A member of our church asked for my thoughts on the column “Ignorance” in the Spartanburg newspaper.
As a pastor, I frequently hear believers cite the four points against same-sex relationships mentioned in the article. I cringe when I hear believers utilize these arguments, but not for the same reasons the article points out.
First, let’s talk about convictions and our country. The founders of our nation understood that any rational person’s religious convictions would naturally influence all his decisions. They also believed that a person’s religious convictions should not be forcibly coerced or corrupted by any outside influence – especially from a government. Thus, they created a system which guaranteed that every man’s personal convictions could guide his decision-making, but that no one conviction could be officially sanctioned. That’s what the establishment clause is all about – no laws to establish a religion AND no laws to prohibit the free exercise of religion.
I stress this point because it means that in our country we need to try to understand a man’s convictions rather than belittle the man. The column “Ignorance” does not help Christians understand the central convictions of people living in same-sex relationships or living with same-sex attraction. The column also does not help others understand the deep religious convictions that motivate a Christian to promote traditional marriage or singleness above all other potential sexual relationships.
Second then, let’s try to understand why a Christian, like me, believes that traditional marriage represents a crucial point of Christian faith. Marriage, originates as the column points out in Genesis 2 as a response to God’s realization that it is not good for man to be alone. Man can respond to loneliness in selfish ways: with food, drugs, alcohol, friendships, work, material things, and all kinds of sexual relationships.
God’s answer to loneliness asks a man and woman to put aside selfish desires in order to put someone else first. You may think I am talking about putting the spouse first, but you would be wrong. A marriage that focuses merely on helping the other person, can end when that other person no longer desires help.
God asks us to put Him first either by committing to remain single to serve him, or by committing to serve Him with a spouse who is different in every way from us, even down to gender (1 Cor. 7). By ministering to a spouse different from us, we testify to his desire to serve and redeem those who are the most unlike Him. Ephesians 5:31-32 makes this commitment plain when Paul says that marriage is a mysterious witness to how Christ redeems the Church. Traditional marriage shows how God can redeem any sinner by joining him to the “sin-less” Christ.
My decision to promote traditional marriage or singleness over every other sexual relationship does not come because I hate gay people or sex. It does not come because I am ignorant of Christian history or the Bible’s message. My decision comes because I believe God offers selfish and sinful people redemption if they will turn and be united with Christ.
I hope that my words foster understanding. We should not be ignorant of each other’s convictions even if we do not agree on the types of marriage we promote.