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Four Reasons this Christian Family Supports Marriage Equality

As a vote draws near, a few responses to some common “faith” based arguments regarding homosexuality and marriage equality...

On Thursday, the Illinois Senate is expected to vote on SB – 10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.  Once passed, it will move on to the House where it will await a final vote before becoming law.  The bill, if passed, will grant same-sex couples the freedom to marry in the State of Illinois.  The bill will not, however, require any clergy to perform marriage ceremonies against their faith traditions.  I write this letter of support as a Christian lay person aware of the movement within many churches toward welcoming all of God’s children as we are, regardless of our sexual orientation.

Many of the arguments over same-sex marriage and homosexuality center on religion.  As a religious person who also believes in equality regardless of sexual orientation, this is disheartening.  However, I know that any frustration I may feel regarding this debate pales in comparison to the hurt that many of my LGBT friends have experienced over a lifetime.  It is with great respect for brothers and sisters truly at the heart of this issue that I hope to offer something constructive to the conversation.  What follows are responses to some common “faith” based arguments regarding homosexuality, and four reasons why I feel compelled as a Christian to voice support for marriage equality.

1. There are well-researched and faithful readings of the Bible that support full inclusion and equal rights for the LGBT community.  But, some will say, the Bible clearly says that homosexuality is an abomination!  Or, is it just homosexual acts?  Or is it just the Old Testament.  Wait, what did Jesus say?  Maybe it is not quite so “clear.”  While many are quick to cite a few select verses to support anti-gay beliefs, one can also find verses condemning eating shrimp (another abomination) and even condoning taking your rebellious child to the city gate to be stoned.  Thankfully, there is a stunning lack of support for this 'biblical' child-rearing tactic.  In other words, when we cherry pick or read without historical context, we can use the Bible to defend or promote any number of issues from slavery, to women's rights, to whether or not to spank our children.  The point here is that a Bible verse taken out of context can be harmful, and we must be careful to thoughtfully consider the Bible’s text in light of our experience, history and tradition.

2. The Biblical call to “go forth and multiply” is no longer as critical to the continuing of humankind.  Many argue that same-sex couples are not able to have biological children and therefore their union is not natural.  While it is true that same-sex partners cannot procreate (without donors, gestational carries, medical intervention, etc.), it is also true that 10-15% of heterosexual couples are infertile and often unable to have biological children without medical intervention.  And, many heterosexual couples choose not to have children.  Do we grant marriage rights only to those who are biologically able and/or choose to have children?  Do we recognize the commitment of these childless heterosexual couples as less than?  Of course not, that would be ridiculous, right?  With a world population of over 7 billion, humankind is likely to continue to thrive (in terms of population, at least) whether or not every married couple is biologically able or chooses to reproduce.

3. For many Christians, the call to follow Jesus leaves no choice but to treat our LGBT brothers and sisters as equalsMany feel that this is not only justified, but what is demanded by the Gospel of Jesus. While there is much debate over the translation and context of a few Old Testament verses, in the gospels, Jesus was actually rather silent on the issue of homosexuality.  However, he was very clear in his call for justice and love of neighbor above all else.  Time after time, Jesus is a champion for the oppressed, the minority, the meek.  Is it all that radical to believe that Jesus would welcome gay brothers and sisters into the church with open arms? Too radical to believe he would even go a step beyond to wash their feet as with his disciples?  Perhaps the lack of any evidence that Jesus turned homosexual followers away is evidence enough that he welcomed them in.  Let us focus our efforts on heeding that call, as demonstrated by Jesus, for social justice.  Let us be known for that.  After all, shouldn’t the church be the one safe place for us to be who we are?  Aren’t we called by Jesus to be the church? 

4. Regardless of what our individual interpretation of scripture tells us, let's look at what's happening in the present day. Let us ask ourselves the following question: What do we honestly believe to be the greater sin?  Do we stand by and watch as our society and our churches treat our brothers and sisters as less than equal, stand idle as our LGBT youth attempt suicide at a rate five times greater than that of straigh youth, and feel satisfied with a message (at best) of "we love you, but you must change.”  Or, do we commit the 'sin' of treating everyone as an equal regardless of the object of their consensual relationship, reach out - sincerely - to youth struggling with issues of rejection and self-worth, and proclaim, boldly, "Welcome.  Come as you are.  God loves you.  We love you." 

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love… 

It is my hope that our state, and our religious institutions, will be a leader for justice and work for the latter.  It is my prayer that, in my own home, we will faithfully follow the call of Jesus to do so as well. 

For other Christian voices (much more eloquent than my own) please see:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Adam Hamilton and his most recent sermon on the homosexuality and the church, Bishop Sally Dyck's letter regarding Marriage Equality, and Rachel Held Evans’ blog posts, particularly here, here and here.

A final note regarding comments:  I am very aware that we feel passionately about both sides of this debate.  If you feel compelled to offer a comment, please do so in a way that is constructive, civil and helpful to the discussion.  And, most importantly, please be mindful of all of those who may be reading. Thank you.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dan Johnson May 07, 2013 at 01:23 AM
J. Ann While your interpretation of scripture is irrelevant when considering equal treatment under the law, it is you who is adding to scripture by interpreting the passage warning against idolatry and pagan ritual lust and sex as a prohibition of relationships based on mutual love and respect. In earning you degree in biology, you probably learned same sex behavior and even pair bonding occurs in over a thousand other species as well. When the bonding responses are being expressed, a perfect fit of parts is not required. The parts work just fine, as demonstrated by the existence of same sex bonding across time and place, no matter how well accepted or how severely punished.
Dan Johnson May 07, 2013 at 01:30 AM
just answer. Marriage has taken many forms throughout time, culture, and place. Divorce is nothing new, nor does it have anything to do with treating the marriages of same sex couples equally under the laws currently in effect for opposite sex couples. Your desire to restrict marriage based on a fitness of parts, ignores that neither ability nor desire to have sex is a requirement of marriage.
Dan Johnson May 07, 2013 at 01:35 AM
Equal rights under another name is not equality. Separate can never be equal. It always results in stigmatization as worth less. "In the court’s final analysis, the government’s only basis for supporting DOMA comes down to an apparent belief that the moral views of the majority may properly be enacted as the law of the land in regard to state-sanctioned same-sex marriage in disregard of the personal status and living conditions of a significant segment of our pluralistic society. Such a view is not consistent with the evidence or the law as embodied in the Fifth Amendment with respect to the thoughts expressed in this decision. The court has no doubt about its conclusion:...DOMA deprives them of the equal protection of the law to which they are entitled."
J. Ann May 08, 2013 at 02:43 PM
@Dan Johnson---no, not true. You are truly reading into Scripture and adding to it and taking away from the inherent meaning which is quite clear---God loves all people, but the homosexual behavior is harmful and not acceptable in His eyes. Just what does it mean when it says in Romans1:27.."and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due"? Does that happen to kind and loving individuals in a committed relationship, too, or is that reserved for your "pagans and idolaters"? Don't you see the illogic in your comments? Homosexuality and its behavior is ultimately between God and the individual, and the government needs to stay out of it. It's all politics when the government gets involved, we know that. We have to get past our feelings and back to sound thinking and reality, and what is best and right and good for the whole and not just the "kind and loving" individuals. There's a trainwreck coming, and we can't see the forest for the trees. Furthermore, it really doesn't matter what some PHD's have written about it, what matters is what the Bible clearly states---but we have walked away from the Truth and are embracing the LIE (as Romans 1:25 warns of). God have mercy on our country. (please see Proverbs 1:20-33) You may use all the logic you want, but it will NEVER negate the Word of God.
Vaughn Christensen May 15, 2013 at 04:28 PM
To really know what the New Testament says you must read it in the Greek rather than a translation. Here's a website with Romans 1:27 with the Greek and English words together: http://interlinearbible.org/romans/1-27.htm

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