Banning Gay Marriage Is Not The Answer
While working for a conservative interest group in Iowa, I was amazed by the high number of Christian people who would turn out to oppose homosexuals politically. Yet when I presented opportunities to reach out in love to people who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender), my efforts were often met with apathy and sometimes even hostility. Anger at the homosexuals' political agenda often seemed to overshadow the task of learning how to love homosexuals as Jesus would.
But if God's people are not equipped to give homosexuals the special kind of love they need in order to heal the wounds of their past and move into heterosexuality, do we really have the right to oppose them politically? And if we are to show love, what exactly does that look like within the context of the debate over same-sex marriage?
Certainly, what cannot be loving is an approach to loving lesbian and gay people that stops at opposing same-sex marriage. Today many churches have created an emotional Catch-22 for LGBT people by opposing their right to marry but neglecting to provide them a safe place to heal. From the gay person's perspective, it seems that Christians are demanding that they simply disappear.
Knowing how to show love begins with knowing how to communicate, and it's important to understand how people think before trying to communicate with them. Trying to have a discussion about gay marriage with someone who is lesbian or gay is often like trying to play a game of baseball while the opposing team is on a soccer field. Each side is basing their arguments on completely different assumptions about homosexuality. As Christians, we know that homosexual feelings can be overcome, but most LGBT people view their attractions as an immutable identity. If I were a homosexual who honestly believed that my orientation was unchangeable, I would probably view conservative Christians as bigots, just as many of them do.
The heat gets turned up even higher when the subject of gay marriage comes up. The gay and lesbian community will accuse Christians who oppose gay marriage of being "hate mongers," while Christians insist that opposition to gay marriage is actually the loving thing to do.
The vice president of a local family policy council that opposes gay marriage recently said, "I didn't want to come across as hateful to my daughter when I insisted that she didn't play in the street. In fact, for me not to say anything would have been unloving. I'm convinced the most loving thing we can do for the homosexual community is to speak out on this issue."
If current research on the health hazards of homosexuality is accurate, then the statement is true: those who engage in homosexual sex are playing in the proverbial street. However, no intelligent lesbian or gay people will ever see themselves in these statistics, and this is where communication breaks down between conservative Christians and the LGBT community.
One study says the average lifespan of a homosexual is 42 years; another study says 43 percent of male homosexuals reported having more than 500 partners during their lifetime. For the purposes of this article, I don't want to take the time to dissect the research methods that were used to draw these conclusions. I will only say that, while some of the findings in such studies are true, throwing these numbers around while talking to someone who is homosexual will only reinforce, in their minds, the fact that you have stereotyped them. Can you imagine telling your son or daughter that that heterosexual activity is intrinsically wrong because America has a divorce rate estimated at 43 percent, or because three of every ten women killed in the United States die at the hands of a husband or boyfriend?