As a result of Ohio’s Republican Senator Rob Portman’s declaration last week that he now supports homosexual marriage, I am once again compelled to ask: Why are Christians and conservatives constantly apologizing for what they believe?
Portman said he changed his position because his son told him that he was homosexual. Typically, I would not write about someone’s family issues. But, in this instance, I want to come at this issue from a somewhat different perspective. I want to use Portman’s renunciation of his Christian beliefs to have a more broad discussion of morals and values.
You should know that Portman is one of the most decent people you will ever meet. It’s almost impossible not to like Portman. People like Portman makes me want to stay engaged in politics. Throughout his decades of public service, he has made it perfectly clear that he is a Christian conservative, who believes in the sanctity of life and marriage being between a man and a woman.
In a column he wrote last week, Portman said, “…My position on marriage for same-sex couples was rooted in my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love, a blessing Jane and I have shared for 26 years.
“I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.”
What makes me uncomfortable about Portman’s about face is the implication that in order to love his son, he must turn his back on “my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman.” How does his son being homosexual change what the Bible has to say on this issue?
Portman ends his column with, “I’ve thought a great deal about this issue, and like millions of Americans in recent years, I’ve changed my mind on the question of marriage for same-sex couples. As we strive as a nation to form a more perfect union, I believe all of our sons and daughters ought to have the same opportunity to experience the joy and stability of marriage.”
Portman is doing what most parents would do — support their child. But he would be supporting his child even more by telling him that he totally disagrees with his personal lifestyle choice, but loves him anyway. That way, he would abandon neither his son nor God’s word.
Raynard Jackson is president and CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com.