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Ohio Senator Rob Portman recently announced his support for same-sex marriage. Why he adopted this view is more interesting than the fact he is the first Republican in the United States Senate to publicly do so.

The Senator recently learned his now 21-year-old son is gay. “Knowing that my son is gay,” the Senator said, “prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective.”

In another public announcement recently Mr. Rob Bell, former pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan and the author of the controversial Love Wins, told an audience in San Francisco that he now endorses same-sex marriage. He justified his position by saying, “I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man.”

So twice in a month notable leaders claim love is the reason they now endorse same-sex marriage. According to Senator Portman and Mr. Bell, love explains their dramatic change of heart. Apparently for them, in the words of the Beatles, “Love is all you need.” But is it?

A few years ago when I was serving as the president of a Christian university, a gay rights group called Soulforce demanded entrance to classrooms and chapel. I simply said, “No thank you.” The university did not verbally condemn the young people comprising the group nor did it criticize other Christian institutions that chose to give Soulforce campus access. We just decided to go a different direction.

I received more mail on this decision than any other in which I was involved during my nearly seventeen years as the university president. More than 90% of this mail supported my decision and lauded the university for the stand it took. About 10% or less of the mail on this issue criticized my decision. What interested me most is that of those who disagreed with me nearly all pointed to a loved one, brother, sister, uncle, or dear friend who was gay and that this love changed their mind about the moral legitimacy of homosexuality. In other words, love was their justification for their view.

Since that time I have time and again noted this link. Indeed when a news channel promoted a “teaser” stating the Senator had changed his position, I said to my wife, “I’m guessing his daughter has come out.” I was wrong: his son had come out.

Love is a wonderful human emotion and expression, but love for the wrong things does not make them good, right, or morally defensible.

If a person says he loves to have sex with little children his actions are not made right or righteous by his love. If a sadist loves to hurt people the love for harming others does not make the action right or moral.

After the Civil War had concluded, John Wilkes Booth’s love for the Confederacy led him to kill a President, and of course his action was immoral. It was still murder.

If a person loves to lie, cheat, or steal, these actions do not become good or right bathed in love. If people pursue sexual intimacy with someone not their spouse, because they love the other person, the adultery is not legitimized.

Love for an action or behavior does not determine its morality. What God says about the action or behavior defines its morality. The reason: love is a choice emerging from human hearts born in and tainted by sin. Love is therefore not always a trustworthy guide to moral considerations. Only God’s Word, the God who is Love in its righteous form, provides a trustworthy guide.

I understand Senator and Mrs. Portman’s love for their son, a love they should maintain no matter what he does or who he says he has become. But their love does not make his same-sex behavior good, right, or moral.

I have less empathy for Mr. Bell, who knows better and who is turning his back on his evangelical roots. Sadly, he claims to be expressing his unbiblical affirmation of same-sex marriage in the name of a better understanding of the Christian faith. His desire to express love is admirable, but it is a love based upon a false interpretation of the Bible. His viewpoint is wrong, not because I said so but because God in his Word says so, and Mr. Bell’s love does not change this truth.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2013

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