Gay Marriage and Christian Values
Last night, Douglas Wilson debated Andrew Sullivan on gay marriage. Peter Leithart summarized the debate and the difficulties Christians will face in that debate. He noted:
It will take nothing short of a cultural revolution for biblical arguments to be heard, much less to become persuasive.
Wilson’s [argument] was [came across as] a fundamentalist, theocratic argument.
The claim that legalizing gay marriage will make the legalization of polygamy easier, as Wilson repeatedly argued, is coherent, but doesn’t have much purchase. Nobody seems to be much worried about a polygamous future for America, and making polygamy the centerpiece of opposition to gay marriage looks too much like fear-mongering.
In the end, these dilemmas may not matter. Perhaps Christians are called to do no more than speak the truth without worrying about persuasiveness.
Whatever the political needs of the moment, the longer-term response to gay marriage requires a renaissance of Christian imagination. Because the only arguments we have are theological ones, and only people whose imaginations are formed by Scripture will find them cogent.
Leithart is right. We live in a world, always have, that doesn’t want to hear what God has to say about anything, especially the love between two people who want nothing more than equality with the rest of us.
It is at this point that one might wonder if the best way for Christians to handle the debate is to let it go. When Constantine reformed Rome’s laws, it happened in an empire that had a Christian leader. Whatever one might believe about the founding of America, to call it a Christian nation today would be laughable, even to Constantine. Constantine, however, saw the value in Christian law because he saw a Christian culture living by it and knew that was what Rome needed.
Maybe the best response for Christians would be to simply live out Christian laws and values, offer a competing polis and culture, that the rest of the nation will someday see the value in. Rather than imposing our values on a nation that doesn’t want them, maybe it would be best to live out our values and show the nation they are worth wanting. Maybe, just maybe, the world will see the righteousness of the Law and start wondering who it is that gave us these laws. Then, the nation will have an imagination formed (or, at least desirous to be formed) by Scripture and will begin to understand our arguments.