It is Time for the American Christian Church to Surrender the Gay Marriage Fight, Apologize, and Share Love

Photo credit: 2010 Andreanna Moya Photography/flickr. Usage does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

I need to clarify right out of the gate that this post will not focus on the “choice vs. birth vs. childhood” arguments related to the origin of homosexuality in an individual. We must start from the reality that acknowledges the American Christian church as divided on that issue, and will be for some time. Many on the Right view homosexuality as sin, a growing number on the Left view homosexuality as God-authored and inherently beautiful, and those in the middle have varying views and distinctions to offer. For Christians across the political and denominational spectrum, it is often a struggle to find one’s footing in this complicated issue. After all, the GLBT community includes family members, friends and neighbors.

Instead, this post will focus on making a case from a Christian perspective that gay marriage should be allowed legally in this country, and will attempt to explain why the church will become more like it was intended to be when it concedes this legislative battle. Here’s why.

Are We Warring or Welcoming?

God did not instruct the church to force the rest of the world to have the appearance of the church.

But that is the inevitable objective of the anti-gay marriage movement.

An implication is that a ban on such marriage will cause homosexuality to go stealth and disappear from God’s radar. But even if we’re taking the side of the anti-gay marriage argument and their supporting reasons for a moment, why would God use one singular issue to determine the character of an entire population? Such a finely-tuned fixation not only simplifies God and mankind, but it shows how little the Christian church often chooses to focus on real problems with serious consequences, like unnecessary war, sex trafficking, extreme global poverty, gender inequality, our prison industrial complex, increasing poverty at home, growing income inequality, greed, rampant corruption and an unlawful and unaccountable federal government.

The sin of your sister Sodom was this: She lived with her daughters in the lap of luxury—proud, gluttonous, and lazy. They ignored the oppressed and the poor. They put on airs and lived obscene lives. And you know what happened: I did away with them.” -Ezekiel 16:49, The Message translation

The quest to deny gay individuals the right to marry in the broader culture is an example of Christian conquest which is and always has been a perversion of discipleship. The church must illuminate a path for seekers to pursue the light of God, and provide a place of solace where the Lord’s call can find a response of the heart. Instead, we have often crowded the path with protesters and picket signs, and drowned out the sound of God’s knocking with our shouting. The mistake of the anti-gay marriage movement in the Christian church is that it is an attempt at indirect discipleship by way of restricting another’s freedom, and discipleship has never succeeded in that way. Discipleship convicts, comforts, and points the way, but it does so established on a foundation of dignity inherent in every person’s God-given right to respond without coercion.

The church ought to be immersed in the business of transforming lives through teaching, compassion and care, instead of treading in the shallow waters that have us trying to govern lives through legislative force. God extends to all of us freewill and patience and it’s time we truly extend both to the GLBT community. And it’s also time we turn the other cheek if we insist on viewing gay marriage as an assault on one’s own values. Having fists raised and holding a posture that is ready to fight are the last gestures that will ever make a group of people feel welcome when they have already been bullied, marginalized, and scorned.

We wonder, after all of the stadiums filled with people cheering for heterosexual marriage, and the church demonstrations outside of schools during a day of silence for GLBT discrimination, and rallies at the capital, and harsh rhetoric, why people don’t believe us when we as the church say “all are welcome here.” The more vocal anti- gay marriage wing of the church must acknowledge the possibility that it is (at a minimum) sending mixed messages.

Anti-Gay Marriage Arguments are Rooted in What?

I can’t help but groan when anti-gay marriage pastors brag that they’re not homophobic, followed by statements of self-assurance when interviewed by gay reporters such as “do I look like I’m afraid of you?” Christian pastors need to model themselves after Jesus Christ rather than Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. Worse, the reasons used to prevent gay marriage are fearful arguments, ranging from fears about gays indoctrinating children to fears about gays taking over the government to fears about losing church rights. We have to ask ourselves if the victory of the cross was achieved through earthly supremacy or through surrender?

Framing the whole debate as a slippery slope is effective if we just want to recruit a bunch of worried people. This happens while some Christians accuse the gay community of doing the exact same kind of recruiting. This should not surprise us, for when we go to war in any form, we inevitably take on traits of the people we’ve branded as enemies. Christians don’t need to see a copy and paste of all the Scriptural passages that talk about a life based in love and not fear because we already know they’re plentiful.

Piety on Parade (the Most Offensive Parade in Town)

When those opposed to gay marriage also claim to be strict adherents to Biblical literalism, they should then be the first ones to destroy the term “sanctity of marriage” because it can be found exactly nowhere in Scripture. Sanctity of marriage is a man-made concoction, used to claim the moral high ground in the same way that organizations use “family” or “freedom” in their title as if they hold a monopoly on virtue.

Christians know that Christ told us to remove the log from our own eyes before we try to take a sliver out of the eyes of another. It is profoundly hypocritical to deny homosexuals the right to marry under the banner of marriage purity when divorce and adultery rates in Christian homes are equal to those in the wider world. Christians have a systemic problem of brokenness and unfaithfulness in our own relational sphere and we’ve preferred at times to answer by pointing the finger at someone else. This is not the way of Jesus.

Moving Towards Humility, Learning to Listen, Daring to be Curious

All of this isn’t to say that the church should give up on wrestling with the complexities of sexual orientation, nor is it to say that the church itself should perform gay marriage ceremonies. Those matters require far more than one blog post. At the very least, and perhaps as a start, we need to surrender the legislative conflict, practice more humility and recognize our shared humanity.

What would it mean to the GLBT community to hear from the church in unison “we were wrong to wage this war against you, and we are sorry for it and for all of the ways that we’ve hurt you.” What would it mean to those individuals willing to share that being gay is all that they’ve ever known, if members of the church would respond by wanting to hear more of their story rather than rushing to tell them its the wrong story to have?

The church lacks curiosity because it has fallen for the lie that says rigidity is close to godliness while openness is a form of spiritual weakness. We’re late to our own game. Theology is exploding in local bars, and in lyrics, and in movies and in art and the broader culture, at a time when the church has doubled down on a legislative issue that was never ours to begin with, wasting years in that fruitless space. The church must now recognize that there is no risk to our convictions of faith to enter into authentic dialogue with a genuine sense of curiosity in order to understand the identity and the struggles of another human being, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Here’s the moment when the Christian church will become more relevant, and it’s not when the church wins the culture war. The church will become relevant the moment its members unclench their fists for long enough to host GLBT family members, friends and neighbors for a meal, with nothing expected in return; the moment when true friendship between the church and the GLBT community is no longer contingent on conversion.

If you are a member of the GLBT community and have a story to share, whether you’ve been wounded or uplifted by the church, or something else entirely, please feel free to do so here. Other comments are welcome as always, but if yours is ugly, I’m going to delete it. Please stay respectful, remembering that this is first a human issue, and other humans are reading what you write.

 

91 thoughts on “It is Time for the American Christian Church to Surrender the Gay Marriage Fight, Apologize, and Share Love

  1. Love it, great article, thank you Ian. This issue has always hit home with me. I might have shared on an earlier post so my apologies if this is a repeat. One of the most pivotal moments in my life that eventually led to me turning away from the church involved the same kind of religious rigidity and what I consider twisted interpretation of Christ’s message. When I was 8, my family found out my bright, funny and brimming with life uncle was gay. The response of my family was to cut off contact with him (all contact for the kids, the parents’ only contact was a bitter war of letters trying to ‘cure’ him of his homosexuality). That lasted for 3 years, through his suffering and eventual death from AIDS related complications. The issue has been near to my heart ever since, I really appreciate your position and courage to write on this.

  2. Ian, I always appreciate how open, candid and honestly you and Tiffany write! I always enjoy reading your posts – and asking the Lord to stretch me through it… to show me where my heart is closed and calloused and to help me stand even firmer in His truth. I will say that of all the posts you’ve done, this one has me feeling uneasy. And I’m not exactly sure why. So I’ll thank you for making me uneasy :) I’ll be seeking the Lord in asking Him to show me why I’m all “twisty” inside. Thanks Ian.

  3. Thanks for a great post Ian. It is hard for me to know where to begin in responding. I feel like you and I could have many conversations over the course of many months on this topic.

    To give you and others following the thread a basic idea of where I am coming from, here is a brief version of a long story. I am a person who loves Jesus very much, and who strives to live for his Kingdom and find hope and redemption in his death and resurrection. I have committed my life to studying the Scripture and serving the Church as a minister.

    I am also a gay man. I was asked to leave the church that I was baptized and reared in, but have since been welcomed into another. Along the way, I have advocated for equality and civil rights for the LGBTIQ community, including the right to marry, and have been vehemently opposed by people claiming to act in Christ’s name.

    Some of those people have shouted me down in public forums, screamed epithets at me, spat at me, and committed physical violence against me and those I love. Every gay man I know is within one degree of separation from a physical assault based on the victim’s orientation. I have personally been hospitalized after a gay-bashing incident on 3 different occasions. And in all of these cases, religion was used as a justification.

    So, here are my thoughts on marriage equality. The opposition to same-sex marriage is absolutely a form of Christian conquest- an attempt to forcibly impose a particular religious doctrine on society as a whole. It comes from a basic posture that breeds enmity and antagonism, paints the LGBTIQ community as an enemy to be overcome rather than a neighbor to be loved.

    But, some of those who oppose gay rights for religious reasons will claim that even as they do so, they are still practicing love for the community, as Christ instructs us to love enemies. But that argument is nonsensical. Christ instructs us to love the persons who have chosen to make themselves our enemy in hopes that we can achieve reconciliation and peace. It is an oxymoron to say that you “love” an enemy when you are the source of the enmity in the first place. And let’s do be clear about that: the LGBTIQ community is not seeking to target or take anything away from the Church. With the exception of a fringe minority that does not represent the whole, the community wants only to live our lives in peace and dignity with the people we love, the same as everyone else. And peace and dignity are not finite resources; you don’t need to take it away from one group to give it to another.

    So yes, working to block or take away the basic civil rights of gay people creates a situation of enmity and antagonism that precludes love and that does tremendous damage to innocent people, no matter how politely or piously it is phrased.

    • Tucker- there’s no easy way to reply to a comment like yours. You know what it means to be assaulted and to have violence committed against you in God’s name. It makes me angry to think about, but you’ve experienced it. At the same time, I am inspired by your ability to share those painful parts of your story.

      Thank you for reading and for the courage to comment. I hope our dialogue can continue over time.

  4. The one place where I would offer a dissenting voice to your post, though, is in the dialectic that frames the discussion. You have mostly referred to the Christian community and the LGBTIQ community as discrete entities, two separate camps trying to figure out what to do with each other. I think that the key to real healing and reconciliation is in recognizing that the two groups are already enmeshed and overlapped. Many LGBTIQ people are in fact Christians, and some Christians are in fact LGBTIQ.

    • Tucker, you bring up something that is often lost in this discussion as it was with the DADT repeal. It’s too easy to think that a law, religion, edict, etc., will ‘stop’ someone from ‘coming in here’ or ‘being that way.’ There were already gay people in the military for decades (using ‘gay’ to include LGBIQ people, as I doubt there were many ‘T’s getting past the physical and they are still banned under military code.)

  5. I stumbled across this blog and I must say I’m impressed by its coherent, thoughtful commentary. A really well-written perspective on the issue of gay marriage that treads the middle ground of being both spiritually centered and rationally presented.

    Your point about the Church fixating on homosexuality as the single most important moral issue of our day is particularly well taken. There are plenty of moral battles for the Church to fight. And stripping such a complex task down to a single “litmus test” of sorts does indeed over-simplify and ignore the much larger reality of sin in our world.

    That being said, I’m still struggling with a logical contradiction present in the argument. You say,

    “The church ought to be immersed in the business of transforming lives through teaching, compassion and care, instead of treading in the shallow waters that have us trying to govern lives through legislative force.”

    That’s all well and good. And yet, earlier you argue,

    “Such a finely-tuned fixation not only simplifies God and mankind, but it shows how little the Christian church often chooses to focus on real problems with serious consequences, like unnecessary war, sex trafficking, extreme global poverty, gender inequality, our prison industrial complex, increasing poverty at home, growing income inequality, greed, rampant corruption and an unlawful and unaccountable federal government.”

    Wait a second. I thought Christians were supposed to stay out of governing lives by legislative force? Yet, right there you point to corruption within the government as a task that Christians should be actively involved in governing through legislative force. Not to mention a litany of epidemics that can likely only be meaningfully changed through legislation (i.e. war, sex trafficking, prisons, and income inequality).

    The truth is, I read this post and I see someone who wants to have his cake and eat it too. You ask Christians to stay out of legislating the immorality of homosexuality, while simultaneously asking us to become further involved in legislating the immorality of greed, lust, and hate. You can’t have it both ways. Either Christians get involved in government and vote their consciences, whether it be concerning homosexual or greed or any other activity that the Bible calls sin, or Christians stay out of government altogether and consider it part of “the world,” to be avoided and from which we must remain “in, but not of.”

    Personally, I choose to remain a part of the government. “We the people…” includes me, which makes me part of the governing authorities, and proper respect for the governing authorities therefore demands that I participate in the government as one voice among many. But that voice is still going to be my own, guided by the conscience which God’s Word has formed within me. And God’s Word tells me that homosexuality is still a sin, one which I simply cannot in good conscience tell my government to actively and visibly condone.

    • Josh thanks for reading the post and for your respectful challenge. I see your point but I don’t see those two paragraphs or my position as a logical contradiction. For me, both can co-exist (the laying off of the legislative fight against gay marriage which being fierce advocates for legislative change in the list that I published) for this reason:

      As Christians, we seek justice and mercy in the broader world as a way to live the Gospel and testify to our conviction that God is also Just and Merciful. When it comes to war, famine, poverty, sex trafficking and more, those are injustices and events causing an immediate theft or assault on other human beings, things that steal dignity, cause unwanted violence and oppression in many forms. They are acts of aggression whether subtle or overt. To say that a willful choice between two adults is equal to the violence and harm of the other list is really not a fair comparison, and I reject arguments that put gay marriage in the same realm as war, poverty, slavery.

      That is why I advocate that we fight against injustices while laying off the attempt to regulate the personal/relational decisions of adults. Sure, you or anyone can argue against the health of gay marriage from a faith perspective, but this post is not about that.

    • Josh, you seem like a fair minded person. And some of what I am about to write will echo what Ian has already replied. But, I do want to focus on sin vs legality.

      I think Ian hits it right on the nose when he says that “When it comes to war, famine, poverty, sex trafficking and more, those are injustices and events causing an immediate theft or assault on other human beings, things that steal dignity, cause unwanted violence and oppression in many forms.”

      In our justice system, it’s been said that one’s rights end where another person’s begins. Or, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” All of those issues that Ian mentioned are cases where someone is directly affected in a very tangible, and in some cases physical, way.

      The argument that the ‘Yes on 8′(no same sex marriage) proponents here in California took to the courts was that homosexuality was a moral failing and would ‘destroy’ marriage. But when called upon by the courts to make that an empirical argument, it couldn’t be done. I appreciate that you are of the Christian faith; I honor that. But our government is a secular one. We don’t live in a system that is purely informed by religious beliefs. So, that some people ‘feel’ uneasy about same sex relationships is not a basis to keep two sentient adults from expressing their commitment through marriage. Trust me, for years and years in this country most people felt uneasy about people of different races marrying (and I am certain SOME still do.) Today, we look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. People of different races married and had children (or didn’t) and the sun didn’t fall from the sky. And, Josh, I don’t say that to be flippant about how you might feel about same sex marriage, I use that as a concrete example about how we let these fears rise to the point where we let go of all historical evidence and precedent.

      As someone who isn’t a Christian, I do wonder what tangible reasons one might have to fear same sex marriage. I understand that you have a moral objection to it, and I will not argue that with you, and that may be enough for you to fear or dislike it. But let’s be frank, we don’t all live in the world of your moral objections. In our system, one needs to prove that one’s rights are being infringed upon by another’s action. In other words, there are no protections in our society to keep you from being offended by someone’s choices in life.

      I think Ian presents Jesus’ very radical idea: choose to love. Choose to accept others on their terms when we live in a society that values YOUR right to see same sex marriage as sinful, and values THEIR right to express a kind of love you don’t value. And that the two CAN co-exist without violence and expressions of hate. Hate holds us ALL back in this life, regardless of where you are on this planet. I challenge you to name ONE place on this planet where human beings gain anything of value through hate. But love gets you closer to what you want and need every time.

      • “We the people…” does include you, Josh. But should you be using your voice to oppress people? Especially people outside the church? I have always believed we are not to judge those outside the church. Not our place.

        And tell me, if you are married, do you believe your marriage to be valid because the United States of America says so or because you made a covenant with God? Because I believe my marriage is a sacred covenant with God. That’s different than my country recognizing my marriage as legally legitimate. The government could take away my marriage license and I would be no less sealed to my husband before God. Jesus, not America, is my King.

        Every year millions of non-christian straight men and women marry. If you believe banning LGBTQ couples from marrying preserves the covenant of marriage then you will also have to believe that we need to ban those straight married couples that are agnostic, or atheist, or buddhist or who simply think we hit the dirt at the end!

  6. Ian, your essay should give evangelicals pause for thought and I would hope the impetus to begin a dialogue with LGBT Christians. However, I am concerned that whenever evangelicals do finally decide to begin to talk, they’ll end up talking to themselves because the rest of society, accepting Christians and LGBT Christians will have moved on. Not that such a conversation wouldn’t help young LGBT Christians growing up in conservative denominations — that keeps on happening generation by generation. But any input evangelicals could have had will have been long discounted as too little, too late.

    You might be interested in the DVD put out by the Gay Christian Network (GCN) titled Through My Eyes. This was produced with the hope of starting such conversations. It shows how the debate over homosexuality in the church affects young gay and lesbian Christians who grow up in the church. You can see the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBMbNSyqwkA

    GCN is something of a way station for people striving to reconcile orientation and faith. Some are looking for resources only, others for answers to questions, still others are wondering if they’re the only gay Christians around. While it’s primarily for LGBT Christians, we are glad to welcome people who are interested in learning more about the experiences of LGBT Christians. You can check it out here: http://www.gaychristian.net

    It’s particularly sad that the invective, hurt and rejection LGBT people have suffered at the hands of believers has led to loss of faith as well as loss of any credibility of believers in the eyes of the secular LGBT community. It’s hard to have a conversation when both sides hold each other in such contempt. Someone has to be willing to reach out despite the flak. GCN is as a ministry trying to make that effort.

    Thanks for your post. All the best!

  7. Ian,

    Thank you for this post. It is refreshing to hear a religious perspective on this issue that isn’t full of hatred and vitriol. I grew up in the evangelical christian church and wrestled for years with my homosexuality. In my limited observation, the hostile voices in the church have successfully drowned out the few remaining voices of compassion. As a young guy who wanted desperately to be “normal,” the onslaught of disparaging remarks left me emotionally wrecked. Eventually, I gave up; I left the church entirely and no longer believe in god. Ironically, I’ve experienced more unconditional love outside of the church than I ever experienced from people who claim to know the true source of that love.

    • Dave, I’m deeply sorry that what you’ve described was your experience with the church. I can’t fully understand because I haven’t known the pain you have, but it makes sense why you left the church. Who wants to stay in an abusive situation, right?

      Thanks for reading. Thanks even more for sharing. In addition to the community that you’ve found, you are also always welcome here, for what it’s worth.

  8. Couldn’t disagree with you more! There is no division in the church. Those who plainly and clearly read the Scriptures (both Old and New) without distortion, manipulation, or justification for homosexual behavior are true to Christ, and those who distort, manipulate, and justify homosexuality for the sake of inclusion of the GLBT community without repentance are outside the message of Christ. So if I’m reading your post carefully, you are calling the church to retreat and repent of its behavior toward the GLBT community while embracing the GLBT community to advance their cause while not calling them to repentance?

    • From the original post:

      “All of this isn’t to say that the church should give up on wrestling with the complexities of sexual orientation, nor is it to say that the church itself should perform gay marriage ceremonies.”

      He has specifically divided the spiritual issue from the legislative one. So, respectfully, I’d say you did not read his post carefully. I’m also intrigued that you say there is no division in the church, and then in your next sentence define exactly where a division exists. I suspect I’m not reading you carefully enough now, and for that I apologize. Could you explain?

      Cheers,

      John

  9. John # 2,
    I am simply pointing out blatant inconsistencies in the article. How can there be a division when Scripture is crystal clear? So the issue is not whether there is division but rather who is true to Christ and who is not. Perhaps a better word than division would be disobedience – there is disobedience in the church. The physical act of homosexuality is clearly sin. Those who choose to engage in that act are disobedient to the will of God (regardless of biological orientation). Those who condone the homosexual act (regardless of how loving we want to be to the GLBT community) are disobedient to the will and purposes of God.

    It may be convenient for Ebright to attempt to separate “the spiritual issue from the legislative one” and by doing so attempt to bypass giving the GLBT community a moral stamp of approval. But it doesn’t work that way. Legislation of any kind is based on some type of moral judgment.

    • Thank you John!
      Sorry Ian, Methinks your mindset (and those who are agreeing w/you) as ‘disturbingly’ misguided, and driven by emotion, and not scripture, though I really believe you mean well. I think Albert Mohler really has the correct view of this. I hope this will cause you to change your mind, then, recant what you’ve written with keeping in mind what Albert Mohler has said.

      “…The fact that same-sex marriage is a now a legal reality in several states means that we must further stipulate that we are bound by scripture to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman—and nothing else.

      We do so knowing that most Americans once shared the same moral assumptions, but that a new world is coming fast. We do not have to read the polls and surveys; all we need to do is to talk to our neighbors or listen to the cultural chatter.

      In this most awkward cultural predicament, evangelicals must be excruciatingly clear that we do not speak about the sinfulness of homosexuality as if we have no sin. As a matter of fact, it is precisely because we have come to know ourselves as sinners and of our need for a savior that we have come to faith in Jesus Christ. Our greatest fear is not that homosexuality will be normalized and accepted, but that homosexuals will not come to know of their own need for Christ and the forgiveness of their sins…”
      Albert Mohler.

      The apostle Paul said: “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1 Cor 9:22

      Full article:
      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304584004576416284144069702.html

      I can appreciate your guts for writting things that you may come under attack for. I thing you’re way out of line here!

      Thanks bud!
      A wretched sinner.

      • What’s up Lamont? I can tell that you’re passionate about this but attempting to be respectful as well. Thank you.

        A question- do you want a person attached to you in a romantic relationship and your children to appear like they love you because you were able to make them act a certain way, or do you want them to authentically love you because they choose to? Which of these is true love? It’s the same with God and man. Love comes from the gut, from the heart, not from requirement, not from pressure, and certainly not from legislative restriction.

        What bothers me about Mohler’s views and similar ones is this underlying, unstated fear and desperation that *eek! we’re losing grasp of the culture* or the wider nation so the ominous conclusion is that the church has to become more aggressive and knock a few heads together for Christ by telling a nation of people what they can and can’t do as individuals. I see it as a lack of faith in the power of Christ’s church that we have to resort to manipulating people through government action. It’s completely backwards, Lamont, and quite tyrannical. The kingdom of God is a spirit-led kingdom made up of willing participants, not a kingdom aligned with earthly governments working to suppress people into conversion. It’s also an abuse of liberty and freedom, which doesn’t mean “freedom is what I decide another person can do.”

        • Ian.

          Sorry, but Emotion is not a hermenutical priciple.
          Man does not live by feelings alone, but, by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
          If I truly love someone, then I must tell them the truth ‘in love.’ Jesus confronted the “Rich Young Ruler” and his idolatry. He (Jesus) told him the truth, and the young man walked away sad…
          Jesus didn’t capitulate to the young man. I guess (according to your standard of measure) Jesus wasn’t loving. Instead, Jesus exposed the heart of the young man. The young man loved his wealth (his sin) more then God.
          Now, re-tell the story and we’ll call it ‘The Gay Young Homosexual…’ or, ‘The Nice Young Fornicator’ ‘The Sweet & Lovable Adulterer’ &etc…

          “I see it as a lack of faith in the power of Christ’s church that we have to resort to manipulating people through government action.”

          Are you kidding me? That’s what homosexuals want to do! They want the government to force me “by law” to believe that what they are doing is normal, moral, and equal to someone who was born with a different skin color!

          Rediculous!

          • Well spoken Lamont.
            No doubt some think Elijah should have apologized to the prophets of Baal too and should have respected their ‘diversity’.

            Everywhere homosexuality is mentioned in the Bible it is in a negative light. Now some ( even Christians ) want to give it the crown of respectability via marriage.

          • Lamont when you imply that my views are emotional and yours are representing “the mouth of God” there is nowhere else for the conversation to go. You have anointed your position as Holy. You win.

            But next time, for the sake of consistency, perhaps don’t take a swipe at emotion-driven arguments while including no less than three exclamation points of your own.

    • John, there are certain people who I will not attempt a conversation with, because they cannot be reasoned with and only feel more invigorated when others disagree, and right now, you’re playing the part. I don’t mind that we disagree. Where I have a problem is with your tone and approach. Your comments completely underscore the points I’m trying to make in my post. Sure you can use the Bible as a sledgehammer and even feel good and spiritually reinforced about it, but I don’t want you doing it here. You may reply by saying that’s because I’m cowardly and too worried about the applause of man and not the applause of God. I’ve heard it all before. I used to think just like you do. So I have a response, and challenge much of what you’ve said and especially the way that you’ve said it, but I’m not going to bother. And no, this is not the persecution that Christ warned you about. This is one Christian telling another Christian that we can’t relate because you appear to be impenetrable on this issue when Christ called us to be pliable.

      I have deleted the last sentence of your second reply because it was a grotesque, unkind, and absurd comparison to make, and any thinking adult should know better, especially a man of faith.

      • “And these people slander whatever they do not understand. And what they “know” from their base instincts, like irrational animals, will destroy them. Woe to them! For they have chosen the way of Cain.” Jude 10-11.

  10. Ian, my posts have been quite reasonable and my tone has been nothing but respectful and logical. You simply have no sound basis on which to refute anything I’ve said, and so your only recourse is to label me “intolerant, impenetrable, unkind” and whatever other adjectives you want to use. Your only objective is to pander to the GLBT community. It wouldn’t surprise me if you were being funded by the GLBT community to use whatever social media outlets at your disposal to try and influence younger, impressionable, and disillusioned evangelicals to buy into their agenda. And yes, you’ll probably delete that sentence as well. So much for the open and transparent dialogue you claim to be seeking. And you’re right, it will be difficult for you and I to relate because you’ve bought into an ideology of complete tolerance for sin, unless of course it’s the horrific sin of questioning and challenging your reasoning for “making a case from a Christian perspective that gay marriage should be allowed legally in this country.”

    So Ian, I am inviting you to converse with me, openly here in your forum, and not to back away because as you claim I cannot be reasoned with simply because I won’t swallow your pill, but because you as a professed believer have publically called the church to do something the church has never once officially considered in the two thousand year history of its existence. You’ve made a publically bold and unprecedented proclamation now be willing to publically defend this proclamation. On what moral and Biblical grounds does Ian Ebright have the audacity to ask the church “from a Christian perspective that gay marriage should be allowed legally in this country?”

    • John, though you challenged Ian to justify his ‘audacity’ in questioning the church’s position (though I find it odd that you should say that when Jesus was the ultimate ‘challenger’ of his time, and it hardly means that one isn’t devout) I would be interested in hearing how you must:

      A) Dismiss an entire domination of Christians known as the Episcopal Church since they not only call for the full civil equality of gay men and lesbians and are even willing to perform same sex marriages in their church. They must read a different Bible than you do.

      B) Ultimately agree with what some church leaders (mostly of the past) have found to be a biblical basis for being anti-miscegenation and pro-segregation. The bible certainly has been used for justifications of those as well.

      C) Be standing with the 99%-ers as they condemn the ‘sinful’ robber barons on Wall Street and in our banking system. It’s certain that theft and fraud are sinful, right?

      D) Find disgusting the industrial level sized churches that are more interested in finding a way to separate their followers from their money. Aren’t there ‘churches’ who have built amusement parks for profit?? Didn’t Jesus say something about the ‘money changers in the temple’, i.e. mixing commerce and religion?

      All of this is NOT to take us away from the topic at hand, but to ask you to realize that there are MANY things in the Bible that once were seen as complete anathema to the church and it’s followers that the church has either come to see differently, or at the very least has moved on from opposing with ferocity. And, back to Ian’s original idea in the post, that this is NOT an issue that ultimately affects your faith in Jesus, or at least it shouldn’t. Ian hasn’t asked you to like it, but to consider not approaching it with a clinched fist and realizing that you live in a society that is made up of a myriad of beliefs and ideas, and not in a monolithic theocracy.

      But, what does it say about believers who do want to come at the subject with guns at the ready, yet don’t speak out about the number of other sins or injustices in the world? Why do some people take so personally the decisions and actions of another/others when it can not possibly, tangibly, realistically affect your life? Again, we don’t live in a theocratic society in America where you can make laws against being offended.

    • John,

      You’re missing the point entirely. The argument isn’t that the church or Christians should roll over and say that homosexuality is ok or acceptable. The argument is that they should stop pushing their moral code onto a secular nation and government. Do you realize that we’re not a theocracy? The difference really comes down to the fact that you believe morality should be legislated and we don’t. The government and the constitution are about justice, liberty and freedom. Not legislating the Bible’s morality. By the same way that you think gay marriage should not be made legal, do you also think adultery or lying should be made illegal? Where do you draw the line when it comes to legislating morality? Do we go back to the old testament and start enforcing all those rules on a secular population? How well did that work? Christ came to set us free and if he taught one thing it’s that legislating morality, even amoung Christians, doesn’t work! Love works. The law failed.

      Your arguement is the emotional one. You are unable to seperate your personal moral beliefs and the beliefs of the Bible from the rules of law in a secular government. I’m a Bible believer but when it comes to how the government is run, I want justice and liberty for all. Becuase at the end of the day the Bible can be twisted and shades of moral gray can change through generations. If the church had it’s way and used the Bible to legislate morality on our country I can’t even imagine the consequences. The thought is terrifying. You might want to use the Bible to say gay marriage shouldn’t be legal but what if the president used the Bible to say that gluttony should be illegal and all overweight people should be put to death. I would be dead then John and that wouldn’t be good. I hope you get the point I’m trying to make.

      • Josh, I’m afraid you are the one missing the point entirely! It has been Biblical morality that has held societies together since the beginning of time, and now you are proposing that we completely abandon morality altogether. By the way, adultery is in fact illegal as a point of civil contention in divorce proceedings, and perjury is also illegal. So the bottom line Josh, is the act of homosexuality a sin?

        • John, I’m not even sure where to begin. “It has been Biblical morality that has held societies together since the beginning of time” That’s just not true on a historical level. Sure the Bible has been influencial in many societies but certainly not since the begging of time as the Bible isn’t nearly as old as the beginning of time. And there have been lots and lots of societies that have never even heard of the Bible let alone had it as their moral compass. I’m no historian but someone who is could probably make you feel pretty silly with that statement.

          I’ve never said we should abandon morality, I just don’t think you can legislate it. That’s what the old testament was. Laws, rules become pharasees and legalism. I won’t answer you about homosexuality being a sin because we don’t base our laws in this country on sins and that’s what this argument is about. Whether or not something is a sin in the eyes of God has nothing to do with what should and shouldn’t be law. Laws are designed to protect our individual liberties and freedoms. How does two gay men being recogized as married by the state affect your life in any way?

          I could make a giant list of Biblical sins that aren’t illegal. Would you like me to do that for you?

  11. Brobinso,

    A) It’s clear among Episcopalians that the schism between homosexuality as accepted practice and homosexuality as abhorrently practiced is about even. The Episcopalian church has lost scores upon scores of people who would not compromise and there even remain many within the denomination who have not and will not leave the church while refusing to give credence to such behavior.

    B) Again, I point out that never once in the two thousand year history of the church has the church sought civil marriage for homosexuals. To the contrary, the church, as well as all monotheistic religions, by far have been adamantly opposed to the practice of homosexuality. It’s a fairly recent development that churches openly welcome the practice of homosexuality as supposedly sanctioned by God and an even more recent development that those such as Ian Ebright attempt to give a Christian blessing for gay civil marriage.

    C & D) The economic perversion and the disparity of wealth both in society and in our churches is just as disgusting and putrid as Ebright’s attempt to justify civil homosexual marriages as sanctioned by Christ.

    And yes, this does affect our faith and morality at the deepest level. I will restate what Ebright deleted, and no it’s not “a grotesque, unkind, and absurd comparison to make,” Ebright just can’t deal with the fact that he has no moral problem whatsoever with the practice of homosexuality. All civil laws are based on moral judgments, whether acknowledged or not. And so in our country rape, incest, and sexual involvement with minors are all based on moral judgments that deem those practices unacceptable and immoral. You on the other hand have no problem seeking civil legislation to sanction gay marriage because at your very core you have no problem whatsoever morally with the practice of homosexuality. And therein lies the heart of the matter.

    • John,

      Let me ask you, how many horrific homosexual sinners have you ever ministered to? If you disagree so whole heartedly with the path of their life, then what have you done to steer them any closer to the light? That’s right, I forgot, the long lost commandment of “compare your neighbor to a rapist, so that they may be comforted by the love of Christ.”

      • LK, I love the homosexual enough (along with the rapist and child sex offender and any other sinner) to call them to repentance. It was the message of Christ. I suppose you have a greater message than that of Christ?

        • John, where does Christ say to call the non-believer to repentence? Is it that hard to let the world be the world? The government and our country are the world, they’re not the church. Maybe this is where we all disagree? I think you need to seperate the church/God institution of marriage and the legal government instituion of marriage, because they’re different. I’m thinking you already have because I don’t hear too much outcry from the Church over a couple of 18 year olds who go to vegas and get drunk and get married by Elvis. That certainly makes a mockery of marriage just as much as a homosexual marriage does in your eyes, does it not? Yet you let that go and don’t fight to make it illegal. How do you justify that?

          No one is saying your church has to perform gay marriages or even approve of them. But when it comes to the nation as a whole 2 consenting men have just as much right to the legally protected institution of marriage as a man and woman. The legal idea of marriage is a non-religious act, whether your man or woman, Christian or non Christian. The government is representative of all faiths and beliefs of all it’s people so how is it logical for you to impose your religious version of marriage on a government that isn’t in any way tied to your religion? It would make just as much sense for athiests, hindus or muslims to try to make their traditions of marriage apply to the country as a whole. Would you like that? Exactly.

        • John, in the 3 plus years I have been running this blog, yours is the first comment I’ve ever deleted to the best of my memory. The discussion, explicitly stated, has nothing to do with the morality of homosexuality, or of the church’s response to orientation or gay marriage within its own walls, it has to do with the church’s role in the wider world in regards to that issue. So you fire off about the evils of homosexuality?! Have a bit of context, man.

          I don’t care what you say about me or that you think I’m part of a GLBT funded conspiracy or that you disagree. I deleted your comment because I care about the hearts and minds of others who are here feeling vulnerable as it is because they’ve been mistreated by the church, but still brave enough to expose themselves to a painful subject and attempt to give it some thought. The comment above your first one was from someone so hurt by the church that he left and no longer believes in God. So I really do care that you implicitly linked homosexuality with incest and if I remember your initial deleted comment correctly, child abuse or child rape. I am sick and tired of anti-homosexual arguments running straight to the extremes, thinking that is what God called you to, and then using the evasive tactic of “well I didn’t SAY it was the SAME as rape or child abuse.” Right, but you got pretty darn close. And that to me, saying what you have, when there are people here taking a risk on sharing when they’ve been burned by the church with similar hostile rhetoric, is quite grotesque, unkind, and absurd.

          • Ian, at your core, you have no problem whatsoever with the act of homosexuality. You don’t believe it’s a sin, you actually believe it’s a sanctioned gift of God to those who are born gay, correct? Because if that’s your position, please just come right out and say it and don’t cowardly hide behind the veil of separation of church and civil law. Do you truly and personally believe that there is nothing morally wrong with the act of homosexuality between two consenting adults?

  12. I’ve never claimed to have a greater message than Christ. I am merely challenging the way you choose to live out that message. I suppose you think that beating your child with a belt when they disrespect you is loving too- because your child needs to learn to honor you? Bible says honor your mother and father. There’s probably no better way of teaching that lesson, right?

    Why approach it from a loving standpoint? Christ sure didn’t.

    • LK, great example with the disrespectful child so let’s run with it. To mirror what Ian Ebright is proposing, he would say let’s make it legally permissible and acceptable for a child to disrespect his/her parents. He would attempt to make “a case from a Christian perspective that children disrespecting their parents should be allowed legally in this country,” and the church should abandon their role in helping children learn the proper and correct way to relate to their mom and dad. Forget the many Bible passage that clearly teach that children should obey their parents, times have changed, and children ought to live anyway they want, and because we are more advanced and enlightened now as a society, and since children are already biologically programmed to be disrespectful, we should just go ahead and make it legal in this country for children to have their way and be disrespectful to their parents.

      After all, “What would it mean to disrespectful little children everywhere to hear from the church in unison ‘we were wrong to wage this war against you, and we are sorry for it and for all of the ways that we’ve hurt you [in teaching you to be respectful].’ What would it mean to those individuals willing to share that being disrespectful is all that they’ve ever known, if members of the church would respond by wanting to hear more of their story rather than rushing to tell them its the wrong story to have?”

      Thanks for the great example LK!

      • John, I’m so confused. Is it illegal for children to be disrespectful to their parents? Last time I checked there are no laws about that…. so your argument really doesn’t make any sense. I’m begining to think this is all a joke from you.

        • Josh, it’s obviously not illegal to be disrespectful to parents, just as it’s not illegal to be homosexual. But just to be on the safe side to ensure the ongoing rights of disrespectful youth everywhere, let’s go ahead and seek civil legislation to legally protect their right to be disrespectful. That’s precisely the analogy Ian is seeking with this proposal to protect and advance the rights of homosexuals. Josh, do you believe there is anything wrong with the act of homosexuality?

      • John judging by this latest nonsensical comment and other ignorant statements such as “it has been Biblical morality that has held societies together since the beginning of time” I have to conclude that you are a troll. Thanks for wasting everyone’s time. Perhaps you can find another site to do…what you do.

        LK and Josh I wouldn’t bother anymore. I have a guess about who this really is.

        • I’ve never met you guys nor do I sense you even care about what I’m trying to say. I am very much an active Christian in my local church who is disgusted with what Ian has proposed in this blog. And for you, Ian, to claim I’m being nonsensical by saying, “it has been Biblical morality that has held societies together since the beginning of time,” please tell me what is the nature of the Ten Commandments? I suppose if we didn’t have “Thou shalt not kill” we’d all be dead by now. Of course Biblical morality makes no sense to you if you are seriously proposing that homosexual marriage be legal from a Christian perspective. Please answer Ian, do you see anything wrong with the act of practicing homosexuality? It certainly is convenient for you to not give a straight up answer!

          • John it seemed increasingly clear to me that you were an internet troll here to stir up trouble in the middle of a delicate discussion; we’ve had this problem here before. If you say you are being sincere I will believe you, but you and I have reached an impasse. I will not answer the question you keep asking because it has nothing to do with this discussion and is part of the reason why Christians get this discussion wrong, and you will not move past it.

            After 1,500+ words in my post and several comments, I’m afraid I can’t help you understand my point if you are still lost on where I’m coming from.

            Feel free to continue discussing with others here, but please take seriously the delicate nature of this topic and the context that I mentioned earlier. Please forgive me for making an incorrect assumption about your motives here.

  13. Ian, it’s a simple, straight up answer that I and I presume others are asking you because it has absolutely everything to do with your blog posting – is there anything wrong with the act of practicing homosexuality? It’s a simple, “no, there is nothing wrong with the practice of homosexuality,” or a simple “yes, the practice of homosexuality is wrong.” And by the way, my wife takes issue with you continuing to call me a “troll.”

  14. John, the assumption with your interrogation (“…is there anything wrong with the act of practicing homosexuality?”) being the main reason, or ‘everything to do with your blog posting’ is fundamentally not true. Read the post again, Ian specifically states that it’s NOT the point of this blog posting, or the blog as a whole. And I don’t see where your presumed ‘others’ are complaining about whether Ian states a black or white moral stance on the subject of homosexuality and sin. I just see you doing all of the flailing at this point.

    It’s quite clear that you can not (or will not) get past that debate to see the stated point of his blog post. And, I will make no attempt here to succeed where so many others have tried and failed; fair to say it’s an impossibility.

    Regarding your response to my response to you:

    A)The stated view that even Episcopalians have an inter-religion ‘schism’ about acceptance of homosexuality says nothing about the OFFICIAL acceptance of it within that religion. I am sure there are schisms in just about every religion about controversial subjects. That doesn’t address or change my point. In your wholesale world view, you’d have to attack the Episcopal church as well for accepting ‘sin’.

    B)Your response here makes NO coherent comment about what I said. What I am saying here is that if you believe as you do, then you MUST also disagree with the church now accepting things like interracial marriage or integration given that some Christians have made the case against both using ‘biblical’ pronouncements. Those were all things that some Christians made cases against based on readings of the bible.

    C) & D) I am very heartened to see that you DO support the 99%-ers and other efforts to bring justice to our corrupt financial system in the US. At last we find a point of agreement. But, I do wonder why you take the opportunity to swipe at Ebright’s post as ‘disgusting and putrid’ since it’s fundamentally not the point he’s made. Alas, again, we are at the place where I doubt you see the point of the original post.

    Lastly, I also find it curious why you resort to mentioning crimes like ‘rape, incest and child abuse’ in a conversation like this. I know you are trying like hell to take this argument to a place where it looks like people here are interested in defending those acts and somehow equating same sex marriage to them. It’s an old, threadbare and base tactic. Same sex marriage is and has always been concerned with two, consenting, sentient adult human beings. This fundamentally means that neither party is an underaged victim or forced into anything, which is the exact opposite of all the crimes you lean so very hard on and try to group it into. I don’t know if even you realize how hard you try to conflate the issue with those topics. Think about it.

    One last point, and this wasn’t direct towards me, but I found it interesting that you stated “…adultery is in fact illegal as a point of civil contention in divorce proceedings.” What country do you live in? In the US ‘No Contest’ divorce proceedings are common and used in all states as of October 2010. (It was started in California in 1969, signed into law by Gov Ronald Reagan, no less!) Nobody gets prosecuted or is granted a divorce based on ‘adultery’ any longer. So this reliance upon the idea that ALL civil law is based on religious morality is not factual.

    Also, and this may really send you into attack mode and most certainly isn’t part of Ian’s post, but I just have to say it: religion ISN’T the ONLY source of morals. If anything, it can be said that all religions are based on morality, and not vice versa, and that precedes Christianity. But, that’s a different blog post for a different day.

    Best of luck, John!

    • Brobinso,
      It is completely irrelevant what Ian says is the point of the blog, the heart of the entire issue is whether or not homosexuality is viable as a normative alternative to heterosexuality. And because Ian sees it as a viable, normative alternative to heterosexuality, he has no problem seeking legal sanction for gay marriage. And it truly is sad that you insist on attempting to compartmentalize the issue seeking to marginalize one from the other when any intelligent, thinking person sees precisely what it going on. If gay marriage is ok, then the act of homosexuality is ok, that’s precisely what Ian’s post is all about.

      A) It is disingenuous and misleading of you to claim that Episcopalians have adopted an official stance accepting homosexuality as normative. Yes, there are strong voices advancing the homosexual cause, just as there are strong voices within the Episcopal Church itself rejecting homosexuality as Biblically sanctioned.

      B) Again, the church, any church, as a whole, has never fully adopted a stance prohibiting interracial marriage. Of course there are those who will seek to make a case for such a cause, but never once has any church or denomination officially sought such a thing.

      In many states, proof of adultery is sufficient LEGAL grounds for divorce which is a CIVIL matter.

      I will try and restate what I said so you can finally comprehend. Laws against rape or the like are based on MORAL implications. If it was morally acceptable to rape another, there would be no laws against it. If Ian is seeking a law FOR gay marriage, he has no problem MORALLY with the act of homosexuality.

      What you call attack mode is very simply logic that dismantles your futile attempt to demonstrate that you can seek civil sanction for homosexuality while remaining amoral. Civil sanction for homosexuality = you agree with the act of homosexual. How sad!

      • John, I understand where you’re coming from when you say: “the heart of the entire issue is whether or not homosexuality is viable as a normative alternative to heterosexuality. And because Ian sees it as a viable, normative alternative to heterosexuality, he has no problem seeking legal sanction for gay marriage.”

        I think where we are missing each other is that you believe that in giving a homosexual couple the title of marriage we are turning a moral corner and I would say that whether or not you believe homosexuality is a sin, we’ve already crossed that bridge. Life committed homosexual couples living together are already out there. Many of them consider themselves married. So in my mind giving them the title of married in the legal sense is in no way encouraging or discouraging the behavior. It’s almost a technicality. Giving them the title of marriage doesn’t make it more normal John, it already is normal. If you’re viewing this as some sort of moral battle then you’ve already lost because people in this country are free to do what they want. The title that we as a society allow homosexuals to take is really irrelevant because they’re already living exactly as if they are married. I have a lesbian couple in my building and they were married by their rabbi a couple weeks ago. They’re every bit as serious about it as you and your wife are. The only difference is you guys have marriage certificate and they don’t. But the heart of the matter is identicle. To allow them to be called married by law isn’t giving anything up, it’s simply calling a spade a spade. You telling them they’re not married because you believe homosexuality is a sin is irrelevant. If they’re married in their own eyes then I believe they are. It’s between them and no one else. If everyone in the world told you and your wife that you were no longer married would you guys all of sudden believe that and agree? I’m guessing you would still consider each other husband and wife even if your marriage certificate was somehow revoked. For us as a society to acknowledge homosexual couples as married doesn’t mean that you agree with the homosexual act! That makes no sense! It’s simply realizing that this is happening… it’s a fact and you can’t control it. Just because you know something is happening doesn’t mean that you agree with it! It’s legal to be an alcoholic, doesn’t mean you agree with it. It’s legal to have muliple wives in some states, doesn’t mean you agree with it. It’s legal for a heterosexual married couple to commit sodomy with each other, doesn’t mean you agree with it. It’s legal for someone to be promiscuous in general, doesn’t mean you agree with it. It’s legal for someone to smoke, doesn’t mean you agree with it. It’s legal for someone to eat at McDonalds every day, doesn’t mean you agree with it. I mean I could go on and on John.

        And your comprehension of our constitution is just insane. Do you really believe our constitution is a moral document? You think rape is illegal because it’s morally wrong? While rape is generally considered morally wrong for most people it’s illegal because it violates the victims liberty and right to exist in our society without being physically harmed. The legality of it has absolutely nothing to do with it being morally wrong to most individuals. Here’s the definition of morals: “A person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do.” Your moral code has no bearing on what is acceptable behaviour under the constitution. I’m sure when slavery was abolished a great many white people at the time found the thought of African American’s being free morally reprehensible. So in that instance should the morals of the majority have ruled the law or did the constitution do its job in protecting the innocent?

        • Josh, I actually think we are beginning to make some headway in beginning to understand each other. Your second, lengthy paragraph in your previous post actually made some coherent sense, and I appreciate the way you are attempting to dialogue with me. When you write, “For us as a society to acknowledge homosexual couples as married doesn’t mean that you agree with the homosexual act,” I understand what you are saying, and that sentence right there is perhaps the closest you have ever come to acknowledging that you don’t agree with the act of homosexuality (although it would be nice if you and Ian would just come out of the closet and plainly state whether or not you agree with homosexuality).

          So help me understand how it is possible to not agree with something and yet give credence to it?
          Because when you write, “While rape is generally considered morally wrong for most people it’s illegal because it violates the victims liberty and right to exist in our society without being physically harmed,” and then you go on and define morality as, “A person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do,” you’ve just made a moral statement about rape and why it’s illegal.

          Morality is better defined as, “pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical.”

          We can acknowledge that there are homosexual couples all around us, and there are, that does NOT mean we sanction the lifestyle by making it legal and giving it the same, equal status we give to heterosexual marriage.

  15. What a whirlwind of discussion… wow. As someone who believes that the Bible is clear in calling the act of homosexuality sin, it is very difficult to get past the basic root question being asked by John here… do you believe that homosexuality is a sin? I do not necessarily agree with all of John’s comments or the way he is going about defending his beliefs in this blog but I do understand where he is coming from in this…. I understand that this post was not about the morality of homosexuality but about the churches ‘role’ in legislating it in government… but I don’t see how we can have a truly honest discussion about the church and government in regards to this issue, without that basic question being answered by those with such strong opinions…. do you believe homosexuality is a sin? This is a very difficult discussion… truly. Bravo Ian for starting this discussion and allowing people with different opinions to discuss it. I think as Christians we need to be more open minded to discussing topics that are so ingrained and prevalent in society. But I do think if someone is a Bible-believing Christian, being able to be honest about our beliefs of the root question being asked by John – goes hand in hand with discussing church/state. To me, I don’t know how to separate it out. Maybe others can, but my beliefs about how church and state ‘work’ together – or don’t – is all wrapped up in my Biblical and moral beliefs……

    I think it is a TRAGEDY that those that are homosexual are being beaten down in society and even more ‘beaten’ down by the Church. Just like anyone and everyone involved in sin, the church needs to have open arms…. but when someone professes Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and says that they desire to follow Christ and the Word, we then as a church have to call out sin. (sorry – I know that isn’t the main thread of this blog post, but I had to add it)…. would love to hear others thoughts!!!

  16. Alicia- Thoughtful comments. I agree with a lot of what you are saying- particularly how difficult it can be to seperate it. Question: Do we need to call out sin for those that have not proclaimed Christ as their Lord?

    • LK, No, as I mentioned in my post “when someone professes Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and says that they desire to follow Christ and the Word, we then as a church have to call out sin.” Matthew 18 speaks about us calling out sin of fellow believers. Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother or sister sins,go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

      • We will all answer to the Lord someday, but here on earth, if someone hasn’t chosen to be subject to the Word and follow the Lord, how can we expect them to follow what the Word says…… but for those that have professed that Jesus is their Lord and Savior, we as fellow brothers and sisters have to help each other stay accountable…. as hard as it is, we are “our brothers keeper”. Tough stuff!!!!!

        • Alicia- I totally respect the way you are going about your feelings on this- we just arrive at different convictions, I think. Thank you for the accountability reminder- I will continue to pray about this issue. It’s sticky, for sure.

  17. I have also had my own personal struggles, not with faith, but with the Church. This has stemmed from childhood, now into adulthood. My experience being a single mother has been a sad awakening to the judgmental behavior of few.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but as simple humans, it is not our place to judge another human. This is God’s place, only. As such, it’s my belief that we do not tell another human being how they should live their life. I do not go to my friends that are struggling with infidelity in their marriage and tell them they are sinners. I pray for them. I show them compassion and love. I try to treat every person equally.
    Our nation was founded on FREEDOM and EQUALITY for every individual. In our country, a person may come here and celebrate their own religious holidays, speak their own language, and pray to whichever God they choose so long as they do not impede on another’s freedom, or harm a living being. It is not my place to tell them they are wrong, that this is not OK. Our nation gives us the freedom to make choices. Coincidently, so did God. This is what makes us human. We can choose to sin!
    Our Lord did not take away our ability to choose. I don’t think it is my place to take that away from anyone else either, regardless of if I may think it is a sin, or not.

    • Kelly- I can imagine that being a single mother may present some real challenges for feeling judged in the church, depending on the church. Sorry for your experience, friend.

      I understand where you’re coming from on judgment. I do think it is vital that the church be a place that models and advocates for purity and Biblical accountability for those who find the church, but never at the expense of grace, love and compassion. We are all broken creatures, as you said. It’s a fine line and churches often fall to one end or the other, ending up rightfully condemned by the culture for being judgmental or on the other end toothless because the church has not distinguished itself from the culture enough.

  18. I was raised a Christian, and became quite zealous in my teens. Only problem was, around the same time I came to understand that I was gay. What a mess! The God I loved wasn’t happy with me, and was calling me to let go of something so deeply embedded in me, it’d be like removing a vital organ.

    Of course all my prayers and attempts to ‘change’ for years were ineffective. Sadly, I felt the only choice I had was to leave the church because I knew they wouldn’t welcome me, but also at some level because I had been taught to loath this sin and so I felt I had to go. So at 20 years old I stopped attending church, and came out to my parents.

    Obviously coming out and leaving God behind wasn’t the answer either. 7 years after leaving the church, I had everything (minus God) that should make one happy…great job…great partner….great friends.

    Slowly, I came to a breaking point one day. I said to God “I don’t know what’s right or wrong…all I know is that I need you”. In that moment I was suddenly convicted about the selfishness of my life…not so much being gay, but just doing whatever I wanted without any consideration of others or God.

    I took this to believe that, God was calling me back, but based on my upbringing I only saw one other option available. If I wasn’t going to be ‘healed’ from my gay-ness, and I wasn’t going to continue a I had for the last 7 years…I guess celibacy was my only avenue.

    So for the last 4 years, I’ve been single, pursuing a life of ministry amongst the poor and marginalized. Having been marginalized by the church and family myself, I could relate to these people, and have a level of empathy for them. The strange thing was though…whenever I ran into a GLBT person (even on skid row) my faith became awkward. It became this thing I didn’t want to talk about. Did God really expect that ever GLBT person was to live alone? Is my life and story going to be this wet blanket I throw on GLBT people whenever I share my story? Something wasn’t sitting right. Where was the joy? The fruit of the Spirit? Rivers of living water?

    It’s taken close to 15 years, but I think God finally got through to me. A few months ago a ministry friend I knew from working on the streets invited me to attend a GLBT affirming church. I totally was prepared for a flakey…sleazy church: bad theology, people hitting on each other…no sense of the presence of God. I’m sure God had a little chuckle as he heard those thoughts rattling around in my head.

    I couldn’t have been more wrong. As I spend the day at the church, God was present in their midst: in their worship…in the people…in their hearts of love and service for the community…in miraculous testimonies…in a ‘sold out for Jesus way’ that I never expected to find. How could God be so obviously at work in this GLBT affirming church? Should God not bless them for living in sin? Why were they the ones so full of joy, and yet I was the one making the big sacrifice to serve God, and was often depressed.

    This shook my beliefs to my core. Everything church had told me my whole life said that what I had just experienced should not be possible. Gays and God do not go together. And yet there it was! As I woke up and prayed the next morning, I asked God to explain it to me. Without knowing the passage in advance, the reference to Acts 10 came to mind. I knew this as God’s voice (the quiet internal one) and so I quickly found the passage in my bible.

    It’s the story of Peter, having the vision of the sheet being lowered, and then being directed to Cornelius’ house. When Peter arrives, he speaks to the gentiles there, and they spontaneously begin to speak in tongues. God pours out his spirit on the Gentiles, and Peter is surprised. But rather than say they are unclean, or that scripture says they are not allowed in, he realizes that God decides who is in and out, and it’s his job to run with that. 10:47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”

    It’s taken close to half of my life far God to get to this point, but I finally have an answer…and it’s not the one I ever expected. Only God has the power to reverse our thinking, and set us on the right course. My only prayer is that a few more of those leading the charge against GLBT in church, would have these road to Damascus moments like I did.

    • Stephen- thank you.

      I have a lot to learn about sexual orientation and faith. Your story reminds me of that, and reading it I found myself challenged perhaps in ways similar to how you have been challenged along the journey. We find these clearings where we think we’ve found the answers, and sometimes, God unseats these answers soon after.

      Thank you for finding the site and especially for sharing. I admire you for seeking God as you have and for your ability to challenge yourself and your beliefs.

      • Thank you? Are you kidding me? You have a lot to learn about sexual orientation? This blog is a joke! We are just justifying everything, aren’t we?

        How about this – Stephen, the Bible clearly calls homosexuality a sin, and the apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 6:9-10, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Stephen, if you love Jesus more than your sexuality (regardless of orientation), deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow the way of Jesus. The life of abstinence for those with homosexual tendencies is the only alternative possible. There is no such thing as a “GLBT affirming church” that will lead you to the way everlasting. As the apostle Paul says, “Do not be deceived.”

        • It’s John the Tiger, ready to pounce!

          Do you even know what a GLBT affirming church is, Pastor John? At a minimum it means “it has publicly and specifically declared that those of all “sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions” (or “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” people) are welcome in its full life and ministry (e.g. membership, leadership, employment, etc.) It bespeaks a spirit of hospitality and a willingness to live out that welcome in meaningful ways.” It does not automatically condone homosexual sex or marriage. In fact it could be a GLBT affirming church and still require the celibacy that you are shouting about.

          All that Stephen’s comment said is that he’s a gay Christian who has struggled with his orientation, and to his surprise found a church that welcomes him and is Christ centered. That’s it, that’s all he said. There’s nothing virtuous about you, or I, or anyone else reading into that any further. Maybe you don’t have everyone figured out in the first 2 seconds.

          John, I’m about to start moderating comments as a way to get rid of yours. I never promised open dialogue on this one, I said clearly that I was going to delete comments that went about their disagreement in ugly (see clunky and careless) ways, because I care more about hearing from people like Stephen than I do about your ranting. Calm down, and show some tact and context, or else save your comments for your own blog where for whatever reason you are far more thoughtful and reasonable than you choose to be here.

          Last warning.

          • Moderate me all you want, but the Word of God is the final authority, not Ian Ebright.

            By the way, I’m curious, since you mentioned it, please provide one example of a GLBT affirming church that “requires” celibacy.

        • Gotta say I agree with John on this one. Everyone can discuss all this stuff all they want but a “GLBT affirming church” is an oxy moron.

          The fact that any BIBLE BELIEVING “church” would endorse any sin is dangerous… and it IS endorsing it, no matter how you paint it.

          I fear God MORE than I fear man and the thought of blatant false teaching in God’s house gives me chills.

  19. Wow, this is heartbreaking to read! From the blog to the comments, how many professing Christians are endorsing the sin of homosexuality? I’m worried that in our quest to pat ourselves on the back in the name of tolerance and acceptance we are destroying our doctrine.

    I am the first to show love to a homosexual or any other person in sin. I recognize that they need Jesus, and He will change their hearts. In fact, that was a major theme in my first book All the Law (www.tommymannministries.com). But to champion their cause and push for more rights? That is absurd!

    Jesus called these things sin, and as His church, we should never endorse them.

    I’ve read comments here that say a person can be both GLBT and Christian, but that is a dangerous comment. If a homosexual surrenders to the Lordship of Christ for salvation, then the Lord will change his heart. If he doesn’t repent of that sin, you have to wonder if he really surrendered to Christ, or if he is just trying to escape hell.

    I don’t want to take up much room here, but if anyone is interested, here is my blog on this same issue: http://tommycmann.blogspot.com/2009/12/christians-and-gay-rights.html

    And just to be comprehensive, I couldn’t help but notice that you cited The Message as a Bible. Here is my review of that book: http://tommycmann.blogspot.com/2011/11/message-by-eugene-peterson.html

    I support what you do Ian. I just had to disagree with you here.

  20. @ Tommy–I am not looking at this as an endorsement of homosexuality. Ian makes it clear that this blog wasn’t about that. As I see it human rights are for well…humans. I don’t mean to be trite but homosexuals are humans–therefore deserve the same rights as I do. I only hope the plank in my eye (or perhaps thorn in my side?)doesn’t prevent me from getting health insurance. Just Sayin… in love- k

  21. Kevin
    As a Christian I would grant homosexuals legally recognized civil unions for equal financial/health benefits however I would not grant them Marriage.

    • Kevin, I understand your thought here, although I find it a little backwards in this respect: marriage in a church alone is not recognized by most states in the United States of America.

      In other words, you can go to a church and have a ceremony and be considered ‘married’ by that church. But, without a marriage license, the state doesn’t consider you married (in the US specifically, and not regarding marriages that become ‘common law’ over time). So your assertion that ‘As a Christian…I would not grant them Marriage’ is moot. YOUR CHURCH ISN’T THE ONE TO GRANT MARRIAGE IN OUR SOCIETY OUTSIDE OF YOUR CHURCH.

      In the US there are over 1,000 state and federal advantages to being married. There are about 300 state advantages for civil unions without ANY federal advantages. Do you see this as equal in any way? Is equality something you think we should aspire to at all times in our society?

      I do NOT have an issue with any church who doesn’t want to perform marriages for same sex couples. That is their right, and as a society/nation we’ve long approved of religions to practice as they see fit in as long as they didn’t harm others outside of the religion in general society/population. But, for any church to actively come across the threshold (so to speak) and try to keep the state from granting the same and equal rights that THE STATE grants to a religion is flat out wrong. This is where I assume you might also feel the discomfort mixing religion and politics that you mention in your post below?

      Well, to be more accurate, I would be willing to have the state make it 1,001 rights for religious marriages to 1,000 rights to civil marriages: if you are married in the church, synagogue, temple, mosque, etc., you can be called ‘Religiously Married’, while others are called ‘Civilly Married’ or some such designation. What it’s called is not important to most people outside of the religion. It’s the equality of rights that’s the crux of the argument.

      • @Brobinso–I may be confused–you may be getting me confused with what Doug said–I made the point of the state getting out of the marriage business completely and having civil unions for everyone. Forgive me if I am missing something.

        • Kevin, you are SO right! I apologize for directing the entire post to you when it should have been for Doug.

          Although my comment about your ‘discomfort’ with mixing religion with politics in the post below is, indeed, referenced in my reply above. Sorry for the sloppiness on my part.

  22. Doug–Maybe the government should get out of the marriage business. Perhaps there should be Civil Unions for heterosexual and homosexuals alike. Marriage could be an option for those that are faith based and the individual church, synagogue, mosque, or house of faith could set their own rules. This way there is no controversy and everyone has equal rights. As a follower of Jesus I really get uncomfortable with the mixing of politics and the church. Maybe this is a way around this whole thing..? In love–k

  23. Kevin,

    God says that pride is an abomination; therefore I will not create a platform to allow someone to come more prideful, and I would not fight for more rights for the arrogant.

    In the same way, God calls homosexuality an abomination, therefore I will not push more some to have more rights while committing an abomination. If I do, then I am endorsing the sin.

    Romans 1 makes this point better than I can. Make sure to read the final verse about those who endorse homosexuality.

    • Tommy,

      Not for nothing, but in the Bible God also calls the oppression of others a sin as well. So, in a very real sense, NOT pushing for equality in society logically equates to believing that some must be ‘oppressed’ or kept ‘unequal’. (It’s in Ezekiel 18:6-13, or is that to be dismissed because its ‘Old Testament’?) Seems to me if you are going to lean on the proclamations, you gotta lean on all of them.

  24. Brobinso,

    You don’t know anything about me, and you’re guess about my ignoring Old Testament verses is absurd. I have written entire books about the Old Testament and its relevance for us today.

    You have unfortunately missed my point. It isn’t fighting for equality when it comes to giving undeserved rights to assist someone in sinning.

    If homosexuality is wrong, which Scripture is clear about, then do you really think that God wants them to get married? Of course not; so why would god want us to lobby for their “right” to marry?

    If homosexuality is wrong, than it is wrong of us to try to give them more access to sin.

    • Tommy -

      I certainly am not calling you ignorant of the Old Testament, quite to the contrary, I am asking you to consider the odd weighting that you seem to be giving to one sin over the other! This seems to happen so much with people of faith (not just Christians) wherein there is this unbalanced focus on homosexuality above all other sins. If you feel that I was calling you ignorant of the Bible, you have misread my assertion.

      You may indeed not see any reason to fight for equality when it, in your eyes, ‘assist(s) someone in sinning’. That’s fine. But in our DEMOCRATIC society it’s not your place to use your religion to bludgeon those who don’t agree with you and aid in continuing INEQUALITY in the society we ALL live in. Nobody would assert that Christians are made unequal in our society somehow when others are granted same sex marriage (this was the crux of the argument about the ‘Yes on 8′ campaign in California; the legal argument couldn’t be made that it made ANY difference to opposite sex marriages in our society.) I will borrow some of Kevin’s thunder here and reassert ‘we don’t live in a Theocracy’!

      You can certainly have your beliefs and feel you need to defend them, but to actively go beyond the confines of your church to work to deny people the civil right to a marriage they desire begins to infringe on the rights of others, not just other beliefs. I would decry ANYONE who tries to force your church to have to perform same sex marriages. (And, for the record, I haven’t heard of one case where people went to the government to try to make that happen.) And, if marriage is something that creates stability in our society, why would you want a portion of our society to not have access to that institution? Because they ‘sin’ and you don’t want it poisoning your well? No problem, don’t marry them in your church.

      And, lastly, your final comment that ‘it is wrong of us to try to give them more access to sin’ is one of the most offensive comments yet on this blog. What hubris!! This is just the kind of thing that gives ‘true believers’ the belief they are doing God’s work when they seek to physically harm homosexuals. And why not? According to you, they must be denied at all costs. You may feel God has given you the blueprint to everyone’s soul, but that’s not where we live. I don’t want to live in an ‘American Taliban’ government where Reverends, Priests, Rabbis and Imams dictate the laws. This country was founded to avoid JUST THAT KIND OF SYSTEM. There are plenty of other countries on this planet that do subscribe to that. Is that really what you are advocating?

  25. Brobinso,

    I am not just picking on homosexuality. In case you missed it, this is a blog about homosexuality, so by commenting on the subject matter in context I have to bring up homosexuality. But as you will see above, I compared it to the sin of pride, so I am not picking just one sin. I have never preached against homosexuality when I did not also preach on heterosexual sins of lust or fornication.

    And as for the rest of your comment, I don’t have a clue what you are talking about. “but to actively go beyond the confines of your church to work to deny people” Who said I am going beyond the confines of my church? “American Taliban?” I don’t want their sin “poisoning my well?” I believe “God has given me the blueprint to everyone else’s soul?” Seeking to “physically harm homosexuals?”

    Your inability to make coherent points or engage in civil debate has led me to leave this blog.

    • “No, they are demanding uber-rights, supremacy, in-your-face capitulation to the supremacy of their worldview and the denigration of anything that makes them feel “different.”

      Wait, Lamont, aren’t you too?

  26. Thanks, Ian. As a “non-believer,” heterosexual woman with plenty of GLBT friends in my life, I have never understood why the church cares at all, and why they are involved in any kind of legislation like this. There is civil marriage (the marriage license, tax advantages, etc. etc. etc.) and there is religious/spiritual marriage (what is performed in a church with prayers and plenty of bible readings). Just because we in America often do those things TOGETHER doesn’t mean that the rest of the world does, and it also doesn’t mean that a non-church marriage is not valid. It is time for Christians to mind their own business, fix their own problems, and stop worrying so much what everyone else is doing. I may be a non-believer, but I’m a moral person, who acts with consciousness towards ALL and accept everyone as a divine being because they are HUMAN. I have never understood why some Christians are just so downright HATEFUL towards those that don’t attend their churches. This makes no sense to me. I am not hateful to those that believe, why should those that believe be hateful toward me? Unless I’ve hurt you or your family by my actions, why the recriminations? It makes no sense.

    I wish more Christians like yourself would speak out, so that the screamers don’t get so much press.

  27. Ian,

    I just want to say thank you for such an insightful message. I think that as believers in Christ we are called to display his love and this anti-gay movement thing that is going on is the direct opposite of that. The moment the church decides to try and control the choices of others is the moment we cease to represent the body of Christ. As a first time reader, I’ll be sure to read your blog again.

    • Aaron, I appreciate it.

      “The moment the church decides to try and control the choices of others is the moment we cease to represent the body of Christ.”

      thank you. exactly!

  28. The issue with surrendering the war against gay marriage is that the church would be saying its not sinful to be gay. Most Christian homosexuals view their behavior differently than porn addicts, alcoholics, greedy people, gluttons, etc. For example: most Christian porn addicts and alcoholics are aware that their behavior is sinful, whereas homosexuals do not believe that homosexuality is a sin. So if the church surrenders the war against gay marriage then that would be telling homosexuals that they do not need to repent and they should contintue their behavior guiltless.

    Although I do agree that protesting with poster boards and condemning homosexuals to hell is not the biblical manner to fight against homosexuality, but by suggesting the church to apologize to the GLBT community is also saying we should apology to the porn industry, the drug dealers, and the liquor shops.

    • Cameron thanks for the comment. We allow porn and liquor stores, we also allow gambling, smoking, tattoos- all things different sincere Christians find to be sinful. By allowing the broader culture the right to decide for itself as consenting adults, we don’t give away our authority to advocate a different, or many different positions as the church. We simply release restrictive control outside of our walls, and that’s a good thing wouldn’t you agree? We’re never going to change any minds about any issue by censoring or restricting behavior with the government as our enforcer, change has to be a willing choice.

  29. As I understand it, Christians aren’t under God’s Law. We have freedom in Christ. We acknowledge that we’re in need of a Savior, because we would never be able to repay on the debt of sin. So – when we then turn around and demand that the world repay on their deeds, it makes me think of Matthew 18:23-35. Are we like that servent who was forgiven of his debt, but refused to show mercy to his fellow servent?

    You could say it’s taken out of context, or it somehow it doesn’t apply — but the bottom line is that we’ve been forgiven. Why are we now exacting judgement on other people? Are they taking away your freedom? Does their not paying estate taxes make you bleed? Don’t throw a yoke of law over their necks, thinking that it will somehow preserve your rightness with God.

    Those of you who believe in DOMA, will using man’s law, show mankind that God offers freedom? It’s not your beliefs that make you a better person, it’s your behavior.

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