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Posts Tagged ‘same-sex marriage’

Those who risked responding to my blog on same-sex marriage with differing viewpoints did us all a favor by kindly but clearly raising cogent arguments supporting same-sex marriage.  Neither Christians nor non-Christians should fear open and honest conversation; rather, I hope that we can all “speak the truth in love.”

In John 9 when Jesus heals the man born blind, Jesus’ disciples did not really see the blind man as Jesus did. They saw a theological problem: who sinned, this man or his parents?  They might have continued their conversation while walking right by the man himself.

Jesus, however, saw a person in need of healing, both physical and spiritual, for the glory of God.  I try to remind myself that in all of these difficult conversations, we are talking about our neighbors, our family, our church members, about classmates, co-workers, about people whom God loves!  That helps me with my tone of voice when responding.

But the love of Christ compels us (2 Corinthians 5:13-15) to speak and to say what God would say because “Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” I believe; therefore, I speak out.

So let me extend the conversation in response to those comments:

Argument:  Christians should not force Christian views on non-Christians.

Response:  I agree completely.  God doesn’t force people to believe, Jesus did not force people to follow him, and those who follow Him should not either.  However, my counter-question is how should it work in a democracy or representative government as we have when the political question involves what Christians believe to be a God-revealed truth?  Can only non-religious people have a seat at the table? Can only non-Christians campaign and vote on these issues?  Why are Christians who speak out and vote according to their faith “forcing” their views on non-Christians? And should any majority OR minority group, simply because they believe their cause to be moral and right, be silenced,  be segregated, be harassed, or be hated?

Argument: Marriage is a civil institution, not a religious one; therefore, the definition of marriage can and should be determined by the State.

Response:  I agree and disagree with this argument.  There is certainly a civil aspect to marriage. The State (and I am not using that term pejoratively) regulates the societal aspects of marriage in many ways, such as:

  • Who can get married?  Not 10-year-olds, not siblings, not people currently married, etc.
  • When can people get married? Some states have waiting periods; some require blood tests, etc.
  • Who can legally perform weddings? Some states allow anyone; others require ordained ministers and/or particular government officials.
  • Which marriages are recognized?  If you marry in a foreign country, the U.S. may not recognize your marriage. This is regulated by federal law.

In my opinion, everyone—including Christians—should “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” We all should submit to the legal authorities in every way with one exception, and that is, if required by law to violate the higher laws of God.

But I also disagree that marriage is only a civil institution. Marriage precedes the existence of civil states.  Marriage exists outside of political states.  For example, I was just watching “Finding Your Roots” with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who discussed the fact that prior to the Civil War in the United States free African-Americans could marry legally, but slaves could not.  He continued to say, however, that, of course, slaves did marry, but that it was not recognized by the State.

Marriage, according to Jesus (Matthew 19:6) is God joining people together.  The earliest biblical revelation states that the reason for marriage was that “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Adam was meant for Eve and Eve for Adam.  No legal ceremony occurred, only God joined them.  And the writer goes on to explain that because of God’s actions in the beginning, future men who marry will “leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 2:18,24)

I also believe all of the references describing Jesus as the bridegroom and the church as His bride made repeatedly from Matthew to Revelation are witnesses to the holy nature of marriage. And the metaphor is consistent with the Genesis passages and the words of Jesus in that only God joins people to Christ. We are born again, not by human will but by the will of God (John 1:13).

This is the “holy” side of marriage that Christians want to preserve.  Of course, they carry those convictions into the political discussion—and don’t they have the right to? They are just one voice, not the only voice, in the political debate.

Next we will talk about the argument that opposing same-sex marriage is bigotry—a very serious charge.

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The President’s choice to come out for same-sex marriage disappoints me greatly, not really because of the politics, but rather because of what it says about the moral predicament in our country.  I am strongly in favor of equal civil rights for all Americans, regardless of their immorality, unless, of course they cross the line into criminal behavior—and even then, they should have equal access to the processes of law.

The poll numbers show an American public divided almost 50-50 on the issue. What really disturbs me even more than what the president did is that polls also show that 71% of 18-29 year-olds support gay marriage. I was pretty shocked one day in the LST office to hear a wonderful Christian young woman say, “I wish God hadn’t come down so hard on homosexuality!”   I suspect what these numbers show for young Christians (who certainly have to be in the 71% mix) is their sensitivity to social justice issues in conflict with what might appear to be the more restrictive biblical imperatives.

Before I write another paragraph, let me state that God so loved the world that He gave His Son!  God’s love is all-inclusive, me with my sin and you with yours.  And the Creator God who defines the essence of reality (Truth) by His Word has set homosexuality outside of that which is pronounced “Good!”  The question is not about choice, nor about love, nor about equal rights, but rather about submission.  The question for all of us is whether we live out “not my will, but Thine be done!”

I’m also disappointed in us for making the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy the best-seller on everyone’s list. Romance novels have always sold well, so that’s nothing new, but this particular trilogy seems to be a hit because of its kinky eroticism—especially aimed toward women’s fantasies apparently. I haven’t read it, but here just before Mother’s Day to have all the best-seller lists led by what the reviewers often refer to as “mommy porn” is a sad commentary on us!

Both of these phenomena are possible partly because we Christians have separated our physical bodies—including our sexuality—from our understanding of the image of God, the incarnation (God in us), and the indwelling of God’s Spirit¸ which makes our bodies a temple!

This skewed thinking probably starts as teenagers, when we are taught which sexual activity is right and wrong, but never hear anyone say that sex is for anything other than fun! And adults/church are always trying to keep kids from fun things, so how is sex any different.

I also firmly believe that we Christians have also completely removed the “holy” from holy matrimony.  Although held in church buildings, most of our marriages are secular services, sometimes with an occasional nod toward God who is sitting in the back of the auditorium.

Three things I would like to see:

  1. I’d like for our children to be taught that their bodies are the temple of God. I think once that is our predominant message, we will learn how to help them understand the implications for their life.
  2. Secondly, I would like to see us appear before the throne of God in our wedding ceremonies and not just come to the marriage altar and sign a legal document.
  3. And, lastly, I would like to see us re-mystify our sexuality, acknowledging it as a God-breathed gift, not only for our personal benefit, but because creating and loving is a reflection of God in us!  The oneness of sex is the same mystery as the oneness of God. The joy and pleasure of that oneness should be transcendent, not sado-masochistic.

I pray for the president; I pray for us.

Read Full Post »

The word bigot is a terrible word.  For me, it is in the same category as maggot, or phlegm, or vomit!  Those may be a little more sensory than you are comfortable with, but what about the racist N… word or the F… word for homosexuals?  Some words evoke so much emotion that to use them carelessly can damage others and to use them intentionally can be immoral, sometimes illegal.

A common dictionary defines bigot as a person who is “obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one who exhibits intolerance or animosity toward members of a group.”  The etymology is a little shadowy, but some suggest the root of the word may have been “by God,” or the mocking of that phrase by those who resented others using it.  In any case, the word has been around since the 12th century—and people who acted with intolerance or animosity toward others even longer!

Are Christians who oppose same-sex marriage guilty of bigotry?  Piers Morgan, who certainly can be seen as representative of a certain mindset in the American population, suggested the Rick Santorum, a practicing Catholic, was a bigot because he held to the teachings of his church that homosexuality is a sin.  Santorum made very clear that he did not feel it was government’s place to regulate morality for all citizens, but that did not keep Morgan from using the B..word!

I wonder if we could agree that it is not bigoted to just hold opinions?  I wonder if we could agree that within our working definition of bigotry that it is the words intolerance and animosity that give the odious smell to the word?

Was Jesus a bigot for saying that a man who lusts after a woman has committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28)? In the same lesson, he says it is wrong to commit murder or to be angry and hate another person. Is that intolerant? (Matthew 5:21-22).

Was Jesus a bigot for saying that adultery is a sin? Or that divorce for frivolous reasons is not God’s Will? Or that not only breaking an oath, but anything other than a truthful Yes or No is not godly?

Was He intolerant because he said not every teacher is a good teacher, that some are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15)? Or that those who simply call out to God without the prerequisite obedience will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21).  Shouldn’t everyone get a trophy?

Was St. Paul intolerant and bigoted when he says that it was immoral and wrong for a man to sleep with his father’s wife (1 Corinthians 5:1-2)?

If today a minority group banded together to insist that all loving sexual activity between consenting adults was moral and should be allowed by law throughout the nation, including—as the opponents would certainly point out—prostitution, incest, sibling marriage, cousins marriage, and polygamous marriages, would we relegate St. Paul  to bigotry.

And if I haven’t yet touched anything that you hold a strong opinion on in any of the above paragraphs, anything that crosses your moral line and where someone else might be more liberal than you, how would you feel about wearing the bigot label?

Having said all of the above, I do believe there are bigots among us—on all sides. I’m appalled by bigotry among Christians like the Westboro Baptists who appear to me to cross over unequivocally into bitter intolerance and animosity.

I was reading a great story yesterday about a 9-year-old boy in Topeka, KS who with his mother happened to come upon a Westboro Baptist group picketing with hateful signs. He looked up at one picket sign that said, “God hates F….s”  According to his mother, he immediately ran back to the car and made his own crude, but profoundly true response to the sign.  His sign said, “God hates No One!”

God hates sin, but Paul says—yes, the same one who opposed incest:  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-9)

Christians cannot but hate sin as God does, but we must be just as loving of sinners, and we must demonstrate our love by letting mercy triumph over judgment! (James 2:13)

 

Read Full Post »

Those who risked responding to my blog on same-sex marriage with differing viewpoints did us all a favor by kindly but clearly raising cogent arguments supporting same-sex marriage.  Neither Christians nor non-Christians should fear open and honest conversation; rather, I hope that we can all “speak the truth in love.”

In John 9 when Jesus heals the man born blind, Jesus’ disciples did not really see the blind man as Jesus did. They saw a theological problem: who sinned, this man or his parents?  They might have continued their conversation while walking right by the man himself.

Jesus, however, saw a person in need of healing, both physical and spiritual, for the glory of God.  I try to remind myself that in all of these difficult conversations, we are talking about our neighbors, our family, our church members, about classmates, co-workers, about people whom God loves!  That helps me with my tone of voice when responding.

But the love of Christ compels us (2 Corinthians 5:13-15) to speak and to say what God would say because “Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” I believe; therefore, I speak out.

So let me extend the conversation in response to those comments:

Argument:  Christians should not force Christian views on non-Christians.

Response:  I agree completely.  God doesn’t force people to believe, Jesus did not force people to follow him, and those who follow Him should not either.  However, my counter-question is how should it work in a democracy or representative government as we have when the political question involves what Christians believe to be a God-revealed truth?  Can only non-religious people have a seat at the table? Can only non-Christians campaign and vote on these issues?  Why are Christians who speak out and vote according to their faith “forcing” their views on non-Christians? And should any majority OR minority group, simply because they believe their cause to be moral and right, be silenced,  be segregated, be harassed, or be hated?

Argument: Marriage is a civil institution, not a religious one; therefore, the definition of marriage can and should be determined by the State.

Response:  I agree and disagree with this argument.  There is certainly a civil aspect to marriage. The State (and I am not using that term pejoratively) regulates the societal aspects of marriage in many ways, such as:

  • Who can get married?  Not 10-year-olds, not siblings, not people currently married, etc.
  • When can people get married? Some states have waiting periods; some require blood tests, etc.
  • Who can legally perform weddings? Some states allow anyone; others require ordained ministers and/or particular government officials.
  • Which marriages are recognized?  If you marry in a foreign country, the U.S. may not recognize your marriage. This is regulated by federal law.

In my opinion, everyone—including Christians—should “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” We all should submit to the legal authorities in every way with one exception, and that is, if required by law to violate the higher laws of God.

But I also disagree that marriage is only a civil institution. Marriage precedes the existence of civil states.  Marriage exists outside of political states.  For example, I was just watching “Finding Your Roots” with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who discussed the fact that prior to the Civil War in the United States free African-Americans could marry legally, but slaves could not.  He continued to say, however, that, of course, slaves did marry, but that it was not recognized by the State.

Marriage, according to Jesus (Matthew 19:6) is God joining people together.  The earliest biblical revelation states that the reason for marriage was that “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Adam was meant for Eve and Eve for Adam.  No legal ceremony occurred, only God joined them.  And the writer goes on to explain that because of God’s actions in the beginning, future men who marry will “leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 2:18,24)

I also believe all of the references describing Jesus as the bridegroom and the church as His bride made repeatedly from Matthew to Revelation are witnesses to the holy nature of marriage. And the metaphor is consistent with the Genesis passages and the words of Jesus in that only God joins people to Christ. We are born again, not by human will but by the will of God (John 1:13).

This is the “holy” side of marriage that Christians want to preserve.  Of course, they carry those convictions into the political discussion—and don’t they have the right to? They are just one voice, not the only voice, in the political debate.

Next we will talk about the argument that opposing same-sex marriage is bigotry—a very serious charge.

Read Full Post »

The President’s choice to come out for same-sex marriage disappoints me greatly, not really because of the politics, but rather because of what it says about the moral predicament in our country.  I am strongly in favor of equal civil rights for all Americans, regardless of their immorality, unless, of course they cross the line into criminal behavior—and even then, they should have equal access to the processes of law.

The poll numbers show an American public divided almost 50-50 on the issue. What really disturbs me even more than what the president did is that polls also show that 71% of 18-29 year-olds support gay marriage. I was pretty shocked one day in the LST office to hear a wonderful Christian young woman say, “I wish God hadn’t come down so hard on homosexuality!”   I suspect what these numbers show for young Christians (who certainly have to be in the 71% mix) is their sensitivity to social justice issues in conflict with what might appear to be the more restrictive biblical imperatives.

Before I write another paragraph, let me state that God so loved the world that He gave His Son!  God’s love is all-inclusive, me with my sin and you with yours.  And the Creator God who defines the essence of reality (Truth) by His Word has set homosexuality outside of that which is pronounced “Good!”  The question is not about choice, nor about love, nor about equal rights, but rather about submission.  The question for all of us is whether we live out “not my will, but Thine be done!”

I’m also disappointed in us for making the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy the best-seller on everyone’s list. Romance novels have always sold well, so that’s nothing new, but this particular trilogy seems to be a hit because of its kinky eroticism—especially aimed toward women’s fantasies apparently. I haven’t read it, but here just before Mother’s Day to have all the best-seller lists led by what the reviewers often refer to as “mommy porn” is a sad commentary on us!

Both of these phenomena are possible partly because we Christians have separated our physical bodies—including our sexuality—from our understanding of the image of God, the incarnation (God in us), and the indwelling of God’s Spirit¸ which makes our bodies a temple!

This skewed thinking probably starts as teenagers, when we are taught which sexual activity is right and wrong, but never hear anyone say that sex is for anything other than fun! And adults/church are always trying to keep kids from fun things, so how is sex any different.

I also firmly believe that we Christians have also completely removed the “holy” from holy matrimony.  Although held in church buildings, most of our marriages are secular services, sometimes with an occasional nod toward God who is sitting in the back of the auditorium.

Three things I would like to see:

  1. I’d like for our children to be taught that their bodies are the temple of God. I think once that is our predominant message, we will learn how to help them understand the implications for their life.
  2. Secondly, I would like to see us appear before the throne of God in our wedding ceremonies and not just come to the marriage altar and sign a legal document.
  3. And, lastly, I would like to see us re-mystify our sexuality, acknowledging it as a God-breathed gift, not only for our personal benefit, but because creating and loving is a reflection of God in us!  The oneness of sex is the same mystery as the oneness of God. The joy and pleasure of that oneness should be transcendent, not sado-masochistic.

I pray for the president; I pray for us.

Read Full Post »

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