Homosexuality and gay marriage are the hot button issues of our time, just as slavery was in the early to mid nineteenth century, just as Prohibition was in the early 20th century, and just as Civil Rights and interracial marriage was in the late 20th century.
It’s a difficult subject to speak on, with so many battle lines drawn all over the place, and no matter what you say, you cross somebody’s line. Since that’s the case, allow me to Crip Walk all over your lines.
The biggest problem with this subject, is you don’t quite know who you’re talking to. If you were to quiz ten different self-professed Christians about their stance on homosexuality, you’ll get a few different answers.
believes gays deserve to be executed
They believe they ought to be round up and shot. Why? Because being caught in the act was a capital offense in the Old Testament; it’s an abomination. Interestingly enough, many of these people wouldn’t beat up a gay person, but they would bully them and psychologically torment them. They’d celebrate “God’s judgement” any time a gay person gets AIDS or commits suicide. These people go to church every Sunday in a very, very small church, where most of the congregation are blood relatives in some way or another. They wear the fact that their church is small as a badge of honor, they are the elect, and consequently, the rest of the world is going to Hell. “Wide is the gate,” as it were.
The only difference between these folks and ISIS, is that they are generally non-violent1.
Bubba and Friends
only nominal Christians, and they tend to be generally homophobic
They only go to church on Easter and Christmas. They’re cool with using homophobic slurs. They bully and beat up gays. They think they’re Christians because they went to Christian school, or because they’re Americans, or they have a grandmother that sings in her church’s choir. They’re all about “Muh guns, muh flag, muh troops.” They wouldn’t necessarily want gays dead, but they want gays to stay in the closet “where they belong”.
It’s not just an American phenomenon. A lot of African nations, like Uganda, and Nigeria fall into this category.
Family Life Radio
believes that homosexuality is a sin, but it’s not a crime, and gay marriage should not be recognized by governments
They’re for the most part, good natured, well meaning, just-trying-to-do-the-right-thing types of people. They’re occasionally prone to homophobic remarks, mostly out of ignorance than any actual malice. They don’t believe in beating up gays, but they might try to perform an exorcism on you, if you let them. They think Christian bakeries should have a right to refuse service to gay weddings. They also believe that the United States used to be a “Christian nation.”
These folks generally don’t believe you can be born gay. They believe recognizing gay marriage is going to be detrimental to society. They like to use the term, “slippery slope” and will often equate homosexuality to pedophilia, again out of ignorance, not malice. They’re often falsely accused of “hating gays”. I used to be part of this camp.
There’s also a general paranoia about God sending judgement on any nation that is willing to recognize same sex marriage, Sodom and Gomorrah style.
These are the people that share Matt Walsh articles on Facebook. If Walsh was blogging in 2008, that could’ve been me. *shudder*
A subset of this group are Libertarians2, who believe government should have no say in marriage at all. They believe that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a mistake, and that forcing businesses to serve blacks was a “slippery slope” that led to forcing Christian businesses to cater gay weddings.
believe that homosexuality is a sin, but it’s not a crime, and gay marriage should be recognized by governments
They recognize that governments actually are discriminating against a gay couple when they’re not considered “next of kin” in an emergency, and are denied access to their partner. They recognize that it’s discrimination when they don’t receive the same tax breaks as their heterosexual counterparts. They realize it’s discrimination if a same sex partner is excluded from any inheritance if their partner dies intestate.
These people generally recognize that you can be born gay, and that likely no amount of exorcism is going to “cure” you, because you don’t have a demon. These folks distinguish between in-born sinful desires3, and rebellion against God’s laws in acting on those desires unrepentantly.
A subset of this group are Libertarians as well 4, who believe government has no business recognizing “marriage” at all, heterosexual and homosexual alike. They believe government’s only role in these matters should be the enforcement of contracts, while acknowledging that the current status quo is explicit discrimination against gay couples.
They acknowledge that you shouldn’t use government to force people to “act Christian.” Their acceptance of gay marriage is political, not theological. I am firmly in this camp.
The Christian Buddhist
believes that homosexuality is not a sin
They might qualify homosexuality with the word “monogamous,” but in general they believe the modern biblical translations are in error – on account of the bigotry of the translator – and that the Apostle Paul wasn’t talking about unrepentant practitioners of homosexuality, but in fact just gay prostitution.
Most of these same people also believe that premarital sex is not a sin. They’re for ordaining practicing gay pastors and bishops, and being inclusive. They believe in pastors marrying gay couples in Christian churches, and that God smiles down on such a union.
At a certain point with a Christian Buddhist, you begin to wonder, “Ok, well what is a sin, then?”
“Making people feel sad, or left out.”
Those are the main groups. Some are increasing in size, some are shrinking, and some are cannibalizing each other. Everyone else on the Christianity spectrum falls somewhere in-between.
Not knowing who’s who creates a few problems. Jihadists might comment, masquerading as Family Life Radio people and say something to perturb you, but if you knew they were Jihadists, you’d just laugh it off. Christian Buddhists might hear what you’re saying and take it to mean that you’re one of them, and give you a huge thumbs up you don’t actually deserve. Family Life Radio people are likely to get their feelings hurt, no matter what, because they generally are good people who just want to do the right thing and you can sometimes be unintentionally hard on them (because you used to be one of them). They’re also paranoid about you defecting to Christian Buddhism, so they’ll make efforts to rescue you from Satan’s clasp, if they think that’s what’s happening. God bless ’em.
Reformed Hipsters generally get what you’re saying, and many are defectors from Family Life Radio, choosing not to die on that mountain.
There are also the lurkers, some of whom have already switched categories, but they have too many friends in other categories and they’re non-confrontational, so they don’t like or share the post, but they’ll meet you in private and tell you they agree. I’ve done this before, so I can’t call the kettle black.
“Oh, man I loved your article on ________! You’ve got a great blog!”
[But you’ve never liked a single one of my articles on Facebook. I know because I look.]
Lastly, someone who doesn’t understand the concept of sin, might sit back and say to themselves, “Wow, these people are crazy…” Except sometimes when they’re actually thankful for your opinion, because they know what it means for people to disagree, yet not infringe on one another’s human rights.
Speaking Hebrew and Speaking Babylonian
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.John 9:2-3
If you’ve read my About Me section, you’ll know I switch between Hebrew and Babylonian depending on who I’m trying to communicate to. Sometimes, to communicate an idea in a way that makes sense to Family Life Radio (FLR) or Bubba and Friends, you have to say something that would be horribly offensive to a gay person, and quite unfair. I call it, Hebronics.5 You don’t want to say it, but it’s the only way to get past the troll guarding the bridge.
For example, Family Life Radio says, “You can’t be born gay. God wouldn’t do that to someone!”
So the Reformed Hipster says, “Can you be born with a mental illness, or blind, or deaf, or with a genetic disorder?”
FLR says “Well of course you can. But being gay is a choice!”
You reply, “But did you know that homosexuality was considered a mental illness until 1973 by the American Psychiatric Association? Did you also know that God says, ‘Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD?'”6
FLR pauses and thinks, “Well if you put it that way, I guess you can be born gay…”
Yet before this conversation, they’d insist that there was no scientific evidence for a “gay gene” – that it was all just evolutionist mumbo jumbo.
You have to break eggs to make an omelet.
Yes, people are born gay, and no, it’s not a mental illness any more than wanting to sleep with your girlfriend before marriage is a mental illness, nor any more than a man’s desire for a harem of women is a mental illness. It’s called sin nature, and I’m surprised how many Christians are willing to mentally abandon the doctrine of sin nature, just to win an argument about gays, and then turn around and tell people they need Jesus because we’re all born with sin nature and are hell-bound by default.
The slow journey
I didn’t switch camps overnight. Migrating from Family Life Radio to Reformed Hipster happened over the course of about 3 years, as I felt guilty about how I voted in 2008, especially with regards to gay marriage. It took another 2 years to get comfortable even talking about my new political views. I went from being a Republican, to being an Independent; from being an old earth creationist to being a theistic evolutionist. I went from being an Arminian to a Calvinist. At the moment, I’m trying to figure out what kind of Libertarian I am and it’s hard because there are a lot of racist and greedy Libertarians that I wouldn’t like being associated with.
Just a few years ago, I was a little perturbed by mainline American Christianity’s obsession with gay marriage. So I wrote this on my Facebook Wall as I took my first steps out of Family Life Radio:
How to Contend for Christian Family Values the biblical way:
#1 Stop getting divorced #2 Stop getting divorced a second and third time #3 Stop rushing to get married before you’re ready #4 Stop engaging in premarital sex #5 Stop getting and giving handjobs, and blowjobs, and touching each other and yourself and calling yourselves virgins #6 Stop being bad or absentee fathers #7 Stop being bad or absentee mothers #8 Stop cohabiting with your boyfriends or girlfriends #9 Stop watching pornography #10 Create positive TV shows and movies that highlight good healthy families #11 On those TV shows, occasionally show the Christian kid defending the gay kid against a bully despite his theological disagreement with his lifestyle #12 Teach your children Christian values and teach them to love Jesus #13 Teach your children the difference between academics and propaganda so that they know the difference when they go to school #14 Stop following every politician just because he claims to be a Christian #15 Stop being closet racists and making a fuss if your kid dates someone from another race #16 Do some research on what America did to slaves, the Native Americans, and to people in other countries before claiming America is a Christian nation #17 Make an effort to know more about salvation and grace, than you do conspiracy theories about Obama’s birth certificate #18 Be salt and light, a beacon on how to live well
How to Contend for Christian Family Values the wrong way:
#1 Do whatever Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin tell you #2 Line up in front of a Chick-fil-a #3 Boycott JCPenny and Oreos when they support gay marriage and complain when gays boycott a Christian business #4 Support something that affects others lives without sitting down and thinking about it first #5 Pass a law
I also made sure to add as the first comment on the post that I’m guilty of a number of those. I couldn’t ignore the log in my own eye.
Several months after that post, later I added this as well:
A few comments I read on the internet that I agree with. The comments section can be just as interesting as the article itself.
1. Christians should use the golden rule in deciding their political priorities. If you don’t want the government in your marriage bed, your religion, and your value system, then don’t advocate a role for the federal government in defining marriage.
2. A country that would put a particular Christian belief into law would also have no problem putting Sharia law into effect. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
3. You have the James Dobsons (Focus on the Family) who advocate for Christians to be salt and light by being politically involved and not allowing our Christian voice to be silenced! Christians on this side would say (seemingly) that if you don’t take action to make a difference and steer this country back to our Christian roots, then you are the “lazy servant” that Jesus spoke or you have lost your “saltiness.”Then there are the John MacArthurs (Grace to You Ministries) who believe that Jesus’ clear mandate is the preaching of the Gospel, not attempting to make non-Christians act like Christians through forced legislation! To make disciples, not make the world (and this country) a better place to go to hell from!
4. We need discernment to recognize that calling something wrong is different than giving men the authority to punish it, restrict it, or regulate it out of existence.
5. Freedom of religion is a great thing. In fact, I think it’s pretty dang awesome. But since when did our ability to choose how or what we worship translate into our ability to dictate to others that they must conform to our chosen lifestyle, that they must obey the tenants of our personal faith? It’s alarming to me just how many laws are drifting to the top of legislation, laws that propose the outright imposition of one section of one religion’s believers on the entirety of the population. What’s even more alarming to me is how many Christians seem completely okay with this blatant show of force. Since when did we become complacent enough to allow one religion to force people who have no allegiance to said religion to follow its mandates? Oh, I know. Since it was our beliefs that others had to follow.
6. David Brody wrote: “If you are a conservative evangelical who believes in the biblical definition of traditional marriage …”What he meant to say is, “If you are a conservative evangelical who WANTS TO USE THE POWER OF THE STATE TO FORCE the biblical definition of traditional marriage on everyone else”.
Now that I’ve figured out exactly what I believe and why, I’ve written about it publicly on this blog more than one.
The problem with speaking about homosexuality to a non-Christian audience
Non-Christians simply don’t understand the concept of sin. They conflate saying something is a sin to meaning it’s a crime. On one hand you can’t blame them because many Christians don’t do a good enough job of describing the difference between the two. That might be because many Christians don’t know the difference, as proven by the near ubiquitous Protestant Christian backing of Prohibition in the ’20s.
Just because something is made illegal, doesn’t make it a crime. I could fly over to ISIS territory right now and be considered a criminal just for my faith in Christ. They’d make me pay a Christian tax, if I’m lucky.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.Matthew 16:24
If you’re all about self-expression – that whatever it is that you are, needs to be celebrated by the world, and blessed by God, because you’re so awesome just the way you are – you’re probably not a Christian. In fact, you probably don’t think you need a savior. You’ve already saved yourself.
Christianity is the red pill. To be a Christian means you don’t get to celebrate something like fornication8, even though it’s completely natural and biological to desire it.
Christianity is actually about turning over your “human rights” back to God (metaphorically speaking). Christianity is about agreeing with God about sin.
I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I also recognize that every movement has their villains. Muslims have ISIS, Christians have Westboro Baptist and Timothy McVeigh. The LGBT movement unfortunately has the people who are militantly out to destroy Christian businesses, and infringe on actual religious freedoms9, like the right to preach from certain portions of the bible, or the right for pastors to refuse hosting or performing a gay wedding in their church.
As a general rule, there are people not even worth discussing gay marriage with, until they can agree on the concept of sin using some less controversial and emotionally charged examples. Some people have suffered so much abuse at the hands of nominal Christians, and even some well-meaning Christians, that they will project their lifelong suffering onto your conversation, and give you a loud hearty, “You hate me!”
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.1 John 3:15
Just to be clear, as Christians we’re not actually allowed to hate anyone.
Update (same day)
Obviously, this post doesn’t go that far into why I take the Reformed Hipster stance, but this post by a fellow blogger gives my scriptural exegesis perfectly. So perfectly in fact, that he saved me about 20 hours of having to write it myself:
“It is only when God himself dwells in the midst of his people that there is any authority for the moral law [victimless vices] to be enforced…For a mere man to claim such authority is the height of blasphemy! He is claiming God’s authority. He attempts to ascend to God’s seat as the owner of other men! God himself will judge such a man! And any group of men calling themselves the State who claim that authority become idols and antichrists – ever more so as they pervert justice by making their own law by fiat.” – Mike Lewis, Libertarianism and the Christian: An Uneasy Relationship? – A Response to Bereans at the Gate
* * *
At least in the absence of majority political power.↩
They tend to be minarchists. For example, the American Libertarian Party platform states: 1.4: Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.↩
Just, really, really offensive Hebrew.↩
They don’t actually know what “intersex” means, so you have to say “hermaphrodite”. I’m only hard on you because I love you 😉↩
(i.e. premarital sex) Even though you may tempted by it, and even though you may slip up from time to time↩