The marriage of the gays

I wanted to take a moment to thoughtfully readdress the topic of the day, which appears to be gay marriage. First, a disclaimer: I really don't have a dog in this fight since I am not gay and I don't even have a lot of gay friends (according to the 2010 Census I should have 17, but I can only name 5). I think you should at some point talk to a gay person about this issue, because I can only speak generally.

There are two questions about this topic, one theological, and one political.

The first question that must come up is whether or not homosexuality is, in and of itself, sinful.

The second question is, given our various views of homosexuality, can we justify legally limiting what other people can choose to do to themselves.

For example, I really don't like the new piercings people are getting - you know what I mean, the expansion rings to stretch giant holes in your ears or lip. So, so creepy. And, in fact, in many cases harmful -- the risks of infection or of tearing off chunks of your own flesh in an otherwise minor accident are very real. As such, I propose that we ban all such behaviors, at a federal, state and local level -- except that we can't because it's not our rights of association and free expression that are in question, but someone else's rights.

I take the conservative stance on this, which is that things that do not harm me, whether directly or indirectly, are not my business. So I am not willing to dictate what others are allowed to do.

Pretty straight-forward: marriage is perhaps the oldest institution of humanity, and only occasionally have they been between a man and a woman. Let the Mormons marry 3 women and the Greek men marry each other and the 'sotho women marry each other - what do I care? It's not been a problem historically, so you cannot claim it's a problem now.

But that is boring, easy, and unsatisfying. Even if people have a legal right to do something, that does not mean we don't have a legal right and moral obligation to admonish them about it.

So we return to the first question - is homosexuality a sin in itself? The opposition to gay marriage hinges on an understanding that gay marriage is actually harmful to those who participate in it - that is a key question here.

The first place we turn is Genesis where, we are told; we will learn God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

Genesis 1 31God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day.

The problem with that argument is that God created everything. We must assume that everything is in God's plan until he rejects it, so we have no grounds to first do so ourselves.

Later in Genesis, we hear of the sins of Sodom

Genesis 19 4Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom —both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

This seems pretty clear-cut: when all the men of the city show up to rape your guests, that city pretty much sucks. Many people assume that homosexuality is the problem here, but that is both a superficial interpretation, and also ignores the explicit explanation of this story in Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 16 49Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

So arrogance, gluttony and callousness are called out as sins. Yet homosexuality is not, even though we’ve already established that homosexuality was present.

Leviticus 18 22Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

I've heard that some Biblical scholars consider "detestable" more accurately translated as "ritually unclean." I do know that eating shellfish and wearing modern t-shirts are both also listed as detestable in the same way, so I suspect that must be true. In Acts we learn such ritual "sins" do not concern God, only mankind, and we are to individually decide when to fast and when to partake based on our own walk with God. Eating meat is a sin for some, but not for others – it depends on your needs and God’s desire for you, not the external judgment of others.

Acts 10 15The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

So far there has been no serious attempt within the Bible to condemn Homosexuality directly - these are references to it, but only in passing as part of the surrounding culture. In Romans however, the focus seems a bit tighter.

Romans 1 24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

Here we see homosexuality pretty clearly as a sin - at least in this context.

If one turns away from God, and then participates in homosexuality in order to defy God, that is very clearly a sin. But anything done to defy God is by definition a sin. Going to church is a sin, if you do so to defy God. Feeding the homeless is a sin, if you do so to defy God. So while people sin by committing homosexual acts in this passage, they could just as easily have held horse races to the same effect.

When you celebrate your defiance of God, that is sinful, no matter what else is happening. So while this passage in no way indicates that homosexuality is acceptable, neither does it establish that homosexuality alone is a sin.

At the heart of this quote is the reference to worshiping created things over the Creator. I see this everyday in people who value money or flags or social status more than they value God, and this is the sin about which Paul is admonishing us.

1 Corinthians 6(NIV) 9Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men

1 Timothy 1(NIV) 9We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine

1 Timothy 1 (Complete Jewish Bible) 9 We are aware that Torah is not for a person who is righteous, but for those who are heedless of Torah and rebellious, ungodly and sinful, wicked and worldly, for people who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral — both heterosexual and homosexual — slave dealers, liars, perjurers, and anyone who acts contrary to the sound teaching.

You'll note that the meaning of the verses changed when I strayed away from the NIV, because in the Greek Paul does not use the word for "homosexual acts" but rather creates a new word which some translate as "homosexual immorality" and other translate as "pedophilic acts." It is also true that his new word could mean, "Homosexual acts," but since a word for that already existed, why did he coin a new word?

It is interesting to note that Paul disapproves of sexual immorality, whether practiced heterosexually or homosexually, but this does not lend itself to answering the question of whether homosexual morality is a valid choice.

So much for the explicit condemnation of homosexuality I was told to expect, then.

If the bible never explicitly speaks of Homosexuality as a sin-unto-itself, but only refers to sins committed by homosexuals, then upon what can we claim that homosexuality is a sin in itself?

Certainly Jesus never once called out the homosexuals who surrounded Him daily, although He did call out adulterers and prostitutes and tax collectors and false teachers.

Finally, Paul does talk about the biblical purpose of marriage, which contrary to what Sunday school teachers claim, is not to have children.

1 Corinthians 7 1Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

The purpose of marriage is to allow guilt-free access to sex, and thereby relieve us from being concerned about our bodily desires while we go about our daily business of become better people. Seems simple and straightforward, and I see no way to interpret this honestly that excludes gay marriage from a Christian's walk to become a more complete person.

So not only is gay marriage protected by the US constitution, but also by a Christian understanding of the will of God.

And on that note my friends, good night.