Bare with me: I hate long blogs, but this is going to be quite lengthy.
DISCLAIMER: My sister always taught me to stand on what I believe in no matter who agrees. This blog will take that stand. I am a proponent of a good, contentious discussion ending in an impasse. However, I will not tolerate disrespect of me and others who may comment on this piece.
Here are some appetizers to wet your palette before we dive into the main course:
1. I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ is the way, truth and light.
2. I am a Christian that believes in separation of church and state and a strong proponent of the 1st amendment.
3. I am a historian that takes historical context into mind when studying any subject.
4. I think it is important to understand the historical context and overall history of Christianity and the Bible in order to truly understand the Word.
5. I am an attorney who took an Oath to uphold the laws of Texas and the United States of America.
6. I have a gift of breaking down complex information and reconciling different pieces of information.
Keep those six pillars in mind when reading this blog in order to guide you through my thought process. With the appetizers served, let’s get into the main course.
On Friday, June 26, 2015, The Supreme Court of the United States rendered a ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. The ruling essentially states that denial of to individuals of the same sex is unconstitutional under the 14th amendment which affords all citizens equal protection under the law. Hence, this ruling makes it illegal for any state in the Union to deny a marriage license to a same sex couple–thus, making the United States the twenty first country to legalize same sex marriage. Since this ruling was rendered, there has been a firestorm between Christian community and the homosexual/LGBT community. The ruling has created a firestorm in which vile soliloquies are being penned on social media and individuals employed by state governments ( such as Hood County, Texas) are refusing to follow the law of the land. This firestorm has been fueled by a lack of understanding, lack of critical thinking and misinformation.
1. Lack of Critical Thinking when Studying the Word. Many Christians feel that the passage of such law is an attack on Christian values. It is not. As a matter of fact, Christians never had the right to use the political and legal process to deny same sex marriage. How so? I am so glad that you asked that question. Here’s how:
It is true that the Bible condemns homosexuality See Genesis 19 and Leviticus 20:13. However, the Bible also explicitly and implicitly states that individuals have the right to choose Jesus and follow his commandments. First, the Bible is composed of if/then statements See Nehemiah 1:9 and Isaiah 1:19-20. If/then statements not only denote a condition, but it also denotes that you have a choice and the choice that you make has a particular consequence. Such passages parallel with an every day example of choosing whether or not to pay your rent. If you pay your rent, you get to keep your apartment. If you don’t you will be evicted. Regardless, you have the choice whether or not you will pay your rent. Similarly, you have the choice whether or not you will obey the commandments of God. The choice you make will invoke a particular consequence. The fact that you have the power to even make that choice indicates that God gave each one of us free will to choose. This is also made clear in Luke 7: 28-30 where the everyone declared Jesus’s teachings just except the pharisees and lawyers who rejected Jesus’s teachings. The fact that they rejected the teachings indicated that the made a decision to do so, which was well within their control.
Moreover (and more importantly), Jesus never usurped one’s will to choose Him. There is no Biblical passage where Jesus stated implicitly or explicitly that they must choose Him. If Jesus does not take away our ability to choose, then Christians do not have that authority to use the political and legal process to take an individuals right to choose. Through the vehicle of voting, Christians were literally telling the government that they have the right to control someone’s choice because it goes against the faith. I often hear Christians say that voting(prior to legalization when the issue was left up to the states) against gay marriage is a stand for God, but actually it was not. Instead, voting against gay marriage took on a power that was not granted to you by God, thus placing you higher than the Father.
I have encountered Christians that either do not study the Word, or they totally leave their critical thinking skills out when reading the Word. The Bible is such an amazing piece of literature. You can’t read each book of the Bible the same way. The New Testament is comprised of parables which calls the reader to see the meaning behind the parable. The Old Testament is comprised of the Levitical law, which calls for one to understand the historical context to get the actual meaning of those passages. I have been accused of over thinking the Bible. Conversely, I feel that many of my Christian brothers and sisters do not do enough research and study to learn the meaning behind God’s Word. As a result, we end up not following Christ, but allowing the enemy to use our own faith against us. We end up crucifying people and taking on a Pharisee spirit. Instead of using a gentle spirit to win souls to the Kingdom, we drive them away. I think of how many homosexuals would have chosen to life their life for Christ if we would have approached the subject differently than we often do ( but that is another blog for another day).
2. Lack of Understanding the Historical Context and Current Law. From a legal prospective, the ban on gay marriage is and has forever been unconstitutional. In the United States, the right to marry is an inalienable right. Since marriage is an inalienable right, each individual has the autonomy to exercise such a right regardless of which gender they choose to express it with. The United States of America IS NOT A CHRISTIAN COUNTRY. That is a myth that is believed by most Christians. If the United States was a Christian country, it would have been written in the Constitution that Christianity is the official religion of the United States. Moreover, the United States was founded on religious freedom. The fact that the forefathers were Christians is purely incidental. The forefathers left England because of religious oppression instituted by the Church of England. As a matter of fact, to protect religious freedom the First Amendment forbids the institution of a particular God or religion. To make Christianity the official religion of the United States would have been the antithesis of the principle of freedom that the forefathers embodied. In essence, United States was not created to uphold Christian principles, it was created as a beacon of freedom so those individuals could express their values in a manner in which they so choose. Since the United States is not a Christian country, the Bible cannot be used make legal arguments and enforce laws that have a purely religious/faith based foundation. Moreover, Christians can’t keep assigning Christian values to a nation that does not officially recognize those values.
3. Misinformation. I have heard of pastors saying from the pulpit that laws were going to be created that would force pastors to marry same sex couples. THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE. The First Amendment protects religious freedom ( as a matter of fact, if you read Obergefell v. Hodges, it addresses that very issue). Pastors should not tell congregations such fallacies. It would be more productive to learn about the First Amendment and tell congregants how the same opinion the legalizes gay marriage enforces the Christian’s right to faith based convictions.
As a Christian I do not have the power or authority to enforce my beliefs on other individuals. However, I do believe what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. In other words, the homosexual community does not have the right to force Christians and others who do not agree with the lifestyle to accept it. Although I do believe in a person’s right to choose, I do not believe that a lesbian or gay couple has the right to circumvent the First Amendment and force clergy to seal their union in the church. Furthermore, I do not agree with the Episcopalian church’s decision to change church doctrine regarding the issue. The Bible clearly states its position on homosexuality. The First Amendment protects our beliefs. Just as Christians should respect the right to choose the homosexual lifestyle, Homosexuals should respect our right to choose to follow Jesus and follow the principles of the Bible. Just as Christians cannot use the legal and political avenues to enforce beliefs, the homosexual community should not attempt use those same avenues to enforce their lifestyle. If a pastor does not allow a same sex couple to get married in the church, that First Amendment right should not be challenged.
There is a way to respect each other’s choices and beliefs within the confines of the law. The legalization of gay marriage and the principles of the First Amendment can coexist if we learn how to agree to disagree, move forward and respect each other as human beings. Vile, condescending Facebook and Instagram posts ARE NOT PRODUCTIVE.
Both the Christian community and homosexual/LGBT community must do a better job of respecting the God given power of choice.