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Sunday, October 10, 2004

Why we should support gay marriage

I am going to stick my neck out. I am going to spell out the ultimate ramification of our commitment as God-followers to love our gay neighbor. But before I do, let me say that I know that there are a lot of legal, political and religious ramifications in this issue, and I know that it is not clear cut, but I do believe that as wholly devoted followers of Christ, we should support the gay marriage legislation. It is the right thing to do.

Too often we think this is merely a religious issue, and that if we were to support gay marriage, we are condoning sin. I think we must go beyond the sexual act itself, and see gay people as who they are: human beings who are very much like us, trying to make sense of their place in the world, their relationship with God's other creatures, and their relationship with their Creator.

Putting the sin question aside, let's just look at the legal aspect about gay marriage. It is an issue about individual rights. In the Loving Vs Virginia (1967)
case, the United States Supreme court argued that:
"...the freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness of free men. Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man' fundamental to our very existence and survival. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Consititution, the freedom to marry, or not to marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State."
We only need to replace references to race with gender, and it becomes clear that this is a rights issue and not an issue about sexual sin. If I support gay marriage, I am not saying that I accept that my gay friends are not sinning when they engage in sinful acts. I am saying, rather that I respect them as God's creatures deserving all the legal and individual rights that this nation has fought so hard for, and that I am ready to lay down my life to protect their rights.

By rejecting their basic human rights, we who represent their Creator are clouding the issues and possibly blinding them to more important ones. We may be causing them to fail to see that they, too are loved by their Creator. Instead, if we supported their rights, we will demonstrate that we are representatives of their Creator and we love them for who they are.

Let me put it differently. Let's imagine that I have a Muslim neighbor and that the government has a legislation forbidding the practice of Islam. As a follower of Christ, I ought to fight tooth and nail in order to win my neighbor's right to practice his religion freely, even if I do not accept that his religious beliefs and practices are true and right.

The point is, we in fact accept freedom of religion even though by doing so, we indirectly violate the first of the commandments. Why is it that we are so afraid of indirectly violating the seventh? Perhaps it is more a commentary about the kind of society we live in than about our religious beliefs or lack thereof. We live in a society that is uneasy with sex. We have so much to learn about what it means to restore the image of God in our lives.

UPDATE: In response to an email from a reader, I have posted a follow-up to this post. You may access it by clicking on this link.