I Love You, Let’s Get Married

[Apparently WordPress thought it would be funny if my entire post disappeared.  Let me try again:]

I wonder occasionally why fairly traditional, seemingly conservative, pious Christians often do not oppose attempts to redefine marriage as a union between two people, regardless of whether they have complementary genitalia.  Sometimes, even if they do oppose homosexual unions, they do it out of a sort of gut-check learned or nurtured revulsion to the idea of homosexual intercourse.  I can’t help being nervous around this type of hyper-hetero fratboy reaction, because most people (at least publicly) grow out of it.  It is too superficial to grown into something reasonable.  But beyond immaturity (which makes an easy target for homosexual activists), why is it so easy to convince people that they hold nothing more than an archaic bigotry, even if it is a principled, Scriptural position?

It is harder and harder even to have a discussion about this.  Partly because certain people have decided that it is simply not up for discussion; partly because you obviously do not have “discussions” with the ignorant, or the deluded, or the irremediably prejudiced.  They are clearly something less than fully human.  Idiots.  Shut up and sit down.  Next item on the agenda.  (Witness the internet masses as they shred any person who would dare to stumble–humpbacked and knuckle-dragging, natch–into something so vile as a chicken sandwich restaurant.)

But the deeper problem is, as usual, not people “out there,” but us.  The fact is, we (Christians) do not oppose homosexual unions because, deep down, we simply cannot come up with any good reasons to do so.  This is tied intimately to our answer to the question, “Why did/will you get married?”  If it is a variation of “because we love each other,” congratulations, you just made homosexual marriage a thing.  Because if you got married because you love each other, and homosexuals just want to get married because they love each other, then who are you to deny them the exact thing that you are now enjoying?  Don’t homosexuals love each other just as much as heterosexuals?  If so, and if marriage is all about love, then you have no defensible argument.  Could it be any clearer that we are simply trying to hang on to an anachronism, which is translated “unequal,” “unfair,” and “backwards”?

Obviously, I mean “love” here in the Hollywood/Bacherlor(ette)/pop song sense.  The sense in which lust and love are interchangeable.  The sense in which my feelings for the other person determine how I act toward them.  This, it should be apparent, is nothing even close to the Scriptural sense of love, which is literally unconditional; now, later, always.  I have a priest friend who, when he is conducting premarital counseling, asks the man and woman what they would do if the other were unfaithful.  If they say divorce, he says he won’t marry them because they are putting conditions on their love and on the sacrament of marriage.  The fact that such a question will strike most of us as absurd only shows how far we have fallen below the Scriptural description of love (i.e., God’s love for you in Christ).  Divorce and homosexual marriage (along with the contraceptive mentality that carves a firm boundary between sex and children) are fundamentally related because they all focus on love (read: “my current feelings toward another person”) as constitutive of human relationships, especially sexual ones.

This is why, I think, calmly reasoned, clearly argued, principled cases against homosexual unions seem to have no effect, except as ammunition for those who are already convinced: because popular culture and politics is ruled by love as a private, uncontrollable force between some people (two is no longer anything like even a default number).  If you love each other, who can tell you otherwise?  You love who you love.  You can’t legislate love.  Etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum.  No matter how many constitutional amendments are passed, the emotional war was lost a long time ago.  (The activists know that reason and logic do not stand a chance against painful, tear-filled accounts of people who have been bullied or otherwise sinned against because of their “love.”)

So: Until the divorce rate among Christians is much lower than among unbelievers; until Christians marry for reasons beyond feelings and genitalia; until Christians realize that love is a decision that determines how you will act toward another person, rather than a set of feelings that change depending upon circumstance, we can expect to lose every single battle over the definition of marriage.  Because who wants to or can argue in favor of “inequality”?



When a Lutheran candidate of theology is assigned to a parish

Today is not only the anniversary of my wedding, but it is the anniversary of my ordination into the Office of the Holy Ministry and installation as pastor in my current parish.

This is the first thing that came to mind:

My friends: When a Lutheran candidate of theology is assigned to a parish where he is to discharge the office of a Lutheran preacher, for him that place ought to be the dearest, most beautiful, and most precious spot on earth.  He should be unwilling to exchange it for a kingdom.  Whether it is in a metropolis or in a small town [yes], on a bleak prairie [yes–well, not so bleak] or in a clearing in the forest, in a flourishing settlement or in a desert–for him that place should be a miniature paradise.  Do not the blessed angels descend from heaven with great joy whenever the Father in heaven sends them to minister to those who are to inherit salvation?  Why, then, should we poor sinners be unwilling to hurry after them with great joy to a place where we can lead other people–fellow sinners–to salvation?  [C.F.W. Walther, Law and Gospel, 20th Evening Lecture (St. Louis: Concordia, 2010), 225]