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Archive for the ‘Gay Rights’ Category

“Christians who cannot yet deal with the issues calmly and compassionately should keep their mouths shut, and they should certainly stay away from the front lines of ministry and public policy debate.”  This is the stern advice given by Christian author Thomas E. Schmidt towards the end of his book, Straight & Narrow?: Compassion & Clarity in the Homosexuality Debate.  It’s good advice and I hope to follow it here as I write what is sure to be my most controversial post yet.

For a long time I’ve been feeling like I should gather my thoughts and write something about Proposition 8’s banning of gay marriage here in California.  Yet at the same time I felt like whatever I wrote would probably be titled something like, “Why I Don’t Care About Gay Marriage,” and be about two paragraphs long.  Yes, it’s a complex issue, but since I hold the traditional and orthodox view of the Bible which recognizes homosexual behavior as sin, and given the U.S. already has LOTS of legalized sinful behavior (greed, adultery, divorce, pornography, and on, and on), then what difference would it make if homosexual people were allowed to marry?  Wouldn’t it just be one more sinful value of a culture and society that is already full of sin?  Another drop in the bucket couldn’t possibly make a difference, so who cares?  This was, basically, my thinking.  My basic assumption here was that gay marriage was harmless to society, or if there was harm it was too vague and therefore probably inconsequential.  But after reading Schmidt’s book I wonder if it would do real, tangible harm and is therefore like any other area of injustice that needs to be fought against.  I realize that may sound odd and offensive to some but I will explain along the way.

Read this book

First it should be noted that Straight & Narrow? is not really about gay marriage or any other policy debate.  Schmidt’s book is about homosexuality in general.  Over half of his heavily foot-noted book carefully discusses the data regarding homosexual lifestyle and behavior primarily in the U.S.  Everything from the causes of homosexual desires to the physical, psychological, and spiritual effects of acting on them is covered in this 180-page book.  Schmidt, being a professor at Christian college, has aimed his book primarily at Christians and therefore spends the other half of the book in full-fledged dissection and refutation of the revisionist interpretation of the Bible and Christian tradition which affirms homosexual behavior as either neutral or blessed by God.  This last reason was why I wanted to read his book, but the other half of Straight & Narrow? is what moved me to finally organize my thoughts and write something about this topic.

I think every Christian who is willing to seriously think, discuss, and vote about issues surrounding gay marriage owes it to themselves to read this book or one like it.  This book helped me understand my own heterosexuality better, not just the somewhat-removed-from-me topic of  homosexuality, and I think it will help you too.  Secondly, this book uses the word “compassion” in the title and I found it to be quite accurate for describing Schmidt’s writing.  It’s kind of token to say, “I’m not racist, I have black friends,” so it’s also pretty insufficient to say you’re tolerant or open-minded because you have gay friends.  Real understanding relies on truth, not anecdotal experiences we have with a few of our friends.  And in order to have deep and lasting compassion we need solid understanding, and understanding requires facts not anecdotes.  Schmidt’s book is extremely factual, but it is tempered with compassion from cover to cover.  Pulling together a vast number of secular health studies we see a picture of homosexuality in his book that is brutally honest and pretty grim, but it is always handled gently and compassionately.  I can’t say the same about the ways I’ve heard the topic addressed at church.  Can you?

We’re so awkward

And, since I’m on the topic of church: one of the big problems for us Christians when it comes to this issue of “gay rights” is that we don’t talk much about sex–whether inside the church walls or outside–so when we finally do start talking about sexual things it is often awkward and unproductive.  It’s kind of like when your parents tried to have “the talk” with you when you were a teenager (if they tried at all, of course).  Misinformation, generalizations, stereotyping, scare tactics, and a baseless Puritan ethic seem to define a lot of those parent-child discussions, and the same goes for those pastor-church discussions that many of us have heard.  Plus,  it’s often too little, too late.  Let’s get specific when we talk about sex–‘nasty’, graphic specific, if necessary–or else these discussions aren’t going to get us anywhere.  We’ll never truly understand and appreciate our incredible God-crafted sexualities, or know how to protect and use them.  Instead we’ll just continue drifting along in naive silence while letting the world give us our real “Sex Ed” in the form of Internet pornography, sitcoms, Maxim, Cosmopolitan, romantic comedies, and our stumbles into masturbation and premarital sex, ignorant to the harm we are inflicting upon ourselves and others.  It doesn’t have to be like this.  We need to drop this ridiculous hush-hush attitude.  The world dropped it a long time ago and its voice seems to be getting louder every day.  In fact, if we had spent less time being afraid of our sexuality and more time extolling the virtues of God’s creation of sexual intimacy between a husband and wife, and actually being “salt and light” in our culture, then I doubt we would be in this predicament of trying to defend something publicly (men and women having sex with each other) that up until now we’ve been uneasy even discussing privately.

Paul’s point about homosexuality in Romans 1 is that the people’s abandonment of God led to abandonment of their God-given sexualities.  So, if homosexuality is on the rise in our culture rather than hailing it as a sign of the End Times shouldn’t we take it partly as an indictment against the Church for either not reaching our culture with the truth, or for pushing people away from it?  How can we expect people who don’t know God to embrace his sexual order?  Schmidt sums this up well when he states that, “the first evidence of worshiping something other than the true God is that humanity will make of itself something other than true humanity.”  We should not be surprised when non-Christians embrace homosexual behavior–or any other sin–as something good.  It should also not fill us solely with zeal to debate and enforce Christian ethics through legislation.  It should fill us with compassion above all else.  As Schmidt rightly points out, “the Gospel is ultimately not about changing laws but about changing lives.”

Justice

This brings us not to the discussion of gay marriage, but, really, to the broader questions about gay rights and justice–topics that, as I mentioned, the book is not primarily concerned with.  Starting first with the concept of justice, it’s crucial to remember that “justice” is about using power to protect or rescue from abuse those who don’t have the power to protect or rescue themselves.  Justice is central to God’s very nature and this has been revealed as plain as day in the over-arching themes of the Bible.  I hope this website has been clear in proclaiming and upholding that truth.  Because God is about justice, working for justice–through prayer and action–is what Christians need to be about too, as unpopular and inconvenient as that might be for us.  When we think about homosexuality then, is there any injustice being done?  Yes, but not in the way we’re usually told to think about this issue.  As Straight & Narrow? details, homosexuals and their allies have successfully transformed what was first deemed a psychological disorder by health professionals in the mid-20th century into a legitimate personal identity, and thereby turned the debate into an American civil rights issue.  The powerless and abused, in the movement’s terms, are people with homosexual desires who can’t act on their urges the way that heterosexuals can act on theirs.  The image of an oppressed minority in the same vein as an ethnic group was intentionally marketed and has taken root in many equality-minded societies around the world.  This strategy continues to prove effective.  However I see this as misleading and as a distortion of true justice for two main reasons.

First, contrary to the message of advocates, the homosexual population does not make up a large or even “sizeable” minority nor is it the equivalent of an ethnic group.  According to the official health and demographic studies done in Europe and North America referenced by Schmidt, homosexuals make up about 1% of the population of Western nations.  For some perspective, this would be comparable to the American Indian and Alaskan Native population–according to the 2010 U.S. Census data.  3 million Americans seems like a lot of people, but if we look at how highly visible homosexuality is in our culture and how frequently it is discussed in our news and portrayed in entertainment then we would easily conclude that this population is significantly larger–when in fact it is proportionally quite small.  I’m not suggesting a conspiracy on the part of the ‘liberal media’ for painting an inaccurate picture and neither does the book, but this disproportionate representation is no accident and should be understood as an indication of advocates’ success in pushing their cause to the forefront.  Truthfully, the fact of these extremely low numbers hurt a movement that is working to achieve a sense of normalcy akin to ethnic groups.  This is probably why we don’t hear these kinds of statistics cited very often.  Not being up front either by inflating or ignoring statistics is certainly dishonest and unjust on one level, but I feel that the greater injustice occurs when homosexuals equate their struggles with those of historically oppressed people groups, namely blacks.  Our invisible sexual desires are but a miniscule component of what makes us human.  The science, as Schmidt points out, is inconclusive as to “what makes someone gay”, however, we must always remember that desire alone does not define who we are.  What Schmidt stresses repeatedly–and the Bible affirms–is that we are more than the sum of our sexual urges.  They shouldn’t define us or dictate to us who we “are”, gay or not.  Race and ethnicity, however, though also just a component of our humanity, are distinctions that we wear on our sleeves our entire lives, 24 hours a day.  They mark our culture, our language, our lineage, our heritage as people.  Black people living in America have had to endure unspeakable evils all the while being unable to hide their blackness.  Homosexuals on the other hand can, and often do, hide their sexual desires and have also successfully earned a high status for themselves despite social stigmas–in fact, Straight & Narrow cites that the education and income levels are statistically higher among homosexuals than heterosexuals.  Elevating sexual desire to the level of skin color is wrong and I would think that many black people–who, by the way, outnumber homosexuals by a good 35 million–would find that logic offensive to their struggle.

Second, homosexuality is not harmless and therefore complicates the notion of justice.  One of the core tenets of homosexual advocacy is that homosexuality is as benign as heterosexuality and poses no threat to a society’s well-being.  The angle of this argument comes from the idea that homosexuals won’t harm heterosexuals so we shouldn’t be afraid of each other.  While it may be true that little tangible harm comes to heterosexuals, the harm afflicted upon homosexuals via the homosexual lifestyle is substantial.  Schmidt dedicates an entire 31-page chapter of his book to citing medical report after medical report in order to pull back the wool on the traumatic realities of homosexual sex and lifestyle.  The chapter is not a scare tactic or a taunt, it is a sober disclosure of what the medical community has known for a long time: homosexual sex acts and lifestyle are extremely damaging to the human mind and body.  I won’t go into tons of detail because Schmidt does a way better job than I ever could, so I will simply quote his conclusion on the matter and encourage you to read his book:

No honest look at current scientific research allows us to view homosexual practice as peaceable and harmless.  For the vast majority of homosexual men, and for a significant number of homosexual women–even apart from the deadly plague of AIDS–sexual behavior is obsessive, psychopathological and destructive to the body.  If there were no specific biblical principles to guide sexual behavior, these considerations alone would constitute a compelling argument against homosexual practice.  Our bodies must not be martyrs to our desires. (Page 130)

It is this reality that complicates any discussion of justice because if true Godly justice is about using power to protect/rescue those who don’t have the power to protect/rescue themselves, wouldn’t we do well to limit the extent to which homosexual behavior is permitted?   For the safety and well-being of those with urges to act on potentially destructive desires shouldn’t we restrict their ability to do so?  No Bible-believing, Jesus-worshiping Christian should want extreme, Sharia-style prohibitions against homosexual behavior, but if in this case “legislating morality” is synonymous with protecting people from harmful behavior then why should we should shy away from it?  (See, I told you this was a complicated discussion.)

When we advocate for legislation that restricts drug and alcohol use, or criminalizes prostitution, or creates safer building codes, or bans unsafe chemicals, we are attempting to legislate morality.  Our morals tell us that people should be protected from other people and, at times, from themselves, so we create laws to ensure that this happens.  Every law, therefore, is a legislation of some form of morality.  The real question that we need to ask ourselves is what type a morality we want to legislate: Christian morality or secular, humanist morality?

Back to the topic of gay marriage

In setting aside the debate about the potential effects of gay marriage on society–which is a valid debate–we are able to ask more fundamental questions about gay behavior itself.  These are questions I haven’t answered for myself, but as you can see they take a very different angle than the one taken by the so-called “religious right” that, to many, appears concerned only with its own personal well-being and the status quo.  I feel strongly that these are the kinds of questions Christians need to be asking if we are really concerned with biblical justice and having real compassion on our homosexual neighbors.  But we must first have understanding–both of homosexuality and of our scriptures.

But what about the issue of gay marriage?  What have I learned from all this?  If the homosexual lifestyle is harmful on an individual level, is there also harm to society if we allow homosexuals to marry?  I wouldn’t call it the “traditional Christian view”, but the one that the seems to be all over the media and seems to be perceived as “what Christians think” is the sensational belief that God will do to America what He did to Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:1-29) if we allow gay marriage.  To this I would respond that our society already reeks of violence, greed, fornication, gluttony, materialism and just about every other sin and vice, so it is highly unlikely–and very unbiblical in my view–that allowing gay marriage would hasten Christ’s return and the end of the world.  As to the other perceived “Christian viewpoint” that gay marriage effectively represents a threat to God’s institution of marriage and the family, I would agree with Straight & Narrow? that it probably does and I would encourage you to read Schmidt’s book for a few thoughtful reasons why if you aren’t sure about this.  However, it doesn’t take a master theologian to recognize that divorce, spousal and child abuse, infidelity, children born out-of-wedlock, absent fathers, and unloved and undisciplined children have been effectively eroding Christian family values in America for decades and will continue to do so unless something changes, drastically.  Simply preventing gay marriage isn’t going to preserve our Christian society when we don’t have one to begin with.  If we Christians want to initiate a societal change and uphold Christian values then we can start by trying a lot harder to stop participating in these already existent evils ourselves and then humbly help others do so as well.  Then we can start having this gay marriage debate with a little integrity.  Let’s not be hypocrites; let’s first take the plank out of our eye, and then we will see clearly to remove the speck from our society’s eye (cf. Luke 6:42).  May God help us be salt and light in our world.

Peace.

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A while back my wife brought home a stack of documentaries from work that have been, or will be, aired on PBS’ Independent Lens program.  We’ve been slowly working through them and recently I watched one that, out of disinterest, I was avoiding: Ask Not.  The 53-minute documentary looks at U.S. military policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” with regard to homosexual orientation.  My disinterest was rooted in my general disinterest in the military in general, not in the rights of homosexual people–therefore this issue felt irrelevant to me.  However, in the past few weeks there’s been a reoccurring theme of war–past and present–in what I’ve been watching, reading, and thinking about, creating a sudden curiosity in the film and in an issue which I was pretty ignorant about.

The policy, as the film says, was the resulting compromise of Bill Clinton’s push to allow openly homosexual civilians into the military in 1993–a push he vowed to make and succeed at during his campaign for president.  At the time of the 1993 compromise Clinton, though discouraged, praised the policy as a huge step forward in civil rights for homosexuals.  Conversely, many homosexuals felt let down and upset by Clinton’s inability to win over the military and other policy makers to the effect of removing a ban they felt was unjust.  Later in the film we hear an audio clip from a 2005 interview where Clinton himself expresses a desire for the policy to be changed saying that it has been abused, by means of increased discrimination against homosexuals, since it went into effect back in 1993.  This is essentially the same thesis as the film’s.  Despite its brevity and clear bias, the film was informative and interesting and I recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about the issue, particularly the view that the ban ought to be removed.

Hidden injustice

Having never really thought about homosexuals being disallowed in the military, or why they should or should not be, the film really got me thinking.  As the information and the stories were presented I began forming an opinion that by the end of film I felt fairly confident in.  However, after the film ended I continued to think about the different arguments for and against the policy and realized that there, underpinning the entire issue, lay the assumption that violent conflict is acceptable.  At this point the question for me was no longer whether or not denying homosexuals admittance into the military is just, but whether or not violent conflict itself is just.  Thinking further, I realized that since I disagree with the idea that violence can be inherently good and just, I cannot logically enter into the debate about whether or not homosexuals should be allowed to participate equally in violent conflict alongside heterosexuals.  In other words, the former question is totally irrelevant to me because I reject the assumption that it makes; it’d be like asking me to debate whether or not prostitutes should be paid the minimum wage by their pimps when I think wrong prostitution is wrong in the first place.  In conclusion, it is my view that, biblically speaking, it is dishonest and hypocritical to label this debate as a fight for ‘justice’ or ‘morality,’ no matter what side you stand on, if you have first made the leap that violent conflict is moral.

How has this debate evolved to the point that the morality of war can be entirely overlooked?  If gender and sexual equality is such an important moral issue to Americans why isn’t the murder of non-Americans?  Shouldn’t the real issue being debated by the activists and ‘moralists’ fighting over homosexual inclusion be the military’s use of force?  Satan has truly deluded our culture if it feels American sexuality is more important than non-American life.

Now, there may be many specific reasons how and why the morality of war is not included in the discussion of the morality of homosexual inclusion; perhaps some accept that violent conflict is a necessary and unavoidable part of our existence, perhaps some view working for pacifism as too idealistic and see more hope in winning smaller moral battles such as sexual equality, or perhaps some are being swept up into a misguided pursuit of universal American equality to the neglect of more important and fundamental issues.  There are probably other reasons too, but these three seem the most plausible to me so I will focus on them.

False Assumption #1: War is necessary

The first reason, that violent conflict is necessary and unavoidable, seems to be the most common.  Socially and politically, most people in the world would probably think it to be naive, or even insane, to not have an armed national military.  This view seems to be the predominant view of Americans.  Take, for example, the eruptions of applause after Barack Obama sternly said the following words during his inauguration:

“We will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that, ‘Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.'”

Or, recall an identical response from the audience listening to Obama and John McCain both declare that evil exists and that we should “defeat it” during their interviews with Pastor Rick Warren a few months ago. These are very rousing and patriotic things to say, no doubt.  And such rhetoric is usually embraced at every end of the political spectrum.  But, should it be embraced by Christians?  Let’s see…

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” –Jesus, Matthew 5:43-46

“Do no repay anyone evil for evil…If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.  On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink’….Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” –Paul, Romans 12:17-21

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” –Paul, Ephesians 6:12

“You shall not murder.” –God, Exodus 20:13

Yes, evil exists.  But overcoming it with violence is not the behavior of a Christian.  New Testament, Gospel-faith is one of worldly pacifism and non-resistance, rooted in a calling that is higher than the one spoken to us from Washington D.C.; it is rooted in love.  So, as treasonous and unpatriotic as the application of scripture may be, this is God’s heart as revealed to us in Christ.

Christians, of course, should not expect unbelievers to naturally embrace such thinking, but shouldn’t we who try to trust God’s son be troubled when see other Christians rejecting it?  Let me elaborate.  So many times I have walked through the doors of a church, passed through the foyer on my way to the sanctuary and noticed a bulletin board honoring those with ties to the church who are enlisted in the military.  “Pray for our troops”, “Support our troops”, “God bless America”, etc., can often be found nearby.  This sight is so common that I wonder how many stop and think of its significance.  When I see these genuine, heartfelt displays I am both puzzled and troubled for I fear that some Christians aren’t just being reminded to pray for the safety of their friend’s son serving in Iraq, but actually equate engaging in violent conflict on behalf of their country with serving God.  Case in point, the church-going sister of a close friend recently enlisted in the U.S. military because, in her words, she thought she would be “fighting for God.”  Given the Church’s affirmation of military service, I would not be surprised in the least bit if there were thousands of other Christians out there who have already enlisted, or soon will, under the same presumption–to the rejection of God’s will for them.  This should be a cause for concern for us in the American Church, but it doesn’t seem to be.  In fact, I don’t observe many Christians even giving a second thought to these things.  This, too, is quite troubling for me as it appears many in the Church have taken the principle of “submission to authorities” to mean: “allegiance to the ideology of the nation-state.”  Let me explain.

The Church has always fought against any internal syncretism and heresies, and rightly so.  Yet, I believe an overlooked battlefield is the one pitting The Flag against The Cross.  Now, I am not some wacko conspiracy theorist, I am just calling it as I see it, and what I see happening in many American churches is embodied in the presence of an American flag located in the front of many of our sanctuaries.  Perhaps this is a generational thing.  Perhaps the Flag and the Cross co-existing in sanctuaries hearkens back to a generation that saw Nazi Germany defeated by the Allies and a united America–arguably a true battle between good and evil.  Perhaps this has never really been questioned since then so the flags remain part of church tradition.  And perhaps my generation, that has witnessed the U.S. wage an illegal war in Iraq based on what turned out to be false pretenses, will remove them and leave them to be flown by post offices and government buildings.  Time will tell.  Regardless, it is indeed ironic that as an evil dictator was defeated in Europe–with a supportive, patriotic American church watching–many churches today flirt with the very ideology that America helped destroy: fascism.  I say this because by exchanging the Gospel and the words of scripture for an ideology of American preeminence supplanted by military strength, many Christians have helped foster a relationship between the Church and the American government that is more fascist than democratic, and certainly not Christian.  In short, some in the Church have compromised their Christian beliefs in favor of patriotism.  This is not good for our democracy and its even worse for our souls.  Fascism, let’s not forget, is the same evil method the Lawless One (i.e. the final Anti-Christ) will employ to subordinate the masses (see Revelation 13), and those masses will “perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thessalonians. 2:10)  I pray that the illusion of America and its military as a sinless force for good will soon pass for many in the Church, and be replaced by a worldview marked by reverent critical-thinking.  The Flag and the Cross are not interchangeable and rarely compatible, no matter how persuasively Satan may argue the contrary.

False Assumption #2: You have to pick your battles

The second reason why the morality of war may be excluded in one’s discussion of the morality of homosexual inclusion–choosing small moral battles over the larger battle for pacifism–is inconceivable for me because it’s not an option I think a Christian has.  To use this reason one has to admit defeat in the movement for pacifism, or at least ignore it altogether.  As Christians, we know the battle against evil will continue until Christ’s return.  Therefore the opportunity to do right in the face of wrong will always exist for us.  Such is the cause for pacifism; nations will always wage war against each other, as the scriptures say, so a peacemaking disposition will always be relevant and necessary in our world.  For those doing the work of Christian social justice and activism, this raises an interesting question: is it ever right to accept defeat in the larger ‘war’ and settle for fighting smaller ‘battles’?  One major world issue always comes to mind when I ponder such questions: Israeli occupation of Palestine.  The unspoken position of many Westerners seems to be that Palestinians should stop fighting Israel, accept that their land has been lost, and try to forge a civil relationship with their former enemy.  As we all know, this position is rejected by many Muslims around the world and others sympathetic to Palestine’s struggle.  For we who are concerned with following and trusting Jesus, what should our position be?  Would biblical justice be served if we overlooked the means by which Israel has gained national rights to the land they now occupy and only concern ourselves with the people in Gaza being treated kindly?  This is a question I pose to anyone reading this; I don’t have a good answer worked out yet.  Let me know what you think.

False Assumption #3: Political correctness is correct

The third possible reason the morality of war may be excluded in this debate is similar to first reason in that Christians seem highly susceptible to it: being swept up in popular movements for social equality to the neglect of more important and fundamental issues.  Unlike the first reason, I have seen this one to be particularly common in the younger, “post-modern” generation of Christians who are often very in-tune with popular culture, college educated, and socially engaged.  This is the generation I belong to so I am especially concerned for them.  While I’m pleased to see my generation of brothers and sisters explore and engage in works of social justice I fear that sometimes it becomes more of a “cool” hobby than a movement of the Holy Spirit.  What I mean is that discernment is lacking when the only causes one joins are the ones that popular culture deems important.  Society shouldn’t be our point of reference for what is and is not just and good; God should be.  If we believe that “justice” is another word for all-pervasive social fairness and equality then we are only adopting the “politically correct” philosophy that increasingly governs more and more of U.S. culture and politics.  And if we fight for ‘justice’ on the basis of this philosophy we will find ourselves being more concerned with whether homosexuals should be allowed to fight with heterosexuals than whether or not anyone should be fighting in the first place, or being hung up on whether or not it’s unfair to deny women the right to choose to abort their babies and ignoring the bigger issue of abortion itself, or being drawn to any of the other popular movements for social equality.  Simply put, we won’t be working towards Christian justice, we will be working towards worldly justice–and what fruitless and unproductive work for the Kingdom of God that will be.

We must not settle for fighting small moral battles while neglecting the larger war against spiritual evil.  We need to resist joining the ranks of self-proclaimed moralists fighting inconsequential moral battles.  We are God’s instruments for righteousness and change in the world, and the world, whether it knows it or not, needs us to fight for it because “many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice.” (Proverbs 29:26)  And while the world may not always agree with Christian justice it will always benefit from it, in small and large ways.

May God help us and may He bring peace to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Congo, Zimbabwe, and everywhere else violence reigns.

Peace,
The Lord is God

(I apologize for the length of this post, but thank you for your interest in this topic.)

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My argument against Proposition 8 has been inspired, as much as anything else in my Christian walk, by my Father in Heaven and informed, as much as possible, by the Bible (although I must admit I am no expert Theologian).  My conclusion is strikingly different than most Christian leaders and most Christians that I know generally.  The reasoning behind this discrepancy gave rise to this blog entry.

I have reviewed the following biblical texts specifically to inform my conclusion:

1 Corinthians 5:1-2, 9-13 (New International Version) (“NIV”)

1 Corinthians 6:9-20 (NIV)

Ephesians 4:17-19 (NIV)

Galatians 5:15-21 (NIV)

Genesis 19:1-29 (NIV)

Romans 1:18-2:10 (NIV)

THE THOUGHT EMERGED

Driving home to visit my parents the following argument hit me like most epiphanies in my life–awkwardly.  For some time I have been considering the yes and no line of reasoning for Proposition 8, but I had not been swayed by my pastor’s sermons (to vote Yes) or by ACLU’s Executive Director, Anthony D. Romero, and his mass emails (to vote No).  However, all it took was one thought to end the debate for me (for now at least).  Sin, hypocrisy, and justice, were the anchor to the epiphany.  I wasn’t prepared for it unsurprisingly.  So, as carefully as I could (although I know the pace was frantic) I shuffled through the contents of my backpack for something to write on.  I found my daily calendar and began the half driving/half writing of what was exploding in my brain.  The following is more than I ever really wanted to have racing around in my mind.

QUESTIONING THE ASSUMPTIONS

God has seen the sin of the world and has expressed his disapproval in many ways as chronicled in the Bible (see Genesis 19 for one example applied here).  One of these sins that is clearly outlined in the bible is the sin of immoral sexual relations, which applies to homosexuals and heterosexuals (Romans 1:24-26, NIV).  While the Bible does not authorize or justify marriage between two men or two women it also does not authorize or justify marriage between one man and one woman either.  In fact, you would be hard pressed to find anything in the bible, the new testament that is, to suggest that marriage between a man and a women, who are NOT “saved” is lawful or justified (“saved” will hereafter be intended to mean what the bible refers to in the book of John 5:24, NIV: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life”).  Christian leaders have taken it upon themselves to instruct their congregations to vote “Yes” on Proposition 8 and yet this California Constitutional Amendment applies to all of Californians, not just the Christians in California.  Why is it that Christians feel an obligation to hold the rest of the state to the same standards that God holds them to, when the rest of the state does not necessarily believe in God?  I cannot find anything in the bible that authenticates this basic assumption.

In essence the logical argument in favor of a “Yes” vote, from my standpoint, becomes confused when one realizes that if Christians use the bible to justify a “Yes” vote to deny marriage to those engrossed in a sin of the flesh (i.e. homosexuality in this instance), then they must also, if they are to remain consistent, resist and cast votes to ensure that those who are not saved, and yet engage in a traditional marriage, have their marriages revoked and dismissed too.

The hypocrisy is overwhelming when you get behind the assumptions and stare in the heart of the dilemma.  Voting “Yes” places judgment on a union that is equally as displeasing to God as a union between a man and a woman who are not saved; therefore, how can a Christian legitimize such a decision when it is clear that Christians are not the ones capable of judging the sin of those who are not saved?

God judges the sin of those who are not saved, not men or women.  Paul says it this way in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy swindler, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of this world.  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler-not even to eat with such a one.  For what have I to do with judging outsiders?  Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.  Purge the evil person from among you” (emphasis added) (NIV).

THE FORTRESS AT THE GATE

Being married without God’s blessing is the same for a marriage of opposite sex partners as it is for a marriage of same sex partners.  The difference, from my standpoint, is an artificial difference that Christians have created based around assumptions that have no place in the Christian community.  Voting “No” on Proposition 8 becomes my best choice because the powers that be in the United States of America have condoned marriages of opposite sex partners who are not saved; therefore, the same becomes true for marriages of the same sex.

The dilemma with the assumptions is deepened when one looks at the situation for what it is-oppression of homosexuals.  This matter has been glossed over in my opinion.  Once the illogical conclusion of a “Yes” vote on Proposition 8 is revealed, it opens the door to the acknowledgment of the oppression.

THE ERROR AND OPPRESSION

The error, in my opinion, is on the heterosexuals who suggest that their union, although not necessarily blessed by God, is somehow more “natural” and therefore good, or at least better than an “unnatural” homosexual relationship and marriage.  This notion, which seems from my perspective to exist in American culture, is oppressive.  Idolatry, greed, and lust are just as capable to be the foundations of traditional relationships and yet the participators cast judgment and therefore oppress and denounce rights to those relationships which embrace the same sex.  It is not even clear whether or not God deems a relationship, not founded in His grace, as superior simply because it is traditional.  He may very well consider it more wicked!

God is the judge and thankfully so.

May God bless you all.  And no matter how you vote, may you seek truth and justice in everything you do.

brish

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