As far as pastors in Willow Grove go, I probably have the most unique foundation for the topic of gay marriage. Though I am straight, I have built relationships with people in the LGBT community that have put me in some unique situations. Once, I was abandoned by my friends at Woody’s, a Philadelphia gay bar, as their prank to get the gay patrons to hit on me. Apparently, gaydar was working well that day, or they saw my wedding ring, or I’m just not that attractive, because no one offered to buy me a drink.
It is with this background that I approach the issue of gay marriage that has been all over the news lately. In the month of May alone, North Carolina voted in favor of an amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, while the next day, took the opposite stance in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts. Locally, preached in favor of the same-sex unions, while another Cynthia, Cynthia Nixon of “Sex in the City” fame, married her same-sex partner (an actress and show I am aware of only because I am in an opposite-sex union). Finally, in comics, gay character Northstar proposed to his boyfriend Kyle in “Astonishing X-Men #50”, validating the use of the word “Astonishing” to define these X-Men.
As someone who has wrestled with both sides of the gay marriage issue, I believe the following tension is at the heart of the diverse perspectives:
Human sexuality has both an objective side to it and a subjective side. Objectively, human sexuality has a reproductive function, and for this man is physically compatible with woman. Human sexuality also has a subjective side, involving attraction, and the subjective side does not always correlate with the objective side. As a straight person, my objective sexuality compliments my subjective sexuality; I am both reproductively designed for women and attracted to women. In the lesbian and gay community, the objective and subjective sides are in conflict; they are not attracted to the people with whom they can reproduce.
The question raised by this conflict is this:
Which takes precedence in marriage, our objective physical design or our subjective feelings of attraction?
Those who say our objective physical design takes precedence over our subjective attraction support heterosexual unions only. Those who say our subjective attractions takes precedence over our objective physical design support both heterosexual unions as well as same-sex unions.
This question is not an abstract one for many people. I have known two gay men who divorced their wives and left their biological children because of their lack of subjective attraction to their wives. One man was gay before marriage, while the other developed homosexual attraction after he had been married for several years. Both men described the conflict they felt in leaving their spouses, repeating “I love my wife and kids!” several times with tears in their eyes.
For Christians who hold to an objective, male-female centric view of sexuality, our changing culture puts us in a difficult situation. We want to be loving to members of the gay community, but our present culture tells us that if we don’t exalt subjective attraction above objective physical design, we are guilty of ‘hate’. This stereotype is reinforced in two ways; one, the Christians who do love the LGBT community then get intimidated out of interacting with them. When this disengagement occurs, the only Christians who do interact with the LGBT community are those who want to make it very clear that God takes great delight in sending gays to hell – thus reinforcing the ‘hate’ stereotype.
The reason Christianity holds to an objective-centric view of sexuality is because the Bible states that all humans, including the LGBT community, are created in the image of God and of immense objective worth. In other words, Scripture is opposed to gay marriage because it holds a very high view of gays. Let me explain:
The first thing Scripture shows us about the image of God is that it expresses itself objectively in our gender. It is objectively based on the physical design ‘male and female’, not the subjective attraction of ‘straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, etc.’.
Genesis 1:27 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Second, because of the objective ‘male and female’ nature of our sexuality, reproduction plays a central role in how we are to live out the image of God.
Genesis 1:28 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.
Just as God, in the Creation account, fills the Creation with the sun, moon, stars, fish, birds, animals and man, so humanity is called to continue God’s work of filling the earth by being fruitful and increasing in number.
To reject the ‘be fruitful and multiply’ command would be disastrous. I once reviewed an aspiring
gay writer’s science fiction novel which took place in the futuristic, exclusively male city called Leathertown. When it came time for me to give the author my evaluation, I gently pointed
out that such a city raises many fascinating sociological questions that he could explore. For example, how does the city survive beyond one generation, when it would self-evidently have a birth rate of zero?
The author did not respond well to my evaluation.
To be continued in a later blog...