Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Why I don't believe Gay Marriage is Holy Matrimony

 I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument from Christians who support marriage equality that a marriage between two men or between two women is holy matrimony—a covenant relationship between God and his Church.  And, here’s why I don’t think I ever will:

Those who are convinced that gay marriage honors God and should therefore be recognized by all Christians did not arrive at their conclusions due to Scripture (that statement, alone, will offend some of my Christian friends who support gay marriage, but let me explain).  There is no Scripture that supports gay marriage.  We have no example of gays or lesbians being held up as honorable examples in the Scriptures.  We have no canonical prescription that affirms same-sex relations.  Rather, the Scriptures prohibit homoerotic behavior, both in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament.  What that implies, I think, is that the locus of conviction regarding a pro-gay marriage position exists outside the Scriptures.

Gay marriage has recently been affirmed as a social good in America.  Marriage equality has been championed as a right—a matter of justice for all--within liberal democracy.  Because there is no Scriptural text to support the particular issue of gay marriage, Christians who support gay marriage do so because of the cultural convictions of our day.  And, once a Christian is convinced that marriage equality is right—justice for all, gays and straight—then that Christian must read the Scriptures in a way that supports their position.  I’ve read many arguments justifying gay marriage, scholarly and common, and none of them are convincing.  Here’s why:  they come to the Scriptures (our common book, where there is no affirmation of same-sex relationships) convinced that gay marriage is justified; I come to the Scriptures (our common book, where there is no affirmation of same-sex relationships) and hear their attempts at justifying gay marriage in spite of Scripture’s prohibition.  This is unprecedented:  what is universally prohibited within Scripture is now embraced as right, just, holy, Godly.  Think about that:  What is completely prohibited in Scripture (there isn’t a single text on this particular issue that leads one to say, “Hey, maybe God does honor gay marriage”), and what has been rejected by the overwhelming majority of Christians (now and throughout Church history), must now be accepted and affirmed.

I don’t think that’s ever happened before:  something that is completely prohibited in Scripture is now accepted.  Divorce?  No, it is permitted in a few places in Scripture.  Racism?  No, racism isn’t universally prohibited in the Scriptures nor is it considered a cultural good (quite the opposite:  racism is prohibited in the NT, “neither Jew nor Gentile,” and we abhor it today).  Slavery?  No, slavery isn’t universally prohibited in Scripture nor is it acceptable today.  Women in leadership?  No, although “prohibited” in some texts, women are held up as leaders (in the OT and NT) and are affirmed as leaders in the Scriptures.  Pro-gay marriage Christians bring up these examples (divorce, racism, slavery, sexism), but none of them are strictly consistent, hermeneutical corollaries.  So, I’ll say it again:  I think (and I’m ready to be corrected on this point) there has been no other time in Christian history where some of us want the rest of us to endorse something the Scriptures completely prohibit.

To my friends who are “experts” (scholars and ministers who want to be consistent in their hermeneutical approach to the Scriptures) and support gay marriage, let’s be honest:  what you’re asking some of us (Christians who cannot justify gay marriage from the Scriptures) to do is unprecedented.  Basically, you’re saying, “The Spirit is leading us to a new truth that disregards Scriptural prohibition.”  What the Spirit once inspired he now inspires us to deny.  And, that’s why I don’t think I’ll change my mind and embrace gay marriage as holy matrimony.


This post has nothing to do with whether or not gays and lesbians should have the right to civil unions in America.  In other words, I’m talking about what should happen within the Church (whether in America or anywhere else in the world).

Christians who support gay marriage do rely upon the Scriptures to justify their position. And so, I plan to explain in later posts why their specific arguments are unpersuasive to me.

I’m a terrible blogger; I don’t monitor or referee comments.  So, I won’t be deleting posts or responding to questions directly.

Finally, for those who aren’t used to responding to arguments charitably—even though we disagree—this is the way the academy works.  I don’t take counter arguments personally.  Ad hominem arguments don’t mean much to me.  Personal attacks will be ignored.


Kelly Womack said...

Excellent article. Thank you for your insight!

William Bell said...

I do not think the exegetical case against homosexual marriage is very convincing. Nor does is follow from the fact that the Bible never celebrates same-sex unions that it must necessarily be wrong or sinful. But rather than debating what the Bible does or does not say about the issue, I think the following hermeneutical principle is generally compelling and relevant to the conversation: a hermeneutic or scriptural belief which results in damaging (and some cases ruining) people's lives requires a very high degree (nearing certainty) of exegetical support. I don't think a strong enough scriptural case against same-sex unions can be made which justifies the amount of harm this belief causes to gay persons; the scriptural witness on the issue is too complicated.