Christianity,  Politics

Republicans Retreat from Same-sex Marriage Issue


It’s been one of the swiftest shifts in ideology and strategy for Republicans, as they’ve come nearly full circle on same-sex politics. What was once a front-and-center issue for rank-and-file Republicans — the subject of many hotly worded House and Senate floor speeches — is virtually a dead issue, as Republicans in Congress don’t care to have gay marriage litigated in the Capitol.

Even more than that, Republican leadership has evolved, too. It has quietly worked behind the scenes to kill amendments that reaffirm opposition to same-sex unions, several sources told POLITICO.

It’s not like the GOP has become a bastion of progressiveness on gay rights, but there has been an evolution in the political approach — and an acknowledgment of a cultural shift in the country. Same-sex relationships are more prominent and accepted. There are more gay public figures — including politicians — and it’s likely that many Washington Republicans have gay friends and coworkers. Just as important — there’s also a libertarian streak of acceptance on people’s sexuality coursing through the House Republican Conference.

For those paying attention, none of this is surprising. While social conservatives have been gaining ground in the pro-life cause, they have been losing ground in the sanctity of marriage cause. Public opinion is changing rapidly, and the politicos know it. They are not going to hitch their wagons to a losing issue, and many of them are ditching the cause. What we are finding out is who really believed in marriage in the first place versus those who were simply using it as a wedge issue.

I think this is instructive for Christians on a number of levels. First, we must recognize that the interests of the Kingdom are not coterminous with the interests of any single political party. There are unchristian errors on both the right and left, among both Democrats and Republicans. This will become more apparent as more and more Republicans fold like a cheap nickel knife on the marriage issue.

Second, it’s a reminder to us how countercultural Christianity really is. The kingdoms of men will rise and fall. So also will their political machinations. But the truth of the gospel and of God’s word is the same yesterday, today, and forever. As Christians, we’ve hitched our wagon to this truth. Faithfulness to Christ means standing firm even when our views become the minority position. On this issue, we’re almost there.


  • Don Johnson

    The reason they are winning is that it is being framed as a civil rights question. What I think should have happened was the gov’t get OUT of the business of supposedly defining marriage, rather they should simply define civil contracts that can be entered into. Then people can be married in any church of their choice.

    The government should never have gotten into the definition of marriage in the first place, that was the fundamental mistake. But since they did the government definition is now subject to a political process of redefinition.

  • Daryl Little

    This in a clear reminder that ideas have consequences and no one gets it all right.

    As I understand it, the magesterial reformers failure to maintain a separation of church and state (an honest separation, not the kind believed in by so many in the west) led them to make marriage a legal issue.

    And now we pay the price.

    Had marriage never been made an issue outside of the church, then perhaps things would look differently now. The church would be able to discipline those within her jurisdiction who would pursue same-sex anythings, and there would be yet one more clear distinction between believers and non-believers.

    On the other hand, has the institution of marriage been a good thing for civilization? Of course it has. But non-believers have always held to some kind of marriage.

    Perhaps it would’ve been wiser to allow the freedom of non-believers to marry as they see fit (or don’t) while maintaining Christian marriage within the church alone.

    I suppose another way to frame it might be, what would things look like if church-men only ever performed weddings for those within the church?

    In any case, I do think that’s the way things are headed. Eventually marriage will become a Christian distinctive. Barna aside, faithul marriages already largely are.

  • Andrew Walker

    Well said, Denny.

    I think the RNC does this to their peril, for they’re isolating a large swath of socially conservative voters who will closely drop their allegiances and their contributions with the RNC. I’m a Republican, but instances like these cause instant recoil and party apathy.

    I do think, though, that this is an excellent example of why there is no ‘Christian’ party; and, further, that the Republican establishment is not coterminous with movement conservatism. Conservatism will stand forth on the same-sex marriage issue—the Republicans, evidently, will not.

    But what opportunity this provides for the Body of Christ to be a counter-polis and offer witness as to marriage’s true design.

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