A pastor from within my former denomination tagged me in a Facebook post. My assumption is that he genuinely wanted answers to these questions from someone who was "cut from the same cloth," so to speak. I also believe these answers will be helpful for those of you who also question how and/or if Christians can wave rainbow flags. Some of my answers are a bit sarcastic - but I really feel some of the questions are absurd. You can read the original article here.
- How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?
From the moment I received a text message from my mother alerting me to the ruling by the SCOTUS. I have looked forward to the day the love I have could be celebrated along side the love of others for well over a decade.
2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not covet," and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. - Romans 13:8-10
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26-29
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. - 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, 'Know the Lord,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more." - Hebrews 8:10-12
Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others-and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it." - Matthew 19:11-12
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?
I don't see a positive case for sexual activity between opposite sex partners. Scripture is horribly male centric. Wives were for legitimate heirs, concubines were for sexual enjoyment. The Bible is not book on sexual relations, it is a book recording God's covenant journey with humanity. Jesus is the summation and explanation - He said to loves others the way He did.
I would add that it is impossible to make a positive case from Scripture forbidding slavery, or promoting interracial marriage…or permitting travel to the moon.
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?
David seemed to have an amazing relationship with Jonathan. While I do not teach that their relationship was romantic, it certainly could have been. Further, it demonstrates how true love is not confined to gender roles or identity.
I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women.- 2 Samuel 1:26
Let's also keep in mind Paul's teaching against marriage. He was single, as far as we know, as was Jesus. The only difference between same gender couples, and complimentary gender couples is the possibility of procreation. Same gender couples require assistance - as do infertile complimentary gender couples. Christ and the church never created offspring so the point, as I can see, is irrelevant.
5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?
ABSOLUTELY! Without question. IN Matthew 19, Jesus is asked to heal the centurion's servant. We don't grasp the importance of this issue for GLBT people based on the English translation, however, the Greek word used in Matthew's account to refer to the servant of the centurion is pais. Pais could mean "son or boy;" it could mean "servant," or it could mean a particular type of servant - one who was "his master's male lover."
How can we determine which meaning the word holds in this story? If we look at the word the centurion uses for other servants we will see the distinction. The word doulos is used of other servants, but when speaking of the one he is asking Jesus to heal, he uses only pais. Again, the clear implication is that the sick man was no ordinary slave. And when pais was used to describe a servant who was not an ordinary slave, it meant only one thing - a slave who was the master's male lover. Also consider the psychology behind it. Why would the centurion humble himself and beg Jesus for a miracle for a mere servant? He likely wouldn't, which further solidifies the fact this servant was actually his male lover.
6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?
By asserting a man leaves his parents for his wife, Jesus is not defining marriage; He is answering a question about divorce. Polygamy was common practice, yet He did not specify ONLY one man and one woman. Not that I am promoting polygamy, however, Biblically, there is an argument for its legality.
If we want to look at true Bible marriage, let's go to what it really is. Arranged marriage. Women are property of their fathers, then sold to their husband. As long as a man can afford the woman, he can have her.
7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?
8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful "exchange" Paul highlights in Romans 1?
Context is key. The word translated "exchange(d)" is literally change. These were not homosexuals, these were heterosexuals engaged in homosexual acts as idolatry. Major difference.
No. I'm pretty certain we can all find ourselves in one of the many vices listed in those passages. Revelation does not mention homosexuality - the assumption in this question is the homosexuality is immoral, which I do not believe - 1 Corinthians includes a word that the writer practically invented. There were other words in common use for same gender sexual relations, but those words were not used. So, sexual immorality does not include homosexuality, and sexual immortality will not keep one "out of heaven." Did Jesus win, or nah?
I think the idea of getting "in to heaven" needs to be addressed and I will do so in a future blog.
10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?
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?
I think to say the church has near universal disapproval of same gender sexual activity is a stretch. There are historic accounts of church sanctioned same gender marriages captured in art and writings.
Further, the church has a long history against women in leadership, racial equality, and the like. It would be foolish to simply accept what has always been because it has been. Did you hear about that moon landing?
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?
The Bible is a culturally conditioned document. This question is bordering on absurdity. The reason I can embrace same gender unions is I have an understanding of historical context and word origins of the passages that have been used against them.
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?
No. I believe that they have grown in consciousness as they have lived. We all should aspire to have the courage to change our views and positions. I do not believe the same things I believed when I was 18. I hope that my consciousness continues to expand and I think different at 80 than I do today.
14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?
Of course, assuming their mother and father are a present and healthy influence.
15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?
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?
In a perfect world everyone would have not just "a" mom and dad, but their mom and dad. The church and state should seek to place children in loving and nurturing environments where they will be properly cared for and developed. This can happen with same gender parents, and single parents. Let's not pretend most African American kids have a dad, because they don't. Let's also not pretend that same gender parents don't have any complimentary gender friend or family. For example, my mother will be heavily involved in my future children's lives… as will my female friends.
17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult's emotional and sexual fulfillment?
What is the end purpose of marriage? If it is solving the problem that "it is not good for man to be alone" then how is that not accomplished in same gender relationships? If the questing is attempting to say children are the end purpose of marriage, then we ought to start the campaign to legislate against senior citizens tying the knot.
18. How would you define marriage?
1. A combination or mixture of two or more elements.
2. A socially or ritually recognized union or legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws.
19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?
It depends on how "close family members" is defined. Cousins? Perhaps. Siblings? It happens. Where did Adam and Eve's kids get spouses?
I don't know what legal basis we have for prohibiting it.
20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?
There is no Biblical basis to limit marriage to only two people; however, for the sake of our society it is a good idea.
21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?
As already stated in multiple questions, there is not a Biblical basis for it. It is simply a matter of social conscience.
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?
Anyone of legal age should be able to marry. Not every relationship is marriage. Marriage is the highest level of commitment. Another absurd question.
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?
No. On the same basis that those who don't believe in the mixing of races, or the equality of women should not be allowed to "exercise" their beliefs.
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?
I would covet the opportunity to speak TO them. Where were these Christians when the divorce rate was rising to over 50%? Jesus definitely spoke about divorce.
27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?
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?
My church already offers counseling. We recommend ALL couples come in for healthy marriage tune-ups. We also mandate premarital counseling before we will perform a marriage ceremony.
29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?
If the church disciplines straight couples, sure.
30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?
Yes. Thankfully, God doesn't remember our sins or count them against us.
31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?
I don't think a "prophetic" utterance is required. When we teach people to love, those other vices fall off. Love does not harm to a neighbor, remember?
32. If "love wins," how would you define love?
See 1 Corinthians 13. ( also 1 John 4 - God is love.)
33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?
1 Corinthians 13
34. How should obedience to God's commands shape our understanding of love?
We should lay down our lives for our friends and do good to our enemies. Above this, we should jettison the notion of "us versus them" and recognize we are all one.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. - John 15:12
And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. - 1 John 3:23
35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?
Absolutely. However, disagreement based on ignorance is not acceptable. Further, to legislate based on disagreement is not loving.
36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?
What hasn't changed? That's a topic for another blog.
In summary, I now see how loved and accepted ALL humanity is. I understand that God is not counting sin against us. I also understand that God is not a Christian - that was a big one.
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?
We need to rethink our approach to evangelism. We need to let the world know that they are ALREADY reconciled to God. We also need to reject penal substitutionary atonement; the idea the Bible is perfect (it is perfect in pointing us to Jesus, but it's not deity itself); and the idea of evangelizing the lost - we should be making disciples which is only possible through relationship (follow Jesus' example - His church had 12 members).
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?
I really don't like this question. Warning sinners of judgment is why sinners are running from the church. Your Christ I like, your Christians, not so much. Freedom Life Grace Church welcomes all people, so I highly recommend it.
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?
Less committed, more connected.
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?
Specifically, idolatry. He tells us throughout the rest of the book his thoughts. Let's not stop at the first chapter. Love is the fulfillment of the law. Orientation exists without action - of course, as previously stated, the Scripture does not speak about same gender loving people, but rather, those who "although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles."
I encourage you to watch the message below. Every part of the Body of Christ is important and needed - even the LGBT parts.