Well here we go, the “big” subject. Currently the Supreme Court is discussing this issue once again. Normally I liked to be totally informed, know all the ins and outs before I voice an opinion. But I’m not a lawyer and the more I read the more confused I get. I had someone just last night ask me about my view and how our church handles the subject of homosexuality and gay marriage. That’s always a interesting conversation to have but I am more than glad to have it. I feel like we have a good balance, we have had gay people come to our church and enjoy it, but we also have a biblical stance on what marriage and sexuality look like. So as far as I have personally experienced I am able to hold to my convictions without it being seen as hateful or ugly. That seems to surprise people who think hate is the only option to conformity.
However, I find myself in a weird spot today. Because honestly there is so many voices and opinions I just got tired of trying to dig through the noise and controversy so I’m just going to relate a few things that I do know.
First, marriage as an institution existed before the government recognized it. It’s “pre-political.” The state merely recognized marriage as an institution.
Second, marriage is a picture of the gospel. The church in the Bible is often called the “Bride of Christ” One of the ways you could accurately paint the picture of the gospel is to tell the story of a prostitute who has committed every kind of filthy act, but she is so loved that a King sends his son not only to love her but to buy her back from her pimp so that he can marry her and turn into a beautiful bride. What kind of price did the prince have to pay to win her? It would end up costing his very life. This whore of a person, was worth dying for in the view of the King. This picture is painted over and over in the gospel. We see this clearly in the story of Hosea and Gomer where God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute and love and treat her as though she was a royal princess. It’s a picture of the gospel.
So there is no room for self-righteous hate speech, because we are the whores. We all are the one the Bible describes as dead in our sins, full of greed and envy, we are the prostitutes that Christ came to rescue. He is in the process of turning this disheveled group of sinful people into his beautiful bride but we still have a long way to go.
Imagine for a second that all of mankind is born into a prison. A man comes every now and then and sets a few people free. He then gives the newly freed prisoners the task of setting other people free. Would you return to the jail and shoot the other prisoners? Of course not, but that is what we often do. People are not the enemy they are the victims of the enemy, and we must not shoot the other prisoners.
However, if marriage is a picture of the gospel, I don’t want to change that picture either. If it is something instituted by God for a reason, then I don’t want to change that. If a man and a woman, coming together are meant to reflect God to the world then that’s important.
But I don’t expect the world to be the church, and I don’t want the church to become the world.
Third, Christians still sin, so even though we believe marriage is sacred we often suck at it. The world has noticed this. So we denounce one kind of relationship, yet often remain silent on the sinful relationships that happen within our own walls.
So what does all this mean? Where do we stand? How do we respond? Honestly I don’t know what it looks like for us moving forward. People are sinners, and I’m never surprised when lost people act like lost people. Why do we assume the world should look just like the church when they are not apart of the church?
I want to love people because Jesus loved people.
Jesus talked to women or ill repute, loved them, helped them. And he was criticized for it. He hung out with the rough crowd and he paid the price for it socially.
But I also want to love the teachings of Jesus.
Jesus called sin what it was. He was never afraid of who he was, or the moral ground he stood on. It didn’t matter if nobody understood, in fact he kind of assumed nobody would understand. But he also saw beyond the sin. When he saw a prostitute, he did not think that sin was her identity, he didn’t talk to her or treat her like one, he talked to the person behind the sin and helped her see that there was life beyond that identity. So I guess you could say he was aware of her sexual sin, and it played a part in the conversation, but it was not THE conversation. The real conversation goes deeper, much deeper than most of us are willing to go because the surface area is the easiest to understand and the easiest to attack.
But lets not pretend that it is all one sided. There is a vigorous campaign against Christianity form liberalism. We get labeled as hateful bigots; we get sued and condemned for wanting religious freedom. I recently watched a speech given by a calm and well-known Christian teacher at a liberal university. He was asked to come and give the Christian view on sexuality. He did so in a manner that explained why we think and feel the way we do, and he did it without calling names, condemning, or using any dirty tricks. But there was a large gay community present and they yelled, mocked, and said horrible things to the man who was preaching love and peace. I was shocked at how aggressive and ugly the crowd was towards him. This hatred can come from both sides.
So I want to Love Jesus, I want to love people, and I don’t want anyone telling me my beliefs are hateful and mean. I will preach the gospel to all the whores and prisoners because I’m not perfect and I was once a prisoner. But I will do it with love and respect. Sometimes I fail at that just like we all do.
It matters what the Supreme Court decides, and at the same time it doesn’t. It won’t change how I love my gay friends or my God. I have friends that are addicts, and adulterous, and some of them think their lifestyle is a sin, and others don’t. I don’t go around pointing it out to them every time I see them, they know what I think, but the relationship comes first. Nobody cares what you know, until they know that you care. If you were hoping for clear direction on this issue then you might have to keep looking to someone smarter than me.
There is something called the Bicycle Shed effect. A researcher once noticed that while building a nuclear facility the engineers spent a strange amount of time on the materials and color that the bicycle shed should be. They did this, he believed, because the big issues, the real engineering for a nuclear facility was so complex and difficult it was easy to get focused in on what they could grasp easily. We do this when it comes to subject like this. The real issue is deep and complex, it’s about ultimate truths and whether or not there is a God and who gets to decide what is moral and what isn’t. But those issues are so deep, that it’s much easier just to insist that the bike shed should be green and anyone who disagrees is an idiot.
So I have no resolution, no solution, I only have my Lord. A verse that has served me well is Micah 6:9
“Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God for this is the whole duty of man.”
Caleb is lead pastor at Logos Church and enjoys writing about pop culture, Star Wars, Jesus and what effective ministry might look like in Tulsa.