I’ve started and re-started this post a dozen times. Not a big deal? Maybe not to you, but I usually write a post from start to finish and then do minor edits (usually punctuation and grammar-types). Why the hesitation? The same reason that most Christians are gravitating toward one of two polar positions: either total silence… or the other extreme… bombast. And are Christians really any different in this way than the rest of humanity? I think not. Most of us as humans seem to share the “all-or-nothing” vantage point. “You’re either for us or you’re against us”, we say. If you need further examples, just look at the world of politics (a post for another day).
When it comes to any person’s rights to humane treatment, one would think any decent person would be standing on the highest box saying , “Yes!” But, when you mix a little sexual tension in with the discussion, there is not only the loud “no”, mentioned earlier, you also get some downright ugliness.
Don’t misunderstand or misquote my heart in this matter. Do I have disagreements that are real with people who happen to be gay? Unfortunately, yes. Does that have anything at all to do with how they are treated as human beings? It better not. The equally unfortunate and bombastic Christian right seems to enjoy a near criminalization of the LGBT community. I will grant you that there is an equal arm of extremism within the LGBT fold that fires right back, but what does that have to do with anything?
As a follower of Jesus there are certain realities and jumping off points that I will always have as I attempt to wrestle well with what the Scriptures say on an issue and how that applies to life today. That said, human decency is never up for grabs. So while there may be some things on the list that I cannot agree with… for me, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. How do you wrestle with this issue?
26 thoughts on “LGBT: It’s All or Nothing”
So, there are extremes on both sides…I get that. And, that people deserve to be treated with kindness and respect regardless of sexual orientation. I get that. But, how does this flesh out in the specifics…the largest one being the very thing this week that probably engendered this post in the first place…the institution of marriage? Are you suggesting that if I am against broadening the definition of marriage then I am treating others in a less-than-Christlike manner, “dying” on unecessary hills, and missing far greater opportunities to truly engage in the culture around me? I’m really not trying to be sarcastic…just trying to understand how you would practically apply what you have written. Thanks!
Regarding the institution of marriage, this is definitely a topic worthy of a separate post (there is so much to say). As it relates to this, I have several different opinions on the whole marriage v. civil union discussion. I am really not trying to speak specifically about the DOMA and Prop. 8, etc. that are before the Supreme Court. Personally, I do not see them ruling on it at all. I think they will pass and see the entire discussion as one that should continue to be decided individually by states.
By way of practical application, once a state has decided how to define marriage (and civil unions, for that matter), for me… I have lost the moral battle. That part is over. Not to say that we should not be involved in appropriate discussions leading up to that definition, but once it’s been decided, my feeling is that we should grant things like insurance benefits and the like to couples. There are plenty of heterosexual couples that I think should not get married either… I have never thought of denying them basic human rights. That is the type of thing I’m thinking about. Reaction?
It amazes me how we, as Christians, are so easy to toss around our despise and disdain for those that are homosexual…which we believe to be a sin. Are we without sin? That would be a big fat “no”! Anyone who claims that they are is not being honest. We are ALL sinners. What makes being gay more of a horrendous sin than any other? I am a Christian, no bones about it…but something that Rob has really made me think about via Process Church and these blogs has been enlightening. Sometimes, and especially with regard to the “gay issue”, we look down our Christian noses at people with disgust and wonder how on earth they could do such “wretched things”. We point and taunt and sit on our Jesus horse, taking on a feeling of “I’m better than you”. Shame, shame on that stance! Ever had sex out of marriage? Ever told a lie? Ever got a way with taking something that’s not technically yours? Ever watched pornography? Ever coveted your neighbor’s wife? We have ALL done at least one or more of these things. Can you imagine if every time you sinned someone blasted you publicly for all to know? It must not be a good feeling. If we take a look at Jesus and the way that He interacted with people in His life, we do not see this type of behavior. Aren’t we supposed to model our behaviors after His? Like Rob, of course I have issue with homosexuality. I don’t understand it because I am not homosexual. I do, however, sin. I am forgiven by the grace of God, but I sin none the less. We all do. Just because this particular sin happens to still be tabu and in the spotlight, we use it to elevate ourselves and belittle others. That is not right. Are we wrong for our beliefs? No, of course not. Should be silent and cower down so not to offend gay people? No, of course not. But there is a way to share God’s word and God’s love without being…well…just mean.
As a teacher (preacher) I could not be more proud. This is a beautiful application of the heart and spirit of what I was getting at. It also reminds me that Process Church is leaving an indelible mark even after we closed the doors. That’s what churches should be about… changed understanding!
Thank you for teaching me this about myself…truly!
I could not have said it any better Jennifer! Although I can’t relate to the sin of homosexuality, I have enough sin in my own life to keep me grateful and humble. Thankful that the blood of Jesus’ covers ALL sin!
Thank you Rob for the subject/discussion. Not only do I learn from your words, but I am encouraged and strengthened by them!
Personally, I’m tired of everyone lambasting Christians for speaking out against homosexuality. Do I sin – absolutely. However, I’m not trying to bully the rest of the world into validating the “rightness” of my sin and legislating that no one can tell me my sin is wrong. Do some Christians go overboard and express disdain for the LGBT community and act contrary to the teachings of Jesus, absolutely. But simply expressing a Biblical belief that homosexuality is wrong is not hateful and therein lies the problem. The LGBT community sees that as hate. Would Jesus have walked with the LGBT community – most definitely…but would they let Him knowing that He disagreed with their lifestyle choice? The whole platform is to bully people into agreeing with their position. There is no, “we’ll respect your belief that homosexuality is a sin.” There is only see it our way or else…. A Christian (or non-Christian for that matter) cannot even express disagreement with homosexuality without being decried as hateful or mean or unloving or unChristlike. Soon enough, it will be a hate crime to disagree with homosexuality. What if the Supreme Court decides that some or all of DOMA/Prop8 is unconstitutional? How soon until pastors are jailed for refusing to perform same sex weddings? How soon until those who disagree are jailed or fined simply for voicing their disagreement? Supreme Court decisions have a way of being stretched and dissected to support positions that may have been unintended. So, do I think that a decision that even slightly favors the same sex marriage issue can lead to far more devastating things – yep. That’s why for me – I’m staying in the battle by praying for the Supremes as they make their decision. And I pray for the LGBT community to “calm down” a bit and open their eyes to the fact that even though a Christian may disagree with a lifestyle choice, that does not mean he/she “hates.”
DOMA is unconstitutional… or put more technically… a-constitutional. The Constitution does not weigh in on the nature of marriage. All of that said, my opinion (you can call me on it if/when I’m wrong) is that the Supreme Court will not rule on this at all. They will instead pass it on to the states. As for those of us who call ourselves Christian, we have never waited on or even allowed the state to define things for us that are only God’s to define. So really this very quickly becomes a non-issue. I really don’t care what any state says.
The reason that the LGBT community at large views a Christian’s speech as hate speech is because all-too-often… it is. I have dozens of friends who would classify themselves as LGBT and I am positive that if you asked them they would both be familiar with our differences of opinion and genuinely believe that I love them and care for them as a person. It is possible to hold a divergent opinion and love someone as they are… even (especially) if they don’t share your opinion.
I never said that it is not possible to love someone and hold a divergent opinion. Of course that is possible and done on a daily basis. My point was that all too often it is the Christians who are “called on the carpet” for simply sticking to a certain view and not “evolving” on this issue. It’s great that your friends know your opinion and still believe that you care for them, but that is not “the norm” from what I have experienced. The Constitution does not weigh in an a lot of issues that are the basis for legislation and then overturned as “unconstitutional” or upheld as “constitutional.” That’s the whole point of the checks and balances system. As far as what the Supremes will do – it’s a toss up. I would not be surprised if they decide it’s a state issue, and I will be equally “unsurprised” if they rule in whole or part with dissenting opinions. Either way, this issue is not going away, and Christians need to pay attention because it may turn into more of a first amendment issue. It’s a slippery slope, and as I said, a seemingly innocuous decision to allow people to marry whomever they want may lay the groundwork for decisions and laws far more harmful to the freedoms we currently enjoy. I will now return to my silence on this issue.
I have never met you, Amy. Still, my belief doesn’t waiver that you are a lovely, kind, caring and Godly woman. That being said, i must take issue with some of your remarks. But I will define myself for you, first.
Now in my mid 30’s, I am comfortable in my identiy as a gay Christian. After a long, winding and often lonely road, I no longer hold these attributes in conflict. (but those are details for another post). I met Jesus and received my salvation in early adolescence within the evangelical church (even attending Christian School behind Julie and Jeff, and way behind Rob :P). Though I am significantly at odds with the tenants of funamentalism now, I will always be grateful for this.
Not to reflect a place of prominence, but I knew I was gay even earlier in life. I didn’t try to dress in my mother’s clothes or wear her makeup, but in was clear were my puppy love and crushes were. Those feelings graduated in time and in pace with my general maturing; but so did the dose of self-loathing that was implanted and nurtured by the evangelical church. That is my story, similar to so many others.
What I take issue with is your ‘a storm is coming’ approach and slippery slope arguments. You state:
“There is no, “we’ll respect your belief that homosexuality is a sin.” There is only see it our way or else…. A Christian (or non-Christian for that matter) cannot even express disagreement with homosexuality without being decried as hateful or mean or unloving or unChristlike. Soon enough, it will be a hate crime to disagree with homosexuality. What if the Supreme Court decides that some or all of DOMA/Prop8 is unconstitutional? How soon until pastors are jailed for refusing to perform same sex weddings? How soon until those who disagree are jailed or fined simply for voicing their disagreement?”
Really?? Disagreement a hate crime? Pastors jailed for refusing to perform same sex weddings? Jailed or fined simply for voicing their disagreement? I mean come on… Do we live in the same world?
1) This is the same court that upheld Westboro Baptist Church’s right to protest at the funerals of dead soldiers by holding up signs that state ‘God Hates Fags’, ‘Aids Cures Fags’…. or ‘Thank God for Dead Soldiers’ on First Ammendment grounds: http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/03/02/scotus.westboro.church/index.html
2) In the New York State gay marriage statute, there are explicit protections laid out for a range of religious organizations: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/under-god/post/religious-exceptions-within-new-yorks-same-sex-marriage-bill/2011/06/24/AG87ZtjH_blog.html
You are tired of being lambasted for speaking out against homosexuality, or being bullied into validating it? Gay teens are bullied to the point of suicide regularly in this country, please don’t throw around such terms so loosely.
Trust me when I say that the gay community neither desires nor requires your validation; but equal treatment under the law is demanded and must be absolute. As a taxpayer, I deserve the same 1,100 benefits and protections you receive when you agree to enter a contract before the state with the person you love. And when you grant these equal rights… No, its not in your power to grant them, they are inalienable. When the civil law is updated to reflect the existing natural law of equality, please rest assured I would never step foot in a church that doesn’t want to celebrate the union that i hold so dear. Further, I won’t oppose any protections that you seek being written into the law that would prevent your church from being forced into duties it does not agree with.
Now let’s talk about ‘mean’ and a ‘hate.’ Is it the spirit of ‘love’ that leads a group of people to help pass state constitutional ammendments banning gay marriage, when such is already prohibited by existing laws? What is the point? You just feeling like saying ‘No’, again and louder?
What is it, if not hate, when religious institutions will raise $22 million dollars, and not use it to feed the hungry, cloth the poor, or help the sick. When they don’t use such money to help struggling, single mothers care for hungry children. They don’t use it to help poor communities acquire better books, facilities or other tools to improve the educational environment.
They don’t use it to spread the ‘Good News’ of Christ’s salvation. No, they use it to stop the advancement of the civil equality of a group of people. And, after years of viewing them as outsiders, apostates, heretics or worse, the evangelical community teams up with the Mormons (who deilivered most of the funds), just to try to block the statutue of equality.
DOMA is Unconstitutional for its simple violation of the ‘full faith and credit’ clause of the Consititution, which mandates that contracts in 1 state be given full faith and credit in every other state.
John-Paul I literally gasped when I read the link you posted regarding Westboro Baptist Church! I was not aware of that issue and, quite frankly, why would I be? It’s not on my radar because…well…I supposed because I am not gay. The more I learn about how people are treated, much like the cases you quoted, I am sickened.
I grew up in an Italian Roman Catholic family where I was taught that the pack of birth control pills found in my purse would send me to eternal damnation…The child that I had out of wedlock was a bastard and that, because she wasn’t “white”, I was disgracing my family. So, although I am not gay, I can certainly sympathize with the feeling of being discriminated against. I took my daughter to the Pediatrician once and the nurse asked me “And you are her…????” “Mother!”, I replied.
I don’t understand being gay or being attracted to someone of the same sex because I am not gay. No words could explain it to me…it’s foreign. I do, however, believe that Christ wants us to love one another unconditionally. Why do groups of people speak out against homosexuality but not fornication? If they are both equal “sins”, then what’s the difference? Why aren’t there groups raising money to protest men and women who cheat on
their spouses committing adultery? A sin is a sin, right? Hypocrisy, I say!
I have seen little boys with my own two eyes that I knew, without a doubt, would grow up to be gay. Sure enough… they did! This was not a decision that they made. I know one guy who despised himself and hid it…even tried to have the church “pray the gay out” of him. (Didn’t work by the way) He married, had a child with his wife…all the while living a lie. He’s now divorced and happily living with his partner…finally being himself. How can we hate someone who can’t help who they are? With all of the adversity that gay people face in their families and in the community… do we really think people choose to go through this? I just don’t think so.
I do believe that, in today’s era, there are young people who call themselves bi-sexual who just want to be with others sexually…strictly for their own pleasure. That is not being in love with someone of the same sex. There seems to be a phase of young girls kissing girls being cool. That is not something I think is right. They are just being promiscuous and self fulfilling. That is different.
I am so sorry that you have ever had to feel pain and that you ever self loathed. It must be so confusing and difficult for a child to understand what’s going on inside them when the “world” says that is not how it’s “supposed” to be.
We are all sinners. Every day. I have no heaven nor hell to put people in, so I will let God be the judge. And… in the mean time… I will try to understand people. I choose love.
OK, I have shared from a Biblical approach. I now choose from a philosophical approach. I am absolutely outspent at this continual referral to the word “hate”. It is an absolute abuse of the word. I agree that Christians have not handled the situation perfectly. But disagreement is not hate. I take issue with the gay community trying to bully me into acceptance of their lifestyle by the use of the word “hate”.
Disagreement IS NOT hate. I am sure that EVERY homosexual has had a disagreement with their partner at one point or another. Would you hold “hate” in the same context of your disagreement with your significant other. I venture to say that you would not. I disagree with my wife. I don’t hate her! The fact that this issue is in the courts only shows that it’s sphere extends far beyond the religious circles be it evangelical or cult. It is an issue that is up for debate even within secular circles . . . thus the court system.
From my own philosophical standpoint, I do not and cannot support your desires for equality. Why? Several reasons. The notion that we are all sinners so we can never take a stand against sin is weak. The apostle Paul was a murderer. God used him greatly. He wrote a large portion of the New Testament. Secondly, obviously this issue extends beyond the evangelical community and is up for debate in the secular. This only shows you that it is not just “hateful Christians” that take issue with the homosexual lifestyle but society as a whole. Homosexual acceptance is on the rise, but there are still those who stand strongly against it. Why should my tax dollars go to fund so-called equality when I don’t see homosexuality on an “equality” level? Why should my tax dollars go to support your lifestyle? In our form of government do I not have an equal say? Isn’t that why I am permitted to vote?
What if I spun the argument back on homosexuals. Why do you hate heterosexual people? Why won’t you just leave us alone and go live your homosexual lifestyle in privacy. Quit hating us in our disagreement with your lifestyle. Quit trying to bully us with your words to accept something we do not agree with. Quit associating us with every fringe group on the planet. Your associations are absurd! Why do you homosexuals hate anyway. Shouldn’t you just accept us and give us what we want? I would extend beyond difficult to impossible in regards to taking a pro-homosexual view from the pages of scripture.
How do you read passages (Romans 1:27 “and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” or Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” or Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”) and walk away thinking that God is accepting of homosexuality? Not in my Bible. What do many homosexuals do about these obvious strong words from scripture? They narcissistically remake God into their own image. God becomes a benevolent, accepting, loving, grandpa who just lets the world do what they want. That is called circular reasoning. When you start with a conclusion and work your way back to it. What about another pervasive philosophical viewpoint called post-modernism. The view of no absolutes. There is no right or wrong in the post-modernist viewpoint, only what the truth “means to you”.
Please don’t pass judgment on my previous words until you read these. In the end, whatever the government chooses to do is of no consequence to me. I answer to a higher power, GOD, and governmental approval or disapproval does not change my response to God’s words. I have my opinions and the political freedom to express, but if they do not rule in my favor . . . so be it. My words were strong. I know. But don’t confuse my words with hate. I don’t hate anyone. I have family and friends who are homosexual and I treat them with the same love, dignity, and respect as I do anyone else. I will even go so far as to rethink (gotta love the use of the blog theme) the way I handle situations within the community. I am completely in disbelief when I hear someone say that the Bible is “silent”, “ambiguous”, or even “pro” gay. I cannot agree with any of those standpoints when I look at the Bible. But, in the end, I am not responsible for your exegesis of scripture, I am responsible for mine.
Let me say finally to consider things from another perspective. I have heard over and over the disdain for Christians who speak out loudly against homosexuality yet are guilty of sexual sin. To that I would have to agree with totally. It is not a sin to be tempted, it is a sin to indulge in the temptation. I have strongly rethought my opposition against the notion of being “born gay”. I used to think that was simply a clever excuse to indulge in a lifestyle. But, maybe I am wrong. Maybe you can be born gay. Millions of people are born with lust. People are tempted to lust every day. Preachers will be tempted to lust today. Deacons will be tempted to lust today. Sunday school teachers will be tempted to lust today. The sin is not in the temptation itself. The sin is in the willful indulgence. I feel the same for homosexuality. Can you be born homosexual? Sure. Can you struggle with a desire to be with the same sex? Sure. So far you are safe! The problem comes in when you act on that desire when that desire is clearly contrary to scripture! There is no difference in a pastor who commits sexual sin and a homosexuality who commits homosexuality.
I know my words were strong. I am working very intently on how I share the name of Christ throughout the whole world. Since this blog post I have rethought many things. In the end I stand before God for what His word says and my careful application of what it says. I can never accept homosexuality as being OK? Not because of my own opinions, but because I see God’s word being perfectly clear on the subject. Don’t shoot the messenger boy just because you don’t like the message. May Christians as a whole look for a gracious way to share their faith and beliefs, and may the gay community accept those differences without resorting to their “hate” bomb to bully a community of sacred and secular into accepting what they cannot accept.
I love your heart Rob! You are a good man!
Much like you, I’m not sure about this discussion. On both sides, the hatred bug looms … But regardless, how should I respond in the environment posed? I’m wrestling a lot with it. Both sides seem to be motivated by FEAR , IMHO … And the only element ever proposed that does adequate damage to fear is LOVE …. Pure and simple! Passing laws and using laws to holdback the advancement of sin in this culture seems to be the need for Grace in the first place. Until we who claim to be “straight” can address the truthful and underlying fear that grips our hearts , I don’t believe the Father will use our lives to draw others to Himself. As a pastor, am I afraid that someone is going to tell me who to marry …. Uh, no …. Scriptures don’t indicate that as a shepherd , one of my duties is to perform marriages … The state authorizes that. So if they take that privilege back, so be it. It does nothing as to who I am and what He invites me to do for His kingdom. Do we really think that making laws will curb sin and its desires and the working out of that ?? Paul wrote that having laws actually provokes our sinful nature. As followers of The Way, we need to hit the “pause” button and get away from the religious spirit that plagues our “rights” and communication. Ask Him how to love other sinners … With the Eternal Hope that LOVE and GRACE ultimately win!
Thanks, friend. And thanks even more for your thoughts that followed.
PS: when do we start working together?
Ok, a few thoughts from a recovering legalist. One of the greatest areas of struggle is how to proclaim truth with the balance of love. I am in total agreement in the way we should treat people. One of the greatest problems of the legalist/fundamentalist movement is that God never called us to be the sin police. There already is a sin cop and His name is the Holy Spirit. I also agree with the notion that “who are we to cast the first stone”. In other words we too are guilty before God, so who are we to quantify and qualify sin. Sin is sin. And yes, yes, yes, I know that certain sins carry greater consequences, but again it is not my job to be the sin police. I have enough difficulty being what I should be, much less worrying about trying to police everyone else.
I did face this particular issue in regards to homosexuality recently when a family member posted a very pro-gay picture on facebook. The picture was captioned “love is love, what does it matter”. I debated on whether or not to answer. I don’t think that facebook is the place to solve all the world’s social evils or theological problems. Being that it was a relative I felt compelled to respond. My response was “it matters to God”. After my response a shared a couple of scripture verses. I followed with a second comment stating that I was not attempting to be judgmental, but that we had to find a final authority and live by it, and for me that authority was the Bible.
As you can imagine, although this family member was straight, there was quickly some rather heated responses. I was deemed hateful and judgmental although my words were very few. It was referred to as “my religion” and “my God”. I graciously bowed out of the conversation realizing that continued posts would serve no positive outcome.
I guess where I am confused is in the balancing of truth and love. Like I mentioned earlier, I pass over thousands of quotes that I disagree with on facebook on a weekly basis realizing that you need to choose your battles. The reality is that truth offends. There is nothing I can do to lessen the reality of how God feels about sin. I am/was in no way proclaiming perfection on my part, nor do I now. But how do we proclaim truth in a world that is so anti-God? The truth WILL offend. I do realize that in the offense, I need to let God’s Word do the offending and not a pious judgmental spirit.
By the responses I received, those who chose the homosexual lifestyle simply created God in their own image. They created a distinction between their god and my God. The belittled the Bible, and insisted on it’s fallibility because it was written by men.
Do I want to offend? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Will God’s Word offend? ABSOLUTELY! So my question is . . . how do we stand true to the truth and not offend? I am not questioning method of delivery or piousness. I know that I am responsible before God for the way I act. My question is, when we share the truth and it offends, what is the next step.
Unfortunately, I feel that no matter how sincere, non-judgmental, and compassionate we are, when we share God’s truth in a loving manner and it offends, the proverbial messenger boy gets trashed with the message.
I am looking forward to reading the responses. This is a genuine question that has plagued me for quite some time.
Jason, I hope tomorrow’s post will address most of what you’re saying here!
As much as I love you Rob, and as much as I hate “hate” in me, I believe you have been permeated with culture of the god of this world. One of my closest friends is a repentant gay and I have nothing but love for him. However, how can your thoughts be so open and passe’ toward legitimizing perversion that God clearly condemns strongly in Romans 1, etc.? The Lord does NOT have a spirit of concession in the Word toward public sin. Public sin is the promotion of sin – the acceptance. Certainly we all struggle with sin, but this does not reduce the fact that it is wicked. It also does not reduce the need to cry against sin within our selves and others. How then could preachers like us “reprove, rebuke, and exhort?” Please do not give legitimacy to the wickedness of homosexuality by wishing benefits, etc. on LGBT couples.
I would like to apologize to you Rob for using the sentence “you have been permeated…..god of this world. That was too strong and I shouldn’t have said it – Forgive me please. I meant that your argument was sounding like the tolerance of the world. I’m sorry.
I think that marriage as a LEGAL term, that is managed and enforced by our government, should be for all people equally. I think that Marriage, as defined by a religion, should be free to be defined by that religion. In the scriptures, Jesus himself did not take issue with the a corrupt and depraved Roman Government. He said, “Render to Cesar the things that are Cesar’s”. He also said that God holds those in Government authority accountable for their actions. So, I tend to separate my religions beliefs from my political ones, simply because I didn’t really see Jesus mixing them either. Sure, the Pharisees were the Jewish form of government, but He did not attache them for their political attributes, but their lack of spiritual ones. My baseline story for how I treat other is the woman caught in adultery. Jesus would have been within the law to pick up a stone and crack her skull, but he defended her. quietly and profoundly, he saved her life. He had no names to call her, he did not cast her away because she was naked, He simply defender her, saved her life, proved that he cared about HER. Then he gave what might be his shortest sermon. “Go thy way, and sin no more”. Seven words, that is all he needed to say to her. He doesn’t pull punches, and he doesn’t send her on a guilt trip. He doesn’t have to, because she is listening. Listening to the man who just saved her life, who believe she is worth saving, who loves her. Of course she is listening. And He speaks with authority. He doesn’t make suggestions, He gives her a command, “sin no more”. He does not shy away from the sinner in the throws of the consequences of their sin. He defends, rescues, saves, and instructs. There is an order to things. Jesus always goes first and he usually leads with Love when it comes to sinners. I should know… it is how he treated me. I want to be bold, I want to speak Jesus truth, but I want to do it to open ears and open hearts, that have heard and know I love them first.
Thanks for Sharing your heart Rob.
and… I should really re-read and correct my grammar and spelling. ooof-tah!
Well, this is certainly an interesting topic and discussion spread out over Rob’s two posts here (to date). I took some time to put some thoughts down on the subject; it’s a bit long, but I hope some of you will find it of interest.
Gay Marriage in the United States: One Christian Citizen’s View
I think that, when looking at this issue, any given person needs to view it from two different angles; first, as that of an American citizen, and then in light of their personal beliefs and convictions.
As a citizen, I think the first question that may need to be asked is this: what is the government’s defining interest/involvement in marriage? The simple answer to that is “money and control.” Who gave them the power to define/redefine what marriage is? We (the people) did, either directly or by absence of action. It may be time to look into what America currently is and what it actually should be – is the function of our government really to bounce from one special interest group to another, passing laws and regulations to force groups of people to – at least outwardly – behave in a fashion that another group of people wants? Liberties, once given up, are hard to regain – even if you agree with the current “powers that be” in what they are attempting to implement, the pendulum of power swings and those powers will soon be in the hands of people with different viewpoints. The government that can tell one people you disagree with that “you can’t do X” or “you must do Y” can turn around and use that same level of control on you. We need to stop ceding our freedoms to the government.
If you start defining all political questions in terms of liberty and freedom, and define the government’s role as that of protecting and providing liberty and freedom (rather than protecting and providing everything else under the sun), then maybe we can get to what the vision for this country truly should be. As some wiser men than I once eloquently stated:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
As a citizen, that answers the question for me. The government shouldn’t be in the marriage business (or a lot of other personal business, for that matter). If you look things in light of liberty and freedom, many of the complicated issues currently in vogue (marriage, gun control, healthcare, Big Gulps, the list goes on) become … a lot less complicated.
So what, then, is my view on this issue as a Christian? I, too, grew up in an environment similar to many who have posted here, and my views on this have changed through my life’s journey. I find it interesting to see how many Christians have a tendency (surely unintentional) to leave God out of the equation. They get wrapped up in the tasks they believe God has called them to do, forgetting that they aren’t actually essential to those tasks. God can accomplish his work entirely without us, but He has given us the privilege of being a part of it; no matter how hard we may work at those tasks we think He wants us to do, it all comes to nothing if He isn’t in it.
I think it is a Christian’s role to point others to God, and then to, for lack of a better way to put it, get out of the way. If a person rejects God, that is between that person and God, and they will have to answer for it. If a person accepts God, then it is – still – between that person and God. Only God has the right – and the ability – to judge, and we cannot usurp anyone else’s personal priesthood, no matter how hard we may try. Does this mean that we shouldn’t call sin, sin? Of course not. But to focus solely or primarily on that one attribute of God is to ignore all of His other attributes, and we need to point people to the whole God. ALL sin separates us from God (despite our tendency as humans to “grade” some sins as worse than others), but none other than God has the power to forgive sin, so perhaps we need to focus people on God and let Him work in their hearts – and not question what He is doing there. If we keep God the focus of the equation, the rest becomes … well, not so complicated.
So are my positions as a citizen and a Christian at odds with each other? I don’t believe so. In my view, the government should be about maximizing liberty and freedom FOR ALL … it should not be the “bully pulpit” to force ANY viewpoint on anyone else. Christianity should be about maximizing people’s exposure to God, which cannot be done through legislation. Human government is, at best, an amoral institution, but granted too much power, quickly becomes an immoral one, one that violates everyone’s morals (whatever they may be) at some level. We are there already in this country, sadly, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to reclaim it.
Good thoughts, Peter. I actually agree with your separating of the two vantage points. And I agree that this does not weaken either position. Nice work.
IMHO, a committed, loving relationship IS Christian, no matter the sex. If anyone wants to judge (though I still feel that is Our Father’s job – not ours), judge those who are actually breaking a commandment with adultery – especially casual adultery that hurts those involved. Let people who wish to dedicate themselves to one another – not hurting anyone in a traditional marriage – do so and applaud them.