You may have noticed today that some of your friends’ profile pictures changed to a red box with a pink equal sign inside it. If you’re as confused as I initially was, the mass profile picture switch is a social media strategy implemented by the Human Rights Campaign, whose logo is a box with an equal sign inside it. The HRC “advocates on behalf of [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender] Americans, mobilizes grassroots actions in diverse communities, invests strategically to elect fair-minded individuals to office and educates the public about LGBT issues.” This particular social media strategy is an effort to raise support for those arguing today in the Supreme Court that the definition of marriage should include the union of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders. If you’re interested, the Wall Street Journal is blogging live as the events of the day unfold.
An effort to approach the issue of gay marriage biblically.
As with every facet of life, Scripture should inform all of the perspectives held by Christians. As I attempted to weigh the efforts of the Human Rights Campaign and those similarly-minded in light of Scripture, I decided to collect my thoughts in a blog post, which I hope helps you in your quest to honor Jesus in your engagement of culture.
Freedom is good… most of the time.
Let it be said that I’m normally a proponent of more freedom. I think adults are wise to wear seat belts, for example, but I don’t think they should be forced to do so by the government. I believe that is an unnecessary removal of freedom, and there are probably hundreds of similar examples. There are also, of course, many freedoms for which I don’t advocate, and so-called gay marriage is one of them. Here’s why.
Marriage isn’t mine to change.
Marriage belongs to God. It was His idea. He created it. He owns it. That means that He alone possesses the right toÂ define what it is and is not, and He did:
Then theÂ LordÂ God said, â€œIt is not good that the man should be alone;Â I will make him a helper fit forÂ him.â€Â Now out of the ground theÂ LordÂ God had formedÂ every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens andbrought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.Â The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for AdamÂ there was not found a helper fit for him.Â So theÂ LordÂ God caused aÂ deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that theÂ LordÂ God had taken from the man he madeÂ into a woman and brought her to the man.Â Then the man said,
â€œThis at last isÂ bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she wasÂ taken out of Man.â€
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:18-24).
To legalize gay marriage, then, requires not our passive allowance of it, but our active decision to alter what God alone has the right to alter. In short, the decision to alter the meaning of marriage is not ultimately an act of “love” (love here is in quotes because voting to legalize so-called marriage is actually hateful, but more on this to come) toward man, but of rebellion against God, and we don’t want to go there.
God requires every person & society to honor His purposes for marriage and sex.
Second, though not every command found in the Bible should be enforced by earthly governments, there are some that should. Our Declaration of Independence does a good job describing the scenario in which a law should or should not be passed. It says:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…
There are clues here regarding the type of laws that governments should enforce. Governments should enforce laws that secure “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” for the individuals who were declaring their independence. So, what happens when the government does not preserve these “unalienable Rights?” The people should alter the government or completely scrap it and start over. Now, this is where it gets interesting. Notice the two values that should be pursued in the altered or new government, values which presumably disappeared in the former government and resulted in the need to alter or abolish it: “Safety and Happiness.”
Now, hold that thought and consider with me that Christians are not the only ones whom God holds accountable for preserving a right understanding of marriage. Rather, the Bible indicates that God requiresÂ all societiesÂ (even utterly secular ones!) toÂ uphold a right understanding of marriage. Just ask Sodom and Gomorrah, which, despite being neither Hebrew/Jewish nor Christian nations, were wiped out partly because of their cultural embrace of homosexual practice (Gen. 19:1-28, Jude 7).
Again,Â this does not mean that the United States should enforce every commandment found in the Bible, but it does mean that our government should enforce thisÂ one, since the holistic embrace of marital and sexual deviancy by a society ensures not societal “safety and happiness,” but societal “destruction and misery.”
God’s creative purposes for marriage are good, true, and beautiful.
Third, God called His pre-Fall creation “very good.” And notice that God didn’t qualify His assessment, as though it only pertained to certain portions of creation. Rather, the entirety of His creative work was “very good,” including His creation of woman for man and His establishment of marriage between them. God saw that woman was wonderfully suited for the man and vice versa, and He saw that the nature of their union was good, true, and beautiful. It did not need to be altered, changed, or amended.Â To alter, change, or amend God’s creative purposes for marriage, then, is not only to assault the infinite wisdom and goodness of God, but is also to introduce immorality, falsehood, and desecration into the world God created.
Is this position hateful?
In light of the these reasons, I do not support gay marriage. It is neither honoring to God nor beneficial for people and/or societies. Of course, such statements invariably invoke the wrath of many, but neither Scripture nor my conscience allow me to support what the Bible says results immorality, falsehood, desecration, and, most horrifically, the defamation and resulting wrath of God upon individuals and even nations.
The original sin repackaged.
If marriage belongs to God, and if God requires everyone to uphold His purposes for marriage, and if doing so results in God’s greater glory and the preservation of what is true, good, and beautiful, and (4) if such is both beneficial for and loving toward humanity, then why all the opposition? The answer is found in Genesis 3. The motive to alter the meaning of marriage is not mainly a matter of the intellect, but of the heart, which, like the Serpent, is deceitful (Jer. 17:9) and asks a question not because the answer is unclear, but because it isn’t the one our hearts want to hear: “Did God really say…?”
This heart problem, of course, is not an issue unique to the gay marriage discussion or even to homosexuals. It is the issue behind the sins I commit, and is precisely why all of us, whether straight or gay, need the Gospel.
For an excellent consideration of gay marriage and virtually every other facet of political involvement from a distinctly Christian perspective, I highly recommend Politics According to the Bible by Wayne Grudem. For a biblical consideration of homosexuality more generally, I recommend this series of three articles, which you can read here.
Byron Smith says
As an apostate to Christianity, when I read pieces like this I am reminded of how central to the core of Christianity (of my experience, and your current belief I think) that belief and obedience to a specific text of religious scriptures proves to be. Back when I considered myself to be a Christian, my only real objection to homosexuality and gay marriage originated from my belief in the Bible. I could find no secular, logical reason(s) for opposing it; basically it all came down to my religious beliefs and preferences. It seems very difficult to me, because I find no real agreement with what you have written, even though it’s perfectly reasonable given your beliefs and interpretation of the Scriptures. So basically, I have said all that in order to form my question: doesn’t this position (as well as any position on the multiple issues we face in society) center upon the idea of Biblical authority? And how would you give witness to your concept of Biblical authority to an unbelieving world? Even to an apostate such as myself? I’m just kind of curious, thanks.
Chad Barnes says
Byron, I think this question centers ultimately on biblical authority. As for how to convince an atheist, I have a few thoughts on it, but I want to think more on that before I answer. That’s a good question.
You crazy born-again southern Baptists really want to live in the Stone Age, or at least the age the Bible was written…you know, 2,000+ years ago for and by people who were barely savages. I do respect your right to believe what you like, but the world is changing…open your eyes!
Chad Barnes says
JCM, by “changing,” I assume you mean “advancing.” On that assumption, I agree on the one hand that the world is advancing. We have cell phones, automobiles, highly skilled medical professionals, and even running water, none of which were likely even dreamed by those living in “Bible times.” So, yes, we’re advancing. Your comment, however, seemed to reference a different type of advancement,” an advancement of a moral/ethical nature. But if the cultural embrace of homosexual practice and gay marriage is the measure of moral/ethical advancement, then Sodom and Gomorrah were far more morally/ethically “advanced” than the United States has ever been. The result, as you know, was absolute godlessness, the moral decay that always follows godlessness, and the eventual downfall of those societies. If I operated under the false presupposition that the God who punished them doesn’t exist, then I, too, as did the Sodomites and Gomorrahites and as do many Americans, would look to myself and to culture for my moral/ethical clues. But God has established moral/ethical standards reflective of His own character and worth and will by no means clear those guilty of violating them (Ex. 34:7). So, I’m not interested in what I or the society in which I live think about morality. I’m interested in what the God to whom I will give an account thinks about morality. It is utterly insane to attempt to stand against God. Consider Psalm 2:
‘The Reign of the Lord’s Anointed
Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
â€œLet us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.â€
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
â€œAs for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.â€
I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, â€œYou are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.â€
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.’
Amanda Weaver says
I recommend "Fish Out Of Water" <fabulous documentary.
Chad Barnes says
What's the premise of it? I haven't seen it.
First, the HRC logo is actually a bold blue with a yellow equals sign. The red/pink version has been spread virally because they created this version to state that the arguments being presented to the SCOTUS is about love… it’s just a temporary version of the logo for these proceedings. I believe the logo will change back after these arguments are over, but for now it can still be seen on their merchandise website: http://shop.hrc.org/.
Second, I agree with many of the points made here. I also encourage everyone who reads this article to do their due diligence to the issue by reading this as well: http://thebea.st/Zq03Bd. I think in order to have a well rounded argument and consider myself strong in my beliefs, I have to fully read and understand both sides of a debate. That is the only true way to form an opinion. We are otherwise just making assumptions.
Chad Barnes says
Thanks for the clarification regarding the logo. I corrected in the post. Even though it’s obviously not a huge issue, I really don’t want to misrepresent even the smallest fact in the matter.
Thank you also for linking to the article on The Daily Beast because I agree that it’s good to fairly represent the positions of the opposition. After reading the article, however, the only word that I found surprising was the word “conservative” because his position is not even moderate, but unmistakably liberal. This comment, in particular, spilled the beans, so to speak:
“I understand, but reject, certain religious teachings that denounce homosexuality as morally wrong, illegitimate, or unnatural; and I take strong exception to those who argue that same-sex relationships should be discouraged by society and law. Science has taught us, even if history has not, that gays and lesbians do not choose to be homosexual any more than the rest of us choose to be heterosexual.”
Contrary to the claims of Olson and others, the Bible is crystal clear on it’s stance on homosexuality and, as an undeniably logical consequence, also gay marriage. A while back, I wrote a post that addresses some of the criticisms of the position I hold and I’d be honored to have you read and respond to it as well. You can find it here: https://christsupreme.com/2011/03/03/the-gospel-and-homosexuality-part-1/
After rejecting the clear biblical stance on homosexuality and gay marriage, Olson then appealed to what he believes science has proven and stands with what he believes science has proven rather than what the Bible teaches. Such can be called many things, but “conservative” isn’t one of them. Sadly, neither is “biblical.”
Nick Kampman says
Chad, while you are entitled to your own opinion AND voicing it, God does not own marriage. Pegan's had similiar rituals as did many non-christian based religions dating as far back as Christianity. Would it be right for Christians to dictate what is acceptable and what is not in a country based on religious freedoms? Especially for those not raised Christian? It isn't for God to decide if the person effected does not choose to believe in Him. AND our free will allows us to make that decision. Additionally, the right to religious freedom allows Christian, and any other religion to deny marriage for those reasons. But to declare law is turn (yet again) Christianity into a dictatorship where those who do not believe have no say in their own rights? And please provide me with some quotes as to why Christians couldn't divorce and now can or why grape juice is an acceptable substitute for the blood of Christ. I accept your belief but I don't accept it's authority over my own. P.s. I'm straight
Chad Barnes says
Nick, thank you for commenting. There’s a lot here to which I can respond, and I’ll give it a go. First, you are right in saying that almost every society, including pagan ones, have embraced the institution of marriage. It does, however, belong to God because He instituted it when He created the 2nd person who ever lived. As such, He alone has the rights to determine what marriage is and is not.
Regarding religious freedom, deciding not to support gay marriage for religious religions is entirely different from instituting a national religion. Believing that God has prescribed in the Bible the way societies should function is not the same as requiring everyone in those societies to worship the God of the Bible. After all, your argument actually works against you. Here’s what I mean. I am a Christian. I believe that God exists AND that He has established certain behavioral standards for societies, and because I believe God ultimately knows the way His world works best, I desire for those behavioral standards to be established and maintained in society. On the other hand, John Doe is a professing atheist. He claims not to believe that God exists OR, as result, that God has established certain behavioral standards for all societies. Because He claims not to believe in God, he obviously does not believe God knows the way the world works best, and, therefore, does not desire for any behavioral standards that allegedly come from God to be established or maintained in society. Both positions are unmistakably motivated by religious belief, and neither is a violation of the Constitutional forbiddance for the establishment of a national religion.
Next, you are right in saying that people are responsible for their own decisions. No argument there. However, your comment that “it isn’t for God to decide” was pretty shocking. Nebuchadnezzar said of God, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?'” (Dan. 4:34b-35). Since, “God is in the heavens and He does whatever He pleases” (Ps. 115:3), we have no grounds upon which to correct Him or tell Him what He can and cannot do.
Your comments about divorce and grape juice are interesting. First, God hates divorce. It is morally wrong for a person to divorce another except in cases of adultery (Mt. 19:9) or abandonment by an unbeliever (1 Cor. 7:12-15). In the Old Testament, however, God built into the Law the way divorce should be handled, not because it was morally right, but because people are hard-hearted (Mt. 19:8). Sadly, though, divorce has become commonplace in the American church. Some churches tolerate divorce for unbiblical reasons and then allow those same people to remarry in their churches. This should never happen, and while I wish I could say that you weren’t on to something with your remark, I just can’t. Some churches do this and it’s wrong that they do. Regarding grape juice, some churches argue that it’s really a matter of degree of fermentation, and while I appreciate that argument, I would generally prefer to use wine for communion, though I respect the leadership at the church I serve and their preference to utilize grape juice instead. Hopefully that serves as a sufficient response to your comments about divorce and grape juice, but I wasn’t able to make the connection between our conversation about gay marriage and your comments about divorce and grape juice.
I’d love to hear back from you if you get a chance. Again, thanks for posting and I hope my response is helpful.
interesting how AGAIN you fanatical nut job christians can pick and choose. if you're going to honor your bible then honor the entire thing. you actually had the audacity and ignorance to type not all of the bible should e honored. [Expletive] hogwash.
Chad Barnes says
I get the impression that you read what you wanted to read rather than what I actually said, so I'll wait and respond to arguments against what I actually said.