Denny Burk is the Associate Professor of New Testament and Dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Burk is also the Editor for the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. This post, along with many other helpful resources, can be found at www.DennyBurk.com .
Governor John Lynch signed a bill on Wednesday that makes New Hampshire the sixth state to legalize same-sex "marriage." The governor has changed his position on the issue, having previously supported civil unions but not gay "marriage." The New York Times reports:
Mr. Lynch . . .said in a statement that he had heard "compelling arguments that a separate system is not an equal system."
"Today," he said, "we are standing up for the liberties of same-sex couples by making clear that they will receive the same rights, responsibilities — and respect — under New Hampshire law."
A couple of items of note here. First, notice the governor's allusion to the infamous "separate but equal" doctrine from Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court decision that institutionalized racial segregation in the U.S. It appears that the governor has bought-in to the argument that the gay population should be a protected class (just as racial minorities are protected) and that it is impossible to give gay people a "separate but equal" status vis-à-vis marriage (such as a "civil union").
Second, Christians who oppose gay "marriage" do so not because we believe in a "separate but equal" doctrine. In the first place, we simply do not recognize sexual preference as a basis for creating a protected class. In the second place (and even more importantly), we believe that marriage gets its meaning and definition from God, not from culture. Thus, the culture may be undergoing an ideological shift on these matters, but faithful Christians are not. Marriage is nothing other than the union of one man and one woman (Gen 2:24; Eph 5:31). Thus we do in fact believe that the covenanted union of one man and one woman should be privileged in law over all other kinds of unions. That is in fact why Christians should be no more comfortable with so-called civil unions than they are with gay "marriage."
I hate to say it, but I don't believe that the governor of New Hampshire is alone in his conclusion that gay "marriage" is a civil rights issue. The culture at large appears to be moving in the same direction. As more courts and legislatures adopt this view, gay "marriage" will eventually become a reality for every state. The ideological ground is moving beneath our feet, and we are witnessing nothing less than a full-scale cultural revolution- the implications of which we have only begun to ponder.
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