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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio: Traditional marriage should be 'elevated and set apart in our laws'

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio addressed the “Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project" event in Orlando.

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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio addressed the “Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project" event in Orlando.

12

August

Marco Rubio told religious leaders in Orlando today that "traditional marriage" should be "elevated and set apart in our laws."

"I acknowledge that those who have a different view have a right to their views, but Americans like myself who support keeping the traditional definition of marriage also have a right to ours," Rubio said, according to a transcript provided to the Tampa Bay Times.

At the same time, Rubio confronted some in the crowd who have demonized gays.

"To love our neighbors, we must recognize that many have experienced sometimes, severe condemnation and judgment from some Christians. They have heard some say that the reason God will bring condemnation on America is because of them. As if somehow, God was willing to put up with adultery, and gluttony, and greed and pride, but now, this is the last straw," he said.

"To love our neighbors, we must abandon a spirit of judgment. Do not judge or you will be judged. For in the same way you judge others you will be judged. And with a measure you use it will be used to measure you. And we should remember not to ignore the plank in our own eye."

Rubio's appearance at the conference came two months after the Pulse nightclub massacre and critics condemned Rubio for insensitivity and for being out of step. His view on traditional marriage is nothing new but his use of "elevate" stood out.

"For over 2,000 years, Christianity has defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.  It is now undeniable that there is a growing number of Americans who seek to expand that definition to include the union of two people of the same sex.  I continue to support the traditional definition of marriage.  And I do so not because I seek to impose my views on others, and not because I seek to discriminate against anyone.  I support the traditional definition of marriage because I believe the union of one man and woman is a special relationship with an extraordinary record of success at raising children into strong and successful people.

"... And therefore, I believe, as many of you do, that this relationship deserves to be elevated and set apart in our laws.  I acknowledge that those who have a different view have a right to their views, but Americans like myself who support keeping the traditional definition of marriage also have a right to ours."

A transcript provided by Rubio's staff

My brothers and sisters I must also speak to you about the rhetoric and actions of some of us who believe in traditional marriage, too. As we engage in the civic life of our country we are called to two important tasks. Yes, to stand for what our faith teaches, but also, to love people.I know we speak clearly on the biblical teachings and on our beliefs and I hope that we will also spend more time as I know many of you do, discussing how to love people.

In order to love people you have to listen to them. You have to understand their perspective, their hopes and their dreams and their fears and their pain.

When it comes to our bothers and our sisters, our fellow Americans, our neighbors and the LGBT community we should recognize that our nation, while the greatest nation in the history of mankind, is one whose history has been marred by discrimination against, and the rejection of, gays and lesbians.

For example, not long ago the federal government not only banned the hiring of gay employees, it required private contractors to identify them and fire them. We had laws that prohibited gays and lesbians from being served in bars and restaurants, and many of our cities carried out law enforcement efforts targeting the community. There was a time not long ago where it was still acceptable and common in the broader society to use slurs.

To love our neighbors in the LGBT community, we should recognize that even as we stand firm in the belief that marriage is the union between one man and one woman, there are those in that community and in same-sex relationships whose love for one another is real, and who feel angry and humiliated that the law did not recognize their relationship as a marriage.

To love our neighbors, we must recognize that many have experienced sometimes, severe condemnation and judgment from some Christians. They have heard some say that the reason God will bring condemnation on America is because of them. As if somehow, God was willing to put up with adultery, and gluttony, and greed and pride, but now, this is the last straw.

To love our neighbors, we must abandon a spirit of judgment. Do not judge or you will be judged. For in the same way you judge others you will be judged. And with a measure you use it will be used to measure you. And we should remember not to ignore the plank in our own eye.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourself, it is a gift from God, not by works, so that no one can boast.

And I want to be clear with you, abandoning judgment and loving our LGBT neighbors is not a betrayal of what the Bible teaches, it is a fulfillment of it.

Jesus showed us how to do this. Jesus showed us that we do not have to endorse what people do in order to accept them for who they are – children of a loving and a merciful God.

When he came upon a woman accused of adultery, something that at the time that was punishable by death, he stepped forward and confronted the cultural norms of that time and saved her life. Because, while he may not have agreed with what she was doing, he saw her value as his child. For after all, he was God made man.

I know what some of you are thinking. That even if you speak of respect and dignity for all, if you do not accept a new definition of marriage, some are still going to try to shame you and silence you. They’re still going to call you a bigot and a hater. Yes, probably some will.

And yet we must still love our neighbor. Because these voices do not speak for the entire LGBT community. Because like anyone else, many in that community deeply desire to come to Christ, but they do not because they fear they will be shunned and rejected by some.

Two months ago today, not far from this very place, 49 children of God lost their lives at the hands of a radical Islamic jihadist who happened to have attacked a nightclub that was popular with the local LGBT community. Two days later, hundreds of worshippers and ministers from a number of local congregations gathered at First Baptist Church of Orlando for a prayer vigil.

During that service, a local leader in the LGBT community addressed the crowd, and here’s what she said in part: “For our community, far too many have never seen a sight like this. Finding a place where they can be prayed over for who they are, that place for many just exists in their dreams.”

I want you to think about for a moment those words. That many of the members of that community had never seen the sight of hundreds of Christians praying for them. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, they’d just never seen it. That for many finding a place where they can be prayed over for who they are exists only in their dreams.

After speaking to various people who attended that service, I learned that some of those in attendance hadn’t been inside a church in years. And for others it was literally their first experience with Christianity ever.

Sadly, many of them had come to believe because of what they heard in the press, because of what they read, because of what somebody told them, that Christianity had no place for them. And if any of us, myself included, in any way, have ever made anyone feel that Christianity wants nothing to do with them, then I believe deeply that we have failed deeply to represent our Lord Jesus Christ who time and again went out of his way to reach out to the marginalized and to the forgotten of his time.

[Last modified: Friday, August 12, 2016 5:57pm]

    

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