Monday, July 6, 2015

My response to "40 Questions for Christians Now Waving the Rainbow Flag".

As some of you may have seen, there has been a blog post circulating around entitled, "40 Questions for Christians Now Waving the Rainbow Flas."

As many of you know, I have, long, been a supporter for marriage equality.  I have been ashamed of many of my Christian brothers and sisters for they way they have treated this issue.  My God is a God of love and compassion.  My God is not the God that many conservative churches talk about.  My God is not a God that is all about "fire and brimstone" and all about "you are going to 'Hell'".  Many young adults are leaving the church because of that type of Christianity and those types of churches.  However, that is not who my God is.  The God that I believe in IS love.  There is room for EVERYBODY at God's table in Heaven.  Yes, that's right; EVERYBODY!!!!

This is my response to those 40 questions:

1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?  I have believed in marriage equality every since I found out that gay people couldn't get married.  (I may have been in middle school or so)  I thought that was the most ridiculous thing that I've ever heard.  

2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?  I am offended that this "pastor" just assumes that I HAD to change my mind.  I've always believed in marriage equality.  Here's a bible verse that I love: Matthew 22: 36-40: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law.  Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord your God and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments."

3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated? Jesus put love at the very top, he told us not to judge, and he did not say anything about homosexuality (as did nobody since that term wasn't around until the 1800s)

4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the Church?  There aren't any that flat-out say that.  You can say that Isaiah 54:5 or 2nd Corinthians 11:2 do.  However, the Bible was written in a much different time.  The PEOPLE who wrote the Bible wouldn't even fathom that.  That is because they are people and they live in a much different time than we do now.

5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship? I definitely do.  

6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman? Jesus says "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together let not man separate."  Jesus lived in a much different time than we do.  In his time, they could only fathom talking about husbands and wives.  That particular bible verse says nothing about a man being with a man or a woman being with a woman.  He is not saying that homosexuality is a sin or anything like that in this verse.

7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding? I see that you are trying to put me in the seat of "judgment".  In Romans 2:1, Peter says, "You therefore have no excuse, you who pass judgment of someone else.  For at, whatever point, you judge another, you are condemning yourself because you who pass judgment do the same things."

8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?  In my opinion, Paul is an "Old Testament" writer in a "New Testament" world.  He could have easily fit into the craziness that is in Leviticus.  If you believe Paul's writing, then I assume that you believe that "women should be silent in the churches.  They are not to be allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the law says."  People are picking and choosing again.  Paul was a human writing how HE believed.  His prejudices and thoughts are behind his writing.

9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven? No

10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to? I do not know.  However, 1st Corinthians was written by Paul and you already know by thoughts on him.

11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp? Considering that John Calvin is the youngest of that group and died in 1564, I would say that I live in different time than they do.  They all lived in a time where homosexuality was frowned upon because people didn't know too much about it.  Luckily, as the years have gone on, people have evolved.  If they were alive today, there is a good chance that their thoughts might be a tad different.

12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned? The same things that I am saying now.  Their understanding of homosexuality is culturally conditioned.  People in the US that believe it is a sin are culturally conditioned, as well.     

13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman? I'm sorry but I don't think that I have the right to speak for them.  

14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father? No, I believe that a child does well with parent(s) who love them and show unconditional love throughout their lives.  I think that a child does best when their parent teaches them to not dislike a group of people because they are different, I think that a child does better when their parent teaches them about inclusiveness, compassion, and love.  If you say that a child needs a mother and father, then you are completely devaluing any parent who might also be a widow, a divorced parent who has nobody else in the picture, AND homosexual couples.

15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion? I did no research.  However, I know these couples.  I know a few moms who don't have the dad in the picture.  Their children are incredible kids who are wonderful in all assets of life.  I know a couple gay couples who also are wonderful parents.  

16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad? N/A

17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment? I want to talk about the last part of this question.  People that oppose gay marriage always bring up one thing.  They think about sex.  For some reason, that's all that is important to these people.  They don't think about two people who love each other and would do anything for that person.  They think about what they do in the bedroom.  They are very lucky that they can use the Bible to justify their hatred and bigotry because just saying "it's icky" wouldn't get them very far.  

18. How would you define marriage? Two people who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together.

19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married? No!  However, if you want to use the Bible to discuss this, then they should be able to sleep with each other.  Just ask Lot and his daughters.  However, in Lot's defense, his daughters got him drunk in order to do it.  That was the first recorded instance of "blaming the alcohol".

20. Should marriage be limited to only two people? This is another question (just like 19) that is brought up with the "slippery slope" argument.  I am going to go against the Bible and say "yes, it should be".  

21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married? This is going back to the "slippery slope" argument that gay marriage will lead to polygamy, incest, bestiality.

22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license? Yes

23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage? No

24. If not, why not? It should be between two consenting adults.

25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion? Of course they should.  If they don't want to marry somebody of the same sex, I don't think that they should be made to do that.  However, if you are including not providing a service to somebody because they are gay, that is not exercising your religious beliefs, that is pure discrimination.  Nobody should have the right to discriminate against another person.

26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue? If people are living as Christ called them to live (loving God and loving one another) then none of this should be threatened.

27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics? I'm sorry but bullying of Christians is not the same as the bullying of gays and lesbians.  Christians' rights are not being threatened.  Christians don't have to worry for their safety like many gays and lesbians do.  Jesus often fought for the oppressed over the oppressors.  I will do the same.

28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles? Our job is to support each other in loving community.  Some churches offer counseling to straight couples; they can do the same for gay couples.  However, gay couples are not in need of "fixing."  People need to worry about doing better for themselves, loving each other, and doing what Christ would want you to do.  The Jesus that I love would not want you oppressing or discriminating against other people.

29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline? I don't trust church discipline.  All it does is hurt people and pushes people further away from the church.  However, if there was any church discipline, gay couples in open relationships should not be subject to it any more than straight couples in open relationships should.

30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage? Our job, as Christians, is not to decide what is or what is not a sin.  Our job is to love God and to love our neighbor.  When we start saying that this is a sin or that is a sin, we automatically leave the job of "loving" and start our job of "judging."

31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found? The focus of the church should never be about "sin".  It should ALWAYS be about Christ and Christ's love for us.  That is the problem that I have with all of the "fire and brimstone" type of churches.  They don't focus on God's love, they focus on "sin" and whether or not people are going to "Hell".

32. If “love wins,” how would you define love? How would I define love?  Love is too broad of a word to just give a quick definition.  However, love is treating someone how you would like to be treated.  Love if compassion, forgiveness, kindness, etc.

33. What verses would you use to establish that definition? 1st Corinthians 13: 4-7 is a good definition.

34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love? God's greatest command was to love.  Everything we do needs to follow under that command.  Romans says, "Love your neighbor as yourself.  Love does no harm to a neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law".

35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make? Of course it is.  However, with homosexuality, people always use the old adage, "Love the sinner, hate the sin".  I have a big problem with that particular statement.  With homosexuality, that is a big part of who this person is.  Just like, being straight is a big part of who I am.  Therefore if you think that being straight is a sin and you hate that part about me, you are, in turn, hating a huge part of what makes me who I am.  Therefore, you are NOT loving me.  Therefore, it is time to throw that line away.  

36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith? It is not a change for me.

37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost? I hate the term "born again".  The Bible is more of a guidebook.  There is a lot of truth in the Bible; however, it is not all "true".    The Bible was written by humans.  It was not written verbatim by God.  God might have inspired it.  However, it was written by people with their own thoughts and prejudices behind it.

38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?
39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead? Not necessarily

40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind? The beauty of it is that, honestly, I don't know and I'm not even going to pretend to know.  For all of my conservative Christian friends out there, it's okay to not know.  It is okay to not think that you have all of the answers.  

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