How Churches Can Communicate About Gay Marriage Part 2

How Churches Can Communicate About Gay Marriage Part 2

April 25, 2013 by

Yesterday we began a conversation with Andrew Marin about gay marriage. Marin is the author of Love Is an Orientation and founder of The Marin Foundation, which seeks to build bridges between opposing sides of this debate. We’ll continue that discussion today:

The pro-gay marriage side will often compare this issue to segregation—is that a fair comparison?

Andrew Marin: Much of the progressive movement and LGBT community have really backed off that messaging after a number of African American groups made great arguments like LGBT people, a) aren’t legally viewed as three-fifths of a human being; b) they are not made to ride on different public transportation; c) stay at different hotels; d) drink from different faucets; e) go to different restaurants; and f) not allowed to vote.

Very intelligently then, gay marriage advocates realized the error in that line of arguing, and adjusted their main talking points to the “protected equality of human rights afforded to all citizens of the United States under Constitution.” That logic is, in my opinion, one of the main, if not the reason why there has been such a quick cultural positive turn towards the acceptance of gay marriage.

For churches that are theologically opposed to homosexuality, do they have to fight gay marriage? Is there another way?

Andrew: Recently I attempted to answer the question, “Would Jesus Fight a Legal Battle Against Same-Sex Marriage?”

Editor’s Note: Here’s a snippet from that blog post, though read the whole thing as this is from toward the end after a lot of explanation:

These personal examples have shown me that the legal battle over gay marriage has greatly hindered the ability for children of God to relate to each other, and to the outside world, in real and tangible ways… Ways that are centered on the principles of Jesus. Ways that use God’s lens of love for his creation to shine bright and clear as we look upon each other. Read more

Is it possible for churches to take a stand on this issueeither wayand not have that stance overwhelm any other messages they’re trying to communicate? How do they do it?

Andrew: I have no issue when churches live into their theological understanding about same-sex marriage, whether in favor or not. What I do have issues with, are when churches are content in their stance over any further type of active engagement. The easiest way my organization, The Marin Foundation, has assisted churches in engaging this topic is by starting one of our Living in the Tension Gatherings in their local community. You can read more about where they came from and what they are here. We have assisted in starting around two dozen of these on-going gatherings across the U.S. and the UK at churches, universities and community centers.

How can churches communicate about this issue when their own congregation is divided?

Andrew: I was speaking at a large non-denominational evangelical church just last week, that raised this question because its executive leadership team didn’t know how to handle their divided congregational reality. My brief response is as follows:

When it comes to speaking about gay marriage amongst divided audiences I focus on the following framework of engagement to help the audience holistically think through how to assess the various aspects that come with a vote on gay marriage. The three main lenses in which a citizen living in a voting democracy must look at gay marriage is through, in no particular order:

1) The Human Rights lens:
Do two U.S. citizens of the same sex in a consenting monogamous relationship deserve the same right to enter into a legal marriage contract, as two U.S. citizens of the opposite sex in a consenting monogamous relationship?;

2) The Legal lens:
Do two U.S. citizens of the same sex in a consenting monogamous relationship deserve the up to 1,400 extra benefits within a marriage contract, as two U.S. citizens of the opposite sex in a consenting monogamous relationship?;

3) The Moral lens:
How does my interpretation of my Holy Text influence my moral understanding of two individuals of the same sex in a consenting monogamous relationship, who want to/desire/wish to enter into a marriage contract?

Only when these three lenses are assessed as a whole, does one have a holistic understanding of what gay marriage means in contemporary society. If only one of the three lenses dictates the outcome—whether from a moral perspective or a rights perspective or a legal perspective—without weighing the other two, regardless of the outcome, then the result is being shortsighted. But when taken together, whatever the outcome, one knows they have done their due diligence researching the social, political and theological ramifications that come with casting their ever important vote.

Thanks for helping us explore this issue, Andrew. Be sure to check out yesterday’s post for part 1 of this interview. For more from Andrew Marin, check out his blog.

Photo by dctim1 & kafka4prez
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Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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