This is a difficult topic. I recently responded to a friend's via email on this topic and this was a part of the response, now edited for this blog.
While I am personally opposed to homosexual marriage, if the state, through legislative means, rules in favor of a union for homosexual partners, what arguments do I have left other than religious? I believer it is completely appropriate for a religious body to not perform or support homosexual unions based on their interpretation of the scriptures. However, it is not appropriate for religious bodies to insist on state legislation based on a scriptural basis by which only they agree. In other words, all citizens have as a basis the common text of the constitution and law, however not all citizens consider the Bible as a common text. Therefore, any argument that we have against homosexual marriage, abortion, or any other ‘hot button’ issue that is based entirely on scripture will only be effective to those who consider the Bible as common text.
My point is that preaching that homosexual lifestyles go against Christ’s teachings is like preaching to the choir. I think most in the evangelical church would agree (though other liberal interpretations of Christ's teachings would not agree). So then, how does the evangelical church effectively reach a community with Christ's teachings when we often start by essentially saying, “If you’re gay or approve of homosexual unions, you have a distinctive disadvantage in getting to heaven” (… at least that’s how many people hear our opposition to homosexuality). I’d say that cuts us off from reaching about 40% of the community … maybe much more here in New England.
As a church in the modern world, I believe we need to focus on the universal truths in scripture, equip our congregations in a way that they can live it out in the real world, and educate them in such a way that they do not just ‘regurgitate’ scriptural references that will fall flat in a world that does not consider the Bible as common text.
Let me give you my favorite example. Abortion has long been opposed by religious organizations. Those who consider themselves to be Pro-Choice are most adamant that the government or a religious body not tell them what a mother can and cannot do with her body. If we resort to an argument stating that the Bible says 'killing a baby is wrong' and here is the scripture from Isaiah to prove our point, the argument then hits a wall. However, if we look at the universal truth of the matter that killing a baby is wrong and then attack the science behind the Row vs. Wade decision, we can begin to engage someone who does not acknowledge the Bible. I won’t spell out my entire abortion argument other than to say that our level of scientific understanding in 1972 when Row vs. Wade was handed down is easily debunked with modern science.
When it comes to homosexual unions, I have a more difficult time with the argument. I'm solid on the religious arguments, but in terms of matters of the state, I'm not sure there is a good reason to oppose unions. The one thing I know is that I don't approve of a court that creates common law in matters like this. Massachusetts is an example as our legislator did not pass a new law approving legal unions, but that the courts decided that the state constitution already provides for homosexual unions based on discrimination. That's not how our government was designed to work. However, if the state legislator does pass a law or an amendment to our constitution that provides for homosexual unions, then I have limited options for which to oppose it.
At that point I have a few options: 1) run for state representative and work toward repealing the law, 2) protest and take part in civil disobedience demonstrations, or 3) move back to South Carolina. I don't see that legislator changing this law anytime soon; plus I still have a house there that no one else seems to want... anybody.... anybody want it? It's nice... I promise!
What do you think?