Unpacking the “Whys” of the Church’s Same-Sex Marriage Conversation

“Do you support same-sex marriage for LGBTQ+ Christians or not?”

With a question so divisive in the church today, it can be hard to know how to answer.  “What will they think if I say “yes”?  What will they think if I say “no”?  What assumptions have already been made about me?  What assumptions have I already made about the person asking?”


photo credit: Magic Wings via photopin (license)

photo credit: Magic Wings via photopin (license)


For some, all that matters is whether I answer “yes” or “no.”  But with that simple answer, how much have they actually learned about me?

We often behave as if there are only two types of people – group “yes” and group “no” – and that each group is homogeneous, uniform and unified.  In reality, we often have very different reasons for believing the things we believe, even though some of us might come to the same conclusions.  As a “yes”-answerer, my perspective on God and spirituality might actually be more similar to some of the people who answer “no” than it is to some of the people who happen to also answer “yes.”

In order to illustrate this, I’ve listed 23 different reasons why Christians might answer “yes” and 23 reasons why Christians might answer “no”.  This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but it does cover some of the main things I’ve heard in conversations between Christians.

Perhaps you haven’t yet made up your mind on this topic, or you’re caught in the middle, and that’s fine.  But for those of you who belong to either “group yes” or “group no,” as you’re reading the lists below, I challenge you to ask yourself these questions…

Looking at YOUR group’s list:

  1. Which reason best represents your main motivation for believing what you do?

  2. Which other reasons do you also nod along with and agree with?

  3. Which reasons do you disagree with, or find unconvincing, even though they have led other people to the same conclusion as yours?

  4. Which reasons are often unfairly or disparagingly generalized as being applicable to your whole group?

Looking at the OTHER group’s list:

  1. Which of their reasons do you immediately want to argue with or push back against?

  2. Which of their reasons do you understand and empathize with, even if they don’t convince you?

  3. Which of their reasons are often unfairly or disparagingly generalized as being applicable to their whole group?


 

GROUP “YES” I support same-sex marriage…

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… because biblical ethics don’t really apply today.

… because all that matters in this world, and in our faith, is love.

… because I believe God created us equal, and everyone should have the right to marry whomever they want to marry.

… because I want to be modern and progressive, not homophobic and bigoted.

… because conservative Christians are the ones who reject it, and I’m not conservative.

… because I think there were admirable same-sex couples in the Bible (e.g. David & Jonathan, the centurion & his servant).

… because it doesn’t hurt anyone.

… because homosexuality is rarely mentioned in the Bible, and we should focus our energy on more important issues.

… because none of us consistently follow all the biblical laws anymore (eating shrimp, divorce, etc.).

… because an authority I trust (e.g. my pastor, my favorite theologian) supports it.

… because church tradition has been wrong before (astronomy, patriarchy, slavery), so why trust it on this issue?

… because I think we should prioritize the voices of those who are marginalized and rejected.

… because I see broader themes and trajectories of kinship, inclusion and justice in Scripture.

… because our God is not gendered, and I believe our intimate relationships “image” or reflect the Trinitarian relationship.

… because I believe we are no longer under the Law, instead, we are guided by the Spirit.

… because I’d rather err on the side of showing too much grace, inclusion and love.

… because Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, and I base my ethical decisions mainly on Jesus’ teaching.

… because there was no concept of sexual orientation at the time the Bible was written.

… because God said “it’s not good for man to be alone,” and I don’t think he’d require lifelong celibacy of all same-sex attracted people.

… because I think biblical authors disapproved of exploitative, idolatrous, lustful same-sex sex, but NOT consensual, committed same-sex sex.

… because I think the biblical authors disapproved of all forms of same-sex sex, but they based their disapproval on ideas of patriarchy, purity, and procreation that are no longer accepted today.

… because I can’t see any valid moral reasoning to explain why it should be considered sinful or evil.

… because, like Peter with Cornelius in the book of Acts, I’ve seen the God’s Spirit work and produce fruit in Christians who have married people of the same sex.