COMMENTARY | Meredith Flynn
For something that we talked about for so long, the debate over same-sex marriage seemed to end so quickly. Tuesday’s vote in the Illinois House was preceded by two hours of debate, sure, but the feeling inside the Capitol was that this decision was a foregone conclusion.
The legislation – officially titled Senate Bill 10 – passed narrowly through the House and zipped back through the Senate and onto to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk, where presumably it will be signed soon. If all goes according to the bill, same-sex marriage is legal in Illinois effective June 1, 2014.
Supporters of the bill stood in line outside the House gallery, hoping to get inside before the vote. As discussion dragged on inside the chamber, they huddled around iPads and cell phones, listening to a live stream of the debate. Eventually, they struck up conversations about what a yes vote would mean.
“It’s a no-brainer,” a young woman in an ILove T-shirt told me. She was polite and hopeful about the day, probably college-age. We chatted for a few minutes about what we thought about the issue, and I told her church leaders are most concerned about redefining something originally defined by God.
“But not everyone believes in God,” she said. For her, religion and the matter at hand were completely separate. And after five or ten minutes, I realized I didn’t have answers to counter her argument.
Before the vote, we heard that people on the pro side of the same-sex marriage won’t be persuaded by debate based on the Bible. In other words, our defense of marriage is rightly grounded in biblical truth, but our arguments need oomph – sociological, philosophical and yes, theological, oomph.
How true that is now that we’re facing a new normal in Illinois. As I continued to think about what I could have said in that line, I realized this is a new day for Christians too. We have to pray harder for our culture, study God’s Word more faithfully, and be more diligent in our thinking. Unlike my friend in line, this has to be a “brainer” for us.
Above all, we have to be more loving. This months-long debate has been divisive. Relationships are frayed between conservative Christians and those who advocated a new definition of marriage. We have to love intentionally in the days ahead. We’ll do that by thinking deeply and compassionately, and with discipline. And letting our words so follow.
Meredith Flynn is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.