Monday, February 28, 2011

What Albert Mohler and Barack Obama Get Right About "Gay Marriage"

Neither Albert Mohler or Barack Obama are convinced that God blesses what they call "gay marriage." Mohler -- President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary -- isn't likely to change his mind anytime soon. And Obama -- President of the United States -- says his views are "still evolving." But that's not the part they get right. And that's not the point of this blog.

First some background: Last Wednesday -- February 23 -- the White House announced it would no longer use the Department of Justice to defend the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) and suddenly marriage equality was back at the top of the news. (Or at least IN the news ... I think Charlie Sheen-Behaving-Badly may have been at the top that day.) I got a flurry of media calls ... and everyone from USA Today to our local Channel 4 News to NPR seemed to be running stories on "what it all means."

The NPR interview I did with Barbara Bradley Hagerty (one of my favs!) included a somewhat surprising admission from Evangelical leader Albert Mohler -- about what he called "an overwhelming wave in favor of homosexuality. It's become normal in movies and sitcoms, in academia, in political and judicial circles."


Now, Mohler and I have been on opposing sides of what some have called "the culture wars" for quite some time now. It only took a quick "Google" to unearth this link to a story about the TV "point/counterpoint" interview we did back in 2003.

And so I wondered about this apparent "throwing in the towel" in the marriage equality struggle by someone so clear about what he's so clear about ... and when I did a little more "Googling" ... and came up with this piece by Mohler in today's "Christian Today:
Christians need to prepare for normalisation of gay marriage

"I think it's clear that something like same-sex marriage is going to become normalised, legalised and recognised in the culture. It's time for Christians to start thinking about how we're going to deal with that," he said Friday on the Focus on the Family radio programme.
He's very clear he doesn't think it's a good idea. And yet his advice to other Christians who agree with him is this:
"We have to prepare our children to be in a context in which they're going to be in a playground with children who have two dads or two moms or who knows what kind of combination will come" ... and he concluded "Marriage is still an institution Christians need to save, particularly in their own community."

But Christians also need to start learning how to deal with the shifting culture and even face the fact that they may lose a few from their flock. "I think we're going to be surprised and heartbroken over how many people are going to capitulate to the spirit of the age," he noted. "We're going to find now that there may not be as many of us as we thought."
Wow again. And now we're coming to my point.

Mohler's apparent resignation to the arc of history bending toward justice on civil marriage equality does not change his mind one iota about whether those marriages are blessed by God and should be blessed by the church. And happily for him, he lives in a country where the First Amendment is going to protect his perspective until the cows come home ... or even later.

So what Mohler gets right is that marriage equality is going to happen. And what Obama gets right is that his views on the sanctity of marriage may "still be evolving" but his personal, theological perspective has absolutely nothing to do with whether the Justice Department should continue defending the indefensible "Defense of (Opposite Sex) Marriage Act" and perpetuating discrimination against Same Sex Couples.

And while I might hold out hope that the Holy Spirit will get through to Brother Mohler this side of that glass-less-darkly which is eventually going to clear up a whole lot of things for ALL of us, in the short run I am gratified that his focus seems to be shifting from polarizing and toward contextualizing.

And while I might wish that Brother Barack would quit "evolving" and get on the right side of history in the marriage equality debate, I am deeply gratified that he "gets" that equally protecting all Americans is not in any way, shape or form tied to where he comes down "personally" on this issue.

Orthodox Jews live in a country where inter-faith marriage forbidden by their faith is legal and observant Catholics manage in a nation where re-marriage after divorce is recognized by the state but not by their church. Mohler and his crowd will manage to do the same thing when same sex couples finally get the equal protection the Constitution guarantees them and the same federal protections for their marriage enjoyed by the heterosexual couple next door.

And maybe ... just maybe ... if we can get beyond "The Marriage Wars" ... we can use all the money and energy that's been poured into discriminating against gay families on one side and defending against that discrimination on the other to feed, educate and house ALL families. Now THAT'S a "new normal" worth working toward!

1 comment:

Jim said...

Mayhap Rev. Mohler is calling his communion to a post-theocratic perspective. It appears to me he is and in so doing is offering not only them but all of us a service.

I have been failing to make the same point on another web site. Ah well.