Time For Truth

A place to grow in the Grace & Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ

Lies liars & Liberals — or on the death of a once respectable news organization part 4

This my 4th and last posting specifically reviewing the Newsweek article entitled “Our Mutual Joy“.

We cannot look to the Bible as a marriage manual, but we can read it for universal truths as we struggle toward a more just future. The Bible offers inspiration and warning on the subjects of love, marriage, family and community. It speaks eloquently of the crucial role of families in a fair society and the risks we incur to ourselves and our children should we cease trying to bind ourselves together in loving pairs.

I have to entirely disagree with her on the first part of this statement. I believe that the Bible is an excellent and infallible source as a “marriage manual”. God’s Word clearly lays out for us what marriage is to look like…what is out of bounds…and how to make marriage all that God intended for it.

I finally found a portion of a sentence with which Ms. Miller and I are in agreement. The Bible is certainly a terrific source for universal truths as we struggle toward a more just future. Part of that more just future, is to help people who are struggling with same-sex desires find some level of healing, not subject them to a sinful and broken lifestyle. She is also right about the Bible giving us inspiration and warnings about marriage, family and community. It also speaks with fervor that all are sinful, lost, and separated from God and deserving of God’s wrath. But that God has made a way of reconciliation by placing the penalty of sin on Jesus Christ (the one and only Son of God) and raising him bodily from the dead. We can now be reconciled to God, but only through grace, by faith in Jesus Christ alone. Somehow Ms. Miller seems to have neglected that very prominent message in the Bible.

Gay men like to point to the story of passionate King David and his friend Jonathan, with whom he was “one spirit” and whom he “loved as he loved himself.” Conservatives say this is a story about a platonic friendship, but it is also a story about two men who stand up for each other in turbulent times, through violent war and the disapproval of a powerful parent. David rends his clothes at Jonathan’s death and, in grieving, writes a song:

I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
You were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
More wonderful than that of women.

Here, the Bible praises enduring love between men. What Jonathan and David did or did not do in privacy is perhaps best left to history and our own imaginations.

Now, Ms. Miller goes back to completely misrepresenting the biblical evidence. David has clear sexual immorality issues, and the Bible is not shy about pointing those out and condemning those sins. This also shows a very clear misunderstanding and misrepresentation of ancient near-east relationships between men.

It also requires me to ask, “why must good caring relationships be sexualized?” It is quite popular to do so in our current culture of Western modernity and that is a real shame. This is also a very popular method used by the pro-homosex defenders to normalize a deviant behavior. In years past, it was suggested that this was true of Abraham Lincoln and others, without a shred of evidence. If it can be implied that someone others respect might be engaged in homosex, then the suggestion is that the behavior can be seen as normal. Ms Miller is right that the Bible represents David and Jonathon’s relationship as one of enduring love, but nowhere is it hinted that there was anything sexual. The Biblical writers had no problem condemning David for marital infidelity, why would they have a problem with doing so in the more biblically heinous area of homosex? They would not, and therefore it did not happen.

In addition to its praise of friendship and its condemnation of divorce, the Bible gives many examples of marriages that defy convention yet benefit the greater community. The Torah discouraged the ancient Hebrews from marrying outside the tribe, yet Moses himself is married to a foreigner, Zipporah. Queen Esther is married to a non-Jew and, according to legend, saves the Jewish people. Rabbi Arthur Waskow, of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia, believes that Judaism thrives through diversity and inclusion. “I don’t think Judaism should or ought to want to leave any portion of the human population outside the religious process,” he says. “We should not want to leave [homosexuals] outside the sacred tent.” The marriage of Joseph and Mary is also unorthodox (to say the least), a case of an unconventional arrangement accepted by society for the common good. The boy needed two human parents, after all.

I am not sure what Ms. Miller’s point is here. The Old Testament clearly allowed and in fact called on Israel to be a blessing to the nations. It was also expected that many from other nations would come and join with Israelites and “stream to the mountain of God” to hear the truth and be converted. Inviting and inclusive of everyone, is not to lower the bar of sexual immorality. There was no concept of homosexuality as an identity, because the Bible (as God’s final and full revelation) does not recognize this as an “identity”. As Genesis clearly indicates and Jesus affirms, humans are created in the image of God, man and woman, and the two are to be united (in marriage) as one flesh. This is a part of being created in the image of God. Nowhere is there even the slightest hint that humans are to have sexual intimacy any other way, allowable and seen as good by God. No one is being left out. All are called to be reconciled to God, but not so that they can continue on in sexual immorality. There is always accompanied a call to repent, be reconciled to God, and to partner with the Holy Spirit in the work of sanctification. Humans are never recognized as “homosexual” as an identity in the Bible, but rather homosex is seen as an abominable “activity”. There is probably some room as viewing homosexuality as a condition (a person being trapped in a cyclical pattern of sin) biblically.

What precisely is “unorthodox” about Joseph and Mary and their marriage? I hope that she is indicating the virgin birth, but because of her extremely liberal stance on the homosexual issue and her constant misrepresentation of Scripture, I am more inclined to believe that she is insinuating something else.

In the Christian story, the message of acceptance for all is codified. Jesus reaches out to everyone, especially those on the margins, and brings the whole Christian community into his embrace. The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, cites the story of Jesus revealing himself to the woman at the well— no matter that she had five former husbands and a current boyfriend—as evidence of Christ’s all-encompassing love. The great Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann, emeritus professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, quotes the apostle Paul when he looks for biblical support of gay marriage: “There is neither Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ.” The religious argument for gay marriage, he adds, “is not generally made with reference to particular texts, but with the general conviction that the Bible is bent toward inclusiveness.”

  1. The woman at the well was told by Jesus to “go and sin no more”. What we don’t have is… I accept you no matter what, so go and continue to live in sin with as many husbands as you like. Yet this is what Ms. Miller wants us to receive from this episode. This type of overlooking or misrepresentation of the text is what is most heinous in her article. Why would you leave this out? Why not at least acknowledge this? The woman recognized her sinfulness and sinful behavior. She never says, thank you Lord for accepting me as a “serial sexual law-breaker” and not asking me to change. Jesus calls us to come as we are and find salvation and acceptance in him, but he does not then leave us in that same situation. Part of the coming to Christ is recognizing our own sins and sinful bent, not justifying ourselves and saying this is who I am and always will be.
  2. A bend of inclusiveness for all does not mean a lowering of the bar on anything the Bible calls sin, let alone something that the Bible holds out as utterly heinous.
  3. Where does this inclusivity end? Doesn’t Jesus also include pedophile’s, murderers, thieves, and drunkards? Why should they be excluded? If not excluded, why should they repent of their sins, and not find shelter in an identity with their sin?
  4. The inclusive argument is absolutely ridiculous when applied to something the Bible consistently and without exception considers a sin. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense in regards to social class, sexes, and religious barriers. The message is that all are welcome and all are included, without the bar of what is considered a sin being lowered on iota. All are called to repent and be reconciled to God, no matter what sinful behavior you were formerly involved in. Come and be reconciled to God.

 

The practice of inclusion, even in defiance of social convention, the reaching out to outcasts, the emphasis on togetherness and community over and against chaos, depravity, indifference—all these biblical values argue for gay marriage. If one is for racial equality and the common nature of humanity, then the values of stability, monogamy and family necessarily follow. Terry Davis is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hartford, Conn., and has been presiding over “holy unions” since 1992. “I’m against promiscuity—love ought to be expressed in committed relationships, not through casual sex, and I think the church should recognize the validity of committed same-sex relationships,” he says.

Still, very few Jewish or Christian denominations do officially endorse gay marriage, even in the states where it is legal. The practice varies by region, by church or synagogue, even by cleric. More progressive denominations—the United Church of Christ, for example—have agreed to support gay marriage. Other denominations and dioceses will do “holy union” or “blessing” ceremonies, but shy away from the word “marriage” because it is politically explosive. So the frustrating, semantic question remains: should gay people be married in the same, sacramental sense that straight people are? I would argue that they should. If we are all God’s children, made in his likeness and image, then to deny access to any sacrament based on sexuality is exactly the same thing as denying it based on skin color—and no serious (or even semiserious) person would argue that. People get married “for their mutual joy,” explains the Rev. Chloe Breyer, executive director of the Interfaith Center in New York, quoting the Episcopal marriage ceremony. That’s what religious people do: care for each other in spite of difficulty, she adds. In marriage, couples grow closer to God: “Being with one another in community is how you love God. That’s what marriage is about.”

More basic than theology, though, is human need. We want, as Abraham did, to grow old surrounded by friends and family and to be buried at last peacefully among them. We want, as Jesus taught, to love one another for our own good—and, not to be too grandiose about it, for the good of the world. We want our children to grow up in stable homes. What happens in the bedroom, really, has nothing to do with any of this. My friend the priest James Martin says his favorite Scripture relating to the question of homosexuality is Psalm 139, a song that praises the beauty and imperfection in all of us and that glorifies God’s knowledge of our most secret selves: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And then he adds that in his heart he believes that if Jesus were alive today, he would reach out especially to the gays and lesbians among us, for “Jesus does not want people to be lonely and sad.” Let the priest’s prayer be our own.

The American Psychiatric Association states in their Fact Sheet on Sexual Orientation (2000) that “there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality”. Three major scientific studies set out for the stated purpose of proving that homosexuality was genetic – Dr. Simon LeVay and the study of the INAH-3 in the hypothalamus, Dr. Richard Pillard and Michael Bailey’s twin study, and Dr. Gene Hamer and the Xq28 chromosome study. Despite the fact that when the results of these studies were released, some news sources stated that the studies proved that homosexuality was genetic, the reality is that the authors of the three studies stated emphatically that their research did not conclude that there was an identifiable “gay gene”. These studies had the goal of proving a “gay gene” but found there to be no conclusive evidence of such. Remember, these were not objective studies, but one’s attempting to prove what they presupposed, and still they could not do so.

Even if sometime in the future there could be found some kind of genetic predisposition, it would still not show “homosexual identity” but only a condition, much like alcoholism (to which there is evidence of a genetic predisposition). Therefore, the issue is nothing like “skin color”.

I absolutely agree with Ms. Miller, that we all “…want as Jesus taught to love one another for our own good…” The question is how do we truly love another? Are we really loving an alcoholic by claiming that alcoholism is good and encouraging a person in that lifestyle. Is it a loving culture that legalizes “gay marriage”, which the Bible understands as a horrendous sin against God and an activity that is ultimately destructive to the person engaged in the behavior?

I have no doubt that Jesus would reach out the gay and lesbian in our communities, as many in our churches are doing. Onebyone is a great example. We as Christians should be reaching out in love to those trapped by the deception of our culture in a destructive lifestyle. Reaching out in love means helping them see that they do not have to be trapped in this sinful lifestyle, but that there is love, grace, power and strength at the cross.

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December 19, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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