Namely, the misguided notion that one person has any sort of justified authority over another.
(In case you missed it, North Carolina passed legislation banning gay marriage and civil unions.)
Really the issue here is not about marriage for a Christian. The marriage question is easy, for marriage has a single definition: a union between a man and woman. That’s what it has always meant, and the government can’t arbitrarily redefine words. So I think it’s silly to “redefine” marriage to mean something else, just as it would be silly to change the definition of “round” to accomodate squares… and likewise, a Christian can’t hold a position on gay marriage any more or less than he can hold a position on round squares. Accordingly, the Bible says nothing about “gay marriage” because it’s just something that didn’t need to be addressed during that time. What’s explicitly forbidden, and thus is the issue that’s really on the table, is the legitimizing of homosexual intercourse, not marriage.
As a Christian, I don’t think that homosexual intercourse is “ok” or “good” or “natural”. But there’s always something left out of these sexuality discussions, namely the fact that there are different definitions of “gay”. On the one hand, there are homosexual lusts and impulses, and on the other there are physical (and mental) homosexual acts. You may think I’m splitting hairs, but it’s an important distinction because one is a sin, and the other is not. You can’t control your impulses and instincts, they are part of your nature (and they may even be genetic, we live in a fallen universe after all); but you can control your actions. I often have the impulse to steal, but that impulse is not a sin, it is the act for which I should be held accountable. In this way homosexual lust is no different than heterosexual lust, except that for a Christian there is no acceptable time to give into homosexual lusts, whereas marriage provides a situation for heterosexual desires to be expressed.
I applaud the recent actions of the church I grew up in, who are ending the long standing relationship with their denomination because of its increasingly liberal stance on the ordination of open homosexuals. To me, a church embracing openly gay members or one which has ordained openly gay but abstaining leaders is just fine, and is preferred to one which closes its doors to such people. Jesus associated himself with those who were stuck in their sins, and so should we. However, I don’t think that someone in a church leadership position should be allowed to be a practicing homosexual — i.e. one who has homosexual intercourse and is openly ok with it — in the same way it is not ok for a church leader to be a practicing adulterer or murderer.
That being said however, I don’t believe it’s my place to judge anyone else for their actions, nor anyone’s place aside from the Judge himself*. In the end, what happens in someone else’s bedroom is not my business. That’s why legislation like that which was passed in North Carolina is a terrible mistake… not to mention it’s completely useless because it will do nothing to stop sin. So while a church disallowing the ordination of practicing homosexuals is well within their rights because there is no physical force being initiated to make it happen, making a law restricting the rigts of homosexuals is tyrannical and authoritarian because those disobeying ultimately get fined and/or jailed.
The consentual bedroom decisions of a homosexual couple are between them and God. If said couple are Christians, and if it is in fact wrong for them to have intercourse, then they would be convicted so by the Holy Spirit. Maybe they would repent, maybe not… but it is Christ who saves us, not our superficial and usually temporary repentance. If they are not Christians, then they have no reason to obey rules regarding sexual behavior.
Marriage is an institution of the Church, not of the state. The state needs to mind its own business, namely upholding the contract binding between it and the American people: the Constitution. Some of the more authoritarian conservative folks claim they want the government to stay out of their wallets, but they turn around and enact legislation that interferes with a non-Christian’s sexual choices. Freedom is freedom — you can’t have a double standard. So the government has to stay out of the bedroom too. Claiming to uphold economic freedom without also upholding societal freedom, and vice versa, is self-defeating.
* I sense a potential contradiction here though… what about murderers and thieves? Shouldn’t they be judged? Christ’s atonement is sufficient to wipe away all guilt, but shouldn’t we attempt to abolish certain things here on earth? My gut tells me yes, but I don’t know if I can say why without negating my argument against sexual legislation, because all ethical principles ultimately come from God. So which commandments should everyone be subject to, and which only apply to Christians? The only reasonable place I can draw a line is the use of force. I.e., commandments against acts which harm other people or their property apply to all people, and should be the law of the land (and I would assume all religious and nonreligious folks could embrace them)… whereas the “victimless” commandments apply specifically to Christians. So only when someone wrongly uses force against another person, am I in the right to judge or act to correct the wrongdoing. But that could just be the libertarian in me talking. If only Jesus was here, I’d have so many questions…