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From the Book of Common Prayer:

Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this Congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honorable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprized, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy name.

Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.

Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.

If Christians are to accept gay so-called marriage, they must accept that our liturgies and our services, our pastors and priests, our forefathers and foremothers have been for centuries wrong about the meaning of marriage. What they heard, what the pastor read, what their grandparents knew to be true was wrong as rain. And not just a little wrong, but fundamentally mistaken about the most essential elements of marriage. If gay marriage is right, then there is almost nothing in the old Book of Common Prayer that is right.

  • Marriage is not the joining together of a man and a woman uniquely, naturally, biologically, and by divine design fit one for the other, but the joining together of any persons who wish to commit themselves to each other in a state sanctioned ceremony.
  • Marriage is not a pre-political entity instituted by God, but a social construction which can be defined by personal desire and judicial mandate.
  • Marriage does not signify the mystical union of Christ and the church, which requires the differentiation of male and female, but a commemoration of professed commitment and modern notions of equality.
  • Marriage was not ordained for the procreation of children and therefore does not require two persons whose one flesh union can, by the nature of the differentiated sexes becoming one, produce offspring unless age or infirmity prohibit.

We are often told that we are only being asked to make little a tweak here or there to the Christian understanding of marriage, that gay marriage is just about more marriage for more people. But if the wisdom of the church through the ages tells us anything, it’s that the only way the Christian can accept gay marriage is by believing something different about marriage altogether.


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105 thoughts on “The Solemnization of Matrimony”

  1. matt says:

    > From my perspective it doesn’t make sense to get depressed about how God is “cruel” or “unjust” since He cannot be deposed or converted.

    I LOVE that you said that. You’re absolutely right. Most Christians say they are Christians because God is so good. If you’re admitting that you’d follow him because of his powerful position regardless of whether he was just or unjust then I applaud your honesty!

    > You may be interested to know that my belief in Hell actually makes me less likely to want to “punish” homosexuals. Since I believe they are going to suffer worse than I could do to them, it strikes me as unnecessary.

    I do find that interesting, but to me it seems like you’re just confirming the point I was trying to make: That you’re only willing to say gays deserve punishment if someone else is doing the punishing. To me, that indicates that deep down you really realize that we don’t deserve punishment at all.

    > I just don’t [think] we’re ever going to be able to agree because all our presuppositions about the world are so different. So a big blog
    > comment argument seems like a waste of time to me.
    > P.S.
    >As far as I know, neither Kevin DeYoung nor I am running for any office so don’t get your undies in a bunch about how much influence our >ideas are going to have.

    You’ll be happy to know that my underwear is quite unbunched. :)

    I would argue that Kevin does have influence on a certain sphere. He’s authored several books and is one of the few of his generation who hold such absolutist views. He certainly influences my dad.

    When Kevin’s church decided to leave the RCA because the RCA (the RCA!) was too welcoming of women, gays, and documents written by oppressed South Africans I think he lost some of his influence. It became easier to see what extreme positions he actually holds.

    As I said before, commenting here is a way to keep my mouth shut around my 80 year old father who believes exactly like Kevin.

  2. matt says:

    @a.

    Please correct me if I’m reading you wrong, but when you say things like, “Christians then don’t come up with their own ideas about Him nor justify Him, it’s the other way around” it sounds like you’re saying the same thing that Cody just said; that because God has a powerful position, humans are not capable of judging whether his acts are just or not.

    As I said to Cody, I LOVE hearing you say that. It seems really honest. It sounds like you’re admitting that you’re a Christian not because God is GOOD, but because God is POWERFUL.

    It sounds like you’re saying that God sending billions of people to hell for an eternity of torture might actually be cruel and unjust, but because of his position you will define those acts as “holy good and just.”

  3. RW says:

    Matt, I think you’re under the impression that Christians believe practicing homosexuals are somehow especially damned to Hell. Classic Christianity has always taught that all people–without faith in Christ–are subject to an eternity of unbearable loneliness, yes, and torment….actually of their own (not God’s) making…

    ― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

  4. matt says:

    @Matt2

    Great name! Thanks for the note. It’s great to hear.

    As you probably gathered, I don’t think that God calls gay people to be alone; untouched and unloved for a lifetime.

    Rather, I think that the homophobia in the bible came from the authors of the bible (mostly middle eastern guys) and not from the divine.

    What’s more, I think relationships and especially intimate relationships are central to what it means to be human.

  5. RW says:

    “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

  6. Matt2 says:

    @matt

    Cool name too ;) Kinda off topic, but I think you’d be a cool guy to hang out with and get coffee. You think about things. Although I would suggest with all the weight of an internet commenter that you might want to try to reconcile with your father, even if he doesn’t want it. Its so much easier to let go of pain than to hold onto it. Take it for what its worth.

    God Bless.

  7. Curt Day says:

    John K.,
    Let’s take a look at what you had to say. You are stating that I have a double standard because while complaining about personal attacks, I easily made them against Kevin. And the first such personal attack was when I said he was acting like Chicken Little. Let’s contrast that with what else has been said here.

    Now despite having said that I am in favor of same-sex marriages in society but not in the Church, John M. asked me if I hold to the Scriptural definition of homosexuality. In addition, he says, in an anticipatory manner, not to give some “clever explanation” suggesting that my beliefs would be an attempt to trick people. He is suggesting something about me in general for a specific view regarding homosexuality despite the fact that I said that only support it in Society, not the Church.

    Compare that with what I wrote to Kevin. I wrote that with regards to this specific issue, Kevin was acting like Chicken Little which was an illustrative description that you could agree or disagree with. And if you stopped there and didn’t see any significant difference, I would understand. But what you didn’t report was that I also wrote that to Kevin that he is both “gifted” and has “legitimate concerns and convictions.” Now is such a mixed review, especially when the criticism is specific and the affirmations are general and specific, a personal attack? Must one only give affirmations to avoid personally attacking someone?

    Then you write and say that I am criticizing Kevin for asking him why he doesn’t write about racism? I stated the reason. Kevin and others at TGC are transformationists, such as Tim Keller, who want Christians to influence culture from a privileged position that includes acting as a leader over society. What they are lamenting now is the coming marginalization of Christianity as other models of thought capture a privileged position in Society. Kevin wants Christianity to recapture its lost position. But what is not mentioned when the history of Christian privilege in American society is told is how other groups were pushed to the margins during that time. Certainly gays were pushed/kept in the margins. But other groups were too and that included nonWhites. And my question to Kevin was why he spends so many posts warning us about the acceptance of same-sex marriage in society, suggesting that he wants homosexuals to return to the margins, while saying little to nothing about the other groups that lived in the margins when Christianity held sway. That is not a subjective judgment about Kevin in general, it is a specific question whose validity can be demonstrated empirically. Go back over his posts and see how many times and with what emphasis Kevin has written about homosexuals and the same-sex issue vs how many times he has addressed the marginalization of nonWhites. Again, this is an important comparison because of how nonWhites were marginalized while Christianity held a privileged position in this society. And if you think just saying that is offensive, then read our history and see if the Christian privileged position either contributed to, neglected, or resisted the marginalization of nonWhites in society.

  8. Curt Day says:

    Matt2,
    You did a good job reflecting back my views but you did miss one point. I don’t want Christians to hold a privileged place in society and I want homosexuals to be able to enjoy marriage to the adult person of their choice because I want Christians and homosexuals to have an equal position in society. It is this emphasis on equality that is key for me.

    Otherwise, what happens is that the concern you expressed rationalizes a Christian paternalism and we get a rightful resistance to our privileged status where the reputation of the Gospel suffers from collateral damage. Our concern for gays over the consequences of their views and actions should be expressed in the preaching of the Gospel, not in exercise of control over them because we know what is best for them. They in turn will first ask what gives us the right to have a controlling position over them in a nation that is at least partially based on religious liberty. In their resistance to our efforts at control and seeking a dominant role in society, they will be more likely to resist the actual preaching of the Gospel simply because we are trying to act as superiors in society.

    In addition, we see no NT examples of Christians seeking privileged positions in society.

  9. Curt Day says:

    JohnM,
    Erica’s examples are not off. Of course the difference between control over Blacks and control over homosexuals is sometimes rationalized by saying that homosexuality is a choice, being Black isn’t. But why does that choice of being homosexual give others the right to exercise dominion over them. When the difference between being Black and being gay is explained this way, doesn’t it seem to assume that Christians are entitled to a privileged position in society and their exercise of control over others depends on the reasons?

  10. Matt2 says:

    Curt,

    Understood. I think we’re pretty much at the agree to disagree stage because my conflicting premise is that even though Christianity may hold(or at least held) a privileged place in the making of the laws of this society, it is still our responsibility out of love and so as not to give the impression that we think that human flourishing can be found in a gay relationship to attempt to restrict by our voices and sometimes our votes the institution of gay marriage. That was a difficult sentence to write because it needs to be incredibly nuanced. I’m not sure I got it right even now. Hopefully to clarify here is some do and not dos based on my position.

    -Do affirm gay men and women as humans made in the image of God and give them proper respect and love so due.

    -Do not vote to further the expansion of gay marriage laws.

    -Do grow relationships with gay men and women and speak the life giving Gospel of Jesus into their lives.

    -Do not attempt to change someone who is gay without getting them to know Jesus first and making the decision to change by themselves.

    Yeah, I’m still confused of how to correctly articulate my thoughts in love. Hope the Spirit uses them for some good.

  11. Curt Day says:

    Matt2,
    Trying to make the correct statement here is very nuance. And I don’t see using Christian privilege to make laws supplying that nuance. THis is why I said we need to accomplish the goals you have set with evangelism only.

    See, Christian privilege has only created push back and a pendulum swing toward the privilege of some other group. And before fearing the consequences of that pendulum swing, we need serious reflection and contrition over what we did when the pendulum supported our views of homosexuality. When the pendulum was in our favor, we pushed it past mere disagreement to legislation. In order to prevent that from happening again, what do you think some who promote LGBT rights will do?

    See, my point is on a broader topic. It isn’t just protecting marriage equality in society only, it is to promote Christian influence on society without promoting Christian privilege. We should eliminate all Christian privilege in this country. It promotes paternalism, not love, and its motivation is the desire, fear-based for some, to control, not to love.

  12. Matt2 says:

    By nuanced I’m basically saying with a big word that I’m not sure how to say what I want to say. Anyways, to your other points it sounds like you want to have Christians retain the influence they do have by backing off on some things, or just back off so the retaliation from opposition groups is not as fierce. I don’t particularly care about opposition or my position in the society at large. I’m happy if there is a large Christian influence on the culture, but if there isn’t the choice is to still follow Christ. I think I understand the whole “we’re a priveledged group so we don’t see the injustices that we cause by living out our normal priveledged lives” thing. Although to be honest I believe that the way the Bible says to live is the best way to live. If the laws support that great. If not that’s ok, we live in a democracy. So in a way if Christians have the priveledge I think it’s great that we’re a little paternalistic. My view is not that I’m right, but I’m pretty sure you could be right about your situation as well. I stake my life on the witness of scripture. Meaning I’m happy having Christian influence in laws if we are allowed it because it is the best way to live. If I’m wrong ok, but I’m not going to live as if I am wrong. That could be arrogant, but if it is then Jesus was pretty arrogant about his views. I understand the motivation to say JUST evangelize NO legislate(at least I think I do). Its because as a Christian society you’re right, we’ve been pretty crappy at showing the love of the rules we provide and moreso just showing the rules and aiming at control. That said I don’t think one generation’s failure to show that love means we shouldn’t seek to follow a path that says don’t do that because you’ll hurt yourself. As the Church we have a lot to answer to about our treatment of LGBT people, but that doesn’t mean we should now allow the things that will hurt those people.

    That was just a spitfire of my thoughts. As I said before I think we come to a pretty basic roadblock in that I think paternalism in a society where it is possible isn’t that bad and you think it is.

  13. JohnM says:

    Curt Day,
    Erica’s examples are off for the reasons I explained and your comments don’t approach the point I was making.

    You said before you accept what scripture teaches about homosexuality. In view of your determination to defend it I find that hard to believe.

    I’ll give you a chance. I asked before and I’ll ask again – The condition and/or practice of homosexuality: Is it right or wrong? Good or bad? Wholesome or perverse? Man, I’m giving you every chance I can, but you’ve got to give me a short, straight up answer.

  14. Chris Little says:

    Interestingly, these rites do also understand that marriage can be a social construct – but declares such a marriage invalid before God.

    The service warns about marrying ‘otherwise than God’s word allows’ – ie, it’s possible to have a ‘real’ public ceremony that satisfies the witnesses and celebrant … but it doesn’t trick God. That’s why we ask the couple (and the witnesses) to confess any reason you should not be married.

  15. matt says:

    @ RW

    > Matt, I think you’re under the impression that Christians believe practicing homosexuals are somehow especially damned to Hell.

    No, I realize that many Christians think that God will allow *lots* of people to spend eternity in the most unimaginable torture for eternity. But I hope you realize that treating lots of people poorly does not make the act of treating one person bad any more palatable. You’re the second person today to raise the same protest. I think that’s really curious. Neither of you said, “It’s totally just for God to allow people to be tortured for an eternity just because they were in a gay relationship” Rather, both of you said in effect, At least God doesn’t single gays out, in fact he acts really horribly to a lot of people.

    > Classic Christianity has always taught that all people–without faith in Christ–are subject to an eternity of unbearable loneliness, yes, and torment….actually of their own (not God’s) making…

    I think sentencing people to hell for an eternity for having a same sex partner is unjust. The fact that people who decide to change religions can avoid eternal damnation does not make the sentence any more just. Imagine if I said to you that I was going to sentence you to 100 lashes with a studded whip for jay walking. That sentence is unjust. If I told you that you could avoid the sentence by praising alla, that would not make the sentence any less unjust.

    What really got me thinking about this was when ISIS recently raped and killed the Yazidi minority just because they had the wrong religion. Then ISIS chased the survivors up into the mountains where they had no food and no water. That episode, tormenting people because they have the wrong religion sounds a lot like your conception of God: that people who have the wrong religion deserve eternal torment.

    > actually of their own (not God’s) making…

    That last sentence really caught my eye. It’s an interesting idea.

    If going to hell is *the people’s* responsibility rather than God’s, then you can avoid the difficult question of whether the fact that God allows people to go to hell (which is apparently worse than any atrocities ever experienced on earth) for such innocuous things as being in a gay relationship is a wee bit excessive. After all, it’s not God’s fault it’s the peoples’.

    It seems to me that the thing you give up when you make that argument is the omnipotence of God. If God is unable to step in and stop your gay neighbors from being tortured for eternity then it seems like he’s not all that powerful. If he’s able but unwilling then he’s just plain cruel. Either way, I don’t see what Christian see in him/her.

  16. Lidia says:

    I was raised a Christian, believing that we are meant to be (among many things) loving, nonjudgemental people. How anyone can say that a homosexual will be punished and go to hell it’s beyond me. No wonder so many have left church. We ALL are created and loved by God. That includes homosexuals.

  17. matt says:

    @RW

    > All that are in Hell, choose it.

    What does it mean for someone who doesn’t believe in hell to choose hell? I’m not following you.

    Do you think gay couples deserve hell or not? If you think that spending a Saturday night in bed with the love of your life deserves an eternity of the worst torture then say so. And please tell me why. I don’t get it. It seems perfectly natural thing for a human to want.

  18. matt says:

    @matt2

    > Do not vote to further the expansion of gay marriage laws.

    Do you have a civil reason for opposing equal rights for gay people or are you trying to impose your religious views on us?

    If you have a civil reason please share it.

    If you’re imposing your religious views then do you not believe in freedom of religion?

  19. a. says:

    “to @ a.Please correct me if I’m reading you wrong,- It sounds like you’re admitting that you’re a Christian not because God is GOOD, but because God is POWERFUL.”

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for your follow-up to me. I do believe God is both all-powerful and is also good. He says He is love and He gets to define it. His definition is hard (for me to care to do that is) but I am certainly glad to receive it (Romans 5:8; John 15:13) unto eternal life from Jesus. God is pure and a consuming fire, unable to be in the presence of sin nor leave it unjudged, so we either accept God’s provision of Jesus’ substitution for us, for he who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son will not see life but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)

    How about this picture of love: “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” Isaiah 53:4-6

    Anyway, I hope you choose Him. I don’t know what separation from God for eternity would be like and I don’t want to-had a sort of sampling of that when He withdrew Himself letting evil dominate for a while and as terrifying as that was, I’m thinking that was nothing. You mention the evil of ISIS now, wait til how it will be when God withdraws completely. Other mays have mentioned, those who don’t want the provision of Jesus to be able to be in God’s presence forever, will get just what they desire.

    ps, btw, I think you love your dad. I think your dad loves you.

  20. matt says:

    @ a.

    > God is both all-powerful and is also good. He says He is love and He gets to define it.

    I understand the appeal of that view. By defining God as good it saves you from having to make sense of all the things that God does that seem cruel if not down right nasty.

    It seems to me that what that rhetorical position costs you is the ability to say “God is good” and have it mean something (…other than that God is God, or that God does what God does). Apparently that’s a price you’re willing to pay.

    > ps, btw, I think you love your dad. I think your dad loves you.

    Thanks! I think you’re right ;)

  21. RW says:

    Matt: I deserve Hell, you deserve Hell, everyone posting here deserves Hell. In fact every human ever born–except One, born in Bethlehem–is born alienated from God their Creator due to our rebellious nature.

    You think a physical act with a person you love cannnot possibly be wrong. Yet I bet you consider adultery–someone “making love” to another man’s wife–is wrong, though I can say for certain that most adulterers feel that they love their partner–and doing wrong is the farthest thing from their mind….. Yet of course they are doing wrong to their spouse, themselves…and ultimately to God, who commanded that we all not commit adultery.

    To God they are saying (pardon my language) “Scr*w you! I don’t care what you say!” The voice of a rebel. And everyone says that–regardless their sexual orientation–when we sin–and everyone sins. Clinging to sin though–when we know Jesus is offering freedom from it, is like holding onto a giant weight while drowning–when a life preserver is thrown to you…. You can cling to the weight–or the life preserver, but not both. Life or death is offered, and if you choose death, that is your own choice.

    The first sin–that is the root of it all–was nothing more than eating a piece of fruit. So it’s not a given act that is so wrong–it is the spirit of rebelliousness against what God has said, behind the act….that is wrong, that is the attitude of the heart. Read this again, and think about it:

    “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

    If you don’t believe in Hell…that has no affect on its reality, as humans have always been good in rationalizing away things they don’t want to believe. You think your lifestyle is fine, and living any way you desire leads to life?

    Doesn’t everyone think they are choosing to live in a way that is best for them? And if you are wrong?

  22. Curt Day says:

    JohnM,
    You finding my position hard to believe suggests that, according to you, to say that homosexuality is sin, one must prohibit it in society thus, marginalizing gays, as well. You are suggesting that one cannot both allow homosexuality in society but prohibit it in the Church because it is sinful. And if one applies that logic to religious diversity, then acceptance of the religious freedom society means that one denies Christianity.

    And, again, Erica’s comparisons are valid. For comparisons work on a limited set of key variables rather than complete identity. And again, since Christian privilege assumes the right to forbid others outside of the Church from participating in activities condemned by Christianity, the right assumed by those Christians forbidding same-sex marriage of those outside the Church in society is based on exactly what I wrote. If what others in society are practicing what is wrong, then those supporting Christian privilege assume the right to forbid those outside the Church to participate. So with the key variable being the act forbidden is both sinful and a choice, what I wrote addresses your concern.

  23. Curt Day says:

    Matt2,
    We have some common ground, I like that My position here is about a broader issue than just same-sex marriage in society, it is how Christians seek to influence society. I am looking for a hybrid position between 2K theology and the transformationist position of the neoCalvinists. The strengths of the 2K position is that, for the most part, they don’t seek Christian privilege in society. By Christian privilege I mean that they don’t seek Christians having a superior and dominating position in determining legislation and mores to nonChristians. Rather, they tend to favor working with nonChristians as co-collaborators, as equals. The advantage of the Transformationist position is that Christians can speak as Christians, and thus the Church can speak out officially, about social issues. Should note here however that some of the ways that the transformationists implement the influencing of culture sometimes makes them look like 2kers in the negative sense.

    I want Christians to speak out on social issues as Christians and for the Church to speak out to but not in ways that do not recognize nonChristians as being their full equals in society. From what I see then, we need to be more libertarian regarding personal morality while we need to be speak out against injustices that take place in our society and the world. Most social injustices are examples of groups violating rules such as do not murder and do not steal.

    Now by saying that Christians should be more libertarian in personal moral issues I am not saying that we should back down. I just don’t equate speaking up with legislating against.

    We do have common ground and part of that is that we both recognize the significant nuance needed to express our positions. In addition, we recognize the lack of Christian love in past attempts to legislate morality. And I very much appreciate how you have stated things.

  24. Cody says:

    I think you misunderstood what I was saying to Curt Day, Matt. I never said I wanted Christianity to have a privileged place in society. I just thought his views sounded a bit inconsistent. I feel that because of your relationship with your father, you are….projecting a bit onto everyone here. I don’t think that what you’re doing is no different from what we’re doing. “We” think you are sinning by your homosexual behavior and your disbelief in Christianity. You think we’re sinning by are belief in Hell. I guess what bothers you is that we believe you will be punished and you don’t believe we will be which makes you resentful. (By the way I thought I put the words “cruel” and “unjust” in quotations marks. Maybe I forgot or maybe they didn’t show up. You might meet Kevin if your father has a non internet relationship with him but I doubt we shall ever cross paths. So how about you take your (from your point of view) righteous anger out on some other commentator.

  25. Enping Zhao says:

    @Curt Day,

    I’m not sure what you mean when you said of yourself “as a Christian”, but I believe “marriage”, as sanctified and blessed by God, is a union between a man and a woman. Holding fast Biblical truths is what Christian does regardless whether the society feels “uncomfortable” or not. You label it as “a controled role”, because you take any view that is not yours as “controlling”. You don’t consider the demand of recognition of homosexual union (HU) as “marriage” so much “controling”. The Church should take a firm stand of opposing recognition of HU as “marriage”, regardless what the society thinks. After all, as all “true” Christians know, this society, including our natural selves, as well as all human societies after the fall of Adam and Eve, are corrupted in thoughts, desires, and ways. It’s only by the grace and resurrecting power of Jesus Christ, a true believer of God is cleansed and enabled and desire to follow God’s commands, including holding Biblical truth on “marriage”.

    Enping

  26. JohnM says:

    Curt Day,
    What makes your position hard to believe is when your primary concern seems to be “marginalizing gays”. That’s not a concern of people who understand the thing to be categorically perverse. Practitioners of indecent acts marginalize themselves in all but indecent societies. People who understand a practice to be wrong and indecent prefer to see it marginalized rather than mainstreamed, if it has to exist at all. People who understand something is twisted about the very desire involved do not pretend there is this category called “gay” and it’s kinda like ethnicity.
    People who understand the act to be sinful just say so.

    Say first, directly and unequivocally, that you know the desire is perverse and the act is an abomination. Say that without making any comparisons or analogies, they don’t matter. If you can’t do that everywhere can you at least do it within the church? The church right now needs for you to do that.

  27. Martin says:

    Another African country, Gambia, has joined the ranks of countries criminalizing homosexual behavior. These countries have imposed unacceptable and unjust penalties, among them imprisonment of up to 14 years (a reduction from the intent to impose the death penalty). This has fueled both anti-gay violence and denial of housing to gays. Bible teachers and prominent evangelicals from the West (US and the UK) are felt to have influenced this recent legislation.

    Isn’t it time Western evangelical voices speak out just as loudly against these injustices as they speak out about the immorality of homosexuality? I have heard nothing to this effect from those teachers/pastors. When Jesus confronted the woman accused of adultery, he first confronted her accusers and put a stop to the harsh penalty (the worldly injustice) awaiting her.

    We may have a greater effect upon those we consider to be practicing a sinful lifestyle, if we would stand up for them and speak loudly regarding their human rights. What the West says echoes throughout the whole world.

  28. JohnM says:

    Gambia is ninety percent Muslim. In connection with the latest legislation their President, Yahya Jammeh, has made a point of the fact they are Muslim dominated country.

    “We may have a greater effect upon those we consider to be practicing a sinful lifestyle, if we would stand up for them and speak loudly regarding their human rights. ” We’re well past that now, Martin. They don’t want your crumbs , they have the cake.

  29. Curt Day says:

    JohnM,
    But remember three scriptures before you are so eager to punish gays with marginalization. After discussing the problems of the unbelieving gentiles, Paul follows up with the command not to judge because the religious Jew is no better and so in judging others, the religious Jew judges himself. This warning could be generalized to all who are religious and not just the Jews.

    Then Paul states in Romans 3:9 that the religious Jew is as sinful as the unbelieving Gentile. That nobody is better.

    And there is always the oldie but goodie parable of the two men praying.

    Perhaps a 4th scripture could also help. When Paul encountered a sexual perversion that even the gentiles would not accept, note that this goes beyond homosexuality, Paul disciplines the person by removing him out of the Church for the purpose of facilitating repentance. Paul expressly says that he doesn’t not care to discipline the nonbeliever. His concern is the morality of believers.

    What do we expect to accomplish with unbelievers when, even out of paternalism, we assume a superior role to them in terms of determining the laws and mores of society?

    So doubt me if you want. Realize that with your position, you are looking to do more to the unbeliever than Paul was willing to do only to a believer.

  30. Curt Day says:

    Enping,
    I agree with opposing homosexuality. But it is how and where that are important issues. We are not called to rule over society. And thus I don’t believe we should be supporting legislation that marginalizes gays in society. We are called to preach the Gospel and that is where we should oppose homosexuality. We do so by preaching repentance and the Gospel. But as for society, just as we support the freedom of religion for others though that means we support their right to practice idol worship, we should support equality in society for homosexuals. And we challenge their homosexuality by preaching the Gospel.

  31. JohnM says:

    Curt Day,

    Marginalization of “gays” is contemporary secular liberal-speak not the language of scripture. Stop talking that way if you wan to have to any credibility.

    Stop rambling. Say first, directly and unequivocally, that you know the desire is perverse and the act is an abomination. Start with that, then, maybe, I’ll give consideration to anything else you want to say about it. But too, start with that then see if anything else you want to say still makes sense. That you will not start with that, or even come around to it is why I doubt you and I will not banter any more words with you.

  32. Jeff says:

    Thank you, Curt, I am aware of this.

    To me, it’s a matter of degree, not kind. Office holders are required (normally) to swear that they hold to these standards during ordination. And that means that the teaching and preaching ministry will uphold the standards positively (e.g., by catechism, preaching with explicit reference to them where applicable, etc.) and negatively (e.g., by defending the positions against the subtle infiltration of liberalism, Arminianism and “four-point” Calvinism, etc.) This is what I regard as formal or strong binding.

    Under this kind of adherence, the lay person will quickly realize, according to his membership vows to support and submit to the teaching of the church, that if he conscientiously holds to an opposing view, it is uncomfortable to continue in the church and he will look elsewhere. This is weaking binding, but it is still binding.

    This is not unloving, but confessionally honest and preserves liberty of conscience. The Reformed church will be kept pure, and the brethren with differing opinion can freely join with a denomination or congregation that more closely conforms to their conscientiouos beliefs.

    Much of the sorrow that arises from gay “marriage” and other divisive issues within the Reforemd and Presbyterian churches could have been avoided if confessionalism was not just lip service. Actually, honest confessionalism is one of the highest forms of brotherly love.

    >Jeff,
    >Please note that the Westminster Standards are not binding on members of the Reformed Presbyterian denominations. These >standards are binding on officeholders however.
    >
    >>Similarly, the Westminster Confession, Chapter 24, Sections 1 and 2 are binding on all confessional Presbyterians.

  33. matt says:

    RW,

    > Matt: I deserve Hell, you deserve Hell,

    There are people in this world who will kill and torture others simply for having the wrong religion.

    I think that is bad and unjust, and I’m sure you do to.

    Yet you’re saying that your god acts just like that. …not only that, but that you *agree* with what he’s doing.

    Your god sounds a lot like the guys in ISIS who killed and raped and tortured the Yazidi people for having the wrong religion, and it’s as if you’re standing on the side nodding your approval.

  34. Enping Zhao says:

    @Curt Day,

    Freedom of religion is not a Biblical principle. The Bible is about the Gospel of salvation for sinners through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. An integral part of the Gospel is the repentance of sins. The Bible teaches telling truth in love. While Christian does not pass judgment to anyone for their belief (religion), thoughts, and actions, because judgment is God’s soverignty, Christian does preach the truth of God. If a thought or action is sinful against God, Christian should say so, and cannot be ambiguous about, let alone, condone it. A Christian should hold fast to God’s truth, regardless inside the church or outside. To Christian, it would be unloving not to tell sin as sin.

    Enping

  35. Martin says:

    JohnM,

    What’s your point? Christians are supposed to defend their neighbors. People living in Muslim countries are our neighbors. It is immaterial whether the government or official religion sanctions homosexuality or not. The point is … wherever there is persecution of homosexuals, the Body of Christ should speak out … especially if there has been a caravan of evangelical teachers who have influenced (albeit not intentionally) the criminalization of homosexual behavior.

    I find it interesting (no, repulsive!) that a myriad of TGC posts came to the defense of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson when he found himself ostracized by the media regarding his views on same sex marriage.. On the topic of the world’s severest injustices towards homosexuals – silence as far as I have heard … or rather NOT heard.

    I suppose if they support in any way the individual rights of homosexuals, they fear that they will be counted among those who endorse homosexual behavior. Gee, reminds me of Jesus who socialized with the BIG sinners of His day. Conservative Christianity has made it very clear that the BIG sin of our day is ‘living gay’. Ok then ,,, that’s where we as Jesus’ followers should be, extending grace and working for justice.

  36. JohnM says:

    The point, Martin, is that you can hardly lay blame at the feet of “Bible teachers and prominent evangelicals from the West…” for whatever the Gambian government decides to do.

  37. Curt Day says:

    Enping,
    It is the law of the land. In addition, there are neither NT statements nor examples that contradict it. In fact, they seem to provide implicit support for it. The OT is different but it is different because there is a difference in context.

    BTW, outisde your first statement is nothing that contradicts either freedom of religion or anything I have written. Christians should speak out against sins. At the same time, speaking out against sin is different from legally prohibiting people from sinning.

  38. Curt Day says:

    JohnM,
    Biblically speaking, it is one thing for the Church to discipline a person than for society to do the same. I Cor 5 offers a Biblical example for you. The question you have answer is, does the NT teaches us to direct society to marginalize gays?

  39. Curt Day says:

    Jeff,
    The real binding is to the essentials of the faith. Disagreeing with the Westminster Standards does not necessarily bring Church discipline whereas disagreeing with the essentials of the faith does. Outside of that, I agree with your state about degree.

    At the same time, what is gained in continuity with the past is lost with an inability to criticize the past.

  40. Jef says:

    Thanks, Curt.

    What are the essentials of the faith? Who are the formal arbiters of the essentials? Are office holders ever disciplined when soft confessionalism takes root? These are some of the serious problems with soft confessionalism.

    Going to the lowest common denominator, we have the Apostles’ Creed which even the Romish church confesses. Effectually, the Westminster Standards become a mere historical ornament. It doesn’t matter whether a church is called “Presbyterian” or “Reformed” if it is virtually and practically indistinguishable from a Methodist, Brethren or Baptist church in doctrine and practice.

    It is still possible to criticize the past in faithful confessionalism. There are church courts and synods to decide these matters, and if sufficient agreement is attained, formal motions to amend or interpret the Westminster Standards are possible. For example, if a denomination thinks that the doctrinal standard of a literal six day creation is erroneous, and that theistic evolution or some other nonliteral position is correct, then the synod ought to formally amend the confessional standards. However, a clear time frame must be set for the decision to be made, in order that the matter not smoulder for years with no definite outcome; this is because a prolonged delay in judgment engenders an attitude of lawlessness and disorder.

    The Reformed confessional standards are not infallible, of course. However, they were providentially given for a purpose. After many years of observation, I have sadly concluded that we ignore these gifts from our church fathers to our own peril.

    Faithful confessionalism is similar to the Rule of Law in constitutional polity. Progressive liberalism and apathy hack away at the checks and balances that the Constitution prescribes; soft confessionalism, similarly, hacks away at the fences that the Lord has mercifully set up for the church, in order that she may stand as the pillar and ground of truth against the malice of Satan and the world.

    >Jeff,
    >The real binding is to the essentials of the faith. Disagreeing with the Westminster Standards does not necessarily bring Church >discipline whereas disagreeing with the essentials of the faith does. Outside of that, I agree with your state about degree.

    >At the same time, what is gained in continuity with the past is lost with an inability to criticize the past.

  41. Enping Zhao says:

    @Curt Day,

    If you hold that the Bible is God’s revelation of ultimate truths, one queston needs to be answered in this thread of discussion: is the Biblical truth on marriage is that it is the union of a man and a woman?

    As a Christian, it does not matter to me whether the society recognize union of same sex people as “marriage”, I won’t, and I want to voice out my belief. As a citizen of a democratic society, I shall cast a “No” vote on “recognition of same sex union as marriage”, and I think all Christians should do the same. Anyone who claims to be “Christian” but votes a “Yes” on this not only sends a wrong message to both believers and non-believers and creates even more damage than the non-believer advocates of “same sex marriage”. This does not mean I don’t love the people who practice sex between same gender. I am a sinner in many areas and I need forgiveness and to repentant of my sins. While God has forgiven my sins in Jesus Christ, my sins cannot be accepted as non-sinful, neither the sin of sex between same gender.

    Enping

  42. Curt Day says:

    Enping,
    Let me ask this: Is Jesus the only way to God according to the Bible? If so, would you vote for a repeal of 1st Amendment?

  43. Curt Day says:

    Jeff,
    First, it is good to have a friendly respectful discussion. But let me ask this, if the church courts are where the past can be examined and these same courts are packed with people who are only allowed to have a few exceptions to the Westminster Standards, then how much of the past can be reexamined?

    What bothers me is that we have elevated the Westminster Standards to a semi-inerrant position. You seem to indicate that when you say that the standards were given providentially when, in reality, so is everything. And my fear is that the pedestal on which we put these standards my indicate an idolatry of the past just as those who would do away with all confessions practice an idolatry of the present. In short, I think it is dangerous to elevate one time period over another. I hope you understand my concerns here.

  44. Jeff says:

    Hi Curt,

    Thank you for bearing with me.

    I understand your fears. There is truly a real danger that confessions can be idolized, and people become lazy; instead of rigoroulsy studying the bases of the statements in the confession, they can simply use it to proof-text (or spoof-text).

    In theory, all of the past can be examined. However, there are degrees of “essentiality” in the points of doctrine, and it takes wisdom (we know who to ask for that) to make decisions. Time and resources are short.

    When a church adopts a confessional standard, whether it be the Westminster, or the Three Forms of Unity, such that office holders are bound in their ordination vows, the church sends a clear signal about its official beliefs, beliefs that distinguish it from others. In effect, from the position of the confessor, the doctrines in the standards are essential, at least for unity in that church.

    Many professing Christians claim to hold to the Bible. These include Jehovah’s Witness, Christian Scientists, the Moonies, Baptists, Methodists of various kinds, Lutherans, etc., running the gamut of the church spectrum. Without a confession, no matter how basic, there is no practical way to understand what a Christian means when he says that he holds to the teachings of the Bible and “not the doctrines of men”, a claim that I have heard too often.

    You’re right, providence is indeed a very wide umbrella. But the convening of national (Westminster) and international (Dordt) synods, the godliness and learning of the delegates, the historical milieu, and the refinement of doctrine all converge, aided by the test of time, to show us that the Reformed confessions are exceptional.

    Faithful confessionalism is simply an effort to keep order in the church, an order that is conducive to the edification of believers and to the witness and survival of the church. Believers in different denominations DO enjoy spiritual communion in Christ, provided they are truly regenerate and in him (only the Lord knows the heart); it’s just that they do not have operational union. But given the nature of man, and the persistence of the old man, this is a practicable and effective compromise. As for professors who are actually unregenerate, and for true believers who have been deceived, no matter what we do to appease them, they are not going to be satisfied until the world is fully planted in the church.

    And gay marriage is worldly, very worldly.

  45. Curt Day says:

    Jeff,
    Thought I responded but I don’t see it so I will try again. Certainly confessions can be used to keep good order in the church, but that has to be balanced with diversity and freedom. So when we see long, detailed confessions, as in the Westminster Standards, one has to ask if the length and detailed statements in the Westminster Standards becomes a confessional overreach. In addition, we need to remember that the Reformed confessions are interpretations much like the interpretations found in the traditions used by the scribes and pharisees. So isn’t there a danger that we could use the Reformed traditions much in the same way as the pharisees used the traditions of their day? Hope this post, though slightly different from my first attempt, is not a repeat.

    Finally, gay marriage is in the world, not in the church. So why work against it?

  46. Martin says:

    JohnM said … “The point, Martin, is that you can hardly lay blame at the feet of “Bible teachers and prominent evangelicals from the West…” for whatever the Gambian government decides to do.”

    I agree that it is difficult to lay definitive blame at the feet of Western voices since one cannot prove the connection to criminalization of homosexual behavior.

    But, let me ask this. In your discernment, would it have been wrong for those pastors to remain silent about what they believe to be a dangerous and sinful lifestyle? If so, wouldn’t it be wrong for them to remain silent regarding an egregious and undeniable injustice against a segment of society?

    Perhaps we explain the incongruity by stating that those teachers hold the conviction that homosexual behavior is sinful and unacceptable to God, but that silence in the face of injustice is not. Again, the conservative church has been very, very vocal regarding its conviction regarding a homosexual lifestyle – based on its understanding of Scripture. But, why is it not vocal regarding the overwhelming call of Scripture to extend mercy and justice to all in this controversial situation?

  47. JohnM says:

    Martin,

    Not only would it be “difficult to lay definitive blame at the feet of Western voices since one cannot prove the connection…”, in the instance you cited there is no warrant for supposing any connection at all. Who are “those pastors” to whom you refer? It seems to me pretty unlikely any such exist who have any influence over the government of Gambia, for good or ill.

  48. Martin says:

    JohnM,

    An excerpt from … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uganda_Anti-Homosexuality_Act,_2014 … names Scott Lively, Don Schrierer and Paul Shinners teachers and leaders who were influential in the Uganda’s criminalization of homosexuality..

    You may also want to read … http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/how-uganda-was-seduced-by-antigay-conservative-evangelicals-9193593.html

    However, I am glad to have just found … http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/how-uganda-was-seduced-by-antigay-conservative-evangelicals-9193593.html … in which Russell Moore and Rick Warren oppose the legislation and Scott Lively distances himself from the enacted laws.

    That is a more complete picture of the situation.

    Shalom!

  49. Dan says:

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave
    When first we practice to deceive”

    What Sir Walter Scott so poetically and memorably penned over two centuries ago, I think, is emblematic of the brave new world in which we find ourselves in…where the pages are blank and we each are free write our own stories…having sold our copyright (& our birthright) to that crafty salesman in Eden…

    Consider the following tangled web: Why is anything wrong with anything? Who has the right to determine something is right or wrong? Who informs the moral convictions of a society and where did it come from? We have a right to believe whatever we want, but is everything we believe right?

    How does one determine normal and abnormal? Even more basic: Is there anything abnormal with anything or is it all a matter of personal preference which is like a wax nose-adapting to the shapes and contour of my current personal desire (“follow your heart, if it feels natural, then it must be right”) & the most vocal majority?

    Is man the measure of all things? But which man? Hugh Heffner? Adolf Hitler? Mother Theresa? But that is precisely the option that the ultimate salesman offered to the suave (correction-not suave, but naïve) shopper in Eden: “Go on. Take a bite. You shall be as gods, knowing (determining for yourselves) what is good & evil.”

  50. matt says:

    Dan,

    I agree that people are often not the best judges of good and evil.

    But in the same way that Churchill said, “Democracy is a very bad form of government, but I ask you to never to forget it, all the others are far worse”.

    I’d say the same thing regarding morality. Having people decide for themselves what is moral and evil is a very bad idea, except that all others are far worse.

    Do you think a better plan is to follow a two thousand year old book written by people who claim that their special deity told them that gay people should be killed and that genocide was ok?

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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