It is Time for the American Christian Church to Surrender the Gay Marriage Fight, Apologize, and Share Love

This is a guest post by a good friend.  Guest articles, although interesting, are the responsibility of the author, not Kurt.  Here’s his info…

Guest writer Trent Maida is former film critic and full-on blogger who now does other stuff that you may come across.


I need to clarify right out of the gate that this post will not focus on the “choice vs. birth vs. childhood” arguments related to the origin of homosexuality in an individual. We must start from the reality that acknowledges the American Christian church as divided on that issue, and will be for some time. Many on the Right view homosexuality as sin, a growing number on the Left view homosexuality as God-authored and inherently beautiful, and those in the middle have varying views and distinctions to offer. For Christians across the political and denominational spectrum, it is often a struggle to find one’s footing in this complicated issue. After all, the GLBT community includes family members, friends and neighbors.

Instead, this post will focus on making a case from a Christian perspective that gay marriage should be allowed legally in this country, and will attempt to explain why the church will become more like it was intended to be when it concedes this legislative battle. Here’s why.

Are We Warring or Welcoming?

God did not instruct the church to force the rest of the world to have the appearance of the church.

But that is the inevitable objective of the anti-gay marriage movement.

An implication is that a ban on such marriage will cause homosexuality to go stealth and disappear from God’s radar. But even if we’re taking the side of the anti-gay marriage argument and their supporting reasons for a moment, why would God use one singular issue to determine the character of an entire population? Such a finely-tuned fixation not only simplifies God and mankind, but it shows how little the Christian church often chooses to focus on real problems with serious consequences, like unnecessary war, sex trafficking, extreme global poverty, gender inequality, our prison industrial complex, increasing poverty at home, growing income inequality, greed, rampant corruption and an unlawful and unaccountable federal government.

The sin of your sister Sodom was this: She lived with her daughters in the lap of luxury—proud, gluttonous, and lazy. They ignored the oppressed and the poor. They put on airs and lived obscene lives. And you know what happened: I did away with them.” -Ezekiel 16:49, The Message translation

The quest to deny gay individuals the right to marry in the broader culture is an example of Christian conquest which is and always has been a perversion of discipleship. The church must illuminate a path for seekers to pursue the light of God, and provide a place of solace where the Lord’s call can find a response of the heart. Instead, we have often crowded the path with protesters and picket signs, and drowned out the sound of God’s knocking with our shouting. The mistake of the anti-gay marriage movement in the Christian church is that it is an attempt at indirect discipleship by way of restricting another’s freedom, and discipleship has never succeeded in that way. Discipleship convicts, comforts, and points the way, but it does so established on a foundation of dignity inherent in every person’s God-given right to respond without coercion.

The church ought to be immersed in the business of transforming lives through teaching, compassion and care, instead of treading in the shallow waters that have us trying to govern lives through legislative force. God extends to all of us freewill and patience and it’s time we truly extend both to the GLBT community. And it’s also time we turn the other cheek if we insist on viewing gay marriage as an assault on one’s own values. Having fists raised and holding a posture that is ready to fight are the last gestures that will ever make a group of people feel welcome when they have already been bullied, marginalized, and scorned.

We wonder, after all of the stadiums filled with people cheering for heterosexual marriage, and the church demonstrations outside of schools during a day of silence for GLBT discrimination, and rallies at the capital, and harsh rhetoric, why people don’t believe us when we as the church say “all are welcome here.” The more vocal anti- gay marriage wing of the church must acknowledge the possibility that it is (at a minimum) sending mixed messages.

Anti-Gay Marriage Arguments are Rooted in What?

I can’t help but groan when anti-gay marriage pastors brag that they’re not homophobic, followed by statements of self-assurance when interviewed by gay reporters such as ”do I look like I’m afraid of you?” Christian pastors need to model themselves after Jesus Christ rather than Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. Worse, the reasons used to prevent gay marriage are fearful arguments, ranging from fears about gays indoctrinating children to fears about gays taking over the government to fears about losing church rights. We have to ask ourselves if the victory of the cross was achieved through earthly supremacy or through surrender?

Framing the whole debate as a slippery slope is effective if we just want to recruit a bunch of worried people. This happens while some Christians accuse the gay community of doing the exact same kind of recruiting. This should not surprise us, for when we go to war in any form, we inevitably take on traits of the people we’ve branded as enemies. Christians don’t need to see a copy and paste of all the Scriptural passages that talk about a life based in love and not fear because we already know they’re plentiful.

Piety on Parade (the Most Offensive Parade in Town)

When those opposed to gay marriage also claim to be strict adherents to Biblical literalism, they should then be the first ones to destroy the term “sanctity of marriage” because it can be found exactly nowhere in Scripture. Sanctity of marriage is a man-made concoction, used to claim the moral high ground in the same way that organizations use “family” or “freedom” in their title as if they hold a monopoly on virtue.

Christians know that Christ told us to remove the log from our own eyes before we try to take a sliver out of the eyes of another. It is profoundly hypocritical to deny homosexuals the right to marry under the banner of marriage purity when divorce and adultery rates in Christian homes are equal to those in the wider world. Christians have a systemic problem of brokenness and unfaithfulness in our own relational sphere and we’ve preferred at times to answer by pointing the finger at someone else. This is not the way of Jesus.

Moving Towards Humility, Learning to Listen, Daring to be Curious

All of this isn’t to say that the church should give up on wrestling with the complexities of sexual orientation, nor is it to say that the church itself should perform gay marriage ceremonies. Those matters require far more than one blog post. At the very least, and perhaps as a start, we need to surrender the legislative conflict while practicing more humility and recognizing our shared humanity.

What would it mean to the GLBT community to hear from the church in unison “we were wrong to wage this war against you, and we are sorry for it and for all of the ways that we’ve hurt you.” What would it mean to those individuals willing to share that being gay is all that they’ve ever known, if members of the church would respond by wanting to hear more of their story rather than rushing to tell them its the wrong story to have?

The church lacks curiosity because it has fallen for the lie that says rigidity is close to godliness while openness is a form of spiritual weakness. We’re late to our own game. Theology is exploding in local bars, and in lyrics, and in movies and in art and the broader culture, because we have doubled down on an issue that was never ours to begin with, and wasted years in that fruitless space. The church must now recognize that there is no risk to our convictions of faith to enter into authentic dialogue with a genuine sense of curiosity in order to understand the identity and the struggles of another human being, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Here’s the moment when the Christian church will become more relevant, and it’s not when the church wins the culture war. The church will become relevant the moment its members unclench their fists for long enough to host GLBT family members, friends and neighbors for a meal, with nothing expected in return; the moment when true friendship between the church and the GLBT community is no longer contingent on conversion.

If you are a member of the GLBT community and have a story to share, whether you’ve been wounded or uplifted by the church, or something else entirely, please feel free to do so here. Other comments are welcome as always, but if yours is ugly, I’m going to delete it. Please stay respectful, remembering that this is first a human issue, and other humans are reading what you write.




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  • JM

    My only question is, would the author concede the same arguments for those who advocate polyamorous marriages or consensual adult incestuous marriages? If he is consistent then he must; in which case I have no problem with such a position. But it’s the ones who advocate gay marriage, but then turn around and deny the legitimacy of other forms of committed adult marriages that frankly annoy me.

    For what it’s worth, I currently lean towards the view that marriage is a religious/cultural issue rather than a legal government one.

    • Anonymous

      Why do you lean toward the idea that it is only one or the other?

      • JM

        Mainly because of issues like this. Once the government gets involved in sanctioning something, it loses the ability to define itself according to religious conviction and must meet the criteria set forth by government.

        I think the government should grant civil unions to ANY individuals who consent to living together in a lifelong covenant format. But marriage should be determined by a person’s religious or cultural community according to whatever standards they adopt. I don’t see any other way that makes as much sense from a legal and personal liberty perspective (though there may very well be).

        • Anonymous

          Of course there is. Marriage already is and has been more than one overlapping thing. The government recognizes marriages for legal purposes, churches are free to recognize marriages independently of whether the government does or not, and people are free not to enter into marriages of a kind they don’t believe in. It’s worked perfectly well up to now, and in the rare cases when it is necessary to differentiate between different types, adjectives serve nicely. What reason is there that *gay* marriage should make that unworkable when, for example, remarriage after divorce does not?

          • JM

            As I said in my initial comment, if you’re willing to be consistent and grant other adjectives the same status (i.e. polyamorous, incestuous) as long as they only involve consensual adults, then that is a fair position to hold. But the vast majority of gay marriage proponents I’ve talked to do not believe such rights should extend to “those types” of alternative marriages. That is why I think keeping the legal aspect and the religious aspect separate is a better route.

          • Anonymous

            Nice attempt at a distraction.

            What is it about *gay* unions that requires a separate noun for the civil and religious aspects when that has never been necessary for, for example, remarriage after divorce?

          • JM

            Because one is simply a 2nd (or 3rd…or if you’re Larry King, 7th) instance of the basic thing. The other is a categorically different thing. At least that’s the traditional stance on it.

          • Anonymous

            Again, though, that’s no answer at all, except possibly in a begging-the-question manner. Why, if adjectives are enough to make the distinction between church marriage and civil marriage (as I just did, adding “church” and “civil” before “marriage”) in every other example in the history of the world must civil marriages be renamed if they happen to include two men or two women?

          • pneumajohn

            ” attempt at indirect discipleship by way of restricting another’s freedom, and discipleship has never succeeded in that way. Discipleship convicts, comforts, and points the way, but it does so established on a foundation of dignity inherent in every person’s God-given right to respond without coercion”. Foget about the issue you raised and lets look at the theological heart of your system of thought. This sounds sentimental, even compelling at first glance, but Mark 1:14-15, seems to have a different heart, and Gospel. Repent for the Kingdom of God is here, turn, make radical changes of heart, make radical amends to God, His ways, His Kingdom. My inherent dignity, has been greatly distorted by sin, and the devil, read all the deliverances in Mark.  Are the pet vices I like, sexual, or otherwise, to be repented of? If not the Gospel of Mark, has been abandoned for the Gospel of Ian, which is just the gospel of the culture, and the wind that is blowing in that culture. As for me, Mark is much more profound…. And gets at the inherent root, called sin, the inward curve of the self, manifested in inherent rights, so called… Bonhoeffer said discipleship costs, you say it doesn’t. American theology is just American pop culture, and lusts…. Bonhoeffer worried that it was rootless and lacked theological depth, what prophetic insight!

          • Right track, sort of, pneumajohn, but missed it.  “Repent,” “metanoia” implies a change of direction, that is to turn around.  Jesus invites us to turn around and seek him, but the turn is only the start of the journey.  It may take (nay, WILL take) some time along that new direction before any portion of our sin is dealt with.  What you are asking is that gays, at least (maybe others), conquer their sin BEFORE Jesus accepts them.  That’s completely contrary to the understanding that only within Jesus and under the power of God’s Spirit can we make ANY progress against our sin.  Yes, discipleship costs.  Yes, it demands we leave our selfish behaviors behind.  But it can take a while to get there.

          • pneumajohn

            Dan, finally a biblical thinker responds. But somehow you twisted this around to the former debates amongst the reformers and there interlocutors. My point was Jesus came to bring a Government, like the Roman Caesars, it had policy, laws, values, and it was all about : “metanoia”  Heart transplant of the fallen self to a new self, thus 1/3 Jesus miracles are deliverances of unclean spirits in Mark. All I was doing was juxtaposing Ian’s so called gospel and the ancient Gospel of Mark and they run ram horn to ram horn into each other. Not sure he got that… It is a test of his suppositions…! He wanted to talk about leaves, I went deeper into root philsophical systems… I have had close friends walk out of the homsexual life style just like I have had who walked out of the fornication lifestyle, that is the freedom “metanoia” brings… He set up a system that coercion is moral government of any kind, basically, replace biblical ethics and moral government with American amoralism. Not profound or orginal.

          • Anonymous

            What you describe does not in even the slightest way contradict the idea that discipleship does not involve *forcing* other people to behave as if they believed what they do not.

          • pneumajohn

            Ian: Discipleship by definition means I am a student of another in the ancient world, a leading Rabbi for example.  Does his views force something on me, my thinking, my worldview? I think they do, it is my view versus his. What if I loved to fornicate, but he through his ethical teaching, showed me a different system, that pleasing my lust never did bring fullfilment.  I than repented and agreed with him. Was that a forced view of what I did not believe, or did I come to see his wisdom was right and experienced ” metanoia”? I could also say the propagandist of the homosexual movement, are forcing people to live in a way they do not believe. Many gay, struggling with there identity Christians are guilt ridden with there lifestyle. Would the elite pro-gay programers and lobbyist than be coercing them into doing something they did not believe at there core, the very thing you claim the church is doing? Than the 1% who are gay, some stats,, are coercing the 99% who are not, maybe even the 1% who say they are. Why is this loud, screaming small group  the only one who should be heard? Why do they get to coerce and Christians are suppose to be quiet and shut up on all moral questions? Isn’t this another illogical supposition?

          • Anonymous

            No, pretty much to all of that. Force comes into it not when you convince someone to do differently, but when you put your religious opinion into law that applies to those who disagree. There IS no coercion of Christians on this issue, and nobody is saying you should not speak against what you believe to be immoral. Only that you ought not be allowed to *enforce* your beliefs on everyone else. Which the anti-gay side is trying to do and the gay side is not. The ONLY way a claim that gay marriage would be forcing you the same way not having it forces us is if it were the only kind available… or, perhaps, if non-government-officials were required to perform the weddings or to recognize them as anything other than a legality.

    • Anonymous

      Neither one of these is a particularly good analogy. There is no recognized sexual variant I’m aware of where people can only find fulfilling relationships with their own family. Similarly, there is no variant where a person must be married to more than one person. 

      This is a somewhat subtle straw man fallacy – you are essentially arguing against the proposition that “all marriages should be allowed”, but that’s not the argument. The argument is that “laws which deny a person any chance at a fulfilling marriage are wrong”. Laws against incest and polygamy do not deny that, but laws against gay marriage do. 

      • JM

        I don’t know a single polygamist who would agree with you on this point though. You are shifting the discussion to what *you* define as “a fulfilling marriage.” Someone who desires a polyamorous relationship but is denied it is just as unfulfilled as someone who desires a same-sex relationship but is denied it. There is no *legal* justification for allowing the latter, but not the former.

        Those who are in love with another consenting adult, but who are not allowed to marry that adult because of government laws, have every bit as much right to claim the right of pursuing a “fulfilling marriage” in the way they see fit, do they not?

        • Anonymous

          “I don’t know a single polygamist who would agree with you on this point though.”

          You are simply making this up. Can you find ANY evidence that any polygamist anywhere in the world would argue that he or she cannot have a fulfilling relationship without being married to multiple people? This is certainly wildly against the Bible and Quran’s teachings.

          “You are shifting the discussion to what *you* define as “a fulfilling marriage.” ”

          No – I am shifting it to the mental health experts who tell us that there is no sexual variant in which a person cannot find happiness or fulfillment unless he or she has a relationship with multiple people, quite unlike homosexuality.

          “Those who are in love with another consenting adult, but who are not allowed to marry that adult because of government laws, have every bit as much right to claim the right of pursuing a “fulfilling marriage” in the way they see fit, do they not?”

          No. You continue to argue against a straw man argument. The reasoning behind allowing gay marriage is not “People should get to do whatever they want.”

  • Deb

    Great post!  I grew up in a very rigid christian home and am still struggling with the idea that “I’m right and everyone else is wrong”.  I’m having to start over and actually READ my Bible, not assume that all the sermons I heard are the gospel.  Thanks for a post that helps me along this journey.

  • James Farrell

    JM, I agree, in my opinion there will never be such a thing as “Gay Marriage”  the definition of marriage is such that it is a relationship between one man and one women.  Its a contradiction of terms.   I am not married to my wife because the state of California says I am, I am married to her because I made a covenant with her and God; a covenant based on an institution that is God ordained in Scripture.  I am all for allowing any couple to have a civil union, with the same rights that a married man and women have, whether that be for taxes, insurance or whatever…  but in the end, they are not married.  As JM said, it is a religious institution, not a legal one. 

    So, in my opinion, the issue isn’t giving into gay marriage, that institution has been determined through Scripture.  The issue is when you take something that God established, and called it “very good” and then twist it and pervert it, to make it fit what you want it to. 

    Now, should others be respected, yes.  Should they be loved, yes.  Should I be the first to do this, yes. 

    This coming from a person who strives to live out the love of Christ with others that do not adhere to those same teachings.

    • JM


      Do you consider heterosexual marriages between those who reject God altogether as marriage? The reason I said marriage is a “religious/cultural” institution rather than merely a “religious” institution is because I believe it is part of common grace and is valid even among those who don’t accept the religious implications of it, as long as they meet the biological/creation requirements of it (i.e. male-female in lifelong covenant).  I don’t think Christians (or any other religious group) can claim a monopoly on marriage; but they should be allowed to define it according to their beliefs.

      Where it gets tricky is when it comes to a secular republic (which America is), where competing religious/cultural notions of marriage are put forth. Either they must all be rejected or all accepted as civil unions in the eyes of Government. 

      I think this view makes the most sense from a legal perspective:

      • James Farrell

         Some good things to consider.  As far as your question as to those who take part in heterosexual marriage but do not include God in the equation, I would say that they are married, because they have made the commitment to each other and marriage (as I define it is a covenant between one man and one women).  For me, this relationship includes God.   I see your point, I do “recognize” a marriage that takes place between one man and one women that does not necessarily include God in the relationship, as I see God, or even recognize God at all.  This still is, in my opinion under the definition of marriage as I understand it. 

        It is a sticky thing when government gets involved.  My understanding, maybe I am wrong, I haven’t taken the time to research this… Originally the government kept track of marriages for the purpose of census.  I would agree with one of your other posts, the government doesn’t define the relationship as marriage, rather it recognizes “civil unions”  I am fine with that, in fact I have loved ones that would be in this category.  But this is a religious/cultural institution, not a government institution.

        Thanks for the discussion.

    • So James, if “biblical” marriage is by definition “a relationship between one man and one women”, what do we do with Jacob, Leah and Rachel?

      Not being snarky here, it’s just a disconnect that I’ve never been quite able to process. If that definition is so important, why did God “bless” the relationship between Jacob and Rachel, (and arguably Leah & Rachel’s handmaidens as well).

      At no time do we see any condemnation of the relational structure there…

      • James Farrell

        Warwick, I get that definition from the early part of Genesis when God created Adam and Eve.  As well as passages in the NT as well.  I don’t take your comment as snarky, and appreciate the discussion, after all isn’t this about being able to interact in a respectful fashion where we can learn and grow from each other.  That being said, there are a lot of things that are in the Bible that we see God allowing, but not condoning.  For example, we see David who, if you read about his life, at best was a selfish, lying, murderous, cheat.  Another thing you will see is a heart of repentance, he was sorry for the things he did that were wrong, and he worked on trying to do right.  In the same way, I am a flawed individual and mess up royally, and yet I do my best to live a life that is for God.  With Jacob, I think this would be similar, he made mistakes, he was quick to enter the covenant with Laban, Rachel’s dad, and did so out of lust, rather than love.  Laban tricked Jacob into marrying his older daughter, and he then made a way to again marry Rachel.  I see this story of flawed people still being used by God.  Maybe this doesn’t fully answer your question, maybe some may think I am naive, but this is my understanding of the story, without going back and studying it in depth right now.   Thank you for your post.

        • Anonymous

          Where does the Bible say that that line from Genesis is a *definition* of marriage, rather than what it seems plainly to be to me: a *description* of the way things generally are and nothing more?

          • Anonymous

            No answer. No surprise.

          • JM

            When Jesus was questioned about marriage, he went right to that passage in Genesis as the bedrock upon which all notions of marriage stand. That should raise red flags whenever people seek to minimize the authoritative nature of Genesis 2 in defining marriage, IMO.

          • Anonymous

            Specifically, He was questioned about *divorce,* by those who surely had no concept of marriage between people of the same sex, and answered accordingly. He did not say that he was defining marriage at all, much less that that was the only form it could ever acceptably take.
            So, as you have not answered the question, I’ll ask again: where does the Bible say that that must be taken as a *definition* of marriage?

          • The model of heterosexual marriage is prevalent all throughout Genesis. Simply open up the Bible for once and you’ll see it. Read about Adam and Eve, Noah and his wife, Abraham and Sara, Isaac and Rebeka, Jacob and Rachael, just to name a few. Notice what is missing? Gay marriage and homosexual relationships?

          • Anonymous

            I suspect we have far more basic disagreements about Genesis.

      • Anonymous

        The marriage to Leah never made sense to me. Surely fraud would make a wedding invalid, unless the husband decided on his own to keep her.

  • James-youre a bigot and therefor no one is interested in your arguments or your god. Marriage is for gays and straights-in this country-not sure where youre from-marriage is CIVIL-it is not religious, never has been. God probably doesnt exist-you were brainwashed into thinking that by your parents-YOUR particluar brand of religion is false-38,000 branches of christianitya nd yours is teh right one? not good odd,s buddy…
    JM-incest marriages can potentially create geneticlaly failed children so they must not be recognized by law.
    Polygamy? well, tahts religiosu in nature and there is usually a victim-young women, etc-also, men are deprived of women to marry if one man can marry many women-i actually think its OK, but polygamy is closer to straight marriage than gay marriage-let thso egroups fight for them-different issue
    gay marriage is here and it isnt goign away-it will be national by 2013-you cant stop it folks-I challenge your god to stop it-
    In teh emantime, gnash your teeth and try to stop equality-you cant-your tiem is over

    • JM

      “JM-incest marriages can potentially create geneticlaly failed children so they must not be recognized by law.”

      So should couples with genetic disorders not be allowed to marry legally??  This is a red-herring anyway because incestuous couples can have children in the exact same manner gay couples can–through surrogates or adoption.

      well, tahts religiosu in nature and there is usually a victim-young

      This is a bigoted statement. Consensual adult polygamy is the issue, not pederasty or pedophilia. Again, a red herring.

      “also, men are deprived of women to marry if one man can marry
      many women”

      Again, this has no legal bearing at all. If EVERY woman chose to marry the same man it doesn’t matter; it’s their choice and their liberty. Same for Polyandrous marriages.

      “let thso egroups fight for them-different

      So you’ll support gay marriage proponents in their fight for civil rights, but not consensual incest or polygamy proponents in theirs?

      This is the kind of inconsistency that I find all to common among those who condemn people who don’t support gay marriage as ‘close-minded’ or ‘bigoted.’ 

      • Anonymous

        You know what, there are so few cases where consenting adults would engage in incest, much less attempt to marry, that it would be better to go ahead and let them. Might be anyway; just because something’s not a good idea doesn’t automatically mean it ought to be against the law.

        As for polygamy… modern 2-party marriage is symmetrical. Polygamy, as usually practiced, is far from it, and that’s a far more serious and problematic difference than the two happening to be of the same sex. If, however, symmetrical marriages (all partners legally equal and all married to all) is proposed and the potential bugs that do not apply when there are only two are worked out in advance, I’d have no problem with that either. (For example: if A and B are a married couple and A is too ill to make his own medical decisions, B makes them. But what of C, whose two spouses D and E cannot agree?)

        • JM

          I appreciate your attempt at consistency. I really do.  But since when is “symmetry” the bedrock criteria for marriage? This is a presupposition of what marriage “should” entail that you are inserting. But those polygamists who reject your definition of marriage have every right to object just as you object to the traditional definition of marriage as man-woman, do they not?

          • Anonymous

            I am not arguing against polygamy. I am explaining some differences that exist between the question of how many people may be party to a single marriage and what sex(es) they may be. The former introduces all manner of complexity, while the latter is no different logically than *many* existing opposite-sex marriages.

    • James Farrell

       Norman, you are entitled to your views; and I respect that, but please do not resort to name calling and illogical rants.  I would agree, legislatively gay marriage is/will be here to stay.  At the same time my opinion, based off of what I believe to be God’s Word and my understanding of it, marriage is defined as a relationship between one man and one women.  That is what I was saying, I am not disrespecting, or spreading hatred in believing this viewpoint.  I share my believes with others but do not force them on others.  I know Kurt allowed this post on his blog to stir up constructive conversation on a highly debated topic, lets stay on topic.

  • TO

    The issue, for me, is the use of “marriage.”  Gay unions, with all legitimate legal rights, should be the domain of government.  Marriage, however, is an institution of church.  Gays have no rights to tell the church how to run.  Just like any other sinner (pick a sin).  The church should operate off of God’s rules.  Arguing that the church should back off gay marriage because it is doing a lousy job of being Christlike (which I agree) is bad logic.  The real argument should be that the church repents of its judgmental, self-righteous lack of love and grace while it still defends God’s truth.  Truth without love breeds arrogance.  Love without truth breeds deception.  You gotta have both.

    • Ian

      TO and James, you must’ve skipped over the entire first paragraph, plus this: “All of this isn’t to say that the church should give up on wrestling with the complexities of sexual orientation, nor is it to say that the church itself should perform gay marriage ceremonies.”

      You are responding to points not made in my post. This is about the church surrendering its participation in the national/political/legislative fight against gay marriage.

      • James Farrell

        I understand, but as a member of the church (not the voice of all churches that call themselves Christian) I use the beliefs that I hold to in order to vote and engage in the political fabric of this country.  The church is people, in this country people have a right to engage the political process.  If they choose to do that as a group the have at it…

        • James Farrell

          and just to clarify… I have never held some rude, obnoxious, sign up or even been a part of a rally on this or any issue.  I’d much rather have a discussion and get to know the people on each side.  Thanks for the stirring post. 

          • James Farrell

            I haven’t voted to not allow someone else to not have the same rights, or religious freedom.  What I am saying is that, marriage as I understand it, is a religious institution, not a government institution, so the government should not have a say.  If anything, this goes along with the 1st Amendment…

          • Topher

            Marriage is a government insitution and,  It is a marriage license you get from the government not the church. Or look at is this way, semantically. Gays are asking for marriage “rights” as given by the states not marriage “rites” as a ceremony in a religious setting. 

            As someone said many non-religious people get “married.”

        • Anonymous

          If you vote to stop people from doing something (in this case marrying) *because you believe God says they ought not do it* then you are trying to force others to abide by your religious beliefs rather than being free to follow their own. No matter how you word it to sound otherwise, even to yourself.

          And if you believe that’s how it ought to be, then the First Amendment’s religious protection is worthless. After all, the majority position doesn’t *need* protecting.

    • BillJ

      Marriage is a civil, secular institution run by the government.

      That’s why you seek your license from the government and not from any church.

    • Anonymous

      TO, you’re confused on the issue here. You’re conflating marriages in church with legal marriage – the two are completely separate. Keep in mind that many non-religious people are married every year with no church or religious official anywhere in sight – do the laws of the church apply here?

      On the other side of the coin, gay-affirming churches can and do perform gay marriages all the time, even in states that do not allow it – they have no legal validity, but the government cannot force a church to marry or not marry anyone. Legalized gay marriage would absolutely not force any church to do anything – that would be patently against the First Amendment (in the United States, anyway).A Jewish couple cannot force a Christian church to marry them – in the same way, a gay couple cannot force a church to marry them. I don’t even know why a gay couple would want to be married in a church that believed it was a sin. 

    • Great point, separating gay unions as domain of the government, from marriage as an institution of the church. Thanks for this clarifying comment.

  • Tony A Dahlin

    I can see your point of view and agree with a lot of you points … They make a lot of sense. Do you think we also give up on Roe vs. Wade? I think we can stand for morality in our culture with love and understanding.

    • JM

      I think one difference between gay marriage and abortion is that gay marriage does not end the life of an innocent human being; whereas abortion does. Thus one is an issue of governing human morality, the other is an issue of protecting human lives. I’d MUCH rather live in a society that allowed gay marriage but prohibited abortion (except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger…which in this country is almost zero) than a society that doesn’t allow gay marriage but does allow abortion.

  • Anonymous

    This is the most beautiful thing I’ve read in a long while. I only wish those who most need to read it would take it seriously.

  • BillJ

    ‘christians’ must take a moment to consider how hollow, how hypocritical, and just flat-out immoral they appear to very, very many people.

    For instance, it is quite difficult to take ‘christians’ at all seriously in the marriage debate, as we have yet to see a single ‘christian’ holding their usual vulgar signs outside city hall to protest a heterosexual’s divorce.  Or to protest the re-issuance of a new marriage license to previously married heterosexuals.  Biblically, that is considered adultery.  And we know how the bible punishes adulterers.

    Even in this essay, there is not a single mention of the INHERENT RIGHTS that belong to EACH human being born in America.  Even the LGBT humans.  Not a single mention of those inherent rights and that ‘christians’ have completely trampled those rights for millions of Americans.  By force.  Via secular law.

    I believe that until ‘christians’ stop hiding what is nothing more than raw, ugly bigotry behind their ‘religious beliefs’ and their ‘holy book’ the current situation really goes nowhere.  Certainly few if any ‘christians’ would pursue biblical law in secular society for women, or blacks, or jews, or children – that would be considered barbaric and wrong.  Yet for LGBT citizens, they seem to have no problem doing this.  By force.  Via secular law.

    As for a united apology from ‘christians,’ I can only speak for myself, but that apology will never be accepted by me.  What I will accept from ‘christians’ is their complete absence from my life.  They have simply caused far too much damage to my life and the life of my family to ever be trusted by us again.  And I certainly know that was not Jesus’ intentions for his followers.

    I say this not to incite, but to simply be honest about how I feel and where I am coming from.

    The amount of damage ‘christians’ have caused in the lives of ACTUAL human beings is palpable.  It is wrong.  It is not of God in any way.

    • Brian

      “I can only speak for myself, but that apology will never be accepted by me. ” Interesting response from someone who claims to what Jesus’s intentions were.

    • Anonymous

      I am sorry to hear that you have chosen to reject all because of some.

    • I can completely relate to how you were treated by the church…I am uncomfortable to attend church services, and nervous when I go with my spouse because if they really knew who I was, they would reject me.  I was very active in my church, someone that many people would love to have in their church on the surface.  I was accepted at my last church for a time.  They even hired my spouse to pastor the youth.  It wasn’t until a group of “focus on the family” types came to the church to overhaul some things, including us “gays” that things got ugly.  Making false rumors about our character, what was being taught to the kids, that we were untrustworthy and “caught in lies”….all lies, and the worst, putting fear into the parents about our intentions…my spouse was forced out, and me included, as a church member.  Yes, they have hurt decent human beings who simply wanted to serve Christ in the church…we both still believe in God, worship Him, and know none of this is from Him….especially since those who drove us out broke about every one of the 10 commandments in order for this to happen…and especially the one where Jesus said “love your God with everything and your neighbor as yourself.’  My faith in God has not been shaken, but the state of the “church’ in the United States has something to be desired.  I have no desire to be a part of it.

  • thinkingkentuckian

    As a regular church attending Baptist woman in the process of divorce who has found herself dismissed by the people she called family, I have been forced lately to reexamine most all of my beliefs.  My journey began by first believing that God’s love for me as His child superseded any, ANY sin I had committed or would commit (i.e. divorce).  Once that tenet was firmly in place, it lead to many other reinterpretations, readings, etc.  Some other recent experiences have caused me to stand firm on the fact that I do not wish to be identified soley because of my perceived sexiness, sexuality, etc.  Although a major part of my identity, I have may other valuable characteristics given to me as an individual created by God to participate in bringing His kindgom to others.  If this is true about me, why then is it NOT true (as so many evangelicals teach) of homosexuals?

  • Rev.Borris Jovanovich

    It is indeed signs of times which have been spoken of Last Days.One cannot change Gods word to suit the world.World has to suit the God.Yet knowing who rules the world  than you understand who is “King of Air”  .And than you read 2 Timothy 3:2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,

    • Anonymous

      Do you also claim that one cannot disagree with you on the proper meaning, scope, and application of God’s word?

    • Ian

      Reverend is it also a sign of the times when leaders of the faith comment on blog posts without reading them first?

      • Jasdye

        Perhaps. It does demonstrate boastfulness, abuse, pride, loving of self above others…

  • Biblical definitions of marriage for James and all others worried about the sacred aspects of “marriage”:

    • JM

      This pic is rhetorically strong…but contextually weak, since it conflate what Torah describes with what Torah prescribes (and also leaves out the NT teachings on marriage entirely).

    • James Farrell

      There are a lot of things in the Bible, that doesn’t mean they are biblical.

      • Drjay934

        Huh?  That is the funniest statement I ever heard!

    • now that is what you call, traditional biblical marriage(s).  most excellent!

  • Gutsy post, Ian.  I agree with you that in the secular realm, the church should let off of this and many other fights.  As I’ve said before, it’s foolishness for us to attempt to accomplish through legislation what we have failed to accomplish through evangelism.

    We do still need to wrestle with the question of just how the church ought to engage secular society where a variety of injustices are being committed.  It is possible to argue that if we have no business speaking out against secular gay union, we also have no business speaking against any *other* practice in the secular world if our reason for doing so is faith-based.  And that argument is not an obvious one…I would say for example that we can appeal to the secular authority against human trafficking on the basis of wholly-secular justice arguments, and do so quite consistently even if we *also* happen to believe that human trafficking is morally wrong according to our faith.  This splits the difference with gay marriage, the objection to which is entirely religious and not (reasonably) groundable in secular rationale.

    And of course I still am concerned when many Christians seem to think that having made the decision you outline above, they must then go all the way to affirming gay unions within the faith.  You correctly point out that this is NOT the same question, but too few “liberal” Christians acknowledge that the two issues do not necessarily go together…which is why I wrote to advocate Open but not Affirming.

    • Anonymous

      “MUST then go all the way?” No… but then, of those who do see gay unions as morally good, how many really got there by thinking they *had* to because of some other position?

      Yes, “this should be legal” and “this is acceptable” (or even “this is blessed of God”) are separate questions. But knowing that doesn’t make it one or the other, either. Many people, knowing them to be separate, would agree with both statements in this case. (And many who don’t agree with the separation nonetheless would agree to both from the opposite direction: this should be legal *because* it is good.)

    • Ian

      Dan I don’t think the distinction between anti-gay marriage legislation and legislation to stop war, theft, oppression is a small one (and I have a feeling you don’t see it as a tiny or troublesome distinction either). As I said in reply to a similar comment on my blog, as Christians, we seek justice and mercy in the broader world as a way to live the Gospel and testify to our conviction that God is also Just and Merciful. When it comes to war, famine, poverty, sex trafficking and more, those are injustices and events causing an immediate theft or assault on other human beings, things that steal dignity, cause unwanted violence and oppression in many forms. They are acts of aggression whether subtle or overt. Big difference between that and gay marriage, a willful act between two parties.

      • Bryan

        Nothing steals one’s dignity like being ostracized for who you love and the way you were born.  To argue that this human rights issue is somehow less important than the next, is simply inconsiderate and unjust.

        • Ian

          Bryan I can see why you read it that way but that was not the point I was making. I authored this post in part because the anti-gay marriage legislative battle is an injustice. My reply above was in response to Dan’s comment that wonders about the “all or nothing” approach to advocacy when there are a variety of injustices in the broader world. The answer as I see it is found in distinctions and I was trying to anticipate and deflate the right wing reply that argues “well i see gay marriage as an injustice so I’m going to vote against that too.” so I pointed out that gay marriage is not an oppressive act like war, poverty, etc to defend gay marriage, not to trivialize it.

      • You are right in your instinct on my position, Ian. ;{)

        What I am saying which may be slightly different than you heard, is that when we argue for any position in the realm of secular governance, we should argue on the basis of secular justice.  Therefore, for example, gays should not be singled out not to get the tax and financial benefits extended to married straights because it’s an economic, equal-pay-for-equal-work issue.  War should be opposed because it causes so much oppression and suffering for the innocent, and doesn’t actually work anyway.  And so on.

        It’s legitimate (and sometimes necessary) to say “my faith compels me to this position.”  What is not legitimate is to say to someone who does not share my faith that my faith compels them to this position.  It is likewise illegitimate for those who do not share my faith, to compel me to bless in faith what they demand in secular justice.  The two have entirely distinct moral foundations which overlap somewhat, but by no means completely.

        • Ian

          “What is not legitimate is to say to someone who does not share my faith that my faith compels them to this position. It is likewise illegitimate for those who do not share my faith, to compel me to bless in faith what they demand in secular justice.” That is an incredibly cogent point, Dan. Well said! 

    • Dc

      Thanks for the comments.  I would add, however, that it’s a bit dangerous to only use “secular” logic in a secular society. to judge what we can advocate,  Our main version of secular logic (there are many) is based on a complicated mix of Greek, Roman, Christian, English, etc. thought.  So secular logic has a foundation. Why is it held sacred?  I think we have to be careful and not assume that that foundation has to be our meeting point.  We can be gracious while insisting that we find Christ to be a better foundation.  We can cooperate in the fight, but we don’t need secular society to tell us that trafficking is wrong. And when we insist on the God-given value of every person, we have a better argument than secular justice theories.

      I think we can share our true faith reasons without forcing them into a secular mold.

      • Ian

        Also a really strong point, and good counter argument to Dan’s comment. Thanks for getting me thinking, Dc.

      • Oh, I’m not saying secular logic  has a particularly sound foundation in any epistemic sense.  It doesn’t even have to be logic at all.  What I’m saying is that if I really want to convince you of something, I need to appeal to a foundation to which you give credence, not one that I hold to but you’ve rejected.

        So for example, I am not a verbal-inspiration fundamentalist, and I don’t accept one-verse prooftexting as a valid form of Biblical exegesis.  But if I’m trying to reason with a fundamentalist Christian, I’m not above using his method of Bible interpretation to show him his error.

        Similarly, in the realm of sexuality, I believe we can (and should) bear witness in our lives to the standard of Jesus, but I also believe we have no business advocating for that standard in secular laws unless we can do so on the basis of the secular.  “You should change your laws because my Bible says so” is an untenable argument for one who does not accept the Bible’s authority.

        Calling them to consider and accept the Bible’s authority (properly defined) as an evangelistic exercise is a completely different kettle of fish.

  • Scoutks


    • Ian

      This is my new favorite comment. What does it mean!?

  • This was a great post. You covered a lot of ground and addressed everything that usually comes up as opposition. I’m definitely recommending this!

  • Abby

    While I really enjoyed many of the insights form this post, I am a little bothered by the use of the word “we.” I don’t think it’s an issue of Christians vs. GLBT…because that would perpetuate this idea that the two are always separate. Isn’t it possible that some members of the GLBT community stand with us united in Christ? 

    • Ian

      Abby, yes, and thank you for the correction. I recieved a similar concern on my blog as well. The “we” language does create a bit of an us vs. them paradigm, but that was not my intent.

  • Lawyatt

    Love the post!  Fresh and creative.  I made a similar effort to find a fresh way through this debate in my tribe, the PC(U.S.A.) entitled  “Some Reflections on Our Troubles – Sexuality and Ordination” at my blog “God’s Word, Our Words, and the World”.  If you read it, I’d appreciate any responses. 

    Lee Wyatt

  • someone who’s been there

    My husband was in a relationship and eventual civil union with a man. When he came to know the Lord and even before, he knew this wasn’t right and didn’t want to be in this lifestyle and left it behind. He is open and honest about his life and committed to our marriage and helps others struggling with SSA. I know from our experiences together that this lifestyle does not honor the LORD.

    I really feel personally passionate that an alternative to Biblical marriage should be allowed that will save marriage as a holy covenant and provide rights and opportunities for anyone that chooses to be together. 

    When clergy are forced by the government to marry gay people (which is the case in MA – we lived there 15 years), it causes a stumbling block to those that feel it isn’t ordained by God. Well, we all know what God says about causing our brother to stumble 🙂

    And to address a comment by a previous post – when my husband and I were married, we asked our pastor if he would marry us at church without a marriage license, because we felt that our union was with God and not the government, he told us he wouldn’t and that he could lose his licensing authority if he did.

    If the Christian community gives up the fight against gay marriage, it has to come on the heels of a decision that the government will stay out of all (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc) marriages performed in a faith-based setting and abide by their own policy of separation of church and state. A new dual civil union and faith-based marriage structure MUST be created that would cater to gays and folks not wanting God (or Allah or what have you) to a be a part of their union.

    • Anonymous

      Your assumption that clergy can and have been forced to marry gay people is simply incorrect. I don’t know where you heard that, but it is wrong. No Massachusetts clergy or indeed any clergy in the United States have been forced to perform gay marriages – it is patently against the First Amendment. 

      The Massachusetts gay marriage decision applied specifically to civil marriage, not to religious marriage: “We declare that barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution.”

      Again, I cannot stress this enough – the idea that any religious figure in the United States has been or will be forced to marry two gay people is ABSOLUTELY FALSE. Government employees such as county clerks or justices of the peace are a different matter, but the government cannot, by the Constitution, force any church to do ANYTHING.

      • I’m not so sure that the government (though this may differ in each state) can force even clerks to officiate. Cf, the bigot clerk who wouldn’t marry interracial couples.

        • Anonymous

          That was an elected justice of the peace, so it was a bit different – but he *was* sued and resigned within a month. But actually several county or town clerks in NY have refused to do it and just been taken off marriage license signing duties, such as Rose Marie Belforti, so you are probably right.

  • guest

    @facebook-1190748227:disqus ” God probably doesnt exist-you were brainwashed into thinking that by your parents…”  wait, probably? so if he’s wrong…ok. but what if you’re wrong?

  • Topics like gay marriage dominate Christian conversation and missional focus. In reality it is a hotly contended issue within the church. The concerning thing is that things we KNOW Jesus and God stand for are being overlooked because of the churches obsession with homosexuality. I did a blog on it the other day if anyone is interested

  • I’ll seek to understand here, look forward to some ideas flowing.  I believe that homosexual behavior (not temptation) is a sin.  Some elements of the church have dismissed that, but Scripture always has a negative spin on sexual sin and I believe is pretty clear on this (please show me if this is a wrong assumption in your opinion).

    I do think a lot of churches have hammered the GBLT side and not shown love and that is a true problem that does deserve apologies so reaching out is possible.

    As a single college guy we had the hormones going but also had made up our minds we were going to wait for the right young woman so that our intimate relations would be blessed within the union of marriage, as outlined in the Bible.  Upon the recognition of marriage, the intimacy reserved for my wife became a good & blessed thing in the eyes of God.

    To encourage or permit a homosexual union, do we suggest to culture that intimacy between homosexuals is now “approved because of marriage”?  In a simple way, this is how it is for heterosexual couples, but the Bible does champion the heterosexual method that has dominated society for 6000 years.

    I just wonder if there is a slope we’re getting on — to allow for “marriage” and change the definition of who is acceptably married, does that suddenly force people to approve of behavior that is (to me) clearly discouraged and prohibited within Scripture?

    Finally, lots on marriage being a civil thing, but isn’t that just a way for the government (in the most recent years) to record things for public record and tax people like all of us to get a license?  I thought it was just a tax!?  🙂

    • Jasdye

      It’s ironic that you would say that ‘some elements of the Church’ have been unloving towards LGBTQ’s and then demonstrate more unloving gripes. What is ‘homosexual behavior?’ Waving my hands, snapping my fingers and saying ‘faaabulous’ a lot?

      And as Ian pointed out earlier, the slope argument is tacitly immoral and silly. As is the notion that the bible ‘champions’ a certain form of marriage.

      • James Farrell

        Jasdye: Can you please explain how Rob has demonstrated “unloving gripes”  and could you define your understanding of “Homosexual behavior” and why don’t you ask him what his definition of “homosexual behavior”?

        • Thanks for the question, James and maybe it wasn’t entirely clear for all so I apologize.  By behavior, I do truly mean intimate behavior in an exclusive (ie. sexual relationship) that is supported by the Bible for married men & women — but not supported by the Bible for those of the same gender, or those out of wedlock.  (* maybe we don’t all agree on that? *)

          When husband and wife get married, the Bible (& a lot of “church world” society) then endorses and embraces the physical relation that will be exclusively enjoyed by those two people.  I just wonder that if by permitting (not discouraging or stopping) the homosexual union/marriage, do we then “endorse and encourage physical relation exclusively enjoyed by those two people”?  The Bible lends support for the intimate relationship of the husband and wife.  I don’t see the same support for the homosexual relationship — the Bible frowns on it and calls it sexual sin at every turn and encourages “abstain” and “flee”.

          Truly, if I’m missing some Biblical verses or passages that give support to intimate homosexual behavior or relationship, then please (nicely) point those out as I am (truly) seeking to accept reproof and understand better.  But I honestly do not remember such a passage.

          Certainly quote scriptural specifics as well… I’d appreciate it.  In all honesty, –Rob

          • RC

            Rob, It sounds like you truly do want to learn. What I’d like you to do is go back and read the verses used to say homosexual behavior is a sin and pray, asking God what it really means. If you’re relying on OT verses in Leviticus, then are you willing to follow ALL of the laws listed there? If you’re relying on the verses in 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy, and Romans have you looked at translations pre-1940s, or better yet, the original Greek? The word “homosexual” wasn’t even invented until the 1800s and wasn’t added to the Bible until the 1940s. Before that the words Paul (probably) had used were translated as many different things from weak, to effeminate, to masturbators even. 
            Some people use the verses where Jesus speaks of eunuchs who are born as eunuchs to suggest Jesus said gays are born gay. I don’t know if that’s accurate, but just trusting the experiences of the millions of LGBT individuals (myself included) would lead most people to believe it’s not a choice. If it’s not a choice, then you have to look at why marriage shouldn’t be endorsed/accepted for gay couples who want to dignify their relationship and sanctify it through a marriage commitment? Another verse often cited as further proof that Jesus approved of  homosexual relationships is when he heals the centurion’s servant, who most people now believe was actually more of a sexual partner that the centurion loved.  So now that you’ve looked at the verses for what they were originally, do you still believe homosexual behavior is a sin? 

          • RC and Rob, I appreciate the respect each of you is demonstrating in dialog with the other.  But RC, I think you’re casting the net for Biblical evidence too narrowly.  The appropriate Biblical question, I believe, is what the Bible says about marriage and adultery, and there, I believe the truth is that sexual relations outside of the male-female marriage is adultery  (and ideally only one man one woman, though polygamy was tolerated in the OT it is clearly not God’s ideal).  I go into more detail on this topic on my own blog, if you’re interested.

            But Rob, to address your point, this does NOT mean, in my view, that the church should be enforcing its moral view upon the unchurched who do not acknowledge God’s authority in the first place.  Demanding that those who do not know Christ stick to Christian sexual mores makes about as much sense as expecting them to observe the Eucharist.  Only when one places oneself under the Lordship of Christ do such things become relevant.

          • Thanks RC for the top notch response.  Honestly, I’m not in front of a concordance and having prayer time now…   I’ll admit, I expect the Matthew 19 reference (eunuchs) you reference is far easier (for me) to accept and consider as a possibility than the general theme that appears consistent throughout the Bible in the context of sexual (& other) sin.  Just in case you talk with others on the same topic…

            Leviticus is pretty old school and certainly we don’t hold to all their tenants — but I think most of the ones regarding sexual sin are consistent.  Truly I have not done a checklist, but to hold out a single exception when all the others remain valid might be a stretch to accept.

            And then of course, the NT theme is the same — 1 Corinthians 6 using the phrase “effeminate” but also “homosexual” together in the NAS version for example.  It just seems like a lot of consistency (such is the Bible) on the topic of sexual intimacy between those of the same gender.  Of course, 1 Corinthians 7 follows up with talks on marriage and the “single husband” and “single wife” concept is strong there.

            I think you and Dan make good points on the idea of a union and how the church shouldn’t be surprised to realize that people outside the church are not going to behave like those inside.  I’ll fully agree.  And even on a “civil union” concept I think I’m there.  Calling it “marriage” is the stretch for me — the idea of marriage consistently through history & scripture is that of man and wife.  The idea of “Father-in-law giving his daughter in marriage to Man” in the scripture is all over and so it was for thousands of years.  So, I’m OK on a union idea but marriage is a different word.

            While we’re honestly sharing, the centurion servant story is a stretch — I’ll just honestly say that in case you speak with someone else in my position.  There is no discussion of sexuality, sin, or marriage in the story.  Truly it’s not impossible to consider the possibility of a relationship, but thankfully it just speaks to Jesus as the compassionate Son of God who healed the non-Jew and did amazing things for the glory of God across racial, cultural, and political lines.  I don’t see anything else… if I did it would be my imagination trying to fit the story to fit me I think.

            But again, awesome response, thanks for the practical ideas.  I may find some time to dig a bit deeper and continue my thoughts on it.  Cheers.

    • One thing that seems to keep getting lost in these discussions is that it is not the Christian (or any other) Church’s place to “encourage or permit a homosexual union” of a legal nature.  Our country was founded on principals including separation of church and state and equality under the law.  Even if a Christian majority is in favor of banning homosexual marriage, that does not, in fact, give us the right to impose our religious beliefs in the legal arena.
      That being said, even if homosexual unions do become legal, churches still have every right to decide who is or is not allowed a marriage in their religious community.  (Separation of church and state works both ways)

      • That’s a good new point, Ian.  I (personally) think I can reconcile the idea of a “union” (I wouldn’t call it marriage, as that word has different tradition and use for the past 6k years) along the point you made of equality under the law.

        I do think the Christian church does a responsibility to insert religious beliefs into the legal arena.  The legal arena could benefit from the moral guidelines of the Christian Bible and certainly many moral guidelines have been drawn from Christianity.

        If I don’t think Christians have a right to their moral opinion in the legal arena, then it’s hard to champion other issues the Bible speaks for or against.  God is a lover and giver of life, so do I try to reduce and eliminate abortion (as an example) or should I not impose my belief in the legal arena?

        So I certainly understand what you’re saying & I partially agree — I can’t detach my personal beliefs from the legal arena completely.

        It does not “give us a guaranteed right” to be sure (and maybe that was more your point, and I would certainly agree), but it does allow us the right to participate in the legal arena and insert our beliefs — others certainly will.

      • Ian, I know I’m a little late to the game in commenting, but I felt compelled to do so.

        I understand the point you are making, but our country is not and was not “founded” on the the principals of separation of church and state and equality under the law.

        Separation of church and state, as it is abused today, is an ongoing misunderstood catch phrase used by progressives and the media. The history of the phrase is rather clear and is Jefferson’s “wall of separation” letter.

        But here is where I take greater issue with your comment… You stated that if gay marriage became legal, churches could decide whether or not to perform these ceremonies. That is absolutely not true, unless churches also wanted to face legal prosecution.

        Churches are already being sued for not “marrying” gay couples or allowing gay organizations to use their church facilities. These suits are brought, thanks to, you guessed it…the equality under the law clause. Churches would not be free to decide. They would be forced to marry gay couples. “Equality,” as it were, would trump conviction of faith and that is what I find most alarming.

        • Anonymous

          “Churches are already being sued for not “marrying” gay couples or allowing gay organizations to use their church facilities.”—Do you have any truthful examples to share? Examples that do not, for example, hinge on a church’s trying simultaneously to keep a benefit while ignoring the obligations that explicitly came with it, as in the Ocean Grove case?

          • I just did a Google search for gay couples suing the church for refusing to marry them, and all I found was a gay couple in MA that sued the church for not selling them property out of fear that gay marriages would be held there. And that’s all I found. So Nicole, if you can find any actual legal reports for what you claim, I think you’re making things up.

            In fact, I already assumed that Federal and State laws would not allow people to sue a church for anything that interfered with the church’s religious rights, and I found this article which supports that:


    • Chris Hall

      I believe it was Paul who said the ideal was to be single, but if you’re overcome with lust, then marry.  See 1 Corinthians 7.  The GLBT are just denied marriage….though do I condone promiscuity, no.  I don’t in heterosexual relationships….but they CAN marry. 

  • Saintzaphod

    This is a beautifully structured and compelling argument. It has caused me to seriously rethink some of my positions on a number of issues.
    Thanks for putting it together and sharing it, and perhaps say a prayer for me.

  • Thank you Kurt,
    This is exactly in the spirit that the church must come to terms with the fact that gay people actually exist and there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” argument regarding human sexuality.
    Given the current political debate and recent issues at the Georgia Baptist University, I think it’s always nice to hear words of reason. It’s interesting to me that the idea of Christian Dominionism has spread to a wide swath of Christianity and the lack of humility in doctrine and faith itself has lead to a generations of Christians that would steamroll anyone in their path that didn’t share their orthodoxy.
    It took years for me to come to accept my own sexuality and more to reconcile that to my faith. But, as I have found, the more troubling aspect is that dealing with certain elements of the Christian community would rather wage a war out of desire to be correct than out of a position of love. It’s hard for me not to get irate in dealing with this, but, God’s mercy has been given to us all equally. For some, that might be hard to deal with. But, I’ve learned to be at peace with those who don’t accept us. Without sounding too trite, It’s up to us gays and the churches that accept LGBT persons to live out the love of Christ. Not necessarily to prove anything, but to be the city on the hill that truly has no asterisks or fine print attached. 

  • Rod

    As an openly gay Christian man- one who for many years chose to suppress my sexual orientation because I believed it was a sin, and who after a long serious study of Scripture in regards to this, and who no longer believes that homosexuality as an orientation or action is a sin (wow, run-on sentence!)-, I truly appreciate this article. perhaps the greatest tragedy that ever happened to the church was when it gained political and social power. When the Church has, and uses, power to make people look like it thinks it is supposed to, it misses the point of Christ crucified. May the Holy Spirit continue to push us to the margins, where Jesus himself chose to dwell.

    • JM

      “that homosexuality as an orientation or action”

      The former I would absolutely affirm. But the latter doesn’t seem to have any support in Scripture. It’s a huge leap between the two, don’t you think?

    • 1600 years of Biblical interpretation that states homosexuality is a sin, suddenly finds itself not a sin? Wow. The power of modern social distortion.

      • So you’re comfortable with Rod being suppressed by ancient attitudes towards the marginalized? This also holds true for women and Jews as well? What about slaves?

        • Suppression? No. Learning to rely on God through our weaknesses and struggles? Yes. I struggle with lust. But, I also know this is a sin. I can only ask God for His forgiveness and keep me away from temptations. The same should be said for all sins, including homosexuality. Confess it. Know it. And, rely on God to get you through it.

      • Anonymous

        What has gone on assumption, without honest inquiry, cannot be assumed to be truth no matter how long it took to bother asking about it. Homosexuality was never studied until less than 200 years ago; before that, it was just *assumed* to be unnatural and evil. It wasn’t studied outside prisons and among mental patients until 50 years ago; before that, it was just *assumed* to be a mental defect. Much more is known about the issue now, and that matters when examining old documents. Even the few Bible passages that touch on the subject.

        If the only examples of straight sex you had ever seen were either an adult with a minor or rape, then quite naturally any mention you happened to make in your writings would be negative. That doesn’t mean that your readers should declare all straight sex to be evil… and that doesn’t change no matter how long it takes for anyone to notice.

        • Read a little Sappho or Plato before assuming homosexuality was only considered to be aberrant till recently…that is a convenient but inaccurate claim.  The only really novel part is, as far as I’m aware, nobody suggested same-sex marriage before our generation.  Same-sex sexual activity is nothing new, and has not been universally condemned.  Those in Jesus’ time could not have been unaware of Greek/Roman behavior…

          • Anonymous

            I’ll look into that; but if so, those were at least ignored by virtually all of Christianity for most of the last 2000 years… and nothing I’ve heard of “Greek/Roman behavior” includes reciprocal, loving relations between equals, as is the ideal for modern opposite-sex marriages in this society. Often not even one of the three.

          • No need to read Plato and Sappho if Scripture clearly spells out that homosexuality is sin.

          • Not the point, Greg.  Proponents of affirming homosexuality in the church often claim–speciously–that the Bible and particularly the N.T. do not speak against homosexuality because our new, modern, enlightened version of homosexuality was unknown back then.  I disagree.  Plato advocated mostly man-boy love, but also elevated man-man love as purer than contaminating oneself with the inferior women.  Sappho was a poet who rhapsodized about her lesbian lovers.  Both precede the Christian era by a good 500 years.

            All I’m getting at is that the claims of novelty are unfounded.  As I said before, the only thing novel in modern times is the suggestion that such unions ought to be defined as “marriage.”  Well, that, and the notion that marriage was (necessarily) a predicate to love rather than the other way around.

        • That’s the problem with your logic. Nothing was ever assumed. Proper biblical interpretation, exegesis, and original languages have always been used for 1600+ years. You, my friend, are making the assumptions based on feeling and modern social interpretation to appease the gay community and justify a particular lifestyle.

          • Anonymous

            So you’ve claimed.

            That is still, even if true, no reason to assume that old is better.

          • Claimed? Fact. Entire treatises exist, along with Greek lexicons, and other sources. Quit trying to change things based on your own faulty logic.

            Old is better? No. Truth is better. And, the truth is that homosexual sex is condemned all throughout Scripture. There is no getting around it.

        • Word

  • Emily

    I was taught that homosexuality was a sin, therefore I avoidedthe issue both in my own heart and in my community. 
    I figured it wasn’t my fight.  I thought if I kept my head downand remained silent the conflict itself would just go away.
    Now I am seeing words of hatred spewing fromthe mouths of ministers.  I am seeing acts of terrorism from churches.
    I am seeing the entire faith of Christianity mocked by thosewho are from a variety of different faiths.
    I appologize to the GLBT community for my silence, and my lack ofunderstanding.  I am grieved by the actions of some churchesright now.
    I believe that God calls us to love and that tollerance is not enough.We have to really care about one another with our whole hearts.
    I’m sorry now that I thought avoidance was the same as tollerance.It isnt.

  • Ann Penick

    Excellent piece. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps the church does offer the LGBT community an apology for not being able to have a conversation in love about the rightness or wrongness of their actions.  Maybe even we sin, when, as a group, we come across condemning when we should offer the same grace, patience and understanding we (in recent years) offer the many who participate in heterosexual dissolution of marriage.  But when we live in a nation that is governed by the people, for the people – why on earth would we abdicate our god given responsibility to stand up for marriage as HE intended it?  I could no sooner advocate (by not opposing it) gay marriage to be sanctioned by our government than I would advocate for divorce to be sanctioned by our government.  Just because divorce is accepted by the church in our government and culture doesn’t mean it’s right.  nor that I advocate for it.  God knows how I have struggled in my marriage, and were it not for patience and grace by my wife for me – and I for her – we would be a part of those statistics.  I’ve not run the race entirely yet, but if, by God’s grace,  at the end of this road I am fortunate enough to still be bound “on earth” as I am in heaven with my wife – it won’t be because someone somehow encouraged me that “God still loves me in spite of my sin” – or that it’s “OK because he doesn’t expect perfection”.  May I never surround myself with “loving” christian friends that would persuade me that divorce actually IS God’s best for me.  No, I will remain married because in God’s strength I will have believed what the scripture says and remained firm even though everything within me wanted to bail on this God sanctioned covenant called marriage.  Fornication, adultry and homosexuality – and all the other acts our culture has only just begun to legitimize – are sin.  As good as they may feel in the near term – God loves us – and has instructed us that we will all be better off if we fight the good fight against our old nature.  Even though there is grace – we honor God by struggling to choose a life consistent with his teaching.  Gay, straight or Trans – this is never going to be easy.  To remain voluntarily on His path – and not one of our own making – will bring honor to Him.  Thank God for his grace.     

  • Give up the fight? Yes. Apologize? Perhaps. Maintain a level of moral standards within the church? Yes. No use in fighting. Everyone regardless of gender, sexual identity, beliefs, etc. should always be welcomed and invited into the church. But, everyone must leave their life of sin and be held accountable to his/her actions and behavior just like all of us should. No special provisions. And, there certainly should be grace involved. Jesus and Paul set forth certain standards of living for a reason. And, although many of us fall short, doesn’t mean we give them up altogether.

    • Anonymous

      Must everyone, then, agree with Greg Dill about what is and what is not sin, or are those who disagree welcome as well?

      • Nope. It’s not about what Greg Dill says. It’s about what Scripture clearly states.

        • Anonymous

          Which amounts to the same thing when people disagree on the meaning of scripture.

        • Pneumajohn

          Greg:  Ian deleted my post, on very similar grounds. Which is fine, its just smacks of hypocricy when you are acting open minded, acting like you respect biblical truth, than when it comes you: slam it, disregard it, and censore those who bring it to your attention, or disagree with neo-paganism… This is the coersion of paganism, either agree or be called, bigot, angry, fear monger, etc.  Sadly, I do not believe Ian is sincere in any dialogue with the biblical directives…. He attacks the Church for being coersive, than practises that with impunity…. I’m use to this from the fundamentalist left…! They will not deal with Romans 1, 1 Timothy 1:10 lists this sin/vice as the mileu of paganism that Christian sound teaching delivers one from. If you don’t want to listen to this fine, but why pretend?

          • @32f59543d36874ec1c97e5a808dbdcfa:disqus … You are not being fair to @511970a147f1780dda275069bc8eacb4:disqus .  He is not raising theological questions here… at all.  He is asking about the political approach we take with our theological convictions.  You are imposing unwarranted assumptions on him and that can easily lead to slander and gossip… I know Ian personally and think that you are slandering the character of a very Godly guy.  He is asking the church to not impose Christian standards onto the pagan Law.  Remember from a conservative reading of Romans 1… “God gave them over.”  Why shouldn’t we “give them over” as well and let LGBT folks have whatever pagan rights that they can have?  This is not inconstant with a conservative theological perspective.  If it were, then would you be willing to ban divorce as well (except in rare cases?)?  Here’s my article on that:

            I’m happy to have multiple perspectives represented on my blog… conservative, moderate, and progressive.  Even so, I do not welcome condemning accusations and gossip of this sort.  Please use discernment.

          • pneumajohn

            Kurt: “He is not raising theological questions here… at all.” His artcle is filled with correctives to the church. He has numerous theological implicatons, and arguments, see his reponses, to deny this seems to me amazing position to take even if he is your friend. Very unfair to say I’m slandering! Not true at all.  In my view we are called to be leaven in society by the Lord Jesus Christ, God of God, true light of true light, the essential deity, to the present Kingdom of God, no matter what country we abide in. So impossible for me to agree with a christian theology to theonomize, pagan law, as a christian theologian. Have not heard that before…. We can all share are views, that was all I was doing, not slander, utter inventive.  This is a famous debating techinqiue, that I see many on the left use too often. When they slander the church it is interesting dialogue, when you challenge them it is slander… Lets have more chacter than to jump to that conclusion.  See my reponse.. 

          • Ian

            Yeah John, you’re definitely the one who’s oppressed here, not the members of the GLBT community who had to stomach your ugly comments which likened homosexuality to you know what. I deleted that sentence out of your multi-paragraph comment on my blog, and have left the remainder of your comments intact, in which you assert over and over and over that homosexuality is a sin, thus missing the point of this post by at least a mile.

            You keep taking shots at me, on this website and on mine, and feel free. I don’t really understand why, but it seems to be a thing you need to do, so proceed. But for the sake of the GLBT community members who are here, wounded and hesitant because of the ways that the church has hurt them in the past, yet courageous enough to try again with the church by reading this and conversing with the others here in the hopes that people will treat them kindly and understand a bit of their story, could you please find it in yourself to just be quiet for awhile, and listen/read, and consider? You might learn something and guess what? What you learn will not make your Bible obsolete, but it may just make you a more compassionate person.

          • pneumajohn

            “It is Time for the American Christian Church to Surrender , Apologize,…” Ian you seem to be oblivious to the sacrastic tone this comes off! I just gave you some of your own medicine and you showed you can dish it out, but cannot take it. In all due respect, who are you to tell the church to surrender and apologize?  You ratcheted up the rhetoric. What about compassion to the church? You seem to speak with passion for your ideology and anyone who disagrees, is not modern thinking enough, not compassionate enough, and you alone can speak ex-catherdra. I really was trying my best to avoid the GLBT community and going after your deeper presuppositions.   “The one time when you come clean is this quote: ” Homosexuality was never studied until less than 200 years ago; before that, it was just *assumed* to be unnatural and evil. It wasn’t studied outside prisons and among mental patients until 50 years ago; before that, it was just *assumed* to be a mental defect. Much more is known about the issue now, and that matters when examining old documents. Even the few Bible passages that touch on the subject”. So ancient man did not have the superior moral knowledge of modern man argument! Hmm. Wonder is that is why modern man killed 55 million in Word War II, hmmm.  Modern man has not proved he is superior morally! I thought this was an open forum of ideas, concepts, and Kurt being a theologian of sorts, a dialogue of theology, at least in part. That was were I was coming from. It never was an attack on you as much as your ideology and presuppositions, I thought you would come back with a vigorous defence, but no you censored what you did not like.
            I’m compassionate and a person of conviction at the same time, your ideology may not make room for such a position, but I also feel that is manipulative, and  many ways coercive to the extreme.. We can agree to disagree, you are not compassionate because you affirm an ideology, I think that is giving yourself to much credit, and belittle those who do not agree with you. The church has had many hammers slam against its mighty anvil and the hammers did not last but the church did, you are not the first, neither will you be the last hammer that breaks off doing so…. All the church fathers and reformers, and great theologians, disagree with your views, maybe that will give you a little humiltiy when you call it to surrender to your personel ideology!

  • Mike

    First of all, Thanks Kurt for being bold enough to engage what I believe is one of the most generationally defining issues of our day! Thanks to the author Ian for a very well thought out proposal to the Church at large.

    While I cannot and will not argue with the truth of the Cross being a place of submission and reconciliation, and the need for the Church to take a much more humble approach to the issues of sexuality, I cannot embrace many of these thoughts, as compelling as they are, without strictly adhering to well thought out and historically, culturally, and theologically accurate interpretations of Scripture.  I do NOT believe the author is asking us to defy the Word.  However, I do see a proclivity here, where Christian people are taking the author’s comments almost as an excuse to continue “living in sin”, whether homosexual or heterosexual, without any regard to Paul’s numerous exhortations to the Church to live sexually pure lives in the Corinthians (talk about a sexually screwed up church!), warnings in the book of Jude 22-23, and even Jesus’ blessing to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” in Matthew 5, as well as His gentle rebuke to the Church of Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29) to repent from the spirit of Jezebel, a sexually immoral and controlling spirit that was creeping into the church.   

    I will not be one to condemn either orientation on its own.  Any form of sexual sin is just that: sin.  No matter how well thought out we are, we cannot arbitrarily reinterpret Scripture in order to better fit in an ever increasingly complex culture.  Confession that we have sinned against God alone, and to humbly ask for His forgiveness is paramount to why the Church is even still on earth.  This is one of the core reasons for the Church’s existence: to be ambassadors of Christ in both love AND uncompromising truth.  Such is God’s character: Holy & Just and Loving & Merciful, praise Him!  

    When it comes to politics, the Church must walk the line carefully.  If any who profess the name of Jesus have been arrogant and hateful against ANY sinner, then apologies are truly in order.  But the Church must not and cannot apologize for its stance to be who it is: an example of Christ in BOTH love & acceptance and truth & a call to repentance to both believers and unbelievers alike.  The difficult part is, many in the world won’t/don’t know how to take a moral stand of the church without feeling the Church is “against” them.  When my wife tells me I’m wrong or need to change in an area, my first response most of the time is defensive and that somehow she must “seek to understand” where I’m coming from.  Often she is right, but until I humble myself and admit my error, we are in conflict. And such is the case here.  The Church has made a hard line stance, not just in this area, but many areas of morality, as outlines in Scripture. Not because a pastor says so, but because God has said so.  

    Its true, the Church MUST engage in the discussion of sexual identity more constructively, WITH humility and an open ear of understanding.  But in so doing, the Church MUST be careful, because sexual sin is not anything to be trifled with, whether homosexual OR heterosexual, as we are told in Jude 22-23.

    Ian is right, we should not blanket the culture with Church values, especially if said culture does not want it (side note: our culture is built on “church/Judeo-Christian” principles, despite our many historical failures, as is true for all cultures & individuals throughout history; thankfully our sins do not negate our inheritance as believers, any more than the sins of Israel negated their identity as God’s chosen people; despite the Churches failures, God still has chosen her to be His representation on earth.).  We cannot expect the world to line up with Church values, but we can do what’s morally right.  As Edmund Burk said, ” The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing …”    
    I believe this applies not just to social issues, but ethical & moral issues especially, because it is out of our ethics that our morals come, and from our accepted morality as a people come our social acceptances and behaviors.  Taking the thought process backwards, it all goes back to our ethics, and our ethics as a people ought to come from the character of God, the Bible. 

    The author has said that Christians/Churches have waged “war” against the GLTB community, but I do not think this is true for most churches. I do believe most churches have stood on righteous principles and have been despised by more than just the GLTB community for it.  Isn’t that what Jesus said?  That many would persecute and falsely say all kinds of evil against believers (Matt. 5:11-12)?  He then goes on to address the moral issues of the day from Matt. 5:13-48.  I  do not know of any reputable evangelical church who has been “hateful” as the author has described.  But I do know many evangelical churches who ARE accepting and ARE welcoming, but will NOT compromise God’s word for ANYBODY, including the Pastor himself!  As a result, they’ve been “blacklisted” as “hateful” and “demeaning”.  In short “evil” has been falsely spoken of them.
    Do churches need to “catch” up in matters or relevance? Sure. Do we get it wrong? Absolutely.  Does the Church need to show more mercy & grace? You bet! In all issues,  and as a pastor, I’ll be one of the first to admit it.  But to ask American Christians to not engage the wonderful freedoms and liberties they’ve been granted in debating real issues in a civil manner, whether it be on the field of legislation or public address, is asking the Church to not be who it has been commissioned to be: the Light of the World (Matt. 5:13-16).  

    • Mike, I appreciate where you’re coming from.  What I think you may be missing is that it’s one thing to call for repentance–even calling unbelievers–and to enact laws that force unrepentant individuals to act in what, for want of a better term, I will call a “repented” manner.  The former is clearly commanded in Scripture; the latter is an exercise in futility as well as justly earning the Church a lot of disapproval.

      • Mike

        I hear you Dan, and I agree that we are to call people to repentance and not to force them to through laws.  But historically, there is precedence in our society that marriage is defined between a man & a woman.  Call me old fashioned, but there are some things that even the world should not dare change, and then call it “good”.  This isn’t a debate about whether the Church is “forcing” its belief system on others as much as it is a small group of people forcing their values on a society that has held marriage defined as between a man and a woman for hundreds of years.  This is not an issue of equality, as much as an issue of redefinition of acceptable morality within American society.  Its a shame that if one thinks that homosexuality and/or heterosexual fornication is wrong, they are “judgmental”, or even worse, accused of “hate”.  It is not loving to accept something that is widely accepted as morally wrong, rather it is unloving to say nothing and excuse sin in the guise of “acceptance”, believer or unbeliever.  I digress…  Basically, I see the Church and Christians simply standing for that which has been acceptable for hundreds of years in American law and morality.  

        The Church isn’t forcing its values on American society.  American society has already and historically embraced the Bible and the Church as its primary moral compass.  Rather, this new line of thought is forcing its way into American society & laws, and demands that we change our laws to accept IT.    

        • I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree on this point, Mike.  I do not accept that American society has “historically embraced the Bible and the Church as its primary moral compass.”  Americans have often rendered ill-fitting lipservice to Christianity, but that’s not at all the same thing.  Hence my Ten Commandments American Style.

          I grant your question about society’s historical perspective on marriage.  I would argue, in fact, that the universality of a ceremonial male-female union (and the absence of a same-gender analog) is a good SECULAR argument in favor of calling any novel same-sex union by another name.  But that is an illustration of my exact point:  regardless of your motivation (Christian/religious) for caring, if you’re going to engage secular society in the guidance of secular laws, your Christian foundation is not an appropriate foundation for attempting to persuade those who are not themselves Christians.

          I still feel there are legitimate questions of equal protection, equal compensation for equal work, and so on, where same-sex couples have a legitimate grievance.  In the secular world, for that matter, why does it have to be a sexual or romantic union, at all, that forms the two-person compact that can get health benefits, survivor benefits, etc.?  Why can’t two individuals in a completely non-sexual contract gain the same rights?

          Nevertheless, I’m here arguing under the secular American legal doctrine of equal protection.  That’s not a religious argument, regardless of my own religious persuasion.

          But back to your statement:  when churches–under the auspices of their churches and in the name of God–raise “holy” hell about the “sanctity of marriage” and rally the faithful to oppose the secular trend toward gay marriage, they are crossing the line.  This is the crux of my whole argument…you advocate a position to someone else on the basis of an authority HE/SHE accepts, not on the basis of your own which he/she rejects.

        • Ian

          “But historically” is the beginning of this problem, Mike. Why are you even focused on policing the arc of morality as it pertains to the individual? Do you really think that’s fruitful? Is that the proper role of the church? I’ve always heard churches say “it’s not about being a good person,” but in this silly fight the church seeks to enforce that idea exactly- the church’s version of what’s better vs. worse for the individual (doing nothing to remove homosexuality from the society which I can read is your primary concern). Is it like a second tier salvation concept where even if you can’t get people to recieve Christ, it’ll still be better for them if they acted like you wanted them to? 

          I cannot grasp this way of thinking. You know that all of us can be moral on the outside, observing societal norms, while completely bankrupt and dark on the inside. It is really dangerous for the church to imply to the culture that all they need is to act more like the church. 
          Do you want to legislate a national swear jar too? Because I can find you plenty of Christians who swear (no pun intended) that cursing is immoral and they have verses to prove it. And I’m sure someone could give a rousing (though ultimately laughable) speech on how profanity erodes the community. And some old timer will whine about the good ‘ol days, before there was a PG-13 rating hurting America’s youth. But will any of that make people love Jesus? The ban on cursing?

          • Mike

            Thanks Ian. Before I comment, I do want you to know I appreciate your honest thoughts and courage to tackle this topic, and to be bold enough to “tell the Church” at large what you think. Kudos.  

            That said, I think you misinterpret my meaning from the term “history” here. I am simply saying, along our history things that were acceptable, are no longer, and vise versa.  Some for the better, and others not so much.  So as to not be mysterious here, I believe this issue of sexual immorality is not one that the Church can afford to be voiceless in.  And perhaps you’re not suggesting that.  I am open to your views on how the Church’s voice may be better heard while not compromising sound doctrine in matters of purity & holiness.

            To be clear, I do not believe it is the role of the church to “police” an individual’s lifestyle.  Each individual must acknowledge their own “sins” on their own merit, and choose to turn away from those sins.  BUT, can’t the Church voice concerns over what may in truth be “slippery slopes” of morality and its ill effects that may come to society as a result?  And I say in ALL areas, not just sexual immorality.  This sexual immorality issue just happens to be a hot button for America and the Church right now (well, since the 60’s at least).  

            You are so right.  The heart is dark to the core. So much so, that I question my own motives for writing this long response.  I need to check my motives and goals with God’s holy Word.  You’re also right, in that we don’t want to create a bunch of “religious pharisees” who conform to what the Church says is right.  But we also need to pay attention to history and learn from it, both the good and the bad.  There is nothing wrong with the Church saying, “hey, we STRONGLY believe this particular issue has eternal consequences for us now and for our children’s children; we want to give a warning from history and the on that.”  

            For example, if America started seeing a proclivity of society moving toward an acceptability of murder as “ok”, on the crazy idea that it is the right of the murderer to ensure his/her own survival, shouldn’t the Church, pastors, leaders of morality & ethics step in and LOUDLY say something? Even to resist such audacity on a legislative level? Unfortunately, history tells this story all too vividly in Hitler’s Germany, when the Church stood by silently and said nothing with regard to the systematic extermination of Jews, homosexuals, societal deviants, etc…  I realize we’re in different roles and a different time here, but history is there for us to respectfully consider on behalf of those who’ve been on this planet before us.  

            Going with the language of “policing”, isn’t that what our society has done from the first inception of acceptable laws and social norms?  For example, up until 2003, when the Supreme Court declared sodomy laws unconstitutional, there were still 14 states in the Union that strictly prohibited sodomy (deviant sexual behavior between persons of the same sex).  In 1986, the Supreme Court upheld states rights to hold sodomy laws in Bowers v. Hardwick.  It has been the law in recent history, not because the Church said so, but because society at the time accepted that as an unacceptable behavior, or not.  We need to be careful not to impose our modern interpretations and views on history. 

            Instead of “policing”, I think a more applicable term would be “accountability”.  Those of us who are in the Church are to hold one another accountable to Christ and to lives of holiness in service to God (Matt. 18, 1 Cor. 5).  In almost every letter that Paul writes, there is instruction on righteous behavior for leaders and those who profess faith in Christ.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Our righteous deeds are to translate into society, for the benefit of all. 

            Again, things we accept today were NOT acceptable just 60 years ago.  Not saying we go back to the 1950’s.  There were things that needed to shift, ie// Civil Rights Movement.  I’m just saying let’s not defer our moral authority as the Church within a free society to others who will dictate it for us, but rather, lets stand on the firm ground of Scripture WITH Grace for ALL people, irrespective of their sexual orientation, or even their murderous past.  I do believe as the Church speaks truth in love to one another and the entire world, in this case, the American public at large, we have the authority to speak into the individual lives of people and the corporate destinies of nations.  To me its a Kingdom principle.  When God’s truth prevails in any land, especially outside of the Church, then that land may be blessed (Isaiah 58).  The Church is meant to be a blessing to the world, whether the world accepts that blessing or not.  I believe it is our duty and call to speak up in matters of ethics and morality, whether those around us accept it or not and whether it is popular or not.  To relate it close to home for you perhaps, your own pursuits of ridding society of sex trafficking and injustice and poverty are noble pursuits! Good to be done by good men, as Edmund Burk would perhaps agree.  But in so doing, aren’t you “policing” unlawful sex traffickers? Shouldn’t they be able to be “accepted” for their line of “work”?  Or why should we impose OUR definitions of poverty on 3rd world nations?  Perhaps there is a deeper and truer happiness for some in “poverty” that cannot be found on a middle or upper income level?  And so, who are we to impose OUR Westernized perspectives on poverty?  Ok, crazy question sequence over :-).  To be clear, I do believe in ELIMINATING Sex trafficking in the world, and doing our best to reduce poverty.  That said, I hope you can somehow relate on the passion level to those who feel called to CALL the Church and the World to follow Jesus, through repentance from ALL sin, irrespective of its political ramifications and unpopularity to minority or majority groups.  That may be the CLINCHER: how do you and I view Scripture and the Church’s role in culture, specifically American culture?  I speak this with all respect, but can you understand, when you cart blanche declare that the Church must “give up” this fight for righteousness, you’re asking many to conform to YOUR view of how the Church should act?  Perhaps I’m wrong, and perhaps most evangelical churches are wrong.  But perhaps you’re wrong, and you totally misinterpret most evangelical churches who ARE making differences in their communities and ARE standing unapologetically against sexual immorality, while STILL being VERY inviting, and welcoming to ALL.   I wrote it in my initial response, but I GUARANTEE that at least 51% of churches in America are TOTALLY inviting, welcoming, and warm toward ALL people, despite their sexual orientation.    If the church (I’m speaking of people here, not institutions necessarily) stands on moral ground to say something is wrong or right, whether in the privacy of their voting booth, or a “Yes on Prop 8” sign in their yard, why is that considered “policing” in your mind?  Isn’t our society designed for that very reason?  Isn’t it our opportunity to engage the culture in a way that is civil and full of truth, with respect for ALL people?  Or is it for every American, *unless* said American happens to be a Christian?  I don’t know where exactly it all shifted from the Church being the community center of any given American town or city, but it used to be “acceptable” to profess a Biblical world view, especially to unbelievers, at the hope that repentance in their hearts would come.  As mysterious as the medium of preaching is, it worked then, and it still works today.  I’m not suggesting you’re suggesting preaching should stop, but isn’t that what the 2nd amendment is for?  To be able to preach the truth of the Bible WITHIN the marketplace & the community, which I contend INCLUDES the voting booth and initiatives of encouraging morality within society?Much more to say, I’m sure, but I’ve already said way too much.  Again, thank you for your insight.  You’ve definitely got me thinking…  

          • Ian

            Mike! A very long, and very reasonable comment, forgive me for taking awhile to get through it. I appreciate the humility and thoughtfulness that you’re bringing to this conversation. I wish more of those people who might disagree with my post would adopt your tone and approach.

            Let me first ease some of your concerns and validate much of your point- yes, the church must be faithful to contend for purity and holiness as you’ve described, and we can certainly also “throw our hat in the ring” when it comes to influencing the broader culture*. *Where this crosses a line is when the church oppresses the wider culture by imposing it’s views through legislative restriction of other’s rights, instead of trying to merely be persuasive through testimony, preaching, and lives shared. This not only deprives many of true liberty but more importantly it causes the church to be diluted, watered down by being engaged in areas outside of it’s intended reach. It’s similar to Empire. Nations that extend themselves in unjust ways end up hollow and depleted at the core. In similar fashion, the church has moved outside of its border to engage the culture war and we are suffering internally because of it. Or try it this way- we would be more vibrant if we stuck to being the church rather than jockeying to erect a church-like atmosphere in the broader culture. This only drives seekers outside the church in the opposite direction.

            Another point of response- we respond to sex trafficking, war, murder etc because those are crimes committed on unwilling individuals, stealing life, well-being, innocence, etc. It’s not difficult to see the difference between that and a legal agreement that two aware, willing adults enter into. While we may disagree morally, we have no broader case to deny such a choice because it is not an act of aggression or injustice such as, well- the things I filled my post with (economic injustice, prison industrial complex, gender inequality, etc).

            Let’s question this: is it the role of the church to share the light of God (christ, discipleship, etc) or to attempt to vanquish evil on God’s behalf? Those two missions, and their results, couldn’t be more different.
            Thank you again for wrestling with these issues so respectfully Mike and for rolling with my first comment which was passionate but hopefully not offensive to you.

          • Mike

            Thanks Ian.  I could sense your passion in your first post, but I was banking in faith that you were a reasonable fellow, otherwise Big Kurt wouldn’t have let you post on his blog :-). No harm done.  

            I appreciate you clearing up the air. I’m with you man.  We need to be the Church God intended from the get go: to show people to Jesus, and let HIM do the cleaning up, reviving, etc…  That said, I’ll keep praying & preaching truth with passion, mixed with grace & love, but I suppose that’s what i’m supposed to keep doing anyway :-). 

            I do realize the differences between homosexuality/sexual immorality and the issues of injustice, so please forgive me for using apples & oranges to illustrate my point :-).  Frankly I PRAISE GOD for ministries that are doing what most others will not, and they need to grow. 

            In short, I’m with you in that the Church MUST rethink how we go about this and many other issues while holding fast to clear Biblical truth.  Jesus help us! 🙂

      • Anonymous

        Worse even than an exercise in futility: it makes it harder to know who is on what side. (Though I still thoroughly disagree with the notion that gay relations in all contexts are something to repent of! The principle stands regardless.)

    • Anonymous

      Just one point I’d like to argue for now, if you don’t mind: “No matter how well thought out we are, we cannot arbitrarily reinterpret Scripture in order to better fit in an ever increasingly complex culture.” I believe that speaks volumes about ill-thought-out assumptions. It *seems* to be a declaration that any who believe that God does not, after all, condemn homosexuality (whether orientation or action) can only have reached that conclusion arbitrarily and as a result of trying to fit in with culture. And in some cases that may be the case: but it must be pointed out that in others that conclusion has only been reached through long, hard periods of study, contemplation, and prayer.

      Just as those who do not believe this is sin have to remember that some of those who do have reached *their* position through study, contemplation, and prayer, rather than just swallowing whatever they were first told whole.

  • KrisW66

    Here, here Ian! I agree with your take on this subject wholeheartedly. There is too much hate and intolerance coming from a religion that prides itself on unconditional love and fellowship. I’m tired of the martyrdom, power & political control that Christianity has taken on in this country. In a general sense, it now represents to me, the opposite of everything I learned in Bible school as a kid. Where is the humility, compassion and sympathy that Jesus represented in the Mega, televised, SuperPac churches of today? The pompous self-righteousness and political power grabs have truly branded Christianity as “man-made” in my view. Due to the toxic religious environment over the past 30 years, I have turned to God and cut out the middleman – religion. I also have a higher respect for individuals that are Christian and act like Christians – they are rarer these days, but posts like this make me believe that a Renaissance for Christian Americans may be at hand. I respect people that follow the golden rule with no exceptions for gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. Those people are truly God’s ambassadors – not “religious” hate-Mongers that destroy the concept of faith through their anger
    & venom.

    • Ian

      “but posts like this make me believe that a Renaissance for Christian Americans may be at hand.” Thank you Kris, that is a huge compliment, and my opinion is, the generation of Christians in my age range are indeed in the midst of a renaissance. Some day I’ll write a post as to why, but I would quickly point to the unlawful and horrific policies of G.W. Bush and a rigid adherance to a certain brand of prepackaged christian doctrine which has been a trap for many of our parents in the baby boomer generation. These things caused many of us to look around and say “something isn’t right here.”

      God is in the business of refining, restoring, life anew, and I think he often uses younger people to do this. Inevitably, my generation will make its mistakes too, and our children will learn from it and use it to share God in transparent ways.

  • Basil

    This is an interesting article, which I deeply appreciate.  Scanning the comments, I see a lot of  naked raw bigotry and malice towards gays and lesbians from self declared “Christians”, which is really depressing, but not at all surprising.  There is the strange and slanted literalism, but without any intellectual underpinnings — so many are ready to quote whatever verse to justify their animus towards GLBT persons, but it is all grounded in ignorance.  I doubt any of these people are truly fluent in ancient Hebrew or ancient Greek or have prerequisite historical knowledge of the cultures of the ancient Near East or Mediterranean.  And yet despite this fundamental ignorance, they are somehow magically moved by the Lord to speak in hatred towards the GLBT community, insist on legal discrimination against GLBT citizens, and incite violence against them.    

    It seems that homophobia has become a core cultural value of a likely majority of Christians, particularly evangelicals.  Maybe it is just a crutch, an easy substitute for more difficult concepts like honesty, humility, doubt, scholarship, reason, and love.  I guess for a lot of people, it is easier to prove your Christian credentials by how much you hate queers and the lengths you will to deny their human and civil rights. 

    Your article is on-point.  The first step to redemption is admitting there is a problem, and moving to atone for the damage done to the victims — in this case GLBT people.  Judging from the bigotry expressed in these comments, very few “Christians” are anywhere close to being redeemed.

    • Ian

      Thank you, Basil, especially for the first two paragraphs of your comment. You are exactly right, and have expressed yourself in a way that is almost eerily accurate. Your thoughtfulness and kindness are replenishing when certain anti-GLBT comments have gotten me discouraged. May your comment replenish many others as well.

    • I appreciate your frustration, Basil, and I sense an openness at least in your response to Ian.  May I suggest a note of moderation, though?  I agree that some of the comments on this thread have been unnecessarily strident and hostile.  You are wholly justified in calling them out.

      However it is important (I think) to distinguish between those who truly do hate GLBT folks, and those who genuinely try to be open and loving in relationship toward such individuals but remain compelled that within the bounds of Christian faith same-gender sexual practice is immoral.  This latter group, among which I consider myself, do not try to impose our faith-based morality upon those who do not share our faith.  The better among us even recognize (as I try to) that the Holy Spirit addresses different people on different areas of discipleship first, so we do not condemn all GLBT individuals as wholesale damned.  But we still maintain–with just cause, I think–that a Biblical perspective precludes blessing or affirming GLBT sexual practice for those who claim to be disciples of Jesus.

      This absolutely does not justify the venom that spews from the mouths of far too many who label themselves “Christian.”  Jesus obviously loved the whores and tax collectors with whom he associated, even though he clearly preached that they needed to change their behavior.  “Love” is not a label I would apply to most Christians I have known, I’m sad to say.  But it is equally important, I would argue, not to claim (as, frankly, the Fundamentalists do) that the only choices available to us are flagrant homophobia on one hand or absolute acceptance and affirmation on the other.

  • Kaliki76

    As a Bible believing Christian, who takes a literal interpretation of scripture regarding homosexuality….I loved most everything in this article!!
    This quote is my favorite of the whole article:
    “God did not instruct the church to force the rest of the world to have the appearance of the church.”
    Most definately! We are told what to abstain from doing – but we are never commanded to force others to do the same!

  • I have to say, I don’t think I’ve read an article that presents this divisive issue as perfectly and cogently as this. I’ll be sure to share it, and I pray that we as a nation, and as a world community, attain the enlightenment to bring these propositions to life.