This is part of The Idea Camp’s Sexual Orientation week, gearing up to next week’s unconference in Las Vegas. The Idea Camp will take place next month (Sept. 27 & 28) and will feature a number of speakers and conversations based around the Church and sexuality. Find out more.
Several years back, my sister Amy and I were driving somewhere and we ended up on the topic of politics.
I’m not sure how it happened but we began talking about abortion, stem cell research, same sex marriages and more. She never really voiced her opinions but asked a lot of questions about mine.
And at several points of the conversation, I think she was a little surprised by what I told her.
One in particular — same sex marriages.
I was thinking back on this conversation this week and wondering what I would tell her today.
Now more than ever, the same sex marriage debate has come to the forefront of our public debate.
And sadly, the same things that bothered me about the debate in 2004 still bother me today.
On one side, we have a vocal (religious) “right” who claim moral superiority and are fighting for the “sanctity of marriage.”
On the other side, we have progressives who claim political superiority and are fighting for “freedom and justice for all.”
As I told Amy that day, we can sit and debate the morality of same sex relationships all day. We can yell at each other, wave our signs and boycott companies who don’t agree with us and yet at the end of the day, very few (if any) of us will really reconsider our position.
The biggest hurdle I see is that my morality will never match your morality — and vice versa. I will always be convicted about things you’re not convicted about and you’ll always be convicted about things I’m not convicted about. My list of “righteousness” will seldom match your list (hence legalism in the Church).
However, as Americans, I firmly believe that the rights granted to one group of people should be granted to all people. If the government choses to recognize my marriage to the person I love — they should also recognize your marriage to the person you love — whether that be to someone of the same sex or the opposite sex.
Unfortunately, too many Americans have come to the belief that the government should legislate morality for all — and I hardily disagree with this idea.
First of all, I simply don’t believe it’s the role of the government — American or otherwise.
Second, cultural morality shifts from day to day. What’s deemed moral or immoral today may change next year.
Third, if I agree that the government is to legislate morality, what argument do I have when culture does shift and I’m in the minority and people are wanting to force their ideas of morality upon me.
Personally, I believe the role of the government is to protect it’s citizens from injustice and oppression — wherever that threat may come from.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…
This includes freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom to marry whomever you please.
That means we all need to recognize others are going to see the world differently that we do — and we should build spaces of grace around us instead of building walls of exclusion.
And because someone sees the world differently than us — we don’t have the right (or need) to constantly proclaim our opinions to the world — whatever they may be. Instead, we earn the right to be heard through loving others.
So, what about the morality aspect of it all?
Honestly, I’m still wrestling with the “moral/Biblical debate”
While I would have said same sex relationships were a flat out abomination years ago, my understanding of Scripture is that God is far more concerned about how we treat and love others than who we choose to love and marry.
We have been called as followers of Jesus to love unconditionally — regardless of all else. How can we really be “set apart” if we refuse to love those who see the world differently than us?
I also know there are a number of dear friends who have wrestled with their own sexuality and found peace in finding a loving God who accepts us just as we are — which is more than I can say about most of us.
And personally, I would much rather err on the side of recklessly over-loving than that of exclusion or under-loving someone. Or to adapt what the Dalai Lama has said, “My religion is very simple. My religion is love.”