It’s funny. During election time, we get bombarded by ads explaining the history of the candidates we look to elect. We see what they did, what they said, and what they wrote. It’s the same thing when people are picked to sit on the Supreme Court; their entire life history is rolled out before the public and scrutinized. I’ve always had mixed feelings about the way a political figure is portrayed, especially through the attack ads and media, because I know that things in a persons past can be an indication of what that person is like, but it also can be an indication of what that person was like. I think this difference has become more important to me now than it has in the past, especially when thinking about the history of California’s Proposition 8.
As I’m sure everyone is aware, Proposition 8 was voted on, and approved, by a majority of people in California. It created an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Last week a Federal judge, Vaughn Walker, overturned the proposition. It is being appealed.
Scripture tells us that homosexuality is a sin, and as such I should be opposed to it. That’s all fine and well, but Scripture also tells me to love my neighbor. That’s all fine and well, too. But what happens when my neighbor practices homosexuality? Well, that’s easy, too: “Love the person, hate the sin.”
For a Christian, it should be easy to separate the sin from the sinner, but not everyone is a Christian. On top of that, there are those who believe themselves to be Christian, but are not. As a result, an us versus them mentality between the “pro-gay” movement and the “anti-gay” movement has developed. In this mentality, Christians have been labeled as discriminatory, hateful, bigoted, etc. While there are those who, unfortunately, fit these labels, semantics have played a large part in this perceived hatred.
The Christian sees human beings as Children of God. It doesn’t matter whether they practice homosexuality, heterosexuality, baseball, football, whatever… We are not defined by the actions we partake in on this Earth. We see people as people, or at least we should. Non-Christians seem less inclined to make this distinction. People are defined by what they do, and how they live. People define themselves, so that they are not merely a member of the human race, but they are part of a particular group in the human race, i.e., gay, straight, black, white. There are even those that think some of these groups are inferior to others, but I don’t think I need to pursue that.
My point is that Christians have not been painted as anti-gay, but as anti-gay-people. Again, there are Christians that fit that description, but real Christians should not be against gay people, but against homosexual acts. Quite frankly, Christians should be against any sexual action that takes place outside a marriage approved by God (one man, one woman). Yes, this includes heterosexual sex!
So, I’m bothered by the fact that so many people picture Christians as hateful.
But I love my neighbor! How can I be hateful? Another teaching from Scripture says that we are supposed to be in the world, but not of the world. Can it be that we have become too involved in the world? I try to look at everything from a balanced point of view, and it seems to me that while we have to be part of the world in order to interact with others, it is possible to become too involved. I think this is exactly what has happened, and the result is an inaccurate picture of hate.
Which brings me back to where I started. There was a time when I was dead set against gay marriage anywhere in the U.S., and the world for that matter. God has declared homosexuality a sin, and that’s that. And while that is it, I have to remind myself that I can’t make people be, or even act like Christians. God could, but He doesn’t. Why should I?
Judge Walker wrote:
Marriage in the United States has always been a civil matter. Civil authorities may permit religious leaders to solemnize marriages but not to determine who may enter or leave a civil marriage. Religious leaders may determine independently whether to recognize a civil marriage or divorce but that recognition or lack thereof has no effect on the relationship under state law.
Did you catch that? Churches don’t have to recognize civil marriages, just as many churches don’t recognize civil divorces. Currently, the Catholic Church requires an annulment before an individual can be remarried–just because the law says a divorce is final, does not make it so in the eyes of the church. Why should marriage be any different?
Only God has the power to change people; all I can do is travel the path He puts me on and plant seeds. It’s up to Him to make them grow. It’s time to step back, and let those who want to live in sin, live in sin. It won’t change the fact that just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right, and we can only pray that one day, no one will take advantage of that particular “right.” More importantly, we need to start acting like neighbors instead enemies.
NOTE: Judge Walker’s ruling can be found at Scribd.