Eliminating the heart strings from the same-sex marriage debate

marriage_spaceshipThe Supreme Court on Friday ruled that Same Sex Marriage must be legalized in all 50 states across America, thus bringing to a close the country’s debate on the legality of Same Sex Marriage in America.

While many celebrated the ruling, others were less celebratory.  Several Christian leaders came forth to declare that they will engage in civil disobedience if necessary.  Mike Huckabee went so far as to say that he doesn’t see Christian leaders having much of a choice if they are going to be obedient to God.

While it would be easy to turn this into a religious forum, or tug at heart strings, which is typically what happens (if anyone would like to see this in action one need only read this statement from Justice Kennedy:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

Awwww.  Pass the kleenex here, I’ve sprung a leak.

Ok, so I’m being sarcastic.  But there is a reason for my sarcasm.  It is essentially rooted in the nature of public policy and the welfare of the public versus the desires of the few.  And while this may sound particularly callous, it’s not coming from a place of callousness, but rather a deep concern for the future of our country.

Let me start with a few things about my own personal opinion.  I do not agree that homosexuality is congruent with a biblical worldview.  And while I say that openly and candidly, I also say that knowing that so are many other behaviors that people engage in frequently, such as adultery, bribery, theft, murder, slander, gossip, etc. and etc.  Since I don’t hold a special measure of condemnation for those people who engage in those behaviors, neither do I hold a special measure of condemnation for people who engage in homosexuality.  Instead I love them just like I would anyone else.  So this isn’t coming from a position of condemnation (If anyone is curious, I DO hold a special measure of condemnation in my heart for University of South Carolina fans, and it’s very real.  I don’t believe they actually have souls.  Kidding.  Mostly.)

That being said, I don’t believe there should even be a measure of religious view necessary in evaluating the Same Sex Marriage debate, because ultimately, we live in an environment that fosters the separation of church and state.  So while I have my own views as to why homosexuality is wrong, for the intents and purposes of the Same Sex Marriage debate, I don’t even want to lay them out as argument.  However, I do believe that the equality of Same Sex Marriage is a dangerous step towards destabilizing our country, and while I do believe those engaging in homosexuality should have access to certain marital benefits, I believe that extending all of the same rights to homosexual couples is simply a bad choice.  Here’s why.

Public policy is not meant to be rooted in our emotions.  It’s meant to be what’s rooted in the best for society.  For example, we have policies against drug use and the sale of drugs precisely because it’s not rooted in what’s best for society.  We have policies against drunk driving because it’s dangerous to society.  That being said, when we make decisions, especially unilaterally comprised decisions that eliminate the people’s right to autonomously decide, we trust our Supreme Court to make those decisions with what’s best in mind for society.  If it can reasonably be proven that Same Sex Marriage is best for society, then so be it.  I’m fine with it.  And while we have been given studies previously that would seem to support this concept, it’s been sufficiently called into question such that in my opinion, it is academically dishonest to claim that there are no substantive differences between homosexual and heterosexual couples for the purposes of child-rearing.  In fact, quite the opposite has been shown, that there are very substantive differences between the two.  It would be ridiculous to re-state what has already been stated, but here is the study for anyone interested that casts doubt on these aspersions of  “no differences” .

Ultimately the problem lies in the fact that, in declaring Same Sex Marriage as valid as Heterosexual Marriage, we have necessarily said that they can be equally successful in all facets of married life, including child-rearing.  As such, there is now no legitimate reason to exclude gay couples from the adoption process even though studies have shown a large and verifiable body of work that says that Same Sex couple situations do, in fact produce drastically inferior outcomes in parenting.  The very fact that children in lesbian couples were 11 TIMES more likely to experience sexual abuse should have given pause to our otherwise inexorable march towards same sex legalization.  The fact that both gay and lesbian couples produced children who were more likely to be involved in crime should have been enough to give us pause.  If those weren’t enough, surely the finding that the children of lesbian couples were 4 times more likely to have been forced to be involved in sex against their will should be a giant red light.  I’m ultimately not going to quote every statistic from the study because it’s pretty sobering and rather bludgeoning in its findings, but continuously, children of gay and lesbian children showed that they fared worse in society and in terms of being productive parts of society than children of their biological parents.

I do understand the same feelings that Justice Kennedy referred to in his speech.  But while those words tug suffocatingly at the heart strings, they do precious little to insure that the best outcome of society was on the minds of the five justices who desired to approve of Same Sex Marriage.  Rather, they reflect a disturbing trend in society where public policy is fueled by a public opinion that is far too concerned with our own narcissistic desires for life to be “our” way rather than how we integrate into society.  In this maelstrom of public policy fueled by “feelings,” we are slowly watching as the desires of the few now significantly outweigh the well-being of the many.  And while I do agree that homosexuals have every right to legitimize their relationship in a way that offers some relational benefits (the ability to share insurance, the ability to have access to health information, etc and etc) legalizing and normalizing Same Sex Marriage was a step in the wrong direction that now allows for the very real possibility that we are going to create a generation of adults who will never experience life in the fullest as it comes with being raised by a mother and a father.

Family Research Council: Hate Group?

So the Family Research Council has been labeled by the Southern Policy Law Center as being a “hate group.”  You can read the article here.

The Family Research Council
The Family Research Council: Hate Group?

There is nothing that I can think of that is more a hot button issue than gay marriage/gay rights/ gender and orientation discrimination.  I have stated over and over that regardless of what you may want to think, what you may believe, and what you may want to hear, God declared wrong anything outside of sex between a male husband and a female wife, and that includes the following:

-homosexual relations.

-heterosexual relations outside of marriage.

Did I discriminate there?  God’s vision for sex and sexuality is that it is between one man and one woman in holy matrimony.  So, where does that leave us with the FRC?

First, I tend to agree that labeling an organization a hate group is tantamount to political namecalling.  There is nothing to be gained other than creating negative connotations of the organization’s branding.  Second, while I agree with the FRC’s position, it should be noted that many of our problems in communicating the message of the Bible in regards to homosexual behavior have stemmed from our inability to present it with grace AND truth.  Too often, the message is a beatdown rather than a loving presentation of the truth of God.  Maybe we as Christians need to walk away with the realization that we can’t present the truth of the Gospel with the same power our Lord did until we are willing to present it with a modicum of grace and gentleness.

GA pastor doesn’t want to argue scripture over homosexuality

Church in the Now pastor Bishop Swilley does not want to argue scripture over homosexuality.  You can read for yourself HERE.

Church in the Now
Church in the Now, home to recently "outed" Bishop Swilley

Far be it from me to judge, but whenever we are dealing with a situation that specifically is talked about in the Bible, I don’t think you can really back down from arguing scripture, can you?  Here is a great article in the Christian Research Journal from C. Wayne Mayhall discussing the use of the term “arsenokoitai” as found in 1 Corinthians 6:9, a hallmark discussion for pro-gay pastors like Mel White and others. I kind of find it ridiculous to respond in such a way that says “I don’t care what God says, this is what I feel.”  While dealing with a temptation that is obviously so engrossing as sexual temptation, it is important to remember that while it may feel like we can’t resist the urge, we can. 

My personal opinion is that if Mr. Swilley doesn’t want to argue scripture, he should at least read it for himself and do the noble thing like Rev. Tom Brock, who is also mentioned in the article.  While dealing with homosexual desires, he has stayed pure rather than giving into them.  The problem is that we live in a culture that says “if it feels good, do it,” and rather than being change agents in the culture, Christians have all too often been co-opted by the culture to spout the same rhetoric that flies in the face of true relationship with the Creator.  We need to realize that just because it feels good, it does not necessarily mean that it IS inherently good, which is the mistake that I feel Bishop Swilley seems to be walking into.

Anti-Bullying bill in NJ: What do you think?

I just finished reading an interesting article on the new anti-bullying laws being pushed through New Jersey.  You can read for yourself HERE.

I think, first of all, that it is truly sad that we need laws to make sure we don’t bully people.  That saddens me in and of itself.  However, while we OBVIOUSLY need someone to explain to us that we can’t be mean to other people because they are different, I do object to various things in the bill.

First, I don’t agree with the “Week of Respect.” This entire premise rests on creating an identity out of a behavior, which is not possible.  Sexual orientation is a behavior, not an identity.  I am not heterosexual because I have a “heterosexual gene,” I am heterosexual because I am attracted to my wife.  To indoctrinate children, as potentially young is kindergarten, to the “reality” of homosexuality in the name of acceptance is, in my opinion, placing children in grave danger of growing up too fast with no concern other than your own agenda.  No child needs to be exposed to sexual materials, be they educational or otherwise.  Part of the problem with children and sexuality today is that we are exposing them to sexual materials and stresses far too early.

Also, I disagree with the idea of teachers being disqualified from their trade by “bias discrimination.”  Again, we are treating behavior as identity.  A teacher should not be disqualified from being a teacher because of his or her belief that homosexual/bisexual behavior is against the will of God, provided that he or she does not act on their beliefs in a way that is discriminatory to the child.

Again, we need a better understanding of the word tolerance, which does not mean that all views are equal, but that all view HOLDERS are.

The Law and the Christian

Recently, the Bible has become a target of ridicule by politicians and persons of influence.  Most notably, the book of Leviticus has fallen under quite an attack by the liberal left, who want to spin the ancient laws of Israel so that the Bible is no longer relevant in today’s society.

I have to say, if you want to bash Leviticus for the difficulty of reading it, then fine.  Okay.  I have speed read through the book three or four times just so that I can read it without falling asleep.  However, that being said, let us analyze Leviticus for what it is.  It is the priestly portion of the torah, or the pentateuch, or whatever you want to call the five books of Moses.  Combined with Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, these books comprise what is commonly known as “The Law” (By the way, torah is Hebrew for law…you learn something new every day).  At any rate, these laws form the basis of God’s covenant with Israel.  What Mr. Obama, Jack Black, and a host of others who make fun of the Old Testament’s seeming ridiculous laws don’t get is that these laws are part of a land-ownership covenant between the LORD and the people of Israel.  In short, the covenant between these two parties was this:  If Israel obeyed God, they could keep the land.  If they didn’t, He would kick them off.  In the end, they didn’t keep it, and He kicked them off (technically, they were deported because they had not honored the sabbath of the land rule for 490 years, thus resulting in being kicked out for 70 years, one for every land sabbath not kept).  I don’t think God is going to burn anyone with fire or brimstone now for sowing two different kinds of crops.  However, He also isn’t promising you a spot in Canaan.  So, there you have it.

Does this mean, then, that for us the laws are no longer valid?  Certainly not!  Jesus affirmed the law in Matthew 5, and He also affirmed the power of the law when He said that the greatest commandments were to love God and love your neighbor.  The morality of the law is still the same, the need for holiness is still the same.  Moral issues raised in the Old Testament, then reiterated in the New Testament, should obviously be considered to be sinful in the eyes of God.

I say this because I read that President Obama’s choice to head up the Faith organization committee is a self-proclaimed gay Christian who says that the New Testament teachings against homosexuality are wrong.  I would challenge Mr. Harry Knox to provide reasons why scripture that has stood the test of time for 2,000 years can now be wrong.  I don’t really have the time to devote much more to this, but if it is a topic that people are interested in, I would be surely happy to build a more cohesive case for the legitimacy of Scripture.

On Vermont and Gay Marriage

I was made aware at work that Vermont and Iowa had become the latest two states to okay gay marriage.  I pondered that for most of the rest of the day, thinking about what to say from the standpoint of a follower of Christ.

Let me first say this:  Those who are homosexuals should NOT be the subject of ridicule, hate, or vitriol.  To need to say this to the Christian community is a tragedy of the highest order, and to think that some of those who most need the mercy and grace of Christ receive only judgment and scorn from those who are most supposed to represent it is ridiculous.  This kind of behavior is precisely what the LORD would NOT appreciate.

As for my own personal beliefs on homosexuality, I believe that it is, in fact, prohibited by the bible, having been condemned as sinful both in the Old Testament (Leviticus 18:22) and the New Testament (1st Corinthians 6:9 and 1st Timothy 1:10).  Also, there are several verses in the bible that indicate homosexuality as a condition of depravity.  I realize that there are scientists who propose that homosexuality is a genetic condition, but I also know that the evidence is by no means conclusive.  In fact, there is evidence that this is not the case.  Intellectual honesty would require a statement of inconclusiveness.

While I will not debate the sinfulness of homosexuality (I believe that it is a sin, much as I believe that lying, heterosexual sex before marriage, drunkenness, and other assorted deeds are sins), I will vigorously debate the legitimacy of homosexual marriage.

Let me begin by saying this:  I am unequivocably opposed to homosexual relations (again, just as I am to heterosexual sex before marriage).  That being said, let us look at the origins of marriage to discern why the Christ follower should take issue with homosexual marriage.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24, NKJV).”

This passage has set the tone for male-female relationships for all time.  In fact, several thousand years later, as Jesus was being questioned about marriage, He responded by quoting this exact verse.  I realize that for this to be universally accepted as proof that marriage was meant to be the union of one man and woman would require a person to accept the word of Christ as the very Word of God, but as Christ followers, my assumption would be that one would do just that.  Therefore, from a Christian perspective, marriage is indeed meant to be between one man and one woman, a permanent covenant between opposite sexes before the LORD our God.  For the Christian, there is really no other point to arrive at than the point that lines itself with the words of our LORD, which is the reaffirmation of marriage between a man and a woman.

Even from a logical perspective, it would stand to reason that man and woman are designed to be placed in tandem with one another in matrimony.  One look at the completeness of our LORD, the nurturing side of the Blessed One, the ruggedness and power in the voice of Messiah, and we see that completion is in fact, a union of the man and woman.  When God created Eve, He did so according to the notion that “it is not good for man to be alone.”  The implication is that indeed, it is the union of man and woman that is considered a place of completeness.  I am by no means iterating that an unmarried person is incomplete.  Far from it, for those who remain unmarried have the LORD as their companion just as the married couple, thereby offering them the same level of fulfillment in life in the Spirit.  I am saying this only to deny that a marriage between two men or two women could possibly be the image of completeness in the eyes of the LORD who has created us.

Again, I would love to expound further upon the relevancy of scripture in defining homosexuality as sin, for I believe that it is imperative for those who are Christ followers to set the standard of Grace and Truth on earth.  It would be a tragedy and hate crime of the highest order if we were to spare the ears of homosexuals from the truth out of lack of desire to offend.  We are the hands and feet of the LORD, yet we are also the voice of the LORD here on earth.  It is a biblical mandate for Christians to stand for truth, and sometimes that will call for speaking things that will create discomfort.  We are called to love, we are called to minister, we are called to stand for truth and righteousness.

The union of man and woman was the original design of God.  This was His decision, His choice, and this was how He designed us to work.  I do not, and I cannot stress this enough, condone homosexuality.  Quite the opposite, rather.  I also, however, feel that as Christians, we are to show grace and mercy, all the while living out the ideals of truth and righteousness, and speaking truth in the areas where it need be said.

“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; (Ephesians 4:12-15, KJV)”

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