What the Same-sex Marriage Discussion Brings to Light

by Steve Kindle

[ncsoc_items product_list=”1631990093″ width=”150″ height=”250″ type=’h’]Many of you read the post and comments in opposition to and in favor of same-sex marriage. What did it bring to light? I know some of you are thinking–Nothing! Most of us are probably set in our considered opinions on the subject of gays and gay marriage. What more can be said than has been said over the past fifty-five years that the church has struggled with this issue? Surely, nothing new surfaced in terms of new arguments. We were exposed to more of the same, including what I had to say on the subject. This is not to say that the pros and cons are irrelevant anymore, just repetitive. Of course, not everything that could be said would occur in our discussions, and possibly something of value may yet come forth. But our discussion ended in an impasse–a draw, if you will, where it seems no minds were changed.
But changing minds might not be the most important reason for the discussion. After all, if all we want to do is change another’s mind, in my view (and Martin Buber’s, too), we treat each other as objects to be defeated, not equals to learn from. In the process, we deny the other the status of human being, equal to our self.
Full disclosure:  I am a stanch advocate for gay equality in the church and society. I am the executive director of an organization that works with churches and individuals to encourage gay inclusion. I have given seminars literally from coast to coast including Hawaii, and published two books on the subject. I have stood with LGBTQs in public protests when we were driven off the sidewalks by angry truck drivers. I’ve had stones throne at me during vigils, I know the stories of countless gays whose parents disowned them, churches ex-communicated them, and society discriminated against them and finally shunned them.
Yet, this is not the end of the story. One thing changed all this. Over the last couple of decades, gays “came out” by the thousands, even hundreds of thousands. We discovered that they are our brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, pastors, doctors, even our parents. Our minds changed from thinking all gays are like the demonstrators in the pride parades to seeing they are just like us, for they are us. So now America is solidly behind full equality, including same-sex marriage.
I bring this up because minds do change. They change, not because they have been argued into a new position, but because they have a personal relationship with someone gay they know well. Most people I have encountered over the years who were pro or anti gay were so out of a disposition, not out of a well-reasoned proposition. The anti-gay folk just found it “unnatural,” and the pro-gay folk disliked discrimination of any kind. In Christian circles, “My Bible says…” was met with “No it doesn’t.” Yet, the anti-gay folk changed their minds in droves, and the pro-gay folk learned personally why they hated discrimination.
So, what did I learn from our discussion on EDN? Mostly that we are talking past one another. Each side begins from such a different place that communication is almost impossible. Our views of how to understand the Bible turn that document into a jumble of interpretations that make no sense if you don’t hold the same view. Leviticus chapters 18 and 20 didn’t come up, but for many, this is all one needs to know that gay sex is an abomination. Those with an inclusive view can’t understand how a Bible verse can carry such import as to condemn a whole people; we prefer theology to proof-texting.
I wanted to make clear my total commitment to my position in order to make a larger point. I prefer having a relationship with those who disagree with me over winning the argument. My chief antagonists, Elgin and Nancy (see comments), are model Christians whose lives I admire, and who I hope hold me in the same regard. I can say this, because over the years I have burned a few bridges and wish I had not valued my own position over our friendship. So, in the future, I hope we can continue to raise controversial issues and maintain the priority of people over opinion. Being the liberal I am, I believe God prefers it this way.
Go in peace, dear ones. God loves us all.
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25 Responses

  • Dear Steve,
    I am glad you made this post, and I could see your anguish in the discrimination you have suffered. I deplore these hateful and violent acts against homosexuals and those who support them. That is not a Christian response at all, and those attackers could not be true Christians. I am glad you want to listen to my side of the debate. Thank you for your kind words. I agree that God loves us all. What I don’t agree with is that God’s love would overlook or withhold punishment from those who have His Word but don’t apply it to their lives, don’t believe He means what He says, and actively recruit others in disobedience. I sincerely want to urge and warn the LBGT adherents that the lifestyles they have chosen have put them on the path to destruction and God’s wrath.
    As for people changing their minds about homosexuality when they discover one of their close relatives has “come out of the closet,” I can see what a powerful influence that would be. It must be heartbreaking. I have not experienced that, but I pray that God would give me the strength to love the Lord MORE than I love my relative. Jesus required that. I pray that I would speak the truth in love. Dennis Jernigan, famous Christian singer and songwriter, was a homosexual, but God delivered him. He is now happily married with nine children. I met him recently. Yes, some people are born with a propensity to sin in this way, but they still have a choice whether or not to give in to this same-sex attraction. It is not a matter of civil rights. Before the civil rights movement, a black person was discriminated against because of his skin color, and he absolutely had no control over that.
    Jesus warned us about how it would be in the end times, “as in the days of Noah” (Matt. 24:37-38), and “marrying and giving in marriage” was part of the warning! The awful perversion that was present then (Gen. 6:1-8), was even demonic! God had no choice but to wipe out all life except for eight people, Noah and his family. They went into the Ark and were saved. Jesus is our “Ark” of safety today. I believe the Lord showed me just today in I Thessalonians 4, it it is no coincidence that prior to the famous “rapture” passage about Jesus returning to earth (vss. 16-17) to take believers to heaven, Paul states what the will of God is. “For this is the WILL OF GOD, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality” (vs. 3). That Greek term is “porneia = fornications), from which we get the word “pornography,” and it includes all kinds of sexual sins.
    When the Supreme Court made their illegal decision last June (two justices not having recused themselves because of performing same-sex marriages), ignoring this as an issue for the states and without court precedents (also illegal), I was deeply, deeply grieved! I tremble for the fate of our United States which was formed on a solid biblical and Christian foundation! That is why I wrote the following poem. Thank you for anyone bearing with me to read this long post. Before I paste on the poem, I want you to know, Steve, that I appreciate you and hope we can still have a friendly relationship. Thank you, Nancy
    THE SIGN OF THE RAINBOW
    Heed the sign of the rainbow, God’s miracle in the sky.
    Seven colors he banded in a bow and raised on high.
    Shining forth as a promise – after rain it would appear,
    So Noah and family and animals could read the message clear.
    The first covenant made by God was given to those on the Ark,
    A pledge to all generations, their safety assured in the dark.
    God had flooded the earth to bring His judgment on wicked people.
    His heart was filled with grief, looking down upon such evil.
    But afterward He determined that He’d never do it again.
    He set His bow in the heavens, arched up high across the land.
    God loves the sign of the rainbow circled around His throne.
    Ezekiel and John both saw it – in holiness how it shone!
    But now the wicked have turned the meaning upside down –
    They flaunt the garish colors on the White House like a clown!
    They dare to call the evil, good, the bitter they call sweet.
    Others look on and see no harm, considering themselves elite.
    They never consider the Word of God, their minds are filled with conceit.
    They reason that they are the tolerant ones, and prudes have suffered defeat.
    But Jesus has sounded His warning in the pages of His Holy Book –
    “As it was in the days of Noah,” these are the things for which to look –
    And giving in marriage was at the top of His list, we sadly realize.
    Marriage, a picture of Christ and His bride, they’ve perverted with their lies!
    They drag the rainbow through the mud and celebrate with pride,
    But everyone will stand before the Lord, no one can hide.
    The day is coming, the prophet says, and like stubble the wicked will burn,
    But God isn’t willing for one to perish – He calls out to them to turn.
    The clouds are gathering over our land, and He’d like to spare us pain.
    The Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing for those who fear His name.
    But do not think that God will wink and say it does not matter.
    “Live and let live – we have equal rights!” Oh, the godless chatter!
    And lest you think it’s hate when Christians preach to them to stop,
    They’re walking off a cliff, and they’ll be dashed upon a rock!
    Jesus said His word is true, and none has been abolished.
    Every jot and tittle that is written can’t be demolished.
    The Law that Moses wrote may sound severe, but have no qualms,
    For Jesus taught the disciples, beginning at Moses, the prophets, and Psalms.
    “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman – an abomination!”
    But the grace of God is powerful indeed, and you can have salvation!
    To summarize the state of our nation and the sign of the rainbow:
    Cry out to God – His forgiveness is real, and submit to HIS say-so!
    By Nancy Petrey
    June 28, 2015

  • What seems to be missing in these discussions about same-sex marriages is anything that is remotely related to the glory of God and how it relates to this topic and why that should matter. Maybe it’s because we’ve all–non-Christians and Christians alike–bought into the notion that God became our sin-bearer in Christ because He was concerned about our earthly happiness. After all, doesn’t our country’s very “Declaration of Independence” tell us that God, our Creator, has endowed us with an unalienable right to pursue happiness (in equal measure with life and liberty)?
    Yet, in scripture (which should trump the Declaration of Independence you would think), we find that our ‘happiness’–at least while we still live on this earth–was not intended to be the supreme ambition of man—God’s glory is. (1 Corinthians 10:31) In fact, as any true believer knows, the whole point of the cross was to redeem a mankind that had fallen ‘short’ of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), as we indeed all have.
    And what is God’s glory? That’s a question too few these days, whether in the pulpits or the congregations, spend much time thinking about. A diligent search through the entirety of scripture clearly reveals the glorification of Himself is God’s passionate purpose and the entire point of human history. And justly so, for how else would we know love and goodness and righteousness and justice and mercy if not from Him? The glory of God encapsulates God’s character which includes everything related to his nature, his name, and his holiness. His truth, love, mercy, righteousness, justice, kindness, and on and on. In other words, everything that is in line with Who He Is and what His purposes are.
    And that brings us to the point of same-sex marriage. God’s irreversible purposes and pattern in His creation of man was that there would be one man and one woman that would be united in a family unit from which offspring could and would occur. This was a pattern not only for the human family unit, but would also (as Nancy Petrey points out in a previous comment to this topic string) represent Christ and His relationship with His bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). His purposes are part and parcel of His glory. The law given to Moses codified it and Jesus confirmed it as still in effect.
    Paul, one of our Lord’s directly-appointed apostles (the only valid kind), instructed the Corinthian brethren that although they had once been involved in ungodly behaviors (including homosexuality), that they should no longer be so involved: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
    Homosexual behaviors (which most, if not all, same-sex marriages include) are choices…not necessities for life. Yes, to indulge in same may produce some temporal pleasure or ‘happiness’…but if that is the case, so, too, do many other behaviors–extra-marital sex, pedophilia, polygamous relationships, pornography, etc. Where does one draw the line between same-sex marriages and all of the others? Is it not just a slippery slope by degrees…and none bring glory to the glory of God? (This verse comes to mind: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26)
    Does not another apostle, John, tell us that these temporal, worldly pleasures do not glorify God because they are not “of God”? “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16 And does not James, our Lord’s half-brother, tell us that we can’t have it both ways? “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4
    Who then are we trying to please with our acceptance and validation of same-sex marriages? Man or God? Are we really just putting our temporal happiness above God’s glory? Isn’t that the same sin that Christ died to deliver us from?

      • Regarding pedophilia, polygamy, and incest, I consider them part of the “slippery slope” fallacy. Whether or not these should be significant concerns has no bearing on the appropriateness of marriage equality. It stands or falls on its own. There is not a clamoring in America for including any of these in the marriage contract, so it is a non issue for me.

        • Steve, thankyou. Aside from the slippery slope there are legitimate calls for inclusion. So apart from any fallacy could you concede the legitimacy of those practising such as wanting inclusion? If there became a ‘clamoring’ in america would it then become an issue for you? Is there anything intrinsically wrong with incest, paedophilia and polygamy? Finally, does not a bi-sexual engage in some form of polygamy? Viz. Psuedo at least…

          • Drew, you asked for a brief reply and you got one. Now it seems you wish to debate me on these issues. If you really want to know my thinking on these, I invite you to buy my forthcoming book, Marriage Equality, second edition. Watch Energion for an announcement.

          • Steve I deliberately avoided debating you on the topic. I want to know what you think, that is why I asked you those questions. I want to know exactly how you feel and how inclusive you a
            re. Your answers, though brief, were also very evasive. It seems that you are inclusive only to a point and exclude others that logically have a legitimate cause for inclusion. I would be glad to read your book if it deals with answers to my questions otherwise I don’t think I would want to pay the money for it. I would also be willing, since you brought it up, to debate you or any other person, in a publicly moderated debate on this topic. If it is dialogue you want then I could think of no better setting than a public discussion where two views are juxtaposed for the audience to consider. I have participated in those type of discussions before and the feedback is very positive I live about 2 hours from Pensacola maybe Henry could provide a venue?

          • Brief responses can be thought of as evasive. What is truly evasive is posing a simple question with a hidden agenda. You didn’t want me to respond “briefly,” you wanted to debate me. Based on that, I’m not convinced you are a suitable debate partner. When I engage in debate, it is with a degree of trust that truth seeking is the issue. Also, having debated and formally discussed these issues all across America, debates rarely move people.

            If I ever get to your area, I’d be glad to have a cup of coffee with you. Maybe we can find common ground beyond this dispute. In fact, I look forward to it.

          • Truly you are an all-knowing person and can see into the
            corridors of my heart, you are like God the Most High! You guys have stated that you only desire to have discussion. I have taken you at your word and attempted to do so and learn the basis of your logic and instead of getting good answers you attacked my character and my motivations. This is sad. I was hoping that I could engage the topic with you but you are unwilling. I would be glad to sit with you and discuss this, though I do not drink coffee nor do I smoke Cuban cigars, good day sir. P.S. please provide the link to your debates that were publicly moderated, a free exchange of juxtaposed positions. I would thoroughly enjoy viewing that. ‘ all across America’
            should indicate there must be multitude upon multitudes of recorded discussions…

          • Drew, we have not gotten off to the best of starts here. You now insinuate that I am exaggerating my claims to national discourse. I don’t see why we should continue this discussion any further. Of course, you may interpret this as calling my bluff; go ahead and claim victory. It means nothing to me.
            For those of you who are interested, you might like to check out my involvement in the award winning documentary, “For the Bible Tells Me So,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. You can read about it here: http://www.forthebibletellsmeso.org/background.htm This film is based on my seminar, “Beyond the Bible and Homosexuality: A Journey into the Heart of God.”

          • I am only interested in viewing a moderated public debate ( not national discourse) that you participated in… yes, you do seem to have exagerrated that point. Nonetheless, i would be eager to listen to your debate/debates… producing just one would give you the victory dance… go ahead… really, i mean it…i want you to win this one…

          • Perhaps we could begin by you telling me where you plan to go next, should I give you access to a debate or two. I fear you want to continue this until it turns into an online debate. I have neither the desire nor time for that. I will tell you right now that if I grant your request, I don’t want to hear from you again; at least not for any extended conversation online. My life is filled with Evangelical/Fundamentalists who love to engage me. Why, I don’t know, as it’s a fruitless effort. I’m finished with that. Truly inquiring people need you and me, but we don’t need to engage each other.

            If I ever do get to Florida, I would enjoy a quiet conversation somewhere. No cigars or coffee, I promise.

          • Steve, fair enough. I don’t have the time for an online discussion either. However, I remain very interested in your debates. As far as going somewhere next? I have no intentions other than hearing your position. Maybe you have more to offer than Spong or Vines. Otherwise, I’ll wait on your book. I desire to know less of your conclusion and more of your exegesis, logic and motivation that solidified your conclusions…

          • Okay, Drew, here’s some indication of the breadth of activity you question.
            http://www.clergyunited.org/news.htm will give you an idea of my national travels. Not all the cities or organizations are represented as confidentiality necessitated.
            I had two debates with John Rankin, of Mars Hill Forums. This one is on DVD. It’s MHF #84. You might email him if a purchase/donation is possible. His email is teii@teii.org.
            Here is a very small list of those he debated:
            Rev. Barry Lynn, Esq., Director, Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
            Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, pastor emeritus, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL.
            Patricia Ireland, President, National Organization for Women (NOW)
            Bishop John S. Spong of the Episcopalian Diocese of Newark, N.J.
            Of my debate, he said that mine was the finest defense of the position so far.
            As I mentioned, the best recourse to my theological and exegetical work is in my book, Marriage Equality. With this, I sign off from this discussion.

        • I only wish you were right, that the ‘clamoring’ for sexually aberrant behavior would stop at same-sex marriages. But, history itself proves that this is never the case. Pedophilia, polygamy, incest, prostitution, human trafficking for sex, are on the rise all over the world. Even bestiality, God-forbid. Yes, same-sex marriage has achieved a level of dignity not known in this part of the world for centuries, but it’s certainly nothing new. It has been the downfall of many civilizations and cultures throughout history. Using the Clorox-cleaned term “marriage equality” and positioning the relationship in a ‘marriage contract’ doesn’t make it holy in the eyes of a holy, separated, sanctified, pure, omnipotent Creator. Yes, it might take a bit longer for some of these other taboos to fall…but society is moving so fast toward a totally subjective standard of morality, that it might not take as long as you think.

          • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jan. As you might expect, I don’t share your dire view of how civilizations fall, especially related to the problems of morality. The causes are much more involved and far ranging than moral turpitude. I recommend Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. He surveys the rise and fall of world civilizations and exposes a panoply of causes, most of them interrelated, and none carries the weight you suggest for sexual immorality.

          • Certainly there are other causes that also contribute to the fall of civilizations, yes. But, I know of none that have pervasively practiced these things being discussed here that have progressed toward a permanent and thriving state. Can you perhaps give us an example(s)? But, even if you can, the fact that evil triumphs for a time does not take eternity into account. Because it is definitely the case that evil will triumph here on earth for a time. God’s glory (the pattern of His creative nature and purposes) will prevail.

  • Twenty-six years ago I traveled in the world of NYC theatre. Just a little “for instance” of my world: when Reagan won the presidency I thought the world would come apart–he’d take away our right to abort our babies. Oh and another “for instance”–I was in an improv company and worked hard to get the biggest laughs I could, so one night I did a caricature of Anita Bryant (this was the year she had bravely stood up for Biblical values re homosexuality) -I got the biggest laughs that evening. Then an amazing thing happened. I attended the Gay & Lesbian Film Festival since I had a friend whose film would be shown there. At this event I met a man who told me about Jesus. In about six months I surrendered to my Messiah. Joy and peace flooded my soul — He took away the darkness with His light. And I met other Jewish and Gentile believers who stood fast on God’s word and their discipleship was a treasure to me. If instead I was introduced to those who skewed God’s Word (I mean what part of it’s an abomination is not clear?), i would never have discovered the true love of God and the path He had for me. By His loving kindness, He delivered me from self-destruction.

    • Thank you, Mimi, for sharing your testimony! Wow! And you know what? Anita Bryant was my hero back in the day! Shows you how old I am. Ha! I observed someone throw a pie in her face on television, and I cringed. So much hate was poured out on her for her righteous stand. Then later, her personal life fell apart, including divorce, and loss of a job. I could see that her stand for God’s Word and righteousness had cost her dearly. The devil is truly gathering his minions to bring our country to destruction with the legalizing of same-sex marriage. You brought a happy, bright light into the discussion with your testimony of salvation in Jesus Christ! Thank you! That is the way to win this culture war. “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!” As Jesus said, the prostitutes and tax collectors will get into the kingdom first, because the self-righteous religious leaders scorned their own Messiah! Lord, please help me be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Homosexuals are dearly loved by the Father, and I never want to say or do anything that will turn them away from the Great Physician, who forgives all our iniquities and heals all our diseases (Psalm 103:1-3).

  • I’ve already made a couple of comments here to this post, but went back and re-read your post again and had just one more question. What do you mean by “gay equality” in a church and society? You mention that minds “begin to change” when we realize (as they come out of the closets) that our friends and relatives are gay. What? We didn’t know that our friends and relatives were sinners? After all, sin is sin. I’m sure that many (and statistics bear this out), that many of our friends, relatives, and fellow church members read and view pornography regularly and we don’t (yet) know about it. When they, too, come out of that closet, are we to just say, oh, well, since you are our friends, relatives, and co-church goers, it’s OK then, because, after all, we know who you are. But, other than that you’re a pretty fine fellow (or fellette), so stay with us and keep on doing what you are doing. No. Nothing in the New Testament teaching advocates come as you are, and stay as you came. It’s come as you are, but don’t leave as you came! We are to “mortify” that flesh that is not godly!
    I still think that these verses are still in the Bible (perhaps they are not…correct me if I am wrong):
    “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” Colossians 3:2-15
    There might be a Bible version out there that has manipulated the original Greek to suit their fancies (the Queen James Diversion perhaps), but I’d rather stand before God sticking pretty close to the originals. The idea is to put off the “old man” and “put on Christ, which is the image of God.” Back to His glory, again! We are to be passionate people for God’s glory…not our own! I have a gay uncle and a gay son-in-law. I love them dearly and always will, but I will not pretend to accept, endorse, or coddle their ungodly behaviors any more than I would if they were adulterers, thieves, liars, boasters, prideful, selfish, or any other ungodly behavior. And I would expect the same from them. We need to hold each other accountable together as unto God, not unto men.

    • Jan, I once again must respectfully disagree. I think you misunderstand my point about getting to know LGBTs. You begin with the assumption that all of them are sinners by definition. I don’t. I needn’t appeal to scripture, although I could and do in my forthcoming book, “Marriage Equality: Why Same-sex Marriage Is Good for the Church and Nation.” What I suggest is to compare what the apostle Paul said about loathsome people in Romans 1 with LGBT Christians. If you know any practicing gay Christians at all, you know they do not resemble in any way Paul’s description of depraved humanity. Therefore, Paul is not describing them, but something else.
      I would also suggest that if your comparison comes up short, you don’t know enough gay Christians. In spite of all the malicious lies and determined condemnation heaped upon them, they remain faithful to the gospel. I wonder how many straights could hold up under the same pressure.

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