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Gay Marriage, Newsweek, The Bible and Postmodern Relativism

I’m sticking my head out there again, as if I didn’t enough HERE and HERE.

newsweek gay marriage coverThis past week Newsweek magazine came out with a cover story about how the Bible supports gay marriage. I read one blog this week that said if the Bible is causing Christians to argue whether gay marriage is good or bad then we should just throw out the Bible. I said to him and I say to you…I really hope that isn’t the answer.

I truly believe we can reconcile the Scriptures with this issue and do so in a loving way. The key there is a loving way. Christians are known to be anti-gay, so we need to go above and beyond the call to change that perception.

I also read something this week that made some great points for taking the government out of their current role of granting marriages. Surely that would leave many unsatisfied though.

So after reading the article several times I want to look at some of the key points. Overall I thought the author (Lisa Miller) brought up some really great points. She is right that Jesus never (from what we have in the Gospels) addressed homosexuality, and the Bible never talks about “gay marriage” in those words. And she is also right that much of the Bible speaks to loving each other, and to grace being for everyone. One of her key points is this:

“The practice of inclusion, even in defiance of social convention, the reaching out to outcasts, the emphasis on togetherness and community over and against chaos, depravity, indifference—all these biblical values argue for gay marriage.”

As I’ve said before, you can make the Bible say whatever you want it to say. People who are for gay marriage will bend the Scriptures to support their position, just like men have used it to hold power over women.

So my problem is that she is basically saying that the Bible’s silence or non specifics about its view of homosexuality mean that God supports gay marriage. Arguing from a position of silence has always been the weakest argument in the books. It would be like a kid saying that he could have dessert before dinner just because mom never said he couldn’t. It just doesn’t work.

The fact remains that homosexuality is named a sin in both the Old and New Testaments and all throughout the Bible and even in Jesus’ ministry we see that God hates sin. He despises it with everything in himself. A problem though, is that too often we zero in on this sin and overlook others. God hates homosexual sin just as much as he hates the man or woman cheating on their spouse. I don’t think God looks different at one or the other. But just like you wouldn’t hire a pastor who is cheating on his spouse, we shouldn’t ordain pastors who are living a homosexual life. Why? Because God hates sin.

Part of postmodernism is relativism. People today are more accepting of various views. Some people say this is what is producing bad trends in our world. What people consider sin is becoming more widely accepted all the time and many people blame it on postmodernism and its affect on the church. Yet think about the sins of modernism…slavery, ethnic cleansing, and the list could go on for a long time. The hallmark modernism was making decisions based on sound logic and reasoning. Just as much as modernism could convince us of horrible sins, so can relativism lead us towards sin. So we shouldn’t start blaming relativism on rampant sin in our world. Sin exists because we exist. And sin will run more rampant every day that we are here.

I wonder if God isn’t bringing this issue of gay marriage to the forefront of all social issues to see if we will obey His word. I wonder if this isn’t a test of our ability to honor him. I wonder if gay marriage isn’t a litmus test for us. I wonder if many are shifting their views on gay marriage to please the world. Paul advises Timothy about this by saying:

“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

The crazy thing (to me) about this issue is that many, many Christians are leading the effort for marriage of LGBT couples. When I think about that the only thing that comes to mind is Paul’s words of “they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” This isn’t to say that Christians should be leading the charge against gay marriage, but I certainly believe we shouldn’t be leading a movement for it. We need Christians to present the gospel with love and to encourage the followers of Christ to love God and hate sin.

I believe it is possible to not elevate the sin of homosexuality above other sexual sins and to love homosexuals as sinners like myself, while also following God’s Word.

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  • http://ash-nits.blogspot.com ash

    What bothered me most about this article is that it is clear the author has no understanding of the scriptures used to defend their position. Just b/c biblical characters did not follow the “model,” doesn’t mean that’s what God intended. Tyler, I know you know that. Sadly, that was opening paragraph. Continuing, however, I think you presented a good blog and fair points with this touchy issue.

    But to slide just a bit- I think that the modern church deals with homosexuality on two extremes. Either they don’t deal with it at all and bull horn their opinion from the back row OR they frivolously allow their pastors to be gay etc. It is an issue of “hate the sin, love the sinner,” or perhaps, “the child of God.” I have a friend who is gay. I love her dearly! I don’t necessarily agree w/ her lifestyle and while we had the conversation- I won’t continue to judge her, rather embrace her and even her girlfriend. She’s not an evil person, she’s shouldn’t be banned from church. She’s an amazing human being and a good friend. Her partner, equally the same. God must deal with each person’s heart in his way, in his time and that person, whomever they are, must be willing….in other words, a choice they must make. It is a both/and system, a grey issue….not homosexuality in and of itself, but how we treat the community….

    The American Evangelical church exhausts their efforts into one or two issues when many of them refuse to look at their own pulpits who have liars, adulterers, etc. It’s the idea that Jesus talked about when he said that we need to get the log out of our own eye before we bother to look at the speck in someone else’s. And then again, CHRISTIANS need Jesus just the same….we all screw up…who are we to judge people that are acting exactly as they should if they do not believe as we do?

    Like I said, to me, it’s all both and.

  • http://seth.heasley.net/blog Seth

    Great post, Tyler. I think what gets lost by all who attempt to exploit Jesus’ apparent silence on homosexuality is that He was preaching from a Judaic background, taking the Hebrew Bible as his starting point. In fact, the fact that he didn’t give a “you have heard it said…” about homosexuality indicates that he didn’t really have anything to add to the issue. And he certainly didn’t override the Old Testament on this subject the way he did Sabbath-keeping and the dietary laws.

    Of course, both sides are Argument from Silence when discussing Jesus’ teachings on this.

  • Yonas

    My goodness Tyler, where do you get these interesting articles!!

  • http://manofdepravity.com Tyler

    Yes yes, I should mention a thank you to Yonas for tipping me off to the article on the day it came out. Thanks man.

  • http://www.godthepossible.blogspot.com Preston

    Tyler a couple of points here. First, you said “So we shouldn’t start blaming relativism on rampant sin in our world. Sin exists because we exist. And sin will run more rampant every day that we are here.”

    Let me ask you this then. Has there ever been a time in history where man has actually been less immoral than say other generations? Clearly there are examples in the OT where God tells Israel they are more sinful than previous generations and vice-versa. Take for example something so simple as bathinbg suits. 50-75 years ago it was consider scandalous and immoral not to have your body covered to some great degree (both men & women!). However, as we can see from just the past 30 years bathing suits have gone from being somewhat modest to nothing more than a piece of string and gauze. History has shown that when the church was at its strongest, morality was also at its highest point (ex. the 1st & 2nd great awakenings). Your comments seems to imply that all is lost even for those who are regenerated and that Christ can only bring victory over sin for the world until we are dead and resurrected. I disagree – in Christ all things are possible, including victory over sin.

    Second, to say homosexuality is not a greater sin than say lying is also a false precept. Jesus clearly delineates that some sins are actually greater than others. For example, take a look at both Lamentations 4:6 and John 19:11 and you will see God most certainly see’s sins at varying degrees – just as a good and righteous judge should. To say lying or stealing is the same as murder, rape, or homosexuality is just plain false. Paul even says in 1 Cor 6 that sexual sins are particularly more devasitating than other sins, becuase its the only sin that is committed with the body. Homosexuality is a greater sin because not only does it go against our human nature, but it goes against how God designed not only our bodies, but also how he ordained marriage. To say homosexuality is the same as any other sin, then I would disagree. Once homosexuality is accepted within a society it opens the door for a greater darkening of other sins and abominations – See Sodom and Gomorrah.

    Another note – The reason Christ probably didn’t address homosexuality when he was here on earth is because he was primarily dealing with Jews and a theocracy that stoned homosexuals. God had ordained capital punishment for such acts, and rightfully so as the Law in this case was a tremendous moral deterrent and thus homosexual acts within Isreal were probably very rare than say adultery or stealing. Paul speaks of homosexuality more frequently as this behavior was more common in Pagan societies.

  • http://manofdepravity.com Tyler

    Preston-

    #1…by God’s grace all is not lost and only by God’s grace. Wearing bathing suits isn’t a sin. Lusting at the people in them is and wearing them as a sense of pride is. The issue I have here is about saying this generation is more sinful is that you are coming at it from God’s perspective…a perspective you can’t have.

    #2…I said homosexuality is not bigger than other sexual sins. I realize sexual sin is worse than many other sins, the Bible even says so. I’m not sure we disagree here.

    #3…I don’t think we can say exactly why nowhere in the Bible is homosexuality discussed. All we know is that in the Bible he isn’t quoted as talking about it. The reasons why would be pure speculation. I get the sense that you are saying that capital punishment is a great deterrent from sin…and I think human life is more valuable than trying to deter it from sin.

  • http://www.godthepossible.blogspot.com Preston

    Tyler

    On point #1 I never said wearing a bathing suit is a sin – but my point was to show a varying degree in the lessening of morality in the world today. Second, you don’t need to be God to see for ourselves that the morality of mankind has been on a fast decline for over the past 30 years or there have been times throughout history were morality has varied (I suggest Francis Shaeffer’s “How then should we then live” as a good source on this topic). God has equipped you with a conscience and has written his laws upon the heart of every person, so we as humans have the capacity to know right from wrong and to see it in varying degrees of contrast. I am sorry, but if you can’t see that the current state of the world is far different than say 50 years then you have your head in the sand – this too may have to do with your age as I am considerably older than you are. Take pedophilia and pornography for example as compared to 30-40 years ago. Not to say neither were occurring back then, but at least people were embarrassed or shamed for doing such things. Now we have inacted laws that actually promote and allow such behavior.

    On point #3 I was simply using deductive reasoning here. Given what we know about the culture and the society Jesus lived in we can then use simple reasoning skills to understand what societal pressures Jesus may have encountered back then and why he may have not discussed or encountered homosexuality. I am not suggesting we use this as gospel, but simply to speculate as to why it was never discussed. As for your comment regarding capital punishment as a moral deterrent for sin – your issue then is not with me, but with God. It is clear in the OT that God used capital punishment as a moral deterrent within the tribes of Israel. Personally speaking, if I were to witness my neighbor being stoned to death 3,000 years ago for committing adultery, I think I would have to think twice as to what consequences would result from my actions. Your problem is you must harmonize this picture of God with also the picture of Jesus. In my theology I have no problem harmonizing the two as neither are different from one another, but still the same picture of God. Let’s not simply overlook those passages in the OT and think then that the God of the OT is somehow different than the God of the NT. This is common with dispensational theology.

  • http://manofdepravity.com Tyler

    I don’t that I would consider myself a dispensationalist.

    I won’t even get into the death penalty. That is another issue outside of this one. The idea of murdering gays because they are gay is wrong and hateful. We need to look at the OT with a view of the covenants that applied back then.

    I totally get that morality is very very important. But I still think sin is as rampant today as it was 1000 years ago. Just because people live more free doesn’t mean they sin more.

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