Responding to gay marriage


How we respond to same-sex couples is influenced by who we know

by Connie Faber

(Note: The Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing marriage between same-sex couples on June 26.)

Sometime this summer—likely the end of June—the United States Supreme Court will make a decision on same-sex marriage—the justices deciding whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry or whether state bans against this can stay in place.

While a recent LifeWay Research survey indicates that fewer than half of Americans say homosexuality is sinful, two-thirds of evangelical Christians say sex between two people of the same sex is sinful. We are certainly at odds with American culture over same-sex marriage.

How will we, U.S. Mennonite Brethren, respond to a Supreme Court decision that is expected to rule in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage? Will we graciously listen to those with whom we disagree? Will we allow the Holy Spirit to show us how to teach and nurture a biblical understanding of sexual practice? How will we “model an attitude of living at peace with those in our communities who might differ in opinion with us?” (See the BFL letter to the U.S. Supreme Court.)

While the views of evangelical Christians regarding homosexual practice are solidly rooted in our conviction that according to the Bible such behavior is sinful, a recent LifeWay Research survey indicates that our views regarding same-sex marriage are also influenced by whether or not we have gay or lesbian friends. This study found that Americans with gay or lesbian friends are twice as likely to say same-sex marriage should be legal as those who do not. Friendships with homosexuals affect evangelical Christians as well—but more in terms of legality than morality—says LifeWay.

  • Twenty percent of evangelicals who say they have no gay or lesbian friends say same-sex marriage should be legal. But among evangelicals who have such friends, agreement nearly doubles to 38 percent.
  • Seventy percent of evangelicals without gay or lesbian friends believe that “sex between people of the same gender is sinful, regardless of its legality,” while 62 percent of evangelicals with such friends still say likewise.

I see the “friendship factor” at work during discussions about homosexuality with my children—all three now in their early 20s. Many times our conversations include references to their high school and college acquaintances and friends who identify as gay or lesbian. My adult children are much more comfortable talking about homosexuality and related issues than I was at their age simply because they rub shoulders with gay and lesbian classmates, coworkers, friends and family members.

Even though evangelical Christians who have gay and lesbian friends may believe that sex between people of the same gender is sinful, they often seek a compassionate and redemptive response to these friends because of their connections. I encourage us to pray for those we know who have the opportunity to speak into the lives of their gay and lesbian friends. That they can speak graciously and faithfully. May we support one another as we seek to embrace, love and listen to those who disagree with us on this divisive issue. 




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