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Two Songs

October 11, 2014

Well, yesterday my state, North Carolina, became the latest in the parade of states that have had their same sex marriage bans overturned by the federal counts.  Minutes after the decision, my local TV station broadcast the first same sex marriage ceremony on their evening newscast.  A second federal judge, ruling on a different challenge to the law, is slated to give his view Monday but it does seem to be a moot point now; North Carolina has same sex marriage.  On a related note, Idaho’s ban was also struck down yesterday.

A spokesperson for the “North Carolina Values Coalition” has vowed to continue the fight.  (Don’t you just love it when partisan groups, on either side, choose names that are implied insults to those who disagree?  “Differ with me and you clearly have no values!”)  However, since any appeal would have to go to a court that has already stuck down Virginia’s law the matter seems to be pretty much decided.

The internet and my e-mail inbox are already filling up with instructions on ways Christians need to respond.  Some of the advice is good, some not so.  But there are certain patterns in these recommendations.

  • The assumption that all Christians are, or should be, opposed to civil same sex marriage. It is clear that if you don’t think that biblical teaching requires you to oppose the right of selected others to marry then you are not a true believer.  Heaven forbid that some may actually disagree that the Bible teaches that.
  • The stated fear that “they” are now going to come after us to impose their values on us; to require that we heartily endorse same sex marriage. This fear strikes me as odd as we’ve never had any problem at all saying that our values in defining marriage should be imposed on others.
  • Calls to fall on our knees and pray fervently that God will spare us from this calamity. This one really bothers me.  It implies that “they” managed to slip this one past God; that he wasn’t paying attention or somehow dropped the ball.    But most of all it touches one of my sore points on prayer; that prayer is informing God what he needs to do.  If something doesn’t make sense to me I’d rather pray and tell God just that then give him instructions on what he needs to do to set things right.
  • Calls to take a stand on biblical marriage and not waver a bit in clearly stating that same sex marriage is wrong. I’m happy to say that most of those calls emphasize that we need to do so “lovingly.”  Less clear is specific advice on how we communicate we love them while saying that we want to deny them a civil status that we enjoy.

In the movie Frozen there is a scene where Anna, having trudged up the mountain to her sister Elsa’s ice castle, urges her to come home.  What follows is, of course, that the two young women burst into song.  The difference now is that they are singing different songs.  These songs overlap but it is clear that Anna is saying “don’t panic” while Elsa is, well, panicking.  She fears the future, what could go wrong.  It is telling that Elsa’s fear is what actually causes her to hurt Anna.

Christians need to sing the same song now.  And it needs to be more than telling others, Christian or not, that they need to sing my song.  We will never get on the same page on specific ways to act in this or any other moment.   I doubt we will ever be on the same page in understanding how to apply biblical teaching to this or any other civil issue.   We don’t want to be like Elsa, hurting the people we love because fear rules us.

We don’t need to change what we believe but we need to change our song.  The song we need to sing is the Gospel; the never-failing love of God for all of us; the assurance that He yearns for us all to be in a loving relationship with Him and each other.  Telling people, particularly in the wider public forum, that we are right and they are wrong distorts the Gospel; it makes it about correct behavior.

It has only been two years since North Carolina passed its “Marriage Protection Amendment.”  At the time the major sponsor predicted it will be overturned in 20 year.  He was wrong by a factor of ten.  That new day has come.  The day for out-shouting same sex marriage proponents is now over.  Why not see if you can out-love them?

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