There are several social issues in my current western secular society that are at odds with what my church teaches. The current one is over gay marriage.
My church had a sermon series a few weeks ago about current issues and the Bible’s response to them. None of them had anything like clean and clear answers from scripture. This was kind of to be expected as the Bible is tightly involved with its original target contexts, a detail us modern folk ignore to our peril. Predictably, though, one of them was about homosexual relations and by extension gay marriage.
A knee-jerk reaction from the same place as what my church believes would say that homosexual relationships are un-scriptural (and so therefore is gay marriage). Truth be told, there is little in the Bible about this. The Mosaic prohibition is actually unclear, for a start, and even Paul’s admonitions are targetted at a precise and specific cultural problem. Neither of these were played up in the sermon, though I have to say this wasn’t a huge surprise. Instead, we heard about other secular data about why raising children is best done by a heterosexual couple.
I have to say I am ambivalent about gay marriage. I know several people whose sexual tastes run in that direction. Mine doesn’t – I’ve spent some time understanding my own sexuality and I’m definitely hetero. But I think I can understand why gay people want to marry. So I’m largely in favour of gay secular civil unions.
Where it gets tricky is the intersection of this and the church.
Various church groups have generally come out opposed to gay marriage. Whilst I understand their opposition, the way it is presented to the non-secular world is quite alien to the way Jesus worked. It is a lobbying-type approach to lawmakers, basically. That’s not really all that Christian.
However, grass-roots type of persuasion is going to face the same battles as evangelism already does. And those in favour of gay marriage generally play the discrimination card, which is understandable, as well as the personal choice card, which is a little more problematic. I can just tell that personal appeals along the lines of what is statistically better for raising a family is going to meet with resistance, because that takes us back to the lobbying approach: which is basically the church-goers telling the non-church-goers What To Do.
And whilst I’m on statistics, there is a good chance that making gay civil unions legal will, sooner or later, mean there will be pressure on the church to sanction gay church marriages. The start of a slippery slope, if you will.
It is for this reason, I’m not completely sold on gay civil unions.
And none of this even looks at whether Scripture might even permit gay marriage in the first place.
Nor the fact that homosexuality as a “lifestyle option” didn’t exist just a hundred years ago. And thousands of years ago, it was part of society in ways we just don’t understand.