Following on from my earlier post which looked at the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage from a liberty / legal / government / democracy point of view, I said I would post again looking at the ruling from a religious / moral perspective.
I haven’t waded into the debate on homosexuality previously, because I feel inherently out of my depth and ill-equipped to make a coherent argument that is both loving and faithful.
I think that this has been the church’s own trouble in this issue – the inability to disagree in a loving way.
I have seen some very ‘black and white’ comments (in contrast to the shades of grey, or rainbow if you prefer) using words like, ‘sin’, ‘righteousness’, ‘wickedness’, ‘abomination’ and suchlike. These are Biblical words of course, but they’re not terribly helpful here.
Sin is a word loaded with baggage of years of oppressive church imposition of morality by way of guilt and shame, which actually are in a way antithetical to New Testament Christianity which is supposed to be all about a heart-change and love.
So what does it mean? The Westminster catechism defines sin as “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God”.
So why would the law of God, who defines himself as unchangeably and fundamentally good, as Love incarnate, legislate against homosexuality?
The tendency recently has been to view homosexuality and gay marriage as a question of love. How can you possibly legislate against an emotion, a thought, and how can love ever be morally wrong? Of course it would be a nonsense. Israel’s King David loved his friend Jonathan, and Jewish tradition has it that it was exactly the kind of love that we’re talking about here.
But I don’t think that love is the real issue. David’s love for Jonathan was never depicted as a sin, because it was a feeling, an emotion. As passionate as it may have been, there was never any suggestion of lust or a physical or sexual consumation of that love.
So the law is not against love, but the physical, sexual act of love in a relationship that is outside of the boundaries of what is considered appropriate (or what you might say is outside of the design for sex and sexuality, which is ultimately reproduction.) And of course, there is a long list of which relationships are deemed inappropriate for sexual acts.
As I have mentioned before, Biblical law, the Torah, is traditionally divided into three in Christianity – civil, ceremonial and moral, and laws on sexual behaviour are considered part of the moral law which was traditionally considered binding on Christians, while the rest was rejected.
More recently, in the last century particularly, the moral law has begun to be thrown off as well. I won’t go into the theological reasons for this shift, but suffice to say only the more conservative denominations have rejected this abandonment of traditional morals (although, somewhat inconsistently I would say).
At the same time, the idea of God designing sex, people and the world as part of creation has also been eroded, so the idea that there are boundaries to sexual activity inherent in the design of creation no longer holds much sway even with most Christians.
So it could be said that the two most basic Christian arguments against homosexuality are no longer considered valid, either by the world or the church. That is certainly the logical position we find ourselves in.
Now, although I would tend to be very conservative in some respects – accepting the two premises above which are now generally rejected, I do however realise that gender, sex and sexuality are complex and complicated, and a lot less ‘black and white’ than the Bible and conservative Christians seem to portray them.
From a liberty perspective, I’m very uncomfortable allowing the government to be the arbiter of rights and liberties and prioritise the liberties of one group or individual over another’s. Where it is an adult, consensual relationship, I can’t see the government’s intrusion as legitimate.
From a religious perspective though, the government’s role would legitimately be to limit the ‘sin’ of the nation by legislating according to the moral law… But of course, we don’t have a Christian government.
I saw a post which said something along the lines of “banning my gay marriage because it’s against your religion is like banning my chocolate cake because you’re on a diet” in other words, it’s none of your business, get off my liberty! Well, yes.
In a post-Christian world, there is no obvious reason that would make Christians imposing their morality on others and limiting their morality legitimate.
So on most levels, I have no problem with loving, monogamous, consensual homosexuality, and I have no real problem with gay marriage, providing nobody forces anybody else to do, say or think anything they don’t want to.
But on a spiritual level, I can’t help wondering if there is more to it than what we see on the surface. If God is real, if God really created man and woman with a design, plan and purpose, and determined that there should be limitations on our sexual activity, are we wounding our spirits when we cross those boundaries? (And that wouldn’t apply only to homosexuality but to any kind of sexual activity outside the design – pre-marital, extra-marital, whatever.) Again, that’s not going to carry any weight of argument for anybody who has a different religious or spiritual perspective. But it gives me pause.
I have seen a few people saying that this ruling ‘has crossed the line’, leading America into some kind of gross immorality which will remove God’s blessing and protection on her. Personally, I think that line was crossed a long time ago with the Roe v Wade ruling. But that’s just me.