A few weeks ago I posted Support Us or You’re a Bigot? here at the blog. I received a steady wave of feedback. It was mostly civil. I learned this much, if you want to boost your blog traffic just express your views on homosexuality or gay marriage.
The primary point of Support Us or You’re a Bigot? was to voice my concerns over the name-calling and the vitriol that is so common when we allow extremists to set the stage of any debate. It’s wrong, unfair, and dishonest. A person can disagree with “gay marriage” and still love their gay neighbor, just as they do their Muslim, Wiccan, and white supremacist neighbor. I’m pleased to say that my post resonated with gay folks I know who also don’t approve of the way both progressives and fundamentalists have handled the debate.
Let me be clear. I don’t support or oppose gay marriage. And for good reason. It is for me a conviction rooted in Christ and his ability to creatively navigate cultural situations and contexts for the sake of the Kingdom.
I wonder if you have recognized that we can’t hear a third way of dealing with this in the culture because the matter is truly unlike most issues involving civil rights. It’s not a race issue, it’s a moral issue. And some folks are legitimately concerned that if “gay marriage” is sanctioned (based on the feelings one person has for another), then what is to stop polygamy, or something even more detestable? Are you going to deny their “rights” too?
You can’t easily brush this question aside if you’re an honest, thinking person. Why should “rights” stop with gay couples? It shouldn’t according to the logic of the LGBT folks and supporters I’ve heard. But what sort of world would we be inviting? It’s a question for the church and the state.
There you have it, folks—one more reminder why politics, and the rules it must operate by, will never be able to bring the full measure of peace, freedom, and justice we long for in the world. You have to draw the line somewhere, but it will require that we reach beyond utilitarian logic itself to a divine, transcending order in the universe.
Something, oddly enough, even America’s deist founders understood.
No pragmatic politics or ethics will do. Without moral boundaries given from above, i.e. built into creation and divinely revealed, we must make it up as we go. “Do what thou wilt” shall be the whole of the law.
In case you missed it, I’ve been upfront that I don’t believe homosexuality (or even faithful “monogamous” homosexual relationships) is God’s best for humanity. And I believe this should be lovingly addressed in the church, right after we address the problem of divorce and adultery among heterosexuals. So, I believe it’s at this point an “in-house” issue.
The real problem I see here is what happens to the issue when it enters the ambiguous, complex, and nasty realm of politics. As an Anabaptist thinker and practitioner, this is where I bow out with a purpose.
While I don’t believe in a complete, unilateral withdrawal from politics, I’m convinced that a political response from evangelicals is not helpful at this point. All of this is happening because the church has failed to display the beauty of the covenant relationship between a man and woman, and because of her unwillingness to love neighbor and enemy alike.
In other words, the acceptance of homosexuality and a “gay identity” in our culture is symptomatic of a much bigger problem.
The way I see it the church’s engagement with politics should (on most occasions) be a creative indirect engagement with the state.
Our faithfulness to Christ in community, seen by the way we conduct ourselves in the church, is the primary means by which we persuade the State to conform to the Kingdom.
Every day that goes by (in this so-called “democracy”) makes it more difficult to maintain our witness for Christ and also involve ourselves with the business and conundrums of the state.
It’s just unfortunate to me that most evangelicals never question the methods of politics. Jesus distanced himself from worldly kingdom power and taught his followers to do the same. He refused to enter into pointless, hot-button debates by choosing sides. And that’s why I have chosen neither to support or oppose what’s going on within politics on this issue.
With that being said, because of the nature of this debate, I do think that this whole thing wouldn’t be such an uproar if the state would deal only with civil unions, and leave “marriage” to the local church.
The church should concern herself with the church and let the state do what the state’s gonna do at this point. 53 percent of Americans are in favor of gay marriage, including many Christians. I suspect that number will continue to rise. It’s the world we now live in folks. Entering into the political debate is doing more harm than good for the Gospel of Christ.
I think it might be different (allowing the church to speak out on the issue) if she had been faithfully following Jesus in the first place. But how can we speak up when we’ve made a bloody mess of the institution of marriage ourselves. We’ve failed to protect marriage and our gay neighbor made in God’s image, therefore we’ve lost the right to speak.
Speaking from a political platform only perpetuates the problem—-as well as thinking that buying Chic-Fil-A in an organized boycott-retaliation helps the cause of Christ and communicates love for our neighbor. We must stop allowing the world to shape us into its mold, and give up on the American “let’s-police-the-world” approach to issues that concern us.
This hostile and down-right belligerent defense is nothing more than sanctified bullying and coercion done in Jesus’ name. And we’re reaping the consequences for it all in our now “post-Christian” society.
D.D. Flowers, 2013.