What do you think about same-sex marriages? The answer will depend on who you ask. Gay people, the state, the “Church”, Christ followers, your neighbour, your parents. Every one will have their own opinion. It’s such a contentious issue now-a-days that it’s seems nearly impossible to talk about it without seeming to have an agenda. It’s even more difficult to respond to than the other dangerous question: “Does my bum look big in this?”
The trigger for writing this post came from seeing the issue of same-sex marriages being discussed in a church email list. The debate started with good intentions but quite quickly one could see the points of view rapidly polarising. When it comes to gay marriage, the body of Christ is still trying to get a handle on this important and sensitive issue.
To be honest, you’ve no idea how many drafts and changes in direction I’ve taken to get to the point of being happy to press the “Publish” button.
I know that there will be gay people reading this, and some of them might be in a long term, loving and committed relationship which may well put some heterosexual relationships to shame; so I want to respect them for that. At the same time, I must also stay true to my biblical understanding of marraige
It would be real easy for me to just define some kind of a starting point such as, “That according to the bible, marriage is the union between a man and a woman.” or “That when these words are recorded in the book of Genesis, they were spoken by God.”. Those are both true, and indeed about a million edits earlier that’s exactly where I was starting from, but if I had continued from there, I never would have made it to saying what I want to say.
For gay people and Christ followers to be pointing fingers at each other and saying, “Your way of doing marriage is wrong.” is fruitless. Both groups may well be working with two different understandings of what marriage is about.
The rest of this post is directed at Christians, but whether you follow Christ or not, please make yourself at home, grab a drink and snack and see what you make of my thoughts.
The most subtle of lies.
During the debate I mentioned earlier, someone wrote something in defence of gay people against the seemingly intolerant attitude displayed by another member.
But Jesus loves everyone, and accepts everyone as they are. Why can’t you?
This is the phrase that got me started on this post. It is something I’ve read and heard in many places and in many contexts. This time the phrase really struck me, and half asleep in the morning, I paused as I was pouring my coffee, and just asked, “Jesus, what do you think about all this?”. Now, I’m not bold enough to say that what follows should be taken as “scripture breathed by the breath of God”, but some germs of ideas did form quite quickly and I’ve spent nearly the past month nurturing them to get to this point.
It’s true that God accepts us “as we are”, but I believe that “as we are” is not the same as “who we are supposed to be.”, and this where I’m starting from.
If the bible is to be believed, way back in the day God said “Let’s create people in our image”. God would visit Adam and Eve in the garden and spend time with them. Intimate friends, all three, without any need to even know what clothes were. This is the true identity of the human race. To be completely intimate with God, to be okay being naked in front of Him.
After the whole apple / serpent thing, things went rapidly downhill and we find ourselves in the state we are now. Squabbling, bickering and fighting over every damn thing. We have completely lost track of who we were created to be. We are no longer the image of God. We are the image of “self”. We are self-ish.
By taking hold of the phrase “God accepts me as I am”, I am holding onto only half of a truth. Yes, God does accept us as we are but Christ’s purpose is to restore us to who we were created to be. The parable of the “Prodigal Son” underlines this.
When we settle for “just as we are”, we accepting the most subtle of lies. That we don’t need to change. When we settle for “just as we are”, we don’t draw closer to Father God, we don’t let Jesus by His Holy Spirit restore us and we don’t start to become the person that He created us to be, whoever that might be. We remain only a mere shadow of who we could be.
I met a guy at an evening group recently who just really felt like a “Pastor”; to the extent that I was sure he had been invited to speak. I was quite surprised when he shared a little of his life and realised that he was actually a group member. We chatted about this later and he told me that once, in group he had been running, 9/10 people thought he should be a vicar or something. I honestly believe that God has created him to be a pastor of some sort, but time will tell.
On the issue of gay marriage, I’m not trying to sit on a fence. What I doing is saying that we should walk with people and help them first find their true identity in Christ. The rest will fall into place, for both of us, along the way. The caveat here, is that we need to take the plank from own eye before trying to take a speck from the eye of someone from the LGB community.
Christians will be able to point to the texts in the bible relating to homosexuality, but I wonder if they pay the same attention to nearby texts of not wearing clothes with mixed weave (polyester-cotton socks?!) or later on “husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church”.
We can’t pick and choose which bits of the bible we are going to use to prop up our arguments. This also goes for non-Christians trying to use the bible to hit Christians where it hurts. Play by the same rules, guys! 😉
By the way, if you try and follow all the 613 rules and 10 commandments in the bible, you’ll fail at least one of them, I promise. The polyester-cotton socks thing will send you to hell just as easily as committing murder. So who can be saved? Good question. Jesus’s disciples asked the same thing. Read the answer here.
At the end of the day, my response to the same-sex marriage issue is becoming at little jaded. It’s a really important issue right now, for sure, and it needs to be debated. But by letting healthy debate degenerate into an argument, we will not only polarise our congregations, but we will miss what Christ has really called us to do.
“Get out there and love people. Where ever they are, who ever they are, whatever they do or don’t do. Go and tell people that I love them. Be my body. Be my hands and feet. Bring them to me. I will always accept them, and start to transform them into the person I intended them to be.”
So, who are you created to be? What is stopping you from being that amazing person?