This started as a comment on Rachel's post "Gay Marriage" but grew really big so I am posting it here. Be sure to go back to her post to follow the discussion.
I will state right now that I am going to use the Bible as the basis for my arguments. You will probably bring up separation of church and state and how we aren't a Christian nation and yes, that is true. But the people in our society, many of which are Christians, do get to decide what is a cultural norm. No, we don't get to infringe upon others rights but marriage is not a right. I don't have the right to marry whom every I want. I can't marry more than one person. I can't marry my brother. Why? Because we as a society don't think it is in the best interest of our society.
Marriage is a way society promotes what they want to be the norm. And I think you must agree with that because you realize it isn't just about legal/monetary rights because civil unions do that. But civil unions don't get you normalization. Marriage does. And I have absolutely no problem with society as a whole deciding what it wants to promote and encourage and what it does not.
But on to your first point, it's really the only one I am specifically going to address because this comment is already going to be ginormous.
You said, "Gay people are not a problem". I agree, sort of. They are a problem, but not any more that any other sinner is.
So right off the bat we disagree. I do think living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin. I believe that the entire Bible is the word of God and is completely true (I'm not clarifying that so much because I don't think you, Rachel, don't believe that, but because I know other "Christians" who
do not) so I do think those verses* clearly state that homosexuality is a sin and do apply today. But it isn't just those verses sprinkled here and there. It is that I can also see God's plan for marriage and human relations as a whole and how it is incompatible with homosexuality. People are not interchangeable. God made men and God made women. They are not the same. He also made them specifically in mind for marriage (man is not meant to be alone). That wasn't an accident. He made them for marriage with a plan, to highlight the gospel. I used to think about the comparison between the husband and wife and Jesus and the church to be a "kinda neat thing" Hmm, fancy that, they are similar, how neat. And then I would move on.
But once I got married, I really began to understand the example. Craig and I have different roles in our marriage, just as Christ and his Church have different roles in their relationship. They are not interchangeable, and neither are a husband and wife. And I realized I had the timelines all wrong. God didn't make man and woman and marriage, then have marriage exists for a couple thousand years, then once Jesus came around, God realized how similar the two relationships were. No!
God created marriage knowing that Jesus would be the ultimate husband, the head of the His church. As far as Christianity and God's plan - that is its purpose - to illustrate the gospel. And since God knew what he was doing, it is good in other ways, for the emotional and physical healthy of the couple, for the benefit of the children, for the stability of our society - all good stuff. But not the main goal. The main goal - to illustrate the gospel. In fact, that is our purpose as Christians - to illustrate the gospel. My entire life, everything I think, everything I do, should be about illustrating the gospel. It isn't because sanctification is a process and I am not perfect, but it should be.
So should I shun and despise divorcees? No!
Should I shun and despise fornicators? No!
Should I shun and despise homosexuals? No!
Should I despise divorce, fornication and homosexuality? Yes - because all those things undermine and tear apart the example that God has created of marriage as a representation of his Son's love for his church. They make a mockery of it.
I think some people hate to call homosexuality a sin because they don't think it is a choice. But I don't agree . You may think it is a crappy choice, a choice you wouldn't never want to make or ask anyone to make, a choice where all options are less than ideal. But it is a choice. And given the fallen and sinful state of mankind, it is not shocking that some people would want to sin in the that way. Some people are more disposed to pride, or to lust, or to gluttony. That doesn't mean those aren't sins.
Now I don't think we should chase after homosexuals yelling mean things at them anymore than I think we should do that to liars, thieves, adulterers, etc. Mostly because that would not illustrate the gospel to anyone, it would just make me look like a jerk. But neither am I willing to let homosexuality become acceptable in our society, any more so than I want lying, stealing, and adultery to become acceptable. Now people do have rights and they can choose to engage in behavior that I feel is immoral. I can't and wouldn't want to legally stop them. But the point of legalizing marriage is to make homosexuality normal and acceptable and I don't think it should be.
And if I truly believe that God loves me and every other individual on Earth (which I do) and that he has written the Bible as a plan for how I and every other person on earth should live our lives (which I do) and that the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin (which I do) - then I must think that his plan for our lives is the most loving and that if I or any other fellow man follow his plan, I will be eternally better off. The choices I make to live his plan may not always make me "feel" as good, they may not always make my life comfy and cozy and easy. But they are the best. So how can I think it is loving to encourage someone to do something contrary to God's plan? You think it would be unloving to ask a homosexual to abstain from marriage because they won't get the joy of marriage. But I don't want them to abstain from living God's plan because they will miss out on the joy of God's plan. And that is so much more than the whatever benefits they would get from marriage.
*1 Corinthians 6:8-9
1 Timothy 1:9-10