A Frank Conversation about Homosexuality, the Finale: Government & Religion

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?

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One comment on “A Frank Conversation about Homosexuality, the Finale: Government & Religion

  1. Justin says:

    You have some great points. I think the question has to be (inline with yours); where is the line between what morality the government needs to protect and what it needs to let go?

    For example, we all agree that murder should be outlawed. Not really an issue. But for some reason killing babies is on the table? I think at some point the government needs to legislate morality in some form. The only question is which moral standards can we all agree on?

    I believe things like civil unions (as you say) are a bit of a government issue that churches have been fighting against….but really have no grounds to do so. We don’t gave a Christian government, and we cannot expect them to make all legal policies based on Christian ideas. Moreover, the government has not fundamentally changed anything about how the church handles marriage. It is just taxation terminology.

    But things like mandating religious institutions (excluding churches) to provide healthcare that provides free contraceptives that act as abortion substitutes at times seems way over the line. Even if employers can drop coverage on employees if desired. Although, it should be noted that contraceptives have been covered by insurance for a long time. Obamacare just gets rid of the co-pay. It still doesn’t change the fact that it’s wrong….but accuracy on these matters do count for something.

    On the issue of “big government” I would draw the line on which government jobs need to be reduced. We have to remember that teachers, policemen, firefighters, military, and local/state level politicians like mayors and county commissioners are all part of the government pay rolls. As the population grows so will the amount of people in these positions. The growth should be relatively proportional to the population growth. For example, if population increases by 5% as it is now, we will need at least a 2% growth in some government jobs to provide things like education, police enforcement, and postal service. (Even though I think the postal service needs privatized). If that does not happen then their needs to at least be a slow privatization process whereby private schools, contract safety, and other such jobs can be handed off from the government to the private sector. Which could work, it just wouldn’t be over-night and would cost a lot of money. As a graduate of a private HS I can vouch on the high prices.

    If one wants to reduce the amount of government “interference” then we might look at downsizing the EPA or similar agencies who tend to make things tougher on businesses, even though the inherent purpose is to protect people from hazardous waste like polluted water/air/etc. Their are a ton of ways to cut cost out of the government, I am hoping that eventually someone will actually do it.

    But I don’t think labeling the government as “big” is as accurate as labeling them as “intrusive.” The government can be quite small and still pose a big big burden on the citizens and businesses. Their is definitely a difference between big government and an intrusive one. I am more opposed to an intrusive government than I am a government that hires people. Does that distinction make sense?

    BTW I do enjoy your blog posts. I will continue reading whatever you put out. Also (just a suggestion) if you add categories to your posts and WP is setup correctly, it should produce slugs for each tag and category you produce. This makes your articles infinitely more visible to google and should amp up your views. You have stuff that the world should read so that was just a bit of un-asked-for advice to get you more views.

    Cheers

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