In this, the final chapter of our frank conversation about homosexuality, I want to discuss government and religion. Same-sex marriage is undoubtedly a hot button issue, one that affects the way in which people vote. In the upcoming election we have President Obama who believes that same-sex marriage should be totally legal, while on the other hand we have Mitt Romney who wants to make sure the traditional view of marriage, one man and one woman, is upheld. I’ve discussed the traditional view of marriage in part two of our discussion so I’m not going revisit it here. What I want to focus on is what I consider to be a troubling trend, Christians seeking to establish God’s kingdom through the government.
A reality that we Christians must face head-on is that candidates use issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion to get us to the polls. So, on election day, Christians will march to the polls to vote for the Republican candidate because they oppose same-sex marriage. I think this mentality changed a bit in 2008; at least it did in my circle, when Christians began to look at the candidate’s total platform and not just one or two issues. So let’s say it changed a bit but also concede in this election there will still be many Christians who vote for Romney because of this one issue. I believe that this is irresponsible voting and irresponsible Christian engagement with the secular world. Here’s why…
First, the federal government is NOT a Christian institution. Let’s say that Romney is elected and an amendment to the constitution is passed that ensures the traditional view of marriage is upheld. I’m sure that many Christians will feel that this is a major moral victory, but all that has really happened is that government is enforcing our moral standard on the entire population of America. Meanwhile, our moral guide – the federal government – is unwisely spending money, participating in activities such as drone strikes, and racking up a deficit that will never get paid off. If Christians want to the government to represent their interests they need to do A LOT more than petition the government to outlaw same-sex marriage, but it seems like many of these other issues are ignored.
I think that if Christians are going to make a difference in this world it’s going to be through the Church, not through the federal government. I have several Christian friends (maybe more than I know) who believe that a big government is a good thing. A government that redistributes wealth, ensures every person has healthcare and ensures that every person has the same high quality education seems to be the ideal. My only problem with this mentality is that you’re relying on the government to employ kingdom principles. Those things are awesome and should be valued and I’m pro-all of them, but not if it means the government is a massive, intrusive entity (which it already seems to be). Being completely honest, I find it really disturbing that the government has the power to tell people they can or cannot enter a civil union. How did the government get so big? What my Christian friends need to understand is that a big, intrusive government that ensures everything is equal is also given the power to infringe upon our freedoms particularly our religious freedom. You may say that this is ridiculous, but I would argue it’s already happening.
For example, through Obamacare (the real name is so long) companies will have to provide Plan B (morning after pill) and Levonelle (week after pill) through their insurance policies. You might say well that’s not really that big of a deal, but I would argue if you have a Christian company who morally objects to those medications then forcing them to provide them for their employees is a massive intrusion. I mean if the employees know the stance of the company and have agreed to their standards then they should be allowed to morally object to the provision of those medications. Yet, as it stands, this is still in effect.
So, I am not in favor of a massive government that “levels the playing field,” but, as I said, I am in favor of a Church that radically changes this country. I think that if we redirected our energy away from petitioning the government and put it towards taking care of the sick and the poor we would do a lot to level the playing field and establish the kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. Some communities already do this really well, but there are still those believers that think the government should be an extension of the Church. I believe we should avoid this mentality and instead establish caring and compassionate communities motivated by their faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus’ example is that of someone intimately connected with the downtrodden who changed them from within their midst.
Connecting this back to same-sex marriage, I have to say that I don’t think Christians should spend their time lobbying the government to outlaw it. I believe we’ll be better off treating people with kindness and compassion and modeling healthy and whole relationships by fixing the issues destroying marriages in our churches. I’m sure many people will disagree with this and that’s fine. If you find yourself saying, “Christians should continue to petition the government to outlaw same-sex marriage,” I would simply ask, if you believe the government should be the arbiter of morality are you consistently advocating for the government’s morality on all issues? If the government is going to define what is moral in one area of life, they should be defining what is moral in all areas of life. Are you demanding this of them or is it just about a single issue?