We Will Never Lead by Demanding the World do Something We Will Not
It's been a little over a week since the Supreme Court granted a ruling making gay marriage the law of the land nationwide. The overused joke is that Facebook feeds have begun to look like a war between the Confederacy and Skittles as either the Confederate (Virginia Battle Flag) Flag or the rainbow flag seem to be a part of every post.
What is surprising to me is how utterly shocked so many seem to be at this ruling when many like myself have been calling it for months. Since SCOTUS announced in January that they were going to be hearing the arguments, I've known this ruling. I even tried to encourage several legislators that Texas should consider taking the state out of marriage all together. It was not even considered at the time.
The more I study how government works, I don't understand what else people could expect. I personally believe that marriage is a sacred institution that should be a part of the Church. I've said for about three years that by putting a secular government in control of a sacred matter, it would destroy it as most churches see it. People act as if civil marriage registration is a consistent part of history, but most early colonies and states did not have them. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln did not pay a fee to the government to be married. Why should we?
To paraphrase Rand Paul, I want my marriage like I want my guns: unregistered. Whether you believe in same sex marriage or not, the Supreme Court did not deliver marriage equality. That cannot and will not exist as long as people must seek governmental permission to be wed. It's long past time to remove marriage licenses from the government's control.
Yet, while the government is one hindrance to marriage, it is not the main one. That title must belong to the church and the conservative movement. Yes, this is where I get myself in trouble, but I've been doing it for years so why change now. Whenever conservative Christians talk about how gay marriage ruins the sanctity of marriage, I laugh. I don't mean that it is funny or light-hearted in anyway, but the idea is just so absurd.
While marriage between one man and one woman is traditional, there is another sacred tradition in most churches in America: divorce. Yes, within my own denomination we see rates of divorce in people that claim to be church going Christians to actually be higher than those outside the church. In 2010, the Southern Baptist Convention finally issued a public proclamation of repentance of the epidemic within our own congregations. Yet, do we ever see that repentance played out in the public view? No, we see the epidemic grow and public tirades condemning those outside the Church. How do we expect the world to listen to the Church proclaim the sanctity of marriage when there is no evidence it believes it? It's like a parent expecting a child to prosper when the parents set an example of laziness, gluttony, slothfulness, drunkenness and debauchery.
I understand that it is easy to call out the world's problems. Most of us have dear friends that are divorced or we ourselves are divorced. And yes, there are some reasons for Christians to divorce from infidelity to unending abuse, but using those as an excuse for the divorce rate in the church is like using incest and rape to support all abortions. Yes, it happens, but it isn't a great argument.
Last summer I sat in on the Republican Party of Texas Platform debate. In our platform it says “homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nation’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.”
It's actually one of the longest single sections issues in the platform. I don't really think it is the appropriate place for such language. Like many others, I believe it should state that we affirm traditional marriage, but not go into extensive reasoning as many people may have their own reasons for holding to such. The conversation that went on about the subject was intriguing though. Some tried to remove it completely and others tried amending it. One member of the platform committee wanted to change it to sexual sins and add subjects like bestiality and divorce to the section, but that wouldn't take too well. We can use the “God of the Bible” but we wouldn't want to accidentally condemn a large portion of Republicans from Ronald Reagan to Dan Patrick who have been divorced.
Actually many of those loudly condemning gay marriage or the SCOTUS decision are divorced. With people like this championing the sanctity of marriage and the tyranny of the SCOTUS decision, is it any wonder we're losing this battle?
If we want to win, the real answer isn't nullifying the law or declaring elected office holders to not grant licenses if it goes against their beliefs. The answer is a clear and unbridled repentance from thousands of churches and millions of men and women for not holding marriage sacred. We all have plenty of sin in our lives that does not reflect our savior, but if we want the world to listen they must first see a humble, repentant, and broken spirit instead of an arrogant, judgmental stand. We'll never lead by demanding the world do something we will not. If marriage is truly sacred then let it be treated so by the saints.