Be this...
Be this…

Friday’s SCOTUS decision on gay marriage sent powerful reverberations through the evangelical Christian and Republican communities. Evangelical leader Franklin Graham prayed that God would spare America after the ruling. GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee vowed to not “acquiesce to an imperial court.” Social media lit up with cheers from the Left and cries of disappointment and concern from the Right. I find myself in the unusual position of agreeing, to some extent, with both sides.

I am an evangelical Christian and a Republican. I affirm what the Bible teaches about homosexual relationships being a sin [1] … and I’ve been in favor of the legalization of same-sex marriage for at least six years now.

Yes, that’s right, this right-wing nut-job was pro-SSM years before the much-vaunted harbinger of Hope ‘n’ Change. He “evolved” on the subject in 2012. I beat him to it.

Once upon a time, I did stand arm-in-arm with the bulk of my conservative religious peers (and the Clintons) in opposing same-sex marriage. I admit that I voted against it when I was living in Utah in 2004. I admit that, when Proposition 8 passed, I believed the voters of California had made the right call.

Yet today I am relieved that the federal government now offers recognition of binding, life-long unions to all consenting adult couples in every state in our nation. How did I come to hold such seemingly disparate beliefs? What caused me to reverse my political position on SSM six years ago, even as I’ve stood firm in my religious convictions?

Two words: Religious. Liberty.

While I believe the Bible teaches one thing about homosexual relationships, it’s clear that reasonable Christians disagree. There are gay Christians who believe God has commanded them to marry, and in consideration of their beliefs, I found myself asking: why shouldn’t such people be free to worship God according to their own consciences, just as I was? Why shouldn’t they be free to get married as part of a belief in a divine mandate, just as I did?

Initially, my argument against this was that I knew better. Sure, gays may think homosexual relationships aren’t a sin, but I understood the true will of God. I wanted the government to step in and help discourage homosexuality, for their own good.

Mercifully, it didn’t take me long to figure out that my attitude was paternalistic, controlling, and amounted to imposing my private convictions on a group of people who had no interest in how I felt on the matter. They believed what they believed and I believed what I believed and why should one group try to control how the other lives? My homosexual friends have the right to be wrong about their choices, just as I have the right to be wrong about what the Bible says about homosexuality, right?

In theory.

This was my path to supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage. And it is with sadness that events in the past few years have led me to conclude that my enthusiasm for religious liberty has been disappointingly one-sided.

It would seem that a considerable number of gay rights advocates are perfectly fine with paternalistic, controlling attitudes, with using the government to try and impose their beliefs on those who have no interest in their personal convictions—just so long as they’re the ones doing the controlling and imposing. To the people who do these things: your motto may be #LoveWins, but it sounds like you only love those who agree with you, and there is nothing unusual or remotely admirable about that. I seem to recall Jesus having a few choice words for people who did that. (Luke 6:32)

... not THIS.
… not THIS.

You’re going to tell me my concerns are unfounded. You’ll tell me that the gay rights movement has no interest in using the government to infringe on the religious liberties of others or punish people for sincerely held religious convictions. I’ll tell you to tell that to Sweet Cakes by Melissa.

You’re going to tell me that Christians who are polite and respectful in their interactions with gays will not be persecuted for their sincerely-held beliefs in what the Bible teaches. I’ll tell you to tell that to Memories Pizza.

You’re going to tell me that Christian churches that uphold the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality will not be forced to perform gay weddings. I’ll tell you to tell that to Denmark.

You’re going to tell me that it’s okay to personally think homosexual relationships are sinful, just so long as we still provide the same services for gay weddings. I’ll tell you to tell that to Esau Jardon.

You’re going to tell me that you’re different and you don’t agree with the gay rights activists who brought about those (un)civil atrocities. I’ll tell you that you need to get louder. A LOT louder. And you need to put your politics where your mouth is and support legislation that protects religious freedom. If you’re so sure these things are never going to happen anyways, what have you got to lose?

I crossed party lines and religion lines to support same-sex marriage, taking criticism from my fellow evangelicals and my fellow Republicans in the process, because, though I didn’t agree with you, I loved you enough as fellow human beings to give you the right to be wrong.

All I ask now is that you do the same for me.

Most of you won’t. But I will assume the best of you, and I will hope.

Related:

Should Mom-and-Pops That Forgo Gay Weddings Be Destroyed? at The Atlantic
ACLU stops defending RFRA

[1] My position on the matter is best summed up by William J. Webb in Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity, 2001).

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