The Gay Marriage Debate: An Indecisive Post About Why I Choose To Shut Up And Listen

urlSo with the Prop 8 bill being taken to the Supreme Court yesterday, it seems like a everyone has an opinion about whether gay people should be allowed to marry. Now I’m generally of the opinion that the government doesn’t need to play morality police and as long as you aren’t directly hurting someone else Uncle Sam doesn’t need to get involved.  This makes the legal aspect of it easy for me, but where it get’s difficult for me (and where I think it really matters) is whether or not gay marriage should or should not be endorsed by the Christian faith.

I personally don’t care what the government says is right or wrong, but God is another matter entirely. If YHWH is as opposed to gay marriage as some Christians would lead you to believe, then I’d have to side with God. He is, after all, God. We don’t get to vote on an absolute moral truth, and popular opinion does not add to or take away from the validity of a divine reality. The problem I come across is not that I am afraid to pick a side because of some public backlash. I’m a pro-life, anti-war, pro-gun, and anti-death-penalty Christian so I’m used to controversy and backlash. My problem is that I legitimately don’t know what the answer is. Honestly I’m surprised there don’t seem to be more people in my shoes.

Yes there are OT holiness codes that seem to prohibit same-sex intercourse, but anyone who knows the first thing about historical context knows that these laws are not applied today. These were a part of a holiness code whose purpose was to keep the Israelites separate and distinct from the pagan worship practices that surrounded them. I’m wearing a mixed fabric shirt right now, and earlier today I’m pretty sure I shaved in an inappropriate way. I’ve also eaten shrimp and probably at some point sat in a chair after a woman on her period (though I don’t like to think about that). My point is that Christianity has long since abandoned the laws of the OT as our guide for righteousness. We instead cling to the grace, mercy, and forgiveness that comes from Christ through the events of the death and resurrection. We have abandoned legalism (or at least we should have) long ago and I don’t think these hold up.

Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction seems to be a popular passage about homosexuality, but upon re-reading it I just can’t get myself to read it that way. For starters I think the bigger problem in Sodom was the mob’s willingness to gang-rape visitors than it was that the visitors happened to be males. Rape is bad, we can all agree with that. Plus in Ezekiel the sins of Sodom are listed and they have nothing to do with homosexuality.

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

– Ezekiel 16:49

Now Jesus himself is never recorded as mentioning anything about homosexuality (how easy this would be if he did) but that isn’t to say the subject was never brought up in the NT. In Romans and other Pauline epistles a modern-day reader might be able to read certain passages and find verses that seem to condemn homosexuality.  Here once again I have to throw my hands up in the air and confess I don’t know. I don’t think these passages are as crystal clear as a lot of people try make them out to be.  Monogamous homosexual couples just weren’t a normal thing in Paul’s day, at least not as common as the extra-marital homosexual affairs that Rome was full of. In the context of Paul’s day people probably envisioned any homosexual behavior as a form of extramarital erotic excess. It wasn’t uncommon for wealthy men to have wives and young male sexual servants. Sex was quick and loose in a lot of the Roman empire, but monogamous gay marriage was not at all common. When we try to look through Paul’s eyes instead of our own, we can see that what he was addressing in these letters was probably not the same issue we are addressing today.

Much to my frustration, I just don’t think scripture adequately addresses gay marriage. The Biblical authors probably never even thought to address the concept of monogamous homosexual marriage. To the OT writers homosexuality was a pagan practice and to the NT writers it was a freaky extramarital hedonistic thing. Neither had the same problem or view of homosexuality that we are faced with today, and neither really give much in the way of practical application.

urlI’ve stressed enough the problem I have with outright declaring monogamous homosexual marriage a sin, so why don’t I just join the “marriage equality” side and be done with it. Well though the Bible doesn’t address gay marriage in a way that I find satisfying enough for me to condemn it, it also fails to address it in a way that I find satisfying enough to outright embrace it. There are no positive portrayals of homosexuality found in scripture, and while that is probably a product of the time these writings were written in, it does not make my decision easy. I don’t want to disqualify something just because the Bible doesn’t openly praise it (if that were the case I couldn’t drive a car since the Bible says nothing about them) but I feel like too many people who find the anti-gay marriage arguments lacking quickly run and jump over into the pro-gay marriage camp. This is a decision that will have long-lasting consequences no matter who is wrong or who is right. When the scriptures say nothing that doesn’t really mean that the thing in question is moral or amoral, it simply means it was not addressed.

So while I’m busy being a “hypocritical fence sitter” as some have called me, what do I do when the problem comes up? To put it bluntly, I shut up and listen.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

– James 1:19-20

Let the gay christians speak. Let those people that will be effected by the church’s stance speak for themselves. I can’t help but feel like this entire debate bing waged in the church is predominantly a bunch of straight men who don’t understand homosexuality. I’d count myself as one of those. So I choose to reserve my judgements and let those who deserve to speak speak for themselves.

At the end of the day my opinion in this debate is just that, my opinion. The ultimate truth behind this moral quandary does not change based on which side of the coin I land on. My “vote” doesn’t count, and wherever I land it won’t really have an impact on me at all. At most my opinion might help others figure out where they stand, but that’s about as far as it goes for me.

The people who really need to be involved in this debate, the ones who have a voice that matters and a stake in this game, are those LGBTQ Christians out there seeking answers. If you are gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or some other variation then I think that you are the ones who really deserve to have an opinion in this fight that matters. I’m not going to marry another person of the same-sex, but some of you might be considering that option some day and it will be up to you to figure out and make peace with God in regards to that. It’s the LGBTQ Christians who will have to face these challenges and it is the job of their straight brothers and sisters to love and support them as they embark on this spiritual journey.

Now that I’ve gone on and on about all the things I don’t know,  I figured it is time for me to share something I do know.

I know is that no matter who you are, what you have done, what you will do, or who you choose to be…. God loves you. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.

Shalom.

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6 thoughts on “The Gay Marriage Debate: An Indecisive Post About Why I Choose To Shut Up And Listen

    • No need to be hostile, I assure you I’m not trying to put up a facade. I’m also not one who likes to pick and choose scripture to my liking. I have no problem with the Bible outright banning Gay marriage if I believe it did so. I just don’t want to rush into such a call as the wrong call would have very big consequences.

      We can’t forget that the Bible is a library that contains works of many genres. We simply can’t read them all the same way if we want to develop a real understanding of the text. Paul’s letters to the Romans must be read as a letter written to first century Romans. The book of Leviticus must be read in the context of a law book written to the ancient Israelites. Context is crucial and you can’t get away from interpretation.

      I read your linked article and I personally don’t think you have a very strong argument here. Saying that by defending gay marriage one would also have to defend child sacrifices is a logical fallacy and it borders on a slippery slope argument.

      Your article also fails to address how Christ’s fulfillment of the Law in the OT or the new covenant would come into play. Christians are not under the law, but under grace.

      Thank you for commenting and if you have any more articles or links to share feel free to do so. Also please remember to be kind and courteous to those who’s opinions differ. I encourage discussion, but not if it becomes aggressive.

  1. Dear Hardin:

    I came upon this site on a search of how Ted Haggard was treated by his church. However, as I am writing on the subject of Politics of Sex and Marriage from an Evangelical perspective; and as I have many years of struggle and thought behind this, I thought I might lend a few thoughts; if I can reduce it to a few thoughts.

    There is a complexity of multiple issues, which unfortunately get conflated in this whole debate. And quite frankly, the visible church is so hopelessly stupid on these matters. I say this not out of judgment, but in despair and lamentation. The best that one is most often going to get is citations of Scriptural proof texts without a reasonable defense or understanding behind their virtues (a.k.a. mind of Christ/God). It is no wonder, in the incredible lack of Christian wisdom in this age, that many question these adages of Scriptures. That sounds like a backhanded way of personal upmanship. But this assertion is also made out of despair and lamentation, especially when answers are needed to deal with deep distresses etc and there is none in even the Church to help.

    I would like to separate out the civic issues about the matter. My position is that the state never had jurisdiction over the matter. That is largely a 16th Century invention, given sanction by the Reformation. Prior to that, it was largely in the hand of family, with incursions by the medieval church from about the 11th Century onward. (At best, prior to that, the peasantry could marry outside of church doors without a priest attending.) If marriage existed prior to civic authority or ecclesiastical organizations, it does not require these latter for its existence or welfare. In the watershed between God and Caesar, marriage belongs to God and to God directly (without ecclesia). I am sure that no priest/rabbi or civic official was in Sarah’s tent when Isaac made Rebecca his wife.

    You have to be careful about the historical relativism that you note in your blog. If God doesn’t change, then what applies then, applies now. Being a New Covenant Theologian, I see the O.T. Mosaic Code of Justice satisfied (fulfilled) in Christ; so that I am governed by the New Testament code of Grace (which ethically differs only in shades). This eliminates all the rational absurdities and confusion that occurs when one tries to pour N.T. wine into Old Mosaic Law wineskins.

    Outside interference of the marriage (whether family, church, civic) always hurts the health of the marriage itself. And the arguments can just go and on…

    The problem with legal recognition / social acceptance of same-sex marriage, is that within 10-20 years, those who publicly disagree with it, will suffer economic, political, legal and social denigration and persecution. I live in Canada. We are 10 years “ahead” of you folks and we have innumerable cases that prove this point.

    I would assert that Scriptures does sufficiently deal with the matter. I would assert that historical homosexuality is not at all unlike its modern variant. I would assert that your knowledge of modern (‘monogamous’) homosexuality is deeply mistaken.

    There is very little existence of ‘monogamous’ homosexual relationships in this day. Sociological surveys, even if you discount the most blatantly biased ones, would demonstrate the fact. Even those, who are considered ‘conservative’ within the gay subculture (i.e. Andrew Sullivan (Atlantic Monthly) and Dan Savage, subscribe more to egalitarian open polyamory; of one primary mate with some secondaries (sometimes shared) and a batch of hook-ups. As long as each side is open and honest about it, that is considered monogamy in gay and polyamory subculture. You legalize same-sex, and polyamory must be legalized soon thereafter; because it is the practice within the gay subculture. Do the homework. Look it up.

    And I would argue that it is extremely and systemically difficult for this to change in future. Just because you label ‘marriage’ on their present relationships, it does not change the heart. In fact, I would consider Greek pederasty, as originally envisioned Solon (6th C B.C.) through to about Plato (4th C. B.C.), to be more monogamous than what actually occurs in this day. However, ‘moral’ pederasty also soon went downhill in Greece and that which was finally adopted in Rome.

    The idea of homosexual as label of type of person is 19th Century German pseudoscience, which cannot hold up to rational scrutiny; despite all the disingenuous lies by credentialed scientists. If genetics was behind our sexual proclivities (or any other human behaviours and so-called ‘mental disorders’), those with relatively procreatively poorer outcomes, should have died out long ago. (Dawkins Gay Uncle theory just doesn’t do the trick.) Furthermore, sexual proclivities change dramatically within the same society within a matter of generations and centuries. Roman society of Paul’s day was extremely moralist (more so than at any time in American history) around 200 B.C. You have puritan early 17th Century, British dandies by late 17th/ early 18th century Restoration period, followed by a more moralist Wesleyan late 18th and 19th Century. If sexuality was so overpowering, as is claimed today, then they would prevailed in similar percentages regardless of the social environment. Another long argument.

    Unlike the perspective put forth by pro Prop-8 advocates in the trial, which is essentially a Catholic procreative position, (which actually derives from Roman Republican and Hellenist mores than from Jerusalem); I would argue that the Biblical basis for sanctioning only opposite-sex marriages is on the basis of the radically different proclivities between male and female natures. (I say this, having discovered the hard way that the perspective in my youth that they were social constructs is pure stupidity. Even 3rd Wave feminists don’t believe that anymore and then put their own female natures as superior to male. In that gender nationalism, homosexuality is engendered, just as ancient Greek masculinism also engendered its pederast culture.).

    However, we are not only supposed to accept and embrace that which is in the other; but the other mitigates the excesses of our own natures that our derived from our masculinity/femininity. We are even supposed to incorporate that found in the Other into ourselves in order to become a complete human being (as part of being the full measure of Christ).

    How is this possible to do this, if our intimacies are with those who are similar? Rather than mitigating, those similar to our own natures will tend to exaggerate our excesses. Hellenist Greece is a good example. And one cannot learn from the other sex if one is not intimately engaged with them.

    These are long Scriptural and rational arguments in order to substantiate, and obviously cannot be done here. But I hope it might challenge your thinking.

    In Christ
    John

    • Hey John,

      Thanks for the reply. I really do appreciate the time and energy you put into this message. You’ve given me a lot to consider and I’m sure it will take me several more readings before I can get a full grasp of everything you have said. The problem I have with every argument I’ve come across is that no matter how much cold logic I can put into formulating an opinion on this issue, all of that melts away when it becomes a human being that I know and care for. In my ministry I have recently had a young woman (teenager) come to me who was dealing with a lot of sexual confusion, this has not only hurt her relationship with her father at home but also her standing in the church she previously attended. I promised her that she would be welcome and accepted at any of my Church’s events, and that I would love to have her in the youth group I lead. As far as where I go from here I have not yet decided. My hearts desire is simply to share the love of Christ with everyone and hopefully harm no one in the process. No matter how many arguments I read against homosexuality, the only thing I can see is this young woman who is going through all sorts of rejection simply because she wants to marry another woman some day. Now if homosexuality is a sin then I would have failed as a minister if I did not try to steer her away from the things that would hurt her relationship with God, but on the other hand I really don’t want to be yet another person who enforces the wrong idea that they need to change for God to love them.

      This is why, for the moment at least, I have chosen to shut up and listen to what people have to say. This goes for both pro gay marriage and pro-traditional marriage arguments. Thanks for the comment, and please pray for me as I continue to seek the Lord in this matter.

      – Hardin

      • Behind the presentation of ‘cold logic’, as you call it, is intimation of a person who has had to personally deal with these exact issues, but certainly doesn’t think that a blog is the place to do it. And the discovery of the radical different proclivities between sexes was learnt with much pain. And another reason for an intellectual argument is that otherwise, people will come back from a subjectivist experiential anecdote and say that though this worked for you; but for me etc. One cannot win either way.

        My point is that while affinities attracts, they soon also quickly bore. This is shown in the pervasive comments amongst gay males. And separation rates in a relatively friendly jurisdiction like Sweden and Norway show a divorce rate of 67% higher amongst gay males and a 150% higher amongst females than opposite-sex relationships . (the female rate was totally counterintuitive to me). These are state statistics.

        To tell you the truth, you seem to be purposely straining for a way to make gay sexuality work in a Christian environment. And while there ought to be no judgmentalism to stop a person who engages in same-sex activities from hearing the message, one should not deceive oneself from thinking that one must resolve to quit certain sins, whether it be uncontrollable anger or sexual deviations. In turning to the trusting of God in Christ and His counsel, it intimates turning away from that which is contrary to His Counsel.

      • Once again thanks for your comments. I personally don’t find myself to be “purposely straining for a way to make gay sexuality work in a Christian environment.” What I hope to do is seek out an answer through prayer and careful study of the scriptures, and the more carefully I study the scriptures the harder it is for me to find a definitive answer here. I appreciate the stats you have found and given, but a lot of them don’t help me much because they don’t deal with the issue at hand. They point to secondary issues like polygamy or divorce, but not really the marriage issue itself. Whether or not gay marriage is a sin can’t really be proven (at least I don’t think so) by pointing to the failed marriages or resorting to possible marriage redefining in the future. A lot of this comes off reading like a slippery slope fallacy, and I think it just distracts from the question at hand. The question is whether or not it is sinful for a monogamous same sex couple to be married in the eyes of God. It’s unfair to condemn the whole for the possible actions of some. Your arguments against gay marriage are not unlike those I have heard from people who dislike the institution of marriage itself. High divorce rates, cheating spouses, and open marriages are the same issues that I’ve heard people who “dont believe in marriage” use to condemn the institution as a whole.

        I’d love to continue this discussion, but the current train of thought it seems to be taking isn’t one that is going to do much for me since my question is whether gay marriage is sinful in the eyes of the Lord. If you want to continue, perhaps we could take a more scriptural or theological direction? Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

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