Understanding the “Same-Sex Marriage” Debate

I’m a news junkie. Ever since my first “real” job as a newspaper reporter, I’ve had an insatiable craving for the news. I can’t get enough of it. I want my finger firmly planted on the pulse of what’s happening . . . until recently.

It seems every news feed is honed in on the “same-sex marriage” debate. The eyes of the nation are firmly fixed on the Supreme Court as the justices decide how marriage will be defined for our entire nation. Despite my training as a journalist and instinctual urge to be in the know, this week I’ve reverted to a head-in-the-sand response.

  • How am I supposed to feel about “same-sex marriage”?
  • If my convictions go against the roar of the crowd, what should I do about it?
  • How can I have an impact on an issue so huge it has found its way to the highest court in the land?
  • How do I balance standing for God’s Truth and “judging not?”

And so I generally avoid the topic. I discuss the issue only among like-minded people. I freeze with fear. I consider the battle lost and wave a tiny white flag toward the culture. And yet . . . I know if Christians collectively put their heads in the sand our nation will suffer. There is more at stake here than public policy. There is more on the line than preferences and platitudes.

So I will force my head up. I will look hard at the issue and my own heart. I will squeeze it through the filter of God’s Word. I will think long and hard about what’s on the line, and I will act and ask God to intervene.

I hope you’ll join me. Before we tackle next steps, let’s take a look at the facts.

What’s Happening In The Supreme Court?

Recently the Supreme Court started hearings on two landmark cases:

Case #1: United States versus Windsor

This case examines the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA was passed by huge majorities in the House and Senate in 1996. It was signed into law by President Clinton and through it, the federal government defines marriage exclusively as the union of a man and a woman. It also explicitly says no state must recognize same-sex unions conducted in another state.

Case #2: Hollingsworth versus Perry

This case came about after two same-sex couples were denied marriage licenses in the state of California as a result of the passage of Proposition 8. Prop 8 was adopted by California voters in 2008 and amended the California constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. This reversed an earlier state Supreme Court ruling legalizing “same-sex marriage.” A federal district court in San Francisco later ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional. Then the panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sustained that decision. It has now been volleyed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The back and forth trajectory of these two cases through the court system is indicative of our nation’s feelings about homosexuality. It is an issue that is heated and polarizing.

And yet, no matter what happens in the courts, this is an issue where public opinion seems to be shifting. A Gallup poll recently reported that 54% of Americans would vote for a law granting marriage benefits in “same-sex marriage.” Only 39% said they would vote against such a law.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 58% of Americans believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry.

What Does God’s Word Say?

The facts indicate Americans in general are increasingly in favor of same-sex marriage, and there is a possibility the courts will pass down rulings reflecting this shift.

But as Christians, we are called to avoid the temptation to think like the crowd and base our beliefs on what’s happening in the culture (Eph. 4:17–24). God’s Word is our guide for what is the best way to live and what justice truly looks like. So, as we think through the homosexual debate, the most important question we can ask is, “What does the Bible say?”

I’d like you to do your own homework here. Avoid the temptation to think you already know the breadth of God’s thoughts on this issue. Instead, run to the Word yourself and ask God to show you His heart for marriage, sexuality, and the law of the land.

Here are several verses to get you started:

Leviticus 18:22
Leviticus 20:13
Romans 1:26–28
1 Corinthians 6:9–101

Spoiler alert: The bottom line is God’s Word takes a clear stand against homosexuality. And yet we still have to wrestle through questions like these:

  • Is it the court’s job to defend the picture of marriage given to us by God’s Word?
  • As Christians, are we doing kingdom work by focusing on this issue if we’re not also sharing the life-giving, transformational Gospel message?
  • What is the best way to stand for God’s Truth without compromise?

Before we go any further, let’s allow God’s Truth to sink in. Let’s seek Him, truly seek Him for an action plan. Then we’ll pick up here tomorrow with “The ‘Same-Sex Marriage’ Debate: An Action Plan.”