Why I Support Homosexual Civil Unions as a Christian

One of my dear friends recently took a stand as a Christian who is in support of gay rights.  Wanting to join in on the discussion myself, I thought I might throw in my two cents, but as is usually the case with me, what started off as a simple comment ended up turning into a blog-post length essay on my thoughts on the Christian and Gay rights.

I support my friend on the idea that homosexuals should be afforded the same legal right to have a civil union (and the legal benefits afforded thereof) as heterosexuals do to the institution of marriage.  I feel that legally, homosexuals should have the same right to all of the civil (key word here being civil) benefits of a traditional marriage, such as tax cuts, estate planning benefits (such as sharing in an inheritance of your spouses estate), government benefits (such as receiving social security benefits, medicare benefits, disability benefits, etc.), employment benefits (Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse’s employer, taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness etc.), medical benefits, death benefits, family benefits, consumer benefits, and other legal benefits that heterosexual married couples enjoy.

I say this because the “rights” in question are not based on religious foundations, but are rather civil benefits afforded to heterosexual married couples because of our political structure and the way our government functions.  If a heterosexual married couple were living in a country that did not have some or all of these civil benefits, they would simply be without them, because they are not universal rights based on the definition of marriage, or marriage as a religious institution, but are civil rights given to married couples by our federal government, and as such, I don’t think our government should discriminate against gay civil unions just as I don’t think it should discriminate against inter-racial marriages, which some states did in fact discriminate against prior to 1967 (you can check out the supreme court’s decision to overturn this discrimination at http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/loving.html accessed November 5, 2012).

Religiously, the Church does not have to recognize these homosexual civil unions as “Marriage.” This is because marriage by definition is a life-long formal union between a man and a woman with its foundation being the religious institution of marriage, and I think this should be allowed to remain as it is.

That being said, however, does not change the fact that I still think homosexuals should be afforded the same legal, civil rights (according to the government), to join with a partner in a civil union and gain all the benefits and miseries heterosexuals are allowed. If homosexuals want to be as miserable as the rest of us married folk, I say let them! 😉

One website I have visited (http://www.religioustolerance.org/mar_bene.htm accessed November 5, 2012) had a claim (that was not supported by all in the group sponsoring the website, but was the opinion of the webmaster himself) which stated that if it were merely a religious institution, there wouldn’t be a problem, because it would merely be a religious practice, and those who did not follow that particular religion would have no reason to want to participate in it, and if it were merely a civic act (like getting a driver’s license, or registering a business) there wouldn’t be a problem either, because those who met the required qualifications (such as a fee, being of a suitable age, and genetic remoteness from one another) could apply and receive the civil benefits thereof.  He claims, the problem is that it is BOTH a civic and religious institution.  As such, there are problems, and his solution is as follows:

“I feel that the best solution is to separate the civic and religious functions of marriage. Then any two people could register their relationship with the government as a civil marriage, pay a fee, and get all of the approximately 300 state and 1,100 federal rights, privileges, responsibilities and protections that have been associated with marriage. If a state refused to allow same-sex couples to enter into a civil marriage, the former could be sued in federal court under the equal access clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Finally, if a couple wished, they could apply to a religious group and ask for a religious marriage.”  (http://www.religioustolerance.org/mar_bene.htm accessed November 5, 2012).

This being said, I want to make it clear that though I take this position, I do not think that the church should have its rights infringed upon, and as such should not be forced to wed homosexuals if they feel it against their religion and what they stand for.  If homosexuals want to get married (or joined in a civil union if people are going to be stubborn about terminology) fine, let them do so as a civic institution, but don’t force the church to do something that is against what it stands for.

I still see homosexuality as a sin, but so is lusting after someone who is not my wife, and I still struggle with pornography sometimes, just as I struggle with hatred and anger in my heart, and turning a blind eye to others who are suffering, being selfish, being prideful, etc. ad nauseum.  All of those things are just as much a sin as homosexuality is, but for some reason, we in the Church feel it is our responsibility to especially condemn those who live a homosexual life more than almost any other sin it seems.  I don’t know what their reasoning for that is, because there are plenty of things people do as part of their secular lifestyle that we as Christians believe are sinful, but that they as non-believers don’t think is wrong, and yet we don’t seem to condemn them as we do those in the homosexual community.

Take premarital sex.  I think premarital sex is a sin, but people do it and don’t think it is wrong, just as, just as homosexuals have sex with another of the same gender, and don’t think it is wrong.  Non-believers are going to live their lives the way they see fit. Just because I think something is morally wrong doesn’t mean I need to impose that belief on all non-believers who live in the same country as I do. Why don’t those who crusade against homosexual unions not also crusade against heterosexual premarital sex?  I think it causes more harm, pain and suffering than homosexual sex does (considering the number of pregnancies out of wedlock and/or abortions that follow from it, not to mention the emotional and mental hurt that can result from premarital sex), yet as far as I know, there are not Christian groups fighting tirelessly to make premarital sex illegal.  If Christians are going to be moral zealots, and try and legislate all of morality, and make our form of morality the legally binding one, then why do we leave out things like premarital sex, blaspheming God’s name, and many other things that we find morally wrong but aren’t in themselves illegal?

I think too many Christians worry too much about politics, and trying to shove their form of morality onto others (and as I just pointed out, only a selection of their morality), and too little time worrying about whether they are living out the Gospel in their own lives.  If people want to do things that I think are morally wrong, I say go ahead, just so long that action is not killing, hurting, harming, cheating, or swindling a person against their will.  I say this because I don’t think the government should be concerned with legislating morality so much as protecting people from being harmed by another, and ultimately, all of us will stand before the judgment seat of God and must answer for the things we do/did wrong.

I just don’t think homosexual civil unions and the benefits thereof is a fight we should be willing to make enemies over.  All sinners are those whom Jesus calls us to love and witness to, and it is hard to truly witness to or love someone whom you are condemning and fighting legally to take civil rights away from. Jesus called us to #SpeakTruth and #SpreadLove as we #FollowChrist, and if being supportive of gay rights and/or civil unions allows me to reach out to and share the love of Christ with people who don’t know that love or the Source of that love, Jesus Christ, then I want to support them.  I don’t think homosexuals getting married will harm this country any more than heterosexual divorce, premarital sex, abortion, and a number of other things that are legal (and a hell of a lot more harmful to others and society in general).

There is an argument by Christians that if we allow gay marriage, we are ultimately undercutting or destroying the foundation of our society and causing harm to our children and future generations.  To that I say, look around you.  Our society is eroding for a number of reasons, and I don’t think gay marriage is the main reason.  Besides, if you are doing your job as a parent and first and foremost praying for your kids, as well as teaching your children about the dangers that lay out there in the world, and teaching them to follow Jesus, and stand up against the darkness of this world through the power of the Holy Spirit then they should be at least somewhat safeguarded against the folly that is found in the world.  As I said, there are a hell of a lot worse things (like premarital sex) that they need to be worried about, rather than whether homosexuals are getting married.

Spend your time being more focused on living out the Gospel, and loving your neighbors as well as your enemies, rather than condemning them.  We as Christians sin just as much as our homosexual and our otherwise non-believing fellow humans, so any fingers of condemnation we wish to point should be pointed at ourselves and our fellow followers of Christ before we go condemning those outside the flock.  Let us worry about living out the Gospel and sharing the love of Christ, let us leave the judgment of God to Christ alone.

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14 responses to “Why I Support Homosexual Civil Unions as a Christian”

  1. Jon Hylton says :

    You frequently say things that I do not agree with so much. However, this is spot on what I’ve been thinking, and worded much better than anything I could have come up with. Mind if I share?

    • Derek J. Brent says :

      Thank you for this encouraging comment! When I first read your comment, I had thought you were saying that, within the post, there were many things you did not agree with, but after I finished it I realized you were saying you and I disagree on many other things, but on this note we are of one accord. I do not mind if you share this post at all, and actually rather encourage it! Tell anyone who wants to discuss to come back here and let me know what they think, if they disagree or agree, and maybe we can get some discussion going!

      • Trenton Phillips says :

        This is actually my exact position on this issue. It’s just not governments position to make this decision, and neither is it’s the church’s job to use government to battle sin. Although, I would say that this position that you’ve typed out leaves a very vague area on where Christians stand on the importance of battling sin. Most feel, I believe, that if we don’t oppose homosexuality with our government, then we are turning a blind eye to sin, which is not so.

      • Derek J. Brent says :

        Trenton,

        I agree that it is important to battle sin, but as I tried to say in the post, we ought to be focused on battling sin within the church, among our brothers and sisters in Christ (and of course first and foremost in our own lives), rather than trying to battle the sins of the lost. The lost (as well as the saved) are going to continue to sin regardless, so first and foremost we need to witness Christ and his love to the world, and after they have come to accept Christ, then we deal with correcting sin.

        Love you and miss you brother,
        Derek

  2. AD Robles (@AdamRobles) says :

    In the end I agree with your position on having no problem with affording homosexuals with the ability to have civil union. I do not agree with some of your reasoning, but overall I think this is a well thought out article. Homosexuality is a sin. Unless it is repented of through trust in Jesus’ work on the cross it is a sin that leads to death. It is a serious situation for those involved in it. That said, it is not the job of the government to force people to not sin. Good stuff man. -AD Robles

    • Derek J. Brent says :

      Thank you for the encouragement! If I may ask, what reasoning do you disagree with, and what reason do you have for not agreeing with it? I do not ask so as to argue over nit-picky details, but rather I ask so I can improve my own reasoning skills and to see where others disagree with me. I am glad you liked the article overall. and thank you for voicing your opinion.

  3. AD Robles (@AdamRobles) says :

    Two things stand out.

    1. You seem to equate this issue, with old school discriminating against interracial couples. I dont think these are comparable at all.

    2. You also seem to think that the Church should be more worried about its own sin, as opposed to “condeming” those outside the church. I disagree. I think both are vital. We cannot ignore our own sin….but if we waited until we were sinless to point out sin in the lives of unbelievers….we would die waiting. Should we hate homosexuals….of course not, but we do need to make sure they understand that sin is serious.

    These are nitpicky. In the end though the church should not use the government to force compliance. That will never work.

    what are your thoughts?

    -Adam

    • Derek J. Brent says :

      Adam,

      In reply to your first point, I am not trying to equate the two issues, but I was drawing a comparison between them and saying that the government should not discriminate between persons in this way, especially when that segregation is based on religious grounds (which both gay civil unions and interracial marriages where discriminated because of, though I realize that was not the only reason for racial segregation). I don’t think they are equivocal, but I think both should be allowed by the government, even if shunned or frowned upon for religious reasons, because neither situation is one in which another person is being harmed and our constitution holds that all persons have inalienable rights simply because they are human beings, persons. In both cases, even if the activities are a sin in the eyes of the church (which one is and the other isn’t, at least nowadays, though there are some churches that seem to be allowing both nowadays) they should both be rights given by the government to all, without discrimination to any.

      As to your second point, I do think the Church should be more worried about its own sin, and should not be worried about the sin of others, and I have based that position on 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (particularly verse 12), which says,

      “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people — not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

      I don’t think we have to be sinless before pointing out the sins of non-believers, and we can and should let them know what Scripture says about sin in general and what is an isn’t a sin, but I don’t think it is our job as Christians to morally police the world (which we seem to be in agree on). I agree with Paul that we ought to judge those within the church, and work on being disciples and disciplining one another. We can speak the truth to those outside the church, but if they are not following Christ, I don’t think it is our job to hold them to Jesus’ high standards of morality, and should be more worried about whether we as Brothers and Sisters of Christ are ourselves living up to that standard.

      I just want to thank you again for voicing your opinions and letting me know what you disagreed with. As you said, we are in agreement on the main point, and disagree only on minor details. I think it is perfectly fine to disagree on the little things, and I think it is sometimes good to do so, so as to keep each other sharp and on our toes. Thank you for all you do on Twitter and elsewhere for the Gospel, and may God bless you and yours all the days of your life. #SpeakTruth #SpreadLove #FollowChrist

      In Christ,
      Derek

  4. Steve Brent says :

    Derek, I’m impressed with the way that you have expressed your thoughts and feeling about this subject. I may not always agree with you and we may not see eye to eye on certain things (I do read a lot of things you have written) but you make me proud to be your father.

    I love you…
    Steve

    • Derek J. Brent says :

      Thanks Dad, that is really encouraging! I makes me glad to know I make you proud, because for a long time there I wasn’t living a life I or anyone should be proud of. I thank God that He has turned my life around, and I hope that someday we may see eye to eye on that issue, but even if not, I will always love you and thank God for you. You have always been a great Father even when I wasn’t being a good son.

  5. David Hundley says :

    Hey there Derek,

    I think you’re really dealing with two different issues here.

    First, you’re dealing with the issue of how philosophical/religious views interact with the government. I wrote my capstone paper for Professor Teoro on this subject. Inevitably, there’s a lot of gray area with every matter in the government, including homosexuality. The prime summary I came up with in my paper is that a person is inevitably going to have to pick their battles (trade offs) because a solution that works for everybody will never exist. So in the homosexuality issue (or you could really insert any issue), let’s say there’s two candidates. One has a superb economic policy and supports gay marriage and the other has a poor economic policy and is totally against gay marriage. In my personal list of trade offs, I can accept gay marriage for the trade off of a good economic policy. (Acceptance in gov’t doesn’t equal acceptance in the church. I’ll get to that down below.) On the flip side of the coin, if both candidates have superb economic policies, yet one supports gay marriage and the other doesn’t, my trade offs and preferences are satisfied in the person who does not support gay marriage.

    The second issue is the way the church interacts with homosexuals. Again, there’s a lot of gray area on how we “love” them, and I’ll never propose to have a solution for that. I’ll contend that the Bible does draw a hard line on the sin issue though. Not going to argue why because that’d be a paper in and of itself. 🙂 We are called to accept them in the sense that they are a sinner and do need to repent as they would any other sin, but not to accept as in deem homosexuality as not a sin.

    All that to say that the word “support” may not be a good word to use here. I feel no inclination to ever “support” gay marriage/civil unions because it goes against what I believe as authoritative from the Father. I will spend my energy supporting issues like economic policies that affect everybody rather than a small faction of people. If the candidate I choose is pro-gay, well, that’s a shame to me, but he or she will have my vote.

    It’s a tough issue to tackle primarily because somebody’s toes will be stepped on. Like I said, I’ll never propose a solution on how to love homosexual people both in the church and from a governmental aspect. Perhaps because one doesn’t exist? I don’t know. Gray issues are hard to deal with.

    • Derek J. Brent says :

      Dave,

      First I just want to thank you for taking the time to read this and for taking the time to comment on this post and share your position.

      Yes, I do deal with the issue of how our religious views interact with the government. One of the points I was trying to make was that we can take a stand that the act of homosexuality is a sin, without having to also take the stand that we oppose those particular sinful persons having certain legal, civil rights. I can fully agree that homosexuality is a sin, but why does that entail that a homosexual person should not have certain civil rights? That would seem to imply that being sinful negates your “right” to certain rights, and I don’t think that is a tenable position considering that all persons are sinful. The issue arises because there is a religious institution of marriage, and a legal, or civil institution of marriage. I don’t think that gay marriage should be recognized as a legitimate form of the religious institution of marriage, but I do think that as a citizen of the united states, if two homosexual persons who are in a committed monogamous relationship want to have the same legal rights as two heterosexual persons in a committed monogamous relationship, why should the secular state deny them that?

      as to your point about trade-offs, that is always an issue when it comes to politics, because it is rare that we will find a candidate whose political opinions and political actions are going to line up perfectly with our own.

      I would also agree that the Bible takes a hard line against sin, but I don’t think having certain rights (such as those listed in the post) should be denied a homosexual just because that person is “sinful.”

      I use the word “support” in the sense of argue in favor of, because I don’t see why we as Christian should fight to take away the civil rights of individuals just because we find their lifestyle immoral. We find the lifestyle of other groups of individuals as immoral, yet do not fight to take away or deny them certain civil rights, so why this group of individuals?

      I would agree that it is always tough to tackle controversial issues, and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts on this one.

      • David Hundley says :

        This enters into a new issue of what one would believe to be the government, a whole new world of gray area. Even though we as Christians may hold beliefs in a Christian institution, we are still a part of the government. What is a “right”? If somebody gets pleasure out of killing people, is that a “right”? I know it’s a crass example, but it applies across the board.

        The government is a tight intermingling of so many different philosophies and religions that defining what a right is. So really, then you have to ask the question on the other side of the fence: What gives a heterosexual couple the right to marry?

        Obviously, this opens a whole other can of worms. I’ve never heard anybody argue whether heterosexual marriage is right, most likely because it’s taken for granted.

        Whether it’s right or wrong, the “Founding Fathers” did not see it as a right for gay people to marry because of either personal beliefs or a social creed (which is, still, derived out of personal beliefs). So while the government today is secular in the sense that we consist of many philosophies and religions intermingling, a philosophy/religion began the government.

        But did the “Founding Fathers” get it right? Not on everything. They’re humans, after all, with personal beliefs. The game Assassin’s Creed 3 just taught me that George Washington was big on owning slaves. (New fact to me!) I think most people would believe that slavery is wrong.

        So as far as the homosexuality in the government issue goes, I don’t believe it to be a right in the same sense that the “Founding Fathers” believed slavery to be a right. I hold it in an open hand: if I can prevent it, I will. If I cannot, then let it be. But in the church, I will keep it in a closed hand: prevented at all costs.

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