It is fascinating to see how self-proclaimed Christians take the most worldly behaviors and rationalize them as being “spiritual.” There’s Something in the Air: Grace from the Sojourners’ blog assumed that because “religious” people have changed their minds on a topic that they must be right.
Moments before I left Laguna Beach to drive to Long Beach one recent Friday afternoon, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved its stay on gay marriages, giving California county clerks permission to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples for the first time in more than five years.
By the time I reached the parking garage at the Long Beach Convention Center, where the United Church of Christ was holding the denomination’s national, biennial gathering, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, a gay couple from Burbank who were plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case that overturned Prop. 8, were exchanging vows at Los Angeles City Hall.
Isn’t it extraordinary how quickly history changes course?
But then “quickly” is a matter of perspective. I dare say those who have been fighting for equal rights since the Stonewall riots in 1969 and before wouldn’t deem legal and cultural acceptance of homosexuality “quick.”
Still, whether long-in-coming or fast, change has arrived.
How epic change transpires also is a matter of perspective.
It seems to me that the driving catalyst behind the transformation of social and spiritual perspectives about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues has been relationships. When you actually know and love people who are gay it is much more difficult to uphold ideological opinions that would dismiss, judge or condemn them.
Relationships destroy hypotheticals.
It’s a point of view shared by many who were busy celebrating the Supreme Court decisions on Prop. 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act when I arrived at the UCC convention in late June.
Relationships are, at their very core, spiritual experiences. Years ago I read a book by British theologian John V. Taylor called The Go-Between God. In it, Taylor argues that the Spirit of God is as powerfully presentbetween people as it is in people.
“Space has been created for people to have genuine encounters and to be engaged in actual relationships,” said the Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, the UCC’s executive and minister for LGBT concerns. “I think that’s what has really turned the tide. The degrees of separation of people who know someone who is gay have diminished almost to zero.”
A few years ago, when the first significant rumblings of change in attitudes and beliefs about homosexuality and gay marriage began in my community, evangelical Christians, I wondered aloud if the church might be on the cusp of a new era. A Third Great Awakening, if you will.
I now believe that such transformation in social mores regarding LGBT issues is merely a manifestation of a much more global spiritual shift.
This analysis might have had merit if it hadn’t committed the logical fallacy of begging the question — that is, assuming what it should be proving. It assumes that homosexual behavior and oxymoronic “same-sex marriage” is biblical but it never demonstrates it. The Bible couldn’t be more clear. Bible-believing Christians and even two out of the three types of pro-gay people* (religious or not) can see these truths:
- 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
- 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
- 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
- 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind.
So the ways the world used to rationalize homosexuality and “same-sex marriage” may make for an interesting analysis but it in no way mean the behavior isn’t sinful or that God supports it.
Also, the “equality” language is deceptive. Those relationships are not equal. They can never produce children and can never provide a mother and a father to a child. No, you don’t have to make children to be married, but the fact that they do often do produce children is why gov’t is involved. No, we aren’t stopping them from having those relationships, we are saying there are no good reasons for the government to affirm and encourage them.
Yes, relationships have impacted how people view this topic, but that doesn’t mean it is a good thing. Lots of self-proclaimed Christians were pro-life until their daughters got pregnant, then they paid to have their grandchildren killed because of “relationships.” They saw the issue in a different light, to be sure, but that didn’t make it right. And the same thing applies here. Just because your child/friend/etc. has a temptation towards same-sex attraction (SSA) doesn’t mean you get to edit the Bible.
And it is a fascinating stereotype that those of us who agree with Jesus about marriage and sexuality don’t know any gays. How prejudiced is that?
If you really love people with SSA you won’t encourage them to indulge in the behavior. Being committed to a sinful lifestyle is not a virtue. There are many good ministries, such as Overcomers Network, that can help people out of this lifestyle. But too many people love the world more than their neighbors and friends and they seek popularity over truth.
Grace is wonderful. The Good News is that all of our sins — including homosexual behavior and lust, heterosexual behavior and lust, greed, idolatry, covetousness, etc. — can be forgiven by our perfect and Holy God. But it mocks his grace and the cross to sit in judgment of his word and to call good evil and evil good.
* The three general types of pro-gay theology people: 1. “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong but it isn’t the word of God” (obviously non-Christians) 2. “The Bible says it is wrong but God changed his mind and is only telling theological Liberals” (only about 10 things wrong with that) 3. “The Bible is the word of God but you are just misunderstanding it” (Uh, no, not really.)