Why Christians Should Stop Opposing Gay Marriage: The Golden Rule Argument (a.k.a. The Pluralist Society Argument)

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under Allah, with liberty and justice for all.

How does that sound to you? Not so great, I’m guessing (after all, you are here, and not at a muslim website). As Christians, we’re not comfortable with that; if that were our Pledge of Allegiance, Dr. Dobson would have long since admonished parents to teach their children to remain silent during the pledge, and most of us would be with him. Heck, I’m not a Dobson kind of guy, but I wouldn’t say that pledge.

Why is it, then, that Christians are willing to do precisely that to those of other (or no) faiths? And in fact, we’re willing to do far worse than that! After all, that’s a pledge. But we’re willing to force those of other (or no) faiths, by law, to adhere to the principles of our faith. We are willing to criminalize their beliefs, and require by law that our beliefs be upheld and adhered to. After the Roman persecution of the early church—in which emperor worship was made law, and Christians who refused to worship the emperor and instead worshipped God, and Jesus as the Son of God, were declared outlaws, brutally tortured, and murdered—you’d think we’d know better.

Unlike some of my other arguments in favor of ending Christian opposition to legalized gay marriage, this is not a new one. You have no doubt heard it before. What I will do here, however, is frame it in Christian terms, to make the point that this is, in fact, a Christian argument, and therefore one that we must recognize, not a secular/post-modern/humanist/(fill in the blank) argument that we can toss out as being irrelevant because it contradicts Scripture.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

That’s Jesus speaking, so it’s straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. So the question is, what would you have others do to you? We already know this question, because we pray fervently and frequently for that very thing for other Christians across the world: religious freedom. An end to persecution of all kinds (both violent and otherwise). The freedom to follow our beliefs, to practice our religion, without interference from the government.

If that is what we pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and therefore what we wish for ourselves, then Jesus tells us that we must do the same to others.

We live in a pluralist society. It is easy for Christians to take religious freedom for granted in America, because we are and always have been the majority. But if you would take a moment and imagine any other religious (or non-religious) group as the majority in this country, a majority more than willing to not only legislate based on their beliefs, but to actually legislate their beliefs, the tenets of their faith, into law—well, I don’t think it’s a picture you’ll enjoy.

If the common Christian response of self-righteous moral outrage at the removal of prayer and creationism from school, not to mention the so-called “war on Christmas,” are any indication, we would be absolutely indignant if a group of American Muslims managed to enact laws that required all women to cover everything but their eyes, or if a group of American Hindus managed to ban the consumption of beef, or if atheists managed to ban all religious symbols from public spaces—oh, wait. Or even if a group of American Jews managed to ban working on Saturday. And these are all minor, trivial issues compared to telling a person who they can and cannot legally marry.

Jesus commands us to obey the Golden Rule. He states without ambiguity that this principle is the message of all of Scripture in a nutshell. This is not something we can equivocate on. Being a follower of Jesus means not forcing others to live by our standard of morality.

This is life in a pluralist society, and it is not a secular argument that sounds nice but can be contradicted using Scripture. It is our argument, and it is how Scripture commands us to live in the world.

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  • Trent D

    I love this article. This is exactly the point I was trying to make a while back to a former co-worker of yours and mine, whose name starts with a “D.” Although, it being on Facebook, I was not nearly so eloquent. I’m extremely happy you’ve started writing again, Josh! For purely selfish reasons, of course.

  • http://www.HeForgives.org StevePage

    I think your post about gay marriage and free will has more validity than this. I would like to see you explore Daniel’s and Paul’s responses to government intrusion into their lives. We see no law suits,protests or any other humanistic approaches to solving the issue. Their response was faith and prayer.

    BTW I’m probably in the minority but I can no longer say the pledge of allegiance. I find myself thinking that I can’t pledge allegiance to both Christ and country since their values and goals aren’t the same.

    Thanks for your efforts and your words.