Gay marriage. Gay rights. Hot-button topics guaranteed to get the blood boiling, no matter what side you’re on. Carrie Prejean has been raked over the coals because she spoke in support of the traditional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. Her response was courteous and sensitive, yet her verbal assailant, Perez Hilton, said it was a “bad answer” because “I do expect Miss USA to be politically correct. Do we want a Miss USA that’s politically insensitive? That’s politically offensive. No.”
It used to be young people were commended when they had the courage to stand up for their convictions. If we, as a nation, expect only politically correct speech, what message are we sending? That we prefer whitewashed answers rather than honesty?
How can this subject even be discussed if both sides aren’t allowed a hearing without anger and prejudice rearing their ugly heads? We need to listen. We may not understand, but we can be understanding.
Read the online comments after any of the Bangor Daily News articles regarding these topics, and hatred and intolerance pour out from both camps. It’s like pro-lifers killing doctors who perform abortions — does any murder honor the ideals of pro-life?
Before Gov. John Baldacci signed LD 1020, I e-mailed him and Sen. Kevin Raye, asking them to seriously consider voting no in order to preserve the sanctity of marriage as it currently stood at that time (between a man and woman).
I felt Sen. Raye understood the matter clearly when he spoke on the floor before the vote, saying, “Same-sex couples can already accomplish their goals without redefining marriage.” Partnership laws, civil union laws, and gay rights laws are already in place to protect same-sex couples. So what are the facts?
I recently happened upon an article by John Freeman, president of Harvest USA, which is “a ministry of truth and mercy, proclaiming Christ as Lord to a sexually broken world. … to partner with and equip the church in bringing the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform the lives of those affected by sexual sin.” Freeman knows of what he speaks; he writes: “By age 20, life had become about using others. In my case, other men.” His Web site deals with all things homosexual in a frank and sensitive manner, encouraging open discussion and love for all.
But loving someone doesn’t mean condoning their actions if they go contrary to what the Bible says. In effect, we’re to love the sinner and hate the sin; and we’re all in the same sinful boat, according to Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 shows the end result: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This speaks of spiritual death — separation from God for all eternity. And sin is sin in God’s eyes, whether it’s murder, lying, stealing, prostitution, gossiping, homosexuality, pride, etc. Thankfully, the sin question has been dealt with by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, offering salvation from sin to all who believe in Him. (John 3:16.) In 2nd Peter 3:9 we see that Jesus is “not desiring the destruction of any, but that all may be turned from their evil ways” (Bible in Basic English).
Regardless of where any one of us stands on the marriage debate, Freeman points out, “No matter what the courts decide, how a congressional vote is cast, or what the gay community would like to demand of us, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ cannot condone gay marriage … because we do not have the power to do so. … The gay community wants to feel at peace with God without making peace with God. The Word of God has clearly declared that marriage is a covenant relationship among three parties: man, woman, and God (Genesis 2:24). Each party enters into the covenant relationship by their own choice. God will not enter into a marriage covenant with a homosexual couple. We cannot change the Word of God. He has been clear that homosexuality is wrong. God is against gay marriage and there is nothing the Church can do to change that.”
I did a Google search to determine the percentage of homosexuals in the United States. The most current numbers came from Wikipedia: “A 2006 study suggested that 20 [percent] of the population anonymously reported some homosexual feelings, although relatively few participants in the study identified themselves as homosexual.”
A 1995 survey by Sell, Wells and Wypij listed 6.2 percent males, and 3.6 percent females as having had same- or both-sex contacts within the previous five years.
Tearing down God’s institution that’s been around since the beginning of time is like rewriting the law of gravity, sending everyone spinning off in their own direction. If we redefine marriage today, what’s next? With the door wide open, will it be one of each? Pederasty? Polygamy?
The First Amendment prohibits the U.S. government from “making laws that prohibit the free exercise of religion, infringe the freedom of speech.” We fought for these rights; now we’re fighting about them? Are we willing to silence honest concerns and communication and, in effect, silence God?
A slight variation on the Michael Evans quote says, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” It’s not wrong to speak up for what’s right. It’s not intolerant to support marriage in the traditional sense. Neither is it right to remain silent and pretend it doesn’t matter as long as it doesn’t affect you, because it affects all of us.
Brenda J. Norris is assistant Sunday school leader and choir director at the West Lubec Methodist Church. She may be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org. Voices is a weekly commentary by Maine people who explore issues affecting spirituality and religious life.