Should This Family Be Illegal?

A decade ago, when we moved to Walltown and were getting to know our neighbors, my friend Andy Marin moved to Boystown in Chicago. Like me, Andy is an evangelical Christian. In the churches where he came to faith and learned what it means to be a disciple, he had been told that homosexuality was a sin. In the locker room where he hung out as an athlete, he’d learned to make fun of “fags.” But when Andy learned that some of his closest male friends were gay, he had to re-think his easy assumptions about Christianity and homosexuality. Andy realized that though his struggle was personal, it wasn’t private. It was a crisis at the heart of evangelical Christianity.

So, for the past decade Andy has lived in the midst of Chicago’s LGBT community, learning from his neighbors what it means to be gay in America and facilitating a dialogue between the religious and LGBT communities. His work with the Marin Foundation has been celebrated as both biblically faithful and missionally engaged. And in the past couple of years, people around the world have begun to recognize the Marin Foundation as a center for genuine good news in the midst of a contentious debate that so often divides Christian communities. Andy has become a consultant not only to Christian organizations and denominations, but also to the White House and the United Nations on these issues. I love how he summarizes the heart of the gospel in the midst of this contentious debate: “Love,” Andy likes to say, “is our orientation.”

I was glad to visit with Andy when he was in town last week because the hope that he’s seen on the ground in Boystown and is sharing with folks around the world is sorely needed here in North Carolina. In our state primary election on May 8th, North Carolinians will vote on an amendment to the constitution that would say “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.” The amendment is proposed as a defense of family values and has been officially supported by some churches and denominational offices. I am sympathetic with these brothers and sisters who lament the breakdown of families and local communities in our society. I agree that we need to find ways to bear witness to genuine, biblical family values.

But I am also convinced that an amendment like this will not help us. As a matter fact, friendships like those that the Marin Foundation promotes help me to see that it could hurt us all.

Whatever a Christian’s position on sexual ethics, friendships with folks in the LGBT community can help us in two important ways vis-à-vis the proposed Amendment One. First, these friends remember how anti-gay rhetoric has been used throughout history. A brief survey of the 20th century reveals that “Christian” organizations that have organized against homosexuals include Nazis in Germany and the Ku Klux Klan here in America’s South. Of course, many churches have taught that homosexuality is not faithful Christian practice. But those same churches have taught their flocks to love their neighbors as themselves and to stand for the cause of the downtrodden. When we remember history with gay friends, I think it’s pretty easy to see that we don’t want to be counted among those Christians who have organized themselves against homosexuals.

But that is not all. Maybe even more important than saving us from lining up with the KKK is that gay friends can see more clearly the unintended consequences of our brothers and sisters who are trying to defend traditional marriage. Because these laws have affected LGBT folk in other places, they know stories about how similar laws in other states have not only made it illegal for homosexual partners to share an insurance policy, for example, but also for a grandmother and her single-mother daughter to share the same policy. They know stories about how, when similar amendments were enacted in other states, perpetrators of domestic violence were released from prison because the relationship in which they committed their abuse was no longer considered a “domestic partnership.”

Observations like these—points that I might have missed without the insight of gay friends—also make me think about the family of God that I get to be part of at Rutba House here in Walltown. As we have lived as a Christian community and a hospitality house for friends in need, our imagination of a “biblical family” has expanded. I still believe what the good North Carolina Baptists who raised me had crocheted on their table cloths: “The family that prays together stays together.” But when we say our grace before dinner each evening here, it’s not just me and Leah and our children at the table. God has extended our table to include sisters and brothers who’ve taught us what it means to be the family of God. When we get up for morning prayer each day, the unity we celebrate as we bow before the Trinity certainly includes the marriage of “one man and one woman.” But it extends far beyond that. This “domestic partnership” is an extended family of sisters and brothers united in Spirit.

 

Should this family be illegal?

This is why, as I’ve listened to the debates about Ammendment One in North Carolina, my position has become increasingly simple. Each evening at dinner, when I look around the table, I ask myself, “Should this family be illegal?” I never have to give it a second thought. As I pass the potatoes and take the garden salad from whomever is next to me, I know without a doubt the answer is “no.”

  • x gay apologist

    Dialogue and understanding are always good and important, but this issue goes to the very heart of how Christianity is defined. I lived a gay lifestyle for 15 years, but when I became a Christian I renounced my homosexuality as contrary to the revealed will of God in scripture. I cannot find homosexuality presented in any other way than as a moral issue in the Bible. The primary NT passage on the subject (Rom. 1:26-27) describes same-sex desire and activity as unnatural, perverse, and shameful. That being the case, it is something that must be forsaken if one claims to be a believer in Jesus Christ. ‘Gay’ and ‘Christian’ are incompatible terms, because anyone who lives an immoral lifestyle cannot be a follower of Christ. That doesn’t mean that Christians should be hateful and vitriolic towards homosexuals. They should rather show them the same love they would show any sinner in need of God’s grace. But it also means that there is a limit to which tolerance and acceptance can and will go. The exegetical gymnastics used by the ‘Gay Christian’ movement to make homosexuality biblically acceptable are very unconvincing and, frankly, deliberate distortions of the Word of God. Any other authority that may be appealed to to resolve this issue throws the whole debate into the arena of public opinion, and there nothing will be settled. If a homosexual claims to be a Christian, then the burden is on him/her to prove that a gay lifestyle can be biblically justified.

    • Gary

      Thank you for your witness.

    • http://www.jonathanwilsonhartgrove.com Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

      Dear Apologist,
      Thanks for sharing a bit of your own story. I hope you’ll learn more about the Marin Foundation and what they’re doing to foster genuine dialogue between Christians like yourself and the LGBT community. I am not immersed in their work, but my own sense is that it is a conversation within the church that demands patience; I know deeply faithful people on both “sides” of the issue. The greatest tragedy, it seems to me, is for Christians to refuse to bear with one another in love.
      And, at the same time, whatever our thoughts about the morality of homosexual practice, I think we have a moral obligation to stand against both discriminatory legislation and the unintended consequences of “pro-family” efforts that I mentioned above.

      • x gay apologist

        Jonathan,
        I know the Marin Foundation well and am currently in dialogue with them. But we have a fundamental point of disagreement concerning the definition of a ‘Christian’. If a person calls him/herself a Christian, then at the most basic level they are confessing adherence to the teaching of scripture. Therefore any chosen lifestyle that contradicts its clear teaching cannot be Christian, no matter how religious or faithful the adherent may feel. Now this does not in any way justify the hatred and vitriol that has unfortunately been demonstrated by the church against LGBTQ people, and I am completely opposed to any expression of unloving attitudes and actions. But it must also be understood that ‘love’ does not necessarily mean ‘tolerance’ or ‘acceptance’. It is quite possible to love people without tolerating or accepting their lifestyles if they are contrary to biblical precept. And of course as a Christian I oppose anything that is truly discriminatory or intrusive into anyone’s private life, although much of what the LGBTQ community calls discrimination is really legitimate opposition to their cause which they want to silence, often by using the same tactics they so loudly cry out against.

    • Katey

      I respect your opinion, apologist, especially the fact that you are well-spoken, reasoned, and respectful to others.

      However, I just want to make one point: You said, “The burden is on him/her to prove that a gay lifestyle can be biblically justified.” I don’t believe that’s the burden at all. He/she doesn’t have to prove anything to you or me–let’s face it, even if he/she tried to, it probably won’t change much about our beliefs. Instead, I think that his/her burden is to make peace with God. It’s not our place to judge–it’s Gods. Therefore, there is no essential necessity for US to be convinced; only God.

      Thanks for your dialogue!

      • x gay apologist

        Katey,
        You might want to see my response to Jonathan above. A Christian is a person who confesses that the Bible teaches what we are to believe concerning God and what God requires of us. Consequently, anything we think or do as Christians must have biblical justification. This means that if a person claims that the Bible sanctions a gay lifestyle, they had better be able to provide scriptural support for their position. In other words, it is indeed their burden to prove it! And if they can, then as a Christian I am obligated to change what I think to bring it in line with God’s word. I’ve read all their explanations and interpretations of the relevant biblical passages, but they are exegetically weak and unsupported by the analogy of scripture. And Christians do have the obligation to ‘judge’ anything and anyone in the light of scripture. ‘To judge’ is not the same thing as ‘to condemn’, which is often how it’s taken. It just means that anyone making a claim as a Christian is by that very fact putting themselves under the searchlight of scripture.

    • http://serendipitydodah.wordpress.com/ Liz

      Here’s a link to some thoughtful insight and study on Romans 1:26-27 http://whosoever.org/bible/romans.shtml

      • x gay apologist

        I’m very familiar with this classic ‘gay christian’ interpretation of Rom. 1:26-27. Careful exegesis of the passage does not support their conclusions. There is not space here to refute everything they say. Besides, that’s been done by much more abler expositors than I. The idolatrous practice of the ‘Gentiles’ is really irrelevant, since the point of the passage is that God abandoned them to sinful behavior as a result of their idolatry, the most striking manifestation of which was same-sex activity. It’s presented as the most extreme form of human degradation that results when people abandon God. Also, the passage doesn’t relate exclusively to homosexual acts. Note that Paul says men were inflamed in their ‘desires’ for one another, so the focus is also on the inward disposition. There is no biblical warrant for the current distinction that is made between a homosexual act and a homosexual orientation. Well, that’s enough for now. Much, much more can be said!

    • Megan

      Growing up in NC, as a southern baptist, I can definitely understand your belief that one cannot be a “good” Christian as well as be attracted to someone of the same sex. But you also have to take the bible as a whole, which is love. We live in a culture where we are fortunate enough to be able to choose our spouse. But with that being said, we generally do not choose who we fall in love with. So why is that any different with a gay couple? You may have fallen for someone of the opposite sex while someone else falls for someone of the same sex. Why does that automatically make the other person a sinner while they are following the same basic instincts of attraction that you are?

      Also, as far as what Paul has written, not just with the passage your referenced but with all of his teachings you have to remember that he had a different view of life and a different diction that we have now. Where he uses the word “unnatural” (Christians have used that has a way to displace the LGBT community from the Christian community) he is talking about what is acceptable in his world. He would have argued that slavery was a “natural” way of life. And I am fairly sure we can all agree that slavery is not a natural way of life.

      On top of all of what is your response to all of the animals that have proved that “being gay” is a natural thing? Many animals have homosexual relationships, that is their instincts. And while most Christians argue we, as humans, choose to be gay animals do not.

      I do not want you to think I am anti-Christian. I am close with my God and honesty it is God I run to when I have come in contact with bigots telling me I am going to hell.

      • x gay apologist

        I did not grow up in a religious background and lived my teenage years and 20′s in a promiscuous gay lifestyle. I also had a deeply loving relationship with another guy that lasted about 3 years. So I am not speaking as one who knows nothing about same-sex attraction. But when I became a Christian, my entire perspective changed because it became molded by the Word of God, not opinions or feelings. The Bible regulates all of our life, including our emotional and romantic life. In other words, it prescribes whom we may be sexually attracted to and whom we may fall in love with. And we have to bring our desires in line with it. Also, the Bible is NOT all about love. It is also about the wrath of God against people who live lives that are not in conformity with His requirements. And the love required of us is defined as ‘doing good to others’, which is not the same thing as acceptance. I can do good to anyone, but I don’t have to accept their lifestyle. And people are ‘sinners’ because they live contrary to God’s law. That’s what Romans 1-3 is all about!

        Paul indeed lived in a different time and culture, but he wrote as an inspired Apostle of Jesus Christ. Therefore his teaching is relevant for all places and all times. His indictment against homosexuality is a MORAL judgment that reflects the attitude of God towards it. So it has universal application. As for his use of the word ‘unnatural’, it is the Greek word that is the adjectival form of the noun for ‘nature’, which has reference to the created order, not to what is culturally or socially acceptable or unacceptable. I know all the exegetical gymnastics the ‘gay christian’ movement engages in to distort this use of the word, but there is no grammatical or lexical support for their view. Homosexuality is contrary to the design God originally created and is therefore wrong.

        And as for animals, you need to do some more research. The best available studies do not support the idea that there are homosexual animals. You do not see any example in the animal world of groups separating into ‘gay’ communities engaging in exclusive same-sex activity. And the supposed homosexual observations have other very plausible explanations. And even if this were true, the animal world is not one we want to model for patterns of behavior. After all, animals eat each other!

        And one last thing by way of warning. If you or I or anyone else lives in a way that is contrary to God’s moral requirements, then no matter how religious or close to God we ‘feel’, we are not going to fare well on the day when His wrath is revealed against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of people. Christians are people who at the most basic level want to do what God says because of all He’s done for us.

        • pam

          Almost 1,500 animal species have been observed to take part in homosexual behaviour, so it’s far from uncommon. Most well-known would be the Bonobo, but Black Swans and Dolphins are also very well known for how common homosexuality is in those species.

          • x gay apologist

            Don’t forget penguins and giraffes! But here’s a caveat from one of the heroes of the gay scientific world. According to geneticist Simon Levay, “Although homosexual behavior is very common in the animal world, it seems to be very uncommon that individual animals have a long-lasting predisposition to engage in such behavior to the exclusion of heterosexual activities. Thus, a homosexual orientation, if one can speak of such a thing in animals, seems to be a rarity.” ( Levay, Simon. Queer Science: The Use and Abuse of Research into Homosexuality. Cambridge, Massachusetts) In other words, just because a couple of male primates rub their balls together after chasing off a female doesn’t equate to homosexuality as practiced by human beings. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing that when I lived in the gay world!

          • x gay apologist

            While we’re on the subject of animals, here’s an article from the New York Times Magazine (Mar. 2010). It is from the point of view of a scientist who is fairly neutral regarding the issue of animal homosexuality and its application to humans. It underscores the caution that must be used by people on either side of the issue and the inconclusiveness of arguments that might be drawn from data and observation. The article is quite lengthy, but important.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/magazine/04animals-t.html?pagewanted=all

    • musicalone

      To Xgay…..I assume you think abortion is okay to be legal even though the Bible states in the ten commandments “THOU SHALT NOT KILL”. Also I assume you think it’s okay to eat a rare steak when it clearly states in Leviticus that you shall not eat the blood from an animal. And I assume you have enjoyed a delicious pig cooked over a smoldering fire and think that’s okay too. I am so sick and tired of you Christian people pointing fingers and picking and choosing what you think God hates as your agenda. Being Christian means being CHRISTLIKE and none of you are acting as Jesus Christ would have acted. It is people like you who drove the nails in His hands and feet because He went against the teachings of the establishment. Why don’t you get the forest out of your eye before you judge the splinter that is in mine……..

  • http://www.missionalchurch.org Dale Ziemer

    Thank you Jonathan. You continue to inspire, and to bring fresh light – the light of the Gospel – to contentious issues. “Love is our orientation.”

  • Brantley Gasaway

    Well said, Jonathan. Wish I was in Durham to join you this Sunday!

    • http://www.jonathanwilsonhartgrove.com Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

      I wish you were here, too. But glad you are there, being about the Father’s business. As it happens, I was just discussing your work on 20th century evangelicals with Mike Clawson, who’s doing some similar research for his Ph.D. program at Baylor. I encouraged him to be in touch.

  • Bishop Andrew Gerales Gentry

    Have you ever wondered why Gay folke are called “faggots” well it is becuase “christians” used men, mostly,convicted of “sodomy” as kindling for the fires that burned heretics! Gay people were used as faggots or fuel in the Name of Jesus Christ! The so-called “ex gay apologist” can rant and rave all he likes but the simple fact is Scripture does not condemn gay folkes for a start and after all, a fact “evangelicals” always conveniently overlook, the Church gave us Scripture not the other way round as ANY historian can tell you. The Canon was NOT even in existence until the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Scripture alone can not be the sole basis of faith. Sola scriptura long ago was found wanting.
    But we can argue until the cows come home and or use all the polite language we want but when the leather hits the road it is simple either you believe that where love is there is God as St John teaches in the New Testament or you don’t. In the words of an old Presbyterian saint I was blessed to know who was in her late eighties when asked about this said ” I have lived for almost 90 years and I have seen far more than I ever thought and somethings I wished I had not seen, I have served my Lord Jesus not as I should but as I was able for all my life and I am convinced of this, the Good Lord does not care so much about where you put what or to whom you put it but He does care why you put it there”! Amen
    Lastly after seeing a video clip of a street” evangelical” preacher calling Rose O’Donald a pig and listening to the hate spewed out of the right wing “Christian” tea party bigots I would say the “evangelicals” of this world have a lot to answer for in how they have added pain and suffering to those they dare to think to be outside of the Kingdom!

    • Dawn Penner

      Bishop I agree that evangelical Christians are one of the groups that will need to answer for their response to those who are “other”. I am very grieved when I see hatred spewed in the name of Christianity. I’m so grateful for groups like the Marin Foundation or New Directions in Canada who help us dialogue with respect.

    • x gay apologist

      Well, here we have a classic Roman Catholic/Protestant face-off!! Wow! And I’m amazed at all the groups I’ve been associated with that I do NOT agree with. Rant on, my friend! Oh yes, God does care where AND why you put it where you do. After all, He created human sexuality and prescribes how it is to be used! And about the Canon, the church didn’t create it at Nicaea, it merely officially recognized what it had always adhered to, as many historians DO know.

    • Holly

      Bishop, I wish I’d known your friend

  • Andrew from Minneapolis

    Hey yall, I’m a bit confused. If Romans 1 describes same-sex desire and activity as unnatural, perverse, and shameful… then I’m not sure how saying same-sex relationships is morally okay.

    Now from a humanist point of view, I am a bit frustrated that people in same-sex relationships don’t have similar rights as married folk. My thought is that a different term be established (maybe Union would be an okay term), that gives people in committed same sex relationships the same rights as marriaged folk.

    But these are two different issues. One says “LGBT folk should have the same rights as married folk”, and the other says “sames sex relationships is morally sinful”. My opinion is that LGBT folk should have the same rights as married folk, but that the church needs align itself with the Holy Bible. The church should love everyone – without exception. But she also needs to be a pure, spotless bride.

    • Nathaniel

      Andrew, thank you for your point! We can get so caught up in bringing up religious arguments in support of and against loving, committed same-sex romantic relationships that we ignore the politics being heaved up around us. Rights for LGBT people are often pulled off the shelves of political controversy to distract from the real evils going on in our government. Is it any coincidence this Amendment made so much headway at a time when NC and our nation are in dire need of funds and in hot water for mismanaging what funds they had?

      I can only speak from my experience, but I believe many people believe as you do. They may not be comfortable with calling a same-sex romantic relationships a marriage, but they aren’t opposed to some degree of similar rights. The truth is that this Amendment would take away any possibility for legal recognition of these relationships. Yet people, believing they are ‘protecting’ marriage, are unwittingly going to vote for this, not realizing that even civil unions will be banned by this amendment.

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  • http://www.charismanglican.com The Charismanglican

    Thanks, Jonathan, for being a witness to the love of God for all, and to the “queerness” of being a disciple.

  • http://spirituallife.georgefox.edu Rusty St. Cyr

    Great post, Jonathan! Thanks for always modeling the courage and meekness of Christ for me amidst the Evangelical world… even from afar! It was especially refreshing for me to read after a bit of what looked like was going to be a “culture battle” out here at George Fox (and actually turned out to be a glimmer of hope for civil dialogue amongst the diverse Christian “family tree” in and around our campus).

    Just want you to know, I’ve still been plugging away trying to get you (as well as the Order of Incarnation) onto our Chapel & ministry programming teams’ radar, so as to have you come out for a visit. If you’re ever already out in our area and we can tag team with another group, that would be helpful to our shrinking budget.

    Lastly, I’m so glad to hear you are in dialogue with Mike Clawson and that you are on the schedule for Austin Seminary’s MidWinters! I got to study with Mike for our first year of Seminary there. I loved beginning my Seminary journey with that beautifully thoughtful and “winsome” community in Austin.

    keep it real and may there be much shalom-in-your-home!

  • Adriane

    I feel that the point that is lost in all of this is that the argument made against same-sex marriage seems to assume that all relationships between men and women are morally sound. I am sincerely frustrated at the enormous blind spot we have for straight sexual/relational sin. I have a hard time accepting the fact that we seem to be ok with two people getting drunk in Vegas and finding their way to a marriage chapel as long as they are straight – but we can’t accept that two gay individuals would thoughtfully choose to get married? I know many churches where couples openly live together before marriage and are readily accepted, but often those same churches will not accept openly gay people. I know of people who have cheated on their spouse with fellow church members, then stayed in the church with no social consequence as if nothing happened. The hypocrisy surrounding this issue continually astounds me.

    • Holly

      Thank you for raising this excellent , oft-overlooked point

  • Brent Griffin

    I completely believe that fostering healthy, quality relationships between the church and the LGBT community. Its a thing that has smeared the name of Gods people for to long. We are to be the most loving, the most kind, the most compassionate. I completely believe it is not our place to judge whatsoever. I also believe the Word of God is Word of God. It is without error; it says everything God wanted to tell all of humanity…nothing more, nothing less. The scripture is the direct revelation of the Lord. I can understand the Council of Nicea and the argument that there is error in the translation. But our God is an all powerful God and he knows how precious and important His Word is and He would do ANYTHING to protect it and keep it HIS WORD. I believe in Romans 1:26-27. I believe God has called homosexuality a sin…I didn’t do that; God did. I also do not believe in the gay apologist…John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, he gave his one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes him will not perish but have eternal life.” Praise God that nothing, including our sinfulness, comes in between us and him. In our growth of being a disciple of Christ, repentance and a desire to be and live more like Christ is necessary. One repenting of homosexuality, drugs, lying, and all other sins humanity has to live with is necessary for our sanctification (our everyday growth with Jesus) but our justification (the moment of our salvation with Jesus) need us to only 1. know we are a sinner and need a Savior and 2. that Jesus Christ is the Savior and the only Savior. Adding anything else to that list is relying on our works, instead of grace, to save us or condemn us…its God’s place to do that.

    • x gay apologist

      Hi, Brent – I am in fundamental agreement with what you wrote. But it’s important to understand that the distinction between justification and sanctification does not exclude the necessity for initial repentance when we believe on Christ for salvation from our sins. For example, liars have to give up their lying, thieves have to give up their stealing, fornicators have to give up their fornication, and homosexuals have to give up their homosexuality. I Cor. 6:11 says specifically that some of them ‘were’ homosexuals, and therefore as believers they no longer were practicing it. That’s not salvation based on works, because the Bible never separates faith and repentance. This doesn’t mean that ex-homosexuals don’t often have difficult struggles with remaining sin, and have to resist temptation and redirect their sexual drives into proper channels. That’s what sanctification is all about. I can tell you from personal experience the soul-wrenching struggle that can be experienced in dealing with this, but the grace of God through the renewing work of the Holy Spirit can make us more and more into what God originally designed. That’s the only thing that will ultimately help. Reparative therapy, psychiatry, support groups, etc. won’t do it. But back to the point, to teach that justification somehow eliminates the gospel demand for repentance betrays a faulty understanding of all that’s involved in becoming a disciple of Christ. It’s unfortunately been a faulty teaching promoted by much of the fundamentalist/evangelical church for a long time.

      • NC Christian

        Apologist, thank you for your eloquent and convincing words. Keep up the good fight of faith and thank you for your testimony. The truth of scripture is not always fun to proclaim but true love demands truth.

        • X Gay Apologist

          Thank you. The encouragement is very much appreciated!

  • John Bauer

    I think this diolog is great. I also think that God is Love, and I think that we can not separate God and his deep love for all mankind, as manifest by his Son dieing for our sins. So if God is Love then how do we explain the story of Sodom & Gomorah ? I think God was showing his love to mankind, much as a loving father would to a disobedient child. I think it is a slippery slope twords destruction to say that gay marriage is ok. What if some one claims to “love” a 12 year old boy? It’s all about love right? Re; the KKK and the Nazis, Rehtoric all ! I am not a KKK or Nazi, I love the Lord, and I do not hate gay people at all. I do hate sin, the destructive slimmy sin that worms it’s way into weak minds. I hate sin in my own life too, it is real and not to be “tolorated” at all. Thank You, John

  • pmview

    What sort of anxiety is created when a we fall prey to finely crafted deception and we discover how our own internal struggle against temptation has drawn us away from our relationship with the LORD? Does this anxiety stem from a fear of loss as though we could actually control the process of being deceived? Is this anxiety supported by Scripture that we are to somehow ‘hate our flesh’ but live by faith manifesting divine love that can not sin. How do we adequately measure, in terms of its emotional affect within our souls, the Scriptural descriptions of ‘if they hand offend thee, cut it off’ when the Scriptures also say, ‘no man hates his own flesh.’ [Eph 5:29] What sort of anxiety is mutually shared when we profess to keep the Scriptures in our hearts faithfully but then read: Luke 14:26 NASB — “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” These struggles are evident in the midst of our communities as well as in the Holy Writ. Is self-loathing a Holy Sacrement that over-rides all of our relationships just so we can demonstrate our progress to outsiders? I have struggled and currently wrestle with temptations, with the illusion of control and the love-hate issues that entwine themselves in my relationships. It’s complicated, to say the least. I need my orientation to be founded in the salvation of His Love for without Him, I remain lost.

  • Larry

    Obeying the second greatest commandment is much harder than obeying the list of do’s and don’ts that Christians tend to cling to. We are quick to substititute activities for a relationship with Christ, as if, in apperaance, we can work out our faith and earn our salvation.

    Christians ought to fear this amendment, because what happens when the government begins to pass laws in favor of other religions? Do we have the right to force unbelievers to live according to the model we believe in? Are we prepared to surrender our personal liberties should the government someday dictate that only Muslim marriages are lawful. or that only government-sanctioned marriages are legal? The government has no place in our bedroom, nor can morality be legislated by a government. If it could, where is the proof?

    Are we less racially divided today after Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity, anti-hate speech laws, and all the laws that came out of the civil rights movement? Not if our current President was elected primarily because of the color of his skin rather than by his qualifications.

    Do we have less poverty today than we did after the Great Depression? In spite of tens of trillions of dollars spent on fighting poverty, we have third and fourth generations of Americans growing up, living and dying in poverty today than we did before we became a welfare state.

    Social change doesn’t occur in our laws, it occurs in the way we act out our faith; in the content of our character, not in the voting booth. As Christians, are we willing to allow Jesus to draw all men to Him, or are we going to pick and choose those we like and run off the rest? That’s what this amendment will do if it passes. If the bill fails, nothing changes. If it passes, the backlash to conservatives will be evidenced in November, and to the Church in eternity.
    God is not threatened by gay marriage or by couples living together out of wedlock. We are the fearful ones. We are the ones who wrongly believe that we have to ‘defend the faith’, even if it means turning people away from Christ and giving up our liberties at the same time. Vote no. It’s what Jesus would do.

    • Holly

      Bravo, Larry

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  • Caren

    Beautiful post, Jonathan, as usual. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words, and most of all for your example of following the Way of Christ. I was disappointed not to make it on Sunday, but was not feeling well. I hope it went great!

  • Kathy

    What a lot of this discussion leaves out is the fact that this amendment will also deny rights to unmarried persons who are heterosexual. Children of unmarried couples can lose health benefits, a child can be removed from a loving home if a biological parent dies, single women can lose domestic violence protection (this has happened in Ohio), unmarried seniors can lose rights to choose who their healthcare proxy can be, or who can visit them in the hospital. The discussion of “Gay Marriage” is beside the point – it’s already illegal in NC and that won’t change. The harm of the unforeseen consequences can be catastrophic for families. The only people who will profit will be the lawyers who will be fighting all the cases and appeals. We can do better than that.

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  • lukeNC

    X-gay apologist wrote: “For example, liars have to give up their lying, thieves have to give up their stealing, fornicators have to give up their fornication, and homosexuals have to give up their homosexuality. I Cor. 6:11 says specifically that some of them ‘were’ homosexuals, and therefore as believers they no longer were practicing it. That’s not salvation based on works, because the Bible never separates faith and repentance.”

    – lots of error here.

    Repentance is simply a change of mind from not believing that salvation is simply of faith in what Christ did on the cross for you sins TO believing that. There is no addition of works, promising to do better, giving up sins, added to salvation ONLY BELIEVING ON CHRIST. If you go back to Corinthians 5, Paul was admonishing the believers to expel the man who was in open fornication in the Church. Yet, that man was STILL saved.

    Salvation is a 3 part thing. Once you admit that you are a sinner and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation — you are “passed from death to life”, that is the first part and it is forever. Part 2 is sanctification which occurs immediately for some (quit drunkenness, lying, stealing, etc.) and in others very slowly or not at all. Part 3 is when you pass from this life to the life to come via death or when Jesus physically returns.

    Regarding terms like “gay christian”. A gay person CAN be a Christian. You can either struggle or accept homosexuality but you are still a believer regardless. I’ve known racist christians, I’ve known nationalist Christians. They were still Christians and believers but would justify sins like these or other sins or not even acknowledge that they were sins. Still, no one believes that they are sinless.

    Hope that helps.


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