Apr

15

2013

Jonathan Leeman|12:01 AM CT

Love and the Inhumanity of Same-Sex Marriage

More and more commentators are saying that we have passed the tipping point on same-sex marriage in the United States. Almost daily another politician or public figure stands before a microphone to declare his or her support. It feels like the dam has burst; the paradigm shifted.

Whether or not same sex marriage is a political fait accompli, I don't know. What concerns me in the present hour is the temptation among Christians to go with the flow. The assumption is that the nation no longer shares our morality, and that we must not impose our views on others and blur the line between church and state. Besides, we don't want to let any political cantankerousness get in the way of sharing the gospel, right? So we might as well throw in our lot. So the thinking goes.

How hard Christians should actively fight against same-sex marriage is a matter for wisdom. But that we must not support it, I would like to persuade you, is a matter of biblical principle. To vote for it, to legislate it, to rule in favor of it, to tell your friends at the office that you think it's just fine—all this is sin. To support it publicly or privately is to "give approval to those who practice" the very things that God promises to judge—exactly what we're told not to do in Romans 1:32.

Further, same-sex marriage embraces a definition of humanity that is less than human and a definition of love that is less than love. And it is not freedom from religion that the advocates of same-sex marriage want; they want to repress one religion in favor of another.

Christians must not go with the flow. They must instead love the advocates of same-sex marriage better than they love themselves precisely by refusing to endorse it.

I am saying this for the sake of you who are Christians, who affirm the authority of Scripture, who believe that homosexual activity is wrong, and who believe in the final judgment. I don't mean here to persuade anyone who does not share these convictions.

My goal in all of this is to encourage the church to be the church. What good is salt that loses it saltiness? Or what use is light under a bowl? Rather, blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Deeper Understanding of Humanity

I believe Voddie Baucham is exactly right to say that "gay is not the new black," and that we should not formally equate sexual orientation to ethnicity or sex as an essential component of personal identity. It is amazing to me that recent legal battles simply take this equation for granted without holding it up to the light and looking at it.

There are several assumptions behind the idea that a person with same-sex attraction might say "I am a homosexual" in the same way someone might say "I am a male" or "I am black." First, one assumes that homosexual desires are rooted in biology and therefore a natural part of being human. Second, one assumes that our natural desires are basically good, so long as they don't hurt others. Third, one assumes that fulfilling such basic and good desires are part of being fully human.

All the talk about "equality" depends upon these foundational assumptions about what it means to be human.

Marriage then becomes an important prize to be won for people with same-sex attraction because, as the oldest and most human of institutions, marriage publicly affirms these deep desires. Everybody who participates in a wedding—from the father who walks a bride down an aisle, to the company of friends, to the pastor leading the ceremony, to the state who licenses the certificate—participates in a positive and formal affirmation of a couple's union. It is hard to think of a better way to affirm same-sex desire as good and part of being fully human than to leverage the celebratory power of a wedding ceremony and a marriage.

Make no mistake: The fundamental issue at stake in the same-sex marriage debate is not visitation rights, adoption rights, inheritance laws, or all the stuff of "civil unions." Those are derivative. It is fundamentally about being publicly recognized as fully human.

Biblically minded Christians, of course, have no problem recognizing people with same-sex attraction as fully human. There are members of my church who experience same-sex attraction. We worship with them, vacation with them, love them. What Christianity does not do, however, is grant that fulfilling every natural desire is what makes us human.

Christianity in fact offers a more mature and deeper concept of humanity, more mature and deep than the person engaged in a homosexual lifestyle has of him or herself.

It is more mature because Christianity begins with the frank admission that fallen human beings are corrupted all the way down, all the way in. A child assumes that all of his or her desires are legitimate. Adults, hopefully, know better. And a mature understanding of fallen humanity recognizes that our fallenness affects everything from our biology and body chemistry to our ambitions and life loves. Same-sex attraction is but one manifestation. This is why Christ commands us to go and die, and why we must be born again. We must become new creations, a process that begins at conversion and will be completed with his coming.

Also, the fact that Jesus is Lord means his authoritative claim on our lives reaches all the way down, all the way in. We have no right to stand before him and insist upon our definitions of masculinity, femininity, marriage, love, and sexuality. He gets to write the definitions, even when they go against our deepest desires and sense of self.

Rooted in biology or not, there is a difference between gender, ethnicity, and "orientation." Orientation consists primarily of—is lived out through—desire. And the fact that it involves desire means it is subject to moral evaluation in a way that "being male" or "being Asian" are not.

Here is what's often missed: neither the fact of the desire, nor its possible biological basis, gives it moral legitimacy. Don't mistake is for ought. We understand this quite well, for instance, when it comes to the behaviors associated with some forms of substance addiction or bipolar disorder. The biological component of these maladies certainly calls for compassion and reams of patience, but it does not make their attendant behaviors morally legitimate. To assume they do means treating human beings as just one more animal. No one morally condemns a leopard for acting instinctually. Yet shouldn't our moral calculations for human beings involve something more than assent to the biochemistry of desire? We are more than animals. We are souls and bodies. We are created in God's image. To legitimize homosexual desire simply because it's natural or biological, ironically, is to treat a person as less than human.

All of this is to say, Christianity not only offers a more mature concept of humanity, it offers a deeper concept. It says we are more than a composite of our desires, some of which are fallen, some of which are not.

Remarkably, Jesus says that our humanity goes deeper even than marriage and sex, and certainly deeper than fallen versions of them. He says that, in the resurrection, there will be no marriage or giving in marriage. Marriage and sex, it appears, are two-dimensional shadows that point to the three-dimensional realities to come. A person's humanity and identity in no way finally depends on the shadows of marriage. Dare we deny the full humanity of Christ because he neither consummated a marriage nor fathered natural children? Indeed, wasn't the full humanity of this second Adam demonstrated through begetting a new humanity?

There is something inhumane about the homosexual lobby's version of the human being. It is inhumane to morally evaluate people as if they are animals whose instincts define them.

And there is something inhumane about the homosexual lobby's quest for same-sex marriage. It is inhumane to call bad good, or wrong desires right. It is inhumane to equate a person with the fallen version of that person, as if God created us to be the fallen versions of ourselves. But this is exactly what same-sex marriage asks us to do. It asks us to publicly affirm the bad as good—to institutionalize the wrong as right.

Christianity says that we are not finally determined by ethnicity, sex, marriage, or even sinful desire. We are God-imagers and vice-rulers, tasked with showing the cosmos what God's triune justice, righteousness, and love are like. The Christian message to the person engaged in a homosexual lifestyle is that we believe they are even more human than they believe.

Deeper Love

Christianity offers a more mature and deeper concept of love, too. Love is not fundamentally about a narrative of self-expression and self-realization. It is not about finding someone who "completes me," in which I assume that who "I am" is a given, and that you love "me" authentically only if you respect me exactly as I am, as if "I" is somehow sacred.

Christian love is not so naïve. It's much more mature (see 1 Cor. 13:11). It recognizes how broken people are, and it loves them in their very brokenness. It is given contrary to what people deserve. We feed and clothe and befriend them, even when they attack us. But then Christian love maturely invites people toward holiness. Through prayer and disciple-making, Christian love calls people to change—to repent. Christian love recognizes that our loved ones will know true joy only as they increasingly conform to the image of God, because God is love. This is why Jesus tells us that, if we love him, we will obey his commands, just like he loves the Father and so obeys the Father's commands.

Christian love is also deeper than love in our culture. It knows that true love was demonstrated best when Christ laid down his life for the church to make her holy, an act which the apostle Paul analogizes to the love of a husband and wife and the husband's call to wash his wife with the word (Rom. 5:8; Eph. 5:22-32). The Bible's central picture of gospel love is lost in same-sex marriage, just like it's lost when a husband cheats on his wife.

The progressive position might call the orthodox Christian position on gay marriage intolerant. But Christians must recognize that the progressive position is unloving and inhumane. And so we must love them more truly than they love themselves.

Public Square and Idolatrous Religion

What then shall we say about the public square? Shouldn't our understanding of the separation between church and state and religious freedom keep us from "imposing" our ideas upon others? Why would the church being the church affect our stance in the public square among the non-church?

What people can miss is the distinction between laws that criminalize an activity and laws that promote or incentivize an activity. The laws surrounding marriage belong to the latter category. The government gets involved in the marriage business—to the chagrin of libertarians—because it thinks it has some interest in protecting and promoting marriage. It sees that marriage contributes to the order, peace, and good of society at large. Therefore, it offers financial incentives for marriage, such as tax breaks or inheritance rights.

In other words, institutionalizing same-sex marriage does not merely make government neutral toward unrighteousness; it means the government is promoting and incentivizing unrighteousness. The 2003 Supreme Court decision to overturn laws that criminalized homosexual behavior, by contrast, need not be construed as a promotion or affirmation of homosexual behavior. The irony of the progressive position on same-sex marriage is that it cloaks its cause in the language of political neutrality, when really it is just the opposite. It is a positive affirmation of a brand of morality and the whole set of theological assumptions behind that morality.

To put this in biblical terms, institutionalizing same-sex marriage is nothing other than to "give approval to those who practice" the things that God's word condemns (Rom. 1:32). And behind this moral affirmation, Paul tells us, is the religious "exchanging of the immortal God for images" (Rom. 1:23). To establish same-sex marriage, in other words, is an utterly religious act, by virtue of being idolatrous.

For the Christian, therefore, the argument is pretty simple: God will judge all unrighteousness and idolatry. Therefore Christians should not publicly or privately endorse, incentivize, or promote unrighteousness and idolatry, which same-sex marriage does. God will judge such idolatry—even among those who don't believe in him.

God Will Judge the Nations

Let me explain further. Both the Old Testament and the New promise that God will judge the nations and their governments for departing from his own standard of righteousness and justice. The presidents and parliaments, voters and judges of the world are comprehensively accountable to him. There is no area of life somehow quarantined off from his evaluation.

Hence, he judged the people of Noah's day, Sodom and Gomorrah, Pharaoh in Egypt, Sennacherib in Assyria, Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, and the list goes on. Just read of his judgments against the nations in passages like Isaiah 13-19 or Jeremiah 46-52.

It's not surprising, therefore, that Psalm 96 and many other passages make the transnational, omni-partisan nature of God's judgment clear: "Say among the nations, 'The LORD reigns.' . . . he will judge the peoples with equity" (Ps. 96:10; also Ps. 2; Jer. 10:6-10).

Does the same principle apply in the New Testament era? Yes. The governors of the world derive their authority from God and will be judged by God for how they use their authority: Caesar no less than Nebuchadnezzar; presidents no less than Pharaoh:

  • Jesus tells Pilate that Pilate's authority comes from God (John 19).
  • Paul describes the government as "God's servant" and an "agent" to bring God's justice (Rom. 13).
  • Jesus is described as the "ruler of the kings of the earth" (Rev. 1:5).
  • Kings, princes, and generals fear the wrath of the Lamb and hide from it (Rev. 6:15).
  • The kings of the earth are indicted for committing adultery with Babylon the Great (Rev. 18:3).
  • Christ will come with a sword "to strike down the nations" (Rev. 19:13), leaving the birds "to eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty" (v. 18).

God will judge all nations and governors. They are politically accountable to his standard of justice and righteousness, not to their own standards. To depart from God's righteousness and justice—for every government in the world, Old Testament and New—is to incur God's wrath. 

The fact that we live in a pluralistic nation in which many do not acknowledge the God of the Bible makes no difference to God. "Who is the Lord that I should obey him?" Pharaoh asked. The Lord demonstrated in short order precisely who he is. The fact that Americans believe a government governs "by the will of the people" makes no difference either. A Christian knows that true authority comes from God, and so he or she must never promote and incentivize unrighteousness, even if 99 percent of the electorate asks for it.

This does not mean that Christians should enact God's judgment against all forms of unrighteousness now, but it does mean that we Christians should not publicly or privately put our hands to anything God will judge on the last day. Yes, politics often involves compromise, and there are times when Christian voters or politicians will be forced to decide between a lesser of two evils. And for such occasions we trust God is merciful and understanding. Still, so far as we can help it, we must not vote for, rule for, or tell our friends at the office that we support unrighteousness.

Does this mean we can impose our faith upon non-Christians? No, but endorsing same-sex marriage is another kind of thing. To endorse it is to involve yourself in unrighteousness and false religion, and an unrighteousness that God promises to judge.

In fact, same-sex marriage itself is the act of wrongful governmental imposition. Martin Luther wrote, "For when any man does that for which he has not the previous authority or sanction of the Word of God, such conduct is not acceptable to God, and may be considered as either vain or useless." And God has never given human governments the authority to define marriage. He defined it in Genesis 2 and has not authorized anyone to redefine it. Any government that does is guilty of usurpation.

Since same-sex marriage is effectively grounded in idolatrous religion (see Rom. 1:23, 32), its institutionalization represents nothing more or less than the progressive position's imposition of idolatrous religion upon the rest of us.

I am not telling Christians how many resources they should expend in fighting false gods in the public square, but I am saying that you must not join together with those gods. There is no neutral ground here.

Embrace and Stand Fast

Churches should embrace their brothers and sisters who struggle with same-sex attraction, just like they should embrace all repentant sinners.

And churches should stand fast on deeper, more biblical conceptions of love by loving the advocates of same-sex marriage more truly than they love themselves. We do this by insisting on the sweet and life-giving nature of God's truth and holiness.

In our present cultural context, Christian love will prove costly to Christians and churches. Even if you recognize the Bible calls homosexuality sin, but you (wrongly) support same-sex marriage, your stance on homosexuality will offend. A people's strongest desires—the desires they refuse to let go of—reveals their worship. To condemn sexual freedom in America today is to condemn one of the nation's favorite altars of worship. And will they not fight for their gods? Will they not excommunicate all heretics?

But even while Scripture promises short-term persecution for the church, it also, strangely and simultaneously, points to long-term praise: "Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:12). I'm not sure how to explain that, but I trust it.

Jonathan Leeman is a member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., editorial director of 9Marks, and author of The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love, Reverberation, Church Membership, and Church Discipline. His PhD work is in the area of political theology. You can follow him on Twitter.

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  • Simon

    Excellent article!

    As the culture begins to call all manner of evil good, the Church in the west is really going to be purified. We must stand in fear of God, not man, and be faithful to our God and Father lest we fall away from the faith because our love grows cold in the midst of the pressure and refining process.

    • andrew

      i'm wondering if churches will go underground in response to being seen as so out of step with society, or if they'll stop performing marriages altogether for people outside a tight circle of members.

  • http://www.goingtodamasc.us Ben

    I'm not sure if now is still the time to defend the biblical principle against homosexual marriage, or if now is the time to start discussing what it is going to be like, and how we are to be as a church, after it is legal in all 50 states. I'd like to see more articles and discussion on the latter.

    Unless by some miraculous divine intervention (which is entirely possible), this thing is coming like a Mac-Truck with no breaks.

    • http://DeclarationOfRepentance.org Roger

      Think that is why we need to rally the nation to a National Call of Repentance. http://DeclarationOfRepentance.org Only GOD can stop a Mac truck but the church needs to stop writing letters, having signs up but rather become CHRIST in word, form deed. Not in appearance only.

    • Fuller Ming

      Ben, you are right. I live in Maryland and was actually surprised that when gay marriage was brought to the polls for the general public to vote, it passed. Thus, the church must stand firm on the truth, BUT overtly show Christ love. Just as Roger stated, we need to be Christ in word and deed - showing compassion, being the "friend of tax collectors and sinners", but being absolutely holy and pure without being condescending, arrogant or rude.

  • Mark

    Great article! Thank you so much for these words. I pray that God will raise up more men and women in the church who can teach others how the church should engage and love those who struggle with homosexuality.

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  • Seth

    Disagree with several parts of this article, including

    "Make no mistake: The fundamental issue at stake in the same-sex marriage debate is not visitation rights, adoption rights, inheritance laws, or all the stuff of "civil unions."

    My experience is that this is exactly what gay people want, regardless of their religious/political viewpoints, equal treatment under the law. And Christians, regardless of their stance on LGBT issues, really should stand for equal rights. And I see this as true even when one view's gay marriage is that it is sinful. My neighbor may be committing adultery with a woman at work, but I am not going to lobby for a law that makes him pay $10,000 more in taxes at the end of the year as a punitive measure. That's exactly how the tax code currently discriminates (not only against gay people, but a lot of others too).

    Until the Christian right starts addressing the real questions of inequality in current marriage laws, it will more and more be viewed as irrelevant. And no, that's not persecution, that's just cause and effect.

    • Jonathan Leeman

      Seth, thanks for your question, and I agree with your concern for equal treatment under the law of all people including those who self-identify as homosexual. Where I disagree is that homosexual activity or a homosexual orientation is a lifestyle that should be incentivized and promoted by the government. To use your analogy, institutionalizing same-sex marriage is the equivalent of giving inheritance rights and tax breaks to people who commit adultery with colleagues at work. In other words, you are equating the person and their homosexual desire and activity, and that is the conflation which I refuse to grant. Yes, give the person equal rights, but no, don't give that lifestyle or activity equal rights because (i) God has not given authority to governments to do so, and (ii) he has promised to judge those governments which do. I hope this is clarifying. Bottom line: we need to be careful not to buy into the "this is my identity as a person" which the homosexual lobby promotes. Voddie Baucham's article is helpful here.

      • Marty

        "To use your analogy, institutionalizing same-sex marriage is the equivalent of giving inheritance rights and tax breaks to people who commit adultery with colleagues at work."

        To use no analogy at all and to give religious beliefs the appropriate legal weight (that is, none, given church/state separation), institutionalising same-sex marriage is equivilent to institutionalising heterosexual marriage, as all the necessary conditions for marriage can exist with either*, so to exclude one but not the other is special pleading.

        *That is, all arguments that pruport to show why homoseuxal marriage is qualifiably different to heterosexual marriage fall down: no biological conception would exclude infertile heterosexual couples etc.

        • MichaelA

          "That is, all arguments that pruport to show why homoseuxal marriage is qualifiably different to heterosexual marriage fall down"

          No they don't. God designed marriage to be between a man and a woman, only, and that is what human beings have practiced for thousands of years. Just because a few misguided people in an obscure decade early in the twenty-first century think differently is irrelevant.

          There is no justification whatsoever for calling homosexual relationships "marriage" and no reason for society to promote or assist it.

          On the other hand, there is a very good reason for society not to do so - real marriage is a bedrock of our society (I am in Australia but the issue here is no different to in the USA) and society's health depends on promoting and assisting marriage.

          • Bill Ozby

            "God designed marriage to be between a man and a woman, only, and that is what human beings have practiced for thousands of years."

            Haha, no. In fact many people have had multiple wives/husbands (ever heard of David? you know, from the Bible?) or marriages with those of the same sex. Your statement also excludes people who have both male AND female parts/genetics. However, I'm not exactly sure that you could discriminate against these people since you probably wouldn't be able to tell them from an average woman or average man.

            Perhaps before explaining the history of marriage for everyone, you should study up on it so that you don't mislead others as you have been misled yourself for the convenience of backing your argument.

            • Matt Guerino

              Actually Bill, Michael's historical statement is generally accurate. You're post smears the difference between variations/exceptions on the one hand, and general priciple on the other.

              Of course polygamy has been practised (and still is) by some members of many societies. But that doesn't make it historically normative. Interesting you cite David's polygamy (common among ancient rulers) but not the monogamous norm in the rest of his culture. The exception comes closer to proving the rule (by virtue of its being exceptional) than disproving it.

              Further, where the exception polygamy is practised (past and present) it is almost universally a case of one man having multiple wives. Other relationships (heterosexual philandering, homosexual relatinships, etc.) simply aren't recognized as marriages historically, or even presently outside of Western cultures.

              "Perhaps before explaining the history of marriage for everyone, you should study up on it so that you don't mislead others as you have been misled yourself for the convenience of backing your argument." An excellent piece of advice you might consider taking yourself before offering to others.

            • http://www.christianvagabond.com Christian Vagabond

              Monogamy was the norm in Biblical times because marriage was an exchange of property. Wives were acquired by purchase, and rich rulers had more money and therefore could buy more wives. It's not out of virtue that commoners only had one wife; it's simple economics.

            • MichaelA

              I don't know where you have been learning your history, but this is all incorrect.

              No, marriage was not "an exchange of property". No, wives were not "acquired by purchase". No, rich rulers could not "buy more wives" (despite the spectacular and isolated incidents of David and Solomon). Nor was it "simple economics" that commoners (and mostly everyone else) had one wife.

              I'm sorry I can't do much more than state these simple denials, but you have provided no support, argument or reasoning for your assertions.

          • Raul

            I agree absolutely that God designed marriage to be between and woman outside of this is grossly immoral and unconscionable, disgustingly unthinkable. Same sex couple making love. For what purpose. Read "Romans Ch. 1:V 24-32." It describes everything there is in the minds of the wicked.

        • Fuller Ming

          Marty. You have ignored the physiology of the human body. An infertile heterosexual couple may not be able to produce a child, but it is because something is broken. Would you argue that a homosexual couple cannot produce a child because something is broken? Marriage between a man and a woman, given general good health, all bodily functions working, can produce a child unless something is wrong. Medical science, working with that couple may be able to help them alone produce a child without surrogate, donors, or any other people involved. In addition, especially for men with men, anal sexual activities is physiologically unhealthy (as it is also unhealthy between a man and a woman). Even without God, evolution would speak against the practice. Thus, 100% equality is impossible because men and women actually have physical differences. Our society should not attempt to eliminate these differences while laws should protect and encourage a healthy respect and even appreciation for these differences.

      • sdb

        @Jonathan Leeman you wrote, "To use your analogy, institutionalizing same-sex marriage is the equivalent of giving inheritance rights and tax breaks to people who commit adultery..."

        But don't we do that now? If a guy divorces his wife because he "just doesn't love her anymore", he can marry his secretary and have that adulterous union recognized as fully equivalent to marriage - even if a Christian church wouldn't marry them.

        I came late to Joe Carter's thread on this topic, so I suspect he didn't see my questions (and I'm not sure I articulated very well any way). I'll try again here. Why is what he calls the liberal-libertarian approach to politics problematic when it comes to sexual ethics (particularly gay marriage) but not when it comes to say religious ethics (e.g. it may be sinful to teach that Islam is true, but we will still advocate for tax credits for parents who send their kids to private schools - even non-Christian religious schools)?

        More generally, I'd be interested in hearing your response to Machen's suggestion that the regulative principle forbids the church from binding the conscience of believers on political issues. The church can bind the conscience of her members on the sinfulness of same-sex marriage, but is it proper to do so on the issue of whether the state has interest in recognizing such unions?

      • Seth

        Hi Jonathan,
        Thanks for your response. I truly see the intra-Christian dialogue on this issue as similar to the Calvinist-Anabaptist disputes of the 1600s. The Calvinists (like the Catholics before them) wanted to weld the power of the state to force at least outward obedience to Christ. Anabaptists were content to follow Christ and give freedom to others to follow their own conscience. I'm with the Anabaptists on this one. Otherwise, what difference is there between your brand of religion and radical Islam? Or the Catholics and Calvinists of old? The latter groups are forcing obedience to their God at the point of a sword (or a bomb). Christian Reconstructionism ultimately pursues the same thing. Allowing the equality to all not only is just, it also allows the best religion to emerge. Jesus said "Wisdom is justified by her children." Let's allow the process to proceed to the point of the better one being justified.

        • Jonathan Leeman

          Seth,
          I appreciate your engagement because I think your concerns get right to the heart of where so much misunderstanding occurs among Christians. What were your thoughts on the distinction between laws which criminalize an activity, and laws which promote an activity? It seems to me that you're drawing a clean theoretical distinction between "freedom of conscience" and "imposition of religion" that doesn't adequately describe what's at stake in law and morality generally (law always involves the imposition of someone's morality) and marriage law specifically, which is necessarily an endorsement of a specific activity and the morality behind it.

          Thanks again.

          • Seth

            Jonathan, thanks again for your civil response. I apologize if I was directly linking you to radical Islam. I don't know you and that isn't fair at all. What I was trying to say is forcing outward compliance with exact tenants of faith is similar in both cases.

            If I could though return to the original point about incentivizing various moral actions; you are correct when you say government is promoting/rewarding good behavior. I guess I would believe it shouldn't be doing that though. Do we as Christians really want a secular state authority deciding which actions will be promoted and which will not be? And no matter how many believers cast their vote or get involved in politics, the state will still be secular and pluarlistic to some degree. And Christians think differently on lots of moral choices, :) I just can't look at history and say it's a good thing.

            Our government thought home ownership was something to reward and promote. And given the evidence, a decent thought by itself I'd say. But the results of their promotion was active discrimination against rentors and a huge housing bubble. And it was the opposite of a free market, acting more like a partially controlled economy. In the religious perspective, I see it the same way. I'd rather have religious freedom and as a result have morality flow from the heart into genuine righteousness, rather than forced compliance on the outward man.

          • sdb

            Is it wrong for Christians to support tax breaks for charitable donations if the donations can be given to support sinful behavior (blasphemous religious teaching for example)? If not, why is support for state policies extending tax credits to religious education (including non-Christian religious schools) not an endorsement of what those schools teach? I don't see the distinction. I don't see why Christians who believe that state recognition of gay marriage is a useful way to ameliorate the worst effects of same-sex activity are necessarily sinning. This isn't to say that they are correct, but political misjudgments are not necessarily sinful.

    • Kenton

      Seth, I think the point is that same-sex couples want equal dignity, not simply the benefits conferred upon such unions by the state. That's why "civil unions" aren't enough. As someone who has engaged with proponents of same-sex marriage, this is the fundamental issue. Not simply equal treatment under the law, but equality with regard to the dignity of same-sex unions. This is fundamentally a debate about what it means to be human. Hence the strong appeal to human rights and equality.

      With regard to relevance, the common perception today is that relevance is determined by conformity. In other words, what you suggest is that the church speaks to what the world speaks -- "real questions" pertaining only to physical, temporal realities -- rather than speak to the things that matter for an eternity, things for which the rest of human society has no care. But why shouldn't the Church speak about that for which it is specially suited? The Church is not a political party.

      True relevance is not measured by how one addresses transient matters, nor is it something awarded based on conformity. True relevance pertains to what lasts for an eternity, especially as it stands out above the world's concerns.

      • Seth

        Kenton, I can't agree. Most gay people I've talked to don't want to change my beliefs or yours. They just don't want the overt tax and legal discriminations that currently exist. Look up the differences between civil unions and marriage. The legal ones I mean, not the scriptural differences. There's a lot. If government just got rid of the marriage word distinction altogether and gave people a civil union and left churches to declare who was married, well I think that's the best case scenario. And I tend to think the vast majority of non-celibate gay people would agree.

        When I brought up relevance, I was alluding to straw man arguments that continually come from the right wing. Saying that all gay people want God's blessing on their immoral choices and that is why they want gay marriage is hardly the truth. If the right keeps on pursuing that as the best argument against gay marriage, it will be more damaging to the case against gay marriage. And when I say that, I'm not talking about convincing the secular world so much as even other moderate Christians.

        • http://www.waulkthisway.com Joshua Waulk

          Seth,

          You said: Most gay people I've talked to don't want to change my beliefs or yours. They just don't want the overt tax and legal discriminations that currently exist.

          When you examine the tenor of what's happening in our culture, and others (i.e. Canada), the nature of the dialogue is categorically not left at "Give me hospital visitation rights, etc." The nature of the dialogue, when you peel back the layers and get through all the hyperbole and rhetoric, is indeed, "You will acknowledge and affirm the full dignity of my sexual desires--nothing less, in the end, will be tolerated or acceptable."

          This is demonstrated in the increasing marginalization of the Christian ethic as regards this issue. It is demonstrated in other cultures where Christian pastors are being muzzled, and threatened with some form of governmental sanction if they preach a Gospel message that is deemed "prejudicial." In our own land, it's beginning is in the marginalization through pop-culture. But, on the current trajectory, I fully expect to see the criminalization of the verbalized (preached) orthodox Christian ethic as regards sexuality and marriage as "hate speech." To say this is not coming is naiveté at its finest.

          Again, these things are undeniable, ongoing developments that strike at the heart of the demand, which is full affirmation. The desperately sick human heart will **never** be satisfied with mere toleration. And eventually, as the secular power base continues to shift, the short-term losers will be those who refuse to bend the knee, and our Anabaptist friends will be forced to argue not for the allowance of gay marriage, but for the right of Christians to proclaim the Gospel freely and without prejudice.

          Thankfully, we serve a sovereign God.

          • Filaw

            Sorry, I just couldn't help hopping in here.

            Seth said "Most gay people I've talked to don't want to change my beliefs or yours." And Joshua said it's more like "You will acknowledge and affirm the full dignity of my sexual desires--nothing less."

            It's a bit of both. Most gay people probably don't really care what you or Seth individually think, but they do care about what the government of their country is saying to them. They are asking for the government of their country to acknowledge the "full dignity of [their] sexual desires," and for equal treatment under the law for the families that have formed.

            Most gay people don't have a problem with this or that conservative church refusing the marry them, or this or that conservative person saying they aren't married in the eyes of God, but they are concerned with their secular government telling them that their union is not the same in dignity as their (heterosexual) friends' union in eyes of their secular government.

            So both.

            • Seth

              Thanks for reconciling our two statements Filaw. :)

          • Seth

            Joshua, although I identify with the 1600s Anabaptists, I certainly also believe in a sovereign God (over creation, salvation, and politics). And I should say that I'm not certain what modern day Anabaptists believe, so I'm not referring to them.

            I can't say that I really see much real Christian persecution coming in this country (at least in the next couple decades). Most Christians would recoil from Fred Phelps' use of his freedom of speech. But that same freedom has repeatedly been affirmed by multiple courts, including I believe the Supreme Court. What do you think will be restricted exactly? The ability to preach a sermon against homosexuality? Or something else?

            • http://www.waulkthisway.com Joshua Waulk

              Friends,

              I think what we see happening here is akin to backing the perspective of Google maps out so that we see less of the details, and more of the greater landscape. It's not precisely what Jonathan wrote about, but the discussion has to go here eventually. The question has been asked of me, "What exactly do I think will be restricted?" The example of the freakish Fred Phelps has been set forth, along with the protections that have been afforded his filth. Further, it's been suggested that most individuals who identify as homosexual don't care what individual churches or people believe about their "lifestyle," but are only concerned with **what their government says about them**.

              I think that last statement is the most intriguing. What does my government say about me, and **what action does it take to substantiate what it says**? For example, it's one thing for the state to turn a blind eye to long-standing anti-sodomy laws, essentially refusing to prosecute such cases because they are increasingly unpopular in the culture, but it's quite another for the state to actually repeal those laws, because in so doing the government is not simply "tolerating" behavior, it is indeed affirming the legitimacy of my behavior and taking tangible action steps in so doing.

              How does that happen? How does one generation consider a behavior immoral and see fit to criminalize it, and then another sees fit to de-criminalize it? Is our generation more civilized than those that preceded ours? Does morality actually change? Well, it does if the appeal is left to the culture that presides over the courts. If the basis for law, **which is a pronouncement of morality**, does not transcend human thought (i.e. Judeo-Christian ethics), then the laws of the culture will simply reflect the moral thermostat not of individuals, but the sum of cultural thought.

              And the sum of cultural thought in our land today is increasingly accepting of a homosexual worldview and ethic. On that basis, the trajectory of our culture is one that will eventually preclude, **as a matter of law**, any action, verbal or otherwise, that, in the eyes of the culture, brings prejudice or harm, emotional or otherwise, to those who identify as homosexual. It will end, on the current course, with the church being sanctioned for publicly preaching a message that is already deemed by pop-culture as "hate speech." Again, I point to other cultures where this is already happening as my case-in-point.

              Do not think for one moment that America is immune from this type of change.

              It was just a few days ago that we read of a Washington State attorney general filing governmental sanctions against a **private business owner--a florist** for refusing to service a homosexual wedding explicitly because of her Christian beliefs. This, in a state that has said with its proverbial lips that gay marriage is "lawful" and therefore "moral." On that basis, it must take action steps to protect that which is deemed legitimate and dignified.

            • Filaw

              Joshua, I honestly don't understand this statement:
              "On that basis, the trajectory of our culture is one that will eventually preclude, **as a matter of law**, any action, verbal or otherwise, that, in the eyes of the culture, brings prejudice or harm, emotional or otherwise, to those who identify as homosexual"

              Specifically the bit about "verbal" and your later paragraph about hate speech. Hate speech is legal in the US. I think we can safely rely on history to predict the future. One can say whatever horrible things one wants to say about previously protected minority groups, whether they are African Americans, Jewish people, etc., without being punished by the government. The US government does not criminally punish a person for hate speech, this is an important distinction. As a society, as we add homosexuals to the list, I see no reason to think that homosexuals would get a protected status higher than the former groups.

              Now, if a person then commits a crime, his hate speech will be used as evidence that it was a hate crime and get him a harsher sentence, but he still had to commit an actual crime to get in trouble with the government criminally. The hate speech alone was not enough.

              His hate speech may also get him in hot water with his employer, or he may be boycotted. His right to free speech does not mean that the government will protect him from the natural communal consequences of his actions, just that the government will not criminally punish him for it.

              Now in other countries, the rules are different. There are countries that do criminalize hate speech. But that's not the way the US has historically worked, and so yes, I do think we can fairly assume that while America might not be "immune" to this type of change, that it is highly unlikely that we will start criminalizing hate speech against homosexuals when we don't criminalize it against anyone else.

          • rls0054

            It took about two minutes for this to happen in the state of WA after we passed same-sex "marriage" - the state attorney general is suing an elderly florist for refusing to sell flowers for a gay wedding ceremony. This is the result of the idea that there is somehow a moral vacuum that can exist in civil government. http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/elderly-christian-florist-faces-thousands-in-fines-for-refusing-to-provide?fb_action_ids=445358785546798&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%22445358785546798%22%3A507270445999793%7D&action_type_map=%7B%22445358785546798%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

    • mikeb

      Homosexuals have today IDENTICAL rights as heterosexuals regarding marriage.

      Those who desire to drive on sidewalks have identical rights as those who prefer driving on highways. The laws forbidding the driving on sidewalks apply EQUALLY to both those who prefer sidewalks and those who prefer highways. The laws allowing the driving on highways apply EQUALLY to both those who prefer sidewalks and those who prefer highways.

      The equal protection claims by those advocating homosexual marriage are false.

      Note that any two persons can contract with each other to do anything allowed by law. For that matter, any three or four or 117 persons can contract amongst themselve to do anything allowed by law. These 117 persons can contract among themselves to love, cherish, abide, protect, share property, share wealth, share chores and share chores. These 117 can be any mixture of men and women. These 117 can be any mixture of sexual orientations: gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, pederast, pedophile, asexual, zoophile, transgender, questioning, hermaphrodite, and necrophiliac. NOTHING prevents this under law today, right now.

      These 117 persons CANNOT however, use their contract to impose any obligation or benefit to third parties. Not to banks. Not to insurance companies. Not to schools. Not to their neighbors. Not to flower shops or photographers. Furthermore, they cannot swap their children. They cannot transfer the obligations they have as parents to other contract parties.

      Marriage however, is in fact a special form of contract which imposes onto third parties requirements pertaining to the married couple, where those third parties are not signatories to the contract. I can think of no other contract where this is true.

      Ergo, when creating the institution of marriage, the state rightly imposes narrow limitations on marriage. Why individuals are free to contract with each other and amongst each other in a limitless number of other agreements, the fact that a marriage contract imposes obligations on the state and other third parties obliges the state to restrict the terms of this special contract.

      Further, the state has the state's self-interest in mind when establishing the institution of marriage. The state did not create the state's institution of marriage because it wanted to do something nice for the loving couple. The healthy state has the objectives of 1) keeping men calmed down, 2) keeping women physically protected, in both their person and property, 3) keeping women emotionally protected, 4) producing lots of babies and the next generation of workers and soldiers, 5) maximizing the health of the child upbringing environment.

      The proven best method of achieving these desires is the permanent, lifetime, divorce-made-difficult, coupling of pairs of mature adult men with women.

      The state err'd when it allowed easy, no-fault divorce. We now have a full generation of unnecessarily damaged adults as a consequence of this liberalization of marriage.

      The state errs again when it extends the institution of marriage to same-sex partners. This serves no purpose in support of stabilizing the unruly nature of men, protecting the well-being and property of women, or growing a healthy next generation. It in fact serves negatively.

      By the way, if the courts and lawmakers use the equal protection argument to justify homosexual marriage, this argument MUST ALSO be used to justify the equal protection of n>2 multiple party marriages. I'm not thinking merely of polygamists, but multi-"marriages" of thousands and thousands of persons for business purposes. You can be my spouse. Pay me a small fee and you can share my health insurance, enjoy the benefits (if there are any) of married tax status, and receive the benefits of my citizen ship.

      Also... I have not injected Christian arguments against homosexuality or homosexual marriage here. As a Christian, I know that homosexuality is offensive to God. As a Christian, I know that homosexual marriage is, well, an abomination to God. As a Christian, I know that much of homosexuality is the coping mechanism in response to unmerited emotional trauma experienced earlier by the homosexual. As a Christian, I know we do the homosexual no Godly favors when we tell them, implicitly or explicitly, that their homosexuality is healthy, wholesome, normal, and natural.

      We conservative evangelical Christians will not persuade our neighbors to stand against homosexual marriage with arguments from the Bible and God. At least not directly. Our neighbors largely find God and the Bible offensive.

      I say this to point out that the arguments against homosexual marriage can be made without reference to the Bible. The secular state has GOOD REASON to decline the request to institute homosexual marriage. The most hardened atheist has GOOD REASON to decline the request to institute homosexual marriage.

      • Renee Teetsel

        Thank you, Mike, for spelling out so clearly the secular argument opposing homosexual marriage. I did not listen to all the oral arguments made before the Supreme Court, but cannot recall hearing from commentators afterward the points you have made. I agree with you that, as Christians, we must provide a rationale for traditional marriage apart from biblical morality. It is very disheartening that, even at the highest levels of debate over this issue, people are being so swayed by the notion of "fairness." At what point were homosexuals officially recognized as a "minority" whose constitutional rights required special protection? This is where we went astray.

        • Phil

          Renee,

          You didn't hear these arguments at the Supreme Court because they are terrible arguments. In brief order:

          Homosexuals have today IDENTICAL rights as heterosexuals regarding marriage.

          Those who desire to drive on sidewalks have identical rights as those who prefer driving on highways. The laws forbidding the driving on sidewalks apply EQUALLY to both those who prefer sidewalks and those who prefer highways. The laws allowing the driving on highways apply EQUALLY to both those who prefer sidewalks and those who prefer highways.

          The equal protection claims by those advocating homosexual marriage are false.

          This fails for several reasons. The easiest way to show it fails is to note that this 'logic' also justifies banning interracial marriage. (As everyone has identical rights to marry someone of the same race.)

          Why individuals are free to contract with each other and amongst each other in a limitless number of other agreements, the fact that a marriage contract imposes obligations on the state and other third parties obliges the state to restrict the terms of this special contract.

          Even if everything MikeB said before this and up to this is true (I am not sure it is, but lets say it is for the sake of argument), it STILL provides NO REASON for why marriage should be restricted to two people of the opposite sex.

          The rest of the comment is basically nonsense (marriage keeps men "calmed down"???)....I could address it if you are interested, but I've already spent too much time on this as it is....

      • normanL

        There have been many interesting and thoughtful comments in this discussion, but mikeb's remarks make a point that needed making at the outset. The talk about 'fairness' and 'equality' that has become so central to this discussion is merely rhetorical.

        Fairness is a matter of treating like cases alike. 'Like' with respect to X. For example, a 20year old and a 10 year old are not
        'like' with respect to operating an automobile (though they are 'like' with respect to a right to life and lots of other things), so refusing to grant a license to the latter is not a case of unfairness, though of course it amounts to 'unequal' treatment. So, is the difference between 'male-female' on the one hand and 'male-male or female-female' on the other, relevant to marriage (where marriage is a civil institution, not just, e.g. 'the marriage of true minds')? Clearly virtually all people from all cultures and all times have thought so. Why? Is it simply some ancient prejudice?

        The most obvious answer is that the civil institution of marriage has something to do with the protection and nurturing of children, and only heterosexual couples can produce children. The state has an interest in stable homes primarily for that reason. It does not grant licenses for people to live together as friends (even if they plan to live together 'til death do them part'), for two sisters to live together, etc. The fact that a few infertile couples, or couples with no intention of procreating, are granted licenses to marry does not detract from this point; the sexual acts of such people are still apt for procreation, and no state interest would be served by nosing around in the private lives of every couple applying for a marriage license. Nor does the fact that gay 'married' couples can adopt children, or that one of them can consort with a 'donor' to produce a child, count against the points made here, although showing it requires more discussion

        The fact that these points are so often missed is evident when miscegenation is brought into the discussion. NO opponents of interracial marriages ever denied that such marriages actually were marriages. They just didn't like that KIND of marriage. they wanted to erect a barrier to two people getting married based on differences that 'don't make a difference' or are not 'relevant to' marriage. That was 'unfair' (per the points made above). In this discussion reference to miscegenation is a red herring, one that often seems to work unfortunately. On the other hand, opponents of gay 'marriage' typically put 'marriage' into scare quotes, to indicate that they don't think such marriages really are marriages (qua civil institution).

        These and related points are covered with care by Robert George et al. in a much discussed article . . .google it and learn!

        Although Christians have a special stake in this discussion (and in many others having to do with the law) there is no religious claim being made in the points outlined above or in George's article.

        • Phil

          There have been many interesting and thoughtful comments in this discussion, but mikeb's remarks make a point that needed making at the outset. The talk about 'fairness' and 'equality' that has become so central to this discussion is merely rhetorical.

          If you talk to gay men and women who want to get married, the talk about 'fairness' and 'equality' isn't rhetorical at all. (But I see that you explain more below, and I think I see what mean--although to assert that it isn't about 'fairness' or 'equality' certainly seems churlish at first...)

          Fairness is a matter of treating like cases alike. 'Like' with respect to X. For example, a 20year old and a 10 year old are not 'like' with respect to operating an automobile (though they are 'like' with respect to a right to life and lots of other things), so refusing to grant a license to the latter is not a case of unfairness, though of course it amounts to 'unequal' treatment.

          We are in agreement!

          So, is the difference between 'male-female' on the one hand and 'male-male or female-female' on the other, relevant to marriage (where marriage is a civil institution, not just, e.g. 'the marriage of true minds')? Clearly virtually all people from all cultures and all times have thought so. Why? Is it simply some ancient prejudice?

          Well, it is certainly possible that it is an ancient prejudice. Indeed, that seems likely to me. Also, virtually all people from all cultures and all times have thought that slavery was acceptable. But we don't think that now. So I don't find this to be, in of itself, a very good argument. (But, again, I see that you explain more below...)

          The most obvious answer is that the civil institution of marriage has something to do with the protection and nurturing of children, and only heterosexual couples can produce children. The state has an interest in stable homes primarily for that reason.

          There are various theories as to why the institution of marriage exists. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage
          And marriage has probably existed for different reasons in different forms at different times. One of the theories is that marriage is about controlling "access" to women (that it, is more about 'access to sex' and property more than kids, per se). At any rate, it is certainly true that only a man and a woman can produce children.

          Your sentence about the "state having an interest in stable homes primarily for that reason" doesn't really follow. That is, it is a simple assertion.

          It does not grant licenses for people to live together as friends (even if they plan to live together 'til death do them part'), for two sisters to live together, etc.

          In 9 states and Washington DC, there is no 'license' involved. Under common law marriage, if you believe yourself to be married, and hold yourself out as married, you are married. So if you only believe yourself to be 'friends,' no marriage. But if you believe yourself to be 'married,' then married. But otherwise we are in agreement.

          The fact that a few infertile couples, or couples with no intention of procreating, are granted licenses to marry does not detract from this point; the sexual acts of such people are still apt for procreation,

          I am not sure what you mean by "this point." (I think you mean the point that only a man and a woman can produce a child.) But lots of heterosexual couples know that they cannot have children before they get married (they may plan on adopting, or simply plan on never having children). Given such infertility, lots of 'sexual acts of such people' are NOT apt for procreation. And any woman who has gone through menopause cannot reproduce, no matter how many 'sexual acts.' But we still let all of these people get married. So, indeed, it does detract from this point.

          and no state interest would be served by nosing around in the private lives of every couple applying for a marriage license.

          This directly contradicts what you said above. That is, the state interest is in creating stable homes. If you cannot create a stable home because you are infertile, then the state has no interest in recognizing your marriage.

          Nor does the fact that gay 'married' couples can adopt children, or that one of them can consort with a 'donor' to produce a child, count against the points made here, although showing it requires more discussion.

          I think you'll need to show it. Because it seems to me that gay couple are in the same boat as infertile couples (and both can adopt).

          The fact that these points are so often missed is evident when miscegenation is brought into the discussion. NO opponents of interracial marriages ever denied that such marriages actually were marriages.

          Well some of them certainly thought that interracial marriages were not 1) real marriages in God's eyes and 2) legal marriages under the law. That seems to be what we are talking about here with gay marriage.

          They just didn't like that KIND of marriage. they wanted to erect a barrier to two people getting married based on differences that 'don't make a difference' or are not 'relevant to' marriage. That was 'unfair' (per the points made above).

          Again, this seems to be what we are talking about here with gay marriage. You want to argue that "men parts and women parts that fit together" is an essential component of a marriage. The question is why? If your answer is 'they can produce a baby.' The response is: we let infertile men and woman get married--indeed infertility has never been a bar to marriage. The easiest example is that we let post-menopausal women get married. Why let them get married (and I am willing to be that you think it is 'right' to let them get married), if marriage is all about having children? If you think someone who is infertile should not be able to get married, then I'd have to concede that you are consistent.

          In this discussion reference to miscegenation is a red herring, one that often seems to work unfortunately.

          I don't think you've shown it to be a red herring.

          On the other hand, opponents of gay 'marriage' typically put 'marriage' into scare quotes, to indicate that they don't think such marriages really are marriages (qua civil institution).

          I agree.

          These and related points are covered with care by Robert George et al. in a much discussed article . . .google it and learn!

          I've read it, and I wasn't impressed. If that is the best the pro-traditional marriage side has to offer (as many commentators have said), then I guess there really aren't any good non-religious claims against it.

    • Marv. Brown

      The extra cost cited here is incorrect. In fact, the federal income tax "marriage penalty" gives a substantial break to UNMARRIED couples filing separately at the same residence (with a combined income of $60,000). A married couple will pay $4000+ more dollars in tax.

      The civil unions laws as well as standard partnership contracts can obtain the same benefits as given to married couples (who also have a government-recognized contract).

      The real change here is attempting to change the definition of "marriage" to mean "a category of partnerships" rather than a unique form of partnership. So we talk about "gay marriage" as if it were a sub category of marriage.

      The same goes for "homosexual" and all it's synonyms. The advocates' great success was acquiring public perception of this term as indicating a kind of person rather than a kind of behavior.

  • http://alignedgraceresources.org Nate Collins

    Hey Jonathan, thanks for this great article! Several things I really like:

    You use the phrase "same-sex attraction" often, instead of "homosexuality," which is very helpful. The term "homosexuality" is too ambiguous (does it refer to behavior, orientation, or identity? In what circumstances?). Personally, I only use it when referring to sexual behavior between individuals of the same gender.

    You repeatedly call on Christians to love gay people more than they love themselves. I've heard Dr. Mohler say something like this, and it has never been more crucial that Christians learn how to do this effectively and winsomely.

    I also appreciate your points about pursuing our true humanity in Christ, and not in the various manifestations of fallenness that characterize our experience.

    I have two questions. You say, "we should not formally equate sexual orientation to ethnicity or sex as an essential component of personal identity." Do you think that many Christians unwittingly do this regarding their heterosexual orientation? In my ministry, I've noticed that a particular barrier that often needs to be overcome centers on the expectation many have that Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction need to stop "being that way." The assumption is that healing will come in a reversal of their orientation (from "gay" to "straight"). In my own personal experience, and in the experience of the vast majority of Christians who struggle with SSA, this is simply not the case of what actually tends to happen in the process of gospel healing.

    Second, Tim Keller recently drew attention to statements he made about the viability of the Anabaptist approach to the issue of SSM as it relates to public policy. Could you comment on this? Specifically, do you think Christians are sinning, or exercising "immature" love (your word) if they choose to not have an opinion on same-sex marriage *as it relates to public policy*?

    • Jonathan Leeman

      Nate,
      Good questions and interaction. Thank you. Like you (I assume), I believe that God's Spirit begins the work of transforming and purifying our desires at conversion, but he will not complete this work until we are resurrected with him. Meanwhile, we all struggle in the flesh with different temptations and mis-ordered desires with various levels of intensity. Sometimes God enables a saint to overcome a particular temptation; sometimes he allows a saint to struggle with that temptation to the end of his or her days. I assume this is true with same-sex attraction. The struggle will vary from person to person, and, pastorally speaking, we need to walk the fine line between not underestimating the power of the Spirit while not succumbing to an "over-realized eschatology." Does this answer your first question?

      As to your second, I am not arguing that Christians need to proactively devote their resources to fighting same-sex marriage in the public square (this is a matter of wisdom and stewardship). I am saying that Christians should see that, for a government to sponsor SSM is sin and an injustice, and that Christians should do nothing to support it.

      Grateful for you, friend.

      • http://alignedgraceresources.org Nate Collins

        Grateful for you too, brother, and thanks for the reply! I definitely agree that the transformation and purification of desire begins at conversion, but isn't completed until the Resurrection, including same-sex desires. I suppose I was just trying to say that Christians who make statements like yours ("we should not formally equate sexual orientation to ethnicity or sex as an essential component of personal identity") often do so without recognizing that it asks Christians who experience SSA to give up something that the vast majority of heterosexual people take for granted. If you ask a random group of heterosexual men to give you a list of answers to the question "How do you know you're a man?", every single one of them will cite his attraction to women in the top 5. Is it okay for these people to include their sexual orientation as a component of their identity? Should we correct them if they do? Why, or why not? A Christian who experiences SSA might perceive a double standard here. Statements like the one you make need to cut both ways, if they're going to cut at all. I'm not suggesting that you're actually promoting a double standard yourself by making the statement. I just want to make sure that we're fully aware of the magnitude of what we're asking Christians who struggle with SSA to do, a magnitude that is something the vast majority of people really don't understand. The benefit of being reminded of this is that it implicitly calls Christians to the posture of humility that is required of ALL Christians when addressing sinful conditions in general (i.e. a "there go I, but for the grace of God" type of posture), and that is ESPECIALLY needed when addressing this issue.

        Again, thanks again for the article, and for your gracious and truthful responses to everybody's questions!

        • BCody

          You are assuming SSA is an orientation. It is not an "orientation" it is a temptation. Further, the male libido is easily trained and conditioned. Consider how easy it is for media to use sex to sell comodities. This is possible because of the visual nature of male sexuality. Sexual sin is a perversion of God's intentions for sexuality. Let's not use the misnomer "orientation" when the Bible clearly calls homosexuality a temptation.

  • MRS

    Your article lays out the exact position I have proposed to my gay son. I believe the Bible completely and believe this perspective completely. My son has countered this with a statement and position that to my knowledge has not been addressed and to which I had no idea how to answer. If the Bible is our standard for marriage and we desire to follow Gods teaching, why do most church's now allow for memebrs to divorce and remarry on grounds other than adultery? He claims that biblical marriage has already been compromised and for the church to draw a line now is hypocritical and discriminatory....I am aware of the nuances of this and that it is potentially very disruptive to most of our churches to pursue this train of thought, but am begging for help in responding to him on this with a logical, convincing, God honoring, argument.

    • http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/ Jeff S

      There are widely held differening beliefs regarding what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage- it is not clear cut at all. Many churches DO NOT allow divorce for victims of domestic violence- on the blog "A Cry For Justice" we hear from women all the time who have been excommunicated from their churches for divorcing abusive men.

      There are some good materials that lay out Biblical evidence for divorce in abuse cases, like David Instone Brewer's "Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible" or Barbara Roberts "Not Under Bondage". If your son wants to appeal to this issue, he will need to have similiarly scholarly work backing up his position that homosexual marriage is Biblical (there are those who make this argument), but not by saying "Others are ignoring the scripture, so I will too". I FIRMLY believe the scripture teaches that divorce and remarriage is acceptable in abuse situations.

      • MRS

        Thank you for taking the time to reply to my comment. I, too, believe there are circumstances in cases of divorce that should be considered and that a one-size-fits-all approach would not be God honoring. I was really referring to the no-fault divorce stance of many of our state laws and the ensuing difficulty this has created within the church. I have many friends and relations who have divorced and remarried, and many did not occur in response to either adultery or abuse. I know the Christian community that I am in fellowship with to be very compassionate and individualistic with cases of divorce and remarriage. Different churches handle this in different ways to be sure. However, my son and probably most in his community, see this in general terms and have difficulty with the percieved hair-splitting. Which leads back to my initial question...how do I respond in a way that is logical, convincing, and God honoring?

    • Blake

      Check out 1 Corinthians 7. Jesus has said more on marriage and divorce through his apostle Paul.

      • MRS

        Yes, He did. Re-reading through 1Corinthians 7 is another reminder that God did not create us in a one-size-fits all kind of way....

    • Jonathan Leeman

      Thank you for the question, MRS. Your son is correct: many churches have already compromised in other matters like wrongful divorce, and they are inconsistent when they take a stand here. Google Carl Trueman's article "The Yuck Factor" for an excellent description of this. But the solution is not to become consistent by condoning yet one more sin. The solution is to become consistent by exercising church discipline against wrongful heterosexual divorce, which more and more churches are rightly starting to do.

      • MRS

        Thank you, Jonathan! My personal struggle to remain in loving, but un-compromising, relationship with my son is made easier, not harder, when other Christians remain consistent.

  • http://www.debistangeland.com/blog Debi @ DebiStangeland.com

    This is the article I have been searching and waiting for. Thank you. This says what I have been trying to formulate in my own mind. You speak such truth. Thank you for this. I am so appreciative to have this as a resource.

    • http://www.debistangeland.com/blog Debi @ DebiStangeland.com

      Daniel 3 comes to mind after reading this article.

  • http://www.jesusreligionphilosophy.com John Hundley

    Excellent post. Here's my take on the solution for the Church: http://www.jesusreligionphilosophy.com/2013/04/the-magic-carpet-ride-discipleship.html

  • Brian Bish

    Thanks for the article. Many incredibly great points here, and I pray for your ministry and that the Spirit will continue to bless you.

    I have a point of contention, however. You state above that the government incentivizes marriage because it sees it as a social good. However, not just any marriage is a social good. A short marriage, lasting a couple years, is not for the good of the country. An abusive marriage is not. A Las Vegas fling marriage is not. But those marriages get government benefits too. What is good for the country is a long, healthy, child bearing marriage that provides a stable place for children to grow up healthy.

    I do not see the government incentivizing the sort of marriages our country needs. It incentivizes all marriages, bad ones and good ones. And I think that herein lies the area of inconsistency that proponents of same sex marriage point out (and I am not a proponent of same sex marriage!)

    The government needs to not incentivize marriage anymore at all. In other words, I would rather lose my tax benefits, inheritance benefits, etc, than restrict them from somebody else. Then we Christians would be free to advocate for our position without denying homosexual people benefits that we get to enjoy!

    On the flip side, perhaps we just extend the "marriage" benefits to all people, single and married alike.

    • J. Morales

      Brian, you make a good point but there is no way for the gov't to know if a marriage will be a "good" one or a "bad" one from the outset and I don't think we would want to put gov't bureaucrats in charge of making that decision! Marriage is, generally, a social good and honestly even when the marriage isn't the "best", can still have positive effects. So that is more then enough reason for the gov't to promote marriage via various means.

      Also, to be frank, the gov't becoming neutral on marriage just ain't gonna happen (not that I think that is the best way to go, gov't should promote marriage). Not if SSM advocates win, or if they lose.

    • J. Morales

      Sorry, one final thing. I really think we need to lose the language that we're somehow "restricting" or "denying" marriage or any of its benefits to homosexuals. You can't be "denied" something you never even qualified for.

      If my friend's uncle dies and leaves my friend a big inheritance, I can't get upset that I don't get a share of it. I don't qualify because I'm not family. I wasn't "denied" a share of the uncle's inheritance, I never even qualified to get it.

  • Hal Hall

    I just want to say, "why are almost no other public Christian writers/figures making these very important points?" Many of us, I'm convinced, in the silent majority, think about these points, although we may not articulate them as eloquently, and are extremely frustrated at the Christian community (even some of its leaders who should know better!) as it seems to just go along with the cultural flow.

    And Ben, this is definitely the time to make the biblical case, not so much for the culture at large, but for true followers of Christ, who will have to understand the issue in terms of a Biblical conviction borne out of a proper Biblical framework-or they/we will surely fall! I believe really what is at root here is an attack on the authority of Scripture, along with the notion of sin and repentance. Thus, indirectly at least, the Gospel itself is under attack. The stakes are high. We, as Christians have to be sure as to why they are high, lest we fall and reap a disaster.

  • Marty

    Errors in this article:

    1) "First, one assumes that homosexual desires are rooted in biology and therefore a natural part of being human."
    "...nor its possible biological basis."

    - If you do any research at all, you will discover that homosexuality indeed does have a proven biological basis. Something as simple as reading the introduction to the wikipedia page on homosexuality will inform you of this. It cites numerous instances of academic research into the issue if you're looking for further reading.

    2) "We have no right to stand before him and insist upon our definitions of masculinity, femininity, marriage, love, and sexuality. He gets to write the definitions, even when they go against our deepest desires and sense of self."

    - In this paragraph you seem to be under the impression that a certain sub-set of Christian morality must govern not only all Christians in your country, but all non-Christians too. Your religiously-motivated desires are irrelevant to legislation.

    Marriage has been defined - as I'm sure you're aware - in many different ways by many different cultures at many different times in history. A modern society attempting to live up to the church/state separatipn by defining marriage in a way that fits with evidence and a desire for equality is not beholden to *your* interpretation of the tenets of *your* specific subset of *your* religion.

    3) "We understand this quite well, for instance, when it comes to the behaviors associated with some forms of substance addiction or bipolar disorder."

    - Again, you've made an error that even a small amount of research could've avoided. Comparing homosexuality to substance addiction or bipolar disorder is offensive, but aside from that it is factaully bizarre, as 'research has shown that homosexuality is an example of a normal and natural variation in human sexuality and is not in and of itself a source of negative psychological effects.'*

    Linking this back to the error you made above (2), given that there is nothing inherently harmful about homosexuality, any attempt to use special pleading to have it excluded from marriage would be exactly the kind of legally-enshrined religious viewpoint explicitly forbidden in your country.

    4) "Christianity offers a more mature and deeper concept of love, too."

    - This is, again, similar to error (2), although as your entire argument seems to be based on the misconpetion that a specific subset of Christian values should apply to everyone, I suppose it is the root of all the errors you make.

    Aside from whether or not you wish to exclude non-Christians from marriage, the fact is that marriage is much, much older than Christianity and - again - has taken many forms in many different cultures at many different times in history. You - and Chrisitians who think like you - do not own marriage, nor do Christian conceptions of love get to dictate anything to non-Christians.

    As heterosexual non-Christians are already rightly allowed to marry, you commit the logical fallacy of special pleading by attempt to exclude homosexual non-Christians for not conforming to *your* interpretation of *your* religion.

    5) "In other words, institutionalizing same-sex marriage does not merely make government neutral toward unrighteousness; it means the government is promoting and incentivizing unrighteousness."

    - It is surprising that you don't see the extremely obvious reversal of this point - that not allowing same-sex marriage is not neutral, but rather promoting inequality. Again, the legal status of marriage does not belong to your subset of the Christian faith. The legal status of marriage belongs to the state and the state cannot legislate based on the special pleading of any particular religious group. Once again, your subset of Christianity does not get to decide the definition of marriage for everyone. The definition of marriage does not belong to your subset of Christianity.

    Your repeated appeals to the Bible show that you have not grasped this point. The Bible could unambigously say that homosexuals should not be allowed to purchase goods on a sunday and in a society that respect equality and freedom both of AND from religion, homosexuals will be allowed to purchase goods whenever they please, because religious interest groups have no right to have their moral views enshrined in legislation.

    If a homosexual believed such a prohabition, they are of course free to avoid purchasing goods on a sunday. Other homosexuals who do not share this view should be free to purchase goods whenever they choose.

    Similarly, an unfortunate homosexual Christian who believes homosexaul marriage is wrong is free not to get married. Other homosexuals who do not share this view should be free to marry whenever - and whomever - they choose.

    *http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation.aspx
    *http://new.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6803&Itemid=1926

    **http://www.fallacyfiles.org/specplea.html

    • Brent

      Does Christianity necessarily apply to everyone -- Christian and non-christian? YES! A little research into what Christianity actually says would have halted many of your arguments.

      I feel that you're committing the error of assuming that secularism is somehow the neutral ground between religions. Logically, it cannot be neutral.

      • Marty

        "Does Christianity necessarily apply to everyone -- Christian and non-christian? YES!"

        Premise: Christian beliefs apply to everyone.
        Logical conclusion: Hindu beliefs apply to every. Muslim beliefs apply to everyone. etc.

        Without committing (again) the fallacy of special pleading, you cannot apply Christian beliefs - and only Christian beliefs - to everyone.

        You can evangelise for them all you want and should have the freedom to do so.

        Everyone else, however, has the freedom not to be governed by laws derived from Christian beliefs, nevermind a subset of them.

        Secularism *is* the separation of Church and State.

        • Brent

          Again, you're assuming secularism is neutral ground when it is not. Secularism is, by definition, against Christianity.

          Understand this. When I say that Christianity applies to all I am simply stating what the Bible teaches ---all have sinned, all need a Savior, the Savior all need is Jesus, God created all people and things, God will judge all people, etc. The Bible does not say that only those who subscribe to Christian doctrine are sinners in need of a Savior. Christianity necessarily speaks of EVERYONE.

          We believe in objective truth as revealed in Scripture. Now, to deny the existence of objective truth is to defeat yourself before you begin. So, one must admit that objective truth exists. The question then is Which religion best conforms to reality, human need for redemption, the human condition of evil, and the hope of actually having a purpose now and beyond death? I believe Christianity wins that one hands down, but the convincing lies in your own search.

          • Marty

            "Again, you're assuming secularism is neutral ground when it is not. Secularism is, by definition, against Christianity."

            This is not the case.

            Secularism is the separation of Church - any Church, the Christian Church, the Islamic Church, the Church of the Flying Spagetti Monster - from the State.

            This means that a religious argument has no weight in the legal realm.

            This means that religious objections to a law on same-sex marriage carry no weight.

            It is extremely straightforward. Legitimate legal challenges cannot be religious in nature in a country that has separation of Church and State.

            • http://www.goingtodamasc.us Ben

              Saying that Christians can't bring their religious beliefs into the legal realm is just silly. For the Christian, the Scriptures are what inform our moral views - I have many reasons not to support gay marriage apart from explicitly religious arguments, but at the end of the day they are all informed by my worldview which is based on scripture.

              Similarly, your worldview is based on relative values as defined by society, your upbrining, your views on what "separation of church and state" means, and your environment. Asking us to get rid of our foundation would only be equal - by neutral standards - if you got rid of your foundations.

              If we both got rid of our foundations, there would be no reason for discussion at all. The issue is not who needs to get rid of their foundations, the issue is whose foundation is correct and how do we have a dialogue despite having differing foundations. Tolerance necessitates disagreement.

            • Marty

              You're conflating two issues here:

              1) That people's worldview is coloured by things such as religious belief.
              2) That legitimate legal objections should be allowed to be mounted solely on religious belief.

              (1) is obviously true, but (2) is not the case.

              Your worldview - in this case that same-sex marriage is wrong - cannot influence legislation unless it has a basis *other than in religion*.
              You can believe, on religious grounds, that same-sex marriage is wrong (and not get one, if would otherwise desire it), but as the Church is separated from the State, that religious viewpoint cannot be allowed to influence law unless it has at least one other, extra-religious reason.

            • http://www.jesusreligionphilosophy.com John Hundley

              The Oxford English Dictionary defines secularism as, “The doctrine that morality should be based solely on regard to the well-being of mankind in the present life, to the exclusion of all considerations drawn from belief in God or a future state” (OED, 2704).

              See my article on the fullness of secularism here: http://www.jesusreligionphilosophy.com/2012/09/modern-postmodern-and-metamodern-how.html

        • Michael

          Secularism is a belief system, not a suspension of all belief systems. Using your premise, Christians have as much right not to be governed by Secularist ideology as Secularists have not to be governed by Christian ideology (subset or otherwise).

          Of course, this is an unworkable situation in our nation at the time. However, it illustrates the problem that exists between humans using law to honor God or using law to legitimize sin. Humans have had, and will continue to have, many disagreements over what laws we should be subject to. But when God judges the nations and the souls who have lived under these laws, the only consideration for judgment will be his holiness. May we find forgiveness in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

          • Marty

            No, again, you're misunderstanding the secularist separation of Church and State that countires like the US employ.

            The State is separated from the Church - any Church, elsewise any group could claim that their religious beliefs be enshrined in law.

            Christians who oppose same-sex marriage must support its legal right to exist in the same way that Muslims - or atheists - who oppose the very existence of Christianity must support the legal right to practice Christianity.

            Arguments based on religion ("same-sex marriage is against my Christian beliefs" or "the right to practice Christianity is against my Islamic beliefs") have absolutely no legal weight.

            Any objection that falls when the religious underpinning is removed has absolutely no legal weight.

            • Katie

              The Founding Fathers never used the words separation of Church and State. The 1st amendment restricts government from establishing a state religion, as in "the Church of England" and from passing laws that prohibit someone from freely exercising their religious faith. That's it. The state was never "separated" from the church. The church (people of faith) were guaranteed by the Constitution that the government could pass NO laws that would inhibit someone from practicing their faith. That is the true intent of the 1st amendment to the Constitution. If you believe otherwise you have been misled by Secularist ideology. It is the Secular community that has tried to aggressively promote the concept of separation of Church and State and to distort the true history of the founding of this great nation, so they can promote their religion of Secularism.
              It has only been in recent years that this has happened. I am old enough to remember the Christian religion being very much a part of our society in schools, government, businesses, etc. and it has always played a big part in the history of this country. The majority of the Founding Fathers were Christian and the majority of Americans were Christian. Our government followed the Constitution at that time and allowed Christians and other religions, the freedom to practice their faith. But the rise of the Secular belief system has changed that.

              You said "Christians who oppose same-sex marriage must support its legal right to exist in the same way that Muslims - or atheists - who oppose the very existence of Christianity must support the legal right to practice Christianity." I disagree. Same sex marriage is not a religion. Christianity is and has a right to exist because of the 1st amendment. I have the right to practice my faith because the Constitution guarantees it. My ability to practice my faith freely in this country does not rest on the "permission" of Muslims and Atheists. That right is granted to me by God and the Bill of Rights.

              Everyone has an equal right to marry someone of the opposite sex who is of legal age. That is marriage equality. People who support same-sex marriage want to marry someone other than a member of the opposite sex, but laws denying them the ability to do so, are no different than the other laws that also prohibit marrying a son or daughter or more than one person. No one is allowed to enter those types of unions either. By your logic, all those unions would have to be legitimized if an "allowance" is made for those who want to marry someone of the same sex. Our government would have to make allowances for all unions, because if marriage is not legally between one man and one woman, then government cannot favor same-sex unions by legalizing their marriage without also legalizing all other unions. Legalizing same-sex marriage WITHOUT also legalizing all other unions as well would create a huge "marriage inequality" in this country.

        • Melody

          Secularism is it's own religion.

    • MichaelA

      Hi Marty, you wrote:

      1. "If you do any research at all, you will discover that homosexuality indeed does have a proven biological basis."

      Even if this vague statement were true, so what? I am not trying to be rude, just pointing out that this doesn't go anywhere.

      2. "Something as simple as reading the introduction to the wikipedia page on homosexuality will inform you of this. It cites numerous instances of academic research into the issue if you're looking for further reading."

      Yes, some academics promote the homosexual agenda. You can usually find academics somewhere who will promote any agenda. That is quite different to proving that there is some legitimate reason why homosexual relationships should be given preferential treatment by society.

      3. "In this paragraph you seem to be under the impression that a certain sub-set of Christian morality must govern not only all Christians in your country, but all non-Christians too. Your religiously-motivated desires are irrelevant to legislation."

      Its hardly "a certain sub-set of Christian morality" – throughout history and among all creeds, there is virtually no instance of homosexual marriage being sanctioned. The few times it has occurred are noteworthy, precisely they are so very rare. Don't make this out to be "Christians against society" – quite the opposite! It’s a case of your tiny minority arguing against the rest of the world and the weight of human history.

      4. "Marriage has been defined - as I'm sure you're aware - in many different ways by many different cultures at many different times in history."

      No it hasn't – certainly not in the terms you are insinuating. You will find virtually no record of homosexual "marriage" anywhere in human history.

      5. "A modern society attempting to live up to the church/state separatipn by defining marriage in a way that fits with evidence and a desire for equality is not beholden to *your* interpretation of the tenets of *your* specific subset of *your* religion."

      Of course not. Since this was never suggested, why bother saying it? Modern society lives out "church/state separation" precisely the same way it has always done so, which has not included homosexual "marriage".

      6. "…any attempt to use special pleading to have it excluded from marriage would be exactly the kind of legally-enshrined religious viewpoint explicitly forbidden in your country."

      The reverse is the case. You are the one doing the "special pleading" by asking to have homosexual relationships included in the definition of marriage, when this has never previously occurred.

      7. "Aside from whether or not you wish to exclude non-Christians from marriage…"

      No, I am sorry but I have to stop you there yet again – we do not wish to exclude anything – you are the one trying to include homosexuality in marriage, when it has not previously been part of it.

      8. "…the fact is that marriage is much, much older than Christianity and - again - has taken many forms in many different cultures at many different times in history."

      So what? You could use exactly the same argument to justify polyamory or animal-human "marriage" or anything else. It is not an argument that adds anything worthwhile to this debate. Indeed this argument gives far more support for polygamy (which has sometimes been permitted in human history) than for homosexual "marriage" (which has virtually never been permitted).

      9. "You - and Chrisitians who think like you - do not own marriage, nor do Christian conceptions of love get to dictate anything to non-Christians."

      Of course not. But as citizens of our respective countries, we Christians have as much right to a say as anyone else.

      10. "As heterosexual non-Christians are already rightly allowed to marry, you commit the logical fallacy of special pleading by attempt to exclude homosexual non-Christians for not conforming to *your* interpretation of *your* religion."

      It’s the other way around: You are the one committing the logical fallacy of special pleading by attempting to argue that the definition of marriage should be changed to include something that has not before been included in it.

      11. "It is surprising that you don't see the extremely obvious reversal of this point - that not allowing same-sex marriage is not neutral, but rather promoting inequality."

      It shouldn't be surprising, because such a "reversal" is not obvious at all. There is nothing "unequal" in any relevant sense in denying marriage to some people. Never was, never will be.

      12. "Again, the legal status of marriage does not belong to your subset of the Christian faith."

      No indeed. Nor to you.

      13. "The legal status of marriage belongs to the state and the state cannot legislate based on the special pleading of any particular religious group."

      It doesn't need to. The state only needs to listen to the common sense spoken by religious groups, as well as that spoken by many others. Your real argument is that Christians are not entitled to express an opinion based on biblical teaching – sorry, but they are. If others don't want to listen, that is their prerogative too.

      14. "Your repeated appeals to the Bible show that you have not grasped this point…"

      Errr no, you haven't grasped the point that Christians are entitled to appeal to the Bible. If you don't accept its authority, that is your problem, but many others in western society do find it relevant even if they are not themselves Christians. Therefore we are entitled to say it, and they are entitled to listen. You may do as you please, of course.

  • Brent

    Wow! Someone finally stated our side intelligibly and with the proper biblical counters to the false assumptions of the other side. Great job! This is the article I wish I had written :-)

    Thanks for standing for truth!

  • https://explorethestory.wordpress.com/ Demer Webb

    Outstanding article. Echoing the sentiments of the above comment, I too would like you to help us in thinking through Keller's comments. Is there a way someone could be on the other side of this issue and not be in sin? Would love your thoughts.

  • http://teampyro.blogspot.com Frank Turk

    The arguments about what kind of religion is going on here are very good.

    The argument that LGBT are, somehow and in some way, inhuman, are the kind of arguments the other side wants us to make because these are the sort of arguments that make their claims of equivalence with racism tenable. Those arguments needs to find the round file immediately.

    • Jonathan Leeman

      Hey Frank, I'm not sure I entirely understand what you're saying here, but it does make me want to clarify, I am certainly not saying LGBT are inhuman; I am saying their arguments for legitimizing sin are inhuman, and that Christians should do a better job of insisting on the humanity of LGBT folk than they themselves do.

      • http://teampyro.blogspot.com Frank Turk

        Hi Jonathan --

        You're a victim of my run-on sentence and a failure of subject-verb agreement. :-)

        You use some cognate of the word "inhuman" 7 or 8 times in this article. As I read that -- and I have a rep for being the administrator of "merciless beatings" on the internet -- I find it to be a word which will be easily-misunderstood by your opponents; it will be misunderstood to be a statement akin to racism.

        My point is that the rest of the argument is going to be eclipsed by this word, and your real point about the false religion being catechized by this new order into our society won't get the attention it deserves.

    • MRS

      I agree with the need to carefully think, and I will add pray, through the way we word our stance on this issue. For me as the parent of a gay son, this has been extremely important as I navigate my relationship with him and as I endeavor to retain influence in his life. Walking the ridge line of truth and grace takes a daily dependence on the Holy Spirit.

  • http://brandywinebooks.net Phil W

    Help me think through this a bit. A florist in Washington refused to do the flowers for a homosexual couple getting married. She said she refused in honor of Jesus, gave the man a hug, and tried to be friendly. Somehow the couple complained or maybe just talked about it, and officials from Washington State are trying to lower the hammer on her.

    I think this florist is within her rights, but I don't think her response if the only Christian response we could have. If I provided a service like this, I would want to try to be salt and light by serving this couple like any other. Would be endorsing gay marriage or being complicit somehow in their sin?

    • Jonathan Leeman

      Phil W. Great question. I'm deeply sympathetic with this situation, and I think Christians are going to find themselves in the situation of this florist more often. Would you permit me to side-step this question for now? First, I don't mean to be addressing this kind of dilemma in my article because it's a slightly different question, namely, how should Christians think through providing business services to people when they know those services will be used for sin? Do you sell a man a whip if you know he will beat his horse with it? Do you sell a person a phone if (somehow) you know they will make criminal calls on it? Do you sell a person a computer if they will use it to look at porn? Your answer might vary depending on the situation, but the point here is, I don't think this is quite the same ethical dilemma of whether or not Christians should support institutionalizing same sex marriage at the policy level. Second, I'm going to side-step your question, honestly, because I haven't spent enough time thinking about it or discussing it with others. But, yes, pray the Lord would give us wisdom with such difficult matters.

      • http://brandywinebooks.net Phil W

        Sure. Thanks for the response.

    • Katie

      I don't think she did objected to them because of their homosexuality. She had served them several times previously. Her objection was to serving the "event" of a wedding, as this would require her to be in attendance for set up etc. and in her mind, she may have felt that she was condoning the union of two people of the same sex. I see it as no different than me not wanting to provide floral or catering services at a Wiccan meeting because as a Christian that would place me in a situation that I believe God would want me to avoid. It really isn't about what we think. It is about the florist and her feelings. If she felt that by providing service at the same-sex wedding, she was condoning it, therefore putting her in a state of disobedience to God, then she had every right to say no.
      There's always the question, "What would Jesus do?" Yes, he associated with sinners, but when he went into the Temple and saw that His Father's House was being desecrated, He turned over tables, called them thieves and robbers and drove them out. A same-sex marriage is a desecration of God's Holy Sacrament and His intent for marriage. Would Jesus stand by and watch and congratulate them or would He speak out and admonish them?
      I think Christians need to be respectful of those who feel that God is calling them to take a stand in this area. Being salt and light is supposed to result in a change for the good for our society. Salt affects the "flavor" of something, (it improves it) while light shines against the darkness. Any concept of grace that results in acceptance of sin, is not Biblical grace.If our salt and our light result in more acceptance of sin instead of less, I'm not sure that is what God intended. It has been my observation that the more Christians have remained silent, the more evil has prevailed i.e abortion, divorce, premarital sex etc.

  • Michael Turner

    This is more then just about gay marriage. This is an attempt to turn Christians into second class citizens. It's about religious freedom. Already Christians are being persecuted by the government for not approving gay marriage. In New Mexico a photography studio that was owned by Christians was fined by the government for refusing to work at a gay commitment ceremony. The people leading this movement are bigots pure and simple. They are bigoted against Christianity. It's really that simple.

    This is what we are fighting against. This is the hate and malice that the gay marriage side has no problem using against us.

    http://gailsimone.tumblr.com/post/28642997410/muttluver-gailsimone-sonofbaldwin-just-in

    The person who wrote this was Gail Simone. She works for DC Comics currently writing Batgirl. You may have heard of her in the news recently as the current issue has the first transgendered character they've ever done. Let DC comics know you won't tolerate bigots like her writing for them. Otherwise it'll be death by 1000 cuts for Christianity. It won't be one big fight we wins but many many little ones. We must make bigotry like this as intolerable as the racism is.

    • Marty

      This applies to Johnathon's comment (above).

      Again, there's a misunderstanding of the separation of Church and State here.

      It is illegal to refuse business to people because of a trait like race which they have no control over. Consequently, it is illegal to refuse business to people because of their homosexuality.

      As religious objections carry absolutely no legal weight, you cannot specially plead yourself exempt from such a law on religious grounds. In the same way that you cannot refuse service to someone for being male or female, or black or white, you can't refuse service because the person is homosexual just because your religious beliefs indicate that homosexuality is wrong.

      The persecution you refer to is enforcement of the legal right of everyone to be free from discrimation, whether that discrimation is religiously motivated or not.

      Again, you could not refuse service to someone on other biological grounds such as race or gender, whether you claimed it was because of your religion or because you simply didn't like that group of people, so similarly you can't refuse service on grounds of homosexuality because of religious belief.

      You could, however, refuse service to someone whom you had reasonable grounds to believe would use the service criminally. Johnathon's examples above are red herrings.

      • Meredith

        The biggest misunderstanding of "separation of church and state" is being committed by you. This concept was meant to protect the church more than it was the state. It due to a clever bit of marketing and a major dose of propaganda that the phrase is now used as you have tried to use it - an indictment of religion itself. And, in fact, that phrase is never found in the Constitution. The Constitution does say, however, that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

        One of the most concerning legal issues with government incentivizing same-sex marriage by recognizing it is the serious threat to First Amendment religious liberties it brings. There is a very real risk that, should the government recognize same-sex marriage, it will open the door to forcing churches to recognize it as well. Think it won't happen? It already has. Check out the law that was recently passed in Denmark.
        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/denmark/9317447/Gay-Danish-couples-win-right-to-marry-in-church.html

      • Ryan

        Indeed, you are misrepresenting the idea of the separation of church and state - a phrase that appears nowhere in our founding documents, and was first employed by pastors to describe the need to keep the "weeds of the world" out of the "garden of the church." The Constitution does prohibit the federal government from establishing a national church; this is an institutional prohibition, not a worldview prohibition. Evidence? For over two hundred years this country did indeed base the bulk of its moral and legislative reasoning on the Bible, and neither the founders nor those who followed them considered this to be either illogical or undesirable.

      • Katie

        Homosexuality is not a "trait that they have no control over". All of us can control who we have sex with. It is a behavior. Homosexuality is a desire to have sex with another person of the same sex. If they act on that desire, they are practicing it. Conversely no one can control what gender they are born with or their race. They cannot be born white and then desire to be black and act on it and then become black. They are by birth, always white. By your logic, no one would ever be able to refuse service to anyone, for any reason, because we all engage in behavior of some kind. Every type of behavior would have to be given equal rights and consideration under the law. And that is impossible.

    • Miriam

      Michael Turner - that you think Christians could become second-class citizens is hilarious. Really, I'm dying over here. Has anyone ever prevented you from attending your worship service of choice? Tried to forcibly remove you from a worship service? Attempted to destroy your house of worship? Threatened or harmed you for wearing any religious symbolism or expressing your beliefs? That's what second-class citizenry looks like, and I highly doubt you've experienced any of these things.

      Christians make up the majority of this country - the vast majority. You are not being persecuted. Period, end of story.

      However, if you're wondering what religious discrimination does look like, I suggest you find a Muslim-American, particularly one who lives in an area where they are a small minority, and ask them what their experiences are.

  • J. Morales

    A fantastic article and very much needed. Thank you for posting.

  • debbyrose

    This article is the single best one I have read concerning WHY same sex marriage is wrong. Thank you SO much for posting it. It is hard to argue against the whole, "why can't I marry whomever I love?" argument with just a simple "because they bible says it is wrong" statement. Now I have better answers when people ask me about my opinions on same sex marriage. My two oldest sons, ages 17 and 15 say that they don't think that same sex marriage is a big deal. I am going to have them read this article this evening. I am sure they won't admit to me that they will have changed their mind because no teenager ever wants to admit that their parent is right and they are wrong. haha Again, thank you so much for posting this.

  • Zachary T Moore

    Notice how the author of this article equates allowing two men to marry with the support of same sex marriage. If you are persuaded by an article like this, let me suggest that you have conflated permission with approval and tolerance with support. Those who do this will find it difficult if not impossible to peacefully disagree with their neighbor over matters of non-violent action. While I do not expect moe from those associated with The Gospel Coalition, I will continue to hope for a more nuanced moral posture. Without such nuance, we will never be able to say, " I disagree with what you say but will defend to death your right to say it." In my opinion, a much more humane position would be as follows: "I think homosexuality is bad for these reasons but I recognize the inalienable right of people to pursuit their own happiness and suffer the consequences of their choices. Therefore, while I believe the practice of homosexual behavior is destructive, I will not prevent people from pursuing. such a practice.

    • Jonathan Leeman

      Hey Zach! Good to hear from you. I completely agree that we need to distinguish permission and approval as well as tolerance and support. This is exactly what I argue. What's critical is that marriage laws don't just permit and tolerate and activity, they approve and support that activity. My push back for you would be that you're not recognizing the difference between laws that criminalize an activity and laws which promote an activity. The latter implicate everyone who supports it in a way that the former do not. Hope you're well!

    • Marty

      Hear hear.

      This is exactly the point of separating Church and State - you can believe that same-sex marriage is wrong if you wish to suscribe to a religious doctrine that teaches this (although I'd personally much prefer you didn't), but you cannot legally prevent anyone from getting married on grounds of sexuality because of this religious belief.

      • MichaelA

        "you cannot legally prevent anyone from getting married on grounds of sexuality because of this religious belief."

        Not only can "you" do this, but society has been doing it quite legitimately, for thousands of years. The whole point of this debate is that certain homosexual activists (not all, I hasten to add in fairness) want to change the legal definition of marriage to include homosexual relationships.

        But more to the point, your comment (like most of your comments on this thread) make the fundamental mistake of conflating a Christian's individual conscience with the collective mind of the legislature. Christians are entitled to agitate for the law to remain unchanged, and they are entitled to do so for religious reasons. Equally, a secular person who does not agree with homosexual "marriage" is entitled to join forces with the Christians on this issue, even though his or her reasons for doing so are quite different.

        Equally, if homosexual "marriage" is ever permitted, Christians are entitled to agitate politically for the changes in the law to be repealed, and they are entitled to do so for religious reasons etc.

  • Cara

    The argument that not supporting same-sex marriage is an act of selfless love is one of the most offensive things I have ever read.

    (Certain) Christians stance on marriage equality IS imposing their views on others. It imposes the view that certain groups of people are less than others - and based on what? The belief that same-sex relationships are wrong is certainly not derived from experience, as time and time again children have shown adults that intolerance and discrimination is taught rather than inate. Children naturally seen that there is no difference between genders, amongst different races, or between same-sex versus opposite sex couples and parents - they only begin to see it when someone teaches it to them, directly or indirectly through their actions. It is the author's "mature" love that creates distinctions and discriminates.

    The government's stance in writing, regardless of the personal support of legislators, does not promote one type of couple over another - it levels the playing field. To dismiss the accompanying rights attached to a legally recognized union isridiculous. Absolutely, same-sex couples want their relationships to be seen as valid and equal, but the rights attached to this governmental institution are hugely important as well. When a person who cares about someone the same way spouses care about one another, but is barred from their bedside in a hospital because their gender disallows them to legally be there - that is a huge violation of both people's rights and not some mere tactic to distract from the heart of the marriage equality argument. Denying couples the right to marry is a huge social injustice, and this article reduces it to one small aspect so that the problem is much easier to dismiss.

    The government's role is to protect all members of the society they govern. They are not legislating a "new religion" or creating an idol out of sexuality, they are not discriminating against Christians or telling them what to believe or what not to believe, they are saying that they will offer all couples the same rights under the law and represent the majority opinion of the citizenry on this issue. Christians may believe that the government's authority comes from God - and that's fine - but that does not dictate the realities of citizens who don't agree. The government does not dictate what marriage means to you as a Christian, it does not dictate what marriage means to your church, but as a governmental institution it does dictate the rights it doles out, and it is currently moving to correct itself and dole out rights equally.

    If Christianity teaches that we should deny our natural impulses, impulses like the one to love and respect our fellow citizens; if childlike tolerance is immature, I rather be immature, childish, and a slave to my natural impulses. Denying people equal rights under the law is self-righteous. When you tell me I am lesser than you because of my sexuality, whether by nature or by choice, you are not loving me - you are loving yourself and promoting a self-righteous sense of moral superiority, an attitude responsible for the pain, suffering, and even deaths of many LGBTQ people. If your love makes others hate themselves so much they self-harm, if your love drives someone to commit the sin of suicide, you need to re-evaluate your definition of love.

    Your opinions and beliefs are your own. Choose not to support equality, but don't argue that it is because of some deep and sincere love for your fellow citizen. It is not.

    • Jonathan Leeman

      Cara, I wish my views did not offend you. Thank you for explaining yours. It sounds like we have fairly different worldviews about what love is. I believe that God's love and holiness are inseparable, but I do pray that God would grow me in love and understanding. I'm confident I need to.

    • Brent

      A couple of things here:

      First, you say that just because Christians have a view on same-sex unions that does not mean that they can impose their view onto the rest of society. But, you are assuming that you are not imposing your view that same-sex unions are okay onto society. That is a double standard.

      Second, laws cannot be arbitrary, and your support of same-sex marriage would be an arbitrary law based solely on the personal preference of a very small minority of certain people. Laws must be based in principle. This is why our side says, What about people who want to marry their pet or people who want to be joined in a multi-person (more than 2) union? We are not saying that that is necessarily a direct consequence of same-sex unions being allowed. We are saying that your argument FOR same-sex unions should also be applied FOR people-animal or multi-partner unions because equality of preference being your principle would dictate so. If you want to argue a monogamous human relationship as being the obvious meaning of your same-sex support, then maybe we can have a discussion on why you accept monogamy but reject the other half of that biblical argument, that is, the man-woman part.

      Finally, you seem to be saying that since children must be taught that same-sex unions and homosexuality are wrong, then somehow this indicates an inherent morality in those things. Children must be taught what is right and what is wrong or else, how will they know? Do not reject the idea of objective truth and objective ethical basis. If you reject that and assume that each person can define their own ethics, you have no right to call anything wrong or right.

      • Cara

        Instituting same sex marriage imposes nothing. It does not force you agree with same-sex attraction. It does not force you to marry someone of the same sex. It does not force your church to perform same-sex marriages. The only thing it does is ensures that all couples are treated equally under the law. When Christians insist that U.S. law reflects their view of morality, it imposes huge restrictions on same-sex couples. So really, the end results of"imposing" equality and the results of imposing one religion's views are not quite the same.

        Your argument that somehow treating all couples equally under the law is arbitrary is absurd. You have an institution that grants rights to couples that want to make a commitment to one another under the eyes of the law. Excluding a "small minority of certain people" is arbitrary, as Christians want to exclude them based on personal belief rather than some proof that same-sex marriage is a societal harm. The principle marriage equality is based on is treating all couples equally. I don't really understand how many times I have to say equality over and over again. Equality is not arbitrary.

        Bringing in people-animal unions or multi-partner unions is a distraction from the discussion at hand. We are comparing couples of consenting adults to other couples of consenting adults, as is relevant to the current marriage debate in the US.

        I agree that children need parents to reinforced certain positive traits, but discrimination is a human construct and a system we pass on to our children. When you reinforce the idea that stealing is wrong, it's through empathy that the child gains understanding - the "you wouldn't like it if I did that to you, would you?" method. You can observe why stealing is wrong. When you teach a child that same-sex attraction is wrong, on what observation is that based? What can you point to in the world as proof that same-sex couples are bad? People know certain things are wrong because of an innate sense of empathy - that's why sociopathy is so incomprehensible to anyone who that isn't a sociopath. No one, however, is born with the innate knowledge of how to discriminate because it is not observable without society infecting you with it. When you teach a child to discriminate, you work against their innate sense of empathy.

        • Brent

          Please don't dodge the topic of multi-partner unions. You said you get tired of saying the word "equality", but probably not as much as I get tired of hearing it from people who have no basis for saying it. If you truly have a principled idea of equality, then why do you wish to exclude a trio of consenting adults from being "married"? I find this kind of discrimination very non-equal. Please explain your objection to allowing any group of consenting adults to join.

          Discrimination is certainly an inborn trait! Kids are not told to make fun of fat kids or mentally retarded kids or others. They do it because of the sinful nature that we are all born with.

          You also mention that you do not think homosexuality and same-sex relationships are harmful to society. There is much data that the homosexual lobby finds inconvenient. Such things as the instance of STDs in gays, the proliferation of multiple partner relationships, broken family life, etc. Of course, I am not claiming that heterosexual couples do not have these problems, but it is not nearly as rampant as it is in the homosexual community. So, from a "good for society" standpoint, anyone who honestly analyzes the raw data sees no reason why the government would want to affirm and promote such unions.

          I'm really interested in this word "equality". I find it to be an empty rhetorical term or catchphrase to tug at the heart of voters. It has been hijacked much like the word "choice". "Choice" actually has no virtuous capacity until something has been chosen, and then there is a moral judgment looming.

          My point being that no one really means true equality when they say "equality" in this debate because someone's PREFERENCE is always trampled on. Why do you get to pick who gets trampled?

          • Brent

            Take a look at the data here. Why would the USA or any nation wish to promote such destructive lifestyles?

            http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=Is01B1

          • Cara

            Brent, reread what I said. This isn't a debate about multi-partner unions because the question at hand is amending the current legal definition of marriage to include same-sex partnerships. I have expressed no opinion about them one way or the other - you're putting words in my mouth and again distracting from actual discussion.

            For probably obvious reasons, I find the Family Research Council not at all the be a credible source, but let's for a second treat it like it is. First of all, by legislating equal standing for same sex couples under the law the government is promoting NOTHING: again, it is giving both types of couples the same rights. I'm really confused as to how (and I won't use "equality" here because that's a rhetorical leftist tactic) giving one group of people the same thing as another group of people is promoting one over the other. It's kind of like when we promoted being black by gradually giving African Americans legal equality under the law.

            Your argument and FRC's, based on what you provided me, is essentially that people who participate in same-sex intercourse are at a higher risk for disease and have unstable relationships. How does this at all have anything to do with marriage equality? Why should the US Government deprive LBGTQ people of rights based on any of these purported risk factors?

            I read the FRC's article, and the first study that I looked into - the claim that lesbians have a higher risks for "certain" STDs - was a huge stretch. Bacterial vaginosis is not an STD, which was the most compelling correlation the researcher had, and even she admits in her paper "Potential for sexual transmission remains disputed." According to the CDC, Hep C is rarely ever transmitted sexually (http://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2010/hepc.htm), and that same sex contact between women is not a risk factor for HIV (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/women/resources/factsheets/wsw.htm). I mean, come on Brent, the FRC still uses the term "gay bowel syndrome." I'm surprised they don't still call AIDS "GRIDS." I usually try to get my science from places that aren't so heavy-handedly in support of my political views that they use unscientific, outdated, discriminatory names.

            In closing, I'm still not sure what you're on about with this preference thing. When I hand you an apple, and then I hand the gay person next to you an apple, how am I treating either of you differently? You're acting like because I didn't just give you an apple and excluded the other person you somehow got less. You didn't, you just didn't get to continually be treated like something special. Stop promoting your own lifestyle and your own preference.

            • Brent

              Two things:

              First: Multi-union argument: Yes, I know that the current debate is about monogamous same-sex unions, but I am trying to make you understand that your reasoning as to why same-sex couples should enjoy the same benefits as traditional couples would presumably also be applied to multi-partner unions. I'm attempting to get you to analyze your basis for believing that what is being proposed is any kind of "equality" at all. It is not a side issue or a distraction. This is what it takes to make a valid argument for changing a law. That is why I see the idea of allowing same-sex unions as being an arbitrary construct with no principle behind it. If the principle is that you support the homosexual lifestyle, then you should simply say so instead of clouding the issue with possibly innocent statements about some vague notion of "equality".

              Second: Argument for allowing people to have traditional marriage but denying same-sex couples from the same government benefits: Many people see this as discrimination. It depends on how you define that inflammatory word. I prefer to call it wise discretion. Here's the argument. Traditional marriage is seen as a valuable and virtuous institution which should be promoted with incentives for encouraging this good thing in our society. Societies throughout the ages have valued marriage as being the core of civilization and the foundation for society. As the family goes, so goes the nation. So, as far as the legitimacy of offering benefits to traditional marriages, I hope that we agree that it is a good thing for our nation to promote with incentives (similar to a business being offered tax breaks for setting up shop in a town because the business' presence is seen as a good thing). So, if we compare traditional marriage and same-sex unions, they are clearly not equal in their virtue. Again I point you to the FRC data (you can deny it if you wish, but it doesn't do anyone any good to simply suppress info). In the contest of family psychological health, physical health, ability to procreate and build society, and many other categories, traditional marriage wins hands down. So, the government is perfectly right to make a value judgment between traditional marriage and same-sex unions and come down on the side of traditional marriage. There doesn't even have to be a religious argument. It is simply a value judgment. It is discretion. Our nation is right to say "We do not wish to promote or affirm same-sex unions based on its complete inadequacy to compete with traditional marriage." I'm not saying that our government always makes the right decisions in its valuations, but we should not be naive that it does indeed have the responsibility to do so.

            • Cara

              It seems that we've run out of tiers to reply to each other's comments. That's fine, though, because this is losing its charm for me. I'm not going to touch the multi-union argument because you still don't seem to understand the discussion we're having and the fact that this is a discussion about gender pairings and not number. You still no nothing about my position on multi-union partnerships and just want to make accusations about my understanding of the issue rather than debate the topic at hand. That's the last I'll say on that.

              It is you who don't understand what equality means, considering you just redefined "discrimination" as PREFERENCE, the thing you were deploring earlier. Proponents of "traditional" marriage seem to think there is something sacred about tradition - which I guess if your entire system of believe was founded thousands of years ago. To non-Christians, it's pretty clear that while the main messages of scripture are on point, some of finer points have a touch of the human about them. The bible and its laws are absolutely informed by the culture in which it was written, and we all know that certain laws have been deemed less relevant as it has been passed down from generation to generation. Sexuality and family are both particularly sensitive topics, so of course people latch onto the smattering of comments about homosexuality in a way they don't about laws regarding fabric or diet - we all recognize that mixing fibers probably isn't gonna bring on the apocalypse. But culture is a human construct, and culture is fallible. The more our society has come to realize that the gay guy down the street really isn't that much different than them, the more people have come to realize that we are all the same and we all deserve the same basic rights. It used to be tradition that interracial couples couldn't marry, and I'm sure that if that reasoning stood today there would be orgs similar to RFC who could make extraordinary, unfounded claims about how detrimental those unions are to society. And you, Brent, would probably still be trying to hold up equal rights by making a tangentially related argument about how we can't legalize interracial marriage unless we legalize same-sex marriage and multi-partner unions.

              At the end of the day, you, Brent, need to recognize that not everyone holds the same value judgements that you do. I saw that you dismissed someone else's arguments based on the their lack of understanding that Christian ideals DO apply to everyone. From your perspective, I know that they do apply. But you seem to live in such a bubble that you don't realize that regardless of your worldview, it doesn't apply to everyone else. Your religion, which is your preference, does not get to dictate how someone else lives their life. I can't eat peanuts because of an allergy, but I have no authority to legislate a national ban on peanuts because they're dangerous to me. Just because you think same-sex couples are dangerous (and please, if your only source is a known anti-gay group who can't even present their "facts" without using discriminatory language, you might want to broaden your research) doesn't mean that you can legislate them away. That's arbitrary. That's preference.

              Live your life the way you choose. But don't think you're somehow special under the eyes of the law just because you're heterosexual and Christian and have traditionally enjoyed additional privileges and protections. Take the impending legalization of same-sex marriage as one of those blessed trials Christians love to endure. Who knows? Maybe it'll all work out in the end for you: your God really will be the one true God and you really will get to be self-righteous about your perspective and we'll all be burning in Hell. So why not let the rest of us have our fun in the mean time?

            • Brent

              Cara, you refuse to confront the issues. I cannot continue if you will not dialogue. Your caricature of Christianity is untrue. You should probably ask a Christian to explain the difference in Old Testament law for the Jewish community and the New Covenant morality standards. There is a difference. You've dismissed data. You've dismissed my questions about multi-partner unions. You've disparaged me for my beliefs. You've accused me of racism. You've seemingly accused me of wanting you to burn in hell. ...and it is your right to do those things. However, if you want to have an intelligent conversation about issues and truth and Christianity, that isn't the way to encourage dialogue. I feel that you are intolerant of others' views to the point that you will not listen because, even though you have no authority for your beliefs, you act as if they are superior to my beliefs which do have authority. I encourage you to be more understanding and open minded. Thanks for the discussion.

  • http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/ Michael Snow

    "... more biblical conceptions of love..."
    Either it is biblical love or it is not.

    And it is the whole confusion about "love" that has born this fruit of condoning sin in the church, including unbiblical divorce, women as pastors, etc.

    When we get serious about clear teaching on the basics, then we will have a chance to be salt in our dying culture. But that is not likely to happen.
    http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/love-prayer-and-forgiveness-now-also-in-ebook-format/

  • JohnM

    I'm tired of this even being an issue for Christians to discuss as if there were some controversy about it. At some level homosexuals themselves know something is wrong with them and I'm not even going to debate the self evident. The bible tells me something about it yes, but, like everyone else, I'd know it anyway. I don't need the bible to tell me to get in out of the rain either.

    Ben had it about right above when he said - "I'm not sure if now is still the time to defend the biblical principle against homosexual marriage, or if now is the time to start discussing what it is going to be like, and how we are to be as a church, after it is legal in all 50 states."

    Now, how we are to be is how we are to be. What we are to say on the matter is what we are to say. When we do that it may end badly for us in the short run, but we know whom we have believed and are persuaded that He is able...Right?

    We don't need to win a PR war and it should be clear by now we're not going to. No one will be able to pretend perverse is normal or that there is a right to do wrong forever, we just need to remind them (and maybe ourselves)of that fact. Whether anyone listens or not is not within our control, but by the grace of God (as it always is) some will.

  • Yuri

    "And it is not freedom from religion that the advocates of same-sex marriage want; they want to repress one religion in favor of another." - Which one exactly?

    "...Christianity begins with the frank admission that fallen human beings are corrupted all the way down, all the way in." -- Frank or not, it is deeply wrong. What is corrupted, by the way?

    • Brent

      They want to repress Christianity in favor of the secular religion of relativistic naturalism.

      Corrupted, meaning that humans are born as selfish individuals to their core, and give all their energies to fulfilling and expressing their innermost selfish desires. Some of these desires are for wealth, safety, status, good feelings (as when people give to charities), removal of guilty feelings, lust, inappropriate sexual desires, envy, etc. These things flow out naturally from all human beings although manifested in different ways and different strengths.

  • http://www.natejohnsongallery.com Nate Johnson

    When you state, "This does not mean that Christians should enact God's judgment against all forms of unrighteousness now, but it does mean that we Christians should not publicly or privately put our hands to anything God will judge on the last day" it seems to me that you are a bit 'muddled' in your thought. For example, it would seem that you are telling believers not to publically defend the right of false religion to worship according to the dictates of conscience, since this would involve "publically putting our hands to something God will judge in the last day." But this seems to leave only two options: 1) theocracy or 2) absenteeism/withdraw; neither of which is a Christian option. With two kingdoms in parallel, which I believe God wants, it then follows he wants us to allow and defend things that from a strict kingdom point of few are sinful, no?

    • Jonathan Leeman

      Nate,
      Good question. No, I don't think I'm stuck with only two options. You seem to be working with a formulation of religious freedom which is premised on defending the "inviolable conscience," which puts Christians in an awkward position. To me, that feels more like an Enlightenment version of two kingdoms and less like Bible. I, too, believe in religious freedom, but I take it from the Noahic Covenant, where I understand that God authorized humanity to prosecute crimes against human beings, but he did not authorize us to prosecute crimes against himself. So my doctrine of religious freedom is this: people can worship false gods because God did not give governments the authority to say they couldn't (outside the boundaries of the Mosaic Covenant). And we know from the new covenant that doing so is futile anyhow. Bottom line: I maintain BOTH that Christians do not have the authority to prosecute crimes against God like false religion (unless harm to another human can be demonstrated) AND that Christians should never put their hand to unrighteousness. I hope this is helpful. It may be that I am muddled! I hope not.

      • http://www.natejohnsongallery.com Nate Johnson

        Hi Jonathan:
        Thanks for your response. You also said, “God has not instructed us to prosecute crimes against himself.” Agreed.
        But when you say, “For the Christian, therefore, the argument is pretty simple: God will judge all unrighteousness and idolatry. Therefore Christians should not publicly or privately endorse, incentivize, or promote unrighteousness and idolatry,…” I don’t see where this leaves you anywhere other than a form of withdraw from the public square. I believe Piper used this paradigm when he refused to comment on gay marriage in MN.
        It’s true you say, correctly, that God has instructed us to support crimes against humanity per the covenant with Noah, but where does this leave you with respect to a positivistic contribution to the pluralism of the public square? I can’t find any. Can you give me a broad outlay?
        For me, I do not follow an Enlightenment version of an inviolable conscience, but I do advocate a two-kingdom approach that not only allows for the existence of pluralism, but affirms all believers’ responsibility to contribute as an expression of love to neighbor, using the guidelines of a ‘creational ordinance’ or the moral/natural law within. But beyond these basics of creation ordinances (which Luther/Calvin believe to be inscribed on the hearts of all), I believe we are also called to promote pluralism that allows for believer and unbeliever to co-exist.
        On the issue of gay marriage, it is profoundly ‘against nature’ and the Christian’s contribution to the public square is to fight against it, because of its unnaturalness; again, because the binary division of male and female is a creational reality.

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  • Lori

    The blurb under this on the main page is "Why supporting SSM is a sin." I'm curious about what the biblical basis for declaring that supporting a person's right to do something that is sinful is in itself sin?

    Outside of a theocratic context, what basis is there for believing that Christians can't support people's right to engage in sinful behaviors? That is not to say that Christians can or should support people's right to engage in ALL sinful behaviors, but are there no sins that they can think people should have the right to freely engage in without government penalty, or that they think the harm of could be mitigated by legalization and regulation?

    Could Christians not support, for practical reasons, the legalization of certain drugs or even of prostitution, while still considering engaging in those behaviors sinful? Because it's about sexual behavior, maybe prostitution is the best analogy. Suppose a Christian is concerned about the sex trade. After much study and prayer, they conclude that the current laws around prostitution actually encourage the exploitation and abuse of sex workers, and while the trade is sinful and the people engaging in it are sinning, it would be safer for the women involved, and easier to get out, if it were a legal, regulated trade. Would that person be guilty of sin if they were to support the legalization of prostitution?

    I'm not asking whether they are right. They might very well be wrong. Perhaps legalizing prostitution would just increase exploitation, abuse, and sin. That would be an issue to debate politically. But, they hold the position they do in an effort to have something they believe is unequivocally sinful occur in a context where they believe the harm of that sin will be more limited, not to endorse or encourage the sin.

    They might be incorrect. They might have bad information or be interpreting the information available wrongly. But, being wrong is not necessarily a sin. If they are wrong in good faith, if they are wrong because they want to limit the harm done by sin but are simply mistaken about the best way to do so, I'm not sure what basis there is for declaring their support of legalized prostitution sinful.

    If somebody believes that homosexuality is indeed a sin but that the harm it does (perhaps especially to the children of same-sex couples) will be more limited if it occurs within the context of a legally-recognized marriage with all of the rights/responsibilities that go with that, what sin are they guilty of?

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  • Jimmy

    Isn't it also true, then, that Christians must stand up for heterosexual marriage? That it is the duty of Christians to help young couples enter into marriage as prepared as possible? To counsel them, be there for them? To ensure that the vows of holy marriage are kept at all costs? The church has done a poor job at this. We scream against same-sex unions, but are not honoring the holy vows of ALL unions. I pray that God forgives us.

    • http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/ Jeff S

      "To ensure that the vows of holy marriage are kept at all costs?"

      Even if that cost is the descrution of an abused spouse? No thank you.

      I tire of this notion that what is needed to make the Christian divorce rate go down is more commitment to marriage vows. I strongly suspect that a lack of commitment to marriage vows is not the reason for most Christians who divorce.

      • Ryan

        This seems to be a narrow view of keeping the marriage vows: not getting divorced. Surely keeping the marriage vows also includes preventing abuse, and separating the couple if necessary? Let's avoid straw-men.

        • https://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/ JeffS

          I am defining it that way because most churches do. Very few churches excommunicate folks for abusing their wives. Very few churches take any action at all until a victim fules for divorce, and then it is to encourage her to repent and forgive her abuser.

          And separation instead of divorce not a solution offered by scripture, nor is it enough. At best it is a legalistic approach so that Pastors apcan check the box that they do not allow for divorce while comforting the self that they are allowing the victim to set boundaries. In reality, the victim is still bound to her abuser and is not functioning in any way like a wife.

          I actually do agree that saying divorce is the only way to break marriage vows is too narrow. However, I'd say when an abuse victim files for divorce she isn't breaking anything- the breaking has already been done.

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  • Kris D.

    It is hard to think of a better way to affirm same-sex desire as good and part of being fully human than to leverage the celebratory power of a wedding ceremony and a marriage.

    Question: What do I do with my invitation to attend a gay friends wedding? I'm in NYC and this is a regular event now, and I care and love my gay friends but I'm committed to being a Christian and standing for what God says in the Bible about this lifestyle. Do I not attend? Do I attend but also make it clear that I'm not affirming their marriage?

    • Lori

      My very Catholic in-laws have attended *three* weddings for one of their nephews now. They believe that divorce is a sin. They believe that remarriage after divorce is a sin. They didn't feel the need to make it clear to him that he wasn't affirming their marriage.

      People around us are sinning all the time. If a friend of yours invited you out for a ride in their new yacht (greed), would you have this kind of internal struggle about whether to go? Do you worry about whether attending a dinner at a local buffet-style restaurant is affirming gluttony or feel the need to make your opposition to gluttony clear before you go? If two straight friends of yours who were not married moved in together and had a housewarming party to celebrate, what would you do? If one of your Christian friends were to marry a non-Christian, how would you respond to the wedding invitation?

      We don't need special instructions for this. We just need to consider all of the ways in which we deal with both the sin in our culture in general and the sin in our friends in particular all the time. And then not treat homosexuality any differently.

      • Kris D.

        Indeed! We do need special instructions (and a lot of prayer) for this and all the examples you gave above!
        From a heart posture of grace and love we are to be salt & light, and not simply 'go with the flow' as our author warns.

        I just could use some instruction on how to do this well! :)

      • Brent

        The problem is that the sin of homosexuality is very different from gluttony or greed or divorce. Homosexuality implies a division between a person's soul or spirit and their body. It takes the stance that a person, meaning the spirit of the person, can decide what to do with his body with no regard to biology. The body is seen as an expendable attachment that can be used in any way. Although those other things mentioned are indeed sins, hardly anything attacks the human purpose and definition like homosexuality. Any show of support for that behavior is very unloving. That is not to say that individuals are to be shunned or disparaged for their sin, but they are to have no doubt about the seriousness of it when they see your stance. If you think going to a homosexual wedding does not instill in the couple's mind that you're okay to some extent with their lifestyle, then you are mistaken. I don't know of a way to not offend them and be true to Jesus. Given those options, We must choose to follow Jesus and repudiate the homosexual influence in every instance.

  • Taylor

    Thank you for writing this article. Seriously.
    Some of the fog and smoke-screen arguments attached to the issue of same-sex marriage involve seeing the whole thing as a quest for "equality" or "tolerance."
    However, as you have helped me see, there is something much deeper going on.
    As always, the Bible speaks clearly into our confusion and calls us to content for the Truth. So, Jonathan, thank you for heralding the Truth here and writing with wisdom & sensitivity...
    I look forward to sharing this article with co-workers and friends.

  • Brent

    People seem to ignore the really bad consequences of homosexual behavior and the promotion of such behavior and preferences as "okay" or "normal for some people". For our nation to put same-sex unions on the same level as traditional marriage is to affirm that they are indeed of equal virtue. Nothing could be further from the truth. Laws are not made based on what groups prefer. They are based on principles and are consequently value judgments. We affirm that murder is illegal not because we hate people who prefer to murder but because we affirm that we do not wish to promote the killing of our citizens. This is not arbitrary, but it based on principle. I challenge anyone to make an intelligent case for putting same-sex unions on equal footing with traditional marriage in any category that is desirable. It simply does not happen. Our nation should not be in the business of affirming the idea that a person's biology is separate from their purpose. That is the ultimate evil of any sexual sin. Sexual sin fractures our being and treats the biological part as if it is simply a tool to be used however our "spiritual" part desires at that moment. God designed humans as whole beings, not fractured entities who are separate from their bodies.

    • Phil

      Laws are not made based on what groups prefer....I challenge anyone to make an intelligent case for putting same-sex unions on equal footing with traditional marriage on any category that is desirable.

      http://metroweekly.com/poliglot/2010/08/04/Perry%20Trial%20Decision.pdf

      http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2010/08/a_brilliant_ruling.html

      Judve Walker lists the advantages that married life provides to people.

      Furthermore, there are some 30,000 kids in same-sex partnered families in California alone. Surely allowing those partners to get married would provide a substantial benefit?

      • Brent

        I think you missed the point.

        I'm sure if we lowered the age of a minor to 8 and allowed a 40 year old man to marry an 9 year old woman it would provide a substantial benefit as well. So what?

        • Phil

          Ok. What was your point?

          • Brent

            The point was to challenge someone to put same-sex unions and traditional marriage side-by-side and compare them among many categories. You will find that they are not equally virtuous and therefore should not be treated as if they are equivalent.

            The point was not that same-sex couples would benefit from government incentives. Of course they would. Anyone would.

            I do realize that the article you posted attempted to paint the judge's statement on prop 8 as being factual and unbiased, but the article was far from unbiased in the language it used and the matter-of-fact tone used.

            • Phil

              You are moving the goalposts.

              The original "challenge" was:

              I challenge anyone to make an intelligent case for putting same-sex unions on equal footing with traditional marriage in any category that is desirable.

              I then provided two categories in which benefits would accrue to society.

              Specifically, one argument for "putting same-sex unions on equal footing with traditional marriaqe" is that it will provide a benefit to those children who living in same sex households. I believe benefiting the children is a "desirable category." Thus, I believe I have met the "challenge."

              At any rate, I believe that you could compare them "side-by-side" and still find them equally virtuous.

              [As a side note, you also have to be very careful what you are comparing, why, and what conclusions you can draw from that. As an example, I wonder if a "side-by-side" comparison of black marriages and caucasian marriages would fare well? Given the high divorce rate (and other problems in african-american marriages) should that mean african-americans don't get to be married?]

            • Brent

              Sorry, maybe my original wording was not clear. I wasn't saying that I want someone to tell me why allowing same-sex unions would be equalized with traditional marriages through government benefits. My meaning was intended to be a challenge for someone to look at traditional marriage and same-sex unions/couples in many categories as they currently stand....physical health issues, psychological health issues, ability to rear children in a healthy environment, household stability, etc. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

              Yes, there might be a disparity between white couples and black couples in those same categories for whatever reasons, but that would be beside the point since a person's ethnicity is part of their biology and is a gift from God. It is not a preference or a drive as homosexual behavior is.

            • Phil

              Yes, there might be a disparity between white couples and black couples in those same categories for whatever reasons, but that would be beside the point since a person's ethnicity is part of their biology and is a gift from God.

              Here's where I think you went wrong:

              "Yes, there might be a disparity between heterosexual couples and homosexual couples in those same categories for whatever reasons, but that would be beside the point since a person's sexual orientation is part of their biology and is a gift from God."

              Obviously, I don't expect you to agree.

      • MichaelA

        "Furthermore, there are some 30,000 kids in same-sex partnered families in California alone. Surely allowing those partners to get married would provide a substantial benefit?"

        Why?

        Letting a same sex couple call their relationship "marriage" simply means that society is conniving at selling a lie to the children.

        • Phil

          Why would it provide a benefit? Because social research shows that children do better in two-parent families. Allowing same sex marriage would encourage two-parent families.

          Letting same sex couples call their relationship marriage simply means that society is conniving at selling a lie to children.

          I suppose this is true if you think that the word "marriage" has an objective, independent meaning. (If so, can you prove that your definition is the right one? Why isn't polygamy the right definition?) I don't think it has an independent meaning outside of our social construct.

          Here's my solution: How about we stick with civil unions for everyone (for the state to recognize), and we let churches marry people? That is what I would argue for.

          • MichaelA

            "Because social research shows that children do better in two-parent families."

            Errr, no, social research shows that children do better in father-mother families. Hence your next sentence has no logical basis.

            "I suppose this is true if you think that the word "marriage" has an objective, independent meaning."

            Of course, and it does. Human beings have known for hundreds if not thousands of years what marriage means. That is as objective as anything on this earth. The idea that "marriage" could include a homosexual relationship is a bizarre idea thought up by a tiny minority of people in a few places in the world in the space of an infinitesimally small period in human history. Why should that be forced on the rest of society?

            "Why isn't polygamy the right definition?"

            I agree that using your arguments in favour of polygamy might get you a bit further than they do with the idea of homosexual "marriage", but as far as I am aware you aren't arguing for polygamy - are you?

            "I don't think it has an independent meaning outside of our social construct."

            Even if this were true, so what? We are in our social construct and any sane person will think carefully about changing something that is part of it. Hence why many people who are not Christians also disagree with the whole idea of homosexual relationships being called "marriage".

            "Here's my solution: How about we stick with civil unions for everyone (for the state to recognize), and we let churches marry people? That is what I would argue for."

            Why? Marriage is an integral part of the law and customs of your country and mine. Why change it just because of some passing intellectual fad which a small number of people happen to find interesting at the moment?

            • Phil

              Errr, no, social research shows that children do better in father-mother families. Hence your next sentence has no logical basis.

              Citation please.

              Of course, and it does. Human beings have known for hundreds if not thousands of years what marriage means. That is as objective as anything on this earth.

              And yet, somehow, the definition of marriage and understanding of marriage has changed across time and cultures. I need to some sort of proof that your definition and understanding of marriage is the correct one.

              I agree that using your arguments in favour of polygamy might get you a bit further than they do with the idea of homosexual "marriage", but as far as I am aware you aren't arguing for polygamy - are you?

              No, I am using polygamy to point out that there are multiple understandings of the word "marriage." Why is yours the right one?

              Even if this were true, so what? We are in our social construct and any sane person will think carefully about changing something that is part of it.

              Well, if there are good reasons to change it, why not? But I do think that this reflects the best (and really, only) argument the pro-traditional marriage side has: Don't change the definition because that has been the definition for a long time, and we should 1) respect tradition and 2) shouldn't change it because there may be unintended consequences. But, at the end of the day, these are pretty poor reasons.

              Marriage is an integral part of the law and customs of your country and mine. Why change it just because of some passing intellectual fad which a small number of people happen to find interesting at the moment?

              Why change it the way I propose? Because I think is is more fair.

            • Seth

              Hi Michael, I actually do agree with just sticking with civil unions being the only thing that government issues, and letting religious groups define marriage in their own way. But realistically speaking, that probably won't happen right? I mean where we're at politically right now. And that's why I (as a Christian) support gay marriage in the civil sphere. It's the second best option. Perhaps we can work toward civil unions taking the place of marriage in the long term.

            • MichaelA

              Hi Phil, you wrote:

              "Citation please."

              Now let me get this right – you make a sweeping assertion ("Because social research shows that children do better in two-parent families") citing no support and knowing that it was highly misleading in the current context (all research that I have ever heard of deals with how children relate in normal heterosexual familes as opposed to broken homes or single parent homes). Yet when someone else points out the misleading nature of your asssertion, your *only* response is to make an unspecified call for citations, which you yourself have not given!

              If you are seriously suggesting that there is credible research to show that "two-parent" families (homosexual as well as hetero-sexual) are better for children, then by all means give a reference to it.

              "And yet, somehow, the definition of marriage and understanding of marriage has changed across time and cultures. I need to some sort of proof that your definition and understanding of marriage is the correct one."

              No, you don't. If you are going to propose a radical change to the definition of marriage which has been held by our western societies throughout their existence and by the vast majority of humanity through millennia, then the onus lies firmly on you to provide a reason. Simply stating "I have found a reference that ancient Egyptians (or whoever) sometimes permitted polygamy" is not relevant.

              "No, I am using polygamy to point out that there are multiple understandings of the word "marriage." Why is yours the right one?"

              Then you are not pointing out anything at all. The Aztecs used to cut the hearts out of prisoners while they were still alive – what possible relevance does that have for us today? Anymore than the fact that you can find examples at some times and some places in the whole sweep of human history that some societies practiced polygamy – so what?

              "Well, if there are good reasons to change it, why not?"

              Because you haven't shown any – what is the point of discussing counter-factuals?

              "But I do think that this reflects the best (and really, only) argument the pro-traditional marriage side has: Don't change the definition because that has been the definition for a long time…"

              This is revealing: How can you expect to critique marriage when you don't even understand why it exists? Millions of human beings over many centuries and millennia practicing something for no other reason than "because its tradition" - Do really you have that low an opinion of other human beings that you think this was their only reason? If they all understood something about marriage and you don't, is it just possible that it might be you that has the defect in understanding?

              "Why change it the way I propose? Because I think is is more fair."

              Ah, thank you. Now, what do you mean by "fair" and why should your definition of "fair" matter to me or any other voter in western society? [To clarify, I do not mean that as a rhetorical question]

            • MichaelA

              Hi Seth,

              The problem I see with your argument is that it does not take account of the reality that marriage is a part of the very fabric of law and society – its not particularly "Christian".

              The Bible never suggests that marriage is a peculiarly Christian concept, rather the opposite: when Jesus was asked a question about divorce, he did not take his listeners back to Moses or Abraham, but back to Adam and Eve, which necessarily implies that marriage is a concept for all mankind:

              "Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

              “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

              “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

              Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” [Matthew 19:3-9]

              Christ tells his listeners that his followers must not divorce. But he also reminds them that marriage existed before any "church", it existed for all mankind, and that secular governments may permit divorce. In the process, Christ also makes clear that it is fundamental to marriage that it is between a man and a woman. And governments and cultures throughout history have recognized these same points, even though most of them have not been "Christian".

              Take the ancient Greeks for example: They knew about homosexuality and permitted it. Some of them glorified it. But they never suggested or thought that homosexual relationships could be equated with "marriage". Marriage is the bed-rock of society, the glue that holds it together, for the Greeks as much as for us.

              Christian churches may have their own ways of celebrating marriage, but we don't "own" the institution, any more than we own birthdays. We do however have the responsibility to speak out when the institution is threatened by a perversion which will harm society – and re-defining marriage to include homosexual relationships is just such a perversion.

            • Phil

              MichaelA,

              Fair: Fair is treating similarly situated people the same.
              Unfair: Unfair is treating similarly situated people differently (for what amounts to arbitrary reasons).

              This definition matters because it forms the basis for a functioning society--that is, it leads to social harmony.

              BTW, Do you have any other argument for keeping the definition of marriage as "the union of 1 man and 1 woman only," other than "that is the way humans have (mostly) done it, so don't change it?" [Because that seems to be your only argument.]

            • Seth

              MichaelA,
              I'm not sure I see Jesus setting up two realities to live in (one for Christians, and one for secularly good people). As such, whatever Christ has to say about marriage I see as valid and good for all people, not just Christians. But I don't see Him enforcing it at the point of a sword either.

              And regarding Jesus' teaching on marriage concerning Adam and Eve, I agree with part of what you have to say. But it's not a great proof anti-gay marriage passage to me as imbedded in those same verses is a very strict prohibition on divorce that even most Christians today like to bend to create an easier reading. It seems to be a paradigm to me to take that same passage and advocate for a loose, 'not quite sure what Jesus was saying' interpretation about divorce, and then turn around and become more of a literalist as it relates to gay marriage. I have to admit I struggle to understand which way of interpretation is correct.

            • MichaelA

              "Fair: Fair is treating similarly situated people the same.
              Unfair: Unfair is treating similarly situated people differently (for what amounts to arbitrary reasons)."

              Phil, can you seriously not see how that definition leaks at the seams, to the extent that it is essentially meaningless? You can hardly take issue with the people you regard as "unfair" for being arbitrary, when your own definition is about as arbitrary as you can get. But I agree with you about "social harmony" – that is one of the primary reasons that we have heterosexual marriage and do not have homosexual 'marriage'.

              "BTW, Do you have any other argument for keeping the definition of marriage as "the union of 1 man and 1 woman only," other than "that is the way humans have (mostly) done it, so don't change it?" [Because that seems to be your only argument.]"

              No it doesn't "seem to be my only argument". I think you can follow the thread and realise that I have been pointing out weaknesses that I see in your own case. Mind you, it is not a bad argument – why on earth would anyone want to tinker with the most basic fundamentals of something that has served society so well? The onus lies squarely on you to prove your case.

              But, for those who are seriously interested, I am happy to set out some of the advantages of marriage (real marriage, I mean). These are taken straight from the Book of Common Prayer which is still influential even in our modern society, and being an Anglican its easy for me to get hold of – but other traditional formulations are much the same:

              1. Marriage is the best way to bring up children in a stable and loving environment. As the hard rock band Alice Cooper puts it, this is the natural aspiration of any child:

              "I got a mom but I ain't got a dad
              My dad's got a wife but she ain't my mom
              Mom's looking for a man to be my dad
              But I want my mom and dad to be my real
              mom and dad
              Is that so bad?"

              2. To provide a lawful and justifiable outlet for natural desires, and to avoid the social evils that arise from wantonness and promiscuity

              3. "For the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity." [I can't paraphrase it better than the old book puts it]

            • MichaelA

              Hi Seth,

              "I'm not sure I see Jesus setting up two realities to live in (one for Christians, and one for secularly good people)."

              I agree, Jesus didn't set anything up. But he did point out to his listeners that God set up two different realities in the Old Testament: "Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives [for any cause] because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning." [Matt 19:8] Not everything that is lawful is permissible for the Christian.

              "But it's not a great proof anti-gay marriage passage to me as imbedded in those same verses is a very strict prohibition on divorce that even most Christians today like to bend to create an easier reading."

              Even if this were true, that would seem to me to be all the more reason to use the verse – Christians are no less in need of conviction of sin than those outside the church.

              But what do you mean by "very strict prohibition on divorce"? Christ says that one may not divorce except for adultery, but that was said in response to a very specific question from the Pharisees. His words are not inconsistent with the Apostle Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 7 that abandonment is also a ground for divorce. Is it very strict? Sure. But it is by no means a total prohibition.

            • Phil

              MichaelA,

              You wrote:

              "I suppose this is true if you think that the word "marriage" has an objective, independent meaning."

              Of course, and it does. Human beings have known for hundreds if not thousands of years what marriage means. That is as objective as anything on this earth. The idea that "marriage" could include a homosexual relationship is a bizarre idea thought up by a tiny minority of people in a few places in the world in the space of an infinitesimally small period in human history. Why should that be forced on the rest of society?

              I have a compromise: we will leave it up to the people, and let them decide. (That way it won't be "forced on the rest of society.")

              If you happen to live in a place that has same sex marriage (presumably, after people have voted on it), no one can stop you from still believing that same sex marriages aren't "real" marriages.

  • James Flagler

    This is a secular matter left to secular authorities. It is not a sin to be gay any more than it is to be left-handed. It is an inherent human difference and to teach that the only options are to remain alone, lonely or to "change" and marry an opposite-sex person in hopes of "being healed" is the real sin. Teaching gay kids to hate themselves and to condemn gay people who want to establish the family they are meant, by their natures, to have as consenting adults are terrible injustices. Cloaking such animus in Biblical "proof texts" justifies nothing.

    • Brent

      What does secular mean to you? I hope you realize that you're forcing your views onto the rest of us. What gives you the right to assume your version of the way things should be is better than ours? Why is your flavor of secularism better than our version of non-secularism? Our beliefs are diametrically opposed. Don't think that secular is equivalent with neutrality. It most certainly is not!

      • Phil

        I hope you realize that you're forcing your views onto the rest of us.

        Huh? You are free to consider someone not really married. Or free to consider someone as leading an immoral lifestyle. People do it all the time.

        What gives you the right to assume your version of the way things should be is better than yours?

        I am in favor of the democratic process. That is how this thing should play out (IMHO).

        Why is your flavor of secularism better than our version of non-secularism?

        See the separation of church and state above.

        Don't think that secular is equivalent to neutrality.

        Ok. But you do realize our Legal system is "secular" (by design), right?

        • Brent

          "separation of church and state" is a misleading term. The actual policy is that the government shall not establish a state church "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..." It is to keep the government out of church affairs and to allow freedom of worship.

          The legal system cannot be secular unless it is completely arbitrary. There is a basis for our fundamental laws. Judeo-Christian values system is the basis. We get our laws from a well-established system of promoting virtue and punishing vice/evil. It is that simple. Nations loot Christianity all the time for the good things it stands for, but then the people attempt to have no connection to Christianity.

          When you say "this is how it should play out", aren't you doing the same thing that Christians are doing? Are you not affirming your belief system and stating that everyone should follow your beliefs? Just because your secularism denies God and Christianity does not deny God, does that mean that secularism is correct?

          • Phil

            Too much here to try to deal with. We'll have to agree to disagree on:

            1) What the founding fathers intended with regard to the role of Christianity (God/Bible) in governing this country.

            2) The proper basis for our legal system.

            3) The meaning of the words "secular" and "belief systems."

            and I am sure about a million other things.

  • lessthannothing

    Have enjoyed comments and responses and impressed by writer's engagement therein. All stand-outs, from Simon to James Flagler. In fact I am finding argument and reason failing me, yet perhaps a song may be in order:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Lx8c3-djc8

  • Miriam

    There seems to be a lot of misinformation circulating here about separation of church and state, secularism and government, etc. So I'd like to present a quote here:

    "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion ..." John Adams, Treaty of Tripoli, 1797

    There it is, very early in our country's history - a Founding Father declaring that Christianity is not the basis of our government.

    The argument here boils down to "Homosexuality is unrighteous, so allowing same-sex marriage means the government is promoting unrighteousness." But whose definition is unrighteousness is that? It is certainly not universal - there are many, including many Christians, who think there is nothing wrong with gay people being gay. This sense of "unrighteousness" is a religious opinion, and as stated above, the U.S. does not base its laws in religious opinion. Therefore, denying marriage right to two consenting adults just because they happen to be of the same sex is catering towards one particular set of religious beliefs - which is not the basis of law in our great nation.

    • MichaelA

      Hi Miriam, you wrote:

      "Therefore, denying marriage right to two consenting adults just because they happen to be of the same sex is catering towards one particular set of religious beliefs - which is not the basis of law in our great nation."

      Quite true - voting is the basis of law in your great nation. Why aren't Christians allowed to agitate against a change in the law, and why aren't they allowed to state that their reason for so doing is what the Bible teaches? Would you like a further change in the law to stop them expressing their views?

    • Brent

      Copied from wikipedia :-)

      "Although Article 11 has been a point of contention in popular culture disputes on the doctrine of separation of church and state as it applies to the founding principles of the United States, no academic historian has suggested the treaty provides evidence to settle that question in either direction. Some religious spokesmen claim variously that — despite unanimous ratification by the U.S. Senate in English — the text which appears as Article 11 in the English translation does not appear in the Arabic text of the treaty.[11] Some historians, secular and religious, have argued that the phrase specifically refers to the government and not the culture, that it only speaks of the founding and not what America became or might become,[13] and that many Founding Fathers and newspapers described America as a Christian nation during the early-Republic"

    • Katie

      Miriam That is erroneous information. That quote has been around the internet a lot as "proof" that we are not a Christian Nation. It is false and a misrepresentation of the truth. You need to google the treaty and read the history behind it. The treaty was made with some pirates who were Muslim and that statement was made very narrowly in one section of the treaty, I believe in response to a concern of the Muslim pirates.
      Perhaps you should refer to the treaty of Paris in 1783 which ended the Revolutionary War and was signed by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams etc. The preamble begins as follows:

      In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity.

      It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts of the most serene and most potent Prince George the Third, by the grace of God, king of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, duke of Brunswick and Lunebourg, arch- treasurer and prince elector of the Holy Roman Empire etc., and of the United States of America, to forget all past misunderstandings and differences that have unhappily interrupted the good correspondence and friendship which they mutually wish to restore, and to establish such a beneficial and satisfactory intercourse , between the two countries upon the ground of reciprocal advantages and mutual convenience as may promote and secure to both perpetual peace and harmony;.....

      The treaty BEGINS with acknowledgement of the Trinity; (Father , Son and Holy Spirit) and references Divine Providence, grace of God, and defenders of the faith. This is the TRUTH behind the founding of this great nation and I am getting REALLY tired of people who try to twist and distort. Why do so many want to believe lies? I went to school in the 50's and 60's and was taught that this country was founded by Christians and people of faith and for many years they WERE the majority in public office, schools, business etc. The federal government at one time even printed and distributed a Bible. It is only in recent years that the secularists have been trying to re-write history and it is unfortunate that so many uninformed people choose to believe them.

  • Martin

    Nice write up Jonathan. I have struggled with the same issues. We all have sinned - and by believing in Christ, we surrender our personal morality for His, as codified in the Bible, to the best of our abilities. Will that mean we get it right each time? No - but as Christians we are to be committed, for life, to the transformation of our heart at the hands of the Holy Spirit.

    Having said that, once we get to a certain point in our spiritual maturity, we feel compelled to share and evangelize it, through personal testimony or sharing the stories of the Bible, each of which has a point that can be distilled by just about anybody. This means we open our mouths, like Christ did, and the Word is our sword, our weapon of choice, when confronting what is counter to the Word.

    If I as a Christian keep my mouth shut when asked about what I believe is right, or if I as a Christian fail to evangelize and make known my allegiance to Christ/God and the Holy Spirit, then I believe we are not doing the best we can. Not evangelizing may not be wrong, but it certainly saps us of fully experiencing what Christ was all about - making disciples, one by one.

    What we loathe most is when our evangelizing goes unanswered - and this we must not interpret as "something is wrong with me", but more like we failed to create what was missing for the other person, whatever possibility they see as 'not possible" or not present in their lives as a result of God's absence in their lives.

    I see failure as a training tool - makes me want to look at what is missing in MY life and my way of being, that I could change such that this possibility will occur as palpable to whomever I am sharing God's word with. And so on and so forth... we never really stop transforming. Not acting is also acting. Not saying anything is also saying something.

    So by all means - make your stand known - and do it in such a way that it doesn't invalidate explicitly the sin others are committing that you have conquered through Him. They will feel convicted without you having to point it out to them, by merely sharing who you are in Christ, boldly and proudly.

    God bless!

    • MRS

      Thank you, Martin! Wonderfully said and maybe the most helpful for me as I endeavor to walk through life, in relationship, with my son. It is very hard to express the tension and level of difficulty this takes for me and other Christian parents of gay children. I will add that this same example of a humble, transformed life having greater power to proclaim the Gospel, also applies to parents of any wayward child...

      • Martin

        Hi MRS - I have two daughters, one 6 month old and another 5 year old... a close friend recently asked me, what if they turn out gay? I told him - the ultimate choice of whether they turn out gay or not is not up to me. If it so happens, I will not boycott them, avoid them, disown them, etc. I will also not alter my position on what is right and wrong, only because I don't get to choose what is right and what is wrong in my little mini-worldview. The standard for what's right and wrong either derives from God or it derives from someplace else - human law, culture, background, my own "law", etc.

        I will continue to love them while being the beacon of light for them as Christ was for us, however difficult that might prove. If they choose to repent, good. If not, good as well (as far as I am concerned). That to me, is acceptance and love - when one has the option to change (or is invited to change), but you love/accept them even when they do not want to change.

        I applaud your courage as you are faced with this already and, like you, I will not sell out my being in Christ because my children may stray off His path. It will be a sore point for me, I am sure, if that were the case, but I have to accept it - there is no other way. Anything short of full acceptance of sinners is selling out on what the Lord commands us to do.

        I have been given a gift of freedom from sin from the Son of Man, that saved my life in ways I cannot even begin to calculate, and in doing so, He revealed my purpose in this life. I have never been more at peace or more content ever in my life as I am now and I will share this with everyone and anyone even if it doesn't come across as intended at first. It is MY responsibility to create what is possible in surrendering to Christ for those who do not know Him, 100%.

        My hope for my own daughters is that through my own transformation in Him and by Him, I will have demonstrated by example what a real man in God is supposed to be and act like. That is the best I can hope for.

  • Jeff

    Wonderful article! Appreciate the truly Biblical view of this issue and the many scriptural references provided. I am completely against the entire idea of redefining marriage to include deviant behaviors, but I feel like I'm becoming a minority, even among Christians. Some of my Christian friends seem to be more concerned about appearing "judgmental" or "uncaring" than they are about sticking with scripture, and that concerns me. They fear that not endorsing gay "marriage" will further make the church seem irrelevant to non-Christians. I still marvel at Christians, who purportedly read the same Bible as I do, interpreting that "marriage equality" is something Jesus would've supported!

  • wkh

    All of you clamoring that Same-sex marriage is all about equality need to read this article with a quote from lesbian journalist Masha Gessen with this quote from a radio interview, “It’s a no-brainer that (homosexual activists) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. …(F)ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there — because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie."

    http://illinoisfamily.org/homosexuality/homosexual-activist-admits-true-purpose-of-battle-is-to-destroy-marriage/

  • Chris H.

    "What were your thoughts on the distinction between laws which criminalize an activity, and laws which promote an activity? It seems to me that you're drawing a clean theoretical distinction between "freedom of conscience" and "imposition of religion" that doesn't adequately describe what's at stake in law and morality generally (law always involves the imposition of someone's morality) and marriage law specifically, which is necessarily an endorsement of a specific activity and the morality behind it."

    You touched on a point here that I think is worth exploring, though Seth and sdb in the comments also provided a more than adequate responses to it. My complaint is that Christians only care about such indirect "incentivizing" whenever it's not an inconvenience. So why care about it in this case?

    I'll give you an example. Whenever I visit my grandparents, we can never eat out at a restaurant that serves alcohol because they don't want to promote drinking and alcoholism. That is their standard, and as you can probably imagine, it leaves us only with a few options. As frustrating as this limitation on our options is, I have to admit that it is at least consistent in principle. Trouble is, there are many Christians who are teetotalers and have no problem dining at an establishment that serves beer. To borrow your line of reasoning, those Christians are to some extent promoting the sale of beer and the consequences of drinking. And this isn't the only applicable example. (There are, in fact, better ones.) So it strikes me as oddly hypocritical for Christians to make such a fuss about this sort of indirect promotion when they not only tolerate it but also actively engage in it in other ways; and like it or not, Christians often reap the benefit of this governmental incentive. Am I not, as an atheist, indirectly forced to promote Christianity by subsidizing the property taxes churches would otherwise have paid?

    • Seth

      Chris, just wanted to let you know that I as a Christian support removing the property tax examption that religious 501(c)(3), and I'm sure there are other Christians who think that too.

      • Chris H.

        Seth, I'm aware that there are other Christians who hold that position. Ironically, while it's a very popular position among atheists, I don't agree with categorically taxing religious organizations per se, unless there were limitations to it (such as taxing organizations with large amounts of revenue beyond their operational costs, e.g. Benny Hinn).

        My issue here is Leeman's concept of complicity in what he deems sin (see also, Hobby Lobby's lawsuit concerning Obamacare). If his line of reasoning is sound, Christians are not only tolerating this governmental/cultural complicity but are also actively encouraging it by their participation and patronage. It's just such an indirect "incentivization" to me, and I'd like Leeman to defend that concept.

    • lessthannothing

      To Chris H: When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

      To Seth: Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given.

      You two bring to mind David and Jonathan; well done.

    • RayC

      I understand your point, but I think it is all too easy point the finger and lay a charge of hypocrisy without fully understanding the underlying principles. No doubt it would be just as easily castigate someone who buys a Big Mac, or even a bar of chocolate, for promoting obesity, corporate greed or whatever. And without doubt, a fair number of your charges may well be justified. That’s why Christians are sinners saved by grace. But may I gently enquire; as you recognise inconsistency in Christians, are you free from inconsistencies yourself? Also, I am not convinced that the question of right and wrong can be relativized by considerations of inconsistencies/hypocrisy, no matter how badly that may stick in your or my throat.

      But back to your illustration of drink. Some Christians are teetotallers for personal reasons, e.g. to minimize the possibility of giving others a reason to over-indulge, but at the same time recognising that others are free to enjoy a drink in a responsible manner – so you should not be surprised to see them in a bar or a restaurant. I know of one who is a teetotaller, but as soon as you tell him you cannot be a Christian and drink he would be the first to say, “Pass the Beaujolais”! The reason is this: Christians have explicit freedom given by the Scriptures regarding food and drink – whether to partake or not to partake. But there is no freedom, explicitly from the scriptures, when it comes to getting drunk. In the same way, the scriptures tell us there is explicit freedom for a man to marry a woman and explicit freedom to indulge in sex in the context of such a marriage. But, in a similar manner, the scriptures do not afford us any freedom with regards to sex outside of marriage and, in no uncertain terms, it gives us no freedom in terms of same sex activities, let alone same sex marriage.

      Just to be clear, I am not hereby intending to trivialise the same sex marriage debate to the level of food and drink. It is abundantly clear that the scriptures hold marriage in a much exalted status.

      For the record, I think this is a great article – in case the author is watching!

      • Chris H.

        Well actually, I'm challenging the view of "indirect incentivization" as a whole, which is why (as I said in my comment to Seth) I don't support removing tax exemptions for religious organizations in general.

        Your statements on exegesis notwithstanding, my point is that Leeman's concept of indirect incentivization, or removed complicity in the "sinful act," is so broad as to be rendered useless in any logical way. Whether you like homosexuality or not, I still have yet to hear a good reason for not incentivizing something our pluralistic society wants when Evangelicals don't care about said incentivization in other ways. I'm saying you can't invoke that argument in good faith if it is only invoked whenever you feel like playing by that rule. If you could, where would it end? Whose personal beliefs would we follow? And what makes same-sex marriage the end-all, be-all issue that would justify catering to that belief? That god really, *really* doesn't like homosexual marriage, as opposed to all the other stuff?

        • Seth

          Chris, wouldn't it be a more fair playing field if all 501(c)(3) tax exemptions were ended?

        • MichaelA

          Chris, I don't follow you. How is any of this an argument against evangelical activism to encourage the government to keep the definition of marriage the same as it has always been, i.e. between a man and a woman?

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  • http://Kimlovesjozi.wordpress.com Kim

    I'd love to read some practical applications of this article. You make it clear that saying "I agree with what the bible says about sexuality but don't mind what happens in law" is a sin. What are some other practical applications? Particularly for those of us who have friends who are gay.

  • Morielle

    I want to start by saying that I know what God often asks us to believe and to do goes deeply against what we would like to believe and do. In my life, I've struggled especially with the gospel's claim to be the only way to God. But, through the struggle, I've come to see that without it's claim on objective truth, the Bible becomes entirely meaningless. And so I was convinced of God's reality, and that He is so much bigger than anything humanity could fathom or create. So when my idea of justice comes to conflict with His, I must give considerable thought to His until I understand it.

    But, of course, I still struggle with many things His word asks me to believe. For example, the icky question, "Why, God, did you create an institution to celebrate my desires - whereas others desires are portrayed as a punishment, described as 'unnatural' by Paul, and given no 'solution' (in the way Paul describes marriage as a way to escape the sin of 'burning from passion')?"

    There are many reasons I'm still struggling with the church's preoccupation with homosexuality in it's war against the world. You bring up excellent points here about the world's idea of what it is to be human, and human justice, and God's offer of a deeper fuller humanity, and divine justice. But why give special attention to homosexuality? Jesus gave special attention to the sin of self-righteousness. Shouldn't we do the same? Isn't it made incredibly clear in the New Testament that self righteousness is the sin most hated by God? Even Paul only mentions homosexuality as a punishment (Romans 1), not explicitly - please please correct me if there's something I'm missing - as a dangerous sin.

    I don not have well-formed thoughts on this topic, only questions. In fact, homosexuality aside, I don't even have a clear idea of how to reconcile Paul's description of marriage as a less-than-ideal means to avoid fornication (1 Corinthians 7:8-9) and his description of it as a profound mystery referring to Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:32).

    So I'll end by summing up what I'd like to know more about in two questions: Could you please tell me more about how your church ministers to people who have (as you say) SSA? And also how you think keeping the marriage administered and incentivized by our government superficially "Christian" (in that marriage remains between a man and a woman) but deeply secular (in that it reflects a worldly view of desire and finding earthly fulfillment rather than serving God in marriage) will serve the war against evil?

    • RayC

      Thank you, Morielle. Those are very good questions and I must admit that they really made me think. In answer, …

      I’m not sure whether self-righteousness comes into this very much, except to say that, yes, there are many who have a self-righteous attitude towards SSA which needs to be repented of. But in the same way, we all have to repent of self-righeous attitudes in every domain, such as giving, church attendance, drinking, smoking, etc, etc. But that, surely, should never cloud our judgement as to what is right and what is wrong. It may be exceedingly distasteful to hear truths coming out of pharisaical mouths, but we need to be mature and objective enough to acknowledge that, nevertheless, if what is asserted accords with scripture then we need to take it serious to heart. Is it not correct, therefore, to defend and speak up for right and against what is wrong irrespective of self-righteousness?

      With regards to your point about “less-than-ideal means to avoid fornication”; it is a very good and interesting point. Perhaps part of the answer lies in that we have a very romanticised view of marriage which may not be a pre-requisite as far as the scriptures is concerned. After all, arranged marriages is just as valid as a romantic marriage in the eyes of scripture, if not more so. However, once engaged in marriage, it becomes a life-long bond of faithfulness and mutual love and care. So “less-than-ideal” may only be our westernised judgement, whereas the true judgement is whether you are faithful and loving and giving after you’ve entered marriage.

      With regards to, "Why, God, did you create an institution to celebrate my desires - whereas others desires are portrayed as a punishment …”. Perhaps the answer is that God has, in His overwhelming goodness and kindness, established an order. He made you and me masters of His earthly creation. That’s an incredible privilege, don’t you think? I still can’t get my head around what an amazing privilge that is! And when Adam was lonely, because he had no one with whom he could share that joy, God, in His incredible kindness and love, gave him someone he can relate to, specially designed for him, someone beautiful, a woman, Eve. And God, in the scriptures, sealed this as a very special union. God did not give Adam a man, or an animal, or a tree, or a rock for that matter. He could have, but He didn’t. So if God in His infinite wisdom established order and indeed gave man not only an exalted position and, indeed, responsibility, don’t you think that we would be somewhat arrogant, let alone sinful, to spit in His face and tell Him He’s wrong or I’m just going to completely ignore what you say and do what I think is right or suits my inclinations? If God, in His marvellous kindness gave woman to man, and man to woman, don’t you think it would be utterly despicable to trample on this kindness and seek to establish our own preferences? Would you not think that this would be exceedingly ungrateful, insulting and dishonourable behaviour? Or put it another way, if God gave you His Son as the only means of salvation at incomprehensible cost, would you think God wrong to be exceedingly angry with you if you reject His Son and trample on His Son’s blood, and seek to establish your own way to meet His righteous requirements?

      I think I would argue along those lines. But thanks again for these very good and helpful questions.

      • Morielle

        Thanks RayC for your thoughtful answer. I think I found a bit of clarity as I was walking to work this morning. The thing this article lacked for me was a more explicit articulation of the gospel in relation to all sin as the same as the gospel in relation to same sex desires and acts. On going back through, I found it implicitly there, I just wish it had been more clear.

        I find this so important because we must be aware of the way God's message can be misheard when spoken and heard by men. It could sound like a gay person bears a heavier burden than a straight person - the burden to overcome their sexual attraction. But the gospel preaches no such thing. God is just as hard on all of us, and just as accepting of all of us. The missionary who works tirelessly to heal the sick in a third world country is as enslaved to sin as the person who lives merely to indulge. Martin Luther struggled for a lifetime with the sinful desire to win God's acceptance through works. His only peace was in the gospel.

        I don't deny that the gospel is referred to in this article and that the pastor wrote with love in his heart. And through my latest reading I especially appreciated the way he emphasized that repentance and change through love for God are not a burden, but a freedom and a privilege. But I do wish he had written with a clearer determination to meet his audience and his subjects as an equally miserable sinner.

        Lastly, though I agree we cannot condone the things which spit in the face of our Father, I still don't quite understand how imposing the superficial visage of a "Biblical" marriage on a society that rejects it's deeper mysteries and purposes helps?

        • RayC

          Thanks, Morielle. I think what you said is really helpful. I think you are quite right to say that we need to put it in the context of all other sin. And, as you say, some sins are just as difficult to bear as SSA.

          I think another thing we need to bear in mind is Hebrews 12:4, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” I don’t know if you get information from organisation such as Barnabas Fund, but we have brothers and sisters who are in the fire of persecution. Some are beheaded, many are destitute, many are “being killed all day long”. Some families go through horrendous emotional and physical brutality that I don’t really want to mention in this forum. I sometimes think that we all too easily forget (myself included) that we are all required to take up our cross daily. It would do us good to remember Hebrews 11:37, 38 (and some “were sawn in two …”) and not to feel too sorry for ourselves for the sins that we struggle with, but remember saints past and present , not least remember where we are heading (Hebrews 11:16).

          I agree with you that how it/we comes across is very important. To the lost, the model of the woman at the well (John 4) and the woman caught in adultery (John 8) come to mind, but then, for the believers, we shouldn’t forget that God requires us to exercise discipline in the church. I’m sure you know the passages well.

          Regarding why should we be ‘imposing the superficial visage of a "Biblical" marriage on a society’; I’m not convinced that giving in is either courageous or is doing good to our neighbours in the larger sense – any more than if Jesus were to say to the woman caught in adultery, be at peace, carry on as you were. I think God knows better what’s coming down the line and wants to spare us of that. Jonathan’s article makes these points. But, as humans, we are wont to say, “Did God really say? … Surely not ….”. I know; I’ve done it myself!

  • Bob

    Gee, Jonathan, how lucky for you that the "truth" lines up perfectly with the life you've chosen to live, and the sexuality you happened to be born with!

    I realize you wrote this article for others (I do not believe homosexual activity is wrong, nor do I believe in a final judgement). I thought, however, that you might want some of my thoughts on why you are losing this battle in the public sphere, and in the hearts and minds of Americans.

    The gay community has said for years that coming out is the single most political act any gay person can make in their lifetime. Why? Because, as they come into focus as the equally human beings that they are, the Biblical proscriptions against them (not to mention the Biblical prescriptions to execute them!), begin to melt away in the eyes of our family and friends.

    People find themselves facing a decision to listen to their hearts and minds, or listen to moral rules written by Bronze Age men who only ate with their right hands because they wiped their arses with their left.

    Happily, hearts and minds are prevailing, and our society is once again bending in the direction of expanded civil rights and away from judgement of persons not by the content of their character, but by the orientation of their sexuality.

    • MichaelA

      Bob, even if that were all true, why should it be important to us?

  • lessthannothing

    Bob,
    Please note that if this article was written for others than the likes of you, then I am in the wrong place. Furthermore, your comments are well received, and you, friend, are more valuable than, well...than you know.
    God bless you,
    Don

  • RayC

    Bob, thank you for your thought provoking comment. I agree with lessthannothing; speaking personally, I received your comment well and I appreciate the sentiment. Nevertheless, I do have some questions and comments.

    Firstly, I note that the Lord Jesus mixed quite happily with tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners – of which I recognise myself as one of the latter. So there is a constant challenge to me to engage these issues with the correct attitude. Nevertheless, Jesus never lost his moral compass.

    Just to understand your standpoint better, I would be interested to know whether, in your opinion, all types of sexual orientation morally neutral, and if not, where would you like the line to be drawn? Would you also consider that marriage is an out-dated institution and that should be scrapped too, for instance? Would you consider life-long partnership old-fashioned and too idealistic? Or simply impractical? I’m just trying to get an understanding of what the alternative view is and where it is heading.

    From a Christian standpoint, I can see where Jonathan is coming from. If, as Christians, we believe that God has spoken and given us rules to live by in the scriptures, and God has demonstrated His reality not least in the coming of His Son, then our morality must come from the scriptures. So whether the rules come from “Bronze Age men who only ate with their right hands because they wiped their arses with their left”, or even from wood age men who ate with both hands and “wipe their arses” with both hands, and without washing them first, is immaterial. After all, I have no difficulties recognising that, in the church, in work and in other domains in life, there are people who are my intellectual superiors. To recognise that God is superior to all does not seem illogical to me. To argue this stance is nothing less than being rational and consistent, would you not agree? Speaking personally, I don’t know of what other stance to take. Again, speaking personally, to say that my own preferences trump those of God’s seems somewhat illogical and irrational. Moral inconsistencies, self-righteousness, and all the others nasties notwithstanding, the only argument for me as a Christian is a purely a theological one, based on scripture. And that is why I’d agree, in the main, with the Jonathan’s article.

    I guess what I’d be like to know is; on what source do you base your moral judgements? I’m asking this in a respectful tone – I understand that this could easily come across wrongly on paper. I would like to explore, if I were to lay aside my Christian believes just for a moment, is there is solid foundation for adopting your stance? And then I would like to take up my Christian believes again and reassess the two.

    • Bob

      RayC: (hey, that's a pun!)...anyway, broadly, I do not believe in "revealed word" behind any religion. I believe all holy canon to have been written by men and only men. That said, much of what is written in the texts of the world's religions comes from absolute truths: i.e., love exists; it is better for one's soul to be loving than hating; we gain nothing by judging others; materialism only brings so much satisfaction; living by the golden rule is a good way to go, etc., etc.

      With regard to sexual orientations, yes, I believe that all three orientations (straight, gay and bi) are morally neutral, in that each involves consenting adults and one's control over one's decisions. Pathologies that have to do with non-consenting adults (pedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality) are not morally neutral. I do not consider marriage to be outdated and I totally believe in life-long partnerships and monogamy for those who want them! Not impractical at all.

      I cannot connect with you on the God conversation. I do not believe in the existance of the monotheistic God of Abraham any more than I believe in the gods worshipped by the Romans and Greeks, the many gods of Hinduism, etc. I guess broadly stated, I do not believe in anything absolute that must be taught. One does not to be taught love, fear, happiness, sadness, etc. One does need to be taught that there is one god who begat a divinely-inseminated son, who died on the cross, and who demands acceptance and obediency or destroys into a lake of fire.

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  • Seth

    Good comment Morrielle

  • Phil Hallenbeck

    This is truly outstanding: The best and most deeply reasoned piece on this subject that I have ever read. Well done!!

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  • http://www.cpcvictoria.com Mike

    Great article that i will be sharing with our men's group. I have made many of the same arguments in church but not quite with this level of clarity I suspect. I have been advocating that we not give in to the use of the term "same-sex marriage" because even using the term seems to legitimize it but I suppose to remain clear in our presentations we can't use anything else. Thank you again for such a clear and biblical presentation. God bless.

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  • GGB

    Here and there the point is made about "equal rights" under the law. In simple terms it reminds me of this: Two people want access to a building, both are given access. One uses the stairs another must use the ramp. Now, must the one who uses a ramp, in order to have equal rights, take it to the Supreme Court to redefine the word "ramp" and call it "stairs" in order for it to be "fair"?
    If a civi union gives access to rights of inheritance, appropriate tax advantages, visitations, etc....why not stick with that?

    • Seth

      GCB,
      The answer is your question is that civil unions do not give rights of inheritance, appropriate federal tax advantages, or universal visitation rights.

      http://www.factcheck.org/what_is_a_civil_union.html

      • GGB

        Actually the rights vary from state-state. But, just as in my ramp vs stairs analogy...you can always add a railing to the ramp . You don't need to redefine the word.
        Really, this issue is a call for each of us to go higher. To lift our standards to the Christ. Jesus required a new view of what was required when he pointed out that just thinking about another man's wife was breaking the moral law. So, our thoughts must coincide with the Christ more and more each day. A great many people have made a mockery of marriage and to me the issue of homosexual unions is simply an extension of our mess.
        What God hath not joined can and will be put asunder.
        If this isn't of God, it will eventually fall.
        How long have we been talking about the issue of abortion? It's been " legal" for quite some time and, yet, because it isn't of God it continues to surface, it continues to be examined. As you know, in recent times, some are beginning to change their views regarding abortion. So, although messy, messy, eventually the pendulum may shift.

  • hespenshied

    I have begun to feel that one of the strongest reasons that I oppose gay marriage is that I just flat think the Church is not equipped to handle the moral, legal and (especially) theological ramifications of gay marriage.

    For example, what do we say to the married gay couple that says they have come to Christ and want to be baptized? Get a divorce? -OR- Live out the remaining days of your union in celibacy?

    Is it possible that some sort of (albeit distorted) Biblically-mysterious marital oneness occurs in the marriage bed of a gay union? I'm not suggesting that it occurs, but I think we need to be prepared for the question.

    Bottom line to me, gay marriage does not just put us on a slippery slope socially and politically (perhaps even moreso) it puts us on a slippery slope theologically.

  • http://DeclarationOfRepentance.org Roger

    It seems fitting to share that we need as a National to admit we have royally messed up. We have failed to be The Church at large and instead played Church. If we are to see a turn then it must be inspired and led by the Spirit and nothing else. Everything else is only vanity. We can be long winded in word on the web but that does not change peoples heart. It's a real encounter with the living CHRIST. When we get out of HIS way and let HIM manifest HIMSELF through us fully to those around us, will hearts change. But it first starts with Repentance. As in any relationship we must first admit our faults and mistakes then set about on a course to fix those wounds. (Repentance) Then and only then can the relationship be revived and restored. Thus we have been led to launch http://DeclarationOfRepentance.org for those who sense the leading of the LORD to begin the road to national repentance much the same way Israel called the nation to repentance.

  • Raul S Cainghug

    Proponents and Advocates of same sex marriage fails to see that God instituted the union of man and woman for the purpose of procreation.
    To say that same sex marriage will lead to the creation of another human being is mentally and Spiritually sick and dead to the core.

    Read the creation of the Heavens and the Earth of Man and Woman in the book of "Genesis." Find out for yourself any passage that would purport God created man and another man and their union leading to procreation. Even the animals and all creatures in the air and the seas are he and she. What is hard to understand in the definition of procreation. Or do you have another "Bible" that says otherwise.

    Are the advocates of same sex marriage came into being from same sex entity? You must have a father and mother. Do you not? The wicked have gone astray right from womb. From birth these evildoers have taken the wrong path.

    You claim and acknowledge God but your actions and convictions are opposite to Gods ways.

    God Loves you but God does not Love your Sins.

    • http://www.christianvagabond.com Christian Vagabond

      Traditional wedding vows make no mention of procreation. I f procreation was the central purpose of marriage, I think it would at least get a mention in the vows. Plus the procreation argument means that people should marry based purely on looks.

      • MichaelA

        The Book of Common Prayer is about as "traditional" as you can get. It is the basis of many modern liturgies and it makes very explicit reference to procreation as a purpose of marriage - not just procreation, but the nurturing of the children that result:

        "... duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

        First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.

        Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body.

        Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.

        Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined..."

  • lessthannothing

    Raul,
    Indeed, we are commended to think about things such as whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--anything excellent or praiseworthy. As such, your, the writer's, and all such comments herein regarding God's way is to be received with thanksgiving.

    However, please note that the rub here lies in that one could possibly (from this article) make a case for Christians to attempt to give what is Caesar's to God, and in so doing to give what is God's to Caesar.

    Best regards,
    Don

    Notes:
    Romans 13:1
    1 Corinthians 5:12
    1 Corinthians 6:1
    Isaiah 31:1

  • Roger Eldridge

    Of course we must love people. The problem is we have no way of knowing if they claim to be homosexuals or stamp collectors or gardeners. Sure we can see them garden or be shown their stamp collection but we don't want to witness a person having a sexual act with another person.

    The problem is even worse. I can get fed up gardening if the vegetables don't grow quick enough or I can stop collecting stamps because I am bored by them. A person can decide any time they like to have consensual sexual relationships (in private) with anyone else whether of the same sex or different one day and the opposite sex the next day.

    If this is their sexual "orientation" why would I be interested enough to make laws for them. We don't make laws for gardeneres or stamp collectors as a class of people because they only exist in their own heads and that decision and description is self appointed. A person can't be ordered to be a gardener or stamp collector or to have any sexual orientation so none of these concepts can exist in law.

    So to discuss Marriage, which is a legal status, with concepts which are not legal statuses is nonsense and absurd.

    The question that everyone appears to have collectively forgotten is that Marriage founds an institution called the Family.

    A Family is mum, dad and the kids. It is the voluntary coming together of a man and woman to be "one flesh" in the procreation of their children and a device to order, educate, care and protect the next generation of society so created.

    The point at which the children come along is not pertinent. It is the capacity which is required. It is the laws of annulment which define Marriage and one important one is that where one of the Spouses lacks the capacity to procreate the Marriage is voidable BY THE OTHER SPOUSE - not the State. Voidable means it is at the request of the other Spouse. It is a private decision, not one the State is interested in. Similarly the laws of annulment allow a Spouse to void the Marriage if the other Spouse engages unrepentantly and determinedly in homosexual acts and refuses union with the Spouse..

    This means any arguments claiming the State should forbid 2 geriatrics getting Married because there is a slim chance of procreating is stupid. The couple possess the capacity however remote it might be. (Didn't Sarah, Elizabeth and Hannah in the Bible give birth at a great age?)

    It is this institution of the Family that is at the heart of what is going on.

    It is the actual institution of the Family which possesses fundamental rights.

    The Family thus formed is a social unit, a legal unit and an economic unit and the Government must at all times treat it as such and must not in any way interfere with it or harm it.

    All the international covenants and treaties recognise the right to marry as part of a compound right, "the right to marry and to found a Family".

    See Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16.
    Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a Family.

    See International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 23
    The right of men and women of Marriageable age to marry and to found a Family shall be recognized.

    see The European Convention on Human Rights, Article 12
    Men and women of Marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a Family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right.

    In Ireland we are very fortunate in that we have a written Constitution which acknowledges the fact that rights belong to the Institution of the Family - not to the Marriage itself.

    In the Constitution the Family founded on Marriage is acknowledged as "the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law."

    Article 41 continues, "The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State" and "pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack."

    Article 41 simply recognises that the Family founded on Marriage acts at all times as a Unit with very clear and publicly enforceable rights to privacy and non-interference from the State. These rights reinforce the accepted inviolability of Marriage being for the procreation of children and being lifelong.

    What we are experiencing is nothing more than the effect of having a feminist/secularist/Marxist hegemony who control the levers of power of the State. The institution of the Family founded on Marriage is superior to the State and presents a threshold across which State power can not lawfully step – is an affront to their ideology and so they have set their goal on its extermination.

    Once Marriage is no longer the gateway to the founding of a Family all the rights of the Family are eliminated and the State is then able to rule with a totalitarian impulse over people who are now no more than isolated and therefore vulnerable individuals to State domination in their everyday lives.

    It is not an exaggeration to see the protection of the institution of the Family founded on Marriage as the battle lines drawn between liberty and totalitarianism.

    The good news is that because the institution of the Family founded on Marriage predates the State and is superior to it the State can not lawfully redefine Marriage.

    All that is required is a Constitutional challenge on the principle which exists that is it is beyond the authority of the Parliament to interfere with the Constitution and authority of the institution of the Family founded on Marriage and this must succeed.

    God Bless, Roger Eldridge
    Executive Director, Institute of Family and Marriage

    • http://www.christianvagabond.com Christian Vagabond

      1)In Western Society marriage imay be a husband, wife, and kids, but.In traditional Indian cultures a marriage is a wife and husband living under the same roof as the husband's extended family .Many African cultures are similarly structured. And obviously ancient Biblical marriages involved multiple wives, sometimes even hundreds. The point being that the nuclear model is just one model of marriage.

      2) There is no Biblical declaration that procreation must be part of the marriage. THe Bibl gives only one condition for divorce to be acceptable, and that is if the wife cheats on the husband. THere are no accepted conditions regarding procreation or sexual sin on the husband's part.

      3) you can't have annulment be a private, non-governmental matter if marriage itself is a government sanctioned and regulated institution.

      • MichaelA

        There have been very few times in recorded history where polygamy has been accepted in human society. But there have been even less times in human history (like, probably none) where homosexual relationships have been accepted as 'marriage'. The "nuclear model" is not "just one model of marriage", rather on any reasonable view it is the only model of marriage.

        As for "living under the same roof as the husband's extended family", my daughter and her husband live under the same roof as my wife and I. This has been a fairly common occurrence throughout western history. It doesn't mean they are any less married than we are.

        "There is no Biblical declaration that procreation must be part of the marriage". I agree with you. If Roger Eldridge is advocating the medieval idea that 'annulment' (which is not a biblical concept) can be granted for lack of ability to bear children, then I disagree that this has any support in scripture. Quite the opposite - Elizabeth in Luke 1 and Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 were barren, but at no time did they or their husband's contemplate divorce.

        However there is biblical support for the idea that procreation is one of the goals of marriage: Malachi 2:13-15; Ruth 4:11-12.

        "THe Bibl gives only one condition for divorce to be acceptable, and that is if the wife cheats on the husband".

        It goes further than that. Firstly, Jesus' words in Matthew 5 ("anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality...") were in response to a very specific question from the Pharisees: "Why did Moses allow us to write a certificate of divorce and put her away". Jesus at no point teaches that only men are able to divorce.

        Secondly, Jesus' apostles spoke with His authority to the church. The Apostle Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 that divorce is permissible to either sex, and for reasons going beyond adultery (specifically, abandonment).

  • randall

    God is love - you have NO right at all to, - and will NEVER take my God from me.
    I will take my chances and be judged at the end of my days .

  • Craig Smith

    As a Christian I find that I'm NOT to judge those persons who live OUTSIDE the boundaries of a Scriptural lifestyle. 1 Cor.5 12 "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside."
    As such I can disagree with homosexuality in general as a destructive lifestyle choice, while supporting the constitutionally guaranteed rights of individuals to engage in contracts. Make no mistake about it, marriage is a legal binding contract between individuals and is legally protected. I may not like the consequences of this fact but it is still morally imperative that I treat others the same way i wish to be treated. Polygamy is next on the list, and pedophilia is not far behind, but we should not be surprised that the world is going crazy since it refuses to listen to the simple Truth. Supporting someone's rights can never be sin. We should love and support those who are still 'in the world', just as we were once lost and confused until someone loved us into the Kingdom.

  • Matt

    I'm gay and I'll keep this brief, though it's hard to. I have full respect for Christianity, though I tend to think more along the lines of Gandhi "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians, your Christians are so unlike your Christ" in the sense that Jesus taught non-judgment, love, peace and connection to the universe through asceticism and Christianity doesn't have a whole lot of that these days.

    Anyway, my entire thought on this article is summed up as: this author clearly knows nothing about being gay or how gays and lesbians actually live their lives or the values they hold. It's just riddled with hackneyed assumptions that paint us as less-than-moral near-human creatures who only live their lives the way they do in complete ignorance of your great and holy Gospel.

    I'm very sorry to inform you that there are plenty of gays that are very well acquainted with the scriptures and have made the moral choice to do something better than be Christian! There are also those that, in doing so, live lives of love and acceptance that come closer to the ideal of Christ himself than those of so many Christians, including many of those here that have chosen to do nothing more than see the growing acceptance of homosexuality in our culture as an encroaching evil (or if that's too strong for your, a growing immorality) instead of actually doing the Christ-like thing and accepting their brethren, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status, as their brothers in arms, human beings together on an Earth that we all share for a brief but miraculous lifetime.

    • Seth

      Hi Matt,
      Thanks for giving the board a gay perspective. Given your regard for Jesus, have you considered following His teachings without regard for how other purported Christians are going about it?

      • Matt

        Without going into great depth into my personal journey and spirituality, yes, I strive to be non-judgmental in my daily life, open to others who are dissimilar to me, give the benefit of the doubt whenever remotely reasonable, and to generally accept that my perspective on things is limited, subjective, and differs from those of others and, more importantly, from reality itself. Many of these things require consistent effort to maintain, though the farther I get down the road of life, the less these things feel like effort and the more they feel like habit.

        I will happily leave anyone to worship, pray, think, or feel however they most see fit without a second thought. It is in cases like these, however, where people who demonstrate extremely limited understanding of people with whom I share labels (in this case "gay", though there are many other descriptors of me that have nothing to do with sex or gender that I could just as easily be lumped into and misrepresented by, and so it goes) take the initiative to speak as authorities on a subject. This, in and of itself, is insulting to whatever audience it may find in my opinion, but when that false authority is used to advance a doctrine of separation, of qualitative difference between the value or human beings, I really must draw the line.

        If you study the religions of the world, I think you will find that whether it is a western or eastern religion, contemporary or aboriginal, somewhere baked into its values you will find the concept that oneness with the universe, with God, and with each other is a hallmark of peace. Oneness is destroyed by us vs. them, sinners vs. saints, or good vs. evil. All things, stripped of their qualitative labels, are equally virtuous and it is in that receptive state of mind that you can truly connect with the world around us. I find a lot of that in the teachings of Christ, as well as in the Chinese Tao, the texts of Hinduism and Buddhism, the myths and stories of Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians, etc. etc. I find that connection and oneness to be bigger than any agenda, any single religion's holy book, as its universality throughout human history and cultures suggests it to be one of the most core and treasured states of mind and being that any member of our species might find themselves in.

        I feel that Jesus captured this essence of being and connection in his life, and attempted to teach it to others. Unfortunately most of the religion that built up around it doesn't really center on this aspect and is a distraction. A distraction from loving thy neighbor, a distraction from non-judgment, a distraction from faith in the ultimate workings of god. And I say god with a lower-case G in a non-denominational sense; a shorthand for whatever that is between the limits of human understanding and the true intricate workings of the natural universe. Whether that gap is intelligent or not I do not profess to know, but whatever it is I have faith that it is bigger than I, bigger than man, bigger than anything we can see or comprehend in our minds, and I dare not claim to know what god wants or doesn't want when I can't even say that I know what god is. I don't trust anyone who says they do know what god is as far as I can throw them, unless they are discussing a personal interpretation of what they think god most likely is, in which case I'm happy to hear their impressions but take no stock in their god-given judgments of me or others.

    • Jonathan Leeman

      Matt,
      Thank you for jumping in. First, a couple points of agreement: yes, my thinking can be hackneyed, and yes, you should like Christ a lot more than me. But now a point of disagreement: I never refer to you as a near-human creature. In fact, I think that you--yes, you--are created in God's image to be "vice-king" with God. I think that you--like every human--is the pinnacle of God's creation. I think that you were fearfully and wonderfully made.

      Yet I also think that both you and me, Matt, chose to be kings independently of God. We wanted to do what we wanted to do, instead of what God wants us to do. And that desire for independence and autonomy now goes deep in both of us, even into the nooks and crannies of our DNA! It means we put our interests ahead of others, even it when it hurts others. And it means that God, because he is good, will judge us. A good judge doesn't sweep hurt and wrong under the rug. He addresses it.

      But here's the amazing thing. Jesus came and lived the perfect life that you and I couldn't live, and then he died on the cross, paying the penalty of sin for everyone who repents and puts their trust in him. You're right, Jesus is loving. He showed his love by dying on the cross for his enemies. But he didn't just do it to say, "Hey, I love you. Watch me kill myself." He did it to rescue us from sin--both the guilt of sin and a life of sin. That's why he told the adulteress woman in John 8, "Go and sin no more," and why he often told people to "repent," which means, change directions.

      Matt, Jesus is God. He is calling you--yes, you--to turn away from your sin and follow him, to trust his finished work on the cross and forgiveness, and to assume the office of vice-king once more. I know I don't know you, and you don't know me, and we will probably never meet. But I hope you will receive these words as from a friend.

      • My Heart Hurts

        "I never refer to you as a near-human creature."

        I don't see him saying that you did. However, this article was written in such a way as to set up a straw-man that someone might accuse you of this (look at the title of the article) and then allow you to shoot it down.

        Your position that telling people they must deny their desires makes them more human is at best a complicated position to understand for anyone who disagrees with you. At worst it makes for a very weak definition of what a "human" position is- someone can use this argument to justify all kinds of asceticism, which the scripture clearly denounces. That is, people can easily see your argument that you are narrowing applying to homosexuality more broadly applied to every area of life and come away with the notion that to function in the way we desire is ungodly. This can lead to the idea of destroying our very created identities by insisting that any form of want or desire is idolatrous and not of God. This would make heterosexual sex within marriage bad, for example.

        Now I'm sure that you are not teaching asceticism, which would be contrary to scripture. What I believe you are teaching is that only in the instances in which our desires are contrary to God's instruction on our lives is it wrong to follow our desires. OK, I believe this and would agree with you. However, the homosexual reading this is going to find it rather disingenuous that you choose a desire that you do not struggle with to pick on and say that in this case it is not asceticism to deny this desire. Right though you may be, it does not make for a compelling argument for anyone who does not already agree with you.

        I have been on the wrong side of people teaching me to deny desires that they (wrongly) labeled as ungodly. For me it was the desire to live in peace and not be emotionally abused within my marriage. When I tried VERY hard to live out the instruction in my life, the result was indeed dehumanizing. I was left feeling as if the way that I was made by God- to want to live in peace and have some purpose other than to be an emotional punching bag- was wrong. That I needed to purge myself of the desire to live in peace. That I needed to purge myself of, well, me- because every fiber of my being was crying out in pain at trying to make a marriage work to someone who regarded me as a toy to be used for her desires and that causing me pain was ok in the service of her getting what she wanted. What I finally realized was that those preaching for me to deny my desires were not in fact those who understood what they were asking. They did not recognize it as asceticism, though it was.

        So this is where I struggle with the homosexual issue- I do not know what it is like to be a homosexual. I do not know what I am asking a homosexual to do when I am asking him or her to deny those impulses. You see, the plight of the homosexual does not hurt my heart because I have some political agenda or want to be thought of as a good person. It hurts my heart because I never want to do to another human being what was done to me.

        Now I still have to wrestle with the scriptures on this, because the scripture does appear to present homosexuality as sin. So I can't in good conscious just tell someone it isn't. But it seems to me when wrestling with how to apply that truth of scripture in their lives, humility would tell me that if I don't know what it is truly like to call them to deny their impulses, perhaps it is better for me to remain silent and allow them to work out the implications of the call of scripture for themselves. In fact, in the New Testament at least, when homosexuality is brought up it is never the focus of the passage. It is mentioned in passing as a sin in effort to make a greater point.

        I personally believe that a homosexual relationship is not a marriage, and never can be. I also believe that it is a sin for people to engage sex outside of marriage. But I must say, as I've followed this conversation that has blown up my email inbox, I find myself not agreeing with ANY of the logic used by those in this thread who share that belief. Quite frankly, that scares me. It seems that the church is purporting to have all of these well reason answers to how to lovingly deal with homosexuals, and yet not of it seems loving. I know from experience that being told I am being loved while being hurt is the worst kind of pain. Man, I don't want to inflict that on other people. Emotionally my heart has gone out to the homosexuals who have posted in this thread because that is the response I've seen over and over again.

        The bottom line for me is, I don't know what it means to believe the scripture and love homosexuals the way Jesus does. I really don't. The fear I have is that those who claim they do don't seem to either.

        • Matt

          Thank your for your considered reply. Your discussion is very interesting to me, for while I am gay and have that frame of reference that most commenters here lack, I wasn't raised in a religious manner and so have little direct understanding of what it feels like to struggle with deep-seated traditional teachings like you're saying.

          I think you may find The Cross In The Closet by Timothy Kurek to be an interesting read, if you find yourself up for it. It's a highly personal tale from a first-time author (I say that to reinforce that it is not the most refined piece of literature, but it is very effective at delivering the emotions and message of the author) who came from a deeply conservative background and chose to explore the solidity of his and his church's views on homosexuality by spending a year labeling himself as gay, living and working with gay people, and generally just testing to see if his assumptions were accurate. It's a very affirming read, and what I like most about it is that he comes through the entire experience with an even more vivid and personal concept of God.

          • Morielle

            Matt, I am going to have to read this book. Might I recommend one in return? I think you might appreciate The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. It's the reason I guess I'd have to say, "I like Christ, I do not like us Christians, we Christians are so unlike our Christ, and that is why I have no choice but to be a Christian, and not just like Christ, but love Him." Thanks for your well-informed and deeply thought words. I'm going to be chewing through them for a while.

        • Morielle

          Dear My Heart Hurts, I cannot thank you enough for sharing what you have written. You have said exactly what needed to be said, and exactly what I needed to hear. I will treasure your words, your empathy, and your conclusions. I agree wholeheartedly.

      • Matt

        A few more points, Jonathan. "Matt, Jesus is God."

        My reading of scripture is that Jesus is the son of God, and he is an allegory for every man. He is perfect in the sense that he is an ideal that we can all strive to reach, but instead of worshipping Jesus as something that's above us, I say let's take Jesus as an example and live like him...not to assume straight out the gates that we cannot be like Jesus, but to instead strive to be as much like him as possible. In this way, I find that Christian teachings align with the teachings of most every world religion: we are creatures who, through our intelligence and consciousness, possess the divine capability to understand and influence ourselves and the world outside of us, which it is our moral obligation to wield with as much care, love, and peace as we can manage. The ritualistic elevation of Jesus as perfection, as God himself, is a distraction. God is the universe all around us, it/he/she/they inhabit every nook and cranny of creation, and being in tune with it as opposed to being contrary to it is key to a peaceful existence and a peaceful existence.

        Scripture says very little about homosexuality relative to many other things, and yet theologians like yourself choose to pick on the gays instead of advancing biblical causes that might step on the toes of your established flock. It's all extremely political, really: don't tell your flock to do what they don't want to do, instead, unify against a common enemy, dehumanize and insult them, and stoke the fires of passion within your followers. Effective, but also antithetical to peace and love.

        I could call you antichrist, not in the sense that you are the devil himself risen on this Earth, a concentrated and unspeakable evil, but in a more mild sense that you are unwittingly, despite your best efforts, working against the teachings of Jesus. And that's OK, everyone at some point or another goes off the rails. Some people never get on them. I trust that we're all well-intentioned, and give my love to those that are doing their best, but I withhold my respect for those that seek a greater context for their actions and seek to overcome their pettiness.

        You therefore have my love, but not my respect. I hope you find some growth on this matter, let your hate and fear of gays go, and find that God starts telling you different things once you start telling yourself different things.

        • Jonathan Leeman

          Matt,

          Good conversation. Thank you again. A few things:

          1) You're right to focus on the who of Jesus. He's the center of Christianity, and if we don't get him right, you can forget the rest. I agree with what you positively say about Jesus, but I disagree with what you deny. The Bible talks about Jesus as a second (or new) Adam (see Rom. 5). So, yes, he is the ideal human and what we should all aspire to. And, yes, sometimes the Bible uses sonship language to point to his very humanness, just like Adam is described as a son of God (see Luke 3). Sons look and act like their dads. Adam was supposed to look and act like his dad (God), but didn't. Jesus did.

          But you'll also find that Jesus taught that he was a "Son of God" in a unique sense, which is why the religious teachers charged him with blasphemy: "This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him...he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God" (John 5:18). Now, you may not recognize the Bible as authoritative. That's a different conversation. The point here is, Christians for 2,000 years have taught the Jesus is fully man and fully God. Think of the disciple Thomas who worships him and says, "My Lord and my God" (John 20). And Jesus himself taught, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30).

          2) Therefore, the most important question for you and I to decide with regard to Christianity is, is Jesus who he says he is? If he's God, then we should do what Thomas does and worship and obey him. If he's not, then, as C. S. Lewis once put it, he's either a liar or a lunatic. Bottom line: it's no good to say Jesus teaches what all religions teach, because Jesus himself taught that he was God (and not in a vague mystical sense, but in a unique, personal, separate-from-creation sense). No one else teaches that. So what do you do with Jesus' startling claim?

          3) I can understand why you would feel like Christians uniquely pick on homosexuality. It makes sense, because the most prominent encounters you have with Christians are probably them disagreeing with you. If it's any comfort, I've written several books and lots of articles, and this is the first time I've ever mentioned the topic! Also, I meet every other week with a group of guys who challenge me on my sins, even as they ask me to challenge them on theirs. So I hope I don't uniquely pick on this one topic, but, again, I can understand why you would personally feel that way. FWIW, we're equal opportunity offenders!

          4) Lastly, will you permit me to ask why you would assume I'm hateful and fearful? Now, let me be the first to admit that I do have blindspots, and I need people to point them out with me (which is why I meet with three other guys every other week!). But what exactly is it you're seeing that makes you think "hate" and "fear"? Now, I do think that homosexual activity is wrong, yes. But can I assume that you would agree that we can both love someone and tell them that what they are doing is wrong? I love my children, and part of my love for them is expressed in correcting them when they do things that would harm themselves.

          I'm pressing you on this point, Matt, because your comments as a whole strike me as eminently conscientious and thoughtful. But that sort of language, which I commonly hear, seems to bring more heat than light. Can you help me understand? Sometimes love requires us to "set people free" (Sting), but sometimes love means telling the truth (2 John). Thoughts?

          Thanks again.

        • MRS

          I appreciate your perspective on this, Matt. I know we all come at this issue from many different perspectives and that it is very easy to allow our gut reactions to hold sway over our conversation. And it is refreshing to hear someone from the gay community join in a discussion dominated by Christians with such a respectful tone. That takes a lot of courage and intellectual honesty, I think. We may in the end still agree to disagree, but I believe we have overcome some barriers nonetheless, to really begin relating to one another.

        • Phil

          Scripture says very little about homosexuality relative to many other things, and yet theologians like yourself choose to pick on the gays instead of advancing biblical causes that might step on the toes of your established flock. It's all extremely political, really: don't tell your flock to do what they don't want to do, instead, unify against a common enemy, dehumanize and insult them, and stoke the fires of passion within your followers. Effective, but also antithetical to peace and love.

          I couldn't agree more. And, of course, divorce is the massive issue that Christians don't wants to talk about. Where are all the Gospel Coalition blog posts about divorce? Actually, I know--they have re-interpreted clear prohibitions against it into meaninglessness. That, combined with the fact that Gospel Coalition blog posts about what the Bible really says about divorce would antagonize their base.

          Indeed, divorce should be an absolutely HUGE issue in 'Christian' churches, as we have Jesus's own words on when it is permitted. [Basically, never.] How many pastors out there are willing to kick divorced people out of their church (or prevent them from joining)? And how many are willing to keep out those that have remarried and, by being remarried, are adulterers? My guess is none. How many are willing to keep practicing homosexuals out of their church? My guess is lots. Why? Because it is so much easier to 'demonize' the 'other." [I am reminded of a biblical passage actually--something about a speck and a log and an eye.]

          Actually, my guess is that in 30 years time, most all Christian churches will be welcoming homosexuals. And those that don't will continue to 'pick and choose' which Bible verses they want to follow regarding marriage.

          • http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/ Jeff S

            Divorce IS a huge issue in the church. And folks who wrongly say that Jesus basically never allows for it do tremendous damage to victims of abuse.

            I highly suggest reading David Instone-Brewer's work on "Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible" before continuing on your tragectory.

            But if your fear is that abused women aren't getting kicked out of churches for divorce- rest assured there are plenty of churches living up to your standards of how the church should treat the abused and oppressed.

            I do not agree with you, as you may gather.

          • MichaelA

            "Indeed, divorce should be an absolutely HUGE issue in 'Christian' churches, as we have Jesus's own words on when it is permitted. [Basically, never]"

            Jesus said: "But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery." [Matt 5:32]

            Jesus' exception for adultery would only be "never" if adultery hardly ever occurs - a rather optimistic view.

            Furthermore, the apostle Paul was commissioned to speak God's word directly to the Church, and he also made clear that there are times when divorce is permitted:

            "To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?" [1 Cor 7:12-16]

    • GGB

      There are many loving and decent individuals who, to the core of their being, simply feel homosexual is their given, innate identity. They quietly go about there lives and do the best they can. I have an individual in my family that feels this way. I do wonder, though, what informs us. I have sometimes faced feeling like a propensity is very much me, a real part of who I am. In fact, I've railed against anyone who would try and deprive me of associating myself with some of these aspects of who I think I am, or what I think I cannot help but be. Here and there though, I've come to recognize, in great humility, when willing to lay on the alter even "this", that what was holding me to this identification was less than divine. It's almost evil's best cover to whisper to us from within, making us think it is our very own thoughts and feelings. A perfect disguise and platform from which to influence our motives and acts. And, ah, leave it alone, the lie wants a life after all. Defend it, prize it, justify it, prove it...but please, don't disown it. In fact, in the defense is such a distraction, there's no quietude within which to actually hear the still small voice that really should be what is Informing us of who we really are. In fact we may even resent that someone else has made in-roads with their growth opportunities, because it reminds us that it might be possible...and it's too much work for us.
      I'm " working" on many things in this journey of life. Some things more obvious than others. I must often be willing to ask myself can I let go of even this, in order to progress. When I I do, I have found the " loss" to be gain!
      I do know that if God is informing us, our motives and actions will always conform to the Decalogue and we will feel certainty and peace.
      So much of what we "do" is really a symptom of the search for God. For satisfaction, for love for wholeness. When we begin to see that those exist within ( the Kingdom of Heaven is within you") as a result of our "living and moving and having our being in Him", we will rejoice in the now of our purity and peace. Know, sir, that you walk tall in the I AM ALL. Love, God is all that can really influence your desires and satisfy them. You have a royal DNA....it's you Divine Nature Acknowledged.

  • lessthannothing

    Jonathan,
    As believers we may consider it a great blessing that rightly dividing the word occurs best as we ourselves are rightly divided by the word. As such, and as alluded to by many here, including the your appeal to wisdom in matters as this, and perhaps none more so than Morielle in here question how all this "will serve the war against evil?", we know the battle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual darkness.

    Also, in being wise,let us know and understand that in any alliance, partnership, joining of forces, there is at that point an allegiance formed. With this in mind, the scripture also has references for the Christian which highlight that one's own witness/influence may be improved more by reckoning himself/herself a stranger in a foreign country (e.g., Abraham) rather than by taking a seat in the city's gate (actively participating in world affairs).

    Therefore, it seems for the Christian, our walk may be to step with one foot knowing that evil is to be overcome by good, which by the Spirit's leading may involve at different times such actions as praying and waiting on God, calling the local police, picking up a stick, speaking up/casting a vote, etc.; with the second step being our good confession: "I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing."

    Thank you,
    Don

    Hebrews 11:14
    Hebrews 11:15
    Genesis 19:1
    Genesis 19:9
    Daniel 11:32
    1 Kings 18:42
    Acts 22:25
    Judges 4:21
    Esther 7:6

  • Patricia

    Priests should stop giving feel good sermons and speak out against homosexual marriage and abortions. A lot of people sitting in the pews don't know this is wrong because its almost never discussed from the pulpit.

  • http://Spiritdaily.com Jean

    Very good article. I agree with it 100%. One thought kept going through my mine as I read it, though, and that is that birth control and divorce went through the very same metamorphosis that same sex marriage is going through now. Both were thought to be evil by all Churches, and through the years all but the Catholic Church caved in and now except both.

    I do agree with the author that we have to love the sinner, but we absolutely have to take a stand against same sex marriage, or soon the world, and even the Churches, will be condoning it as well.

  • http://AMDG A Human Person

    Comment: God created Adam and Eve, this is what people of faith believe: One Man One Woman = Life: This is the perfect equation In a world, where everything is upside down and down and out, some folks don't know what to think anymore, they are getting mixed messages from all around..but I would like to write a bit about an analogy; The Diamond and the CZ(cubic zirconium) or Holy Matrimony (real marriage) and the present cultures version of anything goes marriage (same sex marriage) I would like to bring the analogy of Real Marriage as in the beginning of time to that of a diamond, and same sex unions to cubic zirconium: A Diamond is forever: A Diamond cannot be broken: A diamond is very expensive and quite a treasure: A CZ was invented to look like and pass for a genuine Diamond: A CZ is make believe : A CZ shatters: A CZ is cheap a CZ wants others to believe it is real like a diamond: Now for the similarities: A CZ was meant to look like a real diamond to the lay person, but healthy humans know that it is just a fake: Now wearing the cubic surely could pass for a real diamond: But here is where the analogy ends (is different:) because a union of two same sex couples show perfectly clear they AIN'T the real thing: it is perfectly clear that two of the same sex cannot truly be married, it is a sham a make believe, role playing just like the cubic trying to pass of as a REAL GEM! So, folks, why have a fake, when you can have the real thing? I pray that you will discern this falsehood for what it is, like many other falsehoods in our present dark culture...with this I would say: Love the sinner, hate the sin, don't give in, just Trust in HIM!: Playing house is a thing children do/did, when you grow up you realize it was all make believe, no need to play house anymore, only two people of different sexes can truly be "the house", where true love reigns as husband and wife. PAX As Jesus said , What God has joined together (meaning the perfect union of sexes is the union of the opposite sexes) Let no man (nor judge/court/government/political or social platform) put asunder!

    • http://www.christianvagabond.com Christian Vagabond

      Well, to use your analogy, some people can't afford a diamond, and some people wiill prefer cubic zirconium. A diamond has no objective value. It's just a shiny mineral. Humans decided to treat diamonds as if they had value, but they could have just as easily decided that quartz had value.

  • http://AMDG A Human Person

    I would like to know if the people who believe in the Bible, also believe the story of Sodom and Gomorrah: And do they also believe that there will be a time when what is right will be viewed as wrong, and what is wrong right: Because it is not to difficult in acknowledging that these times are now upon us.

    For the true believers and faithful, nothing will sway or deter them or put fear in them so that they will follow the present crowd he see this same sex debate/unions as harmless: Not so, never will true believers think it is normal, or acceptable, no matter how strong it is being forced into the lives of all nations: It will never be even if they will claim it is legal: What is legal with earthly rulers, does not mean it is legal with God: One must choose who he will serve, you cannot have two masters: You must love One and hate the other: the other being evil made to look normal: We feel sad for all those that suffer from SSAD , just like other things that are out of order, it causes confusion, disruption and sometimes destruction in the lives of many: The platonic and familial Love between two same sexes such as the love a mom feels for her daughters, granddaughters sisters, aunts etc..and a dad feels for his sons, grandsons, nephews...that is a Godly love a platonic love: A true love that includes the sharing of ones bodies in a sexual love relationship is a gift given from the beginning of time, exclusively for two persons of the opposite sex to become one in holiness too: You see the word Love, must be used correctly just as the word marriage must be: Otherwise it becomes disordered, and deconstructed from it's true meaning and value:

  • http://AMDG A Human Person

    Response to Christian Vagabond:
    Sir/Madam, you are getting away from my points: In essence, just because someone feels like they want to do something, doesn't make it right: There is right and wrong, and this is true and taught in most cultures: Yes, we have free will, and we are all sinners: Most of us grow in Christ, besides growing up: In simple words promoting SSA and SS Marriage is not only inhumane, but unnatural and most parents will be sure their children will not be indoctrinated or harmed by this force that is trying to take over: Period:

    • http://www.christianvagabond.com Christian Vagabond

      Your argument is that heterosexual marriage has objective value, and that it is the pinnacle of human relationships. But I would ask you: what is more "valuable":

      - an unmarried Christian couple who are sexually active but committed to each other.

      - a married couple where there is abuse and drug use involved.

      - a married atheist couple.

      - a married couple of another religion (i.e. Muslim, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc)

      - a polygamist marriage

      - a married couple where the wife is aware of her husband's mistress and tolerates it as part of her culture.

      - a gay Christian married couple who are devoted to each other and are not involved in any of the above sins.

      In my view, the last example is truer to your model of an ideal marriage than the other heterosexual marriages are. In the other cases you have a clear rejection of the Christian understanding of marriage and/or sinful activity that either jeopardizes the safety of one spouse or disrespects the other spouse..

      • Melody

        God can redeem all those situations within marriage except for the last one. The last one if the people become believers then they would have to leave the relationship. Jesus said Repent and Follow Him. He didn't say believe in me and then go your merry way doing whatever makes you happy with your best idea of what is moral.

        What you don't seem to understand is that it is not our view of what marriage should be that matters. What matters is God's view of what a marriage should look like.

        • http://www.christianvagabond.com Christian Vagabond

          You're dodging my point. Which of my examples AS IS are closest to the ideal? In other words, assume these relationships do not change.

      • MichaelA

        "In the other cases you have a clear rejection of the Christian understanding of marriage and/or sinful activity that either jeopardizes the safety of one spouse or disrespects the other spouse.."

        This is a non-argument. My relationship with my business partner is amicable and involves no violence or inappropriate behvaviour. It therefore may be morally superior to an unloving marriage, but the fact remains that the latter is marriage and my business relationship is not.

        Why on earth would you want to draw a comparison between various forms of sin and then say, "hey I have thought of five things that are worse than a homosexual relationship, so that must make the homosexual relationship okay'.

        Pretzel 'logic', to say the least.

        You can put lipstick on a pig, but that doesn't change what it is, and you can call a homosexual relationship 'marriage' but that will never make it so.

  • http://AMDG A Human Person

    Last Comment to Christian Vagabond and the others that are lost in desert of The Father of Lies:

    Get over it: You can! With God All things are possible:

    Also, what a person chooses to do in the bedroom is their (private) business, but don't try and change a God Given Institution or change the meaning of MARRIAGE: You won't , for God Has Already Claimed the Victory: On the Cross: yours and ours sins are on it: It Has been done: Find Peace with the truth: God is waiting:

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  • Elizabeth

    Dear brother Jonathan, thank you for your article. I am also encouraged by the gentle and humble and courageous way the Lord has enabled you to respond to the comments on this board. After I read this, I felt moved to share my own story with you to encourage you that God is already using all this for good.

    I have idolized marriage. As a Christian girl, I believed it was not only the only place for sex but also the highest expression of love and the most meaningful human experience. I know I idolized it because I believed that if Jesus came back before I experienced marriage and sex, I would have missed out, and I didn’t want Him to! God reminded me that hell is full of happily married women, but not one woman who knows Jesus is there. Jesus is everything. I also feel called by God to a mission field where it may be unlikely that I will ever find a husband. Therefore, in college, I felt like God didn’t care about my feelings, my needs, or my sexuality. I believed the lies that I must suppress them, He was mad at me for having them, and I couldn’t talk to Him about them. Praise the Lord, He has shown me that I was so wrong! God is so good to me. Jesus is so real. My testimony is that even in this life, let alone the next, being married to Jesus – respecting Him, submitting to Him, experiencing His love, intimacy, leadership, protection, provision, nearness, presence, comfort, guidance, and covenant, is an overwhelming, daily experience. I do not feel “single” at all (a word I always hated because it seems to imply a lone individual with no family); I feel so very married. God has given me two families who consider me part of them and with whom I can live and minister. I feel fulfilled, loved, known, connected, and satisfied. I do not feel like a second-class citizen; I know I am experiencing the best possible life I could have right now. Jesus is worth it. But I don’t expect anyone without Jesus to obey God because I know I could never, never, never obey God without Him!

    Secondly, God has used the issue of homosexuality for good in my life. I used to be so upset about this controversy. I said if I had to suffer for Jesus, I wanted it to be over His deity or resurrection – believing homosexuality is sinful is not the hill I want to die on! I wanted to leave America partly to escape this battle, which it seemed like God was losing. God challenged me this past year to attend weekly meetings of a GLBTQ student group and get to know them. It was so hard. I experienced culture shock, revulsion, and fear. The hardest part was not the sin I saw in them but the sin I saw in me: I struggled with judging, pride, being ashamed of Christ, and fearing what they would think of me if they knew who I really am and what I really believe. I realized I had murdered these people in my heart by wishing they did not exist, a sin I confessed both to Him and to them and asked for their forgiveness. They received me very well. I saw the depth of my own sinfulness for the first time and understood God’s love like never before. I believe that homosexuality is the only sin that still revolts us because it is the only sin that a majority of us are not tempted by. And God used this revulsion for so much good in my life – He showed me that He finds ALL sin and my sin that revolting -- and yet He still loved me enough to die for me, forgive me, pursue me, spend every millisecond of my life with me and cherish me for eternity! Even though I struggled to spend thirty minutes a week in the same room with people He loves and died for who are unlike me and reject what I believe! I am far, far more like the most militant and blatant homosexual on the earth than I am like God. Yet unlike me, He loves His enemies and those who are different than He is. I am saved because God is unlike me. If He can save me, He can save anyone. Blessed be His glorious name! He will use this issue to teach His children.

    Thirdly, I am grieved when I see fear-mongering among Christians. If gay marriage is passed, maybe we will be persecuted and maybe not. But so what? Fear and fear of man is my besetting sin, but I have to be consistent here. I believe that Jesus does not command me to feel what is not real. I believe He does not command us to feel like women when we are truly men or vice versa, but that I truly am what God says I am. Jesus also commands me what to feel about being slandered, hated, and persecuted: we are to rejoice, sing, dance, and leap for joy because we are true prophets and our reward in heaven is great. So that must mean that He really will give me cause to feel this impossible way. If I end up disliked, disapproved of, or even arrested for proclaiming homosexuality is wrong, I am still the happiest and most enviable girl in America because I have Jesus. I realized that the only person to be pitied in this situation is any person who is deceived away from Jesus because I was slandered – but I am not to be pitied! From Jesus I have cause to feel love for my enemies, pity for the deceived, and joy for myself. I would rather have Jesus than the right or the ability to get married. I would rather have Jesus than be able to have sex. I would rather have Jesus than freedom of speech. I would rather have Jesus than my legal rights. I would rather have Jesus than believe what is popular. I would rather have Jesus than be considered tolerant, though I long for it. I would rather have Jesus than life itself. If it took struggling over homosexuality to teach me this, then I say thank You God for allowing the gay rights movement in my generation.

    • GGB

      Wonderful comments Elizabeth, I share your point of view.

      When we leave all for Christ amazing things happen..that is what I meant in my earlier comments about putting it "all on the altar". In other words, being willing to give up, or sacrifice deeply held feelings based on the carnal sense of things, allows for us to be in the holy state where we hear/feel/sense God's voice- His directions, His plan for us, His view of us, and His Love for us. And, in that sate of holy being, we feel our satisfaction and wholeness. Healing takes place there.The most authentic marriages are a result of individuals who already feel whole. What a force for good they are then, for obvious reasons.

      When our dear brothers and sisters, that see themselves as same-sex attracted, complete their fight for achieving "marriage," the dust will settle some and they will still be left with their own inside work to do with God. Right now, the fight, provides a wonderful distraction for the carnal mind to chew on. One that takes away from the quiet contemplation with God. Thankfully, we can depend on the eternity which we have to work out our salvation.

      This movement of homosexuality is a grand call to each of us to lift our own thoughts and actions higher, to strengthen our own awareness of our God-given identities, based on the ideal or example set for us by Jesus. His love and correct view of man, was so spiritually based he could identify those that seemed sick and sinning as God's very beloved children and that correct view healed them. He saw in and for them what they hadn't seen yet for themselves...he did not change his view to match theirs...he lifted their view with his correct, Godlike view, no-matter-what. That was a divine Law for him and it allowed him to break or overcome earthly laws at every turn...time, space, degradation, DNA, physics, gravity, etc., etc. This concept of homosexuality might seem like a "law" from the inside- out, for some...but again, we see what the Christ can do and has done to overturn.

      I'm excited to see how God will be working this one out over time and eternity. Meanwhile I want to Love all, hold the correct view of all, and give safe passage in my thought and actions in a way that lifts and heals. I'll be working on it always, with joy.

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  • Renee

    Who are Christians to judge whether same-sex couples should have the right to vote. How does it affect you? It doesn't. How does it have anything to do with you? It doesn't. If you think it does, than there is something seriously wrong with you. For the people that aren't a part of a same-sex relationship and do not in any way support it, shame on you for thinking you have a right to judge you. Free voice of opinion.. yeah okay but if you don't like it, then don't acknowledge it, go on with your life and leave people to their peace and happiness.

    Christians say that "God" judges gays,that it's a sin. Doesn't it say in the bible do not discriminate? So what do you call this hatred towards gays, because in my book it's very clearly called discrimination.

    It's got nothing to do with you. So get out of the way of our happiness you sinners.

    • MichaelA

      "Who are Christians to judge whether same-sex couples should have the right to vote"

      Renee, you have lost me. Where has anyone suggested that same-sex couples shouldn't have the right to vote??

      As for your other points, Christians do have a right to express their opinion, believe it or not. They are entitled to vote, and to attempt to persuade others to agree with them. Its part of living in a pluralist democracy.

  • Haley West

    Although this is a very well written article, I don't believe what the point that the article is trying to get across. In the second to last article, it says that if you know the Bible says no to gay marriage, but you openly support, that you are offending the Lord. I do not agree with this. I am a 15 year old Christian and I see nothing wrong with gay marriage. The Bible DOES say no to gay marriage, but God gave us free will, and not everyone is a follower of Christ. Just because someone isn't straight, does that mean that they are going to hell? What if they are a godly person and glorify God in all that they do? I may sound rude right now, but I think it's important that my voice gets heard. I don't think it's fair that we Christians can't leave people alone and live their lives the way they want. Gays should have just as many freedoms as straight couples. I don't believe that there is anything wrong with two men or two women falling in love with each other. If you don't agree with me, please fell free to let me know. I am a Christian and I fully and openly support gay marriage.
    Have a blessed day,
    Haley West :)

  • Jon

    [Hi Jonathan. Here's an interesting tidbit I found on the net.]

    USA - from Puritans to Impure-itans

    Is there a connection between beautiful New England and entire American cities turned into smoking rubble? There is.
    Take same-sex marriage. I would have guessed that a "sin" city (San Francisco? Las Vegas?) would have been the first to legalize it.
    Oddly it's been the place where America started that's wanted to be the first place to help bring about the end of America and its values! It's been a Nor'easter of Perversion (helping to fulfill the end time "days of Lot" predicted in Luke 17) that began in (you guessed it) Boston in 2004.
    New England has gone from the Mayflower Compact to the Gay Power Impact, from Providence to decadence, from Bible thumpers to God dumpers, from university to diversity to perversity, and from the land of the Great Awakening to God's Future Shakening that will make the Boston bombings look like Walden Pond ripples by comparison!
    The same Nor'easter has been spreading south and as far west as Washington State where, after swelling up with pride, Mt. Rainier may wish to celebrate shame-sex marriage by having a blast that Seaddlepated folks can share in lava-land!
    The same Luke 17 prediction is tied to the Book of Revelation which speaks of the cities that God will flatten because of same-sexism - including American cities - a scenario I'll have to accept since I can't create my own universe and decree rules for it.
    I've just been analyzing the world's terminal "religion" that has its "god," its accessories, its "rites," and even a flag. It's an obsession that the infected converts are willing to live for, fight for - and even die for!
    Want more facts? Google "God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up" and "Government-Approved Illegals."

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