Omdahl: Opposition to gay marriage shouldn’t be labeled bigotry

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In the heated rhetoric of the debate, some gay marriage advocates have alleged that opposition to gay marriage is the same as bigotry and prejudice.
Such terms are inappropriate. Actually, such words are being abused by gay righters to capitalize on the nationwide concern focused on racism.
Opposition to gay marriage is not rooted in the personal animosities that are characteristic of bigotry but in reliance on the Bible as the authority for a Christian lifestyle.
Anti-gay Christians feel that the scores of Bible references on homosexuality cannot be swept under the rug on the general premise that love supersedes all biblical lifestyle issues. To accept this argument would negate all of Apostle Paul’s teachings and Christianity would become a religion without any enduring principles of morality.
Just as the advocates in the gay marriage movement run the whole gamut from inflammatory name-callers to the rational, the opponents of gay marriage also include the full range from the hostile to the reasonable.
Mark Galli, editor of Christianity Today, a spokesman for conservative Christianity, was among the voices of moderation and reason.
Speaking to Evangelicals, he counseled: “The temptation is to go off and sulk in our holy corner. Or to dig in our heels and fight harder. Or lash out in anger. Or to despair. We can do better.”
On the other end of the spectrum, there are mean-spirited opponents of gay marriage, exemplified by the pastor in Tennessee whose sign on his hardware store proclaimed: “Gays Not Welcome.”
Protestant Christianity has enjoyed political dominance in the United States since the Pilgrims came to Massachusetts. It successfully used government to impose its lifestyle on believers and unbelievers alike.
The Ten Commandments were posted in public schools; Sunday recreation was prohibited; sexual behavior was prescribed, and all sorts of moral issues were written into state laws.
Then the Founding Fathers adopted the Bill of Rights to protect minorities from oppressive majorities. Consequently, even though less than 5 percent of the population is gay, the Supreme Court says their lifestyle is protected by the Bill of Rights, even in North Dakota.
These rights are protected unless some compelling public interest dictates otherwise and, in the case of same-sex marriage, no compelling public interest was provided to the court. Quotations from the Bible do not provide the compelling public interest required to override the Bill of Rights.
Those who pinned their hopes on a conservative court have been disappointed. It is obvious that the changing composition of the court isn’t going to result in a departure from the Bill of Rights.
The truth is that the United States is not a Christian country anyway. It is a secular country. Even the Christians are secular.
“In God We Trust” is just a slogan and not a practice and all nations are “Under God.” The reign of the old Protestant majority in the public square is over.
Editor Galli offered counsel for the anti-gay Evangelicals: “Before we spend too much more time trying to straighten out the American neighborhood, we might get our own house in order.”
If the church could get the huge number of professing Christians to become more Christian, it could stop the immoral drift of society, deter the loss of believers, restore faith in the church, and become the salt of the earth, all without laws.
It is time for Christians to move on.
(Being transparent: I am involved in two Evangelical churches and have taught classes on all books of the New Testament except the letters of Peter and John.)
Omdahl, Grand Forks, is a former North Dakota lieutenant governor and a retired University of North Dakota political science teacher.