Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gay Marriage

It’s a difficult time for the church as a whole, all denominations, all places, as we grapple with the issue of gay marriage. Well spoken in a guest commentary by Pastor Jim Somerville of First Baptist Church in Washington, DC, congregations are filled with people from a variety of life-experiences, with different outlooks on many things, homosexuality and gay marriage chief among them. I've also written about this topic long ago from a slightly younger viewpoint.

There are things I don’t speak of in my youth group, that probably need to be said. Youth today have quite a different outlook on gays – much more accepting for the most part, with straight guys still put off by it as I was, but in general a turn towards acceptance is being seen. The worry is what will happen to churches as they grapple with this issue now?

I am well aware of the passages in the Bible that speak against homosexuality and lesbianism, Old Testament and New, of being put to death for such an act, and the call by the apostle Paul against homosexuals in the early church. This may be a line you don’t want to cross, but I’m wondering how much of the Bible is God’s Word, and how much of it is written with the hand of man.

Homosexuality is not a choice. For some, perhaps, but from those that I’ve spoken to at any length about their experience (and that would be a total of two – one male, one female) they were aware at a very early age that they were different. There is fair evidence that homosexuality is a genetic trait which for me means it is but one of the many variations of God’s design. If this predisposition is part of God’s design for some of us, then why would God call for gays to be killed, as is written in Leviticus 20:13?

Here’s a sick argument: If it was God who told Moses to write that homosexuals should be killed, does that mean God wanted to wipe some error He made off the face of the Earth, deleting it from the gene pool? Isn’t God perfect, though? Given God’s perfection, would He create some of us knowing at the time that he would ask to have them killed at a later date? That isn’t the loving God I know. Is it possible that Moses was a straight guy (probably) that was repulsed at homosexuality and he wrote those laws from his own mind? I realize I am way out of bounds for many here, but I can’t align the design of homosexuality at the genetic level, which means by God’s hand, and the desire by God to kill these people, His children, too.

I’m as lustful a guy as there is. Have been from around age 5, probably earlier. Reading the Augsburg Confession I had to look up the word “concupiscent” which is part of the definition of original sin. It means “lustful,” of course. As a photographer in Hollywood as the ‘70’s rolled into the ‘80’s, I’ll admit to many of the sins one would expect, with women and drink chief among them, but never once in my life has the idea of man touching man done anything but gross me out. Funny as it may or may not seem, I’ve been told that to gays straight sex is equally repugnant. That said, from my own personal experience and conversations, homosexuality is not an extension of lust but a different desire at the base level.

Why are we wired so differently? I have no idea.

I have long supported civil unions giving committed gays the same rights as married couples. It’s fair, that’s all. Blessing those unions with the term “marriage” doesn’t overstep any bounds for me, but my sense is it will for many at my church, especially the older members. We are ELCA and in California, so it will be on our doorstep sooner than we want to consider, but consider we must. I think it certain that some churches will more openly embrace this issue, some will do so quietly, and some will fight it tooth and nail. Such is the nature of the church, a place full of sinners seeking redemption but consistently able to castigate others. May we turn away from that behavior!

My prayer is that we find a way to remain harmonious, a church of people from a variety of backgrounds but an appreciation for each other that transcends these differences, that recognizes that none of us are without sin, that no sin is greater than any other, and that by the grace of God we all move forward in this amazing creation of His, all His children together as one in Christ.

As for whether homosexuality is sin – I don’t know, it isn’t my issue, and if it’s my neighbor’s issue may they find peace in the Lord.

As for my considering the source of some of the Bible's passages, I realize that is one very slippery slope. I do recognize that a few passages were added long after the original books were written, as in Jesus forgiving the adulterous woman which is said to have been written perhaps 300-400 years after the resurrection of Christ. I'm uncertain what to make of that, but I have no issues with my faith in God, in Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit. I do lack faith in mankind, tho. We're a selfish bunch if ever I've seen one.


Anonymous playtah said...

Christian Democrat -

What a great post! It is very brave of you to tackle this issue in your blog, especially since it seems to be so divisive to many people. I like the way you addressed issues of genetics, Biblical authority, and acceptance, as I have thought through many of these issues myself and tend to agree with your analysis!

I wish more people were as thoughtful and willing to engage these topics as you are.

Great post, again!

5/23/2008 9:33 AM  
Blogger Bookworm aka me said...

Another very good post. Makes me remember why I love reading here.

5/30/2008 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Pappyron said...

I enjoyed reading your post with the exception of its being timid with respect to the validity of God's Word. I have often heard the argument that The Holy Bible can be erroneous because it was written by the hand of man. That gives Satan the perfect wedge to confuse mankind about what exactly God means in this book. Each person who calls themselves a follower of Christ should pray, in the Name of Jesus, and commune with God asking for His guidance in the interpretation of His Word. After this encounter with the Father, each and every Christian should find themselves with a new faith in the Word of God as written in the Holy Bible. My faith has shown me that every single word was placed divinely by God through the hand of man. I've said all of this to say only that GAY MARRIAGE is sin. The Bible says it is and God never changes. He did, however, send us His Son to die for all of our sins, and homosexuality is not excluded. Jesus paid the price to get us, each and everyone, into Heaven, as long as we accept Him and take Him as our Saviour. Upon true salvation, each sinner can follow the Holy Spirit as it leads, or continue to falter in worldly lifestyles. We still have a God given freewill. The choice is ours but true freedom comes with following Jesus.

In the Name of Jesus

Pappyron said that....

6/25/2008 12:34 PM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Pappyron -

I value your understanding as strongly as I value my own and don't want to besmirch it in any way.

That said, I will admit to a struggle with thinking the Bible perfect. I am, just as you noted, aware of the hand of man in giving us the Word of God. I am dealing with this struggle by talking with my pastors about this and will come to a firmer conclusion sometime in the future.

The ELCA, of which I am a member, sees the Bible as the "cradle of Christ" and as such, perhaps imperfect. Yes, it is a very slippery slope to say those words, I know.

At this point I only see perfection in Jesus Christ.

6/25/2008 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Libertarian83 said...

I feel the problem lies in how we read the scripture. We do not look at the historical and cultural context. For example, most Christians grow up thinking that Jesus was some long haired hippy with a lot of new ideas. In actuality, he was a rabbi and most likely a Pharisee (which is why he was so hard on them). There are minor errors in the scripture, but when you understand that Jews kept an oral tradition far better then most written word, that explains alot. Also, in the New and Old books it was not unlike the scholars/writers to add notes or embelish to make a point. Does that make it imperfect? I'm not sure. All I know is that if Jesus was a rabbi (whose parable mirror famous rabbis of the time), a jew, and one who followed the Father, than I must as well. I disagree with the homosexual lifestyle but I believe that they should have the same rights as I do; not "special" rights, the SAME rights. Too often politicians and liberators give special treatment to minorities. They forget that the ultimate minority is the individual, NOT a group. We shouldn't focus on Christians, Gays, Muslims, Jews, or whatever. We should focus on the individual no matter who they are.

I know I'm rambling, so I'll stop now. : )

7/20/2008 6:56 AM  
Anonymous Mister G said...

While as a democrat that supports gay rights, i probably tend to be a little more conservative when it comes to the Bible and its teachings. So I will try to express myself well without trying to sound duplicitous.

No one should be discriminated against because of their religion, gender, race, color, OR sexual preference. The Constitution guarantees the rights of all Americans no matter our background and we should do all we can to make sure that the Constitution is upheld (which explains why I'm a Christian and a Democrat, because I feel the Democratic Party is doing more to uphold the Constitution).

Having said that, I don't necessarily believe in gay marriage. While you say that homosexuals are "genetically predisposed" to be gay, there has yet to be any scientific evidence or data to support that claim as of yet. Besides to use the genetics excuse would excuse almost any type of behavior, including murder. While some murderers will plead insanity for their crimes, that still does not excuse them to commit murder. The Bible states that we all have a sin nature, but thanks to God's grace through his Son Jesus Christ, we no longer have to be controlled by our sin nature. Read Romans 7, especially verses 18 and 25.

The other point is that there is nothing in the Bible that would condone such behavior. It would be the same as having a friend of mine do drugs or any other kind of destructive behavior. While I would love them unconditionally and help them any way I can, including pray for God's blessing in their lives, I can't condone the way they decide to live it, especially if it destroys their relationship with God.

10/05/2008 12:40 PM  
Anonymous redhead1 said...

I am happy to find such a blog with my exact views.I am so sick of republicans owning the word"christian."I guess the only people in heaven will be republicans.

11/02/2008 5:42 PM  
Blogger Broward ANAD said...

I realize this post was written over a year ago but it is still so relevant today...

I am a Christian, a Democrat, and heterosexual. I believe that gay people in a committed relationship should have the same rights under the law as everyone else. That is just human rights 101.

I do sometimes struggle with the fact that the hands of men, by nature imperfect, wrote the Bible. There are also cultural customs that are not widely followed anymore (i.e. part of Leviticus 19)

I do not believe being gay is a choice. I sometimes think to myself that heterosexuals that say being gay is a choice are secretly bisexual and attracted to both men and women but just choosing to be with the opposite sex.

It must be awful to be told God does not love you because of who you love...

6/06/2009 5:18 AM  

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