flaming_bag_of_poop1

This Christian’s Thoughts on CA Prop 8

There is an age-old neighborhood prank that I have never executed myself, but have heard of from older, braver pranksters than myself.  The prank goes thusly:

One places dog-doodie in a paper bag and then lights that paper bag on fire on the doorstep of a particular unlucky neighbor.  The elated prankster, after lighting the bag aflame, rings the doorbell of the unlucky neighbor (who is likely the father of some young woman who was probably of of the prankster’s league anyway…) and runs away.  When the unlucky neighbor opens his door, he is left with the unlucky choice of either letting the bag burn, posing what threat fire may be or stomping out the flame, thereby putting his or her foot in the poopous caninous.

The more I read about and wrestle with CA Proposition 8, the more I feel like that unlucky neighbor, left with a choice between two rather unsavory options.  A “Yes” vote or a “No” vote on this Prop equally misrepresent my worldview.  In fact, I am of the opinion that this conversation or debate is taking place in the wrong arena and at the wrong trajectory altogether.

My decision to abstain from voting on Prop 8 is not a matter of the marital rights of homosexuals or even the preservation of the institution of marriage (though I will say more on this later); it is strictly a matter of the relationship between the Church and the State.

That marriage is a union between a man and women, approved by God and held together by His Grace and His People is a uniquely religious understanding.  In fact, part of the sacred nature of marriage is derived from the very fact that marriage’s blessedness is rooted in this religious understanding and NOT the laws of the land.  In the eyes of the state, marriage is not sacred and has never been.  The case for the sanctity of marriage is lost the moment we attempt to make it on the State’s terms.

It is greatly unfortunate (though understandable) that the language in California’s Family Code uses the world “marriage” at all.  I think much of our issue originates here.  The word is culturally convenient, yes; but it is also loaded with a long history of religious context and content.  The State’s definition of marriage does not include this unique context, making the use of it, as it pertains the the States responsibility to its citizens rights, rather messy.  Oh, how things would be if in 1977, when the Code was written they had used any other word… Civil Union… Banana Pancake… Anything.

Tony Campolo simplifies this thought when he writes:

“I propose that the government should get out of the business of marrying people and, instead, only give legal status to civil unions. The government should do this for both gay couples and straight couples, and leave marriage in the hands of the Church and other religious entities. That’s the way it works in Holland: If a couple wants to be united in the eyes of the law, whether gay or straight, they go down to city hall and legally register, securing all the rights and privileges a couple has under Dutch law. Then, if the couple wants their relationship blessed – to be married – they go to a church, synagogue or other house of worship.

“Marriage should be viewed as an institution ordained by God and should be out of the control of the state. Of course, homosexual couples could go to churches that welcome and affirm gay marriage and get their unions blessed there, but isn’t that the way it should be in a nation that guarantees people the right to promotion religion according to their personal convictions?”

I believe in the sanctity of marriage and that the biblical definition of this relationship, including the exclusivity of male and female relationships,  is the most complete and best definition and understanding.  But I do not believe the state’s responsibility extends to the defense of that understanding or definition.  I believe that a case needs to be made for marriage but only in the same way that I believe that a case needs to be made for the whole of the christian life and marriage as a part of that.  But I do not believe that the case is made well by Proposition 8.  A “Yes” vote seems to ask the state to affirm a uniquely religious definition of marriage and that is not the State’s role and, if anything, this lessens the case for the goodness of the christian life by asking the State to affirm and defend the sacred nature of our way of life rather than simply protecting our right to live that way.

Meanwhile a “No” vote makes the issue no clearer and is no progression towards “tolerance.”  It is not in the State’s power to bestow the blessing of God upon a marriage  and meanwhile there are numerous religious communities who recognize same sex unions as “marriage.”  Let me also be clear here in saying that “Yes” voters are not bigots by default.  I realize that it is simpler to rally against a mass of the simple-minded.  But the people who wrote and defend the proposition hold to a particular knowledge of marital relationships. As a believer, I see the world as working in a particular way and believe that when we move in a way contrary to what is designed or intended, we do violence to ourselves and our world.  For the vast majority of “Yes” proponents there is, at heart, a sincere motivation to shape the world around them to the best and healthiest way; for them it is not about hate or bigotry at all.

Furthermore, whether the prop passes or fails, the opposition will take the issue back to court after which we will see another proposition and then another court case and onward towards the dull eternity of heartless, opposition politics.  The hope of the christian community will continue to rest in a show of strength to stave off the wave of it’s “opposition.”  This is, of course, how we find ourselves here.

I’d like to change the tone here and make a broader statement in the direction of my family, the Church.  Whether you decide to vote “no” or “yes” on this proposition, do not be deceived by the notion that the conversation ends there.  There is a case to be made for the life you have chosen…

A friend of mine who pastors a church in the Mission District of San Francisco where the church’s intersection with gay culture has been greatly publicized and often distorted has many stories to tell about his own church’s involvement in the collision of what many, if not most, would consider opposing cultures.  My pastor friend (whom, in an effort to protect the identity of my subjects I will henceforth refer to as “Thor, god of thunder”) tells a story about his church’s more redemptive role in the relationship between gay culture and the Church right around the same time Mayor Gavin Newsom opened the doors of City Hall to gay marriages.

There had been a series of break-ins in the neighborhood around “Thor’s” church, including a break in at the home of a same-sex couple in an apartment attached to and owned by the church.  The couple lost quite a bit and much of what remained was trashed.  In the midst of all the clamorous noise created by the clash of opinions and agendas focused on the topic of gay marriage in SF, a very quiet, seemingly small thing happened in the direction of healing.  A group of elderly women from the Thor’s church went shopping.  They went out and bought gift cards from bed Bath and Beyond, from Crate and Barrel and from Pottery Barn.  Then they baked some cookies (because that is what women over 70 do when they get riled up… they bake) and paid a visit to these young men, stating simply “We attend the church around the corner and we heard about what happened.  We just wanted you to know that we love you and we’re sorry for what happened here.”

I do believe that the people of God need to make a case for marriage; much in the same way I  believe we need to make a case for the christian life as a whole, and marriage as a part of that life.  I sincerely wonder if, unless we are able to make the statement made by the elderly women of that church, that we are willing to actively share the burdens and joys of life with the homosexual community, we have any right to make any other statement at all.  One of the principles I learned on Young Life staff is that one can only instruct a person (and how much more so and entire culture) so far as we are willing to love that them;  That the effectiveness of transformational discipleship does not hinge on the strength of my case, my ability to make it or the volume with which I do, but on the depth to which the person I am working with knows they are loved.

Put another way

“…when these referendums come up in state after state after state, I think that the Roman Catholic bishops were right when they said, ‘We do not approve of this form of behavior but we will not allow anyone to take the rights away from those who are citizens of this country.’  Because I want to tell you something:  After you say ‘You can’t live in my community’; after you’ve said “You can’t teach in my school”; after you’ve said ‘You can’t go to my church’ and after you’ve said ‘You can’t come to my college’… after you’ve said all of this stuff – don’t think for one moment it’s going to wash when you smile that plastic smile that I see in the Christian community and say, ‘But we love you in the name of Jesus.’

-Tony Campolo

I fear that the case we have too often taken has been one of protectionism and fear rather than a sincere desire to see the transformation of the neighborhoods we live in; too often we’ve acted out of a desire to create an environment in which we feel safer and more comfortable to live the way we have chosen (this is actually the very topic that originally spawned the song “Safe“).  This leads me to a final and brief word on fear…

Much has been made in the case for Prop 8 about the long-term consequences of a “No” vote:  Marginalization of the church, law-suits, etc… The images amount to a picture of persectution.  Have we grown so comfortable?  Were we not warned?

18“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’[a] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.

-John 15:18-21

Christians have chosen to live in a way that is sincerely counter-cultural.  There are consequences to this choice. Our King was crucified and we ought to expect no less for ourselves.  I believe that part of living counter-culturally often means making our case in a different arena.  The court and the state are very rarely that arena.

34 Comments

  1. pam

    I wrote a blog on the same subject and admire that you can take something apart from beginning to end and follow thru each detail and give it substance rather than the short version which gets out some basic coverage. HEY not just women over 70 bake cookies for the right of shedding our “riledness”! lol….seriously this is why I only come to your shows one time a year…YOU are a phenomenoal story teller , and Your songs are so purposed and spiritfilled its as thos I have prayed over Jesus himself after leaving one of your concerts. Thanking you always tho because I am always encouraged, stand taller and feel enlightened and educated when I have been taught new things…!
    be blessed (see you at this the 5th? year for me to your annual christmas show!)

  2. Beth

    Props to Tony

  3. Well, Justin, I’m a pretty vocal oponent of prop 8, and I even plan on joining a demonstration on Monday.

    That said, as much as I want to fault you and take you to task, I really can’t. Even though I’m not a Christian myself, I have a respect for the idea that for Christians, they’re striving to be part of the “Kingdom of God,” which is a higher and greater kingdom than any that we have on Earth.

    With that said, I realize that it would be pointless to try and convince you to vote no on 8. What if I offer you a cookie though? You choose the type of cookie, and it’s yours.

    You have until Tuesday to make your decision. Vote my way and get a cookie. Abstain from the issue and get no cookies.

  4. admin

    First of all, Lance, I can’t believe you had the gall to bribe me with cookies… how foolish… um… what kind are they?

  5. Baker

    I have much respect for your very well-reasoned stance. But you wrote the following, “… I do not believe the state’s responsibility extends to the defense of that understanding or definition.” Although not voting FOR prop 8 is wonderful, you could double that degree of wonderfulness and balance out some much less well-reasoned douchebag’s vote for it by voting AGAINST it. Then again, I’m in Colorado. Even if I did make you a cookie, it wouldn’t be very good by the time it reached the west coast. How about you accept the cookie from Lance and vote against the obvious injustice for which Prop 8 stands? Then, hopefully we get a president who understands the necessity of separation of church and state, yet who sees the merits of both. Then one day, we humble ourselves enough to adopt Campolo’s suggestion and remove the term “marriage” from our law books altogether. Civil unions for all. Marriage from whichever religious institution you desire. Godspeed that day. Cheers, my friend.

    Baker

  6. Your choice. You name the cookie, and I will see that you get one.

  7. charlie

    I have long struggled with many such issues and have trouble voting every time around–not just on certain issues but even for a single candidate. I have been frustrated by that oft-stated remark of the campaign season: “if you dont vote then you have no right to complain.” But really, that is’nt true… We can very thoughtfully abstain from voting on an issue or for a person because there isnt a (conscientious/personal) moral option that agrees with one’s conscience. I appreciate your willingness to abstain for a good reason! and I think you can still complain if you’d like.

  8. jen

    justin, as always great to hear (read) your thoughts. I’ve been having many conversations about this very topic- good to see that Campolo and I are on the same page- although that may be even more troubling to some of my associates than my support of Obama.

  9. Hi Justin
    I thought I’d return to being the Luddite on the blog. I like your analogy to the burning turd bag. It works. However, If you don’t step on it, your house might catch on fire. Ignoring it doesn’t improve anything. I live in Connecticut facing a very similar court decision and an opportunity to vote on constitutional change. I like your idea about how civil and religious marriages are done elsewhere. They are done like that south of the border too. However, I don’t think you’ll have the opportunity to push for that change if you don’t push back on the court now when you have momentum and a chance. When you vote against the court’s decision you are countering the culture. And you will be misunderstood. And you will get persecuted. Yet you can still love. In the midst of the AIDS crisis in the 90′s my gay friends knew my stance on the God and homosexuality and they didn’t like it, but they also knew I volunteered at a free AIDS test clinic weekly. That’s how I tried to practice love in word and deed.
    Anyway, I just came across an article at a right wing conspiracy site titled “8 is not hate” that might be informative. http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MWY4OTAwYTBjMjYwMzk5Yjg5OWM4NjdmOWU5NjE5NmU=
    I’m looking forward to seeing you out here in a couple weeks.
    God is good
    jpu

  10. admin

    Jon,

    Thanks for your post and the article. Solid article… had the blog not already been so long, I really wanted to touch more on the themes this article hits.

    Also, you wrote “I don’t think you’ll have the opportunity to push for that change if you don’t push back on the court now when you have momentum and a chance” That’s the part of it that keeps me up at night, to be honest. I sincerely wish the Prop did a better job of that. Unfotunately, the nature of the push-back is off balance in nature and only serves to perpetuate the problem by being state dependent; positing the state against the court in defense of “marriage.” Too muddled for me… and I can deal with quite a bit of muddle.

    So

  11. Matthew

    Justin,

    I think you hit on the central issue, which seems to evade both proponents and opponents of prop 8. I don’t understand why either camp feels the need to appeal to the state to sanction a marriage. Had I to do it over, I would never have applied for a state marriage license.

    That said, I disagree completely with the sentiment behind prop 8 and cannot vote for it (I do disagree on one point however, I do believe that prop 8 is fueled by bigotry and written by bigots. It may not be conscious bigotry, the bigot may not know it’s a bigot, but it’s still bigotry). Still, while I agree that a “no” vote does not adequately articulate my feelings and opinions on marriage, it does communicate my practical and legal opinions and sentiment of prop 8. If you do not agree with the verbiage of prop 8, then why not vote it down?

    If that doesn’t persuade you, then I’ll add another cookie to Lance’s offer.

  12. I don’t think it’s bigotry, it’s discrimination. However, not all discrimination is bad. Some of us discriminate between organic food and McDonald’s. Most Christians understand the concept of marriage as a gift of God from the beginning. It was warped in the Bible by those who took multiple wives. It was affirmed by Jesus as between one man and one woman in the NT. Paul further explained this gift was also a picture of Christ’s relationship to his bride, the church. To oppose any other definition of marriage is to discriminate correctly.

    The state uses it as a way to protect women and children from wanderlust men. If men want to sow wild oats without commitment, then he can be sued for child support. But what of gay couples? What is to be protected? Nothing. If nothing is to be protected that can’t be protected by route of any other partnership avenue in the law, then why let the court create a false definition? Prop 8 is the opportunity to correct the court before your freedom to practice your faith and express it freely is constrained, as has happened to Christians in other countries. Take the opportunity to choose your persecution now, as someone who opposes the redefinition of marriage, since you hold to God’s definition, and risk being misunderstood like Christ often was and is. Or not.
    God is good
    jpu

  13. J,
    You have really dealt with this issue in an understanding way that matches my thoughts very closely. It seems to be very hard for many church going folks to see this as an issue that reinforces the need for separation between church & state and not as something else we must fight against to protect our so called Christian nation. The attempts to maintain all things according to our faith are, as you noted, in great ignorance of the message of Christ and the apostles that we will be persecuted and not loved by this world. The pilgrims idea of creating a land where we can practice our religion freely and the desire to purify our society does seem at odds with what we are told to expect in scripture.

    If I could vote (note yet a citizen, dammit) I would be struggling with the idea of abstaining simply because this is a set of crappy choices, but I find it hard to allow something to pass that will further muddle the place of the state in my affairs and in my beliefs. Tough one ain’t it.

    Good luck to those of you who can vote… To those who plan to vote Yes and are true believers, try to find somewhere in the bible that it tells us we must make the world conform to our standards- are we of this world? Did Christ come to turn our governments into instruments of the Church or to show love to all?

  14. Matthew

    Comparing homosexuality to McDonald’s, and openly defending sexual discrimination is bigoted. But, if you prefer another word, then how is “segregationist?”

    Secondly, why don’t you let people decide for themselves how best to “protect” themselves? If you’re suggesting that people should look to the state for protection from horny men, then be prepared for some disappointment. But, that is not why the state sanctions marriage at all. Ever wonder why you have to state your race on a marriage license application? The marriage certificate was instituted as a means for discouraging interracial marriage. So, if I follow your logic, and I happen to view interracial marriage as a “correct discrimination” should we outlaw that too? Of course not, that would be silly and segregationist (if not bigoted) of me, no?

  15. Joe

    Marriage is what 2 people make of it. Prop will not protect or restore my marriage. If my best friend’s lesbian neighbors get married, I’m not affected by it. I’m also confident in my parental abilities to teach my child how to discern what our family believes versus what they are taught at school or even church.

    For me, a yes vote is me voicing what my opinion what marriage is. It’s traditional. I believe there is a reason one of the earliest passages of the Bible show God’s intention of creation between man and a woman. I don’t hate gays, don’t feel threatened by them. I actually have several friends that are gay. But my view on marriage is the same as that in the Bible.

    For me, a no vote says my marriage isn’t threaten by gays. As a Christian my vote is not my witness of what a christian is. It’s me not enforcing my beliefs on someone who doesn’t share them. I’d rather serve them than force them to believe in a law. It’s me saying I don’t worship the Kingdom of the United States but worship the Kingdom on Heaven. I’ll let God do the judging and I’ll do the best living like Jesus I can.

    So this prop stinks, and it’ll be back again….

    P.S. To all those who think Christians are bigots on this issue…Christians (over generalization of the word) are not convinced that gays are born gay. They believe it’s a choice. I’ve even had several gays admit this to me. So if it’s a choice it’s not gonna fall cleanly into a civil rights issue. More research, conversation needs to take place on this matter. And yes I do know that there are a lot of christians who are intolerant, simple minded as well. I’m reminded of that very consistently too….

  16. I thought discrimination would make a bigger boom. It is a neutral word though. Anyway, here is how a smarter Californian explains this. “In this case, I have a permanent and relevant feature of self (sight) that will keep me from a benefit and pleasure that Feinstein has. This is discrimination, but it is not bad.

    Discrimination is what makes a privilege a privilege. If everybody has it, then it is no longer a privilege!

    Governmental discrimination is bad when based on silly, wicked, or arbitrary reasons…If marriage is a privilege and not a right, then it could be sensible to deny it to others based on several arguments.

    First, it could be (as most people in the West have believed) that homosexual behavior is wrong. There can be no right to a privilege based on a vice.

    Second, there is no vested civic interest in homosexual behavior, whether it is a vice or not. Homosexual behavior by nature will not produce citizens.

    Third, children are better off in homes with both male and female role models. Even if a tiny group of homosexual couples will have children, the state has no good reason to encourage such situations, though it might allow them.

    Fourth, if persons acting out homosexual behaviors are allowed to marry, then it is difficult to argue why this “right” should not be extended to any person who wants to “marry” any other person. However, history demonstrates that a benefit can become so diluted that it becomes meaningless. Homosexual marriage becomes a “gateway” to allow for the destruction of marriage as a meaningful category.”

    http://www.scriptoriumdaily.com/2008/11/03/discrimination-and-prop-8-why-dianne-feinstein-is-wrong/

    God is good
    jpu

  17. Matthew

    Be afraid! The gays are coming! The GAYS are COMING!

    I don’t care whether or not you have an opinion on my vices or virtues or privileges or rights. Just don’t use your ballot to legislate your opinions on my lifestyle. That, is bigotry. I hope you’re right though. I hope the state’s institution of marriage is degraded to meaninglessness. Then, nobody would feel the need to ask permission from the government to make personal and spiritual vows. That seems like a good thing to me. I hope the state – for once – can keep all its vested civic interests out of my an my neighbor’s homes.

  18. Now that’s the contradictory part I don’t get. Marriage is an “opt-in” legal contract. No one who wants to cohabitate has to get married. The state was already out of people’s homes. Why did gay people want to invite the government in then?
    God is good
    jpu

  19. Mike R

    Justin, I must dissagree with your logic. Laws were never written with the intent of showing love. They are also not intended to address deep spiritual issues or matters of the heart. Laws are to keep order and to make boundaries. To refuse to vote on an issue because it may offend or not convey love misses the point completely. This is either a religious statute or it is not, but there is no inbetween. And to hold up the law of love and think it trumps morality is ludicrous at best. Now don’t mistake what I am saying, absolutely love, love unconditionally, but don’t tear down or rather allow morality to be torn down because you didn’t want to be seen as unloving. Furthermore don’t wave the flag of Separation of Church and State and say that marriage is only a religious institution. The state is an institution of God (no I’m not asserting God’s stamp of approval on the USA) and in this particular country we have the freedom as religious people to hold up the standard and sway the state to uphold moral and religious law where possible. Can you refuse to uphold moral law and cry, “love thy neighbor” at the same time. Perhaps I have oversimplified it, but weighing it against the balance of scripture I fail to see your argument as valid.

    In love,

    Mike R.

    PS Its about 3am and I hope this makes as much sense when I read it tomorow as when I wrote it tonight =)

  20. Matthew

    Great question. I don’t understand that either. I don’t understand why anyone invites the government to regulate any part of their life. That includes, as Justin said, Christians who appeal to government to sanction or “protect” their marriage.

    I think it has more to do with tax benefits and state sponsored discrimination/bigotry.

  21. admin

    Mike,

    Thanks for your post. I didn’t at all intend to make a case for laws communicating love or that I am uncomfortable with boundaries. Instead, my contention is that the state is not an institution of God in they way christians believe marriage is .. remember that one of God’s beefs with his people originally was that they wanted a King.

    Unfortunately, I do think that ‘marriage’, as I understand it is a primarily if not uniquely religious institution. What the state is calling marriage is different and the proposition’s solution (aligning the state’s definition more closely to the church’s) is a step in the wrong direction.

    3am is commitment. Well done.

  22. Mike R

    Justin,

    We find ourselves in a unique dilema. God gave His children (all of them GLBT or straight) freedom of choice to follow Him. We live in a nation where we are more free to follow or not to a degree not found elsewhere. We also have the unique freedom to, as you stated, “aligning the state’s definition more closely to the church’s”. So the question is, do we allow people the freedom to wander further (we are not judges of those who have not chosen God, but emissaries only of His love) or do we put up a fence to protect them. I believe these two to be at the heart of the philisophical debate. Those who attempt to erect laws to protect themselves or their families lack faith and trust in God, the intention should be to protect those without knowledge of or willfull disobedience to God. So do we attempt to relegate the states definition of marriage to God’s? Now to address authority, all authority is from God. Is our authority, the USA, perfect authority, absolutely not! However even in the Israelites asking for a king, God personally appointed the authority. Was this His perfect will, no. However even God humbled Himself (I think people may cast stones over that statement) and honored the king whome the people asked for and whom He appointed. I believe He still does today. Furthermore we are in a country where we have the freedom to write law as citizens and the command to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. So as far as the law goes we think we are obligated to relegate the two where opportunity to do so arises.

    The vote has been cast, but the battle is far from over, so I would like the dialogue to continue. This is a complex issue and I would love to here from you and others. To be clear I agree with your blog on a philisophical level, I disagree on the action to be taken. The true heart of this issue as with any other pertaining to morality is a battle for the heart and soul of people. The conundrum for me is, does the church burden us with more laws, which is one of the many things Christ came to advocate against. The church erecting laws to protect the people was the mountain He told us to speak to. To this I find myself at odds. I would love an oversimplification of the issue but find myself going deeper down the rabit hole. I think thats enough for now as my brain is now moving much faster than my fingers on the keyboard =),

    In love
    Mike R

  23. Wow! When I looked this morning, CNN claimed the prop was losing. The opportunity to have a constitutional convention in Connecticut was shot down though.

    Mike, I appreciate your thoughts.

    Justin, You already seek laws closer to a biblical view for many things, including poverty and child exploitation. What’s the problem with seeking a biblical view of marriage? It’s not arbitrary. God’s view is the best view for humanity, whether they know it or not.

    God is good
    jpu

  24. Matthew

    I think Mike is headed down the right path.

    I don’t remember Jesus ever lobbying for legislation. As Mike points out, Jesus’ entire message was wrapped around the idea of transcending laws, not enacting or enforcing them.

  25. Mike R

    Matthew,

    First of all I would like to thank you for your thoughts, but I think Jesus had no need to lobbie because He is the law. He did, in your words, “lobbie” against many practices that had nothing to do with Him. He did not however lower the bar on His morality. With that said, I would like you to expound on why you believe I am going down the wrong path. Let me begin this with my thoughts on the issue. In our society we have the right to practice our faith with freedom. In this we also have the right to formulate laws that also allign with our values. I don’t know that this is 100% correct for me to legislate according to my faith, however I do believe it to be. With the information I have and my limited understanding of the mind of God I believe this to be the correct action for me to take. Please share your thoughts on the subject. I pray that I am not seen as a bigot, I am just attempting to live out my faith the best way I know how and according to the laws of this country excercise my right to vote.

    In love,

    Mike R

  26. Matthew

    Well, I said that you’re headed down the right path with that comment. I was agreeing with you, Mike.

    I don’t believe it to be moral, ethical, Christian, or even constitutional to legislate the rights or freedoms of people. This should have never been voted on. From a constitutional perspective, this is an equal protection case. Ethically, it is wrong to constrain the freedoms of others out of distaste for their lifestyle. Morally, we should be doing unto others as we would have them do to us. From a Christian perspective, we should be loving God and loving our neighbors, not passing laws to emphasize a distinction between us and them.

  27. Matthew

    Oh, one more thing. Jesus did not, “lobby against many practices that had nothing to do with Him.” He didn’t lobby anything. Jesus never appealed to the legal authority of his time to promote social change. Jesus seemed to prefer persuasion rather than the force of government to enforce his “law.” Remember, that law was supposed to be written on the hearts of people, not on ballots and government books.

  28. Bill

    Thanks so much for your post… The loud call for opponents of Prop. 8 to “get over it and accept the will of the people” is embarrassing for teachers of social studies and American government in California public and private schools. Clearly, at least 52% of California voters missed the lesson where we learned about how our system of government was designed with a network of political checks and balances to prevent what is called the “tyranny of the majority,” to ensure that our system of government ultimately protects the rights of minorities against what any given majority (religious in the case of Prop. 8) might care to legislate into law.

    Perhaps the Prop 8 people also missed the news that a consortium of civil rights groups have filed suit against Prop. 8 (story at: http://equaljusticesociety.org/prop8/). They know that any legislation that curtails civil rights for one group that is allowed to stand, regardless of how they may personally feel about that minority, opens the door as precedent to legislate against the rights of another. Perhaps there’s another group out there who doesn’t like having Native American tribes own all those casinos, or business signs in only Spanish, Korean or Farsi, and perhaps we should do something about those obnoxiously ornate Mormon temples all over the place. And what about those Knights of Columbus? Does anyone doubt their intimate connection to the Roman Catholic Church? Perhaps a majority of us should pass a law so that the entire American Roman Catholic church is taxed as a private corporation consequent to the political activity of their Blessed Knights. Perhaps those of you who hate one minority and would deprive them of civil rights might reconsider your political stand (not your religious beliefs) if you consider the precedent being set by Proposition 8. It may be their very beliefs that become the next target for oppression despite your personal belief in their universality.

    Whether one believes the Earth is flat, that Adam walked with dinosaurs, that Shiva had six arms, that crystals cure cancer, that fairies live in willows, that Jesus saves you from your sins, or that people choose their sexual identity, your freedom is protected by that Constitution they are trying to change. God save them from themselves. Meanwhile, the rest of us have to try to keep America whole, and not let our system be torn by more hate.

  29. Janet

    This was a pleasant article to read. You gave voice to my dissatisfaction with Prop 8 and gay marriage. I agree that the only way to resolve this is to have civil unions bestowed by the state and marriage blessed within the church. Now we have to figure out how to get Congress on board. =)

  30. Well written.

    I am a Floridian. We had a similar law on the books this fall, Amendment Proposition 2. However, it was much stricter. It essentially made all relationships outside of a marriage between one man and one woman, i.e. civil unions, not recognized legally.

    The only thing that I disagree with you on is your decision to abstain from voting on Prop 8. Forgive me if others have already commented on this, because I haven’t read any of the responses. I agree with you that neither a “Yes” nor a “No” vote represent what I believe, but I also agree that this debate is taking place in the wrong arena. Therefore, my logical conclusion was that the only correct option was to vote “No”.

    I disagree with you about abstaining is because as long as we live in a country where we can vote, regardless or whether we show up at the polling place, we are making a vote.

    If we included nonvoters in the count towards majority, then nonvoters would be a vote against the proposal, because it would increase the total votes, making it more difficult to get to the required majority. Since we do not include nonvoters, it reduces the number of total votes, therefore tips the election in favor of the proposal. So, as our election system is currently setup, the abstainer’s vote is a vote for the passing of a proposal.

    Otherwise, your article was very enjoyable to read and courageous. I enjoy reading other Christians who have a clear understanding of the Gospel, and don’t look at things through the lens of any particular agenda.

  31. Tim

    Only one thing seems to be missing both from your article and from the comments following: the children. In California, two gays may legally adopt a child. The passage of Proposition 8 could only serve to solidify the State’s position on this issue. In my mind, this is a child-protection issue because I truly believe that a child raised by two gays is worse off than a child raised by a mother and a father or even by a single parent.

    More than that, however, this is about protecting MY child from the creeping cold of a society that increasingly sneers at my traditional family and attempts to brainwash my child (before the age of six!) into believing that I am the bigot because I want her to be raised by a mother and a father.

  32. Matthew

    Sorry Tim, you are not (or should not be) free to force society to adhere to your ideals. That, by definition is bigotry. I don’t wish to brainwash (or even teach) your kid anything. I think you should be free to raise your kid as you wish. Just afford me the same courtesy. Just don’t force me or my neighbors to adhere to your ideals.

  33. Cathryn

    I was voting yes on prop 8. But, I have changed my mind. I don’t think anyone has a right to take marriage away from anyone. I really think these issues should not really be put out there for us to vote on.

    I am mixed, and it was not long ago that interracial couples could not marry. Blacks could not marry. I will never vote for something so unfair.

    I do know the bible states that. I agree we need to treat gays and lesbians much better and be more inviting to them in the church. If they change in time, that is great. But if they don’t change, I believe God has the answer for them too. But taking away rights is a problem.

    Can I be a christian and still support gay marriage? It is not my right to tell anyone they can’t marry. I just think it is interesting that Jesus says a lot about divorce, but I don’t see him saying much on homosexuality. I mean Jesus loved everyone and no one was “unpure” in his life. He talked to them and loved them and HEALED them. We just have to have compassion, love and care for others. Bringing people to GOD is the first priority I think. And including everyone, but I may be wrong. I just can’t support anything morally wrong.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. Letter From 2011 (part 1) | Justin McRoberts Blog

Leave a Comment