The effort to legalize gay marriage in America would seem to pit Bible-believing conservative Christians against morally relativistic, often anti-religious liberals. But today I want to argue that supporting legislation that bans gay marriage directly violates one of the most basic Christian principles.
I’m a theologically conservative Christian. I believe gay marriage is morally wrong (and will until I hear a compelling argument from Scripture that convinces me otherwise). All of which is irrelevant, because I also believe that we should not be legislating the morality of gay marriage, any more than we should be legislating the morality of premarital sex, marital infidelity, or divorce, because I don’t believe that God calls us to legally force people to be righteous.
Free will is one of the most basic concepts and values of Christian theology. Without free will, the entire Bible never comes to exist. Without free will, this entire story that we are a part of—the story of the created people who freely rebelled against our creator, and the God who compassionately pursues them, with forgiveness and grace, to make a way to restore all who freely choose him back into relationship with him—never happens. The concept of free will could not be more pivotal to the Christian faith.
Yes, as I understand the Scriptures, the practice (not the orientation) of homosexuality is morally wrong (I’m open to being convinced otherwise, but that’s a topic for another day). But so are dozens of other sins that we absolutely do not legislate, and would object strongly to legislating. The point is this: While God clearly articulates what sin is, and warns against it, he also gives us every right to choose it anyway! That’s free will. And we often do choose it, and that’s why we live in a fallen world. If God, all while charging me not to, still gives me the freedom to sin (and still forgives me when I do!), what grounds do I have to strip that freedom, the right to exercise free will, from others? Indeed, the freedom to sin is, in fact, a Christian value affirmed by Scripture.
We do not live in a theocracy, and as such, we do not legislate morality. We legislate crime, and that’s about safeguarding society and its members. While I disagree with the choice to engage in a homosexual lifestyle, such a choice is an immoral one, not a criminal one, and therefore I do not see any basis for legislating a ban on it.
As Christians, we are not called to commandeer culture on behalf of religion. We are called to stand in it and against it as witnesses to the truth. Thus, our responsibility is not to criminalize sin, but rather to boldly point it out (i.e., to convict of sin), and to call the world to repentance and life in Christ.