8 General Rules For EVERYONE With the Gay Marriage Verdict

I wrote this a few days ago somewhat on a spur of the moment…think it took me ten minutes, but I was completely overwhelmed at the positive feedback it received. Made me realize I should have blogged it…

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2014, file photo, Corbin Aoyagi, a supporter of gay marriage, waves a rainbow flag during a rally at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City. More than 1,000 gay and lesbian couples who married in Utah after the state same-sex marriage ban was overturned could get benefits in late July 2014 following a favorable ruling from a federal appeals court. On Friday, July 11, 2014, the 10th Circuit denied Utah’s request for an indefinite delay. Instead, justices gave them only until July 21 to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Here are my 8 rules…amended and built on a bit.


1) Be nice to people…simple as that. People on every side can get very personally hurt over language, so watch your tongue, how you say things, and know your audience. Stating your opinion is fine, but it can be done in ways that end up doing real hurt to people…
2) Realize that there are not two sides to this issue but many sides to this issue…I’ve never even really shared my own views on this issue (doesn’t stop people from making assumptions about mine) because they’re too nuanced for me to really spell out in any non-book size detail. But understand that everyone is not confined to opinion boxes.
3) Understand that everybody here is invested in this issue for a variety of reasons: emotional, relational, personal, theological, and cultural. You may disagree with one’s reasons and you may even find such reasons absolutely abhorrent, but let’s get out of the game of assuming that everybody should be able to immediately extract themselves from those contexts and move them to a new position that is more “enlightened” or “orthodox.” People don’t usually adopt bad ideas really believing that they’re bad ideas. 

4) Don’t use the word bigot…if you use that word, you are only trying to rhetorically shame somebody into accepting your view…and that itself ironically makes you the bigot. So let’s just take that word off the table please…

5) For my pro-gay marriage friends, remember that this is not just a cultural journey but a personal one. After all, even in the 90s your more moderate to liberal politicians were not where they are now. Even our current president had his own evolution on the idea…so if you are asking for people to come to your viewpoint, allow them the time to journey there personally instead of trying to force it with legislative action…It’s not going to happen overnight. Also, remember just because somebody doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean they don’t love you.

6) Read that last sentence again

7) For my anti-gay marriage friends, realize that this is a very complex issue for many and one that is loaded with all sorts of relational and existential feelings. A big part of our identity is our sexuality and there are people–I’ve known many–that really genuinely struggle with it. It’s more complicated than a “choice.” Also, it’s probably worth re-considering how far your view of government legislated morality is really rooted in a Christendom model of Church-State…America isn’t and has never been a Christian nation, so lets let the expectation that it should uphold traditional Christian ethics go. We’ve enslaved people, massacred ethnic groups, demonized people based on race and gender, and we’ve made a massive medical practice out of killing unborn children. So this is not the “tipping point” of cultural morality. 


8) Oh…and I say again…be nice.

  • Thank you, Randy, for expressing so simply how we all (pro-gay, anti-gay, Christian, nonbeliever) should be conducting ourselves over this moment in our country’s history; a moment that affects us all in a myriad of ways. A Christian friend took me to task for expressing how upsetting some of the things that are being said were to me. She wrote “My God, you won.” I never looked at this as a winning and losing situation. For me it has been a matter of equality.

  • Fraust

    I love all of these points by themselves. Really, I do. But you may want to really consider rewriting the paragraph AROUND point seven if your goal is to speak to and mollify anti-gay marriage Christians, particularly those with a background in American history and especially those with a background in American political history. Maybe a look at the future – rather than the past – would be a better choice?

    Because basically saying, ‘you should reconsider your views,’ and then presuming what and why those views are (and then using the moral failings of today’s vocally anti-Christian political party over the span of a couple hundred years to make your point) kind of takes a sucker-punch sledgehammer to point three and possibly point one/eight, while completely ignoring the reality of point two.

    For me this was never a matter of equality, but civility – for this outcome was inevitable. The only matter subject to any kind of luck or change or choice was how people were going to act toward each other afterward. Your rules come terribly close to civil, but when you turn to speak specifically to Christians (and we know it’s Christians specifically from the talking points around that rule), the subtext is crushing, and assumes simple ‘truths’ that are simply not true to many a modern believer.

    This is not me doubting that you are a follower of Jesus Christ. This is me wondering if your expectations of change in the hearts of fellow believers is, perhaps, a deviation from the objective of these rules.