Much Ado About I Do: Responding to FAQ

In case you missed it, marriage does not mean what it used to. The millennia old definition of a union between a man and a woman has been rewritten. We now live in a Princess_Bride_That_Wordworld with an elastic view of marriage and how far it will stretch is still yet to be seen. Christians who have not caved in on the issue have taken a lot of heat for their “bigotry.” I’ve compiled a list of five of the most frequently asked questions regarding Christians and Same Sex Marriage

1. Aren’t Christians inconsistently applying the Bible?

Each and every week we gather to worship at a church building in Florida. At every gathering, we have people wearing mixed fabric clothes, people with tattoos, some  even ate bacon before they came, and to this day, no one has come with a ram, turtle dove, or grain offering. We are a far cry from the worshipers of the Old Testament! Why are we not keeping the Law? The Bible clearly says to do these things, right? I mean, read Leviticus.

To ask someone to “consistently” apply the Bible in the sense of flattening out any distinction between the covenants means to ask them to deny the work of Christ and the basic structure of redemptive history. (See Col 2:16-23; Heb 9:11-28) The obvious question then is why does the definition of marriage that we hold to from Genesis 2:24 get to “carry forward” while we conveniently leave out uncomfortable parts like the obligation to not seed your field with 2 different crops? (Lev 19:19)

The New Testament clearly recognizes Genesis 2 as establishing a norm for marriage. Jesus quotes from Genesis 2 in Matthew 19. Paul quotes from Genesis 2 in Ephesians 5. Jesus and the Apostles recognized the Genesis view of marriage. The Bible defines marriage, not a court or social construct.

2. What if I don’t recognize biblical authority?

You should. No really, you should. Simple question: what authority do you recognize? It’s an honest and revealing question.

I have been helped by Ryan Anderson’s two books, What is Marriage and Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage. These books make a compelling case for monogamous heterosexual marriage not necessarily on theological grounds but on the grounds of philosophy and public policy. There’s an interesting question that comes with this redefining business: Why is the state interested in who gets married? The state doesn’t have any say in my relationship with my fishing buddies. The state doesn’t care who was my barista this morning. So why does the state care who gets married? If marriage is nothing more than an intense emotional bond, then there is no reason for marriage to be exclusive, permanent, or regulated.

Anderson breaks down the argument for heterosexual marriage into 3 categories: Anthropological — men and women are created to be complementary; Biological — the physical union of a man and a woman produces life; Sociological — on balance, children are best served by growing up in a nurturing home with a loving father and mother. Exceptions obviously exist, but for the most part, this is society’s best tool for preservation into the future.

Historically, this is why virtually every society on planet earth has regulated marriage for as far back as we have history books. Theology aside, what is best for the future of our society?

3. What if I were made this way? made_this_way_note_cards_pk_of_20

You were made as an invaluable and unique image bearer of your creator. Because of original sin, we recognize that people have tendencies towards sinful behavior. To identify as a “gay” Christian is to identify by your sin. We do not identify people as angry, lustful, prideful, or drunken Christians. Though they may struggle greatly with those sins and have a proclivity towards a particular sin, that does not mean that sin identifies them. I’m not doubting the reality of their struggle with same sex attraction; It’s real. But let’s remember that the temptation to sin and sin are not the same thing. Because someone is tempted in a particular way does not mean they have to sin in that way.

I found this a observation from a Christian who openly struggles with same sex attraction extremely helpful: “As a Christian I choose to think differently. The Bible knows nothing of the concept of “sexual orientation” – so no-one is ever referred to in the Bible as being gay, lesbian, straight, or bisexual. God’s word speaks only of sexual practices” Jonathan Berry (See www.livingout.org). Of course, my response to this presupposes identifying homosexual behavior as sin.

4. Christians are hypocrites, why pick on this when you have so many other sins?

Recently I had the opportunity to share the gospel with a gentleman that I just met. We were talking about church. He began to point out hypocrisy in the church. I said, “Yeah, the church is full of hypocrites, right?” He said, “yeah, that’s right.” I responded, “You want to know the great news about that? We have room for one more so you should join us.” He wasn’t expecting that.

We are all, at times, hypocrites. As Kevin DeYoung has said it, we at times are “plank eyed” Christians. For that, we must sincerely apologize.

But do deficiencies in other areas mean that we can’t take a stand and simply say what we believe the Bible says? Why should it mean that we must compromise on the issue of marriage? DeYoung again is helpful:  “The answer to negligence is not more negligence.” (See his new book, What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality).

5. Why do you all have to be jerks and tell the nice people they can’t marry? Can’t you just get over it and let them live their lives?

Truthfully, most Christians do not wake up in the morning looking for someone to fight (yes, kidsstopfighting636_0I know a few people who are exceptions!). Generally, we like to live and let live. But this issue is too important. We believe that the Bible clearly teaches this is a sin. We believe that this is not best for individuals. We believe that this is not best for society. And finally, we believe that this is not going to stop at simply allowing same sex couples into the marriage union. The unintended consequences of this revolution are just now starting to surface. Already we have witnessed reenergized calls for legalizing polygamy, big questions about benefits for same sex couples, and calls for revocation of tax exempt status for non profits that refuse to comply with the new definition of marriage — just to name a few.

On a practical level, we do not think this is creating the type of world that we want our children growing up in. We are sad because this is a road that doesn’t seem to end in a good place. We will not stop speaking on this issue.

All that said, we believe firmly that God is on His throne. Let’s not find ourselves with an Eeyorish worldview that only sees doom and gloom. We have much reason for great joy because of the redemption available in Christ! Let us hold on tight to biblical truth and trust the Lord to do his work with his Word.

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Allen Cagle

About Allen Cagle

Allen serves as the Lead Pastor at Sunrise Community Church in Atlantic Beach, FL, in the Jacksonville area. He graduated from The Master's Seminary (MDiv) in 2005 and is currently working on a DMin degree at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. Allen is married to Mindy and has three awesome kids.