How to Talk With Others About the Same-Sex Marriage Ruling — and Not Hate Each Other Afterward

by Carrie Gordon Earll

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is the law of the land.

And the ruling is likely igniting pockets of discussion and debate in your world. Friends, family members and co-workers are divided on the topic of homosexuality, and civil, respectful dialogue on such “hot-button” issues can be hard to achieve. It may be awkward or infuriating, but you can count on the court ruling coming up in conversations.

How Will You Respond?

Those of us who believe in biblical sexuality and support one-man, one-woman marriage sometimes feel overwhelmed by the positive promotion of same-sex unions and harsh criticism for those who hold a counter view.

Yet, the Bible is clear on God’s design for marriage: One man and one woman united for a lifetime (Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:6-9). And there’s a role for God’s people to address this important issue, whether it’s on social media or in a coffee shop. It will be difficult to avoid the ruling, so how can we respond with a balance of truth and love?

Three Conversation Tips

Here are some questions to consider as you navigate this energized topic:

1. What’s Your Motive?

Are you angry over the court ruling? Are you offended by what someone posted on Facebook? Do you sincerely want to be a voice representing God’s design for sexuality, marriage and family?

Whatever your motive, it’s likely to surface during interactions with others, so be honest with yourself about why you want to speak up. If you’re moved to speak or write by anything other than a desire to share about God’s design for marriage and a love for the people on either side of the issue, you might want to give it some time and thought before you engage.

It’s worthwhile to remember Romans 12:18 (ESV): “…as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” The conversation should be guided by peace rather than unbridled emotion. Keep a cool head; don’t take the discussion personally, and remember you are representing Jesus Christ.

Tip: Be thoughtful before responding in person or to a divergent post on social media related to the marriage ruling. Consider what you have to contribute to the conversation in light of what others have already said.  If it’s a discussion — whether in person or online — with highly emotional comments, think twice about engaging.  Remember: It’s not necessary to engage in every conversation; wait for the most appropriate and hopeful opportunities to share your view.

2. What’s Your Message?

Whether you choose to engage on Twitter or around the dinner table, be prepared with a few points that express your concerns about legalizing same-sex marriage. (Here are some to consider.)

For instance, you might stress the benefits of what man-woman marriage brings to children and families. There are plenty of positive and proven points you can make to keep your message one that will be heard — perhaps disagreed with, but heard. Be respectful.  With kindness, be firm in your position. Fear not; no one likes conflict, especially with people you know and care about.  However, your point of view deserves a hearing, too.

Tip: When online, stay away from snarky and flippant posts and comments. Instead, post a Bible verse that addresses the value of marriage. You can also link to an article by a biblically sound social commentator, who summarizes your views or share a resource that will help encourage and equip others.

3. What’s Your Method?

Stereotypes of how Christians approach the topic of same-sex marriage abound. This ruling is your opportunity to engage in a way that challenges preconceived notions about a biblical worldview of sexuality and marriage. Demonstrate that supporters of one-man, one-woman marriage can reasonably dialogue about the issue.

Tip: One of the best ways to engage others — online or off — is by asking a question, rather than making a statement. For instance:

  • “Why is this issue so important to you?”
  • “Should all loving relationships — including those with more than two people — be granted marriage rights?”
  • “What do you think the U.S. could possibly lose if we gain same-sex marriage?”
  • “Are you aware some Christians (florists, bakers, photographers, etc.) are losing not only their religious freedom, but also their livelihoods because, according to their faith, they cannot participate in same-sex weddings?”

The way we define marriage makes a difference because that definition impacts everyone, not just same-sex couples.  As we engage with others, our challenge is to lovingly uphold God’s design for marriage represented by the two halves of humanity — male and female — while listening and respecting those who have differing viewpoints.  The Court ruling will not end the discussion, providing Christians the opportunity to practice this balance of truth and love even more in the days to come.

Do you have questions about this topic? Email the Focus on the Family Thriving Values team at ThrivingValues@focus.org.

print-carrie-gordon-earllCarrie Gordon Earll is the vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family, where she leads the staff that provides expertise on a range of social policy topics affecting life issues, marriage and religious liberties.


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