Culture

An Open Letter to Pretty Much Everybody About the Marriage Debate

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Dear America (and any of my international friends who may be reading this):

Since Friday, I’ve seen many opinions on the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage everywhere in the nation. From the viewpoint of social media, people have never been so divided over any single issue. In the light of these divisions, someone needs to speak some truths. That someone may as well be me, so here goes.

To those of you who oppose the Supreme Court’s decision: you will never win someone to your case by over-lamenting the ruling as the beginning of the decline of American civilization. Displays of anger and bile probably won’t change anyone’s mind, and neither will name calling — nobody likes a sore loser, no matter how high the stakes. As passionate as you may feel about the traditional definition of marriage, shrieks of indignation can come across to others as petulant or self-righteous. Many proponents of traditional marriage who claim to be followers of Jesus have behaved in less than Christlike fashion, and this is troubling as well.

To those of you who support the judgment of the Court: behaving like a sore winner is bad form. Plastering everything with rainbows comes across as a little too in-your-face, and it won’t bring people around to agreeing with you. (Especially the rainbow version of the American flag. Remember how the Confederate flag offended people? Yeah, this one does, too.) Refrain from using the word “hate” to characterize those who disagree with you. The fact is, most people who don’t agree with the verdict don’t harbor any hatred toward gays at all; they just see the definition of marriage as being one man and one woman. Oh, and you probably should lay off the word “hypocrite” too — for some reason it rubs people the wrong way when you call them hypocrites.

The vitriol on both sides not only divides, but it also deepens the hurt that results from that division. Each side raises the volume a little higher until everyone is shouting, while nobody is really getting a word in edgewise. All of us need to remember this one fact: not everybody is going to agree with you. The sooner we get used to that truth, the more civil I believe our disagreements can become.

We also need to remember that we live in a fallen world; that’s been the case long before the Supreme Court made any decisions. But, to borrow a phrase from a song on Zac Brown Band’s new album, “love is the remedy.”

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We need to love one another. We need to love each other for who we are, not for what we are. That kind of love is the only kind of love that can heal the divides and bridge the gaps. One of my favorite commands from the Bible comes straight from Jesus: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 TLV*)

The Apostle Paul elaborated on the nature of true love when he wrote to the believers in Corinth:

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all that I own and if I hand over my body so I might boast but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not brag, it is not puffed up,it does not behave inappropriately, it does not seek its own way, it is not provoked, it keeps no account of wrong, it does not rejoice over injustice but rejoices in the truth; it bears all things, it believes all things, it hopes all things, it endures all things.

Love never fails— but where there are prophecies, they will pass away; where there are tongues, they will cease; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. (1 Corinthians 13:1-8 TLV)

Sunday morning, my pastor, Scott Moore, stood before the congregation and asked all of us to pray for our nation, because people all over America — and all over the world — need to know about the love of Jesus. My church, along with thousands of others across the country, will not shrink back from sharing God’s perfect love with the world.

Here’s the truth: love didn’t win on June 26, 2015. Love won two thousand years ago when a young rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua in Hebrew) gave his life so that sinners — and we’re all sinners, whether we’re gay or straight, black or white, male or female — could have an eternal relationship with God. And love won three days later, when Roman guards rolled back the stone on the tomb in which Jesus was supposed to be buried, only to find that He wasn’t in the tomb. Jesus had defeated death, and that conquering, perfect, all-encompassing love is available to everyone who confesses Him as Lord and Savior. I pray that all of you find that love today.

Love, Chris

PS: I disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling (for a number of reasons), but the love of Jesus toward all of humanity — whether straight, gay, or whatever — is more important to me than anything else.

*The Tree of Life Version (TLV) is a Messianic translation that I love. It ties the Old and New Testaments together in a beautiful way, it’s faithful to the Jewish traditions that gave birth to Christianity, and it’s wonderfully readable. It’s available on YouVersion, through its own app, or in hard copies from the Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock / Roman Lisovyi & Lindasj22