Columnists > Voices

Blessings and curses

Is there a Christian case for promoting-or not opposing -same-sex marriage?

Issue: "Supreme Court fight," July 23, 2005

For the most part, Christians oppose legalizing same-sex marriage. But some religious people from across the spectrum are trying to make a Christian case for allowing homosexuals to marry each other.

Theological liberals, of course, have never seen a left-wing cause they will not support. They follow cultural trends, secularist philosophers, and progressive politicians without question or criticism. So if the liberal social class accepts homosexuality and calls for same-sex marriage, then liberal theologians will too.

Some large mainline denominations, such as the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, have agreed to "bless" same-sex unions, but they have stopped short of granting them the full status of marriage. But now the United Church of Christ (UCC) has put homosexual marriages on the same par as those between a man and a woman.

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Using the language not of theology but of liberal politics, the new policy tells UCC clergy not to "discriminate against couples based on gender." Specifically, the resolution supports both the legalization and the church consecration of marriages of "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons."

This raises a question: Wouldn't a bisexual have to marry either a man or a woman? Wouldn't that suggest settling on one orientation or the other, thus negating the bisexuality?

But theological liberals are not constrained by reason. Nor by revelation. They rejected the authority of the Bible years ago. They operate instead under the canons of niceness, cultural conformity, and political correctness.

Andrew Sullivan, a homosexual Catholic, has offered a more serious case for gay marriage. He recognizes that the homosexual subculture is promiscuous and, in many ways, pathological. Marriage is a civilizing institution, he argues, which channels sex in a positive and socially constructive way, the establishment of the family. If some people are, as Mr. Sullivan believes, naturally attracted to members of the same sex, they should be encouraged to form monogamous and permanent relationships. Religiously, bringing homosexuals into the institution of marriage preserves a moral order. The church can thus continue to teach that sex outside of marriage is immoral.

Douglas Wilson offers another argument for legalizing gay marriage, predicated not on the morality of homosexual activity but on its immorality.

In an article titled "Owning the Curse: Re-Thinking Same-Sex Marriage," written with Douglas Jones in the journal Credenda/Agenda, Mr. Wilson makes the following argument: (1) Homosexuality, according to Romans 1, is God's judgment on societies that reject Him; (2) Christians should not reject God's judgments but take responsibility for them so as to repent; (3) homosexuality is a particular judgment against the church for failing to promote biblical fatherhood; (4) homosexuality may well be genetic-as are other sins from our inherited fallen nature-and Christians should treat homosexuals kindly, as victims of "neglectful or abusive fathering"; (5) Christians should let gay marriage happen, as God's judgment on our culture; and (6) the only remedy for this judgment is restoring "right worship" and recovering biblical fatherhood.

"In the brewing culture wars," Mr. Wilson and Mr. Jones conclude, "we ought not to stand with those seeking to ban same-sex marriage (or with those seeking to impose it)." Their bottom line: "So we openly accept homosexual marriage in the civil realm as God's means of undermining that civil realm, and we accept that He has done this in judgment for wicked fathering within the Church."

On the most basic level, though, despite any arguments, the institution of marriage is not changeable. No church council, legislature, or judge can change what marriage is, which is not a social construction or a personal choice or a legal fiction. Rather, marriage is grounded in nature-the way human beings reproduce themselves-and thus in God's created order.

A key Scripture on marriage is Christ's command: "What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 19:6). By the same token, what God has separated, let not man join together.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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