Wednesday, July 1, 2015

an open letter to family and friends

Why I Can’t Celebrate This Supreme Court Decision

I am writing this as an open letter to my family and friends who are supporters of same-sex marriage.  I have seen so many harsh comments and posts on both sides of this debate, and I want no part of that.  However, I do want to share where I stand, for clarity’s sake. 


First, I want to affirm my love to my family and friends, gay or not. (Yes, I have gay friends.) We don't have to agree. I believe you have immense worth, having been created in the image of God.  I see your identity as not being defined by gender, orientation, or behavior, but as a unique individual created by God.  I affirm your right to freedom of conscience.  I recognize your rights under the law of our land. 


Our Supreme Court has ruled that the states may not enact laws prohibiting same-sex marriages. Many are celebrating this historic decision. Yet, in my opinion, the Supreme Court has acted rashly against a tradition that has been upheld by many religions -- as well as by natural law proponents -- for thousands of years. It is most certainly a re-definition of marriage. 


Marriage is about love, but it’s more than love. It's a gift from God to be enjoyed according to his design.  It's a life-long, covenant union of a man and woman, providing a secure home for children (as the Lord provides), all for the good of human society, and bringing glory to God who created it.  


For me, being a Christian is not primarily a religious preference, or a private, comforting belief about something I can't see.  It's about truth, about the eternal God who has revealed himself in words and supremely in his Son, Jesus Christ.  Often it is anything but comforting.  


As a child of the '60s I've had to unlearn much of what I thought about love and sex.  My position on sexuality has been re-formed by my ongoing study of the Bible for the past 40 years, thirty of those years in the original languages.  I believe the Scriptures to be the word of God. I do not believe it is a book of fairy tales, nor the product of an evolutionary development of religion. Throughout both Old and New Testaments – not to mention throughout most of church history – there are very clear and unambiguous statements against all homosexual behavior.  (See, just for example, Romans 1:18-32.)


So then, I cannot therefore in good faith betray what I think God's word clearly teaches and what the church has historically, uniformly affirmed for 1900 years. 


Many believe such a religious viewpoint should be kept out of the public square.  I disagree. I do not think that was the intent of Mr. Jefferson's separation clause, nor do I think the founders intended that our government could have the power to redefine such a fundamental thing as marriage. 


For the past fifty years our nation has rejected any ethical standard higher than the measure of ourselves.  There has been little or no appeal to a law above and outside of us, whether divine or natural.  Sometimes our justice just comes down to what enough influential people want to do, and are able to show that others aren’t really hurt by it.  Which can lead, in my opinion, to self-serving studies which have the intent to demonstrate how nobody will be hurt by whatever activity is in question.  I find that family studies, for example, even over ten years to be inadequate to fully understand how this new family dynamic would affect children.  


Now, if the religious viewpoint is automatically excluded from debate, then by default only the non-religious (the secular, the naturalistic, the utilitarian) views gain a hearing and triumph without opposition. The separation of church and state was designed to the end that no church (or religion, or non-religion) would exclusively get its way.  America is a smorgasbord of beliefs – secularism itself being a belief – and everybody should have 
a seat at the table.

I have tried to understand the arguments for and against same sex marriage. I do feel the weight of the desire to uphold the dignity of others, affirming their freedoms, celebrating love and inclusiveness, giving opportunity to demonstrate covenant faithfulness to all, and granting equal access to the public good for all citizens. And, actually, I like rainbows. 


It's just that, when it comes down to it, I really don't believe this decision is morally and spiritually right.  I don't think the high court's decision is ultimately in the best interest of families and children. I don't believe, in the end, our nation will be the better for this.  It may sound presumptuous of me, but I don't think God is pleased with it. 


What I'm saying is that my conscience is captive to a higher law, to a higher court than the U.S. Supreme Court.  That's why I can't really celebrate this recent court decision. I don't think I'm bitter or hateful.  I don't even think I'm bigoted, but you may disagree.  


Again, I don’t expect that we will all agree on this.  If you got this far, thanks for reading to the end.  I affirm your worth and value before God.  I believe Christ came to call all of us – all of us – to repentance, and to die for our sins, yours and mine.  I will love you, pray for you, feed you, give you lodging, and help care for your needs.  


But I can’t celebrate with you on this matter of same-sex marriage.  I can't celebrate that which I feel the Lord himself does not celebrate.  


Yours,

Sandy

5 comments:

Bealeton Bob said...

Sandy, thanks so much for sharing this. I've been struggling to find words that spoke truth but also expressed the precise tone my heart was feeling. Your letter was word-for-word what I wanted to say. Thanks for the time and energy you invested in this. You're a true and good servant of King Jesus.

Jeff Noble said...

Sandy, this is excellently written and done so with respect and love, while also affirming a truth beyond our own desires for self-expression. Thank you for your thoughtful, biblical and gentle contribution.

John Gump said...

Sandy, your post was along the lines of what I've been thinking all along. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I can't celebrate the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage. I must stand on the Word of God on this issue. Marriage is defined by God as one man, one woman for life. This is not hate speech. Rather it is God's Word. And, no, I don't hate gays. We are commanded to pray for them and love them as Christ loves them and died for them,as well as all of us. We are to love the sinner but hate the sin. My heart breaks for the way this nation is going against God. Anyway, thanks for reading this and marrying me and Martha over 22 years ago.
John Gump

Pilgrim said...

Sandy, thanks for a reasoned and sensible approach to this issue. I think we do not neglect the authority of Scripture, but still show Christian love to all people. There is just no room for hatred or bigotry on either side, but we each need to listen to the other side, too.

Meredith said...

Thanks for writing and sharing this Sandy.