Christians and Homosexuals: Love’m or Hate’m?

https://tryingtofollow.com/wp-content/linkedimages/upload//photos-ak-snc1/v373/133/18/63914286/n63914286_35019757_7844.jpgI attended a rally downtown speaking out against Prop 8 that passed in California on Nov. 4th. I carried a sign that said “I’m a Christian Against Christians Hating and Oppressing Others.” It has been my experience, that regardless of the motivation or intent of Christians who take strong stances against same-sex marriage, the perception (and I’m afraid it is often an accurate one) is that Christians hate and want to oppress people who practice homosexuality. And so I went, if only to let those at the event know, that not all Christians feel that way. I was glad to be there.

In dialogging with others about the event, I fleshed out some thoughts that I thought I’d share here. I already posted my views on prop 8 and other same-sex marriage bans here. These are additional thoughts, I’d like to hear your thoughts as well regarding this issue and topic.

Regarding why I protested a bill that was voted in by a state majority:

As you well know, just because the majority of people believe something, doesn’t make it right.
And while I agree it might be a decent way to choose nation’s leaders, I don’t believe Christians voting against allowing a secular government to grant legal rights to committed same-sex couples is an appropriate Christian response.
Voting means the …  Read Moremajority of the people who voted agree or disagree with what’s voted on, it is not necessarily a moral compass. I encourage you to stand up as a voice in opposition to injustices when you see them. I encourage you to come along side people who have been oppressed and hated (and this in the name of Christ) and show the what true Christ-like sacrificial love looks like.

Regarding whether I think Christians who voted for Prop 8 are hateful and oppressive:

I believe there are Christians that with no hate or ill intent voted against same-sex marriage, I’m not out to judge the motives of those individuals.
Rather, I’d challenge you to ask every homosexual person you know, who will answer you honestly, if they have ever felt themselves at the receiving end of hate from Christians. I have yet to meet a person who does not have multiple stories that one can only describe as hatred (but don’t take my word for it, ask individuals yourself).
As to the oppression, I think my answer would be similar to above.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

15 thoughts on “Christians and Homosexuals: Love’m or Hate’m?”

  1. I held a sign that said, “why make love and committment illegal?” I think that we as Christians need to re-evaluate our messages (especially since we have a higher divorce rate in the church than at large) and focus on the log in our own eye as it pertains to marriage. Thanks for your thoughts…

  2. Well I haven’t yet held a sign, but I did vote no on prop 8. I agree that we as Christians need to move beyond expecting our country to enforce our beliefs, agendas or morals. I’m saddened by the response I’ve seen from so many and my hope is that we can move beyond this soon.

  3. Good for you. Before Christ, there was only the law. With Christ, there is the Spirit.

    Those who are looking to dictate spirituality by state and federal laws, whether Roe v Wade or Proposition 8, seem to be missing the point. I do not need to judge others behaviors. I certainly don’t need to legislate it. I simply want to do my best to invite others into a relationship with Christ.

  4. Despite popular belief, there is nothing inherently Christian about marriage. It has been a part of civil societies for as long as we know.

    The famous theologian Karl Barth (father of neo-orthodoxy) believed that the church should get out of the marriage business all together.

    I also agree with Mindy, the church has made a mockery of marriage long before homosexuals wanted to be involved with it.

  5. The Bible indicates that ALL humans are born with sinful propensities. That should come as no surprise. And ironically, one of our sinful propensities is the tendency to pick our favorite target-sins to rail against, while trying to protect others.

    But equally clearly we cannot simply concede to a community norm that legitimizes each and every sinful behavior. So the question comes down to finding scriptural wisdom as to how to apply ‘Love thy neighbor’… vs. ‘Indulge thy neighbor’s sinful behavior’.

    Passing ANY legislation is an infliction (if you will) of a set of societal norms upon the minority viewpoint, whether you’re talking about speed limits or the tax code.

    What type of society are we hoping to build for our children and grand-children? Legislate that. Godly principles? Or what?

  6. Turri and the rest of the board,

    While there may be nothing inherently “Christian” about a man and woman joining together, there is something inherently religious about that across all civil societies. It is important to remember that secular states are very new to the world (the last 100 years). The history of all societies is cemented in a mixture of the political and religious. Civil societies from the Amazon jungles, to Rome, and ancient China all had religious concepts guiding their interpersonal and social relationships.

    However, while unions between men and women (or men and men/ women and women/ men and many women) in general are likely only religious, the concept of “marriage” or “matrimony” in Western society is inherently Christian. Our entire concept of marriage in the West comes out of the Judeo-Christian tradition and is founded upon the Catholic interpretation of male/female relationships. “Marriage” as a word in our language and culture cannot be removed from its Christian history. To try to do call other relationships “marriage” is to vacate the word of its actual meaning. While this may seem like semantics, I think it is an issue of importance.

    Karl Barth, who you quoted, did not so much want the church out of the marriage business as much as he wanted the church out of the civil union business. To Barth, marriage was not a legal contract, but spiritual union. Marriage is thus, a God ordained institution into which one man and one woman become on flesh. I think Barth would say, let the government do what it wants, “marriage” only happens in the Church.

    A good and brief summary on Barth and marriage can be found at http://www.campuscrosswalk.org/2006-spring-14.html

    As for the idea that the church long made a mockery of before homosexuals wanted to get involved, that is simply untrue. While I would not want to downplay the tragedy of divorces and broken marriages within the church, it is important to recognize that historically homosexuals have pursued unions as far back as ancient Rome. This was quite some time before the birth of Jesus and pre-dates the Church. Men and Women have made a mockery of the institution of marriage for quite some time. It seems to be a world wide issue in every religion and in every style of union across every culture. Spouses treat each other badly whether they are Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or Christian. We must point a finger at everyone for that problem. We are all guilty.

  7. Gustave,

    Thank you for your wise and thoughtful post. I do appreciate your knowledge and insight. You and Karl Barth are right–marriage needs to be thought of the same way monastics speak of their vows. Marriage is absolutely a spiritual union, an institution we give ourselves to that is much, much bigger than us.

    This is a difficult issue, and one that requires thoughtful, sensitvie reflection. I personally believe, as you pointed out, that we do need distinguish between the two parts of marriage: spiritual and civil. It seems to me that most people in the church won’t argue against a homosexuals right to have a civil union. If we can all agree on this, then we as followers of Jesus should also agree that the civil side of marriage is secondary, if not insignificant, compared to the spiritual side. Being recongnized by the state as man and wife shouldn’t matter to us because, as we established, marriage is first a spirtual practice.

    Here is an interesting thought. In the gospels Jesus never says a word about homosexual marriage, he does however have a bit to say about divorce. Hmmm…

    As far as I’m concerned Homosexuals have every right to a legal civil union. If they can then find a church who will sanctify that marriage fine, it is of no business of mine–this does not hurt me or anyone else. As another of my favorite writers says:

    “grace always trumps judgment.”

  8. “Here is an interesting thought. In the gospels Jesus never says a word about homosexual marriage, he does however have a bit to say about divorce. Hmmm…”

    I understand you point and it is well taken. However, it is important to understand two important things on Jesus and his silence on issues. While some issues Jesus is silent on revolve around technological advances, most involve Jewish law and the Near Eastern/Jewish world view.

    Jesus’ silence on homosexual marriage is not any reflection on his thoughts on the matter. There are two important issues to look at on this point.

    1. Jesus was a Jewish religious teacher, also known as a rabbi. He was respected by his contemporaries as being a wise and faithful upholder of the Law and Mosaic tradition. Many issues that Jesus did not speak out on are heavily referenced in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, books detailing Mosaic law. Homosexual relationships are clearly and forcefully repudiated in the Judaic tradition and law. Jesus as a rabbi would not necessarily speak on the issue, but would most certainly hold to the Law. We have to remember that Jesus never repudiated the Law nor said that it was invalid.

    While Jesus red lettered words in the Gospels may be somewhat silent on this and other issues, the canon of the Old Testament (particularly the Pentateuch) and the New Testament (particularly Acts and the Pauline Epistles) are remarkably clear on the issue. Jesus most certainly ascribed to the former and if we are to consider the Bible God’s Word, then the latter also holds.

    2. A second important thing to consider is the Judaic worldview. Like Islam, Judaism has no division between the church and the state. Religious courts guide civil and legal decisions. This can be clearly seen in Jesus’ own trial with the Sanhedrin and also in Islamic tradition as well with their religious courts. To speak of “homosexual marriage” in both those contexts would be an oxymoron and a nonsensical. Both cultures and worldviews ascribed to legal and religious systems that were not only fully intertwined but also systems condemned homosexual relationships.

    I think it is always important to remember that Jesus surrounded himself with the marginalized. He sided with the powerless and the oppressed. He stood side by side with “sinners”. However, it cannot be understated that he consistently and loudly called all those who followed him to repentance. Those who were unable or unwilling did not follow him. While we must never forget that Jesus’ example to us is one of love and mercy, the church must call others to repentance. Jesus did not let the unrepentant follow him. He let the unworthy, the humble, and the broken follow him, but he was never aligned with those who thought nothing was wrong with them.

  9. While I agree with some of your ideas Gustauve, I have to admit I am not convinced that Jesus would’ve taken certain stances for granted. I am not sure that you can really validly claim to know that his silence should’nt be taken as important. I see Him speak to many things, for example, that He wanted to clarify that were already spoken about in the Torah.

    Secondly, I think although the Pauline writings do mention homosexuality Paul states that, “furthermore G-d gave them over to thier greed, malice..etc.” Until the church attempts to outlaw or make social constructs for the greedy, I think you’d have to have a pretty convincing argument for me to go with you on this one. I see a ton of greed in the church of the U.S. and this is a “lifestyle” sin that people need to repent of…yet we don’t try to pass legislation against it.

    And isn’t it beautiful that that same passage (in Romans) includes the phrase, “and did you forget that it was G-d’s KINDNESS which lead you to repentance…” when it is speaking of our human tendency to judge one another. You have to really read the whole passage to get this context. I’d be interested on your thoughts on this.

  10. I understand what you are saying regarding the Church legislating on the issue of homosexuality, but not on others. However, I think I have made it clear that I think the marriage business is a church issue, and the state should stick to legal contracts and unions. While I believe the Church should be possessive of the term marriage, as it is a historical, cultural and ultimately spiritual institution intimately linked with the Christian Church, the secular state is free to proceed however the majority wishes to vote (since majority vote is the way we decide things in this country). I have no doubt that sooner rather than later, the majority of Americans will vote in favor of homosexual “marriages”.

    I think your very comment regarding Jesus spoke out on issues to clarify the Law is an illustration that if Jesus said nothing on the matter, he was firmly grounded in the Torah. A Jewish rabbi in the in the time of Jesus would not have said anything on the subject. There was nothing to say. The Torah was clearly interpreted on most matters, including some as fine as the mixture of fabrics one wore. The Torah is also unwaveringly clear on this particular issue Jesus, as a rabbi, consistently upheld Judaic law. To make any observation on Jesus’ silence, for or against anything, is difficult at best. My point was simply that I believe we can rightly assume that Jesus held views on issues he did not speak on consistently with the Torah.

    What I think you find in the Pauline Epistles, the rest of the New Testament, and the entirety of the Old Testament, is that homosexuality is a sin. It is no worse or better than any other. To make the issue of greed rampant in the church is a good point, but I do not think that it takes away from the notion that homosexuality is wrong. I sometimes feel that people will point to other sins in the church when the issue of homosexuality comes up. That is fine to do. We all just have to admit that all sins are wrong.

  11. I am not sure how polyester would be interpreted as it did not exist at the time. Your playful comment is a good point.

    I feel like Acts opens up and reinteprets Judaic concepts such as clean and unclean and other strict Judaic practices. I did not delve into this in my posts, though I think that both Acts and the Epistles do so at length.

    However, at no point does the NT, reintepret concpets of what is and is not sin. The NT does talk to us as not being under law anymore, but under grace.

    The fact of the matter though, is that I agree with what has been said. I do not think the Church should be lobbying for the passage of Prop 8. I do wish the State would give us the word marriage back, but that is not likely going to happen.

  12. Gustave, you have made some great points and it is obvious you are very passionate and have thought a great deal about this issue. I have learned from you.

    You said:

    “Jesus, as a rabbi, consistently upheld Judaic law.”

    Your right! Except of course for when he would say something like “the law says… but I say to you…”

    Your also right that Jesus talks a lot about repentance. In most cases human beings like to think of forgiveness in terms of repentance, restitution and reconciliation. Let us not forget that one of the greatest miracles Jesus performed was forgiving people without requiring any of these things, e.g., death on the cross.

    Please don’t get me wrong, I in no way aim to downplay the reality of sin, or dishonor anyone’s personal convictions. I believe that our job as followers of Jesus is to demonstrate the extravagant love of the Kingdom of God on this Earth and to live in the tension of our disagreements, acknowledging them and working together to transcend them.

  13. I would not want to dominate this board anymore than I already have….but one last thought from me would be…

    Jesus did challenge and renew the law, restating it a new way and turning it upside at times. He also often chose to not use “the law says, but I say to you…” comments on many issues. Sometimes he simply referred people questioning him to the Law itself. Sometimes he was silent. I just think its important to acknowledge historical and cultural implications of Jesus being a Jew in the 1st century on how that would affect his views and teachings. We cannot impose our 21st century ideas, values or philosophy on him. I am sure I am guilty of that often myself.

    I also acknowledge the free gift of God’s grace. It is clearly present in the gospel narrative. However, as Christians we have to deal with the reality of sin and the necessity of calling ourselves and others to repentance (always in that order). Either we are all fine and everything will be OK in the end or we are all in desperate need of Good News.

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