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It is about behavior, not identity

By Scott Tibbs.

Published in the Bloomington Herald-Times, June 25, 2006.

Homosexual-rights activists have managed to shift the debate over whether government should recognize homosexual marriages to whether or not we should "discriminate" against a class of people rather than against a behavior. Americans dislike discriminating against people, and there is a growing tolerance of homosexual behavior (sodomy) in this society. These two factors both contribute a decline in opposition to homosexual marriage.

This debate is not about identity; it is about behavior. Specifically, the debate is about the behavior of sodomy, which is strongly condemned in God's Word. The law that God gave to the Isrealites prohibited the sin of sodomy, and the New Testament confirms that this moral law is still in effect. While we do not have a recorded instance of Jesus condemning sodomy, He said that He did not come to destroy the law, "but to fulfill". Jesus also said that "one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law." (Matthew 5:17-18)

Some would respond by saying that what consenting adults do in private is no one else's business. At least we are now honestly engaging the heart of the debate, which is behavior rather than immutable characteristics. Given the prevalence of sexually-transmitted disease among the male homosexual population (look it up on Google) and the effect it has on public health, as well as the spiritual danger of ignoring God's commandments (See Romans 1:24-32), I would respond that we have a duty to warn people tempted by same-sex intimacy of the dangers presented by sodomy.

Right now, homosexuals can get married, should they find a church where the elders and pastors are in rebellion against God's Word and are willing to perform a "marriage" ceremony. What they do not have is governmental recognition of their relationship through a state-certified marriage contract. Furthermore, many of the rights homosexual activists claim to be denied by not having governmental recognition of their relationship (such as inheritance rights and hospital visitation rights) can be gained through other methods or contracts.

A question often asked of those who oppose governmental recognition of homosexual marriage is what harm comes to our marriages if homosexual marriage is recognized by the state. Homosexual activists know and expect the answer, which is "my marriage will not be harmed." What is happening here is that homosexual activists are setting up a straw man and knocking it over rather than addressing the argument that respect for the institution of marriage overall as the foundation of society and as a child-producing institution will be further eroded.

Homosexual-rights advocates often point to divorce (specifically among Christians) as either an example of hypocrisy or a "greater problem" or both. It is certainly tragic that divorce ahs become so common and it is true that allowing the marriage covenant to be dissolved so easily has had disastrous effects on society. However, that is a separate issue, and just because divorce is too easy does not mean that we should further weaken the institution of marriage by giving legal recognition to same-sex relationships.

I think Christian organizations like the Family Research Council have erred by rarely (if ever) invoking God and Scripture in this debate. Appealing to the "will of the people" is a fundamentally weak argument, especially as popular opinion is trending in favor of homosexual marriage. What will the argument be when support for same-sex unions reaches the magical 50% plus one?

Before anyone responds by saying we cannot legislate morality, can we please dismiss that argument by recognizing that all laws, from environmental protection to government assistance to the poor, are based on someone's morality?