At 80 years of age, Tony Campolo has been a well known speaker and pastor in Christian circles.
Yesterday, Campolo released a statement where he now affirms same-sex marriage. His more recent public position on the matter had been that it was not sin to be gay, but that it was a sin to act on it.
Gay marriage in the church is a complicated issue. It has become a major political issue in this generation.
My issue with Campolo’s arguments is that I think his reasoning is flawed.
For me, the most important part of that process was answering a more fundamental question: What is the point of marriage in the first place? For some Christians, in a tradition that traces back to St. Augustine, the sole purpose of marriage is procreation, which obviously negates the legitimacy of same-sex unions. Others of us, however, recognize a more spiritual dimension of marriage, which is of supreme importance. We believe that God intends married partners to help actualize in each other the “fruits of the spirit,” which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, often citing the Apostle Paul’s comparison of marriage to Christ’s sanctifying relationship with the Church.
He further solidifies this by saying:
One reason I am changing my position on this issue is that, through Peggy, I have come to know so many gay Christian couples whose relationships work in much the same way as our own. Our friendships with these couples have helped me understand how important it is for the exclusion and disapproval of their unions by the Christian community to end.
Based on his statement, that’s his primary argument. The problem with it is that to argue:
1. The purpose of marriage is to help “actualize in each other the fruits of the spirit.”
2. Gay marriage can achieve those ends.
3. Therefore, gay marriage is moral.
He says, “As a Christian, my responsibility is not to condemn or reject gay people, but rather to love and embrace them, and to endeavor to draw them into the fellowship of the Church.” That we are to love people is obviously a Biblical command for all Christians, but the command to love all people is not a command (nor an excuse) to affirm that which is sinful. When Jesus is encountering people in sins, he is loving. But when does he ever say that the sin itself is ok?
The major problem with his reasoning is the idea that gay marriage is justified because it can help people grow, thereby accomplishing what Campolo says is the chief purpose of marriage. Scripture says that homosexuality is sinful. In talking about how it can just as legitimately achieve the true purpose of marriage is to overlook that it’s against God’s command. Campolo can change his mind, but God never does. God has never waiver in this. Just because it’s the flavor of the month issue in politics does not mean the outside world should be influencing Christianity.