If I had a dime for every preacher who stood on a pulpit or behind a radio station microphone or on a street corner and blasted gay people for “threatening the sanctity of Marriage”, I’d have a silo full of dimes.
That in itself isn’t really noteworthy, as the LGBT community has been the Christian poster child for deviant behavior for the past few decades; blamed for ruining everything from daytime TV, to the Army, to the Boy Scouts, to major weather patterns.
And while the gay marriage debate in America threatens to quite literally rip the Church in two, it’s interesting how loud many Christian pastors and pew-sitters are on one facet of this conversation, while how conspicuously silent they are on another.
In their defense of their position, many church leaders and members who oppose gay marriage, cite the supposed Scriptural mandate for the sacred union of a man and a woman. (Though a simple review of the Bible shows this to hardly be the case). They argue that gay people marrying, pollutes and cheapens the Institution.
However, here’s where the numbers start to tell a revealing story.
Depending on which statistics you use, it’s estimated that anywhere between 3 and 10 percent of people in the world identify as LGBT. This makes them a decidedly tiny minority of the overall population, and yet precisely why they are such easy and continual targets for alleged Bible purists.
Meanwhile, estimates for percentages of once-married Christians who are now divorced, range anywhere from 30 to 55 percent. A much higher number and percentage of the Church population, yet they’re also supposedly tainting Marriage as defined in the Bible. In fact, not only do these staggering divorce rates affect those couples themselves, but the children and extended families ripped apart in the process. The cultural impact and numeric disparity is a no-brainer.
It stands to reason, by sheer numbers and family damage alone; that heterosexual divorce, (which Jesus speaks clearly to), poses a much greater moral danger to the sacred institution of Marriage than anything—by a mile.
So when’s the last time you saw a red-faced pastor slamming his hand on a podium, screaming about the way Divorce is destroying our country and making a mockery of God?
When’s the last time you witnessed a curbside picket line, protesting divorcées, with nasty signs and bullhorn-blasted sermons?
How long has it been since you heard a Church leader say emphatically, that you simply can’t be both divorced and a Christian?
How often do you hear church folk say of once-married people, that they “hate the sin, love the sinner”?
When’s the last blog you’ve come across about all unrepentant, formerly married people going to Hell?
(Been a while, hasn’t it?)
Here’s the problem: Most pastors won’t openly attack Divorce from the pulpit, not because they don’t see that Jesus clearly speaks against it in Scripture, (where he calls all divorce except in response to infidelity—adultery), and not because they don’t see it as a major threat to families and a weakening of the institution of Marriage; but because doing that would alienate too much of their core audience.
You see, when it comes to Marriage, they’re willing to be unapologetically faithful to the Bible, but only selectively so.
It makes sense from a business standpoint: If a preacher came out with the same regularity and ferocity, railing against the “sinfulness” of Divorce, as they do about LGBT people even desiring marriage (or even existing for that matter), pretty soon he or she would be speaking to a half-empty building, and they know it. Much of their physical and financial support would evaporate, and their whole operation would be in turmoil.
So they stay silent.
Sure, they might preach once in a while on how to have healthy straight marriages, or hold occasional couple’s retreats, but they fall well short of relentlessly pointing the fiery finger of judgment at the massive numbers of straight people, who have opted out of marriage far before the, “death do us part”, part; and often for far less than they originally vowed.
Attacking the LGBT community is a way for pastors to take a calculated sin stance around Marriage; one that’s based on a risk-reward payoff. By choosing to conveniently use the Bible to address only gay people with regard to marriage, pastors can seem bold and brave, but they’re really just cleverly playing the numbers.
Simply stated: For Christian leaders, it’s a lot easier to take a hardline moral stand when your target is a minuscule percentage of people, many of whom you assume probably won’t be in your congregation in the first place. You can rally your base and look like a dutiful solider in the army of the Lord, without ticking-off your constituents or affecting your bottom line.
People who identify as LGBT aren’t only penalized by churches for being married, but for even wanting to be married, for seeking monogamous relationships, and for outwardly being authentic in any real way. Any of the above usually isolates them in their faith communities, disqualifies them from volunteering in their churches, and almost always makes ministry leadership impossible.
In the same communities, divorced people are leading small groups, serving as ministry team volunteers, and even pastoring churches, and most Christians are perfectly fine with that. They never get some “love the sinner, hate the sin” double-talk, and people rarely publicly wrestle with whether or not fully including divorced people, “condones sin”.
Please hear me, divorced people: This is not about you at all; and well, that’s sort of the point.
You aren’t destroying Marriage, you aren’t a threat to society, and you aren’t the blight of the planet either. You’re just people trying to live life as a part of a faith community equally, and you should be able to. In fact, the Church is enriched and blessed by your presence and participation.
Marriage at its best is incredibly difficult, and often divorce comes after great pain, heartache, and attempted reconciliation. Can you imagine enduring all of this, while continually having the Bible shoved in your face; forever harassed for your unBiblical “lifestyle”. Imagine the kind of damage that would do to your soul, how much this treatment would be a barrier to you participating in a faith community, or even seeking God for that matter?
If that’s happened to you as a divorced person, I deeply apologize. If it hasn’t, thankfully you’ve escaped the kind of relentless literal enforcement of select Scriptures, suffered by the gay community.
As a divorced heterosexual person, if you’re going to applaud and “amen” the vilifying of LGBT people who even want to get married, and accuse them of sullying the institution; know that you’re not on very solid Biblical ground yourself, and you’re just lucky there’s so many of you out there or you too might be in front of the relentless religious firing squad.
The bottom line, is that we can argue for eternity about whether or not sexuality is a choice, but what we can agree on, is that for heterosexuals; getting married and getting divorced both are*.
Sooner or later, Christians and Church leaders need to decide if were going to play by the same rules when it comes to Marriage; whether or not we’re going to be equal opportunity champions of Scripture.
We’re either going to adhere unflinchingly to the letter of the Law, and make everybody pay the piper for sullying Marriage, and exclude them all—or we’re going to admit that we have made a huge bit of cultural wiggle room over time, to make modern heterosexual divorce quite acceptable, even with the Bible’s apparent clarity on it. (At the same time, we’ll also have to explain to gay people why we’re cool with that, and not with them).
Divorced Christians, you should really kiss the LGBT community.
They’ve taken the heat of Hell off of you.
* Obviously when there are cases of violence, infidelity, abuse, or addiction, divorce may be the only safe option, and a choice one must make.