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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Three Reasons Every Christian Should be Pro Gay Marriage

Last night, New York became the sixth and largest state to make gay marriage legal.  In a Republican run Senate, it took four Republican senators to swing the painfully close vote.  Republican Senator Saland, a junior in the chamber, cast one of the deciding votes and had this to say about his decision to change his position on the issue:

"While I understand that my vote will disappoint many, I also know my vote is a vote of conscience," Saland said in a statement to the AP. "I am doing the right thing in voting to support marriage equality."

Last night, as I was overwhelmed with pride in my country and joy for my gay and lesbian friends for whom this vote means so much, I too profoundly felt the weight that the Senator is feeling. As I made the supportive gesture to a community for which I feel particular compassion in changing my profile picture to the "Proud Ally" rainbow, I could feel the buzz and rolling eyes of many of my Christian friends and family on Facebook. 

To be truthful, my sentiments on being accused of hypocrisy or being a bad Christian are better summed up by what another of the swing voters had to say.  Roy McDonald, a two term Republican senator and former military man had this to say to critics:

"F--- it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing."

Yep. That's pretty much it. 

Except I do care what you think, particularly if you are a Christian.  I care, because your beliefs and attitudes on this matter are what will propel us forward or hold us back on an issue that says everything about who we are as lovers of Christ and lovers of this country.

Here are three reasons every Christian should be pro gay marriage:

1.  Open Mindedness

Open mindedness is not typically the first trait that non-believers associate with Christians, and why should they?  So many of our brothers and sisters are enslaved by religious dogma and unable for even a moment to believe that there is a difference between theology and principles...between scholarly theory and core values. 

If we, as Christians, are truly honest with ourselves, we will come to realize that open mindedness is paramount, not only to our own faith, but to the shepherding of others.  Many of us, particularly those who grew up in the Church, take for granted the amount of open mindedness necessary to believe in our faith.  We ask ourselves and others to believe for example that a man was swallowed by a giant fish and vomited up three days later to tell the tale.  We ask that people believe that a man herded two of every creature onto a boat while the earth was consumed by water for 40 days.  We ask that people believe that a God who murdered priests for using the wrong kind of incense on His alter is the same God that loves us all unconditionally.

We expect people to believe that a man was nailed to a hunk of wood where he was slowly suffocated to death, and then rose from the dead three days later to hang out with his friends and loved ones one last time before ascending into heaven.

These are not easy beliefs.  They are only made possible by open mindedness.  By the ability to accept that there are things we can't understand, that there are portions of the Bible that are open for interpretation, and that, at the end of the day, its OK that we don't know exactly what is right and what is wrong as long as we obey what Jesus told us to do: love God more than anything else and love our neighbors.

So try to stay open minded while I explain why I do not believe that homosexuality is a sin.

In arguments about gay marriage, we often here Christians use the phrase, "The Bible clearly states..."  I think what they mean is, "My preacher clearly states..."  The Bible doesn't "clearly" state anything about homosexuality.  It is mentioned only six times and NEVER by Jesus.  It is mentioned under the Old Testament doctrine as part of Jewish law in Genesis once and Leviticus twice.  The New Testament is modernly interpreted that Christians are no longer under the Old Testament Jewish laws (and thank God for that, or we would ALL be in a heaping lot of trouble).

It is mentioned three times in the New Testament: once by the Apostle Paul, once in Romans, and once in Timothy.  Never does it say specifically which acts it's referring to AND many Biblical scholars believe the word "homosexuality" itself is being taken out of context.  In Biblical times, homosexuality referred to the common, popular practice of keeping catamites or young boyfriends.  And when I say "young", I mean offenses you would be jailed for. Child molestation.

The Bible never addresses LOVE between two members of the same sex, nor marriage between the same sex.

The point is, like many issues: gambling, dancing, drinking, women's rights, animal rights, etc, the Bible requires an open mind and open heart and even THEN the fact that Church members can't agree on these subjects means that no one is really going to know the answers to philosophical questions until the day when we can sit down with God and have everything clarified.

Jesus was very clear, however, about what we can be certain about in our behavior.  Love God above all else, and love your neighbor.  I have a hard time believing he was excluding gay neighbors OR that being close minded and advocating inequality in His name was OK if applied to gay neighbors.

You can be a Christian and proudly and with Biblical justification say "I do not believe that homosexuality in the modern context of two men or two women being in a loving committed relationship is a sin."

It just takes open mindedness.

2.  Love

I hear a lot of Christians say, "I am against gay marriage, because I think homosexuality is a sin.  But I still have gay friends," or "I believe that marriage is between a man and woman, but that doesn't mean I hate gay people.  Hate the sin, love the sinner."

Hate the sin, love the sinner.

A nice tidy phrase that is being exploited throughout this country to justify basic inequality. 

You know how I know that gay marriage is not a sin?

Because I have known love.

I have known the love of God, the love of His Son, the love of a father and a mother, the painful first loves of youth, ahd the sometimes harder love of marriage.  I have known the love of friends, of compassionate strangers, of a sister. 

I have known love.

So I know it when I see it.

Sometimes I think that Christians get so entrenched in this belief that homosexual love is perversion.  That it is icky.  That is it is gross.  That "ewww, I don't want to think about that." This is usually associated with what people are doing in the privacy of their own bedrooms.  I can think (or try not to) of about a million perversions perpetrated by the straight community, many on live television for all to see.  And, yet, I am still able to accept without question that a man and a woman can love each other, in the bonds of holy matrimony, and never think for one moment that it is perverse.

Why is it so hard to make that leap with two men or two women?

I think for most, it's because they haven't allowed themselves to see it.

Well, I'm here to tell you. I have seen it.  I have seen two men who are patient with one another. Who are gentle and kind with one another's feelings.  Who don't let pride and jealousy wedge between them.  Who are slow to anger with one another, and don't keep score of wrongdoings.  I have seen two men who trust each other, who honor one another with monogamy, and who hope for the future together, and persevere by supporting one another.

I have seen it more than once.  And if that isn't love, what is love?  It's certainly more than I can say for my own "sanctified" marriage at times.

So what is the true hypocrisy?  To claim that love cannot exist between two people of the same gender, because that is what we have interpreted the Bible to say?  Or to see love plainly in front of you and deny that it is there?

If you have known love, and you see love between others, how can you deny those individuals the right to consummate that love in the same way you and your spouse have?

Love your neighbor.  All of them.

3.  Fairness.

If you cannot open your mind to the possibility that there is room for interpretation on the Bible's stance on homosexuality, and you cannot bring yourself to see love within or share love with two members of the same gender who happen to be in a committed relationship with each other, then how about we travel waaaaaaay back to kindergarten, and just exercise basic fairness?

There was a time, not that long ago, that my marriage was illegal.  Not only were there a majority of people who believed that I should not be allowed to marry my Asian husband, but that my babies were illegitimate and an abomination.  Sadly, I'd say both of my own grandfathers probably would have held with this belief.

If you look at history, fairness and justice often intervene even where our blind spots and prejudices seem the most hardened and impenetrable.  Civil rights were not won, because suddenly the majority of people changed their minds.  They were won because ENOUGH of the majority said,"While I understand that my vote will disappoint many, I also know my vote is a vote of conscience," and "F--- it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing."

Enough people realized that even though it went against their beliefs, it was not their place legally or morally to withhold rights from another citizen based on those beliefs.

Furthermore, the reason for the separation of Church and State is not just to protect the State from religious zealotry.  It is also to protect Church from the influence of the state.  By extending the right of marriage, an institution which comes with many privileges and rights not extended to people who cannot marry, to everyone regardless of race, religion, creed, or orientation, ensures that if one day the tables are turned - those same rights have to be afforded to Christians.

Are we so blind to history that we cannot conceive of a time when the majority would want to deny Christians the right to assemble and practice their religion?

Are we that naive?

Protect the rights of everyone, and you protect your own rights in the process.

Open mindedness.  Love.  Fairness. 

Surely these are principles that Christians can share?  Surely we can be examples of how Church and Law are separate and we are truly immune from passing judgment on others and just want everyone to share in the Love of Christ?

If you cannot come to the conclusion that gay marriage is just, deserved, and right through open mindedness, love, or the basic understanding of fairness, then while you are praying for the souls of those you would damn for their lifestyle, I will pray for you.

I will pray that those you mean to shepherd are more open minded than you are able to be.

I will pray that you experience a transforming love that makes true love recognizable in all it's many forms, even those you least understand.

I will pray that you never feel the sting of inequality or the dirty disapproving looks from people who are supposed to be beacons of Christs love.

I will pray that you never have to attend a funeral for someone with people picketing 100 yards away.

I will pray that you never have a doctor or nurse tell you that you can't sit by the bedside of your lifelong partner, while they go to meet their maker.

But most importantly, I will pray that you can't find your way to a voting booth on election day.


Kelsey Jones said...

This is BEAUTIFULLY written and lovingly communicated! Are you suuure you were raised Baptist? haha Thanks, Ann! -Kelsey

Ann said...

Actually I was raised in that heathen non denominational Christian Church! I'm sure it's where I veered.... Lol! :)

Jupiter2012 said...

Thank you so much for writing and posting this. A few of the "mega churches" should have this posted on their obnoxious big screens tomorrow morning.

Ann said...

I just don't understand it. I know so many well educated, usually reasonable Christians who are able to understand the influence of language, translation, and context on Scripture, then couple that with their experience of God and spirituality, to be able to say what seems obvious: the abolition of slavery was a good thing, women should not be treated as second class citizens, I do not need to burn a pigeon in church every Sunday to atone for unintentional sins I may or may not have committed the week prior.

Then these same people are the first ones shake their heads in judgment of me, and say,"NO!! Gay marriage is wrong and the Bible EXPLICITLY states that homosexuality is a sin!!"

Really? It also EXPLICITLY states in Hosea that a guilty nation should have its children's heads bashed against rocks and its pregnant women ripped open.

Um....can we not?

Where does the rigidity, the imbalance, the inflexibility on homosexuality come from? Can someone explain to me?

Tasha Lee said...

Wonderfully written, Ann. Absolutely wonderful. I agree with Jupiter. I think that more Christians need to begin thinking this way.

Alma said...

Well, written and written with such love, openness, and fairness. I think that every time something happens like this in our history, it is to make our souls stronger and give us a better understanding of love and what Jesus really wants for us. Thank you so much for the blessing you have given to others in this blog entry. Gonna have to share it.

swiggett said...

Very nicely said.

anamchara said...

This is gorgeous and perfectly expresses how I've always felt and what I believe very strongly now. I shared this, because it is too wonderful not to be shared. People can find ways to disparage any relationship should they so choose, but in the end it comes down to what is *right* and fair. Excellently spoken!

Anonymous said...

If anything, I would say that being a Christian we "should" be "neutral" in the gay marriage debate in the same way we are "neutral" about divorce despite the fact that we condemn it in church services.

Within the discourse of Christianity, the pro-gay side holds the burden of proof which should be addressed WITHOUT the expense of the Bible. A common argument on behalf of the gay marriage debate is to say "do you really believe a man was eaten by a fish or two of every animal was on the Ark? Well... yeah a lot of them do, they acknowledge it's implausible but "through God all things are possible". Not to mention those who don't believe it actually happened still understand the difference between the purposes of the accounts.

While "homosexuality" (desire) or same-sex marriage (love) isn't condemned homo-eroticism soundly is clearly condemned. And by that virtue, the others go without saying. Romans 1 (as you mentioned briefly without much description) condemns it (as well as lesbianism which Leviticus neglects), although it isn't the central purpose of the epistle chapter the fact that it presumes condemnation goes without saying speaks volumes.

Honestly, what bugs me the most are pro-gay Christians who are anti-fornication or anti-divorce. Now that is the hugest example of hypocrisy. Homosexuality is linked to these other sexual immoralities to condemn one is to condemn the other and to support one is to support the other (particularly on the grounds on "love" and human nature). To be a Christian means to overcome our lusts, not embrace them. As Paul also said in Romans "shall we abide in sin that grace may abound? God forbid." To be anti-gay, ironically, involves acknowledging the person before the sexuality. That's where the "it's a choice" mantra comes from.

Though I do reserve the possibility that God may tolerate homosexuals, I wouldn't align my Christian beliefs to that possibility because we put ourselves in the position of God (ie: leaning to my/our own understandings). I have nothing to gain from being anti-gay in my lifetime. I have no joy in condemning or knowing my gay family members and friends are condemned. It doesn't make me feel better about myself. I am "anti-gay" because I trust God and his word before myself.

Jupiter2012 said...

A couple of things regarding that last post up there: First, if you're going to bother responding which such a lengthy diatribe, have the courage to attach your name to it. If I can be an openly gay man in Kentucky (who was also out at a Baptist college), I would hope you'd have the courage to attach your identity to your remarks.
Further, supporting gays/marriage/equality does not require tossing out the Bible. It simply requires you to open up your mind to the fact that many things have been lost in translation. Several biblical scholars believe that many of the "anti-gay" remarks in the Bible have been inserted there later or simply mistranslated. Not a single Biblical author spoke English and though several manuscripts of the original writings exist, all of them have various differences in wording, difficult to read text and are often written in dead languages. The words that we get today are only our best guess and the writer's original intent is beyond our ability to know.
I'm also immensely frustrated by the desire for bigots (because that's what you are) to pick and choose what Old Testament law they want to apply. Are you also an advocate for stoning? How about killing disobedient children? I assume you follow a pretty strict diet, too.
Lastly, as far as my having the burden of proof, if I really need to prove that I am an equal person who deserves equal rights, then there's a lot more of the Bible you should be looking into.

Ann said...

The only person who is putting themselves in the position of God is someone who could utter something as sinister and evil as "I have no joy in condemning or knowing my gay family members and friends are condemned. It doesn't make me feel better about myself. I am "anti-gay" because I trust God and his word before myself. "

I feel sorry for you.

P.S. If you are going to be a hateful bigot and misrepresent my religion to the world, at least have the courage to use your real name.

Anonymous said...

It's Nathan Williams, want me to post my email?

I don't have a Blogger account and I'm too lazy to make one to be honest. I suppose you both feel bad about being judgmental now, right?

"I'm also immensely frustrated by the desire for bigots (because that's what you are) to pick and choose what Old Testament law they want to apply. Are you also an advocate for stoning? How about killing disobedient children? I assume you follow a pretty strict diet, too."

I didn't reference the old testament. I said Paul referenced it in Romans 1.

"The words that we get today are only our best guess and the writer's original intent is beyond our ability to know."

Not necessarily, you could basically throw the whole Bible out if you want to play that game. Why be a Christian at all?

"Lastly, as far as my having the burden of proof, if I really need to prove that I am an equal person who deserves equal rights, then there's a lot more of the Bible you should be looking into."

I agree. We are all people, Jesus' blood extends to all of us. All of us have requirements of our lives and no one is excluded.

Jupiter2012 said...

No. I don't feel guilty about getting you to own up to your own comments. If we've learned anything during any other Civil Rights issue, knowing your enemy is as important as loving him. Do you feel guilty about stating you believe people are condemned? You should.

I do feel like the Bible has to be read and its principles have to be applied intelligently and thoughtfully. The primary thesis of Christ's divinity and purpose is without dispute. It's in the periphery that we get bogged down. I've found it's best to love, accept love, acknowledge love from others and from God, then mind your own damned business from there. It's when we start to judge others and assume their divinity and eternal life that we start to veer HARD from anything the Bible teaches. You can only know and be responsible for yourself. Please don't assume where my heart and soul lie and I'll do the same for you. By that same token, don't prevent me from having rights and I'll do the same for you. It is, ultimately, what Jesus would do.

Ann said...

Nathan, I'll be honest with you. I've never felt less guilty about anything in my life. If assessing you to be a complete asshat makes me judgmental, though, then guilty as charged. On the other hand, I've never said I have family members and friends I unequivocally believe are going to hell with the same unaffected tone I'd have reading from a phone book. So I'd say that makes you the big winner in the old judgmental department. Congrats and good luck sleeping at night.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for replying.

Anonymous said...


Homosexuality isn't the most significant sin, but it's relevant to the topic at hand. Politically, I said Christians should be neutral on the issue, but within Christianity is another case entirely.

I know I'm not perfect (I guess it's easier to imagine me as self-righteous) and I can empathize personally with the LGBT community (if I were ignorant of their plight I would probably be convinced by Ann's post). However, I would say that ensuring anyone is spiritually justified based on modern sociological ideas is arrogant.
We are not supposed to be wise in our own eyes. I would say it is more arrogant to justify than it is to condemn (without Jesus Christ we are condemned automatically). Unless you are condemning hypocritically (which I am not, my words apply to myself as well).

Nothing in the Bible is without question or dispute depending on the perspective one takes. Personally, I read the Old Testament under the guidance provided in the New Testament. Wherein I still see condemnation of homosexuality. If it's not supposed to be read that way, I have yet to see a convincing counter-reading (and I've heard a lot of them, including many like Ann's).

Hope to read from you soon. (here's my email)

Nathan Williams

Anonymous said...

Hey Ann, just an observation. You right really well in your article, but when the anonymous poster places his point of view, which he is equally as entitled too as you, you get very defensive, angry, critical and judgmental. Christians always do this and it drives me nuts. Are we incapable of talking without reverting to insults and "good luck sleeping tonight" or comments along those lines. If you are incapable of actually coming up with reasoned replies to peoples arguments, don't even bother. It just makes your argument look weak. No, I'm not anti-gay marriage, I'm just observing.

Ann Bransom said...

Anonymous - You are absolutely right. I plead "over passionate" at the time of writing this post. Your observations are fair and valid.

hammockbrain said...

Ann, this is the most coherent thing I've read about the gay controversy. While I don't believe in gay marriage and find the gay couple on Modern Family so annoying I won't watch it, you might have me coming around to the other side. I don't want to be a legalistic Christian and condemn a whole class of people.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think there is only one reason necessary to refute all three that were listed in this article: Scripture. Jesus lived by it, and if a person is truly a Christian, they must as well. Everyone knows what the Bible says about homosexuality. You can talk your way around it all day, but come judgement day your interpretation isn't gonna count. God's is.

Whitney said...

This was incredibly well written but equally depressing. As Christians we find ourselves trying to show love with out being judgmental. Christianity means Christ like but our forefathers tarnished it to mean less than that. I believe all sins are equal but that does not justify any of them. Mat 5:17 Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)

Do not think that I have come to revoke The Written Law or The Prophets; I am not come to revoke but to fulfill.

Why do we feel we have to justify our sins. Next you will be telling me Christian Witches are totally in also. You can believe in God Jesus and whatever else but it is there in black and white. However, couples should have rights but I wouldn't go so far as to justify anything

Anonymous said...

So beautifully stated. This is how I have always felt. Thank you!

Jorja Seabrooke said...

Thanks for your blog post, Ann. My partner asked me a very good question the other day, which was "if there really are so many Christians out their that support gay rights, why don't they speak up?" Today is a very sad day in London Trafalgar Square and in Paris, where people are protesting against a couple's right to marry, based on who they prefer to go to bed with at night. As far as I know the only 'counter protest' going on is by the secular society. Where are all the Christians counter-protesting? I hope to see more.

Anonymous said...

Amazing! This is exactly the type of responce to give when you disagree with someone over this subject.

Anonymous said...

Don't Confuse Open-Minded with Faith or the love we feel with the Love God has for us. Just because you feel something doesn't change the definition of what is the Truth. This also doesn't condemn anyone on either side or exclude them from loving and compassion.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands? -Ernest Gaines

“The number one cause of atheism is Christians. Those who proclaim Him with their mouths and deny Him with their actions is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.”
― Karl Rahner

Really hard to tell someone that we love them, when we condemn them. . With that being said...

1 Peter 4:8
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

Beautiful article. Hannah Duckworth

Silent Sentinel said...

I've been thinking about those two NT references that are often used against homosexuality. The abusers of themselves with mankind part can easily be interpreted as pederasty and the other part about people giving themselves over to unnatural affections is likely to have been something observed at an orgy.

In Ancient Greece and Rome temple prostitutes (the boys they kept) and the orgies were both idolatrous in nature, worshiping classical era gods such as Diana and Bacchus. What I'm thinking is it's not so much the sexual acts themselves that were being condemned, but the idolatry they were attached to.

Just my .02.

Ann Bransom said...

I could not agree with your interpretation more, Silent Sentinel. Thank you very much for your 2 cents, although I think they're worth considerable more than that. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm a Christian who is deeply concerned about the anti-gay sentiment as well. And I loved your article because it spoke so much to my own thoughts.

My sadness came in, tho, as I read down the comments to find you and Jupiter bashing Nathan, for him trying to do what HE thinks is right, granted open to interpretation. He's not heartless about it, but he has a conviction to follow what HE believes God wants from us.

You can't really blame him for this widely accepted interpretation and if you truly want to change his mind and others like him, harsh words will only turn people away. We are called to speak the truth *in love* and also to bear with one another. Not easy things to do, but necessary for healthy relationships/communication and certainly rewarding.

Perhaps you can consider ways to bridge the gap so other Christians might open their minds to this perspective. It would be wonderful to see someone with your heart and courage standing up purely in this regard so a great example could be made for others.

Ann Bransom said...

I agree with your sentiments, Anonymous. In fact, someone else commented the same thing above and I copped to my belligerence, and also referenced my behavior in another post I wrote during the Chik Fil A debacle.

All I can say is please remember the context of that day. This wasn't a hypothetical discussion I was having at a Bible study at a friend's house. At the time I wrote this, ACTUAL friends and loved ones were being harmed and persecuted. It's easy to be unemotional and speak "with love" when the consequences of our "interpretations" don't impact our daily lives. It's much harder when the pain and suffering is visceral and right in front of us.

Even Jesus flipped a freakin table.

kjf89 said...

THANK YOU! as a homosexual man, I've been finding it hard to accept the love of God again. When I was seventeen years old, my friends at my church outcast me and told me my lifestyle was a sin and that I would never feel the true love of God. This shattered me in ways you cannot imagine... I HAD known the true love of God and I HAD felt the full, divine power of the Holy Spirit... who were they to tell me otherwise?
I didn't believe them for a week or two but I eventually snapped one day at Church, when word spread around and 200 youth (my "friends") whispered their little hearts out and stared me down like I'd just committed murder... I walked out of Church and never went back... this was seven years ago.

In this time, its taken me so long to realise that the word of Christians and the interpretations of the "word of God" in the Bible, are not necessarily the views of God himself.
God made me perfect in his image, just as he did with everyone else. Homosexuality is not a choice... it is human nature. If it were up to me - I would have chosen not to lose some of my best friends who I've known since before I could speak, I would've chosen to fly through school without being driven to depression, I would've chosen to be able to walk down the street without being bashed and robbed by ten men, just because of the way I looked.

I've now been in a relationship with my partner for three years, although we don't want to get married ourselves, I do believe that every person deserves the right to marry. As Gods men and women, we are meant to share love, not stop it. We are meant to accept without prejudice, not judge and condemn... so many Christians are so quick to cast the first stone, when they really should be assessing their own sins.

What I know now, is that God loves me and EVERY aspect of my being, may he help ANYONE who has the decency to tell me otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Ann, this article was very well written, but I totally disagree on your 3 point argument. Your "fairness" argument, is the most invalid in my opinion. God isn't fair. He is Just. Justice and Fairness are not the same thing. If you can point out any verses in the New Testament, that give a story or an example of a gay or lesbian marriage, and Jesus commends such acts, then please let me know. Something so big and important as a homosexuality lifestyle, I would think, would have the same importance as a heterosexual lifestyle, and be mentioned throughout the bible. But the only verses I see that talk about any type of sexual activity (outside of a husband and wife relationship), is negative. God doesn't intend us to change scripture to fit out lifestyle. He expects us to live by the New Testament lifestyle.

Kalob Poen said...

Being gay myself, I started crying as I read this article. I have tried to say these very things to those who have told me God would hate me... In fact, my own partner left me because he did not want his family to think that he was a dirty sinner. He didn't want God to hate him, and he didn't want God to punish him for his actions... This is so beautiful. These are the words I wish I could have formed and said to him myself. Instead, I formed up a very short phrase that made me cry, but had no effect on him. He just hugged me, kissed me, and said "Goodbye. Thank you for the memories." What I said to him was: "God has given me the serenity to accept and embrace the things in which I cannot change. He has given me the courage to change that which I am able. And he has given me the wisdom to know what the difference is." Thank you. Thank you so much.