In raising my kids, I have to apply certain moral principles, rules to live by, that derive from my own sense of right and wrong and the foundation I have: follow the golden rule, be willing to learn, help others, don't judge, etc. I pass these on to my boys not because I am a Christian, which I am, but because these principles are right.
It is from that perspective that I have difficulty understanding the issue of "gay marriage" and the enormous faction of conservative Christians who are against it. From the vantage point of my simple parental admonishments derived from the basics of Christianity, I don't get it. Conservative Christians should be at the forefront of fighting for marriage equality, not against it. Below are 10 benefits I believe conservative Christians would enjoy should they support marriage equality.
Obviously, if the anti-marriage sentiment of conservative Christians is based on citing out-of-context Bible passages without principle or logic behind them and claiming that they are "God's word," then these benefits won't be realized. But such selective reading is not spiritual law; it is superstition.
So, this is me, sitting down with you, my conservative Christian brothers and sisters, buying you a cup of coffee, and telling you that I love and respect you, and that I do not think you have hate in your heart or are afraid of gay people. I am afraid for you, and this is an intervention. You are not working in your own interest. In fact, you are on a road toward demolishing the things that mean the most to you. I do not want that to happen, so I humbly offer you these 10 benefits you'd surely enjoy if you were to get up, get out, and vehemently demand the opportunity of marriage for your gay neighbors.
10. Upholding Critical Thinking and Idealism Over Judgmentalism: You know it, and I know it: We are not to judge. Only God can judge; the Bible tells us this directly, emphatically, and frequently, not in some vague story but point-blank. There is a reason that the Bible is right on this: When one judges, one stops thinking critically. Digging into the realities and seeing the gray areas keep us from projecting our own insecurities onto others. Fight for gay marriage and see what you learn in the process.
9. Saving the Institution of Marriage: Marriage is in trouble. Fewer people are doing it, and more people are disrespecting it. You know in your heart that same-gender people marrying in Boston or Spain have not had any effect on your personal marriage any more than easy divorces with spousal support systems resembling de facto polygamy have. If you really care about preserving marriage, the latter should be what you worry about. Meanwhile, there is a group of people trumpeting the virtues of marriage and seeking to honor it. You should be supporting them.
8. Promoting Romantic Love: Likely you've dreamt of your soul mate, that one person whose presence in your life would be pure kismet, an act of God bringing you exactly the right person to love and adore you for who you are, a person who will wine and dine you with flowers, music, candy, and wonder, and who will be the first thing you want to see in the morning and the last thing you want to see at night. But that spirit of romance does not thrive amid exclusivity. When you support everyone's right to strive to be married to the person of his or her dreams, you earn the right to strive for the person of your own dreams, if you have not already found that person.
7. Being a Good Samaritan: My sons love that story. It tells of a true hero who stepped up to help another when he did not have to. You aren't being a good Samaritan when you oppose someone's right to marry. In fact, with Chick-fil-A on your breath, you are being kind of mean. Bring back the good Samaritan. Be the good Samaritan.
6. Advocating for Disenfranchised Children: In a generation, people will wonder why you even bothered fighting against gay marriage, or, worse, what kind of "monsters" you must have been to want to deprive loving gay couples of their right to marry. No one will think that you honestly did it for the well-being of children. But this is an issue that can be yours to win. Today, this minute, there are over 100,000 children in the United States awaiting adoption, most languishing in foster care, and all in need of forever homes and permanent love. We need thousands of homes to warmly take in these children. Where will we find these homes? With all the gay couples whose right to marry you could support. Conservative Christians looking to advocate for children need to step up. Being pro-gay-marriage could be your most effective child-rescuing strategy to date.
5. Preserving Morality: Some Christians believe that by declaring homosexuality a sin and gay marriage a travesty, they have answered the moral question and settled the issue. They haven't. Such a judgment forces gay people wishing to be "good" to grow their own rules organically, given that it effectively shuts gay people out of "morality" altogether. As a result, an alternative set of rules develops, eventually influencing mainstream morality and potentially unraveling conservative Christians' guarded precepts. If conservative Christians want a say in defining the ultimate morality in partner relationships, they need to embrace gay marriage and contribute their voice.
4. Protecting the Family: In 1950 78 percent of families were led by married couples. In 2010 that figure was 48 percent. That means that not only does conservative Christians' definition of what constitutes a family now apply to a minority of families, but the "traditional family" is steadily disintegrating. "Family" is therefore being redefined, with or without gay marriage. That is not a threat to conservative Christians; it is a fact. Pretending that that is not happening, and attacking the people who want essentially the same model that you do, will result in the ultimate abandonment of that structure. To preserve it, you need to support gay marriage and its commitment to the nuclear-family concept.
3. Salvaging the Bible's Reputation: The Bible has been wielded like a weapon, mislabeled as "law," and simplistically anointed as the word of God, making it a target for intense scrutiny. But the Bible will be degraded under examination. Why? Because everything its detractors say about it is true. It was constructed from countless sources, and there were many versions, just one of which happened to be translated and retranslated, likely with the translators' prejudices creeping in, again and again. Many people who were the "wisdom" behind all this translation and interpretation were the same ones who tortured "heretics," launched crusades, disparaged science, and fed their own greed. The Bible has spiritual, historical, and inspirational merit, but by continuing to hold it up as the sole justification for their anti-gay-marriage agenda, conservative Christians will tarnish the Bible's reputation forever.
2. Embodying the Example of Jesus Christ: Christians are to embody Christ as the savior and light of the world. Through participation in endeavors like fighting gay marriage, many Christians have failed in adhering to this mandate, and miserably so. It is not an exaggeration to say that many nonbelievers find that they're not interested in Christ thanks to the actions of His followers; indeed, many are actively repelled by these actions. Your most important spiritual purpose is at stake here. By supporting gay marriage, you live Christ's second commandment and begin the process of igniting in others the truth and love in which you believe.
1. Demonstrating Your Strength of Character: Jesus gave us the single touchstone by which a person's integrity may be judged: "By their fruits shall ye know them." By opposing gay marriage, conservative Christians have borne rotten fruit. If they were to "win," there would be no winners. Gay families would still exist, but they would be forced to struggle. Gay teens would continue to feel demonized and commit suicide. So conservative Christians have a choice: demonstrate a character of charity and generosity or a character like that of this man, spewing condemnation and hate. Which of these types of people do you want to be?
Fighting for gay marriage would reaffirm the image of Christians as people of warmth and compassion who help make marriages work and maintain romance. Christians would be the advocates of loving families, not their adversaries. How great would that be?
I look forward to our next cup of coffee.