Every Friday we’ll take a break from topical posts and will post some random personal thoughts.
The Gay Marriage Debate: Winning, Losing or Dropping Out?
(Links to all four parts at the end of the article)
Three questions are raised when we discuss a Christian response to same sex marriage: Do we have a mandate to influence the culture? Is change an indicator of progress? Where do we go from here? Last week we looked at the first of these questions. Today let’s look at the second question: Is change progress, and is all progress good?
No one can deny the country is shifting towards solid, widespread approval of a redefinition of marriage to include same sex unions. (See the post here from Friday June 29) Simultaneously, those resisting this redefinition are, more and more, seen as bigots who resist equality, similar to the racists of the 60’s who resisted civil rights. That is the direction we’re taking, a direction proving change. Those celebrating this change no doubt see it as the progress of an enlightened, evolving society, leaving those of us resisting the change wondering if change is, in all cases, a measure of progress.
Well, sure it is, at least technically. A change in direction does mean progress. It means we’re progressing towards something, but since we’ve changed direction, it also means we’re going towards something different than before, or we’re going towards the same goal, but in a different way. And there’s the rub. Progress can be made, but towards the wrong goal. Or we can have the right goal in mind, but choose the wrong way of getting there. Either way, change in itself is not proof of healthy progress. When I take the wrong freeway turn-off I’m definitely progressing, changing, moving on from where I’ve been. Whether or not that “moving on” is going to get me where I really want to go is arguable.
Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in American sexual morality. Ask the average person on the street if our standards of decency have changed, and I’ll wager six figure amounts you’ll get a Yes. Ask if the changes are for the better, and I’ll plunk down the same amount betting you’ll get a Nay. We’ve inarguably progressed from modesty to brazenness; from emphasis on self-control to self-expression. Do a little channel surfing (especially after 10pm) and ask yourself if the results indicate desirable or undesirable progress, and I think that’ll make the point. Change means progress; progress proves change. Whether we party or weep over it is determined by what we wanted, and whether or not the progress in question has gotten us closer to, or further from, our goal.
But talking about desired-versus-undesired goals get trickier when we shift from questions about public decency or reckless promiscuity towards questions of justice for couples of the same sex. Most people, Christian and non, will agree that promiscuity is unhealthy and even dangerous; most will likewise lament our decline in modesty. (While still tuning into the aforementioned television shows, but hypocrisy’s a subject for another post.) We’re divided, though, when it comes to homosexuality. Many believe that homosexual partnering does no harm, so homosexual couples should be afforded marital status if they want it. Others of us, despite believing that same sex couples can live responsible lives and care deeply for each other, still cannot view homosexuality as being on par with heterosexuality. We believe we have a Creator; that our Creator had specific intentions when designing the sexual union; that those intentions are only fulfilled in a monogamous heterosexual covenant; and thereby we could never support a redefinition of what He Himself called good.
The culture is saying something else, but risking charges of arrogance let me say plainly that our principles weren’t based on the culture’s definition of right versus wrong to begin with, so why should its shift be expected to influence us? We care, sure, what those around us believe. Their opinions matter, even if we don’t share them. But I’d like to submit my weariness with people saying, “Hey, times are changing, the clock moves forward not backwards, everybody else gets it, so why don’t you?” The implication that a majority shift in opinion is proof your opinion should also change sounds pretty silly, given what we know about cults, group-think and the Holocaust.
History and common sense tell us the majority can be wrong, and that all change is not necessarily good. But a Biblically-based view of truth, the world and the future settles the question. Truth is found and expressed in the Scripture, which is inspired by God and profitable for guidance in virtually all matters of life. (I Timothy 3:16) Truth does not amend itself, morphing to fit comfortably into new settings. On the contrary, it bids us conform ourselves to it, neither forcing the conformity nor yielding itself to be conformed. The world runs a different course according to Paul (Ephesians 2:2) going instead in directions truth forbids and thereby cannot celebrate.
And it gets worse, which is something believers in 2012 need to keep in mind. Our eternal future is secure and indescribably good. The immediate future of this world we’re in but not of is another matter. Paul described the last days as being perilous (II Timothy 3:1-5) during which truth and sound doctrine would become intolerable. Jesus said the end times would be marked by deception (Matthew 24:24) and the churches address in the Revelation, churches existing at the time of John’s writing but also widely believed to represent the Church through the ages, are riddled with errors and wrongdoing. (Revelation chapters 2-3)The immediate future, in short, looks lousy, especially in contrast to the ultimate, permanent future of the Saints.
No surprise, then, to see cultural decay. On the one hand, we cannot join it simply because it’s the way those around us are progressing. We’ve never as Christians been called to fit snugly with the world, which will, as Jesus said, hate us as it hated Him. (John 15:18) On the other, there’s no need to fear it either, remembering that the cliché about it being darkest before the dawn holds surprisingly true in this sense when we remember what Jesus said about changes in the end:
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:28)
Check Out the Entire Series, “The Gay Marriage Debate: Winning, Losing or Dropping Out?”