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Newsweek Article on Gay Marriage...Some Thoughts

Think Christianly: Newsweek Article on Gay Marriage...Some Thoughts

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Newsweek Article on Gay Marriage...Some Thoughts

If you have been in your local bookstore recently, you will have noticed that Newsweek is exploring why traditional Christians are against Gay marriage and also what the Bible really says on the issue.

Here is the article - Our Mutual Joy: Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.

A couple of things to notice at the outset along with a few disclaimers.
  1. The Christian view of sin involves everyone--not just a group of 'really bad' people. It is shockingly egalitarian in this regard. What this means is that God does not 'really dislike' homosexuality, but thinks that heterosexual adultery is a little better because it is at least 'normal.' All people are broken and in need of restoration--we just express our brokenness differently. That is why we need a savior and teacher named Jesus. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.
  2. When interpreting the Bible, context is crucial. Unfortunately, the context of the passages cited in the Newsweek article were not developed. The Bible, largely narrative, describes many events and practices that God does not endorse. For example, Israel is not the ideal community if God could start from scratch without sin, dysfunction , rebellion, etc. Israel was a group of people who were broken, and God chose to start the work of restoration through them. So it is not surprising to see Abraham, a fallen broken person like the rest of us, blow it and have a lack of faith in God's promise to provide a son and thus sleep with a servant. The point is that God in his grace and mercy can even work through that ti bring about his purposes. So, in this conversation it is critical to understand the context of a passage, the cultural setting, and remember that God is working with a broken people whom he has give significant moral freedom to.
  3. Christians are not against gays. Followers of Christ are called to love all people in various states brokenness, because God loves them. It is not an us verses them. But love does not entail that we affirm our own or everyone Else's desires. Love is willing the other's highest good. And if Scripture is true, then in the area of sexuality, God designed it to flourish under certain conditions. Truth does not evaporate, but rather informs love.
  4. We need to have this conversation in a civil manner. How we have the conversation matters.
With that said, I want to highlight two blogs that are interacting with this issue in a good way.

The first is Darrell Bock's blog here and here.
also Stand to Reason, here. Listen to Podcast on it here.

from STR (below):

Interesting that the news weekly has gone into the theology business of biblical interpretation instead of simply reporting on what religious people believe and have done. In order to respond to the case Miller lays out, you have to first reconstruct the argument.

The argument in the story goes like this:

1. Opponents of same-sex marriage argue that we should follow the Bible’s definition of marriage.
2. But there is no clear biblical definition of marriage because variations abound in Scripture. Therefore, this argument fails.
3. The real reason religious conservatives are against same-sex marriage is they oppose homosexuality, a position they also think is biblical. But this is highly dubious. Biblical verses against homosexuality have probably been misunderstood or have been misapplied in our more modern, enlightened era.
4. However, there is an enduring principle in the Bible that can come to our aid to properly inform Bible believers on the right response to the question of same-sex marriage: the principle of love, inclusion, and community as family.
5. Therefore, the proper biblical response to same-sex marriage is to support it, because this would be consistent with love, inclusion, and expanding the definition of family to include more in our community.

There are three steps of critical thinking to evaluate the case Newsweek offers. Ask:
1. What do they want you to believe?

2. What are the reasons they offer in support of this idea they want you to believe?
3. Are the reasons good ones?

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Blogger Barry said...

Does STR go into more detail on the verses that the Newsweek article highlighted? I have questions about those exact same verses and I think a lot of people do. It would be interesting to see a study on the actual wording of those verses and others like it in scripture. Because, as far as I can tell, the bible does not bear out that homosexuality is wrong. It has strong words on sexual immorality but it is open to interpretation and tough to know what the bible is saying on this subject.
I'll read those other blog links you posted to see if they say more about the actual verses.
Good, if controversial, topic. It does appear that this is the new social dilemma the church is faced with.

December 17, 2008 at 7:01 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Morrow said...

Hello Barry. Thanks for weighing in.

I am curious about one of your statements:

"Because, as far as I can tell, the bible does not bear out that homosexuality is wrong"

So my question is how do you understand:

Lev. 18:22-23: 20:13

1 Cor 6:9-11

Especially Romans 1:18-32

there are others, but read those and give me your interpretation of them, walk me through the particulars and what is unclear about them.

I will weigh in, in future posts on the passages too.

This is an important topic, but Christians need to do some serious study and work here. The cultural winds are obviously blowing in a certain direction, but we need to make sure that we are taking the Bible seriously, even if it leads in the unpopular direction.

December 17, 2008 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

First off, with a few of these verses I have read articles that claim that the original meaning of some of these hebrew or greek words was "prostitute" or "male prostitute", and that they were not specifically mentioning homosexuality itself but the act of prostitution and promiscuity. However, I don't know how true any of that is. All I know is that I have never heard anyone refute it so I would be interested in hearing that argument.
Second, there are a lot of laws and commands in Leviticus that we don't obey. Should we not obey all of them instead of picking and choosing? For example, chapter 20 verse 13 that you mentioned says "they shall surely be put to death", they being homosexuals. If homosexuality merits such punishment then should we not follow the word of God in not only condemning it, but punishing it as well?
Leviticus also talks about burnt offerings and sacrifices. What about obeying those? And what about chapter 12's purification of women? What about 24:14 where a man is stoned for blasphemy? Do we still go by the command, "an eye for an eye" in verse 20?
I have trouble seeing how we are supposed to follow one verse but not another. I'm not trying to be a jerk about this, I would really like an explanation for it because it confuses me.
For 1 Corinthians, I am not sure which version you are using but my KJV says only "effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind" (verse 9). Other versions have "male prostitutes nor homsexuals" (NIV) and another "effeminate, nor homosexuals" (NASB). As I understand it, "homosexual" is a new word. Which doesn't mean that the description isn't there, I'm just wondering if you know what the actual wording is.
As for the Romans excerpt, I don't have a good explanation for it. I'm not trying to defend the statement that the bible doesn't have anything to say about homosexuality but if I were this scripture would be hard to deal with. There are a few things I could point out though, concerning the ideology of Paul.
In Corinthians chapter 11, Paul mentions that women have to have their heads covered in prayer. 1 Timothy 2: 11-15 talks about women learning in silence, submitting to authority, and never teaching. Neither of these verses are things we seem to follow well. We don't cover women's heads and we don't make our women sit silently in church. It appears to me that our theology involves too much picking and choosing and I mention these verses because I wonder if we have done the same with homosexuality.
Those are my thoughts at the moment, but I am sure they are not entirely new to you.

December 18, 2008 at 12:30 AM  

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