The increased attention to the question of marriage also gives us the opportunity to love our gay and lesbian neighbors as Jesus does.
Some will capitulate on a Christian sexual ethic. There are always those professional “dissidents” who make a living espousing mainline Protestant shibboleths to an evangelical market.
But the church will stand, and that means the gospel Jesus has handed down through the millennia. As we stand with conviction, we don’t look at our gay and lesbian neighbors as our enemies.
They are not.
The gay and lesbian people in your community aren’t part of some global “Gay Agenda” conspiracy. They aren’t supervillains in some cartoon.
They are, like all of us, seeking a way that seems right to them. If we believe marriage is as resilient as Jesus says it is (Mk. 10:6-9), it cannot be eradicated by a vote of justices or a vote of a state legislature. Some will be disappointed by what they thought would answer their quest for meaning. Will our churches be ready to answer?
This also means we must change the way we preach.
Those with same-sex attractions, who follow Christ, will be walking away from what their families and friends want for them: wedding cake and married life and the American Dream. Following Jesus will mean taking up a cross and following a hard narrow way. It always does.
If we’re going to preach that sort of gospel, we must make it clear that this cross-bearing self-denial isn’t just for homosexually-tempted Christians. It is for all of us, because that’s what the gospel is.
If your church has been preaching the American Dream, with eternal life at the end and Jesus as the means you use to get all that, you don’t have a gospel that can reach your gay and lesbian neighbors—or anyone else for that matter.
Same-sex marriage is headed for your community. This is no time for fear or outrage or politicizing. It’s a time for forgiven sinners, like us, to do what the people of Christ have always done. It’s time for us to point beyond our family values and our culture wars to the cross of Christ as we say: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
And that’s good news.