Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that gay marriage has been at the top of the news headlines. On Tuesday, voters in North Carolina overwhelmingly approved an amendment to their constitution affirming traditional marriage. And on Wednesday, President Obama, somewhat reluctantly, affirmed the right of homosexuals to get married.
This is a tough, sensitive issue that didn’t begin with President Obama, but bubbled up from the culture. In my view, this was a battle that the church lost years ago, the product of a pragmatic evangelicalism that offered a “lowest common denominator” Christianity heavy on personal happiness and short on gospel proclamation and spiritual depth. So now we face a hollowed-out culture that has rejected Biblical norms because they never knew them in the first place. I also think evangelicals have often been sloppy in their political engagement, making their political opposition personal to particular politicians and waging unnecessary fights that have diluted their influence.
But enough of what I think. Here are five really great reads on the subject of gay marriage:
1)How to Win the Public on Homosexuality – Collin Hansen – Gospel Coalition
We’re fighting today over authority, yes, but it’s not straightforwardly biblical. Many gay-rights advocates have excused themselves behind a professed love of God’s Word. You won’t likely win a debate with them by citing Bible verses they’ve been trained to explain away. Rather, we’re losing a more fundamental struggle over the very definition of God. Straight or gay, Reggie or Brett, we’re not satisfied with a God who calls us sinners. Who calls on us to deny ourselves. Who calls our gaze heavenward to receive his blessing: “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14).
I’ve spoken to a number of conservative legal scholars about the subject, and I’ve always heard the same thing: the church lost the battle over same sex marriage three decades ago. How, you ask? Because the church was silent when state after state passed no-fault divorce laws. These bills essentially removed the state from any interest in preserving or defining marriage. No fault divorce laws defined marriage as an agreement between two individuals that may be entered or dissolved as the individuals desire without state interference or prejudice.
3) 5 Reasons Christians Should Continue to Oppose Gay Marriage - Kevin DeYoung
The temptation, then, is for Christians go silent and give up the marriage fight: “It’s no use staying in this battle,” we think to ourselves. “We don’t have to change our personal position. We’ll keep speaking the truth and upholding the Bible in our churches, but getting worked up over gay marriage in the public square is counter productive. It’s a waste of time. It makes us look bad. It ruins our witness. And we’ve already lost. Time to throw in the towel.” I understand that temptation. It is an easier way. But I do not think it is the right way, the God glorifying way, or the way of love.
Homosexuality is not an easy issue. Christians have said a lot of unhelpful things about the subject over the years– but that does not mean we cannot say helpful things now. The most helpful truth is the biblical truth. In the midst of a complicated issue, we need to admit to poor engagement in the past, speak of the complexities of the issues involved, but always point to biblical truth and change that can be found in Christ.
As this happens, faithful churches must be very clear about God’s design for marriage. We must do so knowing that the message of Holy Scripture is radically different from the society around us. As all kinds of people show up in our churches, we must show love AND speak truth in a way that honors all of God’s Word. This will not be easy. But if we care about people we must do both.
As much as I disagree with this president’s method of interpreting the Bible, I am still commanded to pray for him and his advisors—and I will. Yet at the same time, I have the right and privilege to elect wiser leaders for the days ahead.