Rhetoric is a part of this conversation whether we like it or not. I don’t want to get overly intellectual here, but I do need to explain one thing. In today’s world, if someone is against same-sex marriage (or for traditional marriage) that person is being viewed as a bigot and oppressive. This is powerful rhetoric that can apply a lot of pressure on Christians. It will require us to be very careful with the words and tones we use in conversation. It’s almost viewed as hateful to be “against” this or to be “for” only traditional views of marriage. That to say, what we say and how we say it in the world, and more pointedly in relationships, is going to be critical.
Here are 2 things I think we should keep in mind if we want to navigate this conversation well:
Respect people. If we want to be respected for our beliefs, we must also respect people who have different beliefs. This is a fact of life: people have different beliefs. That’s inevitable in so many ways and we ought not freak out when it happens. But my point is that we can respect people even though we believe different things. Again, the goal is not to judge the morality of non-Christians (see 1 Corinthians 5:12), but instead to proclaim the excellencies of God (1 Peter 2:9-10). We are not pointing people toward proper behaviors. We are respectfully pointing them toward Jesus.
Not condemning people doesn’t mean we condone their actions. I have plenty of friends who are currently in same-sex partnerships. I make sure I articulate what I believe in loving and respectful ways that keep our relationship in tact, where there is mutual respect for each other as human beings and where the doors for the gospel to penetrate are still left open.
My prayer is that we, as the Church, can navigate this conversation well and in a humble way that would honor Jesus.