Category: LGBTQ Issues

Bible

Root Questions of Same-Sex Marriage Debates

Same-sex marriage is often categorized as THE ISSUE for our generation of the Church (for more “liberal” churches, that was last generation). As much as we can spend hours answering 40 Questions lobbed at the other side mostly as attacks rather than real dialogue, I’m pretty convinced that this question is often the manifestation of a pile of other big theological questions. These kinds of questions are central for understanding the kind of shifts taking place in the North American Church, much more than simply asking “what do you think of same-sex relationships?” can demonstrate.

What Is God Like?

It’s amazing how many questions boil down to asking what God is like. Particularly in the Western tradition, we really like a legalistic God. We like a God who follows the rules and enforces the rules, up to and including torturing people who break the most important of those rules (which in North America is almost always sex while things like genocide and slavery are less of an issue).

40 Questions for Affirming Christians Part 5

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32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?

Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant,it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 CEB)

And even more to the point, love looks like Jesus on the cross:

Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. 10 This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins. (1 John 4:7-10)

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40 Questions for Affirming Christians Part 4

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21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?

If we’re talking about legal rights, I’m not sure there’s anything that would I say prevents two adults with fully informed consent getting married. The legal system probably can’t determine that other than some more clear-cut scenarios like father-daughter which can never really be fully informed consent (see previous answer about this).

Churches have always and should continue to exercise their discretion on whether they perform a wedding as a representative of God’s blessing on the union. If I was a pastor, I would do as many do, wanting to meet with the couple in pre-marital counselling first. If I saw signs of coercion or abuse or other signs that would make it less likely to work, I would talk to them about it and quite possibly not perform the marriage. But I’m not a pastor anyway.

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40 Questions for Affirming Christians Part 3

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Let’s continue with the 40 Questions posed for affirming Christians.

14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?

There’s no reason to believe that the average two-mother or two-father family is any less loving than a mother-father family. Ok, there are some scenarios where the two fathers might have a bit harder time talking to their daughter about her first period. They can still do a great job by learning about it – just like we would learn about many other issues that we didn’t face personally, like easy access to pornography or cyberbullying – but yes, there is a small subset of biological issues that they can’t relate to directly. Good thing they’re completely welcomed in their churches where they can seek help if they really don’t know where to start.

This question makes me a little angry because it’s all fear-mongering and no substance.

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40 Questions for Affirming Christians Part 2

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Continuing to tackle some questions aimed at affirming Christians.

7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?

Most translations render porneia as something broad like “sexual immorality.” Some older translations like the KJV use “fornication” which doesn’t really carry moral weight in modern English. Sometimes it is translated as “adultery” or “sexual unfaithfulness”, which is probably the best option, but the term in and of itself is not particularly specific.

I’ll admit to having not run through a Greek concordance, but as far as I could find with quick Google work, Jesus only uses the word twice, Matthew 5:31-32 and Matthew 19:9 (and parallels). The saying in 19 is really just a shorter version of 5, which says:

31 “It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a divorce certificate.’[a]32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife except for sexual unfaithfulness [porneia] forces her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (CEB)

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40 Questions for Affirming Christians Part 1

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Kevin DeYoung of the Gospel Coalition posed 40 questions for affirming Christians. I’m guessing most/all of them are meant to be more attacking than genuine questions, but I’d like to try to answer at least some of them briefly for those who really do want to know. A few other responses I’ve appreciated:

1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?

I’d prefer the term “marriage equality” but I digress.

For me, the shift to a fully affirming stance happened about 5 years ago. I knew I was going to be starting at a more liberal seminary and I wanted to have some idea what I thought about it before then. For the record, in my time in that seminary I was never a part of a direct conversation about it so maybe it wasn’t even helpful from that perspective. For a few years before that, I fully supported the legal rights of same-sex couples – that just seems like basic human decency and has nothing to do with a Christian ethic of marriage.

Sodom and Gomorrah

The Destruction of Sodom

Sodom and Gomorrah

Did this happen to Sodom and Gomorrah because of their gay population? The Bible says no.

Cue the screams of pain from American dominionists* that the Supreme Court has declared marriage equality a right in all states. Comparisons will be made to Sodom. This comparison is made often. It’s also a really bad self-defeating argument. A simple search of what the Bible says about Sodom reveals this:

“‘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.

Ezekiel 16:49 NIV

Ummm… yeah, so even the Bible is pretty clear that Sodom wasn’t destroyed because men had sex with each other.

My Journey Judging LGBTQ Christians

WikiGodPod: Our Stories Shaping God

Recently I was talking about stuff on WikiGodPod, a podcast out of the Greater Toronto Area (I live close to the GTA in Kitchener) centred around our stories and how that shapes how we understand God. I’m not somebody who speaks well without preparation, so the potential questions were sent in advance and I spent a few hours the night before and morning of planning. I figure since I already spent those hours writing notes, I may as well clean them up a bit and publish them here.

Mark’s next question for me was:

Talking About Stuff on WikiGodPod

WikiGodPod: Our Stories Shaping GodA week and a half ago, I was interviewed by Mark Groleau for WikiGodPod. It was published this past Monday so you can check it out from the WikiGodPod website or through iTunes or other RSS readers. Aside from my own, I’m happy to recommend this podcast. It brings in a different voice from somewhere in Southern Ontario each week to talk about a range of different things.

In my chat with Mark, we covered my work with the Canadian Bible Society, this blog, pacifism, MennoNerds with our book A Living Alternative, judgementalism around LGBTQ persons in the Church, and embracing our differences instead of condemning each other over them.

Generous Spaciousness by Wendy Gritter (Review)

New Direction CanadaI’ve provided a few quotes already from Wendy Gritter’s Generous Spaciousness. See the posts: Judgement in LGBT Debates, Internalizing Hate Messages, and Homosexuality: A Disputable Matter. Now for a more general review.

There are a few great books about same-sex marriage, one of the biggest issues in the church right now. The priority of most are to establish either that it is condemned by God (traditionalists/non-affirming) or blessed by God like any other marriage (affirming). Those books definitely have their place, especially for those who have to personally decide for themselves. This book, however, offers something that is more important, especially for the majority of us in the church who do not experience substantial same-sex attraction.