Greetings to you! I very much appreciate that you had the wherewithalÂ and the bravado to take on the issue of gay marriage in your lastÂ newsletter. Thank you for expressing your views and opening the floorÂ to discussion on the matter. I’ve always been impressed not only byÂ the wisdom that you relate but also by your open ear.
I’m not sure you’re going to be surprised to hear from me on thisÂ issue, given the discussions that we’ve had on similar topicsÂ before. But this particular issue is very important, because itÂ concerns what America is and what America is built upon and it
concerns your own freedom in ways that you may not have yetÂ considered.
I’ll begin with a humorous little snippet that has been going aroundÂ the Internet to illustrate a basic set of counterpoints to theÂ concepts of “traditional marriage”:
Any good religious person believes prayer should be balanced byÂ action. So here, in support of the Prayer Team’s admirable goals, is aÂ proposed Constitutional Amendment codifying marriage entirely onÂ biblical principles:
A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between oneÂ man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)
B. Marriage shall not impede a man’s right to take concubines inÂ addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II ChronÂ 11:21)
C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a
virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (DeutÂ 22:13-21)
D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (GenÂ 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)
E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the
constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall beÂ construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)
F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry theÂ widow. If he refuses to marry his brother’s widow or deliberately doesÂ not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and beÂ otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen. 38:6-10;
G. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town,Â it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with himÂ (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men youngÂ and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, thisÂ rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)
While it’s a bit over the top, it serves to illustrate the basic pointÂ of “Biblical” marriage not being between one man and one woman atÂ all. That instead is Western tradition (minus Mormonism, perhaps). SoÂ I think the premise of trying to defend “Biblical” marriage is
The real problem with opposing gay marriage is that it violates theÂ Church / State boundary that provides Christians with basicÂ protections and freedoms. There is a reason why getting a marriageÂ license is a function of the State and performing marriage rituals isÂ a separate affair. Christians do not oppose recognition of theÂ marriage of a Hindu man and a Hindu woman, two Buddhists of oppositeÂ sex, or even two atheists of opposite sex. Does God bless the union ofÂ two atheists? Would you oppose state recognition of the marriage ofÂ two atheists? Of two Muslims?
The purpose of marriage is to signify to the State that twoÂ individuals are planning on having their affairs permanentlyÂ intermingled and interchangeable. It is like forming a specialÂ corporation of two and enables official recognition of this union byÂ wills, insurance companies, employers, and for taxes.
There is a very important and separate definition of marriage thatÂ perhaps even deserves its own word – the sacred union of twoÂ Christian souls under God.
Words cannot express how important I feel it is that these twoÂ definitions are separate. The freedom for a pair of individuals toÂ declare themselves a corporate union is not a religious
statement. Religion ought have no place in the matter, and what goesÂ around comes around – imagine perhaps a Catholic State that did notÂ recognize Protestant weddings! Indeed, history has shown theseÂ examples to be more than hypothetical.
I respect the decisions that you make personally, your freedom to holdÂ your own opinion, and (very importantly!) your freedom to express yourÂ opinion to other people. I will fight for this right. I have foughtÂ for this right — myÂ non-profitÂ wentÂ to Federal Court to defend the
right of people toÂ publishÂ the faults of a company. My non-profit wasÂ founded to provide speech to all. Why do I spend inordinate amountsÂ of time and money making sure that people, even people with whom IÂ strongly disagree, can say what they have to say? Because I believe inÂ Free Speech. I think God believes in Free Speech.
So to that end, let me say that it is a false argument for you toÂ claim that you will lose your rights as a Christian if you do notÂ stand up now against gay marriage. Your vision that the state willÂ tell you exactly what you may say is and is not a sin is indeed aÂ terrifying one, Brian. But I assure you that as hard as I willÂ persecute you for your un-Christian foolishness in opposing civilÂ unions of people you personally feel God does not approve of, I willÂ come after those who would seek to stifle your speechÂ athousandfold. As long as I, and those like me, live — you will beÂ able to preach whatever you would like to your congregation. I willÂ defend your right to call homosexuality a sin with my life.
I am here to warn you that you will lose your rights as a Christian,Â and deservedly so, if you do not stand up now in support of theÂ recognition of gay civil unions. Because if the present majority isÂ permitted to declare by use of religion what constitutes a validÂ civil union or not, you put yourself in terrible peril. While you mayÂ now feel your branch of the Protestant Church has popular appeal, whatÂ if it were to sway from the warm comforts of majority opinion? I knowÂ you to be a strong man, Brian, and one of your word. You are the veryÂ last sort of person I could see cowing to what most people thought. SoÂ what if that strength of conviction was to take the church beyond whatÂ the common American supported? What if it became a common “correctiveÂ technique” to disband marriages not approved as being “sufficientlyÂ Christian”? Is it possible that if you were no longer deemed legallyÂ married to Kathy and your children now all legal bastards, you mightÂ think twice about how your message came across? As I said above,Â history shows this sort of thing to not be hypothetical at all. ByÂ turning functions of the state into a popularity contest, you endangerÂ America’s future liberty and your own.
I challenge you, Brian, to meet with some of these gay couples, toÂ observe — I challenge you because I believe you are up to a challengeÂ like this and have a good eye and a loving heart. I would challengeÂ you to first hear their stories, see how they do or do not care forÂ each other, and then to explain to them why you think that it shouldÂ not be legal for the state to declare them a union. Because somethingÂ grates against me as wrong for two people who have loved each otherÂ for decades, lived together, supported each other through good timesÂ and bad, in times of sickness and of health, for richer and poorer,Â and faithfully stood by each other’s sides…for these people to beÂ told that their union means nothing and that their fidelity andÂ perseverance is moot in the eye of the State because some peopleÂ believe that God does not appreciate twoÂ people loving each other in the way they love each other. You haveÂ every right to say that these two people are living in sin. You haveÂ every right to say that these two people are not Christians as youÂ would recognize. You can claim that the union between these two peopleÂ is void under God, as you understand Him. But ask yourself if youÂ really have authority to declare that this union ought be void underÂ the State.
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said toÂ him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and withÂ all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and firstÂ commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor asÂ yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and theÂ prophets.“
Actively barring the legal recognition of civil unions between twoÂ loving people feels like it is neither loving God nor one’sÂ neighbor. In fact, it seems to be rather strongly disrespecting both.
I hope for you to stand by me then, as a Christian firm in your faith,Â declaring that gay civil unions under the State are a separable issueÂ from holy matrimony recognized by your Church, and that you are asÂ eager as I to perpetuate the freedoms that enable you to speak freelyÂ about Jesus by permitting people to have the freedom from having theirÂ unions validated by a court of religious opinion.
Sincerely & Respectfully Yours In Christ,