In the wake of last week’s Supreme Court decision, I have seen a lot of articles about our nation’s decision to legalize gay marriage on a national level. As one of my friends eloquently put it, “It looks like my Facebook newsfeed threw up a bag of Skittles.” I couldn’t have put it better myself. Rainbows are everywhere- even on the header of the WordPress homepage (I’m very disappointed in you, WordPress). They are hanging in windows, posted on Metro screens throughout the city, and featured in nearly every other Facebook profile picture right now. As I was scrolling through this assault of rainbows yesterday, I noticed something rather perplexing. A lot of my professed Catholic and Christian friends had rainbow profile pictures, presumably in celebration of the Supreme Court decision. Now don’t get me wrong- I’m not a homophobe or anti-homosexual. I believe that they deserve all the same rights as any other human being- including the right to get married.
But this right hinges on what we mean by marriage. I believe that gay men and lesbians should have the right to marry, but there’s nothing groundbreaking about that. The way I see it, gay men and lesbians have always had the right to marry. A gay man has always had the right to marry- a woman. And a lesbian has always had the right to marry- a man. Now I know what you’re thinking- a gay man doesn’t want to marry a woman and a lesbian doesn’t want to marry a man. But I wasn’t talking about what they want to do. I was talking about what they can do. And they can get married. The Supreme Court might have changed the legal definition of marriage last week, but that doesn’t mean they actually changed the meaning of marriage. That’s just impossible.
Sure, if we believe that marriage is just legal recognition by man that people have promised to love each other, then of course we can change the definition of marriage. If we created it, then we can change it. But here’s the thing: we didn’t create marriage. God gave it to us as a gift.
Right now, I’m primarily talking to my Christian friends with rainbow profile pictures. If you’re not Christian, maybe one day we can have a philosophical discussion about nature, human nature, and the nature of marriage. But right now I’m talking to the Christians. But if you’re not Christian, feel free to keep reading. A little extra knowledge has never hurt, especially when we’re bombarded by falsehoods. I’m about to tell you the truth.
And here’s the truth: it’s totally contradictory to be Christian and pro-gay “marriage.” If your Facebook profile picture is rainbow-colored and your religious status is “Christian” or “Catholic,” we need to have a little chat.
First, let’s lay some ground rules. As Christians, we both believe that Jesus Christ came to save us from sin and death and to give us life. When He came, He also brought an end to the Old Law, not because it was bad or out-dated, but because with His coming, the Old Law had been fulfilled. But this doesn’t mean that everything written in the Old Testament is null and void. If that were the case, Jesus spends a lot of time quoting Scripture passages that He no longer believes are relevant. Since He spends so much time quoting the Old Testament, let’s just assume that He still took it seriously. Just because the New Law has been instituted doesn’t mean the Old Law has to be flushed down the toilet. It’s still the Word of God after all.
Now onto our next ground rule: The Bible is inspired. As the Word of God, every word of Scripture is divine. As such, it must be true. God does not lie. So if anything in the Bible is untrue, you, as a Christian, must profess belief in a liar. (A quick word for anyone thinking about the 613 laws of Judaism that Christians are not required to follow- this is what I mean by “fulfilled.” Since Christ fulfilled the Old Law, there are some aspects of it that believers are no longer required to adhere to. That being said, this doesn’t mean everything in the Old Testament was abandoned.) I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to believe in a God who is a liar. Fortunately for me, I do believe that every word of Scripture is true. I hope you do too.
So now that we have established that the Bible is the Word of God and that Jesus came not to abolish the Old Law, but to fulfill it, we can move on to the question at hand. What does the Bible, and in particular Jesus, have to say about homosexuality and gay marriage?
Over the past few days, I’ve read a lot of Facebook statuses and comments referencing what I like to call the “be nice to everyone” Jesus. He is also known as the “don’t judge” Jesus and the tolerant Jesus. He teaches love, not hate, peace, not war. This Jesus loves everyone just the way they are, and He doesn’t ask them to change. This is the Jesus that seems to have been embraced by the pro-gay community (Note: When I say “pro-gay community,” I am referring to those who support homosexual behavior and gay marriage. I am not in any way condemning those who struggle with homosexual inclinations.). But is this the real Jesus?
Let’s look at each of these presuppositions quickly. First, the “be nice to everyone” Jesus. There’s really no where in the Bible where Jesus suggests that this is what He wanted. Yes, He loves everyone, but He also knocks over the money-changers’ tables in the Temple. He might love them, but He clearly had no time for their shenanigans. He didn’t even seem to care about the mess that He made. He loved those sinners, but He did not tolerate their sinfulness. On a more positive note, let’s consider the woman caught in the act of adultery. This story is a favorite of proponents of the “don’t judge” Jesus. Jesus didn’t condemn the woman and stone her, but loved her instead. That’s all true, but people leave out a very important detail. After telling the woman that He was not going to stone her, He told her to “sin no more.” Now, that sure sounds like Jesus made a judgement. He did not tell the woman that her behavior didn’t matter; He told her that her behavior was sinful. He told her that she needed to change.
Jesus loved the woman caught in the act of adultery, but He did not love the sinfulness that plagued her soul. Jesus’ Gospel of love is not a Gospel of tolerance. We do not need to accept everything. There is still truth. Where there is no truth, there can be no love. Jesus might have talked a lot about love, but He also spent a lot of time talking about conversion. He will always love us with an unconditional love, but we will be able to love Him better once we have been freed from our sin. So what does Jesus have to say about homosexuality and gay marriage?
Let’s talk about marriage first. Jesus spends a good amount of time talking about marriage, and most of the time, He opts to quote Genesis during His reflections. He does not provide us with a new definition of marriage, but reminds us of the origins of the institution. When confronted with the question of divorce, Jesus reminds his listeners of what God had intended from the very beginning: that a man leave his mother and father and cling to his wife. From the beginning of time, marriage was meant to be between a man and a woman.
Same-sex unions had never been permitted by Jewish law. In fact, they were punishable by death. According to the well-known story of Sodom and Gomorrah, God destroyed two entire cities that were practicing homosexual acts regularly. He offered them the chance to repent, but they continued to act according to their disordered desires, bringing death upon their entire city. God offered them His love, but they rejected it.
But that’s the God of the Old Testament, right? Jesus would never let His Father burn entire cities of people who choose to engage in homosexual acts, obviously. It’s true- as far as I know, we have not seen anything like Sodom and Gomorrah since the coming of Christ, but this does not mean that Jesus accepts homosexuality and gay marriage. Maybe He just hasn’t made Himself heard yet.
But in a way He already has. We might not have a burning Sodom in our midst, but I think Jesus has already made it clear what He thinks of homosexuality and gay marriage. According to the passage from Matthew, Jesus clearly still believes marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. But what does the New Testament say about homosexuality itself?
To be completely honest, Jesus never talks about homosexuality, or at least nothing was ever written down. That’s not to say that Jesus never talked about it. Or maybe He didn’t have to, because most of the people He would have spoken with wouldn’t have approved of homosexual acts anyway. No reason to preach to the choir, and all that.
But that doesn’t mean that the New Testament is silent about homosexuality. St. Paul, in fact, is VERY vocal about the sinfulness of homosexual acts. In the letter to the Romans, Paul writes, “Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper” (v. 26-28). And again in First Corinthians: “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God” (v. 9-10). It’s clear that St. Paul still considers homosexuality to be a sin against God. Apparently, though Christ’s teaching on homosexuality never made it into Scripture, the Bible is clear. Homosexual acts are still sinful. The coming of Christ did not change this truth.
I think it’s important to return to what we established earlier: the entire Bible is the Word of God. In this particular instance, that means that even though Jesus never spoke about homosexuality, it’s clear that God views it as a sin, as confirmed by Paul. And what does that mean for gay marriage? Well, if homosexual acts are sinful and homosexual inclinations are disordered, that means that gay marriage is a moot point. There’s no reason to permit gay marriage when God has already condemned homosexual acts.
That all being said, this does not mean that God does not love people with a homosexual orientation. In fact, He loves them very much, and He wants what’s best for them. He wants to offer them His love and forgiveness. He wants them to know what it means to love and be loved. But they, like all of us, are plagued by the consequences of sin, and we are all in need of healing. We have all been called to carry a cross, but some crosses are heavier than others. I believe that the cross of men and women who experience same-sex attraction is one of the heaviest crosses that man can bear, but I also believe that Christ gives them the strength to carry it. They do not have to collapse beneath its weight. They do not have to pretend that their life is not a challenge. They do not have to believe that they must carry this burden alone. God’s answer to the question of homosexuality and gay marriage is not to accept it as “natural” or to condemn them to hell for their disordered desires. God’s answer is to show them love and to show them the truth about human sexuality. They just have to be open to His voice.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, I’m mainly writing for Christians. It is primarily a challenge to every Christian who has decided to support the Supreme Court’s decision. If you’re not a Christian, thank you for reading this, but to be honest, this blog post was not directed at you. If you are a Christian, I invite you to take a minute to consider what you believe. Do you believe that Jesus is God? Do you believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God? Do you believe that what is written in the Bible is true? If you do believe that Jesus is God, and that the Bible is the Word of God, and that everything in the Bible is true, and that gay marriage is acceptable in the eyes of God, you’re living a contradiction. My last question is this: now that you know what God has to say about homosexuality and gay marriage, what are you going to do about it?
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!