The recent Supreme Court decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges has sent many Christian leaders and groups into an uproar. The ruling mandates that all 50 states of these United States of America are now lawfully required to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. Some leaders, including Rev. Bill Owens, president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, are calling for Christians to participate in a “civil disobedience” against the ruling. Rev. Owens speaks proudly of his past participation in the civil rights movement, including protesting through sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in the 1960s. Owens believes the zeal that Blacks displayed to obtain the right to vote, eat at any restaurant, drink from any water fountain, be educated at any school, and to dismantle Jim Crow laws and all laws that kept Blacks institutionally, religiously, and racially oppressed and denigrated by Whites during that time, is the same zeal Black Christians should have when protesting against the legalization of gay marriage.
As a Black Christian heterosexual woman, there are many things I want to say to Rev. Owens. I want to protest the common unfair practices against women right in our own churches, but that’s another column for another day. However, what I will say to Rev. Owens is that the gift that has been afforded to all Christians is that we recognize and believe in the life and works of Jesus Christ. During His life, Christ walked and talked with beggars, thieves, and murderers. He healed the lame and the sick and performed miracles for those whom people turned their backs on. Our goal, as Christian men and women, is to aim to live our lives as Christ did. Christianity does not make a person exempt from homosexuality. Furthermore, it is beyond oxymoronic for one oppressed group of people to perpetuate the oppression of another group of people. It is certainly not Christlike. Just as Blacks have been discriminated against and oppressed for decades, the LGBTQ community has faced a great deal of cruelty. The legalization of gay marriage gives gays and lesbians a right that was once denied to them, just as Blacks were denied our fundamental human rights (and often still are) for quite some time. And need I mention that there are many Black Christians who are homosexual in congregations throughout the world?
The misuse of scripture has sought to legitimize slavery, justify hangings and killings by hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, and it is frequently a tactic in the gay marriage debate. The Bible is a sacred book of stories, lessons, advice, and instructions that everyone can benefit from reading. We Christians use it to guide our religion and our lives. Unfortunately, people often misuse the Bible and its teachings to promote and justify their agendas. One story frequently referenced in the gay marriage debate is the story of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis chapters 18 and 19. Homosexuality is often deemed the sin that caused God to “rain down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus He overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.” The men of the city were out of control and demanded sex with two angels disguised as men who were visiting Lot’s house. The Sodomites and Gomorrahites had the aura of entitlement that we later learn in Ezekiel 16:49-50, was, in fact, the real reason for God’s wrath against Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities.
Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me…
But in case you missed the memo, homosexual men and women today aren’t seeking to gang rape random men and women. They just want to be legally married to the one they love.
Another common scripture that is used against the sanction of gays and gay marriage is taken from the Unlawful Sexual Relations portion of the 18th chapter of Leviticus. But the focus is usually put only on verse 22, which states “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” In the King James Version, it is considered an “abomination.” But then again, this law is found among 22 others, including “Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period,” “Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father,” and “No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations.” These laws were put into place because everybody was sleeping with everybody.
What I’m trying to say is that as Christians, we believe Jesus came and died so that our sins might be forgiven. Homosexuality is no greater a sin than premarital sex. However, it is not our job to take on, identify, and judge the sins of others because we all sin. Don’t let the arrogance and entitlement that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah destroy you. In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest in the law.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”
We have been commanded to act in love, and that is what we should do. That is why love will always win.