“Gay marriage is going to be legal in most, if not all, of the United States of America before most of you reading this are dead. For some, this strikes fear in your heart. But there have been a lot of things that have happened in the good old U.S. of A. that has struck fear in the collective heart of the church. And yet the Gospel of Jesus Christ is alive and well, in the United States and all over the world.”
I wrote this in a blog about two years ago, and today it came true (the legalization thing and the Gospel being alive and well thing, too). Never mind that this decision by the Supreme Court will be challenged — it will likely be upheld each time. If you’re shocked by it, you have not been paying attention to the tidal wave of cultural change that is sweeping over our country.
Jesus isn’t worried about any of it.
So gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states. Now what?
We (That is, Christians) Can Talk About Something Else
Look, if you ask me, this should’ve been left up to the states to decide. That’s been happening, and even if you’re against same-sex marriage you have to admit the democracy was choosing fine on its own. I think the court overstepped its bounds here, but we hardly leave anything to states to decide any more…it is what it is.
The point is, whether or not gay marriage should be permitted is now a moot point — it is. I have long been of the opinion that this was a distraction to much weightier matters (along with another huge distraction: “are you born that way”). Is homosexual attraction right or wrong? Is homosexual behavior right or wrong? What does the Bible say about it? How should the church respond to gay individuals? Gay couples? Is there a difference in how we respond to those who are practicing homosexuals and those who are chaste? Can you be a Christian who experiences same-sex attraction? Is acting on those attractions any different than acting on Biblically-prohibited heterosexual behaviors? If not, why do we treat them as different?
Look, there are plenty of talking points here — deep, meaningful talking points here. And with the political war waged and (for traditional marriage advocates) lost, perhaps we would do well to turn the page and get to work.
Advocate for Our Religious Liberties
Some could argue that this was an imposition on our religious liberties, but I don’t think so. I do think, however, that those are coming. It will happen — it has already happened — that a gay couple will come to your church and ask to have their wedding there, or for you to officiate it, or for your business to make a cake for it.
Churches and business owners will say no.
People will get sued. Churches may lose their tax exempt status. You thought the marriage debate was bad…just wait.
There will be those in the LGBT community that seek out those situations and try to pick a fight. But I also have gay friends who will unequivocally say that those who are not proponents of gay marriage should not be forced to provide those services. Be careful not to paint the entire homosexual community with the same brush — that’s as fair as those in the LGBT community portraying all Christians as Westboro-wannabes. At the same time, be ready to defend your religious liberties. We do have them, they will be challenged, and (I think…though many will and have called me naive) that they will be protected.
Especially with so many churches embracing gay marriage, the public will have a choice…the free market economy at its finest. I’m not sure there’s a ton to fear here for those who have the conviction that to be accommodating is unbiblical. However, be ready to defend your religious liberties.
Keep On Doing What the Church Does Best
Your chance to totally lose a hearing with the gay community may well have flew out the window oh, say, five minutes after you read the news about the SCOTUS decision. Let’s all take a deep breath here and calm down.
In the same blog from a couple years back, I wrote:
“…We live in a world where we have Will and Grace and Westboro Baptist and every other viewpoint in between. I’m not so naive as to think that this will change any time soon. However, I do believe that the church has a unique opportunity to change the tone of the conversation.”
People have been referring today as a historic moment for the United States of America. And, truth be told, it is. But it could also prove to be a historic moment for the church in America as well. Now is the time for us to find a way to speak truth in grace-filled ways, to not superimpose expectations on a group of people we don’t impose on ourselves, and to love fully the whole of humanity. There are some great thought leaders out there right now, including Caleb Kaltenbach and Wesley Hill among them. They love Jesus and, in my estimation, they’re asking the right questions.
It is a broken humanity in need of the Gospel. That goes for people on both sides of the issue. We’re the church. We should do what only the church is called to do.
How we speak to the LGBT community, what we say about this landmark case, how we treat gay people who enter our churches, if we’re friendly to our homosexual neighbors, unafraid to talk about Jesus despite differences of opinion, and more — the ruling on how we act is not the Supreme Court’s. It’s ours.
And what we decide will make a much bigger difference in the world than what they decided today.