This past weekend I gave a presentation in my Philosophy and Christian Ethics class on the topic of human sexuality. I made several comments about homosexuality and marriage that could possibly get me stoned in the communities I frequent.
One of the statements I made
was surrounding the topic of marriage itself. I said that the church no longer has the authority to mandate the legality of marriage. When the government began to issue marriage licenses, when it became the authority to approve or disapprove marriages, the church relinquished it’s authority and accepted the governmental authority by recognizing marriages performed outside of the church (by judges instead of clergy).
Does the church still have the authority to mandate the morality of marriage? “Mandate” may be the wrong word…perhaps, “speak to the morality of,” or “advise on the morality of,” would be better phrasing? Yes. But that authority is only within its own communities and upon its own platforms: in the social strata but not in the political arena or on governmental platforms.
This is mirrored, in my view, in the issue of whether or not homosexual couples can adopt. Again, the church has no authority to mandate the legality of that. It can certainly advise on and speak to what they deem is best for the child. However, when the church allowed the government to become responsible for tending to the widows and orphans, they relinquished that authority. The system has had to repeatedly pick up the slack for an American church that has been more occupied with building projects and politics than in being the church that Christ called us to be.
I’m sure there will be plenty of people still attempting to shout at the system, attempting to impose one morality (evangelicals would say “the only morality”) upon a nation filled with multiple religions and a large contingency of unbelievers. But where has that gotten us? Has it done more damage than good? Obviously, I’d say yes to that last question.
The system that we allowed to come into existence is here to stay. The utopia of sinlessness that most Christians want to see happen on earth will not happen. The best thing we can do is speak well from the platforms where we still have a voice and an audience. We must speak the truth in love instead of forcefully with a tone of condemnation and denunciation. We must stop trying to impose our views on others and instead show the love of Christ to all – even those who do not share our views.
Is any of this even possible?