Today President Obama came out as the first U.S. president to support gay marriage. In his address, he even quoted scripture to support his change of view.

Love him or hate him, it seems clear that he has struggled personally over the issue, which leads me to think that Obama probably personally opposes homosexual behavior, but has come to the conclusion that permitting homosexual marriage is the right thing, and even the Christian thing to do.

This question is not about Obama's motives or his personal feelings. I simply bring this up as context, and to help explain the same intellectual struggle I'm dealing with personally.

I suspect many Christians find themselves in a similar situation of opposing homosexual behavior, but feeling caught in the debate over whether their moral/personal objection to homosexuality ought to have the force of law.

So for this question, I am seeking answers from the view point that homosexual behavior is a sin (there are many other questions that deal with this issue already, so please don't debate this issue here).

My question, then, is:

Given that homosexual behavior is considered a sin, what is a Christian's justification for the legal prohibition against homosexual marriage?

I'm hoping for answers that cite Biblical principles, or at minimum theological and doctrinal principles. I'm not interested in "slippery slope" arguments.

Strictly "social" justifications ("I don't want my kids growing up in that sort of society," "Legal marriage benefits exist because traditional marriage helps society in ways that homosexual marriage does not," etc), may be valid reasons to have such a view, but I don't consider them Christian justification, so I would ask that such answers be omitted here (unless they can some how be tied specifically into Christian doctrine).

I'm also curious what, if anything, makes the homosexual marriage issue distinct among other moral issues that are legal, but not condoned by Christian teaching. Adultery, sex outside of marriage, pornography, strip clubs, gambling, smoking, etc. Should a Christian oppose the legality of all of these things as well?

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    A lot of Christian teachings are "social", so I don't see why these kinds of teachings should be omitted. Commented May 10, 2012 at 1:50
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    @AndresRiofrio: If they can be tied to a specific Christian doctrine, that's fine. What I'm trying to stay away from is "I believe X. I'm a Christian. Therefore X is a Christian view."
    – Flimzy
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 2:21
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    @Flimzy I am encouraged by your last list (in the hope that I think you see the uneasy contradiction and cherry-picking of verses/rules); others to include: divorce (without consulting the church for annulment), re-marriage, not honouring levirite rights, tattoos, blasphemy, astrology, psychics, mediums, every other religion, atheism, contraception, working on the sabbath, women speaking in church, etc. It is a very odd thing that some (and very much not all) religious folk are so upset by bedroom fumbles. Commented May 10, 2012 at 9:36
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    I notice that one of the New Testament passages that mentions homosexuality appears to specifically exhort Christians to decide issues like this within the church and among church members, and not to take it up as a matter of the law - (1 Corinthians 6:1-11).
    – Muke Tever
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 14:05
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    @MukeTever, that passage says not to decide lawsuits before unbelievers, because those unbelievers will not inherit the kingdom of God. It doesn't talk about "issues like this", but about lawsuits specifically.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 20:06

9 Answers 9


From Romans 1, we understand that homosexual activity is a result of a people who know God, but choose not to glorify Him as God. In other words, it is a symptom of a society that has rejected God.

From a theological point of view, a Christian could oppose gay marriage on the grounds that his government is, acting on his behalf, calling "evil good and good evil," directly rejecting the prescribed order. It is tantamount to the society as a whole rejecting God. As one who has a vested interest in not rejecting God, I do not want my government, acting on my behalf, endorsing that which I detest.

This is an active endorsement of a sin, as opposed to mere toleration as would be the case with merely allowing activities that are otherwise sinful. Indeed, all of what is listed could be considered adiaphora - it is clearly not good stuff, and is actively discouraged amongst those who choose to follow "The Way," but there is no justification for legal compulsion to the contrary. In contrast, a government explicitly deriving its power from the consent of the governed is making a explicit endorsement of the normative nature of same-sex relationships in declaring marriage "equal" to heterosexual relationships.

(For the non Christians, a quick disclaimer. I understand we live in a pluralistic society. I realize I would be "imposing my beliefs" on others with this argument. I am simply answering the question, not even taking a stand - though today's news did greatly sadden me. Please vote on the theological justification, do not impose your "tolerance" and pluralism on me. You will note, I am not calling for the pitchforks. I'm just choosing to exercise my rights as a citizen to voice my disapproval, and to show that contrary to what people say, it does affect me. )

Additionally, a Christian would argue that marriage is an institution ordained by God, not a function of the state. When Jesus said, "for this reason a man shall leave his mother and cling to his wife," it is because that is the order which God prescribed. A Christian response would ask why the state gets to (re-)define that which God has defined and put together.

Fundamentally, the real question has less to do with homosexuality itself, and far more to do with the question of whether marriage is a secular or a theological institution. As one who sees marriage as predating governments, I tend to think its none of the government's business.

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    Admittedly, I could have actually gone for civil unions for precisely that reason. If a govt wants to recognize certain benefits, I say go knock yourself out. Just don't use my use words to describe it. Commented May 10, 2012 at 2:11
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    And, lest you think Calling it "marriage" doesn't matter, as one seeking Rpiscopal ordination, it occurs to me that I could be called on to officiate such an abomination under the guise of "equality". As a Baptist, I have performed marriages. As an Episcopalian, i need to submit to a larger church that could be swayed. I would probably need to resign my commission and my ordination if this comes to fruition. Commented May 10, 2012 at 2:13
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    Would you perhaps add in some explanation on why "As one who sees marriage as predating governments, I tend to think its none of the government's business." you feel christians are not instead rallying to have the government get out of the marriage business entirely rather than fight to have the government sanction a definition of marriage that is harmonious with christian thinking? It would make for a stronger argument to address this point in your main answer, no?
    – user1634
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 16:37
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    Hey @Affable - are you of Lutherian "bent" ? if so: try bit.ly/IXUyr2 (read down from the highlight) Commented May 11, 2012 at 10:16
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    -1. This answer may a valid political philosophy, but the theological basis is lacking. Romans does indeed say that homosexuality is a result of a society that has rejected God, but neither Romans nor any other book of the Bible claims that our civil government acts as our representative. Rather, Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world." I've got more objections, but I'll leave them in chat. Commented May 13, 2012 at 1:29

To directly answer the question:

The key claim here tends to be the assertion that Christianity (via Judaism) defines marriage (itself a tenuous claim, with polygamy being common, and no formal final definition) and pre-dates civil institutions (claimed since if you use the Biblical account, marriage goes right back to genesis, therefore to the start). And the Bible defines marriage as one woman and one man. This is then used to make a claim that marriage is therefore "owned" by religion (and specifically, in this case, Christianity).

To offer some commentary on the above:

The problem is: that only works if you accept the Bible as literally true, which even many Christians do not (and especially for books such as Genesis). Most countries are run via neither theonomy nor theocracy, and the Bible is rarely used as the code of law. History shows many examples of cultures that have had fully legal and official homosexual marriages, right up until Christianity came along and made them illegal (often, as was the case in Rome, executing those already married as such). If you don't presume the Bible's claim of marital authority (which indeed, a government in a pluralistic society should not, and explicitly must not in the case of the US), then that leaves marriage as a legal institution, not a religious one. This is then further supported by pre-existing rules on marriage by the state, such as:

  • having marriage available for other religions (yes, other religions define marriage too, and their claim has equal validity when compared from the out-group)
  • having marriage available for atheists (not an "under God" thing)
  • having divorce via the legal courts, and subsequent re-marriage (which is shunned under various parts of Christianity, and accepted in others)
  • the fact that marriage laws have been redefined by the courts many times (since the question states US: such as to make interracial marriage illegal, then finally finally legalized, and changes such as where marriage can occur, and who can officiate)
  • many well versed figures have concluded that marriage does not belong to religion; Luther describes this very claim as a "farce" (his words, see http://bit.ly/IXUyr2 - sorry, it was hard to "site" the link, but that entire chapter applies; scan up about half a page for the start of the chapter)
  • having many legal privileges unrelated to religion (health, tax, end-of-life, property) tied to marriage highlights that there is much more at stake here than religion

Basically, the claim that any single religion "owns" the definition of marriage in the legal sense is more than a bit wobbly.

In many ways, this shows a lot of similarity to the Catholic => Church of England issue around divorce and re-marriage; which suggests the potentially interesting future possibility (drawing directly on the above as comparison) that:

(and this is a speculative outcome)

  • in civil terms, fully legal
  • in religious terms, some denominations will accept it and administer it, some denominations will outright block it

Personally, I think that (^^^) is our collective best hope for an agreeable outcome, that doesn't trample the rights of anyone. I think we're tantalisingly close to the first bullet, although I honestly think we're about a generation away from the second (but I would hope to see it much sooner).

(indeed, many Christian groups have no "anti" position here; Quakers, UCC, etc)

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    @lulian I am using this very site's definition (any group/individual that self-identifies as Christian), and I provided 2 concrete, well-known examples (Quakers, United Church of Christ - not obscure sects). Please be explicit how I was unclear. Commented May 10, 2012 at 11:13
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    But Wikipedia seems to contradict that very sentence: "While it is a relatively new practice that same-sex couples are being granted the same form of legal marital recognition as commonly used by mixed-sexed couples, there is a long history of recorded same-sex unions around the world." Since the word "marriage" is so critical in this issue, I think it wise not to equivocate on it. Commented May 10, 2012 at 16:49
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    @Kyralessa you need look no further than our very own Affable Geek's answer "ask why the state gets to (re-)define that which God has defined and put together". If you haven't heard the may cries of "God defines marriage as..." then you haven't been looking very hard. But I emphasise: please feel free to present another justification. Commented May 10, 2012 at 19:20
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    I wish I could jump up on my chair and yell, "WE ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN NATION!"
    – user1054
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 19:15
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    Just one nitpick: the Bible nowhere defines marriage as one man and one woman. The OT patriarch Jacob, for example, had two wives and two concubines. Kings David and Solomon each had multiple wives. In the NT, the letters to Timothy and Titus limit an "overseer" (bishop) to one wife, but there is no explicit general definition of marriage in the Bible. Commented May 12, 2012 at 20:58

Pastor Bobby Scott of Los Angeles Community Bible Church wrote an open letter to President Obama making these points:

  1. The generalization that advocates of traditional marriage hate or are bigoted against people who don't have a traditional family is an invalid non-sequitur and ad hominem argument.

  2. Marriage has traditionally been between one man and one woman. Therefore the burden of proof rests on those who desire change to provide answers to the questions:

    a. Why change it?

    b. On what basis would a group morally seek to change the definition of marriage?

  3. One possible answer to these questions is for the sake of love. But if gay couples must be allowed to marry on the basis of love, nothing prevents people in other types of relationships from claiming the same justification. Society must place some boundaries on marriage.

  4. Another possible answer to the questions in #2 is to correct prior injustice along the lines of the civil rights movement. But this argument fails as well since the courts and prosecutors systematically failed to address injustices committed against African Americans as recently as 1963. Meanwhile, homosexuals receive proper legal protections both by governments and society. Therefore this argument fails as a category mistake.

  5. From one Christian to another, Pastor Scott reminds the President that God loves all sinners (heterosexual and homosexual alike). But God's love does not override His holiness to allow sinners to define what is right. The way God threaded the needle between His holiness and His love was via the work of Jesus on the cross. [I don't think this particular point is addressed to American society at large, but to the Christian cross-section.]

  6. Separation of church and state does not mean that religious people are excluded from public debate. Nor does it mean that religious arguments have no place in shaping society. Rather, the Founding Fathers rejected the idea that the United States should become a theocracy. When the question has been put to them, the majority of voters (both Christian and non-Christian) have signaled that they do not want to change the definition of marriage. [This point and the next are in the comments.]

  7. It was wrong to establish laws against interracial marriage because it changed the definition of marriage. The Biblical (and in the United States, historical) definition of marriage is based neither on "color" nor "love".

  • I agree with Pastor Scott's general arguments, but I'm not sure I agree with all the details. I'm not sure, for instance that injustice against homosexuals has been consistently prosecuted. Also, I'm not sure voters have always voted to retain the traditional definition of marriage. [Please keep any comments on-topic to this answer. I will aggressively flag off-topic comments.] Commented May 14, 2012 at 18:24
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    In "4", you miss all the legal things tied (by the govt/law) to the term "marriage". Tax. Health. Childcare. End-of-life. Social recognition. Etc. There is not equality there; it is not a category mistake. Commented May 14, 2012 at 20:05
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    And why does Pastor Scott devote so much space to refuting charges of bigotry or hatemongering? I didn't see the President's speech, but I've read the transcript, and I can't find even a hint or suggestion that he thinks people who have come to different conclusions are bigots are hatemongers. Is Pastor Scott's letter genuinely a response to President Obama, or is his true audience someone else? Commented May 15, 2012 at 5:15
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    @Marc Gravell - I would add that many of those things you list are because marriage is generally ordered towards pro-creation and the raising of children. A healthy society needs to replenish itself, so it gives special perks to relationships that can produce offspring, in theory anyways.
    – bigdaveyl
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 22:03
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    @Marc Gravell, marriage is at the very heart of the matter. Marriage is intended to give a stable place for procreation and raising of children/families. Gay couples by definition cannot pro create without 3rd party help and it is very debatable as to whether they provide a better environment for raising children. Opposite sex marriage is ordered towards children, regardless of whether the couple has them or not.
    – bigdaveyl
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 13:01

If you refer to a legal Christian justification?


Oh, There is the Bible stance, that's well known and documented here, I don't need to repeat it. There is the personal moral view, that's all over this topic, no need to revisit it.

I do see a general "fear" in the answers, ~"If people perform homosexual acts, God's gonna punish us all." (paraphrased.) Then again, isn't that the crux of it?

If you believed that others activities in the bedroom (or where ever or what ever) will get you baked in fire and brimstone with the rest of the 'sinners', then sure, ya, you are going to want to stop it at all cost, Right?

If you 'feared' God was going to punish Homosexuals, and you could get all caught up in the action because of something someone else did, why wouldn't you defend your self?

Case in point:

Having "homosexual families" will imply necesity of "homosexual education" which will develop into a "homosexual culture" with keep on growing population in a society which will redefine normality. As a result of DEEP AND WIDE DEPRAVITY they will call "evil good and good evil" (Isaiah 5:20)

A Christian doesn't need to experience the "homosexual marriage" in HIS society, to taste its fruits, for him and for his children, and for all next generations.

Thus, a 'fear' of being caught up in Gods wrath if someone else did something bad. That's the entire argument against homosexuality, here repeated over and over in various ways.

So, this is my answer:

the Christian justification is fear, not of the Homosexual, but of getting caught up in God being mad at the Homosexual and getting caught up in the mess. They believe this long enough it becomes their own fear.

This is juxtaposed to the issues faced by the legal problems faced by those in Homosexual relationships. I refer to end-of-life, visitations, medical, and all the other "LEGAL" issues that are defined by the Government due to the law and its relationship to marriage.

So, you have people who can not get legal fairness under the law due to the fear of select religious beliefs of other groups. That's the undisputed fact on the ground. Due to religious belief, it is the law of the land in various states that Homosexual marriage is illegal, thus denying the rights afforded only by marriage under U.S. Law.

Treat us all fairly under the law, that's what we all ask of our Government, is it not? Any variance of that is a more true danger to our society then the Homosexual lifestyle ever could be.

If that is such a big issue, then remove legal rights for those married as apposed to the unmarried so the Government doesn't have to weigh in on religious issues at all in this.

My own personal beliefs vary, I have come from a Pentecostal up-bringing, (and they are almost the most fire and brimstone as you can get) and have moved to a more 'universalism' viewpoint. I am not Gay, But that's not what is going on. To think the Government would make Law on various Religious beliefs and not on the equal rights of individuals is a slippery slope indeed. See how well that serves Iran as an example. Law dominated by the Religion, and what rights it affords them.

It is not for a woman to speak in church, should that be made a law?
How is it legal to work on Sunday... (assuming your specific interpolation puts it the day of rest actually on Sunday.)

See, this list could go on and on and on. This specifically is a hot topic because of the 'fear' of being overrun by people who, for what ever the reason, have Homosexual behavior, and then being told because of another person's religious belief, they can't have have equal protection under the law. If it wasn't for the legal part of this, this would be as much a non-issue as porn or gambling. ("We don't care, just don't do it in front of us.") You can still get Porn, and you can still gamble, but you can't take legal action for your partner, and you are fired from your carrier. That's where it's at.

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    Very nicely put. The parallel I like to draw is that atheists are also equally (more?) criticised in the Bible (as doomed), yet atheists are not denied such rights. It intrigues me. Commented May 14, 2012 at 12:30
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    Thank you for the perspective on the 'group punishment' aspect of things. That's an argument that is easy to forget.
    – Flimzy
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 16:56
  • And welcome to our site! :)
    – Flimzy
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 16:56
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    I am having a really hard time seeing how this answers the question, "What is a Christian's justification...?" You do talk about Christians being motivated by fear... While that may be true in some cases, it is inaccurate to say a "Christian's justification" is "fear", although a non-Christian may enjoy labeling their motivation as such. In other words, no Christian would say "I justify it by... fear!" I'm very confused about how this received so many up-votes... it seems like mere opinion, has no references, and the claims are clearly disproven by other answers posted here.
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 18:46

There are books upon books of theology that explore the topic of homosexuality. But, I think the Catholic response, as to why marriage and marriage-like statuses matter in secular institutions, is fairly well-summarized here.

Calling marriage between a man and a woman a fundamental part of human reality and the basic unit of society, the pope said, "No other form of relationship between persons can be considered as an equivalent to this natural relationship between a man and a woman out of whose love children are born." (americancatholic.com)

I believe this is in agreement, to a great extent, with the intended meaning behind claims along the lines of the bible defines marriage as X.

The main point is simply that loosening the criteria for marriage equates in the mind of the people things which are not equivalent. And one of those things, the religious understanding of marriage, has a deep and profound significance that is "injured." That is, religious marriage loses its ability to shed light on the intended spiritual reality when grouped, in terminology, concept, and treatment, with things that do not shed light on the same spiritual reality.

Furthermore, in Christian belief, the spiritual reality that Christian marriage reflects is that from which physical marriage's success, personal benefits, and societal benefits flow. As such, the nature of the legal/secular recognition of marriage and marriage-like relationships is vital to the spiritual well-being of the society, as well as in protecting the notion of marriage to its believers.

A common objection is that religion needs to keep its nose out of governmental dealings. But, this objection is fundamentally irrational, and in many cases, nothing more than a flagrant channel for hate. For in all other dealings, the origin of a belief is not considered and is not perceived to affect its truthfulness, and its value to society is judged for the belief's inherent credibility and value. Either the belief reflects an applicable truth or it doesn't. Only when beliefs which are clearly and obviously offered from a religious setting is the source of truth perceived as problematic. And in fact, the bulk of most bodies of legislation reflect values held by the areas' predominating religions. But, they receive little to no criticism merely because the link to religion is ancient enough that we can pretend it doesn't exist.

Religion, to the extent it reveals and communicates truths, is and ought to be a source of influence in society on every level to the extent of its relevance.

To give a non-religious parallel ...

In my first years of college, I had several professors in my introductory sciences (psychology, chemistry, etc.) give, within the first few classes, a "sermon" against the pseudo-sciences, which often insist on calling or equating themselves and their findings with proper science. The terminology, the professors would accurately predict, as well as the loose equation drawn between a science and some non-science X, damages the ability of one to be properly receptive to the legitimate fruits of actual science. It prevents the fruits of real science from being properly consumed, if you will. And it trends the society towards bad "scholarly" practices, scientific ineptitude, and false beliefs.

Despite this warning, the professors would then be forced, as the course progressed, to do battle with students, non-traditionals in particular, who were effectively un-doctrinated by pseudoscientific counterparts and who often had no idea how tainted their perception had become. They did battle, so to speak, with folks who no longer properly understood what science is, why the scientific method and good scholarly rules revealed truisms, were often unable to work within the scientific framework, and therefore struggled and often lashed out at the professors for being "closed-minded."

(And while it's not beyond a professor to be closed-minded, it's not a valid accusation against someone trying to communicate the reason for and importance of adhering to good scholarly practices.)

I'd be willing to bet, if those professors could make the pseudosciences illegal, they would.

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    Your main argument seems to boil down to simply saying that Christians should ban legal gay marriage so the definition of the word "marriage" is clear. It's like saying that the word "sending" shouldn't be associated with email, because doing so clouds the original meaning of the word which was associated with mail, and therefore someone will misunderstand the postal service. Why can't a person simply state the distinction that sending, in an email context, is fundamentally different from sending, in a snail mail context? In the same way, legal marriage isn't Christian marriage. Never was. Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 17:12
  • @DavidMorton Well. Firstly, "sending" isn't a deeply sacramental concept. Secondly, it's only loosely about the terminology. It's important not to conflate the concepts, which in turn does make the language important, particularly when the concept is deemed "vital" in some way. And to many denominations, a proper understanding of marriage is vital.
    – svidgen
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 17:16
  • @DavidMorton The non-religious parallel is actually a great deal better in retrospect than I thought it would be. I'd encourage you to ponder that -- the effects of people treating any "science-substitute" as somehow equal with science. Consider things like astrology, fortune-telling for one. And consider less-than-rigid "scientific" publications as well -- "studies" that seemingly prove things using weak correlations, without controls, etc. ... Anything that's written about as science but isn't science. Not bad only if called science, even if just equated to it. Same w/ marriage.
    – svidgen
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 17:21
  • I agree with you, when talking about marriage within the church, a proper definition is vital, but isn't it the role of the clergy to clearly define marriage during those conversations? After all, how many people really think of marriage as the picture of Christ and the Church? Isn't that, according to Paul, the REAL definition of marriage? If that's the case, the government has always been shortsighted in the definition. I agree that marriage is one man/one woman, but I don't think it's ONLY that. Your answer tends to place the burden of knowledge on the state, and not the individual. Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 17:23
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    @DavidMorton Maybe I didn't address it adequately in my answer, but while the primary burden is on proper catechesis, the secular notions and alleged equivalencies necessarily influence the perceptions of the lay religious. Furthermore, it isn't only the religious that deserve the concern for well-being of the religious. I don't, for instance, do charity only to Christians. No one ever objects to me imposing my Christian values on the secular beggar.
    – svidgen
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 17:26

I found this question and conversation very interesting!


First, I think it is important to identify which Christians' justifications are actually relevant. For Christians who regard homosexuality as a sin, there are a few potential courses of action:

  • Talk about it. (This may include preaching, complaining, arguing, etc.) If this talk never leads to political action, I'm not sure why this person would have (or need) a "justification for legal prohibition". (It would be a bit like one American asking another American, "What is your justification for North Korea submitting a request to join the United States?")
  • Become a legislator. (In America, voters would fall into this category.) The legislator, being appointed by God, would first need to answer the question, "Should our country be governed by God's laws?" (which I answer "yes" in this post) followed by the question "Should a nation governed by God's laws condemn homosexuality?" (which I will answer in a moment.)
  • Leave. God called Lot to leave Sodom prior to destroying the city for their great wickedness (most notably, sodomy.) Point being - legislation isn't always the answer God is seeking. If you have reached the stage of "shaking the dust off your feet" and leaving a place, one might even argue that it would be better to allow God to bring such a place to judgment.

In other words, I would argue that the only relevant answer would be to the question:

Should a nation governed by God's laws condemn homosexuality?

  1. As you indicated, we are presupposing that homosexuality is a sin. (In fact, it is the result of deep depravity.) Scripture teaches us that God's expectation is for those in authority to punish evil. Therefore, I believe it makes sense for a nation following God's intentions to outlaw homosexuality.
  2. I am assuming we all acknowledge that one of the primary functions of government is to protect its citizens. Given that God's reaction to Sodom for their outrageous sins (most notably sodomy) was to wipe them off the face of the planet as an example to everyone else, it seems wise for legislators seeking the welfare of their citizens to guard against walking after the ways of Sodom!


A common retort takes the form of, "Then why not make it illegal to mix fabrics too?" I can't answer every specific instance of this objection in my post, but I will address questions of this form. In general, questions of this form either arise from ignorance (e.g. many laws were mere shadows of what was to come), or are legitimate. If they are legitimate, then it is not an objection - it is an additional point to argue in favor of when designing legislation!

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    In your second bullet, do you mean the US legal "legislator", or the Biblical same? Also: "don't wade in" is an option too, as is "decide that we don't need to beat it down with laws, and that the rights should be actively upheld even though (by the preposition) they consider it a sin". I've seen all of these "in the wild", so they are real positions. Commented May 12, 2012 at 23:18
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    I read Romans as it being God who will be doing the wrathful avenging. Indeed, Jesus repeatedly took the other road. I disagree with your assertion that you (/leaders) need to be doing the punishing here. Commented May 12, 2012 at 23:21
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    However! The biggest objection, when deciding to throw Biblical Law at a mixed population is much much simpler: PROVE IT!!! If you can't PROVE (and I mean properly, not "the Bible says") your claims, then it has zero weight. Why oh why does Christianity think that only Christianity should matter, over every other religion, and none / secular arguments. It is dangerously egotistical. Commented May 12, 2012 at 23:24
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    which is exactly why courts generally deal with data, not beliefs. People come armed with things they can support with reason and evidence. My purpose for asking about "legislator", is that the legal "legislator" has nothing to to with the Bible. You have conflated 2 disjoint terms, and used the Bible to say that the 1st (unrelated) is "appointed by God". Commented May 13, 2012 at 9:48
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    @Jas you're missing the point. Homosexual behaviour is not illegal. You will never (again) make it illegal. The question is not "should homosexuality be illegal" (you lost that), but should the marriage be illegal. Denying them marriage doesn't make them not homosexual: it just denies various unrelated legal rights, and causes bitterness and pain. Christianty gains nothing, but loses a lot. So: ignoring your views on homosexuality itself (you already lost there), what is the issue with marriage? Commented May 13, 2012 at 16:24

Let me restate your question to clarify one possible Christian viewpoint on the subject.

  1. "Given that homosexual behavior is considered a sin, what is a Christian's justification for the legal prohibition against homosexual marriage?"

Let's reverse this question and look at it from both sides. The request for government protection of homosexual marriage, and the reasons that the government should not do so from a Christian perspective. Then to your second point (slightly paraphrased below):

  1. Should a Christian oppose the legality of other moral issues that are legal, but not condoned by Christian teaching?

Today the US federal government, protects the institution of marriage as defined, one man and one woman. Governments also protect civil rights. Protection against religious persecution. Freedom of speech, and also barring racial discrimination, just to name a few.

Some believe it's also discriminatory to oppose homosexual marriage, but in the public square, there are many different opinions on any topic. It's quite easy to find opposing arguments on moral issues, as well as political ones. The important part of this is that all ideas be heard. Good ideas and opinions will stand the test of time. Bad ones will not.

So what we have are two opposing world views. One where anything goes, I want to do my own thing, I want to define marriage any way I want to. Just give me the liberty to live as I want. So long as two people love each other, how can that be bad? How can good people oppose that?

And then the other world view that says, Yes I do have free will and I do have choice. But I bow in submission to a loving God...not a cosmic bully who wants to beat me to death with his rules, but a loving God who says, here's a parameter. I've made man and I've made woman and I've made the institution of marriage. And when you step outside that institution and you engage in sexual activity, you're going to get hurt. And because our God loves us unconditionally, he hates it when we get hurt. And so we speak out and we speak the truth. And it isn't a matter of saying, well, we're haters because we have an opposing belief.

What's true is we are all sinners. Christians and homosexuals, but we are sinners that are loved by an unconditional God.

Christians are not "imposing their belief system" nor are homosexuals "imposing their belief system". What is true is we have opposing views on the subject. Christian doctrine on the subject is clear, God calls homosexuality a sin. (1 Corinthians 6:9–10 among others). Certainly not the worst ones in God's sight, but His stance is clear on the topic.

Everyone is a sinner whether straight, gay, black, white, nice, bad, greedy, giving. Because all of us have sinned, (Romans 3:23) no one has a clean slate before God.

Everyone is condemned (John 3:18) unless we accept the free gift of salvation, which comes through the Grace of God, by faith in Jesus Christ. The free gift is available to all people. It's our choice to believe or reject it. That's the Christian faith.

So given the Christians position that we know God loves us and doesn't want to see anyone hurt by sinful choices. We stand with God on this and all other issues God is quite clear on in the bible. Not out of hate, but with the same compassion for someone else in the bondage of sin. So the real question is, should all choices be protected? Or are some better choices? Christians should speak the truth in love. If that means speaking an opposing view. Should opposition change the truth? I think not. Truth cannot be changed, only discovered.

  • So are you saying Christians ought to oppose homosexual marriage, along with all other immoral behaviors, out of love for those who would choose to practice them?
    – Flimzy
    Commented May 13, 2012 at 4:27
  • @Flimzy Yes and no, Christians will oppose a contrary world view, just as homosexuals will, that's the nature of differing viewpoints. The reasons for opposition are born our of God's best for His creation and the calling of God on a Christians life to be salt and light in this world. Essentially a purposeful preserving of God's will lived out in a loving way Commented May 13, 2012 at 11:09
  • It's not accurate to characterize gay marriage as an "anything goes". There would still be limits, e.g. no 3-way marriages, no marrying of siblings or first cousins, no marrying a minor child, no marrying a dog or cat. But if you're arguing that gay marriage opens the door to these others, this is the slippery-slope argument. Commented May 13, 2012 at 14:56
  • I'm characterizing anything other than God's design for marriage as anything goes. As you have said there are a multitude of behavioral choices that do not honor God's design. The actual choice itself matters very little when it's counter to what God has set apart. If our decisions are based solely on personal desires without the understanding that those choices will hurt us and society in the long run. We declare ourselves gods. Which is the very root of sin. Will the promotion of erotic entitlements stop with the validation of homosexual marriage as a normal behavior? I doubt it will. Commented May 13, 2012 at 17:38
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    In terms of God, I would have thought atheism is a MUCH MUCH bigger problem. Nobody seems to be calling to prevent atheists from getting married... likewise other-theism. Commented May 14, 2012 at 5:29

Isn't this just terminology? Marriage already has a definition, which was unchanged for many millennia. In many Western countries where same-sex marriage is not allowed, there exists another form of social contract also applicable for same-sex couples, which is essentially the same as marriage, in all but name.

So the question can be inverted: what is the justification to (forcibly) change the meaning of a word in the English language (or other languages) to mean something different that it meant for many thousands of years? Homosexuality is decriminalized, so homosexuals can pretty much do legally whatever they want. Yes, some people might harass them, but that would be illegal, even if the harassment is supported or tolerated by part of the population.

A lot of Christians, they have no objections against homosexuality in itself (if they do it in private and don't parade naked through the streets), but they have an objection against taking a word which is sacred for them *, and using it for something else. I can bet that if you made an institution in the US which works exactly as marriage, but is called differently, there would be a lot less objection against it. However, the sad thing is that for a lot of politicians, it can be advantageous to fight for the "right" to be called a "marriage", because they can feed on the outcries of a lot of offended people, ridicule them, and build a political career out of it.

* for example, Muslims would be offended if you had a donkey and named it after their prophet. They would probably not object the fact that you have a donkey, nor would they care what you do with it in private, but if you brought it to a public place and declared how you named it, they would be (rightfully) offended.

  • If it is essentially the same, why is there a need for a different name? The name "marriage" is not a Christian invention, nor is it defined (in law) in religious terms, and certainly not specifically Christian terms. By insisting on two names, you implicitly make a judgement statement "this isn't the same, this isn't worthy". It also forces a personal detail (their personal life) into places where it has no relevance, all through a simple question on a form, "marital status". Perhaps more importantly, though, this answer presents no real points from a Christian/scriptural basis. Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 22:04
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    Oh, re the "I can bet that if you made an institution in the US which works exactly as marriage, but is called differently" - think again: despite "civil union" in the UK the call for full and equal marriage continues, and has support from the top. The main barrier is the right wing religious. It looks likely to be "done" by 2015, and I will welcome it with open celebration (as a heterosexual who will not be personally affected) Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 22:09
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    14 years on and even some of the main Protestant churches are trying to be so inclusive (in order to attract new members) that they will marry same-sex couples. Lots of Christians have voted with their feet and found more traditional churches where marriage is between one man and one woman. If same-sex couples want to get married, let them - but how can a Christian minister perform such a ceremony knowing how God views marriage?
    – Lesley
    Commented May 24 at 15:39

What is a Christian's justification for a legal prohibition of homosexual marriage?

For a Christian, "homosexual marriage" is a abomination, not a "marriage"; God defined what "marriage" is:

Genesis 2:24 man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh

A Christian cannot accept any kind of homosexual activity, because this behavior defies God. Defiance toward God brings total depravity, death of society, and eternal sufferings - all consequences of rejecting God.

Romans 1:23-32 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

A Christian doesn't need to assume anything or to experience consequences of the laws toleranting homosexual activities, because already has the examples in history (the bible is also a historic book):

Deuteronomy 29:22 Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which the Lord has afflicted it.

Deuteronomy 29:23 The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur—nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in fierce anger.

God warns the rulers, that make countries a Sodom's land:

Isaiah 1:10 Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah!

Isaiah 1:16-17 ...wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

Isaiah 3:9 The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.

Jude 1:6-7 ... who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

A Christian is prepared to submit to rulers ...

1 Peter 2:13-14 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

Proverbs 29:4 By justice a king gives a country stability

... and to support them in their actions ...

1 Timothy 2:1-2 First of all, then, I urge you to offer to God petitions, prayers, intercessions, and expressions of thanks for all people, for kings, and for everyone who has authority, so that we might lead a quiet and peaceful life with all godliness and dignity.

... only if doesn't contradicts with God's ways.

Acts 5:29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!

A Christian is not judging peoples, even they call themselves homosexuals or not ...

1 Corinthians 5:12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?

... or appealing somehow to the authority justice against their persons.

1 Corinthians 6:1 Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?

A Christian fights against devil's schemes ...

Ephesians 6:11-12 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

... and when the battle is losed, a Christian goes out from the depraved society ...

2 Corinthians 6:17 Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.

Genesis 18:26 The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

... to let to come God's wrath early ...

Romans 12:19 Do not take revenge, dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath. For it is written, "Vengeance belongs to me. I will pay them back, declares the Lord."

... for the death of the sinful nature to may save the spirits

1 Corinthians 5:5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

Revelation 18:9 When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her.

It can be seen on this forum, not only in this topic, that supporters of homosexuality or other sins, or the ignorants on this subject, they don't care about the sins, and souls, and God. They need definitions for these to make text analysis, silogistic constructions, valid assertions or just nice jokes playing with words ... avoiding the essence: disastrous consequences of the sin

  • 5
    "without violate personal life of peoples". Odd, since that's exactly what you're advocating.
    – TRiG
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 21:22
  • 3
    @lulian: How do you not "violate personal life[s] of people", and outlaw remarriage, gambling, pornography, strip clubs, and homosexual marriage? Laws against any of those things (in fact, any law AT ALL), violates the personal lives of some people. That's almost the definition of a law.
    – Flimzy
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 21:24
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    I say this honestly: this level of intolerance is driving two huge wedges: one between Christianity and secularists (of which there is a non-trivial intersection), and another inside the congregations themselves. Be very careful how hard you drive these wedges - the split might not be quite what you are expecting. Commented May 11, 2012 at 21:26
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    Few examples: Anyone could practice pornography in privacy, but any action in public encouraging pornography (publishing, broadcasting in media ...) will be punished/discouraged. First marriage for every person, is recognized by officials .. but others than first to not be recognized with papers .. more details here >>> Matthew 5:31. Everyone could gamble with their friends, go to the psychic aunt .. but could not make industry from these, selling them as "public services". And so on.
    – Iulian
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 22:08
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    Confused... "psychics" are big business... Definitely not illegal. Likewise pornography. Likewise gambing. Definitely active and public industries. The legal definition of adultery / divorce does not match Matthew 5:31. Do you see my confusion? Even if your particular congregation want higher rules internally, those laws are not forced onto the rest of the population. Why is homosexuality (/marriage) any different? Commented May 12, 2012 at 17:05

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