God and Gays

The smooth certainty of the right is just as unattractive as the moral smugness of the left

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There is something by now familiar, even reassuring, about what happens in my church every third summer. I am an Episcopalian, and I can reliably look forward to popular news coverage of the church’s General Convention — a legislative body made up of a House of Bishops and a lay House of Deputies — latest decision on issues of the connection between sexuality and the sacraments.

This week was no different, and in the New York Times on Sunday, Ross Douthat summarized the conservative view of my troubled church with a column headlined “Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?” It is not hard to figure out the conclusion Douthat arrives at in his column, which includes this pronouncement: “the leaders of the Episcopal Church and similar bodies often don’t seem to be offering anything you can’t get from a purely secular liberalism.”

The occasion for this round of Episcopal debate is the passage of an optional rite to bless same-sex unions. Dioceses (rather like states within the communion) can choose whether to allow priests to perform the rite. It that sense, the vote fits well within a religious tradition that was forged amid political and theological conflict over the nature of power in the 16th century. Anglicanism has always been about the attempt — sometimes successful, sometimes less so — to find a via media, or middle way, between stricter sacramentalism of Roman Catholicism and stricter scriptural literalism of other Protestant denominations. Anglicanism is driven in large measure by the same principle that Walter Bagehot identified as essential to the British constitution: the enduring effort to “muddle through.”

(MORE: Have We Evolved To Be Religious?)

The question of the hour is whether the Episcopal Church can continue to muddle into a sixth century, or whether falling levels of membership suggest inevitable decline. Critics such as Douthat link the church’s progressive stand on sexuality — the consecration of an openly gay bishop in 2003 and now the vote on the same-sex rite — to its troubled numbers. “It still has priests and bishops, altars and stained-glass windows,” wrote Douthat. “But it is flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.”

Eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes. As I read it, his argument, shared by many, is that the church is essentially translating liberal views of sexuality into the language and forms of the faith. If the Bible speaks out against homosexuality, then a church that moves to embrace homosexuals must be acting not according to theological thinking but to political factors. Put another way, the Episcopal Church has taken the course it has taken on sexuality because it is politically fashionable to do so, not because there is a theological reason to open its arms wider.

The problem with this argument is that it ignores a long tradition of evolving theological understanding and changing scriptural interpretation. Only the most unapologetic biblical fundamentalists, for instance, take every biblical injunction literally. If we all took all scripture at the same level of authority, then we would be more open to slavery, to the subjugation of women, to wider use of stoning. Jesus himself spoke out frequently against divorce in the strongest of terms. Yet we have — often gradually — chosen to read and interpret the Bible in light not of tradition but of reason and history.

(MORE: What the Reverend Jesse Jackson Has to Say About Gay Marriage)

Given that sexual orientation is innate and that we are all, in theological terms, children of God, to deny access to some sacraments based on sexuality is as wrong as denying access to some sacraments based on race or gender. This is not about secular politics (though the secular political world is coming to share these views) but about the perennial human effort to follow the ancient commandment to love one another as ourselves.

If such sentiments lead to snarky op-eds about the end of liberal Christianity, then so be it. That’s in the nature of things, and in the end I would rather belong to a church that errs on the side of opening its arms wider.

Yes, the numbers are down, and may not rise again. I don’t know. But I do know this: the central tenet of Christianity as it has come down to us is that we are to reach out when our instinct is to pull inward; to give when we want to take; to love when we are inclined to hate; to include when are tempted to exclude.

This is what I believe. I respect that others believe differently; nothing should properly create more humility than discussions about detecting the will of God. The nature of the decision of General Convention, which allows for diocesan discretion, is a sensible one, and it implicitly acknowledges that there is room for disagreement. In that sense, perhaps the liturgical proposition of an increasingly small American institution might offer the larger nation a telling example of how to deal with complex issues. After all, a smoothly condescending right is no more attractive than a morally superior left. Both could do worse than think about that as the argument goes on, which it surely will.

MORE: Should We Bring Heaven Down to Earth?


Here's where the writer deviates and would have you believe his perverse and completely untrue statement, "Given that sexual orientation is innate . . ." 

People, sexual orientation is NOT innate! The QUEERS hang on this excuse as to why they should be openly accepted by society, but nowhere in the Bible does it state or even suggest that sexual orientation is innate AS TO WHETHER WE WERE BORN MALE OR FEMALE. The truth is, if you were born with the extra appendage, you are a MALE, and if not, you are a FEMALE.  You can cut it off, pin it down, grow long hair and nails or conversely, shave off your feminine locks, YOU WILL STILL DIE MALE or FEMALE as you were born.  When the petals of a rose fall off, is it still not a ROSE?  The Bible clearly states God made them "male and female" which is straight and clear, not confusing, and not subject to change merely because MANKIND wants it to in order to carry out the same acts of perversion that caused God to reign down judgment and utter destruction upon those practicing homosexuality (Sodom & Gamorrah).  The reason why the QUEERS want to be recognized as normal is because to not be normal provokes an inward conviction they CANNOT escape otherwise, which is why they hid in the closet for decades.  Darkness cannot not comprehend light.  The perverse agenda of the growing QUEER community started decades ago with our vulnerable young children.  The QUEERS sought out to sear the conscious of our youth by shoving their perverseness in their faces over media television and music.  Once the conscious of our children had been thoroughly seared and the clear lines of male of female were sufficiently blurred, the QUEERS felt safe to come out of the closet, invoked civil liberties, oppressed religious freedoms and emerged on the world stage as the 21st century's HOT NEW TREND.  THESE ARE HUMANS WHO HAVE NO LOVE OF GOD.  I do not hate the QUEERS, in fact, I feel sorry for them.  They have paid a high price for targeting the innocent youth of our time, even if the price is deferred until they draw their last breath.  LIVE IT UP, because this world is all you got comin.


Why is it so easy for Meacham to assert he knows how to interpret the Bible when he doesn't?  He states that the Bible's social ethic is too dates and then says we should use "reason and history" to better judge what we think is right. He is simply lazy in not familiarizing himself with the biblical narrative that sets out redemptive history.  Here is a great article that addresses his shallow and wholly inaccurate assertions that the Bible cannot be trusted .  



It is curious that Jon Meacham looks to the flailing, withering Episcopal Church for guidance on same sex unions. This is a denomination that alienated itself from the worldwide Anglican communion when it appointed an openly gay bishop in 2003. Despite recognizing the complexity of the issue, Meacham packs a number of straw men, false analogies and misrepresentations in a brief article. For instance, adultery and incest are much better biblical analogies to homosexuality than slavery, divorce and race. There would be no debate if the issue was as simplistic as Meacham pretends.

Jem Maxwell
Jem Maxwell

There is no clear absolute way to read the bible. The difficulties of language, literature, translation and so. It was written in Greek when really completed. Any Greek Orthodox priest would be baffled a bit about some parts of English translations or even Latin.  It's a very long book and it is not written like some academic text book or encyclopedia. Churches, priests, and you are no more likely than anyone else to tell the rest of us any literal interpretation of the bible. That's because it's not a literal straight forward book. You don't know anything. It’s like what the great Christian philosopher Kierkegaard said; basically you cannot have faith without doubt. If you know anything for sure about the existence of God or the messiah is Jesus, then you are not a person of faith. Having faith in something's truth is not the same as knowing something is true. People who try to prove anything in the bible are people without faith and are trying to destroy it in others by telling them what they should know. Therefore, of course the bible is written with plenty of doubt in it and plenty of room for faith.


is love. Lyrics youtube. The Beatles. (Had ook Love is all van Roger Clover kunnnen kiezen.)

Graag zou ik willen weten door sex en relatie wetenschappers

wat een stabiele gezonde geestelijk e seksuele maatschappij zou zijn. Mensen

ontwikkelen in een vrje maatschappij een oneindigheid aan relatie vormen. Sodom

en Gamorra zijn niet de homo’s of de lesbo’s volgens mij. Nee ik denk dat Sodom

en Gammora onduidelijkheid is aan wie je bent. Of dat je eerst kinderen neemt

en ze geen stabiele ontwikkeling geeft. Dat er geen vaste mono game kinder

relaties ontwikkelen. Goed is het denk ik dat mensen eerst met hun eigen

geslacht omgaan. Als je dan ho of lesbo bent geniet er van. Wordt je verlieft

op het ander geslacht groei geestelijk en blijf elkaar trouw. Dan ben je

eerlijk en echt. Ook voor ho en lesbo kan je monogaam zijn of radicaal

polariseren van het hetero naar ho zijn of andersom en hier in trouw zijn kan

ook misschien mogelijk zijn.. Biseksueel zijn is de sleutel om Sodom om Gammora

toestanden te ontwikkelen. Grenzeloos elkaar vrij laten. Bij het ho en lesbo

zijn kan dat. Of als je kinderloos bent en vrij gezel kan je ook rustig voor

vrije hetero kiezen. Alleen als de vrouw zwanger raakt en dan ben ja als man

ook verantwoordelijk als er een kind komt. Verder lijkt mij seks met je eigen

leeftijd genoten ook denk ik gezond. Graag zou hier wetenschappelijk onderzoek

in kaart kunnen komen? Met misschien variabel. Echtheid en eerlijkheid en  verantwoordelijkheid en keuze maken en

rekening houden met kinder stabiliteit opvoeding. Bij  het vreemd gaan van een man met een ander man

is minder erg dan als hij met een anderen man gaat. Onzin vreemd gaan is vreemd

gaan. Ook voor ho relatie is in een monogaam relatie erg. Alleen als er

kinderen zijn is het erg voor hen extra over het algemeen. Er zijn biseksuele

met vrije moraal die vinden dat het moet kunnen ondanks kinderen om elkaar als

partner elkaar vrij te laten omdat men geen bezit is. Persoonlijk geloof ik

hier niet in.  Je kan altijd de een kwetsen. De wet van de sterksten onderling. Voor de ontwikkeling om

naar elkaar monogaam te groeien lijkt mij gezonder. Of blijf lekker je hele

leven vrijgezel en lekker met ander vrijgezel leven. Ik hoor hier nooit een artikel

of programma over. 

Wie neemt de draad over. Wat is Sodom en Gammora. Volgens

mij als er Biseksualiteit en geen monogamie bestaat. Geen echtheid eerlijk heid

en bepaalde inlevend spelregels zijn die rekening houdt met het geheel.  Dwang seks en perverse seks zoals pedofelie. (Ook als is het erg voor pedofielen als men dit is en hier aan wilt doen.) Proces

matig kan een maatschppij door geen controle over geslachtsziekte maar ook op

maatschappelijk persoonlijk leven niet echt ordelijk verlopen. Ik typ dit om

een beeld vorming te willen vormen waar de grens ligt. Wanneer is het sodom en

Gamorra. Niet bij de ho en de lesbo’s die zijn de sleutel tot bevolking

beheersing. Zij nemen de tijd zichzelf van eerst het eigen gezinde tehouden

zonder eerst hetero te zijn  en anti

ander geslacht te zijn. Zoals poten rammers door fanatieke religieuze. Ik hoop

dat mijn reachtie iets op roept en misschien een beter beeld vormt van

verantwood en goed omgaan met relaties , oordeel vorming, respect en

verantwoordelijk kiezen en omgaan. Maar dan nog is men geen bezit  maar duidelijkheid is wel prettig. Religie is in monogamie altijd door de eeuwig heid een stammen oorlog. Heilige boeken zijn gemamipuleerd. Interreligieusheid, uviverseel heid en wetenschap zorgen voor stabiliteit. Relatie vormen kan persoon lijk zijn en behoort gepast als kernwaarden mee om gegaan te zijn. Maar vragen als familie banden en misschien zijn familie banden ook gekoppeld aan universele respect en mensenlijke maatschappelijke buurt banden om vrede en stabiliteit te houden. Persoonlijk hou ik mijn liever met politiek en economie bezig maar duik in mijn eigen gedachten wereld wat Sodom en Gammorra is. Onduidelijkheid.

 De tegenpool van Sodom en Gamorra zijn de extreme fanatiek lingen  de mono gamisten. Eerlijkheid, echtheid, verantwoordelijkheid, communiceren, elkaar groeien, empathie, lief en leed in zo groot mogelijkheid nemen is een goede eigenschap voor monogamie. Of je ho of hetero bent. En er zijn ook mensen die liever vrije relatie zijn. Die weten van zichzelf dat of zijn nog niet aan vaste relatie toe of hebben een teleurstelling en hebben de ware nog niet gevonden. Religie is meer dan door een hierarichie die door angst en letteren der boeken mensen hel en verdoemenis en tegen elkaar ophitsen.  En een een eerlijke religieuze en wetenschappelijke en menswaardige omgang is belangrijk. Heb respect voor alle geacepteeerde menswaardige relatie vormen. Liiefde is de kern wat mensen bindt. En liefde is als men begrijpt en weet waar de verschillen zijn en de details. gepastheid, universeelheid, diversiteit, respect voor autonomie. 

Ron Fox
Ron Fox

A great column.  One slight correction needed.  We don't have a "lay" House of Deputies. We have a House of Deputies that includes clergy and lay.  


Actually, I believe expecting same-sex couples to live in fidelity through a public profession of vows is a more conservative way of handling this than ignoring, condemning and leaving LGBT people to fend for themselves....the Episcopal Church is holding LGBT people to faithfulness in realtionships.

Kris West
Kris West

A good part of the reason I'm a Baptist is the principal of the autonomy of individual churches and the belief that a church is there to teach you about how to have a relationship with God rather than claiming it CONTROLS such a relationship.

Yes, homosexual sex is a sin but it's worth noting that humans are inherently born as sinful creatures. I doubt I'd like it if my church endorsed gay marriage and I do think there is a fundamental difference between a man and woman in love and two men in love. That being said, I am sinful too.

Once you get into the Calvinistic notion of man being an abject failure, it's really quite equalizing. 

I know full and well that I am just as sinful in my own ways as a gay person is in their ways. I dislike it when churches endorse sinful relationships but I'm equally displeased when churches get so pugnacious towards gays that they only serve to drive gays and supporters of gay rights away from Christianity. We are all inherently sinners.


Any time someone wants to post a question or serious response to the reality of God, please do so.  But before you quote the Bible, it would be good for you to actually read it first.  Thank you.

Joseph Wilson
Joseph Wilson

Ross Douthat's article was really off base, while Jon Mecham's article really goes to the main issue of tolerance. Demographics have fueled growth in the Catholic church as a result of the rise in the tide of Hispanic immigration to the United States. Church attendance is generally declining, even for Southern Baptists. Some churches are adapting to the change in people's opinions about same sex marriage, while many gay people have left some intolerant religions like Mormonism and Southern Baptists. Jesus preached tolerance, period.


While the Bible does address homosexuality, it does not

explicitly mention gay marriage/same-sex marriage. It is clear, however, that

the Bible condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin. Leviticus

18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Romans

1:26-27 declares homosexual desires and actions to be shameful, unnatural,

lustful, and indecent. First Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals

are unrighteous and will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since both homosexual

desires and actions are condemned in the Bible, it is clear that homosexuals

“marrying” is not God’s will, and would be, in fact, sinful. God destroyed the

city of Sodom for its sin of homosexuality. The city was wiped out like

Hiroshima. Americans should remember 9/11. There should not be another terrible

destruction for flirting with gay marriage. 

Glen Griffith
Glen Griffith

Why don't gays just start their own church and make up their own doctrine and theology if they believe that homosexuality is not a sin.  Why do they have to trample on the existing theology of the historical bible and existing denominations?   And if "membership" is declining, so be it.  I don't think God wants his truth distorted so their can be more Episcopalians or Lutherans or Methodists or any other denomination.


Today, the Episcopal Church in America is more a "club" than a religious denomination, but some of their "churches" do have great bake sales.

Their individual members and even entire congregations are fleeing in droves.  They list 1.9 million US members, but would be hard to find that number claiming to be church members.

So, as a church or as a club, the "members" are leaving.


People, gay marriage is a test. When the bible was written, humans weren't ready to accept equality between people of different colors, let alone different sexual orientation. Got wants his children to not only obey, but to grow up. Only when we can stand together with love and respect in our hearts will God be proud of us. God does not want us to live in a theocracy. He does not want us to force others to what we believe. God gave us the capacity to love, and until we do, we won't secure his favor.

Cross Examined
Cross Examined

The church opening its arms wider sounds terrific, and I agree that morality is a moving (hopefully improving) standard.  But there's nothing in this article about the supernatural. 

It'd be great to see Christianity evolve into a philosophical movement, where people can find community and ethics but from which the unsupportable mythology has been discarded.


PaulBot 1138
PaulBot 1138

The fallacious reasoning so often present in such arguments appears to again rear its head here, namely:

1. God created all beings

2. God has no limits on the achievement of His will


3. All beings created by God are as God wills them to be

4. God created homosexual beings


5. God created beings He intended to be homosexual

From 5 it is argued that the restriction of the Sacrament of marriage to opposite-gender couples is wrong, and should be extended to same-gender couples.

The problem with this reasoning is in 2. God indeed has no natural limits on the achievement of His will, but he does have limits on the achievement of His will generally, namely, those He imposes upon Himself.

The counter-argument is as follows:

1. God restrains Himself from imposing His will when doing so would conflict with the free will of His created beings.

2. Sin is a choice freely willed.


3. God allows sin, even though it is against His will.

4. The physical consequences of sin are such that certain elements of the psyche are manifested at creation as other than that which God willed them to be.


5. God creates beings which have qualities He did not will for them

Homosexual orientation, the counter-argument states, would fall under the category of such qualities.

I am not here arguing for or against a certain interpretation of the argument - that is not my intent. I am merely pointing out that the author fails to address the main counter-argument of his opposition which presents a serious challenge to his reasoning.

Such a counter-argument must be addressed if this argument is to have any relevance. In fact, as it reads now, one could substitute for "homosexual orientation" virtually any quality which one is born with, and by the author's own reasoning, one would have to admit that God indeed willed such a quality to that being.

I'm certain that this is not what the author intended, so further clarification on his part would advance the discourse a great deal.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

The Church of England came about because a king wanted to dump one wife for another, and another, and another, etc., even though the Bible did not allow doing so except for adultery, at least in the first case (the rest were technically adulteresses).  The precedent of man's rule over God's rule was set, at least for the Church of England.

But, for those who believe the Bible to be the unalterable Word of God, man cannot change what the Bible says. As one of those much demeaned people who believe that the Bible is my final authority in spiritual matters, I cannot accept the acceptance of same-gender sexual conduct in my church because the Bible clearly prohibits such conduct. That does not mean that I cannot accept those who have same-gender attraction into fellowship. The Bible does not say to discriminate in any way against those who have same-gender attraction. However, the Bible does not allow blessing same-gender sexual conduct, no matter how cleverly its words are manipulated by scholars.

Denominations have the authority to set the rules for their denomination, but they do not have the authority to change the Bible. A church denomination can do whatever it wants as long as it is legal in the civil sense, and members can choose to submit to denominational rules or leave.


Yes, gay people have the right to marry and those of us who disagree have the right to feel it is not in accordance with out beliefs and therefore is not a valid marriage.



If I were to write a column about "my church", I'd probably learn something about it first!

Henry VIII most certainly did not start the Anglican Church in order for it to be less conservative or "less sacramental". 

If we're being honest it was for power and so throwing out a few sacraments seemed like a good idea to prove that he had a better reason than his own power for causing social strife.

But Henry VIII himself, if anything, would have said that it was a more sacramental church  because he had gotten rid of the unnecessary ones and emphasized the real important ones.

Anyway, imagine if Time actually hired a scholar to discuss these types of issues rather than "guy who went to an Episcopal church and wants to sound off about it to his leftist friends and maybe even some of those evil conservatives!"


If this discussion is actually about God and same sex marriage, then that is what the discussion should be about.

So, what does God say?  First off, He says this... that there is no sin except one that will send a person to hell:  that is the rejection of His Son, Jesus, as Lord and Savior.  Second, that He loves the sinner, but hates the sin.  God is not mad at anyone anymore, because He has already poured His wrath out on Jesus as payment for all our sins.  However third, God does say that homosexuality is an abomination to Him.  He hates conduct outside His word.  Why?... not because we are not obeying the rules, but because He knows that such conduct is destructive to our lives, our future and our well being.

Personally, I am repulsed by the very thought of homosexual conduct.  Nonetheless, my desire is to see no one live beneath his or her highest and best potential.  God is the only one who can lead us into that kind of life.  So I ask this... please just think about it.  Please consider that any approval or ignoring of such behavior is, in fact, a form of rejection of who Jesus is.  And as such, is by His word a rejection of God himself.  That is very thin ice to base one's life on.  Think about it.

Kent R
Kent R

The paper work that binds on earth by mans law is not what counts  its what is bound by the law of the faith based organization that make marriage and that  can not be altered by a law of man regardless what  it is called.   The temporal laws man writes are for this life alone  Marriage by mans law is only falid for  this life  

Eternal Marrage is by Gods laws and can not be altered by mans rules  so  a temporal or earthly contract  has no value after this life  what the courts and congress press forward  is from man  and is moot in the real court of life. as to Marriage and who may or may not wed that has been established  in scripture and mans law does not preempt that law in  the realm of faith it only affects ideas of what may work in life but is not considered in the realm of faith.

Daayiee Abdullah
Daayiee Abdullah

Mancham is correct that theology is evolving across the board of various Abrahamic faiths. However, sadly, those who claim their literal views are the only ways to interpret ancient texts fail to acknowledge growth in our understanding of human life and how our world is no longer based upon a belief that the earth is flat. As a Muslim religious leader in the West that recognizes marriage equality (same sex marriage), this is an extremely positive development and does improve the lives of those who seek recognition of their commitment to their faith by having such religious rituals performed.


Essentially, this convention has created two different churches, both using the name "Protestant Episcopal Church".

In one church, I am entitled to the sacraments offered to all christian members of the church, in good standing, without regard to my orientation.  Including the sacrament of marriage.

In the other church, I may optionally -- at the "discretion" of the clergy of any given parish -- be denied the sacrament of marriage, notwithstanding that I am a member of the Episcopal church, and in good standing with it.

In short, the church has given its individual parishes the right to decide whether they will discriminate against individual members of the church by denying them a sacrament available to them in other parishes of the church.

It would seem conceivable, therefore, that if one sacrament may be denied, at will, by those who "oppose" my "lifestyle", other sacraments may likewise be denied: the sacrament of communion, the sacrament of last rites and christian burial...etc.... based on the personal whims of individual parishes/clergy.

This bifurcated approach to the equality of my membership in its fold, and my right to ALL its sacraments available to the church's members, is the last straw.  I have stood by the Episcopal Church for 45 years.  No more.

I herewith terminate my membership in both of the Protestant Episcopal churches in the United States.



Religion is a man-made word . " I you don't do things my way , you can't play with me " .