A group of prominent evangelicals recently declared that if marriage equality becomes law, they will disobey it. These God-fearing meticulous Bible-followers feel so strongly about gay marriage that they are willing to flout this law they don’t agree with. I really, truly understand their commitment about something that goes against their deeply held principles. I have just one question:
What are they so afraid of? I believe they are afraid that the principles they believe this nation stands on will fall, leaving them exposed in a seemingly eroding culture. They want the security of a set of rules to obey, and make others obey, to secure God’s blessing. They are afraid that if they were wrong about this, what else could they be wrong about? I hate to break this to Christians, but marriage has been redefined several times. Marriage no longer allows for polygamy, though polygamy was allowed throughout the Old Testament and never actually repudiated. (God condemned Solomon’s foreign wives — because they would take him to foreign gods — but He never condemned Solomon’s multiple wives.) Marriage no longer means the purchase of a bride as property, as was the practice throughout the Old Testament. (Even though Jesus treated women with high regard, He never ended bride purchase.) Countries in the world where those practices still exist we consider uncivilized, don’t we? (Our understanding of family is shattered if we think about who Adam and Eve’s children were to be fruitful and multiply with, when they were the only people on earth.)
So what are they really afraid of? They’re afraid of a world out of control. They’re afraid that if they don’t hold the line on “sin” in the world, which Jesus never instructs us to do, then they too are at risk. In truth, they fear a God who is judgmental and unpredictable, rather than understanding the God who is surprising in the fullness of His grace. As Christians, we often subconsciously believe that if we obey the rules, God will protect us and not let anything terrible happen to us. That sense of control comforts us, but it is an illusion.
What if instead of looking at the rules, we looked at the compassion of Christ? What if we looked at the surprising things Jesus did — welcoming tax collectors, prostitutes and Samaritans, and giving Caesar what is due Caesar? If we could just trust Him to care for us and reveal His abundant love, we could rest the way He said we could rest. We could have peace beyond understanding. We could be marked by the love by which He said people would recognize us as His followers.