Where the Church went wrong in the battle for marriage…
… because let’s face it, it is a battle. It is not a debate, conversation, or a decision. It’s a battle. Because at some point, someone declared the differences of values in our society to be a “Culture War,” and wars are won by winning battles, not by passionate persuasion, or non-judgmental loving, or understanding dialogue. The travesty of it all is that the Church, with her mission to influence and change every society in which she finds herself into a Kingdom culture, was sucked into these so-called “Culture Wars.” All the sudden the mission was the same, but the methods had changed. Because the American Church got caught in the gravitational pull of the State and it’s politics, she became known for changing society not by winning people with love, but by fighting them with legislation. Long have people argued over separation of Church and State, insisting that the Church would pervert the State to Theocratic Dictatorship, but have we ever stopped to think that the funding fathers intended this great divide to protect the Church, rather than the State?
So we come around to the “battle” of same-sex marriage. With Barrack Obama becoming the first pro-same-sex-marriage president, this issue has pushed its way to the front page of our papers once again. The arguments are all the same: The left says this is a civil rights issue similare to the civil rights movement of the 60s, while the right says it’s a matter of defending a healthy structure of the family unit. When I first started thinking about this issue, I was in high school, and I didn’t really understand it. I had always understood marriage to be a religious sacrement because, after all, it was an institute of religion long before a legal status. In my view of it, real marriage is a union involving God. The legal status is just a good idea, practically, but it doesn’t make you any more or less married. Take the example of CS Lewis’ life: He legally married his friend, Joy Greshem to help her gain British citizenship, but the two never lived together or functioned as a family after that. It wasn’t until Lewis and Greshem later fell in love that they officially wed through the Church and became man and wife.
When I began asking people about this, I was quickly answered with the argument that the State gives certain rights to married couples. Tax breaks, visitation rights, power of attorney, etc. So, as a believer in the word of God, I assume this: Throughout our nation’s growth, the government saw that people living together in a monogamous, covenantal relationship as the Bible teaches was in fact good for society. So, it gave incentives to entice more people to do so. (I’m no expert on political history, this is just a logical assumption of why the government would offer incentives to married couples) The irony is, in the midst of the fray of the same-sex marriage battle, nobody questions these incentives. Is it because we just want our money? No one has stopped to question this… Our little tax breaks have so intertwined the State with a Church sacrement that it has brought this fight into existence in the first place. What’s more, it seems likely that these “incentives” have enticed us into marriage for their own sake, not for the sake of Christ. When a couple weds, if they do so for the tax breaks and our hollywood-created concept of “love,” the marriage is a sham regardless of gender. So it begs the question… When we began viewing marriage as anything less than a life-long covenant that must never be broken except in very extreme cases, we’ve already slid down that slippery slope.
I’m referring of course to the argument that, if same-sex is allowed in marriage, then it is a trip down a moral slippery slope. My opinion is, we’re already here because our atrocious divorce rates have brought us here. If we want to win our culture on this issue, we must do two things:
- Repent for our hypocrisy. Admit that we have already devalued the sanctity of marriage long ago and change our ways. Stop the epidemic spread of divorce within the Church. Honor those who have been married for years, and support those who haven’t.
- Lay our weapons down. The rest of our culture is not listening to us because we do not want them to. If you present your argument on a bumpersticker, or a TV show, or hide behind a screen name, it’s clear you don’t want a thoughtful response from your opponent. You want them to respond in anger so that you can further demonize them. You are not trying to win their hearts and their respect. You are trying to beat them into submission.
This is not a post intended to side with a political force. American politics are not my kingdom. The throne of God is. And the throne of God will have only limited dominion in America as long as the American Church attempts to influence the world according to the world’s terms. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Said Jesus. “For they shall be called sons of God.”