This opinion piece was published in The Appalachian.
Soon, many of you will have the chance to vote on Amendment One, which would alter the North Carolina State Constitution to provide that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”
When you cast your vote, I hope you’ll vote “no.” But more than that, I hope you won’t vote “yes” because you are a Christian.Let’s ignore the fact that the amendment is poorly written and would have unintended consequences that reached far beyond same-sex marriage. Let’s ignore, while we’re at it, the Judeo-Christian theological debate over whether homosexuality is a sin. You’re welcome to believe what you want on that point – but it shouldn’t matter when you’re choosing which way to vote.
Let’s focus, instead, on who Jesus really was – and what he really asked his followers to do.
Jesus was radical and deeply apolitical and he never (as far as we know) showed much interest in romantic or marital relationships for himself. When presented with a political debate, he simply said to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.”
I’m directing this opinion to people who believe what I believe. I believe that Jesus was born and died and resurrected, and that his resurrection secured my salvation.
I also believe that Amendment One is Caesar’s. Jesus never called us to judge or legislate the behavior of other human beings.
He did, however, speak in great detail about love.
He asked you to live generously and graciously toward others. He asked you to stop picking on people, jumping on their failures and criticizing their faults. He asked you specifically to avoid judging others, to leave that to him. He never said a word about homosexuality.
When you walk into the voting booth on May 8, don’t think about the things your pastor or your parents told you when you were five. Think about the carpenter from Nazareth who wanted you to “act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
When you walk into the voting booth on May 8, choose to be like Jesus. Choose to be love.