Many of you will have clicked on this article because for you, this question is a no brainer. For some, the answer will be “Of course!” For others, “Of course not!” Such is the controversial nature of this debate.
My hope is that other readers will have found the title of this post appealing because they are genuinely not sure of the answer, either as Christians (of any sexual orientation) working through their own views, or as members of the LGBTIQ community who don’t profess a faith but would like to know whether they have the support and acceptance of people of faith.
While the answer to this fraught question could just as easily be ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or anything in between, depending on who you ask, after writing looooong comments on many Christian posts regarding this issue, I have decided to put some thoughts together on my answer.
This is not a comprehensive manifesto explaining why I, as a Christian, support same sex marriage – that should probably be another article in itself. Rather, I simply want to challenge the idea that Christians must subscribe to the dominant public position of many church leaders for their view to be legitimately ‘Christian.’
When it comes to the question, ‘Can a Christian support same sex marriage?’ I am firmly of the ‘Yes’ camp. Firstly, because I myself am Exhibit A: a Christian who supports same sex marriage. When I express this view to some Christians, an assumption follows that I am simply subscribing to a liberal agenda based on feelings and have not done due diligence considering the question through the lens of my faith. This is incorrect and rather offensive. In fact, I grappled with my position on same sex marriage over many years, prayerfully, in light of Scripture and in consultation with trusted peers on both ends of the spectrum. For me, supporting same sex marriage and posting about it here are a result of my Christian faith, not in conflict with it.
Any judgement about what a Christian ‘can or cannot’ support in relation to social issues should not be answered within a theological vacuum. Regardless of your interpretation of Scripture, if there are genuine, heartfelt Christians who have arrived at their position as a result of their faith, engaging in prayer and with Scripture, who is anyone to say they ‘can’t’ hold this view? So yes, Christians can support same sex marriage – first of all, because many do. Even most, depending on how you define ‘Christian’, and if you believe the results of the recent Galaxy poll on this topic or consider the trends reflected in the recently released finding of the rigorous national HILDA survey.
A second reason I would answer ‘yes’ to the question posed in this article is that I believe that marriage is essentially a civil and legal concept. This does NOT mean that, as a Christian, I do not see the institution of marriage as God-ordrained. I am simply not convinced by the frequent argument that marriage is essentially a religious institution. Of course, it may be for those within faith communities. However, for years now ABS data has indicated that the majority of Australian marriages have taken place outside of a religious context. Further, marriage exists – and is differently defined – throughout history and culture. I am no ancient historian, but I think I can safely assume that it pre-dates the birth of Judeo-Christian culture. Christian marriage as we practice it today differs vastly according to culture and denomination, and looks very different to what it did in biblical times as a result. This is not to say that there is not a place for a religious definition of marriage; to the contrary. I just do not believe that ‘place’ is in the legislation and civil procedures of a nation that necessarily separates church and state.
I don’t believe that those who subscribe to a religious conception of marriage should assume that this is the only definition of marriage, especially when, in our society, even religious marriages must be authorised by the state according to law. In my opinion, separating religious and civil marriage ceremonies completely, as they do in France and some other countries, would make this whole discussion a lot easier. To impose a religiously defined concept of marriage on people who do not share one’s religious views makes no sense to me.
I have many more thoughts on this matter, but I trust that the points I have put forward here will already result in enough opposition from my Christian readers to respond to in a given week!
More than anything else, I hope it has acted as food for thought and leaves you with the impression that Christians CAN reasonably support same sex marriage, even if certain Christians disagree with their conclusion.