Do you think you will prevent same-sex marriage from becoming a legal and accepted part of American life?
Lately, no. The fight has ebbed and flowed with each side trading the momentum and the upper hand. We are still a significant distance from same-sex marriage being recognized in a widespread way in the United States. But the trends are pointing in that direction. I've observed a few things lately that don't really mean much of themselves but are indicators of our current trajectory. (1) A Pew poll shows increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage since 1996 with fewer than 50% (though still a plurality) opposing it now. (2) Apple's rejection of the Manhattan Declaration app (which I previously blogged about), labeling it "defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to expose the targeted group to harm or violence" and "objectionable and potentially harmful to others," and the almost total lack of media coverage of this story. (3) The Obama administration's recent decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court. (4) An unusually bold comment by a conservative-leaning pundit I highly respect, David Brooks, that, though he "worr[ies] about a president not defending a law that's on the books," nevertheless, "on the substance I certainly agree with his position. I think he's moving toward the right position . . . maybe moving a little too slowly, and too slowly for the country, [for] which I think this is becoming a nonissue."
So why do you continue to speak against it?
Well, for one thing, it ain't over till the fat lady sings. As I said, this controversy has gone back and forth, and I don't know what's going to happen next. So what I write and say might still have a tiny influence. There could also be game-changers that we haven't foreseen yet. For instance, the huge turnout of blacks and Hispanics in California to elect President Obama in 2008 also contributed to the ballot initiative to amend the California Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman the same year. Demographic changes because of immigration—especially if immigration reform is passed that allows many illegal immigrants to become citizens—could dramatically reshape the landscape on this issue.
But the main reason that I speak is that one job of a Christian, particularly a preacher, is to be a witness to truth. God appointed the prophet Ezekiel to be like a watchman, someone who foresees impending danger and shouts a warning. God made clear to Ezekiel that if someone chose not to heed Ezekiel's warning he was responsible for his own fate. But if Ezekiel saw the danger and did not warn the people, then their death was Ezekiel's responsibility. As it turned out, the people were destined not to heed Ezekiel's warning, but that did not make his prophecies useless. When the disaster came, there was a witness that it had come as a result of rebellion against God's law, not just military failure or political mismanagement. Perhaps someday we will be in a similar position, and the things that believers say now will ultimately point people to God and turn them to him. That would be a great thing, even if it is very unpleasant getting there.
What will you do if same-sex marriage becomes legal and mainstream?
Well, I will continue to maintain the standards I always maintain for the marriages I perform, whatever the consequences happen to be. I probably won't talk about it a whole lot, because there are other, bigger fish to fry, but I will maintain my position when it comes up. I expect to continue to hold to it even if younger generations of Christians think I'm a judgmental stick in the mud. If a government illegally restricts my freedom of religion on these grounds, I'll submit to being arrested. But I also want to be open to being corrected from the Word of God if in fact I've confused what the Lord has said with what I think.
So, do you have any hope for your position?
I have hope in something even more powerful. I have hope in the kingdom of God. I have hope that Christ will return and take sovereign authority over the whole world and set it up the way he wants it. I have hope that as I preach that message, people will believe and be saved on that great day. And I have hope that nothing can stop that. No one has ever lived in a community with perfect laws. Though a community will thrive in part because of how perfect its laws are, the community of my primary citizenship does have perfect governance and cannot be overcome by any other. I don't need to live in an ideal state to be happy, because in Christ I already live there, and I always will. And I am confident that more and more people will by God's grace opt to live there too no matter what our earthly communities become.