Christians: Is the Debate Over Gay Marriage What We Want to Be Known For?

After Chick-fil-A, Phil Robertson, and World Vision, evangelicals should rethink their response to — and creation of — public squabbles over gay marriage.

Last week, World Vision’s decision to extend employment to individuals in a same-sex marriage sparked a heated, internet-wide debate. Where have we heard this before?

In Christendom, there is apparently no topic quite as explosive as same-sex relationships. Christians are sharply divided and passionately opinionated on the issue. Same-sex marriage debates seem to rally and galvanize Christians lately. Chick-Fil-A, a fast food restaurant with a conservative Christian at the helm, became embroiled in a controversy when it became public knowledge that they regularly contributed to organizations that oppose LGBT rights. Christians quickly came to their defense, attending events at the restaurant and publicly showing support with everything from bumper stickers to Facebook updates. Others in the Christian community pushed back against what seemed like glee in denying rights to others, and a fervent debate ensued.

Do these squabbles speak love? Does the loud and passionate protestation about same-sex marriage draw others to Christ?

Similarly, when Phil Robertson made some questionable and shaming comments about gay men and was put on probation by his television network, Christians rallied in their support. Within days, over a million people had joined a “Stand With Phil” Facebook page to show support for Phil’s comments. Predictably, social media outlets and blogs blew up with both support for Phil and criticism of this support, both sides wielding scriptures to support their case.

Events like these now follow a predictable pattern, and it seems like with every new controversy, people only dig their heels in further.

And I think, as Christians, we need to ask ourselves three vital questions:

1. Why is same-sex marriage such a fraught issue?

We don’t see nearly the same level of outcry or gatekeeping when it comes to biblical mandates that are often mentioned in conjunction with homosexuality. I don’t recall a boycott of companies who hire unrepentant gluttons. Christians aren’t generally voting on issues related to outlawing the right to be drunk. And yet, there seems to be a heightened sense of outrage on this particular issue. Many Christians believe that homosexual behavior is a sin, but why is this sin given so much more airtime? Perhaps it’s time to honestly examine whether or not the attention paid to this particular issue displays some covert fear or prejudice.

2. How can we find unity in this division?

Christians will likely remain divided on this issue. Is the only solution a form of excommunicating one another — denying fellowship over this issue? We’ve managed to maintain relationships under the umbrella of Christianity despite doctrinal differences over any number of issues, from women’s roles to ideas about baptism to views about the End Times. In fact, while many view the Bible to be the inerrant word of God, few will agree on the theological nuances of every single verse. We’ve learned to navigate our differences on a wide variety of issues.

I am guessing that World Vision, as an inter-denominational organization, has employees who represent a wide spectrum of views on scriptural issues. And yet, when they opened the door to include those from denominations who take a different view of homosexuality, it was too far. World Vision dipped their toes in the water of inclusiveness and couldn’t stand the heat. The backlash was so severe that the organization quickly capitulated, leaving many progressive and gay Christians feeling betrayed and more conservative Christians feeling satisfied that truth had won out.

But was this really a win? An organization made an attempt to show more unity in the kingdom and was bullied until they changed course. This sets an alarming precedent for other inter-denominational ministries. As I watched this unfold, I felt a profound sadness that this issue has created such a schism and that there seems to be a large faction of our faith attempting to stand guard at the table of fellowship. Is this what Christ wanted for the church?

3. How is this affecting our LGBT brothers and sisters?

Lastly, I think it is vitally important to take a step back from the infighting and get a clearer picture of those we’ve left in its wake. The passionate spats over gay marriage speak volumes to gay and lesbian individuals about how the church views them. And regardless of our personal theology surrounding sexuality, we are told above all else to love. Do these squabbles speak love? Does the loud and passionate protestation about same-sex marriage draw others to Christ? Blogger Benjamin Moberg said, “I am tired of being the most galvanizing symbol for evangelical Christians.”

I asked a gay Christian friend, Kevin, to share a bit about how the World Vision debates made him feel:

It gave me so much hope when WV made their announcement; it felt kind of monumental for a truly evangelical Christian organization to be WELCOMING to people like me. But the response and subsequent reversal was devastating. More than one of my friends used the phrase “kick in the gut.” I think the worst part is that the negative response and WV’s lightning-quick reversal felt so personal. After the initial announcement, I read so many tweets and Facebook statuses such as “saddened to withdraw our support,” “angry that WV has given in to the gay agenda,” “I support traditional values,” “I will not support an organization that enables unbiblical lifestyles” and so on.

For them, it is merely an issue up for debate, not something they live with or experience. But LGBTQ+ people are not “issues” to be debated. We are people with a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. Some of us have struggled mightily to reconcile our sexuality and/or gender identity with faith in Christ. The diversity and complexity of our stories are discounted too easily by treating us like an ‘issue.’”

Christians will likely continue to be divided over the issue of same-sex marriage and relationships. But unfortunately, these debates seem to be taking center stage as we interact with the world. Is this what we want to be known for? My hope is that we can begin to make peace with each other over this issue and move forward despite our differences, and put the focus back where it’s supposed to be: sharing God’s love.

Kristen Howerton
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  • Bobby Jackson

    the Christian church has made an idol out of gay marriage. we are truly, sadly obsessed. why is it so important to us? and, why is it so important that we know the right answer? where’s the intellectual honesty and humility?

  • Caitlin Walker

    Well said. This topic really brings out people’s inner crazy. I hope we will at least try to let a glimmer of common sense permeate the discussion of this issue. Getting your “two cents” in at the expense of others is the direct opposite of love.

  • Matt Johnson

    Hey Kristen. Long time no talk, hope your doing well. Really liked your article. God is love!

  • http://mpdaniel.blogspot.com Mike Daniel

    Only from my own perspective and experience as a church pastor, I don’t bring up the issue especially because I do not think it is a topic worthy of an entire sermon. When I am confronted, however, and forced to comment – as seems often the case – then I feel compelled to answer. I don’t ask about a person’s sexuality because it is such a small, small, almost insignificant component of the totality of the person. I have no need to know of one’s orientation, but those of a particular persuasion seem intent on making sure I know ‘what” they are rather than “who” they are. Is it not enough that one is human? Why must I know one is gay? So I think, speaking only for myself, this is why the issue is so overblown, why there is so much push and push-back. Either way, this article caused me to think more deeply about it because I certainly don’t want anyone thinking they are not welcome in the Body of Christ which is the Church.

    • idahogie

      You remind me of Stephen Colbert when he does his I-don’t-notice-color routine. Only he’s doing it sarcastically, and you’re doing it seriously. Pretending that it isn’t an important issue might make you feel better, but that’s just avoidance.

    • Matt Davis

      Historically, gay people have been forced into the closet by others and even by laws. Given this history of oppression, it’s obvious why they don’t want to stay closeted. Another thing is this: a gay person may want to go somewhere with his partner, or talk about his partner (often in response to someone else’s questioning), but as soon as he does, people get angry and accuse him of flaunting his sexuality when all he’s doing is exactly what a straight guy would do: talking about his partner.

      • Mick

        Matt I am sure homosexuals are treated badly in many situations . But also in this culture it has become fashionable to promote a victim hood then use it to beat the other person over the head with it . Much like some have and will use scriptures . Being a young kid attracted to the same sex must be quite hard I agree . Bullies attack what they consider weaker and different . Gays will almost fit this , regardless of religion . But we also have seen being a homosexual gives some almost a celebrity status , often even excused reasons for being rude or inappropriate . Sport figures are heroes now who are gay , if religious met with scrutiny and even insults . But yes one of things I do like about the gay rights movement it has stopped most of the severe abuse that went on when homosexuals were more in the closet . The double standards are many for how homosexuals see the world I am sure . But have seen quite the double standards myself in many areas where homosexuals often are quite hostile and bigoted comments to people of Faith and or different morality . I have often wondered why people who have been miss treated in their past do not see how wrong that is to just stereotype others as we have seen in the so called culture wars . ,

        • R.A.

          I think a lot of gay people who respond harshly probably respond that way unintentionally. It’s a defense mechanism. Victims of any kind of abuse often respond more harshly to stimuli that suggests further abuse. That being said, we should definitely do our best to avoid any type of hostile response. Good thoughts.

  • http://www.traffickingnews.org/ Jason Wert

    Why Kristen? Because there is a loud, arrogant, unrepentant group of people who have turned their back on God’s definition of marriage in favor of the world’s who keep pushing, shoving, screaming and complaining about it. Who want to make the church deny Christ to make a small minority of people happy in their sinful actions. The more it’s brought up, the more you’re going to get push back. That’s the simple truth here but if you admit that then suddenly you have responsibility here and that’s the thing you least seem to want.

    You put LGBT people in place of Christ and you appear to be worshipping them because you’re more concerned about making them feel good than you are about standing for the whole of Christ. Your arguments are so shallow and hollow it’s amazing for someone who a professor. There’s no one out there making a loud march for gluttony being perfectly fine and that no one should ever say anything about it. After all, everyone thinks gluttony is fine, right? There’s no such thing as a church leading people on the Daniel Diet to eat better, choose healthier and stop excessive eating….oh…wait…Saddleback did that.

    If you saw people running around demanding that everyone say gluttony is a wonderful thing and demanding that people never mention it as a sin because it makes a fat person feel bad about themselves you’d see the same kind of push back you’re seeing on the gay marriage issue.

    You throw up words like “fear” and “prejudice” because your main goal is to demonize the people who don’t agree with your attempts to walk away from the parts of Christ the world doesn’t like so that people can tell you what a wonderful, loving Christian you are. And a lot of the people who follow God’s word, who really have nothing against anyone tempted by homosexuality and certainly don’t hate them, who are tired of people like you making blog post after blog post about how horrible they are for following the Bible, attempting to shame them by focusing on the fact they won’t stop opposing your agenda and thus “making gay marriage all Christians are known for” and simply don’t want to ignore a part of Jesus’ teaching because some people don’t like are done rolling over and letting you continue to denigrate the truth of Christ and smear them with lies and distortions of their beliefs.

    There’s nowhere in the Bible where Christ “showed love” by telling someone their sin was perfectly fine as you’re advocating. If you want to show God’s love, then you should be showing all of Christ which goes from feeding the hungry & caring for the widow & the orphan to turning away from sin and seeking to become more like ALL of Christ.

    • Tina M

      It’s Christians who talk and write like you who keep people from their walk with Jesus. Your words are shaming toward the content of the article and to Christianity itself and make you look foolish.

    • melissaferrell

      DO I hear an AMEN? Nicely said Jason Wert!

    • W Maxwell Cassity-Guilliom

      It’s not loud, arrogant, or unrepentant to demand equal rights. That’s called basic human decency, and if your theology is getting in the way of your basic human decency then you have some rethinking to do.

    • Phil_Rhodes

      Absolutely the best response to Kristen and her fellow “progressive” Christians I have seen yet. Right on the money on all fronts. Jesus told the adulteress at the well, Go and sin no more. He loved her AND he called her to repent.

      • Eric Thurman

        You really need to broaden your horizons if you think Jason’s spittle-flecked word salad is a good response to anything. Other than the voices in his head.

      • James Anderson

        You don’t understand the meaning of that story. It had nothing to do with ‘sin’.

    • Meg, Happy Kids, Inc

      She said nothing in her article about how horrible it was for people to follow the bible.

    • nino

      My thoughts exactly, Jason. If adulterers glory in their sin, come together as a group and push for acceptance for their lifestyle, trust me the Christian community will not sit back and say it’s ok. Thing is, it’s no Christian’s place to HATE people of the LGBT community. However, our stand with scripture against what they stand for makes us seem hateful which I will like to think isn’t the true Christian’s agenda.

      My question to Kristen, though is this: while you are accommodating their best interests (which is right for a Christian to do), are you concerned about where they spend eternity? Are you talking to them about what the Bible says? Cos if you’re not, then you are not being a good Christian to them either.

      • R.A.

        Check out verse 1 of Romans 2, which is the point Paul was trying to make with the lead-in on paganism.

        2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

        Many scholars think that chapter 1 of Romans is a rhetorical device to trick his readers into a since of moral superiority before slapping them in the face with the first verse of chapter two.

    • Eric Thurman

      Wow, so your answers to her three questions would be:

      1. Because of the “gay agenda”
      2. No
      3. If they don’t pray the gay away, I don’t care.

      I have one more question, though. How high did your blood pressure get when you banged out this screed on your keyboard? I mean, seriously, what does it say about a person that they risk a stroke when they think about “teh gays” and all their allies and agendas and daring to speak out and stuff?

    • Corinne Webber

      Jesus, as the Bible records Him, didn’t spend much time talking to sinner about their sin at all. he always said, be free, sin no more. It wasn’t a command it was a liberation. Jesus did however talk to the religious and self-righteous and warn them there was no place in the kingdom for them. I have noticed since becoming a Christian that people always talk about the other person’s sin, never their own. The Bible does tell us that if we say we are without sin then we are liars. i just think that I can trust the Holy Spirit to convict the world of their sin and that we – Christians – should have good news to tell. I am sick to death of Christianity being hi-jacked by the conversations over homosexuality. i think it’s the West’s 9America’s) way of avoiding discussions over gluttony, covetousness and greed. jesus warned people a lot about greed and how we could be deceived into loosing our inheritance in him because we are deceived by our own greed. Jesus showed love by dying for our sins – all of us. jesus loved sinners. oh, and what about most hetterosexual marriages mirror what the new testament actually says about marriage? Do most husbands love their (female) wives the way Jesus loves his church/people? One more thing. The Bible is clear we are to judge ourselves. How is your slate?

      • R.A.

        Amen. I think it was Tony Compalo who said, “Jesus never said to love the sinner and hate the sin. But he did say, love the sinner and hate your own sin.”

    • Tammy

      It’s interesting that gluttony and a drunk are being used as examples. But since they did lets compare them. There may not be a boycott of companies who hire unrepentant gluttons (that we know of) but Gluttony IS seen as something that is NOT accepted. We have Lap Band surgery, Gastric Bypass surgery, support groups, weight loss programs (too many to mention), pills, our public schools are standing up against obesity and so is the 1st lady of the United States. Drunk. Have you ever heard of AA? Their sole purpose is to make someone NOT a drunk. So please don’t say you don’t see the same level of outcry or gatekeeping when it comes to biblical mandates that are often mentioned in conjunction with homosexuality. There are already things in place to help people fight against those sins. Would you be okay if the same was offered to homosexuals? Probably not.

      • Mick

        Tammy I hear what your saying . We also have companies that have been boycotted for Christian beliefs . Chick Filet , the CEO of Fire Fox was really driven out with threated boycotts from pro gay right groups and publicity . He donated money in 2009 for Marriage in California . Same time our President was supporting Traditional marriage . He is now a bigot ? Hypocrisy is easy I assume when you attempt to live up to expectations of the Gospel . And I am sure prejudice against homosexuals is part of it , but I have seen my share of some harsh tactics of the gay rights movement in what they have done in demonizing and aligning them selves politically. I still rather support values that keep people safer , then support no values that are supported . Many people instead of believing abstinence or sexual restraint as virtue see it as restrictive and moralistic self righteousness. Condoms is the value system that has replaced the Judea Christian ethic . Also many of us realize that people may be born prone to gaining weight quite easily , being addicted to alcohol and same sex attraction . The argument will change if you say being drunk is good , being overweight is a good thing , and since I was born this way I have to have the right to marriage even if it is for different reasons .

    • idahogie

      Kristen –

      It doesn’t matter much what you do. You have people like Jason Wert, nino, and Phil Rhodes killing your church and blaming you for it.

      It’s OK to leave. It isn’t doing that much for you. You are obviously a kind, caring, moral person, and you will remain that without the mythological baggage. There are many other organizations that you can join to gain fellowship and to do good works — but which don’t have to be dragged away from their bigoted policies. Please free yourself from your association with the Jason Werts of the world.

    • Matt Davis

      So why do so many churches allow remarried people in without condemning their continuous state of sin?

      And when women got the vote, they didn’t redefine voting.

    • Htowndude

      I don’t believe “Jesus” would listen to your message and then turn to everybody and say, “This is what I’ve been saying, all along.”

      If you think Jesus meant anything other than “Love thy neighbor” you got the wrong message from the bible, from the man who commanded love above all.

      No wonder the church has lost the millennials.

      • Mick

        Htowndude,
        The loosing of the millennial have been done in a larger sense to protestant denominations that preach a new secularized view of sex out of marriage , and more . So views on homosexuality being the basis of your claim appear unfounded , or the liberal denominations would be increasing instead of dramatically loosing members of all ages . The bigger problem is why are we becoming a culture that has to see everything from a one way view . For one many millennials are staying in the church also , and their views are important also . Why demonize or totally consider their views out of the issue ? We tend to have a goal of being right and all commentary that goes to the story has to fit that view . This is done greatly more in the media then ever before , and I see the church doing it also . Instead of trying to explain the situation , we really just attempt to make the story fit us. But yes homosexuals being seen as the scum of the earth when it is portrayed by the church that way does not make it relevant to a kids who now most likely know some gay people in their life . I have often found this similar to people I meet also who find out I am basically a Conservative Evangelical and do not fit the MSNBC, Liberal Religious or Hollywood version of an deranged lunatic .

        • Htowndude

          Because “CHRIST”ians are truly acting like “CHRIST”ians? I dont think so.

          Xians have left gods house. They don’t follow his message. Millennials are smart. They have a diverse set of friends, If there are so many unwelcoming places of worship, and preachings of, “YOU’RE (or THEY’RE) GOING TO HELL!” doesn’t attract younger blood.

          Maybe it’s time to change the lesson, and stick with “Love thy neighbor..”

          • Mick

            That was my point , Love God first and Love your neighbor . The many times I have read the OT the two main themes are to Love only One God , and not others . Help the poor . I do not believe Christians should advocate religion in politics , for one it comes looking like religion , and Christianity is more then that . Christians should of course participate in politics if they want to . Christianity Transforms you , political advocacy of religious beliefs does not , that transformation should be shown by as you say loving your neighbor and supporting the church you attend . Helping people . In China Christianity is said to have more Christians in it then any other country in 15 years at the pace it is on . Mainstream protestants and Catholics have accepted the culture and millennials see no difference in their lives or their beliefs then the regular culture . Christianity does not accept your morality or mine always either , but it does accept us . As we are , and the power of Christ is real , and it will change you to be ore like Him .

          • Htowndude

            Santa Claus is real too. I’m out of this, “debate”

    • R.A.

      You accuse Ms. Howerton of ad hominem, but then you do the same thing to an entire group of people by calling them loud, arrogant, and unrepentant.

      Also, your argument does not discredit hers because you do nothing to prove your interpretation as correct. You also demonstrate several priori assumptions that you do little in the way of establishing. You throw judgmental stones, which, even if Ms. Howerton were doing the same, would be hypocritical.

      Your venomous tone sort of proves Ms. Howerton’s point. A calm, collected response would have been more convincing. But by attacking the author and an entire group of people, you do your beliefs no justice. It is this type of message that people in the world hear that leads them to avoid the church.

      Also, see Ms. Webber’s comment about Christ’s harshest criticisms. Christ appeals to Hell primarily for the religious because of their arrogant attitude and lack of commitment to the major commandment, which was/is to love.

  • Phoenix_Rising

    Kristen, I think you’re being a bit disingenuous here, and about this topic more broadly. You are far too educated and smart to be unaware that same-sex marriage has a symbolic meaning that overshadows the actual facts of the matter.

    In reality, what’s happening is something difficult and interesting, if you care about the future of Christian faith among American white people. Churches are struggling to integrate believers who are LGBT, and our families, into the church without the lies and unspoken truths that were the hallmark of gay presence in the church for decades–until it became possible for gay Christians to formalize our families under the law. This raises tough questions about why a Christian church would turn away two Bible-believing women who want to marry each other, while rolling out the carpet for a divorced man who may not even be a member of that church to marry a woman who wants her home church to solemnize her marriage (just to give an example from my own family). The theological basis for making that distinction is, at best, unclear; Jesus did speak about divorce, after all.

    At a symbolic level, though, something else is going on. Same-sex couples who marry and raise children together call into question the meaning of male and female roles in marriage and the family. If it’s good enough for a child to have one parent who’s more nurturing, and one who’s more of the disciplinarian, and those roles don’t require women and men respectively to fill them…well, that draws you into a much broader debate, one that reflects on many aspects of Christian beliefs. There are denominations that welcome women as clergy, and others that preach against female ordination, and that’s just one issue about the roles of the sexes that American churches debate. At bottom, the question is: Are the Bible’s dictates about what men and women are meant to be and do the center of your understanding of the Gospel? Or are they instead a reflection of the time and place of the Gospels, ultimately a distraction from the Messiah’s message of love for the outsider and neighbor?

    I don’t mean to sound ungrateful that you’re engaging with this problem, but I think it’s helpful to be realistic: My family isn’t a family to people like Jason, above; we’re the symbolic representation of the end of sex roles, and must be stopped. I’ve been working on this issue for 25 years, and there’s no reasoning with the ‘Christian’ who is convinced that gays marrying each other (instead of befuddled straight people) is indicative of a crisis that the church must respond to harshly and firmly.

    • http://www.thesophiacollective.com Jacqueline

      I think the wider conversation we are also having is “What is the Bible?” “How do we understand its ‘truth’?” and “Who is Jesus (and God), if we question our holy texts?” On the one side there is the idea that the Bible can be clearly understood today and applied without context and without error. On the other, there is an openness that error and context do not steal away the beauty of the central truths. More fundamentally, it is a battle between certitude and ambiguity, and to my mind, living with spiritual ambiguity–or ambiguity at all–is a function of maturity…mental, spiritual, and intellectual. The hard part, then, is that people have to be allowed to grow at their own pace.

      Maybe grace in this issue is not to just decry the prejudice but the immaturity. Because when we see it through that lens, it is not just each to a side, but instead a look of understanding. And that look says, “They just don’t get it yet.” I do believe Jesus encountered that a great deal himself.

      • Mick

        Jacqueline I see the Bible as a Love Story . I see Jesus all over the OT also . I have read it numerous times and reading it again now . But it is amazing how things will jump out at me that never did before . Because we change , we mature . God will not give us something unless we can understand it . I remember getting so excited and waking my wife up to tell her Job got all his blessing AFTER he FORGAVE all his friends and enemies . I read Job a few times and just never got that . I did also get not to wake my wife up once I get a spiritual insight that can wait till morning . ;0) I like your comment we have to allow people to grow at their own pace . One of my problems with so many Christians like myself who are such strong republicans is that people on the left often appear less supportive of the Bible or views of those who more devoted to God . I am sure that comes off as self righteousness at times . I know it sure does to me when I read the views of those blogging on Jim Wallis or Red Letter Christians . We need to be a blessing to people . That’s our job .

    • http://www.thesophiacollective.com Jacqueline

      Excellent!

    • CottonBlimp

      This is incredibly insightful.

      I think you’re completely right that the gay marriage debate within the church has to do with a lot more than just gay marriage; it explains a great deal of the obsession with the issue around the world. All the more reason why calls for unity and “making peace” by sweeping the issue under the rug seem naive.

      If anything, the division seems like a good thing. I don’t really see Christ as fetishizing unity – especially with that whole “cut off your own hand” bit. By seeking unity, compassionate Christians simply bolster the work of those who only seek Christ for their own salvation.

      • Phoenix_Rising

        I’m not well versed (pun inevitable) in the Gospel, but you have a point. Jesus sounds like a rebel and kind of a…bad-ass (is that blasphemous?)…where he’s telling his followers, ‘Give away all your stuff, leave your family & get on the bus.’ This is not the preaching of a person who prioritizes ‘unity in fellowship’, but instead moral correctness even where it confounds the expectations of the culture (scribes/Pharisees).

        So it seems to me that this dispute about what the Bible means is both real and urgent.

    • Carstonio

      The fact that same-sex marriage calls gender roles into question is a good thing. Because no one asks to be born with a specific sexual identity, and membership in a society is essentially mandatory, it’s unjust and unethical for a society to impose or require people to conform to roles based on that identity. Imagine if secular employers had an official policy of hiring only men for senior management roles.

      But since membership in a religion is voluntary, any religion has the right to have its own teachings for gender roles. The mistake I see here and elsewhere is the conflation of Christian teachings with laws or social norms. The question of whether Christians are forbidden from being gay is an internal doctrinal matter. The same goes for whether Christians should adopt specific roles in marriage or in the church hierarchy. Obviously whatever position the religion takes does have some impact on people outside the religion. But any Christian who disagrees with these doctrines can either debate the issue within the religion, join a different Christian sect, or leave the religion entirely.

      The problem is when a religion, or some of its adherents, insist that the doctrines should be the basis for social norms or secular law. If same-sex marriage becomes legal nationwide, and there’s good reason to expect this to happen, any members of religions that forbid homosexuality can continue to marry opposite-sex spouses.

      • Mick

        Carstonio is this somewhat of a circular argument . Why should your morals be used to support marriage ? Same argument you use against a religious tenet . We do know different genders have biological differences. Science has even proven say in the female brain the part that is thought to control communication is larger . But other differences also . Marriage is obviously more then just a contract to the homosexual community as well , in my state we did have a law on the book that was even called everything but marriage . Lasted a year but basically the same rights and privileges given to heterosexual marriage . That was changed to include same gender marriage ,. My view in the long run , children will be better off with a Mom and Dad . I don’t care if the Female is a Lesbian and the male is a homosexual . I would not be surprised if in the same marriage that has happened , but not often I agree . Your supporting discrimination against gender with same sex marriage . Its not a big deal unless your conservative I guess, but conservatives see the important of universal standards . The more left leaning often see this as intolerant . Since this is most likely a loosing argument in this culture , I believe it has merit to perhaps you seeing my point at least . A child is told to get an A , to try for it . My belief is the higher standard so to speak , the expectation of him needing to get an A will help achieve that , and when he and if he fails get more Bs and Cs . If you tell him any grade is equal to any other , the odds are he will have lower grades then the average person going for an A . Society is better off having as many Biological mom and dads stay together and raise their children . Marriage laws at one time reflected that and the support given to marriage was for that purpose and to support the institution . Taking that out of it , I see marriage as being seen a Right now , where before at one time our culture celebrated it and thought of it as an important responsibility , not just a right .

  • BM

    From:

    the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said
    review addresses the following “How do genes associated with homosexuality
    avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

    “Most scientists who study human sexuality agree that gay people are born that way.
    But that consensus raises an evolutionary puzzle: How do genes associated with
    homosexuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

    • Robin

      Q: How do genes associated with homosexuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?
      A: There are multiple possibilities but one potential answer is heterozygote advantage, which describes a situation whereby the heterozygote genotype (i.e. carrier) has a higher relative fitness than the homozygote (i.e. two alternate alleles). The best example of this is sickle cell anemia, where a single allelic variant provides a selective advantage against malaria. A second example is cystic fibrosis. Patients with CF die before reproductive maturity but disease variants remain in the population and are thought to be advantageous for protection against diarrhea inducing diseases, like cholera.

  • dez

    This type of false dichotomy is typically of Kristen’s other writings on issues of faith and politics over at her site. She often paints a picture of everyone who does not subscribe to her brand of left leaning Christianity and what that should prioritize as being an intolerant evangelical zealot. However highlighting these types of divisive issues as click bait, mixing in some cute stories about family life and culture happenings seem to be the recipe du jour these days for getting free swag and trips from sponsors.

    • idahogie

      One has a few options when responding to an article like this. Attacking the author and questioning her motives is one of the better choices when the alternatives involve defending bigotry.

    • Inch

      In this particular case, Kristen does not have to paint reactionary Christians as intolerant evangelical zealots when they are doing such a good job of that themselves. And your gratuitous helping of ad hominem hardly helps that perception.

      • nebo

        Pot (Inch and idahogie) meet kettle!

        • idahogie

          Do you understand the phrase “pot, meet kettle”? I think you don’t. It means that one is doing exactly what one is accusing others of doing. I accused dez of a shallow attack on the author based on questioning her motives. That is exactly what dez did. But I made no attack on dez, other than to say that his/her alternative was to defend bigotry. Also a true statement.

          Where do I attack dez personally, or question his/her motives? Unless I do that, your comment is baseless and hypocritical.

  • Thomas B Robson

    All of this is interesting to read. However, I think most Christians must have us gay folk confused with someone who cares about their opinions. I do read the Bible, but I temper it with reason. The Christ did not exist to take away my mind.

  • Carstonio

    As someone who doesn’t belong to any religion, it’s not my place to say whether a religion like Christianity should allow or forbid homosexuality for its adherents. But this should have no bearing on whether the larger society accepts homosexuality. In particularly, it should have no bearing on whether same-sex marriage is legal. No religion should dictate a society’s laws or norms. If a religion like Christianity believes that homosexuality should be forbidden, or that same-sex marriage should be unlawful, then it should present secular arguments for why these should be the case. Too many Christians offer wholly sectarian arguments as if other religions and their adherents didn’t matter. And more broadly, almost none of the arguments offered against homosexuality are really secular – they elevate “nature” to the status of a lawgiving deity.

    I’ve never heard of Jews or Muslims demanding that everyone abstain from eating pork. Or Hindus insisting that everyone stop eating beef. Or Catholics decades ago wanting a worldwide ban on eating meat on Fridays. Or Amish campaigning to have everyone unplug from the grid and throw out their TVs.There’s no reason that Christian denominations that oppose homosexuality couldn’t adopt the same benign indifference toward the sexual orientations of outsiders. No one wants to make anyone marry someone of the same gender against his or her will.

    • Mick

      carstonia To argue that opposition to same-sex marriage is
      immoral is to argue that every moral thinker, and every religion and social
      movement in the history of mankind prior to the last 20 years in America and
      Europe was immoral .You need a lot of self-esteem
      to hold yourself morally superior to all those who preceded
      you. Since when should atheism dictate moral norms and laws ? Since when does a law that happens to agree with religious beliefs make it a bad law ? Marriage Laws to many were supported to insure the safety and security of children passing into the next generation of leaders.
      Homosexual marriage Always Denies a Child Either a Father or
      a Mother, It Does Not Create a Family but a Naturally
      Sterile Union, It Defeats the State’s Purpose of
      Benefiting Marriage Not Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Aquinas, Gandhi, not the Bible or the Koran
      or any other sacred text, nor even a single anti-religious secular thinker of
      the Enlightenment — ever advocated redefining marriage to include members of the
      same sex. You seem to consider yourself something to counter all those years and require an explanation why homosexuals can not marry instead of you explaining why its a good thing . Also
      Your argument seems to be if you support Marriage your ANTI gay marriage . If your for gay marriage does It mean your against other forms of marriage like polygamy , your against bi sexual people because they are limited to only one partner . Are you against bi sexual people based on what ? Because you seem to consider that being for marriage is against something . But you take no responsibility for that claim yourself .

  • http://picasaweb.google.com/JTHolroyd/TileStoneWork JessSayin

    Too bad you didn’t give any scripture references to validate your opinion one way or the other. Or does what God has clearly said in His word have any bearing on this topic or to you?

    • R.A.

      Proof texting isn’t one of the best means of exegesis.

    • Htowndude

      “God” never “said” anything. Man said said things. In Hebrew. Which was translated. Over and over. So much, even a pope tore books out because he didn’t agree with them.

      Try the spirit of Christ. Love your neighbor. See if that makes a difference. Leave the judging to Judge Judy.

  • benanov

    I’ve met a lot of young people who are having serious trouble reconciling what they see in their gay friends versus the vitriol and bile spewed by earlier generations. I didn’t expect it to come to a head for another 10-20 years, but the internet changed things.

    One of the many reasons I left my faith behind.

    • Htowndude

      One of many reasons the church has lost the youth.
      If your god is so benevolent and compassionate, why so much hatred?
      “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

  • EdmondWherever

    As a gay atheist who was drawn to this article from another source, I’ve often wondered… why SHOULD homosexuality be considered a “sin”? I don’t know whether there’s a God or not, or whether the concept of “sin” is realistically valid. But it appears that the closest secular concept to “sin” is “crime”. Like sins, crimes are transgressive acts which require correction or punishment. But homosexuality is NOT a crime, at least not in our nation, not anymore. And for good reason, I think. The things we criminalize make much more sense to me. Some of them even coincide with what the Bible calls sin, such a murder or theft. But it’s easy to explain why we should have a society without murder and theft. We would never be able to function smoothly, productively, cooperatively, if we were free to run around taking each others property or lives without repercussion. But it’s not so easy to explain villainizing homosexuality in the same terms Some people simply have homosexual desires, and no heterosexual desires. They didn’t choose to be that way. Their bodies imposed this orientation upon them, usually beginning with puberty. Those who engage in homosexual acts do so consensually. So, why should they be scorned and condemned? If one person doesn’t feel that homosexuality is for them, then they should be free to pursue heterosexuality. But they shouldn’t be free to dictate what ANOTHER person pursues, and they shouldn’t be patted on the back for calling the other person “evil” just because they’re different. If sin is to be analogous to crime, then how is justice served by preventing gay people from finding happiness with another like-minded person? How is the universe made into a better place, by sending gay people to be tortured by fire for all eternity?
    -
    Of course, Christianity also places stigma against premarital sex. But in a world where marriage is denied to gay couples, what are their alternatives? Lifelong celibate loneliness? Marriage to some poor straight person in an imitation of marriage, but without love or attraction? And the stigma against straight people who engage in premarital sex is NOTHING like the stigma against all gay people, married or not. This also is not justice.
    -
    This concept of sin confuses me. I was disappointed not to see it addressed here. I see no purpose in punishing people (forever!) for something that’s not a crime, nor harms anyone. I see no justice in punishing people for things they do not choose. Or for things they DO choose consensually. I think this conflict will remain until Christians can re-examine how they recognize right and wrong, and begin applying those labels onto others with greater consideration of their rights and needs.
    -
    As I said, I don’t know if there’s a God or not. But if there is, it escapes me that he’d be one who brought something like Leviticus 20:13 into the world. Whether or not this barbaric practice is still common today is irrelevant. Its influence on the climate of hatred and violence against gay people that has persisted for centuries is undeniable. If there IS a God, then that climate was deliberate.

    • referencetobridge

      Hi Edmond,
      You’ve raised some good questions. I have a few thoughts on the matter, although these may be a little jumbled so please bare with me.
      First, I think it’s important to define what one thinks homosexuality means. If your asking about the desires or inclinations toward the same-sex, then I don’t think this is considered sinful according to Judeo-Christian ethic. If your asking about a certain set of behaviors in response to those desires, this is what would be considered a sin in the worldview. I think your definition of sin is apt. A “crime” against God is what sin usually is explained as. To your question on why SHOULD it be a sin, I think this is where the understanding of how the way things function or are designed comes into play. According to the Judeo-Christian worldview, God made the human body, specifically male and female, for a specific purpose, a sort of natural way they function. Any act that goes against what the body is suppose to do would be considered going against God’s purpose for the way the body is suppose to function. This would be the “crime” against God and why it would be considered a sin. So in this worldview, to act on homosexual desires would be considered a crime regardless of what country or what time period you’re in because it’s under God’s created order.

      “Some of them even coincide with what the Bible calls sin, such a murder or theft.” The question is why the Bible calls these things sin in the first place? I think the reason is because there is a morality to worldview that makes these acts crimes against God.

      ” If one person doesn’t feel that homosexuality is for them, then they should be free to pursue heterosexuality.” Again, if you are talking about acts of homosexuality and heterosexuality then anyone of any orientation can pursue acts homosexuality or heterosexuality. However, if you’re just talking about the orientation, then it is not so easy to freely pursue or have a different orientation because, as you say, “they didn’t choose to be that way.”

      “But they shouldn’t be free to dictate what ANOTHER person pursues, and they shouldn’t be patted on the back for calling the other person “evil”
      just because they’re different.” Why doesn’t this apply to the person who murders, or commits acts of theft? Why should someone dictate what they should do or call them “evil” for doing something counter-cultural? What is the basis of that morality?

      “If sin is to be analogous to crime, then how is justice served by preventing gay people from finding happiness with another like-minded
      person?” This is a harder question, but the question I have is is anyone preventing anyone from finding happiness, whatever that means? Cannot one gay person still find happiness with another gay person without being married, or is their happiness dependent on being married?

      “How is the universe made into a better place, by sending gay people to be tortured by fire for all eternity?” I don’t think, on the Judeo-Christian worldview, that anyone is sent to hell simply for being gay (again, for have desire toward same-sex), but people are sent to hell for the acts they commit themselves against God, whether these acts be lying, murder, theft, ect. It is a specific sin that will alienate you from God, it is any sin or crime against God. I think the punishment will fit the crime of the person. This is why the Gospel is what it is, because it offers grace and mercy to us who have rebelled against God.

      ” I see no purpose in punishing people (forever!) for something that’s not a crime, nor harms anyone. I see no justice in punishing people for
      things they do not choose. Or for things they DO choose consensually.” The acts of homosexuality would be considered a crime against God because it goes against his created order. I don’t think He punishes people for what they did not choose (desires, ect). But if they DO choose to do an act that is considered a crime against God, then it doesn’t matter if it was consensual or not.

      “As I said, I don’t know if there’s a God or not. But if there is, it escapes me that he’d be one who brought something like Leviticus
      20:13 into the world.” Can you clarify this? What is the “something” that God brought into the world?

      “Its influence on the climate of hatred and violence against gay people that has persisted for centuries is undeniable. If there IS a God, then that climate was deliberate.” If your referring to the “putting to death”, then I think you may be right about the influence of violence and hatred against a certain group of people. However, I don’t think God wanted sin and death to be present since the beginning, I don’t think that was His intention. In fact, I think He grieves over those who are both murdered, jeered against, are lonely, are hated against, and those who do the acts, because I believe that He loves His creation. The climate, I think, was caused by man. The deliberate action from God, according to the worldview, is the reconciliation of man to Himself through Christ.

      Thoughts? Again, these are good questions that has me thinking. Sorry if it seemed jumbled, let me know if I need to clarify or misrepresented a point or question you raised.

      • EdmondWherever

        Hi, Referencetobridge, thanks very much for the reply. I know this can be a difficult subject matter for many people. I didn’t think that you were “jumbled” at all, but very clear and civil. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I found your replies to be very satisfying. I’ve pointed out a few of your replies which led me to further thoughts.

        According to the Judeo-Christian worldview, God made the human body, specifically male and female, for a specific purpose, a sort of natural way they function. Any act that goes against what the body is suppose to do would be considered going against God’s purpose for the way the body is suppose to function. This would be the “crime” against God and why it would be considered a sin. So in this worldview, to act on homosexual desires would be considered a crime regardless of what country or what time period you’re in because it’s under God’s created order.

        Then this begs the question of why people HAVE homosexual desires. I did not choose to have homosexual desires. I do not create those desires in myself. There wasn’t anything that I did to make any heterosexual desires go away, they just never appeared. My orientation manifested itself during puberty, as I would expect any teenager’s to have done. It would seem to me that these desires are just as much a natural part of my physiology as the rest of my body is.

        And is pursuit of these desires really so terrible that a person should be punished for it? With eternal burning? Is there no room for understanding that people with particular desires would obviously pursue those desires? What else are homosexuals supposed to do? Pursue something that they DON’T desire? Pursue nothing, and remain alone? If there is supposed to be some justice or fairness in this doctrine, I simply cannot see it.

        “Some of them even coincide with what the Bible calls sin, such a murder or theft.” The question is why the Bible calls these things sin in the first place? I think the reason is because there is a morality to worldview that makes these acts crimes against God.

        I think that the reason that things like murder and theft are crimes (and sins) is that we simply couldn’t function as a society if they were allowed. I don’t see that we need any “higher power” to instruct us in these instances. It’s plainly obvious that some acts are utterly contrary to maintaining a peaceful and cooperative society. I also think that it’s important that we understand exactly WHY we consider some things crimes but not others. I think that we are doing ourselves and our society a disservice by simply saying that something is immoral because we were TOLD that it is by someone else, without deeper explanation. If the criminalization of homosexuality cannot be explained in the same terms that the criminalization of murder can be, then I think we should re-examine our reasons for criminalizing it. In fact, that is exactly what happened in our country. Our laws are written so that they CAN be re-examined, and changed if found to be lacking in real justice. Laws from the Bible do not have the same flexibility or process for examination, and I think this is a failing, not a strength.

        “But they shouldn’t be free to dictate what ANOTHER person pursues, and they shouldn’t be patted on the back for calling the other person “evil”
        just because they’re different.” Why doesn’t this apply to the person who murders, or commits acts of theft? Why should someone dictate what they should do or call them “evil” for doing something counter-cultural? What is the basis of that morality?

        Consent is the basis of that morality. Murderers and thieves aren’t simply “different”, they are harming another person against their will.

        “If sin is to be analogous to crime, then how is justice served by preventing gay people from finding happiness with another like-minded
        person?” This is a harder question, but the question I have is is anyone preventing anyone from finding happiness, whatever that means? Cannot one gay person still find happiness with another gay person without being married, or is their happiness dependent on being married?

        No, but their happiness might be dependent on not living life as a social pariah. Their happiness may be affected by a lack of legal protections.

        The suicide rate of gay teens is four times higher than their straight counterparts. In some parts of the country, the bond of a gay couple is not recognized whatsoever, and they may be denied visitation rights at hospitals, or they may be made to pay exorbitant fees on things like inheritances. The social and legal rejections of gay people have serious repercussions. I would say that the happiness of gay people, while certainly not unattainable, is nevertheless drastically affected by these factors. Finding happiness should not be a struggle, with other people acting obstructively.

        “How is the universe made into a better place, by sending gay people to be tortured by fire for all eternity?” I don’t think, on the Judeo-Christian worldview, that anyone is sent to hell simply for being gay (again, for have desire toward same-sex), but people are sent to hell for the acts they commit themselves against God, whether these acts be lying, murder, theft, ect. It is a specific sin that will alienate you from God, it is any sin or crime against God. I think the punishment will fit the crime of the person. This is why the Gospel is what it is, because it offers grace and mercy to us who have rebelled against God.

        And for those of us who are not convinced by the existence of a God? I am not “rebelling”, and I am not committing any acts “against” any God. I am only trying to pursue happiness in the best way I can. I find it unconscionable that this should merit punishment in ANY way.

        ” I see no purpose in punishing people (forever!) for something that’s not a crime, nor harms anyone. I see no justice in punishing people for
        things they do not choose. Or for things they DO choose consensually.” The acts of homosexuality would be considered a crime against God because it goes against his created order. I don’t think He punishes people for what they did not choose (desires, ect). But if they DO choose to do an act that is considered a crime against God, then it doesn’t matter if it was consensual or not.

        Consent is one of the greatest factors we use when considering whether some act should be a crime. I cannot understand that a God would disregard it entirely. It does seem to me that if there is a God, then his best course of action for reducing homosexuality would be to stop creating people with homosexual desires. It seems rampantly unfair to me that people would be created with particular desires, forbidden from pursuing them even though it will only bring happiness to the people involved, and then punished if they do so.

        “As I said, I don’t know if there’s a God or not. But if there is, it escapes me that he’d be one who brought something like Leviticus
        20:13 into the world.” Can you clarify this? What is the “something” that God brought into the world?

        The verse from Leviticus, chapter 20 verse 13. This was an order to kill gay people. People continue to quote it to this day, as justification for hatred and violence against gays.

        “Its influence on the climate of hatred and violence against gay people that has persisted for centuries is undeniable. If there IS a God, then that climate was deliberate.” If your referring to the “putting to death”, then I think you may be right about the influence of violence and hatred against a certain group of people. However, I don’t think God wanted sin and death to be present since the beginning, I don’t think that was His intention. In fact, I think He grieves over those who are both murdered, jeered against, are lonely, are hated against, and those who do the acts, because I believe that He loves His creation. The climate, I think, was caused by man. The deliberate action from God, according to the worldview, is the reconciliation of man to Himself through Christ.

        God could have helped avoid the current climate by simply never calling for the violence that he calls for in Leviticus. I don’t understand what you mean when you say that wasn’t God’s “intention”. By definition, a God cannot act without foreknowledge of the future consequences of its actions. If God could see that people would eventually misinterpret this verse (and I really don’t see any room for ambiguity in it), then he missed his opportunity to provide a BETTER verse that would have fostered greater understanding and community.

        Although you and I may not find much agreement in the basics of our worldviews, I appreciate the respectful conversation, and the opportunity to offer my thoughts.

        • referencetobridge

          Thanks for the response, this is the first time I am writing about these things, so I am trying to clarify my thoughts even as we write. I have questions about what you wrote. Allow me to respond if you will, and again, please bare with me.

          “Then this begs the question of why people HAVE homosexual desires. I did not choose to have homosexual desires. I do not create those
          desires in myself. There wasn’t anything that I did to make any heterosexual desires go away, they just never appeared. My orientation
          manifested itself during puberty, as I would expect any teenager’s to have done. It would seem to me that these desires are just as much a
          natural part of my physiology as the rest of my body is.”

          This is why I differentiated between desire and the body’s function. I don’t think you did choose your desires. I don’t know how certain desires occur, perhaps a combination of things, genetic/environmental or otherwise. As to WHY these desires exist in the first place, I think in the Judeo-Christian view it has to do with the original Fall of man. However, just because someone has a desire, doesn’t mean they should act on it. In this case, the desire would go against the function of the body. When the two don’t agree, there may be a miscommunication (spiritually/emotionally/physically) somewhere.

          “And is pursuit of these desires really so terrible that a person should be punished for it? With eternal burning?”

          In this worldview, God has created certain things a certain way, and our function and morality as humans are to follow this order; therefore, if we perform actions based on desires that go contrary to what God has said to be right, then we have disobeyed, committed a “crime” against God, and therefore should be punished for the crime committed.

          “Is there no room for understanding that people with particular desires would obviously pursue those desires? What else are homosexuals supposed to do? Pursue something that they DON’T desire? Pursue nothing, and remain alone? If there is supposed to be some justice or fairness in this doctrine, I simply cannot see it.”

          It is perfectly understandable that people would want to pursue particular desires. The whole point of the Judeo-Christian worldview is that we DON’T desire what is good. Because of the Fall, we have an intrinsic desire to do what is opposite of what God wants, to commit crimes and acts that go against God. This is the reason that Jesus came to earth in the first place, to die and take the punishment for the crimes we were suppose to take, and give us the ability to finally desire what is good and righteous according to God. This is both God’s justice and mercy–this is the Gospel.

          “I think that the reason that things like murder and theft are crimes (and sins) is that we simply couldn’t function as a society if they were
          allowed. I don’t see that we need any “higher power” to instruct us in these instances. It’s plainly obvious that some acts are utterly
          contrary to maintaining a peaceful and cooperative society. I also think that it’s important that we understand exactly WHY we consider
          some things crimes but not others. I think that we are doing ourselves and our society a disservice by simply saying that something is immoral
          because we were TOLD that it is by someone else, without deeper explanation. If the criminalization of homosexuality cannot be
          explained in the same terms that the criminalization of murder can be, then I think we should re-examine our reasons for criminalizing it. In
          fact, that is exactly what happened in our country. Our laws are written so that they CAN be re-examined, and changed if found to be
          lacking in real justice. Laws from the Bible do not have the same flexibility or process for examination, and I think this is a failing, not a strength.”

          But according to your view, we ARE told what is right and wrong, it is just by society. Society would be the “higher power” to instruct us according to your view (please correct me if I’m wrong on this). But my question is why should I follow what society says is right and wrong? After all, it’s just a collection of people making decisions to pursue a goal (this is not the technical definition, it is just general). If society says something is right or wrong, then what basis are they claiming it? Is it just the collective people’s view? And what if a society begins to say that murder is allowed and perfectly right, does this then make it right? You may disagree with it, but so what? The laws CAN change and be re-examined, but who decides what “real justice” is? The government, the people? What if they decide one thing this time, and another thing at another time as far as to what is right and wrong? It seems to me that if Society is the only thing that decides morality, without any higher standard, it is subjective, there is no real right or wrong, because it’s based off of it’s own people’s interpretation and preferences, preferences that can be changed. My question is is there objective morality in your view, and what is the basis for it?

          “Consent is the basis of that morality. Murderers and thieves aren’t simply “different”, they are harming another person against their will.”

          Is consent really the only thing that determines morality? Are you saying that if someone consents to being murdered, then it would be right to then do so? Or would it then be called murder? What about suicide? That is an action that the person who commits it gives consent to, it (physically) involves no one else, and isn’t committed against their will, yet it is outlawed. Can one say that a person is wrong for committing this act? Murder and theft commit acts against another person, but suicide is an act against self, so there seems to be different categories as to what constitutes as right and wrong in morality.

          “No, but their happiness might be dependent on not living life as a social pariah. Their happiness may be affected by a lack of legal protections.

          The suicide rate of gay teens is four times higher than their straight counterparts. In some parts of the country, the bond of a gay couple is not recognized whatsoever, and they may be denied visitation rights at hospitals, or they may be made to pay exorbitant fees on things like inheritances. The social and legal rejections of gay people have serious repercussions. I would say that the happiness of gay people, while certainly not unattainable, is nevertheless drastically affected by these factors. Finding happiness should not be a struggle, with other people acting obstructively.”

          I am in no way trying to marginalize this. I know well the gravity of this issue among those of us who are gay. We are not talking about statistics, but people who do have desires, pains, joys, heartache, and longings. A person’s happiness can be affected by government or other people. I think provisions should be in place for such things as visitation rights ect. I don’t think privaleges should be given under the title of marriage,
          because I don’t think it is a marriage. This is exactly why people are talking about this issue, and why I have to disagree with Kristen as to
          whether this issue will be settled as easily she wants. However, I don’t think happiness should be just attributed to if someone is married or not. Happiness may be a struggle to obtain for anyone, whether it should be or not (I actually prescribe to what C.S. Lewis says about the pursuit of joy, not happiness).

          “And for those of us who are not convinced by the existence of a God? I am not “rebelling”, and I am not committing any acts “against” any God. I am only trying to pursue happiness in the best way I can. I find it unconscionable that this should merit punishment in ANY way.”

          Whether you are convinced or not of God’s existence is a different from whether God actually DOES exist or not. If he does exist, then not acknowledging him WOULD be rebellion or an act against him, whether you believe in his existence or don’t. Or vice versa, if he actually didn’t exist, there WOULDN’T be any punishment in any way (except for Society’s). So the question is does God actually exist or not, and this answer will have consequences either way.

          “Consent is one of the greatest factors we use when considering whether some act should be a crime. I cannot understand that a God would
          disregard it entirely. It does seem to me that if there is a God, then his best course of action for reducing homosexuality would be to stop
          creating people with homosexual desires. ”

          I agree that consent is a great factor for deciding what is just (among humans), and I don’t think God disregards it. I don’t think God was the cause of homosexuality, rather, as I mentioned before, it was the result of the Fall, when man first sinned against God.

          “It seems rampantly unfair to me that people would be created with particular desires, forbidden from
          pursuing them even though it will only bring happiness to the people involved, and then punished if they do so.”

          Should it also be unfair then, for those people who have particular desires that go against someone else’s consent or will, for there actions to be forbidden? It may bring them happiness too, right?

          “The verse from Leviticus, chapter 20 verse 13. This was an order to kill gay people. People continue to quote it to this day, as justification for hatred and violence against gays.”

          This verse doesn’t just apply to people who are gay, but to EVERYONE, gay, straight, bi, asexual, ect. Any person (no matter their inclination) who has sex with the same sex would be brought under this. So the judgement is equal. This is why I differentiate the desire to do something with the act. I agree that some people may quote this verse to be hateful or violent towards gays, but I think this verse is, like the verses before and after, used to state what is right and wrong according to God’s standard.

          “God could have helped avoid the current climate by simply never calling for the violence that he calls for in Leviticus. I don’t understand what you mean when you say that wasn’t God’s “intention”. By definition, a God cannot act without foreknowledge of the future consequences of its actions.”

          God could’ve avoided the whole situation by not making man in the first place, or make them with free will–but He did, and the “violence” that he calls for is the sentence for a crime committed against him. God does have knowledge of the future, even when he created, however, just because one creates and knows what that creation will do, doesn’t necessarily mean one intends certain actions from that creation. It is clear from the text God did not want Man to fall or go against him, but wanted their to be an everlasting joy and fellowship between him and man. Because of man’s own actions, this fellowship was severed, and the whole Judeo-Christian account is about how this played out and how God has made plans to restore this fellowship.

          “If God could see that people would eventually misinterpret this verse (and I really don’t see any room for ambiguity in it), then he missed
          his opportunity to provide a BETTER verse that would have fostered greater understanding and community.”

          How would you make the verse clearer? As you said, it seems there is no ambiguity in it, and the understanding and community is fostered in the context of how man should relate to God and with each other according to God.

          WHEW, I’m glad there is no word limit. Sorry for the long reply. I hope I clarified some things. You have me thinking. Thoughts on this? I wish there was a way we could have a fuller conversation on these things.

          P.S. what kind of lightsabers are those on your avatar?

          • R.A.

            I see the issue as a bit double-edged. One person may call their union a marriage under the freedom of religious belief, yet another has a right to step in and say whether or not it is a “real” marriage? Who is actually infringing on whose religious beliefs?

  • James Anderson

    Yes. This triviality is what will define you for years. This should have taken about 20 minutes on a rainy Thursday afternoon. But no. W’ve had to waste hundreds of millions of dollars to provide Tony Perkins with and adequate income. So I can’t know that my spouse of 44 years can’t rely on me to be there is he’s in a hospital, or I can’t rely on him to be allowed at my bedside… Yes. You will be shamed for years.

  • Syttende Mai

    Probably one of the most wantonly ignorant pieces I’ve read in years.

    • R.A.

      Judgmental much?

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    Yes. This conflict will define Christianity in America just as murder and terrorism defines Christianity in my homeland. I agree with what others are saying. If you ended this debate tomorrow, it’s still too late. Your religion marked itself years ago.

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    WHY IS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE an ISSUE?

    ANS: Marriage is an Inviolable Right given by God. It is written in the Natural Law (NL). Only God can change the NL, not man.

    Violations of the NL exact repercussions for all humanity and entail grave damage for the family and the Common Good.
    Further, government tramples on the inviolability of a Natural Right and subjects it to the whims of man. In doing so, it becomes a presumptuous act of usurpation of the authority of God. Such is an invitation to the vengeance of the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, namely Pestilence (AIDS, HIV, STDs) and Death (AIDS, Abortion). Further, such unions assail the State’s posterity, progenies, astuteness and ingenuity.

    In addition, sexuality is used as a refutation of human nature and specifically the end of human acts. This goes against the interpersonal language of conjugal love and seriously endangers the objective order, the NL of life willed by the Creator.

    The family’s social and objective values are rooted in Marriage. The State has a duty in justice to society to foster and protect these values for the Common Good. Therefore, the family based on marriage is a fundamental and precious good for the entire society whose most solid fabric is built on the values that are developed in family relations that are guaranteed by stable marriage.

    The pretext of legalizing a social and juridical cohabitation, attempts to justify the institutional recognition of illicit sexual unions. In this way, such unions would be sanctioned by law to the detriment of the family based on marriage.

    These iniquitous unions equated to true Marriage are diametrically opposed to it. Such immoral cohabitation is termed a “good” by elevating it to a condition equivalent to true Marriage. Such elevation becomes a detriment of truth and justice. In this way, a very strong contribution would be made toward the breakdown of the natural institution of Marriage which is absolutely vital, basic and necessary for Society and its Domestic Tranquility.

    • R.A.

      Then here’s my difficulties with Natural Law:

      A) Natural Law depends on God’s intent for creation. This is something we don’t know. Just because the creation account(s) depicts the beginning in a certain way doesn’t mean we have a glimpse into God’s intended purposes. True, we see what God creates, but that doesn’t mean we see his ultimate intentions. We can only surmise at those. What did God intend for the appendix? The jury’s still out.

      B) For Natural Law to really be a law, it must be pervasive in its scope, applied equally to all creation. But it’s only really appealed to in sexual contexts. The problem with that approach is that it ignores God’s intent for the rest of creation. If we applied it as a universal law, then we would be breaking it by using the penicillin-mold for pharmaceutical purposes instead of allowing it to simply decompose matter. But if someone suggests maybe God intended for penicillin to be used as a drug, then we run back into the problem listed under letter A.

      And suppose we allow the Law to stand despite the lack of all-inclusive scope, we (rightfully) condemn sexual conduct between adults and thirteen year-olds despite the fact that the body is physically capable of such conduct at that age. If we insist on Natural Law, then we must explain why this is an exception since, naturally, all mechanics are in working order, despite the context of a “marriage”. But if we (rightfully, in my opinion) insist that such a relationship is immoral, then we’ve made an exception to Natural Law. And by definition, laws must have no exceptions. Therefore, we’ve already showed we’ve applied the Natural Law selectively, thus we’ve violated its status as a law, rendering it outside of a universal rule.

      C) Natural Law just isn’t biblically based, in my humble opinion. It’s something we’ve read into the text. Can we find evidence for it? Sure. But to do so, we have to operate on the belief that it’s true before we ever start reading the text, and I don’t think that’s the best exegetical approach for interpreting the scripture.

  • Dave

    I got news for you, lady. It already is. This isn’t like slavery or antisemitism or civil rights where you can say you always opposed it and know that people won’t dig though piles of microfiche to find the relevant sources to prove otherwise. We have it on camera. It’s on the news, on youtube, on our flash drives and phones.And while I’ve no doubt christians of 2030 or so and onwards will try to claim that they were on the forefront of the gay rights issue (possibly blaming atheists like has been done with the holocaust, or islam if y’all are still terrified of it by then) but we’ll have proof otherwise. And we’ll remember what your positions really were.

    But you know what the really damning thing is? It’s not the fact that you still class love between consenting partners as somehow wrong, and act as if your religion’s positions should be forced on everyone else. It’s not that you do this while hilariously wondering why people don’t like you very much. NO, the most damning thing of all is that if this wasn’t making your religion look bad, you wouldn’t care. If christian hatred of gays wasn’t an abatross around your religion’s neck, you’d never even think of changing. This has nothing to do with love or compassion. Even this article presents this as a tactical issue: “if we don’t start pretenting to treat gays as human beings, it wil make jesus look bad.” Even while playing at being liberal and accepting, you still view your fellow human beings as little more than chess pieces to be moved around as it suits you.

    We’ll remember that, too. So, the question is not whether oppression is what christianity is remembered for. The question is whether we’ll remember anything else.

  • SpringerRider

    Homosexual marriage and abortion are the two most offensive acts to God. The first mocks the most precious gift God have mankind and the second is the murdering of that gift. Both are being silenced through the threat of our liberal administration. And this author is complicit through her cowardice.
    Or does God owe Sodom and Gomorrah an apology?

    • R.A.

      Ezekiel’s take on Sodom was a bit different:
      “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

      • Mick

        RA The sin of Sodom is pride really . But In Jude in the NT is does refer to sexual sin also. But reading the Bible I get two main concerns of God , For us to Help the poor, our neighbor , and to put Him First in our lives .

        • R.A.

          Hey, Mick. Jude does reference some sort of sexual sin. But looking at the surrounding context of the passage, it is more likely, in my opinion, Jude criticizes the people of Sodom for seeking sex with the angelic emissaries in the account. In my opinion, that explains the use of his wording “strange flesh”, which, when looking at Jude, which has some very strange discussion of angels, tends to point to a divine and fleshly intermixing.

          • Mick

            Yes I have read that also RA . Also commentary is offered to Jude speaking to temptations that keep us separated from God . I remember the first time I read Genesis I was quite amazed , not at Sodom , but Lot and his daughters . They were suppose to be the good guys and this X Episcopalian was thinking this book should X rated . Thank God I had people around me who knew how to answer my questions or point me in the right direction .

          • R.A.

            The Bible is crazy tough to interpret well, hence our many different denominations. I often pray for God to point me in the right direction. I feel ya’, Mick!

  • Syttende Mai

    In God’s eyes homogenital “marriage” never will be marriage. THAT is all which matters.

    • R.A.

      And you definitively know God’s thoughts based on what? If you answer the Bible, please provide evidence of what God considers marriage based on prescriptive texts not narratives.

  • Mick Sheldon

    I think the worse problem is how fractured we are as a culture and how we explain our position . For one this blog was positioned to win a debate that it is having with the other side . It is not attempting to reconcile as Christians are suppose to , it is attempting to promote a view by limiting the other side . Both sides are not given . We see this in politics, but we should not do it in the church . Politics attacks , it destroys or attempts to destroy the opposition . Christianity getting taken into the comfort of the Republican Party was a big mistake by those of us who were alarmed at the changing culture . There was nothing unusual or wrong being alarmed at sex being as common and accepted on the first date . Being glamorized on the media . In the church in Cornith Paul wrote Christians to rid the one in the body of Christ of sexual sin . Homosexuality brings celebrity status in the world , also at times great sorrow and hard ache for all involved , especially the person attracted to same sex.. Biologically you are not using your body for what it was created for sexually . Christians who claim to share the love of Christ should have the maturity before they share their views to possible young Christians who may be reading this blog . No where should gossip be treated as something that is not dangerous , it destroys lives , families, marriages and more . Over weight causes health problems , shorter and restricted lives . Alcoholism destroys , you attempting to minimize sin or maximize it in a chance to discredit opposition to perversion in the church ministry is sad indeed . We are obligated to share the love of Christ for all our sins , not just ones some of us think are worth it . Christ would have died for just the sin of homosexuality if that was the only sin . That is LOVE .Attempting to make sexual sin less important by comparing it to a what someone may consider a lesser sin is a slippery slope that this culture has embraced . Everyone is doing it , so what . We should be separate from the world , and an example for the unbeliever . Homosexuality has been popular in other cultures before .

    • R.A.

      Hey, Mick, from what I’ve read, homosexuality has never been “popular”. Some cultures have been ambivalent towards it, others extremely hostile. But I’m not familiar with a culture that has viewed it as a trend.

      Also, see my earlier post about why I think creational morality is problematic. Tell me what you think.

      Nice to meet you.

      • Mick

        Hi RA , excuse me but it is a little hard navigating on this site . I believe they are changing things . well stated position on natural law , but I disagree with your belief that one women and one man is not found in scripture . Lev 8:18 prohibits polygamy . The scriptures recognize polygamy and even slavery . But reading the scriptures we see how that the concern was really for men to be fair to wives say in 21:15 . I think we tend to forget Abraham was quite the liar in certain situations , but we tend to make the things many Biblical characters do mean it was Ok . All through the Bible nothing but heart ache comes from examples of more then one wife . . . . No where is polygamy ever supported , The Roman Empire for a while had a culture that was favorable to homosexuality . People of power and soldiers for instance often had homosexual servants for their time away from their own homes . People have tried to use scripture about the Guard and his sick servant as actually a guard concerned about his homosexual servant . Not true , but the context of the time and Roman morality is consistent. Also Greece for a time had a military that welcomed homosexuality , the belief was soldiers would fight harder if the person next to them was their lover . I support Marriage for a various of reasons , but tend not to use religious reasons when I speak to the issue . Would not want to be the reason someone rejected the Gospel over an issue that God will speak to their hearts about if they ever choose to take Him as Lord and Savior . But it can be supported by scripture also . When people use religion as a terrible hateful reason to support marriage I often refer to the Roman pluralistic view point at the same time , their tolerance of many gods or no gods and sexual values being more tolerant then even ours today , then point to Israel and how moralistic they were and only supported One God . But the best torturers in our history have been the Romans . They wreaked havoc on those they conquered , Israel was showing compassion and kindness to people before it was fashionable in the surrounding regions . Does not win debates , but it should keep us focused that both sides here have intentions that are not meant to harm people . Because some have different values and morality , does not change we are all made in the image of God .

        • R.A.

          Hello, Mick, thanks for the kind, thoughtful reply. I really appreciate your sentiments at the end. We all have to remember that interpretational differences don’t define the heart of the person. So true. I wish people approached this discussion with more kindness and love like you. Too often, people on both sides get irate, and there’s no reason for that. Ever.

          As for polygamy, I don’t think it’s the best option, but I don’t see any explicit Condemnation of it, either. I checked up on the Leviticus verse you wrote about, but it think some of the numbers may have been jumbled. I had a hard time connecting it to what you were saying. Thought it might be a typo. My point with polygamy is to show the underlying assumptions people take to Scripture and then inadvertently read into the text.

          The servant (pais) could have been a reference to homosexuality, but the context isn’t explicit. I don’t necessarily agree with people who appeal to that verse because I don’t see enough context to suggest that we are talking about a homosexual relationship.

          From my historical understanding, homosexuality was largely overlooked in the Roman culture, but many philosophers wrote their disgust for homosexual intimacy. I don’t think it was supported so much as tolerated. As for the Greeks, I haven’t done as much study on their culture, but I do know pederasty was a huge problem for them as much as it was for the Romans. In my understanding, that is more likely what Paul was referencing.

          I have enjoyed this discussion, Mick. I appreciate your sincerity and compassion.

          • Mick

            Thanks for the scripture correction . Had that from my notes from a book I read , Called “Is God a Moral Monster” . Must have goofed up , so sorry . Good book though , has many explanations of scripture that often cause most of us to go huh . Learned quite a bit , the author is an apologist and has written many books. Basically speaks to how we read the Bible , or many of us , and see it as if people were doing it we assumed it was God approved . Like slavery , etc . Really has some good answers for those of us who see things our enlightened lens and wonder how could they be doing that stuff.

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