February 5, 2013

Is Gay Marriage the Church’s “Next Big Thing?”

Gay marriage

(Photo credit: Recovering Agnostic/Wordpress)

By Jeff Gissing (@jeffgissing)

Our current cultural moment is a perfect storm with respect to human sexuality. The broader culture has placed sexuality squarely in the hands of the autonomous and sovereign individual. In like manner–perhaps fearing increasing irrelevancy if it fails to do so–the church abdicated its authority to speak into the lives of its members, helping them to understand sexuality in a manner grounded squarely in the history of Christian theological reflection on Scripture.

As a result, with increasing speed it seems that progressive Christians are making headway in subverting the traditional understanding of human sexuality and replacing it with a thoroughly individualistic substitute.

In the process, they have also succeeded in eviscerating the message of the Christian gospel. Perhaps, in the words of St. Paul, they find the gospel to be “foolishness” and in need of replacement with a message more suited to the times. This new gospel is one of “inclusion,” which is understood to be the unquestioning affirmation of the validity of first person experiences with respect to sexuality. There is little room for any concept of disordered or misplaced affections. If you feel, it is argued, it must be true. And if this is true, then it makes sense to allow individuals to express themselves in the setting of the church through the blessing of same sex marriages.

Brian Ellison, Executive Director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians (an advocacy organization for GLBTQ) in the Presbyterian Church (USA) has written that the affirmation of same sex weddings is the church’s “next big thing.”

The purpose of his organization, he states, is to pursue both the full inclusion of GLBTQ persons and the unity of the church. Recognizing the seeming incongruence of these twin objectives he provides something of a circular justification for them: “a church that excludes some of God’s children can not truly be said to be united, while there is no point in including anyone in a church that is itself a testimony to brokenness and separation.” Presumably, the best way to achieve both is by forcing out those of us who hold both to a traditional understanding of the Gospel and human sexuality.

The changing of ordination standards in 2011 by the passage of Amendment 10-A was a major step towards redefining the church’s understanding of ordination and human sexuality. Ellison refers to the new standards (found in the Book of Order at G-2.0401b) as “historically grounded.” In one sense he’s right. There are no examples of this sort of language in the history of Presbyterianism. Until the twentieth century the church had never really had occasion to insert the requirement of “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness” into requirements for ordained office because it was assumed. The language was inserted to remedy a pervasive permissiveness in the church. Conveniently, and disingenuously, opponents appealed to both history and scripture in arguing for it to be removed.

The next big goal, it seems, is the redefinition of marriage. Citing President Obama’s inaugural address with it’s evocation of the gay rights movement alongside the civil rights movement—something that is not universally accepted by the way—Ellison argues that we Presbyterians must follow the President’s lead. He writes, “The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), however, has not spoken such a clear gospel word.” There’s that word: gospel. I’m tempted to respond to Ellison with words the famous Inigo Montoya of The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. It does not mean what you think it means.”

St. Paul defines the gospel for us in his letter to the Corinthians: “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” (15:3-4). The President’s message of inclusion is not to be confused with the Gospel. In fact, Ellison’s conflation of the two is somewhat alarming. You get the impression, in reading his post, that Ellison’s gospel has little to nothing to do with the saving grace of Jesus Christ and everything to do with leveraging the current cultural moment—with same sex marriage dominating the media—to force the church align itself with progressive politics rather than biblical truth. “Gospel,” then, is shorthand for a religious justification for progressive politics.

Over the years evangelicals have claimed that progressives are simply arguing for cultural accommodation—the changing of the Christian message to suit the culture in which it is situated. This stands in contrast with the evangelical impulse to maintain a biblically rooted message, but change the means by which that message is communicated.

The remainder of Ellison’s post makes abundantly clear that this is precisely what is going on. In a litany of references to sources such as the Book of Order and the Book of Common Worship, Ellison shows how each uses “out of date” language to describe Christian marriage. Tellingly he asserts that the way the church talks about marriage is no longer true, in fact it is “flatly inaccurate.”

Is this so? This claim cedes too much to the civil authority and almost totally abdicates the church’s duty to uphold a Christian understanding of marriage. There are all sorts of marriages that take place in the United States. Not all of them are Christian marriages. Christian marriages take place within the context of a worshipping community and are understood with reference to Scripture and to the church’s teaching on the nature and purpose of marriage as between a man and a woman for mutual edification and procreation.

With no small degree of scorn Ellison describes the Book of Common Worship as “waxing poetic about the purpose and blessing of marriage in exclusively heterosexual terms.” The reason it does so is because Christian marriage has always been understood as occurring between a man and woman.

Our present cultural moment is a perfect storm. Progressive politics, societal indifference, and ecclesial disintegration all conspire to challenge the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of mankind, the purpose of the church. Within the PC(USA) the year ahead will see continued pressure to redefine marriage in anticipation of next years’ General Assembly. Perhaps more troublingly, the gospel will continue to be confused and conflated with a political ideology of progressive values that enshrine the individual as the sole arbiter of truth. It seems that Ellison may well get his wish: the full inclusion of GLBTQ, even in marriage, and unity in the church. It will, however, be a unity that has come with a high cost: the cost of compromising the integrity and authenticity of the PC(USA) as a Christian church.

Did you like this article? You can more of Jeff’s commentary at www.JeffGissing.com. Visit our website to learn more about the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s programs!


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  • Gus Ravenwheel

    Jeff…

    The broader culture has placed sexuality squarely in the hands of the autonomous and sovereign individual.

    ?! May I ask what you’re proposing in place of the individual being free and responsible to decide what is right and good? Are you suggesting that individuals ought to abdicate their responsibility to seek God and follow God themselves, regardless of what their culture might say?

    I hope not.

    ~Dan Trabue

    • Mark

      “Are you suggesting that individuals ought to abdicate their responsibility to seek God and follow God themselves, regardless of what their culture might say?” (based on your prior commentary, you should have ended with “regardless of what the Bible might say)

      Dude (assuming you don’t mind the gendered reference)…..you have no idea how much you hang yourself with your own words.

      • Gus Ravenwheel

        So, what is your answer to my question: Do people have a right and responsibility to determine the good and right themselves, or should they defer to what some institution or other person says?

        If you say “Someone else…” WHO else do you think should determine for people the Good and Right?

        And don’t say “God” – that is a given for those following God. But WHO should determine God’s will in a person’s life/the best, most moral and rational interpretation of scripture and God’s Ways? I say that it falls to the person seeking God’s will. Who do you say? The author seems to be implying someone else (the pope? Al Mohler??) and that would be problematic.

        ~Dan

        As to your suggestion that I’m “hanging myself” by my words, you’ll have to explain yourself. I have always stood by following God, rather than human traditions, so your charge, once again, seems false and unsupported.

        Thou shalt not bear false witness.

    • Mark

      “WHO else do you think should determine for people the Good and Right?

      And don’t say “God” – that is a given for those following God.”

      (Oh, so you are going to ask a question and then restrict how I answer?)

      Well, of course I am going to say God, the God that was revealed to Abraham, the God that was embodied in Jesus, the God that was (and is) revealed in Scripture.

      You ask WHO should determine the interpretation of Scripture? Well, on things like human sexualty, which is what this thread is about, there is very little interpretation required, just the capacity to accurately comprehend what you are reading, to which I might add understandings arrived at long before we were on the scene.

      • Gus Ravenwheel

        Okay, so you and I are BOTH seeking God’s will. We BOTH love Scripture and look to it to give us clues as to God’s will. We BOTH read the ~five passages that appear to touch on some form of gay behavior – as well as the greater text on sexuality – and we BOTH think Scripture is abundantly clear.

        And yet, we disagree on what the point is.

        In that context, WHO should I (or you) listen to? Should I bend to the will of the “majority” in the church and say, “Well, I think you’re mistaken, but I’ll do what I think is obviously wrong in order to go along with the majority (or the Pope, or whoever you want to cite)…” OR, do I go with where I think Scripture and common moral sense is leading?

        That is my question to you.

        In Christ,

        Dan

      • Gus Ravenwheel

        And, just as a little humility reminder: You all consistently seem unable to comprehend my simple English words delivered from the same modern culture… why should I defer to your understanding of this glorious ancient book of Truth coming from a vastly different culture and language?

  • cken

    My benchmark is the woman at the well. We should accept all into the “fold” and love all. If someone is gay or had an abortion, it is between them and God. If we don’t accept them should we also reject those who have broken the 10 commandments. Should we deny adulterers, those who have stolen, those who lie, etc.? Man being the judge rather than God, soon we would have no church. Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone.

    • Mark

      For the 100 millionth time, it’s not a matter of rejecting people–no one is barring the door to anyone–it’s matter of not accomodating things that are sinful, things that potentially separate one from God.

      You think MAN is judging this? You obviously don’t understand the Scripture or natural law.

      • cken

        By accommodating you mean accepting. I completely understand the scripture and natural law, but when man makes one sin worse than others or accommodates some sins and not others; yes that is man judging.
        I should back up and say that both scripture and natural law are somewhat nebulous or obtuse and subject to the interpretation of man, which leads to man being judgmental.

    • Mark

      I am not advocating selective condemnation of sin. Natural law and Biblical interpretation regarding human sexuality is not as cryptic as you suggest. It’s pretty clear, and has been understood as such for centuries. You need to study some unbiased sources to undertand this. (You just contradicted yourself—you said you “completely” understand the Scripture and then called it obtuse….hummm)

      • J S Lang

        Mark, did you notice he used the familiar liberal ploy, quoted Jesus saying “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”?

        They love that verse, but forget (if they ever knew) that the story ends with Jesus saying to the woman, “Go and sin no more.”

        Do liberals actually own Bibles, or do they click on some website named Ten Bible Verses Used to Approve Sleazy Behavior?

  • Gus Ravenwheel

    Here’s the thing, from where I sit…

    The traditional church has a problem in that the traditional opinions about what the church thinks about marriage for gay folk appears to be an IMMORAL and IRRATIONAL position. The church of our Holy God of love and justice finds itself in the curious position of defending what appears to be immoral and unjust.

    People recognize the incongruity of claiming to follow a Good God of perfect Love and Justice and yet holding to a position that is immoral on the face of it. As such, people are and will increasingly reject such churches as not truly representing God, but being more about human traditions that have become clumsy and sinful in and of themselves.

    Some examples:

    1. The implied suggestion by the author that people should surrender their right to strive to do right to some human institution seems irrational and immoral. Who’s going to do that?

    2. The oft-repeated suggestion that gay folk are intrinsically sexually licentious and only want to pursue sexual pleasure flies in the face of observable evidence. Are there SOME licentious, carousing gay folk out there? Of course, just as there are some licentious, carousing straight folk. And what is the rational answer to this misbehavior by some? Why, settling down and getting married seems by all evidence to be the rational and moral answer.

    3. The oft-repeated and slanderous comparisons of gay folk to pedophiles. Again, this flies in the face of real world observable reality that gay folk are not at all like pedophiles. The willingness to make these sorts of slanderous suggestions at sites like this one and the refusal to even converse about the problems of that slander once again make the traditional churches seem irrational and immoral.

    4. The general willingness to falsely portray those who in good faith disagree with the traditional opinions – how often have folk on the Left been observably misrepresented here on these pages? And when this fact is repeatedly pointed out, there is either silence or they double down on the false representations. Again, immoral and irrational.

    Until such time as the traditional church at least comes to the table to discuss these matters like adults, they will continue to reduce themselves to irrelevancy as being immoral and irrational. This would be a great time and place to start, but I’m not holding my breath…

    ~Dan

  • http://realclearpolitics.com Ex-Presbyterian

    Unrepentent sin cannot be tolerated in the Christian church – whether it’s a person or group advocating stealing, child abuse, gossip, prideful boasting, or homosexual sin. If homosexual behavior is sin, it must be dealt with and repented of. If the church is saying that it is not, then that church is stating very clearly that it believes the Bible is no longer God’s Word – and everything in it – from Genesis to Revelation – is up for debate. “Go and sin no more” is not equivalent to “Go and your sin is OK.”

    • Gus Ravenwheel

      For those who support marriage for all people, we are not “unrepentant.” We DO repent of our known sins. The very worst you could suggest is that we are sincerely in error and are not repenting because we have been mistaken in our interpretation.

      Now, given that reality, do you think that unrepentant sin by those who do not know they need to repent (ie, what we might call “mistaken sin”) can’t be “tolerated” in the Christian church?

      If so, I would ask, where is the grace in that position. We who believe as I do think you are sinning (in sincere error) for your position on this issue: Do you think we should “not tolerate” you in the Christian church?

      My point being that we WILL have sincere disagreements – people who think sincerely that behavior X is sinful and others who sincerely think that behavior X is not sinful… I would suggest that in matters of non-essential Christian fundamentals (God is God, we are sinners, saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus, etc), we have grace towards one another, recognizing in humility that we, too, could be/ARE mistaken sincerely on some point.

      What say you?

      • http://realclearpolitics.com Ex-Presbyterian

        Gus,

        What we “think” is trumped by what God’s Word says. If everything becomes fuzzy based on what each of us thinks, then the truth of God’s Word is no longer truth. I can and will love you as a Christian brother. But, if your stance is that homosexual behavior is not sinful, then I just have to stand on the hallowed ground of Scripture and disagree – in love.

      • Gus Ravenwheel

        I get your point, but consider this: Each of us determines what God’s Word says using our reasoning. We don’t – none of us – simply read text and say, “Oh, Jesus says pluck your eye out, so I’ll pluck my eye out.” or “the text says ‘if anyone asks you for something, give it to them…’ so I’ll give all my money away…” None of us does that. We use our God-given reasoning to sort through the meaning of the texts.

        Am I mistaken? If so, where specifically?

      • Gus Ravenwheel

        Also, while I greatly appreciate that acknowledgement that we can disagree in love – and I fully support you standing on your understanding of Scripture, I still wonder about your answer to this question…

        Now, given that reality, do you think that unrepentant sin by those who do not know they need to repent (ie, what we might call “mistaken sin”) can’t be “tolerated” in the Christian church?

        The problem/concern I have is that some people fail to make the vital distinction between, “He disagrees with my understanding of Scripture on this point” and “he disagrees with Scripture,” because the latter conflates OUR UNDERSTANDING with Scripture (ie, “God’s Word”) itself. We are not the sole arbiters of God’s Word. That is presumptuous to suggest and, in fact, dangerously close to blasphemy, self-worship and idolatry, I fear.

        We are capable of being mistaken. We are fallible human beings. Our institutions and traditions are the institutions and traditions of fallible people. It is vital that we don’t fall prey to the sin of the Pharisees – the mistaken problem of presuming we speak for God.

        Thus, when I speak of my interpretation – no matter how solid or biblical or rational I think it may be – I always fully recognize and acknowledge, “This is MY interpretation. God has not spoken audibly to me and given me the One True Answer.”

        Can we agree on the importance of that distinction?

        ~Dan

    • cken

      To assert the Bible is the inerrant word of God defies all rational credibility. The Bible was written and edited by man. Were many of writings inspired, of course but to no lesser or greater extent than other great inspired writings. Several come to mind: Shakespeare, Tolkein, CS Lewis, Richard Bach, and Emerson. The real evil of the literalists today is what they call Apologetics. It uses a convoluted Socratic style of argument which on closer analysis is quite often specious.

      • Gus Ravenwheel

        Agreed. Which is why their reasoning falls apart under simple questioning and they revert to name calling and ad hom attacks, rather than answering the questions. Too bad.

        ~Dan

  • http://realclearpolitics.com Forgiven

    Gus – you imply mistakenly that “five little passages” are some veiled and vague reference to some sort of undefined behavior. There are many more references than that which speak directly to the issue – in both the Old and New Testaments, my brother. And there are plenty of other references that speak of the oneness of a man and a woman in marriage. Words like “detestable” and ‘abomination” aren’t easily misinterpreted, and when combined with God’s plan for the family unit and Jesus reiteration of that plan, God’s Word is crystal clear regarding this issue. When looked at in totality – from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation – one sees a complete, unwavering support for man and woman as the married partners recognized and honored by God and absolute condemnation of any form of sexual sin outside of that unit.

    • Gus Ravenwheel

      Thank you for the thoughts, “Forgiven.” If I may…

      I know that you think there are more than five passages that deal with some form of homosexuality. And, if you count the attempted men/men (or men/angel) rapes as a form of “homosexual behavior” then you could kick the number up a few passages. Myself, I don’t count attempt rape by men on men to be an issue of homosexuality anymore than an attempted rape by men on women to be an issue of heterosexuality.

      The point being, there are only a handful of verses that could be considered speaking of “all gay behavior” – the two Leviticus passages, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians and… maybe another one or two.

      For what it’s worth, I grew up believing that the Bible was clear on this point and condemned all gay behavior. It’s just that, the more I looked at it, the less biblical and less rational that conclusion seemed. And believe me, I did NOT want to change my opinion, I was convinced the traditional view was correct. And yet, as much as I didn’t want to abandon the traditional view, intellectual honesty demanded that I did. I am simply not at all convinced that there is any biblical condemnation of something as innately good as a healthy marriage relationship.

      First of all, in the two Leviticus and Romans 1 passages, it appears to be clearly speaking to pagan sex rituals that were common in the time. In context (Leviticus is God telling Israel not to adopt the pagan practices and in Romans, Paul speaks specifically of those who’d exchange worship of God for worshiping idols made by human hands), it just doesn’t seem reasonable that this is a blanket condemnation of all gay behavior. And the other verses that have words translated as “homosexual” and “effeminate” are unknown words that we factually simply don’t know what Paul was speaking of. The traditional guess has been gay behavior – any and all – but an honest investigation of the translation just does not seem to bear that out.

      Beyond the absence of any condemnation of all gay behavior, we have the presence of passages that tell us clearly that those things that are good, pure, noble, true, loving, etc, that these are of God and there is no condemnation in these Good Things. Marriage -whether gay or straight – would seem (to me and many others) to clearly fall into the category of good, noble, pure, loving.

      is there ANY real world evidence to contradict this? I have never heard of any.

      “forgiven”…

      Words like “detestable” and ‘abomination” aren’t easily misinterpreted, and when combined with God’s plan for the family unit and Jesus reiteration of that plan

      And yet, I’d humbly suggest that I WAS mistaken on those words (and the traditional view IS mistaken on those words). Eating shrimp is called an abomination, for instance. Research shows that the word refers to a taboo thing, not an innately awful thing. As for “God’s plan for the family unit…” the traditionalists have taken one line and irrationally said, “There! You see that one verse? That is God giving a definition of marriage and that and only that is what God wants…”

      That would be an example of eisegesis – reading INTO a passage more than what is there. The Genesis passage (for this purpose, a man shall leave his parents…) and Jesus’ reference to it no where says “AND this is God’s plan for marriage. It is how God defines marriage. One man, one woman. Nothing else.” Factually speaking, that is not in the text. People who find that message are reading into the text something that factually isn’t there.

      It is my opinion, for what it’s worth, that we have collectively been blinded by cultural mores into buying into bad biblical exegesis and eisegesis. The conclusions we reach simply aren’t demanded by an honest and sincere reading of the text and, additionally, are contrary to reasonable moral consideration as taught in the Bible. Just like we had for centuries wrongly interpreted the Bible to support cultural traditions of racism, slavery and sexism, we have, it seems to me, clearly been mistaken on this topic.

      It happens. We are not perfect human beings, we are fallible, capable of error, individually and collectively. I love tradition (being anabaptist, we are a very traditional people in many ways), but human tradition is fallible and the text simply does not say what we traditionally have thought.

      Prayerfully consider this, please.

      In Christ,

      Dan

      • Ben Welliver

        You’re so good at deconstructing the Bible. Why don’t you do the same to those burdensome things like Do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not murder, etc. I could have a barrel of fun, but, stupid me, I’ve been interpreting those tacky mandates in the traditional way and it’s really putting a crimp in my lifestyle, so take a stab at it, give me a new and improved Christianity I can live with. The world is waiting for really clever, verbally skilled people to tell us what the Bible REALLY means. Make sure it allows me to do everything my pagan neighbors do, cause I don’t want them having more fun than me.

      • Gus Ravenwheel

        The goal, despite the slanderous and false witness suggestions, is to seek God’s will. I do not murder or steal or commit adultery because they appear to me to be against God’s will. Same reason I don’t support torture or engage in war-making and support marriage commitments – gay or straight… because I am seeking God’s will.

        Now, given that (and surely by now, you’ve seen that this is my goal, my heart’s desire), why would you attempt to slander and misrepresent someone’s position so much? You do know that “thou shalt not bear false witness” and agree with it, don’t you, Ben? You do know that those who slander are not part of the kingdom of God, right?

        The decent and Christian thing to do here, Ben, is to repent and apologize for the false witness. How about it?

        Or do you have no cares for what God’s will is and you are only defending your cultural traditions?

        ~Dan

      • Mark

        Matthew 19 (The Words of our Lord)

        4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’5 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’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

      • Gus Ravenwheel

        As I’m sure you know, the “for this reason” passage occurs twice in the Bible, Matthew 19 where Jesus is referencing Genesis 2, which says, in context…

        Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him…” The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him…

        The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said,

        “This is now bone of my bones,
        And flesh of my flesh;
        She shall be called Woman,
        Because she was taken out of Man.”

        For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

        Here we have a classic creation myth, explaining how men and women got started. It’s important to note (I’m sure you’ll agree) what sort of literature you’re looking at in order to best understand the text, context and meaning. This isn’t a history text, it isn’t a modern set of rules, it isn’t a ethical treatise, it is written in the style of a creation/origin myth.

        And before continuing, I would point out that noticing something is written in a mythic style is NOT the same as saying it’s false or not true or bad. Myth-telling is a literature type, like poetry, epic storytelling, history, scientific treatise, etc. There is nothing wrong or false about using myth and noting that a story is told in a mythic style is not a negative criticism, just a literary study. I hear from too many more conservative folk “What?? You think it’s MYTH?! You must hate the Bible!” and of course, that’s nothing to do with the truth of the matter.

        Okay, so God in the Genesis story says, “For this reason (what reason? to not be alone and without a helper/companion) men and women join together (no mention of marriage, by the way) to become ‘one flesh…'” Now, contextually and textually, you could suggest that this COULD be considered an endorsement of marriage, specifically of male/female marriage. But you could also note that this could be an endorsement of people not living lives alone (and men and women becoming “one flesh” – ie, engaging in sex being part of that). You could note either of those possibilities.

        What you can’t say, textually and contextually, is that this is a specific and comprehensives definition of marriage or that this is the one and only way of looking at marriage. The text simply doesn’t support that conclusion.

        If you disagree, where specifically am I mistaken?

        Looking at what Jesus had to say about this same passage, we see…

        Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?”

        And Jesus answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

        Contextually and textually, we can see Jesus is addressing the question of divorce. This lends support to the notion that Jesus was viewing the Gen 2 passage as about marriage, rather than just men and women being companions. But still, we do not see Jesus saying, “This and only this is a description of marriage and nothing else can be marriage.” That just isn’t in the text (factually, you would have to agree) and I see no reason to think that the context is suggesting it must be “this is marriage and only this…”

        Do you have any reason to think this MUST be the case, because I’m not seeing it.

        ~Dan

      • Mark

        Gus, much of what you have written simply makes my point. Read it again and you might get it.

        I have read extensive exegetical commentary about those passages and the conclusion is inescapable: they are clearly talking about marriage (stated and implied as opposite sex) or opposite sex complementarity, regardless of whether the creation narrative was considered figurative.

        Now, where does Scripture endorse homosexual marriage?

      • Gus Ravenwheel

        Wait, before moving on, I made a point that needs to be deal with… You DO agree, then, that there is nothing specifically in the text that says, “This and only this is marriage and nothing else is marriage…”? Or do you disagree? If you disagree, where is the textual or rational support for the notion that this passage is somehow saying, “This and only this is marriage…”?

      • Dan H

        Mark, why do you even bother? Remember the verse about casting your pearls you-know-where. You’re arguing with someone who could manage to find divine approval for gay marriage on a discarded gum wrapper. Fanatics see what they want to see. What the Bible actually says is moot.

      • Gus Ravenwheel

        Dan H, what do you know about me? Why the hostility? Where is the love and grace of God in your comments?

        I’m a fanatic insomuch as I want to follow God and do God’s will, does that make me a bad person? I believe in taking the Bible seriously and don’t find biblical or rational support for the traditionalist interpretation on this topic, so I had to change my position to follow what I thought was the best biblical and logical way of understanding this point in seeking God’s will?

        What is the problem with conversation and addressing questions that people have about your position? Come, let us reason together, the Bible teaches us.

        This is the problem the traditional church is having and why you’re losing this argument: Your opinions sound mired in tradition in opposition to good ethical reasoning and what the bible has to say. And instead of dealing with the problems that people – fellow Christians! – have with your position, you resort to name-calling and false witness, does that not disturb you?

        Does the fact that you won’t even respond to these very serious problems I’m raising not bother your conscience, dear brother?

        I love the Bible and God’s Ways so much that I disagree with twisting people’s words. Do you? If so, would you not consider repenting for that misrepresentation of my position?

        “Thou shalt not bear false witness…”

        In Christ, our beloved savior,

        Dan Trabue

      • Dan H

        Quoting the Bible doesn’t mean much. In the temptation of Jesus, Satan did it three times – twisting it, of course.

      • Gus Ravenwheel

        Then help me out, dear brother: TELL ME where I’m mistaken. Am I wrong to seek to follow God’s will, even if it means that I disagree with traditional views of my Christian family?

        Am I wrong to point out that you’ve bore false witness against me?

        Does it not concern you that you are bearing false witness? Or is it the case that you honestly don’t recognize how you’ve misrepresented me?

        Again, if you have a specific concern with something that I’ve specifically said, help me out by talking to me about specifics. But misrepresenting me is not of Christ, agreed?

    • Mark

      Forgiven, you make some great points. The entire Bible can be read, to some degree, as a cautionary tale of the tragic things that can happen when the man/woman relationship is breached (and, conversely, the good things that can happen when it is promoted, enhanced and solidified).

      In its full measure marriage (always defined Biblically as male/female) represents the goodness of God in many aspects, including procreation, complementarity, selfless love, etc.

      Christ–Who was clearly male–referred to the church as his bride. There are many, many more verses that can be construed to refer to the male/female complementarity of marriage.

      The specific verses about homosexual behavior have never been in dispute except by the most extremist of interpreters, and they were often individuals inclined to disbelieve the Bible generally. Proper exegetical summaries on this topic have been extant for hundreds of years. Quite often the specific definition of marriage as male/female was not stressed because it was considered obvious. How times change!

      It’s only in recent years that agenda-driven individuals have offered disingenuous interpretations of these verses. It would be far more honorable for them to simply say they disagreed with Scripture rather than engage in absurd mental gymnastics in trying to make the case that it means something other than what it clealy says.

      • Gus Ravenwheel

        “always defined as male/female.”

        I would challenge you to support this claim, Mark. The Bible goes undefined in the Bible, factually speaking. Sometimes, it includes polygamy. Sometimes it includes concubinism. Sometimes it includes kidnapping the orphaned virgin girls of the slain enemy. And sometimes it includes male/female.

        But I can not find one place in the Bible where marriage is “defined” as male/female.

        If you can’t support this claim, isn’t the more rationally and biblically sound thing to do be to admit you misspoke and make a more supportable claim, for instance, “In the Bible, we always see male/female relationships in marriage and we NEVER see male/male or female/female relationships in a marriage…” THAT claim is biblically supported. Yours is not. Not without reading into the Bible something it doesn’t say directly.

        How about it?

      • Gus Ravenwheel

        Mark…

        It’s only in recent years that agenda-driven individuals have offered disingenuous interpretations of these verses. It would be far more honorable for them to simply say they disagreed with Scripture rather than engage in absurd mental gymnastics in trying to make the case that it means something other than what it clealy says.

        Rather than deal with some vague “those people…” why not deal with MY actual positions? I have no agenda but to follow God. I used to agree with the traditional view. It was ONLY because I was committed to staying true to God’s Ways and taking the Bible seriously that I was forced to change my position – and that was not for some “agenda,” other than following God.

        And I DON’T disagree with Scripture. Rather, I disagree with bad interpretations of the Bible to support a cultural agenda. THERE is the agenda, the one I had to abandon in order to remain true to the Bible.

        So, rather than “those vague people out there with an agenda…” why not deal with me and my tribe who have no agenda other than following God? What do you do with us?

        “Those shalt not bear false witness…” ~God.

        ~Dan

    • cken

      Of course the entire bible supports marriage between a man and a woman. It is the only to perpetuate the species and that was a major concern back in the day. It was also recognized as far back as the cave man that a couple represented the strongest economic unit. Neither of these are true nor even necessary in today’s society.

  • Judy Smith

    It seems strange that somehow today people think they have been ordained to rewrite the Bible.

    • Gus Ravenwheel

      Who has done this, may I ask? And can you provide some actual evidence?

      If you don’t mind my saying, this sounds like someone bearing false witness and slandering others, twisting their positions to something else. I hope I’m mistaken. I’ll await any actual evidence you might have.

      But, if you have no evidence for making such a claim, perhaps it would be most reasonable and most Christian to admit you misspoke and you can’t actually support the claim?

      People, speaking the Truth in Love is an important, biblical, rational thing we need to learn to do. It’s okay to disagree – it’s going to happen. But we MUST do so in God’s grace and love, if we are going to be followers of God.

      ~Dan

  • Gus Ravenwheel

    Still no answers to my questions?

    You know, this is exactly the reason that I, as an anti-homosexuality Christian, had to abandon that position. I started to honestly look at these questions and realized I couldn’t honestly answer them. This pointed out how incredibly “holey” the anti-gay position was, from moral, rational and biblical points of view.

    Questions just like the ones you all have left unanswered…

    1. today people think they have been ordained to rewrite the Bible… WHO?

    No answer.

    2. Is there ANY real world evidence to contradict the apparent innate goodness of supporting marriage for all people, gay or straight?

    No answer.

    3. where is the textual or rational support for the notion that this passage is somehow saying, “This and only this is marriage…”?

    No answer.

    4. The Bible specifically condemns ALL gay behavior? Where?

    No answer (technically, of course, there ARE answers given – “Leviticus 18″ they’ll say, for instance. But the text does not support that claim).

    5. “Marriage is always defined as male/female.” Can you to support this claim?

    No answer.

    6. we BOTH think Scripture is abundantly clear. And yet, we disagree on what the point is.

    In that context, WHO should I (or you) listen to?

    No answer.

    Over and over again, these questions get raised and over and over again, the same non-points are offered by way of a non-answer OR, more typically, we get irrational, non-Christian sniping and clearly false accusations of bad motives (“they just want to live as loosely as possible” they say, to the guy who has been married to one woman for 28 years… “they just want to defend their gay friends” they say to the guy who had no gay friends and no reason to change his position when I did). On and on, over and over, no answers and false witness.

    This is the exact reason I had to abandon the anti-gay position I formerly held. There were just too many holes in the argument and no answers forthcoming.

    This is what you’re up against. Until such time that you can start discussing this topic in a Christian, respectful, honest manner and actually answer these questions, you all will continue to lose the argument.

    Sorry, but maybe that should be a sign to you, as it was to me… “If I can’t answer these questions, maybe I’m not holding the right position, after all…”

    Consider prayerfully, please.

    In Christ,

    Dan

  • Gus Ravenwheel

    More…

    We don’t – none of us – simply read text and say, “Oh, Jesus says pluck your eye out, so I’ll pluck my eye out.” or “the text says ‘if anyone asks you for something, give it to them…’ so I’ll give all my money away…” None of us does that. We use our God-given reasoning to sort through the meaning of the texts.

    Am I mistaken? If so, where specifically?

    No answer.

    Thus, when I speak of my interpretation – no matter how solid or biblical or rational I think it may be – I always fully recognize and acknowledge, “This is MY interpretation. God has not spoken audibly to me and given me the One True Answer.”

    Can we agree on the importance of that distinction?

    No answer.

    …and that last one is a critical one, and I think one of the key differences between a more fundamentalist approach to Bible study and a more rational, moral, humble and grace-full approach to Bible study.

    ~Dan

  • Tim Vernon

    “They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!” Eph 4:19

    • Gus Ravenwheel

      Amen. Unfortunately.

    • Gus Ravenwheel

      On the other hand, if that was a passive agressive swipe at folk like me who disagree with folk like you about some of these issues, I would ask that instead of vague veiled accusations, that you be specific.

      Here I am, a Christian seeking God’s will who loves the Bible and has following in the steps of our Lord Jesus as my goal, and I disagree with the traditional opinion about marriage for gay folk.

      Now, it is demonstrably not the case that I have “given myself up to sensuality,” – I’m a happily married fella for 28 years now, faithful to my one wife. It is observable that I am not “greedy to practice any kind of impurity.” Indeed, I am striving by God’s grace to follow in the “Way I learned in Christ.”

      So, rather than some veiled and demonstrably false accusation, why not deal with the reasonable questions being raised?

      People on “my side” of this disagreement – at least the ones I know and can personally attest for – are good people, lovers of the Bible, followers of Christ. We are raising our children, going to church, going to/teaching Sunday School, reaching out to the least of these, in every observable way, saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus.

      It would be simply a false witness to say that THESE people are given over to sensuality, greedy to practice impurity. The real world evidence would undermine that charge.

      What of those people and their/our questions?

      Thou shalt not bear false witness, my dear ones.

      ~Dan Trabue