Misappropriating the Cross in Gay Marriage Debate

I support marriage. There, I said it. Unfortunately, I have, like too many other conservatives, appended words like “traditional”  or “Biblical” to describe marriage. It’s too late to undo what has already been done and, as Rush Limbaugh has rightly pointed out, by using such language, we have — unwittingly — lost the political debate on the issue:

“This issue is lost,” he said. “I don’t care what the Supreme Court does. This is inevitable. And it’s inevitable because we lost the language on this.” Limbaugh added that conservatives lost the debate because they allowed the term “marriage” to be “bastardized.” “As far as I’m concerned, once we started talking about gay marriage, traditional marriage, opposite-sex marriage, same-sex marriage, hetero marriage, we lost,” Limbaugh said. “It was over.” (here)

Gay Rights Marriage Equality Symbol

Last week, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases that could pave the way for so-called same-sex “marriage” to become the law of the land. In an ever-broadening — and quite effective — push to legalize and legitimize gay unions, The Human Rights Campaign rolled out a new marriage equality symbol that quickly went viral within social media, including Facebook and Twitter. Said Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Charlie Joughin:

“Red is a symbol for love, and that’s what marriage is all about. . . . We wanted to give people an opportunity to show their support for marriage equality in a public and visible way.” (here)

Traditional Marriage SymbolIn response to the marriage equality symbol, supporters of traditional or Biblical marriage came up with a competing symbol of their own. I began to notice this new symbol — one which places a cross over the equal sign — on Facebook last Wednesday. On its face, the Biblical marriage symbol seems to be a positive response to the morally challenging times that we find ourselves in as a culture, particularly with the issue of homosexuality in general and same-sex “marriages” in particular. I think that those who have posted and shared this symbol on Facebook have done so with the best of intentions. However, I believe that the use of the cross in this symbol is a misappropriation and misuse of the greatest symbol of love, redemption, forgiveness, and grace that the world has ever known! Before you start questioning my sanity or my Christianity, let me explain.

For far too long, Evangelical Christians have fought the “culture wars” with the weapons that our culture provides, namely political weapons. Christians should be involved the political arena, but the weapons that we need to overcome sin — in our own life and in the culture-at-large — are not supposed to be political, but spiritual:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, ESV)

If we view the “culture war” — including the war for Biblical marriage/against gay “marriage” — through the lens of politics, then we must concede that we have already lost the war. Even if the Supreme Court does not strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and/or California’s Prop 8 (which I believe they will), the political establishment — including the Republican Party — will hoist the white flag of surrender on same-sex “marriages,” sooner rather than later. By the next Presidential election in 2016, the Republican Party will either be neutral (at best) or openly supportive of same-sex “marriage.”

Now, back to the cross. The cross is not some symbol to be attached to a political statement. The cross is not some talisman used to ward off both vampires and homosexuals. The cross is, well, the cross. It is the supreme symbol of Jesus’ sacrificial love that covers all sin, including, but not limited to, the sin of homosexuality. To misappropriate the cross in a battle against gay “marriage” is, even unintentionally to be sure, to devalue the power of the cross. There is power in the cross for those who struggle with same-sex attraction, just as there is power in the cross for the increasing numbers (including those who claim to be “Christian”) who fornicate (i.e., have sex outside of marriage), who commit adultery, who lie, who murder, who steal, and who gossip (ouch on that last one).

When it comes to using the cross as a political prop, count me out. However, when it comes to preaching the power and, yes, the foolishness of the cross, then I am all in, no matter what our culture or laws might say:

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:17-18, ESV)


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