This is the third and final part. I would love to hear your thoughts after reading all three.
Matt: Christianity struggles with extremes. There have been voices that have said Christians should have everything to do with politics and other voices who say Christians should have nothing to do with politics. Is there a healthy balance where we can land? I think that balance starts with saying that we can’t rely on political processes to be the leverage we use to impact the world with our faith. We cannot depend on politicians to be our voice or our power and strength. I fear we have often put politicians into some roles and given them some expectations that should have been reserved for God and the Holy Spirit.
Politics is not the priority in the life of a Christian. When we have faith in God it will certainly be expressed in how we view the political process, how we vote, what issues are important to us and which issues won’t make any difference to us. We have to get below the surface to the spiritual reality of our lives and how our actions and attitudes toward politics, legislation, etc either uphold a Christian worldview or they do not and adjust accordingly. I love how Jesus takes specific actions in the sermon on the mount and digs below it all to the spiritual reality of what God is really after. God wants our hearts. Have we given our hearts to another and does our reaction to all these things show us where our heart really is? Too often I am afraid we have co-opted and syncretized our faith with the world in a way that makes Christians unrecognizable from the world. We can’t let that happen.
On a side note, I don’t see why granting “partners” visitation rights has to be tied to marriage. Is there a good explanation out there of why the two must be tied together?
Philip: I pretty well agree with all you said there.
As for your question, that’s where my knowledge gets hazy. But it’s always struck me that the only difference between a civil union and marriage is semantics. And there is a growing sentiment in the LGBT community to call their relationships by the name that opposite-sex couples call their relationships: marriage.
Imagine for a moment a bizzaro world (this is a stretch, but play along) where our country banned marriage for cannibals. No one who openly eats human flesh is allowed to gain a marriage license. ALSO- guess what: Christians who partake in the Lord’s Supper are classified as cannibals. So we can no longer get married. But, hey, here you go: you’re allowed to have a Civil Union. BTW, that’s the case in only 18 states — in 30 of them you can’t even have a civil union. So you’ve got that going for you. But no matter what you can’t call it marriage.
To us, that would seem like a very strange way to prevent a group of people from enjoying all the civil benefits of marriage that a large swath of the rest of society enjoys when they pledge themselves to someone. Much less being able to express socially that you are married to someone. And having your government — which is supposed to represent you (“a government of the people, by the people, and for the people”) — acknowledge that as well.
So I think that’s the essence of the yearning that the LGBT community has.
Matt: I have a feeling the transubstantiation crowd would flex a little in order to retain their rights to marry I also think that many would view themselves as married in God’s sight (after going through the traditional Christian process) apart from what the government had to say about it all. There is the whole point though, right? Do we care what the government does and doesn’t say about all of this?
Philip: The LGBT community cares, yes. Especially when it comes to civil issues related to marriage.
I don’t like being put in a position of defending their views. I don’t want to fall into the trap that political moderates (like myself… since I am one) often stumble into. Someone takes a side, so they (I) sense imbalance. So as to restore their (my) sense of balance the moderate takes the other side.
Over and above the political intricacies of rights in gay marriage — or legal considerations of state amendments vs. a federal law — I’m way more interested in how the Church responds to the shifting dynamics at play. Because I’m convinced that the bi-polar status quo of either wholesale resentment of & political activism against anything homosexual (on one side) or wholesale embrace of homosexuality & consideration as a legitimate, God-accepted choice for consenting adults (on the other side) is wrong. So what is the way forward for the Church?
Matt: You saw right through my trap How does the church respond? We could write a whole book on that one and not cover it. In my opinion here is the key…the problem we have had in the past is that somehow Christians have thought that certain issues were serious enough that they could leave every single one of the fruits of the Spirit at the door when discussing them with others. If we embrace those fruits as we enter into these conversations we can have a healthier dialog with those we disagree with.