I’ve been an admirer of President Obama on this blog, and though I do not reside in the USA nor wish to, I have to say that my admiration of him has been for a number of reasons; his being the first black man to be elected to this high office and what that means in light of the USA’s history, the education and standing he’s achieved and, his ability to articulate well thought out positions.
So my admiration of him took a hit this week when he declared his support of gay marriage following North Carolina’s decision to ban gay marriage. I should have seen this coming, but his increasing reference to his Christian faith led me to believe that he would be careful to be publicly in support. Obama doesn’t see this as a religious question, he sees it as a question of justice. (See the NY Times article) So does most of North America. Perhaps his own background, struggling to find a place in a world that discrimates and the fight for justice (for all) forms his opinions.
The question of “justice for all” is supported by the Christian Church – that’s a given. We believe “that we are created in the image of God” – and that will stand. However, the Scriptures are quite clear on the definition of marriage and the judgement of those who “have an unnatural attraction”. Those are pretty clear distinctions. Despite the clear instructions of the Scriptures, polls indicate that 50% of Christians are in support of gay marriage. I believe that these folk also see this as an issue of justice and are going with the cultural trend.
This is a subject that isn’t going to go away and the very public statement of The President is evidence of that. The Church is likely going to find herself swimming up stream on this subject and will her own convictions be seen as being out of touch? Herein lies the struggle – to be true to The Bible’s teaching (which will be challenged by some) or to go with what is popular opinion. Should The Church stand quietly on the sidelines or declare herself?
Nothing touches us more deeply than when it does so in our families – and for many families this isn’t a debate about what might be – it is about what is.
As a pastor we’ve had same sex couples in our congregations or individuals who have openly identified themselves as gay. I’ve seen young adults struggle with this, I’ve seen older men or women leave a marriage to take up a same sex relationship. This is an emotional and personal subject for many. Bringing them the message of God’s love, forgiveness, grace in light of His law, His expectations hasn’t always been easy – yet with love and care they have received God’s Word.
Unfortunately the public forum doesn’t always allow this. Somehow The Church needs to be heard as the proclaimer of God’s love to the world. That will always be best done by building bridges not walls.