Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Taking a Biblical Stand on the Issues

I recently had a conversation with two Christian young people about a controversial topic that Americans are grappling with today: should gay marriage be legal? I'd like to share the advice I gave them for finding their way to a decision on where to stand on this question – and any difficult issue facing society.

The conversation on Facebook began when my college-aged friend, Bailey, wrote, ‎"Government should not impose its values upon marriage. It should allow marriage equality, including gay marriage. It should also protect the rights of religious organizations to follow their beliefs."

Of course, this caught my attention, so I read on.

"While you don't necessarily have to agree or disagree about homosexuality," Bailey continued, "I can't say that the government shouldn't allow such couples the right to marry either. However, that also means that those who peacefully disagree with gay marriage shouldn't be forced to perform marriage ceremonies for these couples if it goes against their core religious beliefs."

Our friend, Rorey, another Christian college student responded, "I agree whole heartedly."

I know both of these young people are committed Christians, so I decided to enter the conversation to encourage them to think through the positions they were taking from a biblical perspective. I asked, "So where does it end? What is marriage? Why did it become protected between a man and a woman in the first place?"

Bailey responded, "I'm not saying I agree or disagree with any kind of marriage outside the bounds of one man and one woman. But I also don't think it's on the government to ban marriage between consenting adult individuals."

"I can understand gay couples wanting equal privileges that afforded to married men and women," I responded, "so I can see where civil unions could be the answer. But don't call it marriage – because it isn't marriage according to the Bible."

"It is 'we the people' that make up the government, so 'we the people' can decide what marriage is – and what it is not based on our collective beliefs."

Bailey answered, "I guess I see a distinction between a piece of paper that the government gives and the covenant made between a man, woman, and God. A piece of paper doesn't bother me. The action may bother my conscience, but government restricting actions is a whole different issue and a slippery slide."

"It is not banning marriage," I explained. "It is defining what marriage has always been; a union between a man and a woman for the purpose of love, family, and of creating children. If others want the legal benefits, then a civil union is an alternative. But a marriage has always been between a man and a woman."

Bailey answered, "I'm confused. The actions of these people will go on regardless of the legal paperwork involved. If a marriage license and a civil union provide the same legal benefits for the partners, what is the goal of having them separate? Is it the actual word 'marriage' that is the problem?"

"I think there are two trains of argument going on here," she continued, "whether homosexuality is beneficial or detrimental and whether homosexuals and other periphery partners should get a legal document that says 'marriage' on top."

Rorey answered, "The only way it would pass is if gay advocates agreed to not call it marriage, but that would make some people think that being gay isn't equal. It's more about having the same rights as heterosexual couples."

"I don't believe it should be called marriage either," he added, "but undermining the institution of marriage is kind of a weak argument when half of married couples get divorced/ cheat / post weird things on the internet anyway. That being said the best word to end this debate is the same thing that makes this country great... compromise."

I responded, "Rorey, the question we have to ask is, can one's religious views influence their political perspective, and in a representative democracy, thus influence public policy."

"Following a logical path, if one believes the Bible to be the actual will of God, then one cannot compromise on the question of marriage. Scripture makes it clear that marriage is between a man and a woman – period. Some people want people of faith to check their religious beliefs at the door when they enter the political arena, which is very convenient for them, since it is revealed truth that many of them are opposed to."

"So as a person of faith, the questions we must ask are:

1) Do I believe in a God who is almighty? If the answer is yes, then I have to ask;

2) If God is almighty, can He protect His revealed Word so that it comes to me purely? If the answer is yes, then I have to ask;

3) If the Bible is God's revealed will for mankind, what does it say about marriage? If the answer is that marriage is between a man and a woman only, we have to ask;

4) How does God's revealed Word on this subject affect my political position?

Once we answer that question we approach the subject in the public square standing on a firm foundation.

"It was the Christian Quakers who received the revelation from the Bible that slavery was sinful. God's Word on that moral matter formed their political views on the issue. They boldly took their political position, informed by Scripture, into the public arena and advocated for the abolition of slavery. It took decades of courageous political persuasion and much prayer – not compromise – to see the eventual abolition of slavery."

"The same can be said of William Wilberforce, who literally gave his life to see the slave trade abolished in Great Britain. In the movie Amazing Grace you can see how he started with just a handful of religious leaders who were persuaded by the Bible that slavery was evil. After decades of fighting in the political arena they finally won the abolition of the slave trade – only days before Wilberforce died."

"Just because human beings fall into sin and do not honor the God-given institution of marriage is no reason to abandon it for something that is man-made. God's ideal for mankind is a loving man and a loving woman who love their children. We should always strive for God's ideals – with the help of the Holy Spirit – and live them out in the reality of our daily lives. And when we fail, which we always will, repent, forgive, pick ourselves back up and keep striving for His best. That takes courage and commitment."

"Yes, there are times to compromise when the answer is not clearly given in Scripture. But when it is black and white in the Bible – such as the issue of slavery, or abortion, or marriage, there can be no compromise."

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