Today same-sex marriage is a hot potato in several countries around the world. The New Zealand Parliament last week passed legislation approving same sex marriage. Christians are being told that they are backwards, judgemental and intolerant for not supporting it. Then what is this proposition all about? Is it about love? Is it about human rights and equal opportunities?
I am not interested in engaging in debates; rather I am committed to finding out the truth. I am not in a position to judge anyone because all human beings have sinned, in one way or another, and fall short of God's glory. This applies to both gay and straight as well as religious and non-religious. But what I do know is that one day we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in our earthly body (2 Corinthians 5 verse 10).
We are all judgemental
I think it is fair to say that many Christians turned their back on homosexuals and chose not to interact with them. Would Jesus do the same? When the self-righteous Pharisees saw Jesus eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they were surprised. Then Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." And he added, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9 verse 11 to 13). Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world. He loves all people who come to Him. But one must turn to Him in repentance in order to receive His mercy.
Does this mean that we should accept every lifestyle in the name of 'love'? Treating people with dignity does not mean that we have to agree with everything they do. "I have the right to do anything." you say – but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything." – but not everything is constructive (1 Corinthians 10 verse 23). What we need the most is discernment, not condemnation or arguments.
If you are a non-Christian who supports same-sex marriage, I invite you to be more sympathetic to the Christian view as well. It's not because we are all narrow-minded religious nuts. Christians ought to live their lives based on God's Word. In the Bible, there are a handful of verses that specifically speak of same-sex intimacy as unacceptable to God. The Bible does not disapprove the abolition of slavery or giving women the right to vote, but it condemns homosexuality. To compromise in this area means not obeying God's Word. And that is a serious matter for Christian faith.
We should criticise Christians when they are condemning and ungracious to non-believers. But we should not criticise churches when they maintain standards consistent with their beliefs. This is not something exclusive to religion. Every human community has its own code of conduct that promotes certain behaviour and excludes some other behaviour. Consider your employers, universities, social clubs and sports teams. It is in the very nature of community.
The Bible's view of homosexuality is not politically correct but it is useful for teaching and training in righteousness. The politically correct view today is that there is nothing wrong with two people just loving each other. But the question is: why do we need to redefine marriage in order to express this love?
What are the social consequences of same-sex marriage? It undermines the basic family unit of husband and wife and denies a child either a father or mother. Would this be a child's best interests when growing up? Imagine this happened to you or to your children. Either two mothers or two fathers. Many same-sex couples also indicated they have no desire to adopt. So if it's not about starting a family with children, what is it about? Social acceptance? Self-fulfilment? Economic benefits? Human rights? Love? Do you really believe changing the definition of marriage will bring about these?
Marriage involves personal sacrifice and lifelong commitment, it is hardly about freedom and human rights. Same-sex marriage is not the answer to discrimination or social prejudice. If anything, it will only worsen social segregation and add more complexity to the marriage debacle we are already facing in today's world. Those who oppose to same-sex marriage will continue to hold their view, but will be forced to accept it as law. Same-sex marriage imposes its acceptance on all society and promotes the view of homosexual normality. True love does not demand its own way. Wouldn't it be better to avoid this divide altogether?
Homosexuals are seeking a special right, not a basic human right. They already have the equal right to marry a person of opposite sex if they choose to. Some people argue that homosexuality is not a choice, but marriage is still a choice. The dictionary definition of marriage is 'the formal union of a man and a woman recognised by law, by which they become husband and wife'. Marriage by definition does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation; because it's simply out of scope. Any two consenting male and female are free to get married, although life circumstances often complicate that decision.
So is same-sex marriage really about love or human rights? Or is it more about legal benefits and a sense of social acceptance? Many traditional marriages are failing at an alarming rate with the divorce rate of nearly 50 percent, creating countless dysfunctional families and broken relationships. There is already an unprecedented suspicion and pessimism about marriage in our Western culture. Do we really want to throw same-sex couples into this mix? Wouldn't this create even more chaos, hurt and tears?
A different mindset
Every human being must live for something. Something must capture our imaginations, our heart's most fundamental allegiance and hope. If we look to our partners, friends, movements, organisations or some other created things to give us the meaning and hope that only God Himself can give, they will eventually disappoint one day and break our hearts. I am not saying that we should love them less; rather we should love God more so we can have confident hope for the future.
My prayer is that we seek God more earnestly as we navigate through many difficult challenges in our lives. Jesus said "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11 verse 28).
Daniel Jang is a senior advisor with Ministry of Health New Zealand. He is an experienced writer, speaker and mentor to Press Service International (PSI) community. Daniel holds an MA in Applied Biblical Studies from Moody Bible Institute and GradDip in Theology from Laidlaw College.
Daniel Jang's previous articles may be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/daniel-jang.html