Jun 8, 2012

Debating Same-Sex Marriage: A Misplaced Priority?

Is Debating Same-Sex Marriage a Case of Misplaced Priorities?

I know some liberal Christian friends of mine who seem to think so. Here is a revised and edited version of a conversation we had on this ...

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: 100 children die in Iraq a day due to malnutrition because of foreign (read U.S.) occupation and we are still crying about gay marriage? 

VOCAB: Is this your argument: "bad things are happening over there so we should not be concerned about bad things happening over here"? I hope not!

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: No, it's not an either/or, it's a address the important stuff first and then get to the small stuff. Jesus himself could make a similar distinction between things the Pharisees "ought" to do and the "weightier" matters. This is the point, the truly weightier matters are ignored or left largely unaddressed while the truly valuable issues get ignored. Shame on us all.

VOCAB: So why not address it, mah dude? Sponsor a kid through Food for the Hungry or something? You should still be able to help promote a biblical view of marriage here in the states, no? The one Jesus taught in the Gospels when he addressed marriage? Jesus seemed to think marriage was a priority - check out Mark 10 and other such passages.

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: I already do, thank you very much. But evangelical priorities are out of whack. There are far more important issues that deserve a majority of our attention. I wonder if evangelicals with an outlet have enough prophetic "you know whats" to publicly name the evils out government does in the name of "Democracy"? Most of them don't, Campolo is a prophet.

VOCAB: When I criticize no-fault divorce laws as well as the current promotion of same-sex marriage, I am criticizing the US government - can't you guys see that? And if you are concerned with the plight of children, then you most certainly would care about the current attempts to re-define marriage! This is self-evident, no?

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: That just doesn't make any sense, Vocab. If gays could adopt, then many of these children that live in war, could have families. So what if you don't approve of one aspect of their life? Should atheists not adopt? Buddhists? Vegetarians? Again - priorities, mate. So the far right chooses to focus on only what Jesus said about marriage, and ignore all of the other texts - the incest, the forced marriages, women as property, polygamy, sex with your wife's handmaiden, etc... Okay, fair enough.  But when gay marriage right proponents try to do the same and just focus on what Jesus said about gay marriage (nothing) then they get told "ahhh, but look at this text in Leviticus! And look at what Paul said!" So which is it?

VOCAB: Did Jesus affirm OT moral law? And did not Jesus specifically define marriage in Mark 10? "But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: Vocab, you are twisting Jesus' point about the wrongness of the ease of divorce that the pharisees had into a statement against gay marriage. Jesus wasn't talking about gay marriage, He was speaking quite clearly about a man and a woman who get married, but in the Jewish system at the time, the man could divorce her for any reason, leaving her destitute and a beggar. Literally. That's why you must read the context and discover the history of what's going on. Otherwise, one could take ANY verse out of the Bible, and use it to back up their POV. And many have done so.

VOCAB: How did I twist a verse by simply quoting it? 

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: Vocab, sigh...do I REALLY have to point it out to you? How did you twist it? Because, you did NOT "simply quote a scripture." You stated a conclusion. You implied that this was Jesus' attempt to "specifically define marriage." It was in the for of a question, but it was clear that this is what you were implying. 1 Cor is addressing widows and not remarriage while the former spouse remains alive. Jesus and Paul both call remarriage while the former spouse is alive "adultery." 

Critiquing legalization within what people assume is a "Christian" nation is easy (and should be done). Though you should critique remarriage with equal vigor (but you won't because we all do it despite what "Jesus said"). People and children are dying now, as a result of our government and if you are so concerned about the Christian witness to these people (let alone the love command) should we not be calling out government to account? And people's blind allegiance to it and support of it? Is not supporting a "war on terror" that is really economically driven idolatry?

VOCAB: I never said the US is a "Christian nation" - it's not. Further, re-marriage is a biblical category (1 Cor 7) - same-sex marriage is not. In your questions to me about Iraq, you just assumed a bunch of things about me. Why? How do you know what I support and don't?

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: I assumed nothing about you? Where?

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: No, Vocab, most homosexuals can not. And when they can not marry, they don't want to bring a child into a single-parent home, nor should they. I happen to live in one of 6 American states where gays can get married.

VOCAB: OK, this went way off - too many voices. But I think a key question for you is this: can two men become one flesh?

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: Can two heterosexuals who marry in their 80's become one flesh? Can two heteros who, due to a disability become one flesh? You really think the union of the physical act of hetero love is what God is concerned with?

VOCAB: I take it your answer is no, then? So this can never be true of two men: "and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh."

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: As far as the logic and context of the Markan passage sited by Vocab, it would be slightly bad exegesis to stretch it beyond its basic meaning. Exactly what YHWH means is not always as clear as some make it out to be. Just saying.

VOCAB: So marriage can be something other than this? "from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female'."

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: I think so, Vocab. You remember, in the beginning, God's perfect plan was in order. There was no cancer, no pollution, no deviation of any kind from utter perfection.

VOCAB: Exactly.

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: People say "you can't be a Christian and be gay!" But according to their logic, people shouldn't be Christian and get cancer, or be born with both sex organs (happens), or be born with Down syndrome, or any other form of less than perfection.
We are all products of the fall, and our sexuality is a part of our mind; it is not our spirit, therefore, it can be broken or strange or whatever. 
In a perfect world, there would be nothing wrong with our bodies or our thoughts, or our minds, or anything. But we live in a fallen world, where the holiness of Eden (which I believe to be a story) has been broken and applies to NOBODY. If it was truly as basic as it was in Eden, than every man would be attracted to every woman.

VOCAB: If being homosexual is like getting cancer (which you imply), then
1) why would we celebrate and/or endorse it?
2) then what "medicine" can help it? (HINT: its found in 1 Cor. 6:9)...

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that, and was afraid that you would fixate on it. Haha! I mean simply, that NONE of our sexuality is perfect. And it is something that is often out of our control, that is in our genetic make-up, or passed down, or whatever...LIKE cancer.

VOCAB: My questions are still valid, though, my friend.

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: Bad example though, because I do not believe that the gay sexuality is inferior in any way. It's how God made them, and ultimately, you ought to ask God why he keeps making gays.

VOCAB: instead of asking "why God keeps making gays" I think we should ask "why does God keep transforming men and women who are sinners to the praise of his glory? See this text to see what I mean!
[1 Cor. 6:9-11]
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: As I see it, pointing to such and such Scripture is not always the final word on the matter because we do a lot of things that Scripture tells us not to and yet do not see it as an immediate threat to our Christian standing. For example, Vocab, I bet your church has married divorced women whose spouse were still alive? If so, you have assisted in what by Jesus' standards is "adultery." Even Paul assumes the same thing in principle in Romans 7. Of course, you will say "this and this" excuse, but bottom line divorced women are getting married by the church in droves and despite what Jesus said we still do it.

VOCAB: I sense a bit of inconsistency in your logic: you said at one point it is not always clear what Scripture says. Yet you seem certain of your view of 1 Corinthians 7. You seem absolute that churches are disobeying the rules on divorce and remarriage. Yet you are ambivalent about same sex marriage. You say I'm abusing Mark 10 because of context so you must think you know what it does mean - since apparently my take is wrong. 

All in all, it feels as if you guys say "Scripture says this so we should do such and such" but when I say "Scripture says this" you guys say "well it's not clear" or "scripture's not final, anyway".

I guess I'm wondering exactly what would convince you!

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: Vocab, that phrase "homosexual" is incorrectly translated. The word itself, has only existed for less than 120 years.

VOCAB: What word do you think is more accurate? Would you prefer the KJV rendering? Either way, the underlying Greek means the same thing: men who have sex with men.

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN FRIEND: Let's go further back - to the original language. The word used is "arsenokoita" (sp) and there is no other usage of the word in secular books at the time. It's nigh impossible to know what the word actually means, but it has been interpreted a hundred different ways since it's writing, usually according to whatever was most repulsive sexually at the time, including "masturbation" "male rapist" and pedophile." 

As best as modern scholars can translate, Paul was referring to a group of temple prostitutes that would have sex with men as a part of their pagan religious activities. 
This is NOT the same thing as a monogamous, adult, gay married relationship. Not even close - the word is much closer to describing pagan prostitutes, and THAT is what and who are being condemned. The idea of a married, healthy adult gay relationship just did not exist for Paul. He would not have been commenting on that. 

Read some more about it. It's important stuff. If you feel the need to accuse people of being in sin, that you are certain that they are actually in sin. 
This is a very well-written piece that doesn't take long to read. I encourage you to start here, and consider what you read. If you are right, then you've nothing to worry about. But if it's possible that you and many other believers have misunderstood the Bible - like we did with slavery, women in the church, and other things - then we have a lot of apologizing to do. For then we've declared what God has made clean, as unclean. And rejected our brothers and sisters from fellowship.

VOCAB: Wrong. Paul's wording comes from the Torah in the Septuagint.

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