Gay Marriage: What Do We Do?
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that gay marriage is legal across the country.
Many have celebrated the decision, but the national dialogue has also exposed hate and opposition—particularly from Christians. It’s an opportunity for the Church to move past its perception of being against people and show love for people.
It’s easy to get lost in the opinions, debates, and endless commentary. Let’s take a moment to dig into the following questions:
- Does the Bible say homosexuality is a sin?
- Should Christians fear what’s to come because gay marriage is legalized?
- If the government allows something legally, does that mean God allows it morally?
- Can you accept someone without agreeing on something?
- What’s the best thing for followers of Jesus to do in response?
If you’re part of the LGBT community and a part of our church, or even if you’re not part of the church, we don’t think Jesus would ignore you; we think He’d have a conversation with you and care about you.
You may be a straight person with gay friends or family members and you’re trying to figure out what to say. Perhaps you’re a Christian who wants to know who’s right and who’s wrong. The best way to enter this conversation isn’t to cast blame, but to admit we’ve all got problems and we all need God’s help.
The best way to enter this conversation isn’t to cast blame, but to admit we’ve all got problems and we all need God’s help.
The State of Marriage
Marriage around the world and in the United States has undergone a variety of changes—and many Christians share responsibility for the damage to marriage because of divorce, unfaithfulness, and pornography. No one has a perfect track record on marriage, but God still created it on purpose and with a purpose.
Our role as humans isn’t to judge whether His purpose is good or not, but to discover what His intent for marriage looks like in our personal lives, the Church, and the world. One of the best ways to understand God’s intent for marriage is to see what He says about it in the Bible.
The Bible is a powerful thing. It shows us what is true about God, humanity, and how we best connect with Him and each other. The Bible is a mirror that reveals our imperfections and need for God, but unfortunately it has often been used as a weapon to harm others.
The truth we read in the Bible doesn’t mean we can bash people with it. The grace we see in Scripture doesn’t mean we declare everyone’s personal decisions equally moral before God. Jesus fully embodied both grace and truth simultaneously, so our understanding and application of the Bible can, too (John 1:14).
We are each accountable to God for our thoughts and attitudes; we’re not responsible to throw Bible verses at others to force them to change. Jesus knows their best next steps. We get to love people, point them to Jesus—including what the Bible teaches about Him—and help them take a step closer to Him.
Is Acceptance the Same as Agreement?
Love and acceptance are possible regardless of sexual orientation or relationship status. When we tell people they don’t belong in the church as they are, we push away the very people we exist to reach: anyone who has a next step to take following Jesus—and that’s everyone. Why would we alienate people with our words and actions when we’re meant to bring them closer, invite them to know Jesus, listen to Him, and do what He says?
Agreeing with someone is not a prerequisite for loving that person.
We can still disagree with each other while accepting one another (Acts 15). Agreeing with someone is not a prerequisite for loving that person. We don’t have to agree with each other to love each other. Love—even for those we perceive to be different than us—is an essential characteristic of those who follow Jesus (John 13:35).
God, Morality, and Legality
Trusting Jesus and taking Him at His word means we acknowledge what the Bible says about marriage and sexuality.
The Bible describes God’s design for marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman. Regardless of legality, any sex outside marriage between a man and a woman is sin (Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:9-11). This kind of sexual sin includes flings, adultery, being sexually active with someone who is not one’s spouse in heterosexual marriage, being sexually active with multiple partners, and being sexually active with someone of the same sex. In the same way, regardless of legality, it’s a sin to harbor malice or anger against someone, chronically lie, or neglect to do the right thing when we know it’s the right thing (Colossians 3:1-8, James 4:17).
God invites us to admit our sins and receive forgiveness made possible through Jesus. We can confess to God the ways we’ve misused sexuality—including straight Christians—repent of our mistakes, and begin to move toward healing and wholeness Jesus provides (1 John 1:8-9).
Any sin affects our relationship with God, but every sin is conquered by Jesus’ death and resurrection. That good news—the Gospel—is the most defining factor of anyone’s life, whether gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, transgender, or anything else.
The Definition of Marriage
What’s moral is not always legal, and what’s legal is not always moral. The Church has survived and even thrived throughout history as a countercultural movement, so it should not shock or frighten us when what is socially acceptable changes from time to time.
Christians need not be angry or fearful because a government changed the legal status of a relationship. Marriage is not defined by government or even by the Church; it is defined by God, affirmed by Jesus, and explained in the Bible. Marriage is not compromised because God created it and is the only one who defines it (Genesis 2:22-24, Matthew 19:5-6).
The Failure of Operating In Fear
It would be easy to respond to the news of changing marriage laws in the U.S. with fear and uncertainty. But in a changing world, we have no greater constant than God (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17).
Christians have no reason to panic or allow fear to drive what we say and do and think. To operate out of fear is to forget His promise to stick with us, whether through uncertainty, confusion, or difficult situations (2 Timothy 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:9).
Rather than let fear lead our hearts and minds, we can choose to love people like Jesus loves people (1 John 4:18-19).
We see God more clearly when we love each other more sincerely (1 John 4:11-12). That is what we hope for everyone in the gay marriage conversation. God never stops loving anyone; He always invites us to say “no” to sin and say “yes” to Him. Love wins because love is the way of God with people, even those who want nothing to do with Him (Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:8).
Love wins because love is the way of God with people, even those who want nothing to do with Him.
Let’s be quick to listen to those we may disagree with and those who’ve been hurt in the gay marriage conversation. Let’s be quick to embrace people into community and into the Church, regardless of sexual orientation or relationship status. Let’s help more people experience Jesus in a relationship, not as a name that fearful believers throw around as a weapon to harm, but as the only one who can bring clarity through confusion and healing out of our woundedness.