Not long ago pastor and blogger Kevin DeYoung invited Christians who think the Bible supports gay marriage to answer 5 questions. DeYoung’s thoughts and the five questions can be found here. Graeme Codrington picked up the challenge and responded to DeYoung in his own blog here. Since Codrington answered the specific questions much more effectively than I could I will only address some of the unasked questions while also looking at those DeYoung asked in a more general sense.
I am of the mind set that the empirical evidence regarding the question: Are people born gay (LBTQ, etc.)? has mounded to the point that only the most closed minded, afraid of their own shadow, religious sheep still argue to the contrary. That said, I would suggest to all the heterosexual individuals out there–take a closer look at hetero-sexuality. To suggest we all actually belong in the same boat is absurd. In truth our attractions include a variety of visual and emotional components and our need for physical intimacy falls a long a wide range. The sooner we take our focus off the criterion of gender difference the sooner we’ll understand all those letters in the alphabet-soup-attempt-at-labeling-sexual-identity are merely more variations on an already complex and diverse spectrum. To this end, DeYoung’s question: “What will you say about anal intercourse?” is ridiculous even if one ignores his focus on male genitalia.
Controlling religious leaders want us to believe the Bible draws clear lines regarding sexual practice. Most of these same voices have as much to say about issues impacting a woman’s sexuality, such as birth control. Few, however, point any fingers at predominately (according to statistics) male behavior, such as spousal abuse. The discrepancy is sadly clear and often colors how we see and interpret scripture, or more accurately–how we allow scripture to be interpreted for us. Not only do these moralistic dictates and attitudes fail to take into account cultural change they also misrepresent what scripture actually says and doesn’t say. I believe sexual practice between two consenting adults has but one Biblical mandate–to love the other as yourself. Every other thus saith the Word is reached by twisting scripture and taking the words out of context to put them into a different context. Thus, I would answer DeYoung’s intentionally provocative question with a simple–such is not for me to decide for any other couple–heterosexual or homosexual–nor is it for anyone else to decide, including DeYoung.
A few years back the theory “it takes a village to raise a child” became a hot button between liberals and conservatives. Truthfully, each side utilizes a variety of community influences to provide safe places for children. That fact was obscured by shouts of socialism, indoctrination, and hate speech. DeYoung’s question–Are you prepared to say moms and dads are interchangeable? attempts to protect his prejudice by shirking his responsibility to understand the current realities of American culture. Today in America children are raised by single moms, single dads, grandparents, other relatives, foster parents, adoptive parents, and same sex parents. Some children live in group homes with adult role models but no parents and some live on the streets with no adult supervision at all. These are the facts.
What makes one situation more ideal from a child’s perspective than another is the level of care provided to the child not the sexual preferences of the adults taking care of them. Do women and men bring different things to the table? Absolutely! Do they only bring different things to the table when it comes to parenting?–That’s actually a different blog post. But, when it come to parenting, same sex couples, like single parents and grandparents and group home supervisors and yes hetero-parents, enhance the lives of the children under their care by including in their lives a variety of healthy, compassionate, adult role models regardless of their sexual orientation. They enhance the lives of the children under their care by giving their children their time and attention. They enhance the lives of the children under their care by encouraging their children’s individual talents and interests. And, they enhance the lives of the children under their care by helping their children build character traits, such as honesty, mutual respect, and community mindedness.
Recently an advocacy group I belong to asked its readers to offer their “Wise and Wonderful” advice to parents who just learned their children identify with the LGBTQ community. This was my advice:
Ignore [their sexuality] to the same degree you ignore your straight children’s sexuality. Let your children be the lead. Ask them, if you are struggling, who they would feel safe letting you tell and talk to about your feelings. DO NOT go to your pastor unless you already attend an accepting and affirming fellowship. Invite them to share their journey thus far as long as you are ready to listen without interrupting. Affirm and reaffirm your love for them. Understand that if you [have actively raised your children in] a conservative Christian fellowship they have probably already spent hours upon hours, perhaps even years, begging God to change them. Affirm and reaffirm the fact that God loves them the same yesterday, today, and forever–there is nothing anyone can do to escape His love.
I would add that as soon as their son or daughter comes out to the wider circle of their family and friends they should be prepare to watch their families and especially their LGBTQ children be judged, lectured, shunned, and even threatened by the people who in the past claimed to love them the most–the Church. This last reality is what grieves my heart and makes my blood boil.
DeYoung’s fifth question: how have all Christians at all times and in all places interpreted the Bible so wrongly for so long? implies that all Christians for all time have held the opinion DeYoung currently holds regarding gender identification, sexual orientation, and gay marriage. While this assumption can not be proven especially since all three are modern day concepts; it also avoids the fact that most Christians have, in the not too distant past, adjusted their position on how we should understand many other issues when using the lens of scripture, including some as serious as slavery. More importantly, however, DeYoung’s attempt to create Biblical law where there isn’t any produces what I believe is an even bigger problem: a disregard for the true nature of God as revealed by the life of Christ. In Christ’s witness we see inclusion, compassion, and anger toward the arrogant behavior of the religious leaders of His day for making access to God more difficult than it needed to be. Today, pastors like DeYoung and organizations like The Family Resource Council have taken the place of the teachers of the law and Pharisees to which Jesus says in Matthew 23:13, “Woe to you…you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves will not enter, nor will you let those who are trying.”
Personally, I see the whole inclusion-exclusion issue the same way I see scripture’s teaching about forgiveness. I include you; God includes me. I shut the door in your face; I just might be picking splinters out of my nose. The truth of the matter is, when there is no clear cut teaching on an issue don’t just declare there is and build one to support a prejudice the way scripture was at one time used to justify slavery. Instead, look at the principles that have overwhelming scriptural support, such as the fact that God loves us unconditionally, and build a doctrine around that.