I share with you some thoughts that Pastor Travis Guse has shared on his Facebook page. Pastor Guse was a classmate of mine at Concordia Seminary. He is currently the pastor at St. Philip Lutheran Church in Dublin, California.
Some Pastoral Thoughts On The Issue Of Same-Sex Marriage: (These thoughts are offered in a spirit of love and respect to both sides of this debate in order to create understanding on the issues that are dividing us as a nation)
1) Sex does not equal love – while sex may at times be an expression of love, true love is sacrificial, not thinking of it’s own needs, but the needs of others. This is the love that God showed us in Jesus. Sadly we live in a culture today that has elevated sex as the ultimate expression of love.
2) Our identity is more than our sexuality – there is so much more to our identity than simply that.
3) When Christians advocate for a traditional definition of marriage it’s not because they are hateful or homophobic, it’s because our faith informs us that God’s design for marriage is that between one man and one woman as a blessing to the human family and for the raising of children in a secure, loving home. To view it otherwise is a compromising of what our faith teaches us.
4) Christians view themselves just as much sinners as anyone else, desperately in need of God’s saving grace in Christ. We all have sinned and fallen short of God’s purposes and will for humanity.
5) As Christians we are called to love all people, no matter their faith or their actions, because God is love. While as Christians we may not agree with another’s actions or lifestyle choices, we are still called to love unconditionally with the unconditional love we have received from God in Christ. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. To do otherwise is a violation of the heart of God and our faith. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)
6) True tolerance is to be able to love someone in spite of differences in opinion, not to hate or reject them simply because they don’t agree with our point of view or lifestyle choices. Tolerance has got to cut both ways to truly be tolerance. Sadly our culture of “tolerance” has bread as spirit of intolerance among many today. What we need is love rather than mere tolerance, for love cares for the individual and honors human dignity despite differences of opinions.
7) To force Christians to compromise their convictions is the antithesis of tolerance. There is no way many Christians are going to be able to bless gay marriage because of their faith convictions, even if the State decides in favor of same-sex marriage. Again, it’s not that they are hateful or homophobic, but they simply see the world and God’s design for marriage through the eyes of our faith as revealed in holy Scripture. Yet, this difference of world-view does not mean that respect and love should not be shown for all.
8) It would seem that there could be the granting of all the same legal rights that married couples enjoy by the State to same-sex couples without changing the fundamental institution of marriage so that equal protection under the law is upheld.
9) The reality is that we now live in a post-Church and post-Christian culture. The society is going to do what it’s going to do and there is little influence we have as the Church because we are no longer the majority voice in our democratic system. This does not mean that Christians should not vote according to their convictions and values, for this is a democratic society and the same rights are afforded all no matter their views on the subject. Yet ultimately public opinion and the fundamental protection of all under the law are going to be the deciding factors of this debate in our nation.
10) Christians have got to realize that in trying to win the battle on preserving a traditional understanding of marriage through laws and the political system we are going to lose the war in the long run. We come off to the larger public as hateful and intolerant, often known for what we are against rather than what we are for as the Church. Perhaps rather than focusing so much on protecting or changing the laws of our nation as the Church, we should instead focus on changing hearts with the Gospel of Jesus and His love for humanity.