This week, President Obama came out of the closet to say: "For me personally it is important for me to affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
And then the world imploded. Or you’d think it did based on the outraged reactions from conservatives and liberal Christians alike. Predictably, Fox Nation immediately condemned President Obama’s statement as a “Declar[ation of] War on Marriage”:
"OBAMA FLIP FLOPS, DECLARES WAR ON MARRIAGE"
And Rush Limbaugh echoed the same sentiment. (Do we have to count Rush Limbaugh as a Christian?) And of course, social media offered up this gem:
"You lost the Christian vote."
When I announced my support of President Obama on Twitter, this random non-follower told me I wasn’t actually a Christian:
"@DCDistrictDiva A Christian would not vote for a person endorsing man marrying man. Jesus certainly would not. Call yourself what you want."
And another person posted this message on Facebook:
"Obama supports gay marriage based on "his faith." This faith is either, juvenile, corrupted, or altogether false. http://t.co/KeHSHfun "
That last reaction is based on the rest of President Obama’s statement that the Golden Rule of Christianity — treat others as you want to be treated — led him to support legalizing same sex marriage:
“In the end the values that I care most deeply about and [Michelle] cares most deeply about is how we treat other people,” he said. “We are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing Himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule—treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president, and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president.”
How dare he?!
I am not disputing what the Bible says about homosexuality in any way. The text says what it says and says it more than once. I am not enough of a Bible scholar to make any argument for what else God could have possibly meant by including those statements repeatedly in the Bible and so I won’t. What I am saying is that what the Bible says about homosexuality should have no bearing on our reactions as Christians to gays and lesbians having the legal choice to marry in America, and here is my four-point Biblical explanation for that:
1) Matthew 7:12: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” It may be very hard for some Christians to put themselves in the shoes of gays and lesbians, so I’m not going to ask you to do that. But I will ask that you consider what it would be like if:
- Your husband or wife was forbidden by law from coming to your hospital bedside as you lay dying;
- Distant relatives were left to make decisions about your health care because your husband or wife wasn’t legally recognized;
- You were unable to have children and then because of your caste and not your character you are legally forbidden from adopting children with your husband or wife;
- You were forbidden from marrying the person you’ve chosen to love based upon the religious views of a Muslim / Buddhist / Taoist / Hindu /*insert religion that is not yours*.
For all of our Constitution’s original flaws, we can celebrate that We the People came together over time and made the Constitution better, including creating the First Amendment which prohibits the government from having any established religion. THIS IS A GOOD THING because your religion might not always be the religion of the majority at the moment. Though Christians in office should do their best to legislate in a Christian way (read: in a way that MEETS PEOPLE’S NEEDS, i.e. providing food, shelter, clothing, and health care), legislating the Bible is neither a good idea nor is it fundamentally Christian. Here’s why:
2) Revelation 3:20: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me”; 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”; and Joshua 24:15: “Choose you this day whom you will serve.”
There are some very important action words in these scriptures describing what Christ wants us to do in regards to Him: a) hear and open the door to Christ; b) DECIDE c) CHOOSE. Each of these scriptures underscores the principle theme of Christianity: it is a free-will CHOICE God grants to us. He does not force Himself onto us but desires that we would know Him and become so in love with Him that we would CHOOSE Him, CHOOSE His way, CHOOSE to honor Him with our life, our words, our deeds.
The choice for Christ is individual, it is intimate and extremely personal. God designed it that way and He did so for a reason. I don’t pretend to know WHY He didn’t just make us all good, obedient, non-sinning folks, but that’s obviously not for us to know. The important thing is that God gave us free will — not the government and not the world. As the song goes, “the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away!”
3) Mark 10:9: “Therefore, what God has put together, let no man separate.” Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 11:34: “And the REST will I set in order when I come.”
I know that some Christians are genuinely concerned that their own marriages will become void if gays and lesbians get married. Seriously, people, ”Let not your heart be trouble, neither let it be afraid.” If GOD joined you together, what does that say of the ultimate power and authority of the almighty God if someone else’s distant activities can separate you? Paul said he is CONVINCED that nothing can separate Him from God, and as Christians, there is no Biblical basis for us to feel like someone else’s activities can make us unholy. Our choice to react to someone else’s activities is the ONLY thing that can make us unholy in the sight of God.
God said the REST — everything not perfectly clear in the Bible — He will set in order when He comes back for us. IfHE has a problem with ANY kind of sin, please believe Him when He says He’ll handle it.
4) Acts 2:42-47: ”They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If Christians really want to have a “Christian nation,” they’ll act like it. And by “act,” I mean Acts 2:41-47, above. Because the believers in the first church in Acts were so generous and kind and loving to one another, providing and sacrificing for one another, the LORD touched the hearts of those around them and ADDED Christians to their numbers DAILY. That’s the sign of real Christianity. Real Christianity is contagious! If your behavior is not rubbing off on others, check the water cause something in it ain’t clean. If we want people to live a Christian life and abide by the Bible with the spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit convicting them, we kind of have to do those things ourselves first!
I don’t want to come across as too hard on Christians who are upset about President Obama’s statement supporting same-sex marriage. I understand how difficult it is for Christians who just want to live by the Bible to navigate exactly what we’re supposed to do in every situation that the Bible has not clearly laid out for us. We ARE supposed to call out other Christians when they say something wrong in the name of Christ. We ARE supposed to call out sin in love to those with receptive ears. But this is an issue that is not as black and white as “thou shalt not have pre-marital sex” (which, ironically, is an issue that does NOT seem to inspire in Christians a desire to picket or amend the Constitution).
But what is real is that there are people in this country who are hurting. There are kids who are committing suicide because of the way they are being treated and that is CLEARLY not what God wants for any of His children to do, since Christ came that we might have LIFE and have it more abundantly. So as straight Christians (and some of you extra hype people that might be in the closet yourselves) something’s got to give.
I don’t pretend to know exactly how Christians should navigate these muddy waters of legislating in a Christian way but NOT legislating the Bible. It’s a tightrope walk, to be sure. But I do know that Christ has called us to feed His sheep, clothe them, visit them in jail, shelter them, and provide for their most basic needs: to feel loved and cared for and respected as human beings. We are equally God’s children and as such, we are all equally eligible to receive the grace, peace, love, forgiveness and hope of Christ. If we as Christians — whether in our policies as legislators or our daily lives — strive to remember these things and do as President Obama has done, “treat people the way you want to be treated,” we will consistently please God. And isn’t that the whole point anyway?
Peace and blessings to everyone as they choose their life paths based on their convictions. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Oh yeah, and we’re voting for Obama.