Two big things happening this week: The discovery that Josh Duggar, a Christian and one of the kids of the large (19 kids? 20? I don't actually watch the show) Duggar family sexually molested his sisters and it appears the family covered it up.
|photo credit: duggarfamily.com|
The NC House just passed a bill allowing magistrates to "pass" on presiding over any marriage ceremony that goes against their religious beliefs. In normal speak: Christian magistrates can refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
|photo credit: http://abc11.com/politics/gay-marriage-religious-objections-bill-back-in-nc-house/744684/|
Seems totally unrelated to me. And they are. Except that I have seen many articles posted and statements made in support of Josh Duggar, reminding us that we are called to grace and mercy, that we are to forgive. Some articles reminding us that "sin is sin" and that what Josh Duggar did was just that - a sin, something we are all prone to. Articles saying we shouldn't be shocked by this because Josh, just like all of us, sins.
Yet at the same time, Christians just won a heated debate in the NC State House demanding that magistrates be allowed to refuse to marry same-sex couples because it would be "participating in sin."
So what I gather from this is that supporting someone who molested children and supporting the family that covered up the incident instead of protecting the victims is the Christian thing to do. But making sure that a same sex couple is protected under the same rights and legitimized under the same laws as straight couples would be participating in sin.
What the what? This really needs to stop. Is this the message we really want to send?
I'm not even asking folks to believe that the Bible affirms gay marriage. I'm really not. If you believe that gay marriage is a sin, I'm not worried about that right now. That is a very debated topic within Christian circles. Devout, learned, committed Christians don't all agree on that one. We don't have to agree on that right this minute.
However, we need a little meeting. Can we all get on the same team? Remember that team that Jesus called us to?
The team that fights for those who need a voice,
the team that loves the ones that no one else loves,
the team that values those who society has cast out,
the team that chooses not to be first, so secure in the love Jesus has for us that we can put the needs of others before our own,
the team that stands for justice, no matter the cost.
I want to be on that team. Here's why we need to speak out AGAINST the Duggar thing: Yes, sin is sin. Sure - in the eyes of God, he can decide that all sins are equally bad. However, the consequences of different sins are different. There were young girls who were victimized and then not protected by their parents when the truth came to light. Minimizing sexual abuse as "just another sin" is harmful and dangerous. It doesn't protect victims and it doesn't get help for the abuser. I am heartbroken for the Duggar family - I wouldn't wish sexual abuse on anyone. And I do believe in the power of forgiveness (only as a process that the abused person chooses to go through). Declaring the need to "stand together" with the abuser and the family that protected him isn't grace or mercy. And it doesn't show love for the children who were molested. The best way to love is to say that we stand with the victims and demand justice for them as well as help for the abuser in the form of specialized, court-ordered therapy for offenders of sexual crimes (this is the research-based best-practice for sex offenders). That's about the most loving, supportive stance I can think of for the Duggars.
I want to be on that team. Here's why we need our Christian magistrates to perform gay marriages regardless of their beliefs about sin: this is a very slippery slope. Sin is sin. If magistrates are allowed to opt out of any marriage that is against their religious beliefs they need to opt out of more than just gay marriage. How about interfaith marriage? Interracial marriage? Premarital sex? What about the couple that has been cheating on each other? Domestic violence? There are Christians who believe all of those are sin. Magistrates who refuse to perform same-sex marriages should also clarify their stance on those issues 'cause maybe they shouldn't be performing any marriages. Let's be honest: there is no real way around this looking like it isn't specifically targeted against gay people.
A magistrate is not a pastor. Gay couples who want to be married by the magistrate are not asking for a Christian, religious marriage. They want to be recognized by the state, they want equal protection under the law. As Christians, even if we disagree on whether God would bless a gay marriage, we can still ensure that our fellow humans are treated equally in the eyes of the law. The love of Christ is so powerful that it can give us the strength to stand up for the rights of others, even if we disagree with them. A magistrate performing a gay marriage is ensuring that all members of society are treated equally. End of story. It's not an endorsement of their marriage or even a commitment to the couple. My husband is a pastor, he has married a lot of people. You know what he does? He invests in their marriage: many weeks of pre-marital counseling together and then he makes a commitment to them for FOREVER. Couples who have been married by my husband have free access to us for the rest of their lives - we will always stand by them because we are invested in their marriages. I'm pretty sure that's not what a magistrate does. It's not the same thing. This bill just looks like an excuse to be mean to gay couples. We shouldn't do that.
Let's get back on track, friends. I think we really are all on the same team. We don't have to agree on everything, but let's agree to humility, to not always having to be right, to choosing people over theology, to following the example of Jesus in how we love.