Culture / Evangelism / Politics / Pursuing Wisdom / March 28, 2013

Tired of the Gay Marriage Debate?

I am tired of the gay marriage debate, and I know I’m not alone. On a recent episode of the podcast I co-host, my friend Brian expressed similar sentiments of fatigue. I am tired of the vitriol on both extremes. I am tired of the politicizing of what people call a biblical point of view and the church confusing itself with a political party. I am tired of the incessant Facebook and Twitter posts (and yes, I see the irony of me blogging this and then sharing it). I am tired of the misled assertion that the problem will be solved by the courts or the president or any other legal body. I am tired of this being treated as the greatest problem facing America today.

This is not about my own opinions on gay marriage and who is right or wrong. I have them, but do not feel this is the place to share. No, this is about how Christians ought to be responding – Christians on both sides of the debate. And yes, I believe you can be in favor of legalizing gay marriage and still be a Christian. Just like you can be in favor of legalizing gay marriage and not believe it is the way God intended marriage to be, that it is a sin.

So I ask my fellow Christians to consider the following in your interactions about gay marriage.

What is communicated by our words?
If we are using ascerbic, incendiary words our point is lost as soon as it exits our lips (or fingers). Be clear, but kind. Be bold, but gentle.

What is communicated by our tone?
Arrogance hides easily between pleasant phrases. Judgmentalism is neatly packaged in passive aggressive expression. Our tone betrays our heart and all the kind words can’t hide an ugly one.

What are our aims?
If “winning” the debate is our aim we must reconsider. We win an argument and lose a potential friend. Winning the debate at all costs leaves a trail of destruction – jaded souls unwilling and unable to hear the good news of Jesus because they were bludgeoned into defeat. However, if our aims are to win people to Jesus then the debate takes a back seat – like a school bus back seat, way back there.

If we believe in a sovereign God why are we so fearful?
This could apply to just about any area of life, but apply it liberally to our societal fears. God is in charge. He knows what’s up. Represent Him well in all spheres of life, and chill out.

Why are we putting so much hope in the government?
Governments are, and have always been, broken systems run by broken sinners. We benefit greatly from good ones but ought not make the mistake of putting our hope in them. The hope we put in the government is evidenced by the energy we pour into influencing it, as if this is the means through which victory will be gained. But what I see is Christians doing what Jesus’ disciples did – hoping in the overthrow of the Romans rather than the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom. We cannot see government as the ultimate decision makers or ultimate law makers. We live in a monarchy, and our king is perfect. Put more faith in Him than in the Supreme Court or any other governmental body.

Why do we believe either hearts or culture can be legislated into improvement?

It is so tempting to think such things. But it’s so untrue. Witness influences both individual hearts and all of culture more than anything else – collective and individual witness. It is incumbent upon Christians to represent Jesus in word and deed. And all this political fervor is doing a pretty poor job of it.

So I ask you to consider these questions. Don’t fall prey to your emotions or the tide of opinion – on either side. Don’t make the mistake of using the wrong medium for ardent thoughts. Above all, be a witness, not of your political views but of your faith. What will make Jesus more beautiful, hopeful, and joyful in the eyes of those who have yet to meet Him?

photo credit: [1]Sara Hasard via [2]photopin [3]cc

 




24 Comments

Mar 28, 2013

So many good points. I, too, am so sick of this (the latest) hot-button political topic that is treated as the unpardonable sin.

“If we believe in a sovereign God why are we so fearful?” If I may be so bold (as you already provided the “solution” – for lack of a better word – for the fear), I would answer this with the reason we are fearful, is that we want a comfortable Christianity rather than the “take up your cross” discipleship we are called to.


    Mar 28, 2013

    I agree with that. Being the political majority feels “safer”.


Mar 28, 2013

I’ve been flooded with this on social media outlets… I’m exhausted and I live in Uganda so I can’t imagine being in the States right now. I just feel that passion for/against gay marriage is misplaced within the Christian circle. What I mean is that regardless of where you fall on this issue, if Christians were outwardly as passionate about Christ and his teaching as they are outwardly for/against this issue then we’d have something else all together to discuss. Something worth discussing.
How can we expect a secular government to legislate orthodox Christian values?
And where are all the Christians fervently praying “thy kingdom come, thy will be done”?

Thanks for posting exactly what I’ve been thinking but unable to put down into words.
Great final question to leave us ALL with.


    Mar 28, 2013

    Thanks, Luke. I’m glad I struck a nerve and spoke on behalf of you and others.


Mar 28, 2013

My primary concern is this: When God judges this nation (and all nations) for its sin, will I have been a proponent of that sin because of my silence? Or did I stand up and speak the truth in love, exhorting self-proclaimed believers to stay true to Scripture? Sometimes silence is just as much a sin as action. No, I am not going to go burn somebody’s house down or cuss them out because we disagree. But to exchange complacency for gentle exhortation is not the answer.

1 Cor 5:9-13: I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.


    Mar 28, 2013

    i would humbly only want to emphasize v.12 of the scripture you have referenced. ‘for what have i to do with judging outsiders?’. another version reads as follows… ‘for what business is it of mine to judge those outside of the church?’… and the answer is… none. it is none of my business. i do not get to judge their actions and certainly not w/ MY Truth that holds them to a standard that they do not even believe in. is it the TRUTH? can i share it w/ them… absolutely! but for too long the church has been beating others down over ‘select’ sins, while giving those in other areas a ‘grace’ pass based on some unknown (and obviously unwritten) set of insider rules, all the time hiding behind Christian catch phrases like ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ and ‘tell them the truth… in love’. the fact is.. .WE are those Sinners and the ones who ‘need to be told’, but we were brought in (most of us) through the grace of someone who loved us in spite of us, built a relationship with us, handed us JESUS, … and Then let Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, His word, and others who authentically loved us, help us move from some of our struggles to a better WAY of life.
    all i am saying is that i hope we can approach our neighbors in the gay community the same way we approach every other individual we desire to see find the same hope we have in Jesus.
    but if our approach is to sign petitions, hold rallies, and make them the ‘point’ of our sermons and small groups… then let’s reserve a sunday for lying 7 year olds, tax cheating 40 year old tithers, angry bitter jealous gossiping church women’s prayer groups, proud arrogant male church leaders, and any dirty masturbating 20+ year old male/husband/father who is struggling with a lust issue that has been going on since the beginning of time.
    if we spoke the ‘truth in love’ to these groups the way we do to the gay community, our churches would be empty but for the pious pompous ones of us arrogant enough to think we don’t fit into one of those categories above.

    they will know us by our LOVE… not by our TRUTH. but we will LOVE because of our TRUTH. and when we do that well, like it was done for us at some point, we will earn the opportunity to share our TRUTH, not in partnership w/ Grace, but FULL of grace, and then they will be left with a decision. after that, whatever they choose, we still only get to LOVE.

    ab


    Mar 28, 2013

    God bless you, Andrew Brown, for speaking the truth. I know of no way to express it more clearly. I am no less full of sin and depravity in God’s eyes than any other human being, regardless of what they believe and what they say and do. And until the believer acknowledges this fact, I don’t know that he/she will be used of God to spread the Gospel.

    Scott


    Mar 28, 2013

    Jerica,

    I would simply add that I am not a proponent of silence and passivity. I am pushing for clarity, thoughtfulness, and love in the communication that must exist.

    Thank you for commenting and reading!

    Barnabas


    Apr 06, 2013

    Dude, Andrew, you nailed it. I too refer to the same Scripture..Paul said, “What do I care what unbelievers do? It’s none of my business! But what Christians do is my business.” And that’s where we’ve gone so wrong in all of this. I’ve posted some of my own thoughts about this matter on my blog…you might find it an interesting read. I focus more on the government aspect that the Barnabas does, but I do mention the verse in 1 Corinthians. http://www.rhetorically.blogspot.com,


    Apr 08, 2013

    i agree with Jerica’s statement. Andrew, your false premise is that we are placing one sin worse than another. Your list of sinners and their sins is fine, but the issue is that those people aren’t pushing for a societal shift to happen so that their sin can be accepted and even glorified. The seven year old liars aren’t screaming that they can’t help it and the liars everywhere should be accepted and embraced and have the right to lie. They aren’t setting up narratives everyplace they can find in an attempt to completely change the way we define liars. I completely accept that we are all sinners and our sins are all equally evil and filthy. We all need Jesus because of our sins. Christians must express the love of Christ in our words and actions. But Christ’s love said to people….you are forgiven, now turn from your sin. This is painful for me as I write because I know the sins I am holding onto that I should be turning from. I am not better than self proclaiming gay people. But i am different in the fact that I know my sins(at least most of them) and I don’t try to change the wording or disregard certain parts of the Bible to push my agenda. As far as being a Christian and fighting political battles, i wonder like Jerica if we aren’t fooling ourselves by thinking silence is golden. I am tired of this issue too….but I wonder what we will think of ourselves in 20 years if we stand down. More importantly what will God think of us? How many lives would have been saved if more would have spoken out about abortion before or since Roe vs. Wade? How many more marriages would have been saved without no fault divorce sliding into our law system? Christians are called to stand on the Word of God….right?


Mar 28, 2013

While I agree with many of your points, some I did not, Barnabas (emailed you about one in particular) … I must say I have to agree with Jerica’s ^^ comment and say, “Spot on!” I do not wish to be silent on this issue, yet lovingly declare what God’s word says. May I always be “…exhorting self-proclaimed believers to stay true to Scripture” ~Jerica Cadman

Rose M


Mar 28, 2013

barnabas, thank you for this post. amen. i actually looked on your blog today for a post on this topic, hoping to find your thoughts on this because i respect your views and writing! i did not think your post implied that we are to be silent/complacent on the issue. anyway, thanks again. post much appreciated.


    Mar 28, 2013

    Thanks, Lydia. That is very encouraging.


Mar 28, 2013

Great post Luke! I too, am tired. THis post however, really respectable. Perspective.


Mar 28, 2013

Ironic, coming from the son of someone who just last year comforted a nation that had experienced fierce and lethal tornadoes by telling them that God “drag[ged] his fierce fingers across rural America killing at least 38 people…”

Someone once stormed into the temple saying “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Would this language pass your test of “…clear, but kind. Be bold, but gentle.”? This is an honest question. The calmest response is not necessarily the most correct one, though posts like this imply such.

Avoiding unnecessary offensiveness is one thing, but today’s culture is offended by the very thoughts of others.


    Mar 28, 2013

    James,

    Nearly every one disagrees with their father; there are just a lot more people who publicly agree with mine. I do not always agree with my dad’s statements. I would say certain things differently than he does. I love him and respect ad have been deeply influenced by him, but I am not him and do not think or communicate like he does.

    Barnabas


Mar 28, 2013

I was just praying for the Spirit to lead us to new ways of engaging the LGBT community in this country. We need fresh, Gospel-driven approaches, and it starts with us admitting our mistakes.


Mar 29, 2013

I think there might be some shaking…

http://youtu.be/rvTd_WwuiyM


Mar 30, 2013

Hi Barnabas,

Could you agree that the true pathway of love is to warn adulterers that their sinful lifestyle will exclude them from the kingdom of God? That the true pathway of love is to warn homosexuals that their sinful lifestyle will exclude them from the Kingdom of God? Wouldn’t that actually be a loving thing to do?

1 Corinthians 6:9–11 (ESV)
“9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Could you agree that the most unloving thing a person could do would be to leave people with a false sense of peace and security, when condemnation and the wrath of God are still resting on them? That what may seem bigoted and intolerant could actually be love?

Would it be possible to ever pray prayers like this?

Psalm 119:21–24 (ESV)
Father, please have mercy on us all. Your Word says, “You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments. Please lord, spare us from that. Please do not allow us to transgress your holy commands, or to be arrogant when we do. When we, with tears, and in fear and trembling, exhort those who are captured by their sin, please Lord, take away from us scorn and contempt, for we have kept your testimonies. Even though the government at times plots against those who hold onto your truth, your servants will not be shaken, We will meditate on your statutes. Your testimonies are our delight; they are our counselors. When the unborn are killed in the womb, please Lord, stretch out your hand against those who do this evil. Grant repentance and tender-hearted brokenness to those who do it. Let them confess their sin, and be restored unto you. When marriage, which was designed to illustrate the intimate relationship between Christ and your church, is defamed, and redefined in ungodly way, please Lord stretch your hand against those who do this evil. Reveal the depths of Christ’s love, and the horrors of his wrath, so that men may know that there is a God in heaven. Please Lord, let true justice reign in the earth. We pray in the precious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Just wondering,

Blessings,

Kevin


Apr 01, 2013

I’m not sure what to say exactly. Part of me wants to admonish you for being too wishy washy when our culture is in desperate need of moral clarity. On the other hand I appreciate how well penned your article was and how it compels the reader/believer to engage in much needed critical thinking. At the end of the day I would hope you are a young evangelical leader who DOES believe the Bible from cover to cover and one who does not compromise on THIS issue or ANY issue for that matter that Scripture clearly addresses. I would remind you that the Church in America did not ask for this battle over homosexuality and more specifically same sex marriage. It was imposed on it after the so-called sexual revolution of the 1960’s by liberal engineers of the social gospel. These secularists and left-wing evangelicals might be a good place to start with your criticisms as many of them are obviously still alive and still selling this unbiblical bill of goods to a biblically illiterate culture and a spiritually starved society. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6A)

Thanks,

Darius


Apr 02, 2013

I am glad Relevant picked up your thoughtful questions and deeply appreciate your words. I live and work for a coming kindgom where there will be no marriage. I wonder then if marriage ought to be the number one priority of Christ followers as we labor for the kingdom. I certainly believe in the sanctity of marriage and believe it is defined for us in our present broken world. But I think the hallmarks of the kingdom are about love – even loving those we do not agree with. First and foremost that is love for God which spills over into loving and serving our neighbors. I don’t believe much of the current rhetoric loves or serves our neighbor. I think our light should so shine before men that they glorify our father in heaven. I fear that light is more the light of interrogation than the warmth of a flame that would draw people to Jesus. I love America and thank God I was born in this wonderful country, but my home is in heaven and that is where my heart is also. I pray the heart of heaven is evident as we engage in meaningful discussions on this and other topics of law and government. In the end I hope our hearts are moved to focus less on what we perceive is wrong and more on how we can help make things right by serving the least of these among us. It’s not a hot topic. The poor don’t receive the lime light. But at the end of the day I think it is our service toward them that matters to our King (Mt. 25). Just one humble servants opinion.

Bruce


Apr 02, 2013

Well Said, Barnabas! I wrote a similar article a couple weeks ago.
http://hgraber.wordpress.com/


Apr 10, 2013

There is a question that perhaps should have been enumerated in your blog, and another one to which I would be interested in your response.

First, do Christians have any responsibility to protect future generations from the catastrophic ravages of sin that will be unleashed through this final assault on the biblically defined family? Should we be content and concerned with only the children of believers who will enjoy the blessing of God by honoring his design? Should we try to stave off the deluge of deadly consequences, or merely standby until the damage is done and this try to minister to destroyed lives in a catch-as-catch-can fashion? How does your answer square with letting “justice roll down,” or protecting the most vulnerable and/or fatherless?

Second, in considering how Christians should be involved in legislative processes, is there not an element of a call to repentance built into laws? I am not saying or implying that the law is a substitute for the Gospel, but can it not be a means to turn from destruction?

Adding a third, should not your answers here also square with your position on abortion?


Apr 10, 2013

Poor Barnabas is tired. Sorry it can’t all be resolved by a single post so that you don’t get all tuckered out. I think a little resolve is in order. Can you imagine if Wilberforce had this same attitude during his decade’s long struggle over the slave trade?



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