What do orthodox, biblical, gospel-centered persons believe about gay marriage versus bigoted, moralistic, culture-bound persons?
Does holding one particular point of view on the issue (like President Obama did) make a person bigoted? Were the 18th century white Europeans right to view black Africans as less than human, thus worthy of being slaves? If so, will the view that many Americans hold about gay marriage today be viewed with the same right-ness a few generations from now? What was the logic behind the movement to counter the wrongs done against an enslaved group of people? Is the same logic applied to the movement to fight for the rights of free individual persons? And when others disagree, how should they be treated in a culture that values "tolerance"?
Thankfully, having friends that are not like me (Asian, male, heterosexual, parent) has enriched my understanding of issues on race and gay marriage. As a Christian pastor and student, I have spent a number of years trying to understand the social construct of human race and the systems of inequality people have created to benefit themselves and subjugate others (particularly in the Christian church) on a large or a small scale to suit their own purposes throughout history. The power behind the antislavery movement did not come from science which constructed "race" as a self-evident truth that deemed whites as superior and all others inferior based on the color of one's skin and the size of one's skull. Nor did it come from culture, which, rather than fighting against the horror of slavery, legitimized it to benefit powerful white landowners in their pursuit of building massive wealth for themselves within a capitalistic framework. The prevailing power and abiding principle that ultimately destroyed the heinous institution of slavery came from religion - and specifically Christianity. Why? Because Christians have always believed that one's ethnicity - regardless of skin color - is a sacred gift from God that must not be violated. No person or ethnic (racial) group should be subjugated by another or treated as less because of skin color (or any other physical attribute) because all people are equally created (with the same glory and beauty) in the very image of God. This is the biblical truth and abiding principle, rather than shift-prone cultural values, that guided politicians and supporters that fought against slavery.
And even though it may seem that Christians are inconsistent (in being against racism yet not for gay marriage), to gospel-centered persons, the same abiding principle of sacredness of life given by God applies to one's sexuality. It is because Christians value the sacred gift of one's ethnicity and sexuality that they are against the injustice of systemic oppression of racism and for the beauty of diversity in heterosexual marriage. Simply, Gospel-centered Christians believe that marriage should reflect the sacred beauty of diversity in the uniqueness of a singular commitment between a man and a woman in holy matrimony. It is the cultural non-sacred imitation of it that Christians mourn. (And perhaps it may puzzle liberal non-traditional heterosexual couples who don't see any sacred meaning in marriage.)
Two people (one white, one non-white) have been most helpful to me on exploring the topic of gay marriage. Tim Keller, pastor and author, captures the biblical vision of marriage when he writes:
In Genesis 1 you see pairs of different but complementary things made to work together: heaven and earth, sea and land, even God and humanity. It is part of the brilliance of God’s creation that diverse, unlike things are made to unite and create dynamic wholes which generate more and more life and beauty through their relationships...
Ravi Zacharias, author and Christian apologist, on the other hand, very insightfully explains why people of differing views struggle to discuss the topic of gay marriage (or any other topic for that matter) without coming to an understanding of each other's views: namely, we demand autonomy when we present our case, but do not permit it to others who disagree. My hope is that many others will find his explanation to be helpful and enable all of us to learn to dialogue with mutual respect and consistency in reasoning.