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1:26 AM
14
A: What is a Christian's justification for a legal prohibition of homosexual marriage?

Affable GeekFrom Romans 1, we understand that homosexual activity is a result of a people who know God, but choose not to glorify Him as God. In other words, it is a symptom of a society that has rejected God. From a theological point of view, a Christian could oppose gay marriage on the grounds that his g...

I'm not convinced that @AffableGeek's answer qualifies as "Christian".
Yes, Romans 1 does say that homosexual activity is a result of a society that has rejected God.
However, that passage in Romans does not conclude with, "therefore you must oppose gay marriage." It concludes with, "therefore you have no excuse when you judge others, for in passing judgment you condemn yourself."
Paul is exhorting the Christians to live righteously, not to write their morals into law.
Later, in Romans 13 Paul tells the Roman Christians to submit to the pagan civil authorities, adding, "rulers are not a terror to good conduct".
Affable Geek says the government is "acting on his behalf", yet Jesus taught that the governments of this world are not where our allegiance ultimately belongs. Instead, he said, "My kingdom is not of this world."
When Zebedee's wife asked Jesus to let her sons sit at his right and left side when he became king, Jesus declined, adding that his followers were not to "lord it over" others, but to be servants.
For those of us in the United States, we are living in a vastly different culture from what the early Christians experienced. About 75% of U.S. citizens call themselves Christians, and we choose our rulers by majority vote. Therefore U.S. Christians have a lot more secular power than the Christians of the first century.
But that doesn't mean our government has the right to act as a representative of Christ or to act on the behalf of Christians.
If there is no biblical justification for the claim that the secular government is acting on our behalf, then it does not follow that a Christian must necessarily oppose government actions that we personally detest (whatever actions those may be).
Affable Geek's second "Christian" argument is that marriage is an institution ordained by God. This is affirmed in numerous places in the Bible, e.g. Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:7, Ephesians 5:31. I have no problem with that.
But it's a fallacy to go from there to, "marriage is an institution ordained by God, not a function of the state." In fact, in the U.S. it is both.
We have both religious marriages and civil marriages. Many couples do both in the same ceremony.
(We have something of an analogous situation with Christmas, which is both a secular and a religious holiday in many places.)
Now I can buy the argument that the civil ceremony should be called something other than marriage, if this is your political philosophy. But I don't see any biblical justification for asserting that Christians can tell the state what words it can use in its laws.
Affable Geek states, "When Jesus said, 'for this reason a man shall leave his mother and cling to his wife,' it is because that is the order which God prescribed."
But then he adds, "A Christian response would ask why the state gets to (re-)define that which God has defined and put together."
However, that's not at all what Jesus was saying in that passage. Jesus was talking about divorce, and arguing that if God ordained a marriage, human beings should not break it up.
The passage has nothing to do with whether the state can define its own concept of marriage, with its own set of benefits.
And, in fact, many Christians have made peace with the reality of divorce, so if we want to take Jesus seriously, we ought first to live up to his actual teaching, rather than attempt to use this passage as a weapon against others.
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TL;DR: It is not a genuinely Christian response to assert that (A) the government is acting on our behalf and therefore should refrain from actions of which we do not personally approve, and (B) the Bible prohibits the government from defining a ceremony called marriage.
A Christian response would consider that, (A) given power, followers of Christ are not to lord it over others, and (B) the state often acts in ways that are orthogonal to the Christian faith. As Christians, we should never act in ways that would push people away from being receptive to the gospel.
If we act as bullies who want to impose our beliefs on others or to shove our religion down their throats (or even if we just come across that way), we are not proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.
 
 
10 hours later…
12:39 PM
@BruceAlderman I think that's a valid argument objecting to my answer, but i still think mine is representative of Christianity. My good friend who just recently passed, Chuck Colson, however, makes pretty much this same case in Kkngdoms in Conflict. This is a great essay, and Im glad it's saved for posterity.
 
 
4 hours later…
4:34 PM
@Bruce well said
An interesting observation I have on this whole issue (the answers, an the wider "thing") - is that most responses I've heard are answering a different question.
Most people answer with "how is homosexuality a sin", rather than "what is the problem with same-sex marriage"
It seems I me that although the first has already been lost (I.e. homosexuality legal and accepted in ever-growing and large %s)
People are trying to fight that battle but under the question of "marriage".
Denying someone marriage didn't make them not gay. It doesn't change anything except their legal status, and the bitterness caused (and rightly directed at Christianity)
Am I missing somethig? It largely reeks of denial.
Then the reply is invariably "ah but that would condone it" - tough; society generally already condones it.
@Bruce don't forget that for OT polygamy was the norm.
Also - not sure (from memory) that any of those sections mention (or thus define) "marriage"
You might also want to see Luther's chapter on marriage where he concludes extensively the church does not own the term
I linked to it in my answer
 
 
3 hours later…
7:48 PM
@BruceAlderman a more comprehensive depiction of the parts where the bible defines marriage:
 
8:38 PM
@MarcGravell I'm sure you've heard this, but anywho... there's arguments against that chart (which don't fit here, I tried), but those aren't biblical definitions of marriage. They're civil laws (OR just examples) given the cultural views on women, etc. The real definition is in Genesis when God creates one man and one woman, and says "for this reason the man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife."
 
8:56 PM
@Doubting they're all there. I don't think you get to pick and choose.
Or is it simply more convenient to take one single mention in genesis and ignore all the polygamy? And ... "rather-to-close-for-comfort" Noadic couplings?
 
@MarcGravell most of those are, like I said, only civil laws of national Israel. Those laws are not moral and not bounding for all time, unlike the pre-Israel marriage definition in the Garden
@MarcGravell polygamy is never sanctioned, only described. And it's usually painted in a negative light.
 
Abraham didn't seem to mind
 
@MarcGravell do sinners usually "mind" their sin? Just because he wasn't bothered doesn't mean it wasn't wrong.
 
That is still a genesis marriage. It isn't stated as a sin (unless you care to counter?)
It isn't painted as morally wrong.
 
Is it really a marriage definition though? It's not stated in the abstract terms like the definition in Genesis 2 ("a man shall hold fast to his wife").
It's just an example of polygamy. Lemme look up the passage though, I'll readily admit I'm no expert on this; i'm just aware that throughout church history there's been an agreement on this
which passage are you talking about, exactly? The Hagar incident? because that's definitely painted as wrong.
 
9:07 PM
Pretty much all of them.
 
also, there was a huge cultural piece to this. Women were viewed as property. Compared to the nations around them, Israel was pretty conservative on marriage. Solomon's major polygamy was definitely painted as wrong; his wives were his eventual downfall
@MarcGravell okay, any examples? I'm having trouble finding any passages on Abraham's concubines other than Hagar
 
Gen 25:6 - plural
Keturah?
 
ah, okay. yeah.
first off... note this comes after the thing with Hagar.
Abraham's initial interaction with a concubine (tampering with marriage) was bad. He sinned in doing so.
So you already come to chapter 25 with the idea of concubines in a negative light.
Combined with the fact that Adam was only given one Eve; that multiple wives/concubines usually accompanied the downfall of a king (Solomon), and the clarifying remarks of both Jesus and Paul on marriage... I honestly think it's pretty obvious that marriage = one man + one woman.
 
The main point that cell is trying to make is much simple than an in-depth analysis on any one character: various different interpretations of marriage are given biblically. And iirc Adam and Eve weren't married.
One man minus 50 silver and his victim, plus her belongings (ok, that's a cheap shot)
 
@MarcGravell how are they not married? Because a preacher didn't say "I pronounce you man and wife?" Isn't God's giving Eve to Adam (and making her out of his flesh) like, a million times better than a ceremony?
@MarcGravell again, that's a cultural thing - the victim would have been glad of marriage to her rapist, because he a) HAD to provide for her b) if he didn't marry her, she would be a total social outcast.
...which is why of course that rapist-victim marriage thing was just a civil law for Israel. That would never make sense today.
 
9:18 PM
That arguably makes her a clone (hich is odd, with the whole chromosome thing). But it comes done to how one defines marriage. There is no formal definition in the Bible - just inference. Seems a long streth to be so opinionated (I mean Christianity, not yourself) on it.
So... We're ok to ignore rules that don't make sense today?
 
@MarcGravell ...the civil laws, mostly given in Leviticus. There's a huge difference between those and moral laws.
@MarcGravell okay, fair enough, the definition is hazy. Now what?
 
Looking from the outside in, I'm really not sure there is - just cultural convention. Of course, I derive my morality differently, so I'm not likely to agree,
 
@MarcGravell yeah, you'd be disagreeing with 99% of church history's interpretation of OT laws. the NT makes pretty clear that the moral law isn't abolished (it's reinstated in the Sermon on the Mount), but the other laws are fulfilled (we don't have a nation any more; we don't need sacrifices, etc.)
 
And who decides which are "moral" and which are "civil"? Isn't that simply "the ones we want to keep vs the ones we don't care for"?
 
@MarcGravell I think I just said. The Sermon on the Mount reinstates the moral law; Hebrews shows which ceremonial laws are fulfilled and no longer needed because of Christ; and Paul makes clear that we are no longer a physical nation - and so all the other laws (if an ox crashes through into your field, etc.) are no longer needed either.
basically, if it's not in the Sermon on the Mount, we don't need it anymore.
 
9:25 PM
Indeed Jesus claims to have come not to change the law.
 
no, that's not what he said... he said he didn't come to abolish it.
But to fulfill it
Laws that are fulfilled are no longer needed
Hebrews makes this pretty clear.
 
What is sadly less clear is a crib sheet of which laws are explicitly fulfilled and which are still in act :p
 
@MarcGravell ...why doesn't the Sermon on the Mount cover that for you?
Jesus lays out all the 10 Commandments and elaborates on them.
at the least, those are still in play.
 
Because there are a lot more OT laws than are covered there.
 
@MarcGravell the rest of the OT laws are either explicitly cultural (what to do if your neighbor's ox escapes), or implicitly cultural (rapist/victim), or ceremonial and hence no longer needed (Hebrews; Christ fulfills those)
 
9:30 PM
I wonder, though, if 38-42 could be applied to the scenario here... Rather than ban, not just allow, but help.
 
@MarcGravell 38-42?
brb
 
Eye for eye
 
I'm not sure what you mean - "rather than ban, not just allow, but help"
 
I guess I mean 41/42 specifically. Meh, it doesn't matter.
 
ah, well i've gotta get ready for Evening Service... feel free to ping me if you want to continue this later! :)
 

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