Should Christians in the United States vote for or against allowing same-sex marriage? Does this change depending on the possible implications of various votes (e.g. California’s Propisition 8 v. North Carolina’s Amendment 1)?
Today the citizens of the state of North Carolina vote on a measure called Amendment 1:
The measure would define marriage in the state constitution as between one man and one woman, and would ban any other type of “domestic legal union” such as civil unions and domestic partnerships.
Same-sex marriage is already illegal in the state of North Carolina. The proposed measure, however, would add the ban to the state constitution. (source: ballotpedia.org)
I have found three unique perspectives worth sharing. Two of the bloggers are current residents of North Carolina and the other came from there.
First, Katrina Fernandez is a Roman Catholic blogger who argues that, “If you support gay marriage you personally encourage the sin.” In her post “Because I Don’t Hate Gays I am Voting against Gay Marriage…” she writes:
My support of the amendment means I believe in the sacramental nature of marriage. What it does not mean is that I hate homosexuals or am a bigot. Bishop Jugis wrote in his letter to the diocese “The Church believes that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman, joined as husband and wife in an intimate partnership of life and love.”
You can disagree with this, but that is what the Church teaches. The Church, that 2,000 year old institution founded by Jesus Christ himself. If I were going to take the word of an anyone over my own faulty understanding, I would have to say the Church would be the safest bet. In fact, when we come across any Church teaching we disagree with it would be prudent to ask what is wrong with my understanding instead of what is wrong with the Church. If we search the truth with humility it will be plain to see the error is our own.
For Fernandez the Christian response is to vote for Amendment 1 because (1) it supports the traditional, sacramental view of marriage; (2) it aligns with the traditional teaching of the church; and (3) it doesn’t send confusing signals to homosexuals that their behavior is somehow appropriate.
Second, Daniel Kirk is a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary who has a long history in North Carolina and considers it home. He doesn’t approve of homosexuality as an appropriate lifestyle for Christians, but he doesn’t think Christians should have to vote against allowing same-sex marriage either. In his post “Regarding Amendment 1 in North Carolina” he expresses concern that this legislation goes beyong California’s Proposition 8 and it could remove the civil rights of homosexuals:
If my understanding of the amendment is correct, I would suggest that Christians not only have the freedom to stand against it, but are conscience-bound to vote against it. This is about being truly treated as equal under the law, something we should be at the forefront of making sure is the case for everyone–not just people like us.
Kirk understands this legislation as something that challenges us to ask how we should live in the dual spheres of the church and society. Also, this is an action that can determine whether one shows love to their neighbor (contra Fernandez above who interprets loving her homosexual neighbor as not supporting their sin).
Similarly, J. Kameron Carter is a professor at Duke University who takes a stand that is a tad stronger that Kirk. He says the Christian thing to do is vote “no” on Amendment 1. He writes (in “I’m Against Amendment One in NC, and (Especially if You’re Christian) You Should be Too. Vote Against Amendment One”) that, “As a Christian theologian, I urge all North Carolinians, but most especially those who are Christian in North Carolina, to vote NO on the Amendment. You must vote NO because the Amendment will legally enshrine division and bar some from the full benefits of the law and its protections that others enjoy.”
The crux of his argument is similar to Kirk’s. After listing some of the civil rights impacted by Amendment 1 he says:
If Jesus, and therefore Christianity, stands for justice and righteousness and fairness (and most certainly it does! See Luke 4:18–21 among many other scriptural texts), if in Jesus we find God’s affirmation of the life of us all in the face of forces of denigration, indignity, and death, then on Christian grounds, on grounds of discipleship or following Jesus, who placed no qualifications on his love for and embrace of us all, vote against this Amendment.
I don’t know what Carter thinks about homosexuality in and of itself. I’m sure there are some Christian writers who are openly in support of homosexuality being compatible with Christianity, but I haven’t see any posts on the topic (and yes, I went to the blogs of Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Diana Butler Bass, and Bruce Reyes-Chow but all I found was this article about Jay Bakker’s participation). These people would constitute a third view wherein homosexuality is compatible with Christianity and it is seen as logical to support their right to marriage.
What do you think is the appropriate response as a Christian? Do any of the above responses resonate? If you are not a Christian what would you expect of Christians and why?