As a pastor, I use words every week in my speaking and writing. I am also an observer of the words people use, the arguments people make, and how they make their arguments. In recent months, I have seen a definite shift in terms of the debate regarding same-sex marriage in our culture. As a Christian pastor who believes the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God, I stand solidly and publicly with those who believe that marriage should be defined only as the marriage of one man and one woman for life. This post isn’t arguing that point. This post is about the trends that I have seen develop in how this debate over marriage is playing out in our culture – even here in Alabama. I will not link to any specific articles or blogs. Suffice it to say that I have seen multiple examples of each of these trends. Again, my focus is on the shift of how the argument is being made.
1) The argument has shifted from the legitimacy of same-sex marriage to calls for opponents to cease opposition. It wasn’t that long ago that the most common argument in an article supporting same-sex marriage was that same-sex couples deserved the same rights as heterosexual couples. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in 36 states (with Alabama briefly becoming #37), those of us who advocate for the Biblical definition of marriage are told to accept the inevitable, get on the right side of history, or “get over it.” Increasingly, we are told all three of those things in the same column.
2) The argument is made that opposition to same-sex marriage can only come from bigotry. I have seen several columns and blog posts recently who leave no room for any sincere opposition to gay marriage. In their worldview, the only possible explanation for opposing it is a deep seated bigotry. In their worldview, it is not possible to love homosexuals and yet oppose same-sex marriage.
3) Using Old Testament passages as a club to shame and silence. Increasingly, I see advocates for same-sex marriage pull a verse from the Old Testament law and say something like, “This is in the Bible too. If you want to take the Bible literally then what do you say about this verse?” There is no understanding or at least no explanation of Biblical theology, progressive revelation, historical context, scriptural context, etc. The end result is confusion and silence for many Christians who might not understand the theological issues involved and how the narrative of scripture unfolds. The clear implication that is intended is that those of us who believe in the Biblical definition of marriage should not be taken seriously because we hold views that are dangerous.
4) Ridicule and disdain in place of a coherent answer. The scenario is the same over and over again. A person makes a logical, thoughtful, gracious argument in favor of the traditional definition of marriage, and their arguments aren’t really answered. They are simply mocked and dismissed as being “on the wrong side of history” or “out of touch with civilization.”
These trends and others like them mean that those of us who advocate for Biblical marriage face increasing difficulty in even having our position heard in the broader culture. Furthermore, when it is heard, our position is often misrepresented, distorted, and twisted beyond recognition. On one hand, there is nothing we can do to control what is happening, but on the other hand it is helpful to understand what is going on and seek to be as wise as possible. These are challenging times indeed. None of us know where all of this will end. However, our response to these issues must be guided by a principle that we do know for sure…
We are not called to be popular, but rather we are called to be faithful.