Rob Bell and Marriage Equality

From HuffPo, by Greg Carey:

This Sunday Rob Bell spoke at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral and openly endorsed marriage equality. Grace Cathedral is the Episcopal Cathedral of the Diocese of California, and I thank Julie Harris, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications, for alerting me to his message (audio here). Bell was speaking to the Cathedral’s Grace Forum in an appearance presented in partnership with his publisher, HarperCollins.

In response to a question regarding same-sex marriage, Bell said, “I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs — I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.”

Bell went on to say that while it used to be fair to equate evangelicals with social conservatism, that assumption no longer holds true. More pointedly, he said, “I think we are witnessing the death of a particular subculture that doesn’t work. I think there is a very narrow, politically intertwined, culturally ghettoized, Evangelical subculture that was told “we’re gonna change the thing” and they haven’t. And they actually have turned away lots of people. And i think that when you’re in a part of a subculture that is dying, you make a lot more noise because it’s very painful. You sort of die or you adapt. And if you adapt, it means you have to come face to face with some of the ways we’ve talked about God, which don’t actually shape people into more loving, compassionate people. And we have supported policies and ways of viewing the world that are actually destructive. And we’ve done it in the name of God and we need to repent.”

When the Very Rev. Jane Shaw attempted to get Bell to take a firm position as to whether Christians “know” the truth in some ultimate sense, Bell veered in a different direction. “I would say that the powerful, revolutionary thing about Jesus’ message is that he says, ‘What do you do with the people that aren’t like you? What do you do with the Other? What do you do with the person that’s hardest to love?’ . . . That’s the measure of a good religion, is – you can love the people who are just like you; that’s kind of easy. So what Jesus does is takes the question and talks about fruit. He’s interested in what you actually produce. And that’s a different discussion. How do we love the people in the world that are least like us?”

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://18thandfairfax.wordpress.com Bo Eberle

    About time!

  • EricW

    From Tony Jones: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/2013/03/18/is-rob-bell-finally-pro-gay-marriage/

    FYI – Rob Bell’s statement in the audio begins at 42:23 in the 55:09 audio.

  • http://austacular.com/blog Austin Franklin Thomas

    This was a really good way to start my morning. Good for Rob Bell!

    That stuff he said about the evangelical conservative subculture is interesting, and I think prophetic.

  • Rick

    I don’t think many will be shocked by this.

  • “Moruti” Lutz

    I confirm that: about time!

  • mike h

    Rick, You’re right. But, many may be encouraged by it.

  • Kyle J

    Good for him.

  • Rick

    Mike H #5-

    And many discouraged.

  • http://www.psephizo.com Ian Paul

    In the UK, there is beginning to be recognition in some quarters that the term ‘marriage equality’ is itself ideologically loaded.

    To ‘include’ same-sex unions in marriage, marriage needs to be redefined, in fact reduced, by eliminating its integral relation with gender difference and procreation, and turn a social covenant into a contract based on individual choice. Whatever the virtues of Bell’s other comments, I don’t think he has engaged with this reality at all.

  • http://grasshoppersdreaming.blogspot.com :mic

    That’s amazing. I cannot seem to tell the difference between Rob Bell and the apostle Paul on this point, especially those “inclusive” and “affirming” passages like Romans 1. What is more, I think it is fantastic that, even though Jesus said that his followers would know the truth, Rob is not going to allow such closed-minded religion inhibit his ability to gain popularity points in the culture of political correctness. It is great that evangelicalism can join in to correct such missteps in the church, even though we fail to see the greater impact of our desire to have an ‘acceptable’ faith culture.

    As for the supposed ‘death’ of evangelicalism, I think that the figures have been exaggerated a bit to reflect desire rather than facts. But, even if we were to concede that fewer are holding to such conservative biblical values, the truth does not need a majority to prevail. And it is said that so many would be so quick to applaud this story (and will be commenting against me, certainly).

    But I did notice that we haven’t spoken about Rob Bell in a number of months, so he was due to make some sort of noise … wasn’t he?

  • JoeyS

    Ian Paul, the minute that marriage became an issue of the state it became “redefined, in fact reduced.” It is possible to affirm marriage equality purely on the grounds that it is a legal union that comes with equal rights regardless of religious position.

  • Rick

    “I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.”

    I am not exactly sure what he means by that, but in a broad sense that is not always the most loving thing to do.

  • http://rwtyer.blogspot.com Rory Tyer

    I want to give him the benefit of the doubt that his statements here do not reflect his most prepared reasoning on the topic. (This isn’t a statement about his position per se but rather on his reasoning / rationale.) There’s more to engage with in this conversation that is evidenced in his remarks.

  • EricW

    If you want to engage in a broader discussion re: whether marriage equality (for gays) is the answer or the optimum solution to the economic and legal problems and inequalities that affect many families, gay and straight, read this book: http://www.beyondstraightandgaymarriage.com/nindex.php

    Marriage Equality may in fact NOT be the best way of addressing/redressing these things.

  • Dopderbeck

    Well here we go – another round of division of evangelicals. And lost in the noise will be any sort of careful middle ground. Sigh.

  • http://www.mwerickson.com Matt Erickson

    This topic is the dividing line that has emerged most strongly within evangelicalism these days. I plan to listen to Rob’s words online, but can anyone clarify if he is addressing this from a biblical/theological perspective or cultural/political perspective? Some may disagree with my division here, but I think it is very relevant to our discussion. Even in the comments given so far, it seems clear that we may be approaching the topic from very different angles.

  • TJJ

    The ststement may appear to say more than it really does. There is definitely lots of wiggle room here. The statement may be more a case of where he was geographically, than where he really is theologically.

  • Jim

    “…that ship has sailed and we need to ‘affirm’ people wherever they are…”
    “…the death of a subculture that ‘doesn’t work’…”
    “…you sort of die or you adapt…”

    Affirmation…pragmatics…adaptation… I’m just waiting for him to say we need to be on the ‘right side of history.’ I guess we are all Progressives now.

  • TJJ

    The notion that Bell “endorsed marriage equality” is an editorial commet by Greg Carey, author of the piece. I dont necessarily see Bell’s comments going that far. But the comment by Carey does tend to color Bell’s comments. Anything is possible with Bell, but I am not inclined to make the same assumption as Carey, without more.

  • Frank

    Just another example why Rob Bell simply should not be taken seriously.

  • Tim OK

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with his conclusion, but his means of getting there is, as a Christian, pretty troubling.

    Christians need to “adapt” and “affirm people wherever they are” and “get on the boat when it has sailed”? That sounds at best foreign to the NT, and at worst it sounds antithetical to it. I don’t see a theological basis from which he makes these decisions- it’s just “what’s in the air” these days. As some above have already mentioned, this sounds more like a political stance than a theological one.

    What if Christians were to use the same methodology with other perplexing modern questions? If we no longer look to tradition, or to Scripture to make arguments, then what is it that is unique? What do we have to present to the world? What is it that makes Xty “Christian”?

    Just saying “we should love each other” lumps us in with basically every other religion- and secular humanists. If we want to retain something unique to our identity, we can’t just say yes to whatever is the prevailing seniment of the day. At times, we need to do the opposite.

  • AG Reichert

    To paraphrase…”In my weakness you will find strength”. If culture defines sin by saying sin is not sin then the Holy Spirit is denied. I love Rob Bell, but I believe he is being an enabler. Rob’s paycheck doesn’t come from Mars Hill Church anymore, it comes from Hollywood. His change on this has more to do with who is paying him. I just finished his latest book- “What We Talk About When We Talk About God” and it was awesome and I still think highly of him, though I completely disagree with the notion that God’s Word changes because of the world is changing.

  • mark

    what is meant by, what is the definition of “marriage equality”? Does it refer specifically and only to a certain minority group, or is it a philosophical idea that might include various groups of people?

  • EricW

    @22 AG Reichert: A dissenting (re)view of Bell’s book by a former Christian: http://www.mycultlife.com/books/book-reviews/honest-unfavorable-review-rob-bells-book-talk-talk-god/

  • Phil Miller

    Rob’s paycheck doesn’t come from Mars Hill Church anymore, it comes from Hollywood.

    How does promoting a failed pilot land one a paycheck? Because if it does, I’m moving to Hollywood!

    But anyway, I think that Bell is sort of like a spiritual Rorschach test. People see in him whatever they want to see.

    Btw, I read his new book, too. I thought it was OK, but it was not as strong as some of his earlier books. I am not totally sure who his target audience was with this book. It seems he not so much interested in talking to atheists (which is why I think the guy in review linked above was so ticked), but rather people who have heard certain claims by atheists and may be somewhat on the fence about them.

    It is interesting, also, that people more on the pro gay marriage issue seem to think that even though Bell expresses some sort of solidarity with their position, that unless he becomes an activist for it, he’s not doing enough. I’d be somewhat surprised to see Bell wade into the political side of the controversy.

  • http://www.whateverisgood.blogspot.com Wes Ellis

    I think Rob Bell was overdue for this… He’s not going to be a gay rights advocate. I’m sure that’s not his primary concern. But it’s good that he’s become able to articulate his perspective on the issue with more clarity. Good stuff!

  • Rick

    Being for legal marriage equality does not necessarily equate to theological support for gay marriage and the normalization of the homosexuality in the church? Does it? I mean I can be for marriage equality, and still think that homosexual sex is a sin and not conducive to Christian life and discipleship.

  • Gary Lyn

    TIM OK,
    I would suggest that Bell is a particular understanding of Scripture (perhaps not one you agree with) and an understanding of tradition as a living vibrant thing!

  • tokniffin

    gary lyn,

    if that’s true, i’d like to see him articulate it. i don’t see it anywhere in these remarks

  • http://www.danwhitejr.blogspot.com danwhitejr

    Rick,
    I resonate with your comment “can we be for marriage equality and still believe that homosexual sex is a not normative for the Jesus- disciple.”

    I don’t understand why their is not space for that conversation.

  • PJ Anderson

    No surprises here. He’s been walking down this path for a while…along with other things.

  • Jeremy

    I read quotes of what Rob actually said and it seemed pretty neutral from a theological perspective. If anything, it sounded like a dodge that affirmed his belief that the culture war is lost and it’s time to move on.

  • Mark E. Smith

    It’s time for Bell to find another label, since Evangelical doesn’t fit him any more

    It saddens me to see the Church that used to value traditional marriage sacrifice it on the altar to the idol of Equality.

    We cease to be the Church when we allow society to change our values. We are not counter-cultural.

  • Phil Miller

    We cease to be the Church when we allow society to change our values. We are not counter-cultural.

    Well then we ceased to be church a long time ago… If you look at all sorts of statistics between self-professed Evangelicals and the general public, there’s very little difference in behavior between the two groups. Divorce rates, for example, are about the same (even when people try to narrow it down looking at regular church attenders, the divorce rate only improves to 38%).

  • Stephen Rankin

    I’m with Ian Paul at #9. I work in higher education and I daily engage with people whose ideas on this topic I do not share. It seems to me that a lot of rhetoric in support of same-sex marriage makes the a priori moral decision that sexual activity is natural (i.e. for gay people, sex with the same sex is natural), therefore either morally neutral or even a good (because it’s natural). Shouldn’t we check the implications of this way of thinking? I cannot see the church’s ability to govern any sexual behavior (other than openly violent and non-consensual actions, but even here, this is murkier than it may seem), using the arguments to support same-sex marriage. This goes far beyond “what the Bible says” or doesn’t.

  • Joe Canner

    I agree with those who concur with Bell’s conclusion but who are concerned about how he got there. While it is true that the world is moving on with respect to gay marriage and leaving the Church behind, that is not necessarily a good reason for the Church to change.

    On the other hand, I believe there are some solid theological reasons for the Church to support (or at least not oppose) state-sanctioned same-sex marriage. For me, it is a simple application of the Jesus Creed. The state sanctioning same sex marriage has nothing to do with what Christians believe about the morality of homosexuality.

    More to the point, it’s probably about time the Church severed the connection between state-sanctioned marriage and Church-sanctioned marriage. This has always been an unholy alliance and there is no better reason than this to do what should have been done a long time ago.

  • JR

    Scot, what are your thoughts on Rob Bell’s views on gay marriage?

  • kim

    “We cease to be the Church when we allow society to change our values. We are not counter-cultural.”

    I’m not sure opposition to marriage equality was Jesus’ dearest desire for us in the way of being counter-cultural. He didn’t mention it. He did, however, talk about turning the other cheek, love for enemy, radical grace toward the other, loving others as much as we love ourselves, and more. If we lived these out we would be counter cultural in the extreme.

  • http://timhatchagain.com Tim Hatch

    Matthew 7:26-27 AND 2 Timothy 3:5… that’s what THIS is.
    Of course the more “enlightened” among us will call me outdated and find some creative hermeneutic to defend Rob Bell as inspired and true.

  • Richard B.

    Rob’s approach seems to be driven largely for a desire for Christianity to be “popular”. This is the same bandwagon H.E. Fosdick and others jumped on in the 1920-30s with ephemeral results…

  • Percival

    Jim #18 — Exactly. We should always be on the wrong side of history about something. When it comes to social issues, locking steps in any direction is foolish.
    Rick #27 — Yes. I can’t figure out if this is his attempt to address one issue (civil marriage) or to avoid addressing another (homosexual behavior).

  • Stephen W

    kim #38 – Awesome!

  • Tom F.

    I would say that I feel the same way about this as I ended up feeling about Love Wins, great promise, poor execution. I really like the willingness to challenge and acknowledge the fact that something needs to change about how evangelicals engage and think about this topic. I like that he emphasized the value of marriage, the value of fidelity, ect.

    However, I don’t get the impulse to say things like “affirm people wherever they are”. Does he mean accept? Does he mean condone any behavior? I don’t understand, would he affirm someone in a same-sex marriage who has an affair? I think this sort of language, which seems to minimize the reality of sin, seems too easy, too close to our culture’s shallow understanding of human brokenness.

    If the church, or part of the church, changes on this topic, the last thing we want to be saying is that we changed because we “caught up” with the culture. If the church changes, it should be because its the right thing to do. And those who are uneasy about such a change will surely be repulsed by any talk about making this sort of change based on “catching up with the world”. We will be out of step with the world, so deal with it. (Does Bell think that the entire gay subculture will simply jump into affirming monogamy and fidelity? Or for that matter, does Bell think that the entire heterosexual culture affirms monogamy and fidelity right now?) To the extent that any Christian argues for change on this subject by hoping for catching up with the world, than they do more harm than good.

  • TJJ

    Excellent post Tom. Thanks!

  • http://activefaith.wordpress.com Stephen Enjaian

    This is very strange. When Bell is given a fair chance to answer a straight question, (can Christians know the truth in an ultimate sense?), he characteriscally dodges the question. So on what basis does he lecture Christians on sins for which they need to repent?

  • http://astrangedesign.tumblr.com JeremyInPDX

    I haven’t listened to the audio yet, but I am planning to. Looking at Rob’s statement about marriage equality, I think what he was saying was that the Evangelical church needs to realize the reality of what Homosexuals face in the church and society as a whole the way they’re engaging them is beating a dead horse, no matter how many times they use the word “love.” In the same way African-Americans told the church to not be “color-blind” to their identity as black, the church needs to do the same with homosexuals. We can’t deny their identity and/or culture and try to engage with them.

    Secondly, Rob said Evangelicals need to be more “loving and compassionate.” If he honestly wanted the Evangelical church to just accept ALL homosexual behavior, he probably would have just said “Evangelicals need to accept them” but HE DOESN’T SAY THAT.

    If you’re wondering about Rob’s ambiguity, I refer you to David Fitch’s recent article – http://www.outofur.com/archives/2013/02/why_you_shouldn.html

  • paj

    Not surprising given this is an Episcopal Catherdal. But here are my quick observations:

    I’m an Australian Anglican and the “culture wars” never happened here, so saying we need to change the traditional understanding because this approach was a failure does not amount to an argument for adoption.

    I also find an argument that believes adopting Bell’s understanding as a way to increase the influence of Christianity as groundless. My American brothers and sisters have done so, and so have parts of the Australian Anglican Church, but were they have they are in serious decline (unfortunately).

    Finally, many people in the Gospel turned away from Jesus as well. His teaching was considered too hard. I find it really hard on lots of matters (one example wealth and greed) but remain in a place that preaches against greed, despite the fact I can move down the road to an American export, the Health and Wealth “Gospel”.

    I also find it interesting that some theologians who are into Jesus vs the empire, never apply the same logic to these matters.

  • http://astrangedesign.tumblr.com JeremyInPDX

    Since I have listened to the audio portion, I realize that the two quotes referenced were in response to two different questions, so I’d like to retract my statement about Rob’s take on Same-sex marriage. That said, Fitch still gets it right in his article! For the record, the question was specifically about PUBLIC SUPPORT of same-sex marriage or civil marriage. With that sentiment, I am hard pressed to agree with Rob. Marriage as sanctioned by the church and state are two DIFFERENT things and the church must realize this.

  • Marcus C

    I wonder what Rob Bell’s views are regarding “marriage equality” in the context of polygamy…

  • A Medrano

    Would Jesus support a man engaging in anal sex with another man, or a woman grinding another woman? If Jesus were here in our culture today, would he retract what he said when he referred to a man becoming one with a woman? Would he say that one finds their identity in who they feel they are? Would Jesus, out of love, refrain from the word “repent” and just affirm one’s sexual behavior, even though it works in contradiction to his created order?

  • Mike DeLong

    I’m having some trouble with this. Was this posted to show the “right” view on gay marriage that we readers of this blog should have? Or was it posted to start a discussion? I feel as if there are some issues on these pages for which there is a “correct” view, and there is no real discussion, since those with the “incorrect” view are sort of shouted down. (Examples include women in ministry and evolution.) Is this (gay marriage should be OK for Christians) now one of those issues? Or is there room for differences of biblical interpretation and opinion?

  • http://deartheoph.blogspot.com Jaymes Lackey

    Farewell Rob Bell – (see what I did there?)

  • Rick

    At some level, I feel the entire marriage equality debate and the church’s role in it is kind of a huge red herring. Not that many gay people are going to get married. Yes, some will and some will have healthy long lasting relationships. But, if we look at other nations as an example, we see that for instance Spain and Canada both have a gay population of about 3-4%. Of that population, only about 4% have gotten married. So 4% of 4%, seems pretty insignificant to me. Even if we assume that rates would be higher in the US, just because, we are still probably talking about a small percentage. Let’s say 20% of American homosexuals get married, so 20% of 3-4%. It isn’t huge.

    To be honest, I think a lot of this debate is being conflated with bad stats and even worse projecting and extrapolating by both the left and the right. The right sees homosexual marriage as the bellweather of the health of the nation. My guess is like in Spain, if it were to pass, most churches and people would go on living their lives, and the entire controversy would dissapear. Not to mention, in the end very few homosexuals would actually get married. The left thinks that the church can step in here and gain cultural currency by supporting it, but again the numbers are too small for this to actually benefit the church in any real way, so basically they sacrifice good theology and sound orthodoxy for a niche of a niche. A church that is for everything, soon becomes a pointless church, and churches have to sacrifice a lot to accept homosexual marriage as normative in their communities.

  • MatthewS

    “I would say that the powerful, revolutionary thing about Jesus’ message is that he says, ‘What do you do with the people that aren’t like you? What do you do with the Other? What do you do with the person that’s hardest to love?’ . . .

    The whole closing statement from him in the final paragraph is partly reporting the news about Jesus and partly spinning it. He’s telling truth about Jesus, but not the whole truth.

    Jesus was bold, to the point of being harsh and name-calling, some people who were not like him. Jesus was full of grace and truth, and we are told to live out truth in love. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

    I think it is tempting to subtract truth from the equation and try to get by only on affirmation. Unfortunately, that’s not a robust enough approach in the end. A man who abuses his wife does not need affirmation where he’s at, nor does a man who refuses to provide for his family due to being lazy or substance-addicted. I’m not drawing a moral equivalence between gay marriage and these things (which would be rude and begging the question). I am questioning the ‘sola affirmation’ approach versus grace AND truth, truth IN love.

  • MatthewS

    well, the guys in my negative examples probably do need affirmation where they are at, but not only affirmation. They at least need to be affirmed in their dignity as image-bearers. But that is not the only response they need.

  • Bill Sahlman

    the whole audio is worth listening to. Really good interview.

  • Kaleb

    Divorced individuals that remarry can have their new relationships affirmed and acknowledge as redemptive in most cases. Most churches would allow remarried individuals into the life of the church too. This might not be God’s plan since divorce is frowned upon by God, but we acknowledge the world is not perfect and it happens.

    What would cause us to view gay marriage any differently????????????????????????

  • http://Www.theparsonspatch.com Mark Stevens

    I am wondering how those of us with conservative theological convictions and who disagree with gay marriage etc can hold their beliefs without sounding like or even being treated like theological red necks. I believe Loving our neighbour comes first but I also think gay marriage is wrong. I have friends who disagree. We get along and we are both Christians. But in the wider debate it seems to me those of us who do disagree with Bell and Jones etc are treated as socially and even theologicaly backward. I’m just trying to make sense of it all, love the people I pastor and help them in their questioning but it all seems like too much at times. :)

  • Andrew

    MatthewS; Jesus only called people out for their wrong actions and hypocrisy . . he never tore someone down simply because they were born a certain way. His one statement about about “not giving to the dogs (non-Jews)” he ended up correcting himself.

    I don’t understand the fuss about gay marriage b/c logically the arguments against it don’t hold up, so then you end up appealing to Scripture. And appealing to Scripture against sound logic/scientific knowledge is one reason why young people are leaving Christianity in droves. A majority of scientific literature points to homosexual attraction having genetic roots. That also makes sense to me given that I personally have no “hidden desire” for homosexual sex, and most of the gay people I’ve known came from good families (ie it wasn’t a byproduct of abuse/poor upbringing etc.)

    So if a minority of people are naturally born a certain way, why not affirm healthy choices they make with other people of that makeup? That’s the fundamental question. Until a conservative evangelical can adequately address that, they will continue to be trounced in this debate.

  • Phil Miller

    A man who abuses his wife does not need affirmation where he’s at, nor does a man who refuses to provide for his family due to being lazy or substance-addicted.

    I do think that there is room for interpretation in regards to what Bell meant with his statement, but on its face, he did not say that we need to affirm people’s behavior whatever it is, but rather, he said, “we need to affirm people wherever they are”. There is a difference between those two statements. People do need affirmed. Even the person who is living in open rebellion against God can be affirmed in the sense that we can affirm that they are loved by God and God sees them as having infinite worth.

    That’s the thing about unconditional love. It ceases to be unconditional once we add an “if” to it. Now if someone wants to talk about whether certain behaviors are the best or most God-honoring, sure let’s have that conversation. But let’s only have that conversation if we agree that we make it about all of us, not just about some of us.

  • s sharkey

    There was a time when the dollar was securely backed by a gold standard. Today it’s different. Every day that the federal government prints money, the dollar I have in my pocket is worth less.

    Isn’t the same true about grace? The value of grace is held secure by the Gold Standard, i.e. God’s Standard. We all fall dramatically short of that gold standard, which makes grace a most valuable commodity. Yet, every time we conform God’s ‘gold’ standard to our culture a little bit more, we cheapen grace. Just like the fed printing more money.

    Rob bell has simply joined the chorus of those willing to print more paper money by redefining the God’s gold standard of sexuality. Apparently the new standard is monogamy. But isn’t the biblical standard so much higher? At the rate we are conforming to cultures standards, soon grace will have little value at all. We won’t even need it! How sad.

    In his effort to show more grace, Bell has ironically diminished it even more. The church should be the safe guarding the value of that grace by extending it freely without changing the standards that God demands of us.

  • A Medrano

    Andrew, do you think is homosexuality is natural in the sense that there’s a gene, or do you think it’s more of a social construct? Do you think nature made a being that was anatomically one gender but infused their hormones and brain differently? Is this what nature was trying to do? Also, if one is born that way, why is it that many scientific studies have yet to prove so?

  • http://www.joshuapostema.com Josh

    I am waiting for a single cogent logical argument in favor of same-sex marrige. I have yet to find one, yet every day I read a new argument against the concept because it is a contradictory, anti-philosophical, counter-christian position. Some of these arguments come from atheists, some from homosexuals, some from Protestants, some from Catholics.

    If anyone is aware of a logical (read: not emotional) argument for same-sex marriage I’d be interested to read it. If anyone is convinced this is a good idea (those first dozen or so comments, in particular), are you willing to do the same for the other side? Or do you dismiss it because it causes emotional problems for some people? I am genuinely curious.

  • http://www.joshuapostema.com Josh

    @Phil Miller:

    Unconditional love does not mean unconditional affirmation.

  • Andrew

    #62 A Medrano: Thank you for your questions.The current scientific consensus is that sexual orientation arises from a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences, with biological factors involving a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Biological factors which may be related to the development of sexual orientation include genes, prenatal hormones, and brain structure. That they haven’t yet strictly identified a ‘gay gene’ doesn’t mean there isn’t significant evidence that sexual orientation has genetic/biological roots. It’s also not surprising as human genetics are extremely complex and humans have only begun to scratch the surface of genetic knowledge.

    So yes, nature makes people in many ways. You ask if that was what nature “was trying to do.” I don’t think nature “tries” to do anything; it just does. And some people are born anatomically with both male and female gender parts . . what are they? I have a firm belief that homosexuality derives predominantly from natural causes, and that evil comes from malicious actions and intent. A gay person can sin just like a straight person can, can commit infidelity just like a straight person, but I do not believe a person born gay, being gay within a healthy relationship with another gay person, is inherently sinful in any way.

  • Sarah

    I agree with those who are somewhat concerned with Bell’s reasoning. I would like to think he arrived at this position through humble prayer and scriptural study rather than talking about catching up with culture, because my understanding is that the Church is to be salt and light standing out from the darkness of the world. I do think the issue is that too often when we talk about speaking the truth in love or loving the sinner and not the sin, we don’t actually do that, properly. Jesus was the only one able to do it perfectly. I don’t think that people take the time to try and understand the situation for those with same sex attraction. The Church has so much in the way of a chequered past when it comes to the LGBTQI community, that the damage done to the witness of Christ and LGBTQI people can only be healed by the grace of God. I think that we need to approach any situation regarding same-sex attraction prayerfully and humbly, remembering that if we do not experience same sex attraction, we shouldn’t be so judgemental, remembering our own baggage (aka, love the sinner, hate my own sin). In the case of same sex Marriage, I think as long as the church is not required to perform them, we should not seek to impose that on government laws, although I think that performing remarriages for divorcees does not really help the argument that the church makes against same sex marriage. I think the church needs to affirm its understanding of what the bible says about God’s design for marriage for all Christians not just LGBTQI Christians and allow it to be a standard to which all are held, because to be honest, I see a lot of irreverence to the institute of marriage amongst heterosexual couples (e.g. divorce & remarriage, adultery, spousal abuse etc.)

  • A Medrano

    Andrew, there’s been scientific studies done, and a couple I know from homosexuals, where their theories were not proven. Actually went against it. As you mentioned, there are no genes. No genetic makeup from one being born that way. Also, as for the intrauterine, there have been studies done on identical twins, where one was gay, the other not. So, hormones and brain structure could not be it. Sometimes, due to a fallen nature, dis-orders do arise. But, for the most part, people aren’t born gay. And various cultures can attest to that, some have 3%, others .3%. So, rather than natural causes, it’s more social.

    Btw, your thinking that as long as its “healthy” leaves the door open for other possible relationships.

  • Sarah

    @A Medrano:
    I’m not sure what other relationships you are referring to, but if it is what I am thinking of, then you are going on difficult territory with drawing those analogies. Whatever causes the formation of sexual orientation, I think it is fair to say that it is not something that is chosen.

  • Andrew

    Medrano, the twin studies have been shown to be rather inconsequential as even identical twins have been shown to have much more unique biological development than previously thought. And again, that they haven’t found a gay gene doesn’t equate to no evidence of genetic makeup shaping sexual orientation. Your declarative statement that “hormone and brain structure” can’t be it does not gel with the evidence, and your certainty betrays any real objective review of the material. As for other cultures, if you think you will ever get an accurate survey of sexual orientation in a place like Nigeria, I don’t know what else I can tell you.
    I think blaming a fetal deformity on ‘fallen nature’ is rather disturbing in and of itself. And what other ‘healthy’ consensual relationships can also get through the door? Don’t tell me child-adult or animal-human as those aren’t consensual. The only other ‘possible relationship’ you could argue is polygamy, which has quite a healthy role in the Bible but which doesn’t prove very useful or desirable in a non-rural modern society.

  • Phil Miller

    Josh, #64

    Like I said, it depends on what one means by the word “affirmation”.

  • A Medrano

    Sarah and andrew, isn’t gay relationships already going onto difficult territory? Because its difficult, lets define healthy. Please do so. One that was mentioned is “consensual”. Define when a person can consent? As an experiment, I asked a random person, “if marriage had only two requirements, love and consent, what could you squeeze through it?” This person said, “gays. Polygamy of course. Um, and well, if we took law away, a 13 year old, assuming this person is mature, could get involved with anyone of any sex of any age. And, well, this is going to sound extremely weird. And I know people say no, that’s wrong. It’s not the same. But, what if a lady had a dog for a long time. They have this loving relationship. And, since the owner isn’t a male, there’s no way it could not be consensual, because the dog, being a male, could…you know.” Now, I know that may sound offensive, but this was just what a person said, to “squeeze” it in there. I think, that’s why Leviticus had said “if a woman approaches an animal, to mate with it”(20:16), because it happened, or to close the loophole of any possibility of consent.

    Love and consent may not be the only best requirements for marriage. Nature would say something else.

  • http://frightfullypleased.blogspot.com Stephen

    Rob Bell (yawn). Now that he’s boarded the ship that’s sailed/adapted to the world we are living in/affirmed people where they are — he has nothing of prophetic worth to say to the culture which will move on once his 15 minutes of fame are over.

    Meanwhile, the one holy catholic and apostolic Church will endure despite her sinfulness and failings, some of which Bell rightly points out. As will marriage as defined by scripture and tradition.

  • Andrew

    A Medrano, you are now rolling around in strawmen. People made the same arguments against democracy in the 18th century. “If an individual the right to vote, it will lead to people demanding rights to do anything and everything, it will be chaos . . .anarchy!!” Your allusions to a dog and its owner, and any sexual relationship with a 13 year old, fitting the notion of consent are ridiculous and not even worth debating.

    Domino theories (if you allow this, it will lead to this and this) are often all one has to hang their hat on when the arguments regarding solely the subject at hand are rendered inept.

  • http://www.joshuapostema.com Josh

    @Andrew:

    You said “And again, that they haven’t found a gay gene doesn’t equate to no evidence of genetic makeup shaping sexual orientation.”

    It doesn’t take a study to know that lust and sinful nature in general are entirely natural for us, yet we are told these are sinful and that God hates all of it. Why is homosexuality, which has not been proven to come naturally anyway, an exception?

    You also said “Don’t tell me child-adult or animal-human as those aren’t consensual. The only other ‘possible relationship’ you could argue is polygamy, which has quite a healthy role in the Bible but which doesn’t prove very useful or desirable in a non-rural modern society.”

    The Bible condemns polygamy. It isn’t healthy at all. It means that the lowest class of men are without women to marry and it absolutely destroys the original intent of marriage in Scripture.

    Adult-child could be perfectly consensual, since the state defines the age of consent, does it not? And why should relations with animals require consent when our ownership of them does not? What about brother-sister, mother-son/daughter, father-son/daughter relationships? Those are illegal now, but what prevents them from being legal later?

    I can point you to some logically laid-out arguments against homosexual marriage, some written by homosexuals. Would you be interested?

  • Mike DeLong

    @Mark Stevens (“it seems to me those of us who do disagree with Bell and Jones etc are treated as socially and even theologicaly backward.”) – I feel the same way. And when @Andrew says “…you end up appealing to Scripture. And appealing to Scripture against sound logic/scientific knowledge is one reason why young people are leaving Christianity in droves”, I feel like I am being asked to apologize for appealing to Scripture! It is actually quite disturbing to me to see science becoming the gold standard for theologians. Ironic, since I love and appreciate science.

  • A Medrano

    Andrew, you say that me referring to polygamy, underage, and bestiality is just creating a straw man. But, has these occurred? And if so, could it be legitimized again? And if so, would that not be a domino affect? straw man? After me, it was questioned, what about incest? If love and consent are the necessary ingredients for a healthy marriage, why prohibit incest?

  • Andrew

    I’m not asking you to apologize for appealing to Scripture, but don’t expect to win many arguments in a diverse society by saying ” . . but it’s in the Bible!”

    The OT blesses polygamy numerous times, I suggest you read it.

    The Netherlands have had same sex marriage legally for over 12 years. So why hasn’t the pedophile/bestiality lobby gained any strength in that country since then? Fortunately your theory can now be tested, and congratulations! It fails with flying colors.

  • DanS

    Yes, Bible verses will not convince those who do not think of scripture as authoritative. But there is plenty of data to suggest gay unions are not good for society, for anyone inclined to listen. Testimony in the UK from Dr Patricia Morgan suggests the further severing of sex from parenthood leads to a dramatic exodus from marriage among heterosexuals. (She suggests gay marriage is only tried in countries where marriage is already on the way out, but gay marriage greatly accelerates the dissolution of the institution. see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9908951/Gay-marriage-will-destabilise-family-life-sociologist-warns.html.) The problem is that such a severing of parenthood from marriage usually (not always, we’re talking statistics, not absolutes) wreaks havoc on children.

    In addition, the stats cited show that gay unions break up at a much higher rate than heterosexual unions.

    I could cite studies that show higher incidence of depression, drug abuse, suicide among gays and even a much higher rate of abuse, without even discussing physical health issues related to both homosexual and heterosexual rectal intercourse. (That is one of the causes of rapid spread of AIDS in African countries where heterosexuals practiced anal sex as birth control) but all that would happen is someone would say the stats are skewed or dishonest and would dismiss the data as biased.

    This debate has come down to nothing but emotion. The pro-gay marriage folk scream about “justice” and “equality” and lament the “bullying”, all the while anyone who disagrees for any reason is labeled a “hater” and “bigot” and it is starting to come to folks losing jobs for simply defending 3400 years of traditional marriage. It cannot be discussed rationally any longer.

    The mere suggestion that some gays can change orientation is immediately attacked as hate speech these days. I mentioned Rosaria Champaigne Butterfield on this site and someone immediately charged that Butterfield was never “really” a lesbian because she had once had a male partner. Lesbianer than thou? Yet Bisexuals are included in the LGBT “civil rights” discussion. I guess it’s OK to swing both ways as long as you are on the right side of the policy question.

    I suspect Rob Bell is right in saying the “ship has sailed” in the broader culture and in much of the progressive Christian intelligentsia. Some of the rest of us won’t be on it though. It is a ship that will be sailing toward the rocks.

  • Andrew

    So Spain’s declining marriage rate was because of its legalization of gay marriage, and nothing to do with the youth unemployment rate near 50% and all the young people still living at home? Her methodology is laughably inept. The United States has had declining marriage rates, higher divorce rates/cohabitation rates for years without gay marriage and guess where cohabitation/out of wedlock births are highest?? The ‘Bible Belt’ of the United States.
    ‘Sailing towards the rocks . . ‘ YAWN. Your type have been shouting out apocalyptic proclamations ever since rock n’roll was going to convert the nation to satan-worship 60 years ago.

  • A Medrano

    Andrew, you have yet to state what’s so beneficial of gay marriage to society. And, where does it say God blessed polygamy?

    Answer a few questions for me: how do you view the bible and its many passages denouncing homosexual practice?what are the requirements for marriage? Why would incest be wrong? And, is it natural for a man to insert his anatomical member into the anus of the same sex who desires to be? Is this what Jesus would advocate?

  • Andrew

    Why do I have state how it’s beneficial? Supporting the legality of something doesn’t equate to it being beneficial. Fast food cheeseburgers are legal and they likely have a net negative on society
    God clearly permits polygamy in the Torah (Deuteronomy); see Abraham’s wives, David’s wives, see a number of passages; this isn’t a controversial claim here.
    Why would incest be wrong? Well for starters it produces deformed children and is bad for the gene pool. You don’t need a religious reason to band incest. Ditto with pederastry as modern science clearly shows that children and adolescents aren’t capable of making adult decisions. Ditto why we don’t allow 11 year olds to join the army, or drive a car. But maybe gay marriage will lead to those things too . .
    I’ve already stated that yes, homosexuality is a natural state for a minority of humans due to predominantly biological/genetic factors. I think Jesus advocated personal fidelity in human relationships and the Golden Rule, and didn’t concern himself with what sexual positions one preferred or whether they were born gay or straight.
    Gay people marrying certainly doesn’t effect or harm my marriage. And why the graphic sexual description? The most avid gay marriage opponents always seem to have an unhealthy obsession with the gay sexual act. . .
    This is my last post on the subject; the only reason I’ve gone on this long is for the benefit of other readers, but I think one can clearly see both sides and make their own decision.

  • alberto medrano

    Andrew, thanks for the answers.

    You see, this is not about making something legal just because people are allowed to go through a fast food restaurant. This is not about American/Progressive freedoms and rights. And this is not about being on the same side of culture. This is about the church, the Bible, and Jesus.

    You say God permits polygamy in Deuteronomy, and you refer to David. In Deuteronomy 17:17, it states “The king must not take numerous wives”. In Genesis 2:24, the description of marriage is between one man and one woman. And God determines this kind of relationship to be very good. In the New Testament, in 1 Timothy 3:2, 12 and Titus 1:6, it refers to Christian men to be a one woman man. In Ephesians 5:22-33, it speaks of heterosexual monogamous relationships. In 1 Corinthians 7:1–16 Paul answered questions that the Corinthian church had about marriage. In this passage Paul used the singular form of wife and husband throughout the passage. In fact, this is true of the New Testament writers in general. And in Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus affirmed the sanctions of a heterosexual marriage between one man and one woman.

    You say incest is wrong on the basis on producing deformed children. Gay sex doesn’t produce children. Assuming it’s common knowledge that incest does produce “deformed” children, if the incestuous partners agreed to use protection, would you still deprive their love and fidelity to each other by forbidding marriage?

    You say you “think Jesus advocated personal fidelity in human relationships … and didn’t concern himself with what sexual positions one preferred or whether they were born gay or straight”. 1) You have no basis for your thinking that Jesus would bless gay marriage. Many who want to legitimize gay marriage have to dismiss the Bible to do so. 2) Jesus affirmed and honored marriage as set in the beginning of creation. 3) You intentionally say “positions” when this is obviously not the discussion at hand. We are talking about behavior here. Jesus, instead of liberating sexuality in culture, and stiffened the sexual ethics. In Mark 7:21, Jesus “It’s from the inside, from the human heart, that evil thoughts come: sexual sins”. Sexual sin was a general term to denote any practice outside of a heterosexual marriage. If gays were present at the hearing of what Jesus said, they would have heard “homosexual sex”. Jesus was not soft on sexual sin.

    We can go onto Paul writings as well. In Romans 1; 26 That’s why God abandoned them to degrading lust. Their females traded natural sexual relations for unnatural sexual relations. 27 Also, in the same way, the males traded natural sexual relations with females, and burned with lust for each other. Males performed shameful actions with males, and they were paid back with the penalty they deserved for their mistake in their own bodies. 28 Since they didn’t think it was worthwhile to acknowledge God, God abandoned them to a defective mind to do inappropriate things. 29 So they were filled with all injustice, wicked behavior, greed, and evil behavior.

    The reason many Christians are about the sexual act is because marriage is about sex. Advocates of same-sex marriage makes it seem that it’s about love. One doesn’t need marriage to share love. Marriage is about sex. So, gay marriage means gay sex. Gay sex is biblically prohibited. And because I’m a follower of Jesus, I will side with Jesus on this one.

    Grace

  • Marcus C

    I gotta say, studying the various arguments regarding this topic, I think libertarians are the only ones with any consistent logic here: the government should stay out of the bedroom period and let consenting adults do whatever they want when it comes to marriage and sex (gay marriage, polygamy, legalized prostitution, etc…) . Everyone else, from atheist liberals to conservative Christians seem to cherry pick which groups of people they want to deny/grant rights to and why based off of inconsistent logic.

    Josh #74 “The Bible condemns polygamy. It isn’t healthy at all. It means that the lowest class of men are without women to marry and it absolutely destroys the original intent of marriage in Scripture.”
    The Bible specifically condemns polygamy? I hope you’re not basing your premise on Matthew 19:6. How is it not healthy? Assuming your premise, should everything deemed “not healthy” be outlawed? How do you know the “lowest class of men” will be “without women to marry” in the context of modern western society? I hope you have some solid research regarding your “lowest class of men” theory to support your position of denying the rights of consenting adults to marry whom they choose. And, regarding the original intent of marriage in Scripture, the original intent was basically for property rights. I think this post from micahjmurray from a previous Jesus Creed discussion is appropriate:

    “When many conservatives want to “support Biblical marriage”, they mean marriage as depicted by Norman Rockwell. The Bible talks of marriage by kidnapping, polygamy, political marriage, concubines, incest, marriage by theft/murder, etc. (and in most cases, doesn’t even condemn the marriages being depicted ) . Many of the OT laws cater to a very mysoginistic, ownership-model of marriage. So when trying to understand God’s will for marriage today, we’ll need to do more than point at individual phrases and yell “the Bible CLEARLY says…” “

  • DanS

    Andrew #79. “So Spain’s declining marriage rate was because of its legalization of gay marriage, and nothing to do with the youth unemployment rate near 50% and all the young people still living at home?” You completely missed the point. It has nothing to do with unemployed singles “living at home” at all. Her stats show that the number of young couples simply choosing to cohabit skyrocketed after gay unions were recognized. And for that matter, poverty is often caused by the dissolution of marriage rather than the other way around.

    As for “Why do I have state how it’s beneficial?” Because we’re talking about is completely redefining the most basic unit of society, separating once and for all parenthood from the marriage contract. One would expect rational folks to consider consequences before arguing for the remaking society.

  • Phil Miller

    In the US, two-thirds of the births for women under the age of 30 are already outside of marriage. I don’t think that necessarily has anything to with the gay marriage. Sure, I guess we could say it does have to do with broader attitudes toward marriage in society, but I think the bigger point is that the gay marriage debate is a relatively small battle in a culture war that is already lost.

  • http://www.joshuapostema.com Josh

    @Marcus
    “The Bible specifically condemns polygamy? I hope you’re not basing your premise on Matthew 19:6. How is it not healthy? Assuming your premise, should everything deemed “not healthy” be outlawed? How do you know the “lowest class of men” will be “without women to marry” in the context of modern western society? I hope you have some solid research regarding your “lowest class of men” theory to support your position of denying the rights of consenting adults to marry whom they choose. And, regarding the original intent of marriage in Scripture, the original intent was basically for property rights.”

    This is patently false. My claim for polygamy being unhealth was not directed towards law, but towards polygamy as an end in itself. I need absolutely no research regarding my “theory”. More women for some men means less women for other men. This is simply mathematics. Adding into consideration the relatively short lifespan of people in general and women who bore children specifically makes this even more obvious. That this is not true today is irrelevant, I was speaking to polygamy in the past. Polygamy today would be worse. The complexity of marriage and divorce law, child guardianship, and property ownership would make a legal nightmare of any complication. On top of that, I don’t see how a society that is so “Progressive” that they want polygamy would only want it in one direction, though I don’t envision a one woman-many men situation (a very obvious clash against natural behavior) going anywhere but straight to hell.

    The original intent of marriage in Scripture was not property rights, but civilizational and natural. It takes a man and a woman to produce offspring. Naturally, this union is the basis for civilization because it produces the people necessary for one. Biology only permits one sort of sexual union, and it requires a man and a woman. Now, we can make whatever sort of laws we want to enforce some other view, but then we would be against Nature, and like all of human attempts at going against Nature, unless we have something Divine, we don’t stand a chance.

  • http://www.joshuapostema.com Josh

    “I gotta say, studying the various arguments regarding this topic, I think libertarians are the only ones with any consistent logic here: the government should stay out of the bedroom period and let consenting adults do whatever they want when it comes to marriage and sex (gay marriage, polygamy, legalized prostitution, etc…) . Everyone else, from atheist liberals to conservative Christians seem to cherry pick which groups of people they want to deny/grant rights to and why based off of inconsistent logic.”

    The libertarian view is a pretty popular one, but it fails to notice one thing in particular: Marriage requires a contract between the two people getting into one and the rest of society. It needs acknowledgement to exist. So either this is implicit (as was the case in all of human history until these past couple of decades), or we have to define it by law. It is not inconsistent at all to do so. Either two people (or more, or less) get to enter into marriages that everyone else, by force of law, has to acknowledge, or they don’t. Someone doesn’t get what they want either way, so it isn’t as simple as you imply.

  • A Medrano

    @marcusC
    We aren’t looking at this like politicians. Otherwise, I think we d all be able to come up with ideas to make everyone happy. But this isn’t what its about. And its not what Jesus would try to do. Instead, we are looking at this as theologians – through the lenses of the bible, centrally Jesus. Theologically, what do you believe about gay sex, and marriage sanctioning such activity?

  • adam

    A couple of thoughts:
    Christian Marriage is best defined by Ephesians 5 – mutual submission between a man and a woman. That’s the Christian ethic/instruction for marriage.

    Polygamy is not endorsed by Abraham, David, et al, but is shown to be a really, really bad idea. We wouldn’t hold up those marriages as examples for us to do, but as examples of what not to do. So I think it’s fair to say that the Bible does condemn polygamy.

    Arguments from silence (i.e. Jesus never condemned homosexuality) aren’t strong, in my opinion. He never condemned rape, beastiality, or terrorism that I know of. We wouldn’t make the case that he was ‘for’ those because he never explicitly condemned them. His Jewish audience wouldn’t have had much doubt about homosexuality being a sin, so he didn’t need to address it. Paul’s audience did – that’s why he condemns it in Romans 1 and other spots.

  • http://www.joshuapostema.com Josh

    @Adam:

    I agree largely with what you say. My main disagreement is the “mutual submission” thing. There is no mutual submission in Ephesians 5. Only wives are told to submit to their husbands. Husbands are not, in turn, told to submit to their wives. Two leaders means no leaders, and a leader is clearly defined.

  • Phil Miller

    There’s no mutual submission in Ephesians 5?

    “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” in verse 21 seems pretty clear to me.

  • scotmcknight

    Josh,
    First, “mutual submission” is an explanatory category not a specific expression in the text.
    Second, Eph 5:21 speaks clearly of submitting to one another; each of us. It is the theme for all that follows.
    Third, what it says about males is that they are to “love” the wife sacrificially; if that is what you mean by “leadership” then fine, but I suspect the word leader means govern to you.
    Fourth, what we need to see in the male instructions is what they are called to do and focus on that set of behaviors. What are they? Three times Paul says to “love” the wife, not once does he say “lead” the wife. The husband’s responsibility to his wife is to love her.
    Fifth, you may be inferring leadership from the word “head” in the wife’s instructions. Her “submission” (orderly living) is likened to the church’s submission to Christ, but that is far more than leadership — Lordship is not the only feature of Christ. He provides life, love, etc. So “love” for the husband is what clarifies somewhat what we see in “head”: he is head as the one who gives himself for the church.
    Sixth, we are now very close to mutual self-sacrificial love as the ethos of marriage.
    Seventh, this is radical in Paul’s day.

  • http://www.joshuapostema.com Josh

    @Phil:

    When this is elaborated upon following, we see a hierarchy presented. I’m not denying that husbands need to love their wives as Christ loved the church, but Christ did not submit to the church.

    @Scot:
    1-2: See my response to Phil.

    3: If wives are told to submit to their husbands -As the church submits to Christ-, this implies a leadership. Husbands likewise are told to love their wives sacrificially as Christ love the church. These two go hand in hand, but whether a wife submits or a husband loves that well, the other doesn’t have an excuse not to live up to their end.

    4: ” 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” This sure looks like leadership to me. And yes, husbands are called to love, I’m not denying that for a second.

    5: So then the wife is the leader because the husband does whatever she leads him to do? I’m confused. Either “Head” means “Head” or it doesn’t. However, this exact Greek word is used throughout the NT to talk about leadership. Even earlier in Ephesians we read this:

    “22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as -head- over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all”

    Of course “headship” means -more- than leadership, but it -also- means leadership. We skirt around that today all the time because so many Christians think that a man is really a servant of his wife. It isn’t that at all. This is an artifact of our times, not a reliance on Christian teaching. This hasn’t been the teaching in Christian circles until last century, and it is a problem.

    6-7: Radical, sure. But if “Headship” doesn’t mean leadership, why would Paul use that term? Why not state what was true instead of what was merely radical? He wasn’t afraid to do that anywhere else, why here?

    Keep in mind in all of this that we live in a post-feminist society. We don’t see this the same way that Paul would have (or any Christian until the 1970′s for that matter). I think that’s for the worst, as is evident in our culture today. I’m not denying anywhere that men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. I’m also not saying that wives are owned by their husbands. I am saying very plainly that husbands must lead their wives in a healthy marriage. Simple as that, and I think that simple understanding is easily obtained from the text.

  • http://www.joshuapostema.com Josh

    (Incidentally, one more secular reason I oppose same-sex marriage is because men and women have this unique difference psychologically and historically we have seen it manifest itself in EVERY single culture EVER discovered. I can provide a source if you’d like the information. That men and women are different implies that marriage, if it is for them, must exclusively be for them as two distinct types of people).

  • Phil Miller

    Josh,
    Are saying that every culture ever discovered has been patriarchal? That’s absolutely not true.

    Actually, I was just listening to one of the Freakanomics podcasts this week, and they are talking about the differences between men and women. One of the researchers they talk about was doing research on men and women and competitiveness, and one group he worked with in his research was a group in India that is largely matriarchal.

    http://www.freakonomics.com/2013/02/24/women-are-not-men-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast

    Also, regarding the idea that women must be lead, that’s ridiculous. My wife didn’t need someone to lead her before I married her (I wouldn’t have married her if she did), and she certainly doesn’t need it now. If anything my wife is smarter and more grounded than me. If I were a woman, I certainly wouldn’t put up with such patronizing crap.

  • Andrew

    There are many mammalian groups in nature (including Bonobo chimps, probably the closest apes to humans in terms of intelligence) which are matriarchal, which kind of throws the “firm patriarchy follows natural law” argument out the window.

  • http://www.joshuapostema.com Josh

    @Phil: I will have to find the study, but I do have one that looked at thousands of cultures from around the world and never found a true matriarchal society in the modern sense of the term. Forgive me for not having this on hand, but I will continue looking.

    Now, you can think what I say is ridiculous all you want. That is an extremely common attitude, and I would frankly have expected nothing else. Myself, even a few years ago, shared that opinion. But I believe this opinion is false. The Scriptures just demanded that the wife submit to the husband, but you are telling me that your wife doesn’t need to follow. If that sounds chauvinistic, please hold emotions (like this: “If I were a woman, I certainly wouldn’t put up with such patronizing crap.”) aside for a moment and think logically for a moment.

    You claim your wife is smarter or “more grounded”. I’ve read elsewhere that some husbands (even pastors) -feel- like their wives are “lightyears ahead” of them spiritually. How does that reconcile with:

    (Ephesians 5)
    “22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. ”

    Or this:
    1st Peter 3
    “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands”

    Or this:
    Colossians 3:18
    “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

    Or this:
    1st Timothy 2:11
    “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.”

    Or this:
    Titus 2:5
    “…to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

    All of this is to say: If the Scriptures are so radical for their day and their authors were so fearless of their culture, their government, and the Enemy himself, why do we think they would have caved on this point? Why do we think that radical feminism offers a better explanation? The “patronizing crap” is pulled directly from Scripture. Reconcile it away or embrace it as true, and remain consistent with your decision.

    Most interestingly of all for this discussion, why do we not oppose radical feminism as one of the causes for “same-sex marriage” being viewed legitimately today, since it seeks to equivocate the sexes? This is why I think the topic is important: If men and women are truly different and there is a natural hierarchy in the home, then Christianity implicitly opposes same-sex marriage for yet one more reason.

  • http://www.joshuapostema.com Josh

    @Andrew:

    “There are many mammalian groups in nature (including Bonobo chimps, probably the closest apes to humans in terms of intelligence) which are matriarchal, which kind of throws the “firm patriarchy follows natural law” argument out the window.”

    I don’t think natural law presumes that humans and apes are equivalents. Female spiders tend to eat their male mates. But we are talking about natural law as it applies to humans, not apes or spiders.

  • Andrew

    But if you are going to allude to natural law for humans regarding gender roles, it makes no sense to contend that patriarchy follows natural law for humans, uniquely, that doesn’t extend to other intelligent mammals.
    And trust me I’m not someone who believes that gender is some sort of social construct. But human societies have functioned successfully both in patriarchal and matriarchal systems.

  • http://www.joshuapostema.com Josh

    @Andrew: Natural law is a bit different than that. I’d recommend Edward Feser, who has written on the topic considerably.

    To your comment, human society has always been patriarchal, so I’m wondering why it would be suddenly today, in the postmodern, post-feminist era, that human society is finally learning how to have “natural” relationships. Why discount everything else as unnatural?

  • Andrew

    “human society has always been patriarchal”

    But that’s it, that statement is incorrect. There were numerous tribes across Africa, the Americas, ancient Europe etc. that were matriarchal. Some isolated tribes in Asia and South America still adhere to this framework. It’s not a post-feminist invention.

  • Phil Miller

    Josh,
    Most societies have been patriarchal, but when you’re insisting all human societies throughout history have been patriarchal, all it takes is one example otherwise to prove your point wrong. And I provided one example otherwise in my link above. There are other examples as well.

    It seems to me that if you try to tie a resistance to same-sex marriage to a strong patriarchal type of Christianity, you’re not doing yourself any favors. It would probably just end up making people who may be sympathetic to your side of the issue even less so.

  • http://www.joshuapostema.com Josh

    Found the source on cultures, from Professor Steven Goldberg:

    http://aimhs.com.au/cms/index.php?page=against-science

    “Consider, for example, the fact that, among all the thousands of societies on which we have any sort of evidence, there have never been any Amazonian or matriarchal societies.”

    @Andrew: Do you have sources on your various matriarchal societies?

    @Phil: “It seems to me that if you try to tie a resistance to same-sex marriage to a strong patriarchal type of Christianity, you’re not doing yourself any favors.”

    I quoted the Bible half a dozen times. The least you could do is explain why you think all of those verses are outdated and why our society is better. Very few people would be “sympathetic” to a Christian worldview that wasn’t modern or postmodern. That is evident today. I’d rather continue to argue for classical/traditional Christianity than give in simply because it is unpopular. It most certainly is unpopular, but I will not allow fashion to trump truth.

    Granted, when talking to non-christians, this would not be my biggest argument against gay marriage. For that, I highly recommend several sources, which I can link to if requested. But for Christians, I think this tie in is completely necessary, regardless of how feminized Christians today are. With how horrible families have been mutilated today, I have far less tolerance on this issue with Christians.

  • RJS

    Josh,

    I don’t want to discuss gay marriage at all, but your comments on patriarchy concern me.

    I am not sure you understand the role physical might (size and strength) plays in these relationships. Yes, most societies have been patriarchal. The exceptions are very few. But you know, one of the things I considered when I got married (26+ years ago now) was trust – can I really trust this man (the answer was yes, and has been born out through experience). But there is a deep sense of trust necessary in voluntarily committing to live in intimate relationship with someone who can – and here I will be graphic – beat you into submission.

    And this doesn’t get into the economic realities of survival.

    In most societies, especially strongly patriarchal societies, women don’t enter or refuse to enter into any of these relationships voluntarily – they are put into them by those with power. Read a book like Half the Sky for a picture of some of this.

    I will make a radical suggestion – the radical call for Christian men is to voluntarily repudiate the natural benefits of power and strength. This is especially true in marriage. And it doesn’t lead to feminized Christians – it leads to true Christ followers.

  • Sandy

    I honestly don’t know if being gay is a sin or not? I’d rather leave that to God to decide. I say, “Come as you are, and be loved.” And I think that’s what God is saying to everyone of us sinners. I think everyone should be able to have the same Government benefits and protection. However, I do feel Marriage is defined in scripture to be between a man and a woman. God is neither man nor woman, but He is both Father and Mother to us. To change the definition of marriage is to change who God is into what we want Him to be. Also there is no right to “homosexual marriage” found in the Constitution. Homosexuals are claiming a new right. This sounds like favortism to me. Any “Protected Class” conflicts with the 1st. Amendment right of freedom of association. Which means this can and will lead to putting Christians in the position of lawbreakers, for their beliefs. Why is the term “marriage” so important? why can’t Homosexuals call it something else? I don’t have a problem with giving them equality, I have a problem with their beliefs/faith conflicting with mine, and being called a lawbreaker if I don’t provide a service that goes against my faith. I feel the same about Abortion, and birth-control. You can change, who you are, but God does not change.