Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Response Strategies to Same-Sex Marriage

The recent Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as "unconstitutional" and a "deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution" opens a floodgate of challenges to long-held moral, ethical and legal views in the United States. Make no mistake -- this is not merely a California decision. It has ramifications that go way beyond a state's rights to declare same-sex unions legitimate and the "same" as historic marriages between a man and a woman. It is not merely "equality under the law" that has been affirmed here. It strikes at the very root of biblical truth and God-established moral boundaries. Pollsters are bold to suggest that a majority of the U.S. population also support same-sex unions. The Court simply legally affirmed what homosexual advocates have been saying for a number of years now.

What should be the evangelical, Christian response? Since most people who read posts like this are going to describe themselves in that category, these comments are for "the choir," so to speak. Same-sex advocates could care less, no doubt, what this post has to say. And that is the underlying presupposition of this post. The majority of homosexuals and same-sex couples simply "ignore" the evangelical point of view or defense. In the words of Eric Teetsel of The Manhattan Declaration, the seminal study written by Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson, and Robert George defending the biblical viewpoint of marriage has been simply "ignored" by same-sex marriage advocates (SEE http://www.worldviewchurch.org/wvc-digest/featured-articles/19964-dont-try-the-same-marriage-debate-again spMailingID=6430205&spUserID=NTYxMzk4NTc4NwS2&spJobID =76741877&spReportId=NzY3NDE4NzcS1). Nobody is listening to the evangelical voice or defense except evangelicals. Noting this as a presupposition, here are various attempts at a response.

We could fight a "rear-guard action." And a number of evangelicals will do so. They will attempt to hack away at the heels of the homosexual advance by exploiting social and political "weaknesses" in their arguments and unions. They will attempt to continue to show how psychologically damaging this lifestyle is, how same-sex unions cannot give a child the proper foundation he/she needs to grow up normally. They will continue to write legislators in their city and state to continue to oppose same-sex unions in those states that have not yet caved in. The problem here is that state legislators care little what evangelical Christians have to say in a country fast-moving toward homosexual inclusion and freedom for all (SEE Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom, Fundamentally At Odds by  Matthew J. Franck  within Marriage, Religion and the Public Square, June 18th, 2013).

We could mount better argumentation a la Paul in Acts 17 in defense of biblical truth and points of view. We could study that apology for the Christian faith in the midst of unbelief and formulate better debating points, more cogent argumentation and (seemingly) more convincing "proof" of the truth of biblical marriage boundaries. We could try to find "common ground" debating points. We could marshall quotes from non-Christian marriage scholars as to why the traditional position is "better" than the same-sex viewpoint. The problem again is "no one is listening!!" Gone are the days of town-hall debating where the better debate wins the day for the audience. People rarely pay attention to who wins, and Christianity is left holding a trophy no one cares about except the evangelical.

We could simply ignore the issue ourselves and isolate ourselves from the rest of the country and world. We could circle the wagons on this, and a whole host of issues, and become people once again seeking to be "separate" from the world. We could even defend such a stance biblically as the "called out" ones, the "holy" ones who wish to distance ourselves from evil. As part of a denominational group that historically attempted to so so, I would just say--"it does not work!" And, I don't believe Jesus Himself would approve of such isolationistic actions and attitudes.

Or, we could seek to "change people's aspirations," as Nathan Hitchen suggests in Don't Try The Same Marriage Debate Again (SEE http://www.worldviewchurch.org/wvc-digest/featured-articles/19964-dont-try-the-same-marriage-debate-again?spMailingID=6430205&spUserID= NTYxMzk4NTc4NwS2&spJobID= 76741877&spReportId=NzY3NDE4NzcS1). His thesis is that people do what people feel, not what rational argument wins the day. He says that we need to "inspire people to change by making them feel something." Not that we give up our stand for biblically based truth and right. But we market and package it very differently, especially for twenty-somethings, than we ever have. We need to address the "persuadables" by showing them how and why biblical marriage works and provides peace, comfort, security and hope.

While many fundamentalists I know would scoff at such a "subjectivistic" approach and label it as "watered down" or even flawed because it appeals to people rather than God, this approach has the merits of grace, gentleness, and dependence on the Holy Spirit alone to finally persuade, convict and change a person. Think of a gathering almost anywhere, in any secular venue, where the master of ceremonies congratulates couples celebrating their 50th or 60th wedding anniversary. Everybody claps. Everybody feels "good for them!" Everybody applauds their years of sacrifice, love and perseverance. Why? Because at the heart of everyone, even the most unbiblical skeptic, is that moral, deep sense that "this is the way marriage should look and be!" This may not automatically change the mind of the homosexual with an agenda, or the same-sex couple of giving it up, but it can make a dent in the ongoing argumentation.

What I do know is that unless we as evangelical Christians find a way to persuasively address same-sex couples and unions, we will not win the battles that are certain to come.