Regarding Amendment 1 in North Carolina

I consider North Carolina home.

My Opa lives in the same house I have been going to for holidays and summer breaks my whole life.

My other grandparents are buried in a small town’s small church graveyard alongside several generations on my dad’s side.

I went to college and grad school in North Carolina. It’s where my immediate family is, as well as numerous friends. So I care what happens there beyond just the normal interest in the affairs of our nation.

And so, for all my Christian friends back home, my two cents:

You don’t have to vote for Amendment 1, even if you don’t think God approves of homosexual behavior.

As Christians, we have to be able to differentiate between different spheres within which we live. As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 5: What have I to do with judging outsiders? Those who are outside God judges. But do we not judge those who are inside the church?

We have a responsibility to guard the morality of the church in a way that God has not given us responsibility to guard the morality of the entire world.

Perhaps as importantly, however, we have the challenge of figuring out how to implement our dual calling to (1) love our neighbor as ourselves / do unto others what we would have done for us and (2) be dutiful Christian citizens in a pluralistic society.

When we hold positions for reasons that are clearly and fundamentally religious positions, we must take extra care not to impose these on our non-Christian neighbors–if, in fact, we would love them with our religious convictions in the same way we would have them love us with theirs.

In other words: if you don’t want the convictions of your Muslim neighbor to be forced on your through the laws of the state, you should not force your Christian convictions on your neighbor through that mechanism.

In this case, the issues tied to the amendment as I understand it (and I may be wrong here) extend far beyond what we dealt with in Prop 8 in California. Not only does this amendment forbid marriage, it forbids the state’s acknowledging of any other sort of domestic partnership:

Sec. 6. Marriage.
Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.

This would seem to suggest that people will stand to lose medical coverage, hospital visitation rights, rights of inheritance and the like that could be assured through domestic partnership laws if this amendment were not in place.

In other words: this is not merely about a definition of marriage, but about foundational civil liberties.

If my understanding of the amendment is correct, I would suggest that Christians not only have the freedom to stand against it, but are conscience-bound to vote against it. This is about being truly treated as equal under the law, something we should be at the forefront of making sure is the case for everyone–not just people like us.

When Jesus was walking around, doing his thing in Galilee, the “opposite” of being a faithful member of God’s family was, without a doubt, being a Roman military officer. Not only an idol-worshiping pagan, but an agent of the force of arms that kept God’s people subjugated on the land God had promised them for their own.

And yet, the kind of ministry Jesus embodied, the kind of word he proclaimed, was such that a Roman centurion came up, asking for one of Jesus’ authoritative words on his slave’s behalf: “Please, save him… only say the word and he will be healed.”

Is this how those outside the church see us? Is this how we extend ourselves on their behalf?

The challenge for us when we feel that the “outsider” and “opposition to God’s people” is bearing down is to be those who so love our neighbor that even the consummate “other” would see us as an ally, ready to stand together against the enslaving powers that bind us all.

Can we, even if we disagree, be people of self-giving love, who will do for our homosexual neighbors what we would have done for our straight selves?

North Carolinian Christians, you are free to vote against Amendment 1 and in this vote to love your neighbor as yourself.

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