Some thoughts on Gay Marriage

Here is an intriguing discussion of the difficult issue of gay marriage. I find myself pulled in several ways. But in the end, there are a number of problematic features of the argument:

First, it seems to me that the author and large swaths of evangelicalism have perhaps too quickly abandoned a traditional ethic of heterosexual marriage and divorce. If you have questions about that accommodation, then the argument Ken Wilson presents is far less persuasive. On the other hand, he rightly points out a real hypocrisy in much of the Christian church between the ideals of marriage and the actual practice. The better response here might be a more full theology of marriage.

Second, I think in the end (whether he intends it to or not), the “third way” does become equivalent at a practical level to the open but affirming approach. In a sense, it seems his approach devolves into a group of individuals who agree to have their individual interpretations about various things. Is sexuality really a doubtful thing? Just because there is disagreement in the church does not mean we are dealing with adiaphora. What of the life of the community? Can someone preach on sinful sexual practices if they believe homosexual practices to be among the things condemned by Scripture? How do we deal with other disagreements about moral matters (and there are many; think 1 Cor 5 or 6)? Once again, a smuggled in assumption clouds the logic. At least so it seems to me.

Third, it seems the possibility for any Christian ethic for sexual behavior may be lost in this discussion. This is not a question of whether moral approval has anything to do with the gospel. Framing it that way again misdirects. It is about whether the gospel transforms our morality and makes possible a different way of life for all, whether gay or straight. And we may disagree about the public policy options but retain the integrity of sexual morality within the church.

Finally, the end of the article tragically lapses into do whatever you think Jesus would do. But the article is remarkably thin on the biblical, theological, and historical basis for such decisions. If I think Jesus will do what is nice and kind and affirming… This sentimentalizing of the faith and of ethics is problematic.

To be sure, there are complex issues related to these debates, and I respect those who thoughtfully disagree and want to be sure my own cultural and other biases haven’t shaped my approach. But this essay does not do that for me. While well intentioned, in the end I don’t see how this type of argument doesn’t lead to final capitulation to the culture in all respects. Maybe I am wrong, but in this case I think the structure of the argument makes this a likely prospect. I am not a culture warrior, but I do want the church to really be the church.


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