A Response to ‘Five Reasons Christians Should Continue to Oppose Gay Marriage’ May 13, 2012

A Response to ‘Five Reasons Christians Should Continue to Oppose Gay Marriage’

We’re at a point when even a notable Republican pollster is warning the party that it’s to their own detriment to fight equal rights for gay people. You would think Christian groups would come around to that way of thinking eventually, too, but that may take another generation or two. Most Christian leaders refuse to accept the fact that gay people just aren’t a problem for most people, including younger Christians.

The Illinois Family Institute, a SPLC-certified hate group, offers five reasons Christians should continue to fight against gay marriage (written by Kevin DeYoung of The Gospel Coalition). When you read their list, it’s clear they’re out of ideas. They know they’re fighting a losing battle, and they’re clinging to whatever bigotry might still go unchallenged by their members:

1. Every time the issue of gay marriage has been put to a vote by the people, the people have voted to uphold traditional marriage.

As if civil rights should be up for a vote…

Even if gay marriage bans have passed in several states so far, it won’t happen much longer. The tides are turning. Eventually, equality will prevail, the bans will be overturned, and then this argument will become useless. What will they do when acceptance of marriage equality becomes an overwhelming majority and not just a slim one?

2. The promotion and legal recognition of homosexual unions is not in the interest of the common good. That may sound benighted, if not bigoted. But we must say it in love: codifying the indistinguishability of gender will not make for the “peace of the city.” It rubs against the grain of the universe, and when you rub against the grain of divine design you’re bound to get splinters.

Aww… they’re trying to turn their bigotry into poetry. Isn’t that sweet of them.

Besides the fact that there’s no “divine design,” accepting gay marriage (and even civil unions) would result in more committed couples, more couples willing to adopt kids who need homes, stronger families, etc. Obviously, it doesn’t hurt straight families in the least bit. It would be good for everyone… except the organizations that exist solely to prevent equality from happening.

3. Marriage is not simply the term we use to describe those relationships most precious to us. The word means something and has meant something throughout history… What’s more, as Christians we understand that the great mystery of marriage can never be captured between a relationship of Christ and Christ or church and church.

Ah, the “definition” of marriage argument. Look, marriage used to be all about property. It used to be allowed only between people of the same skin color. It used to be (and in some places still is) decided by the parents and not the people getting married. Definitions change over time and marriage certainly hasn’t meant the same thing “throughout history.” If anything, definitions get more accurate over time and it’s about time we changed this one.

Oh… and regarding relationships between “church and church,” it turns out churches merge all the time 🙂

4. Allowing for the legalization of gay marriage further normalizes what was until very recently, and still should be, considered deviant behavior.

There’s a reason homosexuality stopped being viewed as a mental illness: It wasn’t one. The American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association finally accepted that in the 1970s. But what do they know? They’re only professionals who work with real disorders on a daily basis.

5. We are naive if we think a laissez faire compromise would be enjoyed by all if only the conservative Christians would stop being so dogmatic.

The idea here is that it wouldn’t be enough if conservative Christians stopped putting up a fight; the victory for gay-rights advocates will only occur when people accept same-sex marriage instead of merely tolerating it.

While that would be great, I don’t really care what conservative Christians believe about gay people. I want them to stop getting in the way of civil rights legislation, but if they refuse to perform gay marriages, fine. If they want to ban gay people from their churches, fine. If they want to put up a sign that says “black people can’t take communion,” that’s their business. No one’s forcing them to be accepting and loving of all people. That sort of behavior is reserved for liberals and Jesus, I guess.

Obviously, there are many Christians who don’t buy into the hate.

They’re upset that older members of their church (or younger, more conservative Christians) can’t get over their homophobia.

They know that even the more liberal Christians who claim to “love” gay people and want to “apologize” for the wrongs done to gay people in the name of Christians would still vote against gay marriage and still believe homosexuality is a sin.

But if those Christians who support same-sex marriage want to make the change happen faster, it begins by calling out pastors and Christian groups who oppose it for awful reasons — like the Illinois Family Institute and all the other groups like it. By name and often.

Don’t stay silent. And if your church doesn’t get it, get out of there and take other people with you.

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  • Heidi

    So every single one of their reasons is “it’s against my religion.” OK, so don’t participate. But you don’t get to make laws demanding people abide by your arbitrary religious beliefs. If Muslims tried to do that, crazy Laurie and the IFI gang would form a lynch mob.

  • I think that many Christians do not know the history of their own religion.

    What do you think about this?

  • Rodney

    Oh my.
    #1 isn’t an argument
    #2 is an opinion
    #3 etymological fallacy
    #4 another opinion
    #5 is actually correct. It will not be enjoyed by conservative Christians. Haha. Too bad

  • Marguerite

    “Definitions change over time and marriage certainly hasn’t meant the same thing ‘throughout history.'”

    The Bible itself is proof of this. Haven’t these people ever heard of Solomon?

  • I’d also like to add a word about

    as Christians we understand that the great mystery of marriage

    No, it’s not a bloody mystery. We’ve pretty much figured it out by now.

  • I have been hearing all about how NC overwhelming voted against same sex marriage. I have to disagree with that once you look at the voter turn out. They say 30% voted in the election and 61% said no to same sex marriage and no civil unions. I heard many people who voted no for same sex marriage wouldn’t have voted that way if they had known it also outlawed civil unions. Back to the numbers, with those amounts it means less then 20% of eligible voters actually decided for the rest. I don’t see this as overwhelming but a method used by some groups to get things passed when they are afraid they won’t. No state should be allowed to change their Constitution in an election other then the normal November election. I would like to see what would have happened had this been on the ballet during this falls election.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Well they think they have the right religion and God so it is 100% ok for them to demand we follow their beliefs and they are allowed to make the rules. Remember one of their favorite sayings is….

    God said it. I believe it. That settles it.

  • newavocation

    Fear, guilt and having a group to look down upon thats what keeps churches in business. Accepting gay marriage threatens their business model.

  • JA

    Marriage is a legal contract between two people. Nothing else. There is no mystery to it, whatever that is even supposed to mean.

  • Renshia

    Funny how they can chew on this bone, bit you never hear about them trying to ban divorce.

    I think divorce is much more damaging to the sacredness of marriage that a couple guys are.

    They’re just a bunch of hypocrites. I bet half of them have been divorced. Some sacred bullshit that is.

  • What do you mean marriage used to be all about property? Basically, that’s what civil marriage is still about. First and foremost, it allows a family to pool its income and act as a single fiscal entity (like a corporation). Beyond that, it defines a variety of economic rights and responsibilities such as how children are provided for, how estates transfer, powers-of-attorney, etc. In short, it’s basically an economic contract recognized by the state. Throw those things out, and people without an interest in a religious marriage would have no need to actually get married.

    The elegant solution is to get the government out of the “marriage” game completely. All we need from a legal standpoint are civil unions. If you want to create a domestic partnership, you fill out the papers, pay the fee, and you’re official. Same sex or different, it’s all the same. If people want some kind of church ceremony, fine. That’s their business. But that church-defined “marriage” comes with no state benefits or recognition. And the state doesn’t need to tell churches who they can or cannot “marry”.

  • Annie

    I wish there was someone with Boswell’s passion for this topic to pick up his research on the history of Christian marriage rituals.  Had he lived a long life, more of this information might be out in the mainstream by now.

  • Erp

     For some they do try to severely limit divorce (see covenant marriage).  In other countries where they might have a chance of banning (or more commonly saving a current ban), they will fight (see recent Irish and Malta history).

  •  Every time the issue of gay marriage has been put to a vote by the people, the people have voted to uphold traditional marriage.

    If left to a popular vote, interracial marriage in the US would not have been legal nationally until 1991

    Heck, God even told the Mormons that race didn’t matter back in 1978

    He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows there from, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color.

  • Stev84

    The big divorce debate happened in the late 19th century. Then again with the introduction of no-fault divorce. They predicted the end of the world then too

  • CoboWowbo

    I was about to comment the same thing about voter turnout.  Had this vote (on same sex-marriage, civil unions, etc.) waited until the general election, the results probably would’ve been different.

  • Renshia

    And low and behold were all still here. Guess some people just can’t take the lessons history delivers.

  • Stev84

    Agreed. I don’t doubt some of the stuff he found, but the conclusions he drew are somewhat disputed. As it is, he is about the only one who looked into this in such depth, which isn’t a good thing when it comes to citing him.

  • Onamission5

    There was also virtually no public education on opposition to the amendment outside of the Triangle and Charlotte. I saw one single ad against on tv in my county, one time, then it got pulled. There were many ads in favor, though, on billboards, on line, on tv, everywhere. The church across the street from me has a “Yes on 1” sign on their church reader board. If I took a picture and emailed it to the IRS, do you suppose they’d lose their tax exemption?

  • Stev84

    Technically, churches can campaign on issues but not specific candidates. A ridiculous rule of course, but it’s legal

  • CanadianNihilist

    I’ve always maintained that one day Homosexual discrimination will be a black eye on the world (more specifically the USA)

    I certainly wouldn’t want my name or group attached to History for things like making black people walk on different sidewalks/drink from different water fountains or trying to prevent interracial marriage.

    Do these organizations really not see how the tide is turning? One day people will learn about the bigots that openly tried to stop loving couples from getting married and adopting children in despite need of a family,  and it will shame their descendants.

  • Tgavazzi1

    God realized the Mormon church could make a shit load of money in places like Brazil so he Changed his mind

  • Freak

    Tax exempt groups can campaign on overall issues.  They can’t campaign on specific candidates or laws.”

  • mikespeir

    I just want to go on record as saying that marriage between one man and one woman is all right by me.  😉

  • Reginald Selkirk

    3. Marriage is not simply the term we use to describe those
    relationships most precious to us. The word means something and has
    meant something throughout history…

    It occurs to me that the Republican candidate, with his Mormon background, could run into big trouble using this argument while hoping that no one calls him out on the last clause.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Number 5 rephrased: We hate freedom.

  • David Hull

    Well, it may be a mistake to speak my thoughts here, as I am a practicing Christian, but I will do so anyways.

    Most of these premises assert either “traditional cultural or Christian values” as the reason why Christians should fight against gay marriage. The faulty undergirding of this is the notion that we are a “Christian” nation. America is a heterogenous blend of people from numerous ethnic, religious, economic, and in this instance sexual persuasions. As such the American emphasis on equality for all should extend to… well, all people.

    The Christian ethic that Kevin DeYoung is advocating, is for the Christian community, and it cannot be superimposed on culture at large. The Christian ethic is something that people willingly choose to live according to, and per Scripture are empowered to by God. To presume that this applies to all people over all time is just false. 

  • Onamission5

    Which is why attempts to force this particular belief set regarding marriage upon the rest of the population is akin to pushing for theocracy. 

  • By “property” I’m sure he meant the husband owning the wife as property.

    Also, I keep hearing this “elegant solution” about getting the government out of marriage. Why? You’re acting as though religion owns the word “marriage” and is an invention thereof. What is so damned scary about extending marriage rights to other citizens? Why take it away from everybody? Why give it to religious institutions so they can own the word?

    And why do you think states would necessarily force churches to marry people they otherwise wouldn’t want to? Nobody is advocating taking away the rights of religious institutions. This is about the state contract we call “marriage”, not about the religious version officiated by church leaders.

  • I meant to add, it’s like if somebody said during the desegregation era, “Instead of allowing blacks to sit at the front of the bus, why don’t we just eliminate buses altogether and have everybody walk to work?” or, “Instead of getting rid of ‘Colored Only’ and ‘Whites Only’ signs above water fountains, why not just get rid of water fountains altogether?”

  • If only all Christians thought like you, David. 🙂

  • Kodie

    The act and ceremony of marriage exists in all cultures. Why are conservative Christians cool with people of other faiths marrying one another? Why are they never upset at other cultural traditions? A Hindu wedding ceremony does not affect them, even if it is foreign to them. If it is only a Christian dealie, then why do many wedding ceremonies include both cultural and national traditions? I would say Christians, although many want their faith to prevail, are downright tolerant of others’ meaningful marriages as though it had no effect on their own.

    That’s why there should be no law against homosexuals getting married. What the fear is that homosexuality being condoned socially and politically intrudes upon their apparent values, and that it’s contagious. If their children think it’s ok to be gay, they might actually choose it for themselves. They want the information to be kept a secret, as if keeping homosexuals hidden, for lack of information about them, assures that homosexuality will not even occur to their children. I also partly have a suspicion that the anti-abortion issue is to promote adoption (as I’ve read in articles about funneling young women away from abortion clinics only to pressure them a few months too late that they’ll make a horrible mother) in order to increase the numbers of available healthy white babies, and allowing gay people to marry, and have their marriage be of no literal difference to any agency, able to adopt and be in direct competition with the good Christians who rig all the organizations to favor themselves. They can’t have this, and they believe it goes against god and the bible and their religious freedom to be bigots, what it really does it hit them square in their bottom line.

  • 1991? how do you figure that?

  • Stev84

    I don’t have a source right now, but there have been polls asking the questions over the years. It didn’t receive a majority until the early 90s

    Also in 2004, Alabama voted to keep an unconstitutional law about sch0ol segregation on the books. Just in case I guess….

  • Seth Kelly

    #1 isn’t correct. Look up Proposition 107 from Arizona in 2006. Would have only allowed the state to recognize one man-one woman relationships. It was defeated with 52% of the vote.

  • Jeff Xenobuilder

    Plus, when you prevent them from persecuting others based on their unfounded religious beliefs, then they claim they are being persecuted.  Not allowing persecution of others is in their tiny, tiny, mis-informed, illogical minds, persecution.

  • I don’t care all that much what it’s called. Personally, I like “domestic partnership”, but that’s not the point. The point is that only the state can grant this, and not a church. Anybody who wants the benefits of such a union/partnership/marriage must secure it from the state. Churches are free to do what they want, but there would be no state recognition of that.

    I don’t think states would force churches to marry people they don’t want to marry. That’s just another scare tactic that churches have been throwing out in order to defend their positions against same-sex marriage.

  • OK then. So stop pussy-footing around it and say you want civil marriage equality. Saying the government should get out of the marriage business just sounds like a cop-out of some sort.

  • Stev84

    Let’s not forget here that the church didn’t get fully involved in marriage until the 12th century. They don’t own the word or the concept. It would be wrong for them to give it to them.

    I can agree that too many benefits are only available through marriage. That should change. It should be easier to obtain some things like insurance and next-of-kin status without marrying someone. You should for example be able to make anyone your next-of-kin and thus make decisions for them (with their consent of course). But you can’t get rid of marriage entirely either.

    In the US there also needs to be a clearer distinction between civil and religious marriage. It could start by requiring people to get a civil ceremony before a church wedding – like in Europe.

  • I don’t think I’m pussyfooting around anything. Would you prefer I say that churches stay out of the marriage game? Because I said that, as well.

    All I’m saying is that, whatever you want to call it, the sort of marriage granted by churches should be completely different from the sort granted by the government. All legal benefits should come only from the latter, and they should be granted to couples of any combination of gender (and I’d also say number, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon). A church wedding should carry the same legal status as a baptism or first communion: none at all.

  • Nobody should be required to have a civil ceremony. The civil aspect of marriage is just a contract. That’s what should be required. And that’s all. Once you have that, you can have a ceremony if you want, either secular or in a church. But that option would not impact the status of the civil contract.

    Similarly, anybody should be able to just have a church wedding and call themselves married. But that marriage should not be recognized by the state, and should accrue no benefits outside of any the church itself might choose to grant.

  • PJB863

    But this was a law, so was Prop H8.  So were any of these other constitutional amendments.  Hell, for that matter so were the Nuremburg Laws in Germany in the 1930’s.  Yet they still continue to run these campaigns.  Fuck ’em. 

  • PJB863

    This is what’s been going on in many European countries for decades – there are two parts to getting married – one civil at the city hall or equivalent, and the second, optional part, at a church or synagogue, or whatever.  

  • Stev84

    Try 150+ years. It has been like that in France since the French Revolution. And in Germany since the around 1860 or so.
    Napoleon spread his legal code through most of continental Europe with his conquests.

    It’s not like those civil ceremonies have to be complicated. They can be done in less than five minutes. A few signatures are all that’s needed if the couple really wants to cut it down

  • I can’t find the exact source I was looking at before, but this also tells the story. 

  • PJB863

    I didn’t realize the practice was that old.  The system in the U.S. has become a joke in that crackpot preachers (as if there’s any other kind) can claim that churches, or whatever other pile of sanctimonious bricks, can claim they’ll be forced to marry LGBT, divorced, interracial couples, or anyone else not worthy of their lousy “blessing.”  This is a blatant lie.

    I have two serious problems with the current system:  1) the state licenses clergy – it has no place doing this – that’s up to their denominations; 2) these preachers/minister/rabbis/imams,or whatever they want to call it, executing civil contracts –  that’s up to a judge, mayor, or even a notary public.  All they’re doing is witnessing the  execution of a civil contract (marriage license), nothing more – and certainly nothing less.

  • According to this wikipedia article interracial marriage has been fully legal since a Supreme Court decision in 1967. Since that decision interracial marriages have been happening legally more and more. Over time people have seen the result of it on society, have known interracial married couples, and have had a lot of time to see how well it works. This obviously influences the general approval of it. If it had been uncorrected by courts and only “left to a popular vote” as you suggested, wouldn’t it have taken much longer to get a majority approval?

  • amycas

    I think it’s all right by us too. Nobody is trying to get rid of heterosexuals’ right to marry. What was your point again?

  • amycas

    I don’t know why you thought we would have a problem with that? In fact, your last paragraph is practically the same thing my mom told me when I was a child. I asked her one day why we don’t just make a law that forces people to be Christian (that way everybody could go to heaven). 

  • Glasofruix

     Yep, in Belgium priests can’t legally marry anyone without official marriage papers signed in front/by a mayor of the city you live in. You’re free to make any ceremony you want after that.

  • mikespeir

     That was my point.

  • Mrubiore

    All I have to say in this mater, God has
    already said it:

    Romans 1:18 to 32.

    For the wrath of
    God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,
    who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

    19 Because that which may be
    known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them.

    20 For the invisible things
    of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the
    things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are
    without excuse:

    21 Because that, when they
    knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain
    in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

    22 Professing themselves to
    be wise, they became fools,

    23 And changed the glory of
    the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds,
    and four footed beasts, and creeping things.

    24 Wherefore God also gave
    them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their
    own bodies between themselves:

    25 Who changed the truth of
    God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator,
    who is blessed forever. Amen.

    26 For this cause God gave
    them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use
    into that which is against nature:

    27 And likewise also the men,
    leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another;
    men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense
    of their error which was meet.

    28 And even as they did not
    like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind,
    to do those things which are not convenient;

    29 Being filled with all
    unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of
    envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

    30 Backbiters, haters of God,
    despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

    31 Without understanding,
    covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

    32 Who knowing the judgment
    of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the
    same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

  •  Boy is this the wrong place to be spouting Bible verses.

  • Pedro Lemos

    Yes, we have the same system here in Brazil. You can get married in a church, but it´s just a religious cerimony, it doesn´t really have any civil effect. If you want that you need to marry in a registry, wich can be done indepently of the religious one. But this system is relatively modern, I think until the implement of the new Constitution in 88, the religious marriage had the same value as the civil marriage.

    As for gay marriage, thet can´t get a civil marriage, as the law doesn´t allow it yet. But if they have a stable union, it can be recognized by the State, ensuring most civil rights marriage would, such as testament sucession, heritage, adoption and such. But as the catholic church still has a great power here (even though the evangelics are turning the tide now, wich isn´t any better) there is still many discussions about this issue, with many people opposed to gay marriage, specially in the inner cities.

  • Probably, but we have no way of knowing.  Suffice to say, some of us are a lot more racist than other of us would guess or like to admit.  Or at least I was shocked.

  • Stev84

    The thing is that that’s not the same as saying “the government needs to get out of marriage”. That phrase can easily be understood as exactly the opposite.

  • Well, yes… if that was all that I said. It wasn’t. I explained exactly what I meant in the sentences that followed that one. I don’t think that left much room for confusion.

  • Onamission5

    That’s all fine and well for you, but what about all the millions of people who don’t believe in your version of your particular deity?

    If you don’t want to marry someone of your same gender, then don’t, but do the rest of us a favor and stop trying to force us into a conservative christian theocracy, mkaythanx.

  • My God told me personally that your God is wrong.

  • Gus Snarp

    I firmly believe that states should require a supermajority of all registered voters to amend the constitution. You’d have to get 60% of all voters to turn out and vote your way to change the constitutions. In my state all that’s required is a bare majority of those who show up at the polls, and that’s just too low a bar for amending a constitution. There’s a reason the federal constitution is hard to amend: part of the purpose of a constitution is to protect the minority from the majority. If a simple majority can change the constitution at whim, what’s the point?

  • Tara R Halbert

    For the most part you’re right. As for those “liberal Christians” who “apologize” for other Christian’s behavior, no Honey, we would NOT vote against gay marriage! What a totally stupid thing to say! Why would anyone do that? It doesn’t make any sense! If we are apologizing it is because that bigotry and fake Christianity is embarrassing and makes a mockery of the whole religion! I am always “out there”. I commonly get informed that I am not a “real Christian” for doing so.

  • Lumenesque

    If you’ve no perception of the spiritual realm then of course it’s no mystery to you

  • Lumenesque

    But you get to make laws based on your arbitrary sexual predilection?  Or demanding laws be passed based on a belief system of ‘disbelief’ is ok?  Kinda like the pot calling the kettle black, wouldn’t you think?

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