President Carter concluded. “I think Jesus would approve of any love affair that was honest and sincere, and was not damaging to anyone else. And I don’t think that gay marriage damages anyone else.”
Such is the wisdom of former President Jimmy Carter, erstwhile Baptist, Sunday School teacher, and all around moral conscience against the malaise of America. Carter espouses the same kind of non-textual, anecdotal, sentimental ideas of gay marriage and sexuality in general that have harmed and distracted the discussion of what marriage is and whether or not it should be redefined to include same sex or other forms of it. According to Carter, it has already been redefined.
Listen again: I think Jesus would
approve of any love affair that was honest and sincere, and was not
damaging to anyone else. First of all, Carter was not merely speaking about marriage but about any love affair that was honest, sincere, and did not damage others. Second, he was defining the morality of it by whether or not it was honest and sincere and did not damage others. Finally, he is saying that Jesus would not merely tolerate it but give His approval, His sanction, and His blessing to such.
Before we go running directly to same sex relationships, Carter is speaking on behalf of all love affairs. Did you notice what was missing here? No mention of commitment, no sense of time or length, no mention of fidelity, no mention of children, and no mention of any previous love affairs or current that might impact things here other than damage others. In other words, love affairs (not marriages) are not only okay but good, even great, if we enter them honestly, if we act sincerely, and if we do not end up damaging (perhaps different from hurting) others in the process. I think this pretty much allows us to do whatever we want.
As long as I have been a Pastor I have never had someone say to me that they had an affair that they did not see as an honest and sincere expression of love and, if it had not been found out, they believed it would have hurt or damaged no one. What an extension of the right of privacy this is! We can do what we think is right for the moment, as long as we mean well, and as long as we do not intend to damage others. That pretty much allows the door to swing wide open to indulging many if not most of the desires of our hearts. While that is well and good for the desires of the heart, it is not so good for the emotional and spiritual welfare of the people, for the long term strength and security of marriage, and for the children who are inherent to any Biblical definition of marriage. It stands in stark contrast to Jesus' admonition to the woman caught in adultery to Go and sin no more... but if it feels good, and you really want it, it is consensual, and it does not damage others, well, Jimmy says go for it and Jesus will cheer you on.
Quite apart from the same sex marriage debate, such a quote only raises further reasons why many Americans are wondering if they must have slept through something only to wake up in the midst of a nightmare. Rights and wrongs, morality and ethics, good and bad -- these are all changing rapidly and the criteria for their judgment is leaving us spinning. What has happened to the moral and social fabric of America?