Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why Christians Support Same-Sex Marriage



The why question is problematic because Christians give different answers. I’ll not wax too philosophical here. But I think it important to keep in mind that Christians have different beliefs about a lot of things. Here’s a few common answers to the why question.

Bible Answers

1. Godly love supports diverse marriage arrangements. The foundation for Christian morality can be found in Jesus’ summary of the law requiring followers to love God and love one’s neighbor. Since the Bible does not condemn loving relationships between same-sex persons, there is no reason to assume any of the small set of oft quoted Bible verses prohibits same-sex marriage.

The Genesis verses describe a God blessed union but do not address marriage. Polygamy has a long and accepted position for the people of God. The Hebrew households included many wives and concubines who bore children for the tribal leaders. God’s laws included having sex with a brother’s wife to produce heirs. Polygamy continued within Christian groups in recent years and is supported by Muslims who like Jews and Christians also trace their ancestry to Abraham. The primary point is only that a God-blessed marriage was not limited to one man and one woman.

2. Sinful sex answer. The Hebrew Bible identifies male-male sex as an offense worthy of death (Leviticus 20:13). And Paul condemns same-sex activity in most translations of Romans 1: 26-27. The Bible does not condemn loving relationships between same-sex persons nor does it comment on same-sex marriage. Bible scholars disagree on the way the words and phrases are translated. Bible scholars also disagree about what rules Christians should obey—it’s pretty obvious that most Christians do not follow the biblical rules about sacrifice, dietary regulations, or honoring God on the Sabbath as Jews did. Moreover, Jesus only allowed divorce for reasons of adultery but most Christians justify divorce for other reasons, including spouse abuse. A strict interpretation of the Bible means that most divorced and remarried Christians are living in adultery—this is the traditional understanding of biblical marriage, divorce, and remarriage (Read Matthew 19:9). The point is, Christians interpret the texts in different ways when it comes to marriage and sex. It is reasonable to believe the apostle Paul was concerned about abusive and exploitative same-sex activity and was not thinking about same-sex marriage when he wrote to the Romans or the Corinthians.

Moral answers

Moral reasoning can be classified in different ways. Research from Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues identifies six categories. Some categories do not appear in some articles supporting same-sex marriage. Some categories have features that overlap with other categories. An important point to make is that moral reasons often appear to be motivated by emotional reactions of fear, anger, and disgust rather than derived from cool and rationale analysis commonly found in philosophical works on ethics. I used similar subheadings so you can compare the arguments opposing same-sex marriage in the previous post.

3. Same-sex marriage is based on caring relationships. Laws and policies prohibiting same-sex marriage cause long-term harm to LG (lesbian, gay) persons who love each other. Many government and business benefits are tied to marital status. Denying same-sex couples access to health, education, and economic benefits and exposing them to social condemnation can cause measurable general health, mental health, economic, and social harm. Benefits of same-sex marriage. Over 1,000 benefits in the U.S. are linked to marital status.

4. Same-sex marriage shows respect for authority. The fact that some governments and some Christian organizations support same-sex marriage indicates that people in authority positions disagree about which authority to respect. The fact that Bible scholars disagree about what the Bible says about same-sex marriage also makes it clear that Christians are not disrespecting God or the Bible when they support same-sex marriage.

5. Supporting same-sex marriage becomes an act of loyalty. Arguments are not clearly made about matters of loyalty when it comes to same-sex issues but it is clear that people in religious organizations are required to be loyal to their policies and to the position papers of their church leaders. Because Christian groups disagree about same-sex marriage, Christians in nonsupportive faith traditions may struggle with loyalty issues. This is unfortunate but there are Christian traditions that welcome new members.

6. Same-sex marriage is linked to honor and commitment. Christians who support same-sex marriage point to the importance of a committed monogamous loving relationship. Christians  oppose promiscuity, sex abuse, rape and other forms of exploitive sexual relationships.

7. Same-sex marriage is a choice. The concept of choice is crucial to morality. Christians supporting same-sex marriage agree that marriage is a choice but it has not been a choice for LB persons in most nations. The point is that all marriages ought to be a choice regardless of a person’s sexual orientation.

8. Same-sex marriage laws can promote freedom of religion and conscience. When laws do not prohibit same-sex marriage, Christians are free to marry or not based on their religious beliefs and conscience. Laws that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying violate the religious beliefs of those who believe the sanctity of marriage includes same-sex marriages.

9. Same-sex marriage is about equality and fairness. This equality argument focuses on the unfairness of discriminatory practices that prevent LB persons from enjoying married life and the benefits that come with marriage.


Marriage Posts

Christian Leaders and Groups Supporting Same-Sex Marriage

Evangelical Pastor Rob Bell

Evangelical leader and sociologist, Tony Campolo

Church leader, Brian D. McLaren explained his views to NPR. He also led the commitment ceremony for his son’s relationship with his same-sex partner.

Pew Research facts about the same-sex marriage positions of churches and other religions as of March 2015

From the Pew list, supportive Christian groups included:
Presbyterian Church USA
Society of Friends
United Church of Christ
Evangelical Lutheran
Same-sex unions may be blessed by the Episcopal Church

My website Geoff W. Sutton

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