Earlier in my adult life I probably would have supported the various state gay marriage bans. No longer. My reading of psychological science, my revisiting the biblical foundations of my religious faith, and my engagement with real people’s life stories have together drawn me to a different place. In the nine short chapters and an appendix of What God has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage, Letha Dawson Scanzoni and I together derive these ten conclusions for our audience: Christians who are wrestling with same-sex partnerships and the ordination of gays and lesbians to church offices.
• Our faith tradition beckons us, with humility and open minds, to discern and communicate truth (God’s truth, we say).
• All humans have a deep “need to belong”–to connect with others in close, intimate, enduring relationships.
• As one potent example of such relationships, marriage contributes to flourishing lives–to happier and healthier adults, and thriving children.
• Toxic forces, especially radical individualism and the media modeling of impulsive sexuality, are corroding marriage and the health of communities.
• Sexual orientation is a natural (largely biologically influenced) disposition, most clearly so for men.
• Sexual orientation is also an enduring disposition, which is seldom reversed by willpower, reparative therapy, or ex-gay ministry.
• Out of 31,103 Bible verses, only seven frequently quoted verses speak directly of same-sex behavior–and often in the context of idolatry, promiscuity, adultery, child exploitation, or violence. We infer that the Bible has nothing to say about an enduring sexual orientation (a modern concept) or about loving, long-term same-sex partnerships.
• The creation stories focus on human companionship, on the importance of relationship and the formation of new kinship units (most of which will be heterosexual, but some of which, we now realize, may be homosexual).
• A Christian case for gay marriage arises from the human need to belong, from the biblical mandate for justice, from the benefits of a culture-wide norm of monogamy, and from a refutation of popular arguments against gay marriage.
• Although not part of our argument (and therefore in an appendix) we also note–for those who may wonder how history likely will judge us–that attitudes on this sexual issue are rapidly changing, and becoming more accepting of gay rights and relationships. Moreover, there is a large generation gap, with most older adults opposing gay marriage and most younger adults supporting it. Given that the forces driving the attitude changes are likely to continue, and given generational succession, it appears that the culture war over gay marriage and gay ordination will gradually be resolved in the years to come, much as were previous culture wars over minority and women’s rights.
That, in a nutshell, is the essence of our marriage-supporting “Christian case for gay marriage.”