Christianity,  Politics

Gay marriage will cause a winnowing of the evangelical ranks. It already is.

Most readers already know how historic today is in our national life. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments concerning gay marriage. The Justices will render a decision on the matter by the end of June. Given the high court’s precedents in the 2003 Lawrence decision and in the 2013 Windsor decision, most observers agree that the current case is a forgone conclusion. The Supreme Court is poised to declare gay marriage a constitutional right.

Seventy percent of Americans already live in states where gay marriage is legal. But by the end of June, one hundred percent of Americans will live in a state where gay marriage is legal. That means that every community in America—from New York City to Los Angeles, California to DeRidder, Louisiana—will have gay marriage. That is what we are facing, and the final stage of the legal battle starts today.

Today’s oral arguments come amidst a moral revolution in our country on the definition of marriage, and that revolution even cuts into those who claim the mantle of Christianity. Daniel Burke reports for CNN that “there are now more people of faith who favor marriage equality than stand against it, a dramatic turn in one of this country’s most divisive debates and a generational shift.” The shift is indeed overwhelmingly generational. Burke writes,

Seven in 10 Millennials, for example, support same-sex marriage and say that faith groups alienate young adults by being judgemental on sexual ethics. Half of millennial Republicans say gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, and 43% of white evangelical millennials agree.

That last number is the one that should stand out. Who knows how these evangelical millennials are defined. Nevertheless, the story suggests that not even evangelicals can escape the revolution—a revolution that will have the imprimatur of the Supreme Court by the end of this summer.

So this is a watershed moment in our national life, and it is a watershed moment for Christianity in America. As popular opinion and legal precedent move decisively in favor of gay marriage, those who call themselves Christians have a choice. They can either join the revolution or they can follow Jesus. Which is another way of saying that they can walk the narrow path that leads to life or they can join the throngs headed down the broad road that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13-14). Gay marriage will cause a winnowing of our ranks, and we are about to find out who is willing to follow Jesus when it gets hard.


  • Malissa Leanza

    I have friends who identify as Southern Baptist evangelicals who support same-sex marriage. Too many pastors not speaking out on the culture and too many Christians not knowing God’s Word.

    • Chris Ryan

      Yes. I think many of the evangelicals who support SSM do so because they think marriage is a civil right that belongs to all; they still do consider homosexuality to be sinful. So, we really have 2 choices before us. We can either follow Christ’s example by loving and embracing everyone, or we can follow George Bush’s and Karl Rove’s example, shunning and attacking LGBT people. The former will enlarge the Kingdom, the latter will lead to ruin–and if you look at how bigoted Millenials already think we are you could say that its already leading to ruin. We have to stop giving the world an excuse to call us bigots and start embracing Christ’s model of evangelization. Too much reliance on politicians and political campaigns has thoroughly undermined our work.

      • Scott Christensen

        Chris, where do you draw the line when Christ said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18)? In other words,what constitutes justifiable beliefs and behaviors for which we should expect the world to hate us, marginalize, and ostracize us?

        • Chris Ryan

          I think it was Buddy who said it a couple of weeks back, but the reason they hate us is because of our attempts to enlist the government in our program. We call sex outside of marriage sinful, but fornicators don’t hate us. That’s because we haven’t tried to change the laws or prevent them from exercising their rights.

          • buddyglass

            I feel I should walk that back a little bit. Or, at least, add some nuance.

            My view is that there are appropriate situations where Christians should “enlist the government” to combat certain behaviors and there are inappropriate ones. The appropriate ones are generally situations where one person is violating the rights of another. For example, murder. I’m wholeheartedly support enlisting the state to mitigate the incidence of murder by treating murder as a crime and punishing murderers. I’m pretty sure you (and everybody else) are in the same camp.

            The key point is that I don’t support “murder as a crime” because murder is a sin and the govt. should punish sins. I support treating murder as a crime because doing so reduces the incidence of murder, which is the compassionate (dare I say “Christian”) way to treat potential murder victims. Basically love one’s neighbor.

            I don’t see Christians as obligated to oppose the legal recognition of same-sex marriages because there’s no clear victim. I do think they (we) are obligated to stick to biblical truth, which means regardless of what happens “legally” we must continue reject the legitimacy of same-sex marriages in the spiritual, cosmic sense.

            Abortion is another issue where I think it’s appropriate (and indeed imperative) for Christians to (out of compassion) enlist the full force of government in the defense of victims.

            • Johnny Mason

              “because there’s no clear victim.”

              This is simply incorrect. Children, as usual with the left, are the victim. Children will be denied a mother and a father. SSM will encourage fatherless and motherlessness, because it will send the signal that fathers and mothers are not necessary to the raising of children.


              “Men and women bring different gifts to the parenting enterprise. Rutgers sociologist Professor David Popenoe writes, “the burden of social science evidence supports the idea that gender-differentiated parenting is important for human development and the contribution of fathers to childrearing is unique and irreplaceable.” He then concludes:

              We should disavow the notion that mommies can make good daddies, just as we should the popular notion that daddies can make good mommies. The two sexes are different to the core and each is necessary—culturally and biologically—for the optimal development of a human being.”

              • buddyglass

                Same-sex couples can already create and adopt children in lieu of marriage rights.

                “Children will be denied a mother and a father.”

                Children are already being denied a mother and a father when same-sex couples have or adopt children. For the recognition of same-sex marriage to increase the prevalence of children in a home without a mother and father it would need to do one or more of the following:

                1. Lead to an increase in the rate at which same-sex couples procreate, either via donated sperm or a surrogate mother.

                2. Lead to an increase in the rate at which same-sex couples adopt.

                3. Lead to an increase in the number of same-sex couples overall, with procreation and adoption rates holding constant.

                4. Do further damage to heterosexual marriage and result in more children being raised by a single mother or single father.

                I see no evidence for #1 or #2. Even if #2 were to happen, typically these are children being adopted out of a bad situation. A same-sex couple may not be the ideal environment, but its arguably better than most of the situations these children are coming out of, e.g. abuse / neglect, extreme poverty, orphanage / temporary foster care.

                No evidence for #3, and it seems highly unlikely.

                #4 is hard to prove one way or the other, but it seems unlikely to me. If you’re worried about the govt. sending the signal that fathers and mothers aren’t necessary then that ship has already sailed. I question whether the legal recognition of same-sex marriages will make any tangible difference relative to the status quo.

                In any case, there should be data for this. We should be able to look at other Western countries that have recognized same-sex marriage and check whether the trend in # of children raised without mother and father has accelerated or not. If the trend didn’t accelerate after the country recognized same-sex marriage then this argument doesn’t have legs.

      • Lynn B.

        Chris: “Christ’s model of evangelization” begins with calling sin sin and helping the unbeliever see their sin and their need of the Savior. Jesus said to the Rich Young Ruler, “Go and sell all that you have” (that which you love most or all that you worship), and to the Woman at the Well He said, “Go and get your husband” (again get that which you worship). He was gracious and certainly He did not rant like Westboro Baptist people but He was direct and to the point.

      • JL Parks

        Chris- I believe you are assigning values and action to the Lord Jesus that are not Scriptural, and not correct. He NEVER would “embrace” homosexuality. He plainly said, in Matt. 19, that the ONLY sexual relations between human beings, was that of God’s original design…one man, married to his female wife. He did not “embrace” the adulterous woman- He commanded her to go, and sin no more. He told the woman at the well that she was living in sin. The world can call Christians all the names they wish- if we don’t stand true to the utter holiness of God, and the sinlessness of His Son, then we’ve defected to the other side. Embracing utter sin will NEVER “advance the kingdom”.

        • Chris Ryan

          I never said Christ embraced sin, I was merely pointing out that he embraced sinners, like the woman at the well. He didn’t shirk from calling sin sin, but he also didn’t rely on Caesar to promote God’s plan. Our problem is that we’ve grown too reliant on politicians to enforce God’s law. I’d liken it to this. Most states used to outlaw unmarried couples ‘shacking up’. When Courts ruled those laws unconstitutional the Church didn’t spaz out. As a result, those ‘shackers’ never came to hate us. In fact the Church rallied and we still call sex outside of marriage sin…and many former shackers are in church today…One other way of looking at it. Just like you would hate living under Sharia Law, other people would hate living under a Christian version of Sharia Law. The only thing theocratic states do is turn people away from religion. We have to focus our message on winning souls instead of winning elections and court rulings.

  • Bob Wilson


    I’m curious at what point your faith collides with your patriotism. Meaning, at what point you can no longer feel allegiance to the United States. Would fully legal SSM cross that line?

    I’m really not trying to be provocative here, it’s a real ethical issue. I know this came up at a First Things conference, back in the 90s, I think, when John Nehuaus was in charge. Is SSM worse than abortion is this sense?

    • Brian Sanders

      Bob: Both abortion and homosexual relationships are unnatural affections and according to Romans 1 they are a judgment of God who gives people or a nation up to their lusts when they consistently refuse to worship Him.

  • Sandra Stewart

    As an evangelical Christian who happens to know evangelical Christians that happen to be Homosexual and Lesbian and Transgender I am mindful that what we consider “traditional” marriage is not particularly biblical, lots of variations on a theme there.
    If the bible is clear about nothing else it is not our job to judge, and from fist hand experience Judge-Mental christians (purposeful small c) are the reason that way too many folks HATE christians.

    • Johnny Mason

      “If the bible is clear about nothing else it is not our job to judge”

      Apparently, Sandra has no problem being judgmental of those “small-c” Christians.

      • Christiane Smith

        Some sinners HAVE taken it upon themselves to judge other sinners, specifically targeting certain sins, while ignoring or down-playing other sins . . .

        I’m not sure what the purpose of this activity is, other than it provides a place for pride in the life of the one doing the judging . . . but I do know this:

        1. ‘the pointing of the finger’ is not approved by God (and that IS ‘biblical’)
        2. it is true that any kind of hypocritical judging of ‘those other sinners’ DOES bewilder, if not disgust, many people who are watching those who do it openly

        Christians are called to present Christ to the world. The only finger-pointing permitted in this mission is to point towards Him. I once read in a post something about how a person who was a sinner HAD to change in order to remain acceptable to a Christian community . . . and I thought how strange that point of view was, in its insistence on ‘proof’ according to the specific time-table and parameters of that faith community . . . I decided that maybe the community would have more ‘success’ as a servant of Christ if they employed those traits we know as ‘the fruit of the Spirit’: patience, kindness, long-suffering, love . . . you know them, the traits that are not ‘naturally’ present in our human weakness, the traits we receive from the Holy Spirit.

        WHY? because a person who is weakened by sin needs that kind of help from those who bring him in and surround him with care . . . so that the sinner may in time be blessed through the nature of the care being given to him, and his healing may begin . . . because those care-givers who exhibit the fruit of the Spirit are pointing him to Christ.

        We judge at our OWN peril sometimes. Maybe judgment is easier to do than what is really needed? Of course it is, but it re-enforces our prideful egos in the process, and therein lies the seeds of our own peril.

        • Jonathan Bee

          The irony of the don’t judge camp is that they were judging others by reprimanding others fur ” judging”


          • Christiane Smith

            Hi JONATHAN,
            the only thing that stops that loop is ‘humility’ before the Lord . . . if in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican praying at the temple, the Publican judged the Pharisee for pointing at him;
            then both men would have left the temple without the blessing of God . . . but that is not what happened at all.
            The Holy Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 18, tells us this:

            “13 But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying,
            “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
            14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’ “

    • Lynn B.

      Sandra: That idea about Christians are not supposed to judge is actually one of the most often misunderstood and misquoted passages in scripture. We are actually commanded to judge but to judge righteously. Furthermore, when one applies the clear teaching of scripture they are not judging at all; God Himself is doing the judging. The reason folks HATE Christians is that they are enemies of God who hate righteousness.

      • James Bradshaw

        So Lynn, you’re acting on God’s behalf, are you? When we oppose your efforts, we’re opposing God Himself?

        Quite a fantastic claim. Of course, it pretty closes any opportunity for discussion of anything, doesn’t it?

        • Gus Nelson

          James: About 15 years ago, a friend of mine told me she thought we should have a live and let live attitude about homosexuality. What I told her was that I would be fine with that, if it were up to me, but felt constrained by Biblical teaching to conclude homosexual behavior was sin. Was I trying to act on God’s behalf? You know full well that wasn’t what Lynn was saying. Like Lynn I made a judgment based on Scripture, not based on my own thinking, which was and, frankly, remains, that if up to me, I’d just let it go. Unfortunately, when constrained by a Bible that never condones homosexuality and in several instances condemns it, I’m left with nowhere else to go.

    • JL Parks

      Sandra- as Christians, we MUST judge! In John, Jesus commanded His disciples to “judge righteous judgment.” We MUST judge what God has already judged, And he HAS clearly gone on record. in His judgment of homosexuality. The famous verse “judge not lest ye be also judged” is the most taken-out-of-context verse in the Bible.
      Just a few verses later, He told His men to not “cast their pearls before swine.” Well, we have to judge what are pearls, and who is “swine”, to obey that command! cannot be a Christian and a practicing homosexual. 1 Cor. 6:9-10 clearly states that such folk will not be in the kingdom of God.

      • Lauren Bertrand

        Why do Evangelicals hate Matthew 7:1 so much? Why is their judgment so righteous–because they say it is? What makes their judgment righteous at the expense of everyone else’s? Could this be the linchpin for determining why so many non-Evangelicals perceive them to the earth’s most perfect Pharisees?

        • Lynn B.

          Lauren: We cannot take Matthew 7:1 out of context. Verse 5 says, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

          So you see, the passage does not say do not judge but in fact it commands that we judge but says we must first judge ourselves.

          But to apply the clear teaching of scripture is not judging; God has already pronounced the judgment.

        • Lynn B.

          Lauren: By the way, the Pharisees were not guilty of keeping God’s law but of adding to His law. That is clearly not the issue at hand.

  • Andy Chance

    It’s alarming and disturbing to think of how many of these “evangelical millennials” are at least the partial by-product of age-segregated evangelical churches. A “generational shift” does not happen by accident.

    • Jonathan Bee

      Considering that must evangelicals life in a feminist ” same sex marriage” anyway , acceptance of gay marriage is not a big step…

      When kids see there is no difference in mom and dad, they can just swap roles etc, logically opposing same sex marriage seems stupid

      • Don Jackson

        Jonathan: I may “try” to use your sin to justify my own but when I stand before the judgment seat of God I will stand alone and on my own.

        • Jonathan Bee

          well God then has a problem because he seems to change his beliefs depending on the culture…
          Polygamy was fine up to a point
          heck David was known as a man after God and had more than one wife

          and a sexually active gay individual cannot be a man after God?

          Women can break the commands in Titus 2, the natural description as created as a helpmeet not the other way around
          etc and be called Godly women
          yet a woman who is an active lesbian is not a christian?

          both are breaking “rules ” of the bible
          yet you decide one is and one is not a christian?

          frankly if Christianity and feminism is compatible as most christians believe, then so is same sex marriage, adultery,fornication, murder etc all compatible with a Christian life…

          • Don Jackson

            Jonathan: In some things the Bible merely records what happened and those events are not didactic. Polygamy happened but it was never God’s plan and was always sin. The story of Abraham and Jacob record some of the perils and tragic consequences of having multiple wives.

            The application of Titus 2 and the role of women in the home is more abstract than you want to admit. Margaret Thatcher was the Head of State (and nothing in scripture disallows that) while her husband was the head of their home. Feminism itself is an abstract term and your statements are very broad and reflect an unbalance and unfair mindset.

            How has this played out in your life personally that you are so radical in your statements and positions in the matter of women?

  • Roy Fuller

    Offensive. Namely the suggestion that the choice is to be or remain a Christian or embrace the tides of public opinion and support same sex marriage. So, are we to conclude that supporting same sex marriage is incompatible with one’s identity as a Christian? I realize that many hold such a view, but it is offensive to fellow Christians who disagree. And as much as Denny and others try to make the issue of same sex marriage the “watershed” issue for American and American Christians, it is not. It is one more in a long line of social issues which finds fundamentalist Christians pushing back against the arc of history as it bends towards justice. What they are experiencing, which is perhaps a watershed moment for them, is loss of privileged status in a culture which once accepted and promoted their social and cultural norms as the norms for all.

    • Christiane Smith

      Hi ROY,
      in a world that has fostered the division between all-out ‘culture warrior’ and ‘total acceptance of gay marriage’, there may be a better option for a Christian person:

      from the early Church’s St. Ambrose comes this thoughtful observation:

      “For he who endeavours to amend the faults of human weakness ought to bear this very weakness on his own shoulders, let it weigh upon himself, not cast it off. For we read that the Shepherd in the Gospel (Luke 15:5) carried the weary sheep, and did not cast it off. And Solomon says: “Be not overmuch righteous;” (Ecclesiastes 7:17) for restraint should temper righteousness. For how shall he offer himself to you for healing whom you despise, who thinks that he will be an object of contempt, not of compassion, to his physician?

      Therefore had the Lord Jesus compassion upon us in order to call us to Himself, not frighten us away. He came in meekness, He came in humility, and so He said:
      “Come unto Me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.” (Matthew 11:28)

      So, then, the Lord Jesus refreshes, and does not shut out nor cast off, and fitly chose such disciples as should be interpreters of the Lord’s will, as should gather together and not drive away the people of God. Whence it is clear that they are not to be counted among the disciples of Christ, who think that harsh and proud opinions should be followed rather than such as are gentle and meek; persons who, while they themselves seek God’s mercy, deny it to others” (St. Ambrose 340-397 A.D.)

  • will cunningham

    I’m fascinated by the similarities imbedded in the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage. But no similarity is more chilling than this one…

    Neither leads to life.

    Can the “watershed” be any more clear?

    • Robert Karl


      The Church has addressed this in no uncertain terms since the time of Jesus–The Catholic and Orthodox Church has never faltered in the biblical teaching that marriage is between a man and woman and homosexuality is a grave sin.

      • James Bradshaw

        And the Protestant Church has never faltered in declaring both “churches” to be heterodox and blasphemous facsimiles of the “true faith” whose members are saved despite their beliefs, not because of them. So there’s that …

  • buddyglass

    I predict my life, including both my heterosexual marriage and the practice of my Christian faith as a member of a church that doesn’t affirm same-sex relationships, will continue on more-or-less unchanged after this “watershed” moment.

  • Ryan Davidson

    To be honest, I doubt that the Supreme Court’s decision will make much difference. The numbers are even more telling if you break them down demographically. Among college-educated people of working age (18-65) outside of the South, support for same-sex marriage runs at about 85%. Tack on a graduate degree, and the number exceeds 90%. I attend a large non-denominational evangelical church that has not taken any official position on the ethics of committed same-sex relationships. But based on the discussions that have arisen in small-group settings and elsewhere, I’d guess that fewer than 10-20% have any issue with extending membership to same-sex couples in committed relationships.

    I don’t agree with much of what Rob Bell says, but I think he was right on this issue: Outside of the South, churches that exclude same-sex couples in committed relationships are going to quickly find themselves on the margins of society. I know of three PCA churches in my immediate area that are currently undertaking a move to the RCA for this very reason.

    • Christiane Smith

      I noticed RYAN, that you mentioned ‘outside of the South’ as one factor affecting support for same-sex marriage. I am wondering WHY Christian people in the North and in the South seem to differ based partly on ‘location’ . . . is the South more culturally homogenous than the North with its blended immigrant populations? Is the Christianity celebrated in the South more based in fundamentalism and literal interpretations of the Bible than the Christian communities of faith in the North?

      Isn’t there some ‘in-Church’ ministry offered to members of the LBGT community within the South, as it is in many northern Churches . . . or are the Southern Christian communities more restrictive of those they serve ‘in-house’ ? Has home-schooling in the South led to a more isolated ‘world-view’ (I hate that term!) ??

      How does the typical Church in the South view the involvement of the fruit of the Holy Spirit within the framework of the ministry that it offers to LBGT folks?

      too many questions . . . yes . . . but there must be answers and I want to know more than I know now

  • Chris Ryan

    Christ never once enlisted Caesar in His mission, did he? He didn’t use the law or political campaigns to push the Gospel. That’s what I mean. We need to get back to tending the vineyard and leave the political games to the politicians.

    • Bob Shaffer

      Chris: In once sense you have said it all, “Christ never once enlisted Caesar in His mission, did he? He didn’t use the law or political campaigns to push the Gospel. That’s what I mean. We need to get back to tending the vineyard and leave the political games to the politicians.”

      Yet it remains that when we have a representative form of government we are stewards of that trust and will answer to God for our stewardship.

      Some struggle with how to balance the two, many today are looking to politics to be our savior, but certainly America’s ultimate salvation as a nation is evangelism and crying out to God in prayer for mercy.

      • Chris Ryan

        Actually God neither wants nor expects us to create a theocracy: Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Remember the theocracy, Israel, failed spectacularly. In Christ Jesus we have the ultimate fulfillment of the law. We no longer have need of any laws, only Christ. Hence, He said, “Render unto Caesar…” I don’t think the legalization of gay marriage will threaten the Kingdom anymore than I think the legalization of co-habitation or the end of Prohibition threatened the Kingdom.

        • Bob Shaffer

          Chris: Nobody here has suggested that America should be a theocracy.

          Furthermore, while we remain on this side of eternity even the redeemed have remaining sin and society does have need of laws.

  • Ken Temple

    Most homosexuals don’t even care about marriage – they have multiple partners and do what they want.

    the ones that are fighting for marriage seem to be the ones who want society to approve of their feelings and actions.

    Another battle that will be within some churches are those who want to maintain that there are those who can be Christians and be active homosexuals and have so called “same sex” marriage. (Matthew Vines, Rachel Held Evans, David Gushee)

    James White has an excellent series of responses to David Gushee’s lecture about “the Church’s cruelty towards sexual minorities” –

    Part 1 –

    Parts 2 and 3 are also there at

    Amazing how the left keeps saying that conservatives want the state to “come into the bedroom”, etc. when it is the LEFT and the gay agenda and the liberal courts that are trying to force the rest of us to approve of and celebrate their sin – and media and increased showing of homosexuals kissing and in advertisements.

    It is the LEFT that took the bakers, florists, photographers to court and the leftist judges who destroyed their life and destroyed their businesses and fined them thousands of dollars.

    amazing hypocrisy.

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