The Marriage Amendment, the Gospel, and 2 Positions the Bible Does NOT Let You Take.

blog - same-sex marriage 2

For the past several weeks Facebook has once again proven itself to be arguably the most annoyingly opinionated place on the planet as users took what was once voted on behind curtained booths at their local elementary schools and churches and plunked said opinions down right in their profile pic box. In one generation, social media has publicized what was formerly peacefully private.

Opinions are…..well, opinions. Majority doesn’t make opinions right. Logical arguments don’t make them right either. They are generally just the feelings and preferences of sinful human beings who make billions of mistakes daily. That hasn’t changed. What has changed in the past decade, however, is that with the advent of the internet, particularly the popularity of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, EVERYONE has a platform for their viewpoint. Forty years ago, for better or worse, very few people’s political views were swayed by the opinions of an 18-year old girl (i.e. still the typical Facebook user). Today she can share one graphic picture of a child being shot with a pithy caption about gun control and all 1,437 of her Facebook friends are moved.

We now live in a world where hundreds of millions of amateurs on social media, possessing no expertise on a given subject, only their gut reaction feelings and opinions, are obsessed with weighing in on every matter through a public medium – particularly hot button topics like same-sex marriage.

Most current research says that an overwhelming percentage of people my age and younger are supportive of gay rights, particularly same-sex marriage (approx. two-thirds). So like it or not, it’s coming. And no traditional-valued elderly white guys in expensive suits are going to be able to thwart the inevitable cultural revolution. Look no further than a supposed embodiment of conservative political values – Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who himself stated Tuesday, “The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals….’We’re Americans. We just want to be treated like everybody else.’ That’s a compelling argument, and to deny that, you have got to have a very strong argument on the other side. The argument on the other side hasn’t been able to do anything but thump the Bible.” Previously, in a May 2009 column on his website, O’Reilly had stated, “Our Judeo-Christian traditions, which have made the United States the most prosperous and just society the world has ever known, speak to a family built around a responsible mother and a father-certainly the optimum when it comes to raising children.”  

I’d agree with both of those statements. What I’d disagree with O’Reilly on is what the appropriate venue for trying to influence others with those beliefs are. O’Reilly, obviously an influential voice in American politics, understands that arena (i.e. politics)  to be the one which can make the most positive change. While I certainly don’t encourage Christians to avoid politics, I fundamentally disagree with him on the political arena’s ability to positively influence our society on issues which are at their core, moral, heart, conscience-based issues. In other words, since I believe the gospel of the Bible, I think it’s delusional to suggest that politics can do what the Bible says the gospel alone can – change hearts. To put it a slightly different way, let’s say America does at some point ban same-sex marriage. Again, none of the evidence suggests that’s going to happen, but for argument’s sake, let’s say it does. At that point, have we just created a more God-pleasing country?   We’ve perhaps deterred some actions…..maybe. Have any hearts been changed? If you say “yes” to that, you’re disagreeing with the way the Bible says the Holy Spirit works (Rom. 10:17). As a Christian, you have to understand that God is not merely concerned with obedience, but a certain kind of obedience. The story of Cain and Abel (Gen. 4) teaches clearly enough that God is not looking for mere outward action, but faith-based obedience. Legislation is powerless to accomplish that.

Furthermore, while you may have won this anti-same-sex marriage battle, you’ve conditioned a generation of people to think that Christianity asserts itself by way of political tools, something that is profoundly unChristlike (e.g. Matt. 22, Mark 12, Luke 20; John 18 – esp. vss. 10-11 and vss. 33-36;  1 Tim. 2; 1 Pet. 2; Rom. 13). So, in “winning” the battle, you’ve shot yourself in the leg and done considerable long-term damage to the image of Christ. So, what’s a healthy way for Christians to address or not address the Marriage Amendment? Put differently…..

When it comes to the Marriage Amendment, what two extremes should Christians avoid?

1) Embracing a sexuality other than what God designed.

A professional counselor, who readily labels himself a Christian, recently told me that he encourages young people, including Christians, to masturbate as a healthy alternative outlet to having premarital sex. He then said, “The Bible doesn’t say anything about masturbation……does it?” My first thought……Yikes….To state your Christian faith up front, encourage people towards a certain behavior, and THEN ask whether or not the Bible has anything to say about the topic?! This strikes me as painfully irresponsible.

Sadly, many Christians fall into the same camp today – they form their beliefs and then wonder if the Bible supports them. This isn’t restricted to sex issues, although views on sexuality are perhaps disproportionately skewed because much of the Christian church, for fear of rocking the boat, has steered clear of honestly addressing the issue for so many years. If so, shame on us churches for that. Consequently, a young person could have attended church for the first 18 years of his/her life and still be left wondering what exactly the Bible says about sex.

So, okay, what does the Bible say about homosexuality? I always encourage people to start with Rom. 1, 1 Cor. 6, Gen. 19, Lev. 18, Lev. 20, 1 Tim. 1, Jude 7. I further encourage them to check out Jesus’ reaffirmation of God’s design for marriage in Matt. 19, where he quotes from the Genesis Creation account. There is no way to read those texts and think that the Bible is in any way neutral about the topic of homosexuality.  “God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.  28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.” (Rom. 1:26-28).  This is not particularly difficult biblical exegesis.  I could ask a 6-year-old to read that and ask them if it sounds like God is okay with homosexuality and they’d probably know.

Christians will want to be informed about the biblical sexual ethic before they share their opinions on such controversial issues.  Additionally, a main aspect to being a Christian is humbling your opinions before God’s clear will.  This isn’t thumping your Bible.  It’s a matter of saying “This book is the authority by which I live my life and here’s what it says about this issue.  What is YOUR ultimate authority?”

So, if you’re going to be a Christian and publicly support same-sex marriage through your Facebook account or otherwise, you’ll want to be ready to defend how you arrived at your convictions. While anti-discrimination ideals are certainly gospel-flavored, an approval of an active homosexual lifestyle is not a conclusion you’d reach by reading the Bible. Advocating for the equal legal rights of all citizens is one thing, but embracing an alternative view of human sexuality is not a position that the Bible allows you to hold. I’m not suggesting that you cannot be a Christian and be in favor of equality for same-sex marriage in our country. But for the sake of the gospel, it’s important to be able to articulate the difference between those two reasons.

2) Rebuking sin in a manner that Jesus himself never would.

Many Christians do, in fact, understand God’s design for human sexuality.  They do not, however, understand the Bible’s design for social influence.  It is generally NOT through politics.  As I mentioned earlier, I wish more Christians realized that we do more damage than good when we try to correct people’s hearts with something other than the gospel. It’s sort of like trying to perform heart surgery with a sword that’s designed for battle. In a profoundly anti-force, anti-conversion-through-politics statement, in the midst of the injustice of his own arrest no less, Jesus told impulsive Peter to “Put your sword away!” (John 18:11) 

“Well, how are we to address all of the godlessness in the world then?!” many will contend. ANSWER: Use a different tool, one that is actually tailor-made for hearts – the gospel.  And don’t just proclaim the gospel, but live the gospel.

What does that look like?

I was really touched by a story in Gabe Lyon’s book The NEXT Christians. Gabe and his wife, Rebekah, have a child named Cade who suffers from Down syndrome. It’s no secret that somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 percent of pre-diagnosed Down syndrome babies have been aborted since Roe vs. Wade. Saddened by this reality, instead of making signs and militantly picketing abortion clinics in protest, the traditional route of conservative Christians, the Lyons family created a booklet called Understanding the Down Syndrome Diagnosis. The booklets addressed the concerns of parents-to-be, pointed them to resources for help, including the phone numbers of parents who had raised Down syndrome children, and displayed beautiful photos of loving families with Down syndrome children who were enjoying quite normal lives. They then got volunteers to distribute the booklets into every ob-gyn’s and geneticist’s office in metro Atlanta and got doctors committed to be thoughtful in how they delivered the Down syndrome diagnosis and to offer these booklets as part of the process. While it’d be difficult to measure the effectiveness of such an endeavor, most anyone would understand that such a tool would at least likely cause a frightened young woman in a doctor’s office to pause longer before making such an important decision.

A fairly cursory reading of the Gospel records would tell you that this type of demonstration is much more “Jesus behavior” than signs, shouting, and political ballots.  And some may say, “Yes, but Jesus did get righteously angry from time to time. He even aggressively overturned the money changers’ tables.” (Matt. 21; Mark 11)  Yes.  At the Temple.  Not at the Praetorium. Not at the public market. In places where there should naturally be a common understanding of God’s Word and will, we would act differently than in a purely public setting. When it comes to public settings, the Apostle Peter says, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Pet. 2:12) And in the VERY NEXT VERSE he encourages believers to submit to a pagan emperor “for the Lord’s sake.” (1 Pet. 2:13)  

Advocating for the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality is one thing, but using a worldly method to accomplish a spiritual purpose, something Jesus himself refused to do, is simply not a position that the Bible allows you to hold.

Conclusion

This is an issue close to my heart for a variety of personal reasons. I absolutely hate the thought of even insinuating to someone that they are less than human by having them perceive me as trying to deny them human rights. That said, I’d like to think that I will not discriminate against homosexuals, but will love them exactly like I love heterosexuals, which means I’ll unapologetically share the truth of God’s Word with them as occasions present themselves.

In summary, Christians will want to know what the Bible says both regarding issues of morality as well as how best to address these issues on a social scale.  Seems a bit complex?  Yeah, that’s Jesus for you – deep and beautiful.  Our Lord and Savior is too big to fit on a voting ballot or a Facebook profile pic.  His holy, gracious, dynamic way of dealing with the world is worth pursuing, living, and sharing.

For further reading, you can check out Same-Sex Marriage and How Offended Christians Should Be.

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61 thoughts on “The Marriage Amendment, the Gospel, and 2 Positions the Bible Does NOT Let You Take.

  1. Adam Goede says:

    Excellent post. Very helpful. Very true that the gospel will make a true difference while politics doesn’t change hearts.

    When you said, “I’m not suggesting that you cannot be a Christian and be in favor of equality for same-sex marriage in our country,” I know of these people and yet have the hardest time seeing how they reckon the Bible with their political stand. Usually it’s a weak faith and understanding of Scripture. I understand that weak faith is still faith, however.

    • Saul C says:

      Adam,

      I would like to point out that not everyone that takes that position suffers from weak faith. Some Christians simply understand that under Constitutional law there is no one premise that can be used to deny homosexuals this option, without violating the concept of American freedoms. This matter of earthly goverment, rather than of the Kingdom. Just like the apostles discouraged rebellion against slavery, which no one can deny to be a practice that was contrary to Godcs design. There is nothing wrong with Christians acknowledging a similar dichotomy between the will of heaven, and that of this world. . As our Lord and Savior said, to Caesar what’s Caesar’s, and to God what’s God’s. I choose to speak against homosexuality only within the context the Lord gave mehen sharing the gospel. I can always vote against legislatonion out of conviction, but can not argue against the political rationale of those who support their cause without invalidating my own claim of freedom and equality under American rule of law. The
      law of the Kingdom applies to my life, not that of those who do not know the Lord.

      • Jim says:

        There have been two tremendous misperceptions which I believe have clouded the debate re: gay marriage.

        The first is that embedded in our Constitution is the separation of church and state. While the religious roots of our country may have been expunged from our discourse by those who embrace a humanist religion, there *is* no separation of church and state embodied in our Constitution.

        The First Amendment states that “CONGRESS shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof” (the second half of which seems to take a distant back seat to the first half).
        But the states were free to establish, and did in fact establish, their own state religion(s). The fear of the Founders was that this new, “Federal” government, which was formed by the States, would prohibit them from practicing the religion of their individual state. That was what they were fleeing in Europe and they didn’t want to replace one overarching national government with another.

        Second, I repeatedly hear that Christians should keep their religion out of this discussion. What is forgotten is that those who are in favor of gay marriage almost certainly have a religion (also defined as a belief system) as well, whether it be humanism, post-modernism, atheism, etc. And being amoral, or having a belief that everyone should belief as they wish, is, in and of itself, a belief system. So it’s not a matter of one group imposing their belief system on another. That’s inevitable in a free society.

        The question is: who’s belief system should be encoded into law? And to say a certain group (in this case Christians) should have no place in the discourse engages the very intolerance that those who claim to be tolerant decry. In the end, *every* single law ever enacted is the imposition of someone’s morality on someone else (cf. the Civil Rights Acts vis-a-vis the belief system of the Black Muslims or the KKK). It’s just a matter of whose belief system is actually encoded into law.

        Third, what this discussion is *really* about is the government’s right and interest to define what constitutes a “family.” From the very founding of our nation, and throughout history, the benefits of a stable family have been recognized and encouraged. In our own country, there’s a long history of family units receiving incentives through the tax code, etc. because it was recognized that a stable family: husband, wife, children was of great benefit to society and governance (one only needs to peruse Census Bureau statistics and sociology studies to recognize that children that come from single-parent households have much larger challenges in life (statistically speaking) than those who come from two-parent homes).

        So the debate shouldn’t be about “separation of church and state”, because that phrase has no basis in the reality of our Constitution; and it’s not about one certain group imposing their religion/morality on everyone else because whoever “wins” this debate, someone’s religion is going to foisted on someone else.

        The debate is really about what the government should recognize as a family unit with all of its ramifications. That is a legitimate debate about which there can be legitimate disagreements. But to vilify as “intolerant” and “radical” a group of people whose definition of “family” comports with that which has been in place across all cultures and societies for millenia seems to reflect a lack of historicity as well as being, well… a bit intolerant.

    • Hi Adam,
      Thanks so much for reading and for your response!

      In the section you’re referring to, I mentioned that “anti-discrimination ideals are certainly gospel-flavored.” By that, I meant that the gospel, which states that we are all sinners who are saved only by the grace of God, nothing more and nothing less, is the great equalizer of life. It puts us all in the same boat, being saved equally by grace alone. That is profoundly non-discriminatory in a way that no other philosophy in this world is. In other words, if everyone believed the gospel of Jesus, it would logically be the end of racism, classicism, sexism, etc. because it acknowledges that we’re all fundamentally the same – sinners saved by grace. Therefore none of us ever has the right to look down on others or the fear of looking up at others.

      Consequently, if someone wanted to defend the rights for all to marriage on the basis that the gospel seeks to proclaim a unity and equality amongst mankind, I might not fully agree with the logic, but I can buy it as a biblical defense. I think it’s an argument that has some merit. That’s different from someone seeking to approve of homosexual marriage based on the belief that “the Bible doesn’t really condemn homosexuality, all it’s references to the topics are just contextualized to the society of that day.” That particular argument just doesn’t work for someone who accepts the Bible as the inspired Word of God.

      Does that make sense?

  2. Jen Born says:

    Thank you James for your words:). I was SO upset when all those new profile pics were coming up on FB and on who from my friends I thought were biblical Christians – in all honesty, I defriended anyone that changed their profile to that pic.
    I hope my new profile picture that I found is showing that Gods laws are what’s written on my heart. Thinking about it now and right after I changed it actually, I wish I would have done nothing and maybe posted a passage from Gods Word instead… “‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'” Luke18:13

    • Hi Jen,
      Thanks again for reading and posting. I think what you’re saying here is in the spirit of why I suggest Christians pump the breaks on political involvement a bit – or why it’s wise at times to pump the breaks on social media or other public forums. It’s not at all that I think Christians shouldn’t/can’t be involved in politics. It’s that I’m not convinced they realize that the way in which they SHARE their convictions (which might be biblical convictions) can be flawed and sinful. For instance, as a pastor, I might preach a sermon that, in content is perfectly orthodox, but if I do it in a tone that projects self-righteousness and condescension, I’ve got troubles. Yes, the Holy Spirit can still work through the words of an ass (Num. 22), but for the sake of the gospel, I should be careful about throwing obstacles in front of the gospel (1 Cor. 9).

      My gospel-centered goal is never to shame anyone, condemn anyone, or put anyone in their place. My goal is that they be reconciled to God, and therefore I do want to be sensitive about unnecessarily alienating people. Perhaps the best way to do that, as you pointed out, is to preface what we say by first admitting openly and honestly that, “I too am a sinner…..”

  3. Joel says:

    I can agree with what you say to a point. What concerns me more is what’s coming down the line. In not too long, we Christians won’t even be able to call homosexuality a sinful lifestyle anymore at risk of being accused of hate speech and being thrown into jail. It’s already happening in Canada. You advocate not removing the rights of homosexuals to marry, but at the same time, I’m losing my right of free speech, and freedom of religion.

    • Joel,

      It is false to say: “it’s already happening in Canada.” The incident you are referring to happened in 2007 and wasn’t a pastor speaking from a pulpit but rather in a letter to an editor that he had written.

      More to wit, the Alberta Appeals court overturned the decision in 2012 and upheld the freedom of speech to profess one’s religious convictions and even made the accuser pay the legal fees of the pastor.

      http://theaquilareport.com/pastors-hate-speech-conviction-overturned-in-canadian-appeals-court/

      So, it’s not “happening.” It happened (in another country, might I add, since Canadian jurisprudence has no bearing on American law) and was quashed.

      It is an awfully slippery slope to believe that a one-time event in Canada that was overturned will become the law of the land in America.

    • Hi Joel and others,
      Again, GREATLY appreciate you reading and dialoguing here.

      Here’s my thought: We don’t entirely know what may come down the line. Here’s 2 possible options though:

      1) Those who seek to keep Church out of State will, with the same logic and fervor, will defend the right to keep State out of Church, and will not tell me what I can teach, who I can marry, etc.

      2) If it all goes to hell and I AM oppressed and boxed in and lose all of my rights, know what I’ll do? Keep preaching the gospel. And if I get imprisoned or even murdered for that, what happens? I become a sympathetic public figure and my message becomes even more powerful. Without double-checking my resources, I believe it was the church father Tertullian, who upon seeing Christians slaughtered in the Colosseum, then a pagan, thought to himself – “There’s nothing in the world that I’m so convicted by that I’d be willing to go through that. What is the secret to these Christians?”

      In other words, Christians in America have had a pretty cushy existence. Maybe too cushy. I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic and I don’t have a death wish, but if I have to die for the sake of the gospel, so be it. I’m not afraid of that and I don’t want other Christians to be either. While I don’t desire for our rights to be taken away, that’s not the worst thing that could happen. The worst thing that could happen is for the gospel to be compromised and souls to be lost.

      Consequently, I’m more than a little hesitant to get highly involved in an arena that is, by their own admission, turning young people and non-Christians away from Christianity (cf. David Kinnaman’s research in Unchristian.)

  4. Dorothy Rose says:

    If you own a bible, turn to Revelation 21. All of your answers are in this chapter, if you wish to believe what you read.

  5. Kiel says:

    Thank you for writing this, Pastor Hein. I know people – both young and old – who will benefit greatly and be brought great peace with the perspective change God’s Word and your words have provided, here. I know that I have. The Holy Spirit has truly blessed you through writing, and I’m sure will bless many more through reading these words of encouragement. Thank you!

  6. So good. Thank you for this! Blessings, also, on your call deliberation.

    But take heed and first fill the world with real Christians before you attempt to rule it in a Christian and evangelical manner. This you will never accomplish; for the world and the masses are and always will be unchristian, even if they are all baptized and Christian in name. –Martin Luther

  7. jorb says:

    Complains about the internet being a tool to force opinions onto the masses, uses the internet to spread his opinion to the masses……

    • 🙂 Well………not exactly. I wasn’t suggesting that people shouldn’t have opinions or use internet/social media or even share such opinions on the internet. I was suggesting that Christians should guard against biblically uninformed opinions and that they should definitely demonstrate some caution in sharing those opinions in a public venue.

      But yes, I am flattered that my humble little blog is reaching “the masses” 🙂

  8. Dinger says:

    A nice delineation between the two kingdoms. My thought rests on the arbitrary benefits our government has bestowed on the legal union between a man and woman. While the concept of marriage (though it wasn’t called that by God to my knowledge) was instituted by God and is therefore a holy institution, I think that because societies have been traditionally built around religions, marriage became a hybrid quasi-spiritual, quasi-legal concept. We were taught in catechism that spiritually we are united to our spouse and married before God when we make that lifelong commitment, BUT if we are not recognized by the government as married, we my be guilty of breaking the 4th commandment. The benefits of the legal concept of marriage involve many estate, tax, medical directive issues, etc. that have been arbitrarily assigned to one group that wants to be united legally to enjoy these benefits and not another group. So, if the government does in fact allow such unions to extend arbitrary legal and tax benefits to a union between to people of the same sex it is not the same as a man and woman being united before God, even though we use the same word for it. I agree with your analysis. We must speak the truth in love. I think when it comes to this particular sin, our sinful nature wants us to feel as though it is somehow worse than our own sins, sexual or otherwise, even though all sins are damnable before God and why we all need our Savior. That’s also a slippery slope, one the Catholic church traveled to come to the development of venial and mortal sins. One would have a hard time defending society as a whole for trashing the institution with sins of infidelity, physical abuse, and divorce as it is. Thanks for this, Pastor.

  9. RDLN says:

    I want to say thank you for your article. I cried when I read it. Sometimes I feel so torn between my friends who openly support gay marriage or are gay themselves and my friends who openly hate gay marriage and gays, but supposedly believe the same religion I do. Reading your article, especially the section on Jesus rebuking sin, was like being told “God won’t hate you just because you don’t hate gay people.” It was very comforting.

    • Thanks very much for your thoughts. I know exactly what you’re saying regarding friends in two very different camps on the issue. It’s good that people are passionate about their convictions; I try to remind myself that if I personally am MOST passionate about the gospel of Jesus, that will lead me to a certain amount of humility, patience, and grace in dealing with others who may be struggling in the two camps you’re talking about, which I’d refer to as self-liberation and self-righteousness.

  10. L says:

    Without having read word for word in the posts, is it my understanding that, after being raised a Lutheran all my life and still a Lutheran, that the belief here is that God does not love all his children, and to live by the golden rule is not a good example oh how we should partially live our lives?

    • I’m not entirely sure I understood the question/comment. Sorry about that. And please correct me if I’m wrong, but what I think I hear you saying is that you think I’m suggesting in the post that God doesn’t love all people and that we shouldn’t treat others the way we’d want to be treated. Does that cover it?

      First of all, I have no desire to do any sort of denominational-bashing here. However, when someone makes a denominational claim, as you’ve done, I do feel the need to clarify that calling oneself “Lutheran” in 2013 really doesn’t indicate much of anything specific, at least not theologically.

      Second, God loves all people. But if a loving Father has a child who has given himself/herself to prostitution or drug dealing, wouldn’t love compel him to try to draw the child back to a healthier existence? We don’t have a right to be permissive of something that a holy God himself calls sinful. If you don’t buy that, please double check the Scripture sections that I highlighted in the post and explain to me what I missed. I’m honestly not trying to say that to sound combative. If I have sincerely missed something in God’s Word and am misinformed, I would hope and pray that someone would respectfully and gently and lovingly guide me to see the truth that I’d previously missed (which would be an execution of the Golden Rule).

  11. Jason says:

    Valid points were made, but completely off the mark when we are talking about basic fundamental rights given to us under the constitution. Where’s the argument made by Christians is about the abomination of same-sex marriage according to the bible, yet has absolutely nothing to do with equal rights under the law of our nation. Where’s the moral foundation of Christianity was used in constructing our less than perfect union, we are governed by an ever changing constitution of brilliant omissions, not the King James Bible. Lastly, this blog read like he was condescending to the reader, as well as anyone participating on facebook, which brings me back to Religions and sanctimonious attitudes. We have to realize that freedoms to have religion in this country is just as important as freedom to stay away from religion and equal rights under the law.

    • Hi Jason,
      I believe I’m the “condescending he” to which you are referring 🙂 J/K. I do apologize if I came off as condescending. I do not mean to, but that’s entirely possible, and if so, I’m certainly sorry. I am incredibly far from perfect and only boast in a perfect Savior, not in my flawed self.

      I hear what you’re saying about the freedom to both embrace and stay away from faith groups as being one of the beautiful things of this country. I’m not sure you’ll accept my apology on behalf of all Christians, or even sure that I have the right to do so, but I do think you’re right that there have been times in the history of our great country when Christians have tried to govern the country with the Bible by exerting force. I’m sorry for that and try to be sensitive to that. You’re right – faith is not something that should be mandated by the state. The Holy Roman Empire is a painful illustration of that.

      Nonetheless, I’d encourage you to think of “religion” more in terms of “worldview.” In other words, we all have a lens of bias by which we interpret the facts of this world, and we generally place this interpretation into a category that we consider “reality.” Consequently, when you ask a Christian to set aside his/her faith convictions when addressing political issues, it’d be like asking you to set aside your non-religious convictions when addressing political issues. You see, it’s nearly impossible to divorce yourself from the basic way in which you perceive the universe.

      This is basic reason why faith & politics tends to be such a messy issue. I understand that non-Christians get frustrated with Christians when they bring their faith-based bias into the political arena, but WE ALL bring our personal biases into such an arena. If I told you to disregard everything you know as truth and then address the politics of our country, what are you supposed to do? See where I’m coming from?

  12. Joshua says:

    When asking a homosexual if this is the lifestyle he has chosen for himself, they always reply with an emphatic no. Just like we never chose to be heterosexual, they did not choose this path. On the issue of homosexuals being born with it, it’s proven to be true. This is a huge reason I’ve chosen spirituality over religion and I’ve never been happier, more giving, more understanding, and closer to God. Religion complicates what is simple. Nothing against any Christians here, if you are happy please stay on your path, but man, keep it simple and go look at the beatitudes that is one of the only things in the bible that can withstand the test of time.

    • BW says:

      Joshua…these are choices people make…No one is forced to love, they choose to love…but in the case of homosexuality, it is most assuredly a choice because they are choosing to go a step further and have sex with each other. Sex is a CHOICE. You can love anyone you want, but you do not have to defile their body!

    • Hi Joshua,
      Thanks for the comment.

      First, there hasn’t been a ton that’s been “proven” when it comes to research on human sexuality, so I’d encourage you to maybe kick that one around a little more.

      Second, I’m happy that you’re happy :), but my question to you is who holds you accountable in your life? Spiritually speaking, who gets to speak into your life and tell you if you’re wrong? Do you think that you tend to give yourself the benefit of the doubt when it comes to spirituality? If not, you’re different from every person I’ve every met as a pastor. Our heart, if it is indeed sinful, lies to us constantly – which is part of the reason that God gives us “the Church.” Yeah, some people today hate organized religion and I’m not suggesting that organized faith groups haven’t done any damage. But that’s because they contain sinners, not because organized faith groups are conceptually bad. For more on the benefit/need for mutual accountability, please check out http://wp.me/pIDP5-cD

      Philosophically, America is characterized as post-Enlightenment, individualistic, self-expressionism and pragmatism. Self-determination, self-actualization, and personal pleasure are seen as the greatest goals and “denying self” is considered one of the worst sins. Whatever seems to “work” sticks, and whatever we don’t like, we toss out. If that’s where you’re at, just understand, that’s COMPLETELY different from what Jesus taught (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). It sounds like you might be in the same camp as millions of other American young adults who have misdiagnosed “organized religion” as the cause of society’s problems.

      The gospel itself is simple. The implications of it are endlessly complex and beautiful, so much so that the angels themselves scratch their heads and drops their jaws in amazement (1 Pet. 1:12).

  13. hundreds of millions of amateurs on social media, possessing no expertise on a given subject, only their gut reaction feelings and opinions, are obsessed with weighing in on every matter through a public medium – particularly hot button topics like same-sex marriage.

    You mean? Like priests?

    • Not sure if there’s any confusion about this, but just so we’re all on the same page……I’m not a priest…..and I have a beautiful wife named Adrian to prove it 🙂

      Unless you’re talking about the universal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9), in which case, yes, I’m totally a priest. And now I’ve forgotten what the question is….

      • (to comment below) Ahhhhhh. I think I got you now, Jumeira. Although you bring up an interesting question that might be fitting for another blog post – commenting on issues that we have no/little experiential knowledge on. For instance, I get challenged from time to time on handing out any parenting info since I don’t myself have any children. Similarly, do priests, who don’t get married, have the right to weigh in on marital issues. I guess I’d answer that by saying that the Apostle Paul and Jesus himself don’t hesitate to address God’s stance on marriage and parenting despite their lack of personal experience. In some respects, their advice is purer because is simply God’s directive, not tainted by anecdotal experience.

  14. cassy says:

    How is it anyones right to tell someone how they should live their life?
    Its a real turn off to religion when you yourself are being a hypocrite by forcing and judging the homosexuals. Isn’t that Gods job? Im positive it says that only God has the right to judge. Government and religion should be separate anyway. Dont think by you voting to ban gay marrige is really going to make the problem go away in the end, because guess what? they will STILL be gay! Marrige is already ruined if you think about it, divorce rates are high, Cheating, Premarital sex is very prominent in our youth. Gay marrige will not hurt your personal faith, you can still believe not to support it but you dont have to force your opinion on anyone.

    • Hi Cassy,
      I thank you for reading and commenting. I’m afraid you’re a little misinformed about the Bible’s stance on addressing sin though. It’s true that we’re not supposed to judge others as though we are sinless ourselves (Matt. 7:1-6). But the point there is that we do not judge with a self-righteous, hypocritical spirit. On the other hand, the Bible ABSOLUTELY says that we should hold other Christians morally accountable. When the Apostle Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth, he says, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’” (1 Cor 5:12-13) In other words, Paul says we ARE responsible for lovingly correcting and rebuking the lives of fellow Christians when they are unrepentant of their sins.

      I’d certainly agree that there are a lot of problems with “marriage” in our country in general apart from any of the issues concerning same-sex marriage, but that doesn’t really mean we shouldn’t talk about this issue too. It’s important enough. I promise I won’t force anyone to believe what I believe though – getting that message loud and clear 🙂

  15. Tim says:

    Thank you for writing this insightful and accurate post. I would only add two additional ideas.

    1) We should not be actively “defriending” people who changed their profile pictures, as some have shared with us on this thread. I do not believe that the best action for Christians to speak the truth in love is to ignore people who believe differently, or choose not to talk to them. It is the churches job, not the governments, to spread the teachings of Chist to those among us. People who express different religious beliefs from the teaching of Christ need to be exposed to the teaching of Chist, not just simply ignored and not denied equal rights by the government. Therefore, as a member of the Christian church, it is my responsibility to share the gospel, not my governments job. I cannot do this by ignoring or ending friendships I have with people who do not share Christian doctrinal beliefs. Additionally, is this really an effective response? “Defriending” people who don’t agree with me might make me feel better, but does it really hold any impact? I argue that it does not matter in the long run. This is just a knee jerk reaction. Did Christ, who is perfection, not leave his heavenly father to come walk amongst us, the imperfect?

    2) We need to be very conscious about the different roles of the church and the government. It is the churches role and responsibility to spread the gospel of Christ. It is the governments role to represent its citizens. Now, living in a democracy, the people are the ultimate power. Majority opinion does matter and may become law. The problem with democracy is that people have the right to make decisions and laws that are contrary to the teaching of Christ. These laws are still valid. We cannot engage in changing laws to reflect Christian doctrine. The problem lies in the fact that democracies are fickle. If the church uses the government as a tool to enact laws that defend Christian doctrine, then we have set precedent to allow the government to set morals for people. What if these morals change? What if the electorate changes? It is the church, and only the church as Christs representative, that should be setting moral standards for people. Anti-Christian morals and laws set by society are only a reflection of the ineffectiveness of the church in the personal, daily lives of the majority of the people. The churches response to this must be a hard look at its own practices. Is the church effectively reaching out and changing the hearts and minds of people through the gospel? Is the church watering down its own teachings to attract members? This is a hard pill to swallow, but it is our responsibility to spread the true gospel. I believe the the current state of the visible Christian Church on earth has failed to do this and instead relied on the government to enact laws to do this for the church. We need to do a better job reaching out to people and teach the true gospel in love – not in judgement.

    It is always going to be hard to be a follower of Christ. People will attack us with hate, ignorance, and perhaps violence and oppression. But we must not respond in likeness. We must respond only in love and compassion.

    Finally, let us remember how God appeared to Elijah, not in fire or thunder or earthquakes, but in a whisper. Treat everyone with love and dignity, as Christ has treated us.

    • Jen Born says:

      It was my post about the defriending (6 people only) and while I agree with you that it was done in haste and I know I was wrong for doing that and said that as well, they are Facebook friends. Friends that I have not talked with in over 20years from Highschool and don’t know at all except what they had for breakfast and their trip to the zoo with the kids. Facebook is not the medium through which I feel is the best way I can tell them about Jesus or to discuss howuch they need a savior. I just didn’t like being told from them what I should agree with and accept. They dont know my faith and i dont know theirs, FB is not for that. My time on FB is not to fight, but connect with other family, friends, church members to build up their faith in Christ and stay active in their congregation through fellowship. I don’t have time for the rest, so I eliminated the distraction and put my time to the lost that want to hear the good news:). I have thought quite a lot about leaving FB, but have chruch friends that I connect to on it so I stay. Thank you for your post:)

      • Jen and Tim,
        I get where you’re both coming from. I understand the spirit of Tim’s comment to be that in the same way that addressing the issues through political means isn’t going to completely solve it, avoiding the issues in public settings isn’t going to solve the problem either. That makes great Christian sense to me.

        That said, Jen, I’m convinced that people can “defriend” someone on Facebook to the glory of God too 🙂 And that might be for a variety of reasons. I’ve defriended people for projecting content that I morally wasn’t crazy about, for posting updates that were leading me to feelings of self-righteousness or bitterness, or simply because they continuously share/post every single thing and it’s monopolizing my feed 🙂 And I totally agree with you that Facebook can be used for a variety of reasons and that part of the brilliance of it is that we have the ability to choose exactly how we want to participate in it. If someone constantly posts political sentiments and that irritates me, I have every right to avoid that. I tend to post a lot of Christian stuff – some may find that annoying and defriend me for that. They have every right to and it won’t hurt my feelings.

        Hopefully that makes sense. The Bible doesn’t give me the right to avoid a doctrinal stance with society altogether, but it does give me the freedom to choose which venues in which I might state my profession of faith and doctrine.

  16. Tim says:

    One of the problems that the American Christian church has – and doesn’t seem to realise that it has – is that it’s lost all authority to speak to the LGBT community from any sort of moral high ground. Christians delight in pointing out how gays are trying to push their sinful lifestyle on to good, decent, normal people, as if some dreadful crime or indoctrinating was going on. But then they completely ignore the history of the Christian church’s interaction with the LGBT community over the past few decades alone. But let’s take a stroll through history and look back over some of the brighter moments, shall we?

    We can start by stepping back to 2012. Not too long ago, is it? Remember how Pastor Sean Harris told his congregation that if their children acted too gay, he would give them ‘special dispensation’ to ‘crack their wrists’ and punch them in order to man them up? Ah, child abuse, the Christian response to the gay agenda. Remember how Pastor Charles Worley gave a sermon in which he advocated rounding up homosexuals, putting them in concentration camps and dropping food in occasionally? Remember how the evangelical Christian government of Uganda passed a bill in which ‘aggravated homosexuality’ (two or more offenses) were punishable by death? American Pastor Scott Lively was partially responsible for that bill, as he worked closely with Ugandan lawmakers concerning how to handle the homosexual menace in Uganda. The US Congress passed a resolution to denounce the bill, which was blocked by lobbying by the Christian group the Family Research Counsel, on the grounds that it portrayed homosexuality as a human right. Yes, 2012 was a good year for Christian love towards the LGBT community.

    I’ll brush over the immense work the Christian Church has done to deny gays the right to a civil marriage to the consenting adult of their choice. That debate is all over the blogosphere and I can’t imagine I’d have any new arguments that you haven’t heard already, Mr. Hein. I will address how the Christian church has lobbied in the political arena to deny gays the right to serve their nation with dignity and honour. To work for employers without fear of being fired for their sexual orientation (which is still legal in about 30 states.) Even their private sexual lives were politically demonised until Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, despite the overwhelming Christian effort to legislate their own brand of morality in the political forums.

    Now lets step back to the 80’s, during the AIDS crises. A terrible time to be a gay man in America. A new, unknown disease that ravaged individuals and destroyed thousands of lives. And what was the Christian response? Christian hospitals refused to treat those with AIDS. The funerals of AIDS victims were picketed by Christian organisations (ever wonder where the Wesboro Baptist Church got their tactics from?). Hospitals and hospices that did treat AIDS victims were picked as well. Federal aid to AIDS research and support was blocked by Christian organisations and politicians. Pastor Jerry Falwell told his flock that AIDS was God’s punishment on a nation that tolerated homosexuality. Hundreds of pastors followed suit. Because, in the end, what’s a few more dead gays?

    Do you understand what I am saying? Or do I need to continue? Should I take you through a tour of the internet, where the LGBT community is frequently called the vilest of names? How many times, Mr. Hein, have you heard a Christian call gay men and women f-gs? How many times have you heard them referred to as abominations? How many times has someone mention in your hearing that the Bible issued the death penalty for gays and it’s a shame we don’t follow it so closely anymore?

    You, the Christians of America, have labeled gays as less than human. F-gs. Abominations. Deviants. Your organisations, like the FRC and the AFA frequently refer to gays as potential pedophiles. You mock and slander them. You harass and despise them. You throw them out of your homes. Why do you think 40% of homeless youth are LGBT? You fight to deny them the opportunity to live life as they choose, demanding that they live life as you choose. You have beaten them on the streets in the name of your God. You have tortured them in camps designed to cure them, often with documented cases of electroshock therapy and ammonia aversion.

    And you have killed them. The names are branded into any conversation about the Christian church’s relationship with the LGBT community. Charlie Howard. Rebecca Wight. Matthew Shepard. And so many more. Men and women, killed by church-going, Christ-confessing Christians.

    And after all of this, after decades of mockery and harassment and persecution and torture and murder, you dare, you DARE to tell gay people that ‘only we can cure you. Only we can save you. It is only through us that you can come to live a truly happy and content life. The religion that we have used to build a foundation of your misery is the only thing that can lead you away from your unhappiness. We are the reason you are so lost and alone and despairing, and now we can save you.’

    And that is why articles such as this will never touch a gay man or woman. That is why your ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ creed (which does not appear in the Bible) is treated with such disdain. That is why there is so much vehemence and anger and bitterness from LGBT people towards the Christian Church. It’s because Christians have earned it, and earned it again tenfold.

    So keep preaching to your flock, Mr. Hein. But, for god’s sake, can’t you please leave gay people alone? Stop preaching at them, stop telling them that you have a way to a better life. Because, if you are willing to take a long, hard look at the history of Christian relations with gays, I think you’ll agree. Your kind has done enough.

    • #1 I get that you’re upset……but Tim, did you actually read the post?

      #2 Please be careful in lumping all “Christians” together. I fully agree that many Christians’ words have been filled with hate towards homosexuals. That’s sinful too. But you have to distinguish between a Christian who is actually acting in their Christian faith and those who call themselves Christians, who may or may not be, but are clearly acting outside of their faith. Another example of this would be the Spanish Inquisition – when people try to hold that against the Christian Church today, I understand, but as a Christian, I’m just as offended the Inquisition’s behavior as a non-Christian would be. They were acting tremendously unchristlike.

      There’s a billion people on the planet who call themselves Christian and 80% of the country. We’re not all the same. Please don’t associate the poor behavior of some against us all.

      • Tim says:

        1. Yes I did. What would make you think I did not? I believe my comment was very relevant to your post, considering the section pontificating against LGBT individuals while making no mention of what your organisation has actually done to them.

        2. Why shouldn’t I ‘associate the poor behaviour of some against us all?” When you identify yourself with a specific group of individuals, like a religion, you take upon yourself some culpability for it’s collective actions, especially when they become typical. A KKK member might say “I’ve never burned a cross, lynched a man, graffitied racial epithets, so don’t judge me with the rest.” I would still treat him with revulsion. In the same way, when you identify yourself as a conservative Christian and condemn LGBT individuals in a single sweep, I feel the same apprehension because I have both heard the words and seen the actions of your religion, and as I outlined briefly in my first post, they are not unlike many other groups that violently and harmfully try to oppress people who are different. Do you bear culpability for their actions? Yes, you do in a way, because you identify with them.

        Unlike the Spanish Inquisition, which happened hundreds of years ago, I specifically pointed out examples which happened during your lifetime, that were done by your peers and colleagues in the Christian Church. In your response, you tried to brush it away as a few sinful individuals whose “words have been filled with hate towards homosexuals.” Last time I checked, murder was more than words. Keeping gays from serving their country with dignity is more than words. Performing electroshock therapy on children is more than words. The Christian Church, Lutherans included, have placed themselves in opposition to the LGBT community. Fine. Different groups with different beliefs will always clash, it has been this way since the beginning of time. But, as I clearly outlined above, the Christian Church in America has conducted an organised effort to humiliate, brow-beat, and destroy the LGBT community with methods that would be reprehensible to Christ himself if he could see them. And the Christian Church has then claimed a moral victory, setting themselves up as the most loving and compassionate individuals in the nation, the instruments of God’s enduring love on earth, over broken gay individuals from whom you’ve fought to take everything, even up to their lives.

        The fact is, Mr. Hein, that you have taken that same moral high ground. You share it with Scott Lively, with the AIDS protestors, with all the rest, because you justify your actions with the exact same morality. And the fact that you justify the repeated and consistent actions of your religion by portraying it as just a few misguided individuals acting outside of your faith, is why I view you with the same apprehension that I would a man carrying a sign outside the Supreme Court that says ‘Homosexuals are demon-possessed.’ You may not have committed these acts. But you’re breaking bread with those who have.

      • Tim, my man, you’re still not following me. I can tell you’re very upset. But you’re projecting your anger onto me. And I’m even going to say that I think a lot of your anger is fully justified, which is why I’m trying to be really patient here. You’re upset about something that you have a right to be legitimately upset about.

        But comparing me to a KKK member is PREPOSTEROUS. Here’s why: When a KKK member lynches someone of a different skin color, they are acting IN LINE with their KKK doctrine. When a Christian says hateful words, or, even more tragically, has committed physical hate crimes, even murder, against a homosexual, that person is acting OUT OF LINE with biblical Christian doctrine and, while I can’t see into their heart, I’d propose the strong probability that they are only nominally a Christian.

        Look, when Jesus was dying on the cross, he cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) He was asking for God to have mercy on the very people who had stripped him naked, spit in his face, tortured him, and crucified him. Does he actually sound like the type of individual who would be guilty of hate crimes? If anything, Jesus sounds like he could relate more to Matthew Shepard than the people that murdered him.

        So…….you have a right to be angry at the people who have committed hate crimes. But please don’t let that hinder your relationship with a guy who hates that too, like Jesus. And please consider the possibility that many Christians are just as saddened by those actions as you are. I’d look at it like this – if your dad was a murderer and I refused to hire you because of a negative association to your name, would that be fair? Please don’t write off the good with the evil. If you do, you’re just as guilty as the very Christians you’re criticizing, those who wrote off homosexuals and treated them in inhumane ways.

      • Tim says:

        I’m hoping this is placed in the correct order, since your most recent comment does not allow me to reply to it. If it is not, here’s the disclaimer: This is in response to the last comment.

        “I can tell you’re very upset.”

        I’m not upset. I’m angry. There’s a difference. I am not lashing out in anger. I’m presenting facts concerning what Christians say concerning homosexuality and how they treat the LGBT community and the opinions I have drawn from them. These have been predominately in direct opposition to yours.

        “But comparing me to a KKK member is PREPOSTEROUS.”

        I didn’t. Or rather, let’s say I didn’t intend to, which is fairer. The KKK member I spoke about was simply hypothetical, and you obviously are not. Instead, I was intending to draw a comparison between the actions of one organisation and the comparable actions of another. I probably could have used a less inflammatory example than the KKK if I had taken the time find one, but I maintain that there is merit in the comparison. Look on the bright side. At least I didn’t compare you to a pedophile or someone who commits bestiality, which is a common tactic by Christian organisations and denominations (including your own).

        “[When a Christian] has committed physical hate crimes, even murder, against a homosexual, that person is acting OUT OF LINE with biblical Christian doctrine”

        Really? I seem to recall a verse from the Bible that dictates “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” (Lev. 20:13). It seems that Mathew Shepard’s killers were acting more in line with Biblical principles than you. And just as a forewarning, I have heard every argument under the sun about how only half that verse is applicable today. Even though Jesus himself said “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18).

        “I’d propose the strong probability that they are only nominally a Christian.”

        Ah, and now we come to one of the most interesting arguments I hear from Christians when someone points out the brutality and destructiveness of their religion. I’ve seen a number of blog posts recently all along the same lines of “Yes, Christians are hypocrites. They commit sin, they lie, cheat and steal. And they are forgiven through their faith, even though they remain imperfect.”
        So when a Christian does a bad thing, it’s because they’re an imperfect sinner. When a Christian does a very bad thing, it’s a testament to how Christ forgives all sins. But when a Christian does something truly heinous, cruel, or despicable, suddenly the Christians leap away and say ‘He’s not one of us! We’re not all like THAT! They’re Christian in name only, but they’re really a nasty unbeliever!”

        Convenient, to say the least.

        “Does he [Jesus] actually sound like the type of individual who would be guilty of hate crimes?”

        Well, I’m assuming that you believe that Jesus is one and the same with God himself. And that thereby, Jesus has existed with God for all eternity. Which means that Jesus told his people to brutally murder entire ethnic groups and cultures. And he told the Benjaminites through his judges to kidnap young girls from their fields and take them home and rape them. And he dictated directly to Moses the best ways to own other men and women and when it’s permissible to beat them to death. So yes, Jesus sounds exactly like the type of individual who would be fine with offing a few gays who don’t appreciate his sacrifice. I’ve read the Old Testament. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Or so I’ve heard.

        And yet you compare Jesus to the man who was murdered by Jesus’ own followers. Who were technically following his commandments.

        “You’re just as guilty as the very Christians you’re criticizing, those who wrote off homosexuals and treated them in inhumane ways.”

        Curious, you were very upset when I drew a correlation between the Christian church and the KKK, but now you call me as guilty as torturers and murderers. Is it really wise to wield a sword that you don’t want used against yourself?

        I disagree with you on many subjects, Mr. Hein. This one rather vehemently. And because of that, what have I done? I have engaged you in civil (if impassioned) discourse.
        I have not gone to the political arena to stop you from marrying other Christians.
        I haven’t claimed that children are endangered from being adopted into Christian homes like yours.
        I haven’t tried to prevent you from serving in the military.
        I haven’t called you names like ‘fundie.’
        I haven’t called you less than human.
        I haven’t tried to cure you.
        I haven’t held a sign outside your church describing how you will burn in torture for eternity because of your Christian ‘lifestyle choice.’
        I haven’t endangered your health, your safety, or your life, or those of your family.
        When I have done all these things, then I will be as guilty as your church.

      • Jen Born says:

        What do you want Tim? Are YOU gay Tim? Is there something you want out of your rational discussion you’re having? You have obviously rejected The Good News of the Gospel message. I pray that with your constant rejection of His word, that God does not take it away from you, but Christ’s name and Word will not be continually beat down.
        Pastor, thank you for your continued patience with this writer and within this article. Continue to cling to Christ and His Word in your ministry.

    • Tim says:

      That’s right Jen. If anyone stands up for the LGBT community, they certainly MUST be gay. My only answer is that my sexual orientation is really none of your business and I have no idea why you would possibly be interested in it.
      A truly Christ-like response though.

    • John Shae says:

      This was definitely an interesting article to read. I don’t agree with every point, but I found it well written and thought provoking.

      I was actually rather glad to see that someone intelligent and with the opposite view took the time to engage Pastor Hein and challenge some of his assertions. I have found, even in my own church, that so many Christians talk about how they are persecuted, that they are blind to the persecution they are guilty of. The exchange between Pastor Hein and Tim could be described as the current relationship between the evangelical and secular world in a nutshell.

      Tim: You are clearly highly intelligent, and I want to thank you for taking the time to craft such detailed and thorough responses. You are also very impassioned, which can be a good and bad thing. It’s always good to see an individual who stands up for what you believe with such fervor. If every Christian had half your fire, I suspect the state of Christendom in America today would be very different.

      However, through your passion, it is clear to see that you hold quite a bit of bitterness and resentment towards Christianity. You are holding Pastor Hein culpable for things he has not committed. Whether or not Pastor Hein has ever had thoughts of hatred towards homosexuals in his heart isn’t something I can personally attest to, but he was NOT there when Mathew Shepard died and he was NOT there during the AIDS protests. I think your KKK example weakened your argument. I can see the comparison you made and understood your point, but it was a good example of where your passion overtook your logic.

      I am unaware of your personal history, obviously, but I urge you to soften your heart and reread Pastor Hein’s article. I know this is a sensitive and highly charged topic, and that it clearly struck a chord with you, but please read it again and open yourself to the true attitude in which Pastor Hein writes it. He is dedicated to the Gospel, surely, but he clearly took great care to use words of compassion, of love and grace, not hatred or condemnation. Just because you reject the message doesn’t mean the love isn’t there.

      Pastor Hein: I don’t know whether you plan to continue this discussion, but I hope you do. If you’re anything like me, opportunities to share the Gospel with a non-Christian come along far less often than the chance to preach to the choir in a church on Sunday. Something brought Tim to this blog, something compelled him to engage you in dialogue, and while you’re time is surely valuable and I’ve no doubt of your obligations, please don’t step away out of sheer frustration.

      That being said, you are losing this debate. The main reason is this: when Tim says there is an organized and official effort by the Christian Church (the WELS included) to harass, repel, humiliate and hurt gay individuals, he is absolutely correct. I see it constantly in my church, among my family and friends, in the Christian community. I’m sure you do too. Overwhelmingly, Christians have behaved with an inexcusable lack of respect or compassion towards LGBT people. I don’t have to give examples, Tim did that for me. I know I am a representative of the church through my faith, and I have found myself apologizing to gay individuals on more than one occasion. And my sorrow and embarrassment and shame that I feel because of what my brothers and sisters in Christ have done is real. Am I affirming that I think practicing homosexuality is God-pleasing? NO! But am I doing what you have done, and writing it off as a few ungodly individuals who don’t represent Christianity? Again, no! This is a real and severe lapse by Christians, and it is keeping so many out of the Kingdom. We have to take responsibility for this first if we are going to make any progress in spreading the Gospel to gay people. We have to.

      Jen Born: You are my sister in Christ but I won’t mince words. I was appalled and horrified at your response. I can’t imagine how anyone could have done more damage to Pastor Hein’s efforts. It is incredibly rude and boorish to ask a stranger what their sexual orientation is. Would you do that in public? Then why here, where souls are being fought for? The ‘prayer’ you mentioned reeked of self righteousness. You felt offended by a conversation that did not initially involve you. Fine. And you selfishly made it all about you, not about Christ, or the Gospel, or even Pastor Hein. You lashed out because it felt good. Attitudes like yours are what drive people like Tim AWAY from Christ, and also why I see so many of our youth today leaving our church.

      Therefore, Tim, if you see this. I apologize for whatever offenses my brothers and sisters have committed towards you. I do not know if you are part of the LGBT community, but clearly you are close to it, no doubt personally. My church and community has sinned against you and/or your loved ones time and time again. This is inexcusable, indefensible, and wrong, and I ask for what forgiveness you can give. And I pray that Christ continues to bless and nurture you, and that some of the anger in your heart is tempered. Brother, I pray you find peace.

      That was a much longer post than I intended, but it just goes to show that this is no easy subject.

  17. Dr. Seuss says:

    You are making assumptions that are not true. You assume that most of the world, or at least the Christian world believes that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. The bible was written long after the human race engaged in sexual behavior. Sexual behavior today is no different than is has been since humans lived on earth. If Adam and Eve were the first and only two people on earth then at that time in the history God ordained incest; there is no others way to interpret that.

    You quote 1 Peter 2:12 about all the good behavior that Christians practice? Really? Most Christians that I have met are hypocritical phonies i.e. racist, self righteous, bigots, judgmental, greedy, war mongering, liars with a multitude of “sins”, all the while pointing out how sinful others are.

    • Tim says:

      It’s astonishing how hypocritical it can be. Case in point:

      Pastor Rob Morris, a pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod congregation in Newton CN, was disciplined by the LCMS for participating in an interfaith vigil for the Sandy Hook victims. Morris’s sin was saying a prayer in the same event as clergy from other denominations. He was disciplined because it is against LCMS teachings to officially associate with other denominations and thereby with false teachers.

      And then, just a couple of months ago, an Amicus Brief was filled in regards to the Prop 8 Supreme Court case, condemning homosexuality as a sin against God and urging the Supreme Court not make SSM legal. The brief was jointly filed by the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America; the Romanian-American Evangelical Alliance of North America, the Truth in Action Ministries….and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

      This is the official position of the LCMS. It is far more important to join an interfaith coalition to condemn the gays than to pray with a community after a tragedy. Mourning dead children together is forbidden. Kicking down the gays together is not.

    • 1) I don’t assume that most of the world believes the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I don’t even assume the majority of the Christian church on earth believes that – which is actually part of the problem. I do, however, believe that and so I naturally write with that assumption.

      2) If Adam and Eve had perfect, flawless, disease-less DNA, then their children wouldn’t have corrupted DNA either. Corruption (disease, bad behavior, death, etc.) came into the world through sin. Part of the reason that “close relations” are so obviously frowned upon is because procreation between close relations compounds genetic abnormalities, often producing children with bad health.

      The Bible does state that incest is a sin in Leviticus, because by that point sin and disease had spread to such a degree that close relation procreation was magnifying those abnormalities.

      3) 1 Peter 2:12 is not my assessment of American Christianity. It was written nearly 2000 years ago by one of Jesus’ close disciples. I’m not suggesting it’s the norm for Christianity today, but that it should be the norm. I’m sorry that’s your assessment of Christianity. I know some people who label themselves as Christians who are fairly hypocritical. While I try not to be, as a sinner, my life is less than dazzling too – which is why I do not boast in myself but in the one perfect man, Jesus. The more clearly I see him, the more I appreciate him, the more I transform (albeit gradually) to behave more like him.

      I have no desire to merely “point out sins” but care enough about people that I desire to lead them to repentance, all the while acknowledging that I personally am just as undeserving of God’s love as anyone. We’re all in the same boat according to the Bible – sinners who are saved only by the grace of God. That means we’re fundamentally more alike than we are different. If everyone actually believed and put into practice the gospel of Jesus, it’d be the end of racism, elitism, moralism, and sexism. The problem is not with “Christianity” or the gospel of Jesus, the problem is the fact that many Christians don’t actually practice the gospel in their lives.

    • Dr. Seuss says:

      PASTOR HEIN, You are writing from your preconceived notion that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. Therefore every view point and opinion that you have is in conflict with those of us who do not believe that. No matter what Tim or I or any other intellectual writers propose for your consideration, you will always have a response based on your supposition. Therefore this topic of discussion, though interesting, is quite futile. You will probably convince individuals who already agree with you to be MORE in agreement with you. Also, you will convict those of us who are not in agreement with you to stand firm in our convictions. You will probably not listen to facts about the birth of Christianity under the patriarchal rule of Constantine. You will probably not consider the fact that multiple world religions much older than Christianity propose a virgin birth, a crucifixion, a rising from the dead, and on and on. You will probably not pay attention to scientific findings regarding human sexuality. On a personal note I will say to you that I find the heterosexual sex act totally disgusting. In addition, the emotional connection between two women far surpasses the shallow communication between a man and a woman…….from my experience. Oh, you should also know that my x-husband sat in the front row of the evangelical christian church for 24 years, all the while being a cheater, a liar, an embezzler, a forger, only to mention a few things.

  18. First of all I would like to thank you for the post, and I especially appreciate the comments from various viewpoints. It is not often I get to see both sides like this and it is refreshing to get view from other angles.
    I just read that there are over 40,000 Christian denominations. Within each of these many don’t agree on their teachings. Even for the Churches that are fairly consistent from one Church to the next within a denomination you will have individuals of varying degrees of faith, and knowledge and activeness.
    These denominations break down into some larger generalizations which share some bit of commonality but the differences can be even more striking. The point I am getting at here is the unfortunate truth is the earthly Christian church can be very different depending where you look and they all call themselves Christian. It is not for me to decide someone’s saving faith but I can’t help but notice the generalizations that are made about “Christians”. The danger of making generalizations about Christianity is the same as generalizations about any large group whether it is on the basis of faith, ethnicity, culture, race, social class, gender etc., and that is almost any statement you make will almost always be wrong when applied to a smaller subset of that whole group. I understand why and how it works though, that the actions of some will get projected on all, but I do find that unfortunate.
    Since teachings vary I will talk about what I believe. And of course people are free to disagree with that 
    Picture a blind man walking along and he is about to step into a deep crevice in his path which will cause certain death. Do I stop him or look the other way? Of course I mention it to him; this is done out of love, and out of concern for the man’s well-being. Intentions matter here and I think it’s a distinction that is sometimes lost. Some Christians do have their hearts in the right place. They are acting out of love and concern for someone they feel are on a path to hell and have a need to know their Savior.
    We all have a conscience whether you label yourself a Christian or not. Going against your conscience results in guilt, and I think if we are honest we have all felt guilt for something. What does this mean? We are all hypocrites and we are all sinners. If you want to substitute something else for the word sinner that is fine but it means the same. We have all done something counter to what we know was the right thing to do. Here is the beginning of commonality throughout the whole human race.
    So why do we feel guilt? I believe it is because God gave us this conscience to lead us to him. Our sinful nature is at odds with our conscience more often than we would like. In the Bible there is a lot of what we call Law. A good example of this is the Leviticus verse that’s been quoted throughout the comments to this blog. Law shows us our sin. Is homosexuality a sin? I believe it is, why? Because God says it is. Is it worse than the sins of hate, greed, gluttony, murder, coveting etc.? God says in the Bible that all sins even ones only performed in thoughts are damnable and punishable by death and eternity in hell. For example Lev 20:10 “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.” There are similar versus for murder and other sins as well. So you can see homosexuality is not singled out in this regard. God wants his people to know the seriousness of sin, and most importantly our need for a Savior. Jesus (also God) is the only man to have walked this earth and never sinned once. I believe that Jesus is our Savior from sin who died for all the sins of all people. This includes the sin of homosexuality. If you read the account of David you will see that God loved him and had mercy on him despite the fact that he both murdered and committed adultery. The take away is that we all fall short of Gods law and we all need Jesus.
    I noted that there was a topic earlier about if homosexuals are born homosexual. Maybe they are, once again I don’t believe that is any more relevant than alcoholics being born with the disease of alcoholism. Many medical professionals classify alcoholism as a disease akin to cancer with documented symptoms and stages. They have also stated it is hereditary. I might be putting my foot in the fire drawing this parallel and I am not trying to call homosexuality a disease here I am just trying to show the similarity between the lack of choice for a homosexual to choose his orientation to the lack of choice the alcoholic has to control his drinking. From a Biblical stand point both are sins, but we have many alcoholics and drug addicts in recovery or struggling to recover within the Christian church but we have very few homosexuals. This could very well be due to the bungling described by a previous poster, and that is unfortunate. I also know that the issue really under contention is whether homosexuality is a sin at all. Unfortunately there I fear a Bible based Christian and the LGBT community will never agree, because the Bible is very explicit on that point. However I don’t see this disagreement needing to cause angst between the two groups. I believe that God works faith in hearts. This is His job not mine. It is not my job to change your mind. If you are receptive to hearing about Jesus absolutely I am going to share it with you, but what I am not going to do is badger you or force it down your throat in an effort to convert you to my belief.
    Now some believe as was pointed out that Christianity is a farce. One question has to be reconciled though and that how were we created? The topic of creation is a big one with many different angles many trying to disprove Christianity by means of science or other means. None of these have achieved this goal in my opinion and I have looked at it. You trade one set of impossibilities and unlikelihood’s for another. I am in a scientific field and so I do find all that interesting but at the root it is really irrelevant to faith, as faith is aptly defined in the Bible “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” (Heb. 11:1) If I am going to accept the existence of a God with the power to create the universe, then clearly I have to accept the fact that understanding his entire plan and the reasoning behind why he does what he does is beyond me. To me this makes perfect logical sense, where none of the other scientific explanations do. There is actually a museum in Cincinnati devoted to this topic. (creationmuseum.org). If the goal is to discuss and challenge the Christian view on creation using science and history, than I think you would find the creation museum to be a satisfying place to start. Knowledge of the ins and outs of all the science and history is not a prerequisite for faith and not every Christian is aware of the things mentioned, but no, I don’t feel it has not been ignored. If you want to pursue that debate with some well versed in both sides of those arguments please check the link I gave.
    That said once again it is not my goal to convince anyone to believe what I believe. I only wish to share what I believe, the same I imagine as everyone on both sides of the discussion. I believe that God will change hearts if he chooses too. I appreciate this opportunity for us all to share what we believe in a civil manner.

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