Although I am frustrated by the arguments that come from ignorance, I am more patient than some with the variety of sensitive and robust biblical arguments against the legitimacy of homosexuality (and sorry liberals, but there are at least a few). Though I disagree, I think I still have a grasp on where people are coming from. I can hear their position and as such, I try to be a unifying voice wherever possible rather than a polarizing voice. We are, in fact, all members of the same body, the same family--Evangelicals and main-liners alike--and we should not give up on one another.
Whatever the case, though I was not surprised, I was disappointed to hear of the passing of North Carolina's recent Amendment 1, a discriminatory constitutional ban on gay marriage in the state (similar to the infamous California Proposition 8). I was disappointed because of how the church has responded to the gay community and for a variety of other reasons. I think that the church has mixed up its definitions. We have allowed our understanding of marriage to be limited to the definitions of state governments when, I hope, our definition involves much more--including the reflection of God's image through the uniting of two people and two families and a sacred covenant between God and God's people (some things the state just wouldn't understand). What gay people are asking for is access to the same governmental state rights as so-called straight people when it comes to their relationships. A loving response, regardless of how we feel about the biblical ethical legitimacy of those relationships, would be to give them those rights and then deal with the ethics accordingly. Why should the church deny them those state rights on the basis of marriage definitions when the church and the state are talking about two very different things from the start? The church has flexed its religious power in the arena of state governance and I find that to be unethical and especially un-Christlike. We need to have a relationship with the gay community before we start speaking to their conduct. We need to earn the right to speak into their lives... that's the loving thing to do... before we go legislating their lives and their futures and their social-status. As such, by such legislation, the church has become a politically oppressive force, wielding our political power to rule over the moral lives of others. It's not even about the morality or immorality of homosexual relationships, it's about the church and its power and the wielding of that power.
"I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage. The Bible is clear -- God's definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I want to urge my fellow North Carolinians to vote for the marriage amendment ... Watching the moral decline of our country causes me great concern. I believe the home and marriage is the foundation of our society and must be protected."Really Billy?! Why are you doing this to yourself?!
Now, I'm not surprised at his position. He's 93 years old, after all. What surprises me is his ignorance and his lack of grace. Now, this may just show my own ignorance regarding Billy's political career, but I would not have expected Billy Graham to say something so polarizing. I would have expected him to listen and hear the other side, to lovingly disagree, and then to advocate the reconciliation between the gay community and the church. But he did the opposite.
He didn't hear a word from the other side... really Billy?! You "never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage"? I thought you'd been around the block enough times to know that we would. Anyone who has actually taken the time to read and absorb the scope of the conversation knows that the Bible is anything but clear on this particular subject. Quote a verse in regards to homosexuality and there'll be volumes of polarizing discussions regarding its meaning. Clarity has certainly not been reached in this discussion, even if Billy Graham's superior intellect has made it seem clear to him. Rather than disagreeing graciously and lovingly, he refers to the lives of gay people as part of the "moral decline of our country." That's anything but loving, even if it is merely a characteristic of Billy's generation. And rather than advocate for reconciliation, he implied that gay people are enemies of "the home and marriage" from which we should be "protected." Now them's fightin' words... anything but reconciling.
I love him. I respect him. I'll still remember him for his better moments. But Billy is behind the times. Not in his position or his opinion but in his approach. We are beyond polarizing oversimplifications and false claims to biblical clarity. We are beyond slanderous implications of exaggerated social dangers. We are beyond the "us vs. them" battles. The conversation now must be graciously and intellectually compassionate and it must on some level involve the reconciliation of the church to the gay community. Because even if the conservatives win the biblical argument, without relationship and love that will be their only victory.