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.
- 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.
- The best number that I can find is approximately 10% of people on earth are represented in the LGBT spectrum.
- 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.
- 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%.
- 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.
- 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.
- That said – – the US Supreme Court makes decisions for all citizens of the United States.
- Most citizens of the United States do not follow Christ.
- I’m not convinced that 3 of 4 people in our Christian churches follow Christ.
- 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:
- 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.
- I respect the churches of all faiths who do not accept this as consistent with the moral teachings of their sacred texts.
- For that reason, I would never compel a pastor or church to conduct the marriage of a gay couple before God against conscience.
- 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.
- 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?
photo credit: Doris Antony via Wikicommons, CC-BY-SA-2.5