Recently The Gospel Coalition posted an article asking self-proclaimed Evangelicals to answer 40 questions that challenge their reasoning, in light of the recent favoritism being shown toward the non-traditional marriage ruling by the US Supreme Court:
If you consider yourself a Bible-believing Christian, a follower of Jesus whose chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, there are important questions I hope you will consider before picking up your flag and cheering on the sexual revolution. These questions aren’t meant to be snarky or merely rhetorical. They are sincere, if pointed, questions that I hope will cause my brothers and sisters with the new rainbow themed avatars to slow down and think about the flag you’re flying.
(for the purposes of brevity I’ll used “non-1/1″ to represent what might otherwise be described as varieties of marriage that are not 1-man/1-woman)
These are my answers to those questions, broken up into sections: 1-5 (below); and to be linked when created: 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30, 31-35, 36-40.
1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?
I would say for probably 10 years or more (now age 37), but a specific set of years not known in particular.
2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?
You seem to imply that my mind had once been one way and is now the other. I think for the most part I had been either undecided or merely silent on the issue, without taking a particular position on it, per se. In my youth as someone brought up in the church I may have held the 1/1 marriage rule, but I whad not make a knowledgeable, salvation-related prayer until appx age 21. I was baptized at age 8 and answered ‘yes’ to all of the ‘do you believe …’ questions, but in retrospect I do not believe I was cognizant of what was being asked. I don’t think that the opinion I held at that age would even scarcely be credible.
In my teens I had a rebellious period where I became highly critical of the sham-seeming nature of my limited exposure to the varieties of religion but still attended because of family attendance. In college at a large out-of-town conference (Passion ’99) I was confronted by a college minister and asked several machete-sharp questions that cut thru the overgrown vines of rationale about my position with Christ — from the angle as if I were not a Christian, rather than from the angle of being one. He quickly identified the rationale that was blocking it, and I had a kind of epitome-experience where everything I’d learned in church, but had never really connected, came together. We prayed together about it, I had a weird experience involving developing (or being gifted) a kind of weird non-emotional awareness-sense that is difficult to explain exactly.
Part of my discipleship involved coming to the realization that my earlier intensely-critical ‘rebellion’ was an entirely plausible function of the body of Christ. If describing the body of the church as Christ’s in the figurative sense (as in the left hand and right hand being parts for instance), the body also contains an immune system that offers what might appear to be the body attacking itself, but is actually doing what the college minister’s role did for me — used machete-sharp questions to cut through the vines of rationale to get to the foreign splinter-object lodged within in order to remove it, so that healing can begin.
(a) 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Essentially, “put every attitude, every notion, every real-seeming rationale to the test, even if it seems like it would be in your favor.” Challenge it earnestly, and be willing to momentarily and easily suspend knee-jerk disbelief in order that the challenge can be investigated with due diligence without being superficially cast aside as if it clearly conflicted with x y or z verse, because there may yet be another verse that put those other 3 in perspective in the spirit that scripture clarifies itself.
There are a lot of traditionally-held Christian positions that I do not share, for that reason. The bible’s inerrancy is not even something the bible itself claims. The bible is certainly canonical in the sense that arguments to be made against it need to endure analysis against all of the rest of it in bulk, rather than proposing specific verses that merely offer appearance of conflict, superficially. A lot of Christians seem to mix the idea of the Word being the bible, but scripture pretty clearly suggests the Word is Christ, not the bible.
The bible is a man-governed body of text that is the best possible piece of journalism we have about observations made in that era, from the people of that era. It is very important in that regard, but is not the Word. Jesus is the Word. Jesus is not the bible. The bible is not the Word. I’m not really sure how the Word could have possibly be interpreted as the bible without some kind of other splinter-rationale being lodged in that tries to justify it. Claiming the bible is the Word is pushing into idolatry territory, by deifying a man-made object. The bible is no less important and pivotal, but is not itself deity, and is not the Word.
If you believe that it is impossible for a person to hold this belief and still be a Christian, I would refer you to the book of Galatians where Paul rails against the people there for trying to propose a Jesus+tenet=Christian theology. Jesus alone is our unifying variable, and no other. There is no other banner but Christ that unites us. If you believe there is any one other tenet that unites us, you are in stark defiance of Galatians, in a legalism sense.
Making the inerrancy claim seems more like a more generalized half-truth version of the canonical nature of scripture. An analogous example would be that the claim, “Coruscant is a water world,” could be disproven by examining what is canonical in the Star Wars universe, despite Star Wars being a fictional universe. Fiction being fiction from the start, and that Coruscant is not even an actual world in terms of reality, within the canon of Star Wars, claims against canon and still be proven or disproven in that context.
(b) John 19:10-11, “So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” in light of (c) “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Romans 13:7)
Pilate is a very important figure to me as someone who pursues actual truth with due diligence, who investigated the ruling priests claims in front of them and still found no fault. He spoke to Jesus directly and found no fault, rather than taking others’ claims as evidence. The rationale that Jesus offers Pilate above, against which Pilate can offer no counterclaim. The authority for such things (and proper timing) to occur in our era is no less from the same authority. Jesus even bothers to negotiate even within the canonical nature of Pilate’s law system to identify his innocence.
Paul proposes obedience to the laws of the nation of which we are indwelt, and if that nation decides that a man may marry a man, or that a woman may marry a woman, we ourselves may abstain from doing so, none the lesser. Paul and Christ both propose the authority of the world governments are chess pieces that YHWH alone places, so to attempt to defy them is fraught with folly in the legalism sense.
(d) “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ They will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 28:28-31, confronting gathered masses come to weep for Christ just prior to crucifixion).
If you are in agony about a Supreme Court ruling whilst living in a society immensely-blessed, with what energy will you have to wail of your plight when those blessings are removed?
3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?
What you seem to be asking is open-ended, rather than earnest. If I were to ask you, “At what time last night did you stop beating your wife,” then the only answer you could give me according to the nature of the question is a time, not that you didn’t beat your wife (or not that you stopped). You seem to be making far too many assumptions, I think. Consider this exchange:
“Why does Bill always get so many doughnuts? There are 10 people in this office, and he always gets 4 or more from the dozen in the break room.”
“Bill buys the doughnuts for the office, out of pocket; the doughnuts are his. What is left over is him sharing his own.”
Your question seems to operate with several positions that are not, themselves, even substantiated by truth to begin with.
What is being celebrated is not the openness of man and man to engage in sexual activity freely — that has been legalized by the US government for decades if not more. Marriage itself is not the authorization to do so, either. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can now freely go rob banks, either.
Current Judaism teaching on marriage suggests, “Marriage is not solely, or even primarily, for the purpose of procreation. Traditional sources recognize that companionship, love and intimacy are the primary purposes of marriage, noting that woman was created in Gen. 2:18 because “it is not good for man to be alone,” rather than because she was necessary for procreation.” and that a marriage can be sealed “in three ways: through money, a contract, and sexual intercourse. Ordinarily, all three of these conditions are satisfied, although only one is necessary to effect a binding marriage.”
There is no word-for-word prohibition of man marrying man or woman-marrying-woman, but strictly a prohibition that man not lie with man as would with woman, and even that is merely implication of sex rather than specifically stating it. It is perfectly within the OT legal code for a man to marry a many or a woman to marry a woman. The specific prohibition is the sex part only, and one can be married and not have ever engaged in such activity.
Do youngsters who are ‘married to Christ’ as a purity pledge mean, therefore, that those children engage in lascivious activity with Jesus? Certainly not. Why then, must you insist that marriage automatically means the squishing of nether-bits together? Are you, in fact, accusing others of something with which you personally struggle, rather than investigating case-by-case as to whether those particular others do also?
You might attempt to rationalize that NT verses on marriage create a situation in which those within a marriage are to offer themselves freely in a sexual way to one another — for the purposes of avoiding sexual immorality. If males penetrating males is sexual immorality — would that not logically exempt male-male/etc marriages from that the free-offering requirement? You seem to be getting really close to saying that marriage is exclusively for the purpose of abstaining from sexual immorality and no other reason. What if both people are entirely abstinent and have no desire to do such things? Your refusal to believe that such a couple could even possibly be entirely abstinent reveals the limitations of your own imagination, and would suggest to me that you have frankly not met enough people to know any better. If you did learn of one, would you still reject them?
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
My delight is YHWH, via the reconciliation facilitated by the righteousness of Christ. While I may delight in blessings here and blessing there, the blessings are not the foundation of my delight. While I may sing Happy Birthday to someone, the molecular breakdown, so to speak, of the source of my delight is the relationship I have with YHWH through Christ’s merit on my behalf, not the anniversary about which I sing.
I slap the hand of the person that would suggest impurity to that which God has made clean. Romans 8 (as well as Peter’s meat-vision in Acts) makes it pretty clear that the 613 are no longer potent — not just for the matters of legalizing non-circumcision and bacon consumption. They’re relevant in the fact that they are important to know the impossibility of having been able to keep the whole law and for knowing that guilt of one law is guilt of the whole law by which the need for a reconciliation by Christ is made apparent, but to continuously attempt to re-apply those laws as if they were still potent is the simultaneous process of disqualifying Christ’s righteousness as sufficiently potent to cover it.
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:2)
There it is, in plain writing. YOU ARE FREE FROM THE LAWS OF SIN AND DEATH. If you believe yourself not free from the laws of sin and death, then you must not have the Spirit. Plain as day. Romans 8:1 — There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. How can a law apply if there is no condemnation behind it? Because it doesn’t apply. Your pursuit against gay marriage should instead be in pursuit of helping to reconcile YHWH with all persons irrespective of position.
“For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.” (Romans 8:5-7)
Repent from the tallying of sin and be free from it. Since you are in the Spirit and not in the flesh, as you claim anyway, why are your thoughts so bent toward the legalism position? I am bending mine momentarily that direction for your sake, as becoming a Greek to the Greek in Paul’s figurative sense.
Consider also the analogy to the adulterous woman in Romans 7:
“For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.” (Romans 7:2-3)
Man/Woman element aside (momentarily), if Gertrude sleeps with William, but Gertrude is married to Fredrick, then Gertrude is an adulteress. If Fredrick has died, then Gertrude sleeping with William is legal.
This is a situation in which the IDENTICAL ACT in one sense illegal, but in another sense legitimized. Paul uses this situation to reflect upon how the 613 are applicable only when the laws of sin and death apply, but after putting to death the flesh and being alive in the Spirit, which you now claim to be, then the IDENTICAL ACT is now not met with condemnation. In order for Gertrude’s sleepover with Fredrick to be considered adultery, Fredrick would have to be resurrected specifically for the purpose of making the accusation. What you are doing by claiming that the 613 have application to those in the Spirit is effectively de-resurrecting Christ, illegitimizing his righteousness on your behalf just so that you can claim it has application to the current situation.
To claim that the 613 have application is to subvert Christ’s righteousness.
4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?
I cite the entire book of the minor prophet Hosea. Hosea’s relationship with his wife Gomer (a harlot) is one such example. Hosea was instructed by YHWH to marry a harlot and have harlot offspring. He even named his children what translate to “no kin of mine” and “unloved” because they were offspring of another man, since Gomer repeatedly slept with other men while married to him — yet, however, Hosea’s love for Gomer did not end, despite the overwhelmingly obvious presence of what would otherwise be considered sin. The love of Hosea to his incessantly transgressive wife is a scriptural depiction of marriage, reflective of love for one another, even if obedience is one-sided.
5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?
I think Jesus would have shown the most amount of love toward them and speak to them in terms of salvation from the law, considering that when he was present he stayed in the houses of and broke bread with tax collectors, prostitutes, and others that the society of the time believed to be among the lowest. I believe the topic may have come up in conversation but not dwelled upon, because salvation is way more important.
The woman at the well in John 4 is one example. The woman had numerous husbands, and Christ identified even the man she was with now was not her husband, but he didn’t get side-tracked by it, because which particular of the 613 that is the one of the whole law you have broken is irrelevant. Your need for salvation is what is important. When he spoke with her, he mentioned it, but didn’t dwell on it. He instead directed the conversation toward a common aspect among them: the water the well offered, or the water Christ offered. From the whole exchange, the fact that the woman asked for the unceasing water is what matters, not the adultery. In verse 28-30 of the same chapter, the woman goes into the city and tells of the Messiah she met, and many go out to meet him.
It is readily apparent to anyone who reads the bible without intentions of seeking the fleshly desires of law or methods to contradict matters of policy, that YHWH regularly and routinely employs even the most overlooked, downtrodden, and otherwise sneered-upon persons as that which the greatest amount of fruit can be accomplished. The widely beloved King David was an adulterer against his own high-ranked military commander under him, but also wrote many of the Psalms. The writer of most of the highly-esteemed proverbs, Solomon, had arguably ~1000 wives, who led him astray to worship other gods. Peter, upon whom the church was built, as it were, denied Christ repeatedly. Paul, who was called Saul, persecuted Christians and had his own thorn to contend with..