The Path Not Chosen

Ron Sider opposes marriage equality for the same exhausted "procreation-as-marriage" reasons that have been tossed around for years. What's striking about his essay in First Things is his  acknowledgment that the religious right has ruined its own credibility on the issue:

We have tolerated genuine hatred of gays; we should have taken the lead in condemning gay bashing but were largely silent; we have neglected to act in gentle love with people among us struggling with their sexual identity; and we have used the gay community as a foil to raise funds for political campaigns. We have made it easy for the media to suggest that the fanatics who carry signs announcing “God hates fags” actually speak for large numbers of evangelicals.

Worst of all, we have failed to deal honestly with the major threat to marriage and the family: heterosexual adultery and divorce. Evangelicals divorce at the same rate as the rest of the population. Many evangelical leaders have failed to speak against cheap divorce because they and their people were getting divorced just like everyone else. And yet we have had the gall to use the tiny (5 percent or less) gay community as a whipping boy that we labeled as the great threat to marriage.

What a farce. It is hardly surprising that young non-Christians’ most common perception (held by 91 percent) of contemporary Christianity is that we are “antihomosexual.” Even more disturbing is that 80 percent of young churchgoers agree.

We did not need to do this. We could have preached against hatred of gays, taken the lead in combating gay bashing, and been the most active community lovingly caring for people with AIDS. We could have taken marriage more seriously. We could have shown the world that Christians could defend marriage while loving those who wanted to live a different way.