Q Los Angeles 2013
Arts + Entertainment
Science + Tech
Could Same-Sex Marriage Benefit Traditional Marriage?
Today, the State of New York begins allowing same-sex couples to marry.
Gay rights advocates in the state are bruised and beaten from years of fighting political and social battles, struggling to bring marriage legislation to a vote. Cultural observers predicted that if the bill ever made it to the congressional floor, it would likely pass. New York, after all, is not Texas or South Carolina or even Colorado. New York City boasts the nation’s highest population of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people. Today, the LGBT community is elated.
In closed-door conversations, many of the Christian leaders I know admit this new law could be the decisive defeat in the three-decade old war that began at
The Stonewall Inn
. They lament a nation that seems to have disregarded the ancient consensus on marriage held by most every major world religion and society since the beginning of time. But their discussions, surprisingly, move toward the future and to the question of “how to remain biblically faithful, yet credible, in a pluralistic, post-Christian culture?” But stating this publicly would signal defeat; so for now, they keep these conversations private.
Maybe they shouldn’t.
, the effect of the New York law has moved well beyond The Empire State, inducing a “surge in sexuality debates” among religious communities across the nation. Richard Land of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission said, “This is probably the biggest challenge to traditional marriage that we've seen.” And many in the Christian community still struggle with how to
engage their friends
in the LGBT community. Some are confused, unsure of how to react to this new law.
Is it conceivable that as the focus of many Christians narrowed to the political debates surrounding “marriage”, that our attention was diverted from assessing the health of our own marriages? Christians need to be having rigorous, civil dialogues about marriage and sexuality that go beyond the issues of same-sex relationships. Shame no longer keeps divorce and infidelity from being commonplace fixtures in American culture. This degradation of marriage is due, not to the
2.8% of those who identify as LGBT in our society
, but to the heterosexuals with spoiled marriages and the increasingly popular hook-up culture in the younger generation.
[See Mark Regnerus Q Talk on the how the low price of sex cheapens marriage here.]
On a distinguished panel addressing the question “What is Marriage?” Dr. Robert George of Princeton University said, "The problem with marriage in our culture isn't same-sex marriage. It lies in heterosexual sexual activity in and outside of marriage."
We must remember that there are many ways to influence and to engage our culture’s definitions of marriage and sexuality. Only a small portion of the American population, after all, identifies as gay or lesbian. And while a few states legally recognize same-sex unions,
the majority of states have laws defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman
Followers of Jesus have a great task ahead, and fortunately for us, momentum plays in our favor. The
latest Census data
points out that over 77% of couples married since 1990 made it to their tenth anniversary. That's an increase from 74% in the 1980s, when divorce rates were at an all-time high. A stunning statistic, considering most divorces in first marriages happen within eight years, and many of us believe the well-publicized line that “over half of all marriages end in divorce.” With such a hopeful trend undergirding our efforts, Christians must be poised to lead a discussion not just about the Biblical definition of marriage, but also how to choose a spouse, how to maintain healthy marriages, and how to weather the storms of marriage that every couple must face.
The generation now coming of age is one that has grown up amid sexual tolerance. Purity is often a laughing matter and sexual identity is something with which they are encouraged to experiment. This hook-up culture easily tempts the average youth group adolescent as well. Many young men and women, however, still dream of getting married, but many grew up with little modeling of healthy dating and married relationships.
How can Christians who care deeply about traditional marriage move forward in this new era? By focusing on what we
control—loving our spouses, serving our families, renewing our commitment to help others whose marriages are failing, and by engaging with the youngest generations on what it looks like for them to pursue healthy sexuality. If the recent New York law becomes the impetus for Christians to stop reacting and start leading in these ways, it may be the best thing that’s happened to traditional marriage in more than a generation.
How can we move from political conversations to personal discussions about healthy sexuality within our families and friendship circles?
What are ways Christians can contribute to a healthy marriage culture?
Editor’s Note: The image above was created by Adam Zyglis for
The Buffalo News
"Christians need to be having rigorous, civil dialogues about marriage and sexuality that go beyond the issues of same-sex relationships." Yes please! These conversations are not just ones that married couples, parents and church leaders are longing for. The actions of the "hook-up culture" may seem like this generations only response to exploring sexuality. Yet there is a mirage of young people looking to those who are older, starving for answers that are practical while still remaining true to their innate longing for intimacy.
I think Gabe is onto a good way to see the same sex marriage trend of which NY is the latest and perhaps the tipping point for the LBGT movement. Time will tell. While leading a conversation about what healthy marriage is, preparing young people for marriage, and preparing our young adults for the in-your-face sexuality of college campuses, we can acknowledge that the Christian impact on our culture is small. We can also acknowledge and repent that Christians have so concentrated on evangelism we have not seen that the sexualized culture has taken up residence in our pews. Rather than turn away from what is happening in the same sex marriage trend, it would be better to see our task as restoring what God intended from the foundation of the world--that man and woman were created in his image and that they would leave father and mother and cleave to each other for life with all that implies. Ignoring the fact that same sex marriage is yet another step downward in degrading what God intended and concentrating on fixing heterosexual relationships and marriages may be a good strategy to defuse conflict but if that is what Gabe is saying here it seems to me to lack wholeness in the restoration of the missio dei for men and women alike.
All I can say is I remain so greatful for intelligent, full systems dialogue about the Christ-like response of Christians to today's world. It is so difficult to be both non-judgmental AND discerning--to love and embrace all, and even choose the "harlots and tax collectors" to associate with, while at the same time, not loosing site of, and finding ways to gently point those around us to the truths about how this miraculous system God has designed and set in motion, all out of love for us and a desire that we experience wholeness, can be experienced. Thank you for doing what you do, and to all those who participate for being committed to seeing Christ manifest in today's world...
Personally, I am calling on all my friends to "Sign my petition for a Constitutional Amendment to Ban Divorce..." ;-) You can read it here:
Gabe, thanks for being a model of "elevating the conversation."
I'm just curious, what with emphasis being put "engaging with the youngest generations on what it looks like them to pursue healthy sexuality." What kind of advice would be given to a young person who has same-sex attractions and wishes to pursue a same-sex relationship? I would hope it would be the same advice given to a young person who wishes to enter into a relationship with a member of the opposite sex, but I'm not so sure that's the case.
If a young gay person approaches the church or a member of the church - or even just someone who identifies themselves as a Christian - and they receive a lecture for wishing to enter into a relationship with a member of the same sex, they will almost certainly decide to turn away from the values and ideals of that advice-giver. However, if a young gay person approaches a member of the church and they receive the same relationship advice as a young straight person would - advice about how best to function in a relationship and what a healthy relationship looks like, without the implication that their relationship can never be healthy simply because it involves two members of the same sex - I believe they would be more likely to take the values and ideals behind such advice more seriously, and implement those Christian values into their lives.
There are great points in this article. We need to model healthy marriages for all ages, especially our young people. We need to not be "reactionary" to the legalization of same sex marriage, we need to lead our Christian culture into a new conversation and model healthy life styles.
I wonder what would happen if Pastors on Sunday mornings stopped bashing LGBT lifestyles and began ministering more on having healthy marriages. Maybe we have used the LGBT lifestyle as an Us versus Them in order to contrast that "at least we're better because we're heterosexual and Biblical." Troubled Christian marriages and families don't seem so bad when you have someone else to look down upon.
Last note: Kurt, I was about to put you on blast when you suggested a ban on divorce. I was thinking to myself, "Didn't this cat just read the above article???" I agree with you and Campolo. How about this everyone: let's be Christians who hold solid to our Bible based and beliefs and begin to drive culture instead of react to it. Anyone with me?
It sounds like we need a fresh, compelling narrative about God's design for sexuality and marriage that both captivates the imagination of young and single people and empowers those already married with a story that helps them transcend the hard times. It seems that Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body" has done this, at least for those Catholics who were able to access it with the help of Christopher West. I don't know of any such attempt within the evangelical community.
Perhaps the Q Session in New York this fall on narrative and epiphany could engage with this topic. Film is a powerful medium, but maybe even more powerful are the stories of real people who are willing to share their own journeys and struggles with others.
What if we, as Christians, began to cultivate a culture of honesty - with ourselves, with God, with others - about our longings, challenges, regrets, and desires in this area of sexuality and marriage and in general? Perhaps as we are more transparent in safe community we could take the power out of the things that tear us and our marriages up and provide better support to one another. The authenticity would also be more inviting to those outside the Church.
Yes, we certainly need to be better equipped to compassionately engage our LGBT brothers and sisters with the love of Christ and the marriage debate seems to put a blockade in those efforts. It's interesting - as a single, 30-something Christian woman, I've often wondered why I am not married yet, but I've never attributed it to the same-sex marriage debate and its potential impact on marriage.
Gabe, right on in your desire to stimulate honest discussion about deeper issues.
Gabe -- I agree with you wholeheartedly that Christians need to walk it like they talk it when it comes to marriage principles. However, we can't answer your questions until we agree on terms. What does "healthy" mean? What is "healthy marriage culture" or "healthy sexuality" -- the NY law did nothing to help that debate. Where do we get those standards from? Matt's comment raises this issue as well -- So, it's legal...but what's right?
Kurt -- even the Bible doesn't ban divorce buddy.
Rob Bell's "Sex God" contains some beautiful images of relationship and marriage, pointing toward the ultimate hope we have in Jesus.
- The oneness of marriage pointing to the beautiful oneness of God
- The intimacy of physical and spiritual union of two partners pointing toward the ultimate intimacy we can enjoy with our creator.
There are so many voices [in the public debate] chanting "Thou shalt not..."; where are the voices singing the hope and beauty that we have in Jesus!
Methinks that Kurt above was just being satirical by calling for an actual amendment banning divorce.
As a Christian who has LGBT friends in committed, monogamous relationships I find it ironic that I am the one who is going through a divorce. In the years that my gay friends have been a couple my husband has cheated on me three times, that I know of, and has left me to renew the relationship he was in prior to our marriage. He calls himself a Christian but is living with this woman with no desire or intention to get married to her even when our divorce is final. It is also ironic that my only desire is to have him back and for God to heal our marriage. I have purposely tried to model Christ's love and acceptance to him and his girlfriend through out these hard months. I do this because the most important thing in this situation is each of our own individual relationships with God.
In the midst of the train wreck that is my marriage, my gay friends have celebrated their 7th anniversary together, bought a beautiful home together, and have supported each other unfailingly and faithfully through health problems, job changes, going back to school, career upheavals, and two cross-country moves. It is sincerely sad that two people who grew up in conservative, Christian homes, both heirs to a ministerial legacy, have not been able to have as a healthy a "marriage" as their gay friends.
During my Junior year of my undergraduate program at my conservative evangelical college I took a class on the book of Acts. For my final paper in that class we were asked to discuss how the Church was continuing to live out the book of Acts today. My paper was entitled "Why the Church is no Longer Relevant in 20th Century America." I hit all the big things that I felt the church was either not responding to or was being inappropriately reactive against. These were: Divorce and Remarriage, Sexual Promiscuity, Homosexuality, Abortion, and Politics and the Liberal Media.
My professor sought me out in the Student Union building a couple of days after turning in my paper to talk to me about it. He opened the conversation by saying, "Rhoda, before I grade your paper I need to get a little more information from you regarding your basic thesis." I said, "Sure, Doc." and we spent the next hour discussing biblically the basis of my thesis, using a lot of scripture from the Apostle Paul. My paper came back covered in red ink, not because it was bad but because Doc had covered the paper with questions and scripture references. His ending comment, "Rhoda, you have given me much to think about and I wouldn't be surprised if there is book in this paper. Think about it!" I got an "A". That was 1985.
Unfortunately, it took my divorce to go back and revisit the ideas in that paper and the book is now being born. The Church has to become culturally relevant and stop being reactionary or unbelievers, including the LGBT community, are going to continue to show us up. The most recent Gallup poll on marriage in this country shows that evangelical Christians are more likely to get divorced than any other group in the United States by almost 10%. How sad is that?
I assert that until we clean up the pigs in our parlor we really don't have much to say about how the world conducts itself. "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord." Doesn't mean we hide in our comfortable churches and point fingers at everybody, It means we should be doing all things so much better and so differently that they then want what we have. I am sad to admit that the failure of my marriage really doesn't leave me with much room to condemn my gay friends for their relationship.
As a Christian in Canada, where same-sex marriage has been the law of the land since 2005, I can note some of the social and cultural effects of this law. If the LGBT community would simply work to have same-sex marriage established as the law, and live their own quiet lives, Lyons' comments about Christians' witness through their own faithful marriages could have great impact. The problem is that same-sex marriage is not the end, but merely the beginning, of the LGBT community's activity to change society. Here's what those jurisdictions that have passed same-sex laws can expect, and what has already happened in Canada.
1) In the public eduction system, curriculum will be changed to reflect that fact that families do not only consist of a husband and wife and their children. Children in the early grades read books with titles like, "Billy has Two Daddies," or :"Sarah has Two Mommies." The whole curriculum in all the grades is rewritten to reflect the diversity of families and marriages.
2) The laws of the state also are re-written. All references to husband and wife are rewritten to include the new reality that marriages consist of two partners of either different sex or the same sex.
3) Human rights commissions (or the state equivalents) now go after any who would not extend to same-sex couples the opportunities. Examples are: a printer who would not print pro-gay and lesbian literature, a Knights of Columbus chapter which would not rent their hall to a lesbian couple to hold a wedding reception, a couple with a bed and breakfast who would not rent a room to a lesbian couple. These commissions have also gone after ministers who preach against same-sex marriages, and those who write letters to the editor in newspapers or magazines expressing their disagreement with same-sex relations and marriage. There was even a case where they went after a man who paid to have a newspaper publish an advertisement which consisted of only quoting passages of the Bible condemning same-sex relations.
4) When gay pride parades are held, it is expected that the mayors of the cities will participate in the parades. The current (new) mayor of Toronto has been condemned by the media for not participating in the gay pride parade this year.
I could list more consequences, but you get the idea. The LGBT community will not leave the rest of society alone, and especially not Christians. They will continue to use all the political, human rights, and media pressure they can muster so as to force all people to accept and even celebrate their same-sex lifestyle. They will try to get Christian institutions and churches, at minimum, to stop expressing their disapproval of same-sex relations, and, ideally, to force us to accept that this is God-given and acceptable for Christians.
As Paul says in his letters, the more sin that people engage in, the more some (especially those with seared consciences) become inflamed to engage in more such behavior. And their increased intensity makes them more aggressive with those who disapprove of their behavior. They will not rest, and neither should Christians.
We should work hard to make good, life-long marriages. But we will also have to ramp up our thinking and actions to resist the growing aggressive behavior of the LGBT community. They wil not leave us alone.
Tremendous thoughts Gabe. I really appreciate your approach to all that is happening in New York and around the world concerning same sex marriage. It's really powerful what we can do by just submitting ourselves to the little things that God entrusts to us to preserve. Loved the article!
Gabe - Appreciate your take on this, but I've got to disagree with your conclusion. While there are so many reasons we need to stand for the true definition of marriage, protecting it as the union of one man and one woman is not merely about protecting the institution in itself. This issue has serious and far reaching implications for religious liberty and free speech. The examples of persecution to Christians who make a stand for God's definition of marriage abound. Simply put conceding this issue could, and I think would, have a major negative impact on our ability to share the Word freely in the public square.
As a child of divorce, I whole-heartedly agree that we need to work on strengthening and supporting marriages. I also think we need to do a better job of preparing our children for marriage.
One major problem I see is that too often when we talk to young men about pornography and sexual temptation, our solution is to say something like "Do your best to bide your time over these next few years until you get married. Once your married, that immense sexual drive you have will be quenched," instead of dealing with the root issue. What results is young men who are almost solely focused on getting married just so they can get the monkey off their back (or out of their pants, however you want to say it). I'm sure we've all seen it and know friends who have rushed into marriage, without truly knowing one another and what they were getting themselves into.
However I don't see these issues as mutually exclusive: It's not either focus on protecting marriage as the union of a man and a woman or making current marriages stronger. We can - and must - do both.
Lastly - I appreciate that you're in conversations that I'm not, but despite what the media says, I see plenty of support for the true definition of marriage. This isn't a lost cause.
I just wanted to concur with Aaron's comments. I commented earlier but neglected to mention two things that never get much focus:
(1) There are real legal implications for the freedom of religious speech in the public square inherent in this issue -- especially as it relates to perceived discriminatory speech.
(2) I also see plenty of support for the biblical definition of marriage. Every victory for "same sex marriage" is trumpeted as the big one that will turn the tide -- but most of the victories have been judicial and not legislative (NY is not consistent with that) and there have been serious losses in California and Maine -- places where this issue should have been a cake walk.
"Christians need to be having rigorous, civil dialogues about marriage and sexuality that go beyond the issues of same-sex relationships."
Who are these mysterious Christians who gave been talking only about same-sex relationships and never mention divorce, premarital sex, pornography, extramarital affairs, dating, chastity, etc.? With some effort, I suppose I could name a demagogue or two. But even most of the anti-gay demagogues I can name also bang the drum loudly on divorce, sexual promiscuity, and (especially) pornography.
I don't think I've ever actually met Christians like the ones you're describing, who are so obsessed with homosexuality that they've neglected to "love their spouses, serve their families, renew their commitment to help others whose marriages are failing, and engage with the youngest generations on what it looks like for them to pursue healthy sexuality."
John Andrew, Jr.
Matt: What would a healthy homosexual relationship look like? Aaron: Yes, I'm with you. I expect laws to continue to challenge us in our beliefs - I even expect to increasingly have to choose whether to obey the law of the land, or God's law. But God is pro-choice! He sets the standard of which choice is right/wrong, but from the very start, he has expected us to choose! And remember, politics (law) is downstream from culture.
A question for all: Would it change anything if it were widely understood and accepted that while same-sex attraction may not be something one chooses freely, that living in a homosexual lifestyle is? And isn't an adulterous or promiscuous lifestyle just as bad?
John Andrew, Jr.
btw, meant to include this link regarding the "God is pro-choice" comment.
John Andrew, Jr.
Sorry, use this one.
Gabe poses a pin point question about one of the main hypocrisies of religion, he asked;
"Is it conceivable that as the focus of many Christians narrowed to the political debates surrounding “marriage”, that our attention was diverted from assessing the health of our own marriages?
This diversion that Gabe is talking about is what happens to us when we acquire a useful list of don'ts and then become sufficiently good at following the list. Something happens to our hearts and we transform from being humble self inspectors into hardhearted rule regulators. The bible admonishes us to get the plank out of our own eye before we squeal about the speck in our neighbor’s eye. This diversion is rampant in the body of Christ. Sin is sin and we must be able to acknowledge it but it starts with me, Jesus made it abundantly clear that sin is born in the mind and travels to the heart long before it manifests itself into action and that sin of the mind it just as grievous to God. Selfishness is opposite of Gods nature and is just as offensive, but we seem to get a pass on that one because it’s socially acceptable to wallow in self, but not to God. Yet God is a patient God and loves us, he will also someday judge us, but not necessarily for the wrongful misdeeds that we've done but the good that we knew to do and did nothing.
God help us with our nasty judgmental spirit and start with me. I pray that God will help me to be winsome and humble when sharing the gospel to anyone. Love and respect is the bridge that earns us the opportunity to be able to speak into someone’s life but we must be able to challenge and encourage people in society, and in our circle of influence to have a relationship with Jesus Christ because he is the only one that can forgive us of our sins and make us right with God.
God loved me in the middle of my hedonistic drug induced party life and started tapping me on the shoulder, and whispering to me, and loving me when I didn't deserve it. He gave me the desire to want something better, and though I thought I was merely a seeker, he was drawing me to him, slowly loving me and directing me. I wasn't interested in "religion" yet I accepted Jesus and 30 years latter I'm still not into "religion but I love Jesus more than ever. I know he's doing the same for many others, his love is always drawing us, all we have to do is listen, and then accept Jesus as lord and he will wipe away all of your sins and you will have eternal life and unlimited access to our Heavenly Father forever.
Ah, that stat "77% of couples married since 1990 made it to their tenth anniversary" is always a bit skewed, seeing how fewer and fewer couples are choosing to get married [52% in 2000, 48% in 2010 and headed downward]. More and more people are living together, and I wonder how many of those make it longer than 10 years? That really isn't the point, but if we started down the road of "how do we help these committed couples remain in a healthy relationship for the long term" it may just lead to making a bigger deal about getting married. Just a thought.
As a side, I have friends that never intended to marry but with budget conscious companies cutting off benefits to partners, they were married last year. Go figure. Add in fewer people getting divorced [though maybe having a crappy marriage] because it costs so much to start up another household/living space, and maybe we should keep the economy poor.
I wish to echo what our Canadian friend posted earlier about the "LGBT" movement. We (Christian, non-Christian, et al) should be very aware that this movement is an activist one that is not content simply to acquire what they perceive to be equal rights. Rather, they seek, actually demand, compliance with and promotion of their life behaviors, expressions and structures as normal.
If you pay close attention to the "B" in the LGBT brand, you'll notice that NOTHING is being said right now about the right of bi-sexual marriage. There is no logical reason why the LGBT movement should not be contending for the rights of three (or more) bi-sexual individuals to marry along with the rights of same-sex couples. If sexual attraction and adult consent is now the basis of forming a civil union or a marriage, bi-sexuals should be allowed equal rights along with homosexuals.
Their strategy is nothing, if not cunning. To campaign for such a radical status, which is of course polygamy by another name, would cause their movement to incur tremendous social wrath and perhaps deal a death blow to their cause.
The next step is a long, patient and comprehensive strategy is to use current liberal political capital to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. And mark my word, the military will be the first venue for this initiative, just as DADT (don't ask don't tell) was.
Eventually, however, when enough ground has been gained, the bi-sexuals will be granted, or at minimum, will demand, equal rights. Enough legal precedent will have been gained so that such a legal and societal shift will be relatively easy to effect.
Think about it: This movement is very savvy when it comes to mass communication, branding and social persuasion. And because they are concentrated in media/communication centers, they are literally able to "script" the message into our evening news, sitcom's, dramatic television, game shows, music, theatre and major motion pictures. It has been proven time and time again, if you entertain Americans, you can get them to do anything.
What evidence do I have. Just look at how the "LGBT" moniker has been almost instantly accepted and integrated as legitimate by the Christian community. To their delight, we've conferred legitimacy upon individuals who, by ANY standard 30 years ago, would have been classified as "deviant", "perverted", and "illegal."
It is indeed important that those who are in committed man-woman relationships attend to the health of their own marriages, and it is important that churches seek to minister to married couples to help them have healthy relationships, but we should not imagine that the push to have same-sex "marriage" affirmed by the state will satisfy the pro-hnomosexuality activists. Those activists (and I'm not talking about those homosexualist who live their lives without seeking to convert others)--those acivists are seeking nothing less than to change the hearts and minds of our children an grandchildren. Please see:
the article at
commenting on a statement of the managing editor of a Canadian homosexual magazine: "We will teach your kids new norms." Also see "Recruiting Kids--Read it in their own words" at
Comment above on John Paul II Theology of the Body is something that Q should look to having become part of their overall look at the relationship of man, woman, and God and the impact of our culture on this essential realtionship. When man and woman live outside of a relationship with God, choose to say no in their lives to God desire to create life, and move within the culture of death and pornographic images of sexuality, it is certain to lead to those marriages failing for they are built on sand.
TOB is a gift from God through John Paul II and his extensive look at the relationships that God has with those He created, man and woman. The same is true for those married couples that engage in Natural Family Planning and the ongoing discussion that this type of relationship brings to a couple to determine when they feel compelled to remove God from the discussion of life creation and the mutual sacrifice required. When society removes God from their life, even within marriage, it always has consequences. The simple fact that the same sex partners by natural law leave God out of any possible relationship in creating life, shows that it is a flawed relationship.
I am also one of those Christians from Canada, where same-sex marriage has been legalized for 7 years now and counting. I grew up in conservative, evangelical churches, and in a conservative Chinese Christian family, with extended family members going as far back as 4 generations in full-time church ministry, missions, and church-planting work. I myself was a missionary to a closed country for 6 years.
And my sexual orientation is queer.
And I still love Jesus very much and strive to walk closely with Him.
I appreciate that this article looks humbly at the log in our own eye, and not look judgmentally at same-sex marriage and the "agenda" of LGBTQ communities/activists. I know many of us Christians are unsure, scared, angry, concerned etc. over what's happening, including my fellow compatriot Gene Haas, who has listed "consequences" from the activities of the LGBTQ community here in Canada. This may come as a surprise, but most if not all of us LGBTQ folk really just want to lead quiet lives where we are not discriminated against or treated as second class / "less than" citizens. It really has *nothing* to do with us versus the straight people or versus the Christian community. I really believe that people, particularly Christians, who are troubled by same-sex marriage or the LGBTQ community's "activities" should try to reach out and make a gay friend or two, and walk a mile in their shoes in order to understand these issues from their perspective.
Unfair treatment of and discrimination against LGBTQ people can be observed in society-at-large, even in Canada where same-sex marriage is legalized. For example, as Gene listed above, services have been refused to same-sex couples or LGBTQ peoples because of their sexual orientation. I know a few straight people have gotten flack for this, but it's only a few. Because many more cases have not been reported. Trust me, because I didn't report some incidents that happened to me. Furthermore, think about this: if the worse "persecution" that can ever happen to straight people or conservative Christians is that they get put in front of the Human Rights Tribunal or are painted in a negative light by the media, can you imagine what's it like for many LGBTQ people who grow up being discriminated against, bullied, or tormented to the point that they would rather kill themselves, or who are beaten up and even killed because of their sexual orientation?
(Side-note: I've still yet to meet a straight conservative Christian who thought about killing themselves or who have been killed over the homosexuality issue and issues related to their sexual orientation.)
Even in Canada, we still live in fear of that. Whether fear for our own well-being and lives, or those of the young LGBTQ people and our children who grow up with two moms / two dads. Because in our community, bullying, suicides and killings are a constant reality. I think this is the reason why there are a few of us who make it our life's mission to make our school environment more accepting, the work places more safe, and social / commercial services "more equal" for LGBTQ people. It's not about "us vs. them." It's not about persecuting the Christians and pushing for a "gay agenda" just because of politics or in the name of winning a "cultural war." Even equality and justice are not our ultimate goals. And it's even more than not wanting succeeding generations to go through what we went through. Do you know what it's about for me and many of my LGBTQ friends? It's about love. And it's about life, and being able to live our lives free from fear.
And for me personally, it's also about keeping LGBTQ people *alive* so they have a chance to hear the Good News. It's about trying my best to love them in ways they don't feel alienated from the God who created them. And It's about living in such a way that my LGBTQ friends would want to connect with this God who loves them so much that He gave His life up for them.
I agree with Gabe. In the same-sex marriage debate (I would add, regardless of which side each of us are on), we can only respond humbly by focusing on what we can control: by cultivating all that is good and of Him in our lives, our families, and our communities.
Thanks for your comments Vicky Chiew. Many of the comments listed by other have been very thought provoking and honest. I too am gay and Christian and that is an area that is never addressed by the conservative straight Christians. The "us" versus "them" waters can get very muddied when you bring in Gay Christians.
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