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How Should We Think About Texas’ First Same Sex Wedding?

Last week saw a front-page story of Texas’ first gay marriage. I asked my friend Hope Harris to guest blog for me, responding to this event out of her decades of experience and perspective as a former gay activist before Jesus changed everything in her life.

For well over 25 years I lived openly as a lesbian, advocating for gay rights and Marriage Equality. Just over six years ago I trusted Christ, and since then I have wrestled in depth with resolving my faith and sexuality, gender roles and Marriage Equality. Because of my belief that God’s Word is true, I have landed on the side of the Biblical view of these issues. I can’t even begin to express what a transformation God has made in me, that He would bring me to the place where I embrace the Biblical definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Last week, on February 19, 2015, Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend became the first same sex couple to legally wed in the state of Texas. Shortly after the ceremony, the Texas Supreme Court responded with a stay, making it clear that this same sex marriage license is illegal and is not legally binding. This was a one-time marriage license granted by a probate judge based on the fact that one of the women is battling ovarian cancer, because it is possible that Ms. Goodfriend may not live to see same sex marriage legal in the state of Texas.

How should we think about this?

Let’s start with the premise by which this couple was granted a marriage license. It is based on Ms. Goodfriend’s cancer battle; there is limited information available as to what stage her cancer has progressed to. In its article “Women Wed in Texas”{1}, the Dallas Morning News states,

“Goodfriend, policy director for state Rep. Celia Israel, said during a news conference that her last chemotherapy treatment was 4 1/2 months ago. But, she added: “All of us wonder if the cancer grows back along with the hair growing back.”

I am sorry that Ms. Goodfriend is suffering from ovarian cancer and my prayers are with her for full restoration of health. Furthermore, this not a personal attack on Ms. Goodfriend or her partner Ms. Bryant.

From my experience as an advocate for Marriage Equality, I see this as a public appeal to gain sympathy for same sex couples in Texas. After all, who would deny a “dying woman” and her faithful partner of 31 years the right to make medical and legal decisions? On the surface this sounds like a valid reason to side with the couple—after all, this is a one—time exception.

First, the couple themselves are well educated individuals. Ms. Bryant is an attorney who graduated from Duke Law School. She specializes in second parent adoptions for alternative families, meaning same sex couples. Ms. Goodfriend holds a Ph.D. in Economics from UNC.

It is a fact these women are long term partners and based on their level of education and positions, it would be hard to believe that they have not long ago obtained medical power of attorney and given each other the legal right to make medical decision should the other not have the fortitude to do so. Additionally I am sure they have had the foresight to make funeral arrangements as well.

Let’s look at another aspect of this situation that appeals to our sense of equality and justice.

Bryant said Thursday that being legally married to Goodfriend, who has ovarian cancer, would ensure inheritance. . . “Financially, now we’re intertwined, and we will have community property that we will share.”

As mentioned above, the couple is well educated, and they have the ability—apart from marriage—to legally ensure that their joint property goes to the parties they intend it to, such as the remaining partner and their two adopted daughters. I see this as a ploy to gain the compassion and understanding of their fellow Texans for the larger agenda of granting all same sex couples the rights, responsibilities and portability now granted to heterosexual couples in the State of Texas.

What should our response be as Christ followers who want to uphold the Biblical definition of marriage?

It is crucial that we have each resolved that the Biblical definition is God’s best plan for humanity. I can assure you that the battle is just gaining momentum in Texas. As it does it will also bring many heated and harsh exchanges between people on both sides of the issue, in public forums, town meetings, churches and personal conversations. Anger will be most intense towards those who stand on the side of Biblical marriage.

Understand that those advocating for Marriage Equality often view Christians as unkind, uneducated and intolerant. Because of this, I believe it is all the more necessary for God’s people to become educated. Learn to effectively demonstrate a balance of love and truth. Become men and women who can exercise empathy and compassion without compromise to those with opposing views. Below are three common positions most often brought to the forefront of the Marriage Equality argument.

Social Constructs Argument: Men and women are equal and able to effectively carry out the roles of the opposite gender in traditional marriages.

Understand that gay marriage dilutes the value of marriage by insisting that there is nothing intrinsically essential about the balance of male and female. It will further weaken the family bonds that God ordained.

Civil Rights Argument: Gay rights and same sex marriage are civil rights issues parallel to the 1960s civil rights movement.

Same sex marriage is not a civil right, by definition; civil rights are based on socio-economic changes rather than emotional wants and physical attractions.

I have always found this position personally offensive to men and women of color who fought tirelessly to gain equal footing to their counterparts here in the United States. From the perspective of one formerly immersed in the gay culture, I can attest that the majority of the LGBT community are well educated Caucasians who have not suffered the civil injustices people of color have.

Religious Argument: It is necessary to redefine marriage and sexual identity as a cultural norm in order to justify living as one’s “authentic self,” according to one’s primary attractions.

God created sexuality as complete and perfect; however, as the result of sin entering the world, humanity now lives with sexual and relational brokenness. People are using the term “authentic self’ to describe what is actually flesh, the part of us operating independently from God and His intentions for us.

The cultural tide is sweeping the church, not only accepting but affirming men and women who chose their primary identity as gay rather than as a redeemed child of God. Furthermore, many so-called “gay Christians” are advocating redefining God’s design for marriage and sexuality as it is stated in the Bible. (So many people have become desensitized to this label or identity that it fails to disturb any more. How would we respond if a group started a “Christian swingers” or “KKK for Christ” movement?)

This position diminishes the integrity of the Bible as absolute Truth and God-inspired, with the ability to evaluate and direct our lives to become the people God calls us to be.

For those who embrace the Biblical definition of marriage being between one man and one woman, there are moral, ethical and theological implications—for Christians, churches, and pastors in Texas, the United States and beyond. We must not succumb to the cultural tidal wave challenging God’s definition of marriage. Be brave and courageous, friends. Stand firm in God’s Truth. Keep a level head and a calm spirit, and speak the truth in love.

1. www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20150219-women-wed-in-texas-first-same-sex-marriage-but-union-contested.ece

Follow Hope’s blog, Hope’s Pathway, at hopespathway.wordpress.com/

Sue Bohlin

Sue Bohlin is a speaker/writer and webmistress for Probe Ministries, a Christian organization that helps people to think biblically. She loves teaching women and laughing, and if those two can be combined, all the better. She also loves speaking for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women's Clubs) on the topic How to Handle the Things You Hate But Can't Change, based on her lifelong experience as a polio survivor.

She has a freelance calligraphy business in her home studio; hand lettering was her "Proverbs 31 job" while her children were young. Sue also serves on the board of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered organization that helps people struggling with unwanted homosexuality and the family members of those with same-sex attractions.

Sue never met a cruise ship she didn't like, especially now that God has provided a travel scooter for getting around any ship! She is happily married to Dr. Ray Bohlin, writer and speaker on faith and science with Probe Ministries, and they have two grown sons. You can follow Sue on Twitter @suebohlin.

11 Comments

  • Avatar

    Renae Estes

    Your Article

    Hi Hope!! Its been a while!! I want to personally thank you for taking a stand for living the way God intended. You wrote an excellent article. I've been following your FB links. 

    I dont know if you knew but my sister is a LGBT activist. She started Out and Equal and speaks all over the world for her cause. 

    I have been praying for years to see the strongholds broken in her life. My prayer is that I would see more lives transformed by Christ than her influence on these people. 

    It's great to hear your testimony!! 

    Blessings,

    Renae

  • Avatar

    i.hope

    RE: Your Article

    Thanks for sharing Renee and for following my journey.

    I didn't know that about your sister. One of my heroes of the faith, Ricky Chelette, believes the next wave of revival wil be "gay Christians"  returning from the far land to the Lord.  

  • Avatar

    Sue Edwards

    Thanks Hope

    I so appreciate your thoughtful, firm yet kind handling of this thorny issue today. We Christians need your perspectives and direction as we attempt to navigate truth in love. So well done.

  • Avatar

    Tyler Jones

    I can relate
    Being redeemed by the blood of Christ has changed my life a lot! Living that exact same lifestyle was hard, and it was all due to my attractions towards men. As Christian’s we need to take a stand against this! I highly enjoyed this read and I appreciate it a lot.

  • Avatar

    i.hope

    I can relate

    Thanks Tyler for sharing here .  I wanted to share an excellent resource with you, Living Hope Ministries. 

    livehope.org

    This is a free online forum with folks all seeking to reconcile their faith and sexuality.

    Hope

  • Avatar

    Sharon Ricketts

    Keep instructing us

    Thank you, Hope, for continuing to bring clarity around the the underlying issues of sexuality and identity.  Your tone and aproach keeps the method in line with the message, avoiding a war of words and ideologies in hopes of reaching a defended heart.   Your article gives me better comprehension as I find a way to address this challenge w/in my own community. 

    • Avatar

      i.hope

      RE:Keep instructing us

      Sharon thanks so much for your comments.  I really am intentional about my tone.  I do not want to argue or debate with anyone but rather speak a life giving message that challenges; a person to choose Christ

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