An Internally Consistent Christian View on Gay Marriage?

Old Cobblestone Road

Dear Russell & Friends,

The final session of the The Table occurred two nights ago.  To refresh, this a local church holding small Wednesday follow-up meetings on the Sunday sermon.  The sessions will continue, but my attendance as a guest was prompted by this particular sermon series topic – – hard questions asked of Christians.  The room was full this Wednesday night.  The topic was a Biblical view on homosexuality.  The hour flew by.  Opinions were respectfully expressed, but clearly deeply held.  Can I express an internally consistent view on gay marriage?  That was honestly one of the reasons that I began teaching Romans.  So I’ll try.  My style is usually narrative, but I’m going to present a numbered list to facilitate discussion.  I realize that I could be wrong and I’m open to the audit of our readers.  I’ll write from the perspective of a 43 year old white American lower upper class man.

  1. I believe that scientific research and my conversations with a dozen gay colleagues over a dozen years supports that sexual orientation is primarily inherited – – nature outweighing nurture in a majority of people.  That said, I don’t believe that being gay is a choice for most people.
  2. The best number that I can find is approximately 10% of people on earth are represented in the LGBT spectrum.
  3. As a Christ follower, I accept the authority of scripture and believe that interpretation requires study and an understanding of the culture and capabilities in which the inspired words were written and read.
  4. The context of Paul’s letter to the Romans is well described in Will Durant’s Caesar and Christ.  Homosexuality as understood today was common in the culture of Rome and Greece before it.  I don’t know if the number was similar to ~10%.
  5. As an American I acknowledge civil authority and the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  There is a reason that this is the first sentence in the First Amendment of the ten known as the Bill of Rights.
  6. I could dwell on number 5 for a while.  I’m distressed with a growing lack of civic knowledge in my society.  I think that studying and understanding the Constitution are appropriate responsibilities of an engaged electorate.
  7. That said – – the US Supreme Court makes decisions for all citizens of the United States.
  8. Most citizens of the United States do not follow Christ.
  9. I’m not convinced that 3 of 4 people in our Christian churches follow Christ.
  10. I accept the civic authority of the US Constitution as a citizen of the US and accept the authority of scripture as a follower of Christ.

Thank you for your patience so far.  I hope that for the views I hold and represent, I have represented an internally consistent rationale.  What do I do with this foundation?  Here are my views:

  1. I approve of the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage for American citizens inclined to do so – – marriage has no benefit with taxation, but rather a penalty.  Marriage has enormous implications in health care and in the care of children and the elderly.  In my practice I have seen gay couples care for each other and for aging parents with integrity.
  2. I respect the churches of all faiths who do not accept this as consistent with the moral teachings of their sacred texts.
  3. For that reason, I would never compel a pastor or church to conduct the marriage of a gay couple before God against conscience.
  4. There are streams of thought in Christianity and other faiths where these marriages are approved and conducted.  This is where our family debates as a body of Christ occur.  This is where some of the discussion with other believers landed Wednesday night in a smaller coffee club after the main meeting.
  5. If Christian churches in the United States are faced with an imperative to act against conscience by the federal government, then a voluntary first step seems obvious:  relinquish the tax exempt status of houses of worship.  If there is no federal subsidy to churches, then we can stand on Biblical principles and the Constitution with equanimity.

I expressed some of these views on Wednesday night and felt that I had talked too much.  I much prefer writing to friends.  Are my views internally consistent?

 

Pascal:  1:16

photo credit:  Doris Antony via Wikicommons, CC-BY-SA-2.5

46 comments

  1. Pascal, I’m really glad to hear I’m not the only one who follows this line of reasoning. Every opinion I hear is so partisan about this topic. I think what you say makes a lot of sense.
    Peace to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m my opinion, what you have said is internally consistent. But in my opinion, you haven’t said much. I would like to see you wrestle more with number 3 (in the first numbered section). Is that the only way that God can reveal himself to us? What if your interpretation isn’t the correct one? Could there be room for gay people in your faith without a sacrifice of their sexuality? Could they worship without feeling the barrier that sin places between them and God? Could they feel that their relationships were designed by God and that their marriages bring honor to him? I know you don’t see that now—but are you willing to explore it? You weren’t on Wednesday, but I don’t think your answer was fully thought out. I trust your character and made a mental note to ask you again later.

    You can be internally consistent and dead wrong.

    I don’t think this post was meant to answer my questions from yesterday—but I’d like to see you respond to those.

    I do stand with you on number 3 in the second numbered section.

    Thank you for writing about this, Pascal.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’ll certainly visit your blog and do my best to answer your specific questions from yesterday. In part, you are bringing up something similar here. There is a divergence in my thinking and approach with people who do not follow Christ and those who do. One of the cornerstones that you, Russell and I disagree about is the authority of scripture. Russell asserts that this was the first foundation to shift for him. I didn’t get that at first, but it does make sense. Although history can attest to the existence of Christ and to the effects that his followers had, it can not provide independent corroboration of his deity. Although Russell is essentially a naturalist, a simple random number generator would convince him that there is a supernatural. That seemed so strange to me, but I now believe him. It wouldn’t convince me, but I believe it would convince him. So where did I struggle? Not, is he there? But, is he fair? If I agree that gay people are born gay people then is God fair to ask them to do something against nature? I feel as if God asks me to do something against my nature every day. And – – I feel that I fail. I don’t expect non-believers to follow scripture. I do expect Christians to be politically engaged in a way that honors all citizens regardless of sexual orientation. In that way, I feel that I’m demonstrating love and respect to the LGBT community beyond the musings of this blog. I am not here to convince you of God’s fairness. That is a line that will divide your own heart just as it has mine. That said – – you must know that I do not consider myself lesser or greater than anyone that does not follow Christ. For gay Christians who stand with scripture and give up more than you or I are asked to give, I honestly think that the reward will be greater. I admire them more than most people I know.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You said this:

        “If I agree that gay people are born gay people then is God fair to ask them to do something against nature? I feel as if God asks me to do something against my nature every day. And – – I feel that I fail.”

        What is your nature, Pascal? Pride? Lust for women? Anger? I’m only mentioning things you’ve said of yourself in the past, not naming things I see. All of these are negative things that are innately harmful to you and to others. Being gay isn’t in the same category. Why should we have a problem with a gay lifestyle if we ignore for a moment that scripture forbids it (I might throw my phone across the room if someone mentions reproduction as a necessary outcome of romantic relationships). Can you tell me your reasons. And if you can’t find them, would you be willing to consider the possibility that either 1) God is not fair, or 2) We have incorrectly interpreted or perhaps over-relied on scripture?

        I know you must be weary, brother. Exhausting week, exhausting topic of discussion. Thank you for your patience. There is so much that you have right.

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        1. My nature is to put myself above my creator. All of the examples that you listed are indeed true – – they are mutated versions of who I was meant to be. Pride could correlate with confidence tempered by humility. Lust could correlate with the desire that I have for my bride. Anger without sin fuels passion for justice.

          I wrestled with God’s fairness for 10 years and now limp. I do believe he is fair and I don’t believe that I’m qualified to judge his fairness. Yes, I am made in his image, made with an intellect that he intended me to use. But for me to judge his fairness, he would have to be made in my image. That, not homosexuality, is the big idea and foundation of Romans 1.

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          1. So if a person loves someone of the same sex, would you call it a mutated version of the love they would have for the other sex—even though the ONLY difference is the object of the love, not the love itself? What exactly is mutated in that case?

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  3. 👏🏻 Well said. It seems likely that the Supreme Court will legalize gay marriage. Since homosexuality is obviously considered immoral in the Bible Christian leaders should not have to marry gay couples if it violates their consciences. The only way at all this could be considered fair is if churches are not receiving tax exemptions from the government. It really angers me when churches make political stances about what the government shouldn’t be able to make them do. If they really cared to follow Christ they would not be beholden to the U.S. Government.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Pascal,

    Looks like you directed this a bit more toward the political angle which is fine. Obviously a very important subject, but politics is a little more about proper ways to get along in society with many different opinions. I’d enjoy reading along if you guys want to discuss that angle, but I hope you’ll consider at least talking with me about the more personal and human side of things.

    I was delighted to see you agree about this:

    I don’t believe that being gay is a choice for most people.

    I definitely agree. I guess agreeing to that though brings with it some pretty strong implications in my mind about how we should treat people who are gay, as long as we are wanting to remain consistent with the virtues that you and I have agreed upon in the past as being very worthy virtues (even though our reasons may not be derived from the same ontology).

    I think that if we believe that being gay is not a choice, then we should acknowledge that many of them will be incapable of having loving sexual relationships with people of the opposite sex. However, they could have that kind of relationship with those of the same sex.

    I personally believe it would be unkind to suggest to them that they abstain from having loving sexual relationships. I also think it would be unkind to suggest to them that they are doing something morally wrong by engaging in those relationships (remembering of course, that we agree that the orientation is not a choice).

    What are your thoughts about all that?

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    1. Hi Howie,

      I am sometimes lazy in my replies to comments but knew that I could not post this on a day when I wasn’t willing or able to address things promptly. I do think that an engaged polity is important for the very reasons you describe. I also think that my views would represent a small sliver of my church family. I only speak for my nuclear family here.

      Yes – – I fear that it is unkind to ask someone to act against their nature. I fear that just as I feared that the 100 year life could not leverage an infinity of separation from a good God (flames literal or figurative). I fear it. God fearing has become a pitiful cliche, but in this context I fear God. I am in awe and I don’t understand. What I do understand is how I should treat gay people. With respect. With equality. With advocacy, even of the sort considered heretical in my church. With love. How do I treat gay Christ followers who set aside sexual orientation to follow Christ – – with astonishment. How do I treat gay Christ followers who can or will not? With the same attitude that I treat prideful Christ followers who can or will not humble themselves. With prayer and compassion – – the same way I hope to be treated.

      Your growing friendship means much to me. I appreciate your patience even though I know we disagree.

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      1. Hey Pascal,

        I see in your words on several comments that you see gay sex as immoral even if it’s in a loving committed relationship between 2 people. You believe it is sin just as murder is sin (although you may assign different levels to those 2 things, but in the end sin is sin, right?). You also don’t feel this is quite right, but the bible seems to say it so you trust it, because you trust the God you think is attached to that bible.

        Loving, intimate relationships between 2 people is such an important part of living a psychologically healthy life. For some with personalities like myself it is extremely important. If there is no choice in orientation and if we were to believe our moral senses come from a loving creator then I can’t make sense of how he would want to deny our gay friends something that is so important to human health. I see an inconsistency here, and your comment to me almost seems to concede this.

        This theme keeps coming up: Hell (the worst of all), God commanding genocide, God expecting a man to honor his command to kill his son, God commanding us to hurt our fellow human beings by telling them that a beautiful relationship is immoral. If these things are right and supernatural entities do indeed exist, then to be quite blunt Pascal, I think you may have gotten yourself fooled into following a devil.

        You listed 2 options to Zoe: God doesn’t exist or God is unfair. Let’s forget the problem of evil for now and just focus only on the list above. You know there are other options, and I’m quite surprised the most obvious ones wouldn’t have been immediately listed by you. How about the option that your interpretations are dead wrong. If you wanted to relieve your cognitive dissonance you would take this option and stand against all those things I listed because standing against them means you are living up to the list of worthy virtues that we share. Or how about the option that the writers simply got some stuff wrong. Many scholars already have conceded this in many parts of the bible. Neither of these options requires you to give up your belief in a loving creator, so no need for the cognitive dissonance of understanding a purely random world, and it also would align with your personal experiences. (I haven’t even listed the other options in my mind).

        Will you please continue to give me your thoughts on all that?

        Your friendship very valuable to me as well, Pascal. I’m sorry if I’ve been too blunt in this comment.

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        1. I don’t find your comments too blunt Howie – – not at all. So, if there is a God he is the devil? Well said. Or, divorce the authority of scripture and find relief that God meets my understanding? Well said.

          I need to clarify something that can too easily get lost. If hell is literal. If there is not a chance to accept when all things become clear. Then who would be first in line on the road to perdition? Kind atheists? Loving gay people? No.

          Me.

          Murder is an example that most cannot relate to. Anger is. Adultery is an example that many can relate to. Lust, however, is understood by more. Jesus’ standards for me are impossibly high. Although I have so far avoided murder and adultery, I did not survive middle school without losing numerous fights with anger and lust. I still lose almost daily.

          Me. The reason I do not feel cognitive dissonance with scripture is that I feel in completely the same lifeboat as anyone who struggles with any part of their nature that does not align with a holiness wholly beyond me.

          I understand the other options Howie. Leave scriptural authority and interpretation. Where else should I leave it? On Jesus’ existence? On his deity? Would I still follow Christ or just invite him to the encore of my mind’s theater with the Buddha and Zoroaster?

          If my life of faith stands on scriptural authority then you and I may not agree. But, are you saying that I’m not internally consistent?

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          1. Hi Pascal,

            Actually, both of the options I listed for you don’t require you to leave scriptural authority entirely. I’m surprised you think those 2 options would lead you to believe Jesus didn’t exist, deny his deity, no longer follow Christ, or add Buddha and Zoroaster to your mind’s theater. Was what you wrote there out of frustration? You should try to get around more in the blogging world. There are plenty of very intelligent, well thought Christ followers who have differing views than you on these difficult passages (same-sex marriage, hell, genocides, and/or Isaac sacrifice) and haven’t done any of those things. Some even hold to infallibility as you do.

            And I could have swore your previous comment to me (May 22 at 10:18pm) conceded some cognitive dissonance on this issue as well as the hell issue.

            Here’s the inconsistency: kindness is one of the things you had previously listed as a worthy virtue. It is unkind for a creator to make a loving intimate relationship one of the most healthy and beautiful things in life, create some who are only capable of having that relationship with the same sex, and also declare that they are immoral if they participate.

            (oh, and by the way, absolutely nobody would deserve an eternity of consciousness devoid of love)

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            1. As we communicated offline, your words have caused a self examination that I wasn’t entirely ready for. My next post is better. It bothers me if I offend you. It is a warning that I could very well be wrong.

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              1. Hi Pascal – yeah, I felt your next post is better as well. I’m glad you’ve decided to take the time and effort to reconsider this important topic. I’ll be reading along as usual, Pascal, even if only silently sometimes.

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  5. Interesting thoughts; as a Christian I personally feel that the modern church is consistently inconsistent (ha) in not only its views but in how it ought to present those views. This all goes to affirm the importance, the necessity, of fairly and accurately dealing with Scripture, which is precisely what I seek to do in my new blog, evangelicalmusings.org. Check it out and give me your thoughts!

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    1. Thanks for visiting Ethan – – I did visit your blog and attempted to add a link to make it easier for others – – Russell is much better at that than me. Consistently inconsistent – – I hope not. We’re the church after all. If you’re right then I want to join in reforming that church.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks so much! Perhaps I should be less cynical; at any rate, I believe the church is in need of a generation of leaders dedicated to the fair and accurate proclamation of the Word and I hope to be one of them. Thanks for the reply, I greatly enjoy your page.

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  6. I thought that you did a great job of respectfully presenting your point of view. Left and right, we’re seeing Christians join in supporting the LGBT community, and I think the love that’s being given to these children of God is incredible. I do believe, with the number of Christian persecutions growing, that too much support from Christians can be a detriment to our faith and can shift doctrine into a place Jesus cautioned us against (see the destruction of the city of Sodom and Gomorrah). When read, this sounds like a statement made by a bigot, but let me explain. Once the Constitution is ratified to allow gay marriage, those priests and pastors who refuse to comply will lose their license to wed. This loss of freedom will be a huge blow to our religious institutions, especially to Catholic priests. The Church will never encourage gay marriage because the Bible makes it clear sexual relations are strictly meant to be between one woman and one man. We see this reflected throughout Genesis, and the very first commandment God gives Adam and Eve is “Be fruitful and multiply” (which is why the Church does not condone birth control). We see the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah because the Bible tells us their behavior was unnatural, disordered, and lead to appeasing of the flesh vs focus on the Heavenly Kingdom. In Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9 Jesus describes the marital union being between one man and one woman, who become one flesh, and He gives no exceptions. The Old Testament repeats numerous times homosexuality is a sin, and it’s dangerous as Christians for us to encourage the behavior. That being said, I completely believe that anyone struggling with same sex attraction should be loved as equally as anyone else, because we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. The Church encourages celibacy for these individuals because identifying as a homosexual isn’t sinful, but rather, the sexual act of homosexuality is a sin (just like incest, adultery, sex outside of marriage, sex with animals or multiple people at a time, etc.). I hope this helps to clear up any murkiness Christians may be experiencing pertaining to homosexuality. God bless!

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting. Why do you think that priests and pastors will lose licenses for not marrying before God according to their consciences? If it did happen, would we be courageous enough as a church body to given back our tax exempt status and itemized donations? If it does come to that, I think that we should. Honestly, as a fiscal conservative I think we should do it now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I believe it was Justice John Roberts who made the statement stating the ratification, once LGBT marriage was approved in the court, would create a Constitutional obligation for those who refuse to wed. Many states are electing to create state laws to protect the choice of those who refuse to perform the marriages, so that might no longer be an issue. My biggest concern is the act of exchanging one freedom for another, but since the issue is being speedily rectified by the states, my mind is a bit more eased. Thanks for your response pascal, and God bless!

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  7. Pascal: 2. I respect the churches of all faiths who do not accept this as consistent with the moral teachings of their sacred texts.

    Zoe: Perhaps the sacred texts are not moral and we give them more respect than we should? Or they were “moral” only insofar as they were written by humans prior to the knowledge necessary to understand about sexual orientation and gender identity. Before knowing that development is taking place in the brains of humans while in the womb that has everything to do with development of sexual organs, sexual identity and sexual orientation (and a multitude of variations and functions that result during biological, chemical and hormonal processes).

    If by sacred we mean divinely authored, would not the “God” of these sacred texts of the sacred religions, the omniscient “God” of said religions know the truth about the formation of human brains in the womb? Surely “God” knows about the ongoing scientific research and study that enlightens us more as the years go by. If gay people have no choice from the womb then wasn’t “God” present when they were fearfully and wonderfully made? Why would “God” ask the believing homosexual to take those biological urges, those chemical firings, the hormonal drives, and the ability to form loving bonds (all of which He/She/It created) outside the church?

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    1. Zoe – – thank you for commenting. Your question is valid and can apply to anything we are asked to do that conflicts with our nature. Is God fair or moral to ask that? It is a fair question. But the question applies to any role of the genetic dice? Why are some men more violent, some women more acquisitive? The more I read about neuroscience and neurobiology, the more broadly I think your question applies. So is God fair? To answer that question “no” is a strong and legitimate reason not to believe at all.

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        1. I probably combined several into one. I found the core question to be whether scripture represented the words of ignorant man who would be surprised by science, or knowing God who would not.

          “Why would “God” ask the believing homosexual to take those biological urges, those chemical firings, the hormonal drives, and the ability to form loving bonds (all of which He/She/It created) outside the church?”

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            1. My answer is that I don’t know.

              This is a valid, thoughtful question that I’ll never dismiss. Some answer the question: “He/She/It is not there, but only a figment.” Others answer: “If He/She/It is there, then He/She/It is not good and so I won’t follow He/She/It”

              I understand your trinitarian personal pronoun, but find its usage awkward.

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              1. I find your responses awkward Pascal.

                I use the He/She/It to cover this statement you made -> “Pascal: 2. I respect the churches of all faiths who do not accept this as consistent with the moral teachings of their sacred texts.”

                Specifically this -> “churches of all faiths.” The He/She/It was covering the many Gods of the many churches/temples/mosques/shrines etc. of the “all faiths” you mention. Each with their own “sacred texts.” It isn’t intended to be derogatory, only to highlight your statement “all faiths” unless of course you were speaking specifically of the Christian faith in which case I’d say it was one faith regardless of denominational differences.

                Rather than tug & twist through what is a clear lack of connection in our dialogue I’m going to remove myself from the discussion. It’s better this way for me. I think CC & Russel probably represent best what I might interject if I had the time & energy.

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  8. Why are we discussing these people as if our “approval” or acquiescence mattered in the very slightest? The whole conversation is paternalistic and condescending. They are people. Period. My “approval” is neither necessary nor, I expect, coveted. I don’t need their permission to be heterosexual; they don’t need mine not to be.

    Should churches and pastors be “forced” to conduct marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples? I suppose not (although I’m not entirely sure who exactly it is who is attempting to do this, at least legislatively). But it strikes me that having to “force” churches and pastors to recognize the legitimate humanity and loving relationships of fellow human beings begs the question of their validity and relevance as social institutions, let alone their ties to their supposed “Teacher.”

    As Zoe said, if God in his omniscience “knit these people together” in the womb; if indeed he made them in full knowledge of who they would one day be and who they would one day love, and then condemned them anyway, then that says more about him than about the folks we’re deciding whether to approve of or not. It blows my mind that we spend so much time and energy defending an image of God that is, by the way, internally INconsistent. If that IS God, then I ask: who needs him? If, on the other hand, God IS love, then why are we wasting our breath debating a question that’s already been answered?

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    1. Welcome back Vance – – may I answer your first question? The way that Christ followers treat gay people in regards to a Supreme Court decision matters in America. I stand against the Supreme Court decision that legalized elective abortion. There are two generations of talented women who we’ll never know. I stand for a Supreme Court decision that legalizes gay marriage. This feels like a view counter to many people who share my faith, but I believe it is the most Christ honoring stance. It may just be a view seldom expressed. It did not go over too well at the table. It felt like I was alone on both sides. You may advocate for gay marriage and have very good or very general reasons for doing so. What are they? If you oppose, why?

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      1. I think you misunderstood my first question (or perhaps I stated it poorly). What I mean to say is this: I support same-sex marriage (as many of my own posts make perfectly clear). I do so because it is right. It is just. It is a recognition of their personhood, identity, and autonomy–which are all issues near and dear to our Constitution, and by all evidence, to every single one of our Founding Fathers. However…

        When I say that our approval isn’t relevant, I mean that members of the LGBT community are persons entitled to their own identities and autonomy WHETHER I APPROVE OR NOT. Should supporters of same-sex marriage speak up? Absolutely. But “approving this message” is beside the point: same-sex couples must have the same rights as heterosexual couples, the same respect, the same choice of labels applied to their relationships, of ceremonies or no, in order for anyone’s rights to really mean anything. They must have the same rights as I do, or my rights only serve to underscore injustice and discrimination. To think I need to “approve” is to make the issue about me, and it’s not about me. It’s about them. And what’s right. And that, as far as I’m concerned, has little or nothing to do with what the Bible (or any other text) has to say about it.

        By the way, I fully agree with your stance on the 501(c)3. I voiced my concerns about that even when I was in the ministry, which didn’t make me a whole lot of friends. But it seems to fly in the face of the whole “give unto Caesar” thing…

        I hope this made sense. I’m a bit tired, and this particular issue makes me see colors.

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        1. I’m tired too, but coffee is brewing. I know this is a tough issue for everyone. Remember – – I’m still in the church and plan to stay. I wasn’t exactly preaching to my favorite baritone. Sometimes a minority opinion is as instructive as the majority (speaking from the perspective of the evangelical church).

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          1. So, I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last couple of days, and now that the initial impulsiveness has cleared off…

            Obviously, I think you’re wrong. Odds are, the feeling is mutual. :o) But it was brought to my attention by a mutual friend that perhaps ganging up isn’t the best way to address that. After all, we’re all up in arms because you are being yourself, and being true to yourself, which is exactly what all the rest of us are arguing people should be free to do, and are free to do (in the case of my own argument) whether or not others approve. So, thank you for being honest with us. The fact that your honesty leads to disagreement should not obscure the fact that your willingness to be honest even so says as much or more about you than what has flustered us all in the first place.

            This is a sticking point, though, and it makes one wonder whether dialogue can survive past a certain point. Personally, I think it must, especially when we hit the sticking points. But how? I don’t know exactly; I’m working on it.

            By all means, stay in the church. I don’t think anyone here is suggesting otherwise, nor is it any of our business (just like it’s no one’s business if any one of us decides not to). But the salt and light thing cuts both ways. What are you doing, not anonymously on the blog, not at churches you visit, but within your own congregation, to address this issue? Have you spoken out openly in your church about the subject? I personally, when I was a minister, did not, even when the opportunity was pretty much dropped into my lap, and it is a silence that has haunted me ever since. I’d hate for you to have to struggle one day with ghosts like mine.

            I know you see some of the intricacies of the situation, in that you mentioned health- and childcare. But the issue is still so much more complex. It’s not just about sexual mechanics. In my own heterosexual marriage, sexual mechanics are probably the last thing on the list of what makes us work. Emotional support, financial partnership, friendship, just plain daily helping (from cooking dinner to making sure the laundry gets done)–to reduce my marriage to a question of sexuality is to overlook the richness of what my relationship with my wife really means. You know this, being married yourself. And yet…this issue, for you, seems to rest solely on what the Bible says about “gay sex” (which term is itself also a great oversimplification).

            Are you suggesting that same-sex couples might legitimately marry if only they would abstain within that marriage from sexual relations? Would that, in your mind, satisfy the Bible’s requirements? Would such an arrangement satisfy you, in your marriage relationship? Should anyone have the right, based on any extant source, to tell you to do such a thing in the first place? I know I just put sex at the bottom of my list of what makes my marriage work, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important, perhaps, in some cases, even of the utmost importance. My marriage isn’t representative of all marriage, and all marriage needs a different mix of elements to bring two people together and make them one. What right do we have to dictate the recipe?

            You raised the issue of abortion and Roe v. Wade; I don’t think the two have anything whatsoever to do with each other. I am also against abortion (although not so much against the Court’s decision, as against the structural issues that tend to make them more likely). In that case, though, there is more than just “the Bible says” to support my (and your) position: there is an argument from actual harm to (at least) a potential human life. There is also the very real issue of psychological harm to the mother. There are structural changes (sex-ed in schools, changes to adoption law, etc.) that could make the situation better even without the repeal of RvW. NONE of this applies in the case of same-sex marriage. Where is the harm done by two people who choose to live together in the way truest to who they are within a family of their own making, from which society must be protected? For that matter, where is the harm done, from which the church must be protected? Is the literal authority of the Bible really so important that the whole faith stands or falls with it? Remember what Jesus said to the Jews: sometimes the Law isn’t about what we think it’s about. And if the literal authority IS so vitally important (back to your “Wealth and Power” post), then when’s your garage sale? :o)

            Please take this in the spirit in which it’s intended: it is not by way of attack, but simply in the interests of understanding you more fully as a person. I’m not looking for a blanket “thanks for your response; it’s valid.” ALL questions are valid, in that someone asked them. I’m looking for indications of a REAL struggle with the intricacies of an issue that reach far beyond “the Bible says this” or “God decreed that.” If that was as far as Christians ever got, we’d still have all kinds of evils in the world, from slavery to inquisitions to no votes for women. For that matter, I wouldn’t be able to wear the shirt I have on right now. So, please: what of these things?

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Thank you Vance. This will take time. Yes, I have spoken up in church that I advocate for a constitutional amendment that allows gay marriage – – albeit in small group discussions. How do you think that went? Last Wednesday, Russell and J at least paid the courtesy of being angry – – so many other church members wouldn’t talk to or look at me.

              Likewise, in non-anonymous, non-blog life I find myself in positions of authority where I have the decision or influence over the decision to be a bigot or to advocate for the LGBT community. I’ve made the right decisions.

              If I didn’t respect your opinion (or Howie’s, J’s, Madalyn’s and Russell’s) then perhaps this wouldn’t feel like so much of an attack on my intentions. But it I do, and it does. How do you continue a dialogue with someone when you disagree? Perhaps you process in parallel rather than series. Perhaps you rest for a while and come back. This discussion has exposed a vulnerability in my heart that I’ll need a while to process.

              For now I’m going to take my friend Russell’s approach and end my part in the argument by saying nothing.

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  9. Just passing by to insert a thought. Even if it is the case that God participated in the formation of people in the womb, it does not then follow that they come out exactly as he would like them. I think few things are more apparent from biblical text. Humanity wasn’t what he formed it to be, Israel wasn’t what he formed it to be, and as evidenced by Jonah, the prophets weren’t all what he would have liked. However it is these that things came about with a perfect and all-powerful God is the subject of a larger conversation. However, Zoe’s argument about the formation of people within the womb is fundamentally a variation on the more general Problem of Evil and is thus subject to the responses to that problem. Whether or not the Problem of Evil is a true stands, most theists will either have an answer at hand or be willing to leave the question unanswered, and so it ought not bother them that sexual orientation is determined in birth. That said, the points against scripture do still stand – supposedly scripture is perfect, so most responses to the POE do not apply to imperfection within the biblical text unless one is willing to drop plenary inerrancy. If it is the case that there is no moral issue with homosexuality, the scriptures seem to be in error.

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  10. Pascal,

    I will never not be pissed about this. I will be as polite as I can, but all these days later, I continue to fume.

    As Vance said, your opinion (or anyone else’s) is not necessary. Your approval is not needed. Neither is the church’s. Even for other Christians. Legally, we are all supposed to be equal. In reality, there were slaves when Jefferson declared all men equal. Don’t get me started on the fact that he just mentioned men.

    I guarantee you that the number is higher than 10%. We socialize people out of their preferences from birth. You (and many others) try to make this an option one or option two issue. It isn’t. It is not just gay or straight. There is bisexual, pansexual, asexual, questioning, and more. And it isn’t just sexual preferences. What about gender? We label babies as male or female based on genitals, even though there are millions born with ambiguous genetalia. More and more people are finally comfortable admitting that they don’t fit into the gender binary regardless of their genitals. There are bigender, transgender, transsexual, cisgender, gender fluid, and agender people.

    Human attraction and gender expression is not simple enough to fit into one or two neat boxes. Society has forced the binaries upon us. Boys don’t naturally love climbing and blue anymore than girls naturally like dresses and pink. We are socialized that way. Actual children, actual humans, are more varied and complicated than that.

    Here’s the deal, Pascal. Who gives a damn whether it’s a choice or not? Seriously. If relationships are between consenting adults, whose business is it? Forget the law. Forget tradition. Why should anyone get to interfere with what consenting adults do?

    Is your viewpoint internally consistent? No. There is a lot more to it than the points you listed. As you said on J’s post, you support other relationships that are specifically forbidden in the Bible. The only reason you support those are because you have been socialized to accept them. It seems to me that your morality is secular with a dash of current liberal Christianity.

    I am unsurprised by your view on abortion, but I still despise it. If you don’t agree with abortion, don’t have one.

    You never answered my question on J’s post. Would you attend a Christian wedding in a church between a queer couple if the church was supportive?

    Would you support a queer couple’s right to adopt? Again, your support is unnecessary, but it does let me know where you stand.

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      1. I knew it was you and I respect your right to be pissed. I’d like to answer your last two questions the best that I can. The last is easiest for me and relates to my opinion that you despise. How could I reject a gay couple’s right to adopt while opposing abortion? To be clear: because an opposition to abortion would lead to more unwanted babies I would be foolhardy to reject a loving couple that wanted to provide safety, instruction and love to that baby. Yes – – I do support a gay couple’s desire to adopt.

        Your penultimate question was initially much more personal – – would I attend the wedding of my son to another man? I’ll need time to think through the general, but with the personal – – I would not abandon my child or poison the relationship that we have no matter how much I disagreed with him. I love him and will not leave him. For him, I would go.

        One of those sons needs to go to morning basketball. I didn’t intend to anger you and I’m going to let my words on this subject rest for now.

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        1. Pascal,

          I respect your right to believe what you do. I’ll defend that right to the ends of the earth. When your beliefs start to infringe on the rights of others, my understanding sours.

          I’ve gotten a lot of half answers on this blog. I’ve had many times where I didn’t know if we misunderstood each other or if you were unwilling to consider things I said. Perhaps you’ve felt the same about me.

          I’m interested in what you’re doing here. I think it is important to find common ground and discuss the big issues. Yet, for all we can agree on, there is a fundamental ideal we don’t see eye to eye on. Where should your rights, your say so, end? Where do another’s begin?

          I have spent a lot of time trying to accept viewpoints that I profoundly disagree with. There are people I hold my tongue for, but I can count those on one hand. Autonomy is too important to me, too essential to equality and decency. We must draw a line between our rights and others’ and agree on where it stands. The dimensions of that line is a battle being hard fought in our country.

          I have not been gentle the last few days. The rights of too many people have been dragged along and trampled on for too long for me to be gentle on their behalf, on my own behalf. I’m glad there are people willing to be gentle, it takes all kinds to change the world. I, however, am frustrated and frazzled. I do my best to stand for equality and empathy, but I have to choose my battles with my wellbeing in mind. Others are doing a fantastic job of handling you and Russell gently. I leave you in their capable hands.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Pascal,

    I told you I’d try to pay some attention to the blog tonight. 🙂 I spent much of that time talking to Howie on the phone and then working out on the treadmill (thanks again for that!). Then I enjoyed an hour of reading everything on this page to get caught up. Haha.

    I did want to leave some thoughts in response but that will have to wait. It’s very late and the earth won’t stop spinning me towards the morning sun. I’ll try to leave a comment (or a post if you change to another subject) soon. If not, we can work through all this pretty quickly over breakfast next week.

    Be well my friend,
    –Russell

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  12. Hi Pascal,
    I agree with most of your opinions. Many Christians say being gay is a choice, but I don’t think it is because I didn’t “choose” to be attracted to men as a straight woman. However, I believe taking an action as a gay is a choice such as being in a homosexual relationship. But you know what, it’s like any other sin we commit. We didn’t choose to be greedy or adulterous. We just do because we human beings are corrupt. If there are former homosexuals who chose to give up their lifestyle for Jesus, then I definitely think living a gay lifestyle is a choice.

    About the supreme court, I’d just say God knows what He’s doing, and whatever His will will happen once He decides so. It’s not that we can change anything. Although this country’s government had a close relationship with the church back in the day, it isn’t that way anymore. Church shouldn’t rule the government. However, I still think what the “freedom” really means is liberty within God’s rules which He’s given us for our own good because He loves us so much. I may offend some people, but I’m just speaking what the Bible says. Jesus DID mention about homosexuality when He talked about sexual immorality. Therefore it’s not right to be in a relationship with the same sex partner just like it’s not right to be in a relationship with your father/mother, brother/sister, son/daughter, or whatever.

    But in the end, God loves us all. Therefore I love people regardless of their sexuality.

    Thank you so much for writing about this!

    Like

  13. Reblogged this on Hey, Heewon and commented:
    I agree with most of the statements.

    I hear many Christians say that being gay is a choice, but I don’t think it is because I didn’t “choose” to be attracted to men as a straight woman. However, I believe taking an action as a gay is a choice such as being in a homosexual relationship. But it’s like any other sin we commit. We didn’t choose to be greedy or adulterous. We just do because we human beings are corrupt. If there are former homosexuals who chose to give up their lifestyles for Jesus, then I definitely think living a gay lifestyle is a choice.

    About the supreme court, I’d just say God knows what He’s doing, and whatever His will is will happen once He decides so. It’s not that we can change anything. Although this country’s government used to have a close relationship with the church back in the day, it isn’t that way anymore. It’s not church’s job to rule over the government; let it do its own job. We should not have the authority over it. However, I still believe what the “freedom” really means is liberty within God’s rules which He’s given us for our own good because He loves us so much. I may offend some people, but I’m just speaking what the Bible says. Jesus DID mention about homosexuality when He talked about sexual immorality. Therefore it’s not right to be in a relationship with the same sex partner just like it’s not right to be in a relationship with your father/mother, brother/sister, son/daughter, or whatever.

    But in the end, God loves us all. Therefore I love people regardless of their sexuality. I’d totally choose being friends with gay people over voting against same sex marriage.

    Thanks to Pascal for writing about this!

    Like

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