How I Came to Support Same-Sex Marriage, Part 5: Why I Couldn’t Be Silent

By | February 7, 2014

This post contains discussion of rape, so a trigger warning is in order.

With one simple move, sexual orientation, and the acceptance of people with lesbian, gay, or bisexual identifications wouldn’t matter at all.

That solution is arranged marriage.

I bring this up because it clarifies some more questions I’m often asked about the topic. See, in a society where marriage is arranged, attraction has no meaning at all. Young people are matched up to people they don’t know, and arranged marriage was successful for many cultures – if, by “successful,” we mean divorce was unthinkably rare despite vast age differences and likely abuse, personal choice was suppressed, and people were reproducing out of duty and necessity instead of love.

I don’t think arranged marriage is necessary. It made people unhappy, and denied them the joys of falling in love in response to attraction. Marriage by mutual attraction and affection is a more accurate depiction of the Christian analogy of Christ’s relationship to the church than a forced and inescapable marriage. The choice to reciprocate God’s affection out of endearment is comparable to the same feelings toward another person. Lifetime commitment to a person through rough times is reflective of God’s demonstration of love.

Without arranged marriage, though, attraction matters. This leaves all people opposed to same-sex marriage in a logical double bind: either set up a system where no attraction matters, or admit the same treatment to people with unusual preferences in attraction.

Some Christians say that legalizing same-sex marriage, much less accepting it in the church, is a slippery slope to atrocities such as acceptance of bestiality and pedophilia. Here’s a term I learned once I ventured outside the world of the purity movement, which made sex taboo: “consensual.”

It means two things: that a person has given their willing consent to have sex, and said person is eligible to give that consent. It is also being used to help raise awareness of rape. If a woman is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, she is incapable of giving consent, so a man who has sex with her has raped her. Rape doesn’t just happen to women, and important awareness campaigns have been launched to help reduce rape, using slogans like “no means no.”

This is crucial information for the discussion, because it provides a standard for ethical relationships. Animals and children are also considered ineligible for giving consent, so pedophilia and bestiality are ruled out.

It’s entirely possible for me to be an anarchist and to have such standards, because peaceful anarchy means treating everyone as if they, too, are free and responsible agents rather than controlling them. To oppose government, or the overpowering of another person, includes opposition to rape.

I remember the exact moment when I knew I completely supported same-sex marriage. I was watching one of my favorite actors receive an award. He and his gay partner used this phrase: “who you love matters.”

The phrase surprised me. It shook up most of what I’d learned about relationships. Though my parents may have alluded to it and wanted me to someday be attracted to the man I would marry, most of my relationship education was through books in the purity movement. I hadn’t come to expect falling in love with someone I had a crush on and who had mutual feelings for me. I thought I should discredit crushes. I expected finding someone who my parents approved of, and who would be a good pragmatic match.

Who you love matters.

This simple little phrase is why those in the world I grew up in cannot accept gay people. Though some progress has been made, much of what is known as “courtship” or “purity” or “waiting” is descended from arranged marriage. I’m not talking about the choice to save sex for marriage, because committed relationships are important to me. Unless it becomes acceptable for young people to, through mutual attraction and love, choose for themselves who to build a life with, same-sex marriage will be incomprehensible.

I chose then to believe that who I love matters, as a straight woman who hopes to someday build a life with a man who loves me back.

Christians in this old mindset have two choices: either go against their own straight attractions and use arranged marriage for everyone, or admit that romantic love is worthwhile. For myself, freedom and love and dedication to a lifelong partner seems like the better choice.

The story isn’t quite complete, though. I realized I couldn’t just be content to stick to a libertarian or anarchist view of government, and not answer these questions in my friendships and relationships. When I felt God telling me to love my friends who were struggling to reconcile with their sexual identities, it was odd to be told that my Christ-following instinct was at odds with the Bible. I went back to the Bible, and I checked it for the message of Christ, and realized I couldn’t oppose same-sex marriage from that standpoint, either.

It would have been easy enough to quietly carry on conversations about it with my circle of friends. When God started convicting me to speak up about my brothers and sisters who are cast out of the church, unloved and uninformed, I tried to compromise: maybe it would be enough to keep it within my own face-to-face discussions. When people told me it would be a risk, that I might be wrong, and to examine the arguments, I did all that. For the past several months, I’ve been talking about homosexuality to my friends, and having great conversations with Side B Christians.

I still knew I had to take it to my blog. I was reminded of Isaiah 58, in which God tells his prophet to tell his people that they have their religion all wrong: being the people of God wasn’t about looking good, it was about love. The message of love isn’t just in the New Testament. It’s all over the longings and laments from the prophets, and it’s yearned for behind every broken story in the book of Judges.

If it’s true that part of God’s plan for the Kingdom of Heaven includes gay couples taking in his precious orphans and raising them to know Him, and raising them to love other people and to stop feeling inadequate and wrong the way their parents did, I can’t be quiet about that. It’s wrong to hide that beautiful message, and I know it’s the gospel because the gospel has been about including the outcasts from the time it was foretold.

All I ask is for Christians reading this series to be consistent and to examine the teachings of our faith. Thank you for reading.

I will end this series with a video addressing questions and comments, so please leave your thoughts here on my blog, or on Twitter (@cynthiajeub) or Facebook (Insights on Epic Living).

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

  • Emily

    I agree that attraction is important, but I don’t think that means all attraction is equal. Its possible for fallen beings to feel sinful attractions, does that mean we should treat those as equal to what God has clearly intended for us to feel? For example, if a married man is attracted to another woman, does that “matter” more than his committed relationship because who he’s attracted to matters more than what is right? What if someone is attracted to 3 people and wants to be married to all 3? What if a 13 year old is “attracted” to a 40 year old? Don’t get me wrong, I think Christians have to treat homosexuals or anyone with any sort of sinful attraction with unconditional love as Jesus did, and I think many in the church have not treated homosexuals with the love we are commanded to give. However, does that mean we can discredit the absolute clarity throughout the Bible that homosexuality (along with other things) is a sinful attraction?

    • Melody Ray

      How would you define attraction? For example, using two extremes, where would you draw the line between adulterous luster and a carefree thought that some is cute or interesting to you?

  • Linda Robertson

    Cynthia, thank you so very, very much for speaking out. Thank you for making gay friends, so that you can speak from their perspective, as well as your own. Thank you for having a vision for a world in which we love people like Jesus did.

  • Coriana

    God made people gay He also made them with an inclination towards rage,and greed, murder and covetousness…that doesnt mean we should give in to these sins. His grace allows us to struggle and sometimes be delivered from those sins, sometimes we die struggling but we should never give in. Its a noble thing to struggle with homosexuality its a selfish thing to claim attraction is a valid reason to disobey Gods word. Love is not a licence to sin. Who we love matters…..because if we love God we will obey His commands. If we love someone elses wife should we pursue her? If we love our goat should we be allowed to sleep with it? At what point does love become a perversion of what God intended? When it is not between a husband and wife.

  • megan o

    I am, once again a very late comer, I just have to say that as a raised conservative Christian homeschooled missions kid I appreciate your blog a lot. I feel like I wrote it. The same arguments from the same groups of people (and trust me, we run in many of the same circles) on the same subjects. Its nice to see the thoughts politely and thoughtfully organized :) just popping in to let you know you aren’t alone!

  • Truth Seeker

    Response to How I Came to Support Same-Sex Marriage Part 5: What if We Were Real?

    Haha. No offense, but sometimes I have to sit back and laugh at the homeschool culture. The protective bubbles that parents surround their kids in are very beneficial. However, it can obscure their perception of reality once they reach middle school and high school. I am not saying that families should not homeschool their kids all the way through high school, I think that is extremely important! However, parents make several mistakes that their children have to correct later in life. I think this is a huge reason that many homeschooled kids do a 180 in their beliefs once they meet the culture shock of college. However, I am not accusing parents of wrong! I applaud all parents who choose to homeschool their children. Many parents want a better life for their children. When it comes to relationships, they do not want their children to experience the heartbreak that they did. As a result, the dating process for homeschooled students becomes very, very complicated!

    It is sad to think that for so long you believed that a relationship should be based on logic rather than affection. However, look at you now! Relationships should be based on both God’s will and mutual attraction, and you realize that. However, you also said:

    “Without arranged marriage, though, attraction matters. This leaves all people opposed to same-sex marriage in a logical double bind: either set up a system where no attraction matters, or admit the same treatment to people with unusual preferences in attraction.”

    Hold up! This is yet another bifurcation. However, because I want to have a bit of fun, let us suppose all attraction is acceptable. It follows that if you believe a man and a women should be attracted to one another before marriage, we must accept all attractions in marriage. However, then you said:

    “This is crucial information for the discussion, because it provides a standard for ethical relationships. Animals and children are also considered ineligible for giving consent, so pedophilia and bestiality are ruled out.”

    First of all, why is an “ethical standard” for relationships being applied? You, as an anarchist, believe that no standards should be forced upon people, and as you said in your video, we are trying to get away from a definition of marriage. But then you say that in raping an individual who does not give consent, a person is enforcing their desires on someone else, therefore acting as an authority. You reason from this fact that pedophilia and bestiality are unacceptable. Good cover! However, you neglected to establish why children and animals are incapable of giving consent. At what age is a child considered eligible, and why? Yes, I know that the government has established that rule for us, but they are enforcing their will on us as well. I know many young men and women who would be capable of making the decision far before they turn 18. I think that many are capable of making major decisions at the age of 10. Therefore, from an anarchist’s point of view, there should be no designated age and every child should be able to choose for themselves.

    Secondly, who said animals are incapable of giving consent? Haven’t you ever seen a male dog excitedly hump a person’s leg? Have you ever seen a female cat enjoy a stroking and start “opening up” to the individual petting her. Who’s to say that this is not consent?! Who’s to say that a sexual encounter would not benefit both entities involved? Okay, I need to stop here because I am getting a bit uncomfortable with this. However, I needed to make the point that in the same way side C Christians are disallowing homosexuals to get married, you are refusing others the opportunity for happiness with their strange attractions.

    I hope that you are able to see your major non sequitur here. Your conclusion is being illogically drawn from factors that do not directly apply. Then comes the phrase: Who you love matters.

    I totally agree with this!!! Who you love does matter! However, what is love? According to the Bible it is more of a commitment than a feeling. A commitment to love another individual completely and selflessly. A commitment to seek out what is best for someone else above one’s own desires. So, yes, who you love does matter, but should that love be at the expense of neglecting to perform Christ’s will for our lives? Jesus loved Lazarus, but He let Lazarus die, He let him suffer, to show the extent of His love to both the world and to Lazarus. A mother punishes her child and causes him temporary pain in order to give her child what is best for him. I have already established that homosexuality is a sin in God’s eyes. Yes, one may be attracted to, or even love, someone of the same sex. However, is starting and maintaining a relationship best for both individuals involved and effective in glorifying God?

    Please read the letter in the link! It is from a lesbian women.
    http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/love-letter-to-a-lesbian

    Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam

    You have been making an appeal to ignorance for basically this whole series. When I say an appeal to ignorance, I do not mean that you are ignorant. Rather, you are claiming that because the Bible does not specify that committed same-sex relationships are wrong, (though I do believe it does) that homosexual marriage should be considered right. This is a major fallacy. You are claiming that a lack of evidence indicates a right of passage!

    Throughout this discussion, many aspects of the topic have been presented and examined. Through politics, relationships, and the Bible, I have expressed myself from the view of a side C Christian. Though many would find my defense insufficient, I did my best to present what side C Christians believe. Your main appeal was to that of love, and so was mine. I believe that love conquers all. I believe that love is selfless and innocent. My reason for writing this series is out of love for those around me. Yet another reason I am writing this is because I love you Cynthia. As a fellow sister in Christ I have deep compassion for you. You are incredibly smart and talented, but with great power comes great responsibility. Whether you like it or not, people look up to you. People value your opinions and views and look to you for insight. Your younger siblings think the world of you. Therefore, you have a great responsibility on your shoulders. You are responsible for both what you believe, and, in a very real way, what others choose to believe because of you. I am not trying to discourage you in any way! Keep on seeking the truth! However, closely examine what you say. People are listening!