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Same-Sex Marriage

September 12th 2013


I have been asked over and over again what I think of same-sex marriage. I can offer no easy answer because same sex marriage is a very complex issue for people of faith. When I look to the Bible, Genesis tells me that God created man and woman and that together they will become husband and wife.  Leviticus commands that it is an abomination for a man to lie with another man as if with a woman. But is also in Jesus’ teachings to love thy neighbor and render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. 
Christians believe that the New Testament has surpassed the Old, giving us a new covenant. Consequently, obscure tenants of the ancient Judaic faith--such as growing out the forelocks, eating Kosher, and wearing clothes with blended fabrics- have been discarded. However, many believe that some of the Mosaic Laws are still applicable. The declaration of marriage being between a man and woman is one of them.
I understand same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue, which are  rights belonging to an individual by virtue of citizenship, especially the fundamental freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and by subsequent acts of Congress. These include civil liberties, due process, equal protection of the laws, and freedom from discrimination. However, it is a moral issue for the church. The church operates under certain behavior based on a code of conduct.  There are plenty of individuals within the church who are engaged in same-sex relationships. 

They are not chased away, but welcomed. We all strive and live in that tension between the realities of daily life and moral life that we have a responsibility to uphold. Yet, some believe that if you disagree with same-sex marriage, you cannot be critical or exhibit love for proponents of same-sex marriage. As I mentioned, Jesus told us to love our neighbor. We call it the Golden Rule because of its importance. Every day, we should strive to adhere to it even though we are imperfect beings. The sexual proclivities of a person should never prevent a pastor from loving and helping guide them.
Advocates of same-sex marriage have been successful in their long-running fight for marriage equality considering the number of states approving same-sex marriage. Nevertheless, 36 states still ban such unions and attempts to legalize it through popular vote have failed, despite public opinion warming to same-sex. I believe much of the tension of the issue centers on the word “marriage” itself. The church reserves the word specifically to the union between a man and woman. Change “marriage” to “civil union,” and opposition drops dramatically.
All the same, I cannot help but feel that the left and many in the LGBT community seek moral approbation from the religious leaders.  There are many ministers who have no problem with same-sex relationships but refuse to perform a marriage ceremony between two people of the same sex. But because the church operates under a different code of ethics no minister should be penalized because he or she decides not to perform a ceremony involving two people of the same sex. And yet, accepting the state’s right to allow same sex marriage while opposing the church’s need to corroborate it is rendering unto Caesar. As long as the state does not require religious institutions from performing and officially sanction a same sex marriage, there is no issue. The Church’s blessing is not necessary to be married by the rule of law. It is a matter to be taken up with elected officials, both state and federal, not pastors. If same-sex marriage were ratified throughout the land, failure of citizens to recognize the rights it imparts would be a violation of the 14th Amendment.
The focus of the church is to teach the scriptures, educate, and mentor young people to become responsible adults – not whether or not they should marry someone of the same sex.  This is not a church issue but the media has made it a church issue.  Freedom of religion is a wonderful thing in this country and same-sex marriage controversy should not have any effect on that freedom.  Opponents of same-sex marriage have expressed concerns that this limits their religious freedoms. Perhaps if the left would allow the 10 Commandments to be displayed in the courthouse, even those opposing same-sex marriage may be more inclined to accept such unions. I say this because the majority of Americans still desire the morality the 10 Commandments not only dictate, but also represent. That way we can all be assured that this country is still built upon that noble foundation and by allowing state sanctioned same-sex unions will not shatter that base. In the end, both sides must practice tolerance, for it is a two way street. The LGBT community asks for tolerance and the end of discrimination, and rightly so. In return, I ask that the gay community and proponents of same sex marriage be tolerant and accepting of our beliefs. We need not be enemies, shouting at each other and spewing hate. Rather we come together as friends-- sitting down to talk through, understand, and accept each other’s views.

Armstrong Williams is a broadcaster on Sirius/XM Power 110, and on "WGCV" in South Carolina. He is the author of the new book "Reawakening Virtues," and provides content on RightSideWire.com.

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