Hot Button Christian Issues: Gay Marriage

I’ve been putting this topic off for a couple of reasons.  First, it has been done by other blogs.  I try to talk about either new topics or come at them in a way I believe is different from the way most other bloggers approach them.  Considering how this subject has been in the news and thoroughly discussed online, I had previously decided not to bring it up.  Second, nothing constructive comes from these kind of posts.  True, they can offer people evidence for one side of an argument or help reinforce a previously held belief.  But on the internet they usually end with unintelligent bickering that leaves everyone feeling hurt or discouraged which is not what I intended my blog to be.

However as it was a subject for a recent synod for the Roman Catholic Church and for the Southern Baptist Convention, see  “Evangelical Church Grapples with Growth of Gay Rights,” I guess this is a good a time as any to share my views and be done with it.  Before I do, please understand that this post is not about “gay-bashing” or political discrimination of those with different views.  That would be both un-American and opposite to the commands of Christ.  It is, however, a defense of the Church’s view toward same sex relationships.

Okay, where to begin with this can of worms?  Well, let’s start with the comment I hate hearing the most in these discussions: “Since Christ didn’t mention it, it must not be important and therefore we shouldn’t worry about it.”  Usually someone says this if they can’t defend their views based on Scripture, don’t wish to share their views, or want to avoid the ugliness of bickering altogether.  My problem with this comment is that it implies a very silly line of reasoning.  Notice that the speaker assumes that the only reliable source of Christian teaching is Christ alone.  Makes sense when you realize that his followers are named after him.  However that has never been what Christians believed about spiritual authority.  The early Church relied upon Scripture, apostolic traditions, and the rulings of synods and ecumenical councils.  As time went on we do see some of these sources of authority dwindle or expand.  And only until the time of the Protestantism do we have Christians relying only on one source of authority, the Bible.  And even the Bible has more than just the words of Christ.  It also includes the words of Paul, Peter, Moses, David, etc. which have proven both beneficial and invaluable for our faith.

Also, there are many important topics and subjects not mentioned by Christ, yet I believe we can all agree are wrong.  Examples include rape, child molestation, slavery, poaching, polluting the environment, etc.  If we are to accept same sex relationships because Christ never talks about them, then we must then accept heinous acts like rape and child abuse as well.

Let’s move on to the often cited and controversial passages of Scripture like Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-27.  There’s been a lot of debate on how to interpret these passages.  On source of controversy is understanding what part of Scripture is still relevant for Christians today.  The answer, shockingly, is all of it.  There was never a time when the Church valued one part of Scripture more than the other.  In fact the first generation of Christians mostly relied on what we call the Old Testament because that was all it had for a canon.  When Paul tells Timothy that all Scripture is useful, he was referring to the Old Testament.  Even Christ said, “I have not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it” (Matt. 5:17-20).  This would indicate then that the Old Testament Scriptures are both relevant and authoritative in the lives of believers today.

Naturally this will incur the response, “But what about the dietary laws?  Don’t Christians sin when they eat shell fish and ham sandwiches?”  The rebuttal should then be Mark 7:18-22 where Christ declares that all food is clean.  One should also refer to Acts 15 and to all of Paul’s letters which discuss the Judaizers.  It is quite clear from these passages that the Church understood that there were different parts of the Law with different purposes.  To say that the Law was homogenous would mean you must reject the Christian thinking laid out by Christ and his apostles as recorded in Scripture.

Another problem that arises is that the Bible never discusses faithful, loving, monogamous relationships for same sex couples.  It is always discussing either pagan worship practices or something else.  However a brief look at the context of those passages refutes these views.  It has been argued that Paul is only referencing religious prostitution common among the Greeks and Romans in his letter to an early Christian community in Rome (Rom. 1:26-27).  This is often supported by the previous verse which describes idolatry.  However when describing the people who participate in these same sex relationships, Paul does not use the words for priest and priestess but the generic gender words men/mankind and women/females.  (I used the online lexicon qbible.com.)  And if one reads a little further, the apostle lists even more sins which include murder, envy, disobedience and greed.  Are we then to assume that because verse 25 mentions idolatry that murder and greed can only be condemned when in connection to idolatry, specifically idols like Zeus and Venus?  Of course not!  And the reason the Bible never discusses the right kind of homosexual relationships is because there are none.  Every time sexual relationships are referred to in Scripture it is to either describe where they went wrong or went right.  And no homosexual relationship is ever congratulated for being correct because the correct one is a heterosexual relationship within the confines of marriage.

Now some might say that all of the above was and is ancient history and that we must adjust to the times or else get left behind.  To which I say, “Look at Elijah and the 7,000 who did not bend their knees to Baal.  Look at the three young men who gladly entered a fiery furnace than obey a king’s edict to worship an idol.  Look at the prophet Daniel who continued to boldly and publicly pray to God when it was the law to only pray to the king.  Remember the martyrs of the early Church who were maimed, crucified, and slaughtered because they would not bow to Caesar’s image or burn what little incense was due to him.  All of these, and more, endured and are now highly honored for their faithfulness.  Should we not also do the same?”

Does this mean we must expel anyone who has confessed that they have same sex attractions from our congregations?  Does this mean we should stand outside of a soldier’s funeral waving signs with profanities written on them?  Does this mean we should forsake and ignore family members who have “come out?”  By no means!  We are called to be Christ-like, and that is what we must be.  We can show love to all without agreeing with or supporting the decisions of others for that is what Christ did for us.

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GOP’s Great Expectations

In case you missed it on Facebook, TV, or in the newspapers, Republicans have retaken Congress after 8 years.  The reasons for the GOP’s victory are varied and will likely to be up for debate well after the new Congress is in session next year.  And while conservatives around the country are excited about their success on election day, they shouldn’t get too carried away.  There is still a lot of work to be done.

First and foremost, Republican officials need to devise a clear platform for an array of policy issues including but not limited to immigration, foreign policy, education, etc.  For the last 6 years, they’ve been able to take shots at President Obama and his policies.  A rather easy thing to do.  However, they rarely have the spotlight on their alternatives.  Occasionally, we might here that this Congressman or that Senator has the beginnings of a plan for a conservative alternative to Obamacare but that’s it.  I sincerely doubt anyone can clearly state what Republicans intend to do concerning healthcare.  This status quo cannot and must not be maintained if Republicans wish to hold onto Congress for more than 2 years and take the White House in 2016.

For this to happen, conservatives need to be more accommodating to differing views within the party.  Specifically, the back-biting and the pursuit for ideological purity must cease.  While it is nice if everyone thought the same way and came to the same conclusions, that isn’t how the real world works.  The fact that there are Republicans who are not zealous in repealing Obamacare, want to go into the Middle East with guns blazing, or want to make a moderate decision in regards to immigration is reflective of how the voters think themselves.  When someone wins an election, it isn’t with 100% of the vote with 100% support of those who voted for them.  People have different opinions and that is okay.  That’s how new and better ideas evolve.  Remaining true to one set of ideas brings stagnation and a lack of enthusiasm.

There is also another point to consider: bi-partisanship.  Yes, I know.  It is a concept often ridiculed and hardly believed possible.  However, that was when Congress was split.  Democrats felt they had the upper-hand and the Obama Administration was certain it could do as it pleased without Congress’ permission.  Now Congress is controlled by one party that hasn’t been on the receiving end of blundered policy decisions and political scandals.  Now is the time for Republicans to publicly offer its hand across the aisle and show that they can work with the other side; something which Democrats are not known for doing these past 6 years.

“But what if Democrats become obstinate or make unreasonable demands?”

All the better for the GOP.  Democrats have witnessed a vote of no-confidence to their ability to effectively govern.  They must now walk very carefully if they want to ingratiate themselves with the voters by 2016.  Conservatives, therefore, must continue to press the attack by picking the fights they can win without any negative effects to their image.  That includes presenting a cooperative appearance.  Americans are quite tired of the gridlock in Washington, and I doubt they will be sympathetic if Republicans are the ones in charge.