Attn: Christians… What if getting married was this hard?
Please don’t discriminate others without have a clue what’s in the Bible. Even polygamy was legal in the New Testament. For the Kim Davis’s (Kentucky clerk) of the world… please stop cherry picking scripture to hurt others. Your ignorance is lazy and mean.
As much as I loathe this vile ignorant woman who does not understand that her Bible is not the US Constitution (and that in that Bible it states in 1 Timothy 2:12 “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”), I do think that she is a victim of the attorneys who are representing her. She is too dumb to realize that the Liberty Council who has agreed to represent her pro bono is using her as a martyr to fund raise for the far right anti gay movement.
They would love nothing more than for her ugly face to be on every television in the nation as a poor middle aged woman being locked up for her “Christian” beliefs. If her attorneys and the far right have their way she will be in jail for a long long time. The longer there, the more persecuted these people will feel, and they can scream justification at their bigotry of the LGBT community. This sad cow is just a pawn in a much bigger game, and she is letting it happen to her. The far right fund.
Letter (some say not legit… but the sentiment of letter is clearly legit. Huckabee and Cruz support her… and the opposition to gay marriage has repeatedly compared themselves to the fight of MLK Jr)
The Kentucky Clerk (Kim Davis) is only four years a Christian ( a baby Christian) and as such has a very shallow view of scripture. She is the perfect tool for manipulation by Mat Staver and Liberty Counsel.
They are a hate group as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Liberty Council is funded ($ 4 million) for one reason – to spread anti-gay bigotry. Travesties like this one in Kentucky attracts attention and entices other fellow bigots to contribute. Kim Davis will one day learn how she has been used. I have a series of e mails between Mat Staver and I which I will soon make public. What I can tell you is that he is not the polished lawyer he appears, He is very incoherent in his thinking and he lies over matters which are easily proveable. He is a sad man doing sad work and hurting many people. It is hard to fathom that Liberty Univ just stands and watches. What a disgrace. The bystanders at Liberty are mant things… but they are nor Chrisrians in my book.
Questions / Observations Kim Davis actually says she is being treated worse than Rosa Parks (Davis spells it “Rose”). Davis fails to realize that Rosa Parks fought for rights… not against them.
Note to Ted Cruz… we will see what riding the coat tails of this “Wal-martyr” will do to your campaign (and Huckabee… but he is mired already at 4 per cent). The smart money is not on you.
Kim Davis says she is fighting for the “religiously persecuted” of America. This number may be in single digits… a couple of cake makers…. and who exactly else? Who is being persecuted going to church on Sunday.
Mike “HUCK-A-BIGOT” is perhaps the most hate filled man of all.
Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis CHOSE to go to jail… she did NOT have to. She is a FALSE MARTYR. This “baby Christian” is being manipulated by Liberty Counsel (a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center)I guess “Miss literal” never read1 Timothy 2:12 which says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” Thus according to the Bible Kim Davis has no business being a clerk in the first place.What’s offensive is an attempt is being made to try to root her stance in Christianity countless scholars have demonstrated you just can’t do that and stay honest with the full biblical text.
Though the medical community used to be divided on the issue, today it is in agreement: Conversion, or reparative, therapy not only does not work, it borders on the unethical. The American Psychiatric Association, for example, “opposes any psychiatric treatment … based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or … that the patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.” Still, that hasn’t stopped various true believers from trying to “cure” homosexuals anyway. Here are some techniques—from the old to the modern—that have been used to try to make gay men straight.
Some conversion therapy encourages gay men to bolster masculinity by developing strong, non-sexual relationships with other men. One former patient remembers his counselor in a gay-conversion program subjecting him to “holding therapy,” during which, he writes, he “was instructed to lay in [the counselor’s] arms for a solid hour to ‘feel the strength of another man.’” Other therapists recommend going to the gym “as well as bath houses to be nude with father figures.”
Beating Your Mother in Effigy
Some believe that male homosexuality is caused by over-bonding with one’s mother at a young age. In 2012, a gay member of a counseling group in New Jersey was encouraged “to beat an effigy of his mother with a tennis racket, as though killing her”—so furiously that his hands bled as the other men in the group egged him on. “It’s my mother,” he remembersthinking. “Detach, detach, detach.”
One former patient described his course of electroconvulsive therapy, in use today, as “The Month of Hell.” The treatment, he told the Huffington Post, “consisted of tiny needles being stuck into my fingers and then pictures of explicit acts between men would be shown and I’d be electrocuted.”
Some 19th century psychiatrists prescribed frequent trips to the brothel together with large amounts of alcohol—the idea being that prostitutes were experienced enough to spark even a gay man’s desire for women. Even Oscar Wilde once visited a whorehouse to develop “a more wholesome taste.” It didn’t work. The experience “was like chewing old mutton,” he saidafterwards.
In the 1960s, psychologist Ian Oswald would give his gay patients nausea-inducing drugs and surround them with pitchers of urine before playing audio recordings of men having sex. The nauseating “overdose,” he hoped, would lead men “to turn to women for relief.”
In 2009, a church in Connecticut uploaded a video showing a homosexual 16-year-old boy undergoing an exorcism surrounded by members of his congregation. “Come on, you homosexual demon,” one shrieks as the boy rolls around on the floor. “Loose your grip, Lucifer!”
Defense to shallow “anti-gay” pronouncements being put out by churches.
Marriage. Many conservative Bible believers are beside themselves about the prospect that marriage norms and laws are changing, but let me tell you a secret about most Bible believers. Most don’t actually read their Bibles. And most don’t know the history of “traditional” marriage. It is nothing to admire. 90 per cent of history reveals women to be nothing more than property and the lack of rights that go with it.
If people read all of the Bible they would know that the biblical model of sex and marriage has little to do with the one they so loudly defend (one man & one woman). Marriage in the Bible includes rape, incest, master-slave sexual relations, captive virgins, and more. Given these horrendously exploitive marriages and our recent knowledge of LGBT orientation, it stands to reason that Jesus would bless same-sex marriage as it exploits no one (other than some people’s long held perceptions) and honors love.
Homosexuality. Context is everything. It is imperative to know that gay orientation was not known until the 1800’s. It was not known in biblical times and therefore could not have been referred to. The bible refers only to same-sex acts and not of orientation. What kind of acts? Examples include straight male gang rape of angels, abusive relationships with temple prostitutes, idol worship, pederasty (pedophilia), rape of slaves, excess lust by straight people, and even rapes of conquered foes. Scripture not once introduces the idea of love between persons. This is very different than the expression of love in an LGBT relationship which harms no one.
The culture. Some pastors claim that the Bible stands on its own and should not be influenced by the culture. This would be a wonderful statement if it were true. The fact is Christianity has repeatedly changed with the times. Changes include the geocentricity of the earth, the abolition of slavery, civil rights, and the women’s right to vote, work, and hold positions in the church.
Inclusion. Gay orientation is not a choice and is not a sin. Yet pastors continue to grant LGBT’s second class status by not allowing them to serve in church positions, by refusing to honor their right to marry, and condemning them in forming lasting bonds and expressions thereof with those they are attracted to. This resigns LGBT’s to a lonely second-class prison of loneliness. It is utterly devastating. This clearly reflects legalism (wrongly interpreted) and in no way reflects the heart of Christ who reflected the epitome of inclusiveness.
Golden Rule. Christians are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are told to love others and God. We are called to do unto others as we would have done to us. We are clearly told not to pass judjment on others (Romans 2:1).
Great Commission. Spreading the gospel to the far ends of the earth cannot be accomplished if we are quarantining LGBT’s in our churches and condemning them – no matter how polite we think we are. People will not go where they are not wanted. Chasing LGBT’s from our church inflicts wounds both in the now and the hereafter. It must stop.
We love by advocating for our neighbors the same rights that we would not have taken away from us. The acid test for most pastors and Christians is when a family member comes out as gay. This often serves as an inflection point as we would never treat family the same way we treat the many nameless and faceless LGBT’s we don’t know. It would be unthinkable.
“If I get the choice between Pie Heaven and Regular Heaven, I will choose Pie Heaven. It may be a trick, but if not, mmmm, pie!!” – Deep Thoughts with Jack Handy, SNL
Many people saw a post that appeared on The Gospel Coalition asking us 40 questions about LGBTQ and gay marriage. One of those people was a family member who sent it to me asking me to answer.
I imagine a lot of you have had questions like this posed to you – so I thought it would be a great idea to share my answers here.
Plenty of people like to ask “innocent” questions as a rhetorical device to stump the one they’re asking. Religious leaders did this to Jesus, always certain they had found just the unanswerable question that would corner him. Jesus not only identified the trick questions a mile away but disarmed the questioners with his answers.
The Jesus in me smells a trick from a mile away, but the Jack Handy in me says, “It may be a trick, but if not, mmmm, an opportunity to take a probing look at the Christian response to Marriage Equality.”
Here we go…
1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?
Ever since I looked at what being LGBTQ meant to people who are LGBTQ, and the inadequate choices offered them by the church. “Reorientation,” lifelong celibacy or excommunication? None of those work by any stretch, and I realized then that those could not be God’s choices for LGBTQ people.
2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?
1 Corinthians 1:8, when they discuss what to do when good Christ-followers disagree on what is sinful and Paul says in verses 2-3, “Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.” People should be loved and celebrated. Also, the Golden Rule, and Jesus great command to “love God and love others.” And not a word about not celebrating. Not to celebrate, or to reject, has a huge burden of proof, and it’s not in there.
3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?
Jesus put love above all else, he told us not to judge each other, and he did not condemn homosexual union. Neither can we. To deny anyone real and meaningful human companionship is a huge decision that goes against everything in the Bible. We can’t do that.
4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?
Isaiah 54:5, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:25, and many others that depict Christ as the groom and the church as the bride. Half Christ’s bride is male. Even though it’s figurative, it is present.
5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?
Yes. He blew the doors off all our preconceived notions, always in the favor of love and inclusion, and against judgment.
6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?
Jesus reasserted the definition of marriage in Matthew 19:3 because he was talking to a group of leaders who not only set out to trap him (v. 3) but who had the practice of marrying a women and then divorcing her for trivial reasons. He was saying, “Don’t be so cruel as to cast your wife into the street!” [Read Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers.] Jesus is telling them, “Don’t you use your slippery fanagaling to be spiteful of others. You see, Jesus always defends the powerless one against the powerful, a lesson for all of us to heed.
7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?
Interesting question because it implies that we have a place in the judgment seat. He certainly was not talking about gay sex but straight sex; he was addressing straight people. Peter said, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” Romans 2:1. But if were to say, it would be any inappropriate thought about sex, because that’s what Jesus said… and he said it to keep us from categorizing sin into the terrible ones (which don’t tempt us) and the not-so-bad ones (which we do commit). Jesus said, “Uh, no.”
8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?
It was a Paul’s rhetorical device to get them to condemn certain actions before lowering the boom in Romans 2:1: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”
9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?
Of course not! If our sins could get us kicked off the invite list, who would make it? Paul is saying not to fight amongst each other (with their internal lawsuits and defrauding, Christians against Christians). But even as badly behaved as they were, Paul says (v. 11): “You are sanctified by Jesus and by the Holy Spirit!” He’s actually saying the opposite. Thank God!
10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?
Paul was talking about all the extreme things going on right in their community in their temples—rape, temple prostitution, coercive sex (of master to slave). None of it means consensual, loving sex among equal adults.
11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?
These men were all privileged, white, single, straight, males. Their insight into women, children, non-white, and LGBTQ people is necessarily limited. They all condoned slavery, for instance. Better to take the good they offered and move on to the new light in which we see things today.
12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?
Surely you are aware that the understanding of homosexuality of Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America is culturally conditioned by American (missionary) Christians??
13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?
I really can’t speak for them, and I don’t look to them for what to think about my role as a Christian.
14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?
It depends on the mother and the father. Don’t you agree? Good grief! I know some amazingly loving single parents, and I know some incredibly loving, thoughtful gay parents. I wish you knew Pam and Sabina and the gentle and loving home they have for their two adopted, biracial kids. On the other hand, I know some horrifying, straight-couple parents. Courtney and her three siblings could have had more oppressive and dysfunctional parents, though they are the “traditional, Christian mother and father.” Which children do best? Those in a loving situation or those in an abusive situation. Really, it’s a silly and quite offensive question.
15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?
The life of Christ does not come in response to research. Jesus always deals with real life situations in support of the oppressed, period. He did not use research to support his overabundant love and compassion. Your question #14 is outrageously offensive to hard-working single parents, both divorced and widowed, and reveals your insufficient experience—and compassion—to address this question responsibly. I grieve at the implications of your mindset for those poor children at the losing end of your “best”-case scenario.
16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?
Frankly, I’ve had enough of the type of privileging you suggest, which binds broken marriages together with duct tape “for the sake of the children,” trapping them in brutal and dysfunctional families. I’ve counseled them as adults, and you are really out of your depth here with the question.
17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?
Really? Is it all about sex for you?! You don’t really think people have fought for Marriage Equality for sexual fulfillment. You know that single people have sex, right? If it were all about sex, wouldn’t they stay single for sexual fulfillment, so in case the sex runs cold, they will be free to just move on? What we seek marriage for is something much, much bigger than sex. It’s only a part of it. And frankly, I just do see how the ends and purposes have anything to do with the gender of those involved.
18. How would you define marriage?
Hm… good question. I am going to refer to the biblical definition or marriage. Listen closely. Monogamy (Titus 1:6). Rape victims forced to marry their rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). A man obligated to marry his brother’s widow regardless of the living brother’s marital status (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Genesis 38; Ruth 2-4).
Oh dear…I don’t think is going the direction you hoped.
19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?
No. Although, from what I know, this exists in patriarchal environments where, because the environment is so controlled, consent is not possible.
20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?
Why are you asking me this when the bible is “perfectly clear” that polygamous marriage is not only affirmed but celebrated as a staple throughout the Old Testament? In fact, it was the compassionate option to provide for thousands of women (several hundred each for the patriarchs!) who would otherwise have been abandoned. God personally gave David his multiple wives (1 Samuel 12:8). I’m saying all this facetiously, because I suspect you’re pointing to the tired “slippery slope” argument.
But yes, I do. As it’s been said, people aren’t born polygamists. And if anything opens the door to polygamy, it’s patriarchy, not homosexuality.
21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?
This question is part of the “slippery slope” argument, that approval of same-sex marriage leads to approval of incest or polygamy, but they are different. As incest and polygamy have been practiced in the past, they are part of patriarchal structures that lack informed consent, keeping people locked into, usually religious, family structures.
22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?
23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?
No, it must be between two consenting adults. This precludes marrying a child, marrying your dog, and all the other nonsense people want to compare Marriage Equality with, none of whom can give consent.
24. If not, why not?
25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?
Yes, my Christian brothers and sisters are perfectly free to refuse to marry someone of the same gender. Or are you talking about some other “religious beliefs”? Let’s be clear: to refuse to serve someone in your public business because you think they are in sin is not a religious freedom, even if you feel very strongly about it. It is outright discrimination – just like it was in the 60’s.
26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?
How would these things be threatened when they are loving as Christ told them to love? If they are judging, and therefore denying services they otherwise offer the public, then that is not religious freedom. It is discrimination, and kind of just being a jerk. Our freedoms to be a jerk are threatened by Jesus who said don’t be a jerk! Love people you don’t like because of how much I love you! Jesus does not protect our religious freedom to be discriminatory and neither does the state.
27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?
Of course! I do it every day. I will however defer to Jesus who by example favored the oppressed over the oppressors. You cannot equate the bullying of Christians with the bullying of gays on this issue. 25% of gay homeless youth were kicked to the streets by parents on the day they came out. 40% of all homeless youth are gay. Gay youth are 4-6 times more likely to attempt suicide. Who are true oppressed? Who is the bigger bully?
28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?
That’s where the evangelical church has gotten this whole thing upside-down. It is consumed with behavior modification, or “sin management,” when it needs to be about loving God and loving others by building real community. Our job is tosupport each other in loving community and let people work things out with God through Christ. Many churches offer counseling and mentoring for straight couples—they could offer the same to LGBTQ couples. But a focus on “correction” is NOT Jesus’ focus for us, and it reveals a lack of trust in God. What would a church look like that insists on behavior modification? It would look they way it looks right now. Jesus was clear that is not our job. Christ is our mediator. He sent a Helper to lead us in all truth. What better thing do we think we need?
29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?
I fundamentally mistrust “church discipline.” The idea has been misused to punish those the church disagrees with and to abandon those who are in most need. It’s like an insurance company who finds a loophole so as not to have to pay the claim. Jesus calls the church to help those in need and instead, all too often, they find a loophole so they can abandon that person. Countless women in my large online moms group were abandoned by their longtime churches because they (the moms) simply supported their gay child. (The church leaders called that “church discipline.”)
That being said, if a gay couple decides to be part of a church with rules for behavior and membership, they should be held to the same standards as a heterosexual couple.
30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?
Christians really like to tell people what their sin is, but that is not our job. Our job is to focus on our own life, and love our neighbor and let God lead them. This is often put out there some sort of litmus test by people who don’t want Marriage Equality, but who really only want to condemn gay sex. This “standard” is not applied equally. I think it is to the church’s advantage to admit their bias.
31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?
The focus of the church should not be sin but on Christ. Focus on sin does not reduce sin; it increases it. Focus on Christ reduces sin. (especially when you realize that sin really is unbelief.) I think it would be lovely and reflective of Christ if church pastors were transparent about their own sin in a meaningful way, to give permission to the body to likewise be transparent. But the price is high in too many churches to be authentic. Focus on life in Christ and sin naturally goes down.
They will do what Jesus called them to do – Love God, love others, focus on their own life, and leave other people to God. They will focus on relationships.
32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?
Love is treating others as you want to be treated. (I borrowed that from Jesus and I can think of no better definition.) It includes the idea of showing someone overabundant kindness with no regard or even knowledge of their “sin” or lack thereof. (Think Good Samaritan.)
Perfect love casts out all fear. Love is putting yourself aside for someone else. God is love.
33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?
Luke 6:13. Luke10:25-37. This is a great primer for those who have confused love with behavior modification or punishment. And likely the same ones that you would: 1 Cor 13, Romans 13, and other.
34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?
Well, God’s great command was to love, and everything else falls under that, so we learn that by doing! The more we understand how loved we are, the more we love others. The more we love others, the more we understand how loved we are.
Romans 13 says… Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
That might be worth reading again.
35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?
Well of course! But love supersedes agreement! What a silly idea that love means having to agree on everything. Even sillier to think that love means discontinuing fellowship with someone I disagree with. What the heck is that? Manipulation… punishment… hubris… but not love. <3
36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?
This is a wonderful question, because everything has changed for me! My understanding of God’s love for all of us, of how simple (not easy but simple) the command is to love and let God handle the rest. I mean, seriously, Jesus said that if you love—God and others—everything else will fit under that! How beautiful and simple is that? I am free to love like a child loves without the ridiculous burden of trying to get other people to follow laws I think they should follow. This whole journey has been an explosion into loving God and loving others. How sweet of God to bring that depth to me in such a surprising way, by giving me two LGBTQ daughters!
37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?
I have become less committed to believing I have all the answers right or that the church does. Frankly, anyone with one eye open toward church history might likewise say, “Hm… some of the NON-NEGOTIABLES of the past were flat-out wrong. (Flat earth, burning witches, slavery, racism, etc.) We would be wise to exercise great humility in matters where God alone is not subject to stands that end in pratfall buffoonery such as the church has done over the centuries. (Burning the first Protestants at the stake? Really?) The trustworthiness of the Bible in praxis is only as good as our interpretation of it… which has proven over centuries to be pathetic. But my love for Christ, who saved me beyond the shadow of a doubt, has increased exponentially. He is where our faith should be, nowhere else.
38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?
Based on the details of your question, hopefully, none of them – as that is missing the point and heart of the Gospel. They are being directed to Jesus, the founder and finisher of our faith, and they are learning to love God and love others, the exact thing Jesus asked of us. The rest is all an outworking of that foundation, as led by the Spirit, as Jesus said it would be (“everything else will line up under those two commands).
39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?
More committed than I have ever been! To the marginalized church as Jesus was. To Jesus himself as the one through whom I love these beautiful marginalized people. To telling the truth about the scriptures and not allowing them to be used as a club. Yes, I am profoundly more committed.
40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?
Paul writes a beautiful description here of the power of the gospel, the earth-shattering good news of reconciliation between God and humanity through Christ! What a gift! I am more committed to that than ever, and I won’t let this be turned into idolatry on my watch. You see, Paul was entreating this church in Rome, whom he had never met, not to rely on their idols but to turn to the supernatural power of God toward humanity! It is idolatry itself to think we can pick out something we think we see in there and apply it as if he was talking to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters today (the purpose of this question). The height of idolatry! Look at Paul’s thoughts in Romans 16:17: “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles…”
Romans 8:35,37-39… “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Kevin, I do appreciate your attempt to learn more about this and encourage others to do so. Countless people who claim the name of Jesus are feeling a tugging to open their heart, open their box, and just listen to the Spirit.
Your questions can help many people see the deep theological discernment of a growing number of Christians who have engaged, both on their own and in community. Scripture, tradition, reason and experience have been great guides to many faithful folks. Please understand that we have been praying and thinking and studying and learning and listening for a long time – especially those of us who are parents of a gay child, and those in the gay community.
Scripture, experience, church history, and the still small voice of the Spirit have guided many faithful brothers and sisters in Christ who have indeed picked up rainbow flags to waive in celebration of same-sex couples who can now take part in the traditional institution of marriage that celebrates love, family and commitment.
Also… Captive virgins, polygamy and sex slaves: What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
Valerie Tarico, AlterNet VALERIE TARICO, ALTERNET
29 JUN 2015 AT 14:43 ET
Bible believers are beside themselves about the prospect that marriage norms and laws are changing, but let me tell you a secret about Bible believers that I know because I was one. Most don’t actually read their Bibles.
If they did, they would know that the biblical model of sex and marriage has little to do with the one they so loudly defend. Sex in the Bible includes rape, incest, master-slave sexual relations, captive virgins, and more. Of course, just because a story is told in the Bible doesn’t mean it is intended as a model for moral behavior. Does God forbid or command the behavior? Is it punished or rewarded? In the New Testament stories, does Jesus change the rules or leave them alone? By these criteria, the Bible not only describes many forms of sexual relationships (including sexually coercive relationships), it gives them the divine thumbs up.
Not One Man, One Woman
The God of the Bible explicitly endorses polygamy and sexual slavery and coerced marriage of young virgins along with monogamy. In fact, he endorses all three to the point of providing detailed regulations. Based on stories of sex and marriage that God rewards and appears to approve one might add incest to the mix of sexual contact that receives divine sanction.
New Testament Endorses Old Testament
Nowhere does the Bible say, “Don’t have sex with someone who doesn’t want to have sex with you.” Consent, in the Bible, is not a thing. Furthermore, none of the norms that are endorsed and regulated in the Old Testament law – polygamy, sexual slavery, coerced marriage of young girls—are revised, reversed, or condemned by Jesus. In fact, the writer of Matthew puts these words in the mouth of Jesus:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke or a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law [the Old Testament] until everything is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18)
The Law of which Jesus speaks is the Law of Moses, or the Torah, and anyone who claims the Bible as the perfect word of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God should have the decency to read the Torah carefully—and then keep going.
Polygamy. Polygamy is a norm in the Old Testament and accepted in the New Testament. Biblicalpolygamy.com has pages dedicated to 40 biblical figures, each of whom had multiple wives. The list includes patriarchs like Abraham and Isaac. King David, the first king of Israel may have limited himself to eight wives, but his son Solomon, reputed to be the wisest man who ever lived had 700 wives and 300 concubines! (1 Kings 11)
Sex Slaves. Concubines are sex slaves, and the Bible gives instructions on acquisition of several types of sex slaves, although the line between biblical marriage and sexual slavery is blurry. A Hebrew man might, for example, sell his daughter to another Hebrew, who then has certain obligations to her once she is used. For example, he can’t then sell her to a foreigner. Alternately a man might see a virgin war captive that he wants for himself.
War Booty. In the book of Numbers (31:18) God’s servant commands the Israelites to kill all of the used Midianite women who have been captured in war, and all of the boy children, but to keep all of the virgin girls for themselves. The Law of Moses spells out a purification ritual to prepare a captive virgin for life as a concubine. It requires her owner to shave her head and trim her nails and give her a month to mourn her parents before the first sex act (Deuteronomy 21:10-14). A Hebrew girl who is raped can be sold to her rapist for 50 shekels, or about $580 (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). He must then keep her as one of his wives for as long as she lives.
Brother’s Wife. A man might acquire multiple wives whether he wanted them or not if his brother died. In fact, if a brother dies with no children, it becomes a duty to impregnate his wife. In the book of Genesis, Onan is struck dead by God because he fails to fulfill this duty – preferring to spill his seed on the ground rather than providing offspring for his brother (Genesis 38:8-10). A New Testament story shows that the tradition has survived. Jesus is a rabbi, and a group of scholars called Sadducees try to test his knowledge of Hebrew Law by asking him this question:
Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” (Matthew 22:24-28). Jesus is too clever for them and points out that in Heaven, that place of perfect bliss, there is no marriage.
Having a brother act as a sperm donor isn’t the only biblical solution to lack of offspring. The patriarch Abraham is married to his half-sister Sarah, but the two are childless for the first 75 years or so of their marriage. Frustrated, Sarah finally says, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Her slave, Hagar, becomes pregnant, and then later Sarah does too and the story gets complicated (Genesis 16). But that doesn’t stop Abraham’s grandson Jacob from participating in a competition, in which his two wives repeatedly send in their slaves to get pregnant by him, each trying to get more sons than the other (Genesis 30:1-22).
Bible Believers or Simply Change-Averse?
These stories might be irrelevant to the question of biblical marriage were it not that Bible believers keep telling us that God punishes people when he dislikes their sexual behavior. He disliked the behavior of New Orleans gays so much, according to Pat Robertson, that he sent a hurricane to drown the whole city – kind of like Noah’s flood. And yet, according to the Bible story, both Abraham and Jacob were particularly beloved and blessed by God.
The point is that marriage has changed tremendously since the Iron Age when the Bible was written. For centuries, concubines and polygamy were debated by Christian leaders – accepted by some and rejected by others. The nuclear family model so prized by America’s fundamentalist Christians emerged from the interplay between Christianity and European cultures including the monogamous tradition of the Roman Empire. As humanity’s moral consciousness has evolved, coerced sex has become less acceptable even within marriage while intertribal and interracial marriage has grown in acceptance. Today even devout Bible believers oppose sexual slavery. Marriage, increasingly, is a commitment of love, freely given. Gay marriage is simply a part of this broader conversation, and opposition on the part of Bible believers has little to do with biblical monogamy.
Since many Christians haven’t read the whole Bible, most “Bible believers” are not, as they like to claim, actually Bible believers. Biblical literalists, even those who think themselves “nondenominational,” almost all follow some theological tradition that tells them which parts of the Bible to follow and how. Granted, sometimes even decent people do get sucked into a sort of text worship that I call bibliolatry, and Bible worship can make a person’s moral priorities as archaic and cruel as those of the Iron Age tribesmen who wrote the texts. (I once listened, horrified, while a sweet, elderly pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses rationalized the Old Testament slaughter of children with the same words Nazis used to justify the slaughter of Jewish babies.)
But many who call themselves Bible believers are simply, congenitally conservative – meaning change-resistant. What really concerns them is protecting the status quo, an ancient hierarchy with privileged majority-culture straight males at the top, which they justify by invoking ancient texts. Gay marriage will come, as will other reproductive rights, and these Bible believers will adapt to the change as they have others: reluctantly, slowly and with angry protests, but in the end accepting it, and perhaps even insisting that it was God’s will all along.
“The Bible clearly teaches, starting in the tenth chapter of Genesis and going all the way through, that God has put differences among people on the earth to keep the earth divided.” – Bob Jones III, defending Bob Jones University’s policy banning interracial dating/marriage. The policy was changed in 2000.
“People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. This fool…wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.” -Martin Luther in “Table Talk” on a heliocentric solar system.
“The evidence that there were both slaves and masters of slaves in churches founded and directed by the apostles, cannot be got rid of without resorting to methods of interpretation that will get rid of everything.” – Rev. Leonard Bacon, in defense of American slavery. (Christian ministers wrote nearly half of all defenses of slavery, often citing Scripture to make their case.)
“The Bible is the revealed will of God, and it declares the God-given sphere of woman. The Bible is, then, our authority for saying woman must content herself with this sphere…Who demand the ballot for woman? They are not the lovers of God, nor are they believers in Christ, as a class. There may be exceptions, but the majority prefer an infidel’s cheer to the favor of God and the love of the Christian community.” – Rev. Justin Dewey Fulton in his treatise against women’s suffrage.
“Wherever we have the races mixed up in large numbers, we have trouble….These religious liberals are the worst infidels in many ways in the country; and some of them are filling pulpits down South. They do not believe the Bible any longer; so it does not do any good to quote it to them. They have gone over to modernism, and they are leading the white people astray at the same time; and they are leading colored Christians astray. But every good, substantial, Bible-believing, intelligent orthodox Christian can read what the Word of God and know that what is happening in the South now is not of God.” - Bob Jones Sr., in his treatise against integration entitled, ‘Is Segregation Scriptural?’
Of course, for every Christian who appealed to Scripture to oppose abolition, integration, women’s suffrage, and the acceptance of a heliocentric solar system, there were Christians who appealed to Scripture to support those things too.
But these quotes should serve as a humbling reminder that rhetorical claims to the Bible’s clarity on a subject do not automatically make it so. One need not discount the inspiration and authority of Scripture to hold one’s interpretations of Scripture with an open hand.
It’s easy to look down our noses at the Christians who have come before us and discount them as unenlightened and uninformed. But to accept Galileo’s thesis, our 17th century forbearers would have had to reject 1600 years of traditional Christian interpretations of passages like Psalm 93:1, Ecclesiastes 1:5, and Joshua 10:12-14. And to accept the arguments of the abolitionist, our great-great-grandparents had to see beyond the “plain meaning” of proof texts like Ephesians 6:1-5, Colossians 3:18-25; 4:1, and I Timothy 6:1-2 and instead be compelled by the general sweep of Scripture toward justice and freedom . (I wrote more about this in my post, “Is abolition biblical?”)
We like to characterize the people in the quotes above as having used Scripture to their own advantage. But I find it both frightening and humbling to note that, often, the way we make the distinction between those who lovedScripture and those who used Scripture is hindsight.
So before you share that MLK quote on Facebook today, ask yourself: If your pastor told you that integration was “unbiblical” and MLK was a dangerous, anti-Christian communist, (which is what plenty of white pastors in the South did), which side would you have chosen? Would you have defied your own religious community to stand with MLK?
I wish I knew for sure what I would have done…but I don’t. I’m humbled, and a little frightened, by how often true justice is only recognized as such in hindsight.
From Susan cottrell:
It’s easier to say God never changes (repeated to the point of cliché), and pretend we can remain literal about the Bible, than to realize that Bible-believing Christians, all with Bible in hand, can disagree wildly on interpretation and principal. We must make moral decisions. I never said God changes. But let me ask you this: which God is yours? The one who approved of multiple wives (Exodus 21:10)? The one who allowed a man to sell his daughter as a bride (Exodus 22:16)? Or the one people claim requires marriage to be one man/one woman? Which God is yours? The one who gave us multiple laws about slavery (Lev. 25:44-46; Ex. 21:20-21)? Or the God we understand today who opposes slavery? I know this is hard compared to what you have learned in church. But our interpretation of God has changed radically over the history of humankind. This does not indict God but us as humans driven by self-interest, power and control. [We’re not under the Old Testament (old covenant), but we still have to reconcile vastly different pictures of God just between how God’s been shown in Exodus and how Jesus shows God to us.]
We must deal with a real world with real intelligence and not pretend we can follow the Bible literally or fully – no one ever has, and not for lack of trying. Take a close look at how literal and scripture-following the religious leaders around Jesus were, and how he called them a brood of vipers! (Matthew 23) To follow literally is an impossible task.
I would return your request back to you: don’t mold God into who you want Him to be to justify your beliefs and then pass this along to others who need to justify their beliefs about those they disagree with. The church reaction throughout history has been deadly: to women, children, Jews, slaves, varieties of ethnic groups, and the LGBTQ community. It is nothing like what we see in Jesus’ life and teachings. Remember that religious leaders viewed Jesus as disobedient to God! (Matt. 15 and Mark 7) If you view me the same, I am in good company. More atrocities have occurred throughout history in the name of Christianity than we can count.
If you were giving advice to a gay friend on LGBT issues… and there were two cases to be made both for affirmation and against… would you not be hesitant to give advice? Would your friend need not know all of the views… not just the one where he is thrown out of the kingdom of God and seemingly in hell?
Truth be told… would’t your best an honest answer be: “The views are too conflicting. I simply do not know.”
WOULD NOT THESE FACTORS COME INTO PLAY?
A) You would be working against the Great Commission for everyone you repelled. These people likely would be lost forever. Unsaved. Hell.
B) What kind of tree bears bad fruit to the extent that gay teens are killing themslves? These people likely would be lost forever. Unsaved. Hell.
C) Does a “good tree” export gay hate to other countries where gays are jailed or killed?
No one can look and see what is going on and remotely claim that there are any good trees bearing good fruit. It has been an unmitigated disaster.
Four Basic Views
Most Christians I have talked to fall into one of four groups regarding these verses, depending on how they address two questions. The first we’ve named directly at several points already: Do the passages refer to anything like the phenomena of life-long, monogamous or mutually consensual same-gendered relationships that we know of today? (It’s worth noting that the word “homosexual” was not present in the ancient world but was instead invented in the 19th century.) The second issue we’ve only alluded to: Whether or not the passages refer to the phenomenon we are describing today, are we bound to ethical determinations made by persons living in vastly different cultures and times and whose understanding of the world and of God’s activity was shaped and limited by their own cultural viewpoints.
Depending on how you answer those two critical questions, you will likely fall into one of our groups.
1. The passages in question refer to homosexual practice in all times and cultures and so universally prohibit such practice.
2. The passages do not refer to homosexuality as we know it today and so cannot be seen as prohibiting it. Other passages therefore need to inform our discussions about sexuality in general and homosexual relationships in particular.
3. The passages may or may not refer to homosexuality as we know it, but they — and the larger witness of Scripture — imply a view of nature and creation that supports sexual relationship and union only between man and woman, and so homosexual practice is prohibited.
4. The passages may or may not refer to homosexuality as we know it, but they — and all of Scripture — are conditioned by the cultural and historical realities of the authors and so offer an incomplete and insufficient understanding of creation and nature and so cannot be used to prohibit homosexual practice today. Rather, one needs to read the larger biblical witness to discern God’s hopes for caring, mutually supportive relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual.
As is often the case, one’s larger theological or ideological commitments greatly influence how one reads these seven verses. The first and third positions, for instance, reflect a more conservative view and make it difficult to find anything but condemnation in the Bible for homosexual practice. The second and forth, in contrast, invite a more progressive interpretation of the verses in common and open the way to supporting homosexual relationships as several major mainline church bodies have done.
For those Christians who look to the Bible for moral guidance, two additional questions may be worth considering. First, do you see yourself represented fairly in one of the four groups above? Second, can you imagine that someone holding one of the other three positions is also a faithful Christian who loves God and neighbor and searches the Scripture for guidance in these matters, even if that difference puts you at odds on this matter? How professing Christians answer these questions will greatly determine future discourse on these matters and, more importantly, how they interact with persons who are gay or lesbian.
We cannot have double standards on who can threaten who. In Georgia…
crazed Pastor posts sign saying being gay is a “death worthy” crime HERE
SIGN SAYS: “HOMOSEXUALITY IS A DEATH WORTHY CRIME”
This man walks free
Meanwhile… this Lady (below) is jailed. What she said is wrong (threatened whire cops)… but so is what this bigoted Minister said. If I told you that something about you was “death worthy”… how can that not be a threat?
It is a sad day at Liberty University. There is a recognition that hate will be defeated Hate is an important element at Liberty. It provides job security for hate groupslike Liberty Counsel. No hate. No jobs. See the characters below.
Gays (or “Homosexuals” as Liberty refers to them) will be protected (from “religious freedom”) in Indiana… and Arkansas… and likely Georgia.
The cult that is called Liberty recently forced students to listen to the bigoted like Ted Cruz… or be fined ten dollars. No free will. Lots of mind control.
Liberty’s worst fears have come true. Christians who read the Bible correctly spoken. People of compassion have also spoken. It is a worst case scenario for Liberty. Heaven Forbid… gays will be treated as people! Imagine that. Perhaps Liberty Counsel will find a new group to hate.
ABC’s for BIGOTS
Exactly which of these sanctioned marriages is considered a biblical marriage?