Sunday, August 16, 2015

Why I Support Gay/Lesbian Marriage

My View of Gay/Lesbian Marriage
First, a little context. I was asked to write this essay by good Christian friends, people I love and respect, who do not understand my support for gay marriage. How can a Christian who takes the Bible seriously, as they and I do, hold this viewpoint? Well, here is a personal account, not a logical argument, for how I came to hold my outlook on this issue.

I have come to the views I currently hold on gay and lesbian marriage, on the basis of a long period of reflection on biblical texts (authoritative for Christians), reason (what seems logical or rational to me in the light of evidence), and my experience with friends and relatives who are gay or lesbian. All these factors shape my understanding of homosexuality and gay marriage.

I never believed that homosexuality itself was wrong, immoral, or unethical. But I did believe, at one time, that the practice of it was wrong for Christians. It seemed to me that certain passages in the New Testament forbid sexual acts between persons of the same gender, Romans 1:26-28, in particular. And that opinion was primarily before I knew any gay or lesbian Christians.

Over the years, I have become good friends with many gay and lesbian people, most of them Christians, including family members, church members, and colleagues at work. This experience has deepened my understanding of the issues involved and caused me to think again about my understanding of that Romans text. 

Science also has played an important role. This is part of the role reason or common sense plays in the outcome. There is no doubt that people are born with genetic predisposition to heterosexuality and homosexuality. How you were treated as you grew up in those earliest years also plays a role. But, no one chooses to be gay or straight. This disposition is a given; it is pre-choice.  To me, that translates to: “God made me the way I am.” Personally I am glad to be what I am. But that also means that I want gay and lesbian people to be happy with their sexuality as well. “Do unto others . . . ” applies.

I suppose you could say, as I used to, before I knew the scientific data, that, “OK, you are gay. You just have to act celibately. You do not get to practice your sexuality. I do, but you don’t.” But now, that position seems irrational, unjust, and uncaring. I used to think that way, though, because that’s what I thought the Bible taught. 

Then I read again those biblical texts that appeared to ban homosexual conduct. The more I read them, the more I saw that Paul was writing about sexual abuse. Homosexual abuse of boys was common in the Greco-Roman world, and Paul believed that it was wrong in God’s eyes. He also observed the flaunting of one’s homosexuality in terms of irresponsible, unrestrained sexual expression and its unhealthy consequences. That too he believed was against God’s good purposes for human well-being. But Paul was not writing about (for or against) healthy, committed, natural attraction and affection between persons of the same gender. 

I believe now that the same moral rules should govern both homosexual and heterosexual conduct. Lustful, promiscuous practice is harmful to everyone, gay or straight. Faithful committed love is good for all partners, gay or straight. My experience may be unusual, but none of the dozens of gay and lesbian people I know personally think unrestrained sexual practice, sleeping around, is a good thing. That is not what healthy people desire. In fact, there is far more sexually abusive and irresponsible conduct (rape, incest, spouse abuse, adultery, pornography, etc.) by heterosexuals than by homosexuals. 

Which brings me to gay marriage. You can see where this train of thought and experience is leading, and, rightly so. If one wants gay and lesbian people to act morally, responsibly, and  in a way that is healthy for them and for society, how can we, how can I, be opposed to gay marriage? Marriage is the socially responsible, God-intended means of faithfully exercising one’s given sexuality and building a home. It is inconsistent with all that has been said above to proscribe marriage to gay and lesbian people. This is the view I hold, not just as a reasonable human being, but as a Christian. I believe this viewpoint is more consistent with what Jesus and the New Testament teach, about love and justice, than other responses.

But I didn’t get here over night. So, if you do not hold this view, I am in no position to judge you. Think it through, pray it through, for yourself, and see what seems right to you, in the light of your understanding of the Bible, your experience, and the best use of reason and the evidence.


Tom Johnson

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