Roman Revival Part 1: Homosexual Marriage and the Assault on Religious Freedom

The subject of Gay marriage is back in the news again. I’ve noted in the past that the question of gay marriage is ultimately an attack on the first amendment – this is why bakers, florists and now even ordained ministers are being fined and in a few cases threatened with possible imprisonment if they will not tolerate in their public life what we must reject in our private lives. The reason why this is an assault on our first amendment freedom is that it compels one to act against one’s moral beliefs and therefore it is a clear establishment of religion (after all, discussions of morality are by definition within the sphere of religious belief).

To be clear, however, the question of the first amendment is not an unforeseen result of gay marriage, it is the very point of gay marriage. In discussing the decision by the Supreme Court to strike down part of DOMA (on grounds that marriage is within the purview of the states, which various Federal appeals courts then violated by overturning state laws), Justice Scalia in his dissenting opinion purposefully compared the DOMA decision to the Roman persecution of Christianity – that is, the reason why gay marriage must be legalized is because Christians do not accept homosexuality, and therefore must be forced to accept it.

This is not a battle I believe we can win, at least not politically. Romans 1:26-27 is clear: the sin of homosexuality as well as its acceptance is the result of a culture that had abandoned the truth of God for a while, and worshiped the creature (in modern society man and society itself) rather than the Creator. If homosexuality is becoming an issue it is because God’s response to our explicit abandonment of our Christian heritage since the 60’s is to abandon us to our own sinful devices.

So if homosexuality is a mark of coming judgment and a step towards a depraved mind, why do we oppose it? After all, if this is God moving towards judgment, isn’t His judgment righteous? More to the point, perhaps, isn’t it easy to go with the flow, and not make waves, which could be bad for our careers or our potential place in society?

We oppose homosexuality for the same reason that earlier generations refused to offer incense to Cesar – because to do so was an explicit abandonment of Christ. We may not win in society, but ultimately we are all called to bear a testimony for what we know to be right. As apologists, we are to leave this world without excuse; to be faithful even if not successful, by this world’s judgment.

Justin Martyr noted that the ultimate cause of the Roman persecution was not that Christians were morally inferior to the Romans, but rather because they were reminders of the moral requirements of God that society wanted to forget. Similarly, Christians oppose Homosexuality not because we hate those who are not like us, or due to imagined psychological maladies (like homophobia), it is because to love Christ means we must accept His truth over our societies ideals, and to love our neighbor means we cannot abandon them to judgment without warning them of their sin.

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