Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Revising my Thinking on Same-sex Unions

The issue of same-sex marriage or civil unions has become quite the hot topic lately. I come from a church background that would unhesitatingly reject the notion. I have no doubts on where my church stands on homosexuality, nor on the possibility of same-sex unions, however you want to label them. In 2008 the state of Arizona passed a measure defining marriage as between a man and a woman. I do not remember how I voted on the measure, but I'm fairly sure I voted in favor of its adoption.

Were the same measure put on the ballot today, I'm not sure that I would support it. In several excellent posts Elizabeth Esther captures well much of my thinking on this issue at the present time. I recommend this article, this article and this one as well. While many of my conservative friends would disagree strongly with me, I do not think that our society is going to crumble if we allow same-sex couples to enjoy the same legal rights that hetersexual couples do. 

The issue for me is not whether homosexuality is moral or not. The issue is whether we as Christians can enforce a particular understanding of morality on a society that is increasingly diverse and not inherently Christian. Some have suggested that the majority still support the idea of hetersexual marriage only and that this should settle the matter. But as others have countered that society has an obligation to protect the rights of minority groups. By definition a minority group is never going to win a straight-out popularity contest in its favor. That's why we make laws to protect their interests. If majority rule were the only criteria, blacks would still be politically disenfranchised in this country (or at best they would have waited for it even longer than they had to). To quote Esther:

I also find it disturbing that Christians are upset about "the will of the people" being overturned by a judge. Sometimes the "will of the people" is dead wrong. If the majority always ruled, then African-Americans and women still wouldn't vote. The reason we need the courts is to help protect the rights of minority groups.

Whether I agree with homosexual behavior,  I don't think that I have the right to tell homosexual couples that they cannot enjoy the same rights before the law in regard to each other as I have in regards to my wife. 

A second issue is whether in trying to enforce a particular definition of marriage, Christians succeed in showing love. I often hear the phrase "hate the sin, love the sinner," but what I see all too often is that the sinner receives the hatred and love is not communicated in the least. I think that Elizabeth Esther points us in the right direction. Rather than fighting so hard against same-sex unions, Christians should lead the struggle to show true love to our neighbors--even if those neighbors happen to be a same-sex couple. In our current efforts to "defend" marriage we seem to be doing nothing more than demonstrating how hateful and arrogant we can be and that doesn't strike me as being in the spirit of Jesus at all.

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