Conservative Christians should back off of social issues like gay marriage and abortion. I say this not because I fundamentally disagree with my fellow Christians on both these issues, but because the perception of Christians as hard-liners drives people away from the church.
I’m not asking anyone to support gay marriage if their beliefs say otherwise. Some Christian denominations allow it and others do not, just as churches have different beliefs about remarriage for divorced people. But if Christians cease our opposition to legal, secular gay marriage, we can make friends instead of enemies. And when some of these friends are at a point in their lives when they need God’s word, we can be there to help. But if we are perceived as hateful or oppressive, no one will listen when we tell them about God’s love.
Likewise, we should work to reduce the number of abortions by means other than legislation. Although I agree that abortion is wrong, half the people in this country do not. People will not obey laws prohibiting an activity they do not think is morally wrong—if laws stopped such behavior, we would not have illegal drug use and illegal immigration. Rather, we should support efforts to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, and we should support policies that ensure expectant mothers will not have to worry about health care for themselves or their babies. Making it affordable for mothers to keep their babies—or for couples to adopt—could more effectively reduce the number of abortions than would overturning Roe v. Wade.
If we truly love our neighbors, we need to show it. 1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Jesus befriended the poor and the outcasts of his society. We should do likewise, and single mothers and gays often feel like outcasts in our society. Jesus told us to “go and make disciples of all” (Matthew 29:19). We cannot make disciples if we are making enemies.