Christians, Gay Marriage and a REAL marriage revolution


18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.”24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. Genesis 2

Evangelicals have gathered in huge numbers today in Washington, DC, to rally and protest, making their opinion known on the issue of whether or not the state should recognize same-sex marriages.

Once upon a time, marriage was about a covenant between a man, a woman, and God. The records were kept in the church, documentation in the family Bible. But during the time that the lines between church and state were blurred (think pre-Reformation, so we’re talking a LONG time ago), the state took over keeping up with marriage, and it’s been a legal contract ever since.

I don’t agree with same-sex relationships because I do believe that they do not fall in line with God’s designed purpose for intimate, sexual relationships.

However, I also disagree with Christians who protest the government’s ruling on marriage (which they claim is ordained by God, not the state) but still enjoy the tax, insurance, retirement and other benefits of a state recognized marriage.

Here’s a revolutionary thought: if believers seriously are against the changes the government is making concerning marriage, stop participating in government recognized marriages.

Return to church recognized, covenantal marriages. When the government goes against God, remove yourself from the government sponsored activity.

It will be a hardship. We will no longer enjoy the benefits the government offers people who join into a legal marriage.

But isn’t sacrifice expected when we stand in our moral beliefs?

So here’s my challenge: Count the cost of protesting or supporting the government’s definition of marriage, which is an understanding that marriage is a legally bound partnership between two consenting people. If we agree with that reductionist view of marriage, then we have NO RIGHT to protest the government withholding those rights from any couple seeking them.

If, however, we believe marriage is a sacred, lifetime covenant between one man, one woman, and God, then why do we allow the government to be involved in the first place?

If you are so strongly against the government redefining marriage, then stop participating in government acknowledged marriages and deal with the sacrifices made because of that stand.

Not a popular stance, and I’m certain I’ll take fire from both sides of the debate, but brothers and sisters, we cannot continue to speak out against an institution (the government) from which we benefit.

My friend Kim just made a beautiful point: our government is not bound to biblical standards, but as Christians, we are. We are not a theocracy, and cannot expect those who do not hold to our religious morals to abide by them.

God ordained governments to protect our right to practice our faith, not to enforce our faith. So if our government today chooses to enforce a law which you believe goes against biblical law, then stop participating in that government sanctioned activity.

File for legal divorce and ask your pastor for a church blessed covenant. Sacrifice the benefits of government sanctioned marriage and embrace community accountability and support.

Teach about the sanctity of marriage, the seriousness of the commitment.

Talk young people out of entering marriage until they understand the commitment they are making.

Talk married couples out of divorcing because they have made that covenant commitment.

(UPDATE: The above statement in NO way means that I condone staying in an unsafe situation in which abuse is taking place in a marriage. In an ideal situation, red flags of possible abuse would be revealed in the pre-marital time and the person would either be discipled to repentance or the marriage would not occur in the first place. If you are currently in an abusive relationship, get out of immediate danger, tell someone. Tell until someone believes you and empowers you to act. God NEVER condones the abuse of His children.)

Do those things, then get back to me about why you desire to withhold government sanctioned financial benefits from same-sex couples, some of whom have been in relationships longer than many heterosexual Christian marriages.

Let’s get marriage right in the Church again before we start critiquing how the world does it.

UPDATE: I’ve had some ask for clarification on my statements above, thinking I’ve meant Christians should isolate themselves from the world or remove ourselves from the political realm altogether.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m a history and Poli. Sci. junkie and ENCOURAGE Christians to be involved in the public square.

But on this particular issue, we as believers may need to find a way to signify a distinct difference in our understanding of marriage and the Gov’t’s.

I wrote his on another site yesterday and thought it might be helpful to include here:

The current definition of legal marriage as observed by the gov’t and God’s covenant standard are already so completely different, God wouldn’t recognize our gov’t’s view of marriage.

I say we separate marriage and legal unions. Once, they were assumed the same thing, but they are no longer in our society. Make covenant marriage the business of the church and if people want to add a gov’t sanctioned legal contract, then so be it.

On the other hand, if people wish a legal acknowledgment of their relationship w/o caring for a church commitment, then let them have a legal union alone.

When man’s law deviates from God’s law, as Christians, we stand more accountable to God.

Civil union and covenant marriage should be two separate things; let the state deal with the legal issues and let religious institutions deal with the sacred union before God as necessary. We should no longer assume the two are the same.

Advertisements

Would Jesus Appreciate Chick-Fil-A?


“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” ~ Jesus, Luke 14:12-14

I have to be honest. The whole “Appreciate Chick-fil-a Day” that’s planned for this coming Wednesday isn’t sitting well with me. I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly why I have a problem with it, but I think it may be a collection of things.

For starters, anyone who has ever been to a Chick-fil-a at lunch knows that they are not lacking appreciation. Lines are typically out the door to Dine-In and around the building to Drive-thru. We love Chick-fil-a, and they know it.

The fervor with which most are supporting the event gives away that their heart is more speaking out against homosexuality than it is speaking for our First Amendment rights to free speech. Whether it is the intent or not, the whole thing just feels like an “us vs. them” spectacle.

I haven’t said much of anything about the Chick-fil-a kerfuffle. I just haven’t been able to put words to my heart.

But tonight I heard Tony Merida bring a message from the Word about meals and hospitality, and it impressed upon me an urgent need to ask people to consider carefully your decision on Wednesday.

In the Gospels, the method of ministry Jesus used was breaking bread with people. Tony said that you can trace Jesus’ path through Luke, and He is either on His way to a meal, at a meal, or leaving a meal. He met people at the dinner table, and we should, too.

In the verses above, Jesus tells his host that the next time he has a party, he needs to invite the marginalized of his society. Those that Jesus describes, the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, are those that the Pharisees had declared unclean, unfit to worship with them. They are on the outskirts, they are the marginalized. They are “those people.” Jesus ate with both the Pharisees and with “those people.”

He ate with the Pharisees to call out their sin.

He ate with sinners to call them out of their sin.

The Pharisees rejected Him, but the sinners loved Him.

One thing I’m sure Jesus would never have done was go to a meal specifically held to remind “those people” just how marginalized they are. Jesus invited the marginalized to dine with Him. The lost around you are going to expect you to be one of “those Christians” on Wednesday. They will expect you to exclude them and go with all the other Christians to Eat More Chikn together.

Perhaps a better way of showing Christ to a watching world will be to do the exact opposite of what “everyone else” will be doing on Wednesday. Instead of taking a conservative/Republican/evangelical stance about the Great Chicken Debate, stoop in humble service and meet a marginalized person where they are.

On Wednesday, take Jesus to those who are not invited to Chick-fil-a.

Invite an unbelieving co-worker to join you for lunch. Let them pick the place and you pick up the check. Ask them questions and be genuinely interested in their life.

Take lunch to a shut-in member of your church. Heck, go buy Chick-fil-a for you both and then spend some time in fellowship with someone who knows what it means to be lonely.

Prove to your gay co-worker you’re not one of “those Christians.” Eat lunch with him or her and don’t attempt to convert them to heterosexuality.

Hang out with some homeless people. Spend time at cancer treatment unit. Or an AIDS support center.

If you really want to support the good work Chick-fil-a does with their camps and college scholarships and marriage retreats, take the money you would have spent on your meal and donate it directly to the Winshape Foundation.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:1-2

Instead of counting yourself in the number of good First Amendment-supporting Christians, just consider counting yourself in the company of Jesus. Receive sinners and eat with them. It will speak volumes to those who already know what the church thinks of them. Show them instead what Jesus thinks of them. I think He may care more about who we eat with than where we eat.

A Mile in Our Shoes


This week has been one of the most heartbreaking, inspiring, challenging, convicting, angering, and frustrating weeks I have had in a very long time.

My heart is breaking for so many that I see who are consumed by the self-deceiving justification of accepting a less-than-the-best plan for their lives. My heart is also breaking because of the reaction they have received from so many in the church.

With the passing of Amendment One in North Carolina and the declaration of support for gay marriage from President Obama, political and moral opinions have been shared far and wide from every social media platform available. And the extent of the thoughtfulness has generally been “We win. You are idiots” from both sides of the debate.

From the right I hear, “Shameful,” and “Ridiculous,” and “Sinners,” and “We win,” and “That’ll show the world what America thinks about Sodomites,” and a whole host of other sound bites.

From the left I hear, “Bigots,” and “Idiots,” and “Persecutors,” and “Close minded,” and “Bullies.”

Lots of talking about one another. Very little talking with one another.

But what has bothered me the most has been the posts and comments and conversations from people who appear to otherwise be faithful, Jesus-loving Christians. Statements that hint at a victory over Public Enemy #1, gay people. Statements justifying hateful attitudes by saying, “We’re just taking a stand against sin,” and “God is going to judge America for the words of our President.”

For one, I’d rather hear Christians taking a stand for Christ than taking a stand against particular sins.

Why?

Because we generally only attack the temptations that don’t personally attack us as individuals. You don’t hear gluttonous people attacking the gluttons. Those who have experienced divorce don’t judge others in the same position. People who have overcome addiction usually aren’t heard judging the addict. Ever been in bankruptcy? I bet you don’t dog on people who are up to their eyeballs in debt.

Why?

Because they’ve been there. They understand what it’s like to be overwhelmed by that struggle and they know that it’s not enjoyable, no matter what kind of happy face one may apply.

Before you begin talking about the current gay marriage debate, take a moment and place yourself in the shoes of someone who struggles or has struggled with same sex attraction. Imagine an embarrassing or shameful part of your past being dissected on every news channel, social media platform and in many conversations you pass through during the day. The conversations generalize and talk about “those people” in harsh and insensitive terms (stereotypes are almost always harsh and insensitive, by the way).

Even if it’s something you no longer struggle with, part of your past that is long past, it still hurts. Because while that person you trusted isn’t talking about you specifically, you know that if you were still struggling, they would be talking about you that way.

And so it becomes personal.

I had the following text conversation Thursday morning with a young woman I once mentored through her journey with unwanted same-sex attraction:

“Bekah, is it bad that I got to the point of crying last night? This older guy at church was talking about the [gay] marriage thing… and he started more around the lines of bashing. I didn’t stay for church. But I did start crying… I just remember what it’s like on that side and hearing all the stuff. Then hearing it at church…IDK… Is it bad that I got upset?”

“No, it’s ok to be upset about injustice. It’s sad to hear people in the church who don’t understand grace.”

“Between them and people who I thought ‘got it’… it’s just… idk… I don’t understand people. Beyond that, I don’t understand Christians. It’s like they pick the parts of the Bible they like and agree with and ignore the rest. Last night reminded me why I never wanted to become a Christian.”

I hardly knew what to say to that. Except, “I understand, I also remember what it’s like on that side. When I see and hear the behavior of some who claim to speak for God, and sometimes I don’t want to be a Christian either.”

Remember some things before you speak about any sin or person entrapped in sin:

1. Sin easily entangles.

2. Satan is a liar and the father of lies. No one sins without first being deceived.

3. “But for the grace of God go I.” That person could be you.

4. The person you’re talking to may be the person you’re talking about. You just may not know it.

5. Pay attention to your conversations. Do you take stands against things or take stands for Jesus?

6. Jesus dined with sinners and prostitutes. He condemned religious Pharisees. I was once a Pharisee. Then God showed me just how much of a sinner I am. Now I add “Pharisee” to the list of self-loving sins I need to die to daily.

7. It’s possible to love sinners and also say, “Go and sin no more.” Jesus did it and so can we.

8. Jesus said the world would know we were His by our love for one another, not by the platforms we support or soapboxes we stand on.

9. Strive to be the type of Christian that never makes another Christian regret taking that name.

10. Know that you can disagree without destroying. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Attacking people is equal to attacking your own Army’s POWs in a time of war.

Have you ever experienced an unintentional attack by someone speaking carelessly? How did it make you feel? How did you respond?

How does Scripture instruct us to interact with those with whom we disagree or do not understand?

For more information on grace-filled dialogue about the current gay marriage debate, check out the following links:

Tim Keller on how to treat homosexuals


How to Win the Public on Homosexuality by Collin Hansen

NC Amendment One and President Obama by Matt Emerson

God and Gay Marriage


Conservative Evangelicals across the blogosphere have posted their responses to this week’s cover story from Newsweek. Their treatment of the article theologically and politically will far outweigh any attempt of mine to do the same. What I would like to respond to is Ms. Miller’s opening statements concerning the Bible’s treatment of marriage.

Let’s try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does. Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel—all these fathers and heroes were polygamists. The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments—especially family. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust. “It is better to marry than to burn with passion,” says the apostle, in one of the most lukewarm endorsements of a treasured institution ever uttered. Would any contemporary heterosexual married couple—who likely woke up on their wedding day harboring some optimistic and newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love—turn to the Bible as a how-to script?

In her article, Miller asks her readers to consider the marriages of Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon as the basis of biblical marriage. This is the wrong question to consider if you are looking for the Bible’s prescription of marriage. To see God’s one, right intention for marriage, you must go back farther than even Abraham. In Genesis 2, God gives the one, right way for marriage to occur.

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” 19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Verse 24 is the most quoted Old Testament verse in the New Testament; it is recorded in Matthew 19.5 and Mark 10.8 that Jesus quoted this verse when discussing marriage and divorce. Paul quoted this verse in his treatments of marriage in his letters to the churches in Corinth and Ephesus (1 Corinthians 6.16 and Ephesians 5.31). It is clearly stated in the Bible that God’s plan for marriage is to be between one man and one woman for life.

While that is the prescribed treatment of marriage, the Bible is not a record of perfect people doing exactly what they are to do. The Bible is the record of a loving and merciful God and His dealings with a sinful and rebellious people. We cannot necessarily look to the lives of the “heroes” in the Bible as the “how-to” manual for life. What we can see is a collection of imperfect people who chose to break the law and heart of God. So let’s consider the lives of Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon—not as examples of biblical marriage, but as tragic examples of what happens when we stray from the ideals of God.

Abraham (you can read his story in Genesis 12-25) had been promised by God that he would become the father of a great nation. But when as he grew older and he and Sarah still had no children, Abraham decided to take matters into his own hands and he slept with Sarah’s servant Hagar. Hagar got pregnant and she had a son, Ishamael. This story does not prescribe polygamy as a biblically mandated form of marriage. This story instead describes the tragic consequences of what happens when we quit trusting God and begin trusting ourselves and our plans. By brining another woman into his bed, Abraham created an environment of jealousy and mistrust within his household. He created a division in the unity of his marriage, and he spawned an unhealthy competition between both women and their sons. The effects of this decision are still felt today—Ishmael is the father of the Arab nations, Jacob is the father of the Jewish nation. If you’ve read the news any time in the last 4,000 years, you know there’s still tension in that relationship.

Jacob (Genesis 25:19-50:26) repeated the mistake of his grandfather and there were similar results. His choices led to tension, jealousy, hatred, family infighting, and competition between the children of his various wives. Again, his life and choices concerning his relationships are an example of what happens when we choose to abandon God’s way and then do things our own way.

David (1 and 2 Samuel) was described as a man after God’s own heart, yet he made choices concerning women with tragic results. David took more than one wife, and the results were fighting and bloodshed. He actually lost four sons as a direct result of his extra-marital affairs. Again, this is not God’s prescribed state of marriage.

Same thing with Solomon (1 Kings 1-11) occurred when he chose to go against the will of God and take many wives. Those wives became his undoing as they led him away from God and toward their foreign gods. They took his attention away from ruling and worshiping and placed it square on themselves. Solomon was the last ruler of a unified Israel.

God told His chosen people Israel in Deuteronomy 10 that He commanded them to follow His statutes “for your own good.” The laws that God prescribes are from a loving Father who desires what is best for His children. The stories recorded in Scripture are those of a rebellious people who choose to stray from their loving Father. God’s prescription for living is the best way to live. The descriptions of the lives of people lead do not always follow the prescription given for right living.

So in one way, Lisa Miller was right. Her description of marriage as she sees the Bible is certainly not one that anyone would prescribe. But the Bible’s prescription of marriage is one of mutual love, trust, respect and submission between one man and one woman, under the headship of Christ. Any other arrangement is against the prescription of God, mandated for our own good.

What most people fail to see is that any straying from God’s perfect design goes against the ways of God. Evangelicals do not support serial heterosexual marriages, or adultery or premarital sex. In the eyes of God, sin is sin and they all separate us from Him. The problem is not that God has changed His mind concerning His perfect plan for sex and marriage. The problem is that the church has refused to define and then defend marriage and its purpose as a picture of the relationship between Christ and His church. When the church begins to equally take a stand against all relationships that violate the mandates of God, supporters of gay marriage may no longer feel as though we are picking on them.