In my last post, On Gay Marriage, I described that everyone has the freedom to express their views in this gay marriage debate. Whether you are for or against, no one should stop you from speaking your mind. Furthermore, I expressed my desire for Christians to not dread when the culture shifts away from biblical values. Instead, Christians must recognize that they are a people set apart, and cannot demand that the world submit to their beliefs. Nevertheless, both Christian and non-Christian Americans are compelled to enter into the political arena with the goal of shaping policies which reflect their core values. Are any of those ideas radical? I don’t believe they are.
I now want to take this a step further. I want to address something that I have read numerous times in the past year. Many have asked something along the lines of, “What does it matter to you if gay couples get married? If you don’t like it, don’t do it.” What they’re suggesting is, gay people getting married doesn’t have anything to do with you. If they want to get married, why stop them? Aren’t you just imposing your own beliefs on them, and therefore limiting their freedom to live as they wish? It’s an important question.
We live in a country. This country is made up of millions of citizens. Each citizen plays a part in shaping the culture. Some have a substantial influence (celebrities, political and religious leaders, authors, directors) and most have a small influence. Regardless of the scope that one’s influence has on the overarching culture, who could deny that everyone has at least a portion to contribute? If we can accept that each of us plays a role in shaping the world around us, we can then accept that our actions have consequences for the larger society.
Consider again the question of, “What does it matter to you if a gay couple gets married?” It has very little to do with me. If two people decide to marry each other, and I don’t even know them, it has an immeasurably small effect on my life. If one hundred people marry one hundred other people, and they live in California, it probably won’t matter much to me. I’ll just keep living my life as if nothing happened. Does it seem like I’m saying two different things? A paragraph earlier I claimed that each person has a portion of influence within our society, and now I’m telling you that when a gay couple gets married it doesn’t really affect me. Bear with me a little, and I will show you the way that this gay marriage issue, when taken in full, does in fact have a significant effect on me and everyone else in this country.
We live under the authority of our government. Yes, the government is of, by, and for the people, but at the end of the day we submit to the power of local, state, and federal authority. Whether you like it or not, our government has the authority to make laws, enact policies, and take the money we earn. The government said slavery was legal. The same government made it illegal. It also refused women the right to vote. Then it made voting a right for women and African-Americans. Before 1973 it was illegal to get an abortion. After Roe v. Wade our government made it legal for women to have abortions. One year the United States says abortion is illegal and wrong. The next year it says abortion is legal and permissible. My point in all of this is, the government has incredible authority to shape our society. It makes a free man a slave and a slave free. It makes a fetus a life and a life a fetus. And it defines the institution of marriage as the joining together of husband and wife. I know this because, except for in a few states, same-sex marriage is illegal.
Shape policy, and you eventually shape society. Beliefs change the world.
Some of you may be thinking that it isn’t this simple. Of course it isn’t. Politics is fed by an ever-evolving culture within America. The culture as a whole has grown more accepting of the idea of gay marriage. And, since this is the case, the legalization of it is likely a foregone conclusion. Nevertheless, opponents of gay marriage must not forsake their view on the matter. Speak plainly and fearlessly the convictions of your conscience. Understand that your belief shapes your action, which shapes policy, which shapes the very world in which you live.
Why is gay marriage a big deal?
You tell me.