Gay Marriage, The Bible and Democrats in Red Districts
Mayor Pete Buttigieg's political stardom is on the rise and, regardless of where he finishes in the presidential hustings, the question of the Bible and Gay Marriage is now a higher profile issue for political practitioners in races far removed from the quest for the White House. Our firm has decades of experience in Bible Belt communities and several Christians on staff whose own faith experiences have provided useful insights when navigating these political waters. Here’s our approach when advising heterosexual progressives in Deep Red communities.
Don’t lead with the issue. We have never seen a “Road to Damascus” conversion on this matter from the campaign trail. The most vocal opponents of same-sex marriage begin with the assertion it is wrong and then go looking in the Bible for passages to support their position. They are homophobes first. Christians second.
Don’t refuse to engage. As harmful as it is to lead with your chin on this issue, it is even worse the refuse comment when the matter is front and center. Swing voters are more likely to vote for a candidate to the left of them on same-sex marriage than vote for a candidate too cowardly to address this question.
Don’t argue theology. There are great scholarly works on this subject that explain why the Old Testament condemnations related to same-sex intimacy pertain to gang rape (Genesis 19: 4-8) or temple prostitution (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13) and idolatry. To conservatives, reading the Bible literally without discussing the context of ancient Middle Eastern culture is confusing and complicating. They take comfort in reading the Bible in black and white.
Don’t Proof Text. It doesn’t matter to Conservatives that Jesus never mentioned same-sex relationships or that St. Paul was condemning the kind of ritual sexual encounters that were tied to pagan worship and idolatry (Romans 1:25-27).
Don’t point out their own inconsistencies in application of Scripture. Don’t waste your breath referencing Leviticus and prohibitions for eating shellfish, cheeseburgers and ribs; wearing polyester; touching a football; the death penalty for infidelity and so on. You will come across as smug and threatening.
- Speak from the Heart. Succinctly. Authenticity matters most and brevity is a close second.
- Acknowledge that well-intentioned people can disagree on this issue.
- Strongly endorse the right to “be who you are” as part of the great American promise of freedom.
- A pivot to a discussion about the “real issues” that plague us is always in order. Healthcare, infrastructure, education, job training, etc. are more important to swing voters.
- Watch Mayor Pete fence with the Religious Political Right. The landscape on same-sex marriage is changing before our very eyes. We have a two-term, pasty white male mayor from the Midwestern city with a VFW card and the credentials to teach Sunday School in any mainline Church in America. He is gay but so much more and that has confounded the Far Right, at least for the moment. His ongoing performance can teach us much.
Disclaimer: Our firm is ABT (Anybody But Trump) and our praise of Pete Buttigieg, however well-deserved, is not an endorsement. We have no client in the 2020 presidential Democratic primary at this time.