SSM round-up

by Jesse Johnson

“Yesterday I wrote about three obvious questions from the recent scrap about gay marriage. Today’s post is for those that have been sleeping for the past week and missed the controversy all together.  If you suffer from gay-marriage-controversy overload, you may have missed the newest twists and turns, which is a shame because you missed some really good writing.  Today I want to give a round-up of what others have written, and direct you to some of the better posts on this issue.

But first a little history: in the past few months gay “marriage” has been legalized in 17 states. Most of these saw marriage legalized by judges, and a few saw the turn at the ballot box. Since then there has been a tidal wave of additional lawsuits in the remaining 33 states that ban it. Every indicator is that those bans will fall as well.

In the meantime, some same-sex couples have sued bakers, photographers, and florists who have declined to provide their services to gay weddings. Denny Burk has a powerful articledetailing one of those examples.  The gist is that the florist served a couple she knew to be homosexual for almost ten years, and she considered them to be her friends. They then asked her business to provide flowers for their wedding, she refused, and was reported to the state, who filed suit against her (I wrote about these cases here).

This took gay marriage to whole new level. No longer is it something that can simply be recognized by the state, but it has morphed rapidly into something that every citizen could be force to actively approve of.  When a Christian DJ, pastor, baker, florist, or photographer refuses to service a same-sex ceremony, they fall on the wrong side of the law.

Tweet from Kevin DeYoung @RevKevDeYoung: “Marie Antoinette to French peasants: “Let them eat cake.” U.S. courts to Christian bakers: “Let them eat cake….or else.””

Some states (including Arizona and Kansas) proposed legislation that would specifically allow Christian business owners to decline service to same-sex marriage ceremonies without running afoul of the law. A good summary of what these proposals would/would not do is found at Christian Post. But these proposed laws were attacked, and eventually were discarded after a tsunami of public opposition. Ironically, some of that opposition was led by Christian columnists, such as Kirstin Powers (USA Today, who compared them to Jim Crow laws) and Jonathan Merritt (Daily Beast, who called these business leaders hypocrites for providing service to people on their second marriages). Together, their main point was essentially a WWJD kind of argument, and they suggested that Jesus the carpenter would have built the stage for a same-sex wedding, had he only been offered the job.

As for a response, I strongly suggest you read Al Mohler who systematically dismantled Powers’ and Merritt’s columns. Douglas Wilson offered his response as well (“Put an egg in their shoe” which is well worth reading for the way he interacts with Romans 1, and also for this sentence: “ I don’t know much about Merritt, but what I have seen seems to indicate someone who is being wafted along by the breezes emanating from the Zeitgeist Wind Farm, which is a bad metaphor because that’s not how wind farms work.”).

Meanwhile, Russell Moore responded to the accusation that it is hypocritical for Christians not to endorse same-sex ceremonies if they would sell their wares to a person on their second marriage.

Telling in most of the articles that compared Christians to racists is that the authors generally missed the distinction between denying service to a person because they are gay, and declining to use their business to promote a same-sex ceremony. I have not heard of any Christian arguing that others should not serve homosexuals (despite the hysteria on the issue), but instead have only heard of Christians arguing that they should not be forced by the government to make cakes for gay marriages. It is a distinction lost on Powers and Merritt, but strangely enough, one that was grasped by what is certainly the best secular post on this issue (here, at The Atlantic; I really recommend you read this, although you do have to get through the author saying, “You might not believe this, but I actually know a few Christians who are not bigots!” Yeah? Well I actually know an Atlantic columnist that isn’t condescending, but I digress).

Finally, if you are going to only read one of these posts, I suggest this one: The Institute on Religion and Democracy has a staff editorial (“Jonathan Merritt, Christian Artistic Expression and the Preferential Option for Caesar”). They summarize this issue quite well, and show the folly of asking the government to compel people’s consciences at the expense of religious freedom. It really is a must read.

Where does this leave us?

Eric Teetsel at the Manhattan Declaration gives a ten-minute crash course in why Christians should care about these issues. But ultimately we are seeing Romans 1 validated and vindicated  right before us.  In a culture ruled by homosexuality and idolatry, it is not enough to simply do evil, but it has to be celebrated and affirmed as moral good. And not being satisfied with the freedom to practice evil, those who are on this road insist that their own evil must be applauded by others. If you refuse… well, as Eric Erickson wrote almost one year ago, “you will be made to care.” Or, as the prophet of our day has said:

Tweet from Church Curmudgeon @ChrchCurmudgeon: “Coexist. Or else.””

-Jesse Johnson, 02-27-14, http://thecripplegate.com/ssm-round-up/

 

I’m a Christian who won’t label sexuality

Christianity’s radical proposition: not to be defined by the things we own or want, be it social status, wealth or sexuality
Cross“‘As Christians, we don’t believe desire is a reliable guide in life. Sometimes it leads us to what is true and good. Sometimes it flickers and deceives.’ Photograph: Charlie Riedel/AP

I know very few people who enjoy swimming against the tide. But for centuries, those with same-sex attraction have been forced to do so. They have been marginalised and reviled by society, and by far too many in the church. They didn’t conform, they were different, they were forced to hide or pretend. That attitudes have softened over the last half-century has to be positive. That the church has much to regret, and repent of, is indisputable. As Andrew Brown’s article makes clear, “even among conservative evangelicals, it is no longer possible to deal with gay people, and the problems their existence poses, by simple repression”. Nevertheless, many Christians – especially those with same-sex attraction – fear being greatly misunderstood in current debates.

Labels (like slogans) have, of course, regularly been weapons of oppression or demonisation. They encourage a lazy rhetorical shorthand, which only excites passions and precludes charity (much as “socialist” might in US politics). One defence has been to appropriate the label. This was done with the word “queer”; ironically, it was also done with “Christian” (its first New Testament appearance is in reference to a pejorative usage).

The danger in any conflict is for both sides’ tactics to become indistinguishable, as seems to be happening in the west’s so-called culture wars. So in 1996, American anthropologist and Christian, Jenell Williams Paris produced some joint research with Mindy Michels, a lesbian scholar working in a similar field. They observed how the rhetoric on each side had an uncomfortable symmetry, especially in their common use of bellicose and aggressive rhetoric. Neither were constructive at all. So could not the casual insults like “homophobic”, “bigoted” and “offensive”, serve merely to silence and marginalise, just as “queer” did in the past?

Furthermore, reductionism is always risky – but when human identity is reduced to sexuality labels, there are significant problems. The irony is that “heterosexual” and “homosexual” were both originally coined by 19th-century medics to describe what was then considered an aberration. Archaic and ludicrous though this may seem today, they needed terms for so-called “deviants [who] pursued sexual pleasure without concern for procreation“. Of course, this is not the way they are used now, but this serves to illustrate the shifting sands of meaning. And for many (whether with same-sex attraction or not), they both carry too much baggage. Someone may be married with children – but what is to be gained from being identified as “straight”? The label is reductionistic and (perhaps deliberately) exclusive.

Of course, it’s easy to see why terms like gay, queer, and the ever-growing letters added to LGBT acronyms, are felt to be necessary. An identity based on an orientation offers an understandable route to like-minded and safe communities in the face of real hostility. It’s also difficult to fight political campaigns for rights and tolerance unless there is a clear sense of the identity of those being fought for.

But these labels simply do not do justice to the reality of human identity. This is actually why many Christians are still profoundly uncomfortable with the terms of the debate that is currently raging. I work in a multinational church with members from over 60 different countries, and with links with churches all over the world – but I know no one who wants to see what has been pejoratively described as a “Nigerian or Ugandan view of homosexuality”. I know no one who argues that this behaviour should be criminalised or discriminated against in public life. But disagreeing with someone need not mean rejection. I don’t believe it ever should.

Besides, the real Christian objection is much deeper. We don’t believe desire is a reliable guide in life. Sometimes it leads us to what is true and good. Sometimes it flickers and deceives. Instead, Christianity offers a far more radical proposition: we are not defined by the things we want or own. So we are not defined by our sexuality, social status, wealth, education, looks or even by which newspaper we read. Instead, we are defined by two key things: that we are each created in God’s image, and that in Christ we are redeemed by God’s astonishing love. It is on this foundation that we can surely move beyond a battle of derogatory stereotypes to a real discussion of what it means to be human.”

-Mark Meynell,  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/oct/04/christian-label-sexuality

Reparative Therapy and the Gospel

by Denny Burk

In my last post, I noted that California has just become the first state in the union to outlaw therapies aimed at altering the sexual orientation of minors. If you read the law, you’ll find that the vast majority of it is taken up with explaining the medical basis for prohibiting these therapies—including some rather negative assessments of reparative therapy in particular. In the opening section of the law and in other writings on this story, I see persistent misunderstandings about what reparative therapy actually is. Consequently, there’s a good bit of confusion about how Christian teaching relates to this particular therapy. Here’s the definition given in Joe Dallas’ and Nancy Heche’s book The Complete Christian Guide To Understanding Homosexuality (Harvest House, 2010), 104-105:

Reparative therapy is a phrase referring to counseling, psychotherapy, or other forms of psychological treatment for homosexuals who are in conflict over their sexuality. It first became prominent with the 1991 publication of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi’s book Reparative Therapy for Male Homosexuality and soon became a common term of reference. It derives from a theory (shared by Dr. Nicolosi with others) that homosexuality represents unmet emotional needs or conflicts that need repairing, in which cases therapy should attempt to repair the damage or deficits the person experiences. It is a controversial term, sometimes used as a pejorative by those who oppose attempts to modify sexual orientation. It is also used in a more neutral or even respectful tone by those who condone it, and practitioners of it often refer to themselves as “reparative therapists.”

“Reparative therapy” should not be used as an umbrella term covering every treatment approach for women and men with unwanted homosexual desires. Other forms of counseling or therapy may be designed to help such people, but without subscribing to all the tenets of reparative therapy. Some counselors, for example, may support their client’s goal to abstain from homosexual behavior, yet they may not believe male homosexuality always springs from deficiencies in father/son relationship, or that gender-identity issues always contribute to homosexuality. Likewise, not everyone who offers treatment for people in distress over their homosexuality should be referred to as a “reparative therapist.” The term is properly used when referencing treatment approaches and practitioners subscribing to the theories and approaches cited above.

So reparative therapy is an approach based on the assumption that homosexuality has a psychological pathology. It’s not an attempt to “pray away the gay,” as some people derisively charge. In fact, the approach has no necessary religious basis at all—though some Christian therapists may follow its tenets.

It’s not the only approach that counselors use to help someone alter their sexual orientation, but it is the one that is cited heavily and denounced as bad science in the new California law. In the words of California Governor Jerry Brown“This bill bans non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.” Nevertheless, the new law outlaws all therapies aimed at changing sexual orientation/behavior, not just reparative therapy.

And this is the real point of concern for Christians. Christians have no moral obligation to subscribe to the specific tenets of reparative therapy, but we do have an obligation to believe that the Christian gospel can save and sanctify sinners.

Thus Christians must insist that sexual orientation/behavior is alterable. We believe that not on the basis of any particular study—although there are studies that support the claim—but on the basis of what the Bible teaches. That does not mean that we believe all homosexuals become completely cured of homosexual desires once they become Christian. But it does mean that we have hope in the progressive sanctification of all repentant sinners, including homosexual ones (2 Cor. 3:18). Some Christians may find themselves struggling against homosexual desires for the rest of their lives as Christians. Nevertheless, Christians do believe that God can alter sinful desires and behavior over time, including homosexuals ones (Phil. 2:12-13). To abandon that belief is to abandon Christianity altogether (1 Thes. 4:7-8).

It’s here that Christians are likely to feel the pinch in the coming years. As states like California find a “compelling interest” in protecting minors from Christian teaching about sexuality, there will be tremendous social (and perhaps legal) pressure to abandon any notion of changing sexual orientation. But Christians cannot surrender to this pressure, no matter what the cost may be.”

-Denny Burk, http://www.dennyburk.com/what-is-reparative-therapy/

Shellfish, Mixed Fabrics, and Homosexuality: Picking and Choosing?

by Mike Riccardi
Eat More Pork

“Once again, a brilliant post of Jesse’s has stimulated a lot of discussion. Yesterday’s post, in which Jesse shared four thoughts regarding Chick-Fil-A Day, sparked a ton of discussion in the comment thread.

Among other issues, a couple of commenters listed a number of popular arguments for why homosexuality is reconcilable with Christianity. For today and tomorrow, I’d like to address a couple of those arguments that I encounter most often. My hope is that I might serve those who erroneously believe that faith in Jesus and His Word can be reconciled with attempts to legitimize homosexuality.

The objection I want to address today basically boils down to this: “There are plenty other commands in Scripture that Christians don’t follow today, like the prohibition against mixing fabrics (Lev 19:19) or eating shellfish (Lev 11:10–12) and pork (Lev 11:7–8). So why not one more?”

Unbiblical Reasoning

First, I just want to observe that this kind of reasoning is patently unbiblical. The argument concedes that the Bible does indeed condemn homosexuality. We’re not getting an argument from these folks on that. They’re just giving a reason for why we should ignore more of what the Bible clearly says. “We disobey God’s Word all over the place. Why should disobeying His commands against homosexuality be any different?”

If you find yourself thinking this way, I just want to plead with you to realize that this is just not the way a Christian thinks about God’s Word. Someone who loves God in the Person of Jesus Christ does not look for ways to legitimize their disobedience or to free themselves from what He’s actually said. The one who loves God loves His Word. The Word of God is thedelight of the child of God (see Psalm 119Job 23:12Jer 15:16). If God’s Word is something you feel you have to get around or escape, please examine whether you’re truly a Christian at all.

The Purpose of the Law

But aside from the fact that a Christian simply doesn’t reason this way, this objection fails to understand the purposes of the Mosaic Law, and how the Christian under the New Covenant is to relate to the Law given under the Sinaitic Covenant. This isn’t an easy theological issue, and so to some degree I understand the confusion over this issue. But Scripture gives a clear answer, so try to stick with me.

Law Scroll

To Set God’s People Apart

For one thing, these civil and ceremonial regulations functioned to set Israel apart from all the other nations. No other nation cared about eating animals that didn’t chew cud or wearing clothes woven with two different fabrics. No other nation let a perfectly good day of work (and profits) slip through their fingers by resting on Saturday. In all these restrictions, God’s design was for Israel—His people—to be different than all the nations. And He wanted them to be different from the nations because He was different than the gods of the nations.

But God’s people are no longer confined to a particular nation. They are no longer bound by physical, national, or even cultural boundaries (Eph 2:12). The Church is not a civil government or a theocracy, but a spiritual building (Eph 2:21–22). Because of that, we’re not set apart by obeying laws about fabrics, foods, lengths of beards, and days of rest, but by our moral purity and holiness. We are to come out from all moral impurity and uncleanness, and are to be separate, for the Holy God walks in our midst (2 Cor 6:14–7:1).

To Point God’s People to a Savior

So, one function of the Mosaic Law was to set God’s people—the nation of Israel—apart in tangible, physical ways in order to show His own uniqueness.

But the Law was also given to Israel for another purpose: to illustrate God’s standard of righteousness, to show how far short of that standard His people fall, and ultimately to point them to a Savior to provide that righteousness.

Under the Mosaic Covenant, a right relationship with God depended on compliance with all of what He had said. If someone broke God’s Law, that was sin, and sin demanded a punishment. God made a provision to punish His people’s sin in a substitute, and so the sacrificial system was instituted. The consistent bloody exercise of animal sacrifice was designed to make clear to Israel that God was infinitely holy and that He took sin seriously. Day after day, year after year, all of Israel would offer sacrifices for their sins. And one thing they were supposed to come away with after doing that was that they could not live the way God required. God was holy. And they were hopelessly unholy.

Because of this, in Galatians 3 Paul calls the Law a tutor or a schoolmaster.

But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith (Gal 3:22–24).

So the Law was designed to teach Israel that they could never meet God’s standard of holiness themselves, and that they needed to look outside of themselves—to Him—for the gracious provision of that righteousness. And God provided that righteousness in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Law was designed to point to Him!

That’s why when Jesus shows up, He can declare that all foods are clean (Mark 7:19) work on the Sabbath (Luke 6:25). It’s why God’s people no longer have to offer sacrifices in a temple—why when Jesus was crucified the veil of the temple was torn in two (Matt 27:51): because in Jesus, something greater than the temple is here (Matt 12:8)! A Better CovenantAccess to God would no longer be mediated by the regulations of the Mosaic Covenant, but by those of the New Covenant (Jer 31:31–34Luke 22:20), whose mediator is Christ Himself (Heb 9:15).

That’s also why the Book of Hebrews declares that the Mosaic Covenant has been made “obsolete” (Heb 8:13): because the purpose for which that Covenant was given—namely, to set Israel apart and to point them to a need for a Savior—is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the point of the dietary laws. God’s people are no longer set apart by not mixing fabrics, they are set apart by being united to Jesus by faith.

No Longer Under a Tutor

So, the reason that Christians don’t have a problem mixing fabrics or eating pork is notbecause we’re picking and choosing which biblical commands we follow. Neither were the commands culturally conditioned. Rather, they were covenantally conditioned. It’s actually because those commands, which belonged to the Mosaic Covenant, have been fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, who is the Mediator of a new and better covenant. We actually obey the commands of the Law not by carrying them out ourselves, but by looking to Jesus as their fulfillment and trusting Him to provide the righteousness that was the goal of those commands. That’s why Paul says in that same passage in Galatians 3:

Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor (Gal 3:24–25).

We are no longer under that Law which functioned for us as a tutor! To attempt to keep the dietary laws and other aspects of ceremonial worship would actually be to deny that Jesus’ righteous life and substitutionary sacrifice on the cross was sufficient to achieve God’s righteousness on our behalf. So when Christians exercise their freedom to mix fabrics or to eat shellfish and pork, we are not breaking the Mosaic Law. Rather, we are living obediently in light of its fulfillment in Christ (cf. Matt 5:17).

Why Homosexuality is Different

However, the commandments against homosexuality do not belong to the ceremonial or civil stipulations of an obsolete covenant from a bygone era. Yes, a prohibition of homosexuality is given in Leviticus 18:22. But that prohibition is repeated in the New Testament—God’s revelation for those living under the New Covenant.

  • Romans 1:26–27 – For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
  • 1 Timothy 1:9–10 – …those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching…

Whereas the New Testament declares the fulfillment (and thus the end) of certain civil and ceremonial laws of the Mosaic Covenant, these New Covenant Scriptures only reaffirm the Old Testament prohibition against homosexuality. This shows us that such a prohibition wasn’t applicable only to national Israel, but is also binding upon the New Testament people of God. According to God’s own Word to His people, you cannot be in a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ while living an unrepentant homosexual lifestyle.

You Can Be Washed

But you certainly can be restored to a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ by repenting from the sin of homosexuality. 1 Corinthians 6:11 says that some in the Corinthian church were homosexuals (cf. 1 Cor 6:10–11). “But,” Paul says, “you were washed.” They had been cleansed! Their sins were forgiven, not by pretending it wasn’t sin but by owning it andconfessing it as sin, and by turning from it—forsaking it as something that dishonors God—and by trusting in Christ’s righteousness alone for acceptance with God. My prayer is that those of you reading this would be washed by the blood of the Lamb shed for the forgiveness of sins.”

-Mike Riccardi,

What is really behind the boycott of Chick-fil-A

by Trevin Wax

If you’re like me, you’re weary of the excessive politicization of nearly everything in American culture.

Can’t we just enjoy Oreo cookies without making a statement about gay rights? Or savor a chicken sandwich without fear of being labeled a hater or homophobe?

Though I’m weary of our culture’s tendency to politicize everything, I believe this Chick-fil-A boycott has revealed some fault lines in our culture that will lead to increasing pressure upon Christians who uphold the sexual ethic described in the New Testament. Furthermore, in listening to the mayors of Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, it’s clear to me that – political posturing aside – this discussion may not be about the alleged homophobia of Chick-fil-A’s president but the actual Christophobia of the leaders of the cultural elite.

Christophobia? Isn’t that a strong word? Yes, it is. So let’s define our terms.

First, let’s define homophobia. According to the Anti-Defamation League, homophobia is “the hatred or fear of homosexuals – that is, lesbians and gay men – sometimes leading to acts of violence and expressions of hostility.”

Consider the comments made by Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy that triggered this escapade:

“We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

That’s it. Cathy said, basically, “We believe in the traditional family.” In context, it appears he was speaking primarily about divorce. (What’s next? A sit-in protest led by divorcees?) But this was enough to bring down the wrath of gay-rights advocates upon Cathy and the company.

Though Chick-fil-A hires homosexuals and serves homosexuals (“with pleasure,” no doubt), the company and its president were suddenly labeled “homophobic” and “anti-gay” for articulating the traditional vision for marriage that has been the norm for thousands of years. If the word homophobic has any meaning, then we should reserve it for egregious offenses against homosexuals – not throw the label on anyone who has a conviction about what marriage is.

Now let’s define Christophobia. It is “anti-Christian sentiment expressed as opposition to Christians, the Christian religion, or the practice of Christianity.” When the mayors of prominent U.S. cities in the north and west told Chick-fil-A they would not be welcome there, they were making a statement that goes beyond one’s position on gay rights. These remarks were an example of social ostracism – not just toward those who hold to traditional views on marriage but especially Christians who hold these views and seek to practice their religion accordingly.

Why do I think they were singling out Christians? Why would this be an example of Christophobia?

Consider a different scenario. What if Dan Cathy were a Muslim? What if he had been a Muslim speaking to an Islamic news organization when he said something about marriage and family? Would there have been an outcry against his organization? It’s doubtful. I can’t imagine Rahm Emanuel taking on a prominent, well-respected Muslim businessman, no matter what he would say about marriage and sexuality. (Perhaps that’s why Emanuel has no problem partnering with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan – an outspoken critic of gay marriage – in a crime-reducing initiative.)

And therein lies the discrimination. Do you see the double standard? Those who are problematic, those who must be shut down and made to feel unwelcome, are not really the people who believe in traditional marriage but conservative Christians who seek to practice the tenets of their faith in the public sphere.

What we are seeing today is a massive cultural shift that permits leaders to label Christians as intolerant and bigoted simply for expressing their views about how society should function. But strangely enough, the same social ostracism and cultural condescension are not extended to Muslims and faithful adherents to other religions. No, the prejudice appears to be directed toward Christians who dare to speak publicly about their deeply held religious convictions.

That’s why, at the end of the day, this conversation isn’t really about marriage, gay rights, or restaurant permits. It’s not about the cultural divide between north and south, liberal and conservative.

It’s about Jesus. It’s about the radical sexual ethic He put forth in His teaching – a moral zealousness that hits our current culture’s sexual permissiveness head-on. And it’s about His forgiveness offered to all sexual sinners, so long as we agree with Jesus about our sin and embrace Him instead.

As weary as we may be of the culture wars, the Chick-fil-A controversy is a harbinger of further ostracism to come. In the United States, the words of Jesus are coming to pass for those who hold tightly to His vision of sexuality: You will be hated because of Me. 

So how should we respond? We’ve got to go beyond boycotts and political statements and feigned offense at perceived persecution. We’re called to love those who ostracize us, not boycott back. So let’s trumpet the message that Jesus is for all kinds of sinners, from the self-righteous deacon to the promiscuous transsexual, no matter what kind of vitriol comes our way.

The world tells homosexuals, “It gets better.” The church tells homosexuals, “Jesus is better.”

And that is why this boycott is really about Him.”

-Trevin Wax,  http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2012/08/01/why-the-chick-fil-a-boycott-is-really-about-jesus/

Gay is Not the New Black

by Voddie Baucham

It’s hard to deny that homosexual marriage appears to be a foregone conclusion in America. This is a frightening prospect not only for those of us who understand marriage to be a testimony of the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church, but also for all who value the family and its contribution to the well-being of society and human thriving. And while it’s difficult to watch a coordinated, well-funded, well-connected propaganda strategy undermine thousands of years of human history, it’s especially disconcerting to witness the use of the civil rights struggle as the vehicle for the strategy.

The idea that same-sex “marriage” is the next leg in the civil rights race is ubiquitous. One of the clearest examples of the conflation of homosexual “marriage” and civil rights is Michael Gross’s article in The Advocate, in which he coins the now-popular phrase “Gay is the new black.”1 Gross is not alone in his conflation of the two issues, however. At a 2005 banquet, Julian Bond, former head of the NAACP, said, “Sexual disposition parallels race. I was born this way. I have no choice. I wouldn’t change it if I could. Sexuality is unchangeable.”2

Nor is this kind of thinking exclusive to the political left. When asked by GQ magazine if he thought homosexuality was a choice, Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, replied:

Oh, no. I don’t think I’ve ever really subscribed to that view, that you can turn it on and off like a water tap. Um, you know, I think that there’s a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can’t simply say, oh, like, “Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being gay.” It’s like saying, “Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being black.”3

Even the California Supreme Court bought in to this line of reasoning. In a February 2008 decision they reasoned:

Furthermore, in contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual’s sexual orientation—like a person’s race or gender—does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.4 (emphasis added)

The California Supreme Court, like Gross, would have us believe that the homosexual struggle for a redefinition of marriage puts them in the same category as my ancestors. However, they would rather you didn’t take a closer look, lest you see how flimsy the comparison turns out to be.

Unidentifiable Minority

The first problem with the idea of conflating “sexual orientation” and race is the fact that homosexuality is undetectable apart from self-identification. Determining whether or not a person is black, Native American, or female usually involves no more than visual verification. However, should doubt remain, blood tests, genetics, or a quick trip up the family tree would suffice. Not so with homosexuality. There is no evidence that can confirm or deny a person’s claims regarding sexual orientation.5

Moreover, the homosexual community itself has made this identification even more complicated in an effort to distance itself from those whose same-sex behavior they find undesirable. The Jerry Sandusky case is a prime example. Sandusky is accused of molesting numerous young boys during and after his tenure at Penn State. However, try placing the label “homosexual” on his activities and the backlash will be swift and unequivocal. “Pedophiles are not homosexuals!” is the consistent refrain coming from the homosexual community, media, academia, and the psychological/medical establishment.6

Hence, it seems same-sex attraction alone isn’t enough to identify a person as a homosexual. And what about LUGSin college, or same-sex relationships in prison? Are these people homosexual? How about men who are extremely effeminate but prefer women, or those who once were practicing homosexuals but have since come out of the lifestyle (i.e., 1 Cor. 6:9-11)? In short, it’s impossible to identify who is or is not a homosexual. As a result, how do we know to whom the civil rights in question should be attributed? Should a man who isn’t a homosexual (assuming we could determine such a thing) but tries to enter a same-sex union be treated the same as a woman who isn’t Native American but tries to claim it to win sympathy, or casino rights, or votes?

But this isn’t the only problem with the civil rights angle.

Unalterable Definition

An additional problem with the “gay is the new black” argument is the complete disconnect between same-sex “marriage” and anti-miscegenation laws. First, there is a categorical disconnect. Miscegenation literally means “the interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types.” Ironically, the fact that homosexuals cannot “interbreed” shines a spotlight on the problem inherent in their logic. How can forbidding people who actually have the ability to interbreed be the same thing as acknowledging the fact that two people categorically lack that ability?8

Second, there is a definitional disconnect. The very definition of marriage eliminates the possibility of including same-sex couples. The word marriage has a long and well-recorded history; it means “the union of a man and a woman.” Even in cultures that practice polygamy, the definition involves a man and several women. Therefore, while anti-miscegenation laws denied people a legitimate right, the same cannot be said concerning the denial of marriage to same-sex couples; one cannot be denied a right to something that doesn’t exist.

It should be noted that the right to marry is one of the most frequently denied rights we have. People who are already married, 12-year-olds, and people who are too closely related are just a few categories of people routinely and/or categorically denied the right to marry. Hence, the charge that it is wrong to deny any person a “fundamental right” rings hollow. There has always been, and, by necessity, will always be discrimination in marriage laws.

Third, there is a historical disconnect. As early as the time of Moses, recorded history is replete with interracial marriages. In our own history, the marriage of John Rolfe and Pocahontas in the 17th century,9 along with the fact that anti-miscegenation laws were usually limited only to the intermarrying of certain “races” of people (i.e., black and white), stands as historical evidence of the legal and logical inconsistency of such laws. Thus, unlike same-sex “marriage” advocates, those fighting for the right to intermarry in the civil rights era had history on their side.

Fourth, there is a legal disconnect. One thing that seems to escape most people in this debate is the fact that homosexuals have never been denied the right to marry. They simply haven’t had the right to redefine marriage. But don’t take my word for it; listen to the Iowa Supreme Court in their decision in favor of same-sex “marriage”: “It is true the marriage statute does not expressly prohibit gay and lesbian persons from marrying; it does, however, require that if they marry, it must be to someone of the opposite sex.”

There it is: not only in black and white, but in a legal decision. Homosexuals haven’t been deprived of any right. How, then, do those on the side of same-sex marriage continue to make the claim that this is a civil rights issue? The key is in the next paragraph:

[The] right of a gay or lesbian person under the marriage statute to enter into a civil marriage only with a person of the opposite sex is no right at all. Under such a law, gay or lesbian individuals cannot simultaneously fulfill their deeply felt need for a committed personal relationship, as influenced by their sexual orientation, and gain the civil status and attendant benefits granted by the statute.

I feel the need to remind the reader that this is a legal decision, since phrases like “gay or lesbian individuals cannot simultaneously fulfill their deeply felt need for a committed personal relationship” tend to sound out of place in such a document. Further, this is asinine logic. For example, following this line of reasoning, one could argue, “I have the right to join the military, but I am a pacifist. Therefore, I don’t really have the right (since it would be repulsive to me). Therefore, we need to establish a pacifist branch of the military so that I can fulfill both my desire to join, and my desire not to fight.”

However, this reasoning is critically important in order to make the next leap in logic. “[A] gay or lesbian person can only gain the same rights under the statute as a heterosexual person by negating the very trait that defines gay and lesbian people as a class—their sexual orientation.”

Unsustainable Precedent

Perhaps the most damning aspect of the civil rights argument is logical unsustainability. If sexual orientation/identity is the basis for (1) classification as a minority group, and (2) legal grounds for the redefinition of marriage, then what’s to stop the “bisexual” from fighting for the ability to marry a man and a woman simultaneously since his “orientation” is, by definition, directed toward both sexes?10 What about the member of NAMBLA whose orientation is toward young boys?11 Where do we stop, and on what basis?

Homosexual advocates are loath to answer this question. In fact, they are adept at avoiding it (and are rarely pressed on the point). However, the further legal implications of court decisions about same-sex marriage are inevitable. Nowhere is this clearer than inLawrence v. Texas. In the majority decision, Justice Kennedy wrote:

These matters [of homosexual marriage], involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.12

I have no legal training, and I recognize the limits of my ability to fully evaluate the implications of such a decision. However, I do take notice when Justice Scalia responds to this assertion by stating:

I have never heard of a law that attempted to restrict one’s “right to define” certain concepts; and if the passage calls into question the government’s power to regulate actions based on one’s self-defined “concept of existence, etc.,” it is the passage that ate the rule of law.13(emphasis added)

Inescapable Confrontation

It is very important for those of us who oppose the idea of same-sex “marriage” to do so not because we wish to preserve our version of the American Dream, but because we view marriage as a living, breathing picture of the relationship between Christ and his church (Eph. 5:22ff), and because we know that God has designed the family in a particular way. While the design of the family promotes human thriving (Gen 1:27-28), the testimony points people to their only hope in this life and the next. As a result, silence on this issue is not an option.

Unfortunately (and quite ironically), many Christians have been bullied into silence by the mere threat of censure from the homosexual lobby. “Oppose us and you’re no better than Gov. Wallace, Hitler, and those homophobes who killed Matthew Shepard!” is their not-so-subtle refrain. Consequently, we spend so much time trying to prove we’re not hate-filled murderers that we fail to recognize that the Emperor has no clothes. There is no legal, logical, moral, biblical, or historical reason to support same-sex “marriage.” In fact, there are myriad reasons not to support it. I’ve only provided a few.

-Voddie Baucham,  http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/07/19/gay-is-not-the-new-black/


1 Michael Joseph Gross, “Gay is the New Black,” The Advocate, November 16, 2008 (available online at http://www.advocate.com/exclusive_detail_ektid65744.asp).

2 Ertha Melzer, “NAACP chair says ‘gay rights are civil rights,'” Washington Blade, April 8, 2005. It should also be noted that the NAACP recently endorsed same-sex marriage (http://graftedthemovie.blogspot.com/p/watch-grafted.html)—significant since the organization exists for the “Advancement of ‘Colored’ People.”

3 Micheal Steele interview in “The Reconstructionist,” by Lisa Paulo, GQ (March 2009), available at http://www.gq.com/blogs/the-q/2009/03/-the-reconstructionist-michael-steele.html.

5 Even if brain studies, twin studies, etc., provided conclusive links (which they do not), one would still be left with the fact that while blackness and maleness are attributes one cannot deny, homosexual behavior is not. Thus, even if there were a genetic connection, it would be insufficient to propel sexual orientation into the same category as race or sex.

7 The term “Lesbian Until Graduation” refers to young women who participate in lesbian relationships only during the duration of their college life.

8 It is important to note that this is a categorical distinction, and not a determination based on fertility. Otherwise, the same could be said about men and women beyond child-bearing years, or those with defects preventing conception.

9 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/pocahontas-marries-john-rolfe. Though it is commonly thought that Pocahontas married John Smith, it was actually English tobacco farmer John Rolfe whom she married on April 5, 1614, in Jamestown, Virginia.

10 See Elizabeth Emens’s February 2003 Chicago Law School White paper,MONOGAMY’S LAW: COMPULSORY MONOGAMY AND POLYAMOROUS EXISTENCE,available at http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/files/58-monogamy.pdf.

11 North American Man/Boy Love Association. Their motto is “Eight is Too Late.” http://www.nambla.org

12 Justice Kennedy Majority Opinion, “John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner, Petitioners V. Texas ” in 539 U. S. (2003), ed. Supreme Court of the United States (2003).

13 Antonin Scalia Dissenting Opinion, “John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner, Petitioners V. Texas ” in 539 U. S. (2003), ed. Supreme Court of the United States (2003).

Pastoral Reflections on Homophobia

Great Post from Michael Bird:

“In my next response to James Crossley’s allegations of “homophobia,” I thought I would narrate two stories, two experiences with gay men and women, which have shaped my perceptions and pastoral approach to homosexuality.

Story One: Violent Homophobia.

In a previous life time, I was a soldier in the Australian Army. One evening my section was on a boys night out on the town in Sydney, doing bit of a pub crawl. I was not a heavy drinker, so I was the only sober one in the group by 9. 00 p.m. In one of our excursions across a park, several of us walked passed a couple of gay men innocuously holding hands as they strolled through the park. As they walked by, however, one of my group (the highest ranked member in fact) began yelling all sorts of hateful things interspersed with vicious expletives at them. He pushed his way over towards them as the couple quickly hurried their pace. Sensing the potential for fruitless violence at two innocent citizens, I grabbed my superior (and let it be known that this guy was built like Sylvester Stallone in his 80s physique) and dragged him back towards the group, fortunately a few other guys stepped in to help me. Eventually the drunken aggressive man desisted from his attempted attack and rejoined us on our walk.

It was a vivid experience, one I’ve never forgotten. I felt sorry for that couple who could not even walk down a public park after dark without fear of physical attack due to no more than holding hands. From that experience I can say that I believe homophobia exists, it is real, it is based on nothing more than prejudice without reason, and it is morally wrong … and I say this as a Christian, one who tries to follow Jesus by loving my neighbor, even my gay neighbors walking down the street.

Story Two: The Ultimate Homophobia.

Back in 2002, just after it was announced that Rowan Williams was going to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury, I led an ecumenical Bible study among a group of Christians from the Army. I remember vividly the small group in question: A fiery Lutheran warrant officer, a meek Pentecostal girl from transport corps, a liberal Catholic logistics Captain, and a softly spoken nominal Anglican lady working for the DoD. When we got to the subject of Rowan Williams and his views of sexuality, well, the conversation heated up, like a furnace. The Lutheran warrant officer earnestly made the point that the Bible condemns homosexuality, the liberal Catholic rebutted that sexuality is genetically innate and cannot be helped so one should not oppose it, the nominal Anglican lady said that gay people make great friends and are great at helping you decorate your house, while the Pentecostal girl just sat there quietly not saying anything. Well, the conversation, now argument, got hotter and hotter. Despite my best efforts to moderate the tone and change the subject, it just got worse. It turned into a yelling match with the Bible-bashing Lutheran trying to shout down the liberal Catholic on the one side and the nominal Anglican lady adding her two-cents every so often. The poor Pentecostal girl sat their very quiet, staring catatonically at the floor, wisely avoiding the melee.

Right before I was gonna yell “time out children, time to go home,” all of a sudden the Pentecostal girl loudly interjected with these words, “I used to be a Lesbian but Jesus saved me.” Right after that there was a silence you could cut with a knife. The Lutheran, the Catholic, the Anglican, and the poor Bible study leader, had nothing to say. What do you say to that? How do you follow that up? The young girl was engaged and a few months later was married and last I heard she was living a joyous heterosexual marriage with her new husband. In her story, homosexuality was something that she needed to be saved from, Jesus saved her from it, and she remained grateful for the transformation that had taken place in her life.

But I want to say that her story is the greatest homophobic epic that can ever be told. In her story, it is possible, indeed actual, for some (note the qualifier) gay men and women to be changed and transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, homosexual men and women can be liberated, rescued, and saved from homosexualilty … that is their testimony, not mine. Now I know that the reasons why people have same-sex desires are complex and range from biology to upbringing to sociology to psychology. I do not believe that the Pentecostal girl’s story would necessarily be true of all homosexual men and women. I don’t think homosexuality is a disease much less something that can be cured. Some Christians with same-sex desires struggle with it for all their lives (just as heterosexuals can struggle with certain desires and behaviors). I know that there are many ex-gays, but I also know that there are many ex-ex-gays too.

My point is that I have heard the testimony of men and women who consider themselves saved from homosexuality. Moreover, their words constitute the greatest act of betrayal of the gay-cause, the greatest act of treachery in gay-rights, and the greatest attack on efforts to deny that same-sex desires can change in people. In our secular and pansexual culture, ex-gay Christians are the worst and most vile homophobes in the universe because they announce that Jesus saved them from homosexuality and the Holy Spirit transformed them and empowered them to live a holy life without it.

Though society may call them homophobes, I am not ashamed to call them my brother or sister.”

-Michael F. Bird, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/euangelion/2012/04/pastoral-reflections-on-homophobia/

Biblical and Compassionate Response to Gay Pride

“Perhaps worst of all is the knowledge that a rigorous critique of same-sex intercourse can have the unintended effect of bringing personal pain to homosexuals, some of whom are already prone to self-loathing. This is why it needs to be emphatically stated that to feel homosexual impulses does not make one a bad person.

I deplore attempts to demean the humanity of homosexuals. Whatever one thinks about the immorality of homosexual behavior, or about the obnoxiousness of elements within the homosexual lobby, homosexual impulses share with all other sinful impulses the feature of being an attack on the “I” or inner self experiencing the impulses (Romans 7:14-25). The person beset with homosexual temptation should evoke our concern, sympathy, help, and understanding, not our scorn or enmity.

Even more, such a person should kindle a feeling of solidarity in the hearts of all Christians, since we all struggle to properly manage our erotic passions. A homosexual impulse, while sinful, cannot take shape as accountable sin in a person’s life unless one acquiesces to it.

Thus a reasoned denunciation of homosexual behavior and all other attempts at nurturing and justifying homosexual passions is not, and should not be construed as, a denunciation of those victimized by homosexual urges, since the aim is to rescue the true self created in God’s image for a full life.”

Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, 31