Your Same Sex Marriage Hasn’t Affected The Sanctity Of Mine (an apology to the LGBT community)

Prior to my paradigm shift circa 2009, I was a major opponent of marriage equality. One of my go-to lines when asked why, was always the catch-all phrase “because it will hurt the sanctity of marriage”.

I was convinced that in some direct way, same sex marriage would harm mine. If, for no other reason, than Fox New said it, I believed it, and that settled it.

Seriously, I believed that– and said it often– even though I was previously divorced, and let’s admit: there’s no sanctity in divorce.

This year as I approach seven years of marriage and look back on all that we’ve experienced, I realized that we’ve spent our entire marriage living in states that have legally passed marriage equality. Same sex marriages have been happening around us the entire time, and it made me realize:

Your same sex marriage hasn’t affected the sanctity of mine.

Not even a little. The fact that I’ve lived in states where my LGBT friends and neighbors are treated equal in the eyes of the law has not in the smallest way, done anything to harm the “sanctity” of my marriage.

But, you know who has?

Me.

Yeah, I’m the biggest threat to the sanctity of my marriage.

When I’m selfish, self-centered, put my needs ahead of my wife’s, and don’t treat her the way she deserves to be treated?

Yeah, that’s what affects the sanctity of my marriage. When my marriage has been at rocky points, and during the times it lost its sense of beauty, it can usually be traced back to yours truly.

It’s all me… and if I want to actually be concerned about the “sanctity” of marriage, the whole of my finger pointing ought be in the mirror and no where else.

Least of all, to the LGBT community.

However, if there is an external, cultural force that is affecting the sanctity of my marriage (and marriage in general) I know what it is:

The Christian culture of divorce.

Previous and recent studies have shown the truth to be that we Christians (especially the conservative type), are actually the biggest threat to the sanctity of marriage… a fact that should grieve us deeply. More than a decade ago, Christian researchers at the Barna Group discovered that born-again Christians are more likely to divorce than other population groups. As stated by George Barna himself:

“While it may be alarming to discover that born again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing. But the research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriages.

Furthermore, the recent study that is currently making the rounds, “Red States, Blue States, and Divorce: Understanding the Impact of Conservative Protestantism on Regional Variation in Divorce Rates” in the American Journal of Sociology, shows that the truth goes one step further. Conservative Christian culture isn’t simply destroying the sanctity of their own marriages, but the marriages of their neighbors as well. As reported by Sarah Pulliam Bailey with RNS:

“Researchers found that simply living in an area with a large concentration of conservative Protestants increases the chances of divorce, even for those who are not themselves conservative Protestants… Conservative Protestant community norms and the institutions they create seem to increase divorce risk…”

All those years I spent accusing the LGBT community as posing a risk to the “sanctity” of marriage? Turns out, I was accusing the wrong people– it was my tribe who I should have been calling to repent and change their ways. (Well, it’s not exactly my tribe anymore– there was this one night a while back when Jeff Probst called me and said: “Ben, the tribe has spoken… I need you to bring me your torch.”)

So yes, there are two things that do threaten the sanctity of my marriage: my selfish self and Conservative Christian culture.

The LGBT community, doesn’t make the list.

So, if you’re a member of the LGBT community, I just want to take a moment to apologize.

I’m sorry.

I spent years of my life not only opposing you, but outright slandering you, and for that, I most sincerely apologize. I pray you will forgive me.

And, if you’re someone like me, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to apologize to the LGBT community as well.

Because, truth be told, we might actually be the biggest threat to the sanctity of marriage. Call me a heretic (you’ll have to go to the back of the line), but I think we might want to pluck the beam out of our own eye before we accuse our neighbors of having a speck in their own.

*Update, 1/24/14: a note of clarification. I didn’t spend “years attacking” marriage equality. I simply was a former fundamentalist who opposed it, and cited “sanctity of marriage” as one of the reasons. When I came out of fundamentalist thinking (2009) I changed my opinion on this matter and realized that citing “sanctity of marriage” was completely untrue. I have also been an open proponent of marriage equality on this blog previously.
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jill Roper

    Taking the beam out of our own eyes is great advice from Jesus and can be applied to many issues. I too am grieved over divorce. I wonder if one of the reasons it is so high in churches is because we no longer teach our kids the importance of being equally yoked? I can’t think of another relationship that is more yoked then a marriage. When both of us have similar worldviews and both love God with everything we have it will succeed if we want it to. I also think we should be apologizing to the children of divorce. It is their lives that leave deep scars. Just some thoughts Ben. Thanks for sharing.
    Your covered sister.

  • https://ryanrobinson.ca/ Ryan Robinson

    That’s probably part of it. Another part I think is the approach to sex. Most conservatives have a couple assumptions:
    1. Absolutely no sex of any variety before marriage
    2. If you don’t get married and relatively quickly, there’s something wrong with you

    Consequently, you see a lot of marriages between people who are too young and simply not ready just so that they can have sex – it’s better to marry than to burn with lust, right? (I’ve heard that quoted a lot) – and simply to shut up the constant stream of questions making them feel like a lesser member of the community. Then after the wedding they suddenly realise what it means to live life with another human being – a part the church never talks about – with lots of sadness, anger, frustration, and sacrifice to go along with the amazing times.

    I’d like to see more churches reach a point where the main questions for teens and young adults isn’t about their love life but rather about how they’re becoming more like Jesus. If you get married, that will help you love your spouse better. If you don’t, also awesome and leaves you more free time to be Jesus to other people.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    If you have evidence that people who marry young are more likely to divorce, I’d genuinely be interested in reading it.

  • Andrew Bell

    Search the internet for “divorce rate based on age at marriage” and you’ll find plenty of statistics on this.

  • https://ryanrobinson.ca/ Ryan Robinson

    And that, of course, is not to say that all young marriages are in more trouble. You can have mature 19-year-olds who really do understand what they are getting into. I think just that the conservative church often encourages marriage for the wrong reasons and neglects to talk about the challenge, resulting in too many going for it way before they’re ready.

  • smrnda

    We probably have fairly different values, but perhaps you can see why someone like myself thinks that *having sex before you are married* is not a bad idea. After all, something a friend of mine told me was that having sex was a great thing, since it proved that having sex doesn’t magically change your life, sex stops being this *great thing you’re looking forward to* (it becomes more ‘a decent thing you’ve already had’) and it drives the point home that marriage is about a lot more than sex.

    I have no problem with someone choosing not to have sex before marriage, I just question (with people beginning puberty about 10 years before most people get married) if it’s a realistic expectation, particularly given that only single digit % of people really wait.

  • https://ryanrobinson.ca/ Ryan Robinson

    This could tangent significantly but I would steer clear of either extreme: the “anything goes” or the “absolutely nothing.” I would see sex as a powerful union which shouldn’t be taken lightly. But I wouldn’t necessarily conclude from that that it is inherently sinful if not within a legally-binding marriage. The United Church of Canada uses the phrase “principle of proportionality” which basically says that the level of sexual intimacy should be proportional to the level of vulnerability and commitment. I’m quite ok with that, still not getting involved case-by-case to tell people how that proportionality would be decided.

  • Reason

    I would necessarily conclude that sex outside of marriage is inherently sinful, since sexual immorality is sinful.

  • Reason

    “Go and sin no more” – Jesus
    “Judge correctly” – Jesus
    “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged” – Jesus

    Also great advice from Jesus.

  • leastyebejudged

    Why don’t you take it then ?

  • Reason

    “With what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged” Ok, the judgement I use is the truth of God’s word so with that judgement (The truth of God’s word) I will be judged. I already knew that.

    Jesus told a woman “Go and sin no more” did he not? What was she doing? Oh yeah, being sexually immoral.

  • Laura Mae Shattuck

    Such a great post! I can’t even begin to express my appreciation for this post other than well said.

  • Mark Nicholas

    Perhaps people like Rev. Corey will start a healing trend which our country desperately needs?

  • Queen Alice

    Amen. I have almost lost count of the divorces I’ve had, looking for Mr. Right. When I got on my face before God and accepted the salvation of Jesus, I realized I had found Mr. RIGHT. Until I walk with Him, I cannot hope to walk with anyone else because I was looking for a person to fill the emptiness that only a relationship with God can fill. And all but one of my marriages was sanctified in a church. How sad is that? I am to blame for the many years I spent running FROM God instead of TO Him, but for the times I was in one church or another, there was never anyone with whom I felt I could honestly share my fears and convictions. None of that had anything whatsoever to do with LBGT anything. Well said.

  • Reason

    The existence of divorce doesn’t make Marriage less of a permanent union between one man and one woman. Sorry OP, you’re not correct here.

  • Lemmy Caution

    And the existence of same-sex marriage doesn’t make your marriage any less of a permanent union between one man and one woman. OP is correct.

  • Reason

    Yes. Yes it does. Marriage is marriage. It has one definition: One man. One woman. The OP promotes nothing less than subversion.

  • Lamont Cranston

    Your ignorance of the history of marriage is depressing, but not surprising. Fortunately, you will end up on the ash heap of history like every other bigot before you.

  • Lemmy Caution

    Subversion! Nice job at “judge not”.

    You do realize that just stomping your feet and proclaiming your assertion to be correct is not a well reasoned argument don’t you?

    Alas, there are no well reasoned arguments against equal treatment under the law….which is why all of the bans on same sex marriage are falling one after another.

  • gimpi1

    Fortunately, I speak subversion fluently. Also treason!

  • Queen Alice

    Please use a quote from the Word that specifically tells us that. I have not yet found one, but perhaps you have?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    What about one man, many women, and many concubines? That’s in our Bible too.

  • Reason

    If you’ll read Scripture you’ll notice that polygamy is condemned every time it comes up :)

    “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.”

    As well as Mark 10:6-8:”But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘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 then they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

    Which is both another assertion of what was already Jewish law: Marriage involves the union of two into one from a man to his wife, AND a condemnation of divorce.

    Why is it surprising that the Scriptures condemn sin? I am obligated by my Christian faith to stand against sin and immorality of all kinds. You make a poor attempt at a Tu Quoque argument against the Christian position as well as fallaciously appealing to the majority.

    “Go and sin no more” – Jesus
    “Judge correctly” – Jesus
    “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged” – Jesus

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    I’m not arguing against the Christian position. I am a Christian theologian and am pro-scripture and pro whatever the scriptural position is. So, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

  • Reason

    What is more sad, the Christian arguing against his own professed religion or the Atheist arguing against a religion he doesn’t profess belief in? I’m going with the former.

  • Guest

    Mr. Corey, it seems like you wanted to throw out a proverbial olive branch, but when you pull a branch off sometimes you get cut by the sharp end. It’s unrealistic to expect the entire LGBT community to accept your apology without question. For every Christian who “reforms” or re-aligns their thoughts to be more accepting of gays, there are many more who have not, and will not. It’s like you’re saying “you can stand up now, I’m not on your neck anymore” but you can only speak for YOUR foot. I don’t have to forgive you for your transgressions against gays. That’s between you and the deity of your choice.

  • Queen Alice

    When Ezekiel was called by God to prophesy, he was given a “laundry list” of why God was acting in righteous anger and destruction against Israel, and it never mentions anything like homosexuality. It seems the perfect time, if He wanted to drive home the point of that being a particular abomination to Him, that He would have revealed it to His chosen people through Ezekiel. Chapters 21 and 22 are what I was reading the other night and it dawned on me that He never mentions it. Also, Jesus never mentions it as an abomination either.

    On the other hand, anything we place before God in our hearts and minds becomes an idol and as such is hateful to God. Certainly the rampant and indiscriminate sexuality of our culture is not a delight to Him, because of the abuse of one’s fellow man that can come of that. Again, God is very specific about what He hates in Ezekiel.

  • smrnda

    Marriage is a social convention. What counts as a real marriage has always been open to debate, like any institutions that people came up with. There existed a time before people and before marriage. Therefore, marriage is not some platonic form that exists IN AETERNUM at all.

  • Reason

    Marriage is a religious ritual, so I’m going to have to disagree with you here. What counts as a real marriage has always been one man and one woman, despite some other religions claiming otherwise.

  • Terry Firma

    Do tell us more about the Biblical definition of marriage.

  • leastyebejudged

    Multiple wives, underage children, marrying your slaves, etcetera.

  • Reason

    Nice strawman.

  • leastyebejudged

    It’s all in there, don’t pretend that you haven’t read it.

    Please just stop lying.

  • Reason

    Do you know what a strawman is? Just curious, because if you don’t know you might be thinking I’m saying something I’m actually not by calling your argument a strawman.

  • Reason

    “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a MAN will leave his father and mother and be united to his WIFE, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

    You know, to avoid making strawman arguments about the Biblical definition of marriage.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    This passage isn’t about gay marriage, since it didn’t exist back then. It’s about living in unbroken community– Jesus was weighing in on the debate between the house of Hillel and the house of Shammi on how complicated it should be to get a divorce. This verse, doesn’t mean what you think it means.

  • Reason

    It’s not about living in unbroken community, it’s about one man leaving his father and mother to be united to his one wife to become one flesh.

    It is quite explicitly about marriage.

  • http://www.countryphase.com RJ

    There is no biblical definition of “marriage”. Marriage, etymologically, is a Roman word. And in Rome, marriage was shown to be gender-neutral, particularly among Plebeians. Jewish society did have familial unions, but they weren’t called “marriages”.

    I digress. The problem with restricting marriage in America today is that it is bound up in so many hard or impossible to reproduce rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities.
    Gay couples have been getting married for decades in this country and have been calling their unions “marriages”. We’re currently fighting for what’s proper: that state governments and the federal government stop treating gay couples as legal strangers.

    We have families and we have values. And those families and those values deserve the same respect and protection from the government as any straight couple. In fact, sometimes they’re more deserving when you look at gay couples who cannot legally marry, but are together for decades… when compared to a straight couple who get drunk in Vegas and get married after having known one another for only a single night.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    Out of every million Christians, there are one or two who are willing to say, ‘Aye, we’ve treated LGBT people like dirt on our shoes. Maybe that wasn’t a good thing.’

    But at least there will always be someone there ready to interject that gay people are still icky and shouldn’t get married.

    Good to know some things are constant.

  • Reason

    I never said they were “icky” — I agree they should not get married because they *can* not get married. They are, by definition, not of opposite genders.

  • leastyebejudged

    They *can* and *have* and *are* and *will continue* to wed.

    And there is literally nothing you can do to stop this.

    The most you can accomplish is to slow it down some, and deny it to a few who are sick or elderly and will pass before it will come to be where they reside.

    Does that make you feel good about yourself ?

  • Reason

    They cannot, have not, and will have never been wed. In order to be wed, you and your spouse must be of different gender. Period.

    My thoughts and feelings are secondary to absolute truths and I am obligated to stand against that which stands against the Truth.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Your concept of absolute truth, garnered from six obscure passages, which historical and grammatical exegesis can easily cast into doubt, was the first mistake. This is not one of those issues that is theologically clear-cut as you think.

  • Reason

    Morality is not as relative as you think.

  • Guy Norred

    I agree moral absolutes exist but I am afraid you are confusing morality and legalism.

  • Norman Walford

    What does LGBT ?

  • Norman Walford

    Sorry, “What does LGBT mean?”

  • Heather McCuen Dearmon

    Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    One thief apologized to another thief, saying, “I’m sorry I accused you of stealing.”

    This passed for righteous behavior, and the thieves congratulated themselves for it, but it did nothing to improve the crime rate.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    A child was thrown out of his home.
    A man was murdered.
    A club was firebombed.
    A married couple were portrayed as animals.
    A young man committed suicide.
    A girl was called the vilest of names.
    A woman was subjected to reparative rape.

    And the Church responded ‘This is how Christ will fix you.’

    You are the criminal here. They are the survivors.

  • Jim

    A fool once read a blog post, didn’t get it (didn’t even get close), and then posted an inane reply that the fool thought clever and to the point–which he had missed by a mile. The fool, greatly pleased with himself, felt relief that he had learned nothing from another person’s experience and that his cozy ignorance was undisturbed.

  • leastyebejudged

    Two thieves, who were encouraged to BE thieves by the (self) righteous in their respective communities by being denied the options everybody else in their respective communities were granted, apologized to one-another for accusing each other of stealing.

    They then set-about telling their tale of how this came to be to those in their respective communities who would listen, in the hope it would bring about change.

    Are you one that refused to listen; are you one that took great pride in somehow feeling you were better than them because you were so certain of your righteousness ?

  • Cecile Lienhard

    Why does divorce destroy the sanctity of marriage?
    Divorce is not a faillure per se, it is the meaness and anger coming after it that is, and it is in great part due to the fact people are humiliated by divorce, but why can’t people admit that sometimes, it is not enough to love each other and it is better to stop before hurting others?

  • Tony Roberts

    Check your Bible. Divorce is a sin and does not support the sanctity of marriage. That’s why we ministers always say, during the ceremony, “marriage is not something that should be entered into lightly.” I won’t marry any couple if I believe that the marriage won’t last. I will send them to pre-marriage counseling first and then if everything checks our from the counselor, the marriage can proceed. I won’t marry just any couple because they agreed to pay my stipend.

  • rextrek

    well I appreciate your sentiment – as a married man of 3yrs, almost 4..and with my partner/husband for 13,almost 14yrs now……again – I appreciate it…tho I will NEVER again Trust ANY Organized religion, today Im an Atheist..

  • Mark Nicholas

    It takes a big man, or woman, to admit that he/she was wrong. Thanks for your honesty, Rev. Corey.

  • tRump=Putins Dick Sucker

    Massachusetts, the first state to pass marriage equality, has the lowest divorce rate in the country while Mississippi has the highest!

  • http://www.countryphase.com RJ

    Citing this, while it may seem relevant, is a little dishonest. I love marriage equality, but divorce rates has so many more contributing factors, including but not limited to poverty rates, unemployment rates, social education, average age when couples marry, the social perception of marriage in the geographical area, the availability of diverse support systems, and cultural richness.

    Perhaps the acceptance of same-gender couples in a region does reduce divorce rates among heterosexuals (given that gay men and women are less pressured to enter into sham marriages or hide in the closet and marry an opposite-sex partner), but that impact on the divorce rate in the area would be relatively small.

  • MileHighJoe

    Thank you for your post.

    FYI, most of we gays are the most enthusiastic supporters of marriage anywhere. Seriously, while divorce and other demons threaten marriage today, we are gung-ho for it. If only other marriage “defenders” would realize that we have this in common!

  • OUTinMinnesota

    This blog entry will likely receive heightened attention, since it’s now appearing on the website Towleroad.com. That’s what causes me to stop by.

    The apology posted in this article – accompanied by the research results about divorce… it’s meaningful to me. Thank you.

    Estrangement from my religious family has been emotionally painful. But their inability to share the happiness in my life… whether celebrating the day-long joy of a wedding or the life-long joy of marriage… that inability teaches me they are NOT to be trusted in times of trouble.

    They could have had a great son-in-law

  • kelven

    Until you and other “Christians” start to actually do something to counter all of the ugliness and lies that have resulted in the appalling laws in places like Russia and Africa as well as actively counter the demonization of our community by the likes of Tony Perkins and Brian Brown your words are just empty fluff. Sorry.

  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com/ rmthunter

    I beg to differ. The change of heart evidenced by this post is a start. And Rev. Corey’s honesty and courage in posting it provides further impetus. And it will be picked up — I came here via Towleroad, and I intend to post a note on my own blog.

    These things add up, and everything has to start somewhere.

  • http://faithlikeaman.blogspot.com/ Ryan Blanchard

    I’d love to hear some specifics on what an individual is supposed to do to combat Tony Perkins. The writer is using his large platform, and presumably votes accordingly. Assuming you don’t want him to kill Tony Perkins, what can he do to earn your ever-so-important approval?

  • kelven

    Maybe you and others like you could preach to someone other than the choir. Funny how all the hateful condescending press releases and protests are the only ones to make the evening news. Maybe if you all stepped up once in a while instead of proclaiming your not all like that from your comfort zone you might get a little more notice.

  • leastyebejudged

    To be fair, he did ask you very specifically what it is you suggest should be done. And you didn’t really answer that question now, did you ?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Do you realize you just replied to an atheist LGBT supporter? You’re assuming everyone in this audience is Chrisian.

  • kelven

    I apologize for my strident tone. I have been over saturated recently with stories of the horrors perpetuated on our community in the name of Jesus. I should not have addressed my anger towards you at such a personal level, and I am sorry for attacking you verbally. That being said, I doubt there is anything you or any other Christian could say to me that would convince me it is a force for good in the world, when by and large it leaves mostly heartache and destruction in it’s wake. To be fair that pretty much applies to any fundamentalist belief system out there.

  • Tony Roberts

    Stop giving him the power. Don’t read his writings, don’t visit his website, don’t watch his videos. The more attention you give him, the more power you give up to him. Take your power back and ignore those closed-minded individuals. He will be judged the same way he judges. God and karma have a rockin relationship. He will have to pay it back in the end.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    I’d invite you to follow the blog– I’ve taken on the likes of Perkins right here on the blog. Most everything I write about is to combat fundamentalist religion, so I’m not sure what more to do other than what I’m doing here. And, I’ve openly advocated in support of marriage equality, here on the blog, prior to this post… just FYI.

  • Canadian Observer

    Glad to see the lights on the road to Damascus are working again. Apology accepted. I would suggest, though, rather than praying for forgiveness (a somewhat bizarre concept to a gay atheist such as myself) you focus more on confronting the same slanders you may have been responsible for in the past… that praying stuff you can do on your own time.

  • rcdcr

    I accept your apology and I forgive you.

    But I would never, ever trust you.

    And that’s on you, dear sir.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    People who grow up being taught to oppose LGBT people should never be trusted, even after they become adults and un-do all the thinking they were given as children? Opposing equality was what I was taught, but embracing equality is what I chose.

  • Guest

    I was brought up to oppose LGBT people too. However, the fact that I was born gay threw a wrench into the plans of those people who tried to indoctrinate me into hating myself. Your decision to change your mindset was a conscious choice. For me, it was more of a life-or-death kind of thing.

  • Guy Norred

    Unfortunately that group often includes LGBT people themselves. Many years out of the closet I still find myself sometimes stepping back in for a moment. Habits are hard to break.

  • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

    “Who I am hates who I’ve been.”

  • BobSF_94117

    This is nice to hear, I suppose, but you seem to have overlooked apologizing for harming OUR marriages, not just their sanctity but their very existence.

  • https://www.facebook.com/MickeyStone Michael Stone

    Thank You Ben!

  • yorts1

    My partner, our son and I have had a very emotionally draining week here in Indiana thanks to current legislation about this issue. We needed some encouragement. Thank you.

  • Matt S

    You have my forgiveness. I commend you for being thoughtful enough to change your mind and being brave enough to come forward and state it openly and to apologize for your previous position. You also have my thanks. I hope your marriage survives the rocky times and that you both experience all the happiness your lives can offer.

  • leastyebejudged

    Thanks, and I forgive you because you asked me to, and because it’s an ugly burden that people who lack the ability to do so seem unable to recognize the harm they do to themselves by not forgiving.

    But that’s the problem and the burden for those who ask forgiveness – the harm they’ve caused people to do and continue to do to themselves. It’s a serious burden that can’t be shrugged-off. Ever. I’m not trying to be judgmental about it, I’m just pointing-out the cold reality. The harm continues, even after asking to be forgiven. It takes more than just asking forgiveness. It takes an effort and a degree of creative work to attempt to undo some of the damage done that reaches into the future regardless of asking forgiveness. I hope this doesn’t come off as nonsensical. Do you see what I mean here ?

  • Norman Birthmark

    Thank you for sharing you apology, Benjamin. Can you provide more insight about your motivation and thought process in opposing marriage equality in your fundie days? Was it really just Fox News and politics? Did you fear gay marriage was a sign of the End Times like I was raised to believe? Was there actual hate or fear about homosexuality and gay people? Or was expressing your religious belief on an abstract issue just easier than doing actual Christian things?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    I’m not sure how well I can explain, other than there are some sub-sets of Christian culture (not all, but some) where one’s opposition to abortion and gay marriage are seen as the top two issues that make you “good”. You become fish who can’t see the water they’re swimming in, and so those two issues become almost the starting point of what you think a cultural expression must look like. Some folks like me, have an opportunity to step back, and realize that these two issues need not define us, and that we don’t all have to agree in order to be “Christian”.

    Also, I realized that since no one is forcing Churches to change (they shouldn’t be forced to change their traditions/beliefs), we’re talking about secular government making people equal under the law, which seems good and right. It allows freedom and equality on both sides- freedom for the LGBT community to marry, and freedom for individual traditions to maintain their beliefs in full freedom as well. It just seemed that changing my stance on the matter was the right decision to make. There was never hate for me, we were just told that gay marriage would “hurt society” so many times that you start to believe it. Hope this helps explain some.

  • Norman Birthmark

    I like your “fish who can’t see the water they’re swimming in” metaphor. Attempting to reconcile my faith and sexuality forced me to become a fish out of water and reconsider the doctrines I was raised into.

    I have wondered if I would have remained a fundie Christian If I were straight. I would like to think I would eventually challenge myself to re-consider Christian fundamentalism I was raised into like you have, but I doubt I would have left the comfort and security of Christian culture. Again, thank you for sharing your journey.

  • ChrisDC

    I just moved back home to southern Louisiana after being away for 30 years, 25 of them spent in Washington, D.C. doing, among other things, advocacy work for gay people like me.

    When I read your column, what I was struck by was how many of my friends and family here have been on exactly the same journey you have on exactly this same issue. And have ended up right where you are.

    I hope you’ll understand when I say that I appreciate, but don’t need, your apology.

    I am, however, grateful for your thoughtfulness on an issue, and about people like me who you didn’t, quite frankly, have to care about.

    But you did anyway.

    Thank you.

  • dangjin1

    why are you apologizing to sinners who disobey God and call evil good?

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    How about because hurting people is always wrong, no matter what?

  • dangjin1

    So you are saying God is wrong? Homosexuality does not come with marriage or the opportunity to bear children thus being denied those activities is not depriving them of any rights.

    Right now America is letting the homosexual have its cake and eat it too and that is wrong. It is wrong to say that their perversion is good or normal when it isn’t.

  • ChrisDC

    “The” homosexual? Oh, and “it’s?”

    Reminds me of when I was back in college and some idiot said that “Disinvestment will not change the situation of the Black in South Africa.”

    I said, “Hey, you mean there’s just one? Hell, we’re Harvard students. If there’s just the one guy, let’s call our parents, buy him house in the Jersey suburbs and…problem solved.”

    You should understand that your revelling in referring to people as objects and things, rather than as people, does not exactly help your argument.

    Seriously….it’s?

  • dangjin1

    reading comprehension is a good thing. try not to twist my words the next time. you missed the boat and the pier by a large margin.

  • ChrisDC

    I didn’t have to twist them. Just quote them. Trust me, your opinion of people like me came through perfectly clearly.

  • dangjin1

    You just do not like the truth. Homosexuals are not really married by the way, they cannot become one.

    You did twist my words as you went for the accusation right away and the judging without considering all the possibilities available in the use of those words. You assumed something then attacked your own assumption, not my words or intent.

    It is not how someone perceives what they hear, it is how it is intended but then people use the former to excuse their own failure to be good humans as they use any excuse to do insults and personal attacks.

    You need to learn to clarify first before attacking blindly over things that were not said.

    As for my personal views of homosexuals, I haven’t stated them yet so your assumptions would be wrong and have nothing to do with what I think.

    Repent and make things easier for yourself.

  • Lamont Cranston

    You are worthless bigot trash and will burn in hell.

  • dangjin1

    God is the one condemning the homosexual not me. Insulting me only undermines your credibility and shows your lack of character, honesty, integrity, and demonstrates that you cannot handle a discussion on sensitive issues.

    You cannot present your side or take criticism either. You chose to be homosexual now you have to lie in the bed you made.

  • Lamont Cranston

    The imaginary jackass you worship is nothing to me, anymore than you. I wouldn’t want swine like you to think I had good character; it would make me think I was a bad person. And just for the record, I didn’t choose to be gay anymore than you chose to be a brain-dead moron. You were born that way.

  • dangjin1

    Nothing more to say to you as you certainly cannot hold a decent discussion. You chose to be homosexual.

  • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

    ” You chose to be homosexual.”

    You are lying to yourself, and in deep denial about the world around you. I would pray for your soul if I still believed in such things.

  • dangjin1

    the people lying ot themselves are the homosexuals and transgenders. they just do not want to take responsibility for their sinful decisions and want to make their lifestyle and preference someone else’s fault.

  • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

    They don’t want to make it anyone’s “fault”. They aren’t miserable, they aren’t all hedonists, and they aren’t irresponsible. It is only bigots and religious fundamentalists who demand blame and fault-finding connected to homosexuality. Gays and lesbians would just like to live their own lives.

    It was not my fault that I was born a straight man, but that doesn’t mean it was anyone else’s fault either. If you told me I was a sinner for being a man, I would argue with you, but I wouldn’t say it was someone else’s fault.

  • dangjin1

    Who says you were born a straight man?

    sure they do. Their claim that they were born that way is saying it is not their fault but someone else’s.

    if they want to live their own lives, why do they make their sexual preference such a public outcry? their sexual choice is not something to be proud of and no one wants to hear about it.

    if they want to live their lives then they need to shut their more vocal groups up and stop demanding privilages they cannot have.

  • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

    Some states in the USA had laws against “sodomy” as recently as 2008. Uganda and Nigeria currently have laws saying you can go to jail for life if they find out you’re gay. If you have red hair and I pass a law making red hair illegal, I’m not letting you live your life. If you protest and fight against that law, it’s not because you want everyone to see how proud you are, it’s because you want to be left alone.

    If I pass a law that says you can lose your job just because of who you are, then I’m not letting you live your life. If I pass laws that say you’re not allowed to get married, I’m not letting you live your life.

    Why do you think I wasn’t born a straight man? Do you think I chose this? How old were you when you decided what your orientation and gender would be?

  • dangjin1

    It has taken me this long to decide to answer you because you went to the utter absurd to make a minute point that didn’t work.

    If you think those laws are unfair, maybe you should go to North Korea and see what unfair really is. This past month people were killed simply because they were a relative of a disgraced uncle.

    It is not an abomination to be a relative of someone, those people are not sinning or doing anything wrong yet they were executed cold-heartedly.

    Some things are vastly more important than allowing a few people to ram their members or a plastic toy up another person’s body cavity wrongly.

    If the homosexual community were not so selfish and spoiled maybe I would have sympathy for them but I don’t because they refuse to give up their perversion and do things right.

    God’s commands of marrying, becoming one and filling the earth was given to the heterosexual. All the alternatives are just pretenders who have no right to those parts of marriage

    If they want to be left alone then they need to shut up and stop publicly announcing their perverted sexual preference or forcing their ways upon those who reject it.

    If you do not like the Russian or Ugandan law then do not go there but do not force your ways on those people. Those are those peoples’ countries and they have the right to make the laws as they want not as you want.

    You do not like it–too bad. I have yet to see the homosexual community act better than the people who reject their preference. I have yet to see them take ‘no’ for an answer.

    Maybe if the homosexual community grew up and stopped thinking only about themselves and their sinful lusts they might get treated better.

    They sure have not acted like mature adults nor shown that they deserve entry into the institution of marriage. Pull the large beam out of their eyes for once instead of forcing heterosexuals bow the knee to filthy sinners.

  • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

    Oh…America isn’t as bad as North Korea, therefore there is nothing wrong with America, and we shouldn’t complain about the laws, huh. I’m sorry, but I have higher standards for my country than “We’re not as bad as North Korea.” I believe people should have freedom, not just that we should have slightly less fascism than one of the worst countries on earth.

    Some things are vastly more important than allowing a few people to ram their members or a plastic toy up another person’s body cavity wrongly.

    Who gave you the authority to tell others what they are or are not allowed to do with their body cavities?

    If the homosexual community were not so selfish and spoiled maybe I would have sympathy for them but I don’t because they refuse to give up their perversion and do things right.

    Yeah, those awful homosexuals, right? How dare they fall in love. How dare they exist. That’s so selfish of them to be so homosexual. If they would just stop existing and change who they are to please you, things would be so much better.

    I didn’t say I was going to go to Uganda and force them to change their laws. What I said was, I don’t want that to happen here. Gay people see other gay people all around the world being oppressed and murderered, that’s why they work so hard for equal rights here.

    And I guess you’re right, I shouldn’t worry about Uganda. After all, didn’t Jesus say, “And when you see injustice, and hatred, and murder, make sure you don’t speak out against it. Just leave well enough alone, because it’s none of your business.”

  • dangjin1

    Another person stopping up their ears because they do not like what they hear and refuse to see the points being made.

    So when are you moving to Uganda and starting to protest? Or are you going to do the ‘protest’ from the safety of America?

  • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

    You’re not “making points”, you’re just repeating over and over that being gay is sinful and evil and shouldn’t be allowed. You don’t have any reasons for this except “It’s in the Bible,” and maybe, “My church said so therefore it’s true.”

    I don’t care what you think. I’m just happy that fewer and fewer people are subscribing to your views. Change is coming and it will not be stopped.

  • dangjin1

    making points– homosexuality is sin and God has spoken about saying sin is good, it is wrong to do so. It is wrong to support sin, and being friends of the world make syou an enemy of God.

    to treat homosexuals in a christian manner does not include telling the homosexuals that their preference is good and normal and that they should be allowed to practice it wherever they want.

    you do not disobey God to help someone out.

    my church– your assumption is off. it wasn’t my church but God and his word.

    don’t care– that is your choice but don’t get angry with me because you decide to disobey God to help someone.

    homosexuals have no right to marriage or children. anyone helping them gain access to those things is wrong.

  • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

    every nation is a sin-filled civilization America is as bad as NK.

    It’s funny you’d say that when just a minute before you were telling me to go to North Korea if I wanted to see what’s REALLY unfair.

    You know what? If America is as bad as NK, I suggest you go over there.

  • dangjin1

    off the mark now i see.

  • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

    All I’m sayin’ is America is better than North Korea. If you don’t think so, then why do you still live here? There are gay people here!

  • dangjin1

    you are chasing an example for no reason except to avoid dealing with the issues raised

  • dangjin1

    I thought I had answered this but I guess I didn’t.
    America–every nation is a sin-filled civilization America is as bad as NK.

    Freedom–people do not have freedom to sin or to call that sin good.

    Cavity–God did.

    homosexuals–selfishness and spoiledness is a sin. nothing of God is found in homosexuality

    Uganda–no one said you were but the point went right over your head

    laws– your double standard is showing as you refuse to reel in that group for violating the irghts of others,usurping the democratic process and for forcing their views on everyone else and for refusing to obey the laws and not taking ‘no’ for an answer.

    raped and murdered–they are wrong. they practice sin. and they will be victims just like everyone else, they are not special people.

    Uganda2–do you think uganda is void of any christians who says your ideas are greater or better than the ugandan way?

    homosexuality is sin and wrong yo should not be supporting it. I happen to agree with the Russian law because homosexuals lie to vulnerable children and teen agers about their sexuality for nefarious reasons. it is a choice not something they are born with

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Is there no one reading or writing this blog who fears God more than men?

    I will leave you to yourselves.

  • Steven Waling

    You fear a God of love? Poor you. I suggest you meet Jesus immediately.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    The context is “can secular government make people equal under the law”. Doing such, doesn’t violate Christian teachings even if you side on conservative interpretations. Since we have the separation of church and state, there’s no reason why the government can’t make people equal under the eyes of the law. Christian traditions are still free to maintain their traditions.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Tell that to the Christian baker in Denver who was ordered by a judge to bake a cake for homosexual wedding. Tell it also to the older couple who, owning a bed and breakfast, were sanctioned by the UK courts for not letting a room to a homosexual couple when the hotel’s longstanding rule had been not to let single room to any unmarried couple.

    That said, the goal here is not to prevent persecution against Christians, “for indeed all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” The goal is to hold up a standard for righteousness on behalf of the Lord Jesus who died to save us from our sins. That Christians have not taken marriage seriously enough and have resorted to divorce all too easily is a reason to repent before God, stop divorcing, and stop indulging our lusts – not a reason to turn to those who defy God’s standard for marriage and bless their lusts.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    (a) If you could cite a case where a church was forced by the government to perform a same sex wedding, you’d have a case. The bakery, however, is not.

    We have the separation of church and state. When you own a public business, you can’t discriminate against the public. Furthermore, this baker was highly inconsistent in the application of their beliefs, I’m sure. Having been to over 300 weddings in my day as a photographer, I can tell you there’s a lot of drunkenness, often weddings where people are unequally yolked, etc. To pick one issue that a baker is unwilling to bake for, is hypocritical. I started photographing same sex weddings before I even became a supporter of secular gay marriage, because I realized that if I applied my beliefs consistently, I would turn down almost EVERY wedding, since almost every wedding had some aspect that didn’t jive with my beliefs.

    Furthermore, baking a cake doesn’t make one endorse the people their baking it for. Remember, Jesus is the guy who said “if the Roman soldiers ask you to carry their shield for a mile, don’t just carry it, but carry it for two miles”. Certainly, these people weren’t endorsing the Roman occupation, but rather showing love to their enemies. If Jesus were here now, I’m quite sure he’d say something like “If a gay couple asks you to bake a cake for their wedding, don’t just bake it, but bake two of them.”

    This isn’t an issue of persecution. Anti-Christian persecution is practically non-existent in America, and to claim otherwise, makes light of the real anti-Christian persecution faced by so many believers around the world.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    I think you’re being callous toward the baker’s conscience, and with no corresponding benefit to the same-sex couple.

    Sure, there’s practically no persecution in the US comparable to losing one’s life. Nevertheless, to be deprived of one’s livelihood is no small thing. Further, you are equating things that don’t equate. When a baker or photographer books a wedding, he knows it’s possible that someone may get drunk – but it’s just a possibility. And it’s not necessarily the couple or family who’s engaging him who might get drunk. The point is not that something might take place at the wedding which conflicts with the baker’s or photographer’s faith, but that in the case of “same-sex marriage” the baker or photographer is being asked to support the celebration of something he believes deeply ought to be mourned. There is no possibility that the ceremony will “go well” from his point of view.

    How does it benefit the same-sex couple to have a baker who doesn’t share their joy? And are there no other bakers in town who would not want the business?

    I presume that the baker has been selling all sorts of goods to folks without asking their sexual inclinations or current moral standing. A same-sex wedding, however, is entirely different. The baker is not raising the issue – the customer is. And the customer in this case is asking the baker to do something that leaves him conscience-stricken.

    You either don’t believe homosexuality is a sin, or you don’t believe sin has negative consequences. However, if the baker believes, as I do, that homosexuality is a sin and that sin has negative consequences, then he will be guilty of helping the couple bring evil on themselves by celebrating their sin if he agrees to be a party to their ceremony.

    You are abusing Jesus’ exhortation to walk the extra mile, for by that same logic Todd Beamer and the others sinned by not offering to help two planes fly into the Pentagon.

    Again, however, I am not arguing for the prevention of persecution against “those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus,” for that would be like arguing that the law of gravity be reversed. What I am arguing for is the honor of the name of Christ and the well-being of those who are unwittingly in the process of destroying themselves and society by defying God’s idea of marriage. You and I are having this discussion because we live in a democracy and as citizens each of us has a responsibility to speak and vote for what we think best for the country.

    Regardless of what the country does, however, God’s law will still be God’s law. We who love God should first of all seek to obey that law. Whether unbelievers obey it is up to them. Your original point about Christians desecrating marriage with divorce is the point for which we should indeed mourn. I am quite sure that it is because we Christians have not regarded marriage as truly sacred that the surrounding culture has descended into such a morass of sexual indulgence. I am equally sure that repentance from hypocrisy is not achieved by lowering the standard for all.

  • http://www.countryphase.com RJ

    Mike, at the same time, you’re just citing individual, minor examples. If your attitude is taken to an extreme, however, we have outright discrimination forming in public businesses that can cause a great deal of hardship or even harm to same-gender couples.

    Say, for example, you have a rural doctor who owns a private practice, suddenly deciding not to provide pre-natal care to a pregnant woman who is in a same-gender relationship, resulting in the loss of a child.

    Perhaps you have a private grocer in a rural area who hangs up a “no gays allowed” because he believes providing sales to a gay couple in his establishment violates his religious convictions. Suddenly, they are without a steady food source.

    A B&B owner could also make a reservation and, upon a late night check in, reject a gay couple sending them out into the night with no place to stay in the winter.

    These, while taken to the extreme, are examples of a mindset you find perfectly acceptable, which are not in a civilized society.

    Recall the original intent of what many reduce to be the “separation of church and state”. It wasn’t so much the freedom of religion that was in question. It was also the freedom FROM religion.

    After reading your entire post and your diving into “God’s law”, I might cite two examples that, if interpreted in the right way, would point to the errors of your ways. The first is to give unto Caesar that which is Caesars. Sure. You might claim that it exclusively refers to taxes, but it could also easily refer to following the laws of the land. In this case, we’re pointing to anti-discrimination laws in public accommodations and services.

    The second is when Jesus instructed his disciples to go out into the world to spread his teachings. He said to rejoice with those who received them, but to those who rejected them – shake the dust off their feet and move on, never to return again (paraphrasing).

    It’s 2014 in the United States of America. EVERYONE has heard what Christians believe quite literally thousands and thousands of times. Why, then, are your feet so very dirty?

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    I shook the dust off my feet and walked away above when I wrote:

    “Is there no one reading or writing this blog who fears God more than men? I will leave you to yourselves.”

    I only re-entered the discussion when Benjamin responded to my statement with what I regarded to be a good faith effort at understanding. I felt he deserved a response from me.

    As for you, your examples of wrongdoing that would emanate from my mindset are all contrived and very much at odds with reality. A baker with a shop sells goods to whoever walks in the door without qualitying customers with questions about sexuality. A baker who is asked to bake a wedding cake, however, is being forced into being a party to celebrating something which his conscience tells him is wrong in the sight of God. If you’re unwilling to see the striking difference in these two cases, nothing I can say will make you.

    Therefore, I once again shake the dust off my feet and leave this blog to you and others.

    Benjamin, if you wish to engage me further, you’ll have to do it on my blog rather than this one. I think you’re a sincere man, but you are equivocating on the essential issue. Either homosexuality is a sin or it isn’t, and either sin has consequences or it doesn’t. I don’t expect unbelievers to walk according to the law of God, but I’m not showing them compassion if I encourage them to do what I know will be harmful to them.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    I’ve seen the blog. And, if you reject the basic orthodoxy of trinitarian theology, I’m not sure why we’d get caught up in a debate over what is, at best, a secondary issue. Seems like instead of spending time in these secondary areas it might be good to have a return to the basics.

  • ChrisDC

    As a gay man and a Christian (Methodist, to be precise, although I spent my time as a Southern Baptist) I disagree with you on whether homosexuality is a sin. I know you likely won’t find it persuasive, but I realized that my own church’s position on the issue was flawed because it was incomplete. They were great at condemning sex, but never once did they talk about love. That’s what caused my personal crisis of faith — not that I’m attracted to men, and not at all attracted to women, but that I can’t fall in love with a woman (I’ve tried) while I couldn’t help falling in love with a guy. (And, by the way, he’s straight. Nothing sexual ever happened — I never even made a pass at him. It would have been disrespectful. Which was good because it means we’re still best friends 37 years later.)

    As I said, I don’t expect that to change your mind, but I’d ask you to be cognizant of what you’re asking gays and lesbians to give up. It’s not just sex. And the effectiveness of your message is harmed when you don’t acknowledge the difficulty of what you’re asking.

    On the other topic, I’m a lawyer and have been an LGBT rights advocate for many years. There is no federal law prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, but there are some state laws and they, like the states, are all over the map.

    I have, unfortunately unsuccessfully, argued that those statutes should have a creative arts exemption. I see it as a First Amendment issue, too, but to me it’s a question of compelled, rather than free, speech. Not, principally, one of religious liberty. The civil courts might hold a newspaper accountable for deliberately misreporting facts, but they’d never force a newspaper editorial board to adopt a particular editorial position on its opinion pages.

    When you drew that distinction between a baker selling a cake to a customer vs. creating a cake for a customer’s wedding, I realized that we’ve actually got a point of agreement there.

    You approach it from the religious liberty angle. I approach it from the free speech angle. And, beyond either of those principles, there’s a practicality angle, as well:

    A baker, or a wedding photographer, or a dress maker, quite honestly, isn’t going to do a good job if their hearts aren’t in it, anyway. So why pick a fight about it, especially if it risks damaging someone’s freedom of expression?

    My point is that, when two different and sometimes conflicting constitutional legal principles AND practical reality all converge on the same public policy result, albeit from different directions, that’s worth noting.

    So, I noted it. I’m not going to be adopting your religious liberty argument because I don’t agree that it applies to private enterprises engaged in commerce. But if you find my compelled speech argument helpful, feel free to lift it and use it. It’s all in a good cause.

    All the best and (I shouldn’t have to tell you that I’m not being at all sarcastic, but the tone of discussion around here sometimes makes that necessary), God Bless.

  • Maven Cree

    Need a Tumbr link.

  • cotton

    You know what?

    Just by changing your thinking and admitting it, there’s really no need for an apology. ^_^
    Thank you for showing me that people can change

  • Bruce Brown

    Thank you Mr. Corey. We accept.

  • Tony Roberts

    You are an incredibly brave man and I take my hat off to you. I wish more people could have the same paradigm shift in their thinking. As a gay man, and a minister, I am often saddened by the closed mindedness of some of those people who call themselves Christian. Somewhere in the last 2,000 years we have lost our Saviors most basic message. It’s an easy message, something that everyone can remember and should remember, but have found it convenient to forget. 3 simple words; LOVE EACH OTHER. Can’t get much simpler than that. I don’t see anyway that a person could mis-interpret that message. Kudos to you. You have a new fan!

  • olivia

    I am glad you chose to define what is right by your experience and not the word of God. Just because one argument failed your experience test does not invalidate the premise, that same sex marriage is sin just as you and I are sinners. Notice I said all of us have sinned one way or another. A same argument could be – someone leading a promiscuous life ends up marrying a person of their dreams and lives happily ever after….has he or she sinned? Yes but only redeemed by the grace of God.