Marriage Changes. Get Over It.

Marriage Changes. Get Over It. December 6, 2012
Last century, epileptic coach Jerry Kill would not have been allowed to get married (Jeff Wheeler/StarTribune)

Do you think that Jerry Kill should be able to marry?

Jerry Kill is the head football coach of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. And he’s an epileptic. He’s had at least three seizures since he took over the program last year, and he’s as much known in the state for that as he is for football.

Probably you do think he should be allowed to marry. But less than a century ago, Coach Kill’s marriage to his spouse, Rebecca, would have been prohibited in Minnesota.

Minnesota Statute 8564, passed in 1927, read: “No marriage shall be contracted while either of the parties has a husband or wife living; nor within six months after either has been divorced from a former spouse; nor between parties who are nearer of kin than second cousins, whether of the half or whole blood, computed by the rules of the civil law, nor between persons either one of whom is epileptic, imbecile, feeble minded or insane.”

You read that right. From 1905 until 1977, epileptics were forbidden to marry in Minnesota.

The marriage laws were revisited by our state legislature in 1977. Thereafter, epileptics and the “feeble minded” were allowed to marry, as were first cousins from indigenous people groups—it seems that the state legislature recognized that different cultures have different standards for marriage.

Then, in 1997 (Statute 517.03), marriage among same-gendered persons was prohibited for the first time, with the passage of the Minnesota Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

It’s been one month since the voters of Minnesota rejected an amendment to our state constitution that would have defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman, effectively denying gay and lesbian citizens the right to marry in perpetuity. Voters in Washington, Maine, and Maryland approved same sex marriage, and marriage licenses are being issued today.

As a Christian theologian, I find the rejection of this amendment an exceedingly wise choice by our collective citizenry, for it acknowledges the fact that “marriage” changes over time. And it leaves open the possibility for our legislature to make changes, as they’ve done in the past.

Because, let’s be honest, most of us would find it morally unacceptable if Coach Kill, or any other epileptic, were forbidden to marry in our state.

But it’s not just in state law that the definition of marriage has evolved. It’s also evolved in society. And – watch out for lightening bolts – in the Bible.

Many supporters of the marriage amendment referred to marriage between a man and a woman as “biblical marriage,” but anyone who possesses even a passing acquaintance with the Hebrew and Christian scriptures can recognize that marriage evolves in those texts.

Written over thousands of years in dozens of cultural settings, the books of the Bible do not contain a univocal version of marriage. Therein, we read about Abijah, “He took 14 wives, and became the father of 22 sons and 16 daughters” (2 Chronicles 13:21). That wasn’t unusual in the 6th century BC. But by the time of Jesus, monogamous marriage was more common than polygamy. And a couple decades after Jesus, the Apostle Paul urged widows and the single people to stay unmarried (2 Corinthians 7:8-9). How’s that for “family values”?

I myself am divorced and remarried, an activity that Jesus specifically condemned (he was silent regarding homosexuality). And yet even the most conservative churches have made peace with the reality that people like me exist, and that we can actually serve the purposes of the kingdom of God.

Marriage changes. It’s a fact.

I’m gratified that Jerry Kill is able to marry, even though he suffers from seizures. I’m glad that I have found joy in my second marriage.

And I look forward to the day when my gay and lesbian friends will be able to marry in Minnesota.

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  • Frank

    Nowhere does God condone or bless homosexual behavior in any form. Just the opposite. Jesus supported God design for sexuality and marriage as one man and one woman. No getting around that no matter what your opinion is.

    • OK, Frank. You were first. Everyone will see your comment. Now don’t hijack this thread.

      • Thank you Tony. Seriously. Thank you. (*sigh*)

      • Frank

        Tony responding to comments specifically in response to my post is not hijacking or do you disagree?

    • Scot Miller

      Damn! I was going to ask Frank if he also believes that God’s plan is also to put homosexuals to death, as the Bible (God?) “clearly” commanded in Leviticus 20:13. Oh, well… I guess we’ll never know….

      But I do want to commend Tony on the great analogy! Of course the concept of marriage evolves and changes over time. If the process folks are right, even God evolves over time….

      • Frank

        Don’t think the process folks are right.

        And to answer your question no. Whatever punishment is appropriate for our sins is up to God.

        • lay off frank….the fact is that some of the passages that are currently interpreted to mean homosexuals in the bible were once translated differently …..for instance at the time of martin luther they were often translated as ‘masturbaters’……..worry about the log in your own eye friend

          • Frank

            The bible calls homosexual behavior a sin. That doesn’t make my sin any less sinful but it also doesn’t change the truth.

      • If the rainbow is any indicator Scot, then yes. God clearly changes over time. (At least where the Bible narrative is concerned.)

    • Fred Kohn

      “Jesus supported God design for sexuality and marriage as one man and one woman.” Actually, he didn’t. He supported celibacy.

      • Frank

        He said celibacy was best but not everyone could accept it. Those that cannot have man-woman marriage.

        • Chris

          I don’t recall Jesus saying anything of the sort. That one was Paul.

    • Brian

      @Frank – do you have any idea whatsoever what the context of the “alleged” anti-gay clobber passages in the Bible really is? At this point in time it’s difficult to know for sure…

      • Frank

        Yes I do. The sexual ethic is not just displayed in what some call the “clobber” passages. It is all throughout scripture.

    • Sven

      In a free country, you don’t need (a narrow interpretation of) “God’s Blessing” to do things.

  • Thankfully with the smackdown of Amendment 1, it would seem Minnesotans are evolving. And your summary here would make for an excellent anecdotal argument for a legal push to finally codify marital equality in Minnesota. (Much will also depend on how the U.S. Supreme Court handles the same issue this year. So far we have yet to learn what the high court is going to do with a number of marriage equality cases that are before it for consideration.)

  • Well done, Sir! Thanks!

  • Curtis

    To fully understand these early-20th-century laws, we would have to know what the legal definition of “epileptic” was at the time. In 1905, did anyone who experienced epileptic seizures qualify as legally “epileptic”, or did the label “epileptic” only apply to wards of the state? I am not a legal historian, so I don’t know the answer.

    Even today, a medial ward of the state is not free to marry at will. If “epileptic” in 1905 implied ward of the state, then perhaps nothing much has changed, in this regard, to the definition of marriage.

    You make a good point. But to fully understand the context we have to appreciate that not only the definition of “marriage” may have changed since 1905, but the definition of “epileptic” may have changed as well.

    • If you think that there was a concise legal definition of “feeble-minded” in 1905, you’re not being realistic.

      • Luke Allison


        But also, the definition of “homosexual” has changed….or rather been solidified. The Bible isn’t talking about anything remotely resembling our 21st century notion of a gay “orientation.” These are all 20th century concepts. The context that Paul is referring to in “the clobber passages” isn’t anywhere close to our context. So it seems clear that the Scripture can’t be used as a “timeless objective truth” in this particular case. There is a gap to be bridged. My problem is with the people who refuse to acknowledge this gap.

        I want to have THAT conversation.

        • Frank

          That’s an empty argument. Gay committed couples existed since before Paul’s time. It’s arguments like this that reek of grasping at straws.

          • You’re wrong here, Frank. And I will use my major in classics in college to trump you. I know the classical world, and monogamous, adult homosexuality was virtually unknown.

          • Luke Allison


            See, you’re not acknowledging the gap. So I’m done with having the conversation YOU want to have. I want to have the one about the gap and what to do with it.

          • Frank

            [Comment Deleted by Tony]

            • Don’t copy-and-paste info from other sites here, Frank. That’s plagiarism. Just give us the link.

        • Kristi

          How the ancient understood and viewed homosexuality has absolutely changed. This is not grasping at straws; it is simply stating fact. We view the world through our own cultural lens and it is easy to forget that people of the past had their own culture-specific lens in which they viewed the world. Sometimes, then, we can read the same words and have different understandings. And that’s not even getting into the problem and limitations of language!

          • Frank

            Yes but to say that committed homosexual unions are a modern concept is not true therefore it was known in Paul’s time.

        • toddh

          As a Christian, I voted for same sex marriage in Washington State, so you can see where I stand on the issue. However, as far as antiquity and the idea of homosexual orientation is concerned, I think this blog post raises a lot of good issues:

      • Curtis

        Well, I think there was a legal definition for “feeble-minded”, or at least some sort of legal test to determine who was and who wasn’t. If not, how could the term appear in statue? Again, I don’t know the answers. I agree with your point that the definitions of words change, both in common language, as well as in legal language, over time. But meanings of all of the significant words in this 1905 law have probably changed, not just the word “marriage”.

        When you read a statute today, there is usually a several-paragraph long preface to the statue that goes into the specific, legal, definitions of the words used in the statue. I don’t think we can know what the specific, legal, definition of “epileptic” was in 1905 without further study. Or, at least, we can’t assume that the legal definition of “epileptic” hasn’t changed since then.

  • Tib

    The law passed in 1927 – epilepsy was defined as a neurological disorder in the latter half of the 19th century. By 1927, drug treatments like phenobarbitol, and dietary treatments (the ketogenic diet) were already in place.

    • Tib

      Same definition would have applied in 1905, too. I expect that in common use it referred to anyone with a seizure disorder. I think feeble-minded was also defined with what passed at the time as precision: it was at the high-functioning end of the developmental disabilities spectrum.

    • The law first passed in 1905. An updated version passed in 1927. In neither case was epilepsy, feeble-mindedness, or insanity clinically defined.

  • Carla

    And let’s not forget that in the context of the Bible, a “woman” was any female who had gone through puberty, and marriage was essentially a property transaction. The fact that our state and federal laws prohibit 13-year-old girls from being married off to men in their 30s also attests to our ever-changing ideas about marriage.

    • Frank

      Marriage did not change the age limit of adulthood changed.

      • Frank, I’m warning you (for the last time). Do not insert yourself into every exchange on this post. Everyone here knows how you think and feel. Either bring something original, or refrain from commenting. It is NOT your responsibility to reply to every comment.

        • Frank

          Tony if you are not willing to let me participate on this blog ban me but don’t censor or censure me or place conditions on me alone. If there is a comment limit on this blog tell us and hold everyone accountable.

          • It’s an art, not a science. There are no rules, just common sense.

        • Kelsey

          I feel as if an “OH SNAP” would be appropriate, Tony–Thanks.

          Going back to the original catalyst of the post… there is a woman in my congregation, in Washington state, whose daughter was epileptic. She was born before the time this law would have been changed. She was bullied and beaten up at school, by students and teachers. The doctors tried electro-shock therapy, which caused severe burns and physical pain. Eventually the state decided it would be best for this young girl to be in a psychiatric ward and declared her insane and a danger to those around her. Rather than facing more treatments that weren’t helping, she took her own life. She was 19.
          This woman’s mother in law told her God was punishing her with this child. Said she was not a real Christian and her daughter was the spawn of Satan. And if only she had the faith, she could have cured her daughter.

          We look at these examples; of forbidding a epileptic to marry and for declaring a young girl with seizures to be criminally insane, years after they have happened and think–How dumb could we have been? How could educated and trained physicians not understand epilepsy is not contagious, and that a person undergoing a seizure is in more danger themselves than they are a danger to those around them.

          Scott Miller–you said it–the process folks have it right, stigma changes, social order changes, God changes–and heaven forbid, marriage changes.
          “Weep not that the world changes–did it keep a stable changeless state, ’twere cause indeed to weep.” W.C.Bryant

          I’m curious to know what is the fear behind so much resistant to change in some of these comments…

  • Pax


    You must not have seen my question in the comment from yesterday, but you’ve brought it up again, so I’ll ask again. Why do you think it is a good idea for the state to discriminate against single people?

    • I don’t.

      But since we’ve made a societal decision to incentivize monogamy, we must incentivize all monogamy.

  • Michael Jordan

    Tony, I”m curious as to how you interact with Gagnon’s post linked by toddh above. Gagnon quotes Hubbard and Brooten as two pro-gay marriage scholars who hold that there is strong evidence that homosexual orientation was recognized in the ancient world. Yet above you told Frank you’d use your classics major to argue the opposite. Could you please elaborate? I’m genuinely curious about the case you’d make.

    • The final word(s) on Gagnon on this blog are here.

    • Yes, there was much homosexuality. There was not adult-adult committed monogamy.

      • Frank

        That’s just not true. You asked for a link yet I am unable to post it.

        • Here’s the website Frank would like us all to read:

          If you take that website as authoritative, Frank, I pity you.

          • Larry Barber

            That’s the nice thing about the Internet, you can find some site to support your opinion, regardless of how outlandish it is.

          • Frank

            Tony there is a bibliography and plenty of other evidence that SSM marriages existed in ancient times. Instead of snarking at me wouldn’t it be more productive to respond to the evidence and provide contrary evidence if you have it?

      • Michael Jordan

        I did appreciate the series Scot did on Gagnon, Tony, and read it with interest when it ran on the blog this past spring. I don’t think he dealt at all with this specific question, though. That’s why I asked. Not to be combative, but I don’t find your bald assertion convincing. However, I respect your right to run your blog as you please and won’t push the question. I’m just genuinely interested in the historical case opposing Gagnon’s.

        • Michael, I’m not avoiding your question. I’m just saying that Gagnon has been discredited by Scot’s posts, IMHO.

          You can find scholars who say that there were lots of adult monogamous homosexuals in the ancient world. You can also find scientists who deny global warming. But the scholarly consensus is that pederasty was the most common homosexual practice in the ancient world.

          See Wm. Stacy Johnson on this, and the book that Larry links below.

          • Michael Jordan

            I’ll not belabor this–much–because I don’t want to be *that guy.* Suffice it to say I do not think Scot’s posts “discredit” Gagnon, especially a specific argument of Gagnon’s which Scot didn’t even address (because that particular argument was not the focus of Scot’s posts). I will take a look at Johnson’s book and the other book Larry suggested. Thanks for your time!

          • Chris

            “I’m just saying that Gagnon has been discredited by Scot’s posts, IMHO.”

            Discredited??? Hardly.

            I read Scot’s posts and saw nothing approaching a discrediting. I saw some disagreements. I saw a lot of skepticism of Gagnon’s conclusions (no one can be *that* sure), I even read some begrudging acknowledgement of the depths of Gagnon’s research and methodology. I think your comment clearly demonstrates how we tend to hear what we want to hear. I get that complete neutrality is a fiction, but that’s a long way from saying we shouldn’t at least try.

    • Larry Barber

      For good introduction to how gays fit into classical culture see Sarah Rudens, “Paul among the People”, . Sarah is a classicist, not a Biblicist, so she brings a little different outlook on things than most Christians have. It’s also a fairly short book, so it won’t demand a ton of your time to read.

      • Michael Jordan

        thanks, Larry. I’ll take a look!

    • Scot Miller

      Michael, I don’t have Gagnon’s book anymore (I returned it to its rightful owner), but I can say that Gagnon is a bit slippery when it comes to the way he uses other people’s arguments, especially scholars who are known to be gay or to advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ cause: “Look, even those people agree with what I’m saying, so that proves I’m right.” While those scholars may affirm the fact that homosexual activity is an ancient human phenomenon, their point doesn’t entirely agree with Gagnon’s (which is that contemporary homosexual practices are no different than those mentioned int he Bible). While the sexual mechanics may be the same, it does not follow that contemporary same sex relationships are at all identical to those relationships reflected in the Bible.

      In fact, Gagnon also recognizes that the historical context for most of the biblical references is NOT about committed, long-term same-sex relationships. Even Gagnon admits that most ancient references (both biblical and extra-biblical) are to temporary same sex practices (like male-male rape to humiliate the losing army, or like same-sex cultic practices). Even the pederasty practiced in Greece (and reflected in Plato’s dialogues about Socrates) were not long-term relationships; the older males would be married to a woman while they had sex with younger men for a time (i.e., until they young men grew up.) So Gagnon does not successfully argue that the biblical condemnation of same-sex relations in the Bible are relevant to the contemporary issue of long-term, committed same-sex couples.

      Gagnon’s argument really only supports the conclusion that the Bible opposes sexual practices in which one person uses another human being for one’s own sexual gratification. (And with only one exception [Rom. 1:26], ALL biblical condemnations of homosexual practice is directed to male-male practice. Lesbians are mostly off the hook when it comes to biblical condemnation.)

      • Mat Cranmer

        Scot, in what you say the question seems to come down to whether there is some form of identity between the relationships condemned in scripture back then and the models of mutuality, stability and faithfulness advocated now.

        You says, ‘No, there is no identity: scripture condemns the sexual objectification of another for our ends, but modern practices can be embody the covenantal love of God, so to speak’.

        I have a hunch though, that the same-sex act codemnations in scripture are only partially about a belief in their selfishness.

        It’s an unanswered question for me how this translates to today, but rejection of same-sex activity in scripture surely also involves questions of natural ‘order’. This isn’t intuitive for us and I’m sure that’s why the ‘born this way’ argument is so powerful. But, if Scripture’s condemnation can be said to be on the basis of a natural order that is transgressed in the same-sex act, then I don’t see how that codemnation can be deemed not to apply today. Commitment and fidelity to something ‘disordered’ wouldn’t make it less ‘disordered’.

        For myself, I think this is only half the issue. I’d want to argue that Jesus’ ethic is more eschatological, and ultimately sees human marriage as passing away. I’m not saying people shouldn’t get married or that good can’t come from it (that would be absurd), but perhaps we shouldn’t make assumptions about it being in our individual futures. Paul’s claims about being free to serve in 1 Cor. 7 sound a little more intuituive on this reading. If that sounds uncomfortable for society and for us individually, take it up with Jesus.

        • Scot Miller

          You are correct, there’s probably some sort of “natural law” or “natural order” that’s assumed in the Bible; however, I am skeptical of equating what is “natural” with what is “good.” I think the Kantian idea that what makes something moral involves treating persons with respect (i.e., we should treat every individual as an end in him- or herself, and never solely as a means to an end) is much more plausible. Then what matters is whether I’m honoring and respecting the other, or whether I’m merely using the other as an object and not as a person. The “natural order” may be that men and women have sex to procreate; however, it’s not plausible that sex which does not lead to procreation is somehow wrong (e.g., sex with a condom or contraceptive, oral sex, mutual masturbation, etc.). What matters is whether the two people who are having sex are using each other or not. As long as the relations between two people are voluntary and noncoercive, as long as two people honor each other’s humanity in sex, it doesn’t matter if the two are a man and a women, a woman and a woman, or a man and a man. (Note I’m not even saying that marriage makes the sex morally permissible: a husband can rape his wife. Also note that my position excludes bestiality or pedophilia, since neither animals nor children can freely consent to sex. I’m also not taking a position on polyamory or polygamy, etc.)

      • Larry Barber

        It’s even quite possible that Paul wasn’t referring to lesbians in Romans 1. Ruden (see my post above) says that, given the cloistered status of most women, that Paul wasn’t referring to lesbian relationship, but rather heterosexual women adopting practices like anal or oral intercourse. It’s certainly a possibility, and if that is the case then the Bible says precisely nothing about women/women sex.

      • Michael Jordan

        Scot, you can’t have it both ways. Gay and LGBT-affirming scholars point out that homosexuality is an ancient human phenomenon precisely because this demonstrates that it’s not unique to the modern West. You can’t just decide you like one consequence of this fact–that it normalizes same-sex behavior–and not the other, that Paul may just have understood homosexuality in some ways as we do when he condemned it. Gagnon does an excellent job of demonstrating–yes, relying sometimes on gay and lgbt-affirming scholars–that the ancients understood that some people enjoyed mutally consenting, loving, egalitarian homosexual relationships, and that Paul would have known about this when he wrote Romans. (His argument is weakest on the idea of lifelong commitment being part of these relationships, imo.)

        • Scot Miller

          Michael, you must have read a different book than I did, because I thought Gagon failed in his attempt to conflate (a) the possibility that some same-sex relationships in the ancient world were mutual and loving with (b) the more widely known coercive same-sex practices in some pagan cultic settings. Even if there is evidence that some ancients engaged in mutually respectful same-sex acts (as some LGBT scholars try to argue), it’s not at all clear that Paul had these loving relations in mind. Paul seems much more interested in people whose lusts lead them violently to transgress the “natural order.” (Given Paul’s missionary travels, it is more likely that he was addressing pagan cultic practices he encountered on his journeys.) Gagon did a good job of explaining how the ancient world (especially the Semitic cultures) disapproved of male same-sex behavior and passed laws against such behavior, and he explains when the ancient world tolerated such behavior (e.g., in raping defeated armies or in certain cultic practices or in Greek pederasty), but these were hardly “mutually consenting, loving, egalitarian homosexual relationships.” Even the Greeks merely tolerated the practice of older men pursuing young men. And as you rightly observe, he presents absolutely no evidence of any lifelong same-sex relationships in the ancient or medieval worlds.

          Of course his book entirely falls apart in chapter 5, the third of his book devoted to refuting contemporary scientific knowledge and experience about same-sex behavior. He reliance on the academically discredited “work” of Paul Cameron seriously undermines his argument.

          • Greeks weren’t the only ones who engaged in pederasty. I’ve stood on the cliff in Capri, Italy, from which the Emperor Tiberius threw his young male lovers to their deaths. That doesn’t sound very egalitarian to me.

          • Michael Jordan

            if there was a “I still firmly disagree with your reading of Gagnon, but don’t wish for this to devolve into a many-layered discussion clogging up this blog and causing both your opponents and mine to resent us even more” button, I would press it. Peace.

        • Curtis

          I highly doubt ancient humans had time to sit around and ponder “sexuality”, regardless of what their personal sexual orientation may have been.

          Ancient human life consisted of squirting out babies and trying to keep everyone fed and protected from freezing to death or slaughter from wild beasts and rival tribes. Somewhere in the midst of doing those things, you died. Unless you were a member of the tiny elite class, which meant you were entitled to have sex with whomever or whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted it, with no one to label or second-guess your behavior, other than to recognize that as an elite, you were entitled to do whatever you wanted.

          Certainly, the biology of sexuality and sexual orientation has been around for all of human history. But sexuality as a personal identity is a modern construct. It doesn’t make sense to try to apply 21st century personal identities to ancient, pre-modern cultures.

  • Charles

    I’ll loan this book to anyone who wants to read it and return it. It’s the best book I’ve read on the subject, IMO, and read A LOT of them.

    (Tony you can give my email to anyone who requests it. Thanks.)

    • Michael Jordan

      I’ll take you up on that, Charles, if Tony can get us in touch!

      • Charles


      • done!

        Props to you both!

        • Michael Jordan


          • Michael, if you can negotiate it with Charles, I’d like the book when you’re done. Charles, Mike and I live in the same town, are friends, and have argued long and hard, from opposite sides, on these issues.

  • Basil


    I get that our understanding of sexuality, and it’s relationship (or lack thereof) to marriage have really changed over time. You were talking about how monogamous adult homosexual relationships were rare/unknown in the classical world. What do you think of the late John Boswell’s book on Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe?

  • Tony, your question was: “Do you think that Jerry Kill should be able to marry?”

    If we’re going to go strictly by the Bible — you know, the “word of God” — the way Frank would, then no. Jerry Kill should not be permitted to marry. The Bible is clear on this.

    This is because Jerry does not have epilepsy. His so-called “seizures” are evidence that he is demon-possessed. The Bible is clear on this. Scientists may think they “know better” about modern illness, but we know God knows better. He is God. And the Bible is His Word. And the Bible clearly reveals that demons intermarrying with humans is abhorrent in the eyes of God, as are their hybrid offspring (see Genesis 6). In fact, the sexual union of demons with humans, and the Nephilim who resulted from those unions, was the trigger for God bringing about the Flood that destroyed the entire inhabited earth.

    And we already know what the New Testament has to say about demon possession. It clearly qualifies as unclean, abhorrent, an abomination.

    So the Bible is very, very clear about how God feels about demon interaction with human beings, including demon possession. That’s why Jerry Kill should not be permitted to marry. At least not until he is properly exorcised.

    And one last thing, because we know the Bible is the Word of God, it is clear that the sun revolves around the earth (see Joshua 10:12-14). The Bible is clear on this.

    • Finally, someone who thinks logically!

  • Glen

    Is marriage really evolving or is it just dissolving. I am not sure what is the real purpose of marriage according to what it has evolved to at this time. Legal contracts are one thing, but why is there need for anything more?

    • Curtis

      Families still have meaning.

  • anne

    I love the idea brought up about the “gap” between our time and biblical times. This is an extremely important thing to consider, almost more so than the words themselves. Without knowing and understanding the context and perspective of the authors in the bible, it is very difficult to accurately interpret the bible…especially in relation to todays society.
    One example is homosexuality. The homosexuality they speak of in the bible is NOT the homosexuality of today. In biblical times, they are really condemning exploitive homosexual behavior (rape, child sex, prostitution, concubines,etc.) You can NOT compare this to a loving, committed, consensual partnership between 2 adults. If anyone fails to recognize this gap, I would really have to question their perceived understanding of the bible…or their intelligence level. The simple fact that we no longer sell our daughters at the age of 14 for a goat and a slab of land shows that we have already “redefined” marriage…thank God! Just because it is in the bible does not mean it is right for humanity. I am truely baffled that some people still fail to recognize this.

  • Pam H.

    I just came from the post about St Nicholas slapping heretics – to this one. Seems rather ironic, I think. I won’t be back.

  • I am not convinced that Jerry’s case is in the same category as Gay marriage Tony. Does the fact that some of our laws were strange in the 1920s mean that marriage is between a male and female? Does the fact that Jesus takes his disputants back to the creational ethic in Mt 19 on marriage and divorce to what was “in the beginning” not have relevance to this situation? On Paul in 1 Cor 7 there is the matter of historical context … Paul was not anti-marriage. And Paul is not silent on the subject of homosexuality. Have you ever digested Richard Hayes epic book THE MORAL VISION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT? After reviewing the NT for sources of doing ethics and reviewing current hermeneutical approaches and proposing his own he applies that to several cases. Homosexuality being one. It is a very compassionate and loving perspective and yet takes the EXEGESIS seriously … which I find missing in this post. Shalom & Blessings.

  • 1 … I think Tony’s point on marital rights and marital choice is this: What is the standard? Does the state have the authority (per democratic principles) to decide the standard for how two people freely choose to join in committed union? Should a free democratic society continue to abide by historic standards of review and acknowledge evolvement of social attitudes on long-standing institutions (e.g., monarchy 1776, federalism 1789, slavery 1864, women’s suffrage 1920, alcohol 1933, interracial marriage and racial segregation 1967, reproductive choice 1973, gays in the military 2010)?

    2 … As for the religion angle . . . although there are those who love to say the United States is a “Christian nation,” the country was not constituted as such. While it was set up, in part, to protect the right to individual religious opinion and practice, it was not set up as a theocracy following a Protestant interpretation of Biblical philosophy.

    Religion, therefore, may be of great importance to individual citizens, but it is not the legal standard in this country. And hasn’t been for many, many decades. Thank God.

    3 … As for Frank’s ever-constant blathering about “show me where God condones homosexual behavior” and how wrong all of us are and how right he is because his narrow, either/or interpretation of scripture compels him to cry “sin” from within the closet of his own fear and loathing . . . well, he’s simply wrong. His literal interpretation of the Bible may be his foundation, but it is based on a gullibility for the perishable ideas of men.

    As for me, my foundation is my experience with the Love of God itself in the course of my life. The Love that frees me from fear, frees me from bigotry, frees me from division, frees me from hate, frees me from seeing the world as an “us v. them” arena, and gives me the vision to see as God sees: the peculiar beauty of our common humanity, and the boundless love She has for it, in all its silly, weird and delicious strangeness.

    God does condone the behavior of loving commitment between two people of the same gender.

    God does condone the loving behavior of a committed gay couple raising a child who may have otherwise never had a caring family.

    God does condone the behavior of gay men and women who battle against bigotry, and fight for human justice.

    God does condone the sexual intimacy of two men or two women where that intimacy fosters a creative unity, rather than a destructive outlet for raw, self-serving, unloving lust.

    God does condone the marriage of gay people. God condones it because She cares more about Oneness in divine grace than division by man-made scriptural statute.

    How do I know all this? Because it is the Spirit of Love that informs me, just as it informs so many millions around the world who prefer justice and grace over pride and judgment.

    As for Frank and his ilk . . . they can have their religion of fear. They can continue spouting law and statute. They can scream all they want from the rooftops or on the blogs about “sin” and judgment and all manner of hellfire that supposedly awaits gay men and women who dare to live out the fullness of their God-given humanity.

    Because no one is listening anymore. Not because people like me want to “live in sin.” Not because people like me reject God. Not because people like me lack faith.

    But because their words are empty and godless. God has no room for it in the house of grace She is building. And people like myself and so many others who are eager to participate with God in building Her house of grace, we simply have no desire whatsoever to put useless rocks in our backpacks. Frank and his people can keep them. We have real work to do.

    • Frank

      R. Jay I am sure you will now post scriptural proof that shows that God approves those things? Otherwise they are simply one persons opinion. Oh wait you view scripture as not authoritative right so it is simply your opinion. Which of course you are welcome to.

      As far as judgement for our sin that’s Gods job not mine or anyone else’s.

  • Chris


    “How do I know all this? Because it is the Spirit of Love that informs me, just as it informs so many millions around the world who prefer justice and grace over pride and judgment.”

    RJ. It’s fascinating to read the exchanges between yourself and Frank. Frank may be obstinate in his opinions and you may not like them, but he doesn’t resort to the kind of incessant demeaning descriptors and belittling that you engage in, (blathering, fearful, gullible, etc., etc.). All Frank usually asks for is biblical justification for one’s views. You can say that you don’t need to offer any because you don’t hold scripture to be authoritative in any way, that’s fine. But to claim that “the spirit of love” is what you are guided by just rings rather hollow. Its good that you’ve acknowledged that God as you see him/her is a god of your own making. One created in your image, rather than the other way around, and that the way that you come by your “knowledge” of God is completely subjective. But I’m not hearing much that would make that subjective revelation either normative or obligatory for others.

    Maybe I’m a dullard, but somehow I don’t equate sarcasm, belittling, or demeaning responses with those we disagree with as being consistent with claiming the high road and being informed by the spirit of love. Unless that love is solely restricted to those we agree with.

    But then that’s just me.

    • Craig

      Hmm. Chris, it might help to think of Frank as a wily pedophile lustfully coming on to your kids. How does the “spirit of love” manifest itself in your attitudes and actions towards this horny man?

      • Chris

        Wow! That has got to be the worst, most irresponsible analogy ever. Bordering on slanderous, although I don’t know the man. Can I get a ruling here umpire (Tony)?

        What if Frank had said to me: You should think of Craig’s comments as though he were a Nazi. Seeking to silence or marginalize dissent in the discussion. Would it be fair of him to cast you in that light to others? I actually think that you, he, and R.J. come by your opinions honestly and I don’t try to ascribe malevolent motives or comparisons to any of you as you just did with Frank. Joke or not.

        You really need to be careful of how you conduct yourself in the conversation. Although I guess this is standard fair and representative of the culture of communication in the blogosphere and that people will say virtually anything to make a point.

        • Craig

          Or maybe just try to answer the question and see what you learn.

          • Chris

            If it had any relevance whatsoever I might consider it. Seeing as it doesn’t and it is simply a vicious, slanderous personal attack I wouldn’t dignify it with an answer.

          • Craig

            Yeah well, you know, that’s just like your opinion man.

        • Frank

          The wonderful thing about comments like these is that they expose the commenter for who they really are. Is this really someone you really want to pay attention to or give credibility to?

          • Nazis and pedophiles? You guys need to step away from this post for a while.

          • Chris

            Tony you can’t be serious. I really had hoped you were more fair-minded than that. I had stepped away from the post, but please do not lump me in with Craig. My only point in mentioning “Nazi’s” was to help Craig to reflect on the absurdity of his comparison of Frank and a pedophile. Drawing an analogy between someone and either a Nazi or a pedophile is indeed absurd and should be called out as such. You either didn’t read the posts in their entirety or you are so averse to someone that deigns to take up for Frank when they have been maligned unjustly that you’ve lost any sense of fair play. Is this the kind of umpire you were?

  • Todd

    I pray for you because one day I fear you will hear the words of Matthew 7:21. You know what God says about all sin not just the sin of homosexuality. Homosexuality is just another sin no greater than any of those that we all struggle with on a daily basis. You seem intent on redefining sin and leading people astray.

    • HOLY COW, what is with you and Matt 7:21. We get it! Not everyone who thinks they are followers are actually followers. Move on!

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