All the good people
Well, starting today the Supreme Court takes up the issue of same sex marriage. Today they will hear arguments on California’s Prop 8, which banned such marriages and tomorrow they will hear arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition to same sex marriage. Frankly nobody knows how the court will rule on these cases and we will not find out for a few months.
In the meantime tension is high. Rallies on both sides of the issue dot the country and there is pressure, again from both sides, to win support for their team. Dire warnings are given, again by both sides, about the horrific consequences of the wrong decision. If we believe the opinions it appears that, no matter what the court decides, the nation as we know and love it is doomed.
People are speaking out. One church here in NC has vowed not to marry anyone unless they can marry same sex couples. Other pastors, fearing that if same sex marriage is given the green light, they will be forced to marry such couples against their religious principles, declare their willingness to go to jail rather than do that.
As I am older evangelical everyone on both sides of the issue is 100% sure where I stand on this matter. One side is convinced that I am passionately on their team; the other has consigned me to the enemy camp. Neither feels the need to bother asking me. As such I have no need to state an opinion and happy that I don’t have to. But I do get to watch and read the actions of others.
One opinion that intrigued me recently was that of Senator Rob Portman of Ohio who, after long opposing same sex marriage, came out recently in support of the concept. His rationale was that the issue became personal when his son Will declared he was gay. This made Portman rethink a stance that he now saw as denying someone he loved the right to marry. Oddly enough, this change has been a political loss in both camps. One side considers him a coward and turncoat; the other can’t forgive his past opposition.
So reviled has Portman become that his gay son has felt the need to write an opinion piece in the Yale paper in his support. In this thoughtful piece he makes an interesting statement about his father. “He was a good man before he changed his position, and he is a good man now, just as there are good people on either side of this issue today.”
Yes. It is so easy to vilify those who differ with us. Are you in favor of same sex marriage? Then you are deliberately out to destroy the sanctity of marriage. Against it? Then you hate homosexuals. Is there any room left in our culture for the belief that people can be wrong without being evil?
So what are my thoughts?
– First and foremost, God is not waiting with baited breath to find out what the court thinks. The universe is not about to spin off its axis with a wrong decision. Christian friends, please put away your dire predictions of a wrathful God.
– We live in a democracy. The demographics of our country on this issue are changing rapidly and the trend is clear. Our country’s laws are not divine and will continue to change. This issue does not end with a decision so it pays to be civil now.
– There is no question here of what is right or wrong. The issue before the court is what is permissible under law. Forty years after Roe v. Wade I am still allowed to think abortion is wrong and still free to oppose it. No country and no law can change right and wrong, they can only change the circumstances in which we live and express our beliefs.
So what happens if my side loses? (And I still have not declared “my side.) Well, I will be disappointed. And I will need to find new and more personal ways to convince others to join me. It will end up being harder and more time consuming than signing a petition or going to a rally or casting a vote; all of which are easy one-time events. But maybe I should have been trying to win people to my views one at a time all along.