On Wednesday May 9 in an interview on Good Morning America, President Obama took a step most political observers knew was coming. The only lingering questions were when and how this information would be used politically for the best gain. When the President made the announcement that he was in favor of gay marriage, he made a theological statement about which I must respectfully say “No!”
We all remember well the President’s dodge of the question on abortion in the 2008 election. He said determining the status of a fetus and when life begins was “above his pay grade.1” He was right about that determination. God is the author of life and God’s word makes clear the sanctity of life. Unfortunately politically, it was not prudent to make the same declaration about marriage. In the ensuing media storm and with the west coast campaign appearances, we are all by now well aware that the President will benefit greatly from this calculated, bold move.
Why must I say “No!” to this proclamation that many find exhilarating and reason for joy? My “No!” is not to men and women who experience same-sex attraction or gender confusion. In fact to them, we stand on the promises of God’s love and care for all. We offer the transforming love of a relationship with Jesus Christ. The “No!” that I proclaim is to a President who has stepped into God’s role and made a proclamation that is truly above his pay grade. You see marriage is not a human construct; marriage is created and ordained by God. In Genesis chapter 2, we read that “a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and the two become one flesh.” When Jesus is teaching on marriage and divorce in Mark chapter 10, he says, “but from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.2” What the church teaches about marriage is not a human interpretation, but a commandment from God.
The President went on to justify his new definition of marriage with these words: “The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the golden rule — you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated…” Mr. President, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary was for the sins of the world. Jesus did not die to take away the moral law or the God-given teaching on marriage. He died to redeem us from our inability to keep that law. The Golden Rule is also misapplied in this instance. To redefine marriage in a way that is contrary to God’s word is to do immeasurable harm to one’s neighbor, not good.
On this day after the announcement, we are told that pollsters have now determined that 50% of the country aligns with President Obama’s position on redefining marriage. Whether or not we believe these numbers, it is important to remember that some decisions are not about the majority or what we feel is best. Some decisions are made in eternity and determined by a loving and just God. Some decisions are above our pay grade. And so I say respectfully No, Mr. President.
-The Rev. Shay Gaillard
1 Reuters, August 16, 2008 – “Obama says pointed abortion query ‘above his pay grade’”
2 Both Bible quotes are from the English Standard Version
3New York Times, May 9, 2012 – “Obama Says Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal”