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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Drawing the Line: Marriage 2

(There is so much emotion involved in this issue it is almost impossible to talk about.)

In Christian morals we are taught that we are to love God and love our neighbor. In current culture, love is a feeling. "Love is a feeling" leads to the assumption that more intense feelings are more sincere forms of love. So to "lose that loving feeling" is to stop love. The biblical model for love (and this is way simplified) is more connected to the will and to action. When we love our enemy it does not mean that we are suddenly swept away with 'warm bubblies' for them. Love is the decision to seek the best for another, to treat them as I would want to be treated. Love is also associated with obedience in the Bible. To love God is to obey God.

Why is obedience so hard? Because we have not ordered our desires according to God's desires. The word Original Sin is helpful here. When someone is living right, their desires are in right order. Right order means that we desire the right thing, in the right amount, in the right way. Right order also means that we choose to do things which are right. Hence, sin comes from "disordered appetites." In other words, we strongly desire to do things which we are not supposed to do.

Years ago, when I engaged in regular discussions/debates about this issue, I once had someone write to me "you are saying there is something wrong with me." I was struck dumb. I never, ever doubted that there is something seriously wrong with everyone. EVERYONE. In discussion, it was clear that this young man did not believe that. An analogy. I wear glasses. I started neeeding glasses as a young child, around fourth grade. I did not know I needed glasses. The way I saw the world was the only way I had seen it. When I got my glasses, I literally walked down the street in awe of  the world. I was especially amazed at trees. You could see each leaf. It felt like a miracle. By extension, I live in a world where my perception is affected by my "vision." Each of us, every one of us, all of us are morally flawed. We have desires which are not 'right' and we engage in actions which are not 'right.' The teaching of the church is God's gift to people who do not see clearly. Without my glasses I can honestly argue about how I see things, but only a fool would trust me to drive a car. It is not my fault that I cannot see better. It is not a choice. It is certainly not fair. It is wrong that other children made fun of me, including my own siblings ("four eyes!"). It is not fair that my glasses fog up when I enter a room in the winter, or that rain blurs my vision because the glass gets drops on it. It is however, the way things are. And there are much worse things to be in America than visually challenged.

So why stay in the Episcopal church? Well, mainly because it is good preparation for what is coming. Society is changing. I have many friends who tell me how sweet it is to be in a church where this issue is not a problem. As I see it, there is increasing push to make it criminal to not accept gay marriage. Not sure any church is safe. Looking at recent trends it is pretty unnerving. Church-going progressives are much easier than secular progressives. I also think I have a duty to stand for the truth. I am doing that. But the truth is so-called conservatives have had sex out of marriage, have divorced and have had marriages where they prevented the conception of children. Jesus said it is what is in your heart: Lord have mercy! Does anyone feel confidant that their hearts are clean? Sometimes there is gay bashing going on and some of it is because Conservatives are unwilling to face their own sin. I never hear about churches taking a stand against gluttony and obesity. I never hear about churches telling unrepentant gossips that they cannot use the church facility or receive communion. I never hear about "covet" detectors checking out the congregation for people who are greedy to have someone else's car or home or job. Fact is, there is some truth to the charge that the position we espouse is in some cases fueled as much by unease about gays as by theology.

On the other hand, Progressives always pull a bate and switch. They talk about love, as if the traditional position outlaws love between two men or two women. We are talking about sex acts. Two men who love each other passionately, EXCELLENT! Two men having sex together, sorry, misses the mark. Human body design is pretty clear. (Unless you totally disconnect sex and procreation which is not Christian) To destroy the institution of marriage in order to make that possible is SIN. And someone who says this is not necessarilly homophobic. In fact, most people I know are not homophobic. Many of them have gay children. They have gay friends. They just are compelled to not ignore God's word because of those relationships/feelings.

I think this debate will end badly for people like me. In the name of "inclusion and love" folks like me will be denied access to a living in many places. We will be accussed of hate crimes. We will be ostracized. It is what happens in revolutions. Fact is, it is already happening and with greater frequency. The ruling class is accused of oppression and the reform government takes over. A few years later, a new ruling class imposes its will on people. Based on the Epsicopal church, progressives are not nicer people, they are as vicious and cruel and unfair as conservatives. They deny that which makes them even more dangerous.

The horror in all this is church history reveals that when believing Christians are in charge there is oppression, unfairness and abuse of power. However, when the society is governed by other values, which are inherently non-Christian, it becomes a nightmare. The law of unintended consequences cannot be escaped. Neither can this issue. No matter where you go to church and who you have fellowship with, there are sinners there. Each of us must make a decison which sinners we are willing to worship alongside. Each of us must determine where God would have us do this. In the end, God is our only hope. He will judge. He will save. Tomorrow on to other issues!


  1. "I think this debate will end badly for people like me"

    You are not alone in this. I do believe most of "us" have had this feeling for some time. It is difficult to not ponder just how bad it will get and how quickly.

    I don't believe there is any recociliation coming; I believe the chasm will continue to widen as we draw ever closer to His return. It's no longer a matter of "how do we change the world"; it's more and more "how do we live in a changing world".

  2. Thanks "Just Me" for the thoughtful comment to yesterday's blog (to John). Great and gentle witness.

    What you have said above is breath taking, literally. I always hope I am just being a worry wart. Seems you and others think not. I agree about the future and found the way you expressed it to be very helpful. Hope!