In a prior post I wrote of how difficult it was, at times, to discuss current issues because of the lack of common ground upon which to define terms. Often we speak, as it were, different languages expressing world views that share very few common references. This particular article speaks to this in terms of the debates about the definition of marriage.
For some who are engaged in this debate the language of, or concepts about, morality are simply irrelevant and therefore inadmissible in the larger discussion. Or perhaps it may be better to say that there is a selection process under way. Each of us chooses to “cherry pick” our positions alternately selecting those moral concepts that agree with our position and disposing or declaring irrelevant those which may not agree. So if you favor marriage regardless of gender its in your best interest to change the grounds of the debate by automatically ruling out a significant argument against it, namely that virtually all major religions define marriage in heterosexual parameters. So you’ll hear people talking about “separation of church and state” even though it did not mean then and does not now mean that religious or moral ideas are excluded from the public debate or laws. Evidence of moral continuity over time is relabeled as “bigotry”. This list goes on.
Yet the truth is we all do this and very few of live a consistent ethic within our moral framework. Yes, the Bible, as interpreted within the historic Christian tradition, doesn’t identify same-sex marriage as a norm but it also doesn’t support the exploitation of the poor, misuse of the environment, the list could go on. Which is worse, same-sex relationships or spiritual pride? Neither and both. Just as a person who supports marriage regardless of gender may consider the moral arguments against it to be irrelevant while at the same time supporting the moral argument, complete with Bible quotes, for justice of the poor, so many practicing Christians will also select certain passages, perhaps about sexuality, and downplay, say, Jesus command to practice peace. The truth is that Jesus defined marriage as between one man and one woman (Matthew 19:1-6) and also called us to not violently resist even those who would do us harm (Matthew 5:39). So the folks arguing for marriage as one man and one woman have Jesus on their side but so does the person with the bumper sticker that asks “Who Would Jesus Bomb?”
So, to the extent of our power cooperating with God’s grace, perhaps our encounter with the world on issues like marriage will at least challenge us as traditional Christians to support the validity of our argument with a life consistent, in all ways, with our ethic from the bedroom to the board room and everywhere in between. Let us try not to be guilty ourselves of the very thing we claim those who disagree with us practice. If we do this consistency will, in time bear out the truth of who we are and more importantly who Jesus is.