LETTER: Gay marriage debate continues
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 10:37 am
For the better part of the past two decades, the debate over the definition of marriage has steadily intensified. Numerous states have undergone public referendums banning homosexual arrangements or, contrarily, allowing civil unions. Recently, our president came out in favor of gay marriage, offering his personal support. As a pastor, I have had to ask, "How should the church of God respond?"
I believe the answer is twofold. As Christians, we must decide if we desire to be obedient to the culture or to be obedient to the scriptures. The Bible makes clear that marriage is not simply a legal contract, but rather a covenantal union between one man and one woman, an earthly portrayal and representation of Christ and his bride, the church. Believers must stand firm in their convictions about a relationship that defines the very core of family identity and the continuation of society through procreation. The definition of marriage has remained unaltered for thousands of years, and it seems unwise for our civilization to disengage from that historical pattern.
Yet, believers cannot simply end the conversation there. We must learn to love our neighbors as ourselves, for every person on this planet has been created in the image of God, including those with whom we disagree. While we cannot endorse homosexuality as a marital union, neither can we promote homophobia nor behave as if those who engage in homosexual acts are somehow less valued by the God who loves his creation. Nothing could be further from the truth. When I was in college at Western Kentucky University, I had the privilege of competing for the forensic (speech and debate) team. Within that community, I developed friendships with many individuals who identified themselves as gay or lesbian. I learned that the vast majority of these folks were upstanding citizens and most of them were kinder than many Christians I know. I discovered that they needed the message of Jesus Christ just as much as I did and our differences did not hinder our friendships. We must speak the truth, but we must speak that truth in love.
Let us endeavor to unapologetically declare God's word to a generation in need, and let us commit to a sacrifical love embodied by a carpenter from Nazareth who gave his life for those who disagreed with him. Speak the truth, in love.
Barry E. Fields
Mount Tabor Baptist Church