One of the most controversial and painful issues in America today is the legalization of same-sex marriage.
- Controversial because many are old enough to remember a time when homosexual behavior was universally condemned as sinful and unacceptable. The thought that our President would actively campaign for gay rights was not even possible, and that the Supreme Court would strike down defense of traditional marriage laws in order to force States to legalize same-sex marriages was unimaginable!
- Painful because in the last fifty years Christians have gone from being examples and guardians of the oldest union (marriage) in man's history, to being considered prejudiced and hateful because we oppose same-sex marriage as well as ridiculed for holding to a standard for marriage, which even our detractors agree, is as old as mankind.
I would like to briefly review how we, as a nation, got to this point; look at the main arguments for and against same-sex marriage; and perhaps put forth some suggestions as to where we, as Christians, should go from here.
Same-sex marriage appeared as a national issue in the U.S. over 40 years ago. I would like, therefore, to begin with a timeline that explains the progress of this movement from then until recently:
- May 1970 – Two male college students apply for a marriage license in Minnesota. They sued the State when refused and lost. They claimed that the State law on marriage did not mention gender.
- October 1972 – US Supreme Court upholds Minnesota lower court decision. At this time no State law on marriage mentioned gender. It was assumed that marriage was always intended for a man and a woman.
- March 1975 – A Boulder, CO, clerk issues 6 marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The county district attorney later voids these licenses.
- June 1979 – Netherlands adopts an "UNREGISTERED COHABITATION" status for rent laws thus becoming the first country to grant limited legal rights to same-sex couples.
- October 1989 – Denmark becomes the first country to recognize same-sex unions passing a bill legalizing "registered partnerships".
- June 1991 – A Bill is presented in the California assembly proposing to legalize same-sex marriage.
- May 1993 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Hawaii state-law limiting marriage to opposite sex couples is unconstitutional unless proved otherwise.
- September 1996 – President Bill Clinton signs into law the "Defense of Marriage Act" which bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions.
- November 1998 – Hawaii and Alaska become the first of many States in the U.S. to pass amendments to their State constitution banning same-sex marriage.
- April 2000 – Governor Howard Dean of Vermont signs a bill giving full marriage rights to same-sex couples.
- November 2003 – Massachusetts Supreme Court orders Massachusetts legislature to legalize same-sex marriage.
- May 2004 – Massachusetts becomes the first State to officially legalize same-sex marriage.
- May 17, 2004 – First same-sex marriage performed in Massachusetts for two women.
- June 2008 – California legalizes same-sex marriage.
- PROP 8, a voter led initiative to ban the new same-sex marriage law, wins approval with a majority vote of the population.
- California district court annuls PROP 8 as unconstitutional.
- PROP 8 supporters appeal to the Supreme Court.
- Supreme Court refuses to hear the case which effectively legalizes same-sex marriage in California.
- June 2011 – Governor Cuomo signs a Bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the State of New York.
- June 2015 – U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Constitution allows for same-sex marriage. This ruling overrides the Defense of Marriage laws enacted by the States.
- January 2016 – 37 States have legalized same-sex marriage.
- May 2016 – The Department of Justice orders all federal buildings, colleges, school districts to permit transgender people to use the bathroom according to their "orientation" and not their biological gender.
I include this last item in the timeline to demonstrate how the gay lobby works. This is simply another step in an overall strategy to impose their moral and social agenda on this nation.
This abbreviated timeline we describes the key events and court rulings that have made same-sex marriage legal in this nation, but does not explain how, in 50 short years, this moral and social change took place.
How Did We Get Here?
That we are debating gay marriage, gay rights, acceptance of gay leadership in churches and traditionally Christian organizations like the Boy Scouts of America is no accident. It is part of a carefully scripted effort that has been years in the making.
In his book, Sodom's Second Coming, F. LaGard Smith lists several key items that were contained in the GAY RIGHTS PLATFORM drawn up by the National Coalition of Gay Organizations:
Their "to do" list included the following:
- The repeal of all laws prohibiting private sexual acts involving consenting persons.
- The repeal of all laws prohibiting prostitution – both male and female.
- The repeal of all laws governing the age of sexual consent.
- The repeal of all legislative provisions that restrict the sex or number of persons entering into a marriage unit.
- The enactment of legislation that would permit child custody and adoption to anyone regardless of sexual orientation or marital status.
- The encouragement and support of sex education courses prepared and taught by gay men and women presenting homosexuality as a valid and healthy lifestyle.
- The permission of openly gay individuals to serve in the military.
Now here is the kicker concerning this agenda compiled by the gay coalition – it was published in 1972 – over 40 years ago!
In answer to the question, "How did we get here?" A very determined set of people with a very clear agenda and powerful allies in the media and entertainment industry simply went about establishing their will, first in the media, then in the political arena in order to achieve their goals. For example:
The GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) website lists the ABC television network as the second most gay friendly network in America (the first is the CW network).
ABC owns Walt Disney Corporation which is one of the most gay-friendly companies in the U.S. (Even the Walt Disney World theme park boasts of having an openly gay president). Through the media the gay coalition has been able to promote its homosexual agenda for decades, and with Bill Clinton's help, the gay agenda became mainstream in the nineties.
The breakthrough came, however, when gay lobbyists began promoting their agenda not simply as an alternate lifestyle, but rather as a "minority right".
- They married their cause with the legitimate battle for civil rights fought for by groups like cultural minorities, the handicapped, the poor, women etc.
- Gays argued that they were born this way (there is as yet no scientific proof for this) and so they could not help being gay, therefore to oppose them or their lifestyle was a form of intolerance… they even gave it a name: homophobia.
- Eventually it came about that if you disagreed with their rational for being gay you were immediately denounced as a bigot, you were intolerant, a homophobe. Never mind that you had a superior scientific argument and 6,000 years of human history, not to mention the Bible on your side, you were no match for the gay PR machine that included movie stars and a compliant media industry rumbling right over you.
Then along came the lawyers and politicians looking for a new cause to fight for, another oppressed group to defend. And this group was a lot easier to defend because there was no dirty work. You see, with minorities, handicapped, and the poor you have to get your hands dirty. There are marches, soup kitchens, violence, and money you eventually have to spend in order to actually help these people.
But gay rights were different. They were, as a group, fairly wealthy; many were famous and powerful. It was a political jackpot! Politicians got to crusade as minority/civil rights advocates for people who gave them money, and all they wanted in return was to be legitimized by the State.
Mix this recipe together for 40 years and you end up with a President and large number of politicians promoting gay marriage, gay leadership in the Boy Scouts, gay everything!
Where Do We Go From Here?
Many people think it is all hopeless, that we are too far gone. Other resort to unchristian behavior like nasty name calling or disrespect of our national leader. You know, we can still disagree passionately without being hateful or disrespectful.
In every generation the church faces opposition in various ways. It has been like this since the beginning and has not changed even to this day. The world is a sinful and largely disbelieving place and we, as Christians, must deal with it.
Perhaps it would help if we were reminded of the roles that Christ has given the church to play in every society, beginning with its founding during the Roman Empire to its deliverance at His return at the end of the world. These are the things we, as the body of Christ, do in every age:
1. Witness for truth
There is the truth about Jesus and the true condition of the world, and, more specifically, the truth about homosexuality and gay marriage.
Both the Old and the New Testaments unequivocally condemn sex between two men or two women and whatever union that stems from this activity (i.e. same-sex marriage).
Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexuals…
- I Corinthians 6:9
Gay apologists have only two arguments in defending homosexual activity in light of the teaching on this subject in the Bible:
A. The "cultural" argument
This argument goes like this. Paul came from a Jewish culture that denied women's rights and homosexual activity. It was normal for him to feel and write negatively about homosexuality. In our day and age, we have progressed socially and need to do away with these old social prejudices.
This argument basically denies the inspiration of Paul's writings and relegates them to "human" thinking.
This argument misses the fact that Paul's argument is in agreement with what was written in Leviticus some 1,500 years earlier – Was Moses also caught in a time warp?
Note also that in I Corinthians Paul includes this sin (homosexuality) with other common sexual sins and condemns them all!
B. The second argument, a moral argument from gay theologians and supporters, says that Paul was only speaking about gay prostitution and not about a loving, monogamist relationship between two men or two women.
Note again that the answer to this argument begins and ends with God's Word.
Paul does not discuss intentions or feelings, he describes actions – actions that are forbidden and thus condemned.
For example, idolatry is not a feeling or orientation; it is an action. In the same way, adultery is not a feeling or orientation; it is an action.
Again, a man who lies with another man as one lies with a woman is not a feeling or orientation – it is an action. The Bible does not even give this activity a name! In the original New Testament language (Common Greek) there was no term "homosexual". The inspired writers simply described the action. It was left to modern linguists who would translate what was described as an action in the original language into the noun "homosexual" for translation into English, thus the confusion.
I do not have the time to drill down and give you the social, psychological, environmental and genetic elements that work together in certain people's lives to create same-sex attraction. Suffice to say that God recognizes that some people, for a time or for most of their lives, struggle with this temptation but He still forbids it and condemns the behavior, not the temptation as sinful.
(NB. For further study on this topic see my full length book entitled,Gay Rights or Wrongs)
Even if every country in the world legalizes and promotes same-sex marriage, the task of the church in season and out; whether it is permitted by the government or not, is to be a witness for the truth about this and all matters, no matter what.
What makes us think that persecution was reserved only for the 1st century church?
If we do not stand up and witness against this wicked thing in our nation, who will?
Realize also that it will probably get worse as the gay lobby becomes more aggressive, especially against the church and Christian organizations. One latest example of this is the action of some eighty eight gay organizations that have petitioned the NCAA organization to divest itself from religious schools that request Title 9 waivers. This means that religious schools would be ejected from NCAA sports and government financial support if they reject the gay agenda.
2. Proclaim the Gospel with love
When it comes to this or any other sin, we need to remember that it is the action that is sinful, not the temptation. Having same-sex attraction is the temptation, not the sin. Acting out on those feelings is where sin is.
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin…
- James 1:14-15
Those who struggle with same-sex attraction have a heavy burden to carry because in this society they are only presented with one option – to give in to their desire and live in this man-made moral construct called the gay lifestyle which is being legitimatized through same-sex marriage laws. But there is another way, a way that we, as Christians can offer through the love of Christ and the power of the Spirit.
It is the way of forgiveness, the way of sexual healing (because same-sex attraction is most often as a symptom of past hurt, abuse, neglect or confusion).
It is the new life in Christ among the saints – saints of whom the Apostle Paul said in a passage I previously quoted,
9 Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
- I Corinthians 6:9-11
Gays, thieves, drunks, swindlers, prostitutes – each had a temptation, a burden to deal with and chose to die with Christ in baptism and exchange the burden of temptation they carried for the burden of the cross. Still a burden to be sure, but now a burden rendered light and easy because Jesus would help carry it.
In the face of unprecedented complicity between government, media and agents of immoral social change, the church must stand fast in witnessing to this and every evil in our society, warning of the judgment to come, offering to all the freedom and hope contained in the gospel of Christ. This has always been our task and continues to be our task today more than ever.
I finish with the story of Guy Hammond, big tall Canadian preacher who, for many years, lived an openly gay lifestyle. He was a Christian and knew the truth but same-sex attraction ruled over him for much of his early life. He eventually came out of it, married, had children and started a ministry in Eastern Canada helping gay & lesbians come out of this lifestyle.
He once told me that, much like an alcoholic, he would crave same-sex activity, and had to avoid certain places and people not to fall back into his former sinful ways.
He was invited to speak about his life and experience as an ex-gay man at Rutgers University in New Jersey (a very liberal campus). His visit drew protests from the many on-campus Gay Rights clubs. They came to his speech ready to heckle and boo him. When it came time to address the crowd, he told them that he was exactly like the gay people in the audience. He had powerful feelings of same-sex attraction, even that day, even if he was a Christian.
Then he told them something that quieted the hecklers and gained the respect of the crowd gathered there that day. He said, "For me, the choice was not between homosexuality or heterosexuality, I identified and felt attracted to men, not women. For me, the choice was between homosexuality and holiness, and because I believed, I chose and continue to choose the way of holiness every day."
Brothers and sisters let us not be discouraged but rather be found faithful in carrying out our task in every generation until He comes: To witness for the truth and lead who obey to the way of holiness.