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Why gay marriage is good & bad for the church

Whoa… hold it right there.

How in the world could gay marriage be GOOD for the church?

Trevin Wax shares the good and the bad.  Here’s a short synopsis:

Christians believe marriage is defined by God and recognized by government. But many today believe marriage is defined by government and must be recognized by all.

For this reason, I’m not optimistic about the trends concerning marriage and family in the United States after the Supreme Court’s gay marriage rulings on June 26. Neither am I sure of what all this means for those who, in good conscience, stand against the tide.

But I am optimistic about the church of Jesus Christ. We’ve been through societal transformations before, and we’re sure to go through them again.

The conversion of Constantine to Christianity in 313 A.D., for example, was certainly good for the church. (We didn’t have to worry about being fed to the lions in the Coliseum anymore.) But many aspects of the church/state marriage turned out to be bad for the church. (True Christianity suffered under the weight of the state’s corrupting power.) Some see the positive aspects of that fourth-century societal transformation as far outweighing the bad (author/theologian Peter Leithart, for example), while others see the bad far outweighing the good (theologian/ethicist Stanley Hauerwas). The truth is, Constantine’s conversion was both good and bad for the church.

Now let’s turn to our society’s redefinition of marriage. If we truly believe Romans 8:28 that somehow, in some way, God is working all things for the good of those who love Him, then even when the culture swerves in an opposing direction, we ought to expect both benefits and challenges.

Among them:

1. The loss of a culture of marriage

The bad news: When you look at other countries that legalized same-sex marriage decades ago, you notice a dramatic reduction in the number of people getting married. In all likelihood, we will soon resemble our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world: We will stand out for being the very thing that our grandparents would have thought ordinary. One of God’s greatest gifts to us in common grace (the institution of marriage) will be disregarded, leading to a number of societal ills and further breakdown of the family.

The good news: In our churches, we have the opportunity to show the world a better way. To show the world what biblical manhood and womanhood looks like. To show the world the difference between a covenant and a contract, the difference between commitment based on feeling and a covenant based on faith.

2. Threats to religious liberty

The bad news: As the norm of marriage shifts, individual Christians will find themselves in situations where they face penalties for refusing to violate their conscience. We’ve already seen this take place when Christian caterers, for example, feel conflicted about taking part in a same-sex wedding. Threats to religious liberty are not good news for the church because they cause us to spend time and energy in preserving “space” for us to live according to our religious convictions without fear of reprisal.

The good news: These threats may bring about in the church a much-needed change of mindset. It’s time we recognized we are no longer the “moral majority” and embrace our identity as the “missional minority.”

3. The cost of conviction

The bad news: Being a convictional Christian, especially in matters related to sexuality, morality and marriage, likely will mean the loss of cultural clout and respectability. We will pay a personal and social cost for our beliefs, and we need to be prepared.

The good news: Sociologist Rodney Stark has shown that one of the most powerful engines of early church growth was the fact that membership cost something. Why? For one, paying a social cost tends to screen out those who would fain religiosity in order to receive respect from society. Also, knowing you are the minority and may be ostracized for your views increases the level of commitment and participation of those who follow Christ.

Read ALL of Trevin’s thoughts here:  Why gay marriage is good & bad for the church.

What do YOU think?

And how will the gay marriage ruling affect things in YOUR own LOCAL church?

Todd

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15 Responses to “ “Why gay marriage is good & bad for the church”

  1. About number 2…

    Can someone please show me where the “state” has ever “forced” a church to marry a couple?

    Why will this be different?

    • N8 says:

      Currently wedding businesses floral, caterers, etc. have lost there business based on this personal conviction. With the Supreme Court approving this it is a future possibility that this will be seen as descrimination. Churches receive tax exemptions and breaks from the government. I am not a fortune teller but I can easily see the government that we currently have stepping in and considering it descrimination to not marry when it is approved by the governing state. This could be the first steps of many. Or maybe not… I just know that persecution has always been around for the church and in my reading of scripture I doubt this comfort will last.

      • rbud says:

        That’s absurd. The government has never forced a church to marry anyone for any reason. Has there ever been an occasion when a pastor was forced to marry a pagan, an atheist, or even a person of another Christian denomination. As a pastor, I can choose not to marry people even in my own church. The government is forbidden by the Constitution to make any laws dictating religious practice.

  2. Jeff Ruble says:

    The government may say that gay marriage. is legal but Gods says it is an abomination. What God says TRUMPS what they say.God created marriage the governmenta didn’t but they want. to play. the role of God. But know this. We ate living in the last days people are living like there is no God and that Jesus is not going to return. They aren’t. getting away with anything .God will have the last word.But we should be warning them and praying for them.

  3. Wendi Hammond says:

    II think that the loss of religious liberty Trevin is referring to is when Christian business owners are forced to participate in gay marriage because of anti discrimination laws (eg. Hobby Lobby and the morning after pill controversey). I certainly do see this happening.

  4. rbud says:

    The question at hand is impertinent from the start. Gay marriage should have no effect whatsoever on the church. It is a civil matter. Licensing and benefits have long been a civil matter. The church does not issue marriage licenses, does not keep legally binding marriage records, does not adjudicate estate distribution between individuals linked by marriage relationship, does not create marriage laws with any application to non-church people, does not control JOP marriages, etc.

    Regardless of how we think God defines marriage, such is only in terms of the way we see marriage in a Christian perspective. How we think God defines marriage is only in our Christian minds. Marriage was around long before Christianity or Judaism. It is practiced by all kinds of people, both religious and non-religious, and with a huge array of different customs and practices.

    To think that the Christian concept of marriage is the ONLY valid concept is simple religious arrogance. (The Bible teaches against such arrogance.) In denying gays to marry, would you also deny Native Americans, or Shintos, or Peruvian cave dwellers, just because they don’t honor the marriage concepts of Christianity? The argument against gay marriage is ridiculously irrational.

    Just as with any non-Christian marriage, if gays want to marry, it hurts the church only when the church makes it a public issue. The Christian church is wasting valuable time, energy and money to fight against it, and there is no benefit to the church in the long run.

    • Wendi Hammond says:

      I completely agree with you rbud, but some will push back at your view claiming that America was founded as a “Christian Nation” and thus her laws should reflect biblical principles and be embraced by (or imposed on . . . depending on your view) all citizens, whether or not all the citizens embrace biblical principles.

      It seems to me that we American Evangelicals have been talking out of two sides of our face for some time regarding church/state issues. For example, we want the government to stay out of our business when it comes to what our freedom and liberty . . . let us hire who we want, offer only the benefits we want, on and use guns if we want, so on and so on. And I really doubt many churches and Christian non-profits could survive if the choice was to completely give up the tax exemptions offered by our government in trade for genuine freedom from any kind of government intervention. On the other hand, we will fight hard, AND SPEND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS to try and enact laws that feel like a loss of freedom and liberty to those who believe differently than us. Living in California, I just want to weep when I think about the money that has been spent by churches and Christian organizations in the last ten years just trying to keep gay people from marrying . . . while in community after community children go to bed hungry, families are broken, people are searching for hope.

  5. Jeff Ruble says:

    Here in Frankfort,Ky our city gov. is getting ready to vote for discriminating against gays. If it goes through that means that not only cannot discriminate but also our churches cannot in their hiring practices. as well as being teachers. All of this is starting to snoeball out of control.

    • Check those facts. In most cases where discrimination is concerned, churches are exempt.

      • Wendi Hammond says:

        Generally true Peter . . . as long as “discriminating” against a protected group is related to the organization’s mission or core, stated beliefs. The bibles teaching about marriage would certainly protect churches in regard to gay marriage. On the other hand, a church would probably not be able to defend discriminating against someone for their ethnicity or nation of origin.

        I teach HR at our local Christian university and this subject comes up all the time. Most of the stuff out there about this issue is just fear mongering.

  6. Rick McGinniss says:

    “The government is forbidden by the Constitution to make any laws dictating religious practice.”

    Isn’t this already happening in requiring Catholic institutions to provide insurance (with free contraceptives) to employees? That is clearly against their “practice of religion.”

    It’s not hard to imagine the gov’t at some point applying a discrimination test to churches: “do you refuse to marry people based solely on the fact that they are gay?”

    • Wendi Hammond says:

      Rick – The element of Obama Care that you refer to requiring the Catholic church to provide contraceptives was taken out of the health care reform plan, for the very reason you point out. I’m sure lawmakers realized that the supreme court would strike it down. We still have religious liberty.

  7. Rick McGinniss says:

    Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. had an interesting take on this issue: does the church need to set aside the word “Marriage” and use “Holy Matrimony” exclusively?

    You can read more here:

    http://blog.adw.org/2013/06/do-we-need-to-set-aside-the-word-marriage-and-use-holy-matrimony-exclusively/

  8. Rick McGinniss says:

    So, why don’t my “replies” show up under the comment to which I reply????

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