Pastor Bob O'Bannon
Below is the eleventh post from Pastor Bob in an ongoing blog series designed to help Christians think through the issue of homosexuality in a careful and Biblical way. For more on the reason for this series, click here.
Question 11: If Christians are against gay marriage, does that mean they are filled with hate?
Perhaps you’ve seen the bumper sticker: “Hate is Not a Family Value.” It’s a quick little slogan that is intended to give the impression that anyone who holds to traditional “family values” must be driven by hate for those who disagree with them – most specifically, homosexuals.
Of course it is regrettably true that some Christians are driven by hatred, or at least some level of animosity, toward those who disagree with them. This is a very sad thing, especially since Jesus said that people will be able to identify his disciples by their love (John 13:35), and since Paul said we are to “do good to all people” (Gal. 6:10), even those outside the church; and since Peter exhorted Christians not to retaliate against those who insult them, but to bless them instead (1 Peter 3:9).
But is it fair to assume that an expression of disagreement with a person’s opinion or lifestyle must be motivated by hate? If this were true, wouldn’t it equally apply to homosexuals who disagree with traditionalists? Are they motivated by hate too?
This gets to one of the most glaring inconsistencies of those who have promoted the cause for same-sex marriage. Very often, their arguments are built on the alleged foundation of tolerance, in the assumption that it is unacceptable for one person to say that another person’s moral position is objectively wrong. Disagreement of this kind is seen as an expression of hate or intolerance.
But it should be acknowledged that everyone is intolerant to some degree. There are opinions and behaviors that all of us think are wrong, and we don’t mind saying so. Our society, for instance, has laws against murder, rape, burglary, extortion and child molesting, among many other things, and for this we are all very grateful for the “intolerance” of our police departments and court systems. Parents are quite willing to express intolerance for the rebellious behavior of their children, and rightfully so. Most of us will not hesitate to say that the ideas of Hitler or the Ku Klux Klan should not be tolerated – not that we should forbid free speech, but that such opinions should be universally held to be morally wrong.
If all opinions and behaviors were to be equally tolerated, we would have moral anarchy, a society where nothing is truly right because nothing can be said to be truly wrong. As G.K. Chesterton once said, “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”
True tolerance is when we allow all opinions to be expressed, when we engage in a give-and-take discussion about the worthiness of those views, and when we extend respect to those with whom we disagree. But to say that someone who disagrees with you is filled with “hate” is ironically its own kind of intolerance.
I would exhort all Christians to examine their hearts as to whether their views on gay marriage are in fact driven by some level of hatred, anger or animosity. If this is the case, then repent. Hate is not a family value, and it is not a Christian value either. But Christian, don’t let the world convince you that a strong moral stand makes you a hater. Truth and love always go together (Ps. 85:10, Eph. 4:15, 2 John 1:3).