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Category Archives: Marriage

An Exercise in Picking & Choosing What to Read AND Believe

This post and this post have engendered some spirited discussion between a poster named Clare Flourish, a Christian who defends the homosexual lifestyle as a God-given gift, and me, who follows what the Bible says on the matter.

Clare’s follow up post is a veritable case study on how to read into things what you want to be there, instead of what is actually there.  She does that to both my words and the words of the Bible.  I suppose if she’s lax with Scripture reading, I should expect no better given that Scripture contains the words of God himself while I am just a man with no special revelation.

[Cory] wants to save me from that Hell to which all unrepentant gay people will inevitably go after death. I want to save him from hell now, from the idea that humanity is naturally wicked. [1]

Really?  That’s interesting.  If you read my comment, I said this:

Finally, gay people are no more damned than any of us, for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But we are also urged to live in a manner worthy of the calling to which we are called, which gay people who are living in homosexual relationships are NOT.

Does that mean you’re going to hell? Well, I wouldn’t say that. Probably not. It means that you have a sin in your life and that must be dealt with. It doesn’t mean God loves you less; he did, after all, call you to be a Christian.

You will have to deal with this in your own time and in your own way. I see you’ve given this issue a lot of thought, and I applaud that. However, I think you’ve come to the wrong conclusions and I’m not afraid to say that you have. Just as you are not afraid to say that I’ve come to the wrong conclusions. (emphasis added) [2]

So I’m not trying to save Clare from any hell, future or otherwise.  What I’m trying to do is be her Christian brother and point her away from sin that is impeding her relationship with the Lord.  I don’t think she’s going to hell and I can’t save her from a place she’s not going.  I think she has a sin that needs to be eliminated.

As to the idea that humanity is naturally wicked, well that’s pretty much the unanimous teaching of Scripture and of history.  I’ve already covered that elsewhere, so I’m not going to dive into it now. Read the rest of this entry

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But, You Really DO Hate Gay People!

As I figured I would be, I’ve been called out on this post.  A blogger named Jessica Sideways insists that I really do hate gay people and seek to deny them rights.

The whole post in which she does this is, frankly, a waste of the bits and bytes used to store it on her server.  Those could have been used for something far more worthwhile, like a nice virus or maybe another iteration of a Socially Awkward Penguin meme.

Before I respond, an open note to Jessica:  I have a feeling I know how this back-and-forth is going to go.  Therefore, this post only will be in a Minimal Sarcasm Zone.  Only truly inane points you make will be subject to scathing, ironic humor.  If you choose to respond and show the same remedial grasp of philosophical issues I’ve already seen, you will be subject to sarcasm that will make you think of J.P. Holding as a nice guy.

You’ve been warned, now class is in session. Read the rest of this entry

Must Catholics/Christians Hate Gay People?

I put a link to this article on my Facebook page.  I wondered why people who hold beliefs antithetical to Christian doctrine would want to be Christians.  One of my friends responded:

so you have to hate gays to be catholic or christian? if you in don’t agree with everything the church tells you then you can’t be christian or catholic? not trying to debate the issue just making sure I’m clear that’s what you mean by NOT for you a little intrigued by your post for some clarification of your point of view that you mean if you think like this you can’t involved in church? courious

I hear this again and again: Christians hate gay people, and we’re not allowed to disagree within ourselves because if we disagree then what we have isn’t from God.

No and no.  Let’s lay this out:

  1. Homosexuality is a sin.
  2. Marriage is between a man and a woman.

These are both eternal truths defined by God clearly in Scripture. These truths are to be upheld by the Church, and therefore the membership of the Church.

To be Catholic, you cannot be in favor of same-sex marriage. That is not the institution of marriage that is spelled out in Scripture by the Lord himself. The long and the short of it is that we humans don’t get to define marriage or church sacraments — God, who is eternally and perfectly good, is the one who defines those things.

Our nature is fallen from grace, and therefore we don’t really understand what “good” is or what it looks like. God is who we need to look to for that, not ourselves. If we look at homosexuality as something innate to us and think that is somehow “good,” then we are missing the mark by a lot. Remember — we are not good by nature; we are sinners by nature. What we do or what we are cannot be the standard for “right.”

When we use ourselves as the standard for “right” or “good” or “fair,” we will never get to the essence of those terms because no one consistently treats others “right” or “fair.” No one is consistently “good.” Better to ask instead, “What standard are we using for good?”

Every time we judge something moral or immoral, right or wrong, good or bad, we use some kind of standard. The standard cannot be society, for society changes far too often. Opinions and social mores are up for grabs, and differ every generation. Worse, this prevents us from judging any society as “wrong” or “immoral.” Implications?  The Nazis were on solid ground when they did the Holocaust!

For reasons I’ve already discussed (fallen nature), the standard can’t be what is in our own nature.

Therefore, the standard is God.  God is outside of ourselves, and therefore not subject to a fallen nature.  God also is not a part of society, and therefore not caught in the sweeping changes of morality we see as a society.

Read God’s Word — homosexuality is condemned throughout. Read Catholic doctrine — again, homosexuality is condemned throughout. Early Church Fathers were divided on many, many issues — but this was not one of them.  (See some selected writings here.)

Homosexuality is a sin, but not everyone in our pluralistic society shares the view that sin is a problem.  Does that mean we seek to deny them equal marriage rights using our religion?  We deny them nothing.  They have the right to marry a member of the opposite sex, just as I do. Men can only marry women; men joining to men or women joining to women is not marriage. Homosexual “marriage,” therefore, is the homosexual community asking to change the entire sacrament of marriage, thereby perverting its original intent.

Fine, homosexuality is a sin.  Homosexual marriage isn’t marriage, so it’s not a denial of a right.  Does that mean I hate gay people?  On the contrary, I have gay friends (one of whom owns a lesbian bar and is the founding member of Toledo Pride), I’m a huge Elton John fan, and I’ve been to a lesbian wedding (such as it is; gay marriage is still illegal in Ohio).  Where’s the disconnect?  Well, most people are tired of this expression, but I’ll say it anyway: Love the sinner, hate the sin.

“But I was born gay! If homosexuality is a sin, and if you hate the sin, then you hate me!” Absolutely right! I’m not even going to deny that.  But I’ve already covered this: Sin is innate to all of us, and we’re all sinners.  However, each of us are susceptible to different sins. The challenge as a Christian is to learn to hate that part of ourselves, to crucify it with Christ, and live in a manner worthy of our calling. Is it hard? Yes! I’ve heard it said that Christianity isn’t tried and found wanting; rather, found difficult and left untried.

Could someone in favor of homosexual marriage become involved in church? Could gay people become involved in church? Absolutely to both!! Hopefully through church they will learn that homosexuality is a sin and that it is something that they need to put to bed (no pun intended), not a part of themselves they should explore. No different from any other sin. We wouldn’t exclude adulterers or murderers from our congregations, but Catholic priests would certainly deny sacraments to ones that remained unrepentant.

Christ came to heal the sick, which is why he is sometimes called the Great Physician. The unrepentant sinners among us are the ones who need Christ’s love the most, and therefore they need church involvement that much more.  We should never deny church attendance or involvement to a sinner, because then no one would qualify for membership.

I’m not saying I’m perfect. There’s a lot for me to work on. A lot. I don’t practice what I preach here, so trust me this applies equally to me as it does to any gay person.

The point is that we all have our challenges with living as Christ did, and this life is about that journey to becoming more Christ-like. God promises to get us there, and he works differently on each of us. Homosexuals have their challenges, as I have mine. Church is about giving each other that accountability. It’s about helping each of us on the journey. That’s the point of fellowship.

But, before we can offer the needed accountability, we have to be clear on what constitutes a sin, which is (in my view) the real reason the young man in the article was denied confirmation. If you give approval to those who practice a sin, then you aren’t modeling Christ for unbelievers. Worse, you’re inviting the same judgment on yourself.

I hoped that would clear things up for my friend.  She’s a dear friend and I’d hate to lose her over what I would actually consider a non-issue.  Fortunately, she enjoyed that treatment and said she learned some things.  So kudos for remaining open-minded to other perspectives!

Another Facebook Meme that Should be Destroyed

Wow.  Just wow.  So many things wrong with this graphic.  So many problems and inconsistencies of thought. . . .  So many half-truths and misrepresentations. . . .

Let’s just start left and travel right.  A word of warning — this is longer than my average blog post because it covers a variety of topics related to same-sex marriage.  It’s approaching 1800 words and I cut quite a bit of material out.  Be warned as you travel below the fold. . . . Read the rest of this entry

Does WWGHA Even Understand Christianity?

If one is going to criticize the viewpoint of another, then one had best understand the opposing view thoroughly.  As an example, you will note that I do not enter into Creationism/Evolution/ID debates.  I don’t know enough about the three camps to participate intelligently, save for being able to articulate the difference between pure Creationism and ID.

Over at the Blog for WWGHA, in response to this article from a Christian pastor, Thomas opines:

It’s the “infinite wisdom” rationalization. God is too huge and awesome for pipsqueak humans to understand. Never mind that Christians claim to understand God all the time, for example by demanding that homosexuals be discriminated against or even stoned to death, or that foreskins need to be cut off baby’s penises, etc. Christians claim knowledge of all sorts of God’s thoughts, but strangely, the explanation for the atrocities and horrors that we see every day are just too complicated. (source)

It’s simply absurd to suggest that anyone is being inconsistent to say that we know some things about God, but not other things.  It is absolutely possible to say you know a person, but not understand everything that they do.

With God, some of his commands are clear, while others aren’t.  But to suggest I’m inconsistent when I say that we humans aren’t going to understand some things about God while being able to understand other things is asinine.

Second, let’s set two things straight with the Christian (mis)treatment of homosexuals.  We are not “denying” anyone the right to marry.  The very makeup of marriage excludes homosexuals.  It is a divinely ordered institution of a man joining to a woman, and they become one flesh.  Polygamy isn’t specifically prohibited in this fashion, but men can’t marry men and women can’t marry women under this paradigm.

It would be like me saying “My goal is to be the next Pope.”  I’m not a practicing Catholic; therefore I’m excluded from consideration for that office.

Or, if I tried to win a Hispanic scholarship.  I’m white.  I can’t win a scholarship oriented to Hispanic students.  It defies the intent of the scholarship and the rules of those who created it and put up the money.

Marriage is a joining of a man to a woman.  Period.  We can’t deny someone a right that does not exist.

On a personal note to the blog author:  Thomas, please find me a Christian who, in the last 20 years, actually called for a gay man to be stoned to death.  If you can’t, then please withdraw that ridiculous claim.

On the foreskin question, Christians actually were not circumcised.  Christians are exempt from all practices under the Jewish law.  Paul makes it explicit:

For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. (Rom 2:25-29)

Though there is a clear advantage to circumcision in knowing the oracles of God (Rom 3:2), one shouldn’t seek it:

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. (1 Cor 7:17-20)

What if someone does get circumcised despite the warning?  Then:

. . . Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Gal 5:2-6)

Circumcision is not a Christian phenomenon.

Okay, now that we’re done with rabbit trails, is there actually an argument or an indictment here worth answering?

Sort of.  We’ll talk tomorrow.

Hanging on to Faith, But Not Liking It

Rachel Held Evans appears to be toying with the notion of dropping the label of “Christian” altogether as she writes with tortured keystrokes:

I am hanging by the tips of sweaty fingers on this ledge of faith, wondering if letting go will bring freedom or death. I’ve hung on before—through the science wars, the gender wars, the Christmas wars, the culture wars—but I’m just so tired of fighting, so tired of feeling out of place. (source)

What’s the cause of this?

The Chik-fil-A controversy.

Rachel, like most in the liberal Christianity camp, rejects the notion that homosexuality is a sin.  She even says it is a “right” that we conservatives aim to deny:

I too believe marriage is a civil right in this country, and I too get frustrated when Christians appeal to their faith  to withhold this right from their neighbors. (source)

Rachel is clearly agonizing over her fellow Christians with the issue of homosexual marriage.  She not only wants to stop praying, but she thinks it might be better for some to be separated from grace:

Suddenly, my religion is alien to me—small, petty, reactive.  My faith has lost its bearings. I don’t feel like praying anymore, not even for the mom who begged me to pray for her gay son who vowed yesterday never to return to church again.

Can I blame him?  Perhaps it is better if he stays away. (source)

I want to seize just a moment on one statement, which I think is the key to Rachel’s problem: “My faith has lost its bearings.”

Yes, it has.  Now let’s examine why that’s the case.

Nick Peters argues, in part, that homosexuality isn’t part of special revelation (the Bible), but a part of general revelation:

. . . [I]n Leviticus 18 and 20, the verses following the list of sins tells us that it is for committing these sins that other nations are being cast out. Other nations were never punished for not following the dietary restrictions or wearing mixed fabrics. Those were practices that set Israel apart from the other nations as a sign they were in covenant with God. The other nations were commanded by Israel to live moral lives, but they were never commanded to follow Jewish practices. Jews could be condemned for trading with other nations on the Sabbath, but the other nations were not condemned for working on the Sabbath.

Note also that this places homosexuality in the category of general revelation. Other nations were cast out because of doing things that we can say that they should have known better. It would not make sense for God to punish a people when they could not have known that they were doing anything wrong. Since this is in general revelation then, you don’t need the Bible. (source)

So that means if you never pick up a Bible, you should still understand that homosexuality violates the natural order of things  (see Dave Armstrong and Jennifer Fulwiler for more on this “natural order” argument).  If you don’t see a violation of the natural order, then we have a bigger problem.

Why?

In committing any sin, you are essentially suppressing the truth of God through unrighteousness (Rom 1:18).  And acting on such evil inclinations without a second thought is a judgment from God:

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Rom 1:26-32)

Rachel gives approval to those who practice homosexuality, campaigning for their right to legally marry.

Well, no wonder her faith has lost its ground!

She has suppressed the natural law through unrighteous support of sin.  Therefore, God is giving her over to these desires — and her faith is slipping because she feels the distance.

There are only two ways to end her cycles of uncertainty.  She can let go of the cliff, and therefore fall into the abyss.  Or, she can recommit to understanding God in his glory, on his terms (even the decrees she doesn’t like), thus hauling herself back onto the safety of the ledge.

Either option will settle her mind, but only one leads to life.  And it’s easier to let go rather than muster the strength to climb back up (Mt 7:13-14).

Misguided Questions About Marriage

The Facebook page Liberal Logic 101 posted the meme at the right as a satirical point about how loose definitions sometimes become in the liberal camp.

For the record, I don’t know either person and I have no idea why they matter to this picture (beyond an educated guess).  Neither looks the race claimed, but I’m guessing each claims that race.

The idea, of course, is that the liberal has a loose sense of boundaries within a category.  Marriage and race both mean something, and the liberal (says the meme’s creator) is distorting these meanings.  One commenter summed it up nicely for the liberals who missed the point in the comments:

I think the point is that they are taking a set definition and turning it on its head. A dog is not a cat no matter how much you may want it to be. Words have definitions. You can create new words to describe things, but you cant change current definitions or they become meaningless. Imagine cops trying to find a criminal described as black when he is clearly caucasion [sic].

But, there’s a further problem with the mindset of the liberal as it pertains to marriage belied by the following questions, asked by a particular commenter:

Does the definition of marriage define the relationship between you and your spouse? How will it change your marriage if gays marry? Will you divorce your spouse if gays marry? Are you guided by hatred or by love?

A question of my own: What word appears in every single question?

Answer: Some form of “you.”

Yes, the focus for the commenter is how this affects you.

But marriage isn’t defined by how its redefinition would affect any specific individual.  Marriage is marriage, nothing more or less.  There is an ontology to “marriage;” it is the joining of a man and a woman so the two become one.  Each gender needs the complimentary characteristics of the other to be whole.

The commenter’s rhetorical questions were meant to show the conservative that he has nothing to fear by letting gays marry each other, for it won’t affect him an iota.  But this is the wrong way to think.

Marriage is a divine institution, ordained by God.  It isn’t our social construction to be played with as times change.  It is to be conformed to God’s expectations — not society’s.

Just like race has a clear and unarguable meaning (not something we can define as we please), so does marriage.  We cannot take anything that is ordered in a sense by its ontology and turn it into something that pleases us.  No matter how you try to define the words, a marriage will join the genders into one.  It cannot join members of the same sex.

Randomness from Yahoo! Answers, part 1

I haven’t blogged in a while.  A long while.

I don’t want people to think that I shut the blog down.  Nope.  I just had a baby, and have been working long hours on top of trying to have a family life.  So my blogging life has been put on hold for the last month or so.

So today, with my free time and in honor of a person who has e-mailed me several times about Yahoo! Answers, I have decided to take on the top three results for the search phrase “Does God exist?”

First question, “How, or in what way does God exist?” asked by a user named Bolo Joe two years ago:

I think the question should no longer be “Does God exist?”, but instead “How, or in what way does God exist?” In my opinion, the discrepancy surrounding God has more to do with concepts and interpretations than the actual existence of God.

This is interesting, and I think worthy of a quick comment.  It has been a tactic of atheists that have engaged me in dialogue to shift the goal posts in this fashion.

When I have them at a stalemate — they can no longer contend based on my sound objections that God’s existence is impossible — they shift the question from absolute existence to one of semantics.

This essentially means they lose the debate.  Their original contention is that God does not exist, but once they stop contending that and start asking why to suppose my particular God over all of the others from mythology then they have conceded there is a God and are now just asking which.

So far, I agree with Mr. Joe.  The question of which God is the key, for the actual existence of God is, in my mind, a foregone conclusion in favor of yes.

For example: Referring to God as “He” is a big problem. He is gender specific and references half of a whole, with the complement of course being “She”. Male and female should be viewed as positive and negative expressions of the living being as positive and negative charges are expressions of electricity.

This is where the semantics are coming into play.

“God” can refer to one of two things:

  1. The shared ontology of the three persons of the Holy Trinity
  2. The First Person, the Creator of Genesis and the Father of Christ in the Gospels

In using God to refer to (1), I would agree that “he” or “she” are meaningless concepts.  However, in English, there is no gender-neutral pronoun that can refer to a living person.  “It” is insulting, especially to God.

The essence shared by the persons of the Trinity is neither male nor female, but somehow both.  This is suggested in Genesis when both genders are required, but for different roles in the marriage.  The male-female marriage is therefore the divine institution given to us by God, and all others (polygamy, polyamory, homosexual) are perversions of it.

I doubt this seeker would realize he just stumbled into that position or endorse such a conclusion; the New Age-y people are typically liberal and thus in favor of gay marriage.

The male pronoun is used as convenience.  Up until the flood of political correctness that has gripped America, “he” was always used as a generic pronoun when the sex was unknown, meaningless, or unable to be determined.  It is only in the last 20 years or so that that has become a slight to women.

In using God in (2), the male pronoun is the preferred method of address, and not just because the Bible says so.  But because of the way the Bible says:

  1. Jesus repeatedly calls the First Person of the Trinity “Father”
  2. Paul repeatedly uses marriage as a metaphor for salvation, and the church repeatedly takes the role of the woman (the “Bride of Christ”)
  3. Church leaders and elders are supposed to be male (the husband of one wife)
  4. After the Fall, the man was supposed to take the lead and the woman follow, subjecting her desires to the man

Given all of that, it is clear God sees himself in the male role of a complementarian view of gender relations.  He is neither male nor female, for both are made in the image of God.  But his role is male and therefore the mode of address should remain male.

I say this to illustrate that God can be neither a “He” nor “She” as these two individually are incomplete. That’s the beauty of a healthy relationship between a man and a woman, in which case God is revealed. From this idea comes the concept of Twin Flame soul mates.

Again, as I stated above, this is the strongest argument for heterosexual marriage being the divine institution and homosexual marriage being nothing more than a perversion of it.

All of the physical world, as we know it, is divided into these complementary halves: Up down, back front, light dark, good bad, etc… It is through experiencing these extremes that we find the balance to perceive the whole, or the essential design and this essential design is what I believe to be the expression of G.O.D. (The Grand Organizing Design). Comments…???

Well, I don’t see God as merely a Grand Organizing Design, but a person.  I’m not sure how to complete any sort of analysis of this meandering question, so let’s just move forward with the next one tomorrow…

Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 4

David, an atheist who is dedicated to exposing Christianity for what it is, has begun a new blog that I discovered quite by accident.

Though he deleted the post that this series is replying to, I am still running my series.

David lays out the following argument in favor of gay marriage:

  1. Homosexuality is not unnatural. (answered)
  2. Neither homosexuality nor its acts have been proven inferior to heterosexuality or its acts. (answered)
  3. Marriage is a basic human right. (answered)
  4. Homosexual unions are unfairly not being given full and equal rights as heterosexual unions.
  5. Therefore, homosexual marriages with full and equal rights should be legalized and put into effect.

These get easier and easier to answer.

Premise (4) is a nominal attempt to say that homosexual unions aren’t given full rights through a fallacy of special pleading.

However, that’s not the case for three reasons.  First, we have shown that homosexuality isn’t the typical order of things.

Second, we have demonstrated that heterosexual unions are superior by simple utilitarianism — which is the typical philosophy of right and wrong espoused by supporters of gay marriage (see NotAScientist’s comment for a great example of utilitarianism in action).

Third, marriage rights are regulated for perfectly valid reasons.

Therefore, it is easy to conclude that there is no special pleading going on.  Recall for something to be special pleading, there can be no valid reason for differentiating it from other cases.  In the case of gay marriage, there are big differences between it and heterosexual marriage, which is exactly the reason its forbidden in the first place.

This means (4) is out of gas.  And, it means I’m done without having to address (5) as a conclusion.  David has uber-failed to establish any of his premises as true.  In fact, they are all false.  Therefore, the conclusion is faulty and I will let this series stand, unless David cares to defend himself.

Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 3

David, an atheist who is dedicated to exposing Christianity for what it is, has begun a new blog that I discovered quite by accident.

Though he deleted the post that this series is replying to, I am still running my series.

David lays out the following argument in favor of gay marriage:

  1. Homosexuality is not unnatural. (answered)
  2. Neither homosexuality nor its acts have been proven inferior to heterosexuality or its acts. (answered)
  3. Marriage is a basic human right.
  4. Homosexual unions are unfairly not being given full and equal rights as heterosexual unions.
  5. Therefore, homosexual marriages with full and equal rights should be legalized and put into effect.

Now we tackle premise (3), which is (like its predecessors) demonstrably false. Read the rest of this entry