SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: LOSING THE BATTLE AND THE WAR

same-sex marriageThe U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, but it likely will not end the strife or wrangling that this issue has inflamed. Although public opinion has accelerated in favor of same-sex marriage (50% of Americans favor it, up from 39% in 2008, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life), staunch opponents remain entrenched.

The subject has evoked a lot of attention in the media and many would argue that the coverage unfairly supports the homosexual agenda. Matt Slick is one of those making this claim. Founder of the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM) in 1995, Slick was invited to an interview by The Daily Show, Comedy Central’s show that satirizes the media and politics. The show’s producer explained that the interview would cover homosexuality and the anti-Christian bias in the media. Skeptical of their intent, Slick repeatedly expressed his concern about “being promoted as a wacko who they could mock.” The producer assured him that this was not the show’s objective.

Samantha Bee interviewing Matt Slick on The Daily Show

Samantha Bee interviewing Matt Slick on The Daily Show

The sketch, aired June 17, would argue otherwise. Slick claims that the 3 hours of taping was shrewdly edited to misrepresent him and his views. He gives a lengthy explanation of the events that transpired and his interpretation of them on his website, http://carm.org/matt-slick-daily-show. The show’s host, Samantha Bee, injected several dissenting – and humorous – comments to Slick’s assertions, especially when he claimed that “homosexuals go out and find straights to beat up.” Slick claims that this statement was edited, that he clearly said that he did not know if homosexuals actually bully straights. Yet, he goes on to say in his rebuttal that he believes such cases must surely exist due to sinful human nature. Sorting through the facts of this dispute would require the acumen of a team from The Good Wife.

Unfortunately, The Daily Show does not release copies of original footage. Was the producer underhanded? Was Slick misrepresented? Does this prove Slick’s allegation that there exists an anti-Christian bias in the media?

For several decades now, Christians have complained about being the target of secular persecution. Some Christians warn of an increasing hostility towards followers of Jesus. The IRS scandal has fueled the paranoia. The IRS was guilty of targeting political groups when reviewing their applications for tax-exempt status, delaying approval as long as 18 months in some cases. Words like “Patriots,” “Israel,” “Tea Party” or “Occupy” in the application flagged the group for more tedious scrutiny. Although the IRS was reprimanded by the Treasury Inspector General and at Congressional hearings, Christians interpret this action to foreshadow an intense crackdown by the government on Christian institutions.

same-sex marriage 3Where does this presumed persecution occur? Primarily in the political arena. When the Church decided to organize as a political action group, it subjected itself to the same battle tactics from opponents as any political party would experience. When Christians act like a political party, we should expect to be treated like a political party. The Democratic party does not bemoan being targeted by the Republican party for persecution, even though they have been treated with all kinds of hostility in the political fracas for power.

Attacks on Christians have increased with the decision to enter the political dispute over same-sex marriage. In an effort to present a biblical standard of holiness, some Christians have said mean things. Some speak with a condemning tone.  Some appear self-righteous. In the secular ring, why are we surprised when opponents use harsh tactics in retaliation to our attacks? Is this persecution? Hardly. It is politics, pure and simple.

A bigger question emerges from this conflict: When Christians publicly denounce homosexuality and its practitioners, are we faithfully representing Jesus? Would Jesus be compelled to appear on FOX News or Bill O’Reilly’s show to oppose same-sex marriage?

An examination of the gospels does not reveal a political activist, but a proponent of justice (which includes mercy) and redemption. The only place we might sense a condemning screed from the Savior is his public denouncement of the religious leaders, not the political opponents of righteousness. He condemned these leaders for their hypocrisy, their greed, their self-indulgence, their neglect of justice, mercy and faithfulness (cf. Matthew 23:13-36).

A woman condemned for adultery is forgiven by Jesus.

A woman condemned for adultery is forgiven by Jesus.

When dealing with sinners, Jesus was anything but condemning. When an accused adulteress was thrown into the dust at his feet, Jesus surprised her accusers by inviting the man without any sin to fulfill the law and cast the first stone. One by one, they all left. Jesus asked the woman if none remained to condemn her and she responded, “No one.” Jesus tells her, “Neither do I condemn you,” although as the sinless Son of God, he had every right to do so. In redemptive form he extends mercy and releases her, but tells her to sin no more. (cf. John 8:1-12)

Where do Christians acquire the notion that we are responsible to publicly denounce sin, such as same-sex sex, without offering forgiveness through the gospel to the guilty?

Political discourse truncates our message, leaving only the condemnation of sin and, by extension, the sinner. There is no place for the proclamation of the good news of God’s love of sinners and grace for their sin.

This reduction of our message should give Christians pause when we are tempted to fight for the preservation of righteousness in social law. That fight may alienate the very people we are fighting for: sinners who need the gospel. Instead of appearing as messengers of reconciliation, we are more likely to sound like political adversaries, attracting the ire of our opponents.

This has surely happened in the battle over same-sex marriage. Any public opposition immediately gets categorized as homophobic and self-righteous. We have forfeited a gospel pulpit for a political platform, losing the ear of those who need to hear about the saving love of Christ and God’s transforming power. Members of the LGBT community see Christians as their enemies rather than their friends. This sadly compromises the reputation of Jesus, who was known as a “friend of sinners.”

We have a lot of work to do to reverse this trend and recover an opportunity to love LGBTs the way Jesus would certainly would.

About stanwiedeman

Christian seeking to find a biblical perspective on culture and life
This entry was posted in Homosexuality, Marriage, Politics and Christianity, The Gospel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: LOSING THE BATTLE AND THE WAR

  1. JB says:

    Nicely written. Very encouraged. On one level, I don’t understnad what all the fuss is over same sex marriage. When marriage is not conducted by a pastor, priest or minister, the couple are not inviting Christ to be there anyway. Therefore, the marriage ceremony is secular. Why would we expect anything differently of people who don’t have Christ in their lives. Should we attack these people for all their other faults as well? If so, we better be careful. As Christians, we still batttle some of these other issues. Greed perhaps? What about sexual sin? Let’s not pretend it is not happening frequently within the christian community.

    Is greed a big concern to Christ. YES! The epistles highlight many other acts alongside of the practice of homosexuality … drunkards, promiscuity, idolatry, adultery, GREED. Why do we focus on homeosexuality? Could it be because we are homophobic or instead, do we have the right motive to share the love and forgiveness of Christ.

    I believe the only time we need to be deeply concerned and protest and make lots of noise about gay marriage is if a priest, pastor or minister agrees to marry a gay couple. Otherwise, lets pull up outside of a secular marriage service between two heterosexuals and tell them that God is displeased. That will get busy?

    It’s not about State laws for Christians. It’s about developing relationships with these people and showing them grace rather than anger and even hatred. Why? Christians are shown love and grace to be in relationship with Christ in the first place. Let’s get over ourselves 🙂

    JB

  2. sarah wagner says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write this! I’m a bit confused as to what you are proposing Christians who have a voice in political or legal circles should do regarding this issue.

  3. sarah wagner says:

    PS
    By the way, great name for your blog!

  4. stanwiedeman says:

    Sarah,

    I am certainly not advocating that we abandon the public arena, only that we become “shrewd as serpents and gentle as doves.” William Wilberforce seems to be a good example of a Christian in public service who tenaciously pursued justice with tactics that die not appear to compromise the totality of the gospel message of peace and reconciliation.

    I also fear that Christians too often focus on “restoring America to righteousness” while sacrificing its active love for Americans (particularly the sinners who stand in the way of achieving that national righteousness). I know it is complicated and we must walk a very fine line, but it means that in the Christian community we have to hold one another accountable to our behavior and our speech, encouraging one another to “have the same mind in you that was in Christ Jesus.,” to pursue peace with all men, to love supernaturally, and to faithfully bring the kingdom into our world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s