Several weeks ago, commentator David French announced he had, once again, switched his position on the civil recognition of so-called gay marriage. Though I have no interest in elucidating French's full reasoning since that isn't the point of my column, in a nutshell he was arguing, "personally opposed, publicly permissive."
As a Christian, French said that he respected the fact that marriage was a covenantal relationship that God designed from the beginning to exist between man and woman. But, the argument goes, civil society is not constructed according to Christian doctrine. Our laws do not establish a national church, they do not compel attendance at religious services, they do not dictate doctrine, and therefore they should not impose the Christian understanding of marriage on those who reject it: Not in a pluralistic society where we tolerate those with different worldviews.
There was nothing new or profound about the argument. It still has the same holes it has always had. Holes like:
- Specific doctrines aside, is there not a Moral Law of God written upon the heart of Jew and Gentile so that men are without excuse? If so, will there not be consequences for a civilization that violates that Moral Law? If there will be, should Christians be on the side of those pushing to violate them, or desperately warning (even if futilely) to obey them?
- What about children? Do Christians not have the moral obligation to promote what is objectively best for children – a right to both a mother and father in the home?
But the reason I bring this all up is not to debate French's ever-evolving position on the issue, which like it or not, has seemed to change in favor of whatever side constitutes the majority of his reading audience at the time. I bring it up because after he published his commentary, there was a predictable explosion of condemnation that came from the conservative Christian right.
Without naming names, there was no shortage of Christian commentators morally undressing French for compromising with the spirit of the age. He was called a "sell-out," a "wolf," a "Benedict Arnold," and more than a few posts smacked him for accepting his "30 pieces of silver" from the gay lobby as he betrayed Christ.
David French is more than capable of defending himself against such accusations if he prefers. I don't see that as my job. But there was something unsettling to me about that burst of criticism – much of it came from Christians who were already disgusted with French for his opposition to former President Donald Trump. These were Trump-supporting believers angry at French for selling out Jesus on the subject of gay marriage.
But there's a fairly obvious problem with that, of course.
Oddly enough, LGBT "rights" might be an issue where French is more closely aligned with Trump than any other public Christian commentator. Although, I don't know that even French would find anything redeeming in what Trump just hosted at Mar-a-Lago:
Hundreds of guests in tuxedos of all styles — sequined, quilted, velvet — and colorful gowns sipped on Trump-branded champagne and martinis. Between courses of steak and bite-sized Key lime pie, they danced to "YMCA" and "Macho Man," the disco anthems at Trump rallies.
Thursday night's Log Cabin Republicans' "Spirit of Lincoln" gala in the main ballroom of Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago beachfront club was a joyous celebration of gay rights and — in a case of ironic timing — the historic same-sex marriage law signed by President Joe Biden days earlier.
Yes, that would be the same law that Christians have been rightly concerned represents chilling threat to religious conscience rights. Right there celebrating it were two outspoken voices who promised to "drain" the very swamp that consistently creates bad, freedom-imperiling law like this: former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, and the man himself.
[T]he main attraction, obviously, was Trump. He received a standing ovation after delivering an enthusiastic affirmation of gay rights not often heard in the GOP.
"We are fighting for the gay community, and we are fighting and fighting hard," the former president and 2024 candidate said. "With the help of many of the people here tonight in recent years, our movement has taken incredible strides, the strides you've made here is incredible."
"Our movement." That's a bit more egregious than David French arguing, "let's not break up gay marriages that already exist," isn't it? So why does French get pilloried and Trump get a pass?
Look, nobody bats 100% in politics, I suppose. But given that the political world already regards evangelical Christians as one of the most easily influenced and effortlessly manipulated voting blocs in the country, maybe a bit of consistency wouldn't hurt us.