April 10, 2013


I wouldn't be surprised
They say that kids grow up too fast these days. Witness the influence of television and movies, which continually push their boundaries with gritty violence, foul language and sexual imagery. The uncensored Internet. Or the ubiquity of pocket-sized cellphones, which can send obscene messages and photos to thousands of people across the globe in the blink of an eye. You know the story. The innocence of childhood, it seems, becomes shorter and shorter with each passing year.
Or I should say, that might be the headline in places like Peoria or Plano. But for kids like me, growing up in the Big City in the 1960s and ’70s, we’ve been here before. Y’all are about 40 years late to this party.
In my old neighborhood, on and around Sunset Boulevard, we were surrounded by antique stores. One such store was owned by a friendly woman named Dolly; she often stood in the doorway and greeted every passerby. We regularly engaged in spirited conversations on every subject under the sun. We were buddies.
…Then one day I walked into the corner market, minding my own business. Across the sales floor I heard a familiar voice: “Good morning, Steven.” Turning around, I beheld a tall, slender man. He looked familiar, but where had we met before? After a moment it hit me: This was Dolly, with a five o’clock shadow, sans long blonde wig and frilly dress.

(Oh, did I mention that I was eleven years old? You’d never see such a storyline on The Brady Bunch or Mary Tyler Moore.)

Confused, I politely returned his (her?) greeting, made my purchases, and hurried home. I recounted the events to my mother; she sat me down on the couch, and paused to choose her words carefully. “Dolly's a nice person, and she will never hurt you." (Long pause.) "Son, do you know what a transvestite is?” Long story short, the answer was no. It was quite the eye-opening discussion, the first of many for this impressionable ignorant boy.

But in the immortal words of Jerry Seinfeld, “not that there’s anything wrong with it.” I had no particular moral qualms at the time (did I mention that I was eleven?), but…let’s just say that I stood at the beginning of a steep learning curve.

Time marched on, and my world changed. Internet, schminternet. Sexting, schmexting. No fancy electronic gizmos here; I had friends, neighbors, and classmates with strange habits and noooooo secrets or inhibitions. One of my best friends from high school died from AIDS in the early 1980s, one of the earliest reported cases in Los Angeles County.

So what is truly new in recent years? Long out of the closet, gay folks are now demanding the legal right to marry, that they might enjoy the full array of economic benefits. Equal protection under the law. Human dignity. And so on. As a Christian I believe this is a very bad idea, on many levels. But for now I won’t bore you with a speech about ethics, or scriptural injunctions (count 'em, seven!), or regale you with tales of Sodom and Gomorrah. Maybe next time.

Ordinarily under our political system, if you want to change the law, you can write your congressman. Or run for office yourself. Or you can pass a petition to place an initiative on the ballot, for the voters to decide. In our democratic society, there are many legitimate and effective ways to get what you want. But the proponents of gay marriage have attempted none of these things. Instead:x
  • They heap scorn on all who disagree, labeling us as bigots and homophobes. They can’t imagine that anyone who disapproves of their lifestyle, doesn’t hate them.
  • Small-town mayors defy the law to marry homosexual couples, and dare anyone to fight them in court.   
  • When someone else attempts to use lawful means to define marriage (as with California’s Proposition 8), they rush to the courthouse to stop it.
  • Political operatives scandalize any and every candidate who doesn’t hew to their ultimate test of orthodoxy. As if nothing else matters.
  • They enroll at Christian colleges, knowing that the school doesn't approve of their lifestyle, and then demand special recognition and privileges.
  • The Boy Scouts of America has been threatened with lawsuits around the country, as well as a loss of their tax-exempt status, because they won't accept gay members and leaders.
  • Churches face threats from gay couples who demand to be married in the church, in violation of that church's doctrines.

But that’s not the way that we do things in this country. At least, not the country that I know.

Early in his first term, President Obama decided that he would not defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. The thing is, the law was passed by large majorities in both houses of Congress, and duly signed into law by a president (a Democrat, no less!). Under our Constitution, the current custodian of that office does not have the right to not move heaven and earth to enforce it.

Say what you will about the ethics of homosexuality, or of gay marriage;

But if you have no regard for the rule of law…

If you hate me before you meet me…

If you can’t respect the will of the people…

If you don’t believe the president has a moral duty to enforce the law…

If you want to dictate what I teach and practice in my church...


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