Jesus and the Defense of Marriage Act

As I have been reading various reactions to the Supreme Court ruling yesterday on the Defense of Marriage Act, I began to think about how Jesus might respond to this ruling. In other words, WWJD to DOMA? Given the evidence we have in the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life, I think we can be fairly certain of three things:

1. Jesus didn’t really care much about decisions the government was making.

It is fascinating and I think instructive to realize how little time Jesus spent discussing any Roman government policies or actions—many of which were quite immoral. He never addressed legislation, policies, or corruption in the government under which He lived.  What this tells us is that Jesus didn’t consider government a vehicle through which His mission would be accomplished. We would be wise to remember this as well. Government certainly fulfills a purpose of protecting and establishing a just society—but it is not the vehicle through which God intends to accomplish His mission.

2. At the heart of Jesus’ ministry was the establishing of a new kingdom—one that was not political in nature but radically impacted the hearts of men and women.

The focus of Jesus’ time and attention was on spreading this gospel or “good news” of the kingdom. The essence of this message is clear and applies to all of humanity, regardless of sexual orientation. “Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.” Mark 1:14-15.

When you read the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life, you realize that He never wavered from that mission. His healings, His teachings, His demonstrations of compassion and ultimately His sacrificial death on the cross, were all focused on this one thing—helping a lost and broken humanity find forgiveness and new life in Him.

The consistent response Jesus asks for regarding entrance into this new life in the kingdom is always the same—repent (ie admit your need) and believe (ie place your trust in Him.) That’s His focus. That’s His mission. No Supreme Court decision (or anything else for that matter) would alter that.  

3. Jesus would continue to articulate  His perspective on marriage, which is rooted in creation itself.

In Matthew 19, Jesus is asked a question by the religious leaders who were hoping He would agree to their redefining of the marital commitment. His response is instructive: “Haven’t you read,” Jesus replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Jesus refused to redefine or weaken this unique marital commitment that God had ordained from the beginning–male and female leaving home and being united as husband and wife in a permanent, legally binding relationship known as marriage.

He was no less loving in doing this. In fact, genuine love is evidenced by a willingness to speak the truth, even when it’s hard to hear or doesn’t fit the shifting perspective of culture. The apostle John tells us that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Both are a critical part of who Jesus is and both are a critical part of why I am a follower of Jesus.

I realize that in the past, we as Christians have at times treated the gay community in an unloving manner. I am deeply sorry that that has been the case. It is certainly not a reflection of the heart of Christ toward all people. If you have been mistreated or wounded by Christians because of your sexual orientation, I pray that you can find it in your heart to forgive us.

As a follower of Jesus, I have joyfully given my life to Him and have  wholeheartedly embraced this new kingdom that He establishes in our hearts. My commitment to Him involves an embracing of all of His teaching, including His perspective on marriage. I am committed to love those with whom I disagree, but I cannot reject the teaching of my Savior, simply because it may not fit with the cultural opinion of the day.

So what would Jesus do the day after any significant Supreme Court decision? The same thing He had been doing before. Urging everyone to open their heart to His new kingdom, experiencing His forgiveness and life.