Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Jonathan Leeman, a member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., editorial director for 9Marks, and working on his doctoral degree in political theology, has written some helpful, thoughtful and challenging articles on the cultural milieu of the same-sex marriage debate, and how we ought to think, ponder and respond to it.
In this article, “Love and the Inhumanity of Same-Sex Marriage,” Leeman frames this issue in the following manner:
How hard Christians should actively fight against same-sex marriage is a matter for wisdom. But that we must not support it, I would like to persuade you, is a matter of biblical principle. To vote for it, to legislate it, to rule in favor of it, to tell your friends at the office that you think it's just fine—all this is sin. To support it publicly or privately is to "give approval to those who practice" the very things that God promises to judge—exactly what we're told not to do in Romans 1:32.
Further, same-sex marriage embraces a definition of humanity that is less than human and a definition of love that is less than love. And it is not freedom from religion that the advocates of same-sex marriage want; they want to repress one religion in favor of another.
Christians must not go with the flow. They must instead love the advocates of same-sex marriage better than they love themselves precisely by refusing to endorse it.
I am saying this for the sake of you who are Christians, who affirm the authority of Scripture, who believe that homosexual activity is wrong, and who believe in the final judgment. I don't mean here to persuade anyone who does not share these convictions. . . . My goal in all of this is to encourage the church to be the church.
Leeman builds his case by arguing that we need: 1) a deeper understanding of humanity, 2) a deeper love for the other, even in their brokenness, just as Christ loved us in our sin, 3) a better understanding of the public square and idolatrous religion and how Christians ought to respond while remembering the truth that God will judge the nations, and, finally, 4) a commitment to embrace those who struggle with same-sex attraction while standing firm on biblical truth, what has in the past been referred to as welcoming but not affirming.
Here is the full statement of Leeman’s final point:
Churches should embrace their brothers and sisters who struggle with same-sex attraction, just like they should embrace all repentant sinners.
And churches should stand fast on deeper, more biblical conceptions of love by loving the advocates of same-sex marriage more truly than they love themselves. We do this by insisting on the sweet and life-giving nature of God's truth and holiness.
In our present cultural context, Christian love will prove costly to Christians and churches. Even if you recognize the Bible calls homosexuality sin, but you (wrongly) support same-sex marriage, your stance on homosexuality will offend. A people's strongest desires—the desires they refuse to let go of—reveals their worship. To condemn sexual freedom in America today is to condemn one of the nation's favorite altars of worship. And will they not fight for their gods? Will they not excommunicate all heretics?
But even while Scripture promises short-term persecution for the church, it also, strangely and simultaneously, points to long-term praise: "Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:12). I'm not sure how to explain that, but I trust it.
Our key reminder and exhortation: Lovingly embrace the other; stand firm on God’s Word!