Legit conversation about the pink and red equal sign?

equal signThe way we discuss critical topics kills me. I’ve blogged about this before. The past weeks offered up another example of comical communica-, excuse me, UNcommunication. It leaves me starving for thorough discussion from dissenting opinions. Am I asking for too much?

To severely oversimplify the issue, on one side are supporters of marriage being defined as the union between a man and woman and on the other are supporters of marriage being defined more broadly to include same-sex unions. With such an intricate issue, I can only imagine the depth of emotion and critical thought needed in order to take this conversation one step forward.

Instead, for the most part, this is what I observed:

* Pink and red equal sign picture pops up in FB profile pictures around March 25. The response from the dissenting side comes in through a similar, yet altered version (e.g. pink cross on the same red background as the equal sign, unequal sign, etc.).

* Now add shiploads of support from each side for their own viewpoint through pictures, memes, celebrity endorsements, cable news reports, comedians, medical journals, and blog articles. In doing so, both groups make straw men of the others’ viewpoint. BONUS POINTS if you can convince those on the sideline watching this charade that the dissenting group is the most atrocious group of people they’ll ever meet.

* The UNcommunication ends slowly as conversation, ahem, rant threads subside and FB pictures return to animals and sunrises and food.

Am I too jaded? Absolutely.

But is there a better way? I hope so. I am so bold as to hope the conversation here may be one small part of that better way.

Let me frame the discussion.

1. The majority of people reading this blog would identify themselves as Christians. Please avoid inflammatory comments that begin with the phrase, “How could any Christian believe…?” and then state the opinion in opposition to yours. This doesn’t foster conversation.

2. Additionally, it’s not helpful to claim outright that people just don’t understand you or your position. It’s possible, even likely, that they do and yet they still disagree.

3. Yet, there are precious few that can clearly articulate these differences and provide reasoned responses why they feel/think/believe what they do compared to their dissenters. ** It’s valid to link elsewhere but could you also summarize it here to make it easier on us?

Here’s what I’m asking:

Regardless of your position, while still being respectful, what are the most compelling arguments (ie. rationale, evidence, etc.) you’ve heard from BOTH sides? 

Or, we can continue to post about another season of Arrested Development and the opener of Major League Baseball (both of which I fully support!).

Posted on by Cor in FAITH

105 Responses to Legit conversation about the pink and red equal sign?

  1. Jacob Deems

    Glad to see you leading us into a civil discussion on this matter. Thanks.

    Disclaimer: As a Christian I tend to personally (yet quietly) support gay marriage.

    The strongest argument I can offer on the side of support for gay marriage is the issue of fundamental rights. Married couples enjoy a number of rights that are not guaranteed to same sex couples. This creates an unequal system that benefits some over others. In my opinion the civil rights argument applies. I know this is an area of intense debate often centered on the issue of choice. Wherever you stand on the issue, though, it is difficult to deny that certain citizens are being treated differently under the law. The argument against this is strong.

    On the other side, the strongest argument I have heard are the potential implications for clergy. The fear is that religious institutions will be made to perform marriages that they do not agree with or support. The idea that clergy and religious institutions need some sort of protection from this conflict is a strong one and one I could certainly support.

    One thing I’m not hearing enough of is why he government is in the business of marriages anyway? Marriage is a religious institution and if it was left to religious organizations and the government doled out civil unions for the purposes of law, then this whole debate could go away. Maybe that is the idealist in me, but state issued marriage licenses seem to be a fundamental conflict with the principle “separation of church and state.”

    I love a good debate and I’m grateful for this arena.

    • Brittany

      I just also want to share a blog link that God used to help convict me:http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2012/07/27/in-the-basement

      I think we need to shift the focus off of the fight to loving the least of these and working on growing closer to God. There are so many real injustices (people starving, human trafficking, lack of access to clean water) in this world….is this the one to obsess over and use our time, talent and ticker to pursue?

      • Tyler

        Yes, this is worth the time because lives will be destined to hell if the church embraces homosexuality and people do not turn from their sin. I agree we should not loose focus on the other issues, but it doesn’t take anything away from the relevance of this issue.

    • Liz

      Jacob, I urge you to read this editorial from a pastor, laying out why you don’t need to worry that legalizing same-sex marriage will endanger clergy. In short: Any member of the clergy can refuse to marry *any* two people, of any gender, of any religious background, at any time. Read more here: http://www.onlinesentinel.com/opinion/columnists/domas-real-threat-enshrining-one-religious-view-over-others_2013-03-28.html

  2. Dan Barber

    I would agree with Jacob for the most part. I tend to have libertarian views on these things so my question is always, why is the government involving itself in marriage anyways? Shouldn’t marriage be for the church?

    To me, all of the pro gay marriage arguments are actually civil union arguments. Marriage itself doesn’t come with rights. It is the secondary effects created by government which are the things being fought for, ie. tax incentives, legal incentives, etc. No one is saying “I’m for gay marriage because I want Christ’s relationship to the church represented in a more complete sense” – which is the purpose of marriage ultimately.

    I’m all for fair treatment under the law, I just don’t think it is the governments business to change the definition of a Christian Institution. We wouldn’t want Big Brother coming into the church and redefining baptism or communion, but we would want people who are unbaptized to be treated the same in civil law as those who are.

    In summary, I am against gay marriage, but I am for civil unions. Let’s leave marriage to the church and the church alone. We don’t need the government’s blessing to make it official. Marriage existed long before the U.S. and will exist when it’s gone. Even further, marriage exists with government and without.

    • David P

      You and Jacob are both getting at the same issue of the “definition” of marriage that I mentioned. It almost seems like we’re not fighting over Biblical truth or equality as much as we’re simply fighting over a word that is loaded with multiple definitions. To the state, marriage is a legal institution; to the church, it’s a fundamental whole-person union made to reflect the love of Christ and the church.

      • Dan Barber

        I would suppose so. Definitions matter. Just because you swim under water in a pool doesn’t mean you’ve been baptized (sometimes i say it in jest). Just because you have civil rights doesn’t mean it’s a marriage. I think it is important that we make the word marriage actually mean what it is intended to mean. We shouldn’t call gay marriage marriage. It isn’t. It is a civil union. I would prefer the state not recognize any marriages as opposed to recognizing unbiblical marriage and only creating more confusion.

  3. Lindsay Johnson

    I really like your final paragraph, Jacob. I like the idea of marriage remaining a religious institution, but the government issuing civil unions that grant rights under the law for those seeking homosexual unions. That can keep the institution of marriage sacred and aligned to Biblical view, but those practicing homosexuality are not being stripped of their rights as citizens. I personally view homosexuality as a choice, but as a choice that some people are more genetically pre-disposed to struggle with, just as some people are more tempted toward lying, others toward pre-marital sex, others toward gossiping. So from my view, it doesn’t make sense to say homosexuals should not get full rights if other groups of people struggling different particular sins are getting full rights from our law.

    Thanks, Cor, for allowing this forum for people to civilly discuss the issue. I think it’s important to tackle the hard topics together rather than shy away from them simply out of fear of offending.

  4. David P

    I see the problem as one of differing starting points. Lots of honest and well-meaning Christians, starting from the truth of the Bible which they see as intricately tied in with their faith and their lives, realize that it clearly defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and so they consider it an act of unfaithfulness to support or condone any other definition. Any compromise on the clear, Biblical definition of marriage is seen as indicative of a compromised view of the truth of the Bible and the gospel, so they feel they must take a stand. Meanwhile, gay rights advocates, starting from the American cultural ideals of equality and the pursuit of happiness, see it as a no-brainer that everyone should be able to marry the one they love and don’t see why a 2000-year-old book should stand in the way of this. One side values faithfulness and God’s truth, the other values equality and progress. And as long as each exclusively argues from its starting point, its core values, it’s easy to see why so little progress is made.

    I don’t think these things need to be in tension for Christians. On my own blog I made the observation that there are many other things (like “Christian”, “church”, or “divorce”) that the church and the state have different, incompatible definitions of, and no one seems terribly torn up about it. I think it’s possible for Christians to hold onto the Biblical definition of marriage while not allowing the sins of those who believe differently from getting in the way of simply loving them as Christ would. Yesterday I read this beautiful and really surprising story of a guy who came out as gay at Liberty Christian Academy, a Southern Baptist college started by Jerry Falwell, which had many descriptions of theologically conservative Christians who modeled this kind of love to the author.

    Link: http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/04/being-gay-at-jerry-falwells-university/274578/

    • Steven Douglas

      David,

      I think you pretty well nailed down what the problem is. I would only add some nuances. But those nuances change where we land. You mentioned that Gay Marriage advocates come at this from the “Amrican cultural ideals of equality and the pursuit of happiness.” You are right, of course, but one element is missing. Many of these advocates have rejected a biblical history of creation and understanding of purpose. They have accepted instead a closed-box universe with growth of species through macro-evolution. This leads to a rejection of Judeo-Christian moral standards/truths and an acceptance of truth as relative (i.e., postmodernity). Truth and law is merely democratic – whatever is agreed upon by the majority. Laws and morals are therefore completely maleable. The argument that has been posed to me several times runs along these lines. “We all have evolved from the same things, therefore no one group has the corner on the market of truth or ‘rights.'” No one can make distinctions because that would make the distinctions arbitrary and condemning. I have labeled this viewpoint as “secular humanism.” And it stands in stark opposition to the Christian claim of absolute truth and creation of humanity as image-bearers.

      Both sides – Christians and Secular Humanists – are looking at the “American ideal” of freedom and the pursuit of happiness, but we are approaching it from very different viewpoints. I think most Christians are willing to allow for some form of rights under the law for those we disagree with – just as we would offer religious freedom to Muslims and Buddhists – but when it comes to laws, I think we need to proceed with caution.

      Here are a couple questions for all of us to ponder: What is the point of the rule of law? When we make laws, are we making distinctions and saying that this thing is the ideal and that is not? And if we are holding up an ideal for human action, should our faith inform it? I am not sure I have the best answers to those questions.

      I personally think the American ideal is fairness. But I think the Christian ideal is appropriate image-bearing, coming from right relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Do we want laws that specifically are designed to take a God-designed and ordained union and extend it to what God said should not be done? That is the reality of what is being debated. Maybe the answer is civil unions, or the granting or removing of extraordinary benefits across the board. Or maybe we should stick to our belief about marriage in the face of all oppostion, knowing we will lose this cultural fight. I am not sure. All I know is that I cannot, in good faith, support the institution of Gay Marriage on account of my belief in the inerrency and perspecuity of the Scriptures.

      David, you mentioned that we should not allow differences from preventing us from loving those who believe differently from us. You are absolutely correct! We need to go to them and show them love, but that does not equate to support for their cause. Remember the woman who was caught in adultery, brought before Jesus. Jesus never said they should not stone her. Jesus never went against the Law. He merely said whoever among you is without sin may cast the first stone. When they left he told her that just as they could not condemn her, neither would he condemn her, but he finished with “Go and sin no more.” The problem with our society and Jesus’ society is that we are not dealing with people who know the Law but those who have rejected it out of hand. The fools who say “there is no God.” Our love is hopefully there, and evident, but we are attempting to love a prodigal world. If we embrace the prodigal’s demands for law-change, what would it make us?

      • Tyler

        Very well stated Steven. I think you outlined many of the fundamental principles of why many Christians are opposed to homosexual marriage. One thing I’d like to add as to why I am also opposed to such a union. There are people out there who would say “because your against gay marriage you are a bigot. You are a bigot, or hater, because you would want to deny someone from their rights and happiness.” I see this as the world attacking the church. I consider this (The True Slippery Slope). If we allow others to shame us into compromise then what is next?

  5. Angela

    Finally! I can’t wait to read through this discussion. I feel like this topic is avoided greatly in the Christian community and I wish it wasn’t. Mostly because there are people like me who don’t know what to think.

    I don’t question my stance on whether homosexuality is good or bad, or what I define marriage to be; but what I do ask myself is, “Who am I to tell you that you can’t marry your partner just because I hold a set of certain values?” This makes filling out a ballet confusing. On one hand, people should marry whoever they would like (we live in a free country, right?), but on the other hand, I don’t feel right voting in favor of something that goes against my personal convictions.

    I know I don’t have much to offer for either side of the matter, but I look forward to this conversation.

  6. Derek Hanisch

    This is an issue I’ve struggled a lot with as an American Christian. At the last election, with this issue on the ballot, I had to do a lot of soul searching to decide what I believed, and how I should vote. In doing so, I saw how conflicted I was.

    As a Christian I believe that homosexuality is a sin. If we look at the true model of marriage, it is between one man, and one woman. It is a God-honoring institution. Homosexuality is a sin. Yet, is it worse than any sins that I commit on a daily basis? It’s more public, yes, but is more of a slight to God? I don’t think so.

    Okay, so it’s a sin. Biblically, if a Christian is sinning, Paul has given us a model on calling them out on it. I should confront my brother or sister in sin, just as I hope they would confront me, and turn me back to God.

    Paul, however, has something interesting to say about non-believers who are sinning. In 1 Corinthians 5:12 Paul states that we shouldn’t be judging those outside the church – we need to leave them to God’s hand.

    Living a God honoring, moral life is a choice. If I want to honor God I choose to deny myself, and seek God. That’s one thing that’s so amazing about the Christian life, it’s a choice. I cannot force my morality on you. If I did, it would no longer be your choice, and it wouldn’t be real.

    Is it the Government’s job to regulate morality and sin? I don’t believe so. The church and the Government are two separate entities. Morality is a choice, it shouldn’t be regulated. To regulate morality you eliminate the self-sacrifice of denying ourselves to live a moral life after Christ.

    If we’re dealing with the topic of homosexuality inside of the church, I’l’ stand up and say that it’s wrong. However, if we’re dealing with it outside of the church, in our country, who am I to force my beliefs on you? Living a God honoring life style should be a choice – we have a freedom everyday to choose ourselves, or to choose God.

  7. Billy Sveen

    Thanks Cor for staring this discussion. I think it’s going really well thus far. I agree with a lot that has been said about distinctions between civil unions and marriage. Christian marriage isn’t associated with rights and civil marriage isn’t associated with our ideas of covenant relationships. Ideally, I wish they were separate, but that is simply not the current situation. Can you imagine if Christians suggested that atheists, Muslims, etc. could not get married? None of those groups agree with our definition of marriage, yet we do not impinge on their rights. I think we need to do the same with homosexuals. The only reason not to give equal rights is if doing so will harm society, but lots of evidence suggests that giving full rights to gay marriage will benefit society.

    The church’s theological response is a distinct argument, but I believe we can theologically support gay marriage. I get discouraged when people present the dichotomy that either you see the Bible as foundational and therefore reject gay relationships or accept a liberal theology to condone gay relationships. It’s false. I personally hold a conservative theology of the Bible as ultimate authority, but I believe it does not prohibit monogamous, loving, gay relationships. This is a massive simplification (I would love to discuss it in more detail later or suggest further reading), but the Bible never discusses committed gay couples that we have today. Those simply could not exist in the male-dominated ancient culture. Of the dozen references to homosexuality in the Bible, most are obviously about pagan worship, rape, or prostitution. The remaining few, Romans 1 being the most notable, while not obviously associated with other sin, must still be understood in the cultural context. Many say that I am using my liberal social views to influence my theology, but I thoroughly disagree. Every good conservative theologian will examine the culture in which a text was written and seek the original interpretation of the audience before applying it to our present culture. I argue that anyone who applies Sodom and Gomorrah or Leviticus 18 to call homosexuality sinful is skipping that vital intermediate step.

    • Cor

      On your second point, do you find that you are in the minority with this position?

      You mention “further reading.” I’d be interested to hear who or what these might be.

      • Billy Sveen

        Cor, yes, I do appear to be in a minority, but that may be partly due to my background growing up in conservative, evangelical communities in the Midwest. I have definitely heard and increase local and national voices stating similar opinions lately, but that may also be because I have my eye out for them.

        The best book I have read on the topic is Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality by Jack Rogers. He’s a Presbyterian minister who has a Christ-centered, conservative theology. He gives explanations to every biblical passage on homosexuality and gives good historical evidence to how the current misinterpretations by many is dangerously similar to how we misinterpreted slavery and views of women.

    • Jacob Deems

      This is an interesting point, Billy. One that I have not considered. I’ll be picking up that book. Thanks for sharing your insight.

      • Billy Sveen

        Thanks. Please do. It is a compelling read. Rogers was appointed to a committee in the 80s (I believe) to formalize the denomination’s position against homosexuality. However, while researching it, he pulled a C. S. Lewis and changed his own opinion and has been an outspoken voice ever since.

      • Dave Nelson

        Jacob and Billy, I’d encourage both of you to ready Wayne Grudem’s short article, “The Bible and homosexuality” which he wrote for the ESV Study Bible and is posted online here: http://www.worldmag.com/2013/04/the_bible_and_homosexuality/page1

        In this article, he points out that it’s not just a handful of Scripture passages that forbid homosexual behavior, but that homosexual behavior contradicts God’s design for mankind and the entire Bible reflects that, starting in Genesis chapters 1 & 2.

        John Piper has also addressed homosexual behavior, especially in his “Thought on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment” almost 2 years ago. http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/thoughts-on-the-minnesota-marriage-amendment

        I’d encourage everyone to read these wise men’s thoughts on the matter.

        • Jacob Deems

          I have read the Grudem article and am familiar with Piper’s position as well. I have not, however, read any Scriptural basis for an opposing view.

          I approach Rogers with caution, however, because the PCUSA is traditionally quite liberal in its interpretation of Scripture.

          We’ll see.

        • Billy Sveen

          Dave, thanks for the response. I’d seen the Piper article before and read the other. Without causing another massive debate, I’m going to respectfully disagree that Genesis 1 and 2 can be used to prohibit homosexuality. That is not something the original audience would have interpreted, especially considering monogamous homosexuality did not exist at that time and no one even spoke of sexual orientations despite the existence of homosexual acts. I believe the take home message of the creation story to the original audience is a huge proclamation of an all powerful, singular God, a stark contrast from the polytheistic cultures that surrounded early Hebrews. For that reason, I also see this compatible with scientific evolution, which would further discredit any significance gleaned from a historical notion of Adam and Eve. I say this not to start a fight (we can agree to disagree), but to show that a theologically conservative Christian who is very concerned about proper interpretation of the Bible can disagree and hold a view of theistic evolution.

    • Tyler

      Billy, I respectfully disagree with your statement “Can you imagine if Christians suggested that atheists, Muslims, etc. could not get married? None of those groups agree with our definition of marriage, yet we do not impinge on their rights. I think we need to do the same with homosexuals.” The difference here is these unions can be made holy if these people come to know Christ. It is impossible for a homosexual union to be made holy. I believe a lot can be learned from the book of Genesis where God specifically made woman for man. The bible covers many topics such as marriage, gender roles, and sexual impurity. None of these show any support for homosexuality. I believe that, as a christian, it’s my responsibility to support a way of life God intended for man. Homosexuals do not deserve any laws created in their favor for them being in a sexual relationship. I believe if you have Civil Unions, they shouldn’t be based on sexual relationships (straight or gay) but should be available for any two individuals who wish to claim a household together.

      • Billy Sveen

        Tyler, thanks for the response. You make interesting points, but I still think it is interesting that few Christians argue about whether atheists can be married or have children. Although given your understanding, atheists can become believers, when they begin the marriage, they certainly aren’t following Christian marriage. I find it odd that many Christians accept the separation of a civil and religious view of marriage for atheists, but not for homosexuals. And also, I agree with your last sentence.

  8. Dave Nelson

    Hi Cor, thanks for broaching the topic. First, to answer your question of putting the other side’s position in the best light, I’d say people support so-called “gay marriage” because they love people who consider themselves to be homosexuals. And because of that love, they’re sympathetic to those people and their feelings and they want to affirm those people. And they feel that if those people want to get “married” but aren’t attracted to people of the opposite sex, then they’ll be denied a “right” that heterosexuals aren’t. They feel it’s unfair.

    To people with those views, I would say I firmly agree that we should love and respect those who consider themselves to be homosexuals. Christ died for them, and they are infinitely important. We must not mistreat them or hate them just because we don’t like their particular sin.

    But all that said, I strongly oppose redefining marriage to include same-sex marriage. Indeed, I think it would be unjust and wrong to do so. Further, I think many – probably most – Christians have not thought about why we need marriage because they mistakenly understand marriage as our culture does: as just an agreement between 2 people symbolizing their emotional attraction for one another.

    But marriage is not just an emotional bond. George, Girgis & Anderson recently wrote the book, “What Is Marriage?” and I’d encourage everyone to read it. But briefly, as they note in this CNN editorial, “marriage itself is a multilevel — bodily as well as emotional — union that would be fulfilled by procreation and family life. That is what justifies its distinctive norms — monogamy, exclusivity, permanence — and the concept of marital consummation by conjugal intercourse. It is also what explains and justifies the government’s involvement in marriage.” http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/20/opinion/george-gay-marriage

    Marriage is literally the bedrock institution of society. Briefly, why society needs marriage is that 1. people will have sex 2. sex makes babies and 3. babies need their mom and dad. A strong marriage culture attaches a husband to his wife and to his children, better ensuring that he’ll be there to raise them. Our culture has gotten a long way from this understanding and redefining marriage to include same sex couples will further denigrate the ideal.

    Finally, if marriage is redefined to include same-sex couples, there is no rational or moral case to be made against polygamy or incest. After all, if marriage is just an emotional bond between people, then why should we deny 3 people the right to “marry” or a brother and sister or a mother and son to “marry?” Patrick Lee points this out his excellent piece, “The Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Proposal is Unjust Discrimination.” http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/01/4597/

    Billy Sveen said above, “lots of evidence suggests that giving full rights to gay marriage will benefit society” and I think other commenters here have implied or at least believe the same thing. But I’d strongly disagree and I’d urge Billy and others to consider the immense damage that further weakening and re-defining marriage will do to our society, especially to our children who have no say in the matter. Marriage is already treated way too lightly in our society – as something you can get out of like a rental contract – and redefining it further will only make it worse.

    • Billy Sveen

      I have a couple comments. First, I argue that homosexual relationships can fulfill all the fundamental aspects of Christian marriage. As David Mackereth states below, the purpose of marriage is not to reproduce. I know homosexuals that are monogamous, exclusive, permanent, and love God.
      Second, while slippery slope arguments are often compelling, they rarely provide solid justification for prohibiting something instead of proceeding cautiously. Clearly, there is a difference between homosexuality and incest, bestiality, polygamy, etc. We can make laws about homosexuality now that still prohibit those acts, and address those separate acts as they arise in the future. Again, as David Mackereth said below, interracial marriage used to be lumped into that same group and opposed for the same reasons.
      In regard to your final paragraph, I stand by my original statement. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a statement that children of gay parents do just as fine as children of heterosexual parents (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/4/827 for the policy statement; http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/4/e1374 for the technical report). Nearly every professional organization has similar statements that accepting gays as full members of society will not cause harm. In fact, continuing to marginalize them and their children causes harm that legalizing gay marriage and making gay adoption easier will help to resolve.

      • Tyler

        I think the evidence is clear from scripture that homosexual relationships cannot be Godly relationships or approved in the church. The church is under attack here. Marriage is a holy institution and was designed by God. Marriage is a representation of Christ’s relationship to the church. There are fundamental principles under attack here. If we allow, and put our stamp of approval on homosexual marriages, then their will be short term and long term consequences within the church. The slippery slope isn’t whether or not we turn to polygamy or whatever. The slippery slope is how the church stands on such important topics. It is important to acknowledge sin because this must be done in order for repentance to occur and then lifestyle change. I think the passage below has a lot of relevance here.

        Romans 1 18-28

        God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity

        18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

        21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

        24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

        26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

        28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

        • Billy Sveen

          Tyler, I agree that Romans 1 is a wonderful, powerful, illuminating passage. It is also one of the strongest anti-homosexual passages, but I disagree with your interpretation. As cited elsewhere, monogamous, God-fearing homosexual relationships did not exist at this time. That would be impossible in a patriarchical era when homosexuality was “unnatural” because it made the receiving partner like a woman. Much of the ancient objection to homosexuality is based on gender norms that not even the most conservative Christians still agree with. In my humble opinion, continuing to use this passage to prohibit monogamous homosexuality is like using Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 6 to support a form of godly slavery.

          • Tyler

            It’s not about committed partnerships or non-committed partnerships. It’s about disregarding Gods intention for how we are designed to live our lives. Man was not created to be in a sexual relationship with man. If you are for homosexual relationships then you are telling God that his design isn’t good enough for you and that you have a better one. Homosexuality is sexual sin and it’s clear throughout scripture beginning in the book of Genesis.

    • Change Box

      Dave, in your 3 point explanation of why society needs marriage, what are we to make of the couple that gets married, has sex, but then finds they cannot have children (at least naturally conceived)? Is their marriage without merit?

  9. Mark Dixon

    As an historian, I find it interesting that most participants in this particular conversation seem comfortable with the idea that marriage is or should be an essentially religious institution.

    Though marriage is not the specific topic of my research, it pops in and out of my material across many eras and regions. In nearly every case (including our present American context, as all sides seem to affirm) marriage is at least as much a social institution as a religious one. In other words, the primary concern that people have concerning marriage in 16th century central Europe is that it maintain a well-ordered society, likewise in late-17th century England, and 18th century Europe and colonial America.

    Put simply, more often than not marriage has been important in terms of its role in the inheritance of wealth, the preservation of harmony in communities, and as an institution for supporting those who could not support themselves (formerly women and children; currently grad students and musicians). This social significance is much more noticeable in the historical record than some sort of religious character. In other words, you don’t read much about people wanting to get married in 16th century Germany because it is a divinely ordained institution into which God is calling two soul mates for the sacred purpose of creating life. They get married because it would be chaos otherwise. Feuds would erupt in the form of love triangles (or more complex geometrical arrangements), the economy would go topsy-turvy as everyone laid claim to plots of land, and women would have had a difficult time surviving once their fathers and uncles had died. In this sense, the church stepped in to officiate marriages for the same reason it officiated all major passages in people’s lives–as the most organized and pervasive institution throughout most of modern human history, it was the only one capable of handling the job.

    This is not to deny theological weight to marriage, nor to deny scriptural witness to something like that institution, just to say that marriage has been and remains in large part a social institution and not a strictly or exclusively religious one.

    (Hope this isn’t too long or wandering.)

    • Cor

      You didn’t just say “currently grad students and musicians.”

      hahahaha

    • Billy Sveen

      I liked this a lot. It is refreshing to hear a perspective that is not centered on 2013 American culture. Thanks.

  10. David Mackereth

    Thank you Cor for posting about this. I grew up in a pretty legalistic evangelical church and my views on this topic has definitely evolved over the years. So the only reason I would ever feel heated in a discussion like this is because I’d feel like I’m debating myself from a decade ago.

    I once believed that being homosexual was a choice, but as years past, I couldn’t rationalize why anyone would choose something that led to being bullied or ostracized in school, and would in some cases lead to ending their own life. The other thing looking back on my life that seemed to go against this belief was that I cannot think of a time when I myself chose to be attracted to girls, it just happened, and was definitely not a choice. So if I never chose to be straight, I don’t believe a gay person ever chose to be gay, it’s just who they’re naturally attracted to.

    Another argument against gay marriage I used to use was that if we allow gay marriage, what’s stopping people from polygamy, incest or even marrying their dog? The thing I know now about these arguments, is that they are the exact same arguments that were once used against mixed race marriages before the civil rights movement.

    Then there was the argument that marriage is made for making babies. But looking at that now I guess if you’re too old, infertile or don’t want kids, you probably shouldn’t get married.

    I guess for me it’s just kind of frustrating that this is what gets the spotlight for Christians in the news. Too often we’re put on display for what we’re against rather than what we are for, and that is love. The world needs more articles like the one David P posted about a gay Christian feeling loved vs articles about Christians saying society will crumble and fire and brimstone will fall from the sky because people are gay.

    • Tyler

      David I have a follow up question to your post. Does anyone choose to be tempted by sin? I have no doubt in my mind that homosexual people have strong feelings for each other and our tempted to continue their relations with one another. However, the only way to conquer this sin is to turn to Christ and rely on him for strength. Bullying is wrong, but homosexuals have been bullied. However so have non homosexual people too and some of those have also committed suicide. The problem here is temptation and sin and the only answer is to turn from it and turn to Christ.

  11. Maggy

    Well said, Billy and David M. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Regardless of what you believe, I think this comes down to the separation of church and state. I have yet to see an argument for the illegality of same sex marriage that isn’t based on religion. No one is advocating that individual churches be forced to marry gay couples–they would be free to turn these couples away, just as they are free to do so today for any number of reasons.

    Surely, if another religious group (or perhaps more accurately, a very vocal segment of a religious group) advocated making laws based on their interpretation of their holy book, we would call it what it is–discriminatory practices that bar women from positions of authority or education, banning tattoos, outlawing the consumption of beef, etc. We would rail against these things as an infringement on our rights as people who don’t follow that particular religion.

    From what I have seen, the only other reason behind denying civil rights to same sex couples is that same sex relationships make some people uncomfortable, and thank goodness that is not a basis on which we make laws, either.

    • Dave Nelson

      Hi Maggie, I’d refer you to my argument above, which doesn’t rely on religion at all to point out that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would be harmful to our society.

      Further, I’d agree that your point that “No one is advocating that individual churches be forced to marry gay couples” is mostly true. But you are correct to bring up the religious freedom angle of redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. This would bring about a larger assault on religious freedom than is already taking place. Many cases have occurred recently of individuals being sued over disagreement with homosexual practice. Marc Stern points out several (in a 5 year old article) and points out how legalizing so-called “same sex marriage” would make it much worse. http://articles.latimes.com/print/2008/jun/17/opinion/oe-stern17?utm_source=April+1+2013+eNews&utm_campaign=April+1%2C+2013+eNews&utm_medium=archive

      Eric Metaxes has been on top of this, and I’d encourage you to listen to his speech where he points out that “Legalizing same-sex marriage would cripple religious freedom” here: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/clip/4389195

      • Maggy

        I’m guessing we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one, Dave.

        On your original comment: you seem to be making the case that the purpose of marriage is procreation. Yet, as others have mentioned, we allow those who are beyond childbearing age, infertile, or who have no desire to have kids get married. I also take issue with the tone of the article from The Witherspoon Institute that you posted, which seems to say that those who adopt children are not legitimate families, gay or straight, and are merely “an alliance to raise children” as those kids are not an “extension or prolongation of a bodily-emotional-spiritual union already begun,” as, they argue, is the case with biological children.

        I agree with your points that people have sex, sex makes babies, and that babies do best with two parents. There are a number of marriage promotion programs in place in this country as social policy whose precise aim is to encourage marriage between people with children. However, people will continue to have sex and make babies both in and outside of marriage. I’m not sure how allowing gay couples the right to get married affects this.

        As for the “slippery slope” argument, I respectfully disagree, and would like to point out the offense that can be taken by equating these issues. Surely we can see the difference between the union of two, loving, committed, monogamous, consensual adults and incest or bestiality. Again, as mentioned by others here, this was the same argument used against allowing interracial marriage, and yet those things have not occurred.

        The religious freedom argument made in the articles and video you posted doesn’t seem reasonable to me. Metaxes quotes the constitution and focuses on the right of freedom of religion. He also mentions the idea that the government should not favor one religion over another. These things must go hand in hand. Not allowing same sex marriage does just that — it favors the views of a portion of Christians over everyone else. Again, those who dissent would not be required to marry same sex couples. All the civil rights leaders held up in the video as people of faith were fighting to expand rights to all Americans, not limit them. It is not clear to me how the practice of my faith would be affected in any way if same sex couples were allowed equal rights in marriage, nor do I see how expanding the institution would have any effect whatsoever on those who are in it. Metaxes states several times that “we protect minorities here.” 76% of this country identifies themselves as a Christian, and, while it is clear that NOT all Christians believe homosexuality is outlawed in the Bible, we are certainly in the privileged position.

        Thankfully, marriage has already been redefined. As such, I am a person with a choice instead of a piece of property to be passed from my father to my husband. And in many states in this country, it’s been redefined again to include our gay brothers and sisters.

        • Tyler

          Most popular religions do not accept homosexuality as acceptable behavior. So the government wouldn’t necessarily be putting the views of Christians above anyone else.

        • Dave Nelson

          Hi Maggie,
          I’m guessing we’ll probably end up agreeing to disagree on this, too, but I’d still like to reply to you since you seem like such a thoughtful person and were so kind as to follow the links I provided and listen to those arguments.

          First, I’d like to share my heart on this a little bit. The reason I’m so strongly against redefining marriage is because I want a strong marriage culture. I don’t want my children and their children to grow up where marriage is less valued than it already is. I’ve seen several friends undergo painful divorces that I believe were entirely culture-related. Basically, their spouses walked away when things became boring or difficult. If our culture had much more of the attitude that marriage is a permanent, life-long thing and you don’t just get divorced if it gets tough, then I think these marriages would’ve survived and been stronger for it. Instead, our culture basically says you should be married as long as you’re happy with it – as long as you “love” the other person, by which our culture generally means that you have warm emotions towards that person most or all of the time. This has caused devastation to millions of people across this country – most especially to the children of divorce. Social science has shown that kids who grow up with their biological parents do much better than children of divorce on virtually every measure of well being.

          So while I don’t think marriage is only for children, I do think that is the primary reason the state has interest in it. The government doesn’t care about your friendships. To answer your point that, “people will continue to have sex and make babies both in and outside of marriage. I’m not sure how allowing gay couples the right to get married affects this.” It affects it by making more and more explicit the misinformation of our culture that marriage is only about an emotional connection. If it’s only about emotions, then why should 2 people stick with each other in bad times? And so people are much more willing to divorce, and marriage overall is weakened.

          I’d like to briefly respond to 2 other minor points you made. First, you said, “we allow those who are beyond childbearing age, infertile, or who have no desire to have kids get married” This is absolutely true, but we should ask – why is this true? It’s true because even those who are infertile can still participate in the unitive, biological act of marriage that has the potential to procreate. Further, while modern science can give us a pretty good idea of someone’s fertility, it’s still not foolproof (barring something drastic like a hysterectomy). Most of us pass people every day who were born to people who were presumed to be infertile.

          Secondly, you said, “Surely we can see the difference between the union of two, loving, committed, monogamous, consensual adults and incest or bestiality.” I didn’t compare the idea of so-called “same-sex marriage” with bestiality, but I did say that “if marriage is redefined to include same-sex couples, there is no rational or moral case to be made against polygamy or incest.” But by your own definition, what would be your rationale against allowing 3 or 4 people or an adult brother and sister to marry? Surely, they could all claim to be “loving, committed, monogamous, consensual adults” in these relationships.

          • Maggy

            Herein lies the religious aspect of your argument–that same sex couples being allowed to marry would somehow devalue the institution. That’s the fundamental disagreement here. I would argue that the fight for gay marriage shows just how seriously these couples take it. True, I’m sure there are plenty of couples, gay AND straight, who enter into marriage without the mindset that it is a lifelong commitment. But there are many couples, gay AND straight, who DO make that commitment and DO stick together when things get difficult. You only have to look to some of the commenters below.

            As for polygamy, I don’t think debating that issue is particularly relevant to the topic at hand. I think there is a big jump from the idea of marriage being an institution between 2 people to it being between any more than that. That said, if it came up as an issue before the legislature, I would certainly listen to both sides of the discussion. I imagine there are reasons beyond religious ones to limit marriage to 2 people, but if not, let us not deny rights to others based on our own religious principles. I’m sure many of the OT patriarchs that we hold up as great leaders of the faith would be arguing in its favor.

  12. Peter

    Let’s start from the beginning on what God states as marriage. “1 In the beginning God Created…26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
    27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.”
    2:21 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[g] and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

    23 The man said,

    “This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
    she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”
    24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

    25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

    There is so much in this passage, but the essential:
    a. is that God created man and woman in their image and it was good

    b. Man leave his father and mother and become one flesh (not just children) but they become a single entity (See Ephesians)

    In Matthew Jesus spoke of marriage and referred to it as a man and woman.

    I believe there is no doubt what God intended. If the church wishes to acknowledge another form of marriage it is up to God to judge the church, not me. I have no doubt what God is saying about marriage.

    Finally, I have often heard people say that homosexual marriage doesn’t hurt anyone, but I believe that is wrong. It hurts God.

    People of the church have to make a decision to believe that God created all that there is and that He had a specific plan for His creation. They also have to make a decision whether He is a God of “Love” but He is also a jealous God: jealous of his creation and plan.

  13. Brandon Meland

    Cor (and commenters),

    Thanks for starting a conversation on faith and homosexuality that doesn’t make me want to give up Christianity and crawl in a secluded hole and die. Seriously, though, seeing human beings use their God-given brains is quite beautiful. It’s almost like we were made to do that.

    I don’t have time to add much to the conversation right now, but here’s a fun article that goes along with some of the stuff Billy and David M. mentioned. I love reading, so thanks to all who are posting interesting articles (from all perspectives) in the comments.

    http://mikemchargue.com/blog/2013/3/26/equal

  14. Nate

    A big THANK YOU to Tyler and Peter for bringing the TRUTH (a.k.a. the bible) from Genesis and Romans. I find it ironic that no one replied directly to the scriptures that were referenced. Because there IS NO ARGUEMENT against God’s word. People can (and have on this discussion) quote all sorts of different MEN’S opinions, and try to use those opinions to influence others for their agenda. I don’t care what anyone else’s opinion is, because they will not be judging me when I stand before Jesus; HE WILL. His judgement (and the way we are to live) are clearly defined in the Bible. Now, anyone can read the Bible, but the scripture says you CAN NOT understand Christ and his ways without KNOWING him. I would hope that those on this forum who don’t know Jesus would be compelled to further understand HIS love by asking Christ to come into their lives and show them. Not for the sake of understanding one side of an arguement, but for the sake of one’s eternal destination. We had a guest speaker yesterday who said something profound; You will never argue someone into the Kingdom of Heaven. So while everyone has an opinion and most everyone thinks THEY are right, the Bible says that few will make it to Heaven. The path is narrow and can be difficult, but the Reward is GREAT!(Heaven) We all have a choice; will you choose to follow Christ, or support a sin (homosexuality)

    • Jeanne

      Please don’t try to shut down this conversation by saying that it’s all irrelevant in the face of God’s Word. If that were the case then we should be quoting only scripture to each other. This conversation is about trying to apply God’s Word to secular life, and secular laws; and so discussion of men and women’s views, and interpretations of scripture and how they should or should not apply to secular law are totally appropriate.

      On a separate note: I am SO happy to see this blog here. SO HAPPY to see Christians engaging with this issue civilly and respectfully. It is a breath of fresh air amidst the sensational brands of Christianity that usually make it to the nightly news!

  15. Jordan

    I am a Bible-believing Christian and I firmly believe in same-sex marriage.
    I want to start with this, every Christian has their own personal sin they struggle with on a regular basis. I would like to know why is it that we always seem to ridicule other people’s sins rather than working on fixing our own?

    Even if you believe that our present day definition of homosexuality is identical to the word that the authors intended to convey, why is it that homosexuals [even Christian homosexuals] are being targeted as the ones not being allowed to get married. Any couple is allowed to be married as long as they’re not both of the same sex; including people that are opposed to religion of any sort (Atheists). We already have at least two problems with the American definition of marriage, as opposed to Biblical marriage. 1. Atheists might believe there was a man named Jesus, however they reject his his holiness as being fully God and fully man. So, therefore they do not have a Christ-centered marriage. 2. The Bible says that divorce and re-marriage is sinful, yet this is becoming more common than faithful one spouse marriages. In fact, couldn’t we argue that if your reason for divorce, prior to your next marriage was not a Biblical reason, then in God’s eyes you are a polygamist?
    Is marriage not a sacred Christ-centered promise that two people in love make, stating they will remain faithful to their spouse until death separates them? If so, then we have already re-defined what a Biblical marriage is in America. Then why are we still so strongly opposed to allowing same-sex couples to enter into the holy bond of marriage?

    I think it’s important for us to focus on what Christ calls us to do; to take action. Rather than focusing on telling other people what they shouldn’t be doing. I want to make it clear that I understand it is important to avoid sin, however there is more to it than that. When we turn our focus from Christ and start worrying about what is and is not sin, we get off track from what we are really called to do as Christians. I’ll get to that in the next paragraph.

    I always look to Christ and what he says first, and then read other passages in light of what he says. That is why my interpretation of certain verses that deal with things like homosexuality are different than many Evangelicals’. And this is what I always keep in mind, Matthew 22:37-40: And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” And then in Matthew 28 we are told to go and make disciples. My way of interpreting what we are meant to do as Christians is to focus on loving God by loving his people. And our mission as disciples is to love others. I then look to this part of the Bible, Matthew 25:34-36: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    That is where I get my interpretation of what it means to be a disciple. Keeping in our minds at all times that we are to love God by loving and serving his people. I have a more radical idea of what it means to be a disciple, though. I believe it is to take those verses seriously, about serving people; sort of like what Mother Teresa did. To give up our comfortable; greedy; gluttonous lifestyles, and to actually focus our attention on loving others. That I believe is the radical call of Christ. To demonstrate this radical sort of love to other people, and by doing so, showing them Christ.

    To get back to the topic, I want to say this. Acts are not harmful because they’re sinful. They’re sinful because they’re harmful. Can homosexual behavior be sinful? Of course. So can heterosexual behavior in the same context. Any self-interested and self-gratifying sexual act that objectifies the other person is sinful. That’s true even in a heterosexual marriage relationship. That’s failing to love your neighbor as yourself (or in this case, your spouse).

    There are maybe five passages in the entire Bible that could be construed to discuss homosexuality. Jesus doesn’t even remotely deal with it. The wickedness of Sodom was irrelevant to sexual orientation – demanding to rape the guests of a man’s house is wicked regardless of gender or orientation. If you were to read about different cultures of that time period (such as ancient Rome) you would see that it was common for men to have male sex slaves. This was considered acceptable, and was more common for these men to have male, rather than female slaves. However, these men were not thought of as being homosexual as long as they were the more masculine one. Obviously there was a lot of rape happening, usually being the Roman men raping the younger men. Knowing the behavior of ancient cultures such as these makes it easier for us to better understand the context of words such as the one we now use to ridicule loving same-sex relationships. Obviously I would argue that the word the authors were intending was meant to describe these disgusting, vile actions of the Roman men, taking advantage of these young men. Paul’s letters were quite specific to the sins of certain cities. And of course it should be noted that the idea of loving, committed same-sex relationships would be non-sense to the recipients of those letters. The Bible is divinely inspired, but it’s also temporal, and it’s a grievous mistake to try to divorce the words and intent of the human authors from the context of their writing. In short, love is not against the law.

    Homosexual behavior is not, in and of itself, sexual sin – in the same way that being obese is no in and of itself gluttonous sin; in the same way that having a lot of money is not in and of itself greed-related sin; in the same way that watching television, or engaging in religious or philosophical debates on the internet is not *in and of themselves* idolatrous sin. Again, the action isn’t harmful because it’s sinful. It’s sinful if it’s harmful.

    Do you stand outside of McDonalds and tell people that gluttony is sinful? It’s the truth. Do you walk into a bank and tell people greed is a sin? It’s the truth. How about idolatry, you’ve got a lot of fodder there? Cell phones, sports teams, celebrities, technology, politics, etc. Any undue attention on those things that causes one to fail to love God with all her heart, mind, and strength, and fail to love her neighbor as herself – it’s all sinful. That’s truth.

  16. AH

    Hi all, I am so happy to see the civil and respectful conversation that is happening here.

    Full disclosure: I am gay. I am also not a Christian. I love y’all dearly but I am not one of you.

    For years I have struggled to understand the justification behind why I should need to adhere to laws when those laws are based solely off of someone else’s religion, and one which I don’t subscribe to. To me it seems analogous to the U.S. government banning the consumption of pork since it’s not Halal, or mandating circumcision of baby boys as per Jewish law.

    Others here have quoted Genesis and Romans. Please understand that while these verses may guide your lives and hearts, that’s not true for me. They mean about as much to me as the words of the Bhagavad Ghita, or the Koran, or the Tao Te Ching mean to you.

    If someone has a good answer to this question I would love to hear it. I promise to be open-minded about it.

    • Jordan

      You’re not the only gay one on here, I am also.
      Though I am a Christian.

    • Change Box

      AH, I am with you to a great extent on what you say. I would respond that the reasoning for most of the religion-centric laws and government are due solely to the culture of the time in which they were created. A good deal of the reason the United States was formed and the way it was formed was due to religious persecution. You can read it in the Constitution plain as day. But what the founders did not realize is just how many religious beliefs were out there. And in their ignorance they did not see where religion was creeping into our laws and the very foundation of our country. I believe that had they been able to see where we are today they may have been more careful in their wording.

      There are beliefs that essentially all of us can agree on and which may cross over to religious beliefs such as; killing is wrong. But for the most part these beliefs also run across all major religions. Theft being wrong behavior is another belief which runs through all major religions and the non-religious community. These are the sorts of laws which I believe the founders of this country were trying to instill in the initial creation. Having a limited view of the religions of the world they did not realize where the boundary between common law and religious law lay. Today we fight with determining what is one and what is the other.

      In my recent experience I have come to realize that it makes a lot of sense to ask what solution creates the least amount of suffering. And to the current subject I would ask “Which of the following creates the least human suffering keeping in mind that there will be suffering in both…”

      1. Same sex couples are denied the right to a civil union
      2. People who believe a same-sex union is a sin will be have to live alongside those same people

      My very personal opinion is that the suffering in either case is quite limited but pressed for one or the other I would say that the second creates less suffering. It’s important to note that this is culture and time dependent as 100 years ago the second would have created a lot more suffering than the first but today the tide is changing.

      I have always found both sides arguments to be odd:
      Why does a same-sex couple so desire an outside entity to approve of their love for one another?
      Why do the people who view same-sex marriages as a sin (abomination/evil/what have you) think it will compromise their own values?

      As someone else said earlier in the conversation… don’t we have much more important things to attend to? I see huge suffering in people starving, the poor unable to care for their children properly, wars, natural disasters, etc. It would seem to me that since we agree these are awful and we should do something about it there is no benefit to one’s self in a discussion about it. Whereas in a discussion about same-sex marriage a person’s position can be taken as a “side” and the other “side” looked down upon. Our true challenge is to get over how we are better because of our position. We are all human and no one of us is better or worse than another in our creation or death.

  17. Liz

    Thanks to all who are participating in this respectful and open conversation.

    I am a Christian woman, raised to quote long passages from Scripture and to feel God’s presence in my heart.

    I’m also gay.

    I’m married to a beautiful and brilliant Christian minister. Our wedding was officiated by two other beautiful and God-loving Christian pastors, both women, married to each other. Loving, Christian friends read Bible passages during our wedding (from I Corinthians and Ruth).

    Tyler, I am personally hurt by this blanket statement you made: “It is impossible for a homosexual union to be made holy.” My union with my wife *is* holy. We behold the face of God in each other, we celebrate the movement of the Spirit together, and we do the work Christ has called us to do — side by side, hand in hand, loving each other and loving God every step of the way.

    Our wedding was blessed by our churches and our families, but it was not given the weight of law, because we got married in a state that refuses to recognize what we and our churches do: Our marriage is our life-long commitment to each other — not just, as some previous posters have said, because it feels good, but because we are building one of those bedrocks of society in the form of a life-long commitment to each other, our community, our families, and the family we hope to create.

    I thank those of you who recognize that your and my different understandings of my marriage should not limit my access to the federal and state rights attendant upon marriage, but I urge you to reconsider the idea that civil unions are all gay relationships deserve.

    A few months after our wedding, my wife and I had a brief ceremony before a justice of the peace in Massachusetts, where our marriage was given the legal protections of that state. No, entering into a civil union would not have been the same, or as good. Civil unions codify second-class citizenship and define some marriages as worthy of the name and other marriages as unworthy. My wife and I are *married*, in the eyes of our families, our church, and God.

    One last point: What does it say that you allow Las Vegas quickies the title of “marriage,” even if they’re annulled hours or days later, but you deny it to me and the woman I’m building a life with?

    PS: Jacob Deems’s initial comment said that, to him, the most compelling argument against same-sex marriage was the risk to clergy. I urge you to read this editorial from a pastor, laying out why that argument simply doesn’t hold water. (To summarize, as Cor requested we do with linked articles: Clergy and churches have always had the complete freedom to decide who they will and will not marry.) Here’s the editorial: http://www.onlinesentinel.com/opinion/columnists/domas-real-threat-enshrining-one-religious-view-over-others_2013-03-28.html

    • Tyler

      Liz, I understand that some of my statements may be hard, difficult, or hurtful to hear. The truth is not always easy. I believe you and your spouse are tempted to partake in homosexual behaviors and that is part of your struggle. I also have many of my own struggles in my life that require my repentance. I truly believe the reason homosexuality, along with other sins, exist in our lives is because we do not put God first in our lives. When he is not at the center then we are given over to the depravity of our hearts. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your current partner. I pray that you both take a serious look into scripture and hear Gods word. I believe if we return to God and put him back in the center of our lives then he will take the worldly desires of our heart away and we will have peace in knowing Him. I’d suggest listening to some of the audio discussions at this link below. They give a great explanation of what i’ve illustrated above. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/authors-on-the-line/same-sex-temptations-in-the-church-an-interview-with-robert-gagnon

      • Billy Sveen

        Tyler, in full disclosure, I have not read Gagnon’s massive book on homosexuality, but I have read multiple synopses and critiques. Based on my research, his views are homophobic and inaccurate, even if you agree that homosexuality is a sin. Although this website has a major liberal bias, its thorough documentation clearly shows that he discriminates against homosexuals in an un-Christ-like manner, calling it worse than other sins and many false claims (links to pedophilia, caused by abuse, should be a mental illness, has negative personal effects, etc.). http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201206210002

    • Billy Sveen

      Liz, thank you for sharing your story. Know that I too am praying for you. I am praying that the marriage between you and your wife remains strong and pleasing to God, especially in the face of discrimination from the members of church and government. I am praying that soon you will personally experience civil benefits and personal recognition that I experience in my marriage with my wife. Thank you for being such an example of God’s grace.

      • Tyler

        Billy, you have provided absolutely no biblical evidence supporting homosexuality. The only arguments you try to make are to break apart biblical messages that mention homosexuality as a sin. You try to make excuses for homosexuality not being interpreted properly in the context. If gender didn’t matter, why does the Bible discuss gender roles in the church? Why does it only talk negatively about same sex relationships. Why does it specifically say that God made man for woman and they shall leave father and mother and be joined as one? Gender matters.

      • Tyler

        I believe Leviticus is very clear as well on this issue where it says “”‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; THAT IS DETESTABLE.” I understand that we are not necessarily subject to the law anymore because of Christs sacrifice, but that doesn’t necessarily take away from this statement. In this case God isn’t just giving us an order of obedience he also describes the act as detestable.

    • Change Box

      Liz, in yours and Tyler’s statements we find one of the pitfalls of both arguments. In belief there is no proving or dis-proving them. Your belief is yours and I cannot prove that you don’t believe or you do, you alone can decide that. What is amazing and awesome about the power of beliefs is that they are all correct because they exist in their sincerity only in the mind of the beholder. I have witnessed people who thought they were in complete agreement finally voice their beliefs only to find that they were in utter disagreement. And yet there is no possibility for one or the other to be truly right.

      But belief is incredibly powerful and incredibly important. I believe I will wake up tomorrow and have another day to live. If I did not I can assure you I would not be here jabbering away. I believe that I am doing the best I can with what I know and who I am and where I’ve come from. If I did not then I would change my ways. But while you may not agree with either of my beliefs there is no consequence to your disagreement, I go on believing them any way. You can try to convince me otherwise and you may have very compelling arguments but, in the end, they can only be decided by me.

      Please understand that I am neither taking your side nor Tyler’s. I’m hoping that you can both see the futility of telling the other that their beliefs are wrong… because you both are exactly correct (in your beliefs).

      Now, if we’d like to argue science, well that’s another story altogether. LOL

      Peace to you both.

  18. Patrick

    I will keep this short(er) because it took me 1.5 hours to read everything (plus some of the links).

    I think that the government, not Christianity (or any religion like Mormonism) should have a set of laws governing what is or is not marriage for the sake of stability, taxes, and the protection of its people (children primarily but also men and women). Prohibiting same-sex marriages is not discrimination as the law is written. There are no racial, religious, social-economic or gender discriminations that prevent people from getting married provided you marry someone of the opposite gender. On the same token, anyone can have a romantic relationship with whomever they want but are not guaranteed the civil status of marriage unless they follow the law of man and woman (in most states). Same-sex marriage is not a privilege that has been denied but a totally new one that has not existed previously.

    In our democratic government I think that soon same-sex marriages will be legal and not honoring the same-sex marriages in your organization will be illegal. I believe this will result in the loss of tax privileges for churches, mosques, religious relief organizations etc. if they do not comply with the new laws. Am I totally out there with this thought?

    Anyways, this has been my only attempt ever to write my thoughts on this position and I did so because of the respect shown so far on this post. Love you!

    • Mark Dixon

      Just to really quickly nip Patrick’s concern in the bud (and bear in mind that I have worked as a pastor, campus minister, and am currently earning a PhD at a theological seminary–in other words this comes from a church-friendly perspective):

      There is a tax break that churches could lose under some circumstances, but this is a tax break that they have perhaps been unethically taking advantage of in the first place. Some churches identify their sanctuary as something like a public event space, implying that it is devoid of any denominational or theological strings. To maintain this status, event spaces give up their write to discriminate amongst paying customers on the basis of certain religious beliefs.

      However, any church that chooses to maintain their sanctuary’s identity as a religious space can never be coerced by the government in a matter like this. This is analagous, for example, to churches who retain the right to refuse to ordain women despite the fact that their are federal laws mandating equality in the workplace for men and women.

    • Change Box

      Patrick, this has been eating at me for a while throughout the thread so don’t take it personally it just felt like it was time to say something….

      Why are the government/societal benefits to those who are married? I’m single and I do not enjoy the tax breaks afforded to those who are married. I don’t have a partner, I don’t have a serious relationship, I don’t have a relationship at all actually (lol) and so I am somehow less valuable to society than half a married couple? I realize this strays from the subject of same-sex marriage but some have argued that a civil union instead of marriage would resolve the issue. I disagree, for me that would make it even more discriminatory. Repeal the governmental benefits bestowed upon married couples entirely and the whole issue resolves itself doesn’t it?

  19. Renee

    I am thankful for this conversation, because I feel safe to join in. I wish there were more like it.

    I hate this issue because Satan has created it and he is seemingly winning. It is a petty win in a battle that he ultimately loses, but he is loving every minute of it. Satan is spreading lies and hate on both sides. If homosexuality is a sin, it is plaguing many. If it isn’t, then we have driven away many in the fight against it. There is no “winning” in this debate. Even if we somehow got the government to ban all homosexual marriages, have we gained anybody for Christ? Yes marriage is SO important and it does make me mad that this culture continues to use what we consider sacred (Christmas, Easter, and Marriage) and alter it so they can take part without knowing God or his will. All sin hurts God, and as much as I want to stick up for God, I have to remember He is fully capable to defend himself.

    I do believe homosexuality is a sin, a sin of a trickier level, a sin against the flesh. Not that it is worse than other sins; I just believe it is far more complicated. Paul explains to the Corinthians “All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” It is a hurtful issue, because it is so personal. It is someone’s body. Who am I to say someone should stay pure sexually? Will it hurt me if someone engages in premarital sex? It hurts my heart yes, but does it affect my body? No. It isn’t a sin against society. The government outlaws murder, because it hurts others. The government would never outlaw premarital consensual sex, because why would they care? Sure it affects divorce rates and causes a whole other host of problems for society, but it doesn’t directly hurt anyone in an objective, provable way.

    Who am I to tell someone to flee from homosexual desire? Especially if it is something I have never dealt with and it doesn’t affect me at all. Who will listen?

    On a personal scale, if someone close to me was struggling with homosexuality, I would definitely be there to sort it out with them. I wouldn’t idly stand by and let sin take over their life. But on a grand scale, Jesus doesn’t call us to condemn the world but to love. We don’t hold those outside the church to a standard. “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” (1 Corinthians 5:12) Even if people steal God’s ideas, it’s just not my job to judge.

    In my opinion, the battle is over. I am fairly confident gay marriage will be legalized. Heck it already is in my home state of Iowa. So even if it isn’t nationwide. It is already happening. So I’m not sure the question is, should it be legalized, but what are we going to do now. Do we continue to fight the government and the culture? Or do we continue to serve God in all we do, devote our lives to him and meanwhile pray that He would fill us with His grace and wisdom to deal with this sin problem until he returns. I am not going to approve of this culture, I am not going to condemn it or copy it, but I pray God will create in our church a new culture that people will be drawn into the love and radical nature of Christ Jesus.

    Sadly it’s not that simple.. we aren’t facing only divide in our country, but divide in our church on this issue. Pray people. We’re gonna need it. It’s just the worst.

    • Renee

      Also, to my homosexual friends out there: I do not judge you. I am a sinful, sinful person. When I say I believe homosexuality is a sin. I realize how painful that can sound, and I sincerely apologize for causing that pain. You are loved and have been made clean, and I will pray that God will be with you in this fight against the world.

  20. Chris

    Cor, I’ll try to answer your question of what the most compelling arguments I’ve seen on both sides are. I’m personally not wrestling with what Scripture says in regards to homosexual behavior- the assumption that it is considered sinful is built into my reasoning.

    ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT RECOGNIZING HOMOSEXUAL PARTNERS AS MARRIED:
    – OUR INDIVIDUAL MORALITY AFFECTS OTHER PEOPLE. Separation of church and state (a good thing) says the government has no place to regulate worship (how we relate and behave towards God) but it MUST regulate morality (how we relate to other humans) on some level. Our morality doesn’t only affect ourselves- it affects other people too. (C.S. Lewis has a good analogy using ships in a fleet in Mere Christianity). The government should regulate morality to protect people. If it didn’t we’d all wreck each other deliberately and accidentally.
    -MARRIAGE IS NOT JUST A RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION. In its best form it is worship, but so is work. We wouldn’t say the government has no right regulating business because it was created for us to reflect God’s creative and governing image. Both marriage and work are experienced in some form through God’s common grace to believers and non-believers alike.
    -MORALITY IS OBJECTIVE. Even if someone doesn’t care about what God thinks, his commands about how we relate to each other have benefits for not experiencing brokenness regardless of their religious beliefs. For example, someone who is unselfish or honest will experience blessing through that even if it’s not out of a fear of God. Someone not living a homosexual lifestyle will be better off in the long run than a person who does.
    -IT’S NOT OUR PLACE TO JUDGE OTHERS OUTSIDE THE FAITH, BUT WE DO ADVOCATE FOR THEIR BEST INTEREST. Since homosexuality behavior is sinful, it is not in non-believers’ best interest to practice it. Advocating and restricting is different than judging.
    -SIN LEADS TO MORE SIN- When I sin, it affects me in a way that I have a stronger desire to sin again or in more extreme ways. Christians are called “salt” to communicate that we have a role of preserving society and restraining evil. Legislation is one vehicle of doing that.
    -LEGISLATION ACTUALLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE. There are historical examples of legislation actually changing the way our country regards things as moral or not. When Roe v. Wade decided abortion was ok, all 50 states outlawed at-will abortion. Now we are very divided. Banning slavery certainly didn’t change everyone’s feelings about slavery right away, but now we agree. We often consider how our heart changes our behavior, but on some level our behavior influences our heart too. Authority that enforces good behavior can help restrain our evil hearts on some level. These examples and some of these arguments are from this article: http://www.midwestoutreach.org/journals/legislating.html
    – A LOWER REGARD FOR MARRIAGE CAUSES A LOT OF PROBLEMS. Divorce, pornography, pre-marital sex, etc. have already shown us that. Though we’re not as far along in the experiment of homosexual marriage, I suspect we’ll have plenty of data in a few generations. (others have any good research handy now?) An interesting study that I’ve only read snippets of from 1934 by J.D. Unwin called “Sex and Culture” shows, from a liberal and secular anthropologist who studied 86 cultures, that when a society departs from a traditional treatment of marriage it loses its expansive energy (I don’t know exactly what “expansive energy” refers to, but it’s a good thing).

    ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF THE GOVERNMENT RECOGNIZING HOMOSEXUAL PARTNERS AS MARRIED:
    -EVEN IF IT’S WRONG, WE DON’T PROHIBIT EVERYTHING THROUGH LEGISLATION. For example, we don’t legislate against pre-marital sex or most forms of pornography. Where do we draw the line between allowing someone the freedom to make poor choices that hurt themselves and society and at least attempting to prevent it? I think pornography is a much more significant issue for our country than homosexuality.
    -IMPOSING A LAW ON SOMEONE CAN BACKFIRE to actually provoke them to want to break it (see Romans 7). I’ve been told Prohibition was an attempt to legislate morality that did damage, although I don’t know if it was because of the principle in Romans 7 or not. The examples above show legislation really does matter though.
    -CIVIL BENEFITS OF MARRIAGE: I’m not familiar with all the tax benefits and things like hospital visitation rights given through marriages but not given through civil unions. I would imagine I’m in favor of at least some of the privileges often prohibited to civil unions should be provided for homosexual partners too (but I’m guessing some I would agree should not be too). I wish I was more informed here (responses with helpful links welcome).

    I am sure there are better or at least more articulate arguments on this side- my bias has limited me here, so I welcome responses from Christians who agree homosexual behavior is sinful.

    To those who are homosexual and Christian (my sister is one), I know the Spirit’s power to kill sin, transform your heart, and help you endure is at least as big for you as it is for me whether that means you continue to have same-sex attraction or not. You’re in a position to honor God during our generation in a way that few are- I pray that God gives you supernatural joy and peace that transcends understanding to follow his instruction and do so.

    • AH

      Chris, do you mind explaining this point a little further:

      “Someone not living a homosexual lifestyle will be better off in the long run than a person who does.”

      You made this statement in the context of saying that morality is objective, and referred to people who do not care what God thinks. Keeping in mind that I do not subscribe to the view that homosexuality is immoral – or a sin – could you give some specific examples of ways in which my life would be better off if I were not living a homosexual lifestyle?

      Please keep in mind that I have a partner whom I love with all my heart and soul. We have created a life and a future together. We surround ourselves with loving friends and family. We are happy. We are fulfilled.

      I simply can’t understand how someone could argue that my forsaking my partner and breaking my relationship – which would in turn break our hearts – would result in my being “better off in the long run”.

      Your further explanation on this point is appreciated. Thanks!

      • Chris

        AH, I certainly don’t expect you to agree with my line of reasoning as someone who doesn’t follow Jesus or hold to the authority of the Bible, which tells us that God’s commands together with his Spirit given to us (this must sound really crazy now) teach us how to experience intense, lasting joy. Even as someone who does thinks that and has experienced it in some measure, it’s still sometimes hard for me to understand how following some of them does that. If God is who it says he is though, I would expect it to go beyond both of our understandings.

        I think what I said is true, but I believe that because of what I understand the Bible to teach. I’ll hold off on an explanation on that front unless you’re interested. My thoughts above are more geared at Christians trying to sort out whether this is something we should advocate for the government to enforce or if our advocacy would instead cause more problems than it solves.

        To your point, what you mentioned here is the weakest part of my argument from a secular perspective. I’m not familiar with research myself, so I don’t think I have a great answer to persuade you I am right from arguments that are not based on Scripture. Our time is doing something new, so your situation is for the most part untested. There isn’t much evidence either way- would you agree?

        If you don’t know Jesus I think the more pressing question is who he is rather than the implications of your relationship with your partner. After all, your status in eternity forever matters more than your situation in this lifetime. If there’s a chance the Gospel is true, it’s worth checking out right? My advice (not that you have much reason to trust it) would be to get to know some Christians, ask a pastor your questions about the Christian faith (not just homosexuality), and go to church if you’d be comfortable. I recommend Hope Community Church for all of those, though it’s just one option. Honestly exploring the claims of the Bible while knowing the significant implications it would have on your life as a whole and specifically on your relationship would take a ton of courage.

        • AH

          Hi Chris, thanks for your response. I am actually intimately familiar with Christianity and the teachings of the Bible. I was confirmed in the Catholic church and later in my life belonged to a Protestant church for a very long time. My non-Christianity is not in any way a product of not having “checked it out”. With all due respect, for me the conversation is, indeed, about the implications of my relationship with my partner. I would note that she was raised Christian as well. I appreciate your concern but I think I’ll keep the conversation focused on the topic at hand rather than my relationship with the Lord.

          You write, “I don’t think I have a great answer to persuade you I am right from arguments that are not based on Scripture.” I think herein lies the crux of the argument. Even if – theoretically – all Christians were 100% adamantly opposed to gay marriage (and we know that in reality stances are far more nuanced than this), there are only two logical ways that this perspective could justify a legal ban on gay marriage:

          1. If, for some reason, laws based in Christian theology take precedence over all other religions’ theology, and apply to people of all religions. I see this analogous to the U.S. government banning all Americans from eating beef because one religion – Hinduism – prohibits the consumption of beef.

          2. If there are valid and logical arguments against gay marriage that are INDEPENDENT of Christianity and Biblical teachings.

          I do not believe that #1 holds up within the United States, because this country does not legislate based solely grounds.

          I have never heard any arguments for #2 that are valid or logical. If anyone can cite any, please go for it!

    • AH

      Regarding the civil benefits of marriage, I’ll direct you to the following link:

      http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/an-overview-of-federal-rights-and-protections-granted-to-married-couples

      Two things to keep in mind as you read this: first, it’s hosted on a pro-marriage-equality website which definitely has an agenda. Second, this document only refers to FEDERAL benefits – which means that these benefits do not apply to same-sex couples even if the are legally married in their home state.

      And one personal anecdote: I recently did my 2012 taxes. My partner and I did the math, and had we been able to file jointly for federal taxes, we would have saved approximately $3,500 this year.

      • Chris

        AH, thanks for the link. I’ll try to get back to your above response soon as well.

  21. Peter

    Whether one wishes to believe that homosexuality and ‘same-sex’ marriage is right or wrong will never be decided by man or government this side of heaven. I nor anyone else will convince a person to change unless that person decides to change. If the government chooses to deem same-sex marriage legal then so be it.

    But,to argue from a Christ-centered perspective is troubling to me. If someone wants equality and “fairness”, I can’t argue against that. But to say that the Word of God does not prohibit this is wrong. If it ‘feels’ right then who am I to argue with you. Argue from point of fairness and equality but do not argue Biblical authority.

    I say this to all of us be careful what we teach about God. Do not teach a sincere believer that homosexuality is OK with God, but rather it is a matter of fairness: taxes, family leave, having access to someone in a hospital, to extinguish social bigotry, and so on.”

    However, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Matthew 18:6-7)

  22. Evan L.

    I know I’m retreading some ground covered by Dave and others, but I thought I’d weigh in.

    The most compelling argument I’ve heard from the side of same-sex marriage is that there’s roughly no functional difference in our culture between people committed to a homosexual relationship as a heterosexual one. After all, heterosexual people have been licentious and in the West we’ve devalued the institution of marriage with a culture of no-fault divorce so why should we deny these same ‘rights’ to homosexuals? In western culture we have accepted that the individual is God and consent is the only boundary that cannot be crossed so it makes cultural sense that two consenting adults should be able to enter into a relationship.

    However, this brings me to the conclusion that we should strengthen the value of marriage, not further devalue the institution. The government and the rest of the public do not care whether or not I am in love with my spouse, but recognizes that a child raised in a stable relationship between a man and a woman is likely to contribute to a safe and productive society. Marriage as a societal construct exists to allow for procreation and to protect the child, not for the love and companionship of two adults. A man and a woman who cannot have children are still honoring the institution of marriage because the man and the woman are not spreading their seed and reproducing with multiple people and causing an unstable environment for the children.

    TL;DR
    Marriage is recognized by the state because it is the most stable structure for producing offspring. Heterosexuals have messed this up pretty badly but that does not mean we should be changing the definition of marriage to suit our cultural and emotional inclinations.

    • AH

      Hello Evan,

      You write that “Marriage is recognized by the state because it is the most stable structure for producing offspring.” I would point out that many gay and lesbian couples choose to have children as well – in fact, the 2010 census found that 23% of gay households had kids. In many cases they are providing stable and loving homes to children who would otherwise be bouncing around in the foster care system (there are currently 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S.).

      I would think that allowing gay and lesbian couples to become legally married would further strengthen their partnerships and, as you put it, “strengthen the value of marriage”. Currently these 23% are able to provide their children with a home, but are unable to provide them with the benefits of being legally married parents.

      • Evan L.

        While these children will now be able to be adopted by legally “married” parents, that doesn’t necessarily their “marriage” in my eyes. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s societally healthy. In the same way that I think an unstable family that is ready to divorce for any reason is a sub-optimal home for a child I think a home with homosexual parents is similar. While I think the success is not easy to measure, contrary to some prior studies that assert “no difference” in between heterosexual and homosexual parents, the paper by Regnerus (Sociology professor at UT Austin) and the comments linked below were pretty enlightening to me in terms of just how little scientists are able to determine about these issues.

        http://www.markregnerus.com/

        I’m not saying that a child can’t grow up and be successful out of a single parent, divorced or homosexual home, I’m not willing to support it at a national or state level.

        • AH

          Evan, do you think children of an unmarried homosexual couple are better or worse off than children of a married homosexual couple?

          My point here is that many, many gay and lesbian parents already have children. The question is not whether children are better off in same-gender/different-gender parent households (I’ll sidestep that issue for now) but instead whether children in same-gender parent households would be better off if their parents were able to be legally married.

          • Evan L.

            With the current winds of culture, I don’t think it makes a difference. Many straight people don’t view marriage as a binding life contract and I don’t think changing the definition of marriage in regard to the state will change that cultural perception. As long as the barriers to exit of a marriage are weak then it’s bad for children and everyone else.

      • Evan L.

        I’ve been doing a bit more reading through these comments and responses to the Regnerus study. Upon further inspection I think the study was probably not the best data-gathering effort, but nonetheless interesting. It seems like the take-home message is that stable households are likely to raise stable children.

        I’d like to see some data showing the stability of homosexual relationships in further studies before I’d be able to comment on same-sex adoption from a scientific framework.

    • David

      Very interesting argument that avoids simply imposing Christian morality and definitions on non-believers. Unfortunately, your claim that “Marriage…is the most stable structure for producing offspring” is really hard to definitely prove either way, depending on your metric, and burdened with anecdotal arguments and counterarguments.

      • Evan L.

        I agree. I think it’s an open subject to be researched. I found an interesting paper and peer review by this guy here: http://www.markregnerus.com/
        He’s a sociology professor at UT austin who did some fascinating research on how difficult it is to quantify these outcomes.

        I agree that the plural of anecdotes are not data. The main thrust of bringing that argument up is to highlight the uncertainty of the outcomes associated with legalizing this at a national level. While against the notion of same sex marriage personally I think that bringing it up in a democratic process from state to state is much better than the court ruling same sex marriage legal by fiat.

        • Billy Sveen

          Evan, I would caution you in quoting Regnerus as he was widely berated by sociologists last June when he published a study concluding that gay parenting is detrimental to children. His study was valid (meaning he didn’t make false data), but the conclusions were terribly off-base. Here is a good, unbiased discussion of that situation: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/13/us/mark-regnerus-and-the-role-of-faith-in-academics.html.

          As mentioned in other posts, there is actually a large body of scientific evidence on this subject. While it is difficult to analyze, it is significant that the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a metareport and policy statement that gay parenting is not detrimental to children. Here are links to the policy and technical scientific reports. It is telling that no highly biased reports like Regnerus are included, as their conclusions are bad science, to be frank.
          http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/03/18/peds.2013-0376
          http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/4/e1374.abstract?rss=1

          • Evan L.

            I agree. After doing a bunch of reading further last night I realized I don’t think I’ll use his work as evidence for anything. I based my initial assessment of his work from the comments on his paper and didn’t look for the broader context and discussion until much later in the evening. I agree that the work he is doing is interesting but the conclusions he draws from his work are more editorial than I would like.

  23. Valerie

    Great conversation. I’d place myself in the camp of, “homosexuality is sin, but I’m willing to compromise and have legal civil unions legalized for homosexuals” camp.
    That said, my biggest issue with the whole Facebook profile war of various pink symbols of varying hues is the timing. It is no coincidence that the week of Easter, a time when we celebrate the amazing love story of God and his people experiences a climax, we are instead focused on this debate. That disturbed me more than anything anyone has to say on either side.

  24. Tyler

    “9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

    More biblical evidence that homosexuality cannot exist in Christianity. However, the more important message here is that all can be made well if you turn to Christ in repentance and make a lifestyle change to follow Him. I’m still waiting to hear any biblical evidence supporting homosexuality for the ones who say they are Christian and support homosexual marriages.

    • Tyler

      BTW 1 Cor 9-11 above NIV

    • AH

      What about those of us who are not Christian? The verses you cited above make all the difference in the world to you. But to me they are about as meaningful and applicable as verses of the Koran are to you.

      The bottom line is that those who follow Christ should of course follow His word and teachings as well. But using Biblical justification to create laws that apply to non-Christians is very, very problematic within a secular government.

      • Valerie

        and here is why, even though I disagree with the practice of homosexuality, I feel a compromise of civil unions is perfectly acceptable.

      • Tyler

        It wasn’t meant for those of you who are not Christian. I wouldn’t expect you to understand what you do not believe. As Christian’s I feel we need to stand up for what we believe is truth (from scripture). I believe in a God who created man and woman and had a design in mind that was not meant to be tampered with. That is why I only support traditional male and female marriage. Gods design is better than any human design even if you do not believe in Him.

        • AH

          The problem is that while your words are not meant to apply to those who are not Christian, the laws do.

          You as a Christian only support male and female marriage. Veronica as Buddhist supports a vegetarian-only diet. Peter as a Jehovah’s witness believes that blood transfusions are sacrilege. Nabilah as a Muslim believes that eating pork is sacrilege. Veronica’s and Peter’s and Nabilan’s convictions are not legislated and they do not apply to you. Why should your beliefs apply to them (or me)?

          • Tyler

            The argument is how Christians should view homosexual marriages.

            • AH

              Hi Tyler, I actually disagree. Take a look at Cor’s post again. The issue being discussed here is not how Christians should view homosexual marriages (because if that were the case, I would have no place in this conversation; it’s not my business).

              The issue is instead whether legal marriage should be defined as a man or a woman only, or whether it should be extended to same-sex unions. The conversation was prompted by the pink-and-red equal signs that appeared on Facebook in response to the Supreme Court hearings.

              • Tyler

                Yes and from the Christian perspective it should not.

                • AH

                  And why should Christianity-based laws apply to non-Christian people, any more so than Muslim-based laws or Jewish-based laws apply to you? I am hoping to further discussion, rather than simply shut down discussion.

      • Tyler

        Christians have every right to support laws that they feel are moral and just as God has told them through His word.

  25. Craig

    Billy- How can you know that for certain that “monogamous homosexuality did not exist at that time and no one even spoke of sexual orientations despite the existence of homosexual acts” during the Old or New Testament time? Seems like the male-dominated society wouldn’t have allowed either, but yet there were Sodom and Gomorrah, not to mention Roman emperors. Either way, isn’t it possible that God could have had the foresight to address the issue?

    • Billy Sveen

      Craig, thanks for the response. I don’t know for certain, and I am not a biblical scholar, but I studied this fairly extensively. The Hebrew, Greek, and Hebrew-to-Greek translations of the terms now commonly translated at “homosexual” are actually a variety of words with many cultural uses at that time including pagan worship, the custom of raping men for dominance such as after a battle, the custom of taking younger men or boys for sexual pleasure by older men. Never is the word used to describe a sexual orientation or attraction, only specific acts (such as literally “male layer”) that are culturally removed from today’s monogamous, committed homosexuality. There is no word for literal “homosexual” meaning “same sex” in the Bible. That word was not coined until about 100 years ago when it first became culturally relevant. The first time it was translated into the Bible (improperly, in my opinion) was not until 1946 in ESV.

      It is definitely possible that God would have the foresight to include messages to us that apply to our culture in a way that did not apply to the initial readers, but that is contradictory to how conservative theologians interpret the Bible. First, you need to figure out what it meant in the context of the original audience, then how they would apply that, then apply that to today. We (all conservative Christians) are making an assumption about how God was working by doing this, but the alternative takes the passage out of context and leaves it open to nearly endless “justifiable” interpretations, allowing for even secret Bible codes.

  26. David Ruess

    Okey dokey smokies. Here we go. The numbers are there so you can easily respond to something I write, if you wish, it’s not an ordered logical argument. I wrote this late, forgive me for typos and grammar errors.

    1. I’m defining homosexuality in my post as the innate preference/leaning/tendency to attraction of the same gender. So for example, if a straight and gay man were side by side, and an attractive female and attractive male both walked by, without thought or choice, the straight man would find himself attracted to the female, while the gay man would find himself attracted to the male. There is everything wrong with these leanings to the extent sin has ravaged our bodies to be in bondage to decay. Romans 8:18-21. The choice is what we do with these leanings…do we use our members as instruments of righteousness or unrighteousness? Rom 6:12-14

    2. Contrary to popular belief, homosexuals already have the right to marry whomever they wish! They just have to marry someone of the opposite gender. This is one of the many restrictions America places on marriage. We restrict on age, whether or not they’re already married, how they are related to you, the type of species they are, whether they’re alive, etc…

    3. This constant rhetoric that the issue is ‘equal rights’ or ‘civil rights’ is simply bunk. Why? Because homosexuals are afforded the same rights as me, they’re just bent out of shape because the state won’t let them do what they want, nor recognize their innate attractions with federal benefits.

    4. This is a conflict of desires. You want to marry someone who’s your same gender, and/or you want other people to be able to marry people of their same gender; I don’t want you or someone else to marry someone of their same gender. James 4:1-10

    5. As a friend pointed out to me, just because it is a religious issue, doesn’t mean it’s only a religious issue. We have made it a major societal issue when on July 12, 1996 the House (Yeas: 342; Nays: 67), then on Sept 10, 1996 the Senate (Yeas: 85; Nays: 14), and finally on September 21, 1996 Bill Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act, which restricts federal marriage benefits and required inter-state marriage recognition to only opposite-sex marriages in the United States. Whether or not section 3 of DOMA is constitutional is what the Supreme Court heard oral arguments about just last March.

    6. This is also a conflict of morality: a system of what is right and wrong. Your system views homosexuality, homosexual behavior, and two people of the same gender living in monogamy as right. My system views homosexual behavior, and the latter as wrong. It’s also a conflict of the starting place from which these systems grow… they are generally very different. It’s hard to convince someone in Denver they’re in the wrong place when they headed west from California, while you started in Wisconsin went west and ended up in NY.

    7. Please know I do respect your views.

    8. Someone above asked the practical bad things that result if they stayed in their homosexual relationship. There are many:
    a- If male, you will never experience the beauty and joy of having a wife as your helper. And if a woman, you will never experience the joy and beauty of being a helper to your husband, and fulfilling a God created role for you. (Look up helper in Hebrew to see it’s power and how it’s used of God saving the Israelites, we are not talking about ‘Julie, pass me the wrench!’) Gen 2:18-25
    b- You will experience death throughout this life as you continue in that relationship being disobedient to God (Romans 6:21) by death I mean you will not experience the life in this life that Jesus desires for you to have Jn 10:10; nor the overflowing joy of Jesus He wants you to have Jn 15:11
    c- If you are a saint and trust Jesus for your salvation, and continue in this relationship, you might die before your time and leave family and friends suddenly, so your spirit might be saved on the day of the Lord 1 Cor 5:1-5
    d- You will never experience the sanctifying joyous blessing of being in a marriage that is the best analogy this side of heaven between Jesus Christ and his bride, the Church.
    e- If a male, your children will never experience growing up with a mother, and if female, your children will never experience growing up with a father; and you will suffer the grief and regret all your life of pain and problems you caused them as a result of this.
    f- You will never experience the wondrous unique qualities, quirks, and different gifts that God blesses upon the gender of male and female.
    g- You will forever be missing an intimate lifelong discovery of the being, that, with you, completes the image of God.
    h- You will never experience the satisfaction of being one sexually with another human being in the way God complimented male and female, and will forever miss the exciting maturity of your oneness in your sexuality.
    i- Similarly to sexual oneness, you will never experience the emotion, relational, mental, and in all other aspects of life oneness of a female/male marriage.
    j- If female, you won’t be able to ever look up to your man to protect you, nor feel safe in his arms, nor admire the way he plays with your children, raises them, and leads your home spiritually in prayer and study of the word.
    k- If male, you won’t be able to ever gaze into your wife’s eyes and see her fierce desire for you, nor hold her in your arms, nor admire her gentle and motherly care which comes so naturally when she holds your children, nor see her strength as she raises them, nor see her great love for them when they break her heart, nor see her lead your children in prayer before bed, or teach them about Jesus as she knows Him uniquely as a female.
    l- You will miss out on all the freedom you could have had submitting yourself to God and becoming a slave of righteousness.
    m- You will have given Satan a foothold in your life, for sin was crouching at your doorstep and it’s desire was to have you, and you let it master you. And not only let it master you, but now give hearty approval to others who do the same; ‘and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death…’ Romans 1:32
    n- You will never experience the victory of standing firm in your faith, knowing that your suffering as a homosexual having all these feelings inside you yet without God’s blessing to act on them, that this same suffering is being experience all around the world by other Christians. You will never experience the joy of that fight, nor experience God Himself perfecting you, confirming you, strengthening you, and establishing you 1 Pet 5:1-11.

    9. But back to the laws of our land. I most definitely believe monogamous homosexuals could provide a much better environment in which to raise a child than many heterosexual couples that exist. But this doesn’t mean the solution is to allow homosexual couples to raise children. No, the solution is to teach the heterosexual couples how to raise children in a healthy and supportive environment.

    10. If the system of morality that declares the homosexual agenda as ‘right’ is based on the idea that our sexual orientation is a natural, read born-this-way, then what supports the idea that this is actually moral? For, if a group of people claim their sexual orientation is not towards the same gender, but towards their sisters or brothers, who are we to argue and say that is wrong? Or worse yet, what if a group of friends grow up in school and realize their sexual orientation is towards young people and another group of friends understand that their sexual orientation is towards older people? And that sexual orientation stays with them as they grow older until they find another group of young children and each find a child who desire old people with which to have a monogamous relationship? Both parties consensual, both parties understand this is their sexual orientation. Will we extend benefits to these two groups of sexual orientation as well?

    11. This would never come to that, you might say…but tell that to someone back way back before 1996, before both parties passed with huge majorities the defense of marriage act. Now let’s say we overturn section 3 to include same sex marriage, and in 50 years have both parties pass another defense of marriage act not granting federal benefits to monogamous sibling marriage, or monogamous adult and children marriage. I guess the question is – what makes this same sex marriage more morally right than adult/children marriage? What is this system based on? I would argue that at it’s depth, everyone’s system of morality is based on some form of a religious worldview. But how do we reconcile religious world views that are irreconcilable?

    12. Jesus does teach about marriage and divorce, that seems like a good place as any if he wanted to make a clear statement about same sex marriage. He also teaches that those who follow his commands are like a wise man who builds his house on rock, and when the storms of life come he survives. But those who do not follow his commands are like a foolish man who builds his house on sand. And when storms of life comes, he doesn’t survive. Jesus spoke this to believers and non-believers. Which means that the wisdom of God, seen in obedience to his commands, are wisdom even for unbelievers. God’s grace extends to all sinners. So yes, I am for keeping homosexuals from receiving federal benefits and from keeping them for getting married. Our society would be wise to follow the teachings of Jesus – ‘that for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ Mt 19:1-12 For one day the storms of life will come upon the people in this society, and the extent to which we followed the commands of God, we will have built a foundation on rock, not sand, and I believe we will survive the storm.

    13. So should we make society a theocracy? Gosh I hope not. Marriage seems to be a facet of wisdom the state has control over, so also for this reason I am for them keeping it between a man and a woman.

    – David Ruess

    • AH

      Hello David,

      I would point out to you that your points #2,3,4,5, and 6 could be applied almost verbatim to the argument against mixed-race marriages (and in fact, they WERE widely used in the fifties and sixties before the Loving v. Virginia ruling in 1967). Opponents of mixed-race marriage cited a number of Biblical passages to justify their positions – just like the Bible has been used to justify slavery over centuries and just like it is being used to justify banning gay marriage today.

      Today mixed-race marriage is widely accepted and very few people take those arguments against it seriously. Why do those points apply to gay and lesbian marriage when they do not apply to interracial marriage?

      • David Ruess

        Thanks for the reply AH!

        It wasn’t my intent to use 4 or 6 as arguments for, or against, just pointing out what what I see as the fundamental friction points between the two sides. I’m sure things like I said were said about the mixed-race marriages, and I’m sure it can be applied to many different issues as well.

        #5 was just a little history for people who didn’t know specifically what the court was reviewing – and I suppose an argument that marriage simply can’t be described as only a religious issue; even if a libertarian view believes governments should remove itself from this religious issues, the fact remains that we as a society have made it a societal issue.

        And for #2,3 – the reason this argument can be used in this gay marriage discussion, yet still be a faulty argument for a mixed-race marriage debate, is simply because the color of their skin testifies to their race, while sexual orientation can only be testified to by an individual’s own statement of their sexual orientation.
        I do not doubt that some people are born with an inclination towards same sex attraction, and some with opposite sex attraction. But I also accept that yet others are born with a child-aged attraction, or only a familial attraction. For our bodies, along with creation, have been corrupted by sin and are in bondage to decay.
        And thus I would point you to #10, and #11, and ask someone to tell me what makes sexual orientation of the same gender more morally right than a sexual orientation of an adult towards a child, or of a brother towards a sister.

        Regards, David

        • AH

          Regarding your point to #s 2 and 3: Just because skin color is visible and sexual orientation is not does not mean that sexual orientation is not just as “innate” as skin color is. There are some people who persist in believing that sexual orientation is a choice… but very, very few of them have personal experience in trying to change their own. I spent decades – literally – trying to change my sexual and romantic attraction. I sought therapy to do so. I prayed with all my soul. I tried to change myself, then when I was unable to do so, I surrendered that change to God and trusted him to heal me. I did EVERYTHING I could to try not to be gay. Guess what? Still gay. I have done everything and I promise you that I have no more control over my sexual orientation than I do over the color of my skin.

          Regarding your last point: I think the difference between sexual orientation and incest is that no one – absolutely no one, not my knowledge – is advocating that brother/sister marriage be made legal. There are no movements; no advocacy groups; nothing. The only time that the issue is even brought up is in the context of same-sex marriage (“if we allow x, will we have to allow y?” – yet many, many people advocate x, and no one at all advocates y).

          And the reason that same-sex marriage differs from adult-child marriage is that sex with a child is RAPE. Children cannot consent to sex in any sense (morally, legally, emotionally). There is an enormous chasm of difference between two people who are legally of sound and mature mind consenting to a sexual act, and an adult preying upon (raping) a child who is unable to consent. I commit to keeping this conversation respectful, but I will let you know that most gays and lesbians are horrified when their loving, committed, consensual relationships are compared to child abuse and child rape. The two situations are not at all comparable.

    • Maggy

      Hi David-
      In regards to point #8:

      G and F — Paul urges believers to remain single and NOT get married in 1 Corinthians 7. In light of this, it seems that we are called to live in community in order to better understand the ways in which different people reflect the image of God. Can marriage between and man and a woman be an example of this? Sure. Is it the ONLY way? Clearly, it isn’t.

      As for point E, there are many articles posted previously, notably from the American Academy of Pediatrics, that children raised by gay parents do just as well as those raised by straight parents.

      Finally, many of the rest of your subpoints here are based on stereotypes of men and women, particularly J and K. Not all straight people want a marriage that looks this way. To make a blanket statement that this is what gay people will miss out on is a little misleading–this is mostly what YOU desire and would therefore miss out on.

  27. David Ruess

    This is reply to AH:

    AH, God bless you brother. I believe what you say, and I agree with you that sexual orientation is just as innate as skin color, in that I don’t think we can change it.
    14. Also, know I fully believe that people with a same sex orientation can be/are Christians.
    And though I have used the term homosexuals in my posts, I want to apologize to anyone hurt by this, as I don’t like defining someone simply by their sexual orientation…ex, ‘oh, so you’re a lesbian!’ no, she’s a female made in the image of God whose attracted to other women.’
    15. I’m not arguing that inherent traits are a reason for or against gay marriage. I’m arguing that the determining factor of these traits is a valid reason to distinguish the gay marriage debate from the old mixed-race marriage debate.

    16. If the supreme court declares that same-sex attraction is a protected class and thereby equal to the benefits afforded to opposite-sex attraction – and the determining factor of this new class is determined by a person’s word, then we have undoubtedly opened the door to extend those rights to another person’s word about their sexual identity, ex, polygamy.

    17. The court, in this line of argument, would be pressed, if such a person came forward, to also give tax benefits to the a person who is deeply attracted to multiple people and desires to marry all of them. The court then has to decided, for sake of example, a female married to 3 other men, whether those four incomes can be counted as one, how taxes and assets play out, – does she get a multi marriage discount? And then what of the people who claim they are attracted to multiple people of both sexes and a group of 7 wish to get married – do they receive extra benefits?
    18. And what of the person who is attracted to children? They would claim this attraction was not chosen, just as we do, but they were born with it, so do we then give marriage benefits to a 37 year old and an 9 year old? Most on this blog would find this repulsive and wrong. But if we are to think critically about how our society handles laws – we must consider where these decision will take us – especially in light of the fact that our constitution is created to protect the minority groups rights from the majority who would wish, as in this case of adult-child marriage, to withhold them.

    19. Do you see how this is opens wide a door? Let me explain another way. The issue of marriage, fundamentally is religious, it, marriage being a sacrament. Even now, we have whole Christian denominations that practice the sacrament of same sex marriage, as other’s practice the sacrament of opposite sex marriage. This is an argument for same-sex marriage! As the court should not make laws favoring one religious view over another! To this we heartily agree, for we wouldn’t want the court to rule in favor of sharia law from the theocracy bent religion of Islam. We like separation of church and state. But see we already have laws in favor of opposite sex marriage (the defense of marriage act – DOMA) – the state is already involved in the affairs of sacrament. okay go to 20!

    20. Please follow the argument here! If the court overturns DOMA on the grounds that DOMA is unconstitutional because it broke the establishment clause of the first amendment: ‘congress should make no law respecting an establishment of religion…’ (some gay marriages supporters take this view as their denomination already practices gay marriage as a sacrament), THEN, congress would also therefore have to give marriage benefits to an established religion (however small that might be! – for the 1st amendment protects the minorities) – which genuinely believes the sacrament of an adult-child marriage, including the sexuality that goes with it, is the most loving action they can have towards a child. How could the courts infringe upon that established religion and their beliefs!? They couldn’t!

    21. So what is to prevent this from happening? We uphold DOMA not on moral or religious grounds, but on the grounds that same sex attraction is not a protected class as there is no distinguishing feature nor evidence, other than a person’s word, which would otherwise prove this attraction is an innate quality similar to gender or skin color. And even though it seems clear that attraction is an innate quality, with which I actually agree, we must hold protected classes at a level which is reached only by provable scientific evidence. This would be made in view of the betterment of our society. For allowing simply one’s word to establish a protected class, even if supported by a large majority, would open our society to innumerable other protected classes, of which our society neither has the ability nor capacity to facilitate, and of which I hold the opinion would do greater harm then good to our country’s stability.

    21. Thus the determining factor of sexual attraction – a person’s word, is very problematic for our society, would not be beneficial to accept as grounds for a protect class and such equal to rights afforded to opposite-sex marriages, and is entirely different in comparison to the issue of determining race within mixed marriages.

    • AH

      Hi David,

      I think in all your arguments about adults marrying children you have completely glossed over my main point on that: sex with a child is RAPE. Children cannot consent to sex or marriage. Your comparison of gay marriage to child marriage is a completely false equivalency.

      I’ll try to be respectful here while making my reaction to your statements clear: it is extremely hurtful that you compare my CONSENTING relationship with my partner (and all other CONSENTING same-sex relationships) to the rape and sexual abuse of a child.

      Whether sexual attraction to children is innate or not, I don’t know. I don’t have the psychological background to speak on that. But it doesn’t matter a whit, because sex with a non-consenting person (child) is rape; sex with a consenting person is not.

    • AH

      Hi David,

      I had another thought while going to sleep last night. You write that “we must hold protected classes at a level which is reached only by provable scientific evidence.”

      However, religion is a federally protected class. It has the same legal protections that race does. And religion is just like sexual orientation in that it’s not scientifically provable; only a person’s word indicates their religion. I cannot look at you or test you or examine your medical records to see that you are a Christian, just like you cannot look at me and tell that I am a lesbian. They are both self-attributed characteristics.

      You wrote that “For allowing simply one’s word to establish a protected class, even if supported by a large majority, would open our society to innumerable other protected classes, of which our society neither has the ability nor capacity to facilitate, and of which I hold the opinion would do greater harm then good to our country’s stability.”

      Well, religion has been a protected class for fifty years yet it has not opened our society to the innumberable other protected classes that you are worried about.

    • AH

      Hi David,

      I had another thought while going to sleep last night. You write that “we must hold protected classes at a level which is reached only by provable scientific evidence.”

      However, religion is a federally protected class. It has the same legal protections that race does. And religion is just like sexual orientation in that it’s not scientifically provable; only a person’s word indicates their religion. I cannot look at you or test you or examine your medical records to see that you are a Christian, just like you cannot look at me and tell that I am a lesbian. They are both self-attributed characteristics.

      You wrote that “For allowing simply one’s word to establish a protected class, even if supported by a large majority, would open our society to innumerable other protected classes, of which our society neither has the ability nor capacity to facilitate, and of which I hold the opinion would do greater harm then good to our country’s stability.”

      Well, religion has been a protected class for fifty years yet it has not opened our society to the innumerable other protected classes that you are worried about.

      • AH

        Dangit all! Sorry for the multiple post.

  28. David Ruess

    Hey AH,

    I’m sorry that my comments offended you and hurt you. Please forgive me for that. I guess while you and I both agree it’s rape, and for every other action you and I find detestable, there’s a group of people out there who honestly don’t think it’s rape, or don’t think consent needs to be present for it to still be loving. Which is sick.

    AH, my goal’s not to compare the actions of your consenting relationship with actions of an adult abusing a child. Please understand that, oh not at all! I don’t think your consenting relationship is anything like an adult taking advantage of a child!! In my mind they are very different! Very very very very different!!

    BUT, and lets take you out of it, I’m really sorry, I wasn’t trying to be inflammatory. Let’s take me for example, (I just realized I should have been using myself as the example this whole time) let’s take my consenting relationship with a female. The important similarity between my consenting relationship with a female, and a proposed adult’s relationship with a child, is that me and the adult 1. both have attraction and feelings towards another person; 2, both can believe it is natural and okay; and 3, can only prove that we are genuinely attracted this way by our word.

    These are the similarities the court would focus in on. Obviously my consenting relationship, just as your consenting relationship, in our minds, is absolutely completely different then the other situation we would consider rape.
    But if the court places me and my attraction in a protected class solely on those similarities, then I fear they would also, if treating people equal, have to put this sick adult in a protected class and actually give him federal benefits.

    To be honest, I would prefer the federal government had never involved itself in giving benefits to a religious sacrament. But now that they have, I’m fearful of where it will lead if it’s overturned on religious grounds, for that will eventually lead the state to give benefits to other religious marital sacraments, such as polygamy, or God forbid, some twisted religion that thinks rape isn’t rape, but love for a child, and a marital sacrament in their religion.

    Much love for you AH, I truly am sorry for my words that hurt you, please forgive me and know, your hurt was never my intention at all – David Ruess

    • AH

      Hi David,

      Thanks and I recognize that you didn’t mean any offense to me personally.

      Let’s be clear. No matter what rights the U.S. government can offer adults, those rights will not erase the laws of consent. Even if a “sick adult” (to use your very accurate terminology) gains federal benefits, those will be meaningless because those benefits will not in any way allow a child to consent to marriage or to sexual contact.

      Anyway, our discussion has drifted from its original focus. This is not a slippery slope issue; legalizing gay marriage does not automatically allow the legalization of child marriage/child rape. Legalizing gay marriage does not automatically allow the legalization of polygamous marriage. These are separate issues.

      Let’s get back to the original topic of discussion: should the U.S. government grant same-sex couples the same legal rights to marriage that they grant male/female couples?

      I am still waiting for someone here (or elsewhere) to present a justification for why Christian law should be applied to non-Christian individuals, or alternatively, arguments against same-sex marriage that exist independent of Christian theology.

      • Billy Sveen

        AH, as a Christian who is pro-equality both politically and theologically my answer is biased, but I cannot think of a good reason to restrict the civil definition of marriage. You have made an incredibly strong case for gay civil liberties, and I don’t think those can be overcome. Often, and this is a generalization that probably doesn’t apply to everyone, the opponent will argue from a Christian moral perspective (not justified in a pluralistic society) or argue that gay marriage will cause harm (not justified by philosophical arguments or empirical research). You’re insightful probing has exposed both of these in great detail, and I want to let you know that some Christians do agree with you.

  29. Paul Little

    Hey all,

    There is so much great discussion here. While scrolling through I didn’t find this topic broached anywhere, though it may have been, so I just thought I’d add it to the mix:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/04/legalize_polygamy_marriage_equality_for_all.html

    Here’s a quote:

    “The definition of marriage is plastic. Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less “correct” than marriage among three (or four, or six) consenting adults. Though polygamists are a minority—a tiny minority, in fact—freedom has no value unless it extends to even the smallest and most marginalized groups among us. So let’s fight for marriage equality until it extends to every same-sex couple in the United States—and then let’s keep fighting. We’re not done yet.”

    I know there has been some in the media who have said that this would never happen as a result of the push for a redefinition of marriage to include homosexual relationships, but here it is.

    Thoughts?

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