By Kevin Cauley
One might think that the answer to this question is obvious. Faithful Christians should oppose homosexuality in all forms (Romans 1:26, 27). So where does the question come from? I have heard from a few different people who don’t think that we ought to have laws that oppose the homosexual marriage or laws that limit marriage to one man and one woman in this country. I have to admit, that such thinking boggles my mind. Let’s examine some of the “justifications” that have been suggested in this regard.
The broadest “justification” for homosexual marriage is the “civil rights” justification. This is the idea that when we deny homosexuals the right to marry we are being unfairly prejudiced and discriminatory. Many say: “They are people too, aren’t they? Don’t they have the same ‘rights’ as heterosexuals? Shouldn’t they have ‘equality’ with heterosexuals? Why shouldn’t homosexuals have the same civil rights as heterosexuals?”
To answer these questions, we need to recognize something about sexuality, namely, that sexuality is not a fundamental human right. No human has the “right” to have indiscriminate sex with another human. One may live one’s whole life without ever having sexual intercourse and survive well. One does not need to have sex in order to live. It’s not like eating food, or drinking water, or having shelter and clothing. It’s not even equivalent with the colour of a person’s skin. When it all boils down to it, sex is a choice that we can live without; these other things are not. And if it can be lived without, then it is not a fundamental human right.
Additionally, our society recognizes that no human has the right to have indiscriminate sex with another human. We have laws that prohibit certain types of sexual activity, such as sex with minors, the mentally handicapped, and the unwilling. There is nothing inherently unfair about the prohibition of sexual activity. In fact, it is the right thing to do. Indiscriminate sex is not a “right” and as long as it is not a right, then we have the obligation to appropriately discriminate when it comes to such matters. Discrimination is necessary when it comes to sexual activity. And if we must discriminate with regard to the permissibility of sexual activity, then we may also discriminate with regard to the permissibility of marriage. There is nothing inherently “unfair” in so doing and in so opposing homosexual marriage.
Another justification for such behaviour has been, “The government should not legislate morality.” Another form of this is, “The government should stay out of the bedroom.” On the surface, this sounds like a reasonable argument, however, under examination the argument falls short. What happens when someone is murdered in a bedroom? Does the government stay out of that? What about rape? Does the government stay out of that? No, it does not and it OUGHT not to stay out of such things.
The government has the obligation to judge what is and what is not moral behaviour and issue rewards and punishments based upon such behaviour (1 Peter 2:14). Murder, theft, rape, and lying are all MORAL issues, yet everyone recognizes the need for government to get involved and stay involved in those issues. We see the need for government to intervene when children are not properly cared for in the home. For crying out loud, we demand that the government gets involved when people abuse their pets! Yet we are expected to believe that government should not legislate morality?! However, for anyone who argues that government must stay out of the bedroom, I will be happy to concede the point as soon as I can get the government to stay out of my wallet!
I have heard some say that government doesn’t have the right to define what is and what is not a marriage and so it doesn’t matter how we view this issue. It is true that the government doesn’t have a right to pronounce something a marriage that God has not pronounced a marriage. Government doesn’t have the right to pronounce two people, living in adultery, married. Government doesn’t have the right to pronounce animals married, and neither does government have the right to pronounce two people of the same sex married.
What then does government have a right to do in regard to marriage? Government must support that which God has already defined as right and good. That is really the bottom line. God says that homosexuality is evil and the government has no right to legitimize it in any form or fashion. Government has the responsibility to recognize marriages of which God approves, but government does not have the right to recognize or even tolerate marriages of which God does not approve. Would government have the right to legitimize murder?
Theft? Lying? Rape? Of course not. Government may not legitimize something that is not legitimate to begin with. And while government has tried to legitimize some things that ought not to be legitimized (such as abortion and adultery), we should not be deceived into thinking that these things are truly legitimate. Government is not the ultimate standard for what is right and wrong; GOD IS. This means that government has the right to define good as good and evil as evil, not vice versa. Marriage between man and woman is defined by God as good. So, government has the responsibility to recognize that.
Finally, we’ve all heard the argument, “Well, it’s not hurting anyone else, so why should we worry about it?” This is the idea that two people can get together and do whatever they want to each other as long as they are not hurting anyone else. However, this is a naive view of sociology. The idea that two people can do certain things in private and not have an impact upon the rest of our society simply is not true. We’ve all heard the expression,
“No man is an island.” Well, I would add, no two people are islands, either. Everything that we say and do in private ultimately affects those with whom we come in contact on a daily basis. If we behave violently at home, then that will affect how we do our job. If we behave aberrantly at home, then that will affect our relationships with people in the community. Someone has said, “our ethics are what we do when nobody is looking.” What we do, believe, and think in private has consequences beyond that which is private. It is naïve to think otherwise. Jesus stated that the very sins that we commit in our lives start within the privacy of our own thoughts and ultimately affect other people ( Matthew 15:18-20). What two people do in the privacy of their own bedroom has consequences for the rest of us and it is those consequences about which we, as a nation, ought to be concerned.
One last thought along these lines. We have been told, by all that is liberal in this nation, that if we oppose homosexuality, then we hate homosexuals. Such a statement is simply not true. I oppose fornication. I oppose adultery. I oppose murder. I oppose theft. I oppose rape. However, I don’t hate those people who participate in such activities.
I love them and want them to repent of their evil deeds. God certainly does not hate anyone; God loves the world ( John 3:16), but God hates sin ( Proverbs 6:16) and he will not tolerate those who have been corrupted by it. We should also reflect this attitude in our life. We should love the sinner, but hate the sin. Christians have no business engaging in violent behaviour or in seeking their own personal vengeance upon those who are acting immorally. As Christians we are called to love others, not hate, but we love by calling those steeped in sin to repentance and conduct based upon the high moral standard which is Christ.
Should we oppose homosexual marriage? Yes, without a doubt. I was taught in a public college psychology class in the late 1980s that homosexuality was abnormal behaviour. Psychologically, that is exactly how we ought to continue to consider it—abnormal. Spiritually, we ought to consider it exactly as God has pronounced it, sin.