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?

56 comments
Sam_Smith_michigan
Sam_Smith_michigan

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 .  

http://redeemercitytocity.com/... 

yoda22
yoda22

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 like.author.displayName 1 Like

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.

Printer987
Printer987

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.  

gambaguy
gambaguy

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 like.author.displayName 1 Like

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.

Richard_im_Himmel_bei_Gott
Richard_im_Himmel_bei_Gott

 Given your level of self-hatred, self-disrespect, and self-marginalization, you'd make a great roman catholic.

While you are free to make all these negative claims about sin/sinner/sining for yourself, of course, you should have the intellectual honesty to state that you are in no position to assume that these things are true of or about anyone but yourself. 

You can't even prove the existence of god.  Your assumptions about him, and the relationship(s) he might have with others are therefore invalid.

BenFranklinwasHumanToo
BenFranklinwasHumanToo

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.

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

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. 

Deb Galante Seles
Deb Galante Seles

 The Bible also condemns eating seafood, using garments with two types of cloth, stoning adulterers, etc., etc.  Our understanding of human behavior (and I suppose dietary laws as well) have progressed.  Reading scripture through the eyes of the person and message of Jesus is how I believe I am called, as a Christian to read scripture.  "I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly."  Either homosexual or heterosexual activity can be holy or a sin depending on how it measures to the two great commandments:  to love God and to love my neighbor.  If I treat anyone (including a sexual partner) as an object, therein is the sin--not whether it's homosexual or hetero. 

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

Seles

The trouble is that Satan is too often successful in blinding us to God's laws. Homosexuality is a defiance of God's creation of males and females. Or, to put it in another way, we open our eyes only to the negatives in life. Vultures have keen eyesight. From flying heights, they can survey field and forest, vast panoramas of God's creation. But they focus only on a piece of rotting flesh they can see from a mile away. You should not link 'loving one's neighbor ' to homosexuality for it is a sin ; it is not love for a person, for it degrades and dehumanizes a person. 

Albert Shortleg Dachshund-Dogg
Albert Shortleg Dachshund-Dogg

Without going to google, I am just curious if you can name another City destroyed under the same circumstances that destroyed Hiroshima. Then explain why? If you are trying to connect 9/11 with homosexuals you belong in an insane asylum. 9/11 was an act of hate and evil. The people involved are standing at the bottom and hottest part of hell. Homosexuality had nothing to do with the hate of  liberty and justice for all. You are a sick individual for even making such a reference. 

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

You are a neurotic to call a sane person insane. I'm glad you accept 9/11 as 'an act of hate and evil.' These events happen when the country itself is submerged in sin. Homosexuality is a sin because it is unnatural. Without the natural, physiological and superbly designed vagina, homosexuals indulge in oral sex between males and there has been a marked increase in mouth cancer. When this sinful act is given official approval in the form of legislation, God will punish the country. Look at the fate of America. A rich country is now borrowing loans. There is steep economic recession, in spite of economic planing by top professors, including Krugman. Unemployment, mental depression, loneliness and fear grip the nation. Wit Putin's ambition to revive the former Soviet Union, and Iran threatening with nuclear weapons, and China threatening to throttle American economy, America is earmarked for a terrible tragedy, unless Americans repent. Why gay marriages when there are beautiful american girls?

Peace_2_All
Peace_2_All

@Yeshuratnam:disqus  -  You Said: "Americans should remember 9/11.  There should not be another terrible destruction for flirting with gay marriage. "  So... in other words, god is going to get really angry, and things like 9/11 are our punishment for our 'sins' ...? WTF...???  Are you kidding...? It's you and your fellow extremists that think in this fashion that 'really' should be a concern for our society.

Peace...

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.

Peace_2_All
Peace_2_All

@facebook-1319836832:disqus  - Hi Glen... It seems to me that the gays are wanting equality under the law... period.   I think it's the 'Church,' and their biblical beliefs that are trying to squelch the rights of gays, etc... Certainly not the other way around.

Peace...

TucsonTerpFan
TucsonTerpFan

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.

Peace_2_All
Peace_2_All

@TucsonTerpFan:disqus  In general, it seems that in many of the christian denominations, the members are leaving, and in some are continuing to question very seriously the beliefs that are espoused by their particular brand of christianity.  The 'trend' seems to be that in the future we will see less and less, over time, of people holding on to unfounded and outdated belief systems.

Peace...

TucsonTerpFan
TucsonTerpFan

Perhaps many are leaving Christian denominations; today in England there are more Moslems in the mosque for Friday prayers than there are Christians in church for Sunday services.  A good thing?  Don't care? Makes no difference?  In Europe today, many churches and most cathedrals are simply tourist attractions.

That's a "trend" that portends a "particular brand of" religion that even the many who condem, ridicule, or even "water down" Christianity would have a much harder time dealing with.  Is "live and let live" a growing religious "trend" in the Arab/Moslem world today?

Christians "leaving," not a problem, especially for many secularists in the US and other "western" nations, but apostasy for many (too many?) Moslems is dealt with, with, oh, what's the prescribed "penalty?"  Death; yeah that works.  (How's the Moslem world's  treatment of women, Coptics in Egypt, Christians, Baha'is, gays anywhere, non-believers, converts?  Should we even mention the Jews?)  Have there been any "honor killings" in the US?  What's the insperation for those deaths?

Today, in some countries (you know which countries), when you don't conform to what is expected of "the religion," no, demanded, a person who cries  "peace" and toleration will receive none.  

The US Episcopal Church had its first gay bishop a few years ago (a man who before becoming a bishop, left his wife and kids and moved in with his "partner").  Would most Moslem nations see that event as simply a religious choice that should be tolerated?   Will we love the "peace" from the "religion of peace?" Who really thinks that that "peace" will even be allowed?

Peace_2_All
Peace_2_All

@TucsonTerpFan:disqus  - Hey Tucson... So, respectfully,  I'm not sure exactly what your point is.  It seems that you have moved your argument into Islam, and mainly the 'extremist' views and actions of Islam.  For me, just to be clear... I don't care for 'any' of these religions, Christianity, Islam, etc...

Peace...

mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

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.

Peace_2_All
Peace_2_All

@mtngoatjoe:disqus In general, I am in sync with your meta-message of equality, love and respect.  The other message about God..."we won't  secure his 'favor' " unless we do so, is your unverified opinion.  The whole issue of saying that there even is a God, and 'He' 'needs' you to behave or else, etc... is all speculation.  However, again... I 'do' like your message of equality and love and respect for all.

Peace...

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.

http://crossexaminedblog.com/2...

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

Therefore

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

4. God created homosexual beings

Therefore

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.

Therefore

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.

Therefore

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.

Jardin J
Jardin J

You have also made an assumption that is debatable: Homosexuality is a choice, and therefore falls under the category of sin. 

The author took a different approach, reasoning that one's sexual orientation is not a choice, but something you are born with like your sex on skin color. He then discussed his personal views on whether a person can be denied access to blessings based on characteristics they were born with. See here: 

"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."

So the fallacious reasoning was yours.

PaulBot 1138
PaulBot 1138

Forgive me, I was unclear:

In premiss 4, "Sin" refers to all sin, both original and actual, throughout all time, including those completely unrelated to sexual conduct. It would certainly be absurd to argue that a person's own sin has caused the state of his own psyche which itself was the reason for committing that sin.

Instead, the argument goes that the willful disobedience of created beings throughout time has so damaged creation that it manifests in the physical world itself, causing such things as disease, death, and improper states of the psyche. God, it is argued, does not will these to occur, but He allows them to exist as the freely-chosen consequences of His creation. Since He will not interfere with the free will of His created beings, He allows some of creation to be other than He wills it. One such state of creation is the existence of those born with homosexual sexual orientation. In such an instance, those with such an orientation would be in in no way responsible for the existence of their orientation, as this would have come about outside of any specific free choice on their part, but it still would be a state which God does not will for that person.

Again, for clarification, I am not here espousing either view; I'm only attempting to point out the opposition's counter-argument to the author's reasoning, which he has not addressed. I would much like to see a follow-up article detailing his response to this counter-argument which is, I believe, an accurate summation of the standard Catholic response to such claims.

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.

AZNana
AZNana

 The Church of/in England existed long before Henry VIII. What he did was separate the state church from the See in Rome and made the English Monarch the head of the church. He DID NOT start the church.

Jem Maxwell
Jem Maxwell

I suggest you learn Greek right a way. Go see a Greek Orthodox priest and talk about what's in the bible in the language it was written in a thousand years before your English translation and the huge changes you made. It may not change much on gay marriage. But you might learn just what a tricky thing language and communication is. I sincerely doubt you can get two Baptists together to translate one page of the Bible exactly the same. The Bible might be just one thing and no one can change it. What that one thing is exactly supposed to be to the word and letter is anyone's guess.

Tell me this though? Of all the rules in the bible that God might judge you for where does it place 'a man laying with another man' as above at least 50 other worse sins, so why are all gays going to hell and people like you so optimistic about those who gamble, cheat, divorce, have sex before marriage, steel, kill, hate they're neighbor-even Mexicans, are greedy, hurt the poor, put their parents in a home, warship money and idolize sports teams to the point we get Penn State and so on. Doesn't God prioritize and rank sin. I mean are all equally bad. If not, why the concern for gay marriage of all the horror, greed, starvation, cruelty, and violence in this world?  Why this?  And not the State lottery? Gay marriage doesn’t even get mensioned and a 'man laying with a man' doesn't even make the Top 10 list of the Commandments or the 7 Deadly Sins. Why this? Lesbians aren't even mentioned at all? They can still go forth and multiply too.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

I don't recall saying what you are rambling on about.

Jem Maxwell
Jem Maxwell

You claim people cannot change what's written in the bible. This implies there is a clear absolute way to read it. I explain the difficulties of language and literature. 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 wich is 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.

brianmc3113
brianmc3113

I fyou think the bible is the final authority, then you shouldn't have a problem with abortion.  After all, "god" supposedly commanded, at several points in the bible, to throw babies against rocks and slaughter whole groups of people.  If anything is "proven" in the bible, it's the fact that "god" contradicted himself regularly, starting with the very first "commandment."

Religion is nothing more than a way to keep control of a growing population in order to keep order in society .... nothing more but a philosophical guide.  When early religious rules were created in the first place, many of them were created out of common sense.  "Be fruitful and multiply" made a lot of sense when 3 out of every 5 children didn't make it past puberty ..... similar to eating shellfish or pork .... it made sense when the people didn't have enough knowledge to understand food preparation and people were getting sick and dying from food-bourne illnesses.  Mono-theistic religion was just a natural progression from the days of human sacrifices ..... as people started to figure out that "god's vengefulness" happened whether they did what they were told or not, suddenly "god" became a more "loving"  being with compassion, thanks to Jesus.  Jesus was a great opportunist, and his ideas were actually quite agreeable, and made a lot of logical sense.  The problem was, due to the lack of education from just about everyone except religious leaders and leaders of empires, he would have had to come up with an "almighty" backer to spread his ideas.  I'm guessing, with actual logic, that those "missing years of Jesus" were really the years he traveled (a carpenter could travel almost anywhere and get a job then) to places like India, Egypt, etc. where he learned of earlier stories from Krishna, Horus, Dionysis (among others, I'm sure) ...... whose stories, surprise surprise, were extremely similar to the story of Jesus.  I understand you won't let a little thing involving logic open your eyes, but it really doesn't matter .... as you can see with the ever-changing denominations, splintered off into literally hundreds of smaller sects that pick and choose which parts of the bible to highlight, and choose their own interpretations of the same book, religi0n as we know it will eventually evolve into something else entirely ..... much in the same way we view mythology today.

Richard_im_Himmel_bei_Gott
Richard_im_Himmel_bei_Gott

Wrong.  Henry VIII did not create the Church of England.  He upheld the catholic denomination, frowned on Protestantism, and died considering himself a good catholic. 

The Church of England was formalized by his protestant daughter, Elizabeth I.

And if anyone really believed the "word of god" to be unalterable, we would still have public stonings, men would still be selling their daughters, adulterers would be executed, slavery would be a christian standard... do I need to go on?

Jo Olson
Jo Olson

 Sorry, Bruce, but there was much more to the English Reformation than Henry VIII's marriage and heir issues.  For example, John Wyclyf espoused ideas in the 14th century which would be hallmarks of Protestantism (denial of transubstantiation) one and a half centuries before Henry the VIII.  Many at court and in the hierarchy of the church in England were influenced by Protestant ideas.  Henry VIII, by contrast, was a thorough-going Catholic in terms of theology.  Yes, he did separate the English church from Rome, bot even then, there was more to it than his marriage issues.  You have sadly joined the ranks of those who have a reduced understanding of church history in general and the Reformations in particular.  

Richard_im_Himmel_bei_Gott
Richard_im_Himmel_bei_Gott

 He did not "separate the English church from Rome"; he separated supreme authority in the English church from Rome.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

His need for divorce was the doctrinal catalyst.

danlunche
danlunche

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.

Peace_2_All
Peace_2_All

@danlunche:disqus Your 'beliefs' about gay marriage have no effect on the actual *validity* of their legal marriages.  You can continue to pound sand all you want about your beliefs, but they have -0- relevance on the 'validity' of the matter.

Peace...

Jardin J
Jardin J

You do have the right to think and feel anything you want, no matter how hateful and ignorant. But you cannot deny the rights of another person based on your feelings/beliefs. 

Richard_im_Himmel_bei_Gott
Richard_im_Himmel_bei_Gott

 Marriage is a legal contract.  All that matters is whether the law recognizes gay marriage as a legal contract.  What you consider to be a "valid" marriage is of no more value that what you think about the "validity" of traffic tickets.

AugustineThomas
AugustineThomas

Hmm.

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!"

Richard_im_Himmel_bei_Gott
Richard_im_Himmel_bei_Gott

 Henry VIII did not start the Anglican Church, to be conservative, "less sacramental", nor for any other reason.  He did not start the Anglican Church, period.

Get a good book on Elizabeth I and read it.

bobwilcox
bobwilcox

Suggest you dig a little deeper.  via media is an idea from 19th Century Anglicism  pointing back to the Elizabethan Settlement.  Mr Meacham doesn't talk about dear old Henry.

BenFranklinwasHumanToo
BenFranklinwasHumanToo

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.

msteel271
msteel271

"[A]ny approval or ignoring of such behavior is, in fact, a form of rejection of who Jesus is..." That is a leap considering Jesus was silent on homosexuality.

I do see your point, but it comes down to two things: (1) how we wish to interpret Leviticus, and (2) whether we actually decide to consider homosexual behavior, in your words, as "destructive to our lives, our future and our well being."

On point 1, all but the most dogmatic Christians already pick and choose among the freak show of rules found in there (ex: if you sleep with your wife while she's menstruating you should both be exiled from her people, 20:18), and I find it hypocritical to single out the gay passages (18:22, etc.) while ignoring other large swaths.

Point #2 is really where the heart of the argument is, right?  If we consider homosexual behavior to be disgusting, we are more apt to agree with and point to the Leviticus passages so we can get God to back us up.  The paradigm shift that's happening right now in our country is that formerly anti-gay-by-default folks are starting to realize that a gay relationship can be just as acceptable and healthy as a heterosexual one.

I do appreciate that you have a nuanced understanding of scripture and didn't just recite some anti-gay platitude. But I would challenge you to really examine your disgust at homosexuality and see how that might be clouding your judgment.

Richard_im_Himmel_bei_Gott
Richard_im_Himmel_bei_Gott

Its an even bigger leap, considering that there is no proof Jesus ever existed.  Nor, in fact, is there any proof of the existence of god.  Basing anything on the "proofs" of the bible as the "word of god" makes about as much sense as saying that the existence of flour proves the existence of Blackforest cake.

BenFranklinwasHumanToo
BenFranklinwasHumanToo

My "disgust" is simply the knowledge and understanding that a man kissing another man in the fashion of homosexual lust is purely an unnatural and, in ways, an un-human act.

If you are gay, then say so and acknowledge it for what it is... sin.  If you love your sin more than your life, then go for it.  Do not try to rationalize your sin by talking about political perspective.  It's an insult to God, who defines the right nature of how and why He created man to begin with.

If you try to justify same sex marriage by saying it's not in the Bible, like Yeshuratnam here, you are talking like a coward who is afraid to stand up and admit it's wrong, despite the fact that you do it anyway.I am fully aware of my own faults, sins and weaknesses.  But I refuse to hide them before a holy God, thinking that somehow He will ignore them.  He won't.  But forgiveness comes by humbling myself before Him, admitting my sin and trusting in His grace and mercy.  After all, this is what Jesus died for anyway, is it not?

Tuathe
Tuathe

You are quoting Biblical teachings.  The Bible is a collection of stories (that is what bible means) of different tribes of Hebrews and the NT is a collection of stories handed down from one disciple to the  next that was recorded beginning in about 60 AD.    Thus, they still are the writing of humans and their interpretation of what they thought God wanted. 

So, thinking outside the teachings of the Bible and answer me this.  If being a Homosexual is so bad and an insult to God, then pray tell , believing as you do that all humans are created by God, why are Homosexuals being created and born? 

Richard_im_Himmel_bei_Gott
Richard_im_Himmel_bei_Gott

 I am gay. 

Being gay is not a sin.

I do not recognize your right to determine that what you consider to be "sinful" is sinful for anyone but you.

There is no god; therefore, there is no insult.

"Justify" gay sex?  You are delusional.  Nobody needs to "justify" his sexual attractions and preferences.