My Question:Is it okay for homosexuals to be married in the church


(Bronwyn pearse) #1

Hi everyone, hey I understand this is a really difficult topic however one that I feel I need answers for. Over the weekend I was visiting a relatives church . The members of This particular denomination has been asked to vote on whether or not homosexuals are allowed to be married in their church with the minister overseeing it . Each individual church has to come to some decision on the issue.
The topic of the message during the service was how change can be hard but necessary. The minister also spoke on how women were once not allowed to talk or minister in the church but now can. I know there are scriptural references to the women’s issue. So over lunch I was asked wether I thought homosexuals should be married in the church. I responded with while I appreciate this effects people and is complex I didn’t think the bible condoned homosexuality. To which they responded with your a woman don’t you think woman should be allowed to preach or take leadership roles. I said yes but that was not the same type of issue, more of s cultural one. Anyway I thought I needed a better answer so how would you answer this ? Was I correct in saying the women’s issue was cultural not fundamental. Any ideas ?
Bronie


(SeanO) #2

@Bronie That is a terrific question. I remember the first time I understood the difference between slavery, women and homosexuality in the Bible. The difference is trajectory. In the case of slavery - the Bible is constantly urging masters to be kind to their servants - to go beyond the cultural requirements of their day and to welcome them into God’s family / not mistreat them - they are coheirs with us in Christ. In the case of women, Jesus first appeared to women as His witnesses after the resurrection, Paul mentions them as fellow coworkers and the apostles exhorted men to honor / love their wives in a way that pushed beyond cultural expectations.

Both slavery and women in the Bible show us a trajectory of change - God is moving humanity towards a more fair and equal treatment. However, that is not the case with homosexuality. The Bible, from beginning to end, is clear that all forms of sexual sin are wrong. We must honor God with our bodies.

So there is a clear distinction between women’s issues and homosexuality. Women’s issues show a trajectory of change. Homosexuality does not.

Whereas with creation/slavery/women one can point to passages where counter-tensions existed with what was clear (such as the way Paul asks Philemon to treat Onesimus, or how Mary sat as Jesus’s disciple, or how the Spirit is said to indwell all women), no OT or NT text is even neutral on same-sex issues. Every single text that mentions the topic does so negatively. So here also trajectory helps us, since with same-sex passages there is no trajectory. The reading is consistent. That should count for something.

Here also are some thoughts from Sam Allberry on whether or not to attend a homosexual wedding. I thought his thoughts were very helpful.

Connect Threads

Regarding officiating marriage, you may find this thread helpful.

What do you think of the idea of trajectory? Is that helpful for you? Christ grant you wisdom :slight_smile:


My Question: How to deal with homosexual couples?
Homosexuality, sex and marriage
Thoughts on this recent TED Talk?
My Question: SS marriage
(Bronwyn pearse) #3

Hi Sean thank you for your in depth response . That does provide me with a deeper understanding. The trajectory idea is an interesting one that makes sense. I always thought there were exceptions to the position on women even in the Old Testament . The New Testament view on women and slavery displays a progressive change and I agree it is s valid point to make that no where is homosexuality endorsed. I think the emphasis on who we are
( intrinsically valued and made in Gods image ) not what we are is an important one to emphasise in any discussion about this .
Thanks again. Bronie


(SeanO) #4

@Bronie I agree that it is very important to emphasize that our identity is in Christ and not in our sexuality, job or social status. No matter our proclivities or past, we can come to Christ and receive new life - new creation. The Gospel is an open invitation to a transformed heart as we change our allegiance from the kingdom of the world to the Kingdom of God.


(Mike Sweeney) #5

When faced with questions concerning how Christians are to deal with the difficult issues of the world, I always do the same thing, search the scriptures. I love the Truth and the Word was given to us to teach us the truth. Remember as well that the world is the dominion of the deceiver. The world is of the flesh and does not exist except in sin. As followers of Jesus, we are to overcome the world and the only way to do this is to direct our lives to the spiritual and away from the world. That said we are to love all. The scriptures are clear concerning all sexual immorality including homosexual acts. I refer you to the writings of Paul on this issue. If you, as a Christian, do love as Jesus has commanded you can not go along with the current turn toward relativism in morals. Knowing that defying God leads to His rejection and eternal separation from Him, going along with the changing morals of the world in order to get along with those who chose the flesh over the spirit is a failure to love as Jesus has told us we must do. You must speak the truth at all times.


(Bronwyn pearse) #6

Thanks mike changing moral values is another part of the argument which takes us further away from God not towards him.
Bronie


(Mark Gilliam) #7

Bronie, thanks for sharing your interaction with a relative’s church. It was very interesting. I think answering your objection to homosexuality with a question about women’s roles is a classic straw man argument. It doesn’t work for me.

For anyone who believes the Bible is the inerrant and infallible word of God it is impossible to make an argument for the propriety of homosexual marriage. Romans Chapter 1 settles that issue. In fact as St. Paul writes in Romans 1 it seems that other sins follow the perversion of homosexuality or at least are related to the rejection of the truth. I think the problem in the church you were attending was not whether homosexual marriage should be ordained by the church but whether the people in the church debating the issue are saved. They need revival. I say this as a sinner saved by grace through faith. The good news is that God can save them and we should pray for them and love them where they are without condoning their flirtation with perversion.

I don’t think God treats women any different in the Old and New Testaments. How could He? Malachi 3:6 “I am the Lord and I do not change…” Man and woman have always been equal in God’s eyes. Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” There is no distinction of superiority in creation. Further, in Genesis 2:24 we see that husband and wife “…will become one flesh.” There is only one flesh so there can be no superiority. Jesus treated women in the way His Father designed from the beginning.

However, the Bible does reveal a distinction in roles and authority between women and men. In 1 Timothy 3 St. Paul sets forth the qualifications of elder and deacon while clearly referring to both elders and deacons as men. Additionally, in 1 Timothy 2:12 St. Paul writes “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be quiet.” There are some who would like to remove or at least amend the roles and authority verses from the Bible to be more in keeping with modern times where women serve in almost as many roles in society as men. God gave women the holy role of giving birth. Every man bears his mother’s image. Mary bore the Savior. Who then has the greater role in the Kingdom between men and women?


(SeanO) #8

@mgilliam Regarding women in ministry, you may find some of the following resources thought provoking. This is not an issue that should divide us as brothers and sisters in Christ, but it is one that I think people often make seem simpler than it actually is regarding the textual evidence. Blessings on the journey.


(Bronwyn pearse) #9

Hi mark thanks for your insight. I’m not sure if I would go so far as saying their not saved as it is the belief in Christ as our personal saviour which is the central doctrine for salvation. Some people s understanding of how this is worked out is limited by what they know and are presented. Only Christ knows really where everyone sits as far as salvation goes. And yes to continue to pray that they are drawn to a deeper relationship with him is really important. God bless

Bronie


(Mark Gilliam) #10

You’re welcome and I agree with you only God knows the condition of one’s heart. I will pray.


(Mark Gilliam) #11

Thanks. I see it as a nonessential.


(Elias Kruger) #12

@SeanO, I find this answer somewhat incomplete. Let me explain what I mean. To argue that the direction of Scripture is in favor of women’s equality and emancipation of slavery is a great point. There is a sense in Scripture in which there are things in the world that result from sin and therefore we are encouraged to imagine a better way. Yet, I find the second part of the argument to be problematic. Yes, it is true that there is no clear indication in Scripture that bends toward accepting homosexuality. However, there isn’t also anything about mental health issues, technology, blended families, divorce, etc. To reject homosexuality on those grounds would put us at odds with all these other issues.

By this, I am not saying that homosexuality is attested by the Bible. Yet, we cannot enter this discussion without taking into account the discoveries of science and changes in our cultural environment. Homosexuality in context of a monogamous relationship was simply not even considered in the Ancient world. Yet, that is precisely the challenge that is before us. Our engagement should not punt to a simple “the Bible doesn’t talk about it therefore it is wrong”. There are ways to argue for the primacy of heterosexual marriage from Scripture, tradition and experience. I think that is a much better path to address this question.


(SeanO) #13

@Elias_Kruger I agree with you that the trajectory argument is incomplete by itself and I appreciate you taking note of it. The trajectory argument is not intended to present a holistic case, but rather to make sense of the difference between slavery, women and homosexuality in the Bible.

The argument you mention, that the ancient world did not know of loving monogamous homosexual relationships, falls under the umbrella of the cultural distance argument. This argument suggests that their culture was so different in its understanding of homosexuality that these prohibitions no longer apply.

I encountered this argument years ago when a friend of mine came out as homosexual. We did a book swap briefly and read some books with opposing positions. What I found then, and still find today, is that even liberal scholars who are honest admit that if we are honest with the Biblical texts they uniformly condemn all homosexual practice. It is a distortion of Scripture to say that they do not.

In addition, the ancient world knew more about monogamous homosexual relationships than we think. As is noted by scholar N. T. Wright and in the following Gospel Coalition article, the ancient world was well aware of these types of relationships and Paul would have been as well.

As a classicist, I have to say that when I read Plato’s Symposium , or when I read the accounts from the early Roman empire of the practice of homosexuality, then it seems to me they knew just as much about it as we do. In particular, a point which is often missed, they knew a great deal about what people today would regard as longer-term, reasonably stable relations between two people of the same gender. This is not a modern invention, it’s already there in Plato. The idea that in Paul’s day it was always a matter of exploitation of younger men by older men or whatever . . . of course there was plenty of that then, as there is today, but it was by no means the only thing. They knew about the whole range of options there. N. T. Wright

There is nothing in the biblical text to suggest Paul or Moses or anyone else meant to limit the Scriptural condemnation of homosexual behavior. Likewise, there is no good reason to think from the thousands of homosexuality-related texts found in the Greco-Roman period that the blanket rejection of homosexual behavior found in the Bible can be redeemed by postulating an impassable cultural distance between our world and the ancient world. There is simply no positive case for homosexual practice in the Bible and no historical background that will allow us to set aside what has been the plain reading of Scripture for twenty centuries. The only way to think the Bible is talking about every other kind of homosexuality except the kind our culture wants to affirm is to be less than honest with the texts or less than honest with ourselves.

I agree with you wholeheartedly that we should not use an argument from silence to reach conclusions about truth. But I believe that if we sincerely approach the historical and textual data, it is clear that the Bible condemns all sexuality outside of heterosexual marriage. Even God’s love for Israel is cast in terms of the love between a groom and his bride - the Church is the bride of Christ. This imagery pervades the Bible and is always heterosexual in nature.

I really appreciate your desire to study well and be honest with Scripture! We owe it to others to love them by presenting only what God’s Word truly says and not distorting it to fit our own biases. May the Lord Jesus guide our discussion and help us to love Him and others well.


(Elias Kruger) #14

@SeanO,

Thank you for sharing these additional insights and resources. I was not aware of the scholarly challenges to the monogamous position in Antiquity and I have utmost respect for NT Wright. I will add this data point for further consideration. However, I do not agree with Paul DeYoung article’s conclusion that this somehow settles the argument.

To me, the issue of cultural difference goes beyond that. You see, I am pretty sure that if the Apostle Paul and/or the writer(s) of Leviticus were asked about homosexual marriage, they would oppose it. They would also oppose other things that we find less controversial such as charging interest, using different fabrics for clothes, women in leadership and even the equality of all humanity. My question then is how much do these positions reflect the God of Scripture or instead are part of the humanity of its writers.

The question to me is not whether we are being faithful to Scripture (the text) per se, but even more importantly to the God of Scripture. While I still cannot in good conscience support gay marriage, my position has become more nuanced over time. The reality is that I cannot know for sure that I am right on this matter and therefore would prefer to walk alongside Christians that experience same-sex attraction so we can learn along with Scripture what it means to be faithful to God on this matter.

To paraphrase Paul, in this age we know in part but one day we will know fully. If truth is indeed eschatological then the best I can do in the present is to prayerfully consider what it means to be faithful in our time. I believe some will do that and conclude that they cannot support gay marriage while others will conclude that they can. We will only know who is right in the future.


(SeanO) #15

@Elias_Kruger I appreciate your candor and thoughtfulness. I can sense your desire to be sincere in your studies and honor others.

I think you have confused Biblical culture, Old Covenant (the law) and New Covenant (in Christ). The two laws about not mixing cloth and collecting interest are civil / ceremonial laws of the Old Covenant. As explained in resources below, Christians are only obliged to follow the moral law - not the civil or ceremonial. These laws had a purpose - to teach Israel that they must not live like the surrounding culture - they must be set apart, but in Christ we are no longer bound by them. Paul himself denied the necessity of circumcision - emphasizing rather a new heart - and in Acts 15 the apostles make it clear that the Gentiles do not need to keep the entire law - they need only abstain from sexual immorality and idolatry. So Paul would not have required us to keep these laws.

Second, you have laid what I feel is an unfair accusation against Paul - that he would deny the equality of humanity. I am not sure what you mean by the word ‘equality’, but Paul is clear that we are all one in Christ Jesus.

Third, I think you are in danger of a rather serious error to which I myself am prone - to which we are all prone. We all assume the superiority of our own cultural moment. C. S. Lewis calls it ‘chronological snobbery’ - our culture’s view is clearly superior - more progressive - than historical / other cultures. This view can keep us from allowing the Bible to correct us in places where it offends us - it allows us to create God in our own image rather than to submit to a real, living God. The Bible does not get in the way of our relationship with God, it actually makes it possible in a deeper way.

I think Tim Keller’s sermon below could provide some great talking points for us on this discussion - he goes through why we should trust Scripture. Also, the resource below on Lewis’ explanation of chronological snobbery has helped me a lot in realizing how I sometimes exalt my own culture - even subculture.

“Now, what happens if you eliminate anything from the Bible that offends your sensibility and crosses your will? If you pick and choose what you want to believe and reject the rest, how will you ever have a God who can contradict you? You won’t! You’ll have …A God, essentially, of your own making, and not a God with whom you can have a relationship and genuine interaction. Only if your God can say things that outrage you and make you struggle (as in a real friendship or marriage!) will you know that you have gotten hold of a real God and not a figment of your imagination. So an authoritative Bible is not the enemy of a personal relationship with God. It is the precondition for it.” Tim Keller

We all want progress. But progress means
getting nearer to the place you want to be and if you
have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does
not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road,
progress means doing an about-turn and walking
back to the right road; and in that case, the man who
turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We
have all seen this when we do arithmetic. When I have
started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this
and go back and start over again, the faster I shall
get on. There is nothing progressive about being
pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake. And I
think if you look at the present state of the world, it is
pretty plain that humanity has been making some big
mistakes. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so,
we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on. C. S. Lewis

It’s a good rule after reading a new book never to
allow yourself another new one till you have read an
old one in between. If that is too much for you, you
should at least read one old one to three new ones…
Every age has its own outlook. It is especially good
at seeing certain truths and especially liable to make
certain mistakes. We all therefore need the books that
will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own
period… None of us can fully escape this blindness,
but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our
guard against it, if we read only modern books…The
only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the
centuries blowing through our minds and this can
only be done by reading old books.

http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/webfm_send/47

Equality of Humanity

Paul is clear that all people are one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28 - There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The Law

Here is an article and short excerpt from it that explains why we do not need to follow all of the OT laws. The gist of it - and I agree - is that there 3 types of law in the OT - ceremonial (laws for the priests and purification of the people), judicial/civil (for the earthly kingdom of Israel) and moral (laws based upon God’s nature and eternally binding). When Jesus’ died on the cross, He put an end to the ceremonial and judicial law - He is our High Priest and King - we live a new life by the Spirit and not by the letter of the law. Our purity is not through sacrifices of goats and bulls, but once and for all by the blood of the Son of God.

“There exists a three-fold division of the law — ceremonial, judicial/civil and moral. The civil and ceremonial law are no longer applicable to us today, while the moral law — which is not culturally contingent — is indeed universally binding.”

Women in Ministry

It is not clear that Paul would have opposed women in ministry.

What are your thoughts on Keller’s sermon?


(Elias Kruger) #16

@SeanO,

Thanks again for your thorough response. I think I did not express myself very clearly in my last response. I am familiar with most arguments and some resources you post here. My primary reason for saying that Paul and the author of Leviticus would see things differently was not look at them with contempt and say how backward they were. It was simply to point out that they come from very different context.

When I say that Paul did not see the equality of humanity the way we see it today, it is simply to point out that these ideas only fully took hold in the last few centuries. This does not mean that Paul is elitist and misogynist. It is simply to point out how different worlds we live in. I am extremely grateful for the verse you quote Galatians 3:28 because to me it opens the way for equality among genders and all people. I think the way we interpret may be somewhat beyond what he originally intended.

Also, given the resources you quote, the implication is that I do not want to submit to Scripture but only pick the parts, I like. As you pointed out, we all do that. I believe, we North American evangelical Christians, still do not practice some of Jesus commandments to love our neighbor or to turn the other face. We all do that. I am not saying that as a justification but simply to say that our relationship with Scripture should involve real conflict because it will offend us. The problem I see is when we try to explain away these difficult issues, settling for rational arguments that removes the conflict. For example, I heard many Christians in the US say that the sermon on the mount only applies to individuals but not to societies. That to me is too easy of a way to interpret those difficult passages.

My approach is not to reject Scripture but honestly wrestle with it. To simply say that homosexual marriage is not supported by Scripture and be done with it is to not wrestle with Scripture enough. It is to take the easy way out and leave the marginalized out to dry. There is the danger of chronological snobbery but there is also the danger of missing out on what God is doing in our time. That was the Pharisees’ sin. They knew the letter of the law through and through but missed the heart of it. The Spirit is speaking today, are we listening? That is what I am most concerned with.

I think my view aligns more with NT Wright’s view on the authority of Scripture. To me, that is a good way to start and step away from a modernist views that places authority in the text alone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSPJD9fp_lM


(Mona Botros) #17

Hi Bronie
I agree with your response.
A good book to reference is ‘Is God antigay’.
God bless you
Mona


(Bronwyn pearse) #18

Hi everyone the whole discussion does highlight differences between Christian groups that we are experiencing not just here in Australia but around the world. Recently Australia passed in parliament the ability for gay / homosexual people to get married legally which has opened up this debate again and bought it back to discussion in the more liberal churches. I do agree with Sean’s use of a trajectory to explain any of the other arguments someone brings up. But for me if scripture is the inspired word of God than homosexual marriage would not be condoned by God and hence the idea is farcical to be married by a minister and think that means God would bless it. Does God love the homosexual . Yes he does .!!

I can’t quite get my head around the idea of a practising homosexual Christian. Perhaps it’s the same as a drug addict who while trying to lead a victorious life falls back into his addiction. What I do think it highlights is that every one needs an encounter with the living God . Only then can I see people overcoming persuasion’s of same sex relationships . I. Think we need to Thank God for his mercy and grace which we need everyday and pray for those we know battling these supernatural forces.

Thanks for listening, Bronie


(SeanO) #19

@Elias_Kruger Great discussion! Much love in Christ :slight_smile:

One of the things that really stands out to me in that particular video is the reality that all of N. T. Wright’s source material fits on two book shelves :smile: I also like his points in his ‘Facing the Canon’ interview regarding gay marriage. He talks about the danger of redefining terms (like marriage) and about how the entire story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation uses male + female marriage as a sign post to the goodness of creation and the New Heavens and New Earth.

Blessings on the journey.


(Bronwyn pearse) #20

Great Sean