A great many Christians are dismayed with the recent SCOTUS decisions regarding gay marriage. Their dismay is no surprise to anyone. What doesn’t seem as clearly understood is exactly why. While same-sex marriage advocates might like to chalk it up to simple intolerance, and opponents, to a pure concern for moral righteousness, the situation seems a bit more complex.
Scrolling through my Facebook feed, Twitter threads, reading various pieces on the subject, and processing the reactions of friends and family, I’ve noticed four main recurring themes, although there are surely more, in Christian concern about the decisions. Two are legitimate and two ought to be repented of. It seems constructive, both for understanding dialogue and Christian growth, to briefly review them.
You can read the 4 reasons HERE at Christ and Pop Culture.
This blog, brought a heaviness to my heart because of the words you chose. I am disappointed that you parroted back to the evangelical community the talking points and phrases from others who are compelled to denounce same-sex marriage and the “perils thereof”. Asking evangelicals to repent their behavior and using the word “ick” to describe that behavior is hardly non-biased (whether or not you, personally, say it out loud or just think it and decided to use it instead of another word in a description). That is what convinced me that this blog was hardly Spirit inspired/ motivated, although well-intended. You may not realize just how very hurtful your comments—yours personally, or the words of others— affected others today, well intended nor not, which is why I am responding.
Rhetoric matters, and sometimes words cloud the message. You nor I have the “responsibility or right” to respond/ model as a pastor, counselor or lay person with anything other than the love of God and acceptance that it is the Holy Spirit that places the desire to form real companionship and understanding with Christ— God does not make mistakes.
I don’t know you but from your blogs, Derek. I hold no delusion that you are alone in believing that homosexuality is a sin. Whether you base your belief upon what you were taught, how you interpret the bible, your cultural background, or a myriad of other reasons, the overtones in this piece inferred an “explanation of inclusion”, at least partially reflecting a bias one way or another. Your blog, your right… but I humbly ask you to consider this:
You and many others may not be not old enough to remember the sermons that were literally attacking different portions in society, citing cataclysmic biblical truths and scholarly prophesy of marrying outside of religion, race or creed, commanding all to “love the sinner but not the behavior”, convince and convert, while treating good people (including children of such unions) like lepers in the streets, all in the name of God. The message was clear, the world was going to “hell in a hand-basket” as the various races became mixed, religions muddied and moderate changes made to former long-held believes. Some still believe that this “moral degeneration” was the very beginning of the end, explaining all the worlds woes an d difficulties of today. How convenient, depending on your side of the argument. How embarrassing, as the truth unfolds.
You may never have the privilege of treating or consoling a patient dying of a aids-related disease, their loving same-sex partner of 40yrs. relegated to the waiting room while the family members are spouting homophobic epitaphs and reading bible verses at the dying’s bedside.
Maybe you’ve never counseled a youth or young adult who has been mercilessly bullied, publically shamed, or even been ostracized from family and the religious community because he or she feels that the very God of compassion that we love and preach has singled them out, given them and people like them the aberrant intense feelings and desires they have may/may not have acted upon yet, but cannot control or erase. There is proof that homosexuality is not merely a lifestyle choice as some Christians were taught. Asking a person to choose homosexuality or holiness (re:Exodus Int.) is hardly a reason to encourage gays to “infiltrate and corrupt” Christianity or any religion that isn’t based on culture practice but on biblical truth. Homosexuals have always been on earth whether they were in/out of the closet. However, if your personal witness convinces me that God does indeed make mistakes, maybe even suicide is a solution after all. Hardly the message we want to send.
I will readily admit that there are “radicals”, non-educated and simply frustrated, ignorant folk, gay and straight, who spout gay rights in the most crudest of terms. These people deserve our prayers for their sinful behavior, too. Their words hurt more than they help, and they need to be called out.
However, my personal “legitimate feeling” is that no truly God-fearing, Holy Spirit acknowledging, practicing, promoting Christian of any denomination, political party or educational background need worry that “gay marriage and gay rights might be pitted against the religious liberties of any religion”.
Any change is painful, and some people will never learn from their mistakes previously made. Why do millions of biblical scholars disagree and interpret the bible differently on many issues, including homosexuality? Why does Alec Baldwin get a pass for racist comments recently made, when Paula Dean gets crucified for comments made 30 years ago? As humans, as Christians, we are inconsistent at best, but pastors, priests, spiritual counselors and Christian writers are held to a higher standard.
From those who discussed your blog with me today, I am asked to remind you and your target audience (of which I belong) that there are also MANY, many spirit-moved, bible-loving Christian gay people out there, too!
I’m sorry to hear about your dismay. I’ve always appreciated your responses and comments here on my little blog. I do try to be careful with my words and yes, submit them to the Spirit (as well as my human editors.) I fully own that my sin and finiteness get in the way sometimes. I think I’d like to clarify a few things, though:
1. “Ick” was not a description of my own sentiments or feelings about homosexual behavior, but simply a name for the nameless feeling that some people feel when describing the sexual behavior they are unfamiliar with. My point was that being uncomfortable with something is not enough to found a political moral stance on. I wasn’t telling people to feel “ick” about it. I was noting that some people simply do and that that isn’t a good reason for anything.
2. Simply asserting that “God doesn’t make mistakes” is, to be honest with you, an inadequate and muddled response to the issue of homosexuality. It fails to account for the reality of sin, the fall, distorted desires, and the fact that Jesus came to save us from all sorts of brokenness. There are a number of character-traits that I could attribute to God’s hand, but that the Scriptures describe as sinful. Does that mean God is mistaken? No, that means I am fallen just like everybody else and in need of redemption just like everybody else. No, this doesn’t mean I’m advocating some simple idea that you can pray the gay away or something. It does mean I think it’s a bit more complicated than “Either God made me this way and it’s fine” or “I should go kill myself.” I suggest Wesley Hill’s fine book, as a Christian with same-sex attraction who holds to a traditional position on same-sex relationships. His reflections are poignant and full of biblical wisdom.
3. As for the rest of it: most of what you’ve written isn’t an argument for a position, but long appeal to emotion based on experiences I may or may not have had, cobbled together with assumptions about my theology of sin, homosexuality in particular, level of scholarly knowledge about the issues, and a bad appeal to interracial marriage as a historical precedent. I don’t know what I’m supposed to with that, or how that actually changes anything about the points I’ve made about the understandable concern many Christians have about gay marriage legislation.
4. Your assertion that “However, my personal “legitimate feeling” is that no truly God-fearing, Holy Spirit acknowledging, practicing, promoting Christian of any denomination, political party or educational background need worry that “gay marriage and gay rights might be pitted against the religious liberties of any religion” is sadly belied by the facts on the ground. I mean, its fine for you to think that, but the cases are out there and mounting. If you want to go ahead and presume that these people whose religious liberties are being threatened aren’t God-fearing, Holy-Spirit acknowledging, etc. I would just note that they hold the beliefs that nearly 2000 years worth of their spiritual forefathers and mothers have.
And finally, yes, I know that there are Christians out there with same-sex attraction who love Jesus and also think it’s okay to act on those desires. Believe me, I’m not questioning their salvation. I’m not questioning their love for Jesus. I’m sure there’s a great deal of wisdom I could gain from them in many areas. I do however disagree with them on that particular issue according to Scripture and the nearly unbroken tradition of the Church up until about 40 years ago, but that wasn’t really the point of the article. I don’t even think I mentioned them at all in this article. The point was to explain that opposition to the recent court rulings is coming from a number of places, some legitimate and some illegitimate. You think I should have phrased one better. That could be true. You disagree with another, fine.
I realize my tone might not be as charitable as I would hope. Please do know that I write this with as much patience and good spirit as I can. Please forgive whatever sin has entered into it.
Wow, and a big Mea Culpa, Derek…I sincerely beg your forgiveness for my long-winded, emotional plea on your blog. I prefer your respect to your patience, and I am truly sorry for clearly upsetting you. Responding to any post when tired or hungry is never a good idea! However, it appears you took my remarks as an argument intended to be disrespectful, positional and directed at you personally –that is/was not my intent. I found no “sin of snark” in your response, but then, I am not particularly thin-skinned and wasn’t looking, my friend.
Rhetoric was the catalyst for my response. How we preach, teach and counsel can be as important as what we say—an entire Bible Study literally combusted this morning, focusing on the word “ick”. We could not imagine the Holy Spirit encouraging you to say those words— words that may seem harmless to those who do not feel the pain and humiliation day in and day out in a context that highlights inferiority and insignificance. Your blog highlighted what many Christians are saying, I get it. I did not mean to minimize the fact that some Christians are scared and feel that their liberties are being diminished because of the SCOTUS ruling. I personally just find it difficult to understand how anyone, living in the Spirit, can prioritize hypotheticals and show fear while not acknowledging God’s inclusion of all of His creation and their equality in His Kingdom.
I do honestly respect (and envy) your theology education and biblical knowledge. My education is different (nursing, midwifery and counseling), but I do have intellect and a gift of discernment, Praise God. I was clearly responding on behalf of the disenfranchised group that I minister to. I am not argumentative by nature, but I am known to be passionate about the power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe it is sinful to be impatient with those who claim wisdom and clarity borrowed from others (conflicting interpretations by authors and scholars) while also respecting their differences of opinions. Of course “God does not make mistakes” is simplistic, but certainly portrays the biblical truth that acceptance and redemption comes directly from God alone, not from someone or something else.
No one in the Bible Study group gleaned from your blog that you were specifically writing about the SCOTUS decree, not without interjecting a personal bias. Truly, I wanted so badly to not reply to the blog, or say simply “let’s agree to disagree”. My views of homosexuality are much more than just a mere political/moral stance solely “because of my experience”, as you suggest. You might believe homosexuality is a sin because of your biblical interpretation. I personally do not see homosexuality as brokenness or deviant, therefore sinful. I am less clear about the “variety” of biblical discernment and motives of respected theologians. I have spoken to biblical and religious scholars around the world (specifically about homosexuality), and frankly, I am not at all conflicted or in doubt about my beliefs or discernment.
If any of my snarkiness crept through this response, please accept my sincere apology. This human affliction some of us are cursed with keeps us humble, at the very least. It was never my intent to incite and I hope I can come back. Blessings.