My wife and I got married in Tennessee a little over 9 years ago. At the time, the state had a ban against same-sex marriage.
3 years ago we moved to Connecticut, a state which has been performing same same-sex marriages since 2008.
In our 3 years of living in Connecticut, the marriage of our gay and lesbian neighbors has had absolutely no affect on our marriage, the state hasn’t forced any religious institution to perform any marriage of any kind, and civilization hasn’t crumbled.
I mean, the food sucks, but in the 7 years since Connecticut lifted its ban on same-sex marriage, the apocalypse has yet to arrive in Connecticut.
As you are already well aware, the Supreme Court ruled last week that state bans against same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. Not surprisingly, the ruling sparked a tsunami of emotion ranging from jubilation to outright panic. For all the rainbow tinted profile pictures on my Facebook wall and #LoveWins hashtags in my Twitter feed, there were nearly just as many dire warnings from conservative Christian leaders proclaiming an inevitable collapse of civilization now that two people of the same gender can legally marry anywhere in the Union.
Living in Connecticut, where same-sex marriage has been legal for years, I’ve been able to glimpse into the future and like Russell Moore and Mike Huckabee and Albert Mohler and all the rest, I too have a warning for my fellow Christians now that same-sex marriage is legal across the land.
The same thing that’s happened in Connecticut over the past 8 years is very likely coming very soon to a state near you.
Gay and lesbian couples will get married….and it will have zero affect on your own marriage.
The state will start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples….and neither your church nor any other religious institution in the state will be forced to marry anyone they don’t want to marry.
Gay and lesbian couples will buy homes, have kids, get involved in their community, and retire….and civilization won’t crumble. In fact, it will be the better for it.
No, polygamy won’t suddenly become a thing (and even if it did, good luck explaining why those people are unbiblical and somehow worse than the man the Bible calls “a man after God’s own heart“) and, no, pedophiles won’t be allowed to marry children because pedophilia and homosexuality are not even remotely the same thing (and if you’ve been told they are, please, for the love of God and neighbor, please find a new, more informed source of information).
Same-sex marriage is coming to your state…and it’s going to be ok.
In fact, you’ll probably barely notice.
But there are couple of other things you probably will notice – or at least I hope you notice – that I feel I should also warn you about.
One day soon, when same-sex marriage is finally known simply as “marriage” in your state, you’ll find yourself taking your kids to soccer practice or running errands around town or eating dinner with your family at your favorite restaurant and you’ll look up and notice that things aren’t any worse – in fact they may be a little better – then they were when same-sex couples weren’t allowed to marry in your state. And in that moment you’ll realize that the Chicken Little church leaders you’re listening to now were lying to you about the dangers of same-sex marriage. Their cries of God’s impending judgment never came to fruition. The First Amendment wasn’t abolished and your church continued on believing and practicing they way they always had. And civilization kept on trucking the way it has for thousands of years because despite the rhetoric, civilization is not and never was dependent on heterosexual marriage.
I do think some of those Chicken Little church leaders are sincere in their fear, but their intransigent devotion to dogma creates the most un-Christlike of situations in which theology is more important than the people that theology was intended to serve. My fellow Christians, I know you may have strong religious convictions about same-sex marriage, but when the day comes and you see how tragically wrong those Chicken Little church leaders were about the future, I pray you remember that the Greatest Commandment is not “believe these things and never change,” it’s “love.” And then find new spiritual leaders to follow because God knows we’ve got some pretty terrible leaders today.
But even if you stick with them – who knows, maybe they’ll change – I have to warn you that as you come into contact with same-sex couples on a more regular basis, as they become your neighbors (spoiler alert: they already are) and I hope your friends too, you’ll see that their “lifestyle” and even their faith really isn’t any different than your own and you’ll find yourself forced to reexamine your own assumptions about the LGBT community and ask yourself some difficult questions about what it really means to be a Christian and what it really means to love on another.
I know, I’ve been there. I grew up in a super conservative community. I grew up believing that being gay was a choice and that choice was a sin. It wasn’t until I stopped pointing fingers and started listening, until I opened up my eyes to my own inconsistent reading of the Bible, until “those people” became my friends, not token gay people I know, but actual friends I break bread with and share my life, it wasn’t until then that I was forced to reexamine my own own assumptions and ask myself some difficult questions about what I really believed and whether or not I was actually loving my neighbor as myself. The change didn’t happen overnight and looking back I’m embarrassed by how long it did take me to see the light, but change did come and I’m glad it did.
With the Supreme Court’s decision last week, change is coming to our entire country. Change can be scary, terrifying even. And if you live in a state that’s always banned same-sex marriage and you’re not affirming, I get why the warnings of certain Christian leaders can be so worrisome. The unknown is scary and being forced into the unknown is even scarier and when you combine that with an image of God as a wrathful overlord ready to smite at a moments notice you don’t believe just the right things, I totally get why so many of my fellow Christians are worried.
But, my friends, I’ve glimpsed the future and it’s not that scary. I mean, yeah, the food sucks, but the future you’re worried about actually looks a whole heck of a lot like the present.
Ok, fair enough, that might not be all that wonderful.
But I promise, the apocalypse is not nigh.