As a Christian, I still can’t quite reconcile the notion of same-sex marriage with my faith. And as an attorney, I’m somewhat concerned that after same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, there will be cases where clergy may be pressured—even sued—to force them to allow same-sex weddings in their churches.
But I also recognize that same-sex marriage will soon be the law of the land, and as an American, I’ve come to see that it’s the right thing. Let me explain.
I’ve been on the record for at least a decade as being opposed to same-sex marriage on religious grounds. I have, however, always believed that gay and lesbian Americans deserve to be treated equally before the law in the workplace and in their right to visit a sick loved one, to bequeath property, to adopt children, and not to fear being subject to hate or violence based on their sexual orientation.
Every human being deserves those rights, and I would fight vociferously to protect those rights for anyone. Yet my constant trial has been that as a devout Christian my whole life, I take literally the commands of my Bible. I am what you would call a strict constructionist of the word.
I’m not talking about the obsolete “old covenant” laws in Leviticus, which are obsolete, and sometimes cited to avoid New Testament scriptural commands around what is sexual sin and what is not: See Romans 1:24-27. And I know that many attack my kind of belief as extreme. I disagree.
But that aside, we are a nation of laws, not of religion. And despite my faith belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that marriage is as much a sacrament of the spirit as it is a contract authorized by the state, if I were sitting on the Supreme Court today deciding whether or not to legalize same-sex marriage, I would have to vote yes.
No, I don’t have a secret window into the deliberations of the court, but common sense, timing and history suggest that it will happen this year. And speaking as an attorney, considering legal precedent—Loving v. Virginia—and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, same-sex marriage can no longer be denied. Look no further than February’s 7-2 Supreme Court decision, in which the justices declined to stay a lower court’s ruling that overturned Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage, making it the 37th state in the nation where same-sex couples can legally wed.
As someone who has evolved gradually in my thinking on this issue, I hope to encourage my fellow Christians to do the same. The goal has to be to love people where we find them in life. We should see the good in them, sup with them, learn from them and have them learn from us.
That is how we grow and change into better people—how we build a nation of true fellowship and understanding, versus some cold and disconnected notion of tolerance.
And I’ll say, to my fellow Christians who fear that accepting same-sex marriage somehow erodes our rights as Christians to believe as we do: It does not. The First Amendment protects our freedom of religious association and our right to worship in a way that aligns with the core doctrines of our faith.
There may be lawsuits filed by those who wish to try to force priests or pastors to marry them, if they decline on religious grounds. But I have faith in our courts and the law that the rights of clergy and churches will be protected.
My goal here is to say to the many who share my faith view that our view is safe. It is protected, and it is not an expression of hatred to hold it. We can meet our fellow citizens halfway, start a mutually respectful dialogue, openly address our fears, challenge misconceptions about gays and lesbians—as well as those about Christians—and learn to respect one another. And, dare I say, worship together.
If we can start there and focus on what we share as fellow travelers along life’s highway, I believe we can come to a place of mutual respect and peace both inside the church and out.