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.