January 19, 2013

United Church of Christ Pushes Same-Sex Marriage

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(photo by Philocrites)

By Rick Plasterer

News that the United Church of Christ is preparing a campaign to promote homosexual marriage in three states, Illinois, Rhode Island, and New Jersey is hardly surprising for this denomination, but the burden of what a church has to say in support of establishing a civil institution of marriage between persons of the same-sex does merit comment. The denomination’s website announced the campaign earlier this month, carrying the perennial message that what is Biblically and historically thought to be immoral is in fact required by universal ideals of justice and equality, and is a natural and inevitable next stage in progress to a better future.

Like the Episcopal Church, the UCC has chosen to depart from Biblical doctrine regarding marriage after decades in which theological and social liberalism was dominant. Its basic message is the good news of liberation in this life, not obeying God in the light of compelling Biblical statements.  Freedom for sexual fulfillment is an inevitable result of the message. Having moved toward support for homosexuality as a “civil rights” issue since the late 1960s (and thus implicitly treating acceptance of homosexuality as a moral issue binding on everyone), the UCC’s 1985 General Synod endorsed affirmation of homosexual persons throughout the denomination, with no admonitions to repentance or chastity. Another General Synod action in 2005 called for the institution of homosexual marriage by civil governments. That the UCC believes “gay rights” should include action against opposition to homosexuality is evident in 2003 actions recommending dissociation from the Boy Souts, and a 2009 statement decrying opposition to multicultural, pro-LGBT public education. Noteworthy with these pronouncements is the fact that the UCC considered its liberal theological gospel a legitimate basis for advocating social policy for society at large, something that social liberals often oppose for conservative churches and their leaders.

As has been widely noted, homosexuality as both a civil rights issue and a marriage issue has had devastating consequences for religious freedom, with what many religions consider to be the divine revelation of the sinfulness of homosexuality being classed in law as illegal discrimination. The Witherspoon Institute recently reviewed the results of ten years of experience of homosexual marriage in Canada, showing that for an innovation accounting for a tiny fraction of marriages, and itself not commonly involving the raising of children, it has resulted in a drastic reduction in freedom, with religious exemptions interpreted as narrowly as possible. Likewise, the Family Research Council, in its incisive analyses of claims homosexual “equality,” has shown in data from the early 2000s that homosexual couples differ markedly from heterosexual unions in the key areas longevity of relationship (less common), promiscuity (much more common), and involvement in raising children (not common), as well as in use of new legal provisions (marriages or civil unions) to legally establish their relationships (in jurisdictions where this was possible). It has also reports problems in homosexual parenting found by the more recent research of Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin, which precipitated a firestorm of controversy. So while advocates of redefining marriage hold religious doctrine to be the only (and unconstitutional) reason for opposing it, the evidence is otherwise. Assuming a hypothetical neutrality about homosexuality itself, there is no need for the state to alter the institution of marriage, and in fact good reason to oppose it.

But the object is, of course, not neutrality, but social and legal repudiation of Biblical morality and affirmation of homosexuality as a state interest, now confirmed by marriage. Activists are then in a position to claim, through lawsuits and political pressure, that the state should penalize opposition to homosexuality. The right to liberty of conscience can then be trumped by the right not to be offended; opposition to homosexuality, and conscientious refusal to facilitate homosexual activity, can be construed as an imposition of religious beliefs on others (even if it is the traditionalist who is required to take positive action against his or her conscience).

And yet the case will be presented, both by those running the same-sex marriage campaign, supporters such as the UCC, and the news media as an advance of freedom. While actual legal strictures will vary by jurisdiction, the same threats always accompany the homosexual agenda. Same-sex marriage will be “legalized” (although no one may refuse to accommodate same-sex activities if that service is requested). Same-sex adoption is “allowed,” (although religious providers are not exempt). Instruction in the virtue of same-sex relationships in schools is “permitted” (although no teacher may decline to do so as a matter of conscience). Nor may anyone plead that, besides the right of conscience being violated, opposition to homosexuality is in fact rational, supported by substantial evidence. While the rhetoric of the homosexual civil rights movement at one level claims that science and reason is on its side, most basically it centers on the claim that Biblical morality is “demeaning,” and therefore cruel. As this claim has long had the backing of the Supreme Court (in its Romer and Lawrence decisions, which really would mandate homosexual marriage if literally implemented), it is the advocates of same-sex marriage, not their opponents, who have the advantage in the ongoing conflict, which is not about marriage but about mandatory acceptance of homosexuality.

This returns us to the UCC’s participation in the same-sex marriage campaign as a natural part of its gospel. From the standpoint of the liberal interpretation of Christianity it has adopted, it is the Bible, and its hard demands concerning sexual behavior, unmediated by any doctrine of liberation, which is in need of moral correction. Human beings are not ultimately creatures accountable to God, but victims in need of liberation. Continuing to advance a gospel of sin and salvation which makes hard and possibly painful demands, as traditional Christians continue to do, is not an topic about which people may disagree, but oppressive, and therefore, immoral. No state is legitimate without claiming in some measure to be based on morality, so from viewpoint of the civil rights movement the UCC is supporting, violations of the correct morality of oppression and liberation ought to be punished.

Classical liberalism has always tolerated a fairly high degree of disagreement about ultimate things. Catholics and Protestants historically held each other to be heretical, under the eternal wrath of God. The entrance of Islam into the western world presents a religion claiming the same thing about all Christians. But it was essential to classical liberalism to tolerate these differences, giving the various religious parties equal rights at a legal level, while at a social level such doctrinal differences were held to be acceptable within society. But for the same-sex marriage campaign, disagreement is not to be tolerated, because immorality is not to be tolerated. No wonder the UCC is on board with the campaign. Its theology of liberation, and that of similar churches, is becoming a state religion.


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  • Ben Welliver

    The article makes the point that this social movement has gone well beyond making mere “tolerance” the goal.

    I don’t know where I read this phrase, but it’s so true: “Hurt people hurt people.” Or to be more precise, people who FEEL hurt will inevitably hurt others. This movement isn’t going to be satisfied with being mainstreamed, they are inevitably going to be vindictive toward whoever has opposed them – conservative churches, the Boy Scouts, any “bigots” they can find. Letting bygones be bygones isn’t going to be an option.

  • The Russian Eagle

    The UCC needs to just stop calling itself “Christian.” If they want to be a religious body that holds to these far left moral principals, thats fine. Just don’t claim to be just another branch of Christianity

    • http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/ eMatters

      Yep. Oddly, they think everyone is going to have and that “we have as much to learn from other religions as they do from us” (one of their false teachers said that in a sermon explaining why Jesus is not the only way to salvation, why the Gospel of John is false and why the Gospel of Thomas is true). In their world, all religious views are right — except biblical Christianity.

      • Ray Bannister

        A faith with no faith in itself is doomed.

  • Mark

    This is an outstanding recap of the same-sex marriage movement, providing insights that are clearly outside the consideration of many in this movement.

    After a few thousand years of marriage being implicitly and explicitly understood, by ALL major religions and virtually all secular institutions, as an opposite sex enterprise, self-styled illuminati of today are sanctimoniously proclaiming new revelations in this matter. The arrogance and intolerance of such proclamations should be fairly obvious to most honest, thinking people.

    As long as secularists, whether they dishonestly claim to be speaking on behalf of Christianity or not, relegate the arguments against marriage redefinition to the “fundamentalist religious” sphere, they will have ongoing disproportionate influence (in single-handedly overturning California’s Prop 8, gay judge Vaughn Walker relegated same-sex marriage opposition exclusively to the religious domain, therefore deeming such opposition non-germane). The fact that arguments like Walker’s are largely unfactual is the rub. There are many rational secular arguments against same-sex marriage which the media are afraid to report since such actions would not support the contemporary cultural narrative.

    Unfortunately, current centers of power in western society–media, entertainment, political leadership, academia, etc.–are largely on board with this movement and are attempting to influence future generations. Additionally, in classic tail-wagging-the-dog fashion, we are seeing vocal special interest groups hold highly disproportionate sway in the current political environment,

    Things will continue down this road until more rational, centrist and conservative ideas find their way into those previously-mentioned centers of power.

    Most importantly, of course, is the need for true spiritual conversion.

  • Ray Bannister

    I read the UCC’s 2009 statement on public education and found this little tidbit under “Whereas”:
    “The love of God that we experience through Jesus Christ dispels our fears of those who are in any way ‘different’ from ourselves.”

    What a joke! That whole document is fear-based. These people sure aren’t happy about “different” people like evangelical Christians – or the Boy Scouts.

    Step a back a minute, friends, and ask yourselves a question: Isn’t there something odd – even INSANE – about a smear campaign against evangelical Christians, a very large group that is, on the whole, made up of decent, law-abiding people? There are lots of groups in the world to hate. What do you make of hatred directed at evangelicals – and the Boy Scouts? Isn’t there a mass psychosis at work here?

  • http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/ eMatters

    The UCC is a sham. Their “God is still speaking,” slogan is blasphemous. They didn’t believe what He said the first time in his word, and yet they claim that He is giving them new revelations that just happen to mirror wherever the world is going? And He’s telling them and not telling Bible-believing Christians? Sure.

    If anyone is in the UCC they are either fighting for change or they are part of the problem. Most are part of the problem.

    The only good news is that churches that are indistinguishable from Liberal politics tend to decline, just like the UCC (must be the ejector seats!). Why spend your time and money on a “church” that tells you the same thing that your TV does?

    • Mark

      Good points, eMatters. The only thing that seems to unite liberal Christianity, in addition to reflexive support of leftist political intitiatives, is antipathy toward traditional Christians.

      Unfortunately, these liberal “churches” seem to be dragging much of Christendom down with them. Interest in institutional Christianity is approaching record lows.

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  • http://carolwilliams24.wordpress.com carolwilliams24

    I have one thing to say in this “You can drag the horse in to the river but never can force it to drink from it” same as this subject. We can’t judge a man’s life how he must live it and how he must earn his happiness for the reason that it is his life as simple as that. If church has the reason to have a full blessing in it or not then it must be reasonable and makes sense in that case cause it will surely put these rights defeating its purpose.