone that will bring normalness, satisfaction and the end of all that has been done to you that was wrong. You will finally be accepted by yourself and others.
Would that it were true.
Apart from the fact that marriage, in and of itself, is rarely recommended as a tool for ultimate happiness for anyone, since it takes work and includes commitment and exclusiveness and compromise and a lot of other hard things–giving rise to painful expressions like: “the honeymoon is over” and “in it for the long haul.” Even apart from that, many cannot help feeling that there is more to the gay marriage dream than just wedded bliss–and the blessing of the state. Some indeed believe “I do” is the be-all, end-all, of the agenda. We have achieved our goal.
Nevertheless, in looking about, it is easier to feel, somewhat uneasily, that gay marriage is a mere point on an agenda, and we are riding on some social movement that we have not seen the end of. They came, they saw, they conquered–that sort of thing. And what comes next? Most “Christians” feel it is is not just equality, but there really is an us and them, and they still want something from us.
There is this phenomenon called mass and motion. What started with the Stonewall and White Night riots has gathered momentum. From the certainty of victimhood, there is now a place in the mainstream for gays and lesbians. That is the equality part. But what is the other side of the coin here? Why aren’t we all happy being “normal”?
Why is it now that straight people, particularly “Christians,” are so often feeling “bullied”? For example, while gay political influence has attained the level of power to affect any public opinion, any other position becomes known as the enemy of human rights. The Pope himself is not immune.
What about those who vote “no,” against gay marriage, with their conscience? Although the dissenting voices in Supreme Court decisions rarely get any notice, in this case, they have drawn more attention and not to mention derision, than the majority opinions.
Is it really correct to say there are two sides to an issue when one wants to bury the other? Ask the former Miss California, who did not become Miss USA, because she gave a faith-based answer on gay marriage.
Yes, if you think in terms of retribution, there is always room for payback. Not too long ago voices from the “Christian Right” said some terrible things about gays. Most of these voices have died out. In addition, they were very un-Christian things, that Christ Himself would have been the first to condemn, He who ate with outcasts and spoke harshly to the hypocrites and sanctimonious.
So here we are, let’s face it, in the middle of a Culture War, and guess who’s considered normal now? If you say “everybody,” you know nothing about war. Maybe once normal was the side made up of Christians, but today they are guilty of “outmoded, archaic, politically incorrect beliefs,” like belief in an inconvenient God. On the other side, we find not just a”normal” other, but the “Gay Agenda,” as “Christians” call it, the rising tide.
Rules for the Christian side of things
Well, we happen to be on the former side, and regardless of how unpopular and politically incorrect, there we stay. We don’t wa nt to be “Christians” but Christians, in that timeless direction of Christ to “love one another.” Fortunately, too, we are already Outcasts here. But if we strive to be the kind of Christians that follow Jesus, it’s because it’s Him we want everyone to know, who He really is. Two things Jesus tells us that are absolutely necessary to stem this tide of hostility and conflict:
1. We don’t judge. This involves seeing human beings instead of our own perspective, looking into others’ eyes and not their behaviors which displease us. Here is what Jesus said:
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” [Matt 7:1-3 MSG]
If that doesn’t nail it, what does? It’s hard, my Christian brothers and sisters, but we have been Outcasts ourselves, Capital-S Sinners. We cannot afford to approach our gay brothers and sisters with the self righteousness of dry drunks.
2. We are to love our brothers and sisters. Not love, as in eros. But love as in agape.
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” [Matt. 22:37-40 MSG]
So ok, you might think you can qualify this. One, you are still working on loving yourself, and that is not going too well. As for Two, what others? All others? Seriously? You’re having enough trouble with just your neighbor.
As for loving yourself, we will work on that more later. Enough to say, God loves you.
As for loving others, that would be the rest of the world, not just Christians, but those outside, the ones who are trying right now to tell us what they think God is really saying. They are the harvest.
Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, His heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” He said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!” [Matt. 9:36-38]
He was praying for you. Maybe you think you don’t want to be harvested. Jesus has this love thing going, where He thinks of what is coming and that you will prefer, in the end, the face of God. And here you are. And here we are.
We can talk about Marriage in another post.