Allowing gay marriage by not allowing it

The high court in the Presbyterian Church (USA) ruled that a pastor who performed a same-sex marriage cannot be censured, BECAUSE the church does not recognize same-sex marriage. Get a load of this reasoning:

The order issued Tuesday said, “The ceremonies that are the subject of this case were not marriages as the term is defined (by the Book of Order). These were ceremonies between women, not between a man and a woman. … It is not improper for ministers of the Word and Sacrament to perform same sex ceremonies.”

The church’s Book of Order says, “Marriage is a civil contract between a man and a woman,” and does not prohibit blessings of same-sex couples that are not determined to be marriages.

The high court said in the ruling that the lower court had erred by finding Spahr guilty “of that which by definition cannot be done. One cannot characterize same sex ceremonies as marriages for the purpose of disciplining a minister of the Word and Sacrament and at the same time declare that such ceremonies are not marriages for legal or ecclesiastical purposes.”

The church defines marriage as between a man and a woman. A minister marries two women. But the minister cannot be sanctioned because, according to church teaching, gay marriage is impossible. So the minister could not have conducted such a thing.

Thus, the teaching AGAINST gay marriage provides a mechanism for allowing it.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Joe

    Wow. That is the very circular “logic.” I would not want to have to try that line of reasoning out when standing before the judgment throne.

  • Joe

    Wow. That is the very circular “logic.” I would not want to have to try that line of reasoning out when standing before the judgment throne.

  • PeteS

    “But mom, you said that I couldn’t throw the ball in the house! You never said I couldn’t bounce it!” (Or substitute with your own memory of word-twisting excuses.)

    “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”

  • PeteS

    “But mom, you said that I couldn’t throw the ball in the house! You never said I couldn’t bounce it!” (Or substitute with your own memory of word-twisting excuses.)

    “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Funny how we find a way of having things our way.
    It boils down to rules (and liberals think conservatives and confessionals are legalistic! Ironic!) and language, and the subversion of both.
    Twister, anyone? Cyclone or board game, this is Twister.
    This is a religion of law, as deeply legalistic as any cult has ever been. Grace is irrelevant; law is everything.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Funny how we find a way of having things our way.
    It boils down to rules (and liberals think conservatives and confessionals are legalistic! Ironic!) and language, and the subversion of both.
    Twister, anyone? Cyclone or board game, this is Twister.
    This is a religion of law, as deeply legalistic as any cult has ever been. Grace is irrelevant; law is everything.

  • Bror Erickson

    The problem with man made laws? There is always a loophole…

  • Bror Erickson

    The problem with man made laws? There is always a loophole…

  • Kyralessa

    I sort of understand their reasoning after reading the full article. Their concern, I guess, is that by censuring her, they’ll be regarding those same-sex ceremonies as legitimate marriage ceremonies. The focus isn’t on “we can’t censure her” as much as it is on “those weren’t real marriages”.

    It’s still a weird piece of legal reasoning, though.

  • Kyralessa

    I sort of understand their reasoning after reading the full article. Their concern, I guess, is that by censuring her, they’ll be regarding those same-sex ceremonies as legitimate marriage ceremonies. The focus isn’t on “we can’t censure her” as much as it is on “those weren’t real marriages”.

    It’s still a weird piece of legal reasoning, though.

  • Joe

    There is no reason they could not have said both: those are not real marriages and you rostered clergy have abused your position and have been unfaithful the revelation of God by promoting these ceremonies that give the impression of a marriage. A Sheppard is supposed to lead the sheep through perils not into them.

  • Joe

    There is no reason they could not have said both: those are not real marriages and you rostered clergy have abused your position and have been unfaithful the revelation of God by promoting these ceremonies that give the impression of a marriage. A Sheppard is supposed to lead the sheep through perils not into them.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    God works in strange patient ways.

    Marriage equality is already normative in the UCC and in Reformed Judaism. Conservative Judaism doesn’t disallow same-sex ceremonies. The decision is left to individual congregations. The Episcopal church has an openly gay bishop who is married to his partner. In time, many more Christian communities will soften their hearts, realize their sin, and bless these ceremonies. We’re bearing witness to it now.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    God works in strange patient ways.

    Marriage equality is already normative in the UCC and in Reformed Judaism. Conservative Judaism doesn’t disallow same-sex ceremonies. The decision is left to individual congregations. The Episcopal church has an openly gay bishop who is married to his partner. In time, many more Christian communities will soften their hearts, realize their sin, and bless these ceremonies. We’re bearing witness to it now.

  • fw

    #7 Jonathan

    I can speak to this as a gay man.

    I see both christian gay men and women and those christians opposed to “gay marriage” either in the church or society as talking often past one another.

    I notice that you use the term “marriage equality” that is usually used to advocate civil equality. I doubt that the use of this term in a religious context really adds clarity to this discussion.

    On the other hand……I think that many christians honestly regard the sodom and gomorrah story and romans chapter one as describing the character and nature of homosexuality.

    This view leads to very wierd and psychotic ( defined as believing unreality to be reality despite clear evidence to the contrary) views on homosexuality and how to deal with it. As long as this very educationally ignorant and unscriptural view predominates, there can be no real or meaningful discussion in churches on this topic.

    This anti-scriptural, recent, and revisionist view usually means there is a different law and gospel for gays than there is for heterosexuals.

    This is so very unfortunate for the cause of the Holy Gospel.

  • fw

    #7 Jonathan

    I can speak to this as a gay man.

    I see both christian gay men and women and those christians opposed to “gay marriage” either in the church or society as talking often past one another.

    I notice that you use the term “marriage equality” that is usually used to advocate civil equality. I doubt that the use of this term in a religious context really adds clarity to this discussion.

    On the other hand……I think that many christians honestly regard the sodom and gomorrah story and romans chapter one as describing the character and nature of homosexuality.

    This view leads to very wierd and psychotic ( defined as believing unreality to be reality despite clear evidence to the contrary) views on homosexuality and how to deal with it. As long as this very educationally ignorant and unscriptural view predominates, there can be no real or meaningful discussion in churches on this topic.

    This anti-scriptural, recent, and revisionist view usually means there is a different law and gospel for gays than there is for heterosexuals.

    This is so very unfortunate for the cause of the Holy Gospel.

  • The Jones

    At first, I thought this was a state supreme court, and I was actually starting to agree with things in there. After all, of course the state doesn’t recognize them, and it’s not going to go after some nut-cases in an individual congregation.
    Then I realized that this was actually the church. I couldn’t stop laughing. This is so ridiculous, I don’t even have words. If it weren’t so serious for the Presbyterian Church, this would be wildly entertaining for me.

  • The Jones

    At first, I thought this was a state supreme court, and I was actually starting to agree with things in there. After all, of course the state doesn’t recognize them, and it’s not going to go after some nut-cases in an individual congregation.
    Then I realized that this was actually the church. I couldn’t stop laughing. This is so ridiculous, I don’t even have words. If it weren’t so serious for the Presbyterian Church, this would be wildly entertaining for me.

  • Kyralessa

    Jonathan,

    “Marriage equality” already existed. Everyone has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex. (Laws against “miscegenation”, which violated this, are no longer on the books.)

    What no one in any nation has ever had the right to do, throughout all of human history, until the last couple of years in America, is marry a person of the same sex.

  • Kyralessa

    Jonathan,

    “Marriage equality” already existed. Everyone has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex. (Laws against “miscegenation”, which violated this, are no longer on the books.)

    What no one in any nation has ever had the right to do, throughout all of human history, until the last couple of years in America, is marry a person of the same sex.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    Kyralessa,

    At today’s Pentecost service, our pastor, Don Prange explained the meaning of the “hearing” in Acts 2 (translation Prange):

    “What’s going on here? Surely all these speakers are from Galilee, so how is it possible that every single one of us can hear them speaking in the languages we have all known from childhood? We’ve come from every known country there is, and yet we can hear these people speaking of the mighty actions of God in our native languages.”

    fw warned that the term “marriage equality” would not add clarity in a religious context (that the audience on this blog would not “hear”) and he may have been right. At least he was right as far as I am able to interpret your comment.

    My use of the term “marriage equality” has a double meaning:

    1. Inter-family equality – Equality of *all* married partners. All marriages between competent consenting adults are treated equally under civil law regardless of the sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity of the spouses.

    2. Intra-family equality – equality between spouses within a marriage. Both spouses are equal. The relationship is an equal partnership. Neither partner has authority over the other.

    The second definition is more important theologically because with same-sex marriage, there is no externally obvious authority figure. This fact is at the center of the debate as to whether same-sex marriage is a “threat” or “savior” to the institution of marriage. The Presbyterian Church (USA) appears to have “winked-in” the idea of intra-spousal equality in a rather clever act of “judicial activism”. “The act” – the pastor performing a same-sex commitment ceremony – was not a marriage in the traditional (patriarchal) sense, but it was a blessed commitment ceremony conducted in the spirit of listening to and hearing God as he informs us of what is to be done as we struggle to live our lives “in Christ”.

    Intra-spousal equality is surely a question among some/many Patrick Henry College co-eds. After 4 years of elite education and leadership in the world at large, are they to be subject to the authority of their husbands or will they find the knowledge and fortitude to teach (Mark 7:24-30) their male fellow-students, future spouses, and the larger society, the inspired message of equality?

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    Kyralessa,

    At today’s Pentecost service, our pastor, Don Prange explained the meaning of the “hearing” in Acts 2 (translation Prange):

    “What’s going on here? Surely all these speakers are from Galilee, so how is it possible that every single one of us can hear them speaking in the languages we have all known from childhood? We’ve come from every known country there is, and yet we can hear these people speaking of the mighty actions of God in our native languages.”

    fw warned that the term “marriage equality” would not add clarity in a religious context (that the audience on this blog would not “hear”) and he may have been right. At least he was right as far as I am able to interpret your comment.

    My use of the term “marriage equality” has a double meaning:

    1. Inter-family equality – Equality of *all* married partners. All marriages between competent consenting adults are treated equally under civil law regardless of the sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity of the spouses.

    2. Intra-family equality – equality between spouses within a marriage. Both spouses are equal. The relationship is an equal partnership. Neither partner has authority over the other.

    The second definition is more important theologically because with same-sex marriage, there is no externally obvious authority figure. This fact is at the center of the debate as to whether same-sex marriage is a “threat” or “savior” to the institution of marriage. The Presbyterian Church (USA) appears to have “winked-in” the idea of intra-spousal equality in a rather clever act of “judicial activism”. “The act” – the pastor performing a same-sex commitment ceremony – was not a marriage in the traditional (patriarchal) sense, but it was a blessed commitment ceremony conducted in the spirit of listening to and hearing God as he informs us of what is to be done as we struggle to live our lives “in Christ”.

    Intra-spousal equality is surely a question among some/many Patrick Henry College co-eds. After 4 years of elite education and leadership in the world at large, are they to be subject to the authority of their husbands or will they find the knowledge and fortitude to teach (Mark 7:24-30) their male fellow-students, future spouses, and the larger society, the inspired message of equality?

  • Joe

    Jonathan, I am curious how you reckon that Christian Communities that do not sanction homosexual behavior (and I mean to purposefully draw a distinction between the behavior and the person) are sinning as you state @ 7 above.

    We have very clear scriptural support for the proposition that engaging in homosexual behavior is sinful. Among the list is Paul’s labeling of homosexual behavior as “sinful desires” in Roman’s Chapter 1. So I would like to understand how your reason that not sanctioning a persons acting out a “sinful desire” is itself a sin?

    Do we also sin but not sanctioning sex outside the bounds of marriage (one man/one woman)? If I wanted to have my pastor bless my (hypothetical) sexual union with a woman who is no my wife; would the church be sinning if it refused?

  • Joe

    Jonathan, I am curious how you reckon that Christian Communities that do not sanction homosexual behavior (and I mean to purposefully draw a distinction between the behavior and the person) are sinning as you state @ 7 above.

    We have very clear scriptural support for the proposition that engaging in homosexual behavior is sinful. Among the list is Paul’s labeling of homosexual behavior as “sinful desires” in Roman’s Chapter 1. So I would like to understand how your reason that not sanctioning a persons acting out a “sinful desire” is itself a sin?

    Do we also sin but not sanctioning sex outside the bounds of marriage (one man/one woman)? If I wanted to have my pastor bless my (hypothetical) sexual union with a woman who is no my wife; would the church be sinning if it refused?

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I’m thinking you’re thinking more liberation theology than cross theology, Jonathan.
    The only equality I can recall from scripture is that we are equally sinners, in need of a savior, and not a facillatator of equal rights.
    Thank God that deed is done. I’m justified because He died, and I nor anyone else stand in any need of any further justification. To find and then to attempt to bring about such a thing is to operate not only outside of scripture, but against it.
    No additional rights need be fulfilled nor justice be done, for the church to fulfill it’s mission.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I’m thinking you’re thinking more liberation theology than cross theology, Jonathan.
    The only equality I can recall from scripture is that we are equally sinners, in need of a savior, and not a facillatator of equal rights.
    Thank God that deed is done. I’m justified because He died, and I nor anyone else stand in any need of any further justification. To find and then to attempt to bring about such a thing is to operate not only outside of scripture, but against it.
    No additional rights need be fulfilled nor justice be done, for the church to fulfill it’s mission.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    Joe,

    In an earlier post, Dr. Veith mentioned that this blog has been blocked by at least one content filter. Let’s try to keep the discussion “G” rated? Please spend some time reading the Equality Loudoun blog. You’ll see what we stand for – it’s much broader than sexual behavior. If you do find time to read the blog, you’ll read about the sinful behavior of the anti-gay industry – including the PHC administration, and you’ll also see that we take marriage very seriously – it’s not an “I can do anything I want to do” approach.

    If you were here last spring, Soul Force visited PHC to challenge the institution to discuss faith and sexuality. Soul Force is much more schooled in the teachings of Scripture than I, and I don’t think it would be productive to play dueling Bibles with you. Let’s just say – and this segue’s into Susan aka organshoes’ question – that we come from different faith traditions – mine inspired by the UCC’s slogan “God is still speaking”.

    And if God is still speaking, how do we discern His truth from false teachings? C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity explains that we rely on “natural law”, the universal law that binds our conscience to the Will of the Holy Spirit. Many, many people of faith, and many, many institutions have struggled and meditated and prayed over this issue. They’ve revisited Bible verses, studied the historical and Scriptural context of those verses, and examined the lifestyles of GLBT people in modern society. The conclusion of open-and-affirming “conservative” faith communities (not anti-establishment GLBT radicals) is that it is good to affirm life-long committed covenant relationships to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender expression.

    Matthew 5:28 says, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    That’s what we are talking about, covenant relationships that are rooted in the heart.

    Susan aka organshoes,

    We do come from different theological schools. I hope that doesn’t cause us to reach different conclusions about what each of us needs to do to live a moral life. I don’t understand your statement:

    “I’m justified because He died, and I nor anyone else stand in any need of any further justification.”

    C. S. Lewis approached this question when he described eternity. A simple unthoughtful sin may seem inconsequential in this short life, but in eternity, it is magnified. It festers forever and grows. He describes morality as a constant struggle to do what is right, and that includes discernment. We don’t know all the answers, and we don’t know the true meaning and application of scripture. To claim otherwise is nothing short of prideful idolatry.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    Joe,

    In an earlier post, Dr. Veith mentioned that this blog has been blocked by at least one content filter. Let’s try to keep the discussion “G” rated? Please spend some time reading the Equality Loudoun blog. You’ll see what we stand for – it’s much broader than sexual behavior. If you do find time to read the blog, you’ll read about the sinful behavior of the anti-gay industry – including the PHC administration, and you’ll also see that we take marriage very seriously – it’s not an “I can do anything I want to do” approach.

    If you were here last spring, Soul Force visited PHC to challenge the institution to discuss faith and sexuality. Soul Force is much more schooled in the teachings of Scripture than I, and I don’t think it would be productive to play dueling Bibles with you. Let’s just say – and this segue’s into Susan aka organshoes’ question – that we come from different faith traditions – mine inspired by the UCC’s slogan “God is still speaking”.

    And if God is still speaking, how do we discern His truth from false teachings? C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity explains that we rely on “natural law”, the universal law that binds our conscience to the Will of the Holy Spirit. Many, many people of faith, and many, many institutions have struggled and meditated and prayed over this issue. They’ve revisited Bible verses, studied the historical and Scriptural context of those verses, and examined the lifestyles of GLBT people in modern society. The conclusion of open-and-affirming “conservative” faith communities (not anti-establishment GLBT radicals) is that it is good to affirm life-long committed covenant relationships to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender expression.

    Matthew 5:28 says, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    That’s what we are talking about, covenant relationships that are rooted in the heart.

    Susan aka organshoes,

    We do come from different theological schools. I hope that doesn’t cause us to reach different conclusions about what each of us needs to do to live a moral life. I don’t understand your statement:

    “I’m justified because He died, and I nor anyone else stand in any need of any further justification.”

    C. S. Lewis approached this question when he described eternity. A simple unthoughtful sin may seem inconsequential in this short life, but in eternity, it is magnified. It festers forever and grows. He describes morality as a constant struggle to do what is right, and that includes discernment. We don’t know all the answers, and we don’t know the true meaning and application of scripture. To claim otherwise is nothing short of prideful idolatry.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Jonathan: Re your last two sentences:
    As arrogant and idolatrous as it may sound, the Lutheran view is that we have the answer, which we did not make up, invent, or loosely interpret, and we offer it as freely as it has been offered to us:
    That we are sinful, that Christ alone saves us from our sins, that we’re not free to muddy the clear word of scripture, that we only compound our own sins and send others into sin by doing so.
    God does not still speak apart from what He’s already spoken. Nothing has changed since the last day in Eden, when Adam and Eve presumed to know better what God meant to say.
    We do well not to amend His Word as if it were a piece of legislation or an idea in need of fleshing out, or a series of sentences in need of more modifiers.
    To claim otherwise is nothing short of…well, you know the rest of your misapplied sentence.
    I believe even C.S. Lewis would agree. I also believe he wouldn’t be too thrilled at having his thoughtful and incisive (but hardly comprehensive) apologetics used to encourage behavior in clear conflict with scripture.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Jonathan: Re your last two sentences:
    As arrogant and idolatrous as it may sound, the Lutheran view is that we have the answer, which we did not make up, invent, or loosely interpret, and we offer it as freely as it has been offered to us:
    That we are sinful, that Christ alone saves us from our sins, that we’re not free to muddy the clear word of scripture, that we only compound our own sins and send others into sin by doing so.
    God does not still speak apart from what He’s already spoken. Nothing has changed since the last day in Eden, when Adam and Eve presumed to know better what God meant to say.
    We do well not to amend His Word as if it were a piece of legislation or an idea in need of fleshing out, or a series of sentences in need of more modifiers.
    To claim otherwise is nothing short of…well, you know the rest of your misapplied sentence.
    I believe even C.S. Lewis would agree. I also believe he wouldn’t be too thrilled at having his thoughtful and incisive (but hardly comprehensive) apologetics used to encourage behavior in clear conflict with scripture.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org David

    Susan:

    What you call “muddy[ing] the clear word of scripture,” others call discernment. To insist that your, and only your, interpretation and application are correct is nothing short of claiming to know the mind of God. The same is true of me and of anyone else. There really is nothing you can say in response to this that doesn’t simply repeat the same error.

    We are all in the same boat here, like it or not. Until we meet God face to face, we do not have the answer, only our own understandings of scripture.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org David

    Susan:

    What you call “muddy[ing] the clear word of scripture,” others call discernment. To insist that your, and only your, interpretation and application are correct is nothing short of claiming to know the mind of God. The same is true of me and of anyone else. There really is nothing you can say in response to this that doesn’t simply repeat the same error.

    We are all in the same boat here, like it or not. Until we meet God face to face, we do not have the answer, only our own understandings of scripture.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    But we do know the mind of God, David, and it is Christ.
    We know it thru His Word, which is what the church gathers around; not further discernment beyond what His Word says.
    Yes, we use discernment, but not in the way you do. Not as a means of reinterpreting what’s already clear, in order to allow what is not allowed.
    As I said to Jonathan, I am not insisting on my own ideas or inventing an interpretation that suits myself or my worldview or serves my desires or opinions. My desire, left to itself, would be to have God bless all of my differences of opinion with Him, particularly as to whom I should love, what vices I should forsake (or even see as vices), and who deserves my forgiveness. My God, if I could convince Him, would sanction my not forgiving a slight or an insult, would back me up in my grudge-matches, would conceal me from the IRS, and would bless me when I wring my hands over my sins but do not forsake them. He’d bless my self-pity and my self-righteousness, and hold me out as a paragon of Christian virtue, for my intentions alone.
    Alas, God comes to me as He is and remains unconvinced that I, a poor miserable sinner, have any wisdom above His, or anything to offer better than what He’s offered to me. And to you.
    Thank God He sent His Son, to reveal His Father’s mind to me, not through my thoughts on Him, but through His Word. That which I do not yet know or understand will either be revealed to me in His presence in heaven, or remain irrelevant to my relationship with Him.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    But we do know the mind of God, David, and it is Christ.
    We know it thru His Word, which is what the church gathers around; not further discernment beyond what His Word says.
    Yes, we use discernment, but not in the way you do. Not as a means of reinterpreting what’s already clear, in order to allow what is not allowed.
    As I said to Jonathan, I am not insisting on my own ideas or inventing an interpretation that suits myself or my worldview or serves my desires or opinions. My desire, left to itself, would be to have God bless all of my differences of opinion with Him, particularly as to whom I should love, what vices I should forsake (or even see as vices), and who deserves my forgiveness. My God, if I could convince Him, would sanction my not forgiving a slight or an insult, would back me up in my grudge-matches, would conceal me from the IRS, and would bless me when I wring my hands over my sins but do not forsake them. He’d bless my self-pity and my self-righteousness, and hold me out as a paragon of Christian virtue, for my intentions alone.
    Alas, God comes to me as He is and remains unconvinced that I, a poor miserable sinner, have any wisdom above His, or anything to offer better than what He’s offered to me. And to you.
    Thank God He sent His Son, to reveal His Father’s mind to me, not through my thoughts on Him, but through His Word. That which I do not yet know or understand will either be revealed to me in His presence in heaven, or remain irrelevant to my relationship with Him.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    David (@16), you said “What you call ‘muddy[ing] the clear word of scripture,’ others call discernment.” But discernment doesn’t lead to confusion and a lack of certainty! (Although you seem to be claiming it does.)

    It’s not arrogant to claim to know God’s will if he has told us his will, as Susan also pointed out (@17).

    I mean, would it be arrogant for you to claim to understand elementary chemistry after reading an elementary chemistry textbook? If I were your chemistry teacher and I asked you what you understood about basic chemistry and you replied that, “No one really has the answer about chemistry — it’s up to each of us to do his best to decide what chemistry means,” I would not be impressed. And I certainly wouldn’t think that you’d used discernment in reading your textbook. I’d wonder if you’d even read much of it at all.

    Susan (@17), it turns out that we have very similar false gods. Except that my false god thinks I’m holier and better than you. :) Thankfully, there is the true God to disabuse us of and forgive us of these notions.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    David (@16), you said “What you call ‘muddy[ing] the clear word of scripture,’ others call discernment.” But discernment doesn’t lead to confusion and a lack of certainty! (Although you seem to be claiming it does.)

    It’s not arrogant to claim to know God’s will if he has told us his will, as Susan also pointed out (@17).

    I mean, would it be arrogant for you to claim to understand elementary chemistry after reading an elementary chemistry textbook? If I were your chemistry teacher and I asked you what you understood about basic chemistry and you replied that, “No one really has the answer about chemistry — it’s up to each of us to do his best to decide what chemistry means,” I would not be impressed. And I certainly wouldn’t think that you’d used discernment in reading your textbook. I’d wonder if you’d even read much of it at all.

    Susan (@17), it turns out that we have very similar false gods. Except that my false god thinks I’m holier and better than you. :) Thankfully, there is the true God to disabuse us of and forgive us of these notions.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Imagine, Brother tODD.
    One minute we’re at each other’s throats, the next you’ve got my back.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Imagine, Brother tODD.
    One minute we’re at each other’s throats, the next you’ve got my back.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    Susan,

    Was that sarcasm, or do you seriously see yourself to be “at war”. If sarcasm, you are not behaving Christianly, and if you believe yourself to be at war, you are acting on what you believe to be “the mind of God”. You *are* engaging in “further discernment”.

    Sorry for the short note. I’ll get back to you with a little bit more “red meat”, as Ruth Marcus uses the term in yesterdays op-ed:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/13/AR2008051302302.html?nav=emailpage

    In the mean time, please review C. S. Lewis’ thoughts on secular marriage and Christian charity in “Mere Christianity”. We need to talk about this because it illustrates a difference in discernment of His Word.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    Susan,

    Was that sarcasm, or do you seriously see yourself to be “at war”. If sarcasm, you are not behaving Christianly, and if you believe yourself to be at war, you are acting on what you believe to be “the mind of God”. You *are* engaging in “further discernment”.

    Sorry for the short note. I’ll get back to you with a little bit more “red meat”, as Ruth Marcus uses the term in yesterdays op-ed:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/13/AR2008051302302.html?nav=emailpage

    In the mean time, please review C. S. Lewis’ thoughts on secular marriage and Christian charity in “Mere Christianity”. We need to talk about this because it illustrates a difference in discernment of His Word.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Not sarcasm, Jonathan, but a joke between tODD and myself.
    I never mentioned being at war, so the quotation marks are unnecessary.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Not sarcasm, Jonathan, but a joke between tODD and myself.
    I never mentioned being at war, so the quotation marks are unnecessary.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    Susan,

    What did you think your were conveying with the phrase “you’ve got my back”?

    ============================
    “sarcasm” noun
    witty language used to convey insults or scorn; “he used sarcasm to upset his opponent”; “irony is wasted on the stupid”; “Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own”–Jonathan Swift

    WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    Susan,

    What did you think your were conveying with the phrase “you’ve got my back”?

    ============================
    “sarcasm” noun
    witty language used to convey insults or scorn; “he used sarcasm to upset his opponent”; “irony is wasted on the stupid”; “Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own”–Jonathan Swift

    WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Jonathan, you will either accept what I said or not.
    Otherwise, let’s stick to the point and not use suspicion and veiled accusations as a means of argument.
    I mean, how Christianly is that?

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Jonathan, you will either accept what I said or not.
    Otherwise, let’s stick to the point and not use suspicion and veiled accusations as a means of argument.
    I mean, how Christianly is that?

  • Joe

    Jonathan you still have not answered my initial question (which contained nothing inappropriate by the way). I want to know how it is that a church body is sinning by not sanctioning behavior that the Bible labels as a “sinful desire”? Instead of answering it, you sent me to a blog which I spent some time reading. It did not answer my question either. I want to know how a church sins by not celebrating same-sex unions.

    And now several posts later you are talking about secular marriage. That is not the issue of Dr.Veith’s initial post nor has it been the issue of the comments. Please stick the original topic, which was a church’s position on the celebration of same-sex unions and your assertion that it was sinful for the church to not recognize them.

  • Joe

    Jonathan you still have not answered my initial question (which contained nothing inappropriate by the way). I want to know how it is that a church body is sinning by not sanctioning behavior that the Bible labels as a “sinful desire”? Instead of answering it, you sent me to a blog which I spent some time reading. It did not answer my question either. I want to know how a church sins by not celebrating same-sex unions.

    And now several posts later you are talking about secular marriage. That is not the issue of Dr.Veith’s initial post nor has it been the issue of the comments. Please stick the original topic, which was a church’s position on the celebration of same-sex unions and your assertion that it was sinful for the church to not recognize them.

  • susan aka organshoes

    Which begs this question to be asked:
    Is it sinful to accuse others of sin when it isn’t clear it’s sin, or not merely a position with which you differ?
    Is sin merely a sin (or not) in the eye of the beholder, or isn’t there a way to distinguish that which is sin from that which personally offends?

  • susan aka organshoes

    Which begs this question to be asked:
    Is it sinful to accuse others of sin when it isn’t clear it’s sin, or not merely a position with which you differ?
    Is sin merely a sin (or not) in the eye of the beholder, or isn’t there a way to distinguish that which is sin from that which personally offends?

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    Joe,

    I didn’t answer your question because you put words in my mouth.

    Here is what I said:

    “you’ll read about the sinful behavior of the anti-gay industry – including the PHC administration”

    Here is what you asked:

    “I want to know how it is that a church body is sinning by not sanctioning behavior that the Bible labels as a “sinful desire”?”

    Churches should perform marriages that conform to their rules and traditions. There is nothing wrong with a church refusing to bless same-sex marriages.

    Susan,

    The anti-gay-industry has a long and well documented history of deceit. Our blog documents instances and provides the best and most accurate local focus available. Scripture prohibits “bearing false witness”. There is really no relativism involved in the sins in question.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    Joe,

    I didn’t answer your question because you put words in my mouth.

    Here is what I said:

    “you’ll read about the sinful behavior of the anti-gay industry – including the PHC administration”

    Here is what you asked:

    “I want to know how it is that a church body is sinning by not sanctioning behavior that the Bible labels as a “sinful desire”?”

    Churches should perform marriages that conform to their rules and traditions. There is nothing wrong with a church refusing to bless same-sex marriages.

    Susan,

    The anti-gay-industry has a long and well documented history of deceit. Our blog documents instances and provides the best and most accurate local focus available. Scripture prohibits “bearing false witness”. There is really no relativism involved in the sins in question.

  • Joe

    Jonathan, I agree with your statement that “there is nothing wrong with a church refusing to bless same-sex marriages.” I am glad to here you say it, but it is in complete and utter contradiction to what you said in comment 7:

    “In time, many more Christian communities will soften their hearts, realize their sin, and bless these ceremonies.”

    No words were put in your mouth by anyone but you. Am I to understand that at some point between comment 7 and comment 26 that you changed your mind and decided that it is not a sin for a church to fail to recognize a same-sex marriage? That is fine if you have. I will welcome your change of mind as a good thing, but with you telling us that you have changed your position we are left with nothing but contradictory statements and the inferences that unfortunately might be drawn from them.

  • Joe

    Jonathan, I agree with your statement that “there is nothing wrong with a church refusing to bless same-sex marriages.” I am glad to here you say it, but it is in complete and utter contradiction to what you said in comment 7:

    “In time, many more Christian communities will soften their hearts, realize their sin, and bless these ceremonies.”

    No words were put in your mouth by anyone but you. Am I to understand that at some point between comment 7 and comment 26 that you changed your mind and decided that it is not a sin for a church to fail to recognize a same-sex marriage? That is fine if you have. I will welcome your change of mind as a good thing, but with you telling us that you have changed your position we are left with nothing but contradictory statements and the inferences that unfortunately might be drawn from them.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Jonathan, you sort of changed the subject and now I’m lost.
    I never knew of and certainly don’t work for the anti-gay industry.
    But I would beware of searching the scriptures for that which will satisfy and justify my agenda. You may find it, but not through discernment, and not to your good.
    God is a better judge of what you and I need than either you or I.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Jonathan, you sort of changed the subject and now I’m lost.
    I never knew of and certainly don’t work for the anti-gay industry.
    But I would beware of searching the scriptures for that which will satisfy and justify my agenda. You may find it, but not through discernment, and not to your good.
    God is a better judge of what you and I need than either you or I.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    Dr. Veith,

    It was not the teaching AGAINST same-sex marriage that provided a mechanism to allow it. It was the ruling of the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission in against Rev. Jane Adams Spahr’s censure case. The ruling served two purposes:

    1. It reiterated the definition of marriage “Marriage is a civil contract between a man and a woman”

    and

    2. It passively recognized the worth and dignity of same-sex unions in stating that the Book of Order “does not prohibit blessings of same-sex couples that are not determined to be marriages.”

    Rev. Spahr was not pleased with the outcome:

    “My concern is that they said I do not do marriages,” Spahr said in an interview from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tiburon, Calif. “I did do marriages.”

    It should be rather obvious that Rev. Spahr is a marriage equality activist. She performed marriages in New York and California, two states that are pivotal to the political advancement of marriage equality. The court left Rev. Spahr free to continue her activism and identified the criteria for her to complete her mission. If same-sex commitments are to be marriages, a change to the Book of Order is in order.

    Stakeholders in this epic march towards equality generally fall into two camps:

    1. Scientifically-minded people. These are people who retain a ‘sense of wonder’ over the creation. They are humble in their understanding. They neither know for certain *how* God created, nor how they are to apply His Word in their daily lives. This group understands homosexuality to be a natural variant of human sexuality and they see the injustice in denying the qualitative and quantitative benefits of marriage to same-sex couples.

    2. Unscientifically-minded people. These are people who suppress their ‘sense of wonder’ over the creation. They are proud in their mis-understanding. They are certain that God performs miracles, in violation His own laws of mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology and they have surrendered their discernment over to human authorities. This group sees homosexuality to be a perversion of “God’s design of human sexuality” and they feel that committed same-sex couples are prideful sinners who, by definition can’t be “Christian” and will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

    Susan aka organshoes speaks for the unscientifically-minded – with authority.

    “God does not still speak apart from what He’s already spoken. Nothing has changed since the last day in Eden, when Adam and Eve presumed to know better what God meant to say.”

    We know this to be absolutely wrong. The Bible stories are metaphors. The earth is not at the center of the universe. God did not create Adam from dust, he was born of Eve, who evolved from the Apes. Noah did not collect every single plant and animal species and sustain them for 40 days and 40 nights while a great flood consumed the earth. Science and common sense tell us otherwise. The Bible is not a science text, it is not a sociology and it is not a sexuality text.

    If there is one lesson to learn from the fall, it’s that we can’t presume to know the mind of God. We have to test our understanding against objective reality. Testing is what differentiates the scientifically-minded humble Christian from the unscientifically-minded proud anti-Christian. Scientifically-minded people are willing to test all the data against their theories. Anti-scientifically-minded censor the data. They filter out information that doesn’t match their world view; data that contradicts their limited understanding of “His Word”.

    This anti-science world view sin is the sin that I identified in comment #7 and elaborated in comment #26. It is the same sin. It’s the original sin of believing that one *knows* the difference between good and evil. That’s what the Anti-Gay-Industry does. It presupposes that openly GLBT people can’t possibly be “good”. They must be “evil”. The AGI works very hard to censor the personal stories of millions of GLBT people. In their stead and against all the evidence to the contrary, the AGI presents a handful of ex-gay con-artists who share one homogeneous manufactured story which reads: “I was gay. I consumed lots of drugs and had lot’s of sex until I hit bottom. Then I found Jesus and became a heterosexual. Now I’ve come to you to testify that homosexuality is evil and heterosexuality is good.”

    Anti-gay pride is the sin. Acceptance of GLBT people into the religious community is a sign or repentance and healing. Please don’t misunderstand. This is not a black-and-white zero-sum game. There are religious communities that will never accept GLBT people and that’s ok so long as they don’t commit spiritual violence against GLBT people by forcing them to “change” their orientation. There are also political communities who claim to be religious communities. These political organizations are active members of the AGI. Their mission includes the complete erasure of GLBT people from civil society. Christian communities sin when the collaborate with these anti-gay political organizations.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    Dr. Veith,

    It was not the teaching AGAINST same-sex marriage that provided a mechanism to allow it. It was the ruling of the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission in against Rev. Jane Adams Spahr’s censure case. The ruling served two purposes:

    1. It reiterated the definition of marriage “Marriage is a civil contract between a man and a woman”

    and

    2. It passively recognized the worth and dignity of same-sex unions in stating that the Book of Order “does not prohibit blessings of same-sex couples that are not determined to be marriages.”

    Rev. Spahr was not pleased with the outcome:

    “My concern is that they said I do not do marriages,” Spahr said in an interview from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tiburon, Calif. “I did do marriages.”

    It should be rather obvious that Rev. Spahr is a marriage equality activist. She performed marriages in New York and California, two states that are pivotal to the political advancement of marriage equality. The court left Rev. Spahr free to continue her activism and identified the criteria for her to complete her mission. If same-sex commitments are to be marriages, a change to the Book of Order is in order.

    Stakeholders in this epic march towards equality generally fall into two camps:

    1. Scientifically-minded people. These are people who retain a ‘sense of wonder’ over the creation. They are humble in their understanding. They neither know for certain *how* God created, nor how they are to apply His Word in their daily lives. This group understands homosexuality to be a natural variant of human sexuality and they see the injustice in denying the qualitative and quantitative benefits of marriage to same-sex couples.

    2. Unscientifically-minded people. These are people who suppress their ‘sense of wonder’ over the creation. They are proud in their mis-understanding. They are certain that God performs miracles, in violation His own laws of mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology and they have surrendered their discernment over to human authorities. This group sees homosexuality to be a perversion of “God’s design of human sexuality” and they feel that committed same-sex couples are prideful sinners who, by definition can’t be “Christian” and will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

    Susan aka organshoes speaks for the unscientifically-minded – with authority.

    “God does not still speak apart from what He’s already spoken. Nothing has changed since the last day in Eden, when Adam and Eve presumed to know better what God meant to say.”

    We know this to be absolutely wrong. The Bible stories are metaphors. The earth is not at the center of the universe. God did not create Adam from dust, he was born of Eve, who evolved from the Apes. Noah did not collect every single plant and animal species and sustain them for 40 days and 40 nights while a great flood consumed the earth. Science and common sense tell us otherwise. The Bible is not a science text, it is not a sociology and it is not a sexuality text.

    If there is one lesson to learn from the fall, it’s that we can’t presume to know the mind of God. We have to test our understanding against objective reality. Testing is what differentiates the scientifically-minded humble Christian from the unscientifically-minded proud anti-Christian. Scientifically-minded people are willing to test all the data against their theories. Anti-scientifically-minded censor the data. They filter out information that doesn’t match their world view; data that contradicts their limited understanding of “His Word”.

    This anti-science world view sin is the sin that I identified in comment #7 and elaborated in comment #26. It is the same sin. It’s the original sin of believing that one *knows* the difference between good and evil. That’s what the Anti-Gay-Industry does. It presupposes that openly GLBT people can’t possibly be “good”. They must be “evil”. The AGI works very hard to censor the personal stories of millions of GLBT people. In their stead and against all the evidence to the contrary, the AGI presents a handful of ex-gay con-artists who share one homogeneous manufactured story which reads: “I was gay. I consumed lots of drugs and had lot’s of sex until I hit bottom. Then I found Jesus and became a heterosexual. Now I’ve come to you to testify that homosexuality is evil and heterosexuality is good.”

    Anti-gay pride is the sin. Acceptance of GLBT people into the religious community is a sign or repentance and healing. Please don’t misunderstand. This is not a black-and-white zero-sum game. There are religious communities that will never accept GLBT people and that’s ok so long as they don’t commit spiritual violence against GLBT people by forcing them to “change” their orientation. There are also political communities who claim to be religious communities. These political organizations are active members of the AGI. Their mission includes the complete erasure of GLBT people from civil society. Christian communities sin when the collaborate with these anti-gay political organizations.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Honestly, Jonathan (@29), if you want to have a discussion here, pick one subject and stick with it. It’s difficult enough to follow a linearly-formatted series of comments from several different people when they’re all talking about the same thing.

    When one comment (to say nothing of what’s gone before) attempts to cover (1) the Presbyterian view of marriage, (2) homosexuality, (3) broad-stroke accusations on understanding of science, (4) the truthfulness of miracles, (5) the accuracy and truthfulness of the Bible, as proven by fiat, (6) the Fall, (7) epistemology, and more, all within what takes up four screens on my laptop, well, it’s really a bit much, you understand.

    I’d try to reply to something, but what? What’s your main point here? The Bible is utterly unbelievable? Christians are scientifically ignorant? Taking aim at some “industry” that really nobody else besides you is mentioning?

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Honestly, Jonathan (@29), if you want to have a discussion here, pick one subject and stick with it. It’s difficult enough to follow a linearly-formatted series of comments from several different people when they’re all talking about the same thing.

    When one comment (to say nothing of what’s gone before) attempts to cover (1) the Presbyterian view of marriage, (2) homosexuality, (3) broad-stroke accusations on understanding of science, (4) the truthfulness of miracles, (5) the accuracy and truthfulness of the Bible, as proven by fiat, (6) the Fall, (7) epistemology, and more, all within what takes up four screens on my laptop, well, it’s really a bit much, you understand.

    I’d try to reply to something, but what? What’s your main point here? The Bible is utterly unbelievable? Christians are scientifically ignorant? Taking aim at some “industry” that really nobody else besides you is mentioning?

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Jonathan, I think you’ve gone too far.
    Seeing as how your understanding and discernment is so far superior to anyone’s here, I wonder how you suffer us.
    But you’re barking up the wrong tree, preaching to the wrong choir, wasting your breath, etc., etc., etc.
    There are closed minds all over the place, bub, and on all sides of the fence. Unfortunately, some have closed too late, after all sorts of idiocy has already entered and taken hold, passing itself off as information, or worse, as science.
    Consider me unmoved by your ‘science,’ and awash in unscientific bliss.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Jonathan, I think you’ve gone too far.
    Seeing as how your understanding and discernment is so far superior to anyone’s here, I wonder how you suffer us.
    But you’re barking up the wrong tree, preaching to the wrong choir, wasting your breath, etc., etc., etc.
    There are closed minds all over the place, bub, and on all sides of the fence. Unfortunately, some have closed too late, after all sorts of idiocy has already entered and taken hold, passing itself off as information, or worse, as science.
    Consider me unmoved by your ‘science,’ and awash in unscientific bliss.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    Susan and tODD,

    The point is that it wasn’t the “teaching AGAINST…” that guided the court, it was the “LEARNING about…”

    And Susan,

    Back in #13, you said:

    “The only equality I can recall from scripture is that we are equally sinners, in need of a savior, and not a facillatator of equal rights.”

    But now you make a relativistic equality of point-of-view argument:

    “There are closed minds all over the place, bub, and on all sides of the fence.”

    How do you discern a mind that is open to the truth from a mind that is closed to the truth?

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org Jonathan

    Susan and tODD,

    The point is that it wasn’t the “teaching AGAINST…” that guided the court, it was the “LEARNING about…”

    And Susan,

    Back in #13, you said:

    “The only equality I can recall from scripture is that we are equally sinners, in need of a savior, and not a facillatator of equal rights.”

    But now you make a relativistic equality of point-of-view argument:

    “There are closed minds all over the place, bub, and on all sides of the fence.”

    How do you discern a mind that is open to the truth from a mind that is closed to the truth?

  • Susan aka organshoes

    By what it holds to be true; by what it thinks truth is.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    By what it holds to be true; by what it thinks truth is.


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