It seems that since the USA ruling to allow same sex marriages facebook has been flooded with opinions as to whether it is right or wrong. To be honest I don’t remember the same volume of comment when the same law was passed almost two years ago in the UK.
I have been reluctant to enter the debate simply because among my friends are those who support different sides of the issue and I would never want to intentionally upset my friends, no matter where they stand.
The outrage about this decision is very much centred in Christian circles. Those who are not believers are, on the whole, not that bothered. There are also a significant number of diverse viewpoints within the Christian community.
It would be so much easier if we could say with definite conviction that one view was wrong and the other right, but I have been a Christian for nearly 31 years and I am compelled to conclude that no issue that the Christian church has grappled with over the years is completely black and white.
I would like to share a little of my own experience which will by no means give a conclusive decision one way or the other but may add perspective for those struggling with the dissent.
In 1973 as a young woman of 21 I married a man who I imagined would be my husband ‘until death us do part’ that was certainly my intention and, I believe at the time, was also his. Fast forward two years and I found myself devastated at the unexpected loss of this man, no he didn’t die, he left me for someone else. I had no power to stop him; he made his decision, a decision which left me feeling totally bereft, unwanted, unloved and unlovable.
For those of you around in the 70’s you may remember that the divorce reform act of 1969 instigated a protracted debate about whether divorcees could remarry in the church. There was of course, no such thing as social media but the media of the day carried the stories nonetheless. I should add that I wasn’t a Christian at this time but church marriages were the norm, and for myself I could not imagine being married anywhere else. I was interested in following God but wasn’t really sure how to go about it. Sadly, the message I heard from the ‘public face’ of the church at this time was that as a 23 year old divorcee I was doomed to spend the rest of my life as a single woman. No matter that my divorce was neither my choice nor my fault, in the view of the church, I was not allowed to remarry under their roof. It felt as if someone had slammed a door in my face.
It took me ten more years of emotional struggle and turmoil before I finally surrendered my life to Christ but that’s another story! The point I’m trying to make is that around 40 years ago, a divorcee remarrying in the church was as scandalous as this current issue.
I have done some bible study in the last day or two and find that God hates divorce. My search was not exhaustive by any means but I found 18 references to divorce, almost all of which decreed that any divorcee who remarried was an adulterer (no reference to whether or not they were believers at the time, no allowance for cause or fault). That makes me an adulteress. I found 8 references directly about homosexuality. In many of the passages adultery, homosexuality and sexual immorality are mentioned together as sin.
To be honest I’m just thinking out loud here, but if there is any truth to be found it is this ….. we live in a sinful, fallen world. God knows this, and God did something about it. He sent His son Jesus so that we can be forgiven for our sins. At the point in our lives in which we turn to Him and seek Him, He receives us ‘just as we are’ in whatever mess we have gotten ourselves into.
Jesus does not ask us to sort out our lives and then come….. He says
‘Come… now… as you are….. come. You are loved… wherever you have been… I know the past and I know the future and still I love you. No matter how many mistakes you are still to make, I love you and my grace (undeserved favour) is sufficient for you’
I see that we are sometimes fixated on particular issues, particular sins which seem to be given a ‘higher’ grading than others and that saddens me. We are all sinners. It’s so easy to manipulate words to say what we want to hear. The Biblical city of Sodom is in many minds the epitome of sinfulness with a specific connection to homosexuality but in my studies this evening I came across this verse.
“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49
Sobering words. I see little condemnation in the Christian world of our headlong rush into materialism and our insatiable desire to accumulate goods and comfort in the western world while more than half the world struggle to survive. If only we could harness the passion and zeal with which we condemn others and make it work for the good of those in need.