So, it finally happened. The decision that has been a long time coming, and to anyone watching the trajectory of courts across America wasn't that much of a surprise, is finally here. The Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal across the land and individual states cannot ban it or refuse to recognize those marriage ceremonies conducted in other states. If you've been outside the Supreme Court building or anywhere on social media today it's impossible to miss the outpouring of celebration and relief pouring out of people's spirits. Signs and banners are being waved, people are hugging and kissing each other. Jubilation fills the air. However, if you're on the conservative right, it is more the sense of apocalyptic doom and gloom that fills the air. While gleeful protesters dance in the streets and happily plan parades and change their profile pictures to have rainbow overtones, Christians and conservatives around the country are quietly stating that the ruling was wrong and the end is nigh. Depending on what branch of the spectrum you fall under, you may not be doing so quietly, you may be at this very moment calling your senator and five of his closest friends. If so, I suppose that is your choice.
Personally, I fall somewhere between these two camps--into the quiet, calm state of relief. I do not begrudge the large legal victory that was handed down today, and I congratulate the victors on the legal protections they now may enjoy without fear of continual recriminations, but I also do not fall into the category of wildly celebrating this as a win. You see, I actually believe homosexuality is wrong. But wait, before all those nasty words that just started piling up in your head start coming out of your mouth or out of your keyboard, please just hear me out. :) I don't think you'll be disappointed...at least not too much.
I find myself in the odd position of wishing I could celebrate today. I see so many people who are overjoyed at so hard-fought a victory after so many years of facing true, hateful bigotry, and as any person who appreciates love more than hate and kindness and compassion more than prejudice and bigotry, I wish I could celebrate that victory with them outloud. I wish I could, but I am given pause, because I believe the Bible to teach that homosexual activity is a sin. However, I also believe that having sex with someone you've never married is a sin. I also believe that drinking to the point of intoxication (not simply drinking at all) is a sin. I also believe that adultery, materialism, gluttony, selfishness, idolatry, or anything else the Bible condemns is very simply a sin. Here's the thing though, as far as I know, no state has a law against gluttony or materialism or selfishness, and the culture thrives on those concepts to make businesses (often even "Christian" businesses) run successfully. No one that I am aware of is running a campaign to make having sex outside of marriage illegal in the U.S. So, why is homosexuality such a special sin that we have made it the focal point of a cultural warfare? Good question.
I think it comes down to the fact that Christians are largely insecure in a world where their cultural Christianity is not the dominant way of life anymore (even though Christianity was never designed to be the dominant culture or a "culture" period). This fighting and crusading against "the gay agenda" is not defending the Bible, because the Bible's definition of marriage will stand no matter how marriage is legally defined, and I don't think marriage equality advocates have really been trying to make their argument from the Bible. The Bible doesn't need my defense; it's going to continue to stand regardless. What may fall away is my dominant place in society as having the mainstream view, and that's perfectly fine with me. My faith was meant to transcend culture not takeover it. What bothers me about the way Christians in general have conducted themselves in this cultural warfare is that they have made "homosexuality" worse than unbelief in Jesus Christ. Really that's inexcusable. For many people fighting this fight, it has nothing to do with "defending the Bible" and everything to do with defending their own comfortable way of life.
So, why am I "relieved" with this ruling even though I believe homosexuality is wrong? I am hopeful that to some extent we can move beyond this round of our "cultural fistfight" and get back to what we are supposed to be most concerned with in the first place, which is the Gospel. It is little wonder that people questioning their sexuality and struggling with same-sex attraction issues have fled the church in recent years. When sides are drawn, where is the Gospel in that? Where is the understanding and compassion that are supposed to characterize Jesus' approach to sinners of all varieties?
I don't know what our cultural outlook will be 10 or 15 years from now, but I hope that we are focused solidly on sharing Christ's love with everyone again, because the same-sex couple who is now legally married and claims no faith in Christ is no further from the truth than a "moral" unbelieving heterosexual couple who was legally married a long time ago. Perhaps if the church wasn't always being dragged kicking and screaming into the latest era of civil rights (i.e. segregation??) it wouldn't have lost so much credibility in discussions today when trying to use the same arguments again.
So, before you who are celebrating write off all Christians as bigots and haters, please consider my disagreement with you does not mean I will treat you with contempt. I am genuinely glad you are legally protected from those who would do you harm. And those of you who are seeing the world as a hint darker today than it was yesterday, before you take to facebook to proclaim what "that gay agenda did" or "how America's going to hell in a handbasket because..." just remember that you may be trying to fling your words at an abstract "agenda" but you're actually hitting people who are still made in the image of God and need to hear the truth and love of the Gospel, not your fear and American rights speech.
May God show mercy and grace to all of us who are struggling to figure out our way through this crazy, mixed-up world. :) Grace and peace.