Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gay Marriage. . . What Hangs in the Balance? . . .

With the Supreme Court set to rule on Gay Marriage issues today, my head is spinning. Gay marriage, homosexuality, same-sex attraction. . . these are difficult, complex, and confusing issues. They are also very recent social issues, which means that we really haven't had that much time to process and think about them. And, as the issues unfold at seemingly breakneck speed in both the culture and the lives of real people - people we know and love - we can hardly keep up. Just when you think you're getting your head and hands around things, you once again feel like you're having to catch up as new developments emerge.

I know that these are timely and extremely important things that matter deeply. My Christian faith dictates that I wrestle through the issues, all the while prayerfully seeking not "my will" on the matters, but "Thy will." Things get even more confused as within the body of Christ "thy will" gets interpreted and understood in so many different ways. I've been reading like crazy in an effort to solidify my thinking. Still, it's so complex and confusing.

This morning, I decided to "regroup" in anticipation of whatever news comes from the Supreme Court today. I decided to blog a few thoughts on the "this I knows" . . . conclusions that I have reached at this point. This is not exhaustive or complete in any way, shape, or form. I could - and probably should - add much more in terms of explanation. But here goes. . .

First, no matter what decision the Supreme Court makes, one thing will remain unchanged: God is in control of all of this. The Sovereign God of the Universe is still the Sovereign God of the Universe. The world is horribly broken and filled with horribly broken people and institutions. Nobody and nothing is the way it's supposed to be. Consequently, nothing should be surprising. God is working out His divine will and plan and in that I can rest.

Second, perhaps the biggest thing at stake in this debate for followers of Christ is the way in which we choose to follow Christ. Our divisions in the church and the paths we choose to follow in our efforts to discover God's will says much about who we are and the authority on which we choose to build our lives. For me, I want to endeavor to put all my personal opinions and biases aside as best as I can, and then humbly seek God's will and way in His word. I want to have a responsible hermeneutic, engage in good exegesis, and seek the wisdom of the saints throughout church history. I don't want to pigeon-hole God into my biases, opinions, and desires. I know that will always happen to some extent, but that's no excuse for not reckoning with one's own biases.

Third, I believe that we need to subject our own personal feelings and experiences to Scripture, rather than vice-versa. The latter practice is not only increasingly widespread, but it will destroy us. In my reading I've read three books by professing Christians who have had to deal personally with same-sex attraction and it's been interesting to see how they engage with Scripture and emotions. Wesley Hill (Washed and Waiting) and Rosaria Butterfield (The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert) view their emotions and experience through the lens of Scripture and come to the conclusion that their same-sex attraction is a result of the brokenness in the world and it's their cross to bear in faithful obedience to Christ. It is not the way it's supposed to be. Justin Lee (Torn) views the Scripture through the lens of his emotions and experience. His story is compelling and his argument will play well in today's world. He concludes that he is the way he's supposed to be and he opts for a monogamous faithful relationship. We can either reconcile our lives to the Scriptures, or we can reconcile the Scriptures to our lives.

Fourth, we cannot eliminate the first three chapters of Genesis from our discussions. In fact, they are foundational. They are at the root of God's shalom. They are at the root of the way things are supposed to be. They establish and define marriage. They are at the foundation of Christ's understanding of marriage. The one-man one-woman order and design is what is established by God and assumed throughout the Scriptures. Go ahead and read the aforementioned books. You'll see that the inclusion of the Genesis narratives shapes conclusions. . . as does the omission.

Finally, we need to love. We need to love God and we need to love our neighbor. I fear, however, that those who endeavor to do both responsibly and well with the purest of motivations will be labeled as "intolerant" or "homophobic." Both of those terms are highly charged and horribly misused. A phobia is a fear. I don't fear same-sex attraction. I don't fear homosexuals.

This will be an interesting day.


Tony Myles said...

Thanks, Walt... you always seem to stay on top of how we need to keep God on top. I'm reminded that God's sovereignty was in place in Genesis 1, and even when humanity sinned in Genesis 3, and even now - as it will be in Revelation 22 (and beyond). Still, it's unfortunate that the emerging generation is growing up they will get more detours off God's path than they will bumpers to stay on it. Praying for today.

Ron B said...

Well said Walt, as usual. You are right about God being sovereign regardless of the Supreme Court decision. Ultimately they are NOT the Supreme court.

I believe that God created sex for procreation. I believe further that he made it pleasurable so that humans would not fail to procreate. I find it interesting that same-sex couples cannot do that together for which God created sex. It is clear to me how things should be. Brokenness has to be the explanation as to why it is not abundantly clear to all Believers who study the Word.

Gary Locuson Sr said...

Walt, thanks so much for presenting a thoughtful, prayerful framework for looking at this huge topic of the day. As a father of twenty somethings I find myself at odds with my own children over the topic of homosexuality. Within the body of Christ the chasm exists between generations. I've stepped back and had to discern the "in your face" exposure my sons have dealt with "out there." I've come to realize that their contemporaries have dealt with issues of foundational Christian implications one hundred fold to my experience at their age. As we move forward I believe that we must lay out a framework that our leaders in the church to come can deal with and interact with an ever changing cultural landscape.

Chris Gibson said...

Thanks Walt...a friend of mine hit me with a great reminder a couple of weeks ago when we were talking about a totally different subject..."God is still on the throne". I appreciate what you've shared here a great deal.

Tyler A said...

I too appreciate your thoughts and heart on this difficult subject. I find it confusing and somewhat frustrating. Perhaps similarly to Gary Locuson, my children disagree as do many family members that are my age and younger –who I have reason to believe live an active faith in Jesus. It is a good challenge to keep Scripture before experience and feeling. It seems plain to me that throughout Scripture God creates, blesses, confirms, celebrates, confronts, critiques male-female covenant relationship / sexuality. It is notable to me how little God says about same-sex relationship and nothing plainly affirming. I think the contrast is very important; it seems strange and kooky to ignore or diminish it.

Yet with love as a command but no easy endeavor for all of us, I think the relative quiet regarding same-sex relations urges a curiosity and openness to others with the awareness that all of us have badly disordered desires and sexuality. Biases are so hard to see and embrace. Maybe there is no fear of same-sex attractions. But I do think fear undergirds the difficulty we have with relinquishing our ways of seeing.


Walt, this is an excellent reflection on how Christians respond to this defeat in the culture war. I especially appreciate the reminder not to abandon Genesis 1-3 because it is the foundation of our shalom.

In the last analysis I would add the words of Ed Stetzer "As kingdom citizens, we are at an historic crossroads. We can either get furious at them again and perpetuate the cycle (as I am afraid some of us are already doing), or we can respond like Jesus. Our mission demands the latter.

After all, we can't hate a people and reach a people at the same time." - Ed Stetzer

Pastor Shawn said...

Thank you. Very insightful and filled with God's wisdom and love.