Fox News political analyst Kirsten Powers is a Christian who supports same-sex “marriage.” In her moral imagination, the only thing fueling the opposition to “marriage equality” is anti-gay bigotry. She suggests that if Jesus was a baker today he’d bake a cake for the ceremony. Her reasoning? In part: “Christianity doesn't prohibit serving a gay couple getting married.” (My emphasis.) I’ll come back to the “argument from silence” in a moment.
Scarcely more than a decade ago, Christians who favored homosexual “marriage” were in the minority, at around 40 percent. No longer. Contrary to biblical teaching and historical church doctrine -- not to mention millennia of cultural tradition -- the support of same-sex “marriage” among Catholics and white mainline Protestants is the same as for the general public: 53 percent.
Strengthening the trend is the growing number of churches endorsing same-sex unions by way of consecrations or other solemnizing ceremonies. Among them: the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church USA, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
As to how their faith informs their stance on gay “marriage,” Christians parrot arguments demonstrating little understanding or acceptance of the faith that Jesus taught. Below are some of the most common arguments, followed by their counterarguments.
Marriage ‘equality’ follows Jesus’s teaching about love and inclusion.
Love Incarnate once said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” Among His commands is the prohibition of sex outside of marriage. As he gave no expressed or implied allowance for same-sex “marriage,” his prohibition includes indulging homosexual desires, regardless of a committed relationship, church blessing, or legal union.
Considering the disproportionate incidence of substance abuse, mental health problems, disease, mortality, and suicide among homosexuals, loving them as Christ loved is not affirming their choices and practices, but challenging them to live in accordance with the created purpose of sexuality and encouraging them in their efforts to do so.
As to inclusion, while it is true that Jesus extended His invitation to all, His call was not without conditions: Nicodemus was told he needed to be born again; the disciples were told to deny themselves and carry their cross daily; a rich man was told to give up all his possessions; a prostitute and a lame man were both told to stop sinning; and, in a parable about the kingdom, a man was turned out, of all things, for wearing the wrong clothes.
The good news of the kingdom is that “many are called,” but the requirement of repentance means that “few are chosen.”
Since God made people that way, He’d have no problem with them marrying.
The Creator’s design of sexuality is intended to satisfy the good and essential function of reproduction. It is a function that same-sex couples are incapable of accomplishing. They can only mimic the sex act for the purpose of sensual gratification.
The suggestion that God would frustrate His expressed purpose of sex with an untoward desire is unreasoned. Whatever causes same-sex orientation, it is not God, any more than He is the cause of congenital disorders like club feet or cleft palates. The person who insists that homosexuality is “how God made me” is conflating a dysfunction with a design.
But setting aside its cause, a homosexual orientation, while dysfunctional, is not a sin. Same-sex attraction is no different from other desires that run counter to the created order: All are products of the Fall propagated by an unsettled combination of nature and nurture.
The bad news is that the effects of the Fall are universal: We all have a sinful bent, whether to anger, violence, gossip, promiscuity, or “fill in the blank.” The good news is that our desires are nothing more until acted upon -- and even then, they are forgivable for the repentant person.
Proscriptions against gay ‘marriage’ neglect the personal experiences of homosexuals.
While personal experiences may be genuine, intense, and heartfelt, they are not a reliable guide to truth. Depending only on our experiences, we would think the earth flat in a geocentric cosmos where time and space are absolute. It is only because we have discovered laws transcending personal experience that we know that reality is sometimes radically different than what our experiences suggest.
That goes for moral truth as well. The experiences of one person convince him that homosexuality is intrinsic to his personhood, while the experiences of another convince him that it is not. Kim, a commenter on a blog post of mine, is among the latter:
“As a person who was once in a same sex relationship for many years, I know first hand how people can be fooled to think that this is the will of God for their life. . . . I was unable to stop the lifestyle that I was living no matter how hard I tried, but when I really started to seek God for deliverance through prayer and His Word, I was able to stop seeing myself as someone who was gay and started to see myself as God created me to be. I have only been delivered from homosexuality for 13 years and in that time God has given me a loving husband and 2 beautiful sons, but as the years go by I see more and more how God has given me everything back that I was so willing to give up.” -- Kim
Like a 5’4” 130-pounder looking for a spot in the NFL, Kim realized that there was a mismatch between her desire and God’s design.
Opposing gay ‘marriage’ represents a moral judgment about others, something Jesus warned against.
The same goes for endorsing gay “marriage.” Not only is endorsement a moral judgment about the practice, it’s a moral insinuation, if not judgment, about those who disagree. In fact, “disagreers” are routinely called (and judged as) homophobes, haters, and (recalling Ms. Powers) anti-gay bigots with impunity.
But popular proof-texts notwithstanding, Jesus never said that Christians shouldn’t judge the actions of others; He taught that we should remove our “specks”so that we can “see clearly” their specks, and He told his disciples, “If your brother sins, rebuke him.”
Jesus not only expects us to make moral judgments about people, He expects us to confront them and invoke discipline when necessary. The apostle Paul dressed down a church for neglecting to do that for a member involved in sexual sin.
In a fallen world where virtue and vice exist side-by-side, everyone must judge what they will believe and whom they will trust. The person who can’t or won’t judge truth from falsehood or good from evil is destined to be a victim of those who are skilled at parading one for the other.
Jesus never said anything against homosexuality or gay ‘marriage.’
If the “argument from silence” settles the morality of homosexual behavior, it does likewise for child sacrifice, pedophilia, slavery, rape, bestiality, and a host of other practices that Jesus never mentioned, by name.
That said, it is telling, given the prevalence of, and the general attitudes about, homosexuality in Jesus’s day, that He didn’t expand marriage to include same-sex couples. Instead, he reaffirmed the institution as originally established. He also said that for reasons of nature, nurture, or the purposes of the kingdom, that marriage is not for everyone. Although he mentioned eunuchs specifically, the exception would apply equally to homosexual pairings because, like eunuchs, who can form emotional attachments, they cannot fulfill the purpose of marriage nor conform to its design.
In a disarming passage, the apostle Paul uses marriage as a word picture for the church, and it is clear why. Just as the complementary design of man and woman creates “one flesh” out of two people for the purpose of multiplication, so the complementary gifts of the Holy Spirit create one Body out of multiple members for the same end.
Most significantly, both marriage and the Church are divine institutions. Thus, man can no more revise marriage by putting together what God has left asunder, than man can revise the Church by including people who haven’t accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Granted, man can call a coupling a “marriage” that isn’t a marriage, just as man can call a person a “disciple” who isn’t a disciple. But, in the courts of Heaven, the only thing that counts is what the Man on the throne calls them.
Image copyright Fox News, courtesy of Media Matters.
Regis Nicoll is a freelance writer and a BreakPoint Centurion. Serving as a men’s ministry leader and worldview teacher in his community, Regis publishes a free weekly commentary to stimulate thought on current issues from a Christian perspective. To be placed on this free e-mail distribution list, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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