Thoughts On President Obama’s Evolving View Of Marriage

Yesterday, in the wake of North Carolina passing a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and amidst his plans to attend Hollywood fund raisers, President Obama declared that his evolving views on marriage now lead him to believe that same-sex partners should be allowed to marry.

My thoughts about these developments in the US culture will be somewhat rambling because I haven’t had time to process everything into a cohesive whole. So as they come to me:

Words. Words matter. Yes, definitions evolve over time, but not because someone imposes a new definition from without. In the case of marriage, thirty of the fifty states — thirty-one, if the courts hadn’t gotten involved in California — have passed laws or amendments (we passed both) defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. In fact, every time the issue has gone before the electorate, the people have voted for the traditional definition of marriage. The only states in which same-sex marriage is legal, legislatures (and perhaps the courts?) have dictated it.

The fact that we need the qualifier, “same-sex,” shows that in the minds of those discussing marriage, there’s a distinction between marriage and same-sex marriage.

Learning from children. In explaining his new position, President Obama said he believes it is a generational thing. His daughters have friends whose parents are same-sex partners and they think nothing of it. Since when did adults surrender standards of right and wrong to our children? If President Obama’s daughters thought nothing of teens street racing, would his view on that subject evolve?

Relativism. The concept of evolving views of right and wrong fits so perfectly into postmodern relativism, so I’m not surprised at the President’s shifting opinion. (I have to admit, I’m also cynical enough to wonder whether or not Mr. Obama didn’t want to insure that the big donors in Hollywood would be liberal in the amount they give to his campaign. But that’s a side issue.)

Relativism basically says there is no moral standard other than the one a particular group of people agrees upon at any set time. Hence, in this day and age of equal rights and tolerance, those values trump all else. Except when it doesn’t.

According to a relativistic way of thinking, countries that permit sweatshops should not be flagged for human rights violations because there really are no such things as human rights. Who gives humans any rights?

I suspect that’s where Western culture is headed, but it’s not there just yet.

Evolving Definition of Marriage. If a societal institution like marriage can be redefined once, why not twice, three times, or as many times as we want? So in five years (or sooner), someone will want marriage to include a man and multiple wives or a woman and multiple husbands. Why not a man and his dog? Or how about a man or woman and a consenting child? Who is to say that these can’t also be considered marriage if marriage becomes a fluid term?

Marriage and Sin. I’m always dismayed when I hear Christians talk about homosexuality as if it is the unpardonable sin. The truth is, the Hollywood movie stars so many people revere, or many of the sports figures who get caught up in the celebrity lifestyle, engage in “fleshly lusts.” Meaning, homosexual individuals are not in a special class. All of us, homosexuals or straight, have gone astray. We all stand in need of forgiveness and redemption.

Homosexuality does not make a person sinful. A sinful person chooses to sin and that might take a wide variety of forms. Is a person more sinful if they cheat on their income taxes or sleep around or engage in homosexual behavior? Answer: there is no “more sinful.”

There might be more consequences, but the one issue each person must resolve is what do they do with Christ? Is He the very cornerstone of their faith or is He a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”?

The Distraction of President Obama’s Declaration. All the discussion of President Obama as the first President in favor of same-sex marriage (as if this was an issue thirty years ago, or even twenty) has taken the focus off some other critical developments.

In California, for example, there’s a bill in the Senate that would would ban children under 18 from undergoing “sexual orientation change efforts.” (You can read about it here.) In other words, parents could not seek help from a professional for their children in an effort to steer them away from homosexuality. Would the parents themselves be unable to counsel their children in this way? It’s a frightening thought, but most people aren’t talking about it because they’re talking about Mr. Obama’s evolving opinion.

There’s also a courageous man in China who stood against forced abortion and has sought asylum in the US. What are we hearing about his situation?

Unfortunately, the President seized the bully pulpit (what a politically incorrect term!) and his opinion has overshadowed other stories that are newsworthy. (Sort of like the Secret Service scandal overshadowing the General Services Administration scandal).

The Place of Leadership. One more reflection on our President’s “historical” stand. When God sent prophets to Israel and Judah, declaring their sin, He pointed the finger at the priests, false prophets, and kings who led His people astray.

I think the leaders in America are letting down her people as well. The Supreme Court did so in 1973 when it issued the Roe v Wade decision legalizing abortion. Countless religious leaders have done so by buying into health-and-wealth messages or deconstructing the Bible or re-imaging Christ.

What’s so incredibly sad to me, though, is that we have the Bible available in our own language, translated over and over again to make it easy to understand. In other words, we are without excuse. It isn’t the leaders’ fault when we ignore the best and primary source that gives what we need for Salvation.

In the end, that’s where we’re at, isn’t it. As Peter says, “for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word and to this doom they were also appointed” (1 Peter 2:8b).

Published in: on May 10, 2012 at 6:41 pm  Comments (7)  
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