Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The One Where I Just Lose

I begin this post neither expecting to influence people nor win friends ... or even an argument.

I've proposed that passing more restrictive laws regarding items like abortion and gay marriage (can I say "gay"? do I have to use the term "homosexual"?) is pointless if Christians don't explain why.

I've proposed that the issues are complex, and are difficult to articulate.

I've explored one or two snowflakes on the tip of the iceberg of the issue of abortion.

There are seven scripture texts that generally fall into the debate about homosexuality: Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Timothy 1:9-10, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and Jude 7. Apologists for the Christian gay viewpoint (yes, there are some) refute the traditional interpretations of these with arguments about Greek and Hebrew words, customs during Biblical times, redefining the sins of Sodom as idolatry and inhospitality, and the view that most of these scriptures decry only non-consensual sex - rape and pedophilia, for example - and pagan worship ritual. It's complicated, I agree. It's easier to simply condemn than to study out our own views. But if we as Christians want to reach and teach, we have to know what we believe and why ... and we have to be willing to listen and learn as well.

Please understand ... I'm not an advocate of making "choice" into "God."

All I'm really asking is:

Should Christians support laws which limit the rights of - let's call it a "minority by choice" - by defining marriage a certain way? While gay people don't consider themselves a minority by choice, Christians generally consider them to be such. And in passing restrictive laws, we set a precedent that it is permissible to restrict the rights of a minority by choice.

Christians are still a minority. By choice. Are we aiming at a target that will turn out to be our own feet?

On the other hand ...

Are we also setting precedent that it is permissible to further restrict rights to marriage? Will a future, even more conservative voting public define marriage to exclude people who have been divorced?

I've been divorced and have married again. (There was a time when church doctrine would have "outed" me. It was not that long ago. There was even a common opinion that to make things right, I would have to divorce my current wife and remarry my first wife - something God views as an abomination in Deuteronomy 24:3-4.)

Should everything that Christians don't like and consider to be sin be outlawed by vote of the people, even if we cannot document the harm? Is a consensual gay relationship harmful to society? If so, how and to what degree? One supposes that Prohibition was intended to address public drunkenness. Was it the appropriate response? Or did we just need laws against public drunkenness?

Should changing laws be the focus of our efforts as Christians? Or changing hearts?

Should we be passing laws and passing judgment? Or passing the word that Christ loves - and died for - all?

Are we Christians who pass such laws really any different from those whom those laws will most affect?

"... all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." - Romans 3:23


Last in this series: The Other Foot, The Other Shoe

5 comments:

Fajita said...

Oh good, I like the easy ones.

I go back and forth on this one for lots of reasons. When should Christians stand and be counted politically and when should they just shut up?

I can say this with certainty: much of the communication from Christians on the topic of gay marriage is not very Christian in process. I can see why gays think Christians hate them. It is because some Christians hate them.

Jesus would not have treated gays with so much contempt. He would have found a way to eat a meal with homosexuals. In fact, he probably did. None of that got written down for us, but I am sure it must have happened.

Anyway, how can Christians come to the table and dine with homosexuals without saying what they do is of God? There has got to be a way. Jesus did with prostitutes (that one did make it into the Bible), so why not followers of Christ with gays?

When I figure out how to do that I'll share.

David U said...

Keith, I was in my late 20's before I came to the discovery that divorced people could actually be saved!
No foolin. What a wonderful revelation it was to understand that God's grace covers divorced people also.

You asked SO many questions here, that there is no way I would attempt to answer all of them. I hope everybody understands that you have two discussions going on here. One is about God, and his revelation to us by the word and by the Spirit. The other is about our laws in the US of A.

You use the phrases "passing a law" and "passing judgment" in the same sentence, as if they are the same thing. You pretty much laid your political cards out on the table face up with that comment. That has been a rallying cry from the left....a false one I might add.......for quite some time now. The left argues that if you pass a law that deals with or involves a moral issue, then you are judging those who oppose it. It's ludicrous. If you pass a law that says you can't curse or use profane language in a public place, such as a mall or airport terminal, are you judging those who want to allow it? How about the public smoking laws.....does that automatically make you judge those smokers who are opposed to that law? Of course not! Law and judgment are not synonymous. Granted, there may be PLENTY of judging going on.........but laws aren't the direct cause.

When deciding if a law is right morally, I don't put ANY weight or give ANY consideration as to how it affects a "minority"......or majority for that matter.
I try and decide how God views the issue, and I try and be as close to His will as possible. I doubt in the time of the flood Noah would have gotten very far with approaching God about the minority OR majority!

And I am somewhat taken aback by your question of "Consensual gay relationship" being harmful to society. Gay relationships are harmful to our society, period.....consensual or not! By the way, is there any other kind? I mean, I am not reading of many FORCED gay relationships........unless you are talking about sexual abuse cases. And I don't believe that is what you were talking about.

I agree with you 100% that we need to keep being searchers and we need to be in the Word and in tune with His spirit to guide us as we talk about these things. At the same time, I don't believe God was ambiguous about how He feels about homosexuality. It is my understanding that he abhors it, and that he condems it....by what I have read from His word. I also believe the Word tells us that he loves the homosexual just as much as he loves me in my sin...or anybody else in theirs.

Changing hearts for sure should be our focus as Christians. Having said that, passing laws does not exclude one from sharing the love of Christ. It's not as if you have to choose between the two.....you can easily do both. I think it is wrong to communicate that it has to be one or the other.

Thanks for not dodging hard issues......and issues that are on the front page of our culture. We can't be light and salt if we don't know what is going on around us. Keith, you make us think.........and that is a good thing! I appreciate you for that, brother!

In HIM,
David

Keith Brenton said...

I'm just trying to get inside the heads of people I don't understand. They are going to ask "How is my lifestyle destructive to society?" and if my answer is "It just is," there's no more dialogue.

I am not trying to be political, and I have no cards.

I'm not trying to portray this question entirely as an either-or choice. I'm asking about priorities. It has been a priority to pass the laws. But the folks on whom it impinges, for the most part, don't seem to have a clue why. We owe them that.

I think we owe them all of the time and effort and money and passion that went into passing those laws to explain.

I don't know how to do that.

And I know it's going to be even harder when laws are passed and the explanation before passing them has been: "Because we say it's wrong, and there's more of us than there are of you."

DJG said...

Perhaps it is easier for us to condemn the "big" sins. The homosexual and abortion is not usually debated right or wrong. I agree that it is hard to make laws to support our morality if we do not make laws to support all of it. Why should we allow hetrosexual couples to live together in sin? Why not enforce the "fornication" law. We are often blinded by our prejudices. It's just easier somehow that looking at the flaws in our own lives.

mcSey said...

I wish more Christians in the "religious right" would realize the wisdom in your post.