Six scriptures I would use to address Kevin DeYoung’s 40 questions for rainbow flag-waving Christians

"Bible with Cross Shadow," David Campbell, Flickr C.C.
“Bible with Cross Shadow,” David Campbell, Flickr C.C.

Kevin DeYoung’s 40 questions for rainbow-flag waving Christians has been making rounds across the internet along with excellent responses from Alise Chaffins, Ben Irwin, AW Hooker, and Matthew Vines, among others. I often wonder if fundamentalists today ever stop to notice how much they resemble the first century Pharisees who were constantly pinging on Jesus to justify his loving acts with their scripture. To me, the most important tool the gospels give us for discerning Christian morality is the contrast that they draw between Jesus and his sanctimonious religious opponents. I would contend that the following verses convey the moral pragmatism of both Jesus and the apostle Paul which are one reason that I support the establishment of same-sex marriage.

1)      Matthew 9:13: “Go and find out what this means: ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’”

This is what Jesus says to the Pharisees when they harp on him for eating with tax collectors and sinners, and I believe it’s exactly what he would say to the fundamentalist critics of rainbow-flag waving Christians today.

In the original text of Hosea 6:6 which Jesus quotes, God is bemoaning the Israelites’ perfunctory use of ritual. The full verse says, “I desire mercy not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” It uses the Hebrew word chesed which can mean “mercy,” but it really should translate as “steadfast love” in the context of Hosea 6:6, because God is saying he wants heartfelt loyalty from the Israelites rather than ritual. It’s worth noting that this is the only place in the Hebrew Bible where God asks for chesed from his people rather than his people asking for chesed from him.

For Jesus to deploy this verse as a response to the Pharisees’ criticism of his association with sinners completely changes the meaning of the verse. He’s saying that the way to show steadfast love for God is to show mercy to sinners instead of judging and shunning them out of solidarity with God’s holiness. Nothing about the context of Hosea 6:6 justifies Jesus’ usage. Hosea is not saying anything about mercy for sinners. It would have been more exegetically legitimate for the Pharisees to quote Hosea 6:6 to Jesus as part of their complaint that he was betraying God by associating with people whose lifestyles dishonored God.

If Jesus’ interpretation of Hosea 6:6 summarizes God’s basic demand for humanity, which I think it does, then what God most wants from us is our radical hospitality for other people, not our willingness to make sacrifices to show how much we “glorify” him. God doesn’t justify and sanctify us in order to have a polished set of trophies that showcase his sovereignty, but so that we can be purged of idolatry and thus made entirely available as his means of sharing mercy for the world.

2)      Genesis 2:18: “It is not good that the man should be alone.”

The most awkward thing about Genesis 2 for fundamentalists is that God creates the animals after the man, instead of before humanity as in Genesis 1, for the purpose of finding the man a suitable helper. It’s only after none of the other animals qualify as a helper for the man (Genesis 2:20) that God decides to create the woman. But setting aside how obviously ridiculous it becomes to see this allegorical story as a historical event, what we see is that God cares about the emotional needs of his creatures. His purpose in this story is not to give himself glory. His purpose is to provide the man with companionship. Now it’s true that our culture’s idolatry of marriage and the nuclear family (largely orchestrated by evangelical Christianity) has left us with a very diminished imagination for how companionship and community can occur between people, but if we’re using Genesis 2:18 as a moral guide for us, then it’s not good for gay people to be alone just so that fundamentalists can have an easier time interpreting their Bibles.

3)      Mark 2:27: “The Sabbath was made for humanity, not humanity for the Sabbath.”

To Jesus’ religious critics, the purpose of the Sabbath could not be clearer. In Luke 13:14 the ruler of the synagogue pleads with the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day.” It was such a reasonable request. Why couldn’t Jesus heal people on the other six days of the week since the Sabbath was the one day to glorify God? And Jesus responds to his critics with this shocking statement that the Sabbath was made for humanity. What? So the Sabbath wasn’t made for God? What are you, Jesus, some kind of humanist?! The paradigmatic principle of this verse epitomizes the moral pragmatism reflected throughout Jesus’ teachings and deeds. Like the Sabbath, all of God’s law is made for humanity’s benefit, not as a means for establishing God’s sovereignty.

This is precisely where the fault-line is between Christians like me and the fundamentalists. They need for there to be some Biblical laws that have no other explanation than “because God said so” or “for the sake of God’s glory.” If every law has an explanation in terms of its benefits for humanity, they think it takes away God’s sovereignty and leaves us with nothing more than secular humanism. The reason they cling so tightly to the prohibition against homosexuality is because it’s their means of proving to themselves that they’re standing up for God’s sovereignty against the encroachment of humanism. And I say that Mark 2:27 shows that Jesus himself is a humanist. Gasp!

4)      Romans 14:14: “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.”

This verse exposes Paul’s scandalous moral relativism. No, he isn’t just talking about food, or he would have said “no food is unclean in itself.” He says elsewhere that “all things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12), which panicked translators have tried to address using all sorts of tricks. The reason certain behaviors are unclean is because of the impact that they have on us, not because God makes arbitrary rules for the sake of establishing his sovereignty. The point is to avoid idolatry. It’s actually a lot more difficult to stay spiritually clean than if the Bible were the comprehensive “owner’s manual” that fundamentalists claim it to be. We cannot rely on the explicit do’s and don’ts of the Bible to cover everything. If you’re stress-eating, then you’re committing no less of a sin than the person who gets drunk, even if you can’t find a chapter verse citation for it. If I have sex within my marriage in a way that merely gratifies my physical need instead of showing my wife how sacred she is, that too is sinful. We sin all the time in many different ways that the Bible never names in an explicit command, because we are always doing things that detract from our attentiveness to the presence of God in our lives and our ability to experience the bliss of union with Christ. And God is gracious enough to patiently deliver us from all the ways we keep on making ourselves unclean. Nothing is unclean in itself, but many things are unclean because of how our mind covets idols instead of God.

5)      1 Corinthians 7:32, 35: “I want you to be free from anxieties… I say this for your own benefit not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.”

The best way to build a sexual ethic from the apostle Paul’s teachings is to look at Paul’s explicit rationale when he is directly offering prescriptive teaching about sexuality (1 Corinthians 7) instead of extrapolating based upon speculative translations of obscure Greek words (1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10) or incidental mentions of sexual behavior taken completely out of their rhetorical context (Romans 1:26-27).

When Paul talks to the Corinthians directly about sex, he doesn’t say that marriage is the way that they will show the world how Christ loves the church or anything like that. He offers marriage as a “concession, not a command” (1 Corinthians 7:6) “because of cases of sexual immorality” (v. 2). In 1 Corinthians 7, marriage is fundamentally a question of social pragmatism.

Paul really wants for everyone to be celibate like he is (v. 7). Why? Perhaps it’s because Paul has had amazingly erotic spiritual encounters with God (2 Corinthians 12:1-4) like those described by other celibate saints such as Teresa of Avila, Bonaventure, etc. Celibacy is not punishment or drudgery, but an amazingly spiritually potent existence that few human beings are gifted enough to handle.

In any case, Paul gives three explicit reasons for his instructions to the Corinthians regarding sexuality. He wants them to be 1) free from anxieties, and he wants to promote 2) good order and 3) unhindered devotion to the Lord. These three criteria correspond to love of self (freedom from anxiety), love of neighbor (good order), and love of God (unhindered devotion).

I believe that any Christian conversation about sexuality should use 1 Corinthians 7 as a foundation. Do sexual practices create anxiety, sabotage the social order, or hinder devotion to God? If so, then they’re sinful. If not, then they’re okay. When I use these criteria, I find pedophilia, incest, polygamy, bestiality, promiscuity, pornography, and adultery to be out of bounds, while monogamous straight and gay companionship are legitimate.

6)      Matthew 25:40 “Just as you have done to the least of my brethren, you have done for me.”

I close with this well-known verse from Matthew 25 because it’s where Jesus names explicitly what it means to him to respect God’s sovereignty. Matthew 25:40 is really another way of articulating Jesus’ radical interpretation of Hosea 6:6. The way that we show respect for God is through the unconditional hospitality and mercy that we show to marginalized people, not through demanding sacrifices of them so that we can feel like we’re adequately standing up for God’s holiness against the mores of modern culture. God does not ask us to champion his sovereignty by “shutting the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces” (Matthew 23:13). The way that we honor God’s sovereignty insofar as queer people are concerned is by treating the queer people in our lives as though they are Jesus and asking them to pray that Jesus would live in our hearts also.

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  • Frank

    Meanwhile homosexual romantic and sexual behavior remains sinful.

  • doulos41

    These are great verses to begin with. We can’t pretend that these verses take us straight to a blanket acceptance of gay marriage, any more than we can pretend that other verses about God’s desire for holiness take us straight to a blanket rejection of gay marriage. But it’s a good place to start the conversation.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mercynotsacrifice Morgan Guyton

      True. I guess the right way to put it is not that these verses “prove” anything, but that they are my starting point for how I think ethically about gay marriage.

  • Paul Clutterbuck

    W.r.t. Jesus’ use of Hosea in #1, the Christian interpreter puts themselves into a hermeneutical bind. By requiring that Jesus is God and therefore always is right, the Christian interpreter must accept Jesus’ use of Hosea as the correct one, against the Pharisees’ traditional interpretation. The Jewish interpreter, and the nonChristian, is not bound by this assumption, and calls Jesus’ use of Hosea a misquotation, taken out of context to mean something other than it was traditionally understood to mean. So how we interpret this verse (and the rest of Hebrew Scripture) hinges on whether or not we take Jesus to be telling us (and showing us) what G-d is really like: if God is Jesus, and Jesus is always right, Hebrew Scripture can mean whatever Jesus says it means. If God is NOT Jesus, Hebrew Scripture means what its Jewish interpreters have always said it means.

  • http://www.lifebridgeministry.com Keith St Jean

    Morgan, while I certainly appreciate your desire to work through these questions and discover some answers I feel that these questions stem from a view of Scripture that considers it a rule book or prescriptive of every aspect of life, which it simply isn’t. Scripture is a collection of stories, many of which are metaphorical parables. That doesn’t deny their power or truth just that they were never meant to be factual in the way we understand the word. The Bible is filled with contradiction, confusion, and mysterious statements but that is one of the reasons why I love it. It is the story of a people struggling to relate to the world around them and to God. To answer these questions is to entertain the idea that they can be answered according to the standards this person has set and I don’t believe they can because the standard is faulty.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mercynotsacrifice Morgan Guyton

      I totally agree with you. That’s why I didn’t list out all of his questions and let him define the conversation. When I read the Bible, I’m looking for virtues to emulate not a list of do’s and dont’s. But there are overarching paradigmatic statements that help us understand the nature of Christian holiness like the sabbath is made for humanity, I desire mercy not sacrifice, etc.

  • Todd

    I noticed that your denominational affiliation is United Methodist. Not that John Wesley’s teachings trump those of Jesus, but let me ask: Would Wesley appove of gay marriage? No! Wesley proclaimed that the grace that saves the sinner is the same grace expected to change the sinner. He would certainly consider the proposition of gay marriage and the acceptance of homosexuality a deadly concession to the flesh. Why? Because of his understanding of the scriptures. Don’t discard the truth. Please reconsider your position.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mercynotsacrifice Morgan Guyton

      Wesley never said anything one way or another about gay marriage. I don’t disagree that grace both saves and changes us.

  • Mike

    Wow. This is one of the most disturbing use of proof texts that I have seen in awhile. When you pull individual Scripture out of context, you can take it to mean almost anything that you like. While I absolutely agree that some of the vitriol from some people who call themselves Christians is sinful as well, no one can deny that God’s plan is clearly that He designed marriage as one man and one woman. I also agree completely with the quote that is floating around in cyberspace that is, ”

    “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first
    is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate
    them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with
    everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to
    compromise convictions to be compassionate.” So, yes, love others and show mercy, but don’t throw away God’s holiness and righteousness in the process.

    • $136305622

      It is interesting you should talk about taking verses out of their context. That is exactly what the anti-gay crowd has been doing with a handful of verses.

      • Mike

        Lookingup73, you’re right in that MANY people take verses out of context. It’s something that we all should be very careful of.

        • $136305622

          Interestingly, and this is where it becomes real, your interpretations can cause harm. The interpretations above, which were out of context, still contained a message that is positive. I know which ones make more sense to follow.
          I am happy to hear you admit that the anti gay crowd is guilty of using the bible incorrectly against gays. That is a step in the right direction.

          • Mike

            I don’t follow you when you say that “your interpretations can cause harm.” Could you possibly flesh that out. Also, it concerns me when the emphasis is on a “positive” message as opposed to a true interpretation of God’s Word. Society wants us all to be happy and to just get along. If there is no objective truth then inherently there is no sin and therefore no reason for Christ to have come at all. Also, please don’t misunderstand me when I say that “many people take verses out of context.” By making that statement, I am not agreeing with homosexuality. However, I am very concerned when people elevate one sin as worse than another. Again, Scripture teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman, and I believe that to be 100% true. However, Scripture also teaches that lying, arrogance, love of money, and drunkenness are also sins. Yes, we should call out sin for what it is, but we should also do so with a compassionate heart and loving spirit with the goal of reconciliation and repentance in view.

          • $136305622

            There you go again talking about the true “interpretation” of gods word. You use the bible against gay folks based on shaky interpretations. At the end of the day, that is pretty harmful and unchristian. And certainly arrogant! Which you have correctly indicated is a major sin.

          • Mike

            Again, I ask, can you please clarify how holding to my position is harmful? I don’t hate anyone, and I certainly am not trying to look down on anyone. I’ve also tried not to be arrogant in my responses. You stated that my response was “unchristian.” Christianity is about glorifying God. It’s not about making people feel good about themselves.

            Morgan considered me dismissive so I responded more fully. I realize that on this website most people will not hold to my views and for that reason, I will signoff and try to not cause more angst. I simply wanted to honor Morgan’s post by being more detailed in my response as he requested. I apologize for causing concern among these posters; although, I don’t apologize for holding to God’s Word. Thanks for listening.

          • $136305622

            Holding the position is harmful because it has a real impact on the lives of glbt individuals (they are ostracized in society, denied jobs, denied housing, disowned by family members, kicked out of churches, killed, beaten, denied marriage, etc.) all based on an incorrect interpretation of biblical passages. The arrogance is not in your comment (I never said your comment was arrogant) but rather in the belief your interpretation is THE correct one when it does not take into account historical context, etc.

          • Frank

            Homosexual romantic and sexual behavior was, is and will always be sinful. No getting around that.

          • $136305622

            No evidence for that view. But hey, you can say it all you want.

          • Frank

            There is only evidence for this truth. Try again.

          • Bob Tanner

            Well said, Mike. Interesting article, as well as interesting comments. But I think you nailed it.

          • Mike

            Thanks for saying so. I do enjoy a good discussion, and I certainly want to stand up for what I believe to be true. That being said, I’m not sure that a public forum is the best place to do that, hence the reason my first comments were brief and received as dismissive.

            No matter what side you fall on in almost any issue, a debate on a public internet forum is never going to sway anyone one way or the other and will only end in (best case) disagreement and (worst case) name calling and derogatory comments.

            I miss the old days when people used to sit down and talk about issues. With email and internet postings today, it’s impossible to read tone and grace toward others in the midst of a discussion. As I said earlier, I don’t want to contribute towards anyone’s angst here, but I do appreciate the opportunity to speak what I see to be true according to the Scriptures. Thanks again.

          • Frank

            Then you should be able to prove using scripture that homosexual behavior is not sinful. I wont hold my breath.

          • $136305622

            Haven’t seen any passages that would say homosexual behavior between two consenting adults in love is sinful. Rape and prostitution? Yes.

          • Frank

            I understand you can’t do it. Very telling.

          • $136305622

            Don’t need to do anything. Find passages that prove me wrong. Again, make sure you interpret them correctly!

          • Frank

            I get it, you can’t do it. Thanks for the confirmation.

          • $136305622

            You are funny. You claim something is sinful. I claim it is not. It is incumbent on YOU, not me to prove that it is in fact sinful. The bible says nothing about driving a car. I therefore believe it is not sinful. Same with homosexual love. nothing there. Would you require me to prove to you that driving a car is not sinful? That is a pretty twisted logical tactic on your part. Good try though!

          • Frank

            Actually the onus is on you to prove that the bible doesn’t say what it says and doesn’t means what it says and the millennia of scholarship and belief is in fact incorrect.

            But I understand why you would need to shift the burden. You can’t do it. We get it.

          • $136305622

            Well, everywhere where homosexual relations are alluded to in the Bible is specific to a certain behavior as I already pointed out (rape, pagan rituals/orgies, prostitution). That is based on hundreds of years of scholarship and language analysis.

          • Frank

            That’s only your opinion unsupported by fact, probably to justify your own sin and your desire to live the way you choose not the way God would choose for you.

          • $136305622

            Ah – good ole ad hominem. Sign of a lost argument. Good day. God bless.

          • Frank

            Since you haven’t presented an argument at all and have avoided providing any proof, your comment is spot on. The target however is you.

            We know you can’t do it. What’s left but to run away?

          • $136305622

            Interesting. I have presented an interpretation of the verses. You have not provided an interpretation that makes sense.

          • Frank

            You have presented your opinion on a couple verses. You ignore the sexual ethic woven all throughout scripture.

            We understand. What else can you do?

          • $136305622

            Sounds good. There is no convincing you. I prefer to live a life full of the loving messgae of Christ. We all make our choices.

            “We understand” The royal we? LOL

          • Frank

            I can be convinced if there we’re any credible evidence. So far nothing. Thanks fir the continued confirmation.

            I mention we as those who believe the bible says what it says. It’s us that you have to convince no?

          • $136305622

            Even better – I think you need to convince us that a life spent condemning people with misinterpreted bible verses is a life in Christ. His words and actions certainly don’t support that lifestyle choice you have made.

          • Frank

            As expected you have no choice but to try and shift the burden. Now it’s just getting embarrassing for you.

          • $136305622

            I have done my job. I have shown how passages were misinterpreted. You wanted none of it. I’m not feeling too embarrassed here…sorry to disappoint you :)

          • Frank

            If your job was to prove you cant support your opinion with any credible scholarship…. Job well done!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mercynotsacrifice Morgan Guyton

      You didn’t engage my post. You made a dismissive statement about it in general and then had a conversation with yourself where you quoted somebody else.

      • Mike

        I certainly didn’t intend to be dismissive. I’m just unsure where to start with many of your points, and I didn’t think that you wanted me to write a blog post as a response to your blog post. As I said, earlier, I agree that some followers of Jesus have not responded in mercy to the discussion of same-sex marriage. However, responding in mercy doesn’t mean that believers should “support the establishment of same-sex marriage.” I’ll try to give a more thorough response.

        1) When Jesus says that he desires mercy and not sacrifice, he was saying that he came for sinners and not for the self-righteous. I completely agree, and I am thankful He did because I myself am a sinner saved by grace. But in Matthew 9, Jesus never says that those who sin should continue in their sin just because He shows them mercy. Praise the Lord for the mercy of Jesus! But let’s not think that He didn’t come to change our behavior either. We glorify Him when we honor Him with our lives, and one of the ways that we honor Him with our lives is yes by showing mercy to others and also by living lives of purity that comes as He sanctifies us by His Holy Spirit. Several people on here have said that Jesus never condemned homosexuality, and I know that people are going to argue over the meaning of certain words, but it’s pretty clear that God’s intended design for marriage was one man and one woman. We should honor God in our lives by honoring His intent for marriage.

        2) I’m not sure how interpret “It is not good for man to be alone,” to advocate for gay marriage. The suitable helper that God created for man was woman. I assure you that I am not making an “idol” of my marriage, but I can tell you that I have a very high view of marriage. In fact, Paul (a single guy) spoke to such a high view of marriage in Ephesians 5 when he says that husbands should love their wives “just as Christ also loved the church.” Notice that he doesn’t say that husbands should love their husbands or that wives should love their wives. He also then clearly says in verse 32 that the relationship of husband and wife is representative of the relationship between Christ and the church. God gave us marriage to help us better understand the relationship of Christ and the church. That is a beautiful picture!

        3) Again, I am struggling with your application of this verse. In your application you made the statement, “Like the Sabbath, all of God’s law is made for humanity’s benefit, not as a means for establishing God’s sovereignty.” The Scriptures teach that the law was given so that man might know that they are sinners and in need of a Savior. (Romans 1-3, 7, Galatians 3) These verses are so clear about this that I find it difficult to arrive at your conclusion that all of God’s law is made for humanity’s benefit, unless you are agreeing with me that the ultimate human benefit of the law was to show us our sin.

        4) I agree with much of what you’ve said in this point. However, little of what you said actually applies to the same-sex marriage argument. I don’t disagree with these statements, “If you’re stress-eating, then you’re committing no less of a sin than
        the person who gets drunk, even if you can’t find a chapter verse
        citation for it. If I have sex within my marriage in a way that merely
        gratifies my physical need instead of showing my wife how sacred she is,
        that too is sinful. We sin all the time in many different ways that the
        Bible never names in an explicit command, because we are always doing
        things that detract from our attentiveness to the presence of God in our
        lives and our ability to experience the bliss of union with Christ. And
        God is gracious enough to patiently deliver us from all the ways we
        keep on making ourselves unclean.” The only thing that I would change is that I would have said that “we sin all the time in many different ways that the Bible never names in an explicit command, because we are always doing things that detract from God’s glory.” That being said, just because God is gracious to us in our sin doesn’t mean that we should continue in sin, does it? Paul said something about that as well, right?

        5) I’m sorry. I’m really not trying to be difficult, but I fail to see how your explanation of 1 Corinthians 7 in any way promotes acceptance of same-sex marriage. About 1 Corinthians 7, you said, “When Paul talks to the Corinthians directly about sex, he doesn’t say that marriage is the way that they will show the world how Christ loves the church or anything like that.” But that’s exactly what Paul did in Ephesians 5.

        6) Again, this verse has nothing to do with same-sex marriage. You seem to be saying that people who hold to the idea of marriage being between one man and one woman can’t show hospitality and mercy to those who practice homosexuality. I disagree with this. The Bible also tells us that we should unconditionally love those who practice arrogance, who have made money an idol, who are drunkards, adulterers, murderers, etc. But that never means that God would accept their behavior as God-honoring. And nobody that I know who stands up for Biblical marriage has tried to shut the door to the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. I absolutely believe that Jesus came for sinners, and praise the Lord for that!

        In summary, my intention was not to be dismissive of your post. I just had no idea where to start in response to it because i disagreed with quite a bit of it. Thank you for challenging me on this and I hope that this explanation helps to understand where I am coming from. I’m still trying to come up with a final statement as to where we disagree and I think that it’s like this. It seems that you are trying to say that God gave us His Word in order to say that hospitality and mercy are the ultimate evidence of God’s work in our lives. It also seems that you are saying that evangelicals see God’s Word as a rulebook. That’s simply not true. God’s Word was given to us to lead us to Jesus and the gospel. The OT points to Jesus’ coming. The NT shows us Jesus and the gospel which is 1) that God is holy, 2) that man has sinned and our sin has separated us from God, 3) that Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins and 4) that we must trust in Jesus to be saved. However, the Bible also shows us that God’s work in our lives produces fruit in keeping with repentance and leads to further sanctification in our lives that is the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s never that Christians are better or look down on others, but it is that God has a perfect standard of righteousness that none of us can meet and that we need Jesus. However, it never says that we should throw away God’s standard of righteousness just because we can’t meet it.

        I hope that clarifies my concerns about your post.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mercynotsacrifice Morgan Guyton

          thanks for your engagement Mike. My argument which perhaps wasn’t explicit enough is that God isn’t invested in a particular “design” for human sexuality. Many people are actually created with both male and female anatomy. How we understand holiness and sin should be shaped by what we understand God’s purpose for our lives to be. The fact that God desires mercy not sacrifice doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be sanctified of our sin. It means that sin is that which inhibits me from being God’s mercy for the world. Any idol that keeps me from being fully available to God. God doesn’t do arbitrary “design.” That’s what the Pharisees thought the sabbath was: “God’s design.” Jesus said no if someone is hurting on the sabbath, I’m going to heal them because God isn’t an inflexible bureaucrat. He wants for all of his creation to enjoy the fullness of his glory which sometimes means doing “work” on the sabbath. There is a holy and chaste way for us to enjoy the sexuality that God created for us to enjoy: within a marriage. If you’re not attracted to the opposite sex, then the most intimate act of marriage with the opposite sex is going to be torture to you if you’re able to perform it at all. God doesn’t want gay people to be tortured just for the sake of living up to some human interpretation of what “God’s design” is.

          • Frank

            Mutation creates hermaphrodites not God.

    • otrotierra

      No, Jesus never taught against same-sex marriage.

      No thanks, I’ll stick with what Jesus actually said.

    • Sven2547

      Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The firstis that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate
      them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with
      everything they believe or do

      You sure beat the heck out of those straw-men.

  • jdens

    This is one of the best responses I’ve read, and I really appreciate how you have re-framed the discussion. The point about the Sabbath being made for man, contrasted with the insistance that there be a morality based on nothing other than ‘Because God said so’ is particularly salient.

  • Shiphrah99

    FWIW Jews tend to translate chesed as “loving-kindness.”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mercynotsacrifice Morgan Guyton

      Thanks!

  • DonaldByronJohnson

    I will try to engage you with my understanding of the verses your mentioned above.

    For the record, I think Scripture teaches that not all homosexual acts are sinful, I just get there is a very different way.

    I also just realized that the name of your blog is “Mercy, not Sacrifice” so I might be challenging your understanding of a verse that you think is very important. You seem to think Jesus is using the Hos 6:6 out of context, but I do not, so I suspect we have very different ideas about what is going on.

    LEB Hos 6:6 Because I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

    I think Hosea is using a Hebraism involving exaggeration. God in Torah told the Israelites that they are to love God and love their neighbor as themselves and also they are to do sacrifices. So Hosea is not contradicting this, what he is doing is saying what the priorities are, one is to practice chesed/steadfast love with both God and one’s neighbors first and only then will one’s sacrifices be acceptable. In other words, the justice commandments in Torah come before the “works of the Law/Torah” Jewish identity marker type commandments.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mercynotsacrifice Morgan Guyton

      I just don’t think it would be self-evident to draw the “love your neighbor” part from Hosea in its context. The context is all about how God’s people have “played the whore” with him and worshiped other gods. So God wants them to really love him and not just perform perfunctory rituals. There’s really nothing in Hosea about the call to love your neighbor the way that there is in Micah, Isaiah, and many of the other OT prophets. I think it’s great that Jesus made the interpretation that he did. But it’s not self-evident that chesed for God translates into mercy for sinners. And regarding the exaggeration, it’s of course the case that sacrifice continues to be part of the picture, but mercy is the end-purpose of holiness. Sacrifice is just a means of making us into God’s mercy for the world.

  • Michael Samson

    My time is limited due to work so I will respond to your first point. In the example of Jesus dining with sinners and his mercy I think you leave out one major point. Jesus never once told any of them to keep doing what they were doing. To the tax collector he told him to stop cheating people. To the adulterous woman whom he refused to cast a stone he said “Go and sin no more.” His mercy is undeniably, but he also wanted people to change for the better. I wish I could write more but I must go but I am curious, will you be writing a blog at some point where you answer Kevin Deyoung’s questions one by one. I would be interested in your answers. Have a good day

    • otrotierra

      Since Jesus never equated adultery with same-sex marriage, you’re really on your own with your self-invented comparisons. Based on your comments on this thread, you’re really just having a conversation with yourself, all by yourself.

      • Michael Samson

        If that is the case then why did you even bother to respond?

        • otrotierra

          Because someone needed to inform you that Jesus never equated adultery with same-sex marriage. Now you can be certain that Jesus is not calling you to equate adultery with same-sex marriage.

          • Michael Samson

            Then show me where a homosexuality relationship is celebrated or spoken highly of in the Bible, since you are so smart

          • Frank

            Dont expect a response. That’s your answer: it can’t be done.

          • otrotierra

            Since blog commenting is not celebrated or spoken highly of in the Bible, I see you won’t be blog commenting any longer.

            At least now you know that Jesus never equated adultery with same-sex marriage.

          • Frank

            And yet they are both sins.

    • Frank

      Well said.

  • Michael Samson

    And one more thing, please forgive me, but could your article be used in the same manor by people indulge in other types of sexual behavior like partner swapping between consenting adults but at the same time claim the name of Christ?

    • otrotierra

      Since “partner swapping” is not a sexual identity that people are born with, your lazy comparison does not apply and is in no way interesting nor constructive.

      • Michael Samson

        Who are you to say what sinful sexual desires that people can have due to us all being born into sin. By that statement you are either a young girl who has been sheltered or a boy who hasn’t even hit puberty.

        • otrotierra

          No, “partner swapping” is still not a sexual identity. You’re just having a silly conversation with yourself about self-invented fantasies that have nothing to do with reality.

          • http://stasisonline.wordpress.com Tom

            I haven’t heard of this rule that a person can’t identify as a wife swapper. Do the wife swappers know about this?

          • otrotierra

            No Tom, “wife swapper” is not a sexual identity that people are born with. You’re just having a conversation with yourself about your own self-invented fantasies.

            No thanks, I’ll stick with what Jesus says.

      • Frank

        There is no evidence than anyone is born gay. Just the opposite in fact.

        Either way it matters not what sinful desires people may be born with due to sin. It’s still sinful.

  • choctaw_chris

    Along with other contributors to this discussion I have deep reservations about your use of scripture. For one, I’m pretty sure Paul was talking about ceremonial cleanliness. The point about conscience was that you cannot do what you consider wrong on the justification that its religiously correct. How many barbaric acts have been perpetrated on this basis. So if someone considers something unclean then it is.

    The real difference between refusing food sacrificed to idols and engaging with those you consider sexually perverse is that the former can hurt no one and it really is a matter of personal conscience. Likewise if you thought it perverse to have relations with someone of the same sex it would be perfectly reasonable to abstain from such. But when Paul says we should not associate with immoral people he is only talking of hypocritical Christians who claim to be one thing and act like another.

    When Jesus speaks of the Sabbath being made for man, not God, he doesn’t suggest that God’s glory has no part in it. God gets no glory from slavish devotion to a law when its only consequence is that its adherents become self-righteous and those who would worship God in spirit and truth are denied basic rights. I wouldn’t appeal to Paul in this regard. If you read John’s gospel and letters its clear that to love God and hate your brother is an oxymoron.

    Ultimately everything points Godward. Its the denial of ourselves and devotion to God that restores our humanity and makes us better people. I think the first thing we should consider when evaluating the conduct of others is how our thoughts and actions truly glorify God rather than satisfy our own religious fervor. Arguing the finer points of Jesus sermons and Paul’s letters does little to persuade those who oppose gay marriage.

  • ccws

    #7. “…what does God require of you, but to justice, love kindness, and walk humbly…” To deny anyone the joy of a partner for life is to be unjust, unkind, and arrogant in thinking you know better than the God who joins people together for reasons we may not be able to fathom.

    • Michael Samson

      What if it takes two people or more to give you that joy? What if it’s a young child? Or a close relative? What if pornography gives someone that joy? Still ok?

      • otrotierra

        No, ccws wrote nothing about pedophilia. Jesus never equated homosexuality with pedophilia.

        You’re just having an intellectually lazy conversation with yourself, all by yourself.

  • Sterling

    Your understanding of Genesis 2 is odd. What makes you think that God created the animals after He created man? What about man’s praise of woman isn’t an indirect giving of glory to God? Is not all of Creation for the purpose of God’s glory?

  • Kangaroo52

    I read his article. I don’t believe any of his questions met the easy to achieve threshold for “arguing in good faith.”