Just about the time I get all calmed down and peaceful like, I pick up another paper, or watch yet another news story on how James Dobson, Dick Land or Jerry Sutton want me to be sure to "keep my Christian values in mind" when I go to the polls this November (or this week...). It happened again today.
I sat down at Crest Honda to wait on my baby's first oil change (that's "ohl" to you Tennesseans) and as I'm flipping through the latest version of The Scene, I come across an article about Monday night's dueling rallies for Amendment One. The language quoted from the Two Rivers rally both angered and saddened me.
I realize I am an anomaly in Tennessee. Even more so considering I am, what most statisticians and pollsters would classify an "evangelical/born again/fundamentalist Christian." (why do they lump us all together like that????) --Truthfully, I'm evangelical and born again, but I doubt I'm really a true fundamentalist. But I still end up lumped in with them. Anyway --Current polls show this amendment will pass with between 60% to 70% of the vote. So why am I swimming upstream against my "fellow" born-againer fundies? Well, let me tell you.
First, for those of you outside Tennessee -- and those inside who have been living in a cave lo this past year -- "1" (or "One"... whatever...) is an amendment to Tennessee's constitution. Officially called "Tennessee Marriage Amendment", it would limit any recognized marriages in Tennessee to those between a man and a woman. Even if a gay couple has been legally married in another state, Tennessee will not, cannot, recognize it.
I can already hear my some of my friends gasping, exclaiming, "why on earth would you vote no on such a thing, Lu? Don't you believe in the sanctity of marriage? Don't you know that God sees same-sex marriage as sin?"
Yes, I do. And, No, I don't -- at least not any more so than same-sex sex/relationship outside of marriage.
Look, I could write a whole post just on my deep conviction that homosexuality is sin, with all the Scriptural references to back it up. It would include my own understanding of how sin, from Adam on, has impacted every aspect and element of creation; including genetics, which can strongly influence a person's proclivity for same-sex attraction.
But that's not the point here. And its not the reason why I'm voting NO on this amendment.
There are a couple of facts that need to be stated. First, this amendment is wholly unnecessary. In 1996, a proposition was put on the Tennessee ballot and passed, which effectively banned same-sex marriage in this state. The amendment was proposed after the Massachusetts Supreme Court, in 2003, struck down a similar proposition passed in that state. It is a way of ensuring that '96 proposition will not be set aside as "unconstitutional".
Second, and obviously connected to the first, the failure of Amendment One would not open wide Tennessee's doors to the possibility of gay marriage becoming legal in the state. For reasons clearly stated above (1996).
Those are the facts. This amendment is unnecessary. This amendment is redundant.
Here's the Truth. Passing this amendment will not "save", "protect" or in any way salvage the "sanctity" or "purity" of marriage. It cannot. It is powerless to effect the heart changes necessary to do such a thing. It is not the homosexual community who has ravaged the purity and sanctity, the set-apartness, of marriage. It is the heterosexual community, and dare I say, the "Christian" community, who has done the most damage to the institution of marriage and could ultimately destroy the ideal of it in our culture. It is those who choose mediocrity in their relationship with their spouse over sacrifice and passion, who change marriage partners as often as they change their wardrobe, who value their own comfort and their own needs above those of their spouses and children who destroy its sanctity. And it is those who wield marriage and family as weapons in a "values war" who destroy the purity of the marriage commitment and the sanctity of the marriage vow.
Jerry Sutton, pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church, claimed at Monday night's rally that we Christians are at "war against homosexual militants" and "debauchery". How can a pastor of such a large church be so incredibly clueless? No wonder we're vilified in television shows and ridiculed in comedy clubs. No wonder we're disliked by so many. We have idiots preaching from our "pulpits".
Even a cursory glance at the Bible brings abundant clarity that Jerry Sutton is flat-out wrong. Perhaps he is waging a personal war against "homosexual militants", but God certainly is not. He never has and He never will.
Paul makes it very clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in this world and against every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. (Eph 6:12, 2 Cor 10:4-5). The Message puts it this way:
The tools of our trade aren't for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.
Jerry Sutton, rather than demolishing corruption, instead erected a barrier against the truth of God with his statements Monday night. Many others have done the same, all in the name of "preserving," and "protecting" marriage. Jerry Sutton has a warped philosophy and its time we as his sisters and brothers stood up and said, "no more."
Jesus did not rage against homosexuals or "sinners" when He walked this earth. To the contrary, He openly embraced and loved them, fellowshipped with them, and made it clear it was for them that He came, for them He died and for them He conquered death and lives today. So that they may have Life.
Nor did Jesus ever demand that the sinners He fellowshipped with ever live up to laws of Moses given to God's people. Rather, He loved them just as they were, accepted them just as they were and invited them to follow Him and learn a new, more abundant way to live. He never forced His will or His rules upon them. He is the same today. He does not force His will or His law upon anyone.
The religious zealots, on the other hand, like those of Jerry Sutton, Dick Land and James Dobson, those are the people that Jesus raged against. Them He declared "war" against -- overturning tables, calling them hypocrites and snakes. For they were the ones that kept writing more and more rules for everyone to follow, more and more laws for everyone to obey, more and more hoops for a person to jump through in order to be found acceptable to God.
Amendment One will not protect marriage. All it will do is create yet another barrier between those Jesus loves and those of us who claim to follow Him. The gay community is already denied legal rights regarding the care of their own children, their own partners and their own loved ones that even an unmarried heterosexual couple enjoy under the law. Why kick them in the stomach when they're already down?
I have said it before, the United States is not a "Christian" nation, nor was it ever meant to be. It was created as a safe haven for people of all religions. However, it is a Christianized nation, with a brand of Christianity that is more cultural than Biblical. If we are going to perpetrate Christianity on our country, let it at least be Biblical, with all the love and grace and respect God reveals in His Word.
Forcing nonbelievers to live like they are believers may seem "morally righteous" but, in truth, it's cruel. They have neither the understanding nor the power of the Holy Spirit with which to overcome the enemy and live in freedom under the standards God sets for us, His followers. God never forces nonbelievers to live by the same standards as His people. Rather, He calls His people to live by standards that would cause the world around us to stand up and take notice, in order that HE might have the glory and honor when His people are able to point to Him as the source of the ability to live by such freedom, grace, hope and love.
That is why I'm voting NO on One.