This is a tough issue for me brought on by an upcoming event in our family. My gay brother-in-law is getting joined in a civil union — sorry, but I can’t quite bring myself to use the word ‘married’ yet — and we have been invited to the reception, not the ceremony. I have mixed feelings about this event; I don’t know if I can really ‘celebrate’ it but I’m thinking about going to support my wife. In the past, I would have refused to attend on principle but as a recovering conservative Christian ‘living in the gray‘ I am considering input from all sides. Recently, John Piper posted this Christian conservative perspective on relating to gay family members…
Is there hope for a relationship with a family member who is not a believer and is in a same-sex relationship, and who knows your Christian position?
Yes. One story went like this. An adult sister-in-law was in a lesbian relationship and would bring her partner to all the wider family functions when she was invited. She knew her brother-in-law’s position. Not only was she sinning to be involved sexually this way, but her very soul was in danger of eternal judgment if she did not repent. She knew that’s what he thought.
At first she was very angry and, no matter how kind or gracious or caring the Christian couple tried to be, this sister-in-law saw them as homophobic and bigoted. She assumed she was not loved and let that define the relationship.
Then one day the brother-in-law asked her: Are you able to love me in spite of my views that you think are so wrong? Yes, she said. Then, why, he asked, will you not give us the same courtesy and assume that we might be able to love you in spite of your wrong views?
Remarkably, this actually made a difference. She apologized for pushing them away, and for assuming they could not love while disapproving of her ways.
Perhaps this might help others open the hearts of relatives to their genuine care.” via How Do You Relate to a Gay Family Member? – Desiring God.
‘Living in the gray’ is a new experience for me prompted by meditation on the word ‘right’. Nietszche said “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” I’ve had to let go of a lot of the need to be right in my life and I think have made great progress, but I have to admit there are some things about what Piper says that resonate with me and I’m wondering for myself what is ‘right’ in this situation as a Christian, an American and as a person ‘related’ to another person by marriage…
First of all, I have a problem with any person, community or group that demands tolerance but does not grant it in return and I believe respect for diversity should include respect for Christians, too. 16 years ago at my son’s baptism, my brother-in-law told my wife that he wanted to kill my infant son so that he wouldn’t grow up as a Christian Conservative like us. Something like that is hard to forget. Amends were not made, but forgiveness was given on our side. We have affirmed our love for him despite his cruel remark and his sexual orientation but I don’t feel we receive the same courtesy; or I don’t anyway — I shouldn’t speak for my wife…
On a broader level, I don’t know how I feel about civil unions as an American citizen or if I should just ‘get over it’. The human rights campaign says this about DOMA — the Defense of Marriage Act passed under the Clinton Administration:
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) singles out lawfully married same-sex couples for unequal treatment under federal law. This law discriminates in two important ways. First, Section 2 of DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples. Second, Section 3 of the law carves all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations, and rulings applicable to all other married people—thereby denying them over 1,100 federal benefits and protections. ” via Respect for Marriage Act | Human Rights Campaign.
The Wikipedia says
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (Pub.L. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419, enacted September 21, 1996, 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C) is a United States federal law that defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman. The law passed both houses of Congress by large majorities and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. Under the law, no U.S. state or political subdivision is required to recognize a same-sex marriage treated as a marriage in another state. Section 3 of DOMA codifies the non-recognition of same-sex marriage for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors’ benefits, and the filing of joint tax returns.
Clinton and key legislators have changed their views and advocated DOMA’s repeal. The Obama administration announced in 2011 that it had determined that Section 3 was unconstitutional and, though it would continue to enforce the law, it would no longer defend it in court. In response, the House of Representatives undertook the defense of the law on behalf of the federal government in place of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Section 3 of the DOMA has been found unconstitutional in a California bankruptcy case, a California class action suit on the part of public employees, several federal district court judges in three circuit court jurisdictions, and by a unanimous United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit three-judge panel.” via Defense of Marriage Act – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
I wanted to get Focus on the Family’s perspective on DOMA, but the results have been skewed by anti-DOMA bloggers touting Senator Al Franken’s ‘demolition’ of their perspective. More of the anti-tolerance I referred to in ‘first of all’? The ultra-conservative Christian website Stand up for the Truth! frames the debate this way:
President Obama has opened up an issue that will divide the church in this nation—and for that I thank him. For too long many Christian leaders and individuals have been able to tap dance around the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage. We must use this opportunity to find out where our church leaders stand on this issue and then act accordingly.
God provides us choices. He has given us free will to choose the paths for our lives. I believe He is now allowing a choice that will define the future of American Christianity, giving it a choice to return to Him, or fall deep into apostasy. The sheep are being separated from the goats. Quite frankly I am excited that this issue is now front and center. Hopefully, once and for all, Christian leaders will have to take a stand—a stand that will clearly define what they believe about the Word of God. Insist that your pastor and church leadership make a clear, concise statement on this issue and how we as Christians should interact with the homosexual community.
If you think we can just stick our heads in the sand and sit this battle out, you are in for a rude awakening. The battle is on us if we wish it or not—and how we react as Christians will say a lot.” via Gay Marriage: Seperating the Sheep From the Goats | Stand Up for the Truth.
My jury is still out and I’m looking for input. I’m going to forward this post to a couple of people whose opinions I respect and ask them to weigh in in the comments below. You, of course, are welcome to do the same…