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Some (Same-sex) Marriage Advice from Canada, Part 2

By Jojo Ruba

In the first part of my article, I made a list of what Americans can expect after the ruling on same-sex marriage last week. As Canadians, we’ve observed how our rights are being taken away and our voices not-so-slowly being silenced. But there are three important lessons that Americans can take away from the Canadian experience as you deal with the repercussions of same-sex marriage.

What You Need to Do

1. Stop Making This About You

We share your concerns about the ramifications of same-sex marriage to culture and to individual and religious liberty. But, frankly, when we complain about losing our charitable status or make our religious liberties the centerpiece of our arguments against same-sex marriage, we sound just as self-absorbed as the culture that celebrates it. It makes it sound like Christians care more about the money or power.

By Allan Ajifo [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsAs believers, the greatest damage decisions like this have is to limit the freedom to speak God’s truth to a hurting culture. One of the lines we use at Faith Beyond Belief is that rather than hating the sin but loving the sinner, we must hate the sin because we love the sinner. God wants us to speak out against destructive behaviour like pornography, divorce, and yes, same-sex marriage, because it damages the people involved. Though we’ve made brilliant arguments for traditional marriage, I see few articulate why same-sex marriage actually harms the consenting adults who participate in it.

And that’s why we also need to stop apologizing for all Christians! I know we’re Canadian and we apologize for everything, but don’t apologize for trying to love people. Not every Christian is a jerk who has no empathy for same-sex-attracted people. For the most part, Christians are doing their best to show God’s love in this situation. They just don’t know how.

Instead, let’s start by following what Jesus says are the greatest commands: love God first and then love our neighbours as we love ourselves—and aren’t there times when we need a bit of tough love?

2. Fear Not

A Calgary Herald columnist actually defended discrimination against Christians based on the issue of homosexuality because, she said, other Christians don’t all agree on homosexuality. She argued that it is “extremist” to hold the view that practicing homosexuals will go to Hell, and anyone who holds such views should be screened out of public office.

She quoted Kris Wells, director of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies at the University of Alberta, who told the National Post: “I have no problem with people of faith running for public office. It’s about how one exercises that faith. . . .”[1]

In other words, the director of a pro-gay organization gets to determine how Christians who go into public office should be able to practice their faith. And the Herald columnist calls Christians the extreme ones!

This columnist, however, can only get away with saying something so inane because so many of our culture—and worse, our churches—no longer understand what Christians believe. For example, the Bible Engagement Study found that 69% of Canadians believe the Bible is full of irreconcilable contradictions, but 55% of Canadians have never read the Bible![2]

But that kind of confusion in a once biblically literate culture can only happen when Christians fail to educate others about the Bible. Worse, we can’t educate non-believers about our faith if we don’t know it ourselves.

I’ve spoken across Canada for over a decade on issues like abortion and homosexuality, and I can tell you countless stories of Christian leaders and laypeople telling me that they didn’t want to hear from me. Most church members I talk to also can’t recall a time when their pastor ever talked about homosexuality. Some pastors simply refuse to talk about such issues.[3]

And when we stopped talking about these issues, we stopped linking biblical truth to the relevant issues in our culture. That’s why so many Christians can’t articulate a well-reasoned explanation for their faith on issues such as truth, morality, and sexuality. We’re too ill-informed and too scared to speak.

Yet this level of biblical ignorance is not a time for fear. It is a time for faith. Have you noticed how the debate on same-sex marriage invariably turns into discussion of the Bible and God’s will? Rather than running away from it as many Canadians have, why don’t you take it as an opportunity to explain the Christian worldview to your friends? Discuss the issue with family members who have rainbow-coloured FB pictures. And of course, before you do, understand what the biblical worldview is. Take this as an opportunity for you to learn why God’s love for humanity means discouraging harmful behaviour like homosexuality.

3. Keep Fighting the Good Fight

An apologist friend of mine recently insisted that the “culture war is over” and that “we lost” and we should move on to other issues. He said we can’t expect a non-Christian culture to act like Christians.

Interestingly, when I asked him if he was glad William Wilberforce, the abolitionist, didn’t share that sentiment, he never responded. If Christian leaders like him gave up on fights against slavery or racial discrimination, the world we would live in would not only be far worse, but it would be far harder to share the gospel to it.

In fact, many Canadian Christians use the “we lost” sentiment to never raise controversial issues again. They have capitulated to culture and act no differently than their secular colleagues. The more “normal” sin gets, the harder it is want to be “abnormal” by speaking out against it.

But as our American friends get used to the new “normal,” please remember this:The day before the U.S. legalized same-sex marriage, I was speaking about homosexuality to a church youth group where two young women recently came out as bisexual. Both approached me at the end of my talk and thanked me for it. One in particular told me that she was trying her best to be faithful to God’s word but it was so hard because the rest of culture is telling her just to act on her feelings.

I explained to her what I’ve learned when I’ve struggled with unwanted sexual attractions—that God understands how we feel and grieves with us. Though we might think the most loving thing to do for someone is to enter into a relationship with them, the most loving thing we can do is to introduce them to Christ. She agreed and said she would do her best to follow Jesus first.

The fight to normalize homosexuality in the U.S. may have been fought over a few months in a courtroom, but it’s a daily battle for people like this young woman who want to do the right thing. Your court just made it harder for her to do so.

Rather than giving up and claiming all is lost, don’t you think people like her need Christians who are willing to speak truth when no one else does? That’s why we have to keep speaking—because millions of people like this girl need to know that only Jesus can bring hope to a confused culture and their confused hearts.

[1] Naomi Lakritz, “It’s Not Anti-Christian—It’s Anti-Extremist,” Calgary Herald, September 19, 2014, accessed July 2, 2015, http://calgaryherald.com/opinion/lakritz-its-not-anti-christian-its-anti-extremist.

[2] “Are Canadians Done with the Bible?,” Canadian Bible Forum, accessed July 8, 2015, http://www.bibleengagementstudy.ca.

[3] Jonathan Merritt, “Hillsong’s Brian Houston Says Church Won’t Take Public Position on LGBT Issues, Jonathan Merritt on Faith & Culture (blog), Oct. 16, 2014, accessed July 7, 2015, http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/10/16/hillsongs-brian-houston-says-church-lgbt-issues/.

  • Sam L.

    Again, I agree it is important the church be able to speak freely on issues without being ostracized, but I find many points in Pt 2 also problematic.
    1) Mr. Ruba: “I see few [arguments] articulate why same-sex marriage actually harms the consenting adults who participate in it.”
    This is the crux of the matter. Many people, including Christians, are finding it increasingly hard to see how two people of the same-sex in love and committed to each other for 35 years is harmful. Traditional Christians haven’t come up with a convincing argument about why the commitment and love of same-sex couples is harmful. (Shellfish-eating Christians arguing, “it says so in the Bible!” is not a convincing argument)
    2) Mr. Ruba: “Instead, let’s start by following what Jesus says are the greatest commands: love God first and then love our neighbours as we love ourselves—and aren’t there times when we need a bit of tough love?”
    This is problematic. It twists Jesus’ most important commandment (loving radically without conditions) by suggesting we need to give LGBT people “tough love.” I am sorry, I simply cannot agree that giving “tough love” to the hurting, frightened LGBT boy or girl is a good idea at all. They need acceptance, they need dignity, they need someone to tell them they are worth something. They need to know Jesus loves them and is with them.
    This may be hard to stomach, but the church is very much complicit in the suffering and persecution of LGBT people. LGBT people have lost families, reputations, jobs, and communities because of what the church has done. While many Christians have addressed the “gay issue” by the mantra “love the sinner, hate the sin,” such doctrine has taught LGBT people to hate and loathe themselves. In some instances, they have lost their lives due to depression and suicide because of such hopelessness.
    You think so-called “tough love” is going to solve this tragedy? It is actually the cause of it. We need to tell LGBT people that they are simply loved.
    Ryan Robertson and Leelah Alcorn, who left us too soon, are deeply loved by God. I believe his heart breaks when we look at the mess Christians have unintentionally helped to create.
    3) Mr. Ruba: “Interestingly, when I asked him if he was glad William Wilberforce, the abolitionist, didn’t share that sentiment, he never responded. If Christian leaders like him gave up on fights against slavery or racial discrimination, the world we would live in would not only be far worse, but it would be far harder to share the gospel to it.”
    Comparing the anti-same-sex-marriage cause to William Wilberforce is a bit of a stretch. In abolition and the Civil Rights Movement, it was always about giving historically oppressed and victimized peoples equality, dignity, and rights. Likewise, the LGBT movement is about giving historically oppressed and victimized people equality, dignity, and rights.

    • Well, Sam, this article isn’t about making the case for the biblical view of marriage. We’ll be covering that more often soon. This is a blog about the strategy Christians should take on this topic.

      Interestingly enough, we do agree with you – Christians have failed to articulate a good reason for why we should be opposed to same-sex sexual relationships. That’s one of the reasons why we are writing about it and making the case for it.

      But the fact that you compare shellfish to sexuality means you don’t really understand what the Bible says about this. I would recommend reading articles such as this that explain the difference:





      Here’s another way of saying it: Leviticus also prohibits bestiality, murder and rape. Should we reject those laws simply because they are in Leviticus? If not, why should we reject the sexual morals given in Leviticus just because other (cultural) laws exist?

      The church has always and will always stand with the oppressed, the weak and the rejected. That’s what Jesus did! But accepting people does not mean we accept everything people do. Notice, the article discusses how we should deal with homosexuality not homosexuals. That’s the key difference between past civil rights movements and this one. The groups advocating for same-sex marriage want us to agree with their moral views on sexuality and to endorse a marriage that is not only detrimental to the future of society but to them as well.

      We are all called to love people – and we all require tough love sometimes. Correcting bad behaviour and advocating for godly behaviour is the most loving thing we can do for anyone. Besides if it is wrong to correct bad ideas and behaviour, why are you attempting to do that with us?