I am a licensed Southern Baptist Minister. I am also a citizen of the United States and understand the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is possible to hold certain religious beliefs without making them the law of the land. There is no cognitive dissonance here. Jesus said it best: "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's."
I feel it is time to voice my opinion on the issue of same sex marriage.
- Is homosexuality a sin? From my interpretation of the Bible as a Baptist it is, but so is the fact I'm divorce and remarried, so is lust, greed, envy, gluttony, pride etc. No sin is greater or lesser and as Romans 3:23 states: For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
- Can a person or couple living in this lifestyle be saved? All sinners can be saved even if they continue to commit the sin. If God withdrew his salvation because of continual sin, then those who smoke and can't quit are lost (ruining God's temple), I would be lost for the thirty-five years I've been remarried while my ex-wife still lives (committing adultery). Those who get angry and commit murder in their heart would be lost. The point Jesus made in his Sermon on the Mount was about the impossibility of salvation through the law and the importance of forgiveness for God's forgiveness is absolute over all sins.
- Should the Church allow same sex couples membership? By all means yes. If churches started refusing sinners from joining, the pews would be empty and the pulpit vacant. I have a feeling that many Christians will be shocked entering the pearly gates to find this kind of sinner also present.
Two big issued on this have come up in New Mexico the last couple of weeks. The state constitution does not specify gender concerning marriage. Gary King the attorney general for the state was asked to render a decision on the matter, and he punted saying it should be left to the legislature. He is going to run for Governor next year. A county clerk in Los Cruces decided to start issuing same sex marriage licenses. Surprisingly the Tea Party Governor did not call an emergency session on the issue and punted as well. She is up for re-election.
A number of couples sued to get a court order issued forcing their county clerks to issue same sex licenses. As of yesterday eight counties are now issuing them. Those against this are crying foul, because they are suing only in the counties where the county clerk is in favor and does not argue against them at the hearing, so only one side is represented. In an adversarial legal system this is a valid point.
The argument for allowing same sex marriage is that since the constitution doesn't specify or prohibit these marriages they should be allowed. All laws by their nature forbid and what is not forbidden is permitted.
The argument against has two points. 1. When the state constitution was written in 1912, it wasn't an issue that needed to be addressed. The state had sodomy laws making homosexuality illegal. These laws were repealed in the 1960's. Therefore the "spirit" of the law should be observed not the "letter" of the law. (A little irony here, those against are the "strict constructionists" on Roe V Wade, but flip flop when their ox is gored). 2. Precedent: A few years ago a county clerk issued same sex marriage licenses and the state Supreme Court ordered her to stop. This decision should be upheld until such time as the state Supreme Court reviews and overturns its previous ruling. Gary King as AG has ordered that the marriage licenses from this time are valid and to be honored. A previous AG said they weren't.
The Sticky Wicket
The state Supreme Court did issue a ruling recently angering many against same sex marriages. A couple approached a photographer about taking pictures at their wedding. The professional photographer refused citing his religious beliefs on the issue. The couple found another photographer who was cheaper. You'd think that would be the end of it, but they sued the first photographer for discrimination. The state Supreme Court ruled against the photographer and he was forced to pay damages. This could be construed as the state Supreme Court tacitly approving the licenses.
Those who have been oppressing same sex couples can now claim victimhood. This poor picked on religious fanatic has been harmed. Pardon my sarcasm, but if the guy didn't want to do the job he could have said no and left it at that, he didn't have to give a reason or a sermon. Ever since the sit in at a Woolworth's lunch counter public businesses have been required to serve all customers. There are consequences of discrimination under Civil Rights law. Sorry Mr. Photographer you should have kept your mouth shut or done what you are in business to do, take pictures at weddings. A photography studio is not a church.
Should a pastor who is opposed to same sex marriages be compelled to officiate one? No. The pastor and Church is covered by the first amendment. Public businesses are not.
What is happening right now in New Mexico is known as a fait acompli. By the time the legislature meets nothing they do will change what's happened. Its a done deal. Like the fight over legalized abortion that doesn't mean it will go away. The rabid fundamentalists will have another dead horse to beat, but what else is new? They fired all missionaries that were divorced and remarried when they took over the SBC in the 1980's for the sin of living in adultery, and I have been treated as a second class Christian due to their misinterpretation of God's mercy and grace. That doesn't mean all Christians are that deluded or insensitive to other's spiritual needs.
I have no problem with same sex marriage. Religiously its an issue of all God's children being sinners and to love them as He loves me. Politically it's an issue of equal human rights. I, or any other Baptist, do not have the right to legislate the morality of another person based on the what the Bible says. The first amendment protects me from other religions forcing me to believe their way and protects others from me forcing them to believe my way. That's freedom of religion and the free exercise of it.