Considerations on Same Sex Marriage

If you would prefer to read as a PDF, please click here: C3 Forum_SameSexMarriage.

 

Human rights if not anchored in something outside of human rights will always end in being individual rights, my rights – in that, what I consider right is therefore indubitably my right, should be enshrined in law, and woe to anyone that suggests otherwise. Of course in any society that has a Christian moral memory, this may seem to work for a season, but once we have effectively stripped away God and the Bible we will be (are becoming) the victims of radical moral decay, with its attendant social misery. And in a strange twist (apparent) discrimination has come full circle so that the persons who once cried oppression are now at the vanguard of oppressing anyone that opposes their view. Any concept of community and moral well-being is thus swamped in the flood of ‘my rights.’

We believe and affirm that God sets both our value (very high) and the moral and ethical parameters that assist in maintaining that value, whilst the age we live in has championed the cause of total and complete freedom re. choices and morality, which in turn has caused an unprecedented collapse of family, moral integrity and personal disciplines, not to mention a crisis in mental health. The redefining of all these issues is the unapologetic agenda of cultural Marxism. Redefining marriage is part of the agenda of so-called progress. C.S. Lewis remarked, however, that people suffer from ‘chronological snobbery’ thinking everything modern to be necessarily better than anything ‘medieval.’

Redefinition of words, words that for millennia meant essentially the same thing, should alert us to the importation of concepts that are very different than those the words originally meant. This is an attempt to change a worldview within a culture by changing the language itself.[1] Many words have been re-engineered to mean something far from their original intent, and the effect of this is that people don’t see what is being promulgated, subtly or otherwise. (Postmodernity has no conscience when it comes to conscience.)

Politically Correct thought/speech has done some service in forbidding rampant and unacceptable verbal vitriol.[2] But equally, it is leading to the curtailment of free speech at a spectacular rate.[3] And coincidentally creating nervous hesitant communications.

There are many able apologists in the Christian world that graciously and wisely can take on arguments such as genetic pre-determinism and sexual orientation, human rights and ensuing legal arguments. This is not our goal in this paper. We wish to reiterate the view of scripture about the role and destiny of men and women, as this gives people hope and safety.

 

Scripture

We come back to the issue of the scriptures revelatory understanding that the image of God is seen in man and woman – not one, not a combination of the one, but the complimentary two, male and female. This is our starting point and the place we come back to.

The opening chapter of Genesis is very carefully crafted to ensure that we see the binary nature of the physical world – heaven and earth, land and sea, night and day, etc. This climaxes in the creation of man and woman – the binary picture in its most exquisite and final form.

From a mere physical point of view, there is no continuation of the human species without a man and a woman, and it can’t be argued that the optimal way to raise a child is with people of the same sex. Practicality may argue that it is better for two women or two men to raise a child rather than just a lonely one, or dysfunctional male and female. But the jury is out.[4]

Men and women are significantly different, and where that difference is downplayed or eradicated something of God’s own image is likely missing. The creative order is clearly binary and no naturally occurring productive options exist aside from a male and female. Part of God’s mandate of being made in his image is clearly seen in the reproductive increase of mankind upon the earth as we express God’s image and will.   A case can be made that marriage isn’t only for reproduction, but it still is normal to include this, and homosexuality can’t; by its very non-reproductive nature.

Not only so, but marriage, aside from being the foundation of just society and human relationships, is a picture of Christ and his church – according to Paul. This elevates marriage into the stratosphere in what it represents. The image of bride and groom is clearly in mind, nothing more and certainly nothing less. There appears no way this picture can be made anything but heterosexual in orientation.

And it is at this point that some insist that scripture is their truth source as well but has been discriminatory in treatment towards homosexual people. (Christians may have been – granted, sadly.) They present a hermeneutic that has revised the intent and outcome of every single reference in scripture to homosexuality. Dr Ian Paul has written a booklet on this – Same-Sex Unions: The Key Biblical Texts.[5] With scholarly care, he shows the traditional readings to be the ones that stand up to scrutiny, rather than revisionist readings.

A common argument used when attempting to validate same-sex unions is the (spurious) argument that the scriptures also speak of slavery in apparently acceptable terms along with poor treatment of woman. Both these areas have been championed by Gods church, so homosexuality should be, it is argued. Although the scriptures see a real change in attitude towards both woman (especially Jesus[6]) and slavery there is no such progressive movement when it comes to our sexuality. In this instance, the New Testament ratifies and strengthens

anything in the Old, so that the analogy between slavery and women, and homosexuality simply does not exist.

Another shift that has enabled a change in sexual behaviour is the change in how we use the word – love. It now means love as emotion, preference, inevitability, and is linked to my choice. If this is truly the case then it must needs to follow that all sorts of sexual preferences are viable – pornography, polygamy, sadism, incest, bestiality, and even necrophilia. To say these are all legitimate is consistent with our new definition of the word love, and we should hardly be surprised that these options are being presented as legal alternatives.

God is love but love is not God.

A biblical understanding and appreciation of love are that it is first and foremost a word used to describe a love that is sacrificial before it is fulfilling, ethical, before it is personal, and based on truth, before it is about my needs and emotions. This love was magnificently displayed for us in the cross of Christ, not in an Elvis chapel in Vegas. But it is costly and doesn’t always take into account our feelings, and therefore it is not so popular. Nevertheless, it is the stuff of legends.

Some have cleverly disconnected love from biblical injunctions about things such as holiness, but scripture marries the two. We are to love the sinner, as Christ did, but not their/our sin that he died for. It isn’t love to insist behaviour condemned by Gods word is viable, acceptable and to be promoted, and yet that is what is being insisted upon by those wishing to validate same-sex unions.

Further to this is the picture painted in Romans 1 about sexual denigration that is itself linked to idolatry, arguably the greater problem. Paul sees the issue of same-sex relationships as an inevitable outcome from the lack of honour and thankful worship to God because we chose to worship the creature and not the creator.[7]   This is a serious indictment of and insight into human nature – deeply idolatrous. This does lead to the idea of demonic influence over the direction and choices of communities/nations. Whilst an unpopular view, even in the Christian world, it does help explain at times the inexplicable, and it is certainly true to the writings of Paul in his letters, and especially in Colossians which speaks in clear terms of rulers and authorities.[8]

Without solid biblical warrant we will be subject to shifting sands of moral expectation, and to the strident demands of the world, we live in. It is to be remembered that the two defining features of the Jewish worldview that Jesus clearly took as axiomatic were: repudiation of idols and that sex before and outside of marriage was unacceptable, marriage being defined as that between a man and a woman.   This is our moral heritage and we need not feel ashamed of it or cowed by the world (itself a confusion of right and wrong). But it will make us unpopular.

 

Pastoral

Understanding some of these thoughts is half the picture. Responding is the other half.

We are all on a journey into the realised fullness of Christ, and need to take great care we don’t offend/belittle someone on the same path. We are all sinners saved by grace. We are saved by grace, and we are being saved by grace.

Our churches are open to all, and all can be saved.[9] In fact, our churches welcome anyone from whatever their background into the renewing fellowship of Christ and his church. But this is not the same as saying, come and stay as you are. Jesus Christ and he alone transforms us into his image – an image of truth, holiness and righteousness.

Our collective journey is out of sin and brokenness into righteousness and joy. This gives none of us a right to exclude and demonise, but neither are we to be held captive to the demands and social trends of the world we live in.

We are inclusive in that all are welcome and exclusive in that we believe Jesus is the only way of and to salvation.

Care should be shown to people who want to engage re their sexuality. And we should be careful of inflammatory language that is exclusionary by nature, in our preaching and teaching the good news of Jesus.

God is love, and the cross is the answer.[10]

 

Further Considerations

Sadly, taking into account current legal trends, we may be wise (if not forced) to redefine membership so that in our by-laws we only marry people who are current members, and that have received marriage guidance/counselling.[11] In this case, we are essentially presiding over Blessings Services – as the State itself provides the legal certificate of marriage.

Although the English Parliament, in legalizing same-sex marriages, has declared that churches will not be forced to marry same-sex couples, this is likely to be contested at which point we will simply disengage from marriage ceremonies as they stand and/or involve ourselves in civil disobedience, if the state demands we use our churches for same-sex ceremonies.

In some countries (Australia being one) marriage celebrants are also the ministers. It may be prudent to hand back marriage licenses and confine ourselves to Blessing Services for our people – which we see as the true validation of marriage, being in the eyes of God and his church. People will still wisely obtain a Legal Certificate of Marriage at Registry Offices.

 

Resources 

  1. What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? Kevin DeYoung. IVP, 2015. A straightforward, accessible, yet scholarly, look at the main arguments presented by revisionists re the texts on homosexuality in scripture. De Young is faithful to the tone and intent of scripture, and uncompromising in his conclusions. He refutes the arguments in favour of same-sex relationships with care and skill.
  2. Can you be Gay And Christian? Responding with Love and Truth to Questions about Homosexuality. Michael L. Brown. FrontLine, 2014. This is a comprehensive treatise by Dr Brown. He is a Hebrew scholar, which gives credence to his arguments against attempts to make the Scriptures into a text that affirms same-sex relationships. Brown is more provocative than DeYoung, and is, at times, sarcastic/provocative. His material is well researched and compelling, if not occasionally alarming.
  3. Same-sex Unions: The Key Biblical Texts. Ian Paul. Grove Books Ltd, Cambridge, 2014. This little book in the excellent Grove Biblical Series looks at all the Biblical Texts that mentions homosexuality. He responses to modern ‘revisionism’ that attempts to validate same-sex relationships. Typical of British Scholarship rewrites plainly and kindly, and whilst saying clearly that same-sex relationships can’t be biblically validated, he does so with grace. Dr Paul is an Associate Minister and Honorary Professor at Nottingham.

 

[1] George Orwell’s 1984 is both an indictment and a prophecy about this practice.

[2] Political Correctness, as a term, was coined by Stalin, picked up by Mao Zedong, and is the currency of cultural Marxism with its lust of power and domination of all and any who disagree with its ideology. This alone should make us wary.

[3] See Trigger Warning: Is the Fear of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech? by Mick Hume, William Collins.

[4] In the UK there was a furor when it was suggested that a well known pop star and his homosexual partner were naturally not as well suited to raise their adopted child as a man and woman would be. They took this as a great offence. What was ironic was who said it – Doloce and Gabana, themselves gay, and proud.

[5] Grove Biblical – Grove Books Limited. Same-Sex Unions: The Key Biblical Texts. Dr. Ian Paul. 2014.

[6] See, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey – SPCK.

[7] Romans 1:18-32 and Revelation 2:14, 20, which link closely idols and immorality.

[8] Some prefer these terms to relate to human institutions, but the context and text itself tend to militate against this as the only viable option. It is likely both – human powers and demonic powers – aside from which, how do you separate them?

[9] In light of this please see this link to a great story from C3 Brooklyn https://vimeo.com/127182494

[10] It is still worth our while to realise that same-sex choice/orientation amounts to a very small percentage of society. The figures of 10% are wildly overstated and it is more likely to be 2%-4%. This is no reason for bad behaviour on our behalf but neither is it reason to accede to the same-sex lobby the accord their public volume demands.

[11] This is something C3 Long Island (New York State) has already enacted.

Simon McIntyre & Phil Beuchler
June 12, 2017

One Reply to “Considerations on Same Sex Marriage”

Peter Eastman says:

Encouraged to read this response to a difficult subject.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nineteen − 4 =