Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What liberal Christians are saying about same-sex marriage

When the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage must be legal throughout the US, many people responded with celebration.  But there were other kinds of responses as well:

-Activists reminding us that the fight is not over.
-Radical queers, feminists, poly folk, and singles complaining about the way marriage privileges certain people.
-Libertarians opposing all state marriage.
-Presumably there's a range of conservative responses as well, but I don't pay attention to them.

Here I wish to highlight a different response, those of liberal Christians.  Surely it is possible to find liberal Christians who say all sorts of things, so I will constrain myself to the links shared by Christian friends on Facebook .  These are all friends from IVCF, a relatively liberal evangelical college campus ministry, although that does not necessarily reflect the views of the links they shared.

1. SCOTUS by Dora4Yiu
I have many mixed emotions right now. Probably more than I can articulate well.
-I don't find it very inspiring when the liberal Christian response is "it's complicated."  So... you think that the pro-gay and anti-gay sides both make good points and that the truth is somewhere in the middle?  It's difficult to tell from such a short piece.

-Dora briefly mentions the distinction between the sacred contract of marriage and the government contract of marriage.  She believes that the government contract is all the LGBT activists really wanted.  This sounds like saying, it's fine for same-sex couples to have equal legal rights because we all know they're still symbolically second-class citizens.

-Dora also echoes some of the points that I hear from my radical queer friends: same-sex marriage is mostly being celebrated by white people, and also marriage privileges certain relationships.  I have opinions about this, but there isn't space here.

-Dora thinks Christians need to clean up their own act and stop idolizing marriage.  I honestly don't understand the point being made, since the idea of idolatry has no secular translation.

2. Some Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders From a Canadian by Carey Nieuwhof
I hope [this essay] pulls debate away from the “sky is falling/this is the best thing ever” dichotomy that seems to characterize much of the dialogue so far.
-Like the first article, Carey seems to think it's complicated and that both sides have good points.

-The main thrust of the article is that it's okay for the church and law to be at odds, since that's how it's always been.  He's basically trying to comfort anti-gay Christians for their loss.  I hope this isn't too flippant (that's a lie), but no, you should not be comforted, you should stop being anti-gay.

-"Judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy."  I dunno, social justice advocates are pretty judgmental and seem fairly successful.  The problem is when most people can tell your judgments are wrong.

3. How I Came Around on Gay Marriage by Liz Lin
A few years after I changed my stance on gay marriage as a civil rights issue, the needle started to move for me theologically as well.
-This is the most positive essay of the three.  Like in the others, Liz expresses "it's complicated" views, but these are only part of her personal trajectory towards a more gay-friendly view today.

-Like Dora, Liz also makes a distinction between the religious idea of marriage and the civil rights associated with it.  By thinking of same-sex marriage in terms of a civil rights question rather than a religious question, she was able to support it earlier on.  Later she came around on the religious question too.

-The reasons for Liz's change of religious views come from careful consideration of the Bible, and hearing stories from LGBT people.  From the perspective of someone who thinks reading the Bible is a lot like reading tea leaves, I sure am glad that the tea leaves were arranged that particular way!


Being a Christian and also a decent person is a struggle.  :'-(