Before you begin reading, let me clarify: this post is not a defense of my beliefs or convictions about homosexual behavior or marriage. I have no intentions of starting a social media war about this topic. If you respond based simply on my beliefs about this topic, I won’t answer. However, I will not hide my beliefs. If you ask me personally, outside of the arena of social media, I would love to discuss. In addition, my view will be, most likely, made clear throughout this post. I am not trying to hide it; however, I am not using this arena to defend it. Feel free to read into this post what you will about my views. You’ll probably be right. But again, that’s not the point. With that said, feel free to continue reading, but only if you promise not to pick a fight with me about the morality of this topic. 🙂
In my short lifetime, I have never experienced a shift in public opinion quite as seismic as the one we have recently seen regarding gay marriage. In fact, in the year 1999, according to Gallup, 62% of Americans explicitly stated that gay marriage should “not be recognized by the law as valid,” while only 35% stated that it should. By 2008, the same year that President Obama was elected, the approval rate had only shifted 5%, up to 40%, while the disapproval rate stood at 56%. In 2014, however, 55% of Americans claim that gay marriages should be recognized as valid; only 42% still held that these marriages were not valid. The majority and the minority have switched places.
Think about this for a second: in 2013, there were 162,828,035 Americans at or above the age of 35. Presumably all of these Americans were old enough in 1999 to have a legitimate opinion about the validity of gay marriage. If the statistics of approval hold true for this age group, then, over the past 16 years, then approximately 33 million adults in the United States have changed their minds on this issue. Almost 25 million have changed their minds in the past 7 years alone! This is a staggering rate of change. My desire is to discover what has caused this change? What has caused the pendulum to swing so severely and so quickly in the United States over such a short period of time?
As Kevin DeYoung wisely noted in an article for The Gospel Coalition last year, President Obama himself opposed gay marriage during his first presidential campaign, stating the following: “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.” But today, as DeYoung calls to our attention, few opinions are more despised by the majority than a traditional view of marriage. This begs DeYoung to ask his audience some poignant questions. The following stood out the most to me.
” How can it be mindless bigotry to hold to the same position that our President affirmed until a little over two (now three) years ago?”
Likewise, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has continually changed her opinion over the past few years. As Dr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary pointed out on this morning’s episode of The Briefing, the former US Secretary of State has shifted her opinion from disapproval, to approval in the “leave-it-to-the-states camp,” to approval of gay marriage as a constitutional right. Has Clinton truly changed her mind this many times? Likewise, have American citizens truly changed their minds this many times?
The velocity of the shift in both public opinion and governmental opinion of the morality of homosexual behavior and validity of homosexual marriage is revealing. What, specifically, does it reveal? American people – no – people in general inherently lack courage. We lack the courage to persevere through suffering or persecution – be it physical, spiritual, emotional, or ideological. The public acceptance of gay behavior and marriage has shifted massively over the past 5, 10, 15 years – a very short span of time. What has caused this massive shift? Has every individual who has changed his or her opinion done the research and study necessary to change so deeply in opinion? Have all of these individuals – nearly 25 million in the past 7 years, remember – educated themselves to a point of legitimately changing their minds on the issue? Has every Christian who has changed his or her mind done so because they have become convinced that the Bible teaches something different than what they previously believed it taught? I won’t leave this answer to my audience; I will answer myself. No. They simply have not. Rather than doing the hard work on our own, we have let the voices of public opinion change our minds. The quantity of voices, the weight of voices, the volume of voices: these are what have changed our minds. We have changed our minds not because of further education nor because of moral or religious conviction; we have changed our minds because we are scared. Frankly, we’re terrified. We are scared of looking mean, looking ignorant, or looking backwards. We are terrified that anyone might think badly about us.
I’m not saying there isn’t anyone who has been legitimately convinced of a different opinion. I’m not even saying there aren’t Christians who have been legitimately convinced. I’m simply saying that those people are in the vast minority.
The incredible growth of social media in the past decade has made the world, in a sense, smaller and smaller. It has given every individual who engages a greater audience. This audience can serve as our most life-giving support, or it can serve as our most crippling criticism. In an age where cyber-bulling is a common and understood term, it won’t be difficult for us to empathize with those who have changed their minds due to the pressure of public opinion. We have witnessed what happens to public figures such as Tony Dungy and Chris Broussard when they make known their conservative stance on homosexuality; naturally, we feel a bit of fear in doing the same. Honestly, I wavered a bit before publishing this blog for fear of backlash! So what have we done? We’ve simply traded in our inconvenient view for one that is more convenient. We have given into our “itching ears” and listened to teachers who will tell us what we want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3).
The conclusion of this post will be addressed to those of you who are Christians. Anyone is welcome to continue reading, but this is specifically an exhortation to my brothers and sisters.
If you’ve watched the news in recent months, you’re aware of the wholesale, unapologetic, physical, life-threatening persecution by Christians of radical Muslims in the Middle East. While I have been deeply saddened as this persecution continues, I have been deeply encouraged by the unfaltering faith of my Middle Eastern brothers and sisters who have remained loyal to Jesus their Savior until the end. Given the choice of renouncing Christ and death, so many of our brothers and sisters have gone to the grave unwilling to denounce their Savior Jesus who loves them and died for them and with whom they now dwell, praise God. If these brothers and sisters are willing to face physical persecution and go to the grave without renouncing an ounce of their faith, can we in the States be courageous enough to endure ideological persecution for the sake of God’s glory and the wellbeing of his Church? Can we unapologetically defend biblical marriage and simultaneously love gay individuals for the glory of God’s great name? Can we press into the promise of Jesus that “those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” are blessed and will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven? (Matthew 5:10) For the love of God, wouldn’t we rather inherit the Kingdom of Heaven than inherit Twitter approval? Wouldn’t we rather hold fast to biblical truth than avoid a little bit of mockery at the hands of unbelievers?
As we seek to tread these waters faithfully, my exhortation can be summarized in this word: abide. Abide in the Spirit and in truth and in Scripture. Trust in the promises of Jesus, both in his promise to give us the Kingdom of Heaven, and in his promise to deny those in front of the Father who have denied him in front of man! Don’t deny Jesus, brothers and sisters. Don’t deny your convictions simply because the momentum of the swinging pendulum is moving at a haunting rate. Hold fast. Take heart. Have courage.