By Scott Fowler
It seems to me that President Obama played a key role in moving gay rights to its Juggernaut status when, on January 21, 2013, in his second inaugural address, he said the following,
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall….Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law— for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.1
With those sentiments, he officially elevated gay rights (Stonewall)2 to the level of a civil right, on par with women’s suffrage (Seneca Falls) and the fight for racial equality (Selma). From that time, homosexuality has been “a massive inexorable force, crushing everything in its path,”3 namely the institution of marriage and the authority of the Bible.
In February of that same year, 278 companies filed an amicus brief in support of the woman whose challenge of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, was to be considered by the Supreme Court later that year.4 In March, Bill Clinton expressed his regret over having signed the bill into law.5 Obama had already expressed his “evolution” on the subject in a 2012 ABC interview with Robin Roberts, indicating he no longer supported DOMA and that he was influenced by his conversations with friends and staff who were in “incredibly committed, monogamous relationships—same-sex relationships—who are raising kids together.” 6 A steady stream of public figures also stepped forward to declare their “love for love” and homosexuality.7 But perhaps Nicole Wallace (presumably a conservative operative who worked for Bush and advised the McCain/Palin campaign, but who also came out in favor of same-sex marriage in February 2013), captured the essence of the moment best when she said:
“If you are running for office and trying to court the vote of anyone under forty, you oppose marriage equality at your political peril.”8
On June 26, the Supreme Court struck down DOMA, declaring it unconstitutional, paving the way for the Federal Government to acknowledge same-sex marriages.
The April 8, 2013 issue of Time Magazine recorded that as of that date nine states and the District of Columbia had legalized same-sex marriage.9 At present that number has risen to seventeen states with seven more in the hopper, ready to fall upon appeals.10 Chronicling the surprising and rapid rise of support for same-sex marriage, David Von Drehle opined,
With stunning speed, a concept dismissed even by most gay-rights leaders just 20 years ago is now embraced by half or more of all Americans. . . . Exit polls in November showed that 83% of voters believe that same-sex marriage will be legal nationwide in the next five to 10 years. . . . Like a dam that springs a little leak that turns into a trickle and then bursts into a flood, the wall of public opinion is crumbling.11
The Inaugural itself was marked by a rejection of a well-known minister when the invitation to Lou Giglio was rescinded because of a twenty year old sermon he preached against homosexuality.12 The Inaugural Committee wanted someone inclusive, accepting of all Americans, and celebrating diversity. 13 In a letter to his church (which no longer seems to be available except through various articles that reported the incident), Giglio said,
“Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda a focal point of the inauguration. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”14
And just like, Giglio was out, Luis Leon, an inclusive Episcopalian was in, and those who trumpet inclusion had excluded a potentially diverse and dissenting voice.
In the ten months since SCOTUS struck down DOMA, what began as the fight for same-sex marriage has evolved into a full-scale discussion in the evangelical church about gay Christianity, an oxymoron to be sure. But not everybody thinks so.
Those who have found it meaningful to be identified as evangelicals are being divided by the issue of homosexuality. The discussion began to round the corner between the subject of same-sex marriage and that of gay Christianity when World Vision decided and then un-decided to hire people involved in same-sex marriages. Since then, there has been daily evidence that the Juggernaut is dividing evangelicals (see Failing the Smell Test).
While many on both sides still couch the debate in terms of same-sex marriage, it is actually a question about the Bible’s authority and its ability to speak to contemporary cultural challenges. It is about gay Christianity. Dr. Albert Mohler captured the urgency of this historical crossroads when he wrote,
Evangelical Christians in the United States now face an inevitable moment of decision. While Christians in other movements and in other nations face similar questions, the question of homosexuality now presents evangelicals in the United States with a decision that cannot be avoided. Within a very short time, we will know where everyone stands on this question. There will be no place to hide, and there will be no way to remain silent. To be silent will answer the question. 15
Mohler is right. He wrote those words in response to a book by Matthew Vines entitled, God and the Gay Christian. In it, Vines concludes that
“It isn’t gay Christians who are sinning against God by entering into monogamous, loving relationships. It is the church that is sinning against them by rejecting their intimate relationships.”16
Ah! The familiar sound of the Juggernaut as it tramples over nature, history, Scripture, and the Church!
Dr. Scott Fowler is the founder of the Christ and Culture Initiative.
2 Stonewall is a Greenwich Village gay bar in Manhattan where it is said “gay pride” began.
3 The definition of Juggernaut.
7 http://gokicker.com/2013/03/26/same-sex-marriage-where-things-stand/#!GJ80e. See also David Von Drehle, “How Gay Marriage Won: The Gay and Lesbian Community Has Gone from Stonewall to the Altar in Two Generations,” Time Magazine, April 8, 2013, 18, 22.
8 Ibid., Tweeted by Andrea Mitchell.
9 Von Drehle, “How Gay Marriage Won: The Gay And Lesbian Community Has Gone From Stonewall To The Altar In Two Generations,” Time Magazine, April 8, 2013, 16.
10 http://gaymarriage.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004857 see also http://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/church-of-christ-sues-in-pursuit-of-same-sex-marriage.html. North Carolina becomes the first state where a pro same-sex church sues the government because it is denying them their religious rights to marry same-sex couples!
11 Von Drehle, How Gay Marriage Won,” 18.
13 Ibid. See also, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/luis-leon-benediction-obama-inauguration-louie-giglio_n_2468824.html
14 Ibid., see also http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/louie-giglio-anti-gay-obama-inauguration_n_2448796.html.
15 R. Albert Mohler, God and the Gay Christian, (Louisville, SBTS Press, 2014).
16 Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same Sex Relationships, (New York: Convergent Books, 2014), 162.