I don’t know where I stand on gay marriage as a civil right. I have a lot of conflicting thoughts and emotions: my belief in Scripture as the word of God; my love for my friends who are gay; my belief that people’s worldviews (regardless of whether they include religion or not) are absolutely valid bases for the policy choices they want to make in civil society; and my questions about whether it’s even appropriate for the state to get involved in sanctioning marriage. I’m not going to pretend that I have some clear moral stance on the issue, either to please the people in my life who oppose gay marriage or to please the people in my life who support it.
What I do believe, very strongly, is that the prevailing American evangelical focus on views of sex and sexuality as a litmus test of whether or not people are “really” Christians or can fellowship together is total BS. The basis of our faith is belief that we cannot be holy by our own efforts or merit and that the only thing that reconciles us to God, saves our lives from utter fruitlessness and death, and redeems the world is Christ’s victory over sin and death through the cross and resurrection. When we accept that truth, the Holy Spirit works in us every day to change our lives so that our salvation is not just for the judgment at the end of time, but rather that our reconciliation and restoration can be lived and felt in our present. That’s it, that’s the whole good news; if you add anything else to it, it is no longer the Gospel, but rather some false human creation that will never save anyone (Galatians 2:19-3:6).
Faith in Christ is not a list of religious rules or cultural practices. It isn’t a ranking of who sins more or whose sins are worse so that we can decide which of us are better than others – for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and no one is good, except the Father (Romans 3:10-18, 23; Mark 10:18). But from where I stand, the church debate on homosexuality seems to be primarily about creating a group of people that we can label as “other,” so that we can point out how terrible their sins are, congratulate ourselves on being better than they are, and show how holy we are by shunning and shaming them (Luke 18:9-14). And by doing so, we can conveniently ignore the beams in our own eyes, the greed and anger and hatred and violence and idolatry and pride that run rampant through our society and manifest in a wide variety of ways in our churches (Matthew 7:1-5).
I’m tired of this farce. I’m tired of churches considering schisms over this issue, or organizations bending over backwards trying to find the right position that will play well to their supporters. These are the games the world plays, and they have no place in the body of Christ. Whatever understanding we are going to come to about same-sex partner relationships, it will come through living out the love and reconciliation that is the center of the Gospel, because that is the only way we have to put all of our sins, or relationships and our works back to rights. This doesn’t mean that we won’t continue to wrestle with our understanding of Scripture and how it applies to our lives; if we’re not engaging in that pursuit of deeper knowledge every day, then we are stunting our growth toward spiritual maturity. But when we share with each other about our lives, our questions, what we believe and what we have trouble believing, it should be with the understanding that the diversity of God’s people is for having our eyes opened to the many ways He works in the world as well as giving and receiving the correction we need to grow in faith and obedience.
I don’t know what the Lord is doing in the hearts and minds of those who believe in Him and also identify as LGBT. I do know that if God’s grace isn’t enough to cover whatever sin they are wrestling with, then it also isn’t enough to cover the sins that I wrestle with daily, and that means my hope is for nothing. But since I do believe that God’s grace is sufficient for all of us, then it is preposterous and blasphemous for me to presume that my judgment on other people’s lives ought to trump His. If God can love me and be with me despite the many ways I fall short, then there is no one I cannot love or fellowship with, in grateful recognition of the grace that I am given every day.