“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.” With these words, Vice President Joe Biden sparked a national firestorm yesterday. In his interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, he said that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriages and was heartened by their growing acceptance across the country.
Was the vice-president right on this issue? What’s wrong with gay marriage?
Advocates make the following claims: marriage is a civil activity regulated by the state, so religious objections should not be relevant or recognized. Once we begin legislating morality, where do we stop? All couples deserve marriage benefits, including patient visitation, a role in medical decisions, and tax and insurance benefits. Homosexuals are a minority whose civil rights must be protected. And gay marriage would encourage family values, lessen high-risk behavior, and increase adoptions.
Opponents counter: legalizing gay marriage could force religious employers to extend spousal benefits to same-sex partners. Civil contracts can provide the economic and legal benefits of marriage to same-sex couples without forcing the public to recognize gay marriage. If anyone can get married, what is to prevent polygamy, adult-child, or direct-family marriages? Stare decisis means that a law enacted in one state must be recognized in another–would this mean that a gay couple married in Massachusetts must be considered married in Texas?
What does this debate say about our culture? As our society increasingly permits consenting adults to do whatever they want, does the movement to legalize same-sex marriage represent yet another step away from biblical morality into a post-Christian society? What does God say about this divisive issue? His word prohibits homosexual activity (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:8-11). God instituted marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24). (For more on this issue, see my essay on homosexuality and the Bible.)
While Scripture is clear on this subject, it is vital to remember that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) who can be saved only by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). God loves all people, whatever their sexual orientation. In fact, his word prohibits homosexual activity precisely because he knows how damaging it is to his children.
Paul warned the Corinthians that “neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). But then he stated, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (v. 11). Can God do in America what he did in Corinth?