I’m a Christian, Therefore I Believe in Same-Gender Marriage

Legal rights for gay couples are back in the news again. In addition to the recent vote in the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention to not consider an amendment limiting marriage to between a man and a woman, there were also similar votes in both New Jersey and (gasp) the country of Colombia to grant legal marriage rights to gay couples. And surrounding all three votes were religious people protesting, saying that the moves would violate the teachings of the Bible.

When I hear of my brothers and sisters in the faith protesting full equality for gay people in the name of the Bible, it reminds me of a fake brochure that was going around a few years ago. On the cover were the words, “Open this for everything Jesus ever said about Homosexuality.”

And, of course, if you opened it up, it was blank, absolutely blank.

It’s true. Jesus never said a single word about gays or lesbians or same-gender marriage, or any of the other social issues that so many people seem to be possessed with today.

There are, of course, other places in the Bible that talk about various forms of same-gender coupling. The Apostle Paul, for example, in one of his letters, condemned a particularly horrendous practice in ancient Rome where an older rich male would take in a young boy and have him castrated and then use him as a sex toy. Well, I wouldn’t approve of that either.

And then there are the famous passages in Leviticus 18 and 20, that are often used by people to excoriate Gays. Chapter 18 says that it is an “abomination” if a man “lies” with someone who is “of his own flesh” (with the odd exception of his sister or daughter), or neighbors, or animals or another man. Then chapter 20 says that if a male is caught doing any of those things, then all of them—men, women, and animals—should be taken to the edge of town and killed, some by fire, some with rocks. Um, in my most religious moments, I don’t think I would want to enact those provisions into law.

Now, it’s not as though Jesus didn’t have strong opinions on other things. He railed against people who were wealthy or powerful, or who oppressed the poor, the sick and the weak. But he never said a word about two women who met playing bridge and fell in love and then wanted to seal their love in holy matrimony.

He talked a lot about welcoming in those who were —as we might say today—“marginalized”: Samaritans, lepers, and even women (men were not supposed to even talk to a woman, though Jesus often did). But he never said anything about two young men who meet in college and fall in love but can never tell anyone because their church has told them that their love is a sin.

Jesus’ sense of radical openness to all kinds of people was very controversial in his day and it still is today. He said to go out into the highways and byways and bring in the kinds of people that most of us would not want to have in our family and seat at our table. In fact, that attitude of his was probably one of the things that got him killed. And following in his footsteps today isn’t easy.

But I’m not a Christian because what Jesus said was easy. I’m a Christian because what he said was true.

When I hear people like Jerry Falwell, may he rest in peace, or Pat Robertson, or Franklin Graham, or James Dobson, all say that we should keep whole groups of people from getting married, I don’t know where they’re going with that, but I think I’m going with Jesus.

When I hear so many politicians—most of whom are Christians or at least religious—say that it’s legal for Brittney Spears to have a one-day marriage because she got drunk in a bar, but that we need to re-write the constitution to protect us from the two gay guys who lived across the street from my mother and took care of her when she was old and sick, I think I’m going with Jesus.

When the chips are down and the going gets rough, and people are claiming that we need to protect ourselves from a dangerous wave of tolerance, and openness, and acceptance, I think I’m going with Jesus.

I'm a Christian, therefore I think I have to believe in same-gender marriage.