Wading into more politics… some thoughts on Proposition 8, the recent court ruling overturning it, and the likely long appeals process…
First some personal thoughts… then some thoughts for Christians who support gay marriage… and then some thoughts for Christians who oppose gay marriage.
SOME PERSONAL THOUGHTS:
First, having read the entire ruling by Judge Vaughn, I think the legal basis for his decision is pretty straight forward, prima facia, well-reasoned, and likely to stand up on appeal — even by a court that may be pre-disposed against gay marriage. If you disagree with this assessment, I would encourage you to read the full ruling:
Second, I think at this point — whether you like it or not — gay marriage as a legal right in this country is inevitable.
Third, it is worth noting the distinction between the civil right of marriage and marriage as a religious rite. These have been and are very different. As a civil right in this country, marriage is essentially a civil contract carrying with it significant rights and responsibilities. These include significant economic advantages for those who are married (in terms of taxation, medical benefits, etc). Marriage also confers rights such as parental, divorce (and the related issues of financial support), visitation at hospitals, prisons, etc. Frankly, these things have little to do with the sacred institution of marriage celebrated by religious bodies. Again, as a prima facia issue, denial of state-sanctioned marriage to gay couples does in fact deny significant civil rights.
Fourth, if it were up to me, the state would get out of the marriage business altogether and just recognize civil unions, leaving marriage to religious/faith communities. I think this makes more sense and is more consistent with the First Amendment requirement for separation of church and state.
Fifth, since it is unlikely that the above will happen, I am pro-legalized gay marriage and always have been (even when my theology of the issue was different). I can find no compelling state interest in denying gay marriage.
Sixth, some people worry that churches/pastors will be forced to perform gay marriages. This is simply fear-mongering. As a pastor now, I have 100% control and discretion over what marriages I will preside at and which ones I won’t. I can put in place any requirements I think are necessary (pre-marital counseling, etc). There is nothing in any proposed legislation allowing gay marriag ethat will change this fact.
Seventh, while it will take a while, I think it is a good thing that this case will in all likelihood go to the SCOTUS. This will go a long way to settling the issue, and I am pretty confident that at the end of the day, the legal issues are straightforward.
Eighth, for what it is worth, I see no evidence in the State of Connecticut that legalized gay marriage has hurt the institution of marriage, has harmed heterosexuals, has impacted schools or children negatively, or has destroyed society as we know it. In other words, all the things that people said would happen, have not happened.
Ninth, take some time and take this MARRIAGE QUIZ.
THOUGHTS FOR CHRISTIANS WHO SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE:
Just a quick thought to the many of you who are Christ-followers and support gay marriage — both civilly and within the church…
My challenge to you (us) is to recognize that we still have a lot of work to do to create healthy environments within our churches for gay couples to meet, date, marry, raise families, etc. I have written a lot about this issue on this blog and think it really is the big issue for progressive evangelicals to be wrestling with. Gay marriage is inevitable… I just hope the church can figure out a way to really support and encourage it as well as they do heterosexual marriage. What will pre-marital counseling look like and entail? How are encouraging healthy relationships? Healthy sexuality? etc? All important things to wrestle with.
THOUGHTS FOR CHRISTIANS WHO OPPOSE GAY MARRIAGE:
First, quite frankly, given the many issues plaguing our world (pandemic disease, spiritual darkness, extreme poverty, illiteracy, corruption, etc) this is the wrong issue to fight. It is the wrong use of time, energy and resources. It is wrong not simply because I disagree with your position, but even more so because gay marriage in this country is now an inevitability.
So the question is what will traditionalist churches and Christians do to reach out to the gay families (and the children in these families) within their community?
It seems to me that the choices are simple: (1) continue to condemn, isolate and divide; or (2) figure out how to love people authentically and sacrificially — even when you disagree with them. I think this is actually a wonderful opportunity for traditionalist churches to demonstrate what they say is true — that they really do love people no matter what. My question is what will this look like? What will it look like when gay families come to your church? When they want their kids to go to VBS? When they want to be baptized? etc etc?
So, those are my thoughts… would love to hear yours.