Miss California on Gay Marriage

I’ve haven’t said anything on here about the gay marriage debates going on this year. I’ve always been worried that I would be misunderstood, no matter how articulate I might aim to be. That’ll probably happen, but… here we go anyways.

I read a handful of blogs and articles this morning from some church leaders and other Christians that have been so… unChristian. I’ve already noticed a huge uproar of support from Christian bloggers for Miss California after her response last night in the Miss USA competition. Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet:

I know that Perez Hilton is an openly gay gossip blogger. I only bring that up because he was visibly upset with her answer, which meant there was only one right answer for him.  He asked for her opinion and he got her personal opinion. She didn’t impose her convictions on him- she shared her honest feelings because she was asked to.

But I don’t want to talk too much about that video- I’m more interested in the response from the Church so far. I won’t link to anyone, but I’ll just say that I’ve already read a handful of condemning and unloving responses from people who are supposed to be speaking on behalf of Jesus. I actually agree with what some of them say, I just can’t stand how they say it. I’m a conservative in regards to the gay marriage debate… I just don’t open my mouth unless my words are loving. All I hear is gong gong gong from the people doing most of the talking.

I work for a church that took great strides to protect the traditional definition of marriage in last year’s Prop 8 votes. Our lead pastor has a huge heart, and his motivation for doing so was out of love, and in an effort to protect our church from future legal battles. I say that before I post this so nobody will get mad at what I say next 😉

I emailed Tony Campolo earlier this year and asked for his thoughts on the issue. He gave me permission to post them here.

Dear Ryan,

Concerning Proposition 8, I wish the Church hadn’t come out against it. Whatever our convictions are on this issue, the reality is that we sent a message to the gay community that let them feel that we Christians are their enemies and that we are out to hurt them.  It’s not the message that we wanted to send and I am heartbroken that it has been received that way. There is no doubt that they feel that we are against them.  The marches in LA and in San Francisco over the past week say it all. They are demonstrating not only for their rights, but against the Church; and the fact that the Church came out so strongly against them did not help the cause of Christ. I personally am conservative on the issue, but I don’t see how my beliefs and convictions and lifestyle are in any way endangered by giving gay and lesbian people the rights that heterosexual couples enjoy. I just don’t see it. Maybe I need some spiritual guidance more than you do.

Sincerely,
Tony Campolo

I feel like Miss California did what she needed to do. She answered a question. The response from some people has been sort of like a fist-pumping in the air with a “YOU TELL EM GIRL!” attitude. Like we won a battle. If it’s a battle then… are gay people the enemy?

I’m proud of the way my church handled themselves this past year. I might not have done things the exact same way, but I always knew that our leadership’s motives were pure and loving.

I can’t say the same for MOST of the other churches out there.

I wish they would just be quiet… because they’re making enemies out of people who are being pursued by God. People who Jesus died and rose again for.

They’re proving their points but burning down bridges.

What do you think about what Tony said?

How is YOUR church navigating these waters?

How would you have answered Perez Hilton?

How can we show the love of Jesus to the gay community?

21 thoughts on “Miss California on Gay Marriage”

  1. I’ve commented several times today elsewhere articulating it all different ways but the bottom line is that she answered with integrity, unfilitered, and with honesty. I hope my children make the same choice when and if they are put in a situation like that, with honesty, nothing more, nothing less.

  2. wow what an interesting blog – i’ve really enjoyed following along because you interact with sometimes rather touchy subjects and it’s been really encouraging to read the responses from people and to think about these issues.

    I totally agree with what Tony said, and I have my own convictions and beliefs on the issue but then again, I think who am I to enforce them on people that do not believe what I believe? Many gay couples love each other – AND the church needs to love gay people to. It certainly hasn’t sent that message, the church views sexual sins on a completely different level than other sins people deal with but does God look at it any different? I have gay friends and even studied theology with someone who was gay (though she did not practice). It’s been interesting to get their viewpoint. The ‘love the sinner hate the sin’ thing comes up often, but I don’t know if people believe that or practice it. I think my views have landed me with a ‘liberal’ label last time I visited the states though I do not consider myself to be one by any means.

    Whilst I agreed with Miss California, the US is a free country and people should be free to make decisions, its a human right. Here in the UK, it is up to the individual minister whether or not he/she wants to ‘bless’ a gay union, though I’m sure many lawsuits can arise if they say ‘no’, so I could see where your minister was coming from by supporting the proposition. It’s a tricky situation! What if you found out a minister was gay/lesbian? Would you fire them? If you did – would that violate equal opportunity legislation? Yikes!

    Many of my colleagues here find it difficult to understand why the US traditionally focuses on abortion and homosexual marriage as the two major issues (they were big in the last election and big on political agendas). Someone (not a Christian) asked me why Christians are so against a love between two people and supporting ‘traditional marriage’ which is on the decline in Britain and many marriages end in divorce. I thought the argument there was flawed, but hmm maybe a point was made – why do we make gay people the enemy? What makes them different than us?

    People in Europe are generally more accepting and if a gay person came to my church (which I am sure there are most likely some in the congregation) we’d love them like any other person because Jesus loves gay people just like liars, thieves, adulterers, etc. It doesn’t mean we love what they do/practice, but who are we to judge that? I think if we stop judging them and stop making idiots of the ourselves as the Church by these parades, protests, rallies, and walking around parks with megaphones and engage with dialogue then inroads can be made.

    I think we need to be sensitive – and support gay people; not in what they do – but support them by showing them care, love, mercy, and grace the way Christ would.

    I could be completely off the mark but just thought I’d share my views which change and develop frequently:)

    -Justin

  3. Hey Ryan,

    This has been an issue that I have had strong opinions about about in the past. Sometimes I have been made the enemy of some my own peers in the church as well. I am conservative on this issue and my belief is that God created marriage between one man and one woman. However, I also agree with Tony’s assessment that shows I do not believe that my religious beliefs will in no way be affected if the gay community gets the same rights as heterosexuals.

    The church I go to now is great when it comes to these issues. Yes, they do hold everything in light of scripture, but we also recognize people that are broken. Our motto is “No Perfect People Allowed”. And as corny as it sounds it is lived out. We are a church that is committed to being intentional about showing Jesus to the community through love, grace, and compassion. We kind of step aside and let God lead. If that makes sense. We do not judge or condemn but we do fully support the integrity of scripture.

    Showing the love of Jesus to the gay community is through Grace, Love, and Compassion. Meeting them at their heart level. Far be it for me to condemn given my own personal issues.

  4. I think what I hear you saying is that you want the church to be known for something other than anti-gay marriage. and to that i say, “amen.” I don’t have too much of an issue one way or the other on this issue. It is still my choice to marry a man or a woman, and I can see how gays view this as a civil rights issue. Bottom line though…let’s be remembered for something else other than politics.

  5. Blue Rain, I agree. Thanks for swinging by!

    Justin, I’m glad you read my blog! I like the way you think.

    Mike, sounds like a great church. Your comment reminded me of something I heard Campolo say once- “I’m as conservative as Scripture but as liberal as love.” or something close to that.

    Tyler, I love when people say “I think what I hear you saying is…” haha. It usually means that I was on an incoherent rant.

  6. Ryan,

    I think it might be time to nail down some more detailed thinking on this issue. Two thoughts in particular stand out.

    1. What do you consider “loving?” How about calling your opponents (or even your audience) “dogs” or “foolish”? You may recall that the fellow who penned the words about “speaking the truth in love” used them (among many others) for his opponents and audience.

    Or how about calling your opponents “hypocrites” and “blind guides”? You may also recall that the fellow who spoke the words about “loving your neighbor as yourself” used them (among many others) for his opponents.

    Point is, speaking firmly and with conviction are often confused today with speaking “unlovingly.” I think there is biblical precedent to be clear voices on difficult issue, even if we don’t come off real likeable. What we believe is often offensive.

    That said, I get frustrated with how people talk about this issue. But on that issue, if I can be frank (and meaning no disrespect), this post doesn’t help at all because you don’t cite those you argue against. I see why: you don’t want to go out bashing brothers and sisters, and I appreciate erring on that side in the blogosphere especially. But instead you’re complaining against a hypothetical audience that we have to take your word for.

    Maybe you could post some of the troubling statements without saying exactly who they’re by?

    2. There is more to be said about the gay marriage issue than just “we want to be known for the gospel.” I agree with that, to be sure, but who doesn’t? It might be time to buckle down and think about all of the ins and outs of this stuff.

    For one thing, this is about more than just getting married. Look at how the pro-gay marriage camp has talked about this: it’s about what you think of homosexuality, not just gay marriage. And as a good friend of mine once said to me, he doesn’t want to call good, “evil” and evil, “good.”

    For another, my concern is more about how individual homosexuals that I know think of me than what “the gay community” (whatever that means) thinks of “the Christians.” And I don’t think speaking my mind clearly about it is actually that off-putting, when we get personal- as long as it’s in the context or relationship.

    There are also genuine legal considerations which I won’t get into now, but you’ve probably heard them.

    Respectfully,

    Andrew Faris
    Christians in Context

  7. Andrew, a hypothetical audience? Do I really need to go back and find those links for you to feel like this is a valid conversation? I feel like I’m back in high school and I just got a paper back with red ink all over it. High school is over, the hypotheticals are all you get 🙂 No soup for you.

    And as far as the guy who called people dogs and foolish… I imagine his words carried much more authority than ours. I’m not saying we need to be flimsy with our convictions, but I am saying that we need to ask whether or not the Church’s current methods are working. I’ve had to say plenty of things in my time as a pastor that weren’t pleasant… but I’ve worked hard to make sure that the listeners knew that I cared for them.

    Oh, and about that guy who called people names… do you recall that he never once mentioned homosexuality (at least not via one of the gospel writers)? Yes, its all the word of God, Hebrew Bible and all, so he technically HAS talked about it. He DID talk a lot about divorce, but which issue carries more weight in today’s Church?

    I like what you said about it being in the context of a relationship. I line up with the overall theology of most of the people that frustrate me, I just think its a lot more complex than them.

  8. what’s really, really interresting the way perez reacted to her answer. she stated her opinion and he showed disgust to her response. he was really, really hoping for a confirmation and didn’t get one from her. funny how no one has questioned his ‘put down’ reaction, only her honest response is being questioned.

    this fact says absolute volumes about this movement in general.

  9. Ryan,

    My point is that you’re critiquing a side that has a range of views, but you haven’t cited which views.

    Of course I do know some of the types of reactions you are bothered by, and they bother me a lot too. But considering how many Christians talk about this with different ways, I guess I just wish you were clearer on exactly what the problem you have is. That’s all.

    My point about Paul and Jesus is that, while you’re right that his words carried more authority, when we use those same words, they carry the same authority that they did then. There is precedent all over the Scriptures to strongly call sin, “sin”. Often that is for the sake of the rest of the church as a way to lovingly protect them.

    And regarding whether Jesus said anything or not about homosexuality, like you yourself said, that only matters if we somehow consider his words to be more important than the rest of the Holy Spirit’s. We don’t, so the point is frankly irrelevant.

    Actually I think I agree with a lot of what you are saying in all of this. I myself have had a lot of difficulty trying to pin down how the church should react to this because my bigger concern than gays not being able to marry is that people in the church start taking marriage more seriously in general. In that sense I don’t really care what the state thinks of marriage. If I could have it my own way, the state would only grant civil unions (which homosexuals and heterosexuals alike could obtain), and it would be up to the church to call things marriage. Individuals and their businesses would then have the freedom to honor or not honor “marriages” in their dealings, but all would have to honor civil unions.

    So I’m not the strongest anti-gay-marriage Christian you’ve ever met.

    I guess my issue with this post is more about rhetoric than anything. Like I said, I want to know more specifically what you consider loving or not loving when you exhort people like this. I would consider that far more helpful.

    And don’t get the wrong idea: like I said before I do appreciate very much the tone of this post and think if we are going to risk erring on one side, you’re more towards it. I just wish it was more specific!

    Andrew

  10. Now, now, now… this isn’t a grad school paper. I make the rules on ryanguard.net, so… citations aren’t necessary. All those in favor say ‘I’.

    I.

    The vote passes unanimously.

    I’ve said enough to illustrate my point. You even say that you know what I’m talking about, so stop nit-picking my post asking me to paste links to their comments! I think I was clear enough for this sort of blog post. I’m not writing up a manifesto (yet) of how we, as the Church, should navigate this situation. I’ll just stick to criticism for now 🙂

  11. How is YOUR church navigating these waters?

    My old church has said in mass that homosexuality is wrong and the priest did a whole homily on homosexuality and how it’s again the Catholic religion. The church my family and I go to has said that marriage is suppose to be between a man and a woman and not the same sex but, they also said how they believe in civil unions.

    How would you have answered Perez Hilton?

    First I don’t think Perez should have asked that question at a beauty pageant. everyone is entitled to their own opinion and he got pissy because he didn’t get the answer he wanted. I would have told Perez while I don’t agree with same sex marraiges I do agree with civil unions and giving civil unions more rights but, marriage is suppose to be between a man and a woman. It’s just my opinion and while some people may not agree with it I understand that. But, we must respect everyone’s opinion.

    How can we show the love of Jesus to the gay community?

    I think the glbt community does have love for Jesus. I have some lesbian/bisexual friends and while they don’t go to church because they believe Jesus and God hates them I think it’s important for them to know that Jesus loves them and even though the church may be against them getting married Jesus loves everyone.

    Personally, I believe that Jesus and God will love you no matter what. I also believe that God created everyone how they are and I do believe one is borned gay/straight/bi/trans. While I use to believe in Same Sex Marriage after a discussion with my religious parents I realized that marriage should stay between man and women but, the civil union’s should have more in it. Like if one partner is in the ICU/hospital then the partner should be allowed to have say in what’s going on. Yet again, that is all my opinion.

  12. Here are my general thoughts. I thought she did a poor job delivering her answer. People are up in arms because they think she might’ve lost because she insulted Perez with her answer, but watching the video, I think it had more to do with the fact that she stumbled through her answer at the beginning. She said that America’s a land where we have choices, but that in “my country” she thinks marriage should be between a man and a woman. That seemed a little contradictory to me.

    Personally, I’m a little on the liberal end of the Christian community in this one (if you’re in the South, at least). I believe that MARRIAGE is by God, and that MARRIAGES should be performed by a minister. What the government performs is a civil union. A piece of paper that says legally a couple has the rights of whatever government has determined a joined couple should have. God doesn’t grant this. This seems along the lines of “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” If the State determines they will grant the rights of civil unions to same-sex couples, more power to them. That’s their decision.

    On the flip side, if my minister started performing same-sex marriages… well, I would start looking for another church. We all sin, but it is our minister’s duty as leader of the church to share “tough love.”

    One of my peeves, though, is that this sin is elevated to the level of higher than others. You don’t hear as much debate about gossip, but if you have ever been deeply involved in a church, you see that gossip tears churches apart. Jesus says that those of us without sin should cast the first stone… I’m wondering how many who enjoy pointing the light at homosexuality have had affairs? Or have said spiteful words to their brothers in Christ?

    I don’t think that there’s any answer that Miss California USA could have given that would have made everyone happy. I would have been very interested to see how the other contestants answered.

  13. Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, yet… Watch Perez’s response to his own question (also on YouTube). I thought he actually had a great answer.

  14. such a tough debate. this is like the number one hot button issue for way too many christians. it seems that every time someone push’s on the issue lines get drawn in the sand and even in the church we are killing each other over the issue.

    although, just like you and many others, i am a conservative on the issue, i also voted against an amending law here in arizona to label marriage as one man and one woman. the reason i did so is this:

    in this country marriage doesn’t mean the same to the large population. there is commitments to each other seem to include the phrase, “if it doesn’t work out…” how can we as christians say this? how can we ignore 1 cor. 13 and the way we are taught to love? if we love in this manner can’t all things be overcome? truthfully, marriage in this country is a joke. with a divorce rate of well over 50%, thousands upon thousands of out of wed lock children being born, you name it, marriage is not what you and i believe. so if the mass majority does not agree with how you and i, as men attempting to live the christian life as best as possible, view then how are we supposed to push that on them?

    time and time again God gave man over to their sin. to a degree, shouldn’t we do the same? shouldn’t we love them where they are and worry about their relationship with the Lord more than we carry about there sexual preference. i see the problem is that we label and box people. for some reason people are not allowed to be free. they are forced to live in some christians boxes. honestly, that’s just sad to me.

    and tony campolo’s quote is actually: “i’m as conservative as the word of God, but as liberal as the love of God.”

    great convo going on here though. i really enjoy it.

  15. I guess I don’t watch enough beauty pageants but are all questions answered in such muddled and disjointed language? (I’m thinking Ms South Carolina)
    I would say it’s just a really poor response, but if all answers sound like that… Sadly, the event had far to much context: Perez asking a question that he obviously had a large personal stake in, the awkward clapping not once but twice (agreed, is stating an opinion a “win?”) and the fact we’re discussing this issue in a beauty pageant? Is this an epicenter of social thought that I was formally unaware of?
    Loved Tony’s thoughts as well as the quote posted above by Cameron. Keep asking questions Ryan, great post!

  16. Ryan,

    I appreciate the willingness that you have in posting on a difficult topic such as this one. We as a church should be wrestling with the difficult issues. Thanks for taking that on.

    I think all of us who “genuinely love Christ” would agree that loving the sinner but hating the sin is always a difficult balance to strike. You can see that from Miss California’s response. She had great difficulty in addressing the issue. I agree with you that we should not be only known for our politics. But it is difficult to not have your politics and your personal views overlap. Would you agree? After all, how we want our country to be governed reveals what our worldview is. As you said, it is more complex than it appears. But the consequences of sin have that effect. It complicates things. It complicated our relationship to God to the point that Christ died for our sin.

    Communicating the truth in love is always difficult. Some will hear and respond and even then some will lash out in anger. We leave the last response to God and continue to gently tell them the truth.

    All that being said, I have to take a moment to ask a question of you though. Do you feel like your responses to Andrew were loving? Correct me if I am wrong but I did not see anything in his comments that were arrogant or stated in an angry tone. He only asked legitimate questions that you requested when you posted on this topic. When he did that you mocked him by comparing that to being in high school or writing a grad school paper. You went even further to make sure that everyone knew whose blog this was who makes the rules. Not sure how that was beneficial to the discussion. I do not see anywhere in his comments where he made fun of you or mocked you for feeling the way you do. It is interesting that you say that you agree with someone having the freedom to honestly state their opinion but yet you lashed out at Andrew for doing exactly that? If I am wrong then I stand corrected and will repent of my sin and ask for your forgiveness.

    Help me out here, I am a little confused as to why you would do this. Is it because you disagreed with his response? IF…that is the case then why post at all? IF…that is not the case then why would you respond to him that way? It almost comes off like the angry talk radio host who hangs up on people or cuts them off because they are being engaged in honest debate. I believe that you are better than that and could have stated your views on his response with much more graciousness than you displayed. Remember, it is easy to love those with whom you agree…even the pagans do that. Amen?

  17. One more thing. You are correct, there is a great deal of gong, gong, gong taking place from so called “Christians.” No one disputes that and it is terrible that it occurs. That being said…just because a bunch of police officers beat up on Rodney King or are corrupt does not mean that we should lump all police officers in that category. Agreed? The “gotcha” attitude goes both ways and it needs to stop. Especially from believers.

    Sometimes we paint with way too broad of a brush on both sides. “Be slow to speak, slow to anger and quick to listen…” Amen? Hopefully I have conveyed my thoughts in a gracious tone. If I have not then please forgive me. It is never my intention to do otherwise but I am sinful…but so glad that Jesus is a Great Saviour!

  18. Shoulda mentioned that Andrew and I are friends. Thanks for the rebuke though. Posting this from my phone otherwise I’d say a little more.

  19. Ryan,

    Thanks for clarifying. A little “playful” banter among friends is always fun. I apologize, I did not know that this was the case. My comments might be a mute point then.

    Have a good weekend.

  20. With apologies to Ryan for possibly veering this discussion way off his original point, I have to ask: do those who want to ban gay marriage because it’s a threat to heterosexual marriage also believe we need to ban atheism because it’s a threat to their faith? With a national divorce rate of 50% (+/-), just what is it the heterosexual community is so determined to protect? My wife and I will celebrate 22 years in a traditional marriage this year, and I’m at a loss to see how any number of gay marriages will undermine the sanctity of that commitment.

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