On March 30, an MSNBC news anchor accused the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) of “race-baiting” for (among other charges) writing in a 2009 in-house document, “We … need to … interrupt the attempt to equate gay with black, and sexual orientation with race; we need to make traditional sexual morality intellectually respectable again in elite culture.”
“Maggie,” anchor Tom Roberts asked NOM’s Maggie Gallagher, “Do you defend your own race-baiting to further bigotry and homophobia on a national level?”
As one of those black church leaders who has worked in the field with Maggie and others to protect our culture’s understanding of marriage as a union of one man with one woman, I will answer Mr. Roberts’ question. Race is different from sexual orientation, and equating the two (as many gay marriage theorists and advocates do) is unreasonable. And America would certainly be a better place if traditional sexual morality received more respect in elite circles.
The Church of God in Christ is the largest black Pentecostal denomination and the fifth largest Christian denomination in the United States. It has worldwide membership in 60 countries. We oppose same-sex marriage because it is contrary to God’s Word and opposed to the natural order.
Marriage is rooted in sexual differences and in the need for males and females to come together to make the next generation. The very first chapter in the Bible makes this clear: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful and multiply.”
This idea of marriage has roots not only in the great, stirring words of Genesis, but in the human heart across time and diverse cultures. Marriage is a virtually universal human social institution because every society has recognized the need to bring together man and woman in order to encourage and protect the next generation. Both our faith and our reason direct us to this understanding of marriage.
About 10 years ago, gay marriage advocates decided to overturn this historic and religious understanding of marriage and insist that unions of two men or two women were the same as a marriage and must be treated as such by the government and society. They created out of whole cloth the idea that gay marriage was a basic civil right and that dismantling the public meaning of marriage was somehow akin to overturning racist bans on interracial marriage. Misusing the sacred value of equality, they began insisting that all opposition to their new morality was “bigotry” or “hatred.”
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his famous “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” wrote “How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.”
The actual natural rights of homosexual people, rooted in God’s laws and the moral order, must be respected and protected. These include the right to vote, the right to earn a living, the right to be free from harassment and/or violence and the right to visit loved ones in the hospital, etc.
Each of us has the right to choose how and with whom we love, certainly. But none of us has the right to redefine marriage, which was not created by government but by God and is engraved on the human heart.
To suggest the prominent leaders of African-American churches are in the fight for marriage as the result of “race-baiting” is unjust and indeed patronizing on the part of media elites at MSNBC.
Marriage, and the black church, deserve better.
Bishop George McKinney is a member of the board of the Church of God in Christ.