Yesterday the Supreme Court released it’s decision concerning the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. You’ll notice that I did not use an adjective to sensationalize the description like “historic” or “landmark”, and that’s because I don’t think either would be appropriate. Let’s face it, unless you’ve been living under a rock, in a desert cave, or somewhere off-planet for the past decade or so, this decision should come as no surprise. Our Supreme Court has a long and distinguished tradition of supporting values that many of us consider unbiblical, including evolutionary theory, pornography, fornication, divorce and remarriage, murder of the unborn, and (in the distant past) even racism. This is just one more example; and therefore, while disappointing, it certainly does not signal the end of civilization as we know it.
I will not take time to add my own commentary about the decision – there’s more than enough of that going on already. Regardless of which side of the debate one is on, the only thing that seems to be accomplished by expressing your viewpoint is to illicit praise and admiration from those who agree with you, reproach and condemnation from those who don’t. This doesn’t change anything, much less improve the situation, and only polarizes us all the more. To be honest, I am just as concerned about the unbiblical responses that I have witnessed in the past 24 hours as I am about the decision itself. There is a tremendous amount of toxic invective being spewed out by people on both sides. Those who follow Christ should never engage in this inappropriate and unconstructive behavior. Remember Paul’s warning to Timothy: “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth…” (2 Tim. 2:23-25) This is just as much gospel truth as what the Bible has to say about the issue of same-sex marriage and we must be equally committed to both. Never allow someone else’s unbiblical behavior to become an excuse for your own.
To this I would add one further note of caution. Much of the criticism from the conservative side of the aisle will be directed at whether or not the Supreme Court has any business making this decision. This may be an interesting question for political debate, but it has nothing to do with our biblical stance on the issue. For my brothers and sisters in Christ who hold politically conservative views I would point out that one of the supposedly conservative Justices cast his lot with the majority opinion; you may want to keep that in mind the next time you argue about how important it is to elect conservative politicians so that they can appoint conservative judges. Conservative politics and Biblical Christianity are not the same thing. In point of fact, the Bible does not hold up any one form of government, in our case a constitutional republic (although we have effectively been a kratocracy since after the civil war), over any other. Paul lived under a totalitarian and tyrannical empire when he wrote, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.” (Rom. 13:1a) Sometimes I think Christians forget this and allow our political leanings to trump our commitment to God’s Word.
So, how should a biblically-committed Christian respond to this development? First and foremost, with grace. Recognize that it is possible to intelligently disagree with someone about this issue and still treat them with the respect and dignity that is due to all God’s creatures. Refrain from name-calling. Avoid abusive and pejorative language. And if the discussion seems like it is about to turn hostile, either take a break or just agree to disagree and move on. As far as I know, no one has ever been convinced to change their mind about something by being bullied, ridiculed, slandered, or humiliated. Above all, remember what Jesus Himself said on the night before His arrest: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
The mission of the church has never been to recreate the Theocracy that existed in ancient Israel or even to legislate morality. It is to share the love of Jesus with everyone, heterosexual and homosexual alike, and (hopefully!) alter the eternal destiny of those who respond in faith and obedience to His Word. Let’s not overreact. Stay on mission and leave the rest in God’s infinitely capable hands where it belongs.