I have to admit that this is a post I didn’t expect to be writing. Over the last few weeks – particularly since the US Supreme Court’s decision to legalise gay marriage caused a flurry of articles and blog posts to pop up all over Facebook – I’ve said to myself and others that I didn’t want to write a post about homosexuality. In fact, when I told my wife that I was writing this, she said “I thought you weren’t going to write about that!” My main reason for this was that I didn’t feel that I had anything to say that wasn’t already being said; I didn’t want to write just for the sake of writing. My other reason was that I hadn’t fully understood what my position is on the issue. However, I’ve had a couple of conversations recently which have made me think that perhaps I ought to write something.
Gay rights is the issue which causes the greatest rift between the Church and the rest of society today. The percentage of people who are gay may be relatively low, but the proportion of society who support gay rights is so high that the Church has very little hope of affecting any change (or indeed preventing any change) in the legal movement of gay rights. Therefore, I’d like to pose a question which I have been asking myself recently: should we really be trying to oppose gay rights? The answer to which I have arrived is no. No, we shouldn’t be trying to oppose gay rights. Allow me to explain why.
Firstly, the battle is all but over already. More and more nations are legalising gay marriage, and including gay relationships under the description “normal”. All the campaigning of Christian lobbyists has achieved is to convince the world of the fallacy that God hates gay people. Those of us who know our Bibles (and who know our God) know that this is just not true. God doesn’t hate gay people. Since governments around the world have already decided that gay marriage is to be legalised, there is no sense in continuing a battle which is only hurting the reputation of the Church, and by extension pushing people away from God. I don’t want to be the one to blame for making someone feel that their Heavenly Father hates them. This doesn’t mean that we have to agree with gay marriage, or even support it. That’s up to our own convictions. Neither does it mean capitulating to the whims of society. What I’m talking about is putting an end to a campaign which has the potential to alienate large portions of the population from the idea of connecting with the God who made them.
Secondly, we are called to love people. “Love is love” is the slogan used by many gay rights campaigners. If only they knew how true that is! Sadly, a lot of the rhetoric used in this debate centres around the idea that being gay is central to who someone is. I don’t want to belittle anyone’s struggles, but I would like to strongly suggest that there is far more to a person than their sexuality. You may have seen my post on transgender people, in which I used the phrase “Trans people are people first”. The same is true of gay people. The more we debate the legitimacy of gay relationships, the more we play into this false idea that being gay is someone’s entire identity. Personally, I’d rather spend my energy on helping people to discover their identity in Jesus, the one who loved them so much he sacrificed his life for them. If we can direct people to Jesus, they will learn that their sexuality is just one part of who they are.
My passion is to help people to meet Jesus. That’s why I do what I do. Therefore, I want to avoid doing anything which might be a hindrance to people meeting Jesus. It doesn’t matter that I believe that the Bible defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, because marriage isn’t what life is all about (although it is great!). I will not oppose people seeking legal rights for gay people, because I understand that what the law has to say for society does not trump what the Bible has to say for me, and neither does it stop me from introducing people to Jesus. Additionally, if someone doesn’t believe that the Bible has authority over their lives, there’s very little that we can do to convince them that it ought to. If anything, we risk convincing them further that they shouldn’t pay attention to what the Bible has to say.
The issue of gay rights isn’t going to go away. As Christians, we need to learn to choose the issues we fight and the ones we don’t. For myself, I believe that our priority should be to demonstrate the love of God to everyone, especially the gay community. The Church has done so much damage to gay people over the years, which we now must seek to repair if we hope to help people discover their inherent value in Jesus. I recognise that there may come a time in the future when we have no option but to fight certain things. There may be a time (and for some in church denominations other than Elim that time may already be here) when ministers will be obliged to conduct same sex weddings despite their doctrinal disagreements. I love how Mark Woods puts it in his article for ChristianToday.com:
“It is entirely up to the state to declare what relationships it will recognise as marriage, and the Church should not have a problem with that.
It is entirely up to the Church to declare what relationships it will recognise as Christian marriage, and the State should not have a problem with that.”
Our priority is to love people. For me, that is more important than what I believe about other people’s sexuality.
What about you? Let me know what you think in the comments.