The last rounds of discussion in my conservative part of the world have reiterated the same tired points within a very tired debate on gay marriage and I felt an overwhelming need to respond. The problem as I see it is that many argue from the perspective that their opinions are naturally correct and that they have some moral imperative to legislate morality, even at the expense of constitutional rights.
I did a Google search for "Christian Denominations in America." I count at least 140 different sects or beliefs, all splinters of an infallible Christian faith that conservatives believe they alone belong to. This ethno-Christianity has taken hold of our nation, slowly seeping into the realm of public policy, which in turn affects those who have elected not to participate in religion. The right to choose one’s manner of belief, or lack thereof, is guaranteed to all Americans (not just Christians) by the constitution and affirmed in the Declaration of Independence. It was also an explicit and intentional element conceived by our founders. Yet Christians believe that the most fundamental rights of our Declaration—that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness—do not, in fact, apply to all. Instead, these rights only apply to those who have the great fortune of belonging to the overwhelming voice. What we have, then, is an obvious example of tyranny of the majority.
What is at stake here, however, is a homosexual’s right to marry. God believes that the sin of homosexuality is wrong. With that I will agree. But allow me to introduce the following line of reasoning. It's based on the Bible, but unlike much of the conservative rhetoric, I'm not fusing what I think God believes with my political convictions. I'm going to "stick to the facts."
Sin is sin in the eyes of God; there are no gravities or levels that distinguish bad sins from ok sins (see Galatians 5:19-21 for a partial list). Taking this into consideration, every single one of us sins every day, "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Ecclesiastes 7:20). The question at hand, then, is how can one sinner condemn another? The answer is clear; this can only happen if there is an assumption on the part of he who condemns that he has no sin. The Bible addresses this; "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1st John 1:8).
The Bible offers an anecdote and a solution to this problem of self righteousness. "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." (Matthew 7:3-5).
Since when have we been allowed to cast judgment on our brothers? When did God cede authority to any man to legislate morality? In fact, God is perfectly clear that there is an inherent separation between civil and religious matters. "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (Matthew 22:21).
In their religious fervor Christians have failed to see the basic tenets of scripture, tenets that govern our treatment of others. For example, the following passage speaks volumes about Jesus and his love for those who sin. It reads, "And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst" (John 8:3-9).
Would we be so arrogant to cast a stone when the Lord himself has set a different example? And more importantly, how many of us have followed the example of Jesus by defending gays from those who seek to destroy them? Instead, I know some of you have slandered gays without even knowing their names? This, my most holy brothers and sisters, would be considered baring false witness (Ninth Commandment).
My problem with the argument is that there is much sanctimonious interpretation of the Bible, but scriptures that bare witness to the love of God have been selectively excluded from the debate. We're no longer being presented a God of love (John 3:16). Christians are adamant that God is a God of wrath and punishment until it comes to their own sins; then God is a God of forgiveness, love and mercy. What's happened to the following scriptures and why are we not making them priority in our dealings with others?
- "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving diverse lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercyhe saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:1-7). None of us is worthy of God’s love. Every person's condtion understands that we have all been GIVEN mercy, we didn't earn it. Why do we not show that same mercy and love to others?
- "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment" (James 2:13).
- "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Matthew 7:1-2).
- "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven" (Luke 6:36-37).
- "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:30-32).
- "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (Colossians 3:12-13)
- "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Ecclesiastes 7:14-15). And as to how many times we must forgive; "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:21-22). There is no limit to God's forgiveness of our sins, so why is there a limit to ours?
If anyone refutes my stand, it will simply be a refutation of the Word of God. I would like to point out that scripture, like all information in our media driven world, can be manipulated to serve the needs of the manipulator. If a side must be taken however, and if we've debased God's teaching to polar options and checklists, then I choose to follow God's message of love and forgiveness.
God is beyond politics. Unfortunately, that's what Christians in America are using him for. Ultimately, it's not my place to judge the sin of another, or to legislate my idea of morality. We target gays because they wear their sin on their shoulders, but we all harbor sin in our hearts. Which is worse? Denying people liberties because their particular pursuit of happiness does not coincide with our own makes our opinions no better than the ideology of regimes we’re now sending soldiers to topple.