There is a comment thread in my first post on same-sex marriage that I will respond to here in this post. I’d like to make a couple of points that might get lost in just replying in that thread…
A reader named Deanna asked me to go look at a blog which leveled the charge of “idolatry” at people of faith who do not condemn their gay neighbors and same-sex marriage. My friend Greg went and read it and responded, and I checked out as well. Here are a couple of points I’d make…
First Point: Name calling is just too easy and evasive.
There are so many arenas on the web to talk about and debate what the scriptures actually say about same-sex attractions or practices, and I really encourage people to dig in and try to answer some of the tough questions surrounding the issue of same-sex activities recorded in the scriptures and how we interpret them, if living by the scriptures is one of your personal drives. I will say that I agree with Greg on his take on the referred article… too simplistic and unfair. It’s far too easy to simply accuse people you don’t agree with as idolaters. When you can’t hold a substantive argument, the recourse should be doing more scholarly homework, not resorting to name calling.
Maybe, one day soon I’ll unpack my reading of scripture and same-sex attractions and relationships here, at least as I have come to believe and read the scriptures. I am someone who holds scriptures at the core of my life and thought, dependent on and grateful for them.
However, in my previous blog post, though I did mention own belief that a same-sex orientation is not antithetical to my faith, all the ideas I expressed were about removing inequalities in our civil laws about marriages and it’s benefits. The article to which I was referred at least began at the marriage question, but only as a spring-board to move to other things, like name-calling in disagreement. Why change the subject? Scallia’s exchange was interesting, but hardly definitive.
The bottom line is that I am happy to respect anyone’s right to hold a view on same-sex marriage and to have their own thoughts on same-sex orientation, but I am not happy to have anyone’s views unnecessarily held above their neighbor’s views to their neighbor’s detriment. That is not “neighborly,” nor kind nor civil.
Second Point: Has no one ever taught us to disagree?
I’m afraid that people of faith who do believe that same-sex attractions and relationships are antithetical to their faith are missing a great opportunity to grow in their own beliefs and at the same time make a fair, just statement to their neighbors who believe differently. I wonder why we so often think that someone’s differing opinion undermines our own? Universal agreement is certainly not the best test for one’s own convictions.
Suppose that more traditional thinking people of faith who opposed same-sex mariage would say something liek this:
“Well, it is a ‘free country’ and you are responsible for your own life. So I will not try to get in your way on such a personal issue that involves consenting adults living their lives. By the way, if you ever want to consider my views on the issue, I’d be glad to buy you a cup of coffee and chat.”
Such an offer may not get many takers, but it’d be respected far more than shrill name calling and denial of people’s civil rights.
People of faith have been disagreeing poorly for a long time, so I don’t blame our current generations for the problem. I do however think we could make some real strides forward on disagreeing better. We can be part of the solution!
This is especially needed when we are thrown in the public spotlight. I grew up in churches that happily argued and condemned each other all the time, relishing the delight of publishing scathing articles about another congregation, a college or some preacher who disagreed with their view. The worst days were when one congregation would take out a full-page ad in the local paper to condemn another. What a horrible witness to the reconciling power of Christ.
People of faith who want to point to the faith of the writers of our national documents like the Declaration of Independence and Constitution should be humbled that faith had such a grand part of crafting these documents of freedom and liberty, not restriction and denial. Faith helped create the guarantees of freedom that we now debate in our national conversation and in the highest court of the land. In such a national arena we need to recognize that our views and opinions are best shared with respect, dignity and a large dose of humility.