Well I'm finally going to explicitly say it: I believe it is incredibly important that Christians support gay rights, BECAUSE OF Christianity.
That seems like an unusual thing to say, right? Well here are my 3 reasons American Christians NEED to support gay rights and legalization of gay marriage:
3. Some Christians believe God supports and blesses same-sex marriages.
Among Christians, there is disagreement on the question of whether or not gay marriage is sin. Both sides of the debate have committed Christians who love/value/believe the bible and want to follow God.
And seriously, I am so frustrated at the way some Christians act like there's NOT a debate. As if it's impossible that there might exist Christians who love God and the bible and really are trying their best to obey God, and who through prayer and studying the bible, etc, have come to the conclusion that God blesses same-sex marriages.
Please. They are your brothers and sisters in Christ. Please acknowledge that they exist. Please acknowledge that they truly want to follow Jesus. (And I'll play the "Christian unity" card here too: For the sake of Christian unity, stop acting like Christians who disagree with you on some issues aren't real Christians. I could even play the "what will the world think when they see us fighting among ourselves" card: What will the world think when they see how the church treats its own LGBT members- stuck in the closet, hiding their identity, hearing a message of a God who accepts everyone but seeing that the church doesn't act like it's true?)
So anyway. Obviously, if you're a Christian who believes that God blesses same-sex marriages, then you already believe gay marriage should be legally recognized. This post is mainly for the Christians who believe gay marriage is a sin.
I'm not trying to convince you that gay marriage is not a sin. Like I said, this is a debate within Christianity, and on both sides are Christians who are trying their best to follow God and understand the bible, etc. If you're on the side that says gay marriage is sin, that's fine. BUT I still think you should support it being legalized. The question of something being legal is separate from the question of it being sinful.
(And personally, I am not on either side. I'm straight, why do I even need to have a side? This is a debate about what someone should do in a very personal situation I will never find myself in. So I just want to support all gay Christians, on both sides.)
So perhaps I should have titled this post "3 Reasons Christians NEED To Support Legalizing Gay Marriage."
2. If you believe gay relationships are sinful, well, it's not like banning gay marriage is stopping anyone from "sinning" anyway.
Yeah so, I got some bad news. Gay people who want to date and live together and be committed to each other and raise kids are going to do just that, regardless of whether or not the government gives them the same benefits as straight couples.
Gay people are doing all of those things. The question is whether society is going to give them a hard time about it and try to inconvenience them every step of the way.
And if you believe all those things are sin, well, using the government to make it harder doesn't stop those "sins" from happening. If anything, it makes more people want to fight harder to get the government to recognize their relationships/families. You're not reducing the amount of gay "sin" going on. You're just making people's lives harder.
And speaking of the government recognizing people's relationships/families, why should the government care whether the couple is same-sex or opposite-sex? Seriously, from the government's point of view, why should that matter? You have an arrangement of people which gets certain legal protections and rights and benefits. Why should the government care if the couple is same-sex or opposite-sex?
(And now somebody's going to say "Well then why can't gay people just be happy with civil unions? All the same legal benefits as marriage, but not using the word 'marriage'." Right. They can have the same benefits as long as EVERYONE IS CLEAR ON THE FACT THAT THEIR RELATIONSHIP IS INTRINSICALLY INFERIOR TO THAT OF AN OPPOSITE-SEX COUPLE. Right. Yeah. Can't imagine why that's not really seen as an acceptable solution.)
So, my first two reasons are eh, kind of mediocre, but this one here, this is the number one reason Christians NEED to support gay marriage: Love.
Love and love and love and love and love. This is what Christianity is about. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Love and love and love and love. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
Love. Christians: Our entire faith is based in love. God loves people. We need to love God and love people. And any other reason there may be for supporting gay rights is NOTHING next to this. Love. Love. Love and love and love.
Okay, stay with me here. I know what you're thinking. "Loving people doesn't mean we just let them do whatever they want. Love isn't some squishy thing that's whatever feels good. Sometimes you love people by stopping them from doing something harmful."
Yes. Definitely. I agree with all of those statements. The question is how exactly they apply to gay marriage. How should Christians show love to LGBT people?
First: Listen. To love someone, you should get to know them and empathize with them and try to understand their story. Every person is created in the image of God, and therefore has creativity and intelligence and dreams. You can probably learn something from every person you take the time to befriend.
So listening is the first step, and then figure out the rest from there.
And, I can tell you what's NOT love:
Love is NOT refusing to listen.
Love is NOT perpetuating stereotypes and fear.
Love is NOT treating someone's personal life as nothing more than an interesting debate topic.
Love is NOT comparing the most important relationship in someone's life to a drug addication.
Love is NOT comparing the most important relationship in someone's life to a crime like murder or rape.
Love is NOT presenting an analogy where you are the parent making rules for the child who doesn't know what's best for them.
Love is NOT claiming that a complete stranger's family should not exist.
Love is NOT telling someone you know their life and their needs better than they do.
People like to talk about "speaking the truth in love" which, I have gathered, means politely telling someone they're a horrible sinner. Apparently, that's all "truth" means in the context of homosexuality.
No. There is more truth that needs to be spoken. Truth about how hard it is to come out. Truth about praying and praying for God to change one's orientation. Truth about hiding, fearing rejection from the church. Truth about gay couples with healthy relationships.
Listen. Listen. And love.
I listened, and I found that gay people in general believe that legalizing gay marriage is essential (but they also care about a lot of other things besides that!). I listened to the stories and the reasons why. And I believe them.
And as Christians who want to show God's love to the world, we need to do it by listening to people and believing them when they talk about their needs. We need to love by not acting like we have all the answers and we know other people's lives better than they know themselves.
We need to love by advocating for gay rights, and specifically, for gay marriage.
(And... wait for it... 3... 2... 1...)
"But what about the children??!!! Won't someone think of the CHILDREN????!!!!"
Yes, the children who are bullied for being gay. The LGBT students who commit suicide at a rate 2 or 3 times that of other students. Won't someone think of the children?
Oh, you didn't mean those children? Right, of course not.
Did you mean the children who are adopted by same-sex couples? The children who needed a family, and then were adopted and got 2 loving parents? Indeed. The bible says to take care of orphans. So let's make sure we do that by not putting extra barriers in the way of those adoptions.
Oh, you didn't mean those children either?
Actually, the "think of the children" argument is something about how every child "deserves" a pair of opposite-sex parents. And therefore gay marriage should be illegal. I really don't understand this argument. Let's suppose that it is true that the ideal perfect setting for a child is to have 2 opposite-sex parents. Okay, so what? Welcome to reality. Nobody's life is "ideal." Things don't just perfectly work out the way you want them, so you have to make the best of what you have, rather than banning everything that doesn't match your "ideal."
No parent is an "ideal" parent. And I don't for a minute think that having gay parents is somehow so unhealthy and harmful that it's in an entirely separate category and should be avoided at all costs. (See above: "Love is NOT claiming that a complete stranger's family should not exist." For more information, go listen to people in that situation.)
One last thing: Love. If you still believe that the loving thing to do is to block gay couples from getting legal rights/benefits, then think about this: Imagine a gay person currently advocating for gay marriage. Imagine that said gay person then changes his/her position and comes to believe that gay marriage is sin. Do you think he/she is going to say, "Wow, thank you so much for fighting against my rights. I didn't realize it at the time, but that was really the most loving thing you could do for me. The way you told me I was wrong about my personal life and my needs and said I was a threat to marriage/families/America was what led me to Christ."
Yeah, that's not going to happen. Love is not shown through politics and restrictions. Love is best shown through friendships and personal connections. Love is not shown by claiming that you know complete strangers' needs better than they know themselves. Love is shown through humility and valuing others' intrinsic worth as human beings.
Go and listen to someone who's different than you. Go show love and be like Jesus.
Love. They will know we are Christians by our love. I pray that it would be true.