I want my gay friends to be happy. I want them to know they are loved. They remain friends with someone who believes what I believe about what they do because we don't talk about it. Perhaps that's their choice, or mine, or something in between, but we've steered clear of it---so far. Frankly, I dread the day it comes up, because I've long ago shed the notion that I have the clarity, judgment, and authority to contradict what the Church has taught from the very beginning. It's a pernicious belief---running through the very heart of even the most conservative denominations---that the individual Christian is invited to judge for himself what the Bible does and does not mean.
So if my gay friends ask me what I think of their lifestyle and of gays getting married, I have to tell them. I dread that day because I am a coward and I want them to continue liking me and I don't want to hurt them. For all our reputation as gay haters, I imagine there are more than a few Christians in a similar position.
As the campaign for gay marriage continues its relentless march toward a place where even Rome in its deepest debauchery didn't tread, I'm tempted, when I think about this issue, to capitulate. I want my gay friends to be happy, after all. And who am I to interfere with their desire to form a legally sanctioned relationship?
This resonates with the libertarian in me, who wants to distinguish between the rules of the state and the authority of the Church. A marriage isn't genuine, so far as I'm concerned, unless the Church recognizes it. So why not let my gay friends get "married"? Yes, there are the ancillary consequences, like employers being required to recognize what they consider illegitimate unions, and the additional impetus this would give a culture already bent on unmooring itself completely from the anchor of Judeo-Christian norms. Part and parcel with this, no doubt, would be the wide swath of churches, devoid of any firm dogma as it is, embracing the change with open arms: "Gays are getting married? We'll just add a gay couples group to our 57 other varieties of small-group feel-good flavors. All are welcome at the First Church of Happy Thoughts."
The ancillary consequences certainly aren't negligible, but then I weigh them against a change that would ease some of the pain I see in friends who already feel like outcasts. And maybe, I'm tempted to tell myself, if they have the option of marriage, the promiscuous ones will settle into meaningful relationships. Maybe once they are attached to someone they love and feel less like aliens, they can even begin to hear the gospel. Heck, maybe supporting gay marriage is the Christian thing to do. Aren't we supposed to love our neighbors?
It's so very tempting to adopt this logic. Reinforcing it is the knowledge that by supporting gay marriage I am doing something that lets my gay friends know I care about their happiness. But I can't, because supporting gay marriage is false compassion. It affirms the lie that men and women in open rebellion against God can inherit the kingdom of Heaven. I wish they could. I wish everyone could be saved. But the teaching of the one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church is, and has always been, that homosexual practice is sin and that willfully unrepentant sinners imperil their very souls.
So what does love say? Assent to the farce in order that my friends will know my earthly, temporal, selfish affection? Or alienate myself from them by holding to the teaching of the Church out of a desire not to add to the lie they have been told by a world already gone so far astray that secular humanism is its default morality?
"Who are you to say?" That's the understandable refrain. My reply is, "Exactly." I am not to say, nor are you. We are called to cleave to God or throw in with Mammon, with Moloch, with Eros. And God help any of us who, in order to make our own situations more comfortable, lead our gay brothers and sisters further down a path of lies.
"This is not a Christian nation," is another reasonable response. God knows that's true enough. But we are Christian citizens living within it. And so long as we have the liberty of political participation and the responsibility of upholding the teaching of the Church, we must speak out against gay marriage, even if it costs us the friendships of people we care about. Because we love them.