25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple (Jesus Christ, recorded in Luke 14:25-27).
Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman, who previously supported traditional, male-female marriage, now supports so-called same-sex ‘marriage.’ Portman’s article is a heartfelt article outlining his journey and this change of stance is what many families will deal with in the future, but in their homes and in reconciling what Scripture says on the matter over and against at times their feelings in interpreting Scripture.
The first item he mentions is the closeness of the issue that arose in regard to his family:
Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay. He said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage. We were surprised to learn he is gay but knew he was still the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love.
His love for his son served as the catalyst for the switch of stance. God instills in every mother and father wants to see their children happy–and I believe Portman truly loves his son to come around to this conviction. Yet, the God of the Bible that Portman has testified to believe in and serve says some very different things in His Word. Now how this reconciled with the Christian faith Portman says he holds?
I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.
Again, we see the importance of hermeneutics even in the Christian community–that is, properly interpreting the Scriptures. God is a God of love, but that God has boundaries that He himself has set up for our provision and our protection, even on the issues of sexual relationships. The overarching themes in Scripture are that of holiness, in which God’s love and justice come together. For too many, God’s purpose is to make one happy–but that can be the very worst thing that can happen–not simply in this area, but in any area. In this case, it seems that his son’s well-being means more than even what God says. By him reacting to his son’s revelation this way, it showed that the Scriptures Portman claimed to follow were selectively followed up until this point–as what happens to so many others in churches: we claim to know and believe the Bible, but is it really a Bible of our own making, or the unvarnished Word of Truth that must remake us?
Not everyone in the gay-advocate community sees this as entirely positive. Kenneth Walsh of the Huffington Post gives some insight into how Portman’s switch of stance is received:
While I would like to say that it makes me happy to have the first Republican senator come out in support of marriage equality, I am having a difficult time getting past the whole “I need this EXACT situation to affect me PERSONALLY before I can do anything” mentality that seems to persist in the halls of Congress.
Do I need to have a close relative have Parkinson’s disease to think there should be government funding for a cure? Does a member of my family need to be African American for me to think the Voting Rights Act needs to be renewed? Does my house have to be destroyed by a hurricane to vote for emergency relief funding? The utter lack of empathy displayed by so many elected officials sickens me to the point that if and when some of them finally see the light, I almost hate them more… for showing a complete lack of conviction.
So it sounds like the religious and gay-rights advocates see this as the same thing: his convictions all come down to something personal, not absolute. Regardless of your convictions, those convictions are shown not simply politically or even familialy expedient–but stand true to their convictions, regardless of how even those closest to us will react. And in this area, we would all do well to read the cultural fine-print before switching stances.
So to my fellow Christians, stay true to your faith in a historical Christ who lived, died, and rose again in atonement for our sins and who shows that there is a God who cares, comforts, challenges, commands, and corrects. When Jesus said that no one can be my disciple if he treasures anything (even family) over Him. Yes, the passage at the beginning uses the word ‘hate,’ but that’s used as a comparative. Our love for Christ and His Word so trumps any earthly relationship that it will be seen as ‘hate’ by all onlookers.
“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).