While Americans are still reeling from the landmark decision from their Supreme Court’s go-ahead to sanction gay relationships/unions via marriage licences, we here in Canada – watching the fallout going on down south – may be inclined to offer a big ‘yawn’.
“Yeah, welcome to our world. One morning we woke up 10 years ago and our man at the top had arbitrarily passed into law the same thing.”
But whatever our response to the whole legalization of gay marriage, pro or against, (something that is more often than not a disposition that is ‘faith/belief system’ influenced) we are, at some point, going to have to deal with that LGBTQ(xyz) person at work, in our family or even in our church when they announce, “I just got married!”
I never thought I’d be in the position to respond to such a declaration, but I have had a gay friend for years who just shared with me his relationship’s successful status re length-of-time (34 years) with his long-time boyfriend (right after I had shared a similar status/update with him re my wife and me).
34 years together. Huh. Whether you’re pro traditional marriage or not, you have to admit that is a long time for any two people to have a partnership whether or not a sexual component is part of their dynamic. Do I look at their relationship in that light and say, “that’s a long time man, congrats!”?
Or what about when that gay friend at your office proudly holds out their ring finger and announces their wedding vows were taken over the weekend and the happy newlyweds are planning to go to Cozumel for their honeymoon – how do you react as a pro traditional marriage Christian?
Here’s how I think you should NOT react, as a pro traditional marriage Christian.
1. Saying, “Congratulations on your nuptials!”
Dictionary.com states that the word ‘congratulate’ is to ‘express sympathetic joy or satisfaction at an event’ or even to ‘salute’ an event. Even if everyone at your lunch-table is saying the word, you can’t conscionably state the same and feel alright doing so. You DON’T support the union so why would you make a hypocrite of yourself by basically saying, “Yeah, good on ya, mate! Happy for you!”
Now at first, those of you who do support gay marriage are going to think me a jerk for encouraging traditional marriage supporters to not offer congrats. BIGOT! HATER! DISCRIMATOR! I can hear it all now. Get it out of your system – go ahead. But in choosing to paste labels on us in your vitriolic, media-inspired rants, you’ll be choosing to remain totally ignorant to the fact that pro traditional marriage folks (hereafter known as PTMF’s) often love quite deeply the friends and family that are about them who are homosexual. There is nothing they wouldn’t do for them in a pinch.
By not offering a statement that affirms their decision to be married in the eyes of the law (but not necessarily in the eyes of God), we are not hating on them but rather affirming our right to believe what we believe. Last I checked, believing differently about issues is called ‘freedom of religion’. Acting differently or discriminatorily (by withholding services) toward people who are not PTMF’s … now there’s a different issue that we’ve already covered in another blog-post.
2. Stating, “I’m sorry, I do not accept nor condone your recent marriage experience as it’s not God’s authentic plan for your life.”
I know some evangelicals will call me out for, ‘not standing up for Jesus’ on this one. Again, go ahead – get mad at me. Spew out the verses that support your hard-line approach to dealing with all the heathens around you. But listen: by not yammering on about the sub-standard, un-God-sanctioned marriage experience my gay friend is into, I am not, ‘denying Christ’. Do we forget the words of Paul when he suggests, while going about our regular work-a-day lives, to
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone…”?
(Paul’s letter to the Colossians, Chap. 4, verses 5-6 / NIV Translation)
Or what of Peter’s thoughts toward others with respect to sharing your faith?
“… in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
(1’st Letter of Peter, Chap. 3, verses 15-16 / NIV Translation)
I don’t see any aspect of ‘bulldozing’ our PTM faith-values as being the right way to share our beliefs on the matter of gay-marriage or anything else for that matter. Did your gay work-mate/friend ask you, “So what do you think of my gay marriage, huh?” Now then – THEN – you have to tactfully and ‘with grace’ state how you arrive at your position that with respect to heterosexual or homosexual marriages, “one of these things is not like the other.”
You will at that point experience either backlash or an, “oh, okay then!” To refuse to answer may be cowardly, depending on the situation. But you could state with full Christian authority and genuine love, “I really wouldn’t want to say anything to you that would offend you at this time regarding our differences on any of several matters with respect to my faith. How about we get to know each other a lot better and when you feel comfortable about talking about our differences – when you know and understand that I will not ever judge you – we’ll get to chatting about all sorts of things. Sound good?”
By his or her getting to know the real you over time, they’ll realize you don’t shun or despise them for their life-choices or personal sins. We all got personal sins going on, after all. They just might not be sexually oriented … er, a lot of the time, anyhow.
Again, with respect to dealing with those about us who are not into the Bible’s definition of marriage or sin or anything else for that matter, Paul’s words make things rather clear:
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people — not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.”
(Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Chap. 5, verses 9-13 / NIV Translation)
No one likes ‘the silent treatment’. It’s just as rude as piping up and saying, “Sorry, I couldn’t disagree with you more!” You’ll just look like a snob and nothing better than that.
SO WHAT’S THE RIGHT THING TO SAY?
Your gay friend states: “We just got married!” Or, as in my buddy’s case, “We just celebrated 34 years together!”
A Christian PTMF’s response: “Hey – thanks for sharing that with me! May God infill your lives in every way possible!”
… You saw what I did there, right?
I didn’t condemn, I didn’t sanction. All I stated was my hope – my prayer – that God would get into their lives to do the work of the Spirit. It is HE (not me/not us) Who is the only One who can convince anyone that there is sin or moral shortfall in their lives. We offer a blessing upon them as individual persons without cursing them at the same time or making ourselves appear compromising in any fashion. After all, God is “not wanting anyone to be destroyed, but wanting everyone to turn away from following his own path and to turn toward God’s.” *
Your gay friend may look at you funny, balk at the statement, growl “What’s that supposed to mean”? or he/she might surprise you by going, “Oh, uh … thanks!”
Like they say of a good comic or joke-teller, ‘timing is everything’. In Scripture, we are continually told that God does things based on His wrist-watch and not ours. Let us remember who we were before God got a hold of us and made us PTMF’s and/or believers respectful of His Word when it comes to issues of sin and evil.
And let us treat our LGBTQ(xyz) friends and family and coworkers with the character of Christ who came to save, serve and not to judge.
© 2015 Flagrant Regard
* (Peter’s 2nd letter, Chap. 3, verse 9 / The Voice Translation)