LGBT Theology #1

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 06.55.24Thanks to all who engaged with my last post, My Support Of Same-Sex Marriage. Over 20,000 views, 1900 shares and 300+ comments in six days made me realise that it’s a conversation that many of you are willing – and wanting – to enter into online.

I know conversations like this are happening in lots of online spaces, but I’m glad that this can be one of them. So I’ll be writing more about “LGBT Theology” from time to time in the coming months, to explore how Christians approach the topic of gender, identity and sexuality. I’m not sure exactly what format that will take, but I’ll definitely give you all the ideas I have about resources to help you read, study and assess your views.

I know for many of my conservative Christian readers (several thousand of whom read my posts from the American Bible Belt), me voicing theological support for same-sex marriage was a shock and a disappointment. The mountain of emails, Facebook messages, DMs, and website-contact-forms I’ve been sent that communicate this disappointment are still arriving each day. But despite many voices saying I’ve walked away from orthodoxy by endorsing equal marriage, I still hope there can be room in the ‘evangelical’ wing of the Church for people like myself and others who hold the views we do on sexuality.

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So, where to begin this blog series? Actually I’ve given that a great deal of thought. And the place I want to begin is not the place many of you have pushed for.

“How does this line up with the Bible?” many of you have asked. “You have to begin by proving your views from the Old Testament and New Testament text”, many of you have said in your letters. “Until you do that, we won’t listen or take you seriously”.

Yes, it’s true that I interpret the Bible passages on sexuality differently to those with a ‘traditional’ paradigm. But I don’t want to start this blog series by talking about Biblical texts, or good books on that topic.

Why not? Is this simply proof that I don’t respect the Bible? Or perhaps it’s proof that my arguments are weak?

No. It’s simply because I don’t want to start this series with instant argument. Starting by talking about Biblical passages means we’d instantly draw lines in the sand, delineating ‘sides’. Who is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. We’d quickly form into tribes, shouting over the verses and their ‘correct’ interpretation.

Yes, debating doctrine is crucial. But I’ve seen it so often spiral straight into argumentative tribalism over this specific topic. And that tribalism is the complete opposite of where I want to position the beginning of this blog series.

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I will recommend useful books, resources and Bible commentaries in a forthcoming post. My high respect for the Bible, and the manner in which we interpret it, is what has led me to my conclusions – not a watering down of its content.

But initially, before that, I want to address the very framework within which those conversations take place. And that is…….relationship.

The way we treat each other as we dialogue. The tone we use. The way we refer to each other. The effects that has on us all.

Those of us who form ‘the Church’ in all it’s wonderful, idiosyncratic, glory are called not primarily to be tribes split by difference, but one family. One ‘Body’ as St Paul described it. So yes, we must debate the meaning of the text.

But within those discussions if we “don’t have love”, St Paul tells us, we have “nothing” (1 Corinthians 13). That is a sobering statement.

The reality on the topic of same-sex marriage is that, in our lifetime, it is very unlikely that the Global Church will reach an agreed, unanimous view on this topic. So we must find a way to exist within the tension of our disagreements; to dialogue without destroying one another. To focus on how we treat each other in the conversation. To explore our calling to be family, despite deeply different beliefs.

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In that context, I was really struck by the new Banksy painting that appeared in Bristol, England, this past week. (And firstly, yes I know it’s slightly ironic I’m using an image of a straight couple in a blog about LGBT theology, but blame Banksy for that, not me…!)

banksy

“MOBILE LOVERS” © Banksy, 2014

 

For me, that painting “Mobile Lovers” sums up much of what we face as the Church when we discuss human sexuality; a sense of disconnection despite proximity.

We seem to engage with one another as we debate the issues – yet much of the discussions online and offline have felt (to me at least) like we’re talking past each other rather than with each other.

Sharing our views, yet not truly being open to the lived reality of the ‘other’. Seeming to listen, yet mainly just looking at our own script or screen, ready to make our next point.

So before discussing exactly what we believe, it is crucial to first discuss how we engage with each other in that conversation.

Love must be the over-arching ethos. Love and listening. Putting ourselves into each other’s shoes. Business guru Stephen Covey once wrote “Seek first to understand” and only after that “Seek to be understood”. Never easy, but perhaps the only way for genuine dialogue around this area.

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The need to put oneself in the shoes of the ‘other’ has, I believe, to lie first with those who have enjoyed the security of being the safe majority for many, many decades. To ask a minority who have already endured great suffering to do so is difficult at best – unhealthy at worst.

Frequently the theology of sexuality has been debated by a large majority of straight Christians as a text-book exercise, rather than as an act of listening to those who are living out this reality, day by day. So as a tribute to the many LGBT Christians out there, I’d like to start this blog series by honouring you for your patience when the debate has often not had an equal balance of LGBT voices around the table.

To use the phrase “LGBT Christians” clearly represents a very broad group. It’s important to note that different Christians approach sexuality and identity in different ways. Some LGB Christians hold a conservative theology, believing a life of celibacy or heterosexual marriage are the only options available within God’s will for them. Other LGB Christians believe it is ok to be sexually active and seek out a life-partner. My own theology agrees with the latter group. But all LGBT Christian voices have very valid questions to ask and important things to contribute to the debate. 

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So my question and my suggestion today is simply this…. 

Can we foster a deeper sense of relationship across the divisions, so that the dialogue we will engage in happens with respect and with empathy?

Over Easter as we Christians ponder the powerful story of Jesus, the concept of ‘incarnation’ is a strong one. The “Incarnation” (if you’re not familiar with that term) is the doctrine that Jesus stepped out of heaven, took on a body of flesh and blood, and lived among us on the Earth. Incarnation is about a choice to take on another’s reality – to experience it and bear the burdens that come with it.

How about this Easter, we ponder incarnation in the context of LGBT theology. [In a less concrete way than Christ of course, as he was literally one of us. But the idea of incarnation inspires us to put ourselves into the shoes of others; to see through others' eyes].

If you’re willing, would those reading this who do not identify as LGBT and who hold a conservative theology on this topic, be open to spending the next few days of the Easter weekend seriously contemplating that kind of incarnational perspective? More than ever before, to try deeply considering what life might be like as a Christian LGBT person; with an orientation they have not chosen, following a God that they love as much as you do, and imagining the scenarios you encounter this Easter holiday weekend from that perspective?

Heteronormativity (that being straight is often presented as the only acceptable norm in society) permeates so much of daily life and society. It can never hurt to increase our awareness of it, and as a result, our empathy for those who are most damaged by its presence.

To possibly help that, a short film has been made about seeing life from a ‘non-straight’ viewpoint; I’ve included it at the bottom of this post. It’s an interesting attempt by film-makers to convey the strength of heteronormativity and the experiences of LGBT people within that, but in reverse. The storyline in the film comes from real-life testimonies. So whatever your theology, hopefully increased awareness of heteronormativity can only foster more empathy for our ongoing dialogue around LGBT theology.

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Many identifying as LGBT and Christian have written to me over the past few months saying how tough the journey has been for you – and how hard holidays and religious festivals feel, as many of you have been bruised by both Church and family members.

If you need a bit of a boost over the Easter weekend, check out the other short videos I’ll include at the end of this post for you. They are a selection from the well-known “It Gets Better” campaign. These are some of the many versions of these made BY Christians FOR Christians. There are loads of these. Christians around the globe have been making them over the last few years. Watch a few and hopefully they’ll be an encouragement. [If you hold a more conservative theology and identify as LGB, there are also plenty of Christians living that journey out, and they affirm that 'it gets better too' - so you are not alone either.]

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To end this post, I’ll recap:

  • I could’ve started this series by recommending Biblical resources to read. But I haven’t. And that is quite purposeful.
  • We are not all going to agree on the theology of human sexuality. So living in that reality means figuring out how the Church can live in that tension.
  • If we can’t figure out how to relate to Christians who disagree with us, then there is little hope for any real dialogue anyway.
  • Love must somehow stretch across the Church’s “Banksy Mobile Lovers” divide and crumble our walls of tribal separatism. Unless we start modelling that, we are in gridlock, regardless of how developed our Biblical arguments might be.

 

 // Over to you……..Leave a comment below //

  • How do you feel about me choosing to start this blog series in this way?
  • What are your thoughts about the way this debate is conducted within the Church and the tone and manner it often assumes?
  • Are you willing to imagine walking in the shoes of those who feel ‘other’ to you? Could that be helpful in any way?

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SHORT FILMS:

“Heteronormativity in reverse” film:

Christian LGBT “It Gets Better” videos.

(Just a selection of the many available. I included a few from multiple faiths too):

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  • yaddamaster

    ok, I’ll respond. First, I understand why you began by avoiding the biblical text. If I was in your shoes I would have done the same. It’s still a transparent cop-out. :-)

    Second, I would admit that the tone of the debate is regrettable on behalf of the church – and horrible outside the church. I personally have been working for years to change the tone and approach within the church to our LGBT friends. For instance, the continued insistence that ALL gay people are the way they are because of abuse or choice is ridiculous. There needs to be more empathy and understanding. But that goes for the debate from those on the other side as well. And the constant bullying that people who advocate traditional marriage are undergoing is – frankly ironic and depressing. The caution against tribalism cuts both ways.

    Third – of course. I’ve had a number of friends come out including family members. Much soul-search, tears, anguish. It would be much easier to go along with the cultural tide.

    The interesting thing for me is the refusal to start with scripture. But that’s fine. Start instead from either an atheistic evolutionary point of view or even a theistic evolutionary point of view. Same sex attraction is still a natural aberration and does nothing to contribute to the furthering of the species. A same-sex marriage, while all warm and fuzzy, does nothing to provide a stable environment for raising a family – because they can’t have children. But I digress…..

    What this debate is all about in the end is not about what I’ll call traditional Christians accepting and being tolerant of homosexuals but rather about a redefining of marriage to mean love between people. Any people. And if two men can love each other and get married then so can two men and a woman, two women and a man, four women and a man, a father and a son, a sister and a sister, etc. If marriage is simply and only about love – then sure, redefine it. But marriage in scripture is so much more – it’s the framework by which a man and a woman enter into a covenant with God to ‘hopefully’ produce and raise children and their children’s children to honor, worship, and serve God – to many generations. But there I go, looking at scripture. Tsk, tsk.

  • Rachel

    In my imagination when I contemplate Paul’s words to the Galations saying ‘there is no male or female, no Jew no or Gentile, no Slave of Free’ … I think he’d be adding no ‘Gay or Straight’ in the context of church today… As we are ‘all one in Christ’
    Thanks Vicky for your openness to generate communication and discussion rather than conflict and fear :-)

  • Robert Rea

    I’m intrigued. What about a man and woman who know they are infertile before they marry? Or a man and woman who choose not to have children (possibly for medical reasons)? If marriage in scripture is about entering a covenant with God to raise children, then surely the men and women in the above examples cannot marry in the sense that you are defining it. Surely marriage IS about love between two people – and not the love that family members feel for each other. You would surely agree that there are different sorts of love, and that the love between a married couple, whether straight or gay, is of a unique and special kind, no?

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Vicky,

    You keep using the phrase “LGBT Christians” with the presumption that such people will not agree with the traditional position of the Church on sexual behaviour. As you know this is simply not the case. There are plenty of LGB Christians who have absolutely no issue with the traditional teaching, who don’t feel ostracised from their families and church communities and, I’ll be honest, are hacked off everytime someone makes the assumption that they should support a revisionist position. In my opinion this is as big an issue as heteronormativity because you are trying to fit all LGB Christians into a particular mould.

    Frankly, LGB theology spans a much wider range than the particular bubble of perspective I suspect you will present us with. So I guess my request of you is simply this – if you genuinely want to engage with LGB theology I expect you to accurately represent the elements of it that contradict your position. And if you don’t think post-gay / ex-gay / celibate perspectives are valid parts of LGB theology, please don’t get upset when others say that you can no longer call yourself an Evangelical, because at that point you would just be hypocritical.

  • David Mullins

    Yadda just made Vicky’s point. Good job. (Note: I used my real name.)

  • http://www.letterstomychurch.com Gabe Stoutimore

    Vicky,

    I very much like the idea of this being a journey, conversation, relationship, etc. that you and us (your readers) are on together, as I believe that this will make for some really interesting and (hopefully) moving interchanges. I also appreciate the videos posted, and I hope everyone watches them and considers just how delicate and personal this topic is for everyone involved.

    My question is simple but perhaps not easily answered, so maybe this will be something best discussed in another post or series of blogs altogether. Nevertheless, I’ll give it a shot:

    Why do you choose to self-identify as ‘evangelical’ given the degree to which your beliefs deviate from more traditionally embodied evangelical practices and is it to do with how you believe ‘evangelical’ is defined in the first place? Surely there are other streams of Christianity that your articulated beliefs would more closely align with, so I’m wondering what it is about the Evangelical tradition that keeps you there.

  • Lucy Gorman

    Thanks for this. It’s so important to remember that while discussing this topic, it’s not just an ‘issue’ it is real people’s lives. Also excellent video, one of my friends mentioned it to me a while back but I hadn’t had chance to see it. Moving stuff!

  • Dave Warnock

    I’d add to Robert’s point a reminder that we gladly marry older women and men who are well past any expectation of childbirth.
    In my tradition (Methodist, UK) the wedding service already reflects the fact that children are not the only reason for a couple getting married.
    It is sad when your attempts to defend traditional marriage end up dismissing many traditional marriages.
    I am confident Vicky will address scripture and will do so with integrity. The way that she is leading into this is potentially a very helpful one for a fractured and hurting church.

  • http://www.jamesprescott.co.uk/ James Prescott

    Thanks for this post Vicky. I think beginning with love, relationship, incarnation and how we approach this discussion is absolutely the way to go. We need to begin in the right spirit, with a united approach no matter what our theology.

    In terms of the incarnational concept, I think that’s an excellent idea. Like you I’m pro equal-marriage, but I think it can be healthy for all of us to incarnate in the way you speak about.

    An excellent post, and I look forward to the rest of the series.

  • that story girl

    Attempting to set the tone this way is both the right choice and a brave one. The sooner that “lines” are drawn in any discussion the sooner it turns ugly – my fear is that perhaps it’s too late for this particular discussion and it has already turned ugly some exits back.
    Having said that, we all serve a guy who is very much into redemption and reconciliation, so I have hope for progress in this for all of us, whichever “side” you’ve started out on.
    What concerns me (and has for sometime) is how any disciple of Christ can comfortably say with confidence what is in another disciple’s heart or how acceptable Jesus would find them, simply based on one theological viewpoint that isn’t actually all that major. For those who want to start with the scripture and what it’s clear on, they’re going to have a tough time, because a lot of us haven’t got the time to learn Hebrew and NT Greek and even if we did, it’s not completely clear in those languages. The only thing the bible is clear on is this, that God Loves you and Me. Everything else is packaging. That’s why, when CS Lewis wrote “Mere Christianity” he also didn’t start with the bible, or even any mention of God until the end of the first chapter.
    Finally, if we don’t approach this from the “putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes” then we’re never going to reach understanding, rapprochement ot even a compromise where we allow one another to hold conflicting views, so yes, Empathy is definitely the key to the whole discussion.
    A really great start Vicky, look forward to see how this unfolds.

  • Dave Warnock

    Gabe,

    I have struggled and continue to do so with my own self identity as an evangelical. I guess two things keep me wanting to use the label.

    a) the “traditional” definition that I still fully accept (even if not all interpretations of it) identified by David Bebbington as his quadrilateral:

    biblicism, a particular regard for the Bible (e.g. all essential spiritual truth is to be found in its pages)
    crucicentrism, a focus on the atoning work of Christ on the cross
    conversionism, the belief that human beings need to be converted
    activism, the belief that the gospel needs to be expressed in effort
    (taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bebbington )

    b) my stubbornness against attempts to redefine “Evangelical” in ways that would exclude Christians from the past. As a Methodist when I find people redefining Evangelical in ways that exclude people such as John and Charles Wesley my stubborn streak kicks in :-)

    What makes me want to drop the label is actions of exclusion and hatred that I do not want to be associated with in any shape or form.

  • Alastair J Roberts

    Thanks for this post, Vicky.

    A number of issues arise out of your remarks for me, most of them clustering around the way that the ‘psychologization’ or humanization of the other and perspective-taking ought to function ethically. Despite its popularity, the drive to humanize and subjectivize those with whom we differ—to ‘hear their stories’—generally fails to reckon with the fact that, as Slavoj Žižek and others observe, the true ethical dimension of our acts aren’t located in the experience that we have of them from within.

    I suspect that those who adopt such an approach have a sense of this themselves, which is why such an approach is applied rather selectively. Although we are called to walk a mile in the LGBT person’s shoes before arriving at any judgment, the same doesn’t apply for the paedophile, for instance, or the concentration camp commander. In such cases we know that the perspective of the actor from within is a dangerous vantage point from which to assess the moral character of their actions. Our reluctance to perspective-take in such situations is illuminating.

    Conceptually we know that the person with unchosen paedophile desires daily encounters a society that regards him as monstrous and which operates according to norms that are hostile to his experienced form of subjectivity, which he must hide away in fear of violence or complete social ostracization. We may even have moral concerns about the way that society dehumanizes such persons and the brutal way that it can assert its (appropriate) opposition to paedophile actions. However, we also know that, no matter how much we may want to uphold their dignity and protect them from dehumanizing and scapegoating violence, the perspective of such a person is tragically compromised from the outset and is itself ‘abnormal’ and even pathological. We recognize the deeply tragic dimensions of their unchosen situation and how the norms of society cut painfully across the grain of their subjectivity and may wish to help them as we can, but we also recognize that this is largely irrelevant when it comes to settling the primary moral questions that are at issue.

    The selective inconsistency with which this sort of perspective-taking moral reasoning is applied suggests to me that it is typically more of an emotive than a principled ethical posture. A different approach is typically taken in the case of LGBT persons than in the case of paedophile persons, because we know that this approach tends to result in the obscuring of the sharp ethical perspective that we need to maintain upon their actions. We feel a need for paedophiles to remain ‘monsters’ because if we started to identify with their natural perspective the evil of their actions would start to fade in our consciousness and we need for it to remain clear. Our preference for a perspective-taking approach in the case of LGBT persons has an implicitly favourable judgment on the moral character of their actions and desires within it.

    Much is made of the fact that people who know LGBT persons are more tolerant of same-sex relations. However, while this is presented as if it were a virtue, let’s not forget that those who are friends and family of rapists or abusers are far more likely to regard their actions as ‘not rape-rape’ and to employ the most perverse forms of rape apology and victim-blaming as a matter of course. Numerous brutal dictators will be remembered by those closest to them as loving family men who had the best interests of their country at heart and had to take painful actions for the common good.

    In sum, what I am arguing here is that, for clear ethical vision in such cases, we may need to take precisely the opposite approach: to render the other ‘other’, to avoid the pull of sympathy, and to regard actions from a more objective standpoint, without beginning by psychologizing the agents who perform them. A running theme in biblical books such as 1 and 2 Samuel is the poisonous effects of human pity and family love when they blind us to the sharp ethical parameters of our situation. One of the callings of the biblical leader is to be able to suspend pity and act on principle when the situation demands. The ethical bonds of the covenant are also supposed to trump those of family. This principle is nowhere more starkly expressed than in Deuteronomy 13:6-9: “If anyone secretly entices you—even if it is your brother, your father’s son or your mother’s son, or your own son or daughter, or the wife you embrace, or your most intimate friend—saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’, whom neither you nor your ancestors have known, any of the gods of the peoples that are around you, whether near you or far away from you, from one end of the earth to the other, you must not yield to or heed any such persons. Show them no pity or compassion and do not shield them. But you shall surely kill them; your own hand shall be first against them to execute them, and afterwards the hand of all the people.”

    I am most definitely not arguing that we should regard LGBT persons as monsters, nor am I arguing that we shouldn’t recognize their humanity and the tragic dimensions of and in their situation, nor that we should be without principled compassion towards them. However, in seeking to settle the strictly ethical questions of same-sex relations, such ‘humanizing’ perspective-taking is an extremely problematic foot to start off upon.

  • theocentrist

    The series begins with pulling at heart-strings rather than exegesis… understandable. It certainly pulls at mine.When I was studying this issue intensely a few years ago, I watched ‘It gets better’ videos to really feel it, no matter how much it hurt. But despite the pain we may feel, the desire for something may not be what’s best for us. God knows better.

    So… I’m forced to say, as someone who has enjoyed your music and scholarship for years now, that your take on this is disappointing; beyond sad. It detracts from your work on Christian feminism exponentially, as unfortunately, many evangelicals are less apt to listen to you now. Simply by this: Gay sexuality is *not* an evangelical view. At all. In the egalitarian/complimentarian debate there are biblical texts to work with, trajectories to build from, for both sides. But on this issue, the biblical text is universally clear – gay sex is against the sexual ethics of scripture. There is no way to extract any other conclusion without doing violence both to the text, historical situation, and 2000 years of church history. I’m not uninformed – I’ve read the journal articles and arguments, so I have guesses as to where the series will go when it talks about the texts. For this reason the debate has been a bit shrill, as many evangelicals are simply surprised, and afraid that this wonderful movement that has done so much good for the world this past century is finally being torn apart. Other times evangelicals are simply being unloving and narrow-minded, as many of the responders to you on twitter are. I think this debate, as any debate, should be argued in respect and love, but what makes it different is that this is no longer an inside-evangelicalism debate, but more evangelical vs liberal Protestantism debate (to use American terms). Well, I’m not entirely in line with your comment questions, but I just had to let my grief out. :( Just to add this – being an evangelical in itself is an experience in being ‘other.’ It’s a strongly disliked group of people, on the whole. So I don’t think evangelicals are totally alien to the gay experience. The LGBT community can be as unforgiving, as can Christian community – so can greater society.

  • Kim Fabricius

    Hey yaddamaster,

    First: Same sex attraction is still a natural aberration.

    In fact, as James Neill observes in The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies (2009), same-sex behaviour has been observed “across the range of evolutionary complexity, from fish … to primates”, with same-sex activity particularly perspicuous among mammals, including exclusive same-sex activity. Moreover,
    Neil, citing evidence, writes of the “near universal appearance of same sex relationships among tribal peoples”. So if you’re using the word “natural” empirically, you’re just plain wrong. Of course, if you’re using the word ideologically …

    Second: But marriage in scripture is so much more – it’s the framework by which a man and a woman enter into a covenant with God to ‘hopefully’ produce and raise children and their children’s children to honor, worship, and serve God – to many generations. But there I go, looking at scripture. Tsk, tsk.

    Let’s eschew the snark. Vicky is seeking to have a snark-free conversation. She also would like to set the table before tasting the scriptures, but okay, you’ve gone straight to the meat and potatoes. But as with “nature”, so with the Bible, let’s at least get our facts straight. And the fact is that in the New Testament, neither Jesus nor Paul use procreation as an argument in support of marriage, neither foundationally nor functionally. As Rowan Williams observes: “If we are looking for a sexual ethic that can be seriously informed by our Bible, there is a good deal to steer us away from assuming that reproductive sex is a norm, however important and theologically significant it may be.”

    There are, of course, arguments, non-biblical and biblical, maybe even good arguments, with which to oppose same-sex relationships. But not, I’m afraid, these.

  • C. Quinn-Jones

    Hi Vicky, yes we do need to relate compassionately to differences between ourselves and others. We need empathy and also discernment and wisdom… and also we need to make many micro-decisions about how much time and energy we can reasonably devote to whom and to what.
    If I were to read all the posts on this page and watch all the videos, in order to write a response that I feel would do justice to others and to myself , I would need to devote far more time and energy to it than I can realistically give, so this will be my last response on this page.
    My prayers for all of you and for Church leaders and law-makers are ongoing.
    Christine

  • Kim Fabricius

    Hey theocentrist,

    With yaddamaster we get misinformation, now with you we get the rhetorical flourish.

    Your opening gambit is: The series begins with pulling at heart-strings rather than exegesis…. Your endgame includes: Well, I’m not entirely in line with your comment questions, but I just had to let my grief out. What can one say but “Hmmm”. And then you mate with a George Carey-like victim move: Just to add this – being an evangelical in itself is an experience in
    being ‘other.’ It’s a strongly disliked group of people, on the whole. So I don’t think evangelicals are totally alien to the gay experience
    – neglecting, I hasten to add, the question of power, which, particularly if we look at the matter not just within the C of E, or nationally, but globally, is heavily stacked for evangelicals and (even life-threateningly) against LGBT people.

    Anyway, Happy Easter, everyone.

  • April Hunter

    I understand why you’ve started it this way and I think it’s wise. No need to dive right into the text and just duplicate the many other arguments similar to this. I also feel strongly about the tone and posture, and I know people send you links all. the. time. but I do suggest reading this blog which speaks all about the need for a better posture. (and it’s from a Bible belter) http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2012/07/27/in-the-basement

    I feel empathy is important…as well as meeting people where they are at….I look forward to following this.

  • pete

    It makes me sad that on good friday people are more concerned with splitting hairs over theology rather than thinking about more important things. perhaps if the Church was a proactive as many of the keyboard warriors out there it wouldn’t be in such a state. Pete x

  • http://www.pro-tools-expert.com/ Russ Hughes

    Here’s some scripture you should read Yaddamaster “even a fool can appear wise if he keeps his mouth shut”

  • Matt5150

    I’m sure if you actually read the post, you will find Vicky clearly talks about the fact that there are those of the LGBT community who hold the traditional view and lead a celibate life. Here it is for you:

    “It’s important to note that different Christians approach sexuality and identity in different ways. Some LGB Christians hold a conservative theology, believing a life of celibacy or heterosexual marriage are the only options available within God’s will for them.”

    Being an Evangelical is no big deal, either. It’s just one of uncountable denominations who hold particular views that can be debated with others.

  • http://vickybeeching.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks Peter. Have just added a few extra sentences in to clarify that was what I meant – I just forgot to clearly outline it in this post. Thanks for picking that up.

  • Paul Robinson

    I can’t speak for Vicky obviously but from what she wrote it’s clear that this is a journey and one where we all need to walk with each other. Diving straight into the passages that talk about homosexuality etc would have been getting straight to the destination. She’s not trying to bypass the scriptures, she will get to them of course. But she wants us to start with respect for each other. Something that has been very missed from these types of discussions.

    I’m glad she has taken this approach.

  • http://theocentrist.wordpress.com/ theocentrist

    Hi Kim,
    I’m not trying to play a victim, though I am honestly sad over the whole thing. I’m more trying to touch on Vicky’s thought of the “other,” which I think an evangelical can sympathize with since it’s possible he or she has felt like an ‘other.’
    I’m actually including the question of power – LGBT is a fairly powerful force on the activism side. Many very large companies, Hollywood, TV, politicians, scholars, etc. support the movement. I don’t know how the voice and dollar numbers fall out exactly, but I’d venture to say it’s comparable to evangelicals, especially when there’s giants like Starbucks and Google for the LGBT side. I don’t think it’s possible to say which group has more power, but evangelicals are losing ground on this issue, which is enough for me to say it’s at least comparable. On the other hand, it does seem that evangelical Christians are in far more life-threatening situations than LGBT people, considering a global scope. Saudi Arabia and China are obvious examples, but even evangelicals in the US are facing a good bit of pressure (I might add, often by LGBT movement activism). The power-stack would probably be as you stated 60 years ago, but not anymore today.

    Hope this helps. Happy Easter to you and yours, and best wishes.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    As I’m sure Vicky will happily confirm, the passage you quote was added after my comment.

  • Paul Robinson

    Actually for many it is an Evangelical view. You can be Evangelical and believe in gay marriage. Some disagree but even though I might disagree with someone on this issue I am not prepared or perhaps more importantly, able to declare one in or out. On whichever side one stands.

  • CoachJJB

    If love is the reason for supporting homosexual marriage, you must properly define which love you speak of (eros, phileo, or agape). Unfortunately, our sexually charged society lives/hungers for eros. That is why heterosexual marriage also fails at such an alarming rate. True love doesn’t always give us what we want (as any parent knows), but leads us toward holiness & eternal relationship with God.

    While you want to avoid Scripture initially, ultimately, the deepest, most significant indictment of homosexual marriage is not found in a verse that speaks directly to homosexuality.

    “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church,
    his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Ephesians 5:23-25 (ESV)

    These temporal relationships we know as marriage are designed to glorify the picture of Christ’s sacrificial (agape) love for the church & the church’s loving response. Nowhere in the Bible does it refer to Christ’s sacrificial love for Himself or the church’s responsive love for itself. God’s amazingly unique design gives an eternal picture that, when skewed or misinterpreted, can really mess with our theology.

    I recognize that people are born with tendencies & attractions that we would label loving, but I for one am glad that Christ & others lovingly guided me out of the heterosexual lusts, addictions, and temptations toward adultery that dominate my genetic heritage. All could be excused as eros love, but would have led to my destruction. Pedophiles claim to love, yet most would consider that unhealthy for both parties. Co-dependent parents claim to love their children, but again society would point to that as unhealthy & in need of repair.

    Love does not always mean making someone’s current path easier, but often pointing them down a more difficult path that leads to a more glorious, freeing, and God glorifying life.

  • Kim Fabricius

    Hi again theocentrist,

    Thanks for your response. I was thinking of ecclesial power, particularly worldwide, but I take your point about the persecution of evangelicals in certain countries, though it really applies to Christians as such. Regarding evangelicals in the US (I’m a New Yorker), or the UK for that matter, “losing ground” is hardly comparable to “life-threatening”. Of course the whole notion of “power” needs to be theologically deconstructed and reconstructed in the light/dark of this Very Day, and the persecuted, on their way to equality, or majority, must certainly be alert to the tragedy of the victim becoming the victimiser. It is the Lamb who reigns.

  • Helen B

    You know, what this argument (because that’s what it is) always dismisses and denies is the trans experience. I’m going to break one of my cardinal rules here and write about my own experience.

    I was an evangelical Christian, as was my wife. We got married in the church which was important to her family. We had two children, one boy and one girl. And all the while I was wrestling with the understanding that I may well be trans. Ultimately I found myself facing a dilemma – transition and realise who I always felt myself to be, or not transition and become increasingly depressed and suicidal. “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live.” (Deut 30:19) The thing which stopped me jumping off that railway bridge was a small voice telling me I was worth something.

    My wife had her own torment because of my transition, but we held our marriage together, believing that it was better that we stayed together for the sake of our young children. It wasn’t easy, and we know that many, many others don’t make it. But we did, and it got easier. Now, ten years on, our children are well-adjusted, sociable teenagers who have the rare talent of actually being able to talk with adults.

    We believed in the covenant that we had made before God. Sadly our church, and others we went to after we were made to feel unwelcome both separately and together, didn’t. My wife was repeatedly advised by others who called themselves Christians to leave me. And that repeated rejection, which hurt desperately, caused us both to re-evaluate our faith, and ultimately discard it.

    What your argument does is neatly dismiss either my marriage or my identity – I either must be deluded or my marriage is a sham – or both. The idea that I may not be deluded and our marriage is real and has exactly the basis that you describe for a “scriptural marriage” simply does not register. Words cannot begin to describe how painful and how insulting that dismissal actually is.

    During the same-sex marriage debates in the UK last year, whenever I encountered the line that “marriage is between a man and a woman”, I usually asked “how are you defining ‘man’ and ‘woman’?” Because, to my eyes, it’s actually incredibly difficult. Most who view this as important try to reduce the distinction to genitals, but trans people post genital reconstruction surgery have genitalia that would generally meet the “observance” test. Even the IOC struggles to define it. Studies indicate that chromosomes aren’t infallible, and mothers of boys often seem to have a number of XY-chromosomed cells. Hormones aren’t infallible either.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I’d like you to open your mind, to see a world that is brimming with possibilities, a society that is able to function without strict segregation of roles and expectations based upon a two-second observation by a midwife. Other societies happily exist with more genders than two. Biology shows us that intersex conditions regularly occur

    I’m not invalidating anyone’s marriage. Why invalidate mine?

  • http://theocentrist.wordpress.com/ theocentrist

    Some evangelicals may think gay marriage should be legalized, but still maintain it’s morally wrong; similar to how sins like adultery are wrong, but legal. I would say that’s still an evangelical view. But you’re right, many do think gay marriage as God-ordained/permitted is an evangelical view.
    The question, ‘What is an Evangelical’ is a big topic and outside the blog subject right now, but as I said above, gay sexuality is so condemned in the Bible, I fail to see how one can claim to be an evangelical and hold the view. Evangelicals disagree on plenty of things, but there are lines, one of which is Scripture usage. Even open theism has more texts to work with, and most evangelicals would disavow them from evangelicalism! As difficult as it is to make a statement on whether one is inside or outside a movement as diverse as evangelicalism, when a view has no textual evidence and is so new both the the 20th century evangelical movement, 2,000 years of church history, and all of biblical history, I think one is within rights to say whether it’s evangelical or not.

  • Ciarán O’Ceileachair

    Vicky, what I would be interested to know is, why do you want to remain in the evangelical camp so much? What is it about that stream of Christianity that causes you to call yourself that?

  • Grazer #E2H

    I think relationship is exactly where we need to begin because it’s where Jesus did. Yes, he quoted scripture but he didn’t say “here’s a book, follow it” he said “follow me” The 2 greatest commandments are about love and relationship

  • Paul Robinson

    After thinking about it I think you are right. I think what I could have better and more accurately stated is that believing in gay marriage does not equate to being outside of the Christian faith. Evangelicalism is something I guess some people like to feel part of and others don’t feel the need to. But you can believe in gay marriage and still be part of this diverse and culturally rich and beautiful family of the church. I think that is where we should start.

  • Neil Coode

    Hi Vicky,

    I think you are absolutely right to start the debate in this way. I am, however, looking forward very much to hearing your handling of the Biblical texts. My interest in the debate was sparked by trying to witness to some of my (straight) friends, and finding that they had no interest because of the church’s attitude to LGBT people, and the effect that accepting Christ might have on their friendships with such people. I also have some gay friends, who I find it very difficult to witness to.
    I would love to find a way to read scripture such that homosexual sex was not sinful – so far I have failed. I do think there is little true debate on this subject – most people approach it from entrenched positions with no intention of changing. The tone of many comments is appalling. I am very upset by those who claim that “you cannot be a true Christian if you support LGBT marriage”. Even if that is sinful surely the reason we come to Christ is because of our sins. I am also very wary that this is an issue where many in the church are willing to tell blatant lies to support their position (e.g. “homosexuality is always a choice”). That is no way to glorify the God of truth.
    I think the videos you posted are a very powerful way to help us try to empathise with those who are different from us – well done, & thanks.

  • Tom Mason

    Vicky, you said “Other LGB Christians believe it is ok to be sexually active and seek out a life-partner. My own theology agrees with the latter group”. Does your theology also agree with non married heterosexual people being sexually active and seeking out a life partner?
    To be honest I almost find this the most astonishing thing in your article, because on the face of it you appear to have surrendered to the way the society outside of the church thinks about sex, in that it is just something adults do that has no other deeper meaning or consequence. My understanding of the Biblical view of sex is that it basically IS marriage, and so you appear to be advocating not just homosexual activity (which obviously the topic at hand), but also adultery in general.

  • yaddamaster

    you’d be amusing if you weren’t a blithering idiot.

  • yaddamaster

    The obvious reply would be that they do have the biological possibility of having children – in that one female + one male generally produces offspring. Certainly there are biological outliers as is your case of infertile couples. One man + one man cannot ever under any circumstances produce children.

  • yaddamaster

    Helen, I honestly feel for your experience and situation. I obviously haven’t walked in your shoes. I can only assure you (as I did in my original statement) that I have thought about this and agonized over this. Many personal tears have been shed. The easy solution would be for me to come to a different conclusion.

    But my response would be simply that your marriage wasn’t a sham in my worldview. You were living in a difficult reality the best you could.

    As far as invalidating anyone’s marriage….not following you here. I don’t recognize a marriage outside of one man and one woman as I feel that’s the scriptural normative. It’s the redefinition of marriage which is the issue for me.

  • Paul Robinson

    To be honest I don’t think she is saying it’s ok to sleep around. Unfortunately many gay people can’t get married yet so I think she is simply saying that in a relationship between two people who have made a commitment to each other for life, a sexual relationship is a beautiful way of two people showing that commitment. That sentence clearly shows her belief in monogamy and fidelity.

  • LauraB1186

    What stood out to me was that I believe you said it’s alright for LGBT Christians to be sexually active and seek out life partners. To me the Bible is very, very clear on sex before marriage and sex outside of it. It’s clearly not an option for Christians of whatever gender, or sexual orientation. If gay Christians can engage in sex outside of marriage, then should straight people abandon purity in relationships? I’m asking because this type of thinking really opens a Pandora’s box of things. i think God knew what he was doing when he asked us to wait until marriage. Maybe I read your message wrong. Feel free to elaborate because I don’t understand completely. I don’t want to misinterpret what you meant to say.

  • yaddamaster

    I’m using the term “natural” as in sex evolved or was created for a single purpose – procreation. To the point at which outliers exist – that is not “natural”.

    As far as snark, meh. Neither Jesus nor Paul used procreation as an argument in support of marriage – because they didn’t have to. The old testament is replete with the idea.

  • Belle

    it clearly comes across as though she is saying it is okay to sleep around. I haven’t seen it mentioned but I would like to hear her state her personal lifestyle. Is she straight? Or is she now gay? Or is she afraid to admit to either for fear of retribution? Obviously, if she is gay then that explains alot here….

  • Tom di Giovanni

    Fair enough. As you say, there will be no discussion if everyone is shouting and no-one is listening, or seeing other people as the enemy rather than (at the very least) the battleground to be won. And on the point of empathy, I’d like to think that for most of us that really wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Who hasn’t had the experience of having fallen in love with someone they shouldn’t have at some point (to quote the excellent Buzzcocks)? And I’m sure most people could identify with the experience of being seen as “different and therefore wrong”. We’d be rubbish “Christians” if we’d never experienced that in the world.

    Perhaps at some point you might also like to ask why so many of those who experience purely heterosexual attraction get so worked up about this subject as opposed to topics like adultery or divorce that actually affect them.

  • Tom di Giovanni

    I think your 2nd point is agreeing with what Vicky says :) She’ll be pleased.

    I don’t consider her to have started the actual discussion yet though, quite deliberately. She wanted to get agreement on your second point before covering any arguments one way or another.

    And being good evangelicals of course you and I don’t actually come to our view based on arguments of evolution (whether or not we believe that’s how God created the world) any more than we are swayed by arguments about being out-of-step with society :) She’s promised to look at the biblical passages in good time, so lets wait and see what she says and address those points then.

  • Jesse Francis Crowley

    I appreciate your desire to have a cordial tone. It always saddens me when people use name calling and other types of attacks. I agree with the first post, trying to understand the Bible and its take on homosexuality in alternative ways always distort the meaning. I am curious to know how you will address it though.

    The simplest explanation is most often the best. Remember this. It’s not about different interpretations but a willingness to accept what is written.

    I pray those words are meaningful to you.

  • Thomas

    Vicky – I’ll be interested to see how the subject of sin is addressed in the discussion. As stated by someone else, I cannot find in scripture any way around calling homosexual behavior sin. As someone else referenced the words of Jesus….I’ll quote Jesus as well “go and sin no more.” The question of sin must be addressed.

    As far as whether we should be talking about more important things than theology…the reason we are celebrating our Lord’s resurrection this weekend is specifically informed by our theology and specifically the authority of the Bible. Our sinful natures are our common issue. We all struggle with giving over our bodies to be used as instruments of sin or instruments of righteousness. It is important therefore to understand what is sin and what is not sin.

    In the end, if we give away the authority of scripture, then we are left to our own opinions and every man/woman will do what is right in their own eyes. I agree the discussion needs to be held in respectful discourse and covered in love and prayer. May the Holy Spirit inform this discussion for the glory of God.

  • Gavin Netherton

    Good points. I find debates about this issue polarising and I am not fully convinced by any of the arguments made. I whole heartedly believe in the person centered values of empathy, being non-judgemental and congruence.

  • David Sims

    Totally agree Vicky ; the fact that the arguments have already started on the comments section prove your point correct. Really interested to see how this pans out ; I have found that the more I get to know Jesus, the more I think I begin to realise he was a “Liberal” himself!

  • cindy
  • Stephen Lucas

    Hi Vicky,

    We met a few years ago at the New media awards in London. I really respect you and your views and I esp have the upmost respect with the way you are engaging with so many quite influential people quite high up in the media, politics, business etc. Much of what you do is not seen.
    The issue of same sex relationships has interested me. I come from the view that we are all equal. God loves you no matter what your gender, sexuality, race etc. I really do struggle through my own experiences with some areas of the church (esp conservative Christians) who seem to think they know better and have God sussed because they think they have a level of intelligence that can interoperate the bible to the word but yet don’t understand the context of God love, mercy and grace.

    But what i do want to ask you is, what do you think Gods will is for same sex relationships? Do you think God made us to be in a same sex relationship? If I can be black and white and blatantly obvious I don’t think that is the case. That is not our biological make up, God created Adam & Eve! Children are created with one man and one woman.

    But at the same time do you take the view that yes made us to be with one man and one woman but we live in a fallen world and Gods love for us is so beyond our understanding he wants the best for us and he wants totally happiness and fulfilment and if a person can only find that in a same sex relationship then God will bless that. Yet at the same time do you think perhaps God is sad because some may not be living out what God really know best. (Thats the only way I can put it…)

    Keep up the good work.

  • Mairi Franks

    This is a very disappointing post. I totally agree with your comments that Christians need to discuss this topic in a loving way but this is all you have said for weeks now as reflected in your tweets. The lack of biblical substance in what you write actually acts as a defence for a conservative view which I am pretty sure wasn’t your intention.

    The Church has failed to support and disciple the LGBT community, and would accept that, but recognising this doesn’t mean the Bible has changed (Yesterday, Today and Forever, You are the same and You never change) or that God now condones sin or reviews what He defines as being sinful.

    1 Timothy 1
    ‘Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.’

    I don’t expect you to answer but for the benefit of other readers :

    As a ‘theologian’, in your view, do we now need to review our theology on other sins?

    As a ‘Christian’ – What kind of future society do you envisage with your abandoning of sound, biblical doctrine?

    As an ‘academic’ – where is your academic reasoning to the bold claims against conservative orthodoxy?

    Love and grace need spear-head these questions and the conversation, but the ultimate unloving act is to abandon truth and invite others to go with you.

  • Paul Robinson

    That may be your reading of it but I don’t think that is what she was saying. Plus I think that there are those of us who have come to hold a position of being for gay marriage who are heterosexual and married.

  • sarahocarroll

    I think what yaddamaster is saying is that, BY NATURE, heterosexual marriages repopulate the earth. That doesn’t mean that all heterosexual marriages result in children, or that ALL children are the result of a MARRIED man & women, but that, BY NATURE, more times then not….. That is why the government has chosen to privilege that union, that relationship, through tax breaks, etc.

  • Kim Fabricius

    Hi Rachel,

    You write: In my imagination when I contemplate Paul’s words to the Galations saying ‘there is no male or female, no Jew no or Gentile, no Slave of Free’ … I think he’d be adding no ‘Gay or Straight’ in the context of church today… As we are ‘all one in Christ’.

    Your case is actually stronger than you think! What Paul actually writes in Galatians 3:28 is that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no longer male and female.” Exegetically, the shift from “nor” to “and” is crucial. In the last conjunction, Paul carefully keeps the wording of Genesis 1:27, suggesting that while there are still gender differences in the New Creation, they are no longer determinative, no longer the last word – they turn out to be penultimate, not ultimate.

    Which brings us to a fundamental theological point: New Testament apocalyptic.The eschatological earthquake that is the Christ event, and the seismic ethical shifts it entails – this is missed by by the flat, predictable, and quite uninteresting order-of-creation theology represented by, say, yaddamaster, who thinks that because the Old Testament is “replete with the idea” of complementarity, it can be taken as read that Jesus and Paul simply assume it. But it can’t. Indeed, as Eugene Rogers observes, “taken to its logical conclusion, [it] effectively denies the Christ in whom all things are ‘summed up’ (Ephesians 1:10)”. (And btw, yaddamaster’s declaration that “sex evolved or was created for a single purpose – procreation” [my italics], well, wherever did he get such a baseless – and joyless and tendernessless – idea? A quick look at most mainline Church marriage services should disabuse him of this error.)

    Of course, human sexuality – and celibacy, a distinctly marginal state in the Old Creation but the telos of the New – is not the only issue that must be rethought in the light of the death and resurrection of Jesus. War and peace, in particular – the practices of violence, assumed in both the Old Testament and in (so-called) natural theology – becomes unthinkable for Christians in the light of Good Friday and Easter – again, as the witness of both Jesus and Paul make rather crystal (without, I hasten to add, a trace of insidious supersessionism). But that’s for another blogpost and thread.

    Suffice to say, for now, that simplistic appeals to the “Bible says” is not only hermeneutically disingenuous, it is insulting to believers who struggle to be as faithful to scripture as “evangelicals” but come to different interpretive conclusions, whether they self-identify as “liberals” (I definitely don’t) or not.

    I

  • lizzy_tu

    Vicky, this is an excellent start. Thanks.

    I’m happy to approach this in the way you ask. Please keep going!!

  • Leia Horton

    Vicky,

    You are my friend and I would be happy to dialogue with you on this subject. I have fond memories from your years in the states and watching you sing at various Christian venues, sitting around drinking coffee and listening to you and John discuss theology.

    As a conservative Christian, I disagree with your conclusion that you can Biblically and theologically endorse same sex marriage. However, I am certainly willing to engage in conversation with you concerning this issue in a spirit of love.

    I read your blog, watched all of the videos and look forward to hearing from you soon as to how and why you have come to this conclusion.

    Your friend,

    Leia Horton

    Orlando, FL

  • http://daveshrein.com Dave Shrein

    I’ve been following your blog for a while and I’m and interested in where you’re going with this. My theology, which I believe has been guided by the Holy Spirit, is that there are no verses in scripture which place a homosexual lifestyle equal to heterosexual lifestyle, and therefore, marriage.

    However, it is clear that this concern must be addressed. Primarily because of the massive amount of LGBT men and women who love Jesus and want to find their place in His church. I loved your phrase of “figuring out how the Church can live in that tension.” Living within the tension is where we will have to land. Choosing love first is the only way to find a true tolerance for varying interpretations of scripture, especially around an issue as monumental as this one. 

    Men and women who have many more years and breadth of experience in studying, knowing, understanding and teaching God’s Word provide sound Biblical reasoning in defending heterosexual relationships as God’s intention. New revelations in culture make it timely to propose any number of alternatives around any issue, but the timeliness cannot be taken into consideration as truth is not dependent upon the time of its discovery. 

    Starting off with love is wise.

    I’m anxious to read what you write next. 

  • diamondlarry

    I can see that from this post you have already decided to dismiss the
    Biblical definition of marriage. This is nothing more than a case of
    being more concerned with man’s opinion than God’s. To agree to disagree
    is nothing more than to compromise and I WILL NOT do so. Therefore, I
    can no longer follow this blog.

    The fear of man brings a snare, but he trusting Jehovah is set on high.
    Proverbs 29:25

  • Mark

    Go on, admit it. You think that gay marriage could lead to people marrying goats don’t you? Believe me, I have heard someone go that far in this argument. The whole “marriage is for reproduction” is seriously flawed. I guess if someone’s widowed 75 year-old grandad, who found new love with another 75 year-old, couldn’t get married, or a disabled couple who physically cannot reproduce, etc, etc. Where do your prejudices stop, and where does your reason begin?

  • lizzy_tu

    Speaking as someone who firmly believes homosexual practice is a sin according to the bible, I would disagree with you about Vicky’s approach. Just because she doesn’t want to start with the bible in discussing a topic does not mean she is dismissing it.

    Your attitude is lacking graciousness and respect.

  • Andrew Grey

    Thank you, Vicky. I highly commend your approach – the talking past each other debates are rarely cobstructive or convincing (and I’ve been involved in a fair few). Open discussion is a lot more helpful…though it really must involve true engagement and ways forward, rather than just lots of people saying what they think and everyone else nodding along politely.

    From my perspective as an LGBT Christian, the Pilling Report was the first time I felt that LGBT Christian testimony was being taken seriously. Statements about complementarity and the “meaning of marriage”, and same-sex relationships “falling short”, and it all comes across, frankly, as unsubstantiated and condescending. The message is that straight bishops know much better than LGBT people what the nature of our relationships is, and that, whether we realise it or not, we are missing out on the relationships God intended for us (despite giving us same-sex attractions). So I really commend once again the approach you’re taking – just a bit of empathising and imagination could really change the debate.

    If it’s of any interest, here are my thoughts on the Pilling Report in more detail: http://www.onreligion.co.uk/the-church-of-england-finally-taking-lgbt-anglicans-seriously/

  • http://daveshrein.com Dave Shrein

    I agree Lizzy. I would prefer that she begin loving God as the premise rather than loving others, but both are commands from Jesus. I have no problem with how she begins. It’s her blog and she can go at it however she wants :-)

  • RefiningFire

    Hi, new to this, Vicky, I’ve followed you on Twitter for a few months now. I am from an Evangelical fundamentalist background, although a little bit closer than the American Bible Belt – I’m from Wolverhampton, and I imagine that a few more of your UK followers would fit into the same profile. My view is, predictably, that the Bible teaches that sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful – the Bible clearly states this in numerous verses and this cannot be avoided. However, what is far more prominent in the writings of the Bible is God’s ability to turn a seemingly impossible situation around so that He is glorified, the primary example being the death and resurrection of Jesus. Part of the central theme of early Christianity in the New Testament is the concept of dying to self, sacrificing our wishes, desires and dreams, taking up the cross of Christ and giving Christ, via the Holy Spirit, use of our bodies for His glory. This is across the board for all who would seek to be identified with Christ. Therefore, Biblically, I cannot see how one can condone what is proscribed in the Word of God as being acceptable behaviour; however I can see how God’s love and the ministry of God’s Holy Spirit can work in the life of a believer with homosexual tendencies to live out a life that is pleasing to God..

  • yaddamaster

    let me know when you can follow a basic syllogism and I’ll type reaaaallly slow so you can follow along

  • grahambc1

    I do agree that any conversation needs to be done in
    the right tone, the feel of this post is one of prevarication. Very few
    Christians will dispute that love should be shown to all whether LGBT or not.
    You start this “journey” with a plea to support SSM but have still
    not put up one shred of evidence to support your repeated assertion that SSM is
    Biblically ok. You could have said what you have said in about one or two
    paragraphs.

    You also seem to suggest that being sexually
    active before finding a long term partner is acceptable which, if you mean
    this, opens another can of worms.

  • John Pike

    Many thanks for another first rate post. I think the issue of relationship is of paramount importance and an excellent way to start. 1 Corinthians 13 is surely a crucial passage in approaching these issues in a Christ-like way, and reflecting on the life and teaching of Jesus should also come before dealing with texts that do (or may) relate specifically to same-sex sexual expression. For those who think this is a cop-out and not addressing the biblical text, I beg to differ. The Bible does not begin with Leviticus 18:22 or 20:13, but with Genesis 1, in which we are told that we are made in the image of God (v.27). What exactly does this mean? Scholars have written many books on the subject, but one thing it surely includes is “made for relationship”, relationship with God and with our fellow human beings. Getting those two things right is, of course, the most important thing (Mat 22:36-39, Mark 12:28-30), and Jesus’ teaching in Mat 7:12 is also critical in reflecting on Vicky’s third question above: “SO IN EVERYTHING, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Unusually, Jesus expresses the Golden rule in its positive form, which is very much more demanding than the negative form, which is used by many other religions.
    I cannot think of an issue that the Church has got more wrong. To those outside we appear unloving, and research has repeatedly shown that our handling of this matter is one of the biggest blocks to faith for non-believers.
    That said, I will be very interested to see how Vicky addresses the biblical texts that are commonly cited in this debate, because I have yet to see a revisionist exegesis that I am fully persuaded by. I do not believe the biblical tests specifically address the issue of loving, faithful, LGB relationships and there are certainly many uncertainties in any hermeneutic. I also feel that Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, taken together, describe a situation that is typical rather than the only way of ordering relationships. They do not form a commandment and there are many other ways of ordering relationships that are also good.
    I don’t envy the Bishops (and especially ++Justin) in their duty. I was dismayed by their recent so-called “pastoral statement”, but they do need to consider the integrity of the worldwide Anglican Communion as well as their need to be just and sensitive towards the worldwide LGBT community. It is almost impossible to get this right.
    Given all the uncertainties over interpreting the biblical texts, my own strong support for equal marriage comes largely from the third (and somewhat neglected) pillar of Anglican theology…reason. If that means I am not an evangelical, so be it.

  • Revsimmy

    Vicky, I think you have chosen a great way to begin this series, away from the clobber texts, though I imagine you will get round to those eventually. I see that a number of people have prejudged your conclusions and determined that therefore there is no point in continuing the journey with you. This is a great shame but sadly to be expected. Even though I won’t necessarily agree with you, I still need to know how you and others get to where you are.

    My problem with this series is a personal one of timing. I have recently been planning my own piece(s) on this subject as I have been disturbed by much of the recent “discussion” from both sides, especially over the World Vision fiasco and the UK legal changes on marriage. I am now going to have to decide whether following these posts now is going to affect my own approach to the subject (there’s no point in reinventing your wheel after all).

  • Revsimmy

    Vicky has clearly billed this as a series, so it seems obvious to me we’re not going to be getting short soundbites and that it is going to take time and space to develop the arguments properly. Rereading what she has written I disagree that the same points could been made in two paragraphs. That’s like saying Romans could have been written in one chapter -so much of the subtlety would have been lost. To chastise her for not yet doing something she has said she’ll do on a later post seems distinctly odd. Perhaps it would be good to wait and see what Vicky actually says rather than jump to conclusions or put words into her mouth.

  • Revsimmy

    I didn’t read it that way at all. And does the strength (or otherwise) of Vicky’s argument depend on whether she is gay or straight? I don’t think so.

  • Phil Warburton

    The question have focussed around whether it is Ok for gay people to be married. I am not sure if we are clear what heterosexual marriage is. Indeed the church is very confused in terms of belief and practice. Someone in the posts below I think have declared divorce a sin but I am sure Jesus allows for divorce. To not allow divorce is unjust, violent and ungodly. But Jesus seems very clear about re-marriage yet most churches for good pastoral reasons allow for remarriage (even if they don’t take the services in the church) and it is rarely an issue of church discipline.

    So what is marriage for? I think Stanley Hauerwas is helpful here. I think he points to marriage being about mission. Marriage is a framework within which the story of Jesus is lived out in the hope of His good news. We have children in order to tell them the story of Jesus. We have children because we are hopeful of a new heaven and new earth in Christ. Those of us who cannot have children are to live out this hope and tell the same story in order to have spiritual children (sorry not a great phrase). Marriage is mission!

    If that is the case then can we conceive of a gay union that is similarly loving and missional? Could such a loving, missional union be blessed in the church? Not sure.

  • Paul

    This is an issue of scripture. Is the bible the infallible, inerrant World of God or not? (It makes sense to me that you decided not to ‘bring scripture into this.’) I voted for same sex marriage because we live in a secular society. Why should people who have not taken the name of Christ be forced to adhere to biblical truths. But we, the Church, HAVE taken the name of Christ. How dare we put our own feelings or logic above scripture. There’s a lot of things in the bible that I struggle with. But at one point, I had to decide that I either believe it is the Word of God or not. If I must approve and validate what I find truthful in scripture, then I really have nothing to stand on except my own opinion.

    and btw…..

    “In my imagination when I contemplate Paul’s words to the Galatians saying ‘there is no male or female, no Jew no or Gentile, no Slave of Free’ … I think he’d be adding no ‘Gay or Straight’ in the context of church today… As we are ‘all one in Christ'”

    This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Paul specifically, on several occasions, said that homosexuality is sin. He doesn’t mix words.

    We, who call ourselves Christians – the Church – those who have taken the name of Christ, must stand united on Christ and his Word. How are we to know whom we serve, whom is our true Lord, but by hearing him speak the Truth to us. He speaks to us through his Word.

  • Phil Warburton

    Hi Paul. If we take Jesus seriously then we must challenge Holy scripture sometimes. Indeed Jesus did so. We must be careful with words like infallible or inerrant. These are not biblical words – the Bible does not make this claim for itself. Indeed I would say that while Jesus was without sin I am not sure if he was literally infallible or never made mistakes. Did he never forget where he left his slippers? Did he never miss the nail and hit his finger in the workshop?

    Occasional the biblical authors forgot where they “left their slippers” This does not mean that scripture is not God’s Holy inspired Word, it is, but we cannot call the bible “inerrant”.

  • Phil

    The issue for me on the whole gay marriage debate is the way it is being done. I understand that some people have vastly different opinions – just like many issues in the church; baptism, the nature of the bread and wine in communion – and interpret the bible and tradition differently to support their own position. What I don’t understand and intensely dislike is the venom in this debate.

    No one would say that someone who doesn’t believe in transubstantiation isn’t a real Christian, or has ‘lost their way’, and no one who doesn’t practice infant baptism would deny someone who does is a Christian, so why does this issue bring about these claims? The hostility and abuse that is present in this debate appals me and makes me wonder if there is a bigger thing going on under the surface. I just don’t understand the level of rage.

  • Paul

    Thanks Phil. I think I understand what you’re saying…..sort of. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “..forgot where they left their slippers.” I’m not sure if you’re saying they made clerical errors or were wrong about the message God was telling them to write.The authors were definitely fallible and made errors in their life- they were in fact sinners. There may have even been mistakes like mis-spelling or non-essential things like that while writing under inspiration of the very Spirit of God. But the truths contained in their writings (again – inspired by the very Spirit of God) were indeed without error and infallible.
    Jesus did challenge scripture, but not the truth of what it was saying. He seemed to “raise the bar” to hold us accountable for our motivation for obeying. He was all about love. He was and IS love. He was always addressing the self-righteous when he seemed to be challenging scripture. For example, he destroyed the angry mob’s whole view of scripture when they were about to stone the woman caught in adultery (what about the man?…..but that’s another conversation). He wouldn’t let them punish her for her sin. He turned their eyes towards their own sinfulness – “which of you is without sin?” Then he asked her, ” where are your accusers? ….neither do I accuse you. Go and sin no more.” He didn’t excuse the sin, but he didn’t condemn her. He had come to take the penalty for all sin. ….for hers ……for the angry mobs……for all sinners.
    But Jesus had to come and die to forgive the sins of the whole world. This is statement to the severity of sin and it’s affect. God hates sin because it hurts and brings death to the people he loves so much. He loves all of us (including me – and only I know the hideous depth of my own sinful heart.) He loves gay people. But I believe scripture is very clear, from beginning to end, that homosexuality is sin.
    My original point is that we either except the Bible as truth or not. We can’t pick and choose what seems reasonable to us. If we do that, then we really don’t believe any of it. There are only parts that affirm our own beliefs.

  • Alastair J Roberts

    Probably worth bearing in mind that Stanley Hauerwas has spoken quite directly to the issues of same-sex marriage:

    “The problem with debates about homosexuality is they have been devoid of any linguistic discipline that might give you some indication what is at stake. [The denomination of] Methodism, for example, is more concerned with being inclusive than being the church. We do not have the slightest idea what we mean by being inclusive other than some vague idea that inclusivity has something to do with being accepting and loving. Inclusivity is, of course, a necessary strategy for survival in what is religiously a buyers’ market. Even worse, the inclusive church is captured by romantic notions of marriage. Combine inclusivity and romanticism and you have no reason to deny marriage between gay people.

    “When couples come to ministers to talk about their marriage ceremonies, ministers think it’s interesting to ask if they love one another. What a stupid question! How would they know? A Christian marriage isn’t about whether you’re in love. Christian marriage is giving you the practice of fidelity over a lifetime in which you can look back upon the marriage and call it love. It is a hard discipline over many years.

    “The difficulty, therefore, is that Christians, when they approach this issue, no longer know what marriage is. For centuries, Christians married people who didn’t know one another until the marriage ceremony, and we knew they were going to have sex that night. They didn’t know one another. Where does all this love stuff come from? They could have sex because they were married.

    “Now, when marriage becomes a mutually enhancing arrangement until something goes wrong, then it makes no sense at all to oppose homosexual marriages. If marriage is a calling that makes promises of lifelong monogamous fidelity in which children are welcomed, then we’ve got a problem.”

  • Andy

    I think this is a very good post, and hope people take the time to read it, rather than just just waiting for the opportunity to belittle people.
    To argue that the purpose of marriage is childbirth, & as nature intended, is overly simplistic. Not all heterosexual couples can conceive, while same sex couples can have children, either biologically or through adoption or fostering.
    Homosexuality is also extremely common in nature … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animals_displaying_homosexual_behavior

  • MyGoatyBeard

    Necrophilia occurs in penguins. Polygamy in many species. Are you suggesting these are benchmarks for godly behaviour?

    And homosexual couples can’t have children biologically. One of them can via a donor.

  • MyGoatyBeard

    I will certainly listen to you Vicky. And I will do as you request in attempting to get inside the experience of homosexuals. Thank you for a stimulating post.

    I really do hope that the standard of thinking and theology you provide is better than what I’ve seen so far!

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  • Phil Warburton

    Thanks for this post. I agree some of the venom on this is very worrying. And your list of things that would not divide Christians in the same way today would once have terribly divided Christians. The abuse given and received regarding transubstantiation and infant baptism would have been just as bad. Perhaps we can learn from the mistakes of our past

  • Phil Warburton

    Thanks Paul. But surely we all choose what seems reasonable. You and I do not follow all scriptural commands because they are not all Christian commands even though they are biblical. We do not follow every God given practice because they do not help us follow Christ.

  • Phil Warburton

    Thanks Alastair. Yes challenging isn’t he – to all of us!

    I was referring to an essay in his book, “Sanctify Them in the Truth.” He seems to say that the burden of proof is with gay people but says of Christian gay friends of his:

    “They are not promiscuous. The intimacy they share is orientated to upbuilding their lives for the good of their community. Just as we can discriminate between different kinds of killing through analogous comparisons, I do not see why we cannot see this kind of relationship analogous to what Christians mean by marriage.”

  • Phil Warburton

    We read scripture through the lens of the person and work of Christ and trust that the New Testament writers got Jesus right.

    The question is how might that help us in this debate? What does the person and work of Christ tell us about sexuality, gender, sin, salvation and marriage…. Is not first and foremost about what Romans 1 says. Though that is of course is an important part of the conversation.

    Therefore scriptures while all God inspired some are not all as equal as others.

  • http://www.thatjonathanriggs.com/ Jonathan Riggs

    Kudos to you, Vicky for giving such careful consideration and heart to a difficult, but necessary conversation.

  • Tom

    Mark, the marriage and reproduction thing is not flawed. It is really one of the main points of contention.

    Morality and relationships are, in fact, up to you. The church doesn’t really get into the nitty gritty of such things – if you want to forge a particular relationship with someone, go ahead. No one is (or, no one should) prevent you from committing to someone in whatever words you wish, living together, having a party to kick things off, doing what you want sexually.

    But marriage is a specific, narrow exception, because of heterosexual sex. It is the peculiar time when societies, and seemingly God, get very interested in who you’re having (or going to be having) sex with. We all gather to witness you making your vows, the vicar tells people that NO ONE should mess with the relationship, and everyone agrees to support and uphold the promises that have been made. There very strong rules about not being closely related.

    Why? Because children might result, and they need to be safe, loved and provided for. This is the main purpose of marriage – that the couple swear before everybody to take responsibility for the potential products of their sexual union.

    Now, historically, very few people could possibly know they were infertile until marriage, and also very few old people got married. So the tiny minority who fell into this category would get married, and I suppose everyone went along with it because it’s all rather lovely and a celebration of their relationship, and commitment to keep each other company and all the rest of it. It also gives an official recognition in terms of legal status, property and so on.

    But as a society, in fact Robert is absolutely correct. It may sound shocking but I don’t particularly care if two people who are guaranteed infertile divorce. It’s sad for them, perhaps it’s sad for their families, but it is not destructive for society until children get involved.

    The ceremony is still a lovely way to cement, celebrate and give thanks for their relationship. I would argue this should absolutely be available to gay couples. We don’t NEED to know what they’re doing in the bedroom (as we do in marriage) because it won’t result in conception. But that is why marriage is about the only time in stolid officialdom or ethereal liturgy that sex is directly mentioned. Fleshy, sticky, real sex, because look people: Bill and Angela are going to be DOING IT, OK? I know you didn’t want to think about it, but you have to, because of what might happen as a result.

    So, has the church failed homosexuals and should we welcome them, trample out persecution and so on? Absolutely. Should they be able to have a party to celebrate their love, and sign some documents affording them equal legal status to married couples? Yes, very much so. Should they have a blessing in church? I’m actually coming round to the idea, but as I say it would have to ignore mention of sex.

    But should we call that arrangement exactly the same thing (the word matrimony essentially refers to “the state of being a mother”), and insist that it is exactly the same thing, as historic, based-around-the-likelihood-of-having-children marriage? No. And as I said before, I don’t even see quite why you would want to. There are surely days when, thirty years on, many couples are fed up with each other and feel like moving on. Frankly, why shouldn’t they? Why does Jesus condemn divorce so much? Because of the kids (almost certainly, although I can’t speak for Him). If you’re never going to have kids, why make that commitment? Why not say “we’ll stay together unless it really doesn’t work” rather than “we’ll stay together until we die”?

    The reason people want it is a desire for equality. They want to prove that they love each other the same as heterosexual people, and it doesn’t feel quite equal enough until it’s called marriage. In a bizarre twist of fate, when the majority of the Western world now says “we don’t need a piece of paper to prove we love each other”, gay couples say “we must have a piece of paper to prove we love each other!”. The fact is, not only was it never about the piece of paper, it was frankly never about whether you loved each other or not either – it was about the kids. But the Disney-trademarked “twoo wuv” is now the ultimate arbiter of all moral authority, reason be damned.

    With final regard to your point about infertile couples, there is a strong Biblical precedent (seven separate cases – possibly more than any other miracle?!) for God answering their prayers miraculously. There is also some very effective fertility treatment. So far, I have never heard any homosexual couple claim that God has answered their prayer and allowed them to conceive.

  • Jen

    Theocentrist, evangelicals disagree on a number of things, but still call themselves evangelicals. For example, one could argue that ordaining women goes against Scripture (I Cor 14:33-35, I Tim 2:11-12), yet some evangelical denominations ordain women while others do not. You seem to have arbitrarily drawn a line in the sand when it comes to LGBT theology. Sorry, I am not a “liberal Protestant” (whatever that even means.) I am an evangelical and I support same-sex marriage.

  • Christopher Page

    8 years ago I started with the texts and came to the conclusion that there was room for Christians of good conscience to come to different conclusions about the application of those biblical texts commonly viewed as dealing with same-gender relationships: http://stphilipvictoria.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/BiblicalTextsOnHomosexuality.pdf

  • http://theocentrist.wordpress.com/ theocentrist

    Jen – I could be wrong on the line, but it’s a line many draw, and it’s not arbitrary. This is different from other intra-evangelical debates (Calvinist vs Arminian, inerrancy vs infallibility, etc.). It’s akin to saying a serious, self-destructive sin is actually good. Imagine saying “Adultery is meaningful and God-ordained, so long as it’s done in a loving way.” Women’s ordination isn’t the same category. Even a very conservative non-egalitarian evangelical wouldn’t put the “sin” of ordaining women on level with homosexuality, if they would call women’s ordination a sin at all. In intra-evangelical debates, either side could say “I see where you’re coming from, but I don’t think the text means that, this passage over here says…” In affirming gay sex, there is no “I see where you’re coming from” in the exegesis. There are better Scriptural answers, as people like Peter Ould expound.

    Writers on what evangelicalism is include David Bebbington, Mark Noll, Roger Olson, and D.M. Loyd-Jones. And as Paul Robinson helpfully clarified in his reply to me, evangelicalism doesn’t equal Christianity. There are new terms being thrown around too like “Post-evangelical” and “Progressive Christianity” that may be helpful for the current shifts. Anyway, thanks and happy Easter!

  • EdinburghEye

    “I personally have been working for years to change the tone and approach within the church to our LGBT friends. … Same sex attraction is still a natural aberration and does nothing to contribute to the furthering of the species.”

    So, not that interested in changing the tone to your LGBT acquaintances? Still wanting to make clear to them that they are your inferiors?

    A same-sex marriage, while all warm and fuzzy, does nothing to provide a stable environment for raising a family – because they can’t have children.

    *sigh* Yes, because adoption is just impossible and never happens. Right?

    But marriage in scripture is so much more – it’s the framework by which a man and a woman enter into a covenant with God to ‘hopefully’ produce and raise children and their children’s children to honor, worship, and serve God – to many generations.

    Which is why infertile women and men are legally banned from marriage: no woman past the menopause can be allowed to enter a “Christian” marriage, nor can any man who’s had a vasectomy or is otherwise infertile. Because marriage is only, in your eyes, for interfertile couples: and adoption, stepchildren, AID, and fertility treatments, just can’t happen. Those children, in your eyes, don’t count or don’t exist.

    What gets me about the supposed “Christian” attitude to marriage is how you are required by it to ignore and dismiss so many children as either unwanted or unable to “honour, worship and serve God” – because their parents either adopted them – which you evidently think means they’re not really being raised – or they were conceived in the “wrong” way – a lesbian couple who make use of donor sperm to conceive.

  • EdinburghEye

    Because children might result, and they need to be safe, loved and provided for. This is the main purpose of marriage – that the couple swear before everybody to take responsibility for the potential products of their sexual union.

    So, in your view, children adopted by same-sex couples, children who are conceived via fertility treatment, stepchildren – those children, in your view, don’t need to be “safe, loved, and cared for”? So their parents, in your view, can be properly banned from marriage?

    Just checking.

  • EdinburghEye

    Where same-sex couples are legally banned from marriage, is it your theological position that God will therefore regard a loving, faithful, monogamous couple as “impure” because the secular state has refused to permit them to marry?

    Just checking, because in relatively recent history – within the last couple of hundred years – there were states in the US where mixed-sex couples, striving to be loving, faithful, and monogamous – were legally banned from marriage. Were those mixed-sex couples “impure” just because they weren’t permitted a legally-recognised marriage?

  • EdinburghEye

    Then can you cite me chapter and verse where Jesus specifically says that two men – or two women – loving and marrying each other is sin?

    I’ve asked many evangelical Christians this. They’ve never been able to find for me any verse – anywhere – that has Jesus denouncing homosexuality. Yet they’re convinced, despite the lack of textual support for their beliefs, that Jesus was a homophobe just like them.

  • EdinburghEye

    The question is, then, why would Christians support government acton that ensures some children are disprivileged because of the status of their parents?

    Why would Christians think that some children should be treated as less worthy of that support than others – because their parents are a same-sex couple?

    Regardless of whatever arguments you can make that these children should not exist – that LGBT people shouldn’t be allowed to adopt, that fertility treatment should be banned to anyone not in a married heterosexual arrangement, that women who make private arrangements to use donor sperm should have their children taken away at birth (or aborted, why not, if your argument is that these children shouldn’t exist…) – regardless of any of these arguments:

    Same-sex couples have children. Children exist who have same-sex parents, and only the most totalitarian abuse of power would ensure that no such children ever existed. (Even banning same-sex couples from adopting children merely ensures that when a child is adopted by a same-sex couple only one of that couple can be the legal parent, whereas a child adopted by a mixed-sex couple can have two legal parents…)

    So, the question you and others should be asking yourselves: if marriage is about providing a stable, safe environment for raising children, how do you justify your argument that some children don’t deserve that environment because of who their parents are?

  • EdinburghEye

    On the other hand, it does seem that evangelical Christians are in far
    more life-threatening situations than LGBT people, considering a global
    scope.

    Oh really?

    There are seven countries – soon to be eight, Brunei has just announced a change to the law – where being gay is a crime for which the penalty is death. Those are Iran, Mauritania,Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, the United Arab Emirates,Yemen, and Nigeria. These are countries in which private, consensual sex between adults can get those adults executed. In which countries is being Christian – privately, quietly, in your own home – a crime for which you can be executed?

    There are seventy-six countries round the world in which consensual sexual activity in private between two men (and sometimes between two women) is a crime for which the couple can be tried and jailed. In which countries is being Christian – privately, quietly, in your own home – a crime for which you can be sent to jail?

    In Uganda, if someone finds out a person is gay, and they don’t report the gay person to the police, that not-reporting is a crime for which the person who didn’t report can be tried, convicted, and sentenced to a multi-year jail sentence. In which country is that true of Christians?

    In many more countries round the world – including Russia and China – being openly gay, while not technically illegal, is regarded as sufficient provocation for abuse which can lead to being killed – and the police do nothing because the police agree that it’s perfectly reasonable for the mob to want to beat a gay person to death.

    What you are asserting – that evangelical Christians have it worse globally than LGBT people – is just plain false.

    Also: in many states in the US, being openly gay means your employer can legally dismiss you. In which states in the US is it true that being openly Christian means your employer can legally dismiss you? (Don’t cite the CEO of Mozilla; he was not dismissed for being Christian, he was dismissed because he had publicly endorsed a hate campaign against gay people.) We’re not talking about gay activism: but about the employer finding out that Mary is married to Joan, and telling Mary “you’re a lesbian, you’re sacked”. In parts of the US, that’s legal.

  • Tom

    No. But those children have either a) already been failed by their biological parents (usually; orphancy being so rare in the West) or b) have specifically been conceived with much careful thought and planning, of the sort that has only become available in the last fifty years (what I think about the morality of assisted conception is for another discussion…).

    Matrimony is a specific contract for couples who may, in theory at least, conceive without really “trying”. It forces people to consider the consequences of their pleasure-seeking actions. You are right to call for some kind of commitment if a couple are going to act as parents for a child who already exists, but why should this involve a ceremony that specifies sexual union, as marriage does? You could ask “what about couples who can’t have sex?” to which I would ask in return, why not “marry” people who are good friends, or siblings…? Thus we head down the path of “what precisely constitutes marriage”; when you start chipping away at it, you realise that one layer was protecting the layer underneath and, now exposed, the need for any specific component begins to crumble. Now, you may be happy with this, but it looks a lot more to me like destroying marriage than fortifying it.

    It is my opinion that children are preferably raised by their biological male and female parents; the sex organs are the only bodily system with which we have only been endowed with half. Caring for orphans is the worthiest of undertakings (indeed, one third of pure and faultless religion), but the fact that both gay couples and single people may meet this need does not require us to change the contracts surrounding how they are conceived in the first place.

    I do see where you’re coming from, but I think it’s a little disingenuous given our current culture surrounding love and relationships. Marriage is massively on the decline, largely because it has been divorced from procreation (or rather, because the social pressure to refrain from sex outside of marriage has disappeared). I cannot believe that it is really your opinion that the primary tragedy of opposition to SSM is that it fails to protect potential children of gay couples?

    In fact, many gay couples, even before marriage, are turning to surrogates in the case of male couples and sperm donors in the case of women. It would be interesting to see a ratio of adopted vs. artificially conceived children (or rather, children deliberately created to be raised by non-biological parents). I suspect that when homosexual marriage becomes more widespread, and it becomes more commonplace to request assisted conception, it will actually result in more children being raised by non-biological parents. Why should more gay people naturally want to adopt than straight?

    You may be content with that. And I think it’s all part of the debate that is very much worth having. What I’m trying to point out (as well as expressing my personal opinion) is that there are so many elements to marriage, how society has developed it, valued it, and the ripples that changing it could potentially cause. For reformers to sweep in, see something they don’t like and say “let’s just change it, cos of equality, yeah?”, albeit riding on a wave of long awaited liberation from persecution and discrimination, is just not quite good enough.

    As GK Chesterton says, if a fellow comes across a fence and says, “I don’t see why this should be here, let’s remove it”, the very last thing you should do is let him remove it, until he understands why it has been put there. When he can explain why it’s there, you can have a debate as to whether it still has use. In my opinion, despite the immense amount of heat, there has not been enough light in the debate, and the reasons given for abolishing the heterosexual exclusivity of marriage have usually been focused on emotional appeals (“how can you deny their love!”) and the obvious negatives – prejudice, homophobia, heteronormativity and so on – rather than presenting and then critiquing a nuanced argument for the status quo. When people speak as if the institution will be unchanged, just a bit more accessible, it really makes me think they haven’t thought through any of these issues, let alone all.

    The sad fact is that, given this is now a done deal, it was actually far too late. If homosexuals are to marry, I wish they would have been given the chance back when the stock of marriage was still high throughout society. We are now squabbling about semantics and scriptural interpretations so that a few people are not left feeling excluded; the protective effect on children has steadily dissolved over the last few decades. If we could have gotten this out of the way 60 years ago, gay and straight people could have stood together to defend marriage, rather than fighting now over the tattered remains.

  • Mark

    Firstly, you say the reproduction thing is not a flawed argument because “it is one of the main points of contention.” Simply being a main point of contention does not make it not flawed.

    Secondly, the tentative link to rules regarding not being closely related, obviously points to the fact that offspring of such people can have diseases or abnormalities. That’s a fair check to do in case of offspring, but are you saying that means the couple *must* be able to reproduce, or perhaps be capable, or there might be a slight chance, and anything else is out the window?
    A silly analogy might be that in a particular english religion, in order to get married, you must not be Welsh. You see this as “you must be English.” But not being Welsh can also encompass every other nationality by simple logic.
    So, the rule is there in case of the potential of offspring and covers that eventuality, not that they can’t reproduce. It sounds to me like a “rule” that can be interpreted to fit an argument, but there is a logic hole which makes the argument invalid.

    I must say, I have never heard a church official or a theologian actually use that excuse, and they probably don’t because it has no substance.

    I have said in reply to Vicky in a previous blog, that she has her work cut out on this one, because of the biblical texts and obviously for reasons you give.

    It’s because of the biblical texts etc that I get confused about a few things, such as a gay couple’s desire for a church wedding (which you allude to), and the fact there are gay clergy.
    On more of the deeper things about this, maybe it’s the gay clergy who should be arguing points, and not me, but the reproduction one does get me going.

  • Tom

    Children of same-sex parents exist because we have put certain provisions in place. They do not exist inevitably. In fact, as SSM has only existed for the last few weeks, the existence of “children of same sex parents” (which is a somewhat dishonest phrase, they are never biologically children of both parents) is testament to the fact that we have undermined the importance of marriage.

    I have mentioned this on twitter in the lead-up to recent events: if homosexual couples really believe in the importance and necessity of marriage, why is it that almost none of them were openly gay but living in chaste obedience until such a time as the law changed? The first picture I saw in a newspaper was of a couple of men with, I think, five children, all via surrogacy. How can these men insist, in an honest and coherent way, that they see marriage as vital to the raising of children? If you say “it is vitally important to have a certificate of insurance before driving a car”, and then get in a car and drive without a certificate, what does that say to others? It may indeed be unfair that you were excluded from applying in the first place, but petitioning for that change is the action of integrity in this situation.

  • Tom

    Children of same-sex parents exist because we have put certain provisions in place. They do not exist inevitably. In fact, as SSM has only existed for the last few weeks, the existence of “children of same sex parents” (which is a somewhat dishonest phrase, they are never biologically children of both parents) is testament to the fact that we have undermined the importance of marriage.

    I have mentioned this on twitter in the lead-up to recent events: if homosexual couples really believe in the importance and necessity of marriage, why is it that almost none of them were openly gay but living in chaste obedience until such a time as the law changed? The first picture I saw in a newspaper was of a couple of men with, I think, five children, all via surrogacy. How can these men insist, in an honest and coherent way, that they see marriage as vital to the raising of children? If you say “it is vitally important to have a certificate of insurance before driving a car”, and then get in a car and drive without a certificate, what does that say to others? It may indeed be unfair that you were excluded from applying in the first place, but petitioning for that change is the action of integrity in this situation.

  • EdinburghEye

    Thanks for your long and thoughtful reply.

    I think you’re wrong, of course – the notion that marriage is being “redefined” because the ban on same-sex couples marrying is being lifted is clearly mistaken: the idea that marriage is “on the decline” is also wrong.

    As GK Chesterton says, if a fellow comes across a fence and says, “I don’t see why this should be here, let’s remove it”, the very last thing you should do is let him remove it, until he understands why it has been put there.

    Quite. But though anti-gay marriage campaigners have tried for years and decades, they have never been able to explain why there should be a fence preventing same-sex couples from marrying. They come up with fancies and prejudices and unfounded claims – but never, ever, any reason that stands up in a court of law.

    Why should more gay people naturally want to adopt than straight?

    Because mixed-sex couples can conceive accidentally. A same-sex couple who decides to have children is making a deliberate, settled committment out of a passionate desire to have a child. For many same-sex couples this has led to the decision that they should fulfil their desire by the means of giving a child – or children – a better life after having been let down by their biological parents. This is the probable reason why studies tend to show that same-sex couples tend to make better parents than mixed-sex couples – more thought and more long-term planning has gone into the decision.

  • EdinburghEye

    So your view is those children shouldn’t exist so they don’t matter?

    Okay.

  • EdinburghEye

    So your view is those children shouldn’t exist so they don’t matter?

    Okay. Then you can hardly claim that your primary concern is for the welfare of children: it plainly isn’t.

  • Tom

    Thanks for your reply Mark. I like to give thorough answers (as you can see!) but I don’t have long now, I’ll just respond with a couple of points:

    Firstly, a plea – can we (all) scrap the sixth form debating buzzwords that are infuriatingly ubiquitous on the internet at the moment, “flawed” and “invalid”. A flawed diamond can still sparkle, and “invalid” is a computer response to an errant click – it forces things into black and white. We are humans, we live in a world of shades of grey (for want of a better term!), and arguments can be strong, weak, convincing, unconvincing, strong yet ultimately unconvincing… you get the picture. “Invalid” is only a short stretch from “does not compute”! You may not be convinced with my argument, and I’d love to hear why, but effectively telling me you have discounted my argument entirely because you feel you have found a logical error is not a human way to continue a discussion. It is also almost useless when it comes to matters of morality – you could make a “valid” argument for extreme Darwinism, infanticide and so on – it doesn’t make it right. In fact, at some points in comes dangerously close to endorsing immoral acts, just because they are “valid choices”, as if cold logic should be everyone’s ring master.

    With regard to blood relatives, the necessity for reproduction etc: no, I am not saying there must be a possibility of reproduction. What I am saying though is that the whole raison d’etre of marriage is about the possibility of reproduction, and that, almost out of politeness and recent advances in life expectancy and diagnostic ability, we have not barred barren couples from it simply because we know something of their frailty. But this is very different to deliberately changing marriage to include extra couples who by definition will never be able to conceive sexually.

    By your logic, in terms of marriage being a flexible commodity, we should accept incestuous couples providing they can prove they have been sterilised? That too makes sense to me – why exclude them, when technology has allowed us to overcome the historic consequences of such a union? But my answer would be the same: the institution was not designed for them. On what basis do you exclude them? “God says so”…?

  • LauraB1186

    I understand that’s a hard situation to be in (huge understatement I know), but I believe if a Christian person wants to please God they will do so. Jesus spoke about giving to Caesar what was Caesar’s, meaning to pay the taxes and to uphold the laws of that country. God’s thoughts are higher than ours and He can and will give the grace for a person to wait. It’s a complicated issue for sure, but I think if God is for it, no one can stop it. I just think we let our emotions and hormones and own experiences dictate what Scripture says and it’s not to be played around with. He is still good, and he is still God despite what injustice is going on.

  • Mark

    Vicky will tell you that your use of “black and white” should really be “binary”. That’s the buzzword now.

  • Alastair J Roberts

    A few points are probably worth making at this juncture:

    First, we need to ask what it is about our cultural position as citizens of Western post-sexual revolution rich capitalist liberal democracies that supposedly gives us some privileged purchase upon Christian wisdom and ethics and the telos of human nature and of marriage that we would think to override many, many hundreds of years of Christian teaching and justify homosexual relations. Does our society really have such a profoundly healthy and enlightened view and practice of sexual relations that it should afford us a superior ethical vantage point? As if this weren’t enough to justify homosexual relations, to go further and declare such relations to be marital, to be the equivalent of those between a man and a woman, is a radical step even among those societies where homosexual relations have been tolerated or celebrated.

    Second, there is, frankly, a lot of nonsense in this thread about the supposed comparison between infertile marriages and same-sex marriages. The homology of such situations apparently justifies same-sex marriage. The logic of this argument, however, is akin to one that would claim that, because some football games can end in goalless draws, with no realistic attempts on goal, games played on pitches altogether without goalposts and nets should also count as professional football games too.

    Third, focusing upon the way that individual male-female marriages play out is an incredibly myopic perspective. Instead, we need to think about the reality of male-female sexual union that all such marriages have at their heart. The sexual union between men and women is the reason why we are all here today. The sexual union between men and women is the primary reason why we have sexes to begin with. The sexual union between men and women is the primary reason why sex itself exists. The sexual union between men and women brings together the two halves of the human race and is a personal bond out of which new human bonds can naturally come into existence. The sexual union between men and women is the primary source of existence and meaning for a host of human realities—the sexes, sexual relations, broader gender relations, the natural union between parents and their children, the bonds of blood, the passage of the generations, indeed, it is in such unions that human beings themselves find the source of their existence. That society should want to celebrate and protect such unions and to ensure that, as much as possible, they take place in a secure and committed context is perfectly sensible. Infertile couples marrying helps to maintain these norms and strengthens the institution of marriage by holding together things that need to be held together.

    Let’s be very clear about this: the reality of sexual relations between two persons of the same-sex, no matter how emotionally significant it may be for those engaging in them, lacks all of the broader human and natural significance of sexual relations between men and women mentioned above. Only by focusing so narrowly upon individual sexual relations as emotional bonds, detached from all of this larger reality, can we be made to forget the epic and profound difference in human and natural significance that exists between relations between persons of the same sex and those between men and women.

    Fourth, adoption is the attempt to repair a broken situation as much as is possible. It occurs when the ideal and norm of the unity of biological (genetic and gestational), social, and legal parenthood has been fractured and a child has to be moved from a negative situation to a healthier one, even though that healthier one is not the ideal of being raised in a loving and committed setting by both of one’s biological parents. Such a situation is always partially broken, but it is restored in most respects. Children being raised by parents in same-sex marriages are, by definition, always in a broken situation. Every child in a same-sex couple headed family is always separated from at least one, if not both, of their biological parents. Every child in a same-sex couple headed family is always without either a father or a mother within that context. Marriage exists in part to maintain the bond between parents and their natural children and to prevent the unity of biological, legal, and social parenthood from being dissolved. However, same-sex marriage normalizes just such a dissolution.

    Finally, why is sex so central to marriage anyway? Why do we expect that married couples should sleep together? Why should society have any interest in the fact that a couple is having sex that it should socially authorize and celebrate such relations in marriage? As Bertrand Russell observed, ‘it is through children alone that sexual relations become of importance to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution.’ Marriage exists as a social institution primarily because sexual relations between men and women tend to produce children. If sex did not have this capacity, one could imagine occasional social celebrations of committed friendship bonds, but these would not be an expected norm, just a choice that some could make.

    The sexual relationship between a man and a woman is the relationship that can produce their relationship with third persons, as their children arise from their sexual union. Their private sexual union can naturally have profound public consequences. This isn’t the case for couples of the same sex, though. Why should society celebrate the fact that two men are in a sexual relationship? Why shouldn’t we just throw ‘marriage’ open to all committed couples, whether or not they are relating genitally? Why not just reinvent marriage as a sort of fictive kinship between two persons? It seems to me that, by retaining the importance of sexual relations, there is an attempt here to suggest that homosexual relations are of equal significance to those between a man and a woman. This position is, with all due respect, patently ridiculous.

  • Robert Rea

    Neither your point nor Yaddamaster’s invalidates my objection to the general argument though. Which apparently is that marriage can be sanctified even when there is no possibility of children – but only in cases of which the Church approves (such as infertile couples). This is illogical, and I think a cover for the actual objection to gay marriage.

  • EdinburghEye

    Interesting. So, in your view, between 1619 and 1865, slaves in Southern US needed to “uphold the laws of the country” and ask for grace to wait until – after 246 years of a ban on legal marriage – they would be allowed to marry legally and thus – in your view – not make themselves “impure” by having sex outside marriage?

    Fred Clark at Slacktivist repeatedly points out that the whole thorny tangle of white right-wing Christianity in the US, which today expresses itself in opposition to safe legal abortion and to gay marriage, is theologically and historically rooted in the contortions that white propertied Christians in slave states had to put themselves through to convince themselves that it was perfectly Christian to own and use other human beings. That the origin of it derives from having to separate “holiness” from “love”.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a clear example in action, though.

  • http://theocentrist.wordpress.com/ theocentrist

    I think my claim is still correct, but I’m afraid you missed my main point. First, the evangelical-persecution tracker Voice of the Martyrs lists 53 nations as being hostile or government-restricted to Christians – China and the whole Middle East included. Yes, evangelicals are killed for being who they are. I personally knew one who was murdered, and two others forced to flee the country for fear of their lives. Besides these, most countries still have significant oppression of evangelicals in particular – Russia and many South American countries for example ban them from public office or prevent them from getting jobs. Pew Research names Christianity as the world’s most persecuted religion, and Open Doors estimates 180 Christians are killed every month for their faith (includes evangelical and non-evangelical Christians).

    On the US, I admit I don’t know of any state where it is legal to fire someone for their faith. It’s federally illegal – I assume it’s the same for states. But in practice it happens, like Craig James being fired from Fox Sports. You said that the Mozilla CEO wasn’t fired for being Christian, but for endorsing a ‘hate campaign’ against gays. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t he merely donate money to a proposed traditional marriage amendment in California? That’s not a hate campaign. But if one’s faith is re-defined to be hate, then someone *can* be fired in the US for their faith.

    But “Who’s the bigger victim” debating when BOTH are victims is silly in the end. It’s impossible to quantify – how do you measure emotional trauma or familial rejection? Or numbers? By sheer numbers evangelicals are more persecuted than gays, but by percentage numbers, perhaps gays are more persecuted (or perhaps not – it would take more research and number crunching than I’m willing to do, so maybe I’d even allow you that).

    The important fact is this: many of the SAME countries that restrict homosexuality ALSO restrict Christianity. Which goes with *my original point* that evangelicals can sympathize with the ostracism and ‘otherness’ that gays experience.

    In countries like the US, the major fronts of discrimination gays and evangelicals face is… each other! Evangelicals claim discrimination based on LBGT pressure, and LBGT claim discrimination from evangelical pressure. Two embattled minority groups court powerful allies to change society to how THEY want it, and harm each other in the process. Maybe we can learn something from this? And open more constructive avenues of dialogue than calling each other haters.

  • EdinburghEye

    First, the evangelical-persecution tracker Voice of the Martyrs lists 53 nations as being hostile or government-restricted to Christians – China and the whole Middle East included.

    Right, so that’s far less than the 76 countries in which being gay is illegal, and countries beyond that in which being gay may technically not be illegal but can still get you killed. Trying to claim that evangelical Christians have it worse than gay people is simply false.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t he merely donate money to a proposed traditional marriage amendment in California? That’s not a hate campaign

    No: he donated money to the Prop8 campaign in California. The Prop8 campaign explicitly asserted, over and over and over again, that lesbian and gay people can’t be trusted with children: that being gay is “caused” by being molested as a child, and that gay and lesbian people want “access” to children in order to molest them and make more lesbian and gay people. This was a hate campaign. That’s what the new CEO of Mozilla donated to. Now, granted, he might well have thought better of it in the years since, but then you’d think he’d be savvy enough to know that he needed to promptly express his regret and his apologies for having donated to a hate campaign. I will give him credit for at least not being hypocritical in order to keep his job, but CEOs can’t afford to be controversial figures.

    But “Who’s the bigger victim” debating when BOTH are victims is silly in the end.

    Particularly when you know you are wromg, don’t you? There is no country where gay people have tried to pass the “Anti Evangelical Act”: but in Uganda, and in Russia, American evangelical Christians have promoted changes to the law to persecute and imprison gay people. But your acknowledgement that you were silly to try to play the “victim game” is enough.

    The important fact is this: many of the SAME countries that restrict homosexuality ALSO restrict Christianity.

    Sometimes. Not always. For example, Uganda is a Christian country: and their Easter message this year included a Bishop’s sermon that parents should turn their gay children over to the authorities to be tried, convicted, and jailed for ten years or life.

    That’s important. Where are the Christians condemning this persecution?

    Which goes with *my original point* that evangelicals can sympathize with the ostracism and ‘otherness’ that gays experience.

    Only when they admit they themselves are promoting ostracism and “otherness” and, you know, stop doing it.

    Evangelicals claim discrimination based on LBGT pressure,

    Yes, but only lying whiners who claim that having to treat LGBT people like human beings is somehow “discrimination”.

    Whereas LGBT people are suffering actual discrimination due to Christians in the US who can and do fire them from their jobs, force a woman to die alone in hospital because they don’t recognise her relationship with her wife, and deny same-sex parents the right to adoption as a couple – ensuring that the children of same-sex couples suffer actual discrimination by not being allowed to have two legal parents.

    Contrast this with the evangelical Christian claims that they’re being “discriminated against” because their public homophobia is no longer considered respectable: because a baker or photographer can be made to treat all of his customers equally. This is not discrimination any more than white owners of Southern diners experienced “discrimination” when they were required to let all of their customers sit at the lunch counter.

  • http://phillsacre.me.uk/ Phill Sacre

    Hi Vicky (Catching up after a week away so I’m late to commenting here.)

    Often I think the debate is framed in very unhelpful terms – either you love LGBT people and are affirming of them, or you’re a traditionalists who wants to banish all LGBT people from the church.

    That said: I believe the Bible is our ultimate standard for faith and life. What it says about sexuality should be the framework in which we interpret our experiences, not vice versa. As such, although I can see why you have started in the way you have, what really matters to those who are conservative on this issue is what the Bible really says. Not just the so-called ‘clobber verses’ (I hate that term), but everything that the Bible says about sexuality.

    The issue of Biblical interpretation is where the real disagreement lies, I hope we will get there in this series soon.

  • http://theocentrist.wordpress.com/ theocentrist

    Thank you for the clarification on the Mozilla CEO. I can’t find anywhere if he claims to be an evangelical though, or even a Christian for that matter. That said, examples of honest believers being sacked for their beliefs remain – like the aforementioned Craig James.

    But are you really claiming that gays have it “far worse” because of they’re illegal a mere 30% more countries? It is simplistic not to remember population, group size, and enforcement. Some countries have a few hundred thousand population, China has a billion (and is on the VoM list, not on the 76) so the number of states doesn’t mean much. I also mentioned other countries that oppress evangelicals beyond this (Russia, S.American nations) as you did, though you didn’t give an exact number and I didn’t either. What you didn’t mention is how often these anti-gay laws are enforced. Old US Anti-sodomy laws aren’t much. In North Dakota it’s illegal to sleep with your shoes on, but no one enforces this. At the very least, it’s comparable, not “far worse”; still, with the numbers and reasons I already stated, I stand by my claim that evangelicals are more persecuted than gays, and more so that Christianity as a whole is so. This isn’t a victim game, it’s just numbers and news reports. If I come to know I’m wrong, I will let you know before you do though :)

    But even if you disagree, I find the lack of recognition of discrimination against evangelicals puzzling. Completely
    dismissing claims of discrimination against American evangelicals as “lying whinners” is pejorative ad hominem, so is this accusation that they don’t treat gays like human beings – opposing gay marriage isn’t the same as opposing humanness. Evangelicals believe sexuality is sacred, and advocating for God’s way is the highest affirmation of humanness and wholeness. There are ‘those guys’, the crass or selfish, in every group that ruin the reputation of the whole, but evangelicals do show love in a million small, usually publicized ways – even the rapper Bizzle’s allegedly anti-gay rap song ended with “I love you” but didnt stop death threats. Even if LBGT people were 50% more victimized than evangelicals – isn’t it wrong in both cases, and makes room for understanding and peace? If they are upset about the silence of evangelicals on LBGT discrimination, I might ask the same of their silence on ours.

  • Andy

    Not at all, or I’d be suggesting beheading after copulation, or eating your young … I’m just saying that the whole “it’s not natural” argument is not watertight.

    And, aside from the fact that many straight couples have only one biological parent, and themselves make use of donors and surrogates, it is possible to have two biological moms or dads;

    It is possible to fertilise one mother’s egg and place it in the other, resulting in both being biologically connected to the foetus & the foetus even carrying traits of both mothers … http://lesbianlife.about.com/od/families/f/PAR.htm

    It is also possible for each father to fertilise an egg, and for them to place two eggs in a surrogate, resulting in twins that are biologically connected to each father … http://www.ctfertility.com/node/225

  • EdinburghEye

    I just looked Craig James up. He wasn’t sacked: he wasn’t hired by Fox Sports Southwest because they found out he was bigoted against gay people: they found out because when he tried to run for the Texas US Senate seat in 2012 he made bigoted comments about gay people. So they didn’t hire him, because, apparently, they felt that a homophobic bigot wasn’t who they wanted to hire as a co-host for their college sports program. If you want to be a politician or a TV presenter I would say it probably does help not to spend time telling a proportion of the people you need to vote for you or watch you, that you think God hates them. (There appears to be no evidence that Craig James was sacked for his beliefs, as opposed to his public and openly bigoted comments, aside from James’s own claim after he didn’t get the FSS job.)

    But are you really claiming that gays have it “far worse” because of they’re illegal a mere 30% more countries?

    Well, look at the US itself. Technically, being gay isn’t illegal. But in 29 states of the US, it is legal for an employer to turn around and say to a gay person “You’re gay? You’re fired.” (In 34 states it is legal for an employer to say to a trans person “You had a sex change? You’re fired.”)

    It is normal – horribly normal – in the US (and in the UK – and in many other countries around the world) for parents who regard being gay as sinful or immoral to tell their gay child to leave home. While LGBT people are about 6% of the population, 40% of homeless teenagers in the US are LGBT – their parents kicked them out. In the US, at least, it is legal and acceptable for charities to help homeless LGBT teenagers. In other countries, even if being gay is not actually illegal, LGBT teenagers will end up dead or prostituting themselves, because as they are sinful and abnormal, the good Christian folks of their country won’t give them any help at all.

    Isn’t this far worse than anything that happens to evangelical Christians? How often are evangelical Christians made homeless because their parents kick them out for their beliefs?

    I stand by my claim that evangelicals are more persecuted than gays

    Well, of course you would. The facts are all against you, but you wouldn’t want to think of how evangelicals persecute gay people, but not the other way around, would you?

    so is this accusation that they don’t treat gays like human beings – opposing gay marriage isn’t the same as opposing humanness.

    Yes, of course it is. If you oppose the freedom of a same-sex couple to marry, you are saying very clearly you regard them as less than human – not fully entitled to same civil and human rights as a straight person.

    Completelydismissing claims of discrimination against American evangelicals as “lying whinners” is pejorative ad hominem

    A blunt description, perhaps. But I have found that every time an American evangelical Christian claims to have found evidence of an evangelical Christian being “discriminated against” for their beliefs in the US, this invariably falls into one of two categories.

    First, the evangelical Christian has at some point made publicly bigoted comments against some group – women who’ve had abortions, LGBT people, black people, etc – and that comment has led to their not being hired for a job, or receiving strong public criticism. (Rarely, and usually under exceptional circumstances, this may even have led to the evangelical Christian losing a job: but this happens far less often than Christians firing gays or trans people.)

    You could argue this is discriminatory, that everyone ought to be totally respected all the time even if they make pejorative ad hominems about a group of people, but then you’d have to explain why it’s not okay for me to make a “pejorative ad hominem” about evangelical Christians as “lying whiners” who complain about discrimination, but it is okay for evangelical Christians to make pejorative ad hominems against LGBT people as “aberration”, “self-destructive sin”, etc. (Two examples from this thread that I didn’t see you protesting.)

    Second, the evangelical Christian has tried at some time to discriminate against gay people or against women who use contraception/have had abortions: and has come up against some equality law that denies the evangelical Christian the right to discriminate. It should be clear that having to treat all your customers the same is not discrimination – it’s the exact opposite.”

    If they are upset about the silence of evangelicals on LBGT discrimination, I might ask the same of their silence on ours.

    Because you’re not being discriminated against.

  • EdinburghEye

    And then there’s the example of the evangelical Christians who didn’t make their son homeless: they made him suicidal.

    “Basically, we told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. We forced him to make a choice between God and being a sexual person. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime condemned to being alone. He would never have the chance to fall in love, have his first kiss, hold hands, share intimacy and companionship or experience romance.”

    No gay person ever did anything like that to an evangelical Christian. But how often do evangelical Christians do this to their own children? How often to other evangelical Christians look on with approval as parents systemically teach their gay children that God hates them?

    Even when the parents love and accept their gay child, how often does this little scene happen in evangelical Christian youth groups, to crush the spirit of any young person who is openly or secretly gay?

    The youth leader delivered a devotional. Sitting in the circle directly across from the youth leader quickly became excruciating. The topic was about the sin of homosexuality. After what probably felt like an eternity, I can imagine the breath of relief when the lesson finally came to a close.

    The discomfort, however, did not stop. The spiritual leader, blurted out a strong attack: “You all know, we all know, that Ben is gay. Who here is comfortable being around him?”

    Child by child, as each name was called, the leader required a response. The next question that was posed to each child in the circle was “Do you understand that Ben is going to hell?” Child by child, the leader pressured an answer.

    This is evangelical Christianity’s message of hate and rejection for gay teenagers born and raised within their churches. Yet evangelical Christians presume to complain about “discrimination” when their businesses are required to treat gay customers equally?

  • http://thought-quotient.tumblr.com/ ThoughtQuotient

    >>We are not all going to agree on the theology of human sexuality. So living in that reality means figuring out how the Church can live in that tension.

    The problem remains of two different gospels being preached; resulting in two different Gods! They can’t both be true. One is true and one is an idol.

    In the life of the believer, there is always going to be the tension of the flesh vs the Spirit. Not until we have glorified bodies will the struggle end. But there shouldn’t be a ‘tension’ in what God has clearly revealed to us in His word. That is the rock, the foundation upon which our salvation stands.

  • MyGoatyBeard

    Andy. Thanks for taking the time to respond. I totally agree the ‘It’s not natural’ argument is weak, though massively stronger than the ‘It’s natural’ argument on the other side. This difference is perfectly demonstrated by your reference to having children ‘biologically’ by such invasive techniques as you later reference.

    In fact, when we consider the lengths gay couples would need to go to in order to make a family, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that something is broken in a gay pairing. I don’t say this to victimise or brutalise gay couples and families, but as a simple observation. Like infertility in a heterosexual couple – that too is a brokenness to be regretted.

    Do you think it is valid to describe this aspect of gay pairing as brokenness?

  • Colette Pollock

    Thank you! I read Vicky’s blog and as a straight married Christian, with what she calls ‘conservative’ views ( I call them biblically based Christian views) and I had trouble trying to collate all my thoughts. I have gone full circle: as a young Christian i fully supported lgbt I have since those days read and re read the bible, read research papers on genetics, sociology and psychology, looking at both sides of the debate and it has changed my view significantly. I cannot believe that it is what God wants of us. Vicky’s viewpoint left me questioning again, thinking I’ve got it wrong and that I’m just getting older and out of touch. You have however, just summed up all that I was thinking while reading. I cannot believe that it is what God wants of us. We all have difficult situations to live with and if we give In to these by going with the ‘worldly’ flow then we are going against God. Vicky’s view is basically opening the doorway for all and any types of relationship as long as we can say we do it in love.

  • Tom

    Hi again!

    Re. the GK Chesterton quotation, you need to read it again. It is in fact you who is obliged to come up with good reasons for not changing the status quo, in order to then explain why these are not sufficient. There are many arguments of yours that I will happily concede to; the need to provide security for adopted children for instance. But as I’ve explained, I don’t think that changing the institution which upholds the ideal of children being raised by their male and female biological parents is the solution to how we care for our orphans. Neither do I think that gay marriage is the saving grace of orphans, and in fact I think it would lead to an increase in children not being raised by their biological parents. I’ve done quite a lot of trying to outline my argument, and with due respect, you’ve done quite a lot of “…so what you’re saying is”, replete with quite a bit of sarcasm and questioning of my motives. Perhaps you could outline what you think about encouraging the breakdown of the link between biological and social parenthood – I take it you don’t see this as a problem? Also, why you feel that a commitment suitable for entrusting children to need be equal to marriage in terms of addressing sexual union, fidelity, or frankly mentioning sex at all?

    You talk of a “ban”, as if it was something that existed and was then prohibited – can you point me to the instance of historical, homosexual Christian marriage?

    Finally, the ONS seem to think marriage is on the decline, at least within the UK. I quote (from their 2009 report):

    The provisional number of marriages registered in England and Wales in 2009 was 231,490. This currently represents the lowest numbers of marriages in England and Wales since 1895

    I understand there has been a recent slight upturn, the biggest element of which has been those re-marrying in their middle age. Overall, marriage seems to be declining since about 1971, even this peak was due to re-marriages after the divorce reform. First time marriages have been falling since 1940 and now only comprises 65% of all marriages. These are, as far as I can tell, absolute values so if you were to take into account the rise in population I presume the decline would be steeper.

    What do you know that they don’t?

  • Colette Pollock

    It’s not all about procreation. Obviously marriage is between two people in love. The Biblical perception is very clear that this is between a man and a woman. As I said In my reply to yaddamaster we all find ourselves with difficult situations that we have to learn to live with. To discover you can’t have children is very traumatic, but again one of those difficulties some must face and come to terms with. Your point on couples choosing not to have children is of course another debate as we the venture down the whole contraception/ abortion route.

  • Colette Pollock

    Amen

  • Tom

    It is about procreation more than it is about love. What about arranged marriages, are they wrong or invalid? Do you think that, in Biblical times, teenagers really got to fall in love and decide who they married?
    Some of them might. But marriage was much more about security and family obligations. Only now that the welfare state tries to make sure children will not go hungry, and divorce is so easy to obtain, do we lose the idea of marriage as a binding social contract and make it about feelings.

  • Tom

    Pornography? Bestiality? Torturing animals for fun? Don’t remember Jesus mentioning these either. I really hope that you do not think this is a strong argument.

  • Colette Pollock

    Dear Vicky, as a real Vicky Beeching fan when it comes to your music and worship I’m afraid I have been quite stunned at your naïveté when it comes to this debate. I once felt as you do and would at one time have supported your view. However having spent the last few years studying the Bible, research papers on genetics, sociology and psychology I have changed my view and feel strongly that this is not what God wants of His people. Having read the blogs below there do not seem to be any well reasoned ones in support of your view and I hope that you will keep an open mind too. I have had the luxury of changing my view in relative anonymity, but have had the opportunity to explain the reasons for my change to family, friends and other young Christians. You, however are in the public eye, well respected and therefore have huge influence over young Christians. Please be sure to tread with care. Do not be led by cultural/ worldly beliefs as opposed to God”s.

  • Tom

    Andy, when you say “fertilise one mother’s egg”, I’m presuming you don’t think that this refers to one single egg? In the world of assisted fertility/reproduction, the norm is usually to create multiple embryos, implant multiple embryos etc, knowing full well that many will end up destroyed or used for other purposes, and knowing that twins have a higher incidence of mortality/morbidity for mother and babies.

    The drugs that they give to mothers to stimulate multiple follicle maturation can lead to a dangerous condition for the mother, OHSS, which requires very careful (not to mention expensive) monitoring.

    This romantic image people have of fertility medicine being like you might explain it to a child (“we take an egg, and do this, and do that, and put it in mummy”) disguises the fairly miserable, clinical side to all of this and the cost to society (frequently almost every baby on the neonatal ICU is an IVF baby – they just do have more problems). For non-gay couples, the process of going through fertility treatment and then for many, complications in pregnancy and complications with their newborn is frequently enough to destroy the relationship.

    Christians (gay and straight) need to think very, very carefully before they openly endorse and encourage fertility treatment, especially when there are so many children already born who need a loving home.

  • Colette Pollock

    I don’t agree with arranged marriages and your reference to Old testament marriages reflects the Jewish culture of the time not the Christian ideal which is promoted in the NT. Lgbt is all to do with the strong sexual feelings that are in my view mistaken for love. It would be easy to say I don’t care what others get upto sexually, but as a Christian I can’t because to do so would be saying that those people who participate in these alternative relationships are not important to God and they are. God ‘s message is for all. As far as divorce is concerned the State (again world views not God’s) has made it so easy to divorce and therefore undermined the sanctity of marriage.

  • Servaas Hofmeyr

    This is what I have also been thinking about quite a bit. Who will be open to what is shared and who won’t? Who will be willing to “let Scripture bend them instead of bending Scripture” themselves? Changing one’s view in anonymity is relatively easy but to change it in public takes not only courage but also a making very sure of what one is changing it to.

  • Tom

    What scriptural basis do you have for not agreeing with arranged marriages, and where in the NT is this romantic love-based Christian ideal of marriage? I hope you’re not talking about 1Cor. 7:9, because there is no indication here that the “burning with passion” is between two specific people.
    I suspect ultimately I agree with you Colette in terms of what marriage should be, but we cannot dismiss certain habits as “Jewish culture” if our understanding of these issues is utterly confused by our culture. I’m not saying that a husband and wife shouldn’t love or fancy each other! But there is no indication in scripture that the order must be “fall in love” –> get married. I agree that forced arranged marriage is unkind, in that it removes a woman’s choice and dignity and treats her as an object. But many women and men are very happy that their parents arranged their marriage; their parents know them well, have their best interests at heart and are trusted to make a good decision. The bride and groom trust that they will be able to learn to love each other. This Disney idea of finding the love of your life, and only marrying them when you’re “sure they’re Mr Right” etc. is entirely cultural and often, not very helpful.

  • EdinburghEye

    Re the G.K. Chestertom quotation: you need to read it again, Tom.

    Clear and valid reasons have been put forward for removing the ban on marriage for same-sex couples: that it is unjust to LGBT people, that it is discriminatory against same-sex relationships, etc.

    Chesterton says you have to produce an explanation of “why it has been put there” (the ban on same-sex marriage). Very good: you have had since 1989 and earlier to find a reason for the ban being there, a reason why that fence should not be removed, why the injustice against same-sex couples and LGBT people should continue.

    (In the UK, the ban on same-sex couples marrying was legislated in 1975: same-sex couples were then formally ordered to divorce. The most high-profile case of this was Jan Morris and her wife.)

    So far, no one has been able to do so.

    The notion you put forward, that it is better for some children to be raised by unmarried parents because if you allow all parents to get married this “spoils the ideal” is frankly absurd, isn’t it? If being brought up by married parents is a good thing, it’s good for all children, not just those whose parents are in mixed-sex relationships.

  • Tom

    Nope, sorry. At risk of reaching an impasse/repeating myself: you are still misunderstanding the whole fence analogy – wilfully or otherwise.
    It is for the reformer (you, in this case) to prove that they understand the reasons why the “ban” is there. Simply “to be unjust, to be discriminatory” is not a reason for a rule to exist. Saying “this is discriminatory and should be scrapped – explain to me why it shouldn’t!” is not good enough – that is precisely what is referred to by the man who says “this fence is useless, let’s remove it”. If we are not going to patronise our ancestors by assuming they are all stupid, then we have to at least try to understand the decisions they’ve made.
    E.g. apartheid was unjust, racist and discriminatory. But I can understand why it was instigated, even if those motives are heavily coloured with prejudice. So far I have seen nothing but scorn from pro-SSM campaigners towards the so-called ban, as if it is entirely nonsensical, stupid and only put there out of hate.
    I’m not asking you for reasons to remove the prohibition. I’m asking you why YOU think the prohibition is there; and proper reasons, not “because people used to be stupid/prejudiced”.
    Regarding children, I’ve explained my position – again, you have only tried to caricature my argument and mock it, without engaging with any of the questions I have posed to you.

  • EdinburghEye

    I don’t feel either of us should have to apologise for re-stating what seems to be obvious until the other one gets it, Tom – this is a situation where both of us are coming at it from very different viewpoints.

    So, to re-state at more length:

    Marriage was clearly specified as a human right in the 1948 Universal Declaration. No assertion was made in the UDHR then (or since) that to be married a couple had to be male/female or had to be able to have children together.

    Nonetheless, legal barriers have been set up against same-sex couples getting married. You argue that it’s for the reformers to prove we “understand the reasons why the ban is there” and we have and we do: the ban is there because of homophobic and transphobic prejudice against same-sex relationships. There is no other reason for it, and no other justification made.

    As the only reason against same-sex marriage is bigoted discrimination against same-sex relationships, it is just and right for the ban to be removed.

    Now, if those still opposing could come up with any other reason for the ban to be there…. but they can’t.

    Again, you have only tried to caricature my argument and mock it

    I have not caricatured your argument, Tom: I summarised it. Your position is that the children of same-sex couples ought not to be allowed to have married parents. That’s correct, isn’t it? Your justification for this is apparently that there is an ideal relationship for bringing up children, same-sex couples are not the ideal relationship, and if parents in non-ideal relationships are allowed marriage, this tarnishes the ideal. I do find this absolutely absurd, but it is, as I understand it, your argument why despite claiming marriage is for children, some children nonetheless must not be allowed to have married parents.

  • Sanne Meijer

    Thanks for this blog series, Vicky. I’m looking forward to reading more of it.

  • http://www.michaeldyaeger.com/ Michael D. Yaeger

    “More than ever before, to try deeply
    considering what life might be like as a Christian LGBT person; with an
    orientation they have not chosen…” – @vickybeeching:disqus

    Apparently, this is where you have been deceived, thinking that God “changed” His creation somewhere along the way.

  • http://theocentrist.wordpress.com/ theocentrist

    Hi Kim. Actually, I love with what you’ve said here, though from what I understand, evangelicals are among the more highly persecuted Christian groups in the world, alongside Catholics. But that Christ reigns over us is a very comforting truth in all these debates!
    Happy Easter Monday.

  • Servaas Hofmeyr

    Also note, ‘natural’ as often used in arguments concerning sexuality or other human ethics does not simply mean ‘as it it seen in nature’ or ‘among animals’ but rather along the lines of ‘as according to God’s good/intended order/ideal’ (for human beings, His image bearers). In that sense, us humans have plenty of ‘unnatural’ tendencies and desires which is perfectly natural among animals.

  • http://theocentrist.wordpress.com/ theocentrist

    I’ve already mentioned
    “those guys” who ruin the reputation of the whole group – Ben and the homeless teen situations you discuss prove my point. You said evangelicals “have a message of hate and rejection for gay teenagers born within their churches.” I’ve never experienced a hateful message like that in my decades as an Evangelical, and only once in a conversation with another. Every message I’ve ever heard mentioning LBGT is “we love them, but disagree.” I’m sure you’ve heard “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Evangelicalism is a very broad group of people. It includes denominations as diverse as Pentecostals and Baptists, and many mistakes are made. For example, the ‘pray the gay away’ idea in charismatic groups has been extremely destructive (especially since sinful sexual desires are often fought one’s whole life anyway). Non-evangelical individuals discriminate against LBGT people also, from Muslims to he-men, and blackening all evangelicals is a sweeping generalization.

  • http://theocentrist.wordpress.com/ theocentrist

    You frame same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue; I don’t
    believe it is. I’m against people marrying cows too, but that’s not a rights issue. You ignored my point on the sacredness of sexuality. Opposition to same-sex marriage is not dehumanizing – any marriage that’s not between a man and woman is dehumanizing. You obviously don’t agree! But disagreement is not discrimination, is it? Morality and legality aren’t the same, either. Therefore, some evangelicals believe it’s immoral, but think it could be allowed legally, while others simply think that if it’s a dehumanizing practice, why not oppose it.

    On the global discrimination issue, you just assert “the facts are all against you” but don’t respond to any of the facts and weighing options I argued. So… I rest my case on that then.

    As far as US discrimination against evangelicals, you say that Craig James wasn’t fired. Well, he had actually already started the job, though you are right in the sense that the contract wasn’t signed yet. For all practical purposes, it is firing, and he has a lawsuit in process. I could give more examples, but since you define merely following our conscience as wrong anyway, I don’t see the point. Belief that homosexuality is a sin is a part of our faith – you can’t separate it out, as relatively minor as it is to other parts. Belief that it is an “aberration” and “self-destructive” is part of Christian teaching. But so is ALL sin. We use the same terms for pride and pornography, lying and lust, we say the same of the sin in our own lives – that’s why we need Christ. We’re not bashing gays any more than ourselves by using these terms.

    Anyway – appreciate the time you’ve taken to respond to my
    comments, though I am hoping to wrap up our discussion now, I’m not sure if we’re really communicating. Communication includes listening and understanding, and such a statement as “You’re not being discriminated against” shows a lack of both. I assume you meant the in the US – I’ve already mentioned I had a friend shot dead for his faith in a restricted country, plus the other country statistics, so I assume you’re not as callous as that. But honestly, evangelicals very often are not good at listening either. I’m not. What makes common ground difficult is what’s good is bad and bad is good for our respective sides. This is why I offered earlier the idea that we can empathize with the alienation we experience – which, unfortunately isn’t possible if they deny we’re being alienated. Worse, it furthers alienation. But if the feeling can’t be mutual, at least one can individually make a choice to empathize, as I hope to attempt.
    That said, I wish you peace. Happy Easter Monday. :)

  • Servaas Hofmeyr

    The law in any particular country does not make one married before God.
    Heterosexual couples can marry and consumate that marriage through
    sexual intercourse without the state even being aware of it and it would
    be pure before God. I cannot see God being dependent on a specific
    government to declare a marriage as pure. Similarly, governments
    redefining marriage does not make alternative forms of ‘marriage’ pure
    before God either, regardless of their legal status. Slaves were able to marry in purity before God despite the authority of the day’s opinion. The argument you prescribe to LauraB1186 is an invalid one.

  • EdinburghEye

    I’ve never experienced a hateful message like that in my decades as an Evangelical,

    Oh, are you gay yourself, then?

    But yes, you have. You’ve just repeated a couple of them now.

    “we love them, but disagree.”

    That is a hateful message. Hateful and horrifyingly hurtful to a gay teenager. “Disagree” with what? That the gay teenager has a right to find a boyfriend, experience love, go through the same relationship struggles and difficulties as his straight friends, and be supported and encouraged in his love for his boyfriend – and in hope that he will eventually find the man he wants to marry?

    My guess is what you mean by “disagree” is that your church would tell the gay teenager that he should not find a boyfriend, fall in love, experience sexual passion, be supported and encouraged to find the man he can marry. To tell a teenager that – to tell him, or her, that they will never be supported by their church, always be rejected, and to expect them to regard this as “love”, is horrible – is the tactic of a bully who wants his victims to smile at him and thank him for the abuse.

    I’m sure you’ve heard “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

    Yes: whenever I hear it, I know the person saying it has lost all respect for my humanity and my sexuality: they are telling me they hate me for what I am, that their idea of “love” is to try to bully me into being what I’m not. It’s a loathsome statement, addressed to any gay person: it’s horrifying to think of teenagers being abused in this way, learning to hate themselves for being gay, because that’s the only message that evangelicals have for them.

    I’m being blunt. But that’s the truth. Those are not nice messages. They’re horrible.

    Non-evangelical individuals discriminate against LBGT people also

    Of course.

    And some evengelical Christians wouldn’t dream of saying anything as abusive as the messages you have repeated.

    But as you’ve made clear, the rejection and abuse of LGBT teenagers is something that is so endemic among evangelical Christians that you can’t even recognise it and reject it as bullying.

  • Andy

    Don’t think it’s valid to describe it as broken at all. Language is powerful … When we describe things as broken, it’s too easy to see them as less than and imperfect, and leads down a dangerous path of condescension towards people with learning or physical disabilities.
    I think it’s different, and let that suffice.
    By the same argument, because same sex couples have to go to such great lengths to conceive, adopt or foster, there is no such thing as an unwanted or unvalued child in a same sex household, and there is evidence to suggest that children of same sex couples are “generally” better cared for.

  • http://www.tanyamarlow.com/ Tanya Marlow

    This comment has been nagging away at me for a few days, and I finally thought I must say something. Leaving aside for the moment the ‘strictly ethical questions of same-sex relations’, let us consider for a moment the fact that there are, in the church as well as outside the church, those of a same-sex orientation. Let us consider those within the church who have a homosexual orientation and choose to remain celibate because of what they believe the Bible teaches. Do you not think it is worth stopping to consider how the church views and treats them? Vaughan Roberts recently announced that, while celibate, he is sexually attracted to (and prone to fall in love with) men rather than women. Perhaps we can consider some of the reasons why it took him so long to announce this publicly. Although things are changing in the world, and society is becoming more accepting of gay relationships, it is still a very homophobic society that we live in, and gay people are often treated very cruelly. Sometimes that cruelty comes from within the church, and we need to address this. Whatever argument we make about homosexuality, ethics and the Bible, we all need at some point to address (and repent of?) homophobia inside and outside the church, and I personally think it is better to do as Vicky has done, by addressing it first.

    I suspect you will not like the word ‘empathy’, but you could try the very biblical word ‘compassion’. It literally means ‘suffering with’ – and any discussion of LGBT issues needs to recognise there has been much suffering in the gay community, and recognise and acknowledge the awful impact of homophobia both outside and within the church. I think to jump from ‘empathising with those who are LGBT/ attracted to same sex’ (ie empathising with people like Vaughan Roberts) to ‘empathising with paedophiles and concentration camp commanders’ is to score something of an own goal for your cause. I would definitely recommend you watch the video ‘heteronormativity’.

  • http://www.shinyphoto.co.uk/ Tim

    Ironically, as sacraments go, marriage is the one administered *not* by the church, but by the couple themselves. And yet, for something the church does not have full control over, it makes an awful lot of hot air about it.

  • http://www.shinyphoto.co.uk/ Tim

    “The Biblical perception”?!

    Which one? The one where Solomon had hundreds of both wives and concubines, or the ones where we don’t know the domestic arrangements of either of the two weightiest founders of our faith?

  • http://www.shinyphoto.co.uk/ Tim

    Funny how each of those pairs describes a major shift in society over the last 2k years. Just watch the Gospel knocking down the prejudices…

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    I don’t know i this counts…

    So far, I have never heard any homosexual couple claim that God has answered their prayer and allowed them to conceive.

    I know of a case where two women were deeply in love with each other. One turned out to be Intersex, and with some technical help, some of the few male gametes were extracted, and after many heartbreaking miscarriages, they had a son.

    Neither are lesbian though, they both find men attractive. But are in a committed, monogamous and celibate relationship.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    Technically, being gay isn’t illegal.

    Incorrect, I’m afraid, It’s illegal in Louisiana for example. The date of this story? April 2014. This month.

    Meanwhile, the Blog of New Orleans reports that GOP Rep. Valarie Hodges voted against revoking the anti-sodomy law because “yesterday was Passover and Friday is Good Friday.”

    “This has been on the Louisiana law books for nearly 200 years,” she said. “Just because we decriminalize something doesn’t make it right. … We’re not here to rubber stamp the Supreme Court. … We’re here to uphold the law of what’s right and wrong.”

    Arrests still happen, though convictions are rare. However, plea deals for time served can result in less jail time than waiting for trial and a verdict of Not Guilty.

    Democratic Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith tried to pass the bill to remove the anti-sodomy law from books after the sheriff’s department of Louisiana’s East Baton Rouge Parish was actually caught using the law to arrest gay men in sting operations. At least 12 men were arrested, some jailed, merely for having consensual sex.

    … the Sheriff’s Department defended the stings and arrests using the unconstitutional law. “This is a law that is currently on the Louisiana books, and the sheriff is charged with enforcing the laws passed by our Louisiana Legislature,” a Sheriff’s Dept. spokesperson had told the Baton Rouge Advocate. “Whether the law is valid is something for the courts to determine, but the sheriff will enforce the laws that are enacted.”

    Laws that make it a crime for consenting adults to engage in sodomy remain on the books in 17 states and continue to be enforced in several of those states. They are strongly defended by many Christian groups and legislators.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    Is the bible the infallible, inerrant World of God or not?

    I’ll let Martin Luther and John Calvin answer that.

    “Scripture simply says that the moon, the sun, and the stars were
    placed in the firmament of the heaven, below and above which heaven are the waters…
    It is likely that the stars are fastened to the firmament like globes of fire, to shed
    light at night… We Christians must be different from the philosophers in the way
    we think about the causes of things. And if some are beyond our comprehension like those before us concerning the waters above the heavens, we must believe them rather than wickedly deny them or presumptuously interpret them in conformity with our understanding.”

    -Martin Luther, quotedin Luther’s Works. Vol. 1. Lectures on Genesis, ed. Janoslaw Pelikan

    Calvin was more forthright.

    “Those who assert that ‘the earth moves and turns’…[are] motivated by ‘a spirit of bitterness, contradiction, and faultfinding;’ possessed by the devil,they aimed ‘to pervert the order of nature.'”

    - John Calvin, sermon no. 8 on 1st Corinthians, 677

    And let’s not mention Unicorns.

  • sweetread

    Thanks for writing about this Vicky – you’re off to great start. You are brave and I have so much respect for that. As a very open-minded, straight, married Christian this discussion doesn’t have a very personal emotional sting for me, but I approach it with great interest simply because it’s something that’s never sat right with me – I thought God was all about love, but so often the church’s behaviour toward the whole issue is not loving at all. Here is a good opportunity for believers to make a choice between going along with the assumptions/teaching/attitudes of others, or putting in their own rigorous thought/prayer/study/discussions. I think a lot of the anger surrounding the debate comes from the discomfort/insecurity people feel when deep down they know it’s time to make time/space to revisit their old assumptions.

  • EdinburghEye

    The law in any particular country does not make one married before God.

    True. Every religion has a right to define for themselves what constitutes a valid marriage before God. But also, no religion has a right to define for any other religion – nor for any particular couple – that a couple cannot be married. Since no one is forcing evangelical Christians who want to reject gay people to let them get married “before God” in their churches, but evangelical Christians are campaigning politically to ensure that gay people can’t get married legally by the state, your point strikes me as – at best – irrelevant: at worst, deliberate derailing. The issue discussed here is legal marriage by the state, not private religious ceremonies….

  • EdinburghEye

    You frame same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue; I don’tbelieve it is.

    But we have to deal with facts. Factually, lifting the ban on same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue. Your wish to believe it is not, and your crudely insulting comparison of same-sex marriage to bestiality, does not change the facts at issue. But I do wish that evangelical Christians would refrain from making that particular crudely abusive comparison: comparing us to rapists and murderers and alcoholics, as your religious compadres are apt to do, is really bad enough.

    You ignored my point on the sacredness of sexuality.

    If sexuality is sacred, it’s really up to each religion and to each person to decide for themselves wherein that sacredness lies. It’s not up to you to decide what is and isn’t sacred about someone else’s sexuality: it’s not up to the state, either. Therefore, legal marriage, sanctioned by the state, which is what we are discussing, must ignore “the sacredness of sexuality”, because it would be against freedom of religion for the government to make laws about what sexuality is sacred and what is not. Therefore I ignored your point because it struck me as irrelevant.

    Opposition to same-sex marriage is not dehumanizing – any marriage that’s not between a man and woman is dehumanizing.

    Wow, that’s insulting of you. So, I am not human in your eyes. No wonder you made that nasty remark about cows.

    But disagreement is not discrimination, is it?

    True! But abusive, nasty insults about how I am less than human in your eyes aren’t “disagreement”: they’re abuse. Can’t you disagree in a civil way, without descending into this insults?

    On the global discrimination issue, you just assert “the facts are all against you” but don’t respond to any of the facts and weighing options I argued.

    Well, quite. Your argument amounted to “there are more evangelical Christians than gay people in the world, so even though gay people are hurt worse, evangelical Christians matter more”.

    Also, as you have now made unpleasantly clear, because to you, gay people are dehumanised – no better than animals, and you feel that discrimination and mistreatment of us isn’t even a civil rights matter.

    We’re not bashing gays any more than ourselves by using these terms.

    Really? So, when did you last call your wife a cow and tell her she was dehumanised because she was a sinner? Your assertion you’re not “bashing gays” by comparing us to animals is really kind of absurd, in an ugly sort of way.

    I’m not sure if we’re really communicating. Communication includes listening and understanding, and such a statement as “You’re not being discriminated against” shows a lack of both.

    Well, I agree that insult is not communication. And it does not surprise me that you neither want to listen nor to understand what a “dehumanised” person thinks and feels.

    But honestly, evangelicals very often are not good at listening either. I’m not.

    No, you’re really, really not.

  • momkxbutt

    “We are not all going to agree on the theology of human sexuality. So living in that reality means figuring out how the Church can live in that tension.”
    The church is not to live “in that tension” and why should we? There’s no gray area in this discussion. Let’s get to the scriptures and see what God the Father has to say about this topic:
    While the Bible does address homosexuality, it does not explicitly mention gay marriage/same-sex marriage. It is clear, however, that the Bible condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin. Leviticus 18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Romans 1:26-27 declares homosexual desires and actions to be shameful, unnatural, lustful, and indecent. First Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals are unrighteous and will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since both homosexual desires and actions are condemned in the Bible, it is clear that homosexuals
    “marrying” is not God’s will, and would be, in fact, sinful.

    Whenever the Bible mentions marriage, it is between a male and a female. The first mention of marriage, Genesis 2:24, describes it as a man leaving his parents and being united to his wife. In passages that contain instructions regarding marriage, such as 1 Corinthians 7:2-16 and Ephesians 5:23-33, the Bible clearly identifies marriage as being between a man and a woman. Biblically speaking, marriage is the lifetime union of a man and a woman, primarily for the purpose of building a family and providing a stable environment for that family.

    The Bible alone, however, does not have to be used to demonstrate this understanding of marriage. The biblical viewpoint of marriage has been the universal understanding of marriage in every human civilization in world history. History argues against gay marriage. Modern secular psychology recognizes that men and women are psychologically and emotionally designed to complement one another. In regard to the family, psychologists contend that a union between a man and woman in which both spouses serve as good gender role models is the best environment in which to raise well-adjusted children.
    Psychology argues against gay marriage. In nature/physicality, clearly, men and women were designed to “fit” together sexually. With the “natural” purpose of sexual intercourse being procreation, clearly only a sexual relationship between a man and a woman can fulfill this purpose. Nature argues against gay marriage.

    So, if the Bible, history, psychology, and nature all argue for marriage being between a man and a woman—why is there such a controversy today? Why are those who are opposed to gay marriage/same-sex marriage labeled as hateful, intolerant bigots, no matter how respectfully the opposition is presented? Why is the gay rights movement so aggressively pushing for gay marriage/same-sex marriage when most people, religious and non-religious, are supportive of—or at least far less opposed to—gay couples having all the same legal rights as married couples with some form of civil union?

    The answer, according to the Bible, is that everyone inherently knows that homosexuality is immoral and unnatural, and the only way to suppress this inherent knowledge is by normalizing homosexuality and attacking any and all opposition to it. The best way to normalize homosexuality is by placing gay marriage/same-sex marriage on an equal plane with traditional opposite-gender marriage. Romans 1:18-32 illustrates this. The truth is known because God has made it plain. The truth is rejected and replaced with a
    lie. The lie is then promoted and the truth suppressed and attacked. The vehemence and anger expressed by many in the gay rights movement to any who oppose them is, in fact, an indication that they know their position is indefensible. Trying to overcome a weak position by raising your voice is the oldest trick in the debating book. There is perhaps no more accurate description of the modern gay rights agenda than Romans 1:31, “they are
    senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”

    To give sanction to gay marriage/same-sex marriage would be to give approval to the homosexual lifestyle, which the Bible clearly and consistently condemns as sinful.
    Christians should stand firmly against the idea of gay marriage/same-sex marriage. Further, there are strong and logical arguments against gay marriage/same-sex marriage from contexts completely separated from the Bible. One does not have to be an evangelical Christian to recognize that marriage is between a man and a woman.

    As Christians, we are not to condone or ignore sin. Rather, we are to share the love of God and the forgiveness of sins that is available to all, including homosexuals, through Jesus Christ. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and contend for truth with
    “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). As Christians, when we make a stand for truth and the result is personal attacks, insults, and persecution, we should remember the words of Jesus: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

    Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org

  • ashley collishaw

    Hi Vicky. I’m very interested that nobody has yet picked up on your intended use of trans-theology. Are you talking about the work of folk like Marcella Althaus-Reid? If so I have to say that in relation to classical, systematic, orthodox theology (let alone evangelical theology) we are all going to find ourselves a long way from Kansas (friends of Dorothy included). Before I say anything else, is this the trans-theology you mean?

  • Chris

    I am currently doing my PhD on sexualities and Christian identities. If any readers of Vicky’s excellent blog would like to get involved, I’d love to hear from you. CXG369@bham.ac.uk

  • Alastair J Roberts

    Thanks for the response, Tanya.

    I appreciate and largely share your concern here. The purpose of my comment was to raise questions about the presumed priority of ‘empathy’ and ‘putting oneself in the other’s shoes’ as an ethical prerequisite and means for the settling of moral questions concerning people’s actions. It was not intended to dismiss the need to treat people with compassion and respect. I am highly in favour of the ‘principled compassion’ that I mentioned at the end of my comment.

    Principled compassion is a rather different thing from instinctive empathy and general perspective-taking, though. Instinctive empathy and the alignment of perspectives, while they are forces that may make us more tolerant and accepting of LGBT persons, also make us less likely to believe that family members and friends could really be rapists, for instance. While principled compassion is a very healthy thing, by themselves mere empathy and alignment of perspectives can be powerful forces for evil. Empathy and alignment of perspectives are more emotional in character. We find it hard emotionally to relate to people who have done terrible acts, so we tend either to cut off empathy or to deny the serious character of their actions. We also find it hard emotionally to relate to people in pain, so we either condemn everything that is supposedly causing them pain or we distance ourselves from them or diminish their humanity, so we won’t have to feel their pain so keenly.

    By contrast, compassion tells the truth about people and the moral character of their actions, yet still practices deep concern for their well-being. Even when they have done the most terrible acts or are incredibly hard to identify with, it still can trace the human contours of the situation. The test of compassion is whether we have the moral nerve and compassion truly to take on board the tragedy of people’s situations without thereby denying the troubling moral contours of their actions and desires.

    I have watched the video ‘Heteronormativity’. It is a good example of its genre. Such pieces are designed to get us emotionally to empathize with the LGBT child in a way that leads us to declare that their desires are completely healthy, natural, and normal and that they should just be who they are, freed from the misunderstanding and hatred of society. ‘Heteronormativity’ is the supposed evil and in an ideal world we would all be completely ambivalent about different kinds of sexual relations. As the film concludes, ‘Always know that love is meant to be within and you should never feel wrong or alone by being who you are…Unique.’

    This sort of approach is rather easy to take when we have decided that same-sex relations are perfectly normal, moral, and OK in every respect. The true test of compassion would be the same video made for a person with paedophile desires. In that case the concluding statement of the film would ring hollow: we aren’t so happy to say that it is perfectly healthy and OK to feel paedophile desires, even though we may know that this is part of what some people are. In such a case, the emotional ‘logic’ of such videos breaks down and we realize that the reality is much more complex.

    There are a lot of similarities between the paedophile who never acts on his desires and the gay person who doesn’t act on his homosexual desires either. Paedophilia seems to function as a sexual ‘orientation’, much like heterosexuality or homosexuality. Research typically places the percentage of paedophiles (active or not, exclusive or not) in the male population at least at about the same level as the number of gay persons—about 1-2%—although, as in the case of homosexual relations, a much larger portion of the male population (some estimate one in five) can be sexually aroused by children.

    Society is constantly bombarding such persons with the message that there is something monstrous or evil about them. If society demonizes and is violent towards LGBT persons, how much more to paedophiles? Even people who seek to reach out to them will often presume that they must have been the victims of some great evil—being abused as children themselves—for them to turn out in such a manner. Many people hate the idea, one increasingly supported by research, that paedophiles might be, to some degree or other, ‘born that way’ or that unchosen genetic or biological factors might be involved. We feel the need to make paedophilia a ‘choice’ because that is the only way in which we feel we can hold child abusers adequately responsible.

    Many persons with paedophile desires will loathe themselves for feeling the desires that they feel. They didn’t choose to feel such desires and would do anything to rid themselves of them. They may feel condemned to live in secret, feeling isolated and alone in deep shame and self-revulsion. If bullying and suicide are problems for those suspected of being LGBT persons, just imagine what it is like for paedophiles. If people are revolted by sexual relations between two persons of the same sex, how much more by those between adults and children?

    Society can view the very fact that persons possess such desires as marking them out as child abusers, before they have even done anything. They know that if they breathed a word they would be ostracized and subject to extreme violence. Attempts to ‘cure’ them have been deeply cruel or unpleasant. Under no circumstances can they afford to ‘come out’. They cannot really explore or embrace their desires. Downloading images from the Internet in a moment of weakness could potentially ruin their lives to a degree that we would find to imagine. There is no ‘it gets better’ series of videos for the person with paedophilia.

    The dangers of mere empathy in such a situation are very real. Empathy could lead us to minimize the disordered character of paedophile desires and the genuine evil of child abuse. We should never ‘feel wrong or alone by being who we are,’ right? ‘God makes no mistakes’, they’re ‘on the right track’ because they were ‘born this way’? If it’s a naturally occurring set of desires, surely it can’t be wrong? There is historical precedence for societies having a more tolerant attitude towards sexual relations with children, right? Surely most of the pain suffered by the paedophile is due to societies’ ‘hatred and misunderstanding’? Any suffering experienced on account of who you are and who you were born to ‘love’ is purely society’s fault, right? Our unchosen desires cannot be disordered, can they? Surely if we were just more accepting of paedophiles they would not have to live in such fear, or experience such ostracization, self-loathing, self-abuse, suicide, bullying, and violence and would be psychologically better off as a result?

    Let’s pursue compassion, but let’s also keep a very strong grasp upon the objective parameters and moral dimensions of such cases. The fact that society and nature’s norms can really hurt some people and cause genuine difficulty and psychological distress isn’t sufficient proof that those norms are wrong in and of themselves. There are some fairly obvious reasons why society is heteronormative, not the least of those being because sexual relations between men and women have a natural and cultural significance that those between persons of the same sex could never hope to have. Obviously as Christians we should show concern for people who cannot easily conform to the norm. We should try to understand their experience and to be present to them within it. We should recognize and act on behalf of those who are exceptions to the norms, doing all within our power to mitigate the amount of pain that they will suffer from necessary norms and to protect them from violence and bullying. However, throwing the norms under the bus because they are a painful presence in the lives of some people is a profoundly dangerous step. This is precisely the sort of action that empathy-driven pieces like the ‘Heteronormativity’ video are calling us to take.

  • Alastair J Roberts

    I’ve also written about what I see as the difference between compassion and empathy before here. Perhaps it will help you to get a better idea of where I am coming from here. I don’t think that our positions are as far removed from each other’s as might at first appear.

  • Andy

    I think you’re playing a game of semantics. ‘Natural’ means ‘as seen in nature’ … ‘Godly’ means ‘according to God’s intended ideal’. It’s worth saying that both change with time … we are constantly learning more about both nature and Scripture, and what we thought we knew 50 years ago is not what we know now, and what we knew a few hundred years ago is worlds away.
    We have a myriad of things in our lives today which are condemned in Scripture.
    If we believe in the supremacy of Scripture, we need to believe that for all of Scripture, and be obedient to ALL of it. The fact that people choose which bits are relevant to them, but are unwilling to change their views about the issue of loving same-sex relationships, while not adhering to any of the verses about the other issues hints at the real crux of the matter … they are uncomfortable with the issue of same-sex relationships & using Scripture to enforce that view, rather than obeying Scripture in it’s entirety.

  • Andy

    I think you’ll find that LGBT & Straight Christians do think extremely carefully before undergoing fertility treatment, contrasted with too many straight couples that conceive by accident, with no regard for the well-being or future of the child. Fertility treatment is nobody’s first option.
    As for the cost, it’s often at great cost to the people involved personally, as fertility treatment is rarely available on the NHS. Again, straight couples that can conceive purely by having unprotected sex often receive free healthcare (in the UK, if you’re reading this from the US).
    So, the careful thought and cost arguments don’t really hold weight.

  • MyGoatyBeard

    Andy. On this point of human brokenness I must disagree with you. Maybe it is the word you don’t like. But there must be acknowledgment of weakness and failure in ourselves and in each other. Without that we cannot have meaningful love and concern for each other. Read Paul’s letters. He was weak, broken and vulnerable. There is nothing intrinsically condescending about taking account of each other’s weaknesses and problems – in fact it is thoroughly affirming, loving and scriptural to do that.

    And I’d say it is unloving to do the opposite – to not make allowance for brokenness. To pretend that we are all equal is unloving. We are not equal. Expecting us all to live to the same standard of existentialist bliss is utterly unscriptural.

    It has taken me decades to learn that ‘I am what I am’. This includes brokenness and failure. Yet because of Jesus this in NO WAY removes from me the dignity of being a child of God, or nullifies my membership of God’s family. But if I pretend that my brokenness is just an optional tick-box on God’s bill of materials for manufacturing perfect mankind then I delude myself and my church, but worse I negate the grace of God.

    Acknowledging brokenness to my fellowship is a wonderfully secure and affirming place to be.

  • Andy

    Oh agreed. But, with LGBT people, so often the implication is that they are beyond redeemable unless they change who they are. What makes one person’s brokenness redeemable, and the other’s not?

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    I agree that forced arranged marriage is unkind

    Yes, rape is. Let’s not mince words.

    But many women and men are very happy that their parents arranged their marriage

    And the women who aren’t, but were sold to pimps, or as a sex slave to pay their father’s debts?

    If two people of their own free will make an informed decision to consent to an arranged marriage, it’s not for anyone else to object. The same with any form of consensual prostitution.

    But such cases are a minority. There is no equality of power. Good girls do what they’re told in “traditional” households. Father knows best. And the 50 shekels of silver – 17 troy ounces – about $500 – will come in handy.

    (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT)
    If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father.
    Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    Here is what GLBTI people hear from high-profile political Christians:

    This one from Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqlqMvjCOlU

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    This one from the “discerner of demonic spirits” Gordon Klingenschmitt

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYMvF-w4Aqo

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    Lest you think he’s just another nutter…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_K4jh8JZaQ

  • http://theocentrist.wordpress.com/ theocentrist

    Before I leave off, I have to respond because it seems you think I bullied or insulted you. I’m sorry, I meant nothing like that. You take me to be saying things that I’m not saying, making fallacious, hasty conclusions.

    When I defined what marriage is and is not, you take this as calling gay people animals and that I don’t think you’re human.
    How on earth can you construe such a meaning??
    And are you familiar with how the words humanize/dehumanize
    are used? Every time I’ve come across the terms, it’s referring to a sort of continuum. When 20th century industrialization critics said that working 12 hour-days on an assembly line is dehumanizing, they didn’t mean absolutely. Theologically it goes like this- God made humans to be good. Sin of any kind makes us less how God made us to be, less human if you will. The farther we are from God and God’s way the less human we are. In eternity future when believers are united with God, they are fully human again, sin being gone. So, anyone who sins, including heterosexuals who do adultery or divorce unjustly
    or whatever, is dehumanized more – not totally.

    But do you notice the words you use for me – “abusive” “nasty” “insulting” “crude” “ugly” ? I’m not using such words against you, or anything like that. I believe you are a valuable human being who is loved dearly by God.

  • EdinburghEye

    Before I leave off, I have to respond because it seems you think I bullied or insulted you. I’m sorry, I meant nothing like that.

    Okay.

    Evangelical Christians comparing gay people to animals – as you did in your comment – is a real trigger for me. I find it supremely offensive, and I’m not the only one who does – even without your compounding the insult by saying our marriages are “dehumanising”.

    I’m tentatively hoping you are actually sorry you did that. Can I walk you through what a real apology looks like? It follows this model:

    I’m sorry for…
    This is wrong because…
    In the future, I will…
    Will you forgive me?

    So, what I’d hope you’d want to say is:

    “I’m sorry for comparing same-sex marriages to marriages with cows, and saying that a same-sex marriage is dehumanising.”
    “This is wrong because lesbian and gay people are human beings, not animals: no relationship they have can be compared to bestiality, nor can it be dehumanising.”
    “In the future, I will refrain from making these comparisons.”
    “Can you forgive me?”

    We’d still obviously disagree on whether same-sex marriage can be legal, or is spiritually “right”. But if you want to argue civilly and respectfully, you do not dehumanise your opponents and compare them to barnyard animals, and if you’re sorry you did, then yes, I think you should apologise for that and strive to refrain from doing so in future.

  • David Stolton

    I have been considering my reply to Vicky’s actual opening questions and have yet to respond as I like to “hear” many points of view first. However Alastair, this comment cannot stand as it is; it is innately wrong to compare paedophiles with the LGBT community, please reconsider. Paedophiles are abusers- their victims either have no choice or are not mature/old enough to make an informed choice. The LGBT community freely exercise their choice in their relationships whether other people agree or not with that choice.

  • Alastair J Roberts

    I was speaking primarily about paedophiles, not child abusers. While often confused, they are not quite the same thing. Many paedophiles have sexual desires for children but don’t act upon those desires in any way.

  • David Stolton

    I have delayed responding to hear other views, however, am disappointed that many have done exactly what Vicky asked not to do at this stage in immediately engaging in textual argument, when Vicky has said she will come to that later.
    Relationship is a good place to start. The whole Bible is about our relationship with God and his with us, how we have spoiled it and how he has redeemed it. Different cultures within the Bible have responded to that relationship in different ways and relevant to their culture- and that changed throughout the timeline of the Bible as it does today. Jesus showed us that love and relationship are important- he was prepared to act “unscripturally” on many occasions, which is why the religious authorities were against him. We must consider the whole of the Bible on this issue, as we do for any other-not cite individual books, or passages, and seek to understand the message conveyed by all of Scripture, not just those passages which we select. After all, most of us would not condone many of the practices mentioned as “law” in Leviticus.
    I started my thoughts some time ago on this subject, from a straight, married position as a Methodist minister. The Methodist Church, like all, has a confused set of messages around LGBT relationships and my views are personal. Initially as a minister I held fairly traditional views on this subject, but we have been given some essential gifts by God. Love, The Holy Spirit, Freewill, Scripture and Intelligence. These are gifts I try to use to debate the LGBT issue, as we all should. No one of these gifts should stand alone as a reasoning point, and all should relate to the culture and the people we live amongst, or else we (the Church/Christians) are not “The Body”.
    I challenged myself with to consider what my response would be to ( in the Methodist Church, a currently hypothetical question) a gay Christian couple asking to be married by me. I first had to consider their relationship with God. As Christians ( and who am I to judge otherwise), with a personal relationship with Christ, they will (obviously) have a relationship which feels right to them, as my relationship with Christ feels “right”. As a gay couple, they experience love, which I know only as a straight man, but again, which I have no right to question or doubt, any more than they might question my marriage of 30 years. And they wish their personal relationship with each other to be celebrated and brought before God and their vows to be made before him, like any heterosexual Christian couple (for the sake of this point of view we will not consider opinions on marrying non-Christians- gay or straight-in a Church- this is a very different “argument”, or indeed of Civil gay marriage).
    If I am to be a servant of God and minister his love, then I find it difficult, in terms or relationship, and in terms of utilising the gifts mentioned above. to find a position which could respond negatively to their request.
    I could go one, to justify my position, but, as Vicky asked, we do not, at this stage wish to delve into textual argument.

  • jonathan_smith

    Two posts in and no Biblical point of view is presented – because we’re all going to have to agree to disagree. Woe to those who call evil, good.

  • Servaas Hofmeyr

    I am playing no games. What did happen though, is I think this post belongs under another post which I can’t see anywhere around this one. I have just read your above post for the first time and did not intend to respond to it earlier either. I replied to a post also talking about ‘nature’ where the semantics game has already between other posters and that is which I responded to. Sorry.

  • Servaas Hofmeyr

    One thing that stands out for me so far in these ‘intro’ blog posts, towards eventually forming a bilblical argument for ‘same-sex marriage’, is that Christians and atheists who are for the redefintion of marriage seem to have the exact same views on gender, personhood and sexuality. Would one expect that to be the case? Atheists and Christians viewing gender, sexuality and personhood in the same way? I typically find that atheists view these things differently.

  • JB

    “Other LGB Christians believe it is ok to be sexually active and seek out a life-partner. My own theology agrees with the latter group.”

    I totally respect your theological position, whether I agree with it or not. However, I would be interested to know, based on the above point, where do you stand on monogamy? If your position is that it is ok to be sexually active and seek out a life partner you indicate your theological stance is one of freedom of sexual intimacy prior to the life-partner coming along. Is that the same, in your position, for heterosexual couples?

    If so, how does that correspond to the gospel?

  • Tom

    Not sure how it’s possible to have a sensible debate if you immediately jump to unrelated situations. No one said anything about women sold to pimps or as sex slaves; clearly that’s terrible.
    In terms of arranged marriage, consent, rape and so on – an initially unwanted arranged marriage does not necessitate rape. A girl may be displeased by the proposal at first, but nevertheless agree to it and in doing so, consent to the sexual aspect of that relationship (to whatever degree marriage does demonstrate sexual consent). Just because it wasn’t a love match doesn’t make it rape.
    Many cultures have arranged marriages as the norm; they assume/hope romantic love will follow later within their marriage. It is our culture which brings sex and marriage under the altar of romantic love. Who says a couple MUST romantically love/fancy/crush on/whatever each other in order to make sex moral? Consent doesn’t require this.
    Finally, are you a Christian? If so, and knowing as you surely do the “traditional” marriage of biblical times, what is your response to the low opinion God (and Jesus) seems to have towards divorce? Do you think God actually hated marriage in those times, but put up with it, thinking “stay calm, in 2000 years the social liberals will be along to transform marriage into what I wanted all along…”

  • Tom

    You mean, Solomon who was warned against this in Deut. 17:17? Or, the exhortation for men of good standing worthy of being leaders to be men of one wife? Or, the fairly straightforward line in Genesis 2:24? Where in the Bible are we exhorted to copy the lifestyle of Solomon?
    If you are actively trying to bend and break God’s guidance, to push it and see how far it will stretch, then you’re absolutely correct – “Thou shalt only have one wife” is not the eleventh commandment. But then again, neither is thou shalt not eat magic mushrooms.

  • Tom

    To add an extra perspective on this: in the well-established lines of the church (orthodox, RC, Anglican) we like to think that tradition is worth something. If you’re non-denominational, you may think that any tradition is stupid and everyone has to make up their mind on every issue based on Scripture alone (or personal revelation perhaps?). But given that the orthodox understanding of marriage throughout the centuries has been exclusive, heterosexual, life-long monogamy, I think this counts for something.
    It doesn’t mean every edict from the church leaders is infallible. But it does mean something.

  • David Stolton

    Thank you for this clarification, your post, and other posts do not make this distinction clear. However, there still appears to be a direct comparison in your post between the illegal/abusive paedophile (in thought or action) and the legal and consensual LGBT couple (in thought or action). The comparison is not valid for this reason, whatever your moral point of view about LGBT relationships is.

  • Alastair J Roberts

    The comparison is a significant one because, on the grounds upon which many LGBT advocates makes their cases, paedophile desires are also included. It explodes the extremely popular argument that desires can’t be morally problematic if they are naturally occurring, unchosen, and not really subject to ‘cure’. It also makes clear that the fact that persons having certain naturally occurring desires can experience significant personal distress on account of the limitations of social norms doesn’t mean that the norms themselves are wrong. It also makes clear that it is appropriate that some people may have to spend their whole lives not acting upon their ‘orientation’. None of these points settle the question of the moral status of homosexual actions or orientation, but they are an important piece of evidence proving that many strands of logic used to argue for its absolute legitimacy do not hold.

  • Bernard

    Hi Vicky. I would be interested in any comments you might have on the following article. Many thanks. Bernard

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2611020/Meet-worlds-married-lesbian-threesome-baby-make-four-July.html

  • http://www.shinyphoto.co.uk/ Tim

    How could Solomon have been warned against it when he supposedly reigned through most of the 10th century BCE while Deuteronomy was only written around the 7th century BCE?

    Even if that chronology passes you by, there are other examples of folks with more than one wife – Jacob with both Rachel and Leah, for starters.

    Your reading of 1.Tim.3: is completely up the spout; it is written solely and explicitly about someone who “aspires to the office of overseer”; the good-standing is the criterion, not the driving force. That’s before you get into well-known translation issues concerning “husband of but one wife” versus “faithful to his one wife”, etc.

    Gen.2:24 renders explicit an implicit purpose of both creation myths: that the story posits an explanation of things a story-teller can see around them, what “typically happens” not what “should be”. The very phrase “this is why” that introduces that verse should be a complete giveaway.

    The point is not being exhorted to follow Solomon’s lifestyle, but to compare the norms for social interaction. You’re the one that said “the Biblical perception”, as though there were only one such that must stand for all time; I’m finding a whole bunch of variations even within the Bible itself and pointing out how the fundamental assumptions have differed in several cultures over the centuries. The norm in the OT is that wives were seen as commodities (how Jacob “worked 7 years for” both of his), while in the NT society is patriarchal and wives are only home-makers.
    In neither testament is the idea of marrying purely for love the norm. Today, it is.

  • Rob McAndrews

    What version are you reading where it says no male or female? It’s “there is no Jew or Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, Scythian, Barbarian, free or slave, but Christ is all and in all.” By the way, not the best use for this situation as the verse is noting how we are all new creations in Christ where we are rejecting our sinful selves and putting on the new creation which we get through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Specifically it calls for the rejection of “…sexual immorality, impurity, lust…” There’s some of us here who still think homosexuality still can fall into one of those categories.

  • http://www.shinyphoto.co.uk/ Tim

    “the orthodox understanding of marriage throughout the centuries” – in addition to my previous comment about property and home-making, you omit the ancient Roman practice where it was normal for a man’s wife to be for procreation only and he’d have a younger boy for fancying!

    I know those lines of the church pretty well. And I can safely say I agree with Holloway that tradition does not constitute a reason to do, or not do, anything, as such. It is simply what people appeal to, when they *don’t* have the weight of real history or authoritative text on their side. All it does is serve to cover an outgoing generation’s prejudices.

  • Tom

    Thanks Tim. I take your point re. Solomon, although not everyone will agree with you in the line you take about the authorship of Deuteronomy. But even if you don’t believe that Solomon had access to Deuteronomy or its source texts, it is still a warning/guide from God away from polygamy, so it’s a little unfair to suggest we have no clue as to whether God encourages polygamy or not.
    Similarly with 1Timothy3, I think this is also an unfair dismissal. I’m well aware of the context but I think if someone said to you, “these are the qualities of a man of God, suitable to oversee his people”, it’s a little perverse to say “well, I don’t want to be an overseer, so I can ignore them! And drink a lot, be violent, allow my children to run wild, live foolishly, exercise no self-control…” and so on. It isn’t a shocking or controversial inference to say that the implication is these are good qualities for all Christians.
    I accept your point about Genesis. My only come-back would be that it is another passage which, all be it mysteriously, refers to marriage between one man and one woman. If you were trying to build up a picture of what marriage looks like…
    I’m well aware of the Roman practice you mention! But by orthodox I meant orthodox Christianity; I’m quite sure other cultures (particularly the Romans…) accept other forms of inter-gender relations. This is not an appeal specifically to natural law – in some ways, marriage is a divine intervention, and as such is really quite unnatural. But you say “a whole bunch of variations” are found in the Bible… really? I mean, there’s polygamy…
    In fact, there is probably a less strong case against polygamy than there is homosexuality. God never specifically condemns it. Are you happy for churches to marry polygamists? (Not a rhetorical or facetious question!)
    Finally, I don’t consider any single verse of scripture to have outstanding, all-trumping authority over every situation, for all time. Believe it or not, I don’t see the Bible as a rule book (most of it, anyway). In terms of the “biblical perspective” I refer to, I mean: what is the gist? If we look at all relevant, or semi-relevant verses, on balance, what direction does the guidance seem to be moving in? For instance, with polygamy, we have kings warned against it, leaders practically prohibited from it, a creation legend referring to monogamy and comparisons of marital fidelity to the covenant between God’s people and God (which again doesn’t expressly exclude the possibility of polygamy, but makes it even more tricky to justify, in my opinion). So, despite the various patriarchs who clearly did have numerous wives, I would suggest God appears not to be in favour, and again, this has been the understanding of the majority of the church through the years. I appreciate your scholastic abilities and knowledge but does it not feel like you’re missing the wood for the trees? Studying each syllable and declaring things invalid (there’s that word again) because it isn’t legally watertight?
    Similarly, homosexuality. I have heard the various contextual arguments about Molech, temple prostitutes and so on, but overarchingly if you gave a stranger all the relevant or semi-relevant verses, what conclusion would they draw? And then, not as ultimate authority but as another source of help, look to the historical church – what conclusion have they drawn?

  • David Stolton

    I will have to disagree with this supposed logic as “natural desires” cannot include, under any social norm, those that harm others. This blog starts with relationship as the issue to be discussed, and LG marriage as the underlying concern. Love, not natural desire, however you may wish to define it, is the basis of relationship leading to marriage. Accepted norms of love would not imply deliberately harming or thinking of harming the other person in any society.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    My point was about consent, not love.

    As I said, I have no right to object to informed consensual prostitution.

    Forced marriages are by definition non-consensual. I’d say arranged marriages where those involved are below the age of consent are also non-consensual.

    Traditional arranged marriages are all too often forced, either by peer pressure, or overt violence. While all Abrahamic religions have this problem to some degree, most sects of Christianity and Judaism abandoned forced marriage long ago. Some never considered it acceptable. Yet arranged marriages ostensibly without coercion remain common practice in some sects, while in others, the wishes of the parties concerned are completely immaterial.

    As for the question “Am I a Christian?”, Thomas Jefferson would have thought so, and indeed my personal philosophy was considered a branch of the mainstream in his time. But the world has changed since then, so no, I’m not Christian in any sense of the word as its meant today. In fact, you could justly call me anti-Christian, as I try (however imperfectly) to follow Christ’s teachings.

    Jefferson as you may know published a severe abridgement- the “Jefferson Bible” – cutting out what he saw as the accreted superstitions, forgeries, and nonsense. It’s not exact, but a good first approximation to how political Christianity is practiced today is that the Jefferson Bible’s contents were discarded as too hard to practice, and the sweepings of the cutting-room floor adopted in its stead.

    YMMV of course. There are many people who are kind and decent despite professing Christianity, but they tend to be the rank and file, not those who lead.

    Regarding divorce in ancient times – it was a sentence of death by starvation for the woman. While married, in return for sexual slavery, she had by law and custom to be provided for. Upon divorce, she had to rely on charity, go back to her family as yet another mouth to feed, or find a new husband – much as with animal husbandry.

    Hence the strong condemnation of the practice by the first century CE.

    We live in different times now. I personally consider my own marriage vows inviolate, but that’s because I try very hard to keep my word in all things.

    We’ve had others – including high-ranking government officials and theologians, command us to divorce (long story). We refused.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    What version are you reading where it says no male or female?

    Galatians 3:28

    New International Version
    There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    New Living Translation
    There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    English Standard Version
    There
    is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no
    male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    New American Standard Bible
    There
    is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is
    neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    King James Bible
    There
    is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is
    neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Holman Christian Standard Bible
    There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    International Standard Version
    Because
    all of you are one in the Messiah Jesus, a person is no longer a Jew or
    a Greek, a slave or a free person, a male or a female.

    NET Bible
    There
    is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is
    neither male nor female–for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

    Aramaic Bible in Plain English
    There
    is neither Jew nor Aramaean, neither Servant nor Free person, neither
    male nor female, for all of you are one in Yeshua The Messiah.

    GOD’S WORD® Translation
    There are neither Jews nor Greeks, slaves nor free people, males nor females. You are all the same in Christ Jesus.

    Jubilee Bible 2000
    Here
    there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there
    is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    King James 2000 Bible
    There
    is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is
    neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    American King James Version
    There
    is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is
    neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    American Standard Version
    There
    can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there
    can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus.

    Douay-Rheims Bible
    There
    is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is
    neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Darby Bible Translation
    There is no Jew nor Greek; there is no bondman nor freeman; there is no male and female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus:

    English Revised Version
    There
    can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there
    can be no male and female: for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus.

    Webster’s Bible Translation
    There
    is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is
    neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Weymouth New Testament
    In
    Him the distinctions between Jew and Gentile, slave and free man, male
    and female, disappear; you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    World English Bible
    There
    is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is
    neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Young’s Literal Translation

    there is not here Jew or Greek, there is not here servant nor freeman,
    there is not here male and female, for all ye are one in Christ Jesus;

    I think you’re confusing the passage with Colossians 3:11

  • EdinburghEye

    Dear Colette,

    What makes you so sure that God wants you to exclude LGBT people from Christianity?

    (PS: You might also want to think about this.)

  • EdinburghEye

    JB, do you support same-sex couples having the freedom to marry?

  • Colette Pollock

    I wouldn’t entertain excluding anybody from Christianity. Christianity is for all, but as an individual any Christian has to shape their life to fit the Christian life style. Not bend the Christian faith to suit their own.

  • EdinburghEye

    The problem with defining “Christian lifestyle” as “exclusively heterosexual” is that this does exclude LGBT people from Christianity: pretending it doesn’t is hypocritical.

  • Taryn Hofert

    i’m so excited for this series of posts, vicky – and for your voice on this highly volatile topic. as a church leader in the U.S. i have found it quite discouraging that the church leaders who are willing to speak out on behalf of the LGBT community have been those who are no longer in local church ministry (stepped out of it) but rather are speakers/authors/consultants. It’s sort of like discussing philosophies of education- but it won’t take root until the teachers and administration in our schools embrace it, you know? the whole “proximity” of love is lived out in our local cities/towns/and villages and i can think of no more powerful way to bring that proximity of love than through the local church body.
    And as we, as a “evangelically rooted” church (in the deep south) embrace our LGBT community as well as give them opportunity to lead, we find ourselves on a bit of an island. as much as i enjoy reading the thoughts of those who are blogging and writing on the topic, i’d so love to hear of other churches doing the same and how this is fleshing out for their church leaders and community. any thoughts on connecting some of us who are in the thick of it? i’m not talking “yes, gay people attend our church” i mean “we do same sex weddings” “we have gay leadership” “same sex parents are part of our kids’ ministries and take part in parenting groups”. THAT kind of inclusion and embrace. I know Jay Bakker is definitely in this camp… but we are in a city for a long haul situation and get why it’s just plain hard.
    i also love your words on basing this post on scripture….at the core of this, the biggest question is probably how we read and view the bible even more than the question of homosexuality. thanks for blazing the trail!

  • Colette Pollock

    Not at all and I’m sure you’re intelligent enough to know that. Just trying to redefine Christianity to support your view

  • EdinburghEye

    Well, if you think LGBT inclusion is “redefining Christianity”, I think that does rather deny your initial claim that Christianity is for everyone, doesn’t it?

  • JB

    I am happy for same sex couples to have the freedom to marry in the legal sense. I don’t believe there is any place for same sex marriage as a christian institution.

  • Colette Pollock

    No, it doesn’t. Christianity is for all including lgbt. It is the practising which is redefining.

  • EdinburghEye

    *nods*

    Fair enough. The issue I think that state and civil rights activists generally have to support is the freedom to marry in the legal sense.

    Each religious body and every religious person will have to decide for themselves whether to oppose or include same-sex couples in religious marriage.

    (And that too, obviously, is a civil rights matter: every church’s & every celebrant’s right to reject or accept LGBT people as a religious matter is covered by the civil right of freedom of religion.)

  • EdinburghEye

    Right, so you want to exclude all LGBT people from Christianity except those few who are willing to be lonely/celibate and/or to marry against their nature.

    That’s still a message that says “Christianity is not for LGBT people” since it’s not a condition you place before heterosexual people before allowing that they can be Christians.

  • Colette Pollock

    As I have said…not only do I not want to exclude anyone from Christianity, I also do not have the right. However, you can choose to exclude yourselves by not trying to abide by the written word. None of us will ever be good enough. We all sin. Jesus said very clearly ‘go and sin no more’ and that is what is expected of us.

  • EdinburghEye

    However, you can choose to exclude yourselves by not trying to abide by the written word.

    But your message to LGBT people is that it doesn’t matter how we try to abide by the written word – not one bit of our abiding by it or not is of any concern to you. All that matters to you is that we are not-celibate (or not married-against-nature): “practicing” as you put it. If we are, you think we’re excluded from Christianity.

    Jesus said “Whoever is without sin among you, let them cast the first stone”.

    You think that having spent the last few years “studying the Bible, research papers on genetics, sociology and psychology” what God wants of His people is to cast stones at “practicing” gay people. And then you set yourself up in the position of Jesus as if you were empowered to say “go and sin no more”.

  • Colette Pollock

    We are agreed Jesus said those words not me. You obviously have your reasons for your point of you. I am just saying that my point of view is no less valid than yours. In the end we all choose, only God will make the final judgement on all of us. I just feel we need to be careful and be really honest with ourselves…..are we ad hearing to the word or bending it to suit ourselves? That is for you to decide.

  • http://theocentrist.wordpress.com/ theocentrist

    This is your most irenic post yet, so that’s cool and appreciated! But I cannot apologize for something I didn’t say. I didn’t say gays are animals or unhuman – you said that. I wrote a sincere paragraph explaining that the meaning you twisted my comments into is not what I meant at all, a paragraph you totally ignore again.
    The problem is this: When you say something, I try to assume you mean the best; when I say something, you assume it means the worst.
    That said, you imply that others have been hurtful and unkind on this issue in your past experience, which makes your response more understandable. I can say I’m sorry you took it that way, and I will certainly be more careful in the future to be simpler and clearer when discussing these things. So, for the third time (!) I will sign off now. Best wishes, goodwill, and God’s grace to you all the same. :)

  • Jonathan

    Hi Vicky, I like the idea of establishing the ground rules before engaging in this tough and sensitive conversation… I read some very helpful rules for engagement by Tim Keller, which we might adopt here:
    Tim Keller’s “Gospel Polemics”
    1. Never attribute an opinion to your opponents that they themselves do not hold.
    2. Take your opponents’ views in their entirety, not selectively.
    3. Represent your opponents’ position in its strongest form, not in a weak ‘straw man’ form.
    4. Seek to persuade, not antagonize–but watch your motives!
    5. Remember the gospel and stick to criticizing theology–because only God sees the heart.

  • Servaas Hofmeyr

    This truly is, as many other times I guess, a time where great shifts are occurring in the broad ‘Christian’ landscape —> “Jars of Clay Frontman Comes Out in Support of Homosexual ‘Marriage’” via twitter of all places. He too seem to have made the logic fail of jumping from a call to love people to a disregard for marriage – his apparent argument is worthy of criticism, especially judging from the vast amount of researched material available.http://christiannews.net/2014/04/24/jars-of-clay-frontman-comes-out-in-support-of-homosexual-marriage/

  • http://www.margherder.com/ Marg Herder

    “So we must find a way to exist within the tension of our disagreements; to dialogue without destroying one another. To focus on how we treat each other in the conversation. To explore our calling to be family, despite deeply different beliefs.”

    Deeply humbled by your articulate and compassionate call to move to a place that is not so wounding.

    Christian people are being emotionally and spiritually wounded by other Christian people, some are dying, that’s the reality of this.

    Thank you for doing what you can to stop this. Thank you so much.

  • Rob McAndrews

    I thought I was going crazy for a minute. I rechecked those versions and none of them say that. NIV is the version I’ve been memorizing and it states “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3:11 NIV)”

  • Rob McAndrews

    And a link to many versions of that same verse. http://biblehub.com/colossians/3-11.htm

  • Rob McAndrews

    I was referring to Colossians not Galatians. Just to further clarify.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    Rachel wrote

    In my imagination when I contemplate Paul’s words to the Galations
    saying ‘there is no male or female, no Jew no or Gentile, no Slave of
    Free’

    So she was referring to Galatians 3:28 from the start,,not the similar passage in Colossians.3.11 you thought she was.

    No great drama. I hope that clears up the confusion… and if that’s the worst mistake you ever make in your life, you’re doing pretty well! Far better than me, anyway.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    My view is, predictably, that the Bible teaches that sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful

    I’d delete the “between a man and a woman” part as disputable, but otherwise agree.

    Whether the Bible is correct here or not is another question. It’s certainly incorrect in the areas where it contradicts itself.

    Then there’s the definition of “sex”. Does holding hands in a sexual way count? Cuddling? Kissing? Possibly a good definition here is “any behaviour you’d only want your spouse to engage in with you and no-one else”.

    Going back to basics… Matthew 22:39-40 and 1 Corinthians 13 seem to me to be the over-riding meta-law. Be kind. Don’t hurt un-necessarily. The rest is just guidance on how to achieve that, but has no worth in its own right if in the process you break the meta-law.

    Sleeping around, whether before, during, or after marriage tends to be hurtful. Risky behaviour. Not a sin in its own right, but so likely to cause real hurt that it should be discouraged.

    This to me is the greatest argument for marriage equality. That it allows those life-partners are of the same sex or intersex to marry and form committed relationships.

    In some jurisdictions where marriage is defined as “between a man and a woman”, Intersex people, being considered neither, are forbidden to marry anyone under any circumstances. Sadly, unless laws are carefully written, some places that allow both opposite-sex and same-sex marriage exclude them too.

    This is particularly hard on the children of such people – because while most Intersex people are sterile, a few are not.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    Apparently, this is where you have been deceived, thinking that God “changed” His creation somewhere along the way.

    You mean like this?
    http://www.usrf.org/news/010308-guevedoces.html

    In an isolated village of the southwestern Dominican Republic, 2% of the live births were in the 1970’s, guevedoces… These children appeared to be girls at birth, but at puberty these ‘girls’ sprout muscles, testes, and a penis.

    Those who naturally change sex like this, due to 5ARD(as here),17BHSD, 3BHSD or other similar medical conditions endure malice and hatred beyond your belief from conservative christians.Their very existence is seen as an attack, on God, on Christianity, on Humanity itself.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    I’d add – be unreasonably forgiving.

    I’m finding it very difficult to overcome my own prejudices here. I have need of that forgiveness.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    Yet there are christian marriages in vehemently anti-gay Uganda involving 3 or more wives, and no-one bats an eyelid.

    If a husband was added to the marriage, would that redeem it?

  • Bernard

    Hi Zoe. Thanks for your response. I suppose for me, there are a number of important questions which need to be considered such as:-

    Is there an ideal regarding marriage (which is related to God’s original purpose, and is between a husband and wife), and which should be recognised as such?

    In the world as we know and experience it, are there pragmatic exceptions to the ideal which are allowable, such as marriage between people of the same sex (and we know that the Scriptures already allow divorce, and possibly remarriage after divorce, as exceptions to the ideal … but are these the only ones)?

    If there are such allowable exceptions, should further lines be drawn, and if so where and why (such as, should marriage only be between two people)?

    I’m coming from a place such as expressed by Jesus in Matthew 19v3-8 where he contrasted what happened at the beginning, with what was subsequently allowed. Regards. Bernard.

  • http://www.shinyphoto.co.uk/ Tim

    Hmmm, no, I don’t think they are unfair dismissals. We are not trying to be kings per Deuteronomy, we are not trying to run for leadership … I don’t think you can ignore the various patriarchs’ arrangements insofar as they reflect permitted practices of their day. The historical contexts in which these verses were written generally do not apply today *except* where you can take something useful from what you read: there is no one culture described in the bible that’s an ideal but time does plod on and society evolves.

    I haven’t spent enough time thinking about polygamy to have a concrete view about it in the church, myself. But I *have* seen:
    1) the admission of women priests in the CoE, where my logic said that if it’s got potential to be right some of the time, the church law on the matter should default to permissive;
    2) the fragmentation that happens when churches define themselves by what they don’t do;
    3) what happens when churches wrench scripture out of context and use it to judge people – the memory of having to write a formal complaint against a “sermon” is quite painful enough.

    The rest of your argument amounts to “can’t cope with modern outlooks”. I’m quite sure people referred back to the bible, to supposed orthodox positions, to historical church practice, when dealing with the issues of slavery and racial segregation which form useful parallels. Funny how one doesn’t hear exegeses proposing those any more.

  • MyGoatyBeard

    Very powerful video, though quite fantastical.

    When do we get to the theology? Or do you think theology begins in human emotion?

  • EdinburghEye

    Absolutely, homophobic Christians bend “the Word” to suit themselves. The favoured “clobber text” from the gospels which is pretended by homophobic Christians to be an attack on same-sex marriage, is in fact in a discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees about the legitimacy of divorce. In a sense, obviously, us not being 1st-century Palestinians, or 4th-century BCE Hebrews, this is inevitable: it’s notorious that homophobic Christians pick out one of the 613 mitzvot and insist it’s applicable to LGBT people today, while ignoring most of the other 612.

    What you have to decide – and you won’t do it properly unless you are honest with yourself – if it’s acceptable to bend the Word to exclude LGBT people from Christianity. You can’t properly decide on that until you admit that this is what you are doing.

  • EdinburghEye

    I didn’t say gays are animals or unhuman – you said that.

    Yes, you did.

    And now you are refusing to apologise for this? Okay.

    That said, you imply that others have been hurtful and unkind on this issue in your past experience

    Oh yes. But then, evangelical Christians are mostly like that: like you, going around saying hurtful and unkind things, and then hypocritically claiming “oh no, didn’t mean that!” and refusing to apologise.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    While the answers to those questions are beyond my pay grade, I think the questions you ask are the right ones. You’ve obviously given them much thought.

    My own marriage of 34 years is definitely “exceptional” from a legal standpoint, yet is far closer to the stereotype of the nuclear family than most. Our son is in favour of it, and so are we.

    From my own viewpoint, if a theologian tells me that my marriage is sinful, I’d conclude that his theology is faulty. As exhibit #1, I’d show my son, the product of two straight, married unrelated biological parents.

    That they’re both biologically women is unusual though, to put it mildly. A case of one partner having protandrous dichogamous pseudohermaphroditism due to 3BHSD syndrome.

    Here’s the more common protogynous dichogamous pseudohermaphroditism caused by 5ARD syndrome. 17BHSD has similar effects.

    http://www.usrf.org/news/010308-guevedoces.html

  • David Stolton

    These are different books, Galatians and Colossians, which even in this simple matter shows how textual comparison can be confusing, even from what many consider the same writer.Vicky asked us not to start there, but with relationship- textual conversation will follow.

  • Barbara

    Bless you, Vicky. You are doing such an important and powerful thing. I think placing the incarnation at the centre is crucial( forgive the pun)

  • Truth Speaker

    Through this post it is clear that you are indeed coming out as a lesbian Vicky, I think it is honest and open and right of you to clarify this.

  • http://www.michaeldyaeger.com/ Michael D. Yaeger

    I’ve not known any Christians to show hatred toward anyone with a birth defect. Anyone showing hatred toward others should definitely check themselves against the scriptures:

    http://biblehub.com/1_john/4-8.htm

  • Bernard

    Thanks again for you response Zoe, and thanks also for sharing something of your personal situation, which I’m sure helpfully informs this debate. Wishing you well. Bernard.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    Some apologise when they know they’ve gone too far.

    http://www.religionnewsblog.com/23562/exclusive-brethren-ad-apology

  • Matt Atkins

    Pushing the Limits of Relationship – sometimes the truth hurts

    Sadly I think there is a problem with your approach Vicky. Firstly, I think you are wrong that you can start this conversation anywhere other than with the Bible, for reasons which I think will become obvious. Secondly, although in a way I sort of wish it was correct to say that we could stop debating this issue ‘past’ each other, I don’t think we can. The reason is very simple: sexuality, relationships, even marriage are not the real issues we are debating, it is the nature of biblical truth. To say that is instantly extremely hurtful to any LGBT person, I am ignoring their entire life experiences and the profound pain and struggles that have shaped who they are as a person. I know I am doing this, I do it quite deliberately and I consider it the right way to approach our heavenly father. As far as I am concerned human experience simply is not relevant to the debate and it never will be.

    Why do I do this even though I know it is hurtful? Because God is a person (3 in 1 in fact) and I know him. His is the only voice I respect as having authority in matters of theology. The world only deceives us. Don’t get me wrong, I have heard people out on the theological debates, I have had good relationships with LGBT Christians and non-Christians I have met based on mutual love, and I have even looked in detail at the science behind sexuality. Yet humans only have authority to teach scripture when they speak with the voice of God himself, and I do not hear him speaking through you in this. How do I know?: because the Bible is the Word of God and because I know my shepherd’s voice.

    I know that you say that you hold the Bible and it’s truth as sacred and give it the highest respect, as did Rob Bell before he said large chunks of it were not true and merely allegorical, but in my eyes that statement you make is simply wrong. You do not treat the Bible with the respect that Jesus gave the scripture when he said in the oft quoted verses “not one jot or tittle” and “scripture cannot be broken”. At the end of the day all of the theological roads on this subject lead to the same place. You will be ultimately forced to say that the Bible is, at least to some degree, of its time, that it was written for the feeble understanding of those living contemporaneously with its writing and/or it reflects the views and understanding of those who wrote it down or their society. In my eyes that does and always will fall short of the glory of God, and the Bible does not do that, not even once. God is the same yesterday, today and forever and his word endures forever. Any attempt to dilute this message, or the authority of the Bible, to me is far, far worse than any specific debate on sexuality or sin. It is the rock on which my faith stands, Jesus, who is the WORD made flesh. The God that disowned Saul because he refused to kill every man, woman, child, and animal of the Amelekites is the same God who sent his son to endure the worst torture man could concoct to pay the penalty for sin. God did both out of love, he did both in his righteous judgement, if you cannot understand the second you will always weaken your understanding of the first. This is not a God of compromise, it is not a God of change. If men in the Old Testament, or in the time of Jesus were wrong to condemn homosexuality as sinful, God would have said so, he did not, he left the rules of Leviticus on the subject in place and reinforced them in the writing of Paul. Jesus himself uses the simple Genesis definition of marriage and I believe he over-rules directly everything in the old law he intended to over-rule with his sacrifice on the cross, his sermon on the mount and his teachings on clean and unclean. High minded theology, written by the very intelligent for the very intelligent, cannot change that. I do not accuse such people of simply seeking to placate the world, I also accuse them of falling in love with their own intellects, of becoming a law unto themselves, and most of all, of devaluing the Bible by having an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words. I put to you this: if you cannot get your theology from the words of the Bible as they would be understood by an uneducated child who lives in a remote jungle, your theology is wrong, for to seek God we must become like children and we must consider the foolishness of God as wiser than the wisdom of men. Most of all, the truth of the Bible comes not through human understanding but by the ministry of the Holy Spirit to those who live according to his will. We must seek the God who uses the weak to shame the strong. The theology that comes out of Universities and proud, educated, old men in fusty rooms rarely leads us to him, in my experience and in the Bible.

    My point is simple, when you say that homosexual sexual activity is not sinful my response to your words is hurtful: you do not speak from God, you are wrong and I condemn your words and I call on you to repent of them. I do not condemn you as a person or judge you for those words, you will face no judgement for Christ died for us, just as I do not condemn or judge any LGBT person. Jesus did not throw stones and neither do I, but at the end of that story he still says “sin no more”, to say “sin no more cannot be throwing stones, it came from the lips of our saviour and were his words of love spoken to all of us. But in the end it is hard for a relationship to survive a debate which frequently returns to a basic position of, “you are speaking lies and are in sin in doing so” even if that is done in love. In my understanding of the Word of God Paul also says to avoid people who stir the kind of controversies you are raising here. If God gives me work to do alongside other Christians who do not believe the truth on this subject as stated clearly, and repeatedly, in the Bible, then I do it in love for all my brothers and sisters in Christ. But this debate goes nowhere, it is a dead end, I have no response for you except that if you cannot see the simple truth as laid out in the Bible for all to see, then what is there to discuss. I have more to say, and perhaps more gently, to people who are actually LGBT, as my belief is we are actually more alike than they believe. I disagree with them on this subject not because I believe they are different and therefore wrong, but because, despite the fact they are attracted to the same sex or to living a life as the opposite gender, I believe we are fundamentally the same and I love them. When compared to the core relationship with God, and his love, all of the things of this world are just noise.

    From what I have said perhaps you can see why I think the approach you want to take is unlikely to succeed. My belief in the Word of God is not open for debate, if it was my faith would be open for debate. The difference in ideology is irreconcilable because it relates to the nature of the Bible not to the nature of sexuality. It cannot be swayed by the experiences of other men and women and even less by complicated discussions about the Greek meaning of words or the context of 1st Century society, not because I don’t understand them, but because I don’t care, that is not the way of God. These things can sometimes help us to go deeper into the nature of God as revealed in his word, but they cannot change the basic and simple meaning. If it were up to me I would not allow the things you say to be preached to the church, nor would I allow a person who espouses those view to preach, not because of my views on sexuality but because you do not hold the authority of scripture in high enough regard. In short, I have very little to say to you which is not on some level a pretty serious rebuke. I do not rebuke LGBT people, it is not my place to rebuke something so personal in the lives of people I do not know, but I will rebuke the theology of anyone I regard as spreading lies, particularly from a public platform God has given to them. If you do not accept my rebuke then in my view the only way we would be able to stand the company of one another (and find it easy to hold the brother and sister love we are commanded to have for one another) if we were to meet or do God’s work together, would be if we do not spend too much time dwelling on this subject.

    In love, (even though it may not feel like it :P)

    Matt
    P.S. God is proud of you and loves you and is proud of and loves all of his LGBT children, don’t think I don’t know that.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    Bernard, my thanks.

    Your kind words washed away the anger and bitterness that seeps in whenever I venture onto religious sites.

    OK,there wasn’t much in this case, and that that there was came from my own prejudice, certainly nothing anyone else did.

    Your words are yet another example of how even small kindnesses can make a big difference. I’ll try to pass your charity towards me along to others.

    Starting with yourself. Best wishes, Zoe. And thank you.

  • Bernard

    Many thanks, Zoe. And to you too. Bernard.

  • Servaas Hofmeyr

    Matt, I greatly agree with your sentiment but disagree with some things you say here. Although many (some) ‘university professor theologians’ may be in love with their intellect, not all are and your current understanding of things are also because great scholars have gone to great lengths to study God’s word. There are many top scholars who do study Greek and also the ancient Jewish culture to reach very similar conclusions to your own but on an even better reasoned basis. I agree with you though that from the Scriptures it is clear that a natural order was created to which God calls us all while all of us have strayed from that order and can only re-enter that order through Christ Jesus and the renewal of our minds through the Word and the changing of our behaviour.

  • Joe H

    Dear Vicky,
    Thanks for your thoughts. The main thrust of your post appears to be: because the Church is divided on “equal marriage” and will never return to unity on it, we must accept it as part of the diversity of Christianity. We need to figure out how to live in unity amid the difference of opinion. This position necessarily implies that traditional Christian teaching on sexual morality is non-essential to Christianity.

    But there is another approach to this. The division in “the church” is not an indication of the lower importance of sexual ethics. It is an indication of a crisis of authority in the protestant church. Martin Luther started the process by his cry “sola scripture.” Every believer is the interpreter of the scripture. This began the process of subjecting truth to the interpretation, ultimately the opinion, of each believer. The alternate approach I’d like to offer my protestant brothers and sisters is to return to the authority which is still held by the apostolic churches: primarily the Catholic Church. Many Christians have posted some good scriptural arguments for traditional sexuality which I agree with. But ultimately, why should I accept their interpretation instead of yours? Who decides?

    In 1968, Pope Paul VI published Humanae Vitae. In it he repeated the ancient christian teaching on sexuality and its relationship to new life. It seems a lot of our false assumptions about “equal marriage” are rooted in the loss of the intuition of this relationship between the marital act and new life. Some of the predictions Paul VI made, have come true, indicating that he was either prophetic or just knew really well what he was talking about. His warnings in paragraph 17 have been realized in the form of increased marital infidelity, increased divorce, increased cohabitation, increased “recreational sex”, increased immodesty, increased abortion, etc. His warnings about nations imposing contraceptive means to solve social issues has been realized in China’s unjust one-child policy.

    I agree with your call to civil discussion which seems to be lacking on a lot of blogs. I think Christians need to return to the ancient christian understanding of sexuality and its relationship to bringing forth new life. I think there should be serious reflection among protestants whether the path Martin Luther led us down 500 years ago is the correct one.
    Peace. Joe

  • Matt Atkins

    Yeah, I am perhaps a little guilty of using hyperbole to prove a point in that section but my basic suggestion, which I stand by, is that there is no better reasoned basis for Christian theology than the voice of the LORD. Human reason is fallen, and so potentially deceptive, even if it sounds very clever. I say this as someone studying for a Phd who teaches law to undergraduates. Though I do also agree entirely with Paul when he says that any argument or pretension that sets itself up in opposition to the truth can be demolished. For my part, I think the Greek and Jewish societal context on the subject at hand point in a clear direction that is entirely consistent with the ordinary English. However, the Word of God cannot be treated purely as an academic discipline, academia only exists because there are many points of view, but we believe in a single, holy, truth from God. A new Christian who spends their first 5 minutes of faith reading the Bible anointed with the spirit will have greater insight than a theologian who has studied his whole life in his own strength, no matter his intellect or experience. We do not need the Word handed down to us from on high by theological authorities because the Spirit of he that speaks it lives in us, see Jeremiah 31:31-34, but if we deny the law which is written on our hearts and minds because we choose the fine sounding arguments, and the intellectual respect of our peers, over the hand that wrote truth onto our being, what is left to us. A dispute cannot be resolved until the party at fault accepts their point of view is based on worldly things and not on the divine, or as the newest comment on the article suggests, accepts the arbitration or rebuke of an authority chosen by God. That is very hard to do for someone who has mixed their beliefs up with their career and their intellectual self-esteem, especially if their point of view has come from years of study and can supported by strong arguments. (It is even harder to do if those beliefs are tied into who they believe they are as a person, which is in a lot of cases the issue here.) I am not saying that there is any problem in a life devoted to study of God’s world (either in a University or elsewhere), many great men called by God have done this and produced fantastic Christian writings that have built up the church, but if that study departs from the basic truth that God is the only authority on his Word and all theology must come from inspiration by the Spirit then the result will just be human wisdom. Never forget that there are only 2 possible reasons why 2 groups of eminent, well educated and well-researched theologians should disagree, either one group is wrong, or they both are.

  • Servaas Hofmeyr

    Fully in agreement with you.

  • μαθητής

    Vicky, I applaud your willingness to discuss this publicly and particularly your attempt to do that in a framework of love and sensitivity, I’m sorry we’ve abysmally failed you in the latter. I hope you will continue with this series (although if it was me I wouldn’t), it has been a real blessing to me. It has prompted me to do quite a lot of study and more importantly alerted me to how I need to be more careful how I express myself. I want everyone’s primary experience of me to be an expression of God’s love for them.

  • bubbathegreat

    It’s obvious to me that people chose to become gay. No one is born with same sex feelings. They are seduced by evil spirits which enter into them and act through them blending into their personality. Over time those males seduced become more feminine in speech & actions.
    I believe Jesus made the distinction of the sexes clear when he said…
    “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
    For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife;
    And they two shall be one flesh: so then they are no more two, but one flesh.
    What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” Jesus
    ——————————————————————–
    You really have to study what Jesus is saying & this should settle the matter. He leaves no room for any other option. Notice he says: “male & female” “man & wife” “God has joined together”. If you’re honest with yourself & God then you should understand the words of Jesus are to be trusted & obeyed.

  • Hadassah & Mordecai

    So … I endorse your not wanting to start with argument and instead adopt an approach. And I agree with your statement that the dialogue must occur through a lens of love. Of course, “love” in english is a problematic word, and we should not fall into the trap that talk in love means bending over backwards to endorse every divergent point. Coincidently there’s an interesting article in Christianity Today on the culture of argument: http://bit.ly/1iC2HlL

    Second, you defer exploring the scriptural basis for the moment; and I understand your motivation, and agree if it means going straight to the “proof texts”. But I would argue we need to go to the bigger picture of scripture and look at the missing component: an articulated point of reference. The bible is not designed as a set of proof texts, but a story of God’s desire for our restoration. As such, the LGBT debate stands alongside all other questions of “is this behaviour part of God’s plan or not”. For that we also need to try and understand God’s intentional creation. What did he create us to be … for we have left that home and are on a journey whose destination is our Eden point of departure.

    In our church we are wrestling with this topic, and in particular wrestling with how to do it without “putting people on trial” – much as you are trying to do. Our start on this is here http://bit.ly/1iC5D21, which tries to say “What is God-normality”, and recognize that none of us are normal, but that our common journey’s purpose is to be convergent with our eternal destination. As such, the LGBT question becomes ever so more important when one talks about leadership.

  • bubbathegreat

    “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
    ——————————————————————
    This verse cannot be used to justify same sex marriage. To say so is to deny the context of what Paul is teaching. Today there still is male & female; slave & free; Jew & Gentile.
    Apostle Paul: “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” The closer you get to Jesus the more you will see that same sex marriage is evil & the work of the devil. One of the first things Jesus taught was.. “repent & believe the gospel” You must repent of homosexuality.

  • JP the III

    The conclusion I draw from the heteronormativity in reverse film is that we can be horribly cruel to homosexuals. But it doesn’t mean homosexual behaviour is a good thing.

    People who have other feelings that are judged and condemned by our culture (self-harm, paedophilia, addictive tendency) would have similar problems. They may feel bullied and victimised and that would always be wrong. But it doesn’t mean that we should always accept their behaviour as a good thing. That’s a separate question.

    So while I’m happy to approach this topic in the manner you suggest, and empathise with struggling people (I struggle) you still need to get to the theology of whether its a good thing or not.

  • Colin

    “But within those discussions if we “don’t have love”, St Paul tells us, we have “nothing” (1 Corinthians 13). That is a sobering statement.”

    So true, and one that is sadly often forgotten in these types of discussions!

    http://thetheologyofspace.blog.com/

  • Soph

    I am 27 years old. I am not a confused, hormonal teenager.
    By now I know who I am. I am gay. I am also depressed and suicidal, and this is
    largely due to this whole sexuality ‘debate’ that is happening within the
    church and in society.

    I hate how everyone has their view, and everyone shouts
    their views at each other without ever once stopping and looking at me. It
    makes me feel like I am an ‘it’, an ‘issue’, not a real person with feelings.
    Which are really hurting right now, by the way.

    I hate how everyone keeps telling me what I must think and
    feel and do. How I must live my life. I hate knowing that if I was to ever fall
    in love and be happy (a scenario which seems laughably impossible to my current
    depressed state) then most of my friends and family would think it was a bad
    thing that I was happy. That they wouldn’t want to or be able to come to the
    big party that two people who are happy together throw, called a wedding.

    So how am I supposed to carry on, when that’s my future? I’m
    stuck in a lose-lose situation. If I decide that all my friends are right then
    I spend my life alone and miserable, struggling to even want to connect to a
    God who thinks that it’s wrong for me to feel or experience love.
    If I decide that God doesn’t mind if I fall in love, then I
    spend my life fighting the church, being rejected and hurt, losing friends and
    family who think that my love is wrong.

    Either way, I can’t see a future where I can be happy. All
    the ‘It Gets Better’ videos in the world aren’t going to change that. It’s not
    going to get any better, how can it? This isn’t an argument that’s ever going
    to have a conclusion, and I’m not sure how much longer I can survive stuck in
    the middle of it.

  • Joe H

    Hey Soph
    Sorry about where you’re at right now. Hope my thoughts don’t ring hollow. If so just ignore them. I’m 51 and am beginning to realize I’ll never meet the perfect “wifie-poo.” I’m becoming convinced this is God’s will for me. But I don’t think this means God has excluded me from love. He has freed me for a different love. I’m lucky to have 5 nieces and nephews who I help take care of. At work I try to give myself to my coworkers cheerfully even when they don’t appreciate it. I help out with a youth group at church. We go out in the neighborhood and find kids in bad family situations and help them out. They’re hungry not just for food but God. I can show them an image of God’s love in how I love and care for them. God has given me wonderful ways to love. Jesus was never married. But the love he showed changed the world. In fact not only did His Father not want him to be married but it was His will that his Son die a horrible death. We serve a scary God. One who at times requires heroic sacrifice. Another way God asks me to love is by offering my loneliness and other trials as a prayer sacrifice for others. Like Jesus, I believe my sacrifices can save others. Something that was important for me was not being cut off from others. If I could recommend a little thing it would be getting tied in (if you’re not). This is a group of people with same sex attraction who realize their need for support from brothers and sisters to live a chaste and happy life. Maybe try them out. I know a priest who is a chaplain and is really cool. http://couragerc.net/ Peace. Joe

  • David Stolton

    Soph, I don’t know you, but I wish I did. You are amazing in putting up this comment, because it says so much about you and your hurt, and about this whole debate. I think you’re right- there will be no easy “end to this”, but we have to start with people, and with love, real love. That’s where Jesus always started. God loves you, you love him. He gives us the gift of love, and how you use that gift within the love he has given you is between you and him. If your love has all the qualities that we derive throughout the whole of the Bible ( and let’s not get to al the contentious verses) then who are your friends to question your love. I am happily married, straight and a minister-probably all the things that should disagree with you, but I don’t-my heart goes out to you. I wish others did too. God Bless.

  • Me

    Hi Soph,

    I think many of us LGBT Christians have been where you are- I know I certainly have. Dealing with LGBT sexuality as a Christian is a long process of reconciliation made even more difficult by all the discussions going on (note that most negativity comes from ‘straight’, middle aged men in the church who have been indoctrinated by horrifically sexist and chauvinistic teaching, along with an psychosexual fear of gay sex). I find it unbelievable to read some of the comments from the anti- brigade. It makes me sick how people can make others feel the way you do- Jesus would do anything to make you feel accepted and free if he was posting in these comment sections.

    Don’t dwell on the comments by people who try and use the bible to justify homophobia. The day every anti-gay Christian gives away all their possessions and money to the poor is the day I’ll respect their opinions.

    They will hate me for these comments a but only because they don’t want to admit to themselves what narrow minded and oppressive people they are.

    There’s a group called Diverse Church on twitter- they should be able to give you support

  • KateM

    I’ve been reading some of the comments on here, and it occured to me that it is funny that so many people are coming up with the ‘redifining marriage’ argument to mean that brothers and sisters, fathers etc. could be married according to this ‘new’ definition. I use the ‘Bible in one Year’ app that is created by Alpha, and just yesterday was reading a passage from Joshua 15:16-17, where Caleb gives his brother his daughters hand in marriage… pretty sure this would be frowned upon by modern day Christians! I can understand people who struggle with affirming same sex marriage on the basis of theology and scripture, but the ‘slippery slope fallacy’ stuff is just a knee-jerk reaction and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

  • Alastair J Roberts

    Caleb doesn’t give his brother his daughter’s hand in marriage. At the very most, we are talking about a half-brother as Caleb’s father was Jephunneh, not Kenaz. The more likely interpretation is that Othniel was Caleb’s nephew and Kenaz was Caleb’s brother. Cousin marriage still accounts for 10% of marriages worldwide. Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Darwin, and Albert Einstein were all in such marriages.

    Some slippery slope arguments may be misguided. However, many are rightly pointing out that the very same principles that lead people to support same-sex marriage could easily be used for such things as polyamorous marriages, and are used in such a manner by many. Consistency with the principles would lead people to affirm more than the immediate cause in whose service they are used.

  • KateM

    Hi Soph,

    I really want to reach out and give you a massive hug right now :)

    I know that words from someone who is just a name on a computer screen may ring hollow, but I just wanted to say that holding on is always worth it. I have been depressed and suicidal, I have wondered if there is anyone out there that I could fall in love with and who would love me back, and I know all too well the loneliness and despair that is created when you feel that nothing will ever get better and that no-one is fighting your corner, not even God.

    But I did get through it, and although I still don’t know God’s plan for me, I trust in Him that He will always be there. Put your trust in the one being in this world that will never, ever fail you-He will carry you through everything, and nothing you could ever do could make Him love you less. Regardless of the conclusion you come to regarding His plan for you, please remember that.

    I understand your trouble with the church, I still battle day by day when as you say people shout their opinions over each other and seem to forget that this is about real, suffering people.
    I don’t know the answer, but as I think someone else mentioned Diverse Church is on twitter, and they have a private facebook group for LGBT Christians who aren’t in supportive churches-this may be a good place to start.

  • Rob Watson

    I think the, in Vicki’s terms, ‘Equal Marriage’ debate has to surround whether someone’s relationship with God is damaged by embarking on this enduring commitment and the legitimising of sexual activity in that context. In other words will I, a Pastor, be complicit in injuring some even all of the sheep under my care? I know that this is not a theological debate to enter lightly because at the end of time I will be held entirely accountable for what I do or allow to happen to my sheep.
    I am so concerned about my responsibility and I know critically well that many gay people, too many gay people, live outside the church and outside of a relationship with God because of pure prejudice by those who want a hard-line not just to homosexual behaviour but also to homosexual orientation.
    I am pleased that all not yet-Christians and Christians can and do freely come into our church and from all races, denominations and orientations, but it is a huge responsibility for Pastors to shepherd their sheep well.
    Please everyone do not treat this subject lightly the consequences are significant!
    Just to add to the list of passages to think about Vicki, if you can stand to read all these comments, are Isaiah 56 and the prophetic promise to Eunuchs and indeed the Eunuch reading around that passage in Acts 8:26ff. It does not add anything at all to the ‘Equal Marriage’ debate, but it does for me clarify our need to recognise the call of God to those in the LGBT community.

  • jonathan_smith

    “In my imagination”. Precisely. Not in God’s word. Why do you think Paul would add that phrase in the context of the church today when he was aware of it and condemned it stridently in his own day?

  • edulike

    OK. My take on all of these things:

    Gay/Same sex /equal marriage. I think we need to look at this from two standpoints:

    a) Secular/social/non-Christian people – I accept that we are in a post-Christian society, and that the legal and social structure needs to reflect the reality on the ground. The reality is that the majority of people do not consider there to be a qualitative difference between a relationship between a man and a woman and between people of the same sex, as long as they are both getting something out of it and they are old enough to consent. If they want to marry, they marry. If they want to cohabitate, they cohabitate. If they want occasional sex buddies, that is acceptable. I have no problem with society recognising any of these scenarios, and calling whatever scenario they want “marriage” also if they wish – it does not hurt me. I am also not in a position to judge non-Christians. The bible is clear that that is not our job (1 Corinthians 5.)
    We as Christians need to be welcoming, respectful and loving to people in all scenarios. Jesus ate with tax collectors, sinners and prostitutes and respected and loved them all. He reserved his most stinging criticisms for the religious conservatives of the day who were trying to make everyone follow the smallest letter of the law.

    b) Christians. I have read the bible from cover to cover, much of it several times. I have found nothing in there that tells me that God approves of same-sex marriage for his people. There is much there that is unfavourable to same sex sexual union, although I accept that others have different interpretations. The clear stance of the bible is that sexual relations outside of marriage (pornea) is sinful, and that marriage is between a man and a woman. People who do not adhere to this should be welcomed and loved, but should not be allowed to be members of the Christian fellowship, and certainly not be placed in a leadership position in the church.
    I Corinthians 5 seems to apply here – I am supposed to use my judgement based on scripture to apply to members of the fellowship and what constitutes immoral behaviour. I have the same opinion for unrepentant adulterers and swindlers and killers also.

    Now this is just my opinion. I have no problem with people who want to live their lives how they want by whatever moral code they choose. Christians are supposed to submit to the will of God as revealed in both the old and new testaments, and be fully convinced in their own minds about their stands on things, in all honesty towards their God. People much cleverer than I who have read the originals in the original languages have come to the mainstream interpretations of the scriptures. I have tried to reach my own conclusions also, in good faith, based on the scriptures.

    That means we can differ on things, although where someone is wanting to differ from the accepted mainstream they need to have some biblical depth behind the theological argument for their views, rather than “they love each other and God likes love”. People have said that Paul was against temple prostitution, not loving gay marriage, and Sodom was punished for male rape (and other things) rather than homosexuality per se, and I can buy those arguments. However, the bible as a whole is consistent that sexual relations outside of marriage (pornea) is sinful, and that marriage is between a man and a woman. I will need substantial proof for me to be convinced the bible says otherwise.

    In short, live how you want but don’t say that your support for Christians entering into same sex marriages is because of your faith and your adherence to Christian values. It is your opinion, possibly with a bit of cherry picking of scripture to support the view you want. If it isn’t, and the mainstream has been wrong all these years, prove it using the bible rather than sentiment.

    Ed.

    You can go mad. http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/15/my-take-what-the-bible-really-says-about-homosexuality/

  • David W Giffen

    I had never heard of Vicky Beeching until April 21! When Ship of Fools retweeted her announcement, I had to reply in support of the start of her LGBT Theology & =marriage blog as a positive step in our social and religious evolution. She gave it a “favorite”, so I had to do some catching up. Being Canadian (for which of course I apologize) I didn’t realize how the British parliament had to handle the conflict between legal equality and the legal status of the Church of England, or that this was part of the context of the debate. Another part of the context is biblical canon (spelled cannon for arguments with people with whom you disagree). People can hold this example of evolution in their hands and say they don’t believe in evolution because of it. People are apt to argue chapter and verse according to how they feel about a topic and get distracted from our goal of becoming better able to love one another. I believe if everyone in the C. of E. read the intro to Vicky’s blog slowly and carefully a half dozen times, followed its link to 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (New Revised Standard Version) and read that another half dozen times, and may I personally recommend 2 Corinthians 3 (the whole chapter, and I favor the NLT) – then they might not feel the need of the legal protection of the present act and change it to something less embarrassing. Please, people, it’s not the church that needs protecting – it’s the people whom we victimize and even drive to suicide because we’ve decided that God should have made them to feel more like us. Think for a moment – if there was a mistake made in how God made people to feel shouldn’t we look for it within ourselves? From another continent may I assure you “It’s the same the ‘ole world over” but it’s we who should take the blame (i.e., take up our cross).

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  • Glasgow

    Stifling a yawn in Glasgow.

    To cite out of context 1 Corinthinans 13 as an incitement to love tells me Vicki that you lack the view that scripture gives us on scripture.

    Do the work please before you begin your pronouncments, it’s evident that this post is ‘jellyfish’ in its astounding lack of anything substantive. Meaningful and pastoral maybe, but biblical, grounded in th revelation of scripture and Spirit? I don’t think so.

    You seem to be joining the growing line of evangelicals who are choosing a populist position, the opposite of Jesus’ Good Friday choice.
    Call it life coaching – not Cross centered Christianity, call it aspirational social commentary, not biblical exegesis.

    And yes, you will become even more popular with these views, but at what cost I wonder??

  • http://www.jbwtucker.com/ J.B.W. Tucker

    Vicky! When are we going to get the next installment? Some of us are really looking forward to it.

  • http://www.ashestobeauty.net/ Lily

    This whole thing makes me sad. One can make the bible say anything they want, with enough twisting and rationalizing. To me, the bible is a “take it or leave it” type of thing. We shouldn’t be changing what it says in order to be politically correct, or in order to justify a particular sin. We have ALL sinned and we ALL fall short, so I don’t believe gays should be singled out. Heterosexuals are sinning too, if they’re having sex outside of marriage. However, anyone who does not realize that homosexuality is not God’s design and will for us, has spent too much time being influenced by this fallen world instead of being fully surrendered to God. The amount of acceptance of this particular sin in the Church genuinely makes me think we’re getting very close to the last days.

  • http://www.jbwtucker.com/ J.B.W. Tucker

    Lily,

    At this point, I share your assessment of what Scripture says on the topic of homosexuality. However, I disagree with your claim that Biblical interpretation is as easy as a “‘take it or leave it’ type of thing.” That’s not to say that I think a clear interpretation can’t be reached on just about everything. But in some cases proper interpretation takes more work than in others.

    Not all that long ago, a “clear” and “straightforward” reading of Scripture was used to justify slavery. I don’t know anyone who ascribes to such an interpretation any longer—though that’s not to say that we simply cut out those verses. Rather, we’ve come to a different contextual understanding of passages that reference slavery, with respect to the moral trajectory of Scripture.

    Likewise, for most of the history of Christianity, women have been forbidden from being in ministry. I grew up in a tradition that still explicitly forbade it. But by and large, the Church currently adheres to a different interpretation of Scripture today. And here, the evidence for a gender-inclusive interpretation goes well beyond the moral trajectory of Scripture—a proper understanding of the context of those few verses used to exclude women from ministry, together with the very extensive witness of all of the rest of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, makes it exceedingly clear that excluding women from ministry was the wrong interpretation.

    Here’s the point: The most disturbing part of all of this, to me, is the unwillingness of people who share my point of view to simply hear the points raised by the other side before condemning them. Again, I actually agree with you on homosexuality, at this point. But Vicky hasn’t even made her case yet! Disagree with her all you like—but do so by rebutting her points, by presenting strong and sound arguments and evidence that support your understanding. Do so by dealing with the subject matter.

    To do that, you’ve got to first let her actually make her case.

    She hasn’t even given her reasons yet, and already so many people have responded, “I disagree with you.” Disagree with what? She hasn’t given us anything to disagree with yet!

    I may disagree with her, too, once she’s made her case. I may find it lacking, or unsound, and if I do, I may speak up to explain why. But she gets to explain her positions, her reasons for believing what she does, first.

  • Andrew Barker

    Vicky, I was directed to your blog the other day so I may have missed some of your rationale. As yet, I am unable to find much to support your stance apart from a plea to show love and understanding towards LGBT Christians. In a sense that should be a given as we are called to speak the truth in love. Sadly of course this is not always the case. But I do suggest you need to show more than a need to act in love.

    I can understand your use of the word equal since this is a fundamental and I would say godly principle. But are you equating ‘equal’ with the same? We are all equal before God but are we all the same?

  • http://www.jbwtucker.com/ J.B.W. Tucker

    Yeah, she hasn’t gotten that far yet. I’m new to her blog as well, but by all appearances, her process is pretty slow, when it comes to blogging. She hasn’t actually gotten to the part where she articulates her rationale, presents her case from Scripture, etc. What you’ve talked about is how she started out… we’re still waiting on the rest.

  • Andrew Barker

    Please don’t reply on Vicky Beeching’s behalf unless of course she has authorised you. I don’t have time to discuss somebody else’s opinion of what she may or may not think. Thanks.

  • http://www.jbwtucker.com/ J.B.W. Tucker

    Get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? This is a public discussion; if you intend to forbid others from participating in the discussion, emailing Vicky would be a more appropriate medium.

    I haven’t spoken for Vicky, nor have I actually said anything at all about “what she may or may not think.” All I’ve done is, you know, read.

    “So here is post #1 in an ongoing blog series called ‘LGBT Theology’ to explore how Christians approach the topic of gender, identity and sexuality. As part of this, I’ll discuss how I’ve come to the view that as a Christian I can follow the Bible AND theologically endorse same-sex marriage. I’ll also explore Trans theology, and general questions around how orientation, identity and gender intersect with spirituality.”

    “So, where to begin this blog series? Actually I’ve given that a great deal of thought. And the place I want to begin is not the place many of you have pushed for.”

    “Yes, it’s true that I interpret the Bible passages on sexuality differently to those with a ‘traditional’ paradigm. But I don’t want to start this blog series by diving right into a recitation of the textual argument, verse by verse.”

    “I will address the Biblical texts during this blog series. I’ll also recommend useful books, resources and Bible commentaries. … But initially, before we even venture near these texts, I want to address the very framework within which those conversations take place.”

    “So before discussing exactly what we believe, it is crucial to first discuss how we engage with each other in that conversation.”

    See, you seemed to actually be pretty thoughtful on the issue, at least in your first comment—which isn’t necessarily a given these days and on this topic (which is something you stated yourself—though I wouldn’t want to be accused of trying to speak for you!). So I wasn’t trying to speak for anyone (since that’s clearly not necessary); I was just trying to be helpful. You said, “As yet, I am unable to find much to support your stance apart from a plea to show love and understanding towards LGBT Christians.” I was merely pointing out that the reason you are unable to find support for her stance as yet is because she hasn’t gotten that far yet. I don’t have to speak for her to know this, because she said so explicitly, more than once. All I have to do is read, and not even all that well.

    But that’s cool. If this is how you respond to all those merely trying to be helpful (while also apparently bemoaning the tone of public discourse?), I’m more than glad to leave you to your refusal to engage or interact with anyone… on a public discussion forum. To each his own, I suppose.

  • http://intelligentanderuditejew.blogspot.co.uk/ Hannah

    Hi Vicki,

    Thanks for this post. Really appreciated the videos & in particular the Jewish one, as that meant a lot to me. Look forward to reading further posts about this later on.

  • lee m

    Starting theology with praxis as the starting point is getting off on the wrong foot. We should not intepret the Bible based on experience. Doing so places our ideas, thoughts and experiences above the Biblical text. We should let it be the judge over our ideas and experiences just as the book of Hebrews discusses.

  • Edward Pillar

    thanks Vicky. I think this is a very sensible approach (and no, I don’t think you’re copping out…!). Seems to me that whatever one’s own interpretation of the Biblical texts, when you actually meet and form friendships with folk who do not share your own sexual preference, it is only the hard-hearted and blinkered who reject them. The key ethic – as you clearly point out – is love. Moreover, 1 Cor. 13:2 makes clear not simply that if I don’t have love I have nothing, but I am nothing. If we cannot love our neighbour (someone who has a different sexual preference to ourselves) in the same way in which we love ourselves then it frankly doesn’t matter what the biblical text says… Jesus said there’s only two commandments that really matter – love God and love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
    I’ll be interested Vicky in how you do approach and interpret the biblical text, but more particularly I’d encourage an approach that prioritises the life, teaching and ministry of Jesus – after all we are called to follow Jesus (I don’t think we are ever instructed to ‘follow the Bible’.
    Blessings, Edward

  • Will Bough

    Love is what really matters, LBGT is not a lifestyle choice nor is it caused by abuse or other factors like this. It is in the individual from birth, and if you believe the Bible, (I don’t personally but don’t judge those that do), we are all made in God’s image and God is in all of us. I do not judge nor condemn, just accept.

  • Ben Donelly

    Can a man come to faith in Jesus Christ and continue to live a lifestyle of depravity? Absolutely Not. It is the role of the Holy Spirit to convict a man of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, thus leading him to repentance and eternal salvation in his Saviour. Why is there no mention of The Holy Spirit, the one who sanctifies the believer and empowers him to live the Spirit filled life? It is important to understand that it is because Jesus loves the sinner that he will never affirm the sinner in his sin. You preach a Jesus who affirms people in their sin, thus you preach a different gospel. The Church exists to lead men to Salvation, not to bless the means of their damnation. Appealing to emotion to endorse sinful behaviour creates disciples whom you are leading to death. You are not helping them at all, you are merely causing them to hide behind a mask of counterfeit pride which keeps them from making the connection they need to make with their Creator. Their blood will be on Your hands, not the hands of them who are speaking the truth to them.

  • Ben Donelly

    The simple fact is this: The Bible condemns All sexual immorality of any kind from Genesis to Revelation Thus, to argue to the contrary is to argue a position external to the Scriptures. A person who does this has relinquished any and all right to call themselves a Christian. The All Sufficiency and Ultimate Authority of the Scriptures are testified to by the one whom Jesus said would come and make his home with the believer, The Holy Spirit. The Key common denominator in all of these professing ‘gay’ Christians is the total lack of Spiritual guidance, leading a man into All truth through repentance and saving faith in The Lord Jesus Christ.

  • http://thought-quotient.tumblr.com/ ThoughtQuotient

    We can’t separate God from His word.

    We can’t say we love God and not love His word. If we say we do and then dismiss parts of scripture, we are worshiping an idol and are deceived.

    Jesus is the word made flesh. (John 1:14)

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/13783773@N02/ Grace Dalton

    This is good, and indeed, we need to love other people. However, more than this, we need to love GOD and SAVE people (of course, by this I mean to do our part in their being saved by telling them how they find salvation – it is Jesus who saves). I am concerned that, perhaps,endorsing same sex relationships may contradict these, but am not yet theologically knowledgeable enough to be certain. Personally I’m desperate to get into the Bible teachings, but if 2 introductory posts are necessary, surely the priority is to state the Gospel above all else? Otherwise we’re allowing the tragic conflict to distract us from our ultimate mission.

  • Leigh Ann Moore

    One thing I do find offensive with your post Ben is that you have made some assumptions here and they are dividing assumptions. You assume that a person who has come to the realization that their sexual orientation is homosexual is a person who does not listen to the Holy Spirit or who has not engaged in scripture. I am one who has done both and still does both. If I were to make this personal, and I feel that I must in light of your comments, you would assume that I experience a total lack of spiritual guidance. Yet, you do not know me or my journey. But you assume that you can speak that over me with certainty. Do you not realize that in light of what I have just professed to you that your statements are heart judging statements that you have no right to make because you, a human, cannot judge the heart. Yet, your comments communicate that you can judge the heart of every person who is homosexual because of your assumptions. I do not intend to personally attack you Ben. However, I do want you to see how your comments do not help in this situation because you have judged the heart which is something that you cannot do. I hope that makes sense and I am open to further dialogue with you. =)

  • Leigh Ann Moore

    I’d be interested in hearing how anyone can divorce their experience from ever entering in the process of interpreting scripture. I understand how we must be careful to not allow our experience to get in the way of uncovering the heart of the original intent of what was written, as well as the context, but we are human and our own personal experiences always tend to come into play when interpreting things. I think it is naive to ever think any interpretation could be without personal experience coming into play. At least let’s all be honest about that-whatever view we take. Of course, I could be ignorant-not sure, but I am eager to learn! =)

  • Leigh Ann Moore

    If I may ask (I have a curious mind) what prompted your church’s decision to embrace your LGBT community? What brought the decision to being intentional about embracing this community? I’m curious because I’d like to know what brings about this catalyst because I’d really like to see this happen more. =)

  • Leigh Ann Moore

    My question is-why is it always the gay Christian who is preaching the “idol” God? Could it perhaps be that both sides of this issue are preaching the same God, just different understandings of that God’s desire for humanity and what God is trying to communicate to His people? The tension is that we serve the same God while at the same time have different viewpoints on what God thinks concerning the topic of sexuality. That is a very real tension and is not unlike the other different beliefs in the global church that cause tension. For example, just because I do not believe in infant baptism does not mean those who believe in infant baptism serve a different God than me. Or just because I’m Pentecostal does not mean that those who are Lutheran serve a different God than me. If Jesus is the Word and the Rock, then if we believe He is the Savior and the Son of God and believe on Him for our salvation, does that not mean we serve the same God?

  • Ben Donelly

    Leigh, what we find offensive is the truth, thus we are not being led by The Holy Spirit when we are out of step with The Holy Spirit. I doesn’t matter what profession a man makes, a continuing indulgence in a sickening and diseased lifestyle proves that one does not have the Holy Spirit in him and God has in fact rejected this person. The church should expel those who justify their sin and hand them over to Satan as Paul taught in the Corinthian church. If the Catholics had done this there would be no pedophile priests or blasphemers or idolaters. The betrothed of Christ would not be acting the whore, pretending to be a virgin without spot or blemish awaiting the return of her groom to take her to be his bride. We need to come to Godly sorrow leading to repentance and Salvation. If we don’t, it’s because God has completely rejected us and we will not be saved. We are convinced that the curse in our life is a blessing because God has turned us over to our own desires, precisely as the Scriptures teach. We have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, the natural for the unnatural and as a result, we now think that the lie is the truth. We are not blessed, we are in fact cursed by God and condemned to an appointment of spiritual execution. If we have been rejected by God, we will continue, as it is written, into ever increasing wickedness as the evidence that God has rejected us. God has removed any restraining grace and left us to our own desires, unless we call out to God and repent, leave our abominable lifestyle and follow after Christ.

    If you want me to Love you, then know this: Love takes no pleasure in wickedness and rejoices in the truth. This is why I’m not going to pander to your emotional needs to feel accepted, I’m going to warn you to flee sexual immorality, cry out to God for his mercy and forgiveness and accept his pardon for your sin. My heart’s cry for you Leigh is not to affirm you in your sin as indeed Jesus does not affirm us in our sin.. because he loves us, he warns us, “Go and Sin No More.”

  • Darach Conneely

    Looking forward to the next instalment of you blog Vickie. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

  • http://thought-quotient.tumblr.com/ ThoughtQuotient

    Good question.

    The problem is there are two “opposing” views here on God’s desires for humanity and what He is trying to communicate. One side is preaching a Jesus who delivers from sin (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – ‘Such were some of you’). The other is preaching a Jesus who affirms us as we are.

    The lifestyle that is in question is one that God says in scripture will not inherit eternal life. So, repentance is critically important.

    In terms of God’s view of sexuality, it is revealed not only in scripture but also in how He has gloriously created and designed our bodies. Homosexuality does not glorify God.

    Many people sit in churches every week, talk often of Jesus, but are not saved because they are not in Christ and do not have the Holy Spirit. As Jesus said, we must be born again. It cannot be assumed that everybody that serves in the church has fellowship with Christ.

  • FriendofGod

    Vicky, I would let Al Qaeda slowly saw off my head with me wide awake if it made you turn your heart away from supporting gay marriage and made you understand the feelings and thoughts of my friend Jesus towards this issue. This is how I feel towards gays too. I love them and that is why I must tell them they are wrong lest they bring harm to their eternal destiny. If a child was going to hurt himself by touching fire wouldn’t you try to protect them and stop them? In a burning house alone with a child wouldn’t you try to get him/her to safety? Sexual immorality is a seductive spirit capable of affecting the strongest and most sincerest of Christians. I only call it wrong, because Jesus and Scripture as a whole calls it wrong. I would rather please Him than myself or other men.
    Surely you feel the same way?

    Some random supporting Scriptures off the top of my head:
    Genesis 19
    Leviticus 18:22
    Romans 1 (gotta love all of Romans though!)
    Jude 1:7

    I’ve had many a quiet fair discussion with peaceful sweet mannered gay people and gay agenda people. After walking them through Scripture, at the end, every one of them (I’ve ever met) brought up the issue that they think the Bible is not infallible and instead contradicts itself. They weren’t misinterpreting anymore, they were deliberately rejecting certain verses they didn’t like. The Bible’s validity and accuracy was attacked.
    To which I reply this;
    if you believe the Bible is not in unity with itself or is not valid/accurate in the basic truths it holds to, then don’t be a Christian. Otherwise you have no way of knowing you’re really Christian or not. You attach yourself to a name/belief you don’t know or understand beyond your own subjective imaginations. Word of mouth history is inadequate for preserving (over many millenniums) details and core truths of a religion deciding eternal life and death of humanity especially with the imperfections in communication and morality that all men struggle with. Written Word was the only way at the time to preserve the Truth we believe in over so long a time. Those who use Scripture to justify sinful behavior (like homosexuality) simply lack understanding or simply stubbornly reject certain key Scriptures either because they don’t like it (God wouldn’t dare say that..) or because the Bible isn’t viewed as an completely accurate infallible source for their Christian core values.

    The sinful act of a man sleeping with a man is still sinful when married.
    Because, married or not, a man is still sleeping with a man.
    If God intended men to be with men, woman would NEVER have been made.
    2 men (1 gender) with unisex organs (ability to reproduce among men) would’ve been made in the garden. God is a ridiculously wise and efficient creator.
    Do you think God lacked the enough oversight to allow men the ability reproduce?
    God laughs at those who scoff His creation abilities!
    His intentions should be quite clear by now.
    He never intended men to be with men or women with women.

    In the same spirit of love I began this post with and
    with this last Scripture, let me provoke the fear of the Lord in you.
    Surely you want to love God, so bear with me.
    Jesus rebukes the ‘cities in which most of His mightiest works had been done.’
    In Matthew 11:23-24, “…For if the miracles done among you had been done in Sodom, it
    would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more
    bearable for the region of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you!”
    Jesus’
    most powerful miracle of bearing our penalty in death and rising from
    the grave had not yet been performed and yet His miracles would’ve caused
    Sodom to still be standing (they would’ve repented). Homosexuality was
    one of the abominable sins committed by Sodom and Gomorrah that they would
    have repented from in Jesus’ day. No Christian should agree with, justify, or live in a
    sin performed by a city God completely annihilated for committing those
    sins.
    TODAY, Jesus having died for us and risen (the greatest
    miracle), giving us grace (power) to overcome sin (not live in it), how much
    greater the judgement on us if we do not repent when Sodom and Gomorrah
    would repent if they were in our place?
    To sin and repent is one thing, but to harden your heart and justify sin without repentance and Jesus’ merciful forgiveness? Please… please… don’t…

    Know that there are Christians interceding in tears for your soul.
    Vicky, I love you, but you do not want to have to sit before the terrifying power of the beautiful Jesus and explain why you thought it okay to contradict His ways.
    You won’t have a valid excuse.
    Please… please… please…
    I would beg on my knees if it made you change your mind on this issue..
    I would sell my body into a lifetime of slavery and torture if it made the sin of homosexuality and the support of it disappear from inside the beautiful bride (church) of Christ. Will she be ready for His return?

    Sincerely,
    -Your friend in Christ

    P. S. Vicky, I still love and sing the worship songs you write..

  • Leigh Ann

    I truly think you are a person who means well. I honestly do think in your heart you desire to carry with you a message of reconciliation and the gospel of Christ. As a person who your viewpoint affects and your words pierce, I want you to honestly know that God does not view me as a gay person as wicked. This I know because I have listened to the Spirit of God. I can only share with you my experience and share with you that I am a careful student of the scriptures. I just don’t read it the way you do. I’m okay with our differences of opinion. What I am not okay with is that while you believe you bring a message of reconciliation, you don’t. You don’t seem to be concerned about the person, but rather the sin. You claim that you are concerned about the person because you call out the sin, but I think you have it backwards. Don’t you want your message to be received well? If you come to the conversation with a gay Christian simply saying that there is no way you can be following God and say you’re gay, there is no longer a conversation but you pronouncing judgement, as I have stated above. You have not reconciled with your fellow neighbor but instead placed a dividing line there, condemned them, and rejected them all with that one sentence. I’m not saying you can’t believe that homosexuality is wrong, but I just want you to see that your message/seed will not fall on fertile ground nor will you be received. In fact, that person may see your “love” as “hate” and you may cause more damage than good. I just want to offer you that alternative perspective. Thanks for talking with me. =)

  • Servaas Hofmeyr

    Another person stating the obvious (well, what was seemingly obvious to the pre-postmodern mind). NT Wright on same-sex marriage. An attempt to steer the conversation towards a theological discussion. http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/06/n-t-wrights-argument-against-same-sex-marriage

  • nejs

    Your friendly tone lasted three paragraphs LOL.

  • http://www.exclusivechurch.com/ Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente

    Lgbt is all to do with the strong sexual feelings that are in my view mistaken for love. Seriously? You won’t even believe gay folks when they tell you they love one another? When their relationships last for decades and sex is long dead? I really cannot see any point in debating with you.

  • JGHunter

    This is well written, it’s just a shame it doesn’t really amount to much. It seems to be about “why don’t straight people do more to think like us?” rather than “How do we justify this theology of same sex marriage and allowing of homosexual relations within the context of Christianity?”

    The obvious reason being that it can’t be done. Pretending the discussion of scripture is “to start with an instant argument” as an excuse to tiptoe around the reality of scripture is poor, you would do better engaging with the LGBT Christians who are capable of setting their desires aside in order to be celibate for the Lord. In fact, LGBT Christians who do this are in a better place than many heterosexual Christians who give in to the cult of the family when they would serve the Lord better being celibate, as Paul wrote. Sure, Jesus didn’t talk about homosexuality, but he also didn’t talk about child baptism. These issues are precluded upon a study of what scripture DOES say. Jesus tells people to repent and sin no more, he tells us to believe, repent and be baptized. He tells the adulteress to stop sinning. He heals the deaf man and tells him to sin no more, lest worse befalls him, he rebukes Peter’s attempt to stop the Will of the Father.

    Are we going to pretend that Jesus didn’t include homosexuality when he said “Out of the heart comes evil thoughts” and then lists sexual immorality as one of the evil thoughts? Or are we going to go further and pretend that Christ was “doing away with the law”. We know from any extensive study of scripture that Christ’s sacrifice, the sprinkling of blood, was the ultimate sacrifice that covered all sins for all time. This doesn’t stop sexual immorality being a sin, it just means a repentant heart is absolved. There is no “laws”, but rather “The Law” (which Christ fulfilled) – and how do we fulfill it? With love. Love of God and love of our neighbour (by the way, this includes pastoral care to homosexuals, ie those who we disagree with theologically (much like how Samaritans disagreed with Jews)).

    What is love of God? Permissiveness of perversion of God’s desire for us? Surely not. God did not say these things are no longer sin just because Christ died on the cross. In fact, if these things could just stop being made sin, there was no need for Christ to die on the cross. But they were a sin, and remain so. It’s terribly easy to want or pretend that all of a sudden God is a-OK with same-sex marriage and relations but there is literally no justification within Christian theology that he has changed his mind on this. If so, what else has God changed his mind on regarding sin?

  • mysticaphids

    I’m not going to debate whether or not the homosexual lifestyle is supported by the Scriptures. I think the Bible speaks plainly for itself on that matter very clearly. But I would like to say that The problem with our culture is that society tells us we should never feel shamed or guilty for “being ourselves.” In fact we should never feel shameful for anything we do. After all we are just being true to our heart and being who we are. We should never feel bad about it. The worse problem is that this attitude has crept into doctrines and morphed into some twisted false gospel.
    The whole point of the gospel is to provide man an escape from his naturally sinful, fallen state, and in order for the gospel to be effective or have any purpose, man first has to acknowledge that yes, he IS shameful and he IS guilty. He has offended the holy God and he stands totally condemned in shame. For us to say “God loves us as we are” undermines the whole point of the gospel. God cannot love sin, and we just so happen to be made of it. Why do you need the gospel if God already loves you and looks past all your sin just because He loves everybody? He is loving, but He is also just. SOMEBODY had to pay up for that offense to Him, and though it should be our price to pay, Jesus Christ took the debt for us and died as a sacrifice in our place. God allowed this so that He could look on us who believe on Christ and love us, because acknowledging that we are sinful and shameful and helpless is the only way we can come to realize we need a Savior. To say anything else, to say that we are loved just the way we are, disregards the need for the gospel and traps people in a lie proclaiming they don’t have anything to be saved from, when in reality they are drowning in their own pride that keeps them believing a lie.

  • JGHunter

    “God does not view me as a gay person as wicked.”

    Then you are not studying what God has said or done, but listening to a voice in your head that makes you comfortable in sin. You know where that comes from?

    An unrepentant homosexual is no different from any other unrepentant sinner. Believers have an advocate in Christ for when they sin, but they should not make a habit of it. Those who try and pretend habitual sin is OK for a Christian are wolves, worse than the unbeliever who does not know better. Read 1 Corinthians 5 to see how wolves should be dealt with.

  • Mathew Nathaniel

    Hi Vicky

    My argument is quite ‘straight’… ;)

    God created Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve (ironically Steve Chalke would disagree with this)…

    1. God commanded man to ‘go forth and multiply’.
    2. How do we know that sexual orientation is ‘not’ a choice of someone? We cannot enter into any biblical conversation or logical dialogues before we prove this point…otherwise everyone has an excuse to not live upto the standards of God.

    Much love

    Mathew

    Ps- I choose to love LGBTs INSPITE of their chosen weakness because I am a sinner too and I don’t make excuses for my choices that I make

  • Rod T

    Only just seen this – aware of Steve Chalke’s statement some time ago and the fuss that caused. I want to share on my blog (A Reader Reflects – my journey of faith) but I guess I am having to come to terms with the backlash from the conservative end. Hopefully I will get there before too long, will probably come to a head when we go for inclusive church status. I am signing up for the newsletter, but in the meantime my prayers for you.

  • WendyB

    I get the whole “receiving in love” thing and it should go without saying that Christians will do that (but I know that sadly it doesn’t!). I am interested when you talk about the second group of lbt Christian feeling it’s o.k. to be sexually active and seek out a life partner – even Christian heterosexuals don’t believe it’s o.k. To be sexually active before marriage – how do the lbt Christians reason this from the Bible? Thanks……

  • rwinestock

    Vicky, I would just like to hear your testimony of how you came to know Christ, in detail. Include if you want LGBT transformations. But in all that I’ve read, I cannot find anything that points to this part of the transformation and subsequent connection with him.

  • rwinestock

    Getting better is not a feeling. Many feelings mislead. There are tons of examples of this statement. I felt really good once when I stopped wrestling with Christ and did my own thing for three months. It was not better at all. In fact, it was worse. But, I felt better. And, to me, that’s all that counts, right?? Me IS the problem. Surrender to the Lord is about him taking the lead rope in the dark and pointing you towards light and water. At times you might feel suffocated like you’re crawling under a house and can’t catch your breath. But, he always pulls me through, regardless of my feelings. One thing is certain: My feelings have changed a bunch; he never has once. I know he had to grab me. In fact, there was no lead rope to begin with. That was all unilateral. I was in the dark. I often still am. He leads and I trust through the good and bad feelings. That’s how and what does get better. The other is just learning to shut off the guilt feelings that graciously remain to keep you from falling off the cliff before you know him.

  • Abchristian

    How can u even say it’s right?when it clearly states in the bible that it’s wrong? Leviticus 20:13 says that is a detestable act when a man and man have sex. So it’s not possible for it not to be a sin. Look at sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed by god because of homosexuality. It’s a sin. Get over it. I’m not judging you because u are committing a horrible sin, I’m stating the truth. What you are doing is wrong. So stop now before you go to hell. It says the people who commit it are sentenced to DEATH for they are guilty for committing a Capitol offense (also lev. 20:13).

    Part of Romans 1:18-32
    That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

    God says it’s wrong. Period. And seriously are you a lesbian, because no christian in their right mind would support same sex marriage without actually being a lesbian or homo.

    I can’t believe your supporting such a thing. We have no right to judge you, but god does. So if you are, you better change because the end times are coming.

  • sparrow neut

    My struggle with the marriage issue is that I believe it to be two separate issues. That would be political and biblical, though I understand needing something to call your relationship after committing your life to one another. I believe as with marriage it comes down to monogamy.
    Biblically I believe it to be between man and woman as written.
    Politically because most GLBT say they want the same things that come with marriage.
    The difference is that the things they want from marriage can be accomplished by passing laws that do not require using the word marriage.
    I have been where Vicky was, I am 51. I realized I was gay in the fourth grade. I have been to many churches including Pentecostal where I was baptized, and now belong to a United Methodist Church. I have had a wonderful walk with God even though I have been in a relationship, by reaching out to God and not just the Church is how I survive. For God has promised he will not forsake me. Many of the Christians may say that it is because he is waiting for me to give up this part of my life, I did when I was baptized and got married only to find that it did marriage not work to make me not wanting to be with men . I was in a monogamous marriage for 2 years. I tried to please those around me only to hurt myself and others in the process. Now there is a woman who will not remarry because of our upbringing and my son who is not sure what to believe as I have returned to my life partner after the divorce and continue to believe much of what he does except my relationship with my partner. I had been in a relationship with my partner for 9 years before I believed God would change me and make me straight, I believe now that there was nothing to change outside of my old sin. Yes, all men and women can go through the motion and create a child but that does not make you straight? I do not promote being gay, I just happen to be. There are many others like us. I believe the world seems to be on a mission to say sample everything and then decide, just as the serpent did in Eden. I do feel this world has lost it’s way.

  • vegas pete

    Hi Vicky, how do you reconcile these verses?

    “24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

    25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

    26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:”

    And that is just one sample of the clarity of this sin. There many other bible verses such as Leviticus 18:22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 9:20, and many more.

  • Leigh Ann

    How do you know that I am listening to a voice in my head and not God? I have known God since I was 7 years old-practically my whole life. I have heard God’s voice when He’s asked me to do things I do not like & corrected me. I’ve also heard God’s voice when He’s encouraged me to walk a down a certain path…when He’s spoken and said, “Here’s the way. Walk in it.” His Spirit comforts my heart and brings me life. His Spirit is constantly revealing things to me. The Spirit is of course who teaches us all things and leads us to all truth. Why should I instead listen to your voice over the Almighty’s who has been with me through thick and thin?? You are but a “man,” I do not need approval from you. You think you know me and my heart, but you do not-nor do you speak on behalf of God even though you think you do. I would invite you to go before His Spirit right now and ask Him if everything you just said to me is what He would like to speak to me.

    I am your sister in Christ and it appalls me how you would treat your sister who you will be living in eternity with. It appalls me that your words you just spoke-you truly believe you speak in love. But let me show you-the Bible says, “Who is it who condemns? It is Christ Jesus.” He is the only one who is able to condemn me and it is not you. You are but a human. And Jesus does not condemn me and if he does not condemn me, why do you? Why do you condemn anyone who Jesus does not condemn??

    Christ’s message is a message of reconciliation-not of destruction and separation. That is the message of love and the good news! That’s the message that I will spend my whole life sharing with others! Because I truly believe Jesus’ words when He said, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

  • Fivezenses

    My thing about all this is when you look at all creatures, ones in our homes, ones in zoos, even ones that are in the wild. Scientists and zoologist have proven that animals can infect be born gay. This has always led me to believe for years that human being, homosapiens, are born gay, not by choice. If our dogs and cats can be born gay or straight, not by choice, then humans are too. I’m not religious, but I do believe there is something bigger than all of us out there. I wouldn’t call it GOD, but I do think something is out there that is the reason, not only earth exists, but this galaxy too.

  • Darin Bishop

    One thing that Christians need to remember. There are two kingdoms only, these two kingdoms are immortal and ruled by two spiritual entities. These two leaders can never mix nor can their kingdoms ever mix. that is why mankind was created in the manner that we were for if it was any way differently, Satan would have spiritual authority to claim his position back. God cannot change His Constitution, what is His Constitution? His Word. Man can try and change it all he / she wishes but in the end, God’s Word is infallible. It is not a matter of hate but a fact that God cannot change, no matter what we wish otherwise.

  • ipse

    “God, you could have made me a Christian, or you could have made me gay – but how could you have made me both?” This statement is based on the false supposition that because we are a certain way means that God is responsible for it. For a moment, take the word ‘gay’ out of it and replace it with another disposition that New Testament-believing Christians do not believe to be God ordained, such as covetous … “God, you could have made me a Christian, or you could have made me covetous – but how could you have made me both?” Ridiculous! Just because you may be it – and many Christians do not struggle with that particular vice – does not make God responsible for it. Don’t blame God for it! Just because you don’t feel you can stop doing it does not make it God’s will – have a read of Romans chapter 7 some time. Time-tested biblical theology teaches that, as a result of the Fall, all kinds of sins and distortions were released through Adam’s first sin … homosexuality/lesbianism is just one of countless varieties which afflict all mankind, myself included, from sins of the heart such as hatred and bitterness to lifestyle sins such as drug abuse or violence. And for me to write this does not make me homophobic and more than it makes make a hater of alcoholics, liars or lazy people. I have enough vices to struggle with myself, but it starts to become a serious problem in my life when I call a truce on my ‘passions of the flesh’, pretend it has to be good just because I can’t seem to conquer it – and homosexuality is not different from any other life-controlling sin in this respect – or, worse still, even try to make a virtue out of my vice. You gave up the good fight too soon, Vicky, but it’s never too late to change your mind.

  • Mark Ellis

    The classic Christian category error – homosexuality is just like taking drugs. Something you can stop doing if you just manage your behaviour better. The very fact that you think this is an argument proves you don’t understand the subject you are attempting to express an opinion on. Have you actually listened to Vicky’s story? She was about to die if she had not given up her attempt to continue to believe that her gayness was evil. Being gay is not defined by a kind of sexual urge, it is defined by the ability to be able to fall in love with someone who is the same gender as you. It is an innate part of who you are, it is not a behaviour. The state of being gay is not addressed in any of the verses that are endlessly trotted out by those who are so sure they know all about this subject. Read sparrrow neut’s post below and consider how many other people (ex wives/husbands and children) have been damaged by Christians attempting to follow this simplistic ‘you don’t have to be gay, just pull yourself together’ teaching. I don’t know if you are not homophobic, but I am certain you have no idea of what being gay actually is, which I’m afraid rather undermines any opinion you might have.

  • JL

    Lovely thoughts vicky. Thanks for trying to bridge the painful gap between the two sides. You’re a hug encouragement to people with one leg on each side.

  • mantoes

    I was simply addressing the theological error that God is somehow responsible for the way we either ‘are’ or have been convinced we ‘are’, when that ‘way’ is obviously contradictory to very clear New Testament teaching on righteous lifestyle. I did not deny in my post that the gay attraction may be an innate (i.e. ‘born with’) part of some people’s nature, and that that trait may be responsible for behavior. All I said was that, by the exact same measure, sin is also ‘innate’ to human nature. The time tested and most basic Christian doctrine of Original Sin concludes that sin, since Adam, has been in every human’s spiritual ‘dna’. Please tell me you did not seriously think I was saying ‘homosexuality is just like taking drugs’! Either your fingers were in your ears to what I was saying, or you simply didn’t try to understand it. Homosexual activity relates to homosexual desire in a similar way that taking drugs relates to the inner craving that leads to it – only in the sense that they are lifestyle activities (sinful behaviors) that relate to inner compulsions. No, I am not suggesting that drug addicts are born that way (although the children born from an addict’s womb do experience withdrawal), but children of addicts can inherit similar, genetically affected compulsive personality traits to those which contributed to the lifestyle problems of their parents. You are “certain” I have no idea of what being gay actually is – your certainty is not that of an open-minded person. What may be closer to the truth is that you have little experience of, or have not thought much about, lifestyle ‘issues’ beyond homosexuality. As I said, we all struggle to overcome sins of the heart – of which homosexual lust is just one of many – but when it becomes a lifestyle – whether it be over-eating, committing adultery, compulsive lying, stealing or sodomy – these are sinful actions, regardless of how compelled we felt to do them. And it’s an evasion of personal responsibility to say, “I couldn’t help it; it’s just the way I am.” As I say, I don’t come down harder on sexual sins than any other expression of fallen human nature – we all live in ‘glass house’ and it’s a person in denial who thinks their sin is less than anyone else’s. The main difficulty with the gay issue, however, and the reason for my posting here, is the problem of denial. Gay lifestyle has in the western media become so culturally trendy (as it had in parts of the Greek culture addressed by the New Testament), and the gay lobby has become so militant that many homosexuals seem to be beyond admitting that they’re not sinners like the rest of us.

  • mantoes

    Don’t know why I’m posted as ‘mantoes’ – I am ‘ipse’

  • mirkle

    Let me level with you here. I was brought up in a evanglical charismatic family and was a Christian until I was 20. I had a completely alienating teenage experience and it was only when I came out that I realised that this attempt at sublimating the innate part of me which was gay was the reason why I was so unhappy. Like Vicky, the experience of trying to resolve the issue was incredibly damaging to my mental health, which is why I am interested in the subject. Unlike Vicky however, that was the end of Christianity for me, but I have a lot of respect for Vicky’s way of dealing with the issue which is to try and change the church from within. And there is no doubt it needs changing – my father told me that his church (a leading charismatic church in the south of England) had told a man who had shared that he was gay to leave. My father has subsequently left this church partly as a result of seeing this happen. You can appeal all you like to scripture in order to categorise gay behaviour as being in the same category as drinking to excess or over eating, but it is the living expereince of gay people that being gay is in a different category from being an alcoholic or a binge eater. If you can find an example of a binge eater who suffered an auto immune attack as a result of not binge eating I’d be interested to hear about it. I’ve got some respect for those who resolve the issue by claiming their gay identity but commiting to celibacy – that at least has some intellectual rigour, if one is commited to a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible (though I notice how easily other bits of the New Testament are dismissed as irrelevant to the 21st century by fundamentalists when they don’t accord with current cultural norms). However, I will have a go at Vicky’s suggested reading list to find out a bit more about the issue,as clearly there is a spectrum of views on the subject. Of course, I have no intention of becoming a Christian again – been there, got the mental scars, and if Heaven needs populating, the rest of my (very lovely) family are still earnestly doing their bit – but the reason I care about this is because I know that right now there are gay children being brought up in Christian families who are experiencing abuse as the result of this pernicious doctrine, who may be scarred for life in the same way as I was. Vicky’s story is an extraordinary example of how this scarring (in her case quite literally) can affect those subject to Christain doctrine on homosexuality, and to go back to the original point, any argument which attempts to equate innate gayness with other forms of mental disorders such as alcoholism or kleptomania is not only rationally wrong (after all, homosexuality was taken out of the Manual of Mental Disorders 30 years ago), but incredibly damaging to young people growing up in fundamentalist Christain families. And that is whether they are gay or not – growing up to believe that homosexuality is a perversion is the way to entrench homophobia and to maintain the casual daily expressions of predjudice that gay people are subject to.

  • Armando Bordales

    Charismatics and Pentecostals are usually criticised as focusing so much on emotions and experience. LGBT theology does exactly that – pleading to the emotions.

    Heteronormativity in reverse? But where will the children come from if the universe was like that?

  • Teresa B.

    I humbly must disagree. God is almighty and can change anything desired to be changed. God is watching his people and seeing how things unfold. Why did God send Jesus to us if He did not desire change? Wouldn’t the OT be enough? No, change and clarification was needed. Instead of rigid word interpreted by those who were going against God’s true intention, He sent Jesus who taught in order to get into heaven, just believe He is the Son of God. Jesus also was not fond of people who boastfully put themselves above others as being more righteous, which is greatly demonstrated in these blog responses. Jesus said “…faith, hope, and love..and the greatest of these is love”. What do you suppose that means? Reproduction? Lust? Of course it doesn’t. It means to not judge others and to live your life gently and generously. It means to embrace your fellow human being and leave the judging to God himself. I think He made that pretty clear.

    You must also accept that the Bible has been translated over and over by men who write what they feel the words mean or even were. What about the books that still have not been included in most modern Bible versions? The Dead Sea Scrolls, etc.? Jesus had a real problem with the men running the temples and He told them they were puffed-up, self-serving hypocrits. I would worry greatly if I were falling into this category in modern day.

    ISIL believes that the word is the law, no exceptions. They are self-proclaimed enforcers of this law. They slay homosexuals simply because they enjoy it. They behead anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Much of the world sees this as self-serving hypocrisy meant only to give them reason to rule the world on their own male dominated terms. Extremism in any form, in any land, is still extremism. I’m seeing alot of this being demonstrated in this blog by those who feel THEY know the truth exclusively. I urge these folks to turn away from being self-righteous enforcers and listen to what other Christians feel. Perhaps they are right. Jesus warned the prophets of people who would proclaim themselves to be righteous, when their eyes and hearts were actually closed to the true word of God.

  • Teresa B.

    You confuse homosexuality as something people do instead of what people are. Homosexuals are created just like everybody else. They are God’s children and therefore are loved by God just as any other child. If you could open your mind to understand that gays have been “created” then you might be able to understand that God has a purpose for them too. The Commandments listed the sins, and homosexuality was not included. Two people who come together in a committed loving relationship before God are not sinners. Gay people, like straight people, are not all just sexual beasts. Yes, some sin, while others live a respectable life. Some gay folks have God in their lives and I wish you could just be happy for them and leave the judging to God. I hope you too can come to terms with your life and love of God.

  • Teresa B.

    There are plenty of gay couples raising children. The population explosion may be a threat in the future, so who knows? Perhaps everyone should control their reproductive tendencies.
    LGBT theology actually argues that skin is skin and blood is blood. LGBT’s are no different than anybody else. This is the point that is trying to be made. Emotions have little to do with it, other than trying to stop homophobic persecution.
    Another point trying to be made is how would you deal with your life if homosexuality was the norm and people were trying to invalidate you because you are straight? Perhaps until you experience such discrimination first hand, you can not see the bigger picture and how wrong it actually is.