Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Andrew Marin Responds

posted by Scot McKnight

Andrew Marin is a friend; Andrew has spent the last decade in pastoral work among gays and lesbians. I asked Andrew how he’d respond to the letter I posted yesterday and here is his response.

Allowing the student to rejoin the worship team, sexually celibate
outside a civil union, is the right thing to do as that is the
Scriptural requirement for all people. Many evangelicals fear that
allowing people with a same-sex attraction to participate in church
activities automatically presumes they condone a pro-gay theology. That
fear must be deconstructed.

As explained in the original email, the student is currently following
a traditional interpretation of Scripture in regards to sexual
behavior. Although the student believes gay civil unions are accepted
by God, that neither speaks for the belief of the worship team nor does
it disqualify the student’s current celibacy–or the consented agreement
that if the student becomes sexual active, they cannot be involved in
the group anymore.


If the student does enter into a sexually active civil union, that does not make them bad/wrong and the leader good/right; the traditional end-result. We must understand that the student would be acting within the boundaries of his belief system, just as the leader in theirs. In order to build a bridge, at some point all of us must work within the metric the other “side” gives us–while still holding true to what we believe. That includes progressive working within conservative understandings (as the student is currently doing), and equally, conservative working within progressive understandings (including the student continuing in the group). The key to this continuance is the broader group’s involvement in recognizing their traditional Scriptural beliefs about gay sexual behavior–regardless of the political and Scriptural challenges that always arise out of legalized gay civil unions.

Even with a continued participation, such a scenario doesn’t mean the leader is affirming a pro-gay theology. It rather gives feet and hands to Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 9:19-23. Though in this case the student is already a professing believer, which is why this matter with sexually active gay Christians is always so difficult for many evangelicals.

It has however become my habit of always erring on the side of giving an abundance of grace and unconditional love, even when the other person isn’t going down the “ideal” path that lines up with what I believe. I am a firm proponent of what it means to live in that tension of disagreement. From my experience, trying to easily and individually handle these situations does more harm than good to the broader group. I have found that organized, peaceful discussions within a framework of pre-outlined boundaries lead the group to less polarization and more engagement. This type of group involvement is not a ‘larger group vs. gay student’ situation. It is rather a transparent way to work through these tensions together. God doesn’t work only when we know the outcome, and far be it for us to find any way out of the things that challenge the way we walk out our faith. As Dave Gibbons says, the biblical understanding of our neighbor is actually the person most unlike us.
 
But at the end of the day if the leader decides that the student has to leave the group, that doesn’t make the leader a “non-bridge builder.” The leader would just be holding true to the original agreement. I am not asking people to do things that they are not Scripturally comfortable with. I’m rather trying to face the traditional reactionary understandings and move them in a more productive and peaceful direction. Doing so gives room on both sides for each to believe as they may (in opposition to one side only being content when the other believes exactly as they do), while also being able to understand those differences and yet still have significant things happen for the Kingdom.



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Mike M

posted April 2, 2009 at 1:47 am


For all you JC bloggers: what is a sexual sin? And why does it matter to you?



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Percival

posted April 2, 2009 at 5:38 am


Here’s an argument. Sexual sin is entirely a personal matter. If consenting adults or animals or any mixture of the two or three or four etc. want to do any particular act, who are we to tell them no? Sexuality has nothing to do with the nature of God or of hu(wo)man kind or God’s covenant with us. We know that now – religion should be all about love as each individual feels it. The ancient religious authorities didn’t understand any of this when they wrote (under the expiration the the spirit) their rather draconian prohibitions of different expressions of human love.
There! Now I doubt that anyone posting a pro-homosexuality response has any basis for saying I am wrong about this. People seem to have gone well beyond the so-called slippery slope to arguing on the basis of personal and cultural relativism. I have seen some attempts here to divert attention to McDonalds, jewelry, or uptight fundamentalist/evangelicals. None of that relates to the issue of sexuality as it relates to God’s holy covenants. I believe that is where we should be looking. Let’s not make the issue about what parts of the OT or Paul’s epistles can now be ignored, or which sins are worse, or who gets to sing in the choir (a church discipline issue). These side issues cannot be addressed unless you agree on the holy covenantal God whom we say we worship and obey.



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Karen Brown

posted April 2, 2009 at 6:26 am


The ones writing a ‘pro homsexuality’ response (or a lawyer, or anyone who took even an undergrad course in simple business or constitutional law, or, well, 10th grade Civics) MIGHT include that.. ANIMALS, as you just had to throw in there, are not legally capable of consent. Therefore, they can not be ‘consenting’.
Well, at least you didn’t put children and inanimate objects in the mix.



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Olivia

posted April 2, 2009 at 7:27 am


Relationship is not only about sexual behaviour. If this young man is in an emotional relationship with another man, then it is rather spurious i fear to claim that he adheres to traditional, thus biblical interpretation of scripture. In other words, anything goes so long as they do not actually have sex. Jesus spoke about the heart, sin begins in the heart. Engaging in a relationship is quite different from struggling with a sin.
However, the point of all this i believe should be where that particular church stands on the matter, not the young man’s belief system. Every body has their own belief system. One person told me that incest was perfectly acceptable, between two consenting individuals. That is her belief system, but were they to continue holding on to that belief system after becoming a christian, i will love them no less but will not let them to occupy any position of influence and leadership in the church because it runs counter to biblical truth.
i fear this culture of appeasement in violation of truth is the reason the church is in decline in the West and it will continue.



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Karen Brown

posted April 2, 2009 at 8:21 am


Well, that is a question to ask.
Does the Bible specifically prohibit being in love with someone of the same gender, if the two never (and never intend) do anything sexually, assuming that neither one is not in a relationship with anyone else?



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Percival

posted April 2, 2009 at 8:31 am


Karen (#3)
Animals are not legally capable of consent but I didn’t think “legal consent” was the issue. It is a matter of willingness or being forced to do something. Animals often willingly engage in homosexual behavior. But is there a moral (not legal) argument to be made?
Is there some other word other than “pro-homosexual” that I should use? None of the other shorthand labels that I thought of seemed right either. Please understand that some of us would like a sexual ethic that doesn’t rely on consensus. I am just as concerned that hetrosexuals understand why they shouldn’t have a girlfriend or mistress outside of the marriage. And frankly, I’m wondering how to address polygamy, which is very common here in my Islamic host country. The ethical foundation of proper sexuality should be broad enough to address all these issues. I want answers to Mike’s (#1) question – what is sexual sin and why does it matter to you?



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Percival

posted April 2, 2009 at 8:38 am


Olivia and Karen (#4 &5),
I don’t think the Bible specifically prohibits such romantic feelings. But speaking as one who has had such feelings for others who are not my spouse, I know it would be stupid to spend time alone with those people. But being stupid isn’t specifically prohibited either, for which I am grateful on a daily basis!



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jhimm

posted April 2, 2009 at 9:01 am


so, building a bridge means “you can believe anything you want so long as you act the way our beliefs tell us you should act”?
yikes.



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tscott

posted April 2, 2009 at 9:01 am


Since my belief has not been stated yesterday
or today, in the spirit of Olivia’s post it
is added. Every gay person should be allowed
to participate as anyone else in a church.
So we are very close Olivia and myself. I agree
not in leadership, but personally shudder at
her comment “any position of influence”. Where
we strongly disagree, is the reason for the churches
decline in the West, and that is really what
prompts my response. Check out any time I
have participated on Jesus Creed and you will see
it is related to this issue of our marginalization.
The appeasement to culture trait has been with the
church throughout history. There are many in the home(house)
church movement who have documented( and lamented) this
issue. Many Christians would be surprised by a cherished
position- Christmas, pulpits, pews, some even believe
pastors-that have come from pagans. But the point
is we have not withstood the cultural shift of the last
150 years.
The shift away from church is unprecedented in church
history, but appeasement to culture is not. Let’s look
elsewhere for ways to “occupy any position of influence”.



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Joey

posted April 2, 2009 at 9:22 am


I’d like to see people engage with the idea that it is OK to live in tension with people who disagree. As Andrew pointed out we really can’t pinpoint a specific sin that the person is currently participating in and therefore have little right to deny him participating in ministry. He has an “idea” or belief that differs, and that he may act on one day but can we or should we hold him accountable for an idea simply because it is different than our own, particularly if he is doing nothing condemned in the Bible?
What of a young man who wishes to be a soldier? He is currently not killing anybody but he plans on taking a course of action that may one day require him to do so? Is he unfit for current ministry of the church? Of course, this is assuming that killing somebody is Biblically unjustified.



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Scott Eaton

posted April 2, 2009 at 9:49 am


Mike M #1,
Sexual sin is any sexual activity outside of the recognized marital relationship of one man and one woman as established by God (i.e. fornication, adultery, homosexuality, beastiality, etc.).
It matters to me because it matters to God.
This does not mean that we cannot extend grace and mercy to those who struggle with sin, sexual or otherwise, as indeed I myself am a great sinner.
But we must also not call good that which God calls evil.



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phil_style

posted April 2, 2009 at 10:00 am


Scott #11, unfortunately your definition of “sexual sin” leave us with the problem of trying to work out what “sexual acitivity” is.
Tscott #9, Arguably it has been the dogged adherence to what many see as ‘irrationaol’ doctrinal positions within the church that has casued it’s decline, not the opposite. We can’t go around saying that ‘people are leaving the church becasue the church isn’t being dogmatic enough about adherence to traditional values’ without backing that statement up by good evidence. I’m not saying the position is wrong, just that we need to be careful when we throw these sweeping statements out there.



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phil_style

posted April 2, 2009 at 10:07 am


BTW, my use of this ‘people are leaving the church becasue the church isn’t being dogmatic enough about adherence to traditional values’ was merely a reconstructive paraphrase. I wasn’t intending to quote verbatim.



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Andrew Marin

posted April 2, 2009 at 10:15 am


jhimm – no, bridge building is not “you can believe anything you want so long as you act the way our beliefs tell us you should act”, and I’m not too sure why you put it in quotation marks because that is not what I said.
There is a huge difference between being your own moral judge and letting Scripture be that moral judge. What I am communicating, and what my belief is, is in a tradtional interpretation of Scripture.
But here is where I think you’re getting my words mixed up in your conclusion:
The motus-operandi of handling homosexuality is to stay true to your conservative theological beliefs, but in that, the only scenario for a continuation in discussion/dialogue/community/whatever is if you are then able to convince the other side that you are right and they are wrong…and unless that happens, nothing of significance can continue on.
Though true bridge building is the ability to still hold on to your (in this case) conservative beliefs and still be able to recgonize the life/theological/experientail differences in the other person, validate those experiences as legitimate to them, as well as yours, and then continue on being intentional about peacefully and productively living life in uncomfortable places of tension that down the line will produce life giving growth. As I said, “God doesn’t work only when you know the outcome” and with homosexuality, that is the only way (for the most part) that we in the evangelical community have worked.
In a letter to white clergy, from jail MLK Jr. said:
“I am not affraid of the word tension. I have earnestly opposed violent tension my whole life, but there is a type of constructive, non-violent tension that produces growth.”
My experience has shown me that we have been running from any place that remotely resembles constructive tension with the gay community for so long that we don’t even know what constructive tension looks like. Well, my belief is what I wrote provides a framework for the beginning stages of that constructive tension.
http://love-is-an-orientation.blogspot.com



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LutheranChik

posted April 2, 2009 at 10:35 am


But we must also not call good that which God calls evil.
My mutually loving, respectful, kenotic relationship with my partner is not evil. You have just slandered me, slandered the person I love most in the world and slandered our life partnership…and, by extension, slandered the integrity of our Christian faith community.



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Geoff

posted April 2, 2009 at 10:39 am


A couple of things I am finding disturbing… which I guess will make me a ‘conservative evangelical’ on this blog site.
1) The acceptance of homosexual practice within the church. I deal with youth all the time who struggle with same sex attraction, when it come to acting on those thought/feelings we are into a new territory that has crossed boundaries. When we blurr our acceptance of the one (SSA) with practicing homosexuality we err. When we allow a platform within our congregations for the advancement of these ideas we err (this young man it would seem at this point does not see an issue with acting on his desires within a civil union, which I can not find supportable within scripture, and by integrating into leadership a person who has a public stand on these issues we are on some levels choosing to advance – in the least by passivity- this belief system).
2)Adrew Marin’s use of the word ‘progressive’ to label the young man’s belief system versus my ‘conservative’ view. By most people’s (including dictionaries) progressive indicates forward thinking, moving towards better, etc. If this truly is Andrew’s position, I will take offense to the inference that I am not ‘progressing’ in my faith, or that this young man’s position is better than mine.
3)I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Jesus Creed, but struggle when it comes to issues like this to want to come to this community for input, understanding and ‘progressing’ my faith, when issues that I can not find a shred of positive evidence (in this case the celebration of homosexuality) in Holy Scripture. To me this seems like weaker version of the catholic stance where sacred scripture is equalled by sacred tradition. Our modern traditions/culture are being taken to the heights of Bible.
Well, so much for the sad rant. Again, I have loved this blog and hope to continue learning here, I just don’t know.



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Brian Z

posted April 2, 2009 at 10:43 am


LutheranCHIC
I think it would be more productive for you to engage with his entire statement and not simply focus on his conclusion. His understanding of Sin (sexual) leads him to that conclusion. Scott is not slandering you, the perspective and understanding that he has of God and scripture is what has hurt you. On one level in order for there to be effective dialog on this topic we have to understand where the other person is coming from and not take this as personal slander from one person to the next.



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ChrisB

posted April 2, 2009 at 10:45 am


Mike M, I’ll second Scott Eaton’s definition.
“why does it matter to you?”
Because the teaching of the NT is that people who are in open rebellion — willfully engaging in what they know to be wrong — cannot be leaders, if they persist after correction should be removed from fellowship, and — by some interpretations, not mine — may even endanger their soul.
We disobey and dishonor God if we ignore something we’ve been instructed to do. We disrespect the brother in question if we do not try to correct his error — especially if his soul is truly in danger.
Some will ask why we don’t do this with more sins. Most sins go by unseen by others. Many sins we are, unfortunately, blind to; we strive to correct that error, but we’re imperfect. But those we do see we have to respond to.
Is that hypocritical? It can be, but if it were impossible for us to do it, we would never have been commanded to do it.
As for Andrew Marin’s post, I agree with his conclusion, but I have problems with how he gets there.
“If the student does enter into a sexually active civil union, that does not make them bad/wrong and the leader good/right”
Um, no.
“We must understand that the student would be acting within the boundaries of his belief system”
Everyone acts within the boundaries of their belief system. Some belief systems are wrong.
I appreciate what he’s trying to say, but I think it can be said without implying that both “belief systems” are on equal moral footing. My apologies if I’ve misunderstood, but that seems to be the general flow of his argument.



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phil_style

posted April 2, 2009 at 10:49 am


Geoff, I wouldn’t see disagreement as a catalyst for leaving (which it seems to me you are suggesting – apologies if I misread your somment). At the moment I think it important to air ideas and try to discuss this issue as delicately but honeslty as possible. that is, I hope, something that can happen here.
Unless contributors start wholesale attacking your character, I think it’s valuable to remain in contact with persons and points of view with which one disagrees.



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Brian Z

posted April 2, 2009 at 10:53 am


Geoff # 16
I think we need to be careful not to get hung up on phrases or catch words like progressive.
As I read Andrew’s words I find them quite accommodating to both sides of this issues. I think if I understand his right, he is trying to find the balance between the integrity of holding to one’s beliefs and finding in roads with those who do not.
And Andrew did says that in the end, if your convictions is not to allow him back on the team he says…then you are holding to your scriptural convictions and that isnt bad.
“But at the end of the day if the leader decides that the student has to leave the group, that doesn’t make the leader a “non-bridge builder.” The leader would just be holding true to the original agreement. I am not asking people to do things that they are not Scripturally comfortable with. I’m rather trying to face the traditional reactionary understandings and move them in a more productive and peaceful direction. Doing so gives room on both sides for each to believe as they may (in opposition to one side only being content when the other believes exactly as they do), while also being able to understand those differences and yet still have significant things happen for the Kingdom.”



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Scott Eaton

posted April 2, 2009 at 11:08 am


LutheranChik #15,
There is no slander intended and if you feel this way I am sorry. But the relationship in which you are engaged is not acceptable to God. This is not slander, this is the truth. If I choose to have a “mutually loving, respectful, kenotic relationship” with another woman besides my wife and someone calls me out for it, they are not slandering me. They are speaking the truth in love. Why? They are acting in alliance with Scripture.
I’m really trying to be respectful here. But like Geoff #16 I am not sure why the church feels a need to capitulate on this issue. Can we do a better job loving all people? Absolutely. But isn’t part of love to call people to repent of that which is not God’s design (sin). Has the church (particularly conservative evangelicalism) been unnecessarily harsh and careless at times? Yes. But should we just accept something that the Scriptures do not accept? No.



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Michael W. Kruse

posted April 2, 2009 at 11:26 am


Andrew #14
“My experience has shown me that we have been running from any place that remotely resembles constructive tension with the gay community for so long that we don’t even know what constructive tension looks like.”
And I’d say running from constructive tension on this issue is just a symptom of a larger problem, namely sorting ourselves into enclaves of like-minded people where we become echo chambers for our own ideas. Bill Bishop in “The Big Sort” illustrates this quite well. Few of us (i.e., liberal, conservative, evangelical, emergent, Mainline, neo-Calvinist, etc.) are interested in finding the intersections of our faith. I see few models of people holding to their personal convictions while seeking relationship with those who differ and allowing them to hold to their convictions.



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David Diller

posted April 2, 2009 at 11:30 am


#21 Scott Eaton
It is most kind to be generous and give one another the benefit of the doubt. I do so beleive you are not intending to be slanderous. I would like to point out that the relationship that LutheranChik is describing is not synonymous with having an extra-relationship with a person besides your spouse.
I think your thoughts are reasonable, however best served (and possibly received) if the analogies between a committed relationship and an extra-marital relationship are kept at bay.
peace.



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Phil

posted April 2, 2009 at 11:32 am


LutheranChik
I agree with Scott as well. Please don’t condemn us for believe that the Scripture teaches something in a way that you do not agree with. I can love you as a person, as a brother or a sister, but I can not support “romance” or relationships in anything other than heterosexual monogamous marriages or marriage to be in the case of “courtship” while abstaining from sex. My aunt years ago struggled with same sex attraction as a pastor in a church that paired women ministers up in teams, this was not only unfair to her, but led to a nervous breakdown.
My wife, who is a high school phys-ed teacher also has to deal with this subject in health and it is usually taught by the school nurse, but taught in a way that is not sensitive to “conservative” students or faculty. She lovingly supports students who live a gay lifestyle, yet feels unsupported or allowed to say that some people feel it is unhealthy to live a lifestyle following that orientation. I have no doubt that some people have same sex attraction or orientation, but that does not equate a moral “goodness” or even “neutrality” to follow that orientation. There is still choice when it comes to behavior. When she asked for studies and evidences from the curriculum for the public health department in regards to lifestyle, so she could teach or respond better in class, based on studies and evidences, rather than opinion, the response from the director is that no studies have been done. That is not acceptable.
Please, do not assume that because we hold a ‘conservative’ or ‘traditional’ view of scripture on the matter that everyone can be, or needs to be ‘healed’ of homosexuality through ‘exodus’ or other ministries. I just believe that it is a sexual behavior, and set of relationships that should not be pursued. I am thankful this is not my struggle, but my struggles are more than enough for me to deal with.
Hopefully this is taken with love, grace and peace,
Phil



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Darren

posted April 2, 2009 at 11:39 am


Andrew, your approach is so refreshing, and I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusion.
I fear to say anything else, because frankly, I’m simply tired of having the same old fights about what the Bible says on the matter, and how the conservative interpretation of Scripture is THE RIGHT interpretation. Frankly, when people start harping on that, I simply tune out. Conversation over. This gay Christian has left the building. When your bottom line is “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it,” then there’s no point in dialogue. This person has essentially said to me “I care not one bit to understand where you’re coming from, what your experiences are, and how you got where you are.” And if they don’t care, then I’m not listening.



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Scott Eaton

posted April 2, 2009 at 11:42 am


David Diller #23,
So is a committed, monogamous sexual relationship between an unmarried man and woman acceptable to God?



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MarySue

posted April 2, 2009 at 11:49 am


Phil:
I’m sorry, but I cannot support you and your “romance” with your wife. It’s against God’s will. I won’t try to change you, because I don’t believe in exodus ministries for the sexually active, but you cannot speak about your wife around me because it is not the right thing to do in church.
Oh, wait, sorry, forgot. I’m celibate, and even though Paul says it’s the better part for those who follow Christ, there are weak people who he tells to get married. It’s just how you are. I forgive you. I love you like a brother. I just don’t want to hear about your love, your wife, your life.
Please take this in love, grace, and peace, which means sit down, shut up, and divorce your wife.
(For those who didn’t notice, this is what we in the literary business call an allegory. This is what your words sound like.)



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Scott Eaton

posted April 2, 2009 at 11:58 am


Darren #25,
Then how did you ever become a Chrisian? Didn’t you have to listen to someone say, “This is what the Bible says, now embrace it.”?
Besides, I thought that is what this was – a dialogue. But I get the feeling that dialogue these days means more than a discussion and is instead acceptance. And for those of us who hold a conservative view it means leaving our view at the door and letting everyone else talk.



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ggc

posted April 2, 2009 at 12:00 pm


This may sound off topic, but bear with me: I think discussions like this are made all the more difficult because we have an incomplete view of marriage itself.
I?ve been helped recently by John Piper?s new book, This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence (available free as a download on his website, btw!). It?s a haunting title, and a sobering read.
Here he makes the argument that marriage is God?s doing and that its ultimate purpose is to bring glory to Himself ? and this is the point — by putting on display His covenant-keeping character. Our marriages demonstrate something, albeit imperfectly and impermanently, about Christ?s relationship to the Church, which is perfect and permanent.
Not surprisingly, Piper?s analysis reveals a Biblical model of marriage that is far more complex and layered with meaning than the typical ?cultural conservative? arguments, and, in my opinion, is a far more compelling starting point for discussions about homosexuality, civil unions, gay marriage, etc.
In other words, if we get the foundational principles right (i.e., a robust understanding of the nature and purpose of marriage), our navigation through tough issues like the one at hand may be clearer. Maybe not easy, but clearer.



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Phil

posted April 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm


Mary Sue,
Point-taken. I do agree that Paul promotes celibacy and singleness over relationships, but he does say “But if you marry, you do not sin,”. I’ve read the apologetics from both points of the aisle on this one, and I don’t believe that it is permissible to have any type of same-sex union leading to sexual expression. If same sex union is not permissible, then why court or date or romance, whatever you want to call it, I think that it sets someone up for unnecessary temptation. However, I do empathize with the need for companionship. I realize that this is a painfully, difficult circumstance for people.
Do I expect LutheranChik or anyone else to divorce or separate from their spouse because of what I say or think? No. However, I do believe that I have the footing to say that I disagree with their understanding of scripture to support their choices, and I don’t need to be considered a zealot because I do. I am more than willing to dialogue with people without resorting to straw-men.
A sinner,
Phil



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Brian Z

posted April 2, 2009 at 12:18 pm


Phil I commend you for responding in humility to the “analogy”.



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Phil

posted April 2, 2009 at 12:31 pm


Brian Z
I think the term was “allegory”, not “analogy”, and thank you for your response as well. I must get back to Easter prep.
Phil



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Brian Z

posted April 2, 2009 at 12:40 pm


yep…mistype…typing faster then thinking



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Michael W. Kruse

posted April 2, 2009 at 12:57 pm


#25 Darren
“This person has essentially said to me “I care not one bit to understand where you’re coming from, what your experiences are, and how you got where you are.””
The question I have is this: Is it possible for a reasonable person to hear where you’re coming from, your experiences, and how you got where you are, and still come to different conclusions? In other words, is “hearing where I’m coming from” equivalent to “affirming my conclusions are correct?” In my experience, this too often is the case.
Some folks say “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” Other folks say “I experienced it, I believe it, and that settles it.” Both become rationalizations for retiring to our respective echo-chamber communities.



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Josh C.

posted April 2, 2009 at 1:03 pm


I have to say that much of this is not a very intelligent conversation. We need to get some facts straigtht.
The Genesis narrative puts forth God’s intention for humanity: a man and woman to procreate and bring forth new human beings in a wondrous creation. As Paul explains in Romans, humanity has corrupted these good desires. The OT and NT explicitly forbid sexual acts between men and men & women and women. It has always been that way; it is a historical fact.
However, the Christian faith does not forbid a man loving a man or a woman loving a woman. In fact, it commands it.
TO review: what does the Christian faith prohibit? A man having anal or oral sex with another man; a woman having oral sex (or anything creative) with a woman. These acts are done for sexual pleasure; there is no other purpose for them. Some might say they are a way of expressing “love.” This is not the def. of love in the Christian tradition or loving our neighbor might get us into some trouble.
As to the post, I think the author is right to allow those who struggle with the temptation to indulge in sexual pleasure with people of the same sex. We allow everyone else who struggles with various kinds of sexual temptations to fellowship. Thank God! The only problem is when we overlook or fail to call people out of these behaviors. And quite frankly, this happens all the time with heterosexual relationships that need to stop.



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MattR

posted April 2, 2009 at 1:10 pm


Here’s the sad thing to me…
I’ve just tried to read through as many of the comments as I could here and, not all, but most, had nothing to do with Andrew’s response to the letter.
This is often why these conversations stall… we each come in with our opinions, and some even think they speak the sole opinion of Scripture, but never really deal with the issue at hand; human lives and a church and worship team deeply affected by this.
Andrew, loved your response. I feel it is a model for the type of thoughtful, pastoral engagement we need. Recognizing both sides, how our particular tradition and church engages Scripture, but also aware that all of this involves real people whom God loves (no matter where they are theologically)!



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Scott Eaton

posted April 2, 2009 at 1:11 pm


Darren #25,
Michael Kruse #34 just said what I wanted to say, but much better.



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Josh C.

posted April 2, 2009 at 1:15 pm


Whoa! I am glad I reread that one. The first line of the last par. should end with “to fellowship in the church”



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Geoff

posted April 2, 2009 at 1:23 pm


#35 Josh C:
The issue is not about fellowship but rather leadership. If you do not feel that standing in front of the congregation in some formal capacity is leaderhip but fellowship this point will be mute. If I had a youth group and it had a youth led worship team and this situation was happening, I am certain that the peer orientation of our culture dictates that this youth is a leader. And in this scenario, I cannot have them leading. Why would this change for adults?
Do i kick them out of the church? No, absolutely not! Do I reign in their ability to speak or lead with authority? Yes.



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Darren

posted April 2, 2009 at 1:29 pm


Michael and Scott,
No, understanding where I’m coming from does not mean agreeing or affirming my position. That being said, DO you understand where I’m coming from?



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Your Name

posted April 2, 2009 at 1:36 pm


Scott,
I became a Christian through hearing the Bible (being brought up Christian), and then clinging to it b/c I found its precepts to be true as I did “taste and see” that God was indeed good.
May I ask you why it’s so important for you to be right? What if you actually turn people away from your words by your posture? Why then do you feel so inclined to maintain that posture? Is your ego that big or your esteem that small that you absolutely HAVE to be right in your interpretation of Scripture on this issue?



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Josh C.

posted April 2, 2009 at 1:49 pm


@Geoff,
Yeah, I didn’t pay enough attention to the part about the student believing that civil unions were alright in the site of God. I agree. I would not allow this person back in because the person is saying that sex between the same sexes is somehow legitamized by a blessing by the state (i.e. civil union). This is where I think the post gets inconsistent. The person holds to the “traditional view” of scripture but then supports same sex unions. Why does a person want a same sex union? Because they are good friends? No.
His use of 1 Cor. 9:19-23 is skewed as well. Paul is referring to dropping his Jewish sensibilities in order to communicate what really mattered, namely the Good News. Although Paul may have given up on food regulations, he did not do the same with sexual regualations. I think Marin has a point here but so does Geoff on the fact that this person is serving in a leadership position.



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Rebeccat

posted April 2, 2009 at 1:54 pm


I have struggled with this issue. I can come to a beautiful philosophical conclusion regarding the purposes and expressions of human sexuality in God’s design and the reflection of God’s relationship with us which is inherent in that which I think is true and is incompatible with homosexual relationships. However, the reality on the ground is that there are real people who will wind up carrying the short end of the stick if I apply my philosophical conclusions to their lives. Which means that something is off here. So I prayed and asked God if perhaps I was being stubborn and holding onto ideas which weren’t actually part of his plans. I hate to be one of those people who is always coming around claiming, “the Lord gave me a word for y’all . . .” However, the thing which I found when I prayed was actually a word: trust. Can the person who is struggling with same sex attraction trust that if they obey God’s word, God will support and bless them through that? Can they trust God with this part of their life- even when it is counter-intuitive and painful to do so? If putting God at the center of their identity meant relinquishing the part of their identity which is wrapped up in their sexuality, could they do that and trust God with the outcome? Really, these are questions we ALL need to be asking ourselves about everything in our lives. They are not particular to the person experiencing same sex attraction. And part of our problem as a church is that we’ve abandoned the biblical idea of life long celibacy as part of a life dedicated to God for believers. We only want to resurrect it when it comes to the issue of homosexuality, which is ridiculous and wrong. And it means that we are unable to properly support those, straight and not, who are called to this vocation with the love, companionship and support one would need to answer that call.
Of course, on the ground there are people in same sex relationships for whom entering into celibacy is not realistic. I agree that living and loving with tension which allows both someone who holds my beliefs and someone who does not to respect each other is probably the best we can do in this imperfect world. Regardless of what opinion one holds on the matter, we all need to be able to trust God to deal with the other person. Sometimes we have been given a prophetic call to admonish someone in their sin. However, far more often we need to love each other and allow God his rightfully role in dealing with our errors and struggles.
The other issue which I think needs to be considered is the matter of identity. One of the things which has long been a huge red flag for me in this conversation is that often times those on the other side of the divide will insist that my opinion in some ways makes them a less worthy human being or invalidates them as a fully human being or some such language. Simply hearing my ideas, it is often said, causes deep hurt which goes to the core of the person. Honestly, I think that if this is really the case, then that is indicative of something which is out of line with how God would have us conceive of ourselves. Our identity is in Christ. If anything someone says or any set of ideas feels like a threat to our identity, value or sense of personhood, that is a strong indicator that we are taking our identity from something other than Christ (and again, this is 100% true of all of us – not in the least unique to homosexuals). I don’t think anyone here would say that a person who is homosexual is less of a human being or less valued as a human being which is why it is always startling to me that people will insist that traditional views of sexuality lead to such a view. Anyhow, those are my semi-coherent thoughts on the matter.



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Scott Eaton

posted April 2, 2009 at 3:34 pm


Your Name #41,
Could you please acutally use your name? It’s very easy to hide behind anonymity (perhaps it was an oversight).
You said, “May I ask you why it’s so important for you to be right? What if you actually turn people away from your words by your posture? Why then do you feel so inclined to maintain that posture? Is your ego that big or your esteem that small that you absolutely HAVE to be right in your interpretation of Scripture on this issue?”
Sure, you may ask.
I don’t have to be right. But I do want be in alliance with the Scripture. If I am not in alliance with the Scripture then I want to change my position. It’s that simple. If I could be shown from Scripture why my position (conservative evangelical) is wrong I would be happy to change. I only care about faithfulness to God.
Look, I have tried (this will sound strange to some) to change my position. I have desperately wanted to just let this go and accept those in this lifestyle as just another expression of the diversity in creation. My gay friends are important to me. I love them. They are some of the most wonderful people I know. But my allegiance must be to God first.
If my words turn some away, so be it. Jesus turned away the rich young ruler. The Pharisees weren’t too happy either. And in John 6 alot of people left him because of his hard teaching. Jesus didn’t seem to worry about it that much.
I do have a big ego. But it has nothing to do with being right about this. I maintain my posture as a conviction after study, deliberation, and prayer. I only responded to Mike M #1 because he asked a question and I thought I could provide an answer from my perspective. Some have rightly noted that we are off topic a bit. Sorry for that. But that was all I was doing.
However, it seems to me that those on the other side of the aisle on this issue appeal to their feelings to arrive at the truth (a general statement I acknowledge). If I went with my feelings I would agree with LutheranChik and others with her view and experience. But I cannot allow my feelings to dictate what is true. This has disastrous consequences.
I hope this makes sense. Honestly, I am trying to be gracious in my comments.



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Barb

posted April 2, 2009 at 3:37 pm


Rebeccat@43–that was not in-coherent in anyway–thanks for your very clear thoughts. I have come to basically the same place–you say it much better.
Josh C.@35–thanks for the clear statement that love does not equal sex. I believe, from my reading of the whole bible, that wanting to have sex whenever and with whomever WE choose, rather than according to God’s designed way, has been one of mankind’s chief sins since the beginning.



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Scott Eaton

posted April 2, 2009 at 3:41 pm


Darren #40,
I think I understand your position. And I would actually love to sit down with you and have a face to face discussion as brothers in Christ if that were possible. We might have to agree to disagree, but I’d want to maintain the fellowship and dialogue.
Andrew Marin,
I liked your letter to Scot. I would quibble in some places here and there, but I agree with erring on the side of grace. Generally I believe you have provided wise counsel.



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Eliza

posted April 2, 2009 at 4:07 pm


Your claim that you have tried to shed your objections but cannot does not seem strange to me at all because I have done the same. I have tried to find a way to shift my position for a variety of reasons: I don’t want to alienate any of my friends, I don’t enjoy being categorized with people who do enjoy persecuting others or who speak without studying an issue for themselves, and I don’t enjoy being reviled in much of the popular media or the rest of the secular world as a philistine and a bigot. Yes, homosexuals have had to endure egregious disrespect and blind hatred that is antithetical to the attitudes that the Bible teaches, and, sadly, the church has often looked the other way. Now, however, some-certainly not all- of the formerly persecuted and their advocates have become persecutors themselves of people who are more than willing to hire, befriend, and love and share a pew with them but cannot conscienciously take the next step and agree that homosexual sex is not a sin. Those who believe that it is easy for everyone who supports orthodoxy on this point to take this position are truly mistaken.



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Mike M

posted April 3, 2009 at 12:06 am


At least Percival (#2) and Scott (#11) have tried to define what is an essential issue here. If I can summarize it is along these lines: What constitutes “sin?” How do YOU choose what makes a “sin?” (yes, choice, because many of the bloggers pick and choose verses of the bible to defend their cherished beliefs). How then, do you define a “sinner,” and beyond that, if someone else decides to live “in sin” according to your definitions, what do you do (IF you feel you have to do something about it).
I do think, however, that the first part of Scott’s answer is unbiblical (“Sexual sin is any sexual activity outside of the recognized marital relationship of one man and one woman as established by God”) since the biblical prototype of a sexual relationship is polygamy. Even the Pharisees of Paul’s time practiced polygamy. I do find a biblical basis in Scott’s second assertion that fornication, adultery, homosexuality, beastiality, etc. are biblical sins but there is A LOT of give here as others have mentioned. In fact, sex between a father and daughter is NOT prohibited in the bible while ‘adultery’ is actually defined as sex between a man (or woman) with a married woman. This is based on the ancient Canaanite property laws.
And again, what is “fornication?” Sex with 2 people (obviously not if we use Judah as a role model)? 15? 30? I contend that Paul meant something akin to what we would call today sexual addiction. Or, as said before, Paul was 2000 years ahead of his times.



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Eliza

posted April 3, 2009 at 10:26 am


I am one of those who is guilty of citing Bible verses to explain my perspective, not only about the issue at hand, but also about all of the issues with which Christians must contend. Really, how else could one explain the reason for her views without them? If one finds no biblical basis to question an aspect of human behavior, why question the behavior at all? Of course, respondents are perfectly correct when they warn against isolating verses without consulting the whole Bible and putting those verses in context. Some of us,however, after doing so, still perceive an inconsistency with a multitude of behaviors, of which homosexual sex is one, and the Bible’s instructions. How else would you propose that both sides have dialogue if you leave verses pertaining to the issue at hand either off-limits or categorically deem them evidence of scriptural cherry-picking? As for the lack of an injunction regarding sex between a father and daughter, Leviticus 18:6 prohibits sex with anyone who is close kin, and this would certainly cover parents and children.



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Josh C.

posted April 3, 2009 at 11:01 am


@Mike M
“the biblical prototype is polygamy” huh?
Sexual ethics in scripture are not based solely upon prohibitions but upon the creation narrative. God creates man and woman; they are to fill a wondrous creation with offspring; a man and woman are to leave their families and become one unit. It is one man with one woman in a relationship that goes far beyond just sex (Paul notes in 1 Cor. that men should not engage in sex with the temple prostitutes in Corinth because sex is more than just intercourse; it is something sacred that affects people spiritually whether they want it to or not; i.e. it is not like animal sex).
All the prohibitions in scripture flow from this narrative. On the other hand, the Bible contains polygamy but does not promote it. In fact, the first person to do so is a descendant of Cain. I can’t see that as scriptural promotion. Some might point to David’s polygamy. However, I don’t read anywhere God blessing such actions. In fact, David’s sexual appetite gets him in a lot of trouble. Not only with Bathsheba and Uriah but also in the fact that his family life is terrible (brother rapes a sister) and his sons end up fighting over who will inherit the throne.
Mike you would do well to read some of Charles Kraft’s work.



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Darren

posted April 4, 2009 at 1:03 pm


Scott,
I recognize and resepect your desire to be in alliance with Scripture. That being said, do YOU permit women to speak in church?



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Doug Allen

posted April 4, 2009 at 11:04 pm


Thank you Scott M “A Letter” post # 4 for sharing this-
http://www.cor.org/worship-sermons/sermons/show/sermons/When-Dealing-with-Sinners-Anti-Homosexual-Judgemental/
You see, I was out of town for a week and am just now catching up with the Jesus Creed blog. I read all the posts to Scot’s original April 1 “A Letter” blog and have read all the posts to the “Andrew Marin Responds” blog. The posts made me feel uneasy, sad, alienated. I was responding with my usual defense (this is said to myself and sometimes here), “I’m a follower of Jesus, but not a Christian.” And then I witnessed one of the most beautiful sermons by a Rev. Adam Hamilton in KC. I wish everyone had watched this sermon before responding. Thanks again Scott M
Doug



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Dan S.

posted April 21, 2009 at 5:34 am


Whatever your position is on gay marriage, we should at least agree that it’s not easy being gay. Verbal harassment, taunting, bullying and even physical violence are intense realities for many gays and lesbians, resulting in disproportionately high rates of depression and suicide. As an evangelical Christian, I believe my religious tradition needs to repent for the way we have often demonized the GLBT community.
I have personally witnessed and read far too many stories of those who have rejected Christianity primarily because of the derision and animosity emanating from those who purport to follow Christ. Until homophobia is clearly and consistently rejected, it will undermine the case for traditional marriage.



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ggough56

posted June 10, 2009 at 5:42 pm


There are many rather complicated exchanges passing through these comments. Some people say one thing and other respond to the other. Listening (maybe reading in this case) is an important skill to learn when understanding. If life lived in a certain fashion (gay, straight or otherwise) is not “best”, how is that evidenced?
I echo the words in comment #25 Darren simply because it communicates something other than dogma, theology and church policies. Whether or not your dogma, theology or church policies accept or reject gay or straight, it’s important to understand that you can’t stop there. You can’t stop at the letter of the law. That is anything you call law, based in a book, yourself or others.
I believe that Jesus was more interested in stirring our hearts that in pointing out our short comings. In fact, it could be that we miss an opportunity to stir a heart when we spend time pointing out shortcomings. It’s not Christ’s demonstration on the cross that would offend any part of my sinful nature, it’s how He made it available to me. It was not through pointing out my shortcomings, but it was coming to be with me, to walk with me, talk with me and live life with me.
Gay, straight, celibate, partnered, married, bisexual, conflicted or otherwise, what is your evidence that others want to be with you? Are you charging them with this task? Are you charging those who follow Christ to evidence Him to you? Don’t settle for getting angry when they show more interest in pointing out things. We all know what the law is capable of. Stay — and challenge them and yourself — differently.
Like I sometimes say to my good friends, “Do something different!”
Greg



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David Corbet

posted September 20, 2010 at 9:01 am


I grew up in a Baptist church, but sexuality was never discussed. I’m no longer a Christian and I am straight (who cares). Anyway,I see the Christian church split on this social issue: Mainline protestants don’t care. Conservartives seem threatened by gays. Are they worried they might be recruited?



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