Monday, April 22, 2013

Love, Marriage, and Rights

I recently shared a video on Facebook from the New Zealand parliament. The MP who spoke was very humorous in his delivery, which was why I posted it. He insisted that any time two people love each other, they should enjoy the right to be married. It’s not an uncommon declaration and we hear it with some frequency here in the US as well.

The argument about legally recognized marriage—regardless of gender—seems to now be grounded in love. Of course, the government doesn’t really care about the love part, and they have no assessment tools to measure love in the first place. The government cares more about operating consistently with the laws of the land and providing a framework for families that offers protection under the law. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a different thing than love as a qualifier.

So, as the argument seems to go, a declaration of love results in a demand for rights, and the granting of those rights gives people what they want and deserve.

For we who follow Jesus, however, we believe that the claim to love doesn’t begin with us—it begins with God. And the love that comes to us at the initiation of God, a love that moves outward from us to others, does not result in us getting what we deserve. In fact, we aren’t called to a life of de-serving at all. We are called to serve, and to do so as followers of and participants with the Spirit of Jesus.

I am aware that Christians are often looked at as narrow-minded people who are against everything, especially gay marriage. I’m sorry for that negative view. In some ways we’ve asked for it, since most publicized debates on the issue tend to lack civility and are reductionistic. Of course, I have to cast a bit of the responsibility on the other side, where any suggestion of a different point of view results in the accusation of being a hater.

I’m hoping that, when the dust starts to settle, that Christians will step back and assess our identity. Perhaps we’ll need to revisit with fresh eyes the One we claim to follow, who said, “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

Do we give our lives for people or for issues?

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