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OrdinanceAgainstRainbowFlagDraftedinLouisianna070713For evangelicals who lament last Friday’s Supreme Court decision, it’s been a hard few days. We aren’t asking for emotional pity, nor do I suspect many people are eager to give us any. Our pain is not sacred. Making legal and theological decisions based on what makes people feel better is part of what got us into this mess in the first place. Nevertheless, it still hurts.

There are many reasons for our lamentation, from fear that religious liberties will be taken away to worries about social ostracism and cultural marginalization. But of all the things that grieve us, perhaps what’s been most difficult is seeing some of our friends, some of our family members, and some of the folks we’ve sat next to in church giving their hearty “Amen” to a practice we still think is a sin and a decision we think is bad for our country. It’s one thing for the whole nation to throw a party we can’t in good conscience attend. It’s quite another to look around for friendly faces to remind us we’re not alone and then find that they are out there jamming on the dance floor. We thought the rainbow was God’s sign (Gen. 9:8-17).

If you consider yourself a Bible-believing Christian, a follower of Jesus whose chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, there are important questions I hope you will consider before picking up your flag and cheering on the sexual revolution. These questions aren’t meant to be snarky or merely rhetorical. They are sincere, if pointed, questions that I hope will cause my brothers and sisters with the new rainbow themed avatars to slow down and think about the flag you’re flying.

1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?

2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?

3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?

4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?

5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?

6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?

7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?

8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?

9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?

10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?

11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?

12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?

13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?

14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?

15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?

16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?

17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?

18. How would you define marriage?

19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?

20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?

21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?

22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?

23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?

24. If not, why not?

25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?

26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?

27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?

28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?

29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?

30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?

31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?

32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?

33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?

34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?

35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?

36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?

37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?

38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?

39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?

40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?

Food for thought, I hope. At the very least, something to chew on before swallowing everything the world and Facebook put on our plate.

Note: An earlier version of this post had the questions in paragraph format rather than enumerated. The content is still the same. Readers interested in studying what the Bible teaches about homosexuality may be interested in checking out my new book on that theme.


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170 thoughts on “40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags”

  1. Rainer says:

    You realize that most people don’t care about facts and only believe what they want, right?
    It’s the whole reason you are a Christian.
    But anyway, thanks for making these theologically knowledgable points. I’m sure those marriage equality supporters who do care about what the Bible actually says will find this very insightful and promptly turn to atheism. Your work is much appreciated.
    God b less

  2. Dian says:

    Kevin: could you please correct my typo? The 3rd sentence should read: God / Yahweh is the only Sovereign, Creator, and God.

  3. Mark says:

    Kevin (author), thanks for your clear thinking and courage to write this article. Many of the comments grieve me terribly. It is so clear that many do not know God or Scripture. Truly, the only barrier to utter moral depravity is God’s principles. For if homosexual marriage is “okay”, then *any* type of marriage or sexual union is “okay”, since the only objection would be a religious one. Why can’t I marry two or three others, and have a group marriage? Why can’t I marry my goat? And so on. God has drawn some lines, and we cross them at our own peril – but not solely our own, as we imperil our entire society and nation. God, have mercy.

  4. Dan says:

    Wow, so much ignorance… Jesus tells us to judge righteously (John 7). The verse that states to judge not is a commanding to avoid judging hypocriticaly… In other words, if you as going to judge someone, make sure you are holding yourself to the same standard. As a CHRISTIAN, MY STANDARD IS THE WORD OF GOD. The Bible is textbook on Gods righteousness, A GLIMPSE AT HIS CHARACTER and how we can arrive with His grace to be more like Him.

  5. FP says:

    These questions are for those who consider themselves followers of Christ and anyone else commenting is just trolling because they do not understand the role of the Bible in the Christian life. These questions are meant to peel the onion of your heart and actually require more than just a second’s thought about what the Bible says both in context and in specifics regarding rebellion against God, which we are all practicing in one way or another.

    I am glad that you are asking these questions so specifically.

  6. Casey says:

    I have another good question for you, at what point in your life did you decide not all humans deserve the same basic rights?

  7. Ryan says:

    “Love thy neighbor” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” “Judge not, lest ye be judged. For with whatever measure you mete out mercy, so shall it be measured unto you.” “Remove the plank from thime own eye, before you try to remove the splinter from your neighbors.”

  8. Walton says:

    God always has the last laugh.
    Western Civilization is rapidly going extinct. Liberalism has killed off its self.
    Homosexual marriage is just going to speed up the process.
    God has shown the way to live. We as a society has rejected God and we have given our society the death sentence.
    France is on target to be a Muslim majority country in about 25 years. They will be able by popular vote to make homosexuality a crime punishable by death. And they will.
    The rest of Europe is following closely behind. America is going that way also, at a slower pace currently.
    If not for immigration our population would have declined over the last 20 years.
    Celebrate homosexual marriage all you want, but know that you are celebrating your own destruction.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birth_dearth

  9. JJ says:

    From this thread it has become apparent to me that most are blind and don’t know what the Gospel really is, in the end scripture is plain on sexual morality issues. First, before a person obey’s they have to have their heart changed by God (Born again through a genuine faith in The Cross and only what Jesus did as a result of that and the empty tomb for them-in place of a just judgment, a separation from God..). Sexual Biblical morality ha been as God defined it long ago in an undefilec marriage between a husband and his wife…that’s it. If you have a different view then there is something wrong-the bad news is we’re all broken and prone to sinful thinking, the good news is that Jesus can redeem all of us from that and our sinful behaviors..

  10. Dr. Travis J Hedrick says:

    Thank you for posting this timely and important list of questions.

    It is amazing how many “Christians” are posting their twisted and compromised theological ideas on here even in the light of truth.

    I believe the Bible warns about this too…

    Stand true and stand in God’s Word!

  11. Andy says:

    It really scares me that you blindly follow an old book and refuse to change your belief system. Gives me shivers

  12. Woodwarda says:

    The damage certain (and far from universally accepted) biblical interpretations of homosexuality have done to God’s people–suicides, depression, and more–are evidence enough to me that, as a Christian myself but one whose faith has been shaken deeply by the inhumane example set by God’s very followers in this issue, the church just got this one wrong. Just got it wrong. All the arguments have been made and I won’t repeat them here. You’re either convinced or your not by it. But have some humanity. This has become just blind devotion to a principal that is ruining lives, ending lives, making lives miserable. For the glory of God? Lord, please save us from your followers on this issue. There is so much blood on their hands in your name. You have so much blood on your hands with messages like this. It ruins people, and that your doing this to glorify your idea of who God is makes it all the more maddening. If God isn’t weeping at what his so-called followers are doing to people He’s made in His image, eternity with Him sounds like a hell in itself.

  13. Jared says:

    Thank you for writing this article! I always check myself with matters founded in feelings and emotion by asking myself, “How can I reconcile this with the Bible?” It is quite simple…either I can or I can’t. You have show here most succinctly what the definitive answer is on this this current matter for any Christian who claims to be in alignment with the Bible.

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  15. Jason says:

    Well stated. This just continues to prove my content anyone who says they’re a Christian and supports gay marriage really are not Christians but pretending to be for some reason. The ones that Jesus will send away at the end because they don’t really know him.

  16. Captain Obvious says:

    All these questions are pretty good. Any intellectually honest person should realize that religion does not celebrate same sex marriage. Which is a pretty good reason to be an atheist.

  17. La Vonna Beers says:

    My heart is so grieved with passage of same sex marriage because, like you, I don’t believe it’s within God’s will for us. I fear we are a perverted nation with a perverted president. I was grieved significantly more as I’ve watched all me “Christian” friends come out in support of the ruling. Keep professing scripture. Jesus said His message would not be popular and that many will be prosecuted for it. God bless you and your ministry. I’m praying for you.

  18. Liz says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful (and helpful) post, Kevin. I’m praying for you during this time. The Biblical church will see much persecution now, but let us be strengthened through Scripture and the knowledge of our Lord. I’ve been reading 2 Peter over and over again this week. Thank you again for posting this – just wanted to encourage you in the midst of these other comments.

  19. Lauren says:

    Beautiful. Grateful for this article. Thank you!

  20. matt says:

    Maggie, are you saying that if an overexcited inexperienced heterosexual newlywed fumbling around in the dark strays a few centimeters too far south if his intended target then he’s committing a crime against humanity?

  21. elizabeth webb says:

    God has certainly remained an advocate of the oppressed,yet He does not condone all behaviour,he corrects us in a loving way. God loves us all,we are all sinners,but He does not delight in our sin!

  22. Chris Rouse says:

    Christians hating. Non-Christians “pretending” like they know the Bible. Soap boxes and bully-pulpits being erected all over our country. What a sad day for America! Christians who don’t know the Bible should certainly NOT be acting and preaching like they do . . . that’s exactly why the world so correctly labels us as hypocrites and racist bigots . . . and much of the time we are. On the other hand, all who “profess” to know Christ and His Word, yet shamelessly flaunt your un-Christlike, fleshly desires, and anti-Bible sentiments, should NOT be so quick to name-call. One of the parables of Christ was one called The Wheat and the Tares (Weeds). He taught that in this world, where a true believer is sown, the enemy is quick to sow a counterfeit. What was the command of the Master? Let them grow together, at the harvest they will be separated. We will probably never know the difference btwn some wheat and tares until Christ comes again. For those who truly believe and obey His Word . . . salvation! For those who have been mere pretenders (essentially tares, our counterfeits of Satan) . . . eternal separation. In the meantime our petty arguments and our feeble attempts of ripping scripture out of context to justify our humanistic viewpoints is fruitless and futile . . . exactly predicted in Romans 1 and Ephesians 4:17-24. What a sad day for America!

  23. Jim says:

    Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them gthat Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

    1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A ufriend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

    2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

    4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

    6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

    7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

    8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

    9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

    10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

    I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.

    Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

    *100% stolen from another source

  24. Jeff says:

    These questions are great! Good article.
    The comments written here are very telling of how deceived hoards of people truly are. The lines in the sand are quickly being formed between the wheat and the chaff. The Lord Jesus was not kidding when he said,

    “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭13-14‬ ESV)

  25. Child of God says:

    It’s not about hate or intolerance.
    My faith is all about defining love and marriage, set apart from the meaning society has given the two words today. Thats why Christians who are set on following traditional biblical doctrines have problems adjusting to today’s political decisions and moral standards.

    The wonderful dictionary on my Mac states:
    love (noun): a strong feeling of affection / a great interest or pleasure in something
    marriage (noun): the formal union of a man and a roman, typically as recognised by law, by which they become husband and wife.

    However, this is how the bible defines love:

    4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    but even the bible defines love differently; there is “agapao” God’s devine love (sacrificial love), “phileo” (a brotherly love for another) and “eros” sexual love – pretty much self explanatory).

    if you look at Eph.5:25-27 you will see Paul telling the church that the “husbands should love their wives” – here he uses the word “agape”, referring to the fact that husbands should have sacrificial love for one another.

    Have you ever met someone with true sacrificial love for one another? I must admit it IS very rare..

    Marriage is particularly hard to define, mostly because of the quantity of examples throughout the bible. Perhaps it is easier to define matrimony: the state of being married. God’s wish throughout the entire bible is that every person is brought closer to him- that he is the number one throughout the times. Paul warns that the marriage might interfere with this, but tells people that if the temptation of sin is to great that they should marry. Therefore matrimony is the act of encouraging each other to grow closer to God whilst living together and having sex and etc..

    The act of marriage is therefore making a vow in front of God, not and this is important to stay faithful to each other forever, to keep from sex before marriage etc.. because without actual love the meaning of marriage is nullified. It reminds oneself of how jesus said “If I speak in the tongues of man and of angels but do not have love…” (1.cor.13:1-13)

    Is your love not only a strive for sex, or a simple union bevor men or is it a sacrificial love, selfless and etc?

    So to not turn this into a judgemental or intolerant post i would like to challenge everyone individually: Does your relationship bring you closer to God? What does God say about your decision? These are the questions a Christian should ask himself before committing himself/herself to a decision. I believe homosexual or not these are the questions everyone should be asking themselves, because as mentioned by other’s previous comments: one should not linger to much on the question of homosexuality or otherwise as this will only cause doggedness and strive and failure to actually allow light to shed on the importance of this topic.

    I encourage you to truly spend time in prayer about this. Christian or not.

    As for me, a brief love and a near lesbian relationship has caused me to question these very things. At the time still a non-believer (i had given my life to jesus but only under group pressure at a camp) and a church visitor, i encountered a moment where i was affronted with these very questions. I did notice that my sin, as i am free to call it now, (which was accompanied by pornography and other sins) was holding me back from the freedom i felt as i still lived under my parents wing (a christian home). One night as i could not take the pressure of secrecy from my parents, i broke down in my room, crying out to God. For the first time I truly felt closer to God. I promised that I would change and “re-gave” my life to jesus. I have failed many times since then. And i still have times where i would say that a woman’s body is more attractive than that of a man. But the freedom i have felt since being able to give that to God is amazing. Its unexplainable. My love for my own gender is more than “eros” or “phileo”, it has managed to upgrade into an “agape” love- and honestly that’s something i am proud of.

    But it’s truly important everyone makes their own decision, otherwise how can you truly experience God’s will? The Bible can be very unconvincing, and you can only truly recognise it’s importance and relevance through practical experience;)

  26. kim says:

    Well, here’s the issue that needs to be addressed. Either God is true and man is a liar, or God is a liar and man is true. You can’t have both. YOu can make all the excuses you want, you can say the bible is obsolete, you can laugh, mock, make fun of the bible, call this site a trolling site, you can say whatever you want, but you need to also so know that Jesus said in Matt 7 Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

    24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

    If you don’t follow the bible and make up your own rules of God, then know you play a deadly game of Russian Roulette. Jesus might say to you, I don’t who you are and you don’t get into heaven. So for eternity, you’ll live in hell and you wasted your entire life. If you don’t mind playing that game, then keep making up your own rules of God, make God as convenient as you want, ignore Jesus or use Him as a ‘get out of jail free’ card, but still you need to remember what JEsus said, MANY WILL SAY ….

  27. Matilda Joseph says:

    Fortunately, gods aren’t real.. just a merely fairy tale. A fallacy of the human mind.

  28. Laura says:

    I thank you so much for writing this article, you articulated exactly how I feel and like most Christians, I want to be happy for other people but never at the expense of what God has called us to do which is stand up for what is true and good. Just reading the comments is exactly why I was so happy to come across this, my facebook has been rainbows and ‘Christian’ friends who all claim large parts of the Bible just don’t apply or they just have little to no understanding of scripture, Biblical history, who Jesus was speaking to etc. It has really been difficult for me to observe. I just thank you because I was feeling pretty alone in this and now I’m not. God bless you and please continue in the Truth.

  29. I came up with my own list of questions for Evangelicals (especially those at TGC) regarding the role of government.
    *Please Note*: I agree that homosexuality is a sin, and that it should be repented of, rather than celebrated. But that has nothing to do with this issue…

    1. How long have you believed that the definition of marriage is something to be enforced by law?

    2. What Bible verses led you to this conclusion?

    3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that allowing something to be legal is the same things as celebrating it?

    4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex is the type of thing to that should be forbidden by law?

    5. Do you think Jesus would have advocated using physical force against homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?

    6. If so, on what basis?

    7. Does the proper role of government point to anything other than our ability to “influence” culture?

    8. How would you define government?

    9. How do you distinguish, objectively and consistently, between those evils which the government ought to ban, and those which it ought not to ban?

    10. Should government be limited in its function or role in any way?

    11. On what basis, if any, would you advocate the use of physical force to prevent consenting adults from engaging in any activity?

    12. Should the government also impose “God’s definition of”: the Church? The Gospel? Sacraments? Church Discipline? Love? Charity? Sin? etc…?

    13. Is it possible to condemn something as sin, and yet not want to make it illegal?

    14. If we’re really after “God’s definition of marriage,” isn’t “one man and one woman” very incomplete? Doesn’t God’s definition also include: lifelong covenant of love, modeled after Christ and the Church, to the glory of God”? Why not enforce God’s whole definition?

    15. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of using force?

    16. Do you believe it is possible to disagree with someone and not use force against them regarding important decisions they make?

    17. Is it evil to use force in an improper way, even if it was for a “good purpose”?

    18. Would abuse of force/ government be a sin worthy of repentance?

  30. Kedric says:

    These aren’t straw man questions.

    To answer question 12 with the question, “What arguments do you have that yours is not culturally conditioned?” is not a legitimate answer. It basically ignores the church of the global south. Big bad America. Another aspect of the empire to go along with the other side of the militarized industrial complex.

    1 Cor 7 cannot be used in such a way to overwhelm the rest of the canon, including other writings of Paul.

    There is simply no solid biblical, theological, or historical justification for holding to gay marriage within the church.

    Using terms such as “un Christ-like” or “hateful” or “mean-spirited” are an illegitimate use of language and simply seeks to end all argument like some magic talisman. It only sticks because of the extreme subjective nature of modern society and could be said to be a form of theological doublethink.

    Love is a covenantal word that is expressed in hundreds and hundreds of verses that include John 3:16. It takes more than simply saying John 3:16.

  31. Jordan says:

    I don’t understand why we get upset about the Supreme Courts Decision. Yes, all these questions are very thought provoking and the Bible does not support “Gay” marriage. But the Supreme Courts Decision has nothing to do with the Bible and Christian beliefs. It isn’t here to tell you that the Bible is wrong!

    All the decision did was recognize a union between to people to have the same “Legal” benefits as anyone else. You can bash my views all you want, but if a convicted felon who kills someone ( A VERY BIG SIN) can have his/her marriage recognized by law in the United States and have all the benefits (taxes, inheritance, etc….) why can’t a couple who loves each other have the same?

    That is my food for thought, or a 41st question.

  32. I wave a rainbow flag because the rainbow stands for God’s promise that he does not send judgement on the world due to immorality any more (Job, Jonah, Amos, Jesus, etc back that up — “for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous”, speaking of the primary elements of life in an agrarian society in Matthew 5:45). Also because same-sex relationships are no more inherently sinful than heterosexual ones, but that’s a different topic that requires a lot of Bible study if you’ve grown up being told it was a sin because of your church culture. Changing my mind has opened me up to see a much more joyful, exciting, and welcoming view of God and the Bible! I’m more in love with Scripture than ever before.

  33. 777 says:

    LOVE doesn’t delight in EVIL but rejoices in TRUTH! When LOVE saved the soul of this guy . . .

  34. Ron Duncan says:

    That’s the result of the hyper-grace movement. Sin isn’t really sin, or it’s not that serious. The wages of sin is grace.

    I don’t think that’s off the mark.

  35. 777 says:

    LOVE doesn’t delight in EVIL but rejoices in TRUTH! When TRUTH saved the soul of this guy . . .

  36. Child of God says:

    Im sorry @John Elliott Lein, but if one refers to the Bible to back up a statement there must be some sort of understanding. The rainbow was given as a promise that God would never again press the “restart” button because his creation has become troublesome- as in no mass murder because of sin. It was not a promise that God would not judge humans for their immorality (which is not even the case here: we must seperate between what is immorality and what is sin as one is defined by Men and the other by God.) You are right on one thing: a homosexual relationship is not more sinful than a heterosexual one, they both weigh about the same on the sin scale. Which is why we as Christian should be wary of both and should strive for a Godly relationship, though impossible.

  37. John Allsup says:

    Here are my answers. Others may disagree, but this is where I end up when I think these things through.

    1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?
    I do not believe that gay marriage is something to be celebrated. But I do
    believe vilification of a portion of society based upon dubious interpretation
    of ancient scriptures, and temporary suspension of the commandment to
    ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ as one does so, a wrong turn in the history
    of the Christian faith. What I am inclined to celebrate is the downfall of
    this blindly dogmatic and unloving attitude to those with a different sexual
    persuasion that what the average fundamentalist would like.

    2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?
    Love your neighbour as yourself. Upon this hangs the Law and the Prophets. Basically that bit.

    3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?
    I would make a case that it is not something inherently evil or sinful, and not something to
    be agressively campaigned against. Being careless and foolish with regards to sex, such as
    having unprotected sex with multiple partners without a care as to whether you are contributing
    to the problem of STIs, is wrong and sinful, regardless of the genders of the people involved.
    Loving one another, whether as friends, whether romantically or not, whether as from one Christian
    to another or not, loving one another in all its forms should be celebrated. With regards to
    procreation, that is impossible between people of the same gender, so is not an issue. There is
    no massive need, in today’s world, for more humans, and thus grouping people into procreative
    realtionships is not as important as it was in the days of Leviticus. As for sexual pleasure,
    that is a deep question, and one for which the naive ‘biblical’ answers are generally wrong, and
    generally result from a desire to read the Bible literally without thinking through what is said,
    and what we should draw from it with regards to how we live today. The Bible is not an idiot proof
    list of instructions, never has been, never will be, don’t treat it as such.

    4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?
    How does marriage (in its modern form) between one man and one woman ‘adequately depict Christ and the church’?
    With regards to marriages that do ‘adequately depict Christ and the church’, what features of such
    marriages is it that mean that they do ‘adequately depict Christ and the church’? And why is
    the ‘one man, one woman’ thing strictly necessary. If you quote the ‘He made them male and female’,
    either from Genesis, or Jesus quoting of this, you need to explain precisely what your interpretation
    of these parts of the Bible is, and on what basis you consider your interpretation correct.

    5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?
    If he was alive today, I think yes. If he was asked this question in first century Palestine, he may
    have given a different answer. Importantly, Jesus would not just have given a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer,
    but would have offered some explanation. Without knowing his answer and explanation, all we can
    do is guesswork.

    6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?
    If we pick out that bit:
    “Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

    4“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator
    ‘made them male and female,’a 5and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his
    father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh,
    so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together,
    let no one separate.””
    This is about divorce and remarriage: about moving from one partner to another. It is not
    about sex, nor homosexuality. At the core is the relationship between two married people:
    they are ‘of one flesh’. When person A marries person B, and follows this principle properly,
    they should become so much a part of each other that it makes more sense to think of the couple
    as a single human being but with two physical bodies. In my opinion this kind of bonding rarely
    happens, and there are most likely many examples of homosexual couples which better live out
    this ‘of one flesh’ principle than many heterosexual couples. What Jesus was teaching against is
    the forming, breaking, and reforming marital relationships like they were the playground romances
    we had as teenagers. If two people are going to have a marriage relationship, they should do
    it properly, do it fully, and in doing it fully, divorce should not be an issue, and should not
    happen. This is an ideal that just about every marriage today, homosexual or heterosexual falls
    short of.

    7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?
    Running around rampantly having sex like bunny rabbits with no concern for the consequences, and
    giving in, uncontrollably, to our in-built desires to do just that.

    8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?
    In Rom 1:18 through to the end of the chapter, Paul is reiterating common beliefs of the Jews in Rome
    regarding morality, leading up to the punchline at the start of chapter 2 where he accuses them of
    being no better. Taking the latter part of Romans 1 without this context deprives it of its intended meaning,
    and should be considered an abuse of scripture.

    9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?
    It is important, when talking about ‘sexual immorality’ to have a precise description of what
    that term means, and why, with that particular definition, ‘sexual immorality’ is such a problem.
    It is all to easy to try and leave this matter to the intuition of the reader, but this effective
    forces the reader of the Bible to guess what is and is not ‘sexual immorality’, putting them
    at the mercy of the accuracy of their guess, or else invites them to be spoon-fed a definition, again
    putting them at the mercy of whoever is doing the spoon-feeding.

    With regards to ‘men who have sex with men’, you need to read this with an understanding of the
    nature of homosexual relationships in Rome in first century Palestine, rather than taking it
    as an abstract general instruction. Note also that ‘idolators’ fall foul of this verse, and one
    needs to be very careful not to make idols out of the Bible, out of Jesus, out of misrepresentations
    of God, and of anything else that is not God himself. (Your personal understanding of God, whoever
    you are, will not be idental with God, and thus to confuse these two and worship what you understand
    God to be, is still idolatry, and one must take care to avoid this.)

    10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?
    Using a power relationship to co-erce someone to give sexual services to you (in first century Rome
    this sort of thing was often what happened in the case of homosexual relationships, unlike the present
    day world.) Go back to ‘love your neighbour’, and Jesus various instructions to love (in a non-sexual
    or non-romantic way) those around us, and to treat them unselfishly. That last bit, ‘unselfishly’,
    means not over-prioritising your own prosperity and pleasure. In sexual relationships, the ideal is
    that sex is an act of giving, more than one of receiving. It is, however, an aspect of our biological
    nature to desire sex and pleasure, and riches and power for ourselves. Letting this selfish nature
    rule yourself leads to a life incompatible with one where we ‘love our neighbours as ourselves’, and
    it is this which means that such people cannot ‘inherit the kingdom of God’.

    11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex
    sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin,
    and Luther failed to grasp?
    I would like to see detaild expositions of what exactly Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin,
    and Luther thought on the matter. But to declare that these four’s understanding is inerrant,
    or perfect, is to elevate them to Godhood, and I do not take the position that any Christian in
    history is necessarily free of error in their understanding.

    12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their
    understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality
    is not culturally conditioned?
    Having heard many stories of missionaries having to correct local understandings of Biblical teachings,
    I imagine this would be just another one. The problem is that unless we are prepared to consider
    that any and all of our understandings about how to live, what the Bible says, and how we should
    live according to Biblical teachings, are potentially wrong, we become like the ‘too big to fail’
    banks. With regards to sensible Biblical living, start with relationships, between humans and other humans,
    and between humans and objects, and between humans and God (being careful not to misrepresent God).
    For example ownership, familial relationships, romantic relationships,
    and so on. Show how the Ten Commandments follow from the basic need not to interfere in other people’s
    relationships, and to ensure that your own relationships are not harmful to those around you.
    Show how, on this basis, the Ten Commandments and much of the prohetic teachings can be summarised
    as Jesus did with ‘Love God and Love your Neighbour’. Basically you should teach people to reason
    out why the Biblical teachings are right, and why they would still be right if the Bible were never
    written. Then base your understanding of scripture on this. (Words’ merely being in the Bible
    does not magically give any particular interpretation of them some kind of unassailable truth:
    even if the Bible in inerrant, you are not and neither necessarily is your interpretation.)

    13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry
    when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between
    one man and one woman?
    Political reality these days means that politicians who say things that are unpopular tend not
    to get voted into office, and thus the only people who remain in politics have a strong inclination
    to bend what they say based upon its political impact. This is just the nature of political life
    as it is today, whether you consider that right or wrong, good or bad. Indeed, perhaps you can
    ask Hillary or Barack themselves, since they are still alive, rather than inviting people to
    use their imagination.

    14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?
    I think children do best with a good mother and a good father, who are their biological parents,
    who love each other deeply, and for whom their children’s welfare and upbringing are
    amongst their highest priorities. It is not enough that they are male and female:
    the rest matters, and I think matters more. If you are going to compromise on one of these
    properties, I think the gender of the parents is not the worst of them. Indeed in the
    case of adoptive parents, or step-parents, one has the lack of the biological side of the
    relationship here too, and ‘homosexual parents’ should be viewed in much the way we view
    adoptive parents or step-parents.

    15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?
    I am not aware there is sufficiently clear and conclusive research today.

    16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or
    privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?
    See my answer to 14. Take all properties of good parents aside from gender, and make
    sure that those are spelled out. When it comes to bringing up children, it is what leads
    to the long-term welfare of the children that matters, more than the ‘man/woman’ thing.
    Having one man and one woman as the two adults in the household has natural advantages, since
    a man does not know what it is like to grow up as a girl, and a woman does not know what it
    is like to grow up as a man, and there are certain aspects of life about which one will have
    practical understanding that the other will not. But this is massively over-simplified, and in
    over-simplifying much of importance has been thrown away, and thus you shouldn’t draw too much
    from such an argument. Perhaps in an ideal world, married parents bringing up their own biological
    children would be a universal norm, but we do not live in an ideal world, and shouldn’t pretend
    or act like we do.

    17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and
    sexual fulfillment?
    I think yes. The biggest problem with the Christian idea of marriage is that it ties sexual
    fulfillment so storngly to it. Thus people are encouraged to get married if they want to have sex
    (and sex is not really the best thing to build a marriage upon, nor is simple physical attractiveness).
    The ‘of one flesh’ thing in Genesis and Jesus quoting of it points to much more than a formalised
    romantic relationship, which is what a lot of marriage today amounts to. But if one is to hold
    marriage to such a high standard, very few modern-day marriages would survive.

    18. How would you define marriage?
    I think we need to rethink the concept, what we need of it, and why, from the ground up.
    Equally, we need to rethink sexual relations, romantic relations, and so on. I don’t think
    there is a single simple definition of ‘marriage’ that will work, nor will an overcomplicated
    collection of ‘types of marriage’ work either. This is a hard problem, and needs serious thought.

    19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?
    I don’t think close biological relations should procreate. There is good biological reason why.
    If we strongly couple marriage to procreation, then this spills over into how we define marriage.
    But the reason for not allowing close biological relations to marry should be rooted in
    real-world consequences of close biological relations procreating.

    20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?
    See my answer to 19. But we should consider things such as polyamorous relationships.
    Ultimately things should be structured based on real-world consequences, not idealism based
    on rough understandings of ancient teachings. (Indeed when it comes to understanding Biblical
    teachings on how to live, I would argue that, again, real-world consequences are where proper
    justification is to be found.)

    21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of
    any number from getting married?
    See my earlier replies around the need to fully rethink marriage.

    22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?
    I don’t think 6-year-olds ought to get married, no.

    23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any
    meaningful relationship defined as marriage?
    Again, this comes down to the my point that we need to fully rethink marriage. In doing so,
    we must come up with solid rules about what can and cannot be defined as marriage, and indeed
    other alternatives.

    24. If not, why not?
    See previous answer.

    25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be
    allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?
    Depends what that ‘practice’ entails. You are welcome to your own opinion, and I am free
    to consider it wrong. You are free to claim your anti-homisexual stance is biblical, and I
    can view your position as simplistic, naive, and quite possibly wrong.

    26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation,
    their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?
    I would advise them to read their Bible more carefully. In particular,
    ‘go with him two’ and ‘render unto Caesar’, are two teachings of Jesus that need
    more serious thought as to the principle being expounded and what it looks like in full generality,
    than many Christians give it.

    27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against
    gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?
    Yes. ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ and ‘Do not do unto another’ are the two central
    principles here. I would advise all to understand and follow these principles, not because they
    are Christian, nor because they are in the Bible, nor because Jesus taught them, but because
    to me they are simply the right way to live, and are the right way to live regardless of race,
    gender, sexuality or race.

    28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other
    sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are
    healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?
    See the comments on rethinking marriage from the ground up.

    29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?
    See the comments on rethinking marriage from the ground up.
    But consider the following
    ‘Should couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?’
    And possibly
    ‘Should people who sleep around, regularly have unprotected sex with different partners,
    and do not take sexual health seriously, be subject to church discipline?’
    In the case of open relationships, I think the specifics need more attention, as is the
    question of why the couple wish to have an open relationship. General pronouncements
    that totally ignore specific details are easy to come out with, but the idea that one can
    pronounce right and wrong on such things with no attention being paid to reality is IMO
    a bad habit born of intellectual laziness.

    30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?
    Is it a sin for persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage? Is all
    sexual activity outside of marriage necessarily sexual immoral and sinful. There is
    a traditional church position, but those who take the traditional view should
    be required to fully justify it.

    31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce,
    fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?
    It is wise to fully understand a problem before pronouncing judgemnt. In particular,
    if you want to, say, take the position that divorce is always wrong, it is important
    to be able to explain why, without just doing the lazy ‘Sunday School’ approach of quoting
    a Bible verse or two. Bible verses are meaningless if separated from an understanding of what
    they say, and Biblically sound advice must be built upon that understanding, not on the syntactic
    form that the Biblical verses take (and that understanding must be subjected to scritiny, not merely
    taken on for the sake of tradition.)

    32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?
    I would first pose the question: to what degree can we sensibly define ‘love’?
    One should perhaps look at the difficulty philosophers have with the word ‘truth’ for
    an example of the difficulty tasks such as ‘define love’ can entail.

    33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?
    I would first look to develop a theory from which one could talk about sensible possible meanings
    of ‘love’, then see where those various meanings sit with respect to what the Bible talks of. But
    this would be a serious undertaking, and not something that one could properly accomplish with
    a quick essay or a few quoted Bible verses.

    34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?
    We need to begin with an understanding of God, what his commands are, exactly,
    and indeed how exactly we should be understanding the Bible as the Word of God.
    Again, doing this properly is rather a harder proposition than many would care to contemplate.
    But God is not the property of the church, nor are his commands necessariliy what the
    vicar says they are, or wants them to be. Nor are they simply the intuitive meanings one
    gets with a cursory reading of Bible verses.

    35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?
    Consider parents and their children. In this situation, such disagreements are common, and yes,
    parents should still love their children. I think it should be little different in marriage. One
    should love the other unconditionally (or else seriously consider not getting married in the first
    place).

    36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding
    of faith?
    A few years back I was more against gay marriage, but gradually came to the view that marriage as
    we have it is, in practice, already broken, and has been since at least the formation of the Church
    of England. Hence I arrived at my current position that marriage, sex, sexuality and relationships
    are in need of a serious rethink.

    37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate
    about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary
    sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need
    to evangelize the lost?
    I have my concerns with this ‘traditional evangelical distinctives’. Oversimplifying the Bible
    and minimising the need to seriously scrutinise what one is taught are among them.

    38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to
    orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance,
    and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?
    Don’t know.

    39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more
    committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?
    Committed to Christ and the ‘body of Christ’ is what matters: the church is a tool to assist that.

    40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and
    those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?
    See my earlier comment: he is setting up the beginning of Chapter 2, and one should not read
    these verses out of that context.

  38. Danielle says:

    1. Just because someone supports and celebrates legalizing gay marriage doesn’t mean they carry the same sentiments towards homosexuality. Every deserves a right to be free and equal. And non-Christians should not be forced to live their lives according to the Bible. The law is there to protect and serve, end of story. It’s not there to cater to your spiritual beliefs in any other way than to facilitate your freedom to practice whichever religion you choose. Also, the length of a believe is not necessarily a testament as to its validity. I think God encourages us to question our beliefs. Questioning strengthens.

    2. I would like to turn this question on you and ask what leads you to believe that gay marriage is 1. sinful, and 2. that it should be illegal. As to number 2, There is absolutely no Biblical basis to believe that two men or two women should not be allowed to commit their lives to one another. As to number 1, Leviticus is often quoted, along with much of the Old Testament, but those laws (99% of which you don’t live by), were meant for the Jews of that day to live by in order to set them apart from surrounding pagan communities. The Old Testament is the old law, because Christ came to fulfill that law. We are not meant to live by the Old Testament, but I assume someone who took the time to write this article would already know that. We know that God never changes, but the interpretation of his Word constantly changes as time goes on. Remember that Christians used to believe Joshua 10:12-14 proved the Sun revolved around the Earth. And Christians also used to declare that Genesis 9:25 meant blacks were a cursed race condemned to being slaves for white people. No one would dare say these things now. And I believe that in the future, Christians will be embarrassed to own up to their prejudice and ignorance towards homosexuality.

    3 & 4. I’m not sure I understand the difference between heterosexual and homosexual sex in this context. The way God describes love, marriage, and sex isn’t exclusive to heterosexuals. You form a bond, with trust and love, you depend on one another. The definition of love that God lays out in Corinthians applies to everyone.

    5. How should I know? Christ never spoke on it so it would seem He didn’t care about homosexuality and its alleged immorality. If you want to claim that every word in the Bible is an outline of how Christians should live their lives for all of eternity, then why did Christ not speak on homosexuality for the benefit of present-day readers? You’re using double standards. And you know what Christ was really against? Divorce. He spoke an awful lot on divorce. But do you believe divorce should be illegal? No. Because it magically seems unfair to dictate people’s lives by law when it’s in relation to you and your friends. But then when it concerns homosexuality and the laws that will never negatively affect your life, suddenly it’s A-OK to deny people tax benefits, medical rights, visitation rights, marriage rights, etc.

    6. What about God’s commandment to reproduce? That’s not meant for everyone. If someone decides they don’t want children, or see themselves as being a potentially unfit parent, you let them make that choice for themselves. Why is homosexuality so different? Because you’re following the hype train that you’re accusing Christians like me of doing.

    And I really don’t have time to answer 40 questions to someone who really doesn’t care about the answers. So enjoy 1-6 as little as you will with your close-mindedness.

  39. Voysov Reason says:

    My answers:

    1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?
    since I became a thinking adult. Love is love.

    2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?
    None. The Bible wascwrittem by ignorant men, and it’s immmoral teachings like ostracizing gay people has done way more harm than good in this world. Gay prople are born gay and live their partners as much as you love yours. It’s time you all grew up and got over it. If it hurts no one, who are you to say it’s wrong?

  40. Dan Sloan says:

    Here are my answers:

    1. For at least the last 20 years.

    2-4. This sets itself up for a pointless round of dueling proof-texts and arguments over what they mean. I can find verses to make a positive case about slavery, polygamy and Arianism and nothing negative about them directly in Scripture. Satan prooftexted to Jesus in the desert and Jesus showed that quoting verses is not enough. So I will skip these questions.

    5. Yes

    6. Because the premise of the question was heterosexual marriage. He was asked is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife. The point of going back to Genesis is that a couple becomes “one flesh” that can’t be divided. He wasn’t asked about same sex marriage because it didn’t exist. This is an argument by silence which is a logical fallacy.

    7. Porneía is derived from pernaō which means to “sell off”. In most literature from the era it refers to prostitution, but in Scripture it generally means “sex without commitment”. In ancient Israel one of the ways to betroth a wife was intercourse, so sex before marriage wasn’t possible. One could only have adultery or sex without an intent to commit.

    8. Paul is paraphrasing Wisdom 14:11-28 in Romans 1 in order to critique it in Romans 2. The structure of Rom 1:23-32 matches Wisdom 14:11-28. People create idols, which leads to all kinds of out of control behavior, which leads to murder and other evils. Paul even uses almost identical phrases as Wisdom (cf. Romans 1:28 to Wisdom 14:22.) We don’t know if what Paul is quoting indicates his own feelings (much less God’s) on the matter or whether he’s using the material to make the point : don’t judge others because you’re just like them. Prosopopoeia is a very common rhetorical device in the Bible.

    Romans 1:18-23 is about idolatry in its literal sense, not a figurative one (like the worship of money, status or celebrity). Paul even describes the images of the pagan gods in verse 23 just as Wisdom 14 does in verse 15. They knew God, chose to serve pagan gods and the exchange is a punishment from God for their idolatry. “God gave them over…” to exchange *their* natural relations for unnatural ones which was “the penalty for their due error”.
    Beyond that the Greek phrases that are translated as “contrary to nature” (para physin) and “shameful” (atimazo) are used by Paul elsewhere in ways that are either neutral or culturally derived. “Para physin” is found later in Romans 11:24 in the grafting of the Gentile branch “contrary to nature” onto Israel’s tree. Paul uses “atimazo” in 1 Cor 11:14 when he describes long hair on men as shameful, which it was in Greco-Roman culture but it wasn’t shameful in Hebrew culture. Samson’s long hair gave him strength. Nazirites were honoured in Hebrew society and Leviticus 19:27 forbids the cutting of hair on the sides of the head which meant all men had long hair.

    Finally, one of the most visible pagan religions in first century Rome and a big rival to Christianity was the Attis/Cybele cult whose priests crossed-dressed to transcend gender and held orgies where the galli (priests) acted out the opposite gender. Some completely cut off their breasts and genitals. This may be what Paul is referring to as well. The early Christians (Didymus the Blind, St. Augustine, etc.) didn’t view this passage as condemning homosexuality per se, but all non-procreative sex.

    It’s problematic to extrapolate acts that are done in a specific context of idolatry apply to acts that aren’t in that context. Anything done in the context of idolatry is condemned as degrading in Scripture. What Paul describes is out of control behavior, lusts and acts, not love, commitment and fidelity. Even if this passage represents Paul’s feelings (and God’s) it’s a pretty big stretch to apply this to gay couples.

    9. I’ll quibble as to whether the “Kingdom of God” and heaven are the same thing but the answer is yes.

    10. Revelation 21:8 is too vague to apply to this discussion.

    1 Corinthians 6:9 is the first half of a sin list Paul uses to complete a discussion on selfishness as evidenced by lawsuits between believers. He just went on at length about how shameful it is for believers to sue each other, given that Jesus said that we should do just the opposite (“…and if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” – Matt 5:40-41)

    The sin list consists of those who were selfish and harm others: fornicators, adulterers, thieves, greedy, drunkards, reviliers, robbers, as well as idolaters. The Greek words “malakoi” and “arsenokoitai” have been translated as homosexuals or homosexual offenders in English language Bibles since the mid-20th Century, but that fails to take into account the audience he was writing to. This letter is to Corinth in ancient Greece which was a very hierarchical and patriarchal society. Instead of dividing sexual expression into homo- and heterosexual, they divided it into active (tops) or passive (bottoms) partners in a sex act of any gender. Real men, who were deemed superior, were expected to take the top role. Women and boys, who were deemed inferior, were expected to take the bottom role. So in its cultural context “malakoi” (which literally means “soft” but is used here as slang) are boys and “arsenkoitai” are the men who have sex with them. Many non-English Bibles, like Luther’s translation, make this clear. Martin Luther translated “arsenokoitai” as “Knabenschänder” or “child-molester”. Philo of Alexandria’s commentary referred to this as temple prostitution. The NRSV translates malakoi as “catamite” which is a temple prostitute. Paederasty and prostitution are selfish and exploitative which would neatly fit in with Paul’s overall point in the passage.

    It is a stretch to apply two words, which describe paederasty and very likely prostitution in a passage where Paul goes on at length about selfishness, to gay couples.

    11. It’s important to remember that they equally disapproved of all heterosexual sex that wasn’t directly intended for procreation. Homosexuality was merely a subset of non-procreative sex. Heterosexual married couples were expected to abstain from sex if the intent wasn’t to produce more children. Using “potions” and barriers to prevent pregnancy was condemned by all the Church Fathers and reformers with several calling it infanticide. Yet, today all the Protestant and Orthodox denominations allow the use of birth control. The Roman Catholic Church allows the use of the rhythm method.

    Until the 19th Century, it was believed that the man’s sperm contained all that was needed to conceive a child and the woman was just an oven. Anything that spilled or wasted the seed killed people. Also, as in the 1st Century, everyone was assumed to be heterosexual and had homosexual trysts out of demonic possession or vice. In these societies, those who had a strongly homosexual orientation had to marry because having children was the only way they would be taken care of in old age as there was no welfare state, so no alternative was visible.

    12. This assumes that all African, Asian and South American Christians think alike on this matter. As someone who has visited 18 African countries, 7 Asian countries and 8 South American countries I can tell you that this isn’t the case.

    I would tell them to look at Christian history and note how Biblical interpretation has changed when God reveals more of God’s creation in science.

    It was universally believed that the passages in Scripture that referenced a stationary earth with the heavens rotating, were literal. Joshua stopped the sun from moving, not the earth (Joshua 10:13). Geocentrism is also found in Habakkuk 3:11, 1 Chronicles 16:30 and elsewhere. When Copernicus’ theories were popularized, the Pope, Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Wesley condemned the idea that the earth revolved around the sun. That would make Scripture wrong. But as his view became accepted, Christians changed their interpretation from literal to allegorical.

    In the Bible God regulates slavery in the Old Testament, Jesus heals slaves but never liberates them, Paul tells slaves to submit to their masters and sends a runaway slave Onesimus back to his master. So Christians believed that slavery was moral until the 19th Century. But then Christians realized that no version of slavery could be reconciled with the kind of human dignity found in Christ.

    Likewise, it’s the mainstream scientific consensus that sexual orientation is innate and unchangeable and that homosexuals are as psychologically healthy as heterosexuals. As in the examples I gave above, this means that Christians must go back to their Bibles and ask whether they are interpreting the text correctly. The emerging Biblical scholarship on this matter says that Bible doesn’t address sexual orientation, same sex love and fidelity specifically, but the overall Gospel moral message is one of responsible freedom and relationship.

    13. Attributing motives is above my paygrade. Politicians are politicians. Whether they are Republican or Democrat, they change positions. Personal animus and bigotry exist when one has a chance to enter fully into the lives of others and walk with them but choose not to.

    14. Studies show that children do best in two parent households. There isn’t any evidence that the gender of the parents is significant.

    15. There have been several studies that show no difference in psychological health and achievement between opposite sex couples and same sex couples. A 2014 study from Australia published in BMC Public Health (June 21, 2014) said that children in same sex households performed better in psychosocial tests that children in opposite sex households. I suspect that is because there is an intentionality to child raising in same sex households that may not exist in opposite sex households, due to the fact that it is still cutting edge.

    16. The Church and State should do what they can to provide a stable framework for children in both same sex and opposite sex households, through a variety of initiatives to promote a living wage, stable employment and good schools.

    17. Yes.

    18. A emotional, spiritual and sexual bond between two people forsaking all others.

    19. No. A sexual orientation is an attraction to people based on their general gender characteristics. Incest is based on an attraction to a specific person. Denying one the ability to marry a specific person isn’t the same as denying a person the right to marry *anyone* of a gender. We fall into and out of love with specific people as we mature, so transferring love from a sibling to a non-family member isn’t that traumatic. Also, the risk of serious birth defects is extremely high and unplanned pregnancies occur all the time.

    20. Civil marriage is a “one size fits all” roster of rights and responsibilities that are instantly given to a couple by the state. When additional people are added to a relationship it becomes too complex to manage through the issuing of a marriage license. From a Christian moral perspective, sex becomes untied from fidelity if additional people are introduced into the arrangement.

    21. See above. Denying individuals the right to marry a specific individual, or additional individuals isn’t the same as denying someone the right to marry anyone they are attracted to because of a gender difference.

    22. Yes. Marriage is at its core, a legal contract. We have age requirements for every other kind of business and legal contract.

    23/24. Marriage equality is based on the reality that gay people cannot marry opposite sex partners (without doing a lot of harm to both) and are able to form consensual adult relationships with each other. Polygamy is a voluntary social arrangement, incest isn’t a sexual orientation but an attraction to a specific person. I’m not sure what other relationships you have in mind unless its with children and animals, neither of which can give informed consent nor sustain an equal relationship. That is why children and animals can’t sign other legal contracts either.

    25. Of course.

    26. It depends on what they say or do. If they work for a state office, police, fire, etc. or are in a position of care outside the church, they are subject to the policies of their employer and must treat all couples, including gay couples equally. Sadly, some Christians confuse discrimination, which is unequal treatment against them based on their religious beliefs, with entitlement, which is invoking religious beliefs as an excuse to treat others unequally. They are not the same thing.

    27. I will speak out if evangelicals and Catholics are shamed for who they are. I won’t speak out if they say something that is irresponsibly ignorant or hateful and there is a backlash.

    28. Give them the support of a loving, nurturing community and be with them if they have trouble or the relationship fails.

    29. Yes.

    30. Yes.

    31. Yes

    32. We as a society won’t stand in the way of couples who love each other.

    33. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

    34. Paul said that love for neighbour fulfils the law and is the only command (Romans 13:8-10)

    35. It depends on the decision that is being made.

    36. That God cares more about relationships than enforcing rules.

    37. It has remained the same.

    38. I’d question whether what is listed constitutes orthodox Christianity. We have already been redeemed by Christ. The moral changes we make are in response to the fact that we’ve already been redeemed, not to win approval.

    39. Very much so.

    40. Sins that result from idolatry. But again, this is a set-up for Romans 2 which who bangs on about homosexuality wants to avoid.

  41. Dave says:

    Individuals make their own decisions in what is called “free will”. With so much focus on present life, it is no wonder people have little interest in eternity where GOD, not man, will make the judgment decision. And Chrisrianity has become so far removed from the New Testament fundamentals its no wonder there is decreased interest in the scriptures. With New “churches” popping up every day in shopping centers, old service stations, etc. its no wonder Christianity ins in crisis in this country. and for living by the OT, if your Jewish fine, If not it simply doesn’t apply to Christians.

  42. Joseph says:

    I am going to answer the one post that I think sums up the rest…

    “How come you extremist “Christians” always teach hate and intolerance?”

    It is interesting to me the cultural trend to mischaracterize Christian teaching as “extreme”, “hateful” and “intolerant” while ignoring actual extremism, hate and intolerance happening right now to Christians, gays, minorities, and women in the forms of beheadings, rape, disfiguration, slavery, child and woman sex trafficking for pornography, terrorism, murder, inequality and imprisonment, but I digress. The vast majority of Christ followers who take the time to study the Scripture don’t hate people we disagree with. We believe using our minds, spirituality and reason to teach each other and anyone else the teachings of Christ is a positive thing because it challenges us. On the other hand we believe using our emotions and how we feel about “love” to make our conclusions can be dangerous. Oh and then the accusation of intolerance. Most Christians are actually the most tolerant people on the planet, as most Christian nations and societies welcome other religions, and are multicultural. But yeah, we draw the line when something actually contradicts our Love for God’s Word. See God’s Word is not just printed ink on paper to us… Jesus is the Living Word of God. He is the sacrificial Lamb provided by our Father in Heaven to save us from our sin that leads to our death. He is the firstborn from the dead, because he defeated it with his Life. We take up our Cross or we are unworthy of Him. You too can be resurrected and find a new life In Christ Jesus.

    How come interracial marriage used not be against God’s “law” and now it is not?

    I am not sure what you are referencing. Joseph son of Jacob married an Eqyptian, Moses married a Midian, The only prohibition to interracial marriage was specific to Israel because God didn’t want them to adopt the sinful practices of the nations around them. NO WHERE in Christ’s or Apostolic teaching, in the New Testament do we see a prohibition to interracial marriage. We do see where Paul instructs Christians to not be unequally yoked with non-believers but not interracial… in fact he was the Apostle to the Gentiles – other than Jew. Are there eleven commandments and I missed one?

    How come slavery used to be ok by your God and now it is not?

    Different forms of slavery have been tolerated by mankind in both ancient times and in modern times. God in the Scripture actually judged Egypt severely for the type of slavery placed on the Hebrews which is actually comparable to the Black slavery that plagued our nation years ago. That form of slavery is still going on by the way… is it just justified as pornography or cheap labor. Who do you think has worked the most to end slavery in the USA and who do you think is working to end it world wide today? Uh let me answer that for you – Bible believing Christians. The teaching in the Bible in regard to slavery actually promotes rights, the freeing of and fair treatment of slaves. Today, that kind of slavery is actually comparable to having a boss at your place of employment, wherein you retire with a pension. We are called to be servants even now… so God hasn’t changed his mind at all… men have.

    “How come serving a black person in your place of business used to be against your religious rights, and now it is not?”

    Um those were racists… That was not a Christian value. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Christian. I would never refuse service to anyone if I owned a business unless I felt it went contradictory to my faith in Christ. For example, if I was a baker and a person came in wanting a cake saying “God Hates F_gs” I would refuse to make that cake because it totally misrepresents God.

    I am wondering though have you ever made a mistake in judgment? Have you ever changed your mind or have you always been completely “tolerant” of people?

    “I see a trend here, and that trend is that you racist bigots eventually change… that is until you find some new group of people to hate.”

    I see a trend here too… your buying into the error and yes the hate and intolerance toward Christians who you disagree with.

  43. Tom says:

    Thanks for this article, Kevin. It’s good for us to consider how solid the foundations of our beliefs are. God bless you, brother.

  44. Lucy Panda says:

    Here are my answers:
    1. I don’t understand why you use the word “celebrated”. I have supported legalizing gay marriage since I read seriously through the Gospels seven years ago.
    2. No one verse, but all of the verses on homosexuality, their context, prayer, discussion with church elders, as well as verses on sexuality, love, faithfulness, disputed issues, etc.
    3. I would make the case that one-man-one-woman is not exemplified in God’s O.T. commands. Further, Christ taught that the letter of the law was not the issue (even on issues of marriage—like divorce) but rather the spirit. The common feature of approved sexual relationships is loving monogamy, therefore, loving monogamous relationships of same sex couples are approved by God.
    4. I don’t think there are verses that make that sermon illustration. But I also don’t think there are any verses that directly express the famous “Footprints on the Beach” poem.
    5. If they were in a marital-like relationship, yes.
    6. It was a useful sermon illustration.
    7. Non-marriage-like non-monogamous relationships.
    8. He was condemning straight men and women who engage in gay sex for fun.
    9. No sin can keep us out of heaven if we are washed in the blood of Christ. Any sin can if we are not.
    10. Various promiscuous sexual activities.
    11. I see that slavery is evil and they did not. So too monogamous homosexual marriages.
    12. I would not do so as a general practice. I would explain it to individuals who were mature beleivers the same way I would explain it to mature believers in the U.S. This is parallel to the way that it is futile to try to explain to American Christians that usury is evil. They do not have ears to hear… yet.
    13. I think they are craven politicians who obey polls.
    14. No. I think the biological sex of their parents is pretty low on the list of what makes good parents. A godly single mom is better than a Satan-worshipping male & female.
    15. I presume there are reams of psychological research that shows that violently abusive male/female parent units are worse than loving single parents. Moreover, I think that the Bible teaches respect for Christ-likeness not mere biological pairings.
    16. Of course not. Children need safe healthy families—not certain biological pairings.
    17. I have no idea what you mean by the “end and purpose of marriage.” I’m not an Aristotelian Catholic.
    18. I wouldn’t. I would drop the term as a legal concept (like baptism) and replace it with something like “business partnerships” for legal purposes.
    19. God apparently does. The bible does not forbid sex between: men & their daughters, grandmothers, step-sisters, cousins & nieces. I would suggest that even though this may be permitted by the Bible it is probably not, psychologically, a good idea.
    20. Legally, no, although it is hard to establish truly godly & healthy polyamorous relationships (as evidenced by all the polygamy God approved of in the Bible).
    21. Lack of consent. I would treat legal marriage the same as legal business partnerships (I don’t know if they have numeric limits?)
    22. Yes. Age of consent.
    23. No. Legal marriage requires consent so bestiality, marrying inanimate objects, pedophilia, etc. all should not be permitted.
    24. Because only one of the party’s can consent. This is the same reason I can’t open a business with a tree or a toddler as my business partner.
    25. No. If they stone a gay person to death they should not be able to be exempt from murder charges.
    26. I doubt I will need to if they act remotely like Christ. The only Christians who will face any difficulty are immature Christians generally lacking in the fruits of the spirit like gentleness, kindness, self-control, love, etc.
    27. Yes, if the Evangelicals and Catholics are truly in positions of weakness. An evangelical kid should not be bullied at school. But the Pope is hardly in a position to be “bullied.”
    28. I would trust my brothers and sisters in those relationships to follow Christ as best they are able (ultimately God is responsible for them!) and would support them in any way I can.
    29. They should be treated the same way as straight couples in open relationships.
    30. It is just as much of a sin as a straight person who does so.
    31. In general today “speaking prophetically” just means “being an ass.” Moreover, the Bible strongly distinguishes between speaking to unbelievers and believers.
    32. I would define it through the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
    33. Uh… “God is love”, the greatest commandments, “if you see me you see the fathter”, etc.
    34. If we love God we attempt to obey His commands.
    35. Of course.
    36. Yeah, I realized that Evangelicalism is a dead-end perversion of Christ’s Church. I also grew a beard and adopted four children.
    37. I am not an Evangelical.
    38. My home church—Grace Episcopal.
    39. No. I think that one flaw of Evangelicalism is its insistence that life is nothing but “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” all the time to the maximal degree. I tried living this (better than 99.9% of Evangelicals who merely pay it lip service) and it almost crushed my faith. God built us with religion as PART of a healthy human life—not the whole of it.
    40. The sins mentioned earlier (which don’t include monogamous gay marriage).

  45. william says:

    Laws are made based on the US Constitution; not the BIble. This is as it should be because the Constitution gives Christians the religious freedoms that they have today. If we start making laws based on scripture, that opens the door for laws to be created based on other religion’s texts as well. As Christians, the separation of church and state is the best thing we have ever gotten because it completely protects our rights to practice religion as we so choose. Scripture should never be a factor when creating laws. Christians can use scripture as the law to govern their lives, but the country should absolutely separate religion and government. I don’t think Christians should be “Celebrating” the law change, however, the idea that the laws should somehow be based on Christian beliefs and not the U.S. Constitution is absurd.

  46. Lioness says:

    Those questions sound an awful lot like the justifications conservative Christians used to support slavery 160 years ago.

    You flinch. Hopefully with God’s mercy upon us good Christians will flinch just the same at your questions in another 100 years.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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