I can almost see it in their eyes from fifty feet away. It’s the fire of political dogmatism when they ask me, as a pastor, where I stand on Amendment 1 – better known as the Marriage Amendment. In order to figure out where I stand, I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of Christians who are on both sides of the argument.
My Christian friends to the right are doing all they can to rally the troops and bathing their argument with specific Bible passages. They argue the Bible is clear that homosexuals should not get married and they believe that to allow them to do so will be the continuation of our country’s descent into a Sodom like arena where we’re all in danger of turning into salt at any moment. They don’t believe the law North Carolina already has on the books, recognizing marriage as the union between a man and a woman, is strong enough. They want an iron-clad guarantee that marriage will be defined the way they believe the Bible defines it. The way I see it, their main idea of God is One who is just, and homosexuals getting married is not just to them.
My Christian friends to the left argue that if this amendment passes, there will be tremendous unintended consequences including women and children being hurt. They are pulling out all the stops by getting as many doctors’ groups as possible to say this is a bad idea. Just this morning I saw that the Board of Directors of The Carolina Chapter of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists are against the amendment. How people who deal with thyroids have an official opinion about marriage escapes me. I believe this side’s main argument is that God is love, and there is no way a loving God would be against people who are in love getting married, adopting kids, and the like.
I’ve pondered and prayed about both sides; I have given a great deal of thought about which side Jesus would take. The answer I have come up with: Neither. Where do I think Jesus would be standing? At our local food pantry giving out food to kids who are hungry. Or our battered women’s shelter comforting those who have been abused. Or in downtown Winston with the homeless. Or showing those who are lost a path back to wholeness.
It always saddens me when Christians get all up in arms about political issues and forget that Jesus very rarely talked about our trying to impact the government. He spent most of his time telling us to bring the Kingdom of God to earth by helping the least, the last, and the lost. What would our state look like if we took all the time and money being spent on this Amendment and instead used it to help alleviate poverty among children? Maybe the greater Winston-Salem area wouldn’t be ranked the worst metro area in the United States in having families with children that have a hard time putting food on the table, and a lot of kids wouldn’t go to bed hungry at night.
What if each of our churches resolved to do all we could to transform the communities we live in instead of burning our energy trying to gather votes on this issue, or fighting about Christians flags, or demanding “In God We Trust” be put on the side of Courthouses? My guess is that our churches would grow instead of continuing in a state of persistent decline. Young people who are fleeing from church in droves because they see the church as irrelevant and out of touch might actually get excited and be open to hear our message.
My prayer as a Christian pastor is that we all vote after prayerful consideration of the Amendment. But by giving this issue a prominence it doesn’t deserve in our faith, we all lose – the right, the left, and most especially, those who need us the most.