Affirming Desire Part 1: Introduction and a Church Divided (Marriage Equality)

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Like most Christians in my position, there is hesitancy when bringing out the topic of sexual immorality. Also, in light of recent events, the legalizing of marriage being nationally recognized as not only allowed between man and woman, but between man and man, woman and woman and following various other gender queer designations. As well as the economic benefits that follow an official marriage. I did not want to respond in the heat of the moment, when emotions were on a high, and my heart quick to anger and a generally disheveled.

As I noticed argument after argument pop up on my social media outlets with rainbows being plastered about people’s faces, I noticed one of the biggest terms and offenses were the concepts of hate, bigotry, judgment as well as the promotion of love, tolerance, and freedom of religion with appropriate hashtags being used within varying contexts of opinions. I noticed nasty comments, uninformed comments, brilliant comments, pathos filled arguments, and varying interpretations of scripture being used. I thought to myself, I should probably share my opinion, especially since those that claimed to believe in the same God as me had contrary opinions.

The fact is, this issue is multi-faceted. It dips into almost every ethical sector that humans hold dear – politics, economics, and religion being the most up front. I was thinking to myself, which should I dive in for a discussion? All are completely relevant and equally disputed, but what I felt as the ruling passed and reading through and talking about various opinions with both Christian and not, I felt a deep, inherent sadness. This can be described as what blogger Eric Knopf writes in his recent post “Marriage Equality and the Great Christian Letdown”. However much I wanted to say something, my hands and mouth stopped me from saying anything. Instead, what continued but a very internal and serious monologue that has been going on for about a month now.

God had deeply impressed the sincere consideration and research of this topic about a month ago as I walked through a bookstore in Japantown in San Francisco and spotted a book on the topic of homosexuality in Asia. Honestly, I was unaware that legislative negotiations were already underway. I felt like I needed to research and expose myself to different opinions and pray sincerely for God to help me to deal with homosexuality and those involved in a way that is correct and biblical. I have friends and family who identify themselves as “gay” and I wanted to know the proper response that I should have to them. In all honesty, this heart search is still continuing and I think that it should continue for the rest of my life (will explain that comment later). So, I choose to speak not of laws or the economy, but I choose to talk about how we as Christians should respond to this event. May my response be as Colossians 4:6 articulates, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

As believers in Jesus, we need not FEAR the future.

from joshuareich.org (no affiliation)

from joshuareich.org (no affiliation)

I sorrowfully scrolled through the divided opinions of my brothers and sisters-in-Christ. Some responded in fear and some responded that this must be something God approved of if it happened.

First, there is not any reason to fear. We need not secure our hope in a country or in the law or in a leader. Kingdoms crumble. Foundations that we thought sturdy and moral crumble under human legislative decisions. The Puritan community (a rather legalistic bunch, eh?)  that settled in North America in the 1600s dubbed this land to be a “City on a Hill.” This attitude of American Exceptionalism and ethnocentrism still remains to this day. America can no longer be called a Christian nation. Realistically,  its intentions from the beginning were for religious freedom and a government that ensures there to be no theocracy. Modernly, we are more quick to promote sexual immorality and arrogance than we are a biblical morality and humility. Still, there is no need to fear. God is still sovereign, we are still his people, the sun sets on the righteous and unrighteous alike and God holds our future in his hands. He will know the outcome of our decisions, but he still have the final word. God has not favored any particular nation, he does not pick and choose his favorites. Jesus made the way for all to come to the Father and all who accept Christ are favored. Our hope for the future is secure in Christ, not any establishment.

Secondly, I will say it clearly: God does not condone sexual immorality, and this includes homosexuality. By condone I mean “approve or allow” as Merriam Webster dictionary states. Being God’s created ones, given free will, God knows we will disobey his commands. As it says in Romans 1: 24-28 (emphasis added):

“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

As I believe the scriptures are useful for teaching, this situation depicts a vary familiar scenario and is relevant. God does not approve sin, but he does give us the free choice to continue in that act. Anything done a part from the will of God will give way to destruction. Things that we as humans can easily perceive as “forbidden” can be very alluring but God forbids certain things because he knows that once the initial excitement and happiness fades, emotional injury, confusion and loneliness will most certainly follow. I say these things from experience. Whenever I continue with an act that I know to be contrary to the teachings in the Bible or my conscience signals a red light, after the initial gratifying feeling of taking control of my life, I began to feel like a kid who wandered from their parent’s side at the grocery store: lost, confused, and yet searching.

Uh, oh.

Uh, oh.

Finally, as Eric Knopf discusses, we must not expect to always have a comfortable and cushy life while living on this earth. Shall we vacate to Mars? Well, besides burning and suffocating to death with that plan, we were never promised an easy life. Jesus even tells us that others will hate us because of him (Matthew 10:22; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:17; John 15:18). Also, let us not forget Romans 12:2 and not conform to earthly patterns when life gets less than cushy. Truth be told, we still have it way better than most nations when it comes to freedom of worship and expression. Have you got arrested for carrying around a Bible lately? I don’t think so. Although the world will oppose those of us who follow God’s commands, our future will be secure through Jesus.

to be continued… How do I treat those in my life who identify with the LGBT lifestyle? and How does one love the righteous way?

Some articles relating to the divided opinion of the Christian church (both liberal and conservative slant):

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/14/us/gay-marriage-issue-divides-churches.html?_r=0

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/06/28/clergy-and-parishioners-across-boston-react-gay-marriage-ruling-some-lauding-some-lamenting/X5HARsM2zItnCSGd1S0G3H/story.html

http://religionandpolitics.org/2015/06/02/will-same-sex-marriage-split-the-united-methodist-church/

http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/june/is-gay-marriage-destroying-united-methodist-church.html

**note: I don’t particularly identify with the Methodist branch, it just happens to be prominently talked about. I also don’t agree with all comments made

And as always, a song relating to discussed topic. Although the trials of this world are glaring, “Someday the light will be your sonnet…someday the time will be forever.” We have hope in Christ.

-Bethany

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