[T]he question at hand is not whether we should abandon the historical Christian teaching on marriage. The question is whether we should contend for laws and regulations that give this vision of marriage the sanction of government. And to make one more distinction: the question is not whether Christians have the right to promote their views, just like everyone else does, and to support or oppose laws on any grounds they wish, including religious grounds. There’s nothing categorically wrong with supporting laws and politicians who recognize and affirm what marriage actually is, even if your view of marriage is religiously informed. The question, rather, is whether it is still wise to press for American law to recognize only heterosexual unions.
It is, in other words, a question of prudence. Granted, we should continue to profess the truth as best we understand it. But are we so losing the culture on this issue that continuing to fight against same-sex marriage legally will so harm our witness, and thus harm our broader mission and our most important purposes, that the time has arrived to abandon the fight over American law? Is it now the case, or could it ever be the case, that Christian opposition to same-sex marriage laws would become such a massive obstacle to our mission that it’s no longer worth it?
I have to confess: I’m not confident that this fight is worth the cost. Amongst the overlapping circles of the young, the religiously unaffiliated, and cultural elites, much of the animus against Christians today derives (or at least claims to derive) from Christian “bigotry” against gays. We are told repeatedly that it’s “hateful” to “deny gays equality” (what we would call “insisting on the actual definition of marriage”). It strains countless friendships, comes between countless children and their parents, and erects altogether a monstrous hurdle for many people who might otherwise be open to hearing the gospel.