Banning Gay Marriage...and Divorcee Marriage and Inter-Religious Marriage

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Now that all the excitement over the presidential election has died down a bit, the country has turned much of its attention to the recent ban on gay marriage in California.  As you probably know, Californians recently voted in support of Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that overturns a state Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex unions.

This week about 300 gay-rights advocates protested at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest because the mega-church pastor urged his congregation to vote for the ban. Warren certainly wasn’t alone. Evangelicals (and a majority African Americans) supported Proposition 8 overwhelmingly. Pastors and Christian leaders across the country came out strongly against gay marriage, many contributing to the marketing efforts designed to convince voters to make it illegal.

I feel a little depressed about the whole thing because 1) I still think that constitutions exist to PROTECT the rights of citizens, not take them away, and 2) it seems to me that Christians have absolutely earned their reputation for being anti-gay.

As I mentioned in the last post, recent research from The Barna Group shows that 91 percent of non-Christians use the word “anti-homosexual” to describe Christians. In the book we are discussing, the authors consider this to be part of the Christian “image problem.” If you ask me, when entire churches commit enormous amounts of time and money to restricting the civil rights of gays and lesbians, it is perfectly appropriate to call those churches “anti-homosexual.” This isn’t a PR problem; it’s a fact.  Imagine telling an African American that you love him in Christ, but you would prefer that his children be banned from going to school with yours.  

I want to give you guys the opportunity to “talk me down” on this one. Tell me what I’m missing here:

Most evangelicals that I know think gay marriage should be banned because 1) the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong, and 2) gay marriage threatens the “sanctity” of marriage.

So, using this logic, shouldn’t we amend state constitutions to ban divorcees from getting remarried?

The Bible is much clearer about divorce than it is gay marriage. No one can argue with that. “’For I hate divorce,’ says Lord, the God of Israel.” (Malachi 2:16) Jesus says that “everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced form a husband commits adultery.” (Luke 16:18)

So the Bible clearly teaches that divorce is wrong and getting remarried after a divorce is wrong as well. Where’s the amendment? Why aren’t Christians spending time and money trying to make it illegal?

Furthermore, I think that most people would agree that with 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce in this country, divorce is a much greater threat to the “sanctity” of marriage than gay marriage. But perhaps this just hits a little too close to home. Banning divorcee marriage would mean that nearly 50 percent of Christians would suddenly find themselves in the position of having their civil rights restricted.

You could also argue, using the same logic, that we should amend state constitutions to ban interreligious marriages, which are also described as sinful in the Bible.

I don’t know about you guys, but I guess I’ve just never considered the legal part of my marriage with Dan to be the sacred part. It isn’t the state-sanctioned institution of marriage that makes our relationship sacred; it’s the vows we took before God. My marriage with Dan would in no way be threatened if a gay couple down the street enjoyed the same insurance benefits and tax breaks as us. Why is the Christian community fighting so desperately for an empty institution that they don’t even honor themselves half the time?

If Christians are going to continue to speak out against promiscuity, I think it is only reasonable that we allow gays and lesbians to make monogamous commitments to one another. I’m just completely flabbergasted by the amount of attention the evangelical community has devoted to this issue. I think that someday evangelicals will look back and be sorry that they opposed granting these basic civil rights to their fellow citizens.

Alright, now talk me down!

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