Explaining same-sex marriage to kids

by Megan Dunham
Posted on Thursday, June 30, 2011, at 4:50 pm

My oldest daughter, who is 12, was checking her email the other day. Before she logged in to her account, she saw the headlines on Google News and took notice of the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York. She asked me later what I thought about that.

Some sins are worse than others, right? Not in the eyes of God maybe, but certainly to most of us. For better or for worse, we tend to place degrees on sin. In doing so, cheating on a test isn't nearly as bad as-murder, adultery (whether heterosexual or homosexual), stealing a car, or perjuring ourselves in a court of law. I don't mean to teach my kids that some sins are worse than others, but I do it every day by my own reactions and responses to sin in both their lives and mine. They are learning early from me.

For the longest time I've struggled to put my finger on just what I believe about homosexuality and whether or not same-sex marriages should be allowed. Five years ago, I think I would have come down pretty solid on the line of "absolutely not"-under no circumstance should this mockery of what God ordained as union between one man and one woman be given the same status.

I'm not sure I can say that anymore. Wait a minute: It isn't that I think homosexuality is OK and is something Scripture overlooks or agrees with. But it is that I'm understanding a little better that what is commanded of Christians is simply not the same as what we should expect from those who do not follow the ways of God.

Because of my Christian worldview, I do not agree with the practice of homosexuality, but I do not expect the government or most of our country or world to share that view. The trick for me right now is how do I explain that to my kids?

My friend Wesley Hill is a celibate homosexual Christian. His book Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality has been formative in helping me understand the struggle of Christians who find themselves wondering what it means that they struggle with a homosexual orientation. I asked him for his thoughts on the legalization of same-sex marriage, and he responded in this way:

"I tend to think the church shouldn't behave as if its viewpoint on same-sex partnerships resonates, deep down, with everyone . . . because it doesn't. We tend to think everyone really knows gay sex is wrong, but when we say that, we're just not listening to gay people well enough about how their (my) orientation is 'hardwired' and not 'chosen.'

"What that means in terms of specific policies, I don't know. I'm inclined to think that Christians shouldn't have much of a problem with American governments (state and federal) granting recognition (e.g., 'civil unions' at least) to non-Christian same-sex partnerships. . . . Even Focus on the Family is admitting that conservatives have pretty much 'lost' the culture war on this issue. (Wasn't there a recent interview with a Focus employee in WORLD to that effect?)

"The vast majority of my generation is in favor of gay marriage, and I suspect it's only a matter of time before it's made legal across the board. Which should be no cause for despair among more traditional, Bible-believing Christians. As Paul Griffiths says, 'What the Church ought do . . . is to burnish the practice of marriage by [Christians] until its radiance dazzles the pagan eye.' Our best apologetic for 'traditional marriage' is the beauty of the Christian lives we live. We ought to woo people towards it rather than legislate its acceptance."

1 Corinthians 1:18 says:

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

Lord, how do I-and my kids-pray for Your power on behalf of the perishing?

Editor's Note: Please see "The new calamity," posted on Tuesday, July 5.