Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

Shot For Asking A Question: What We Can Learn From The Jars of Clay Fallout

What can we learn from this? I think it's clear: unwavering opposition to both civil and religious same sex marriage is now a hallmark of being Evangelical. No reasonable, middle ground (separation of church and state in the matter) will be allowed-- and they are willing to fight a civil war to make this issue the foundation of American Evangelicalism.

Dan Haseltine, lead singer of Jars of Clay, is learning the hard way that questions are frowned upon in these parts.

After a show in Australia he was invited to sit on a panel discussion where some of the co-panelists were lobbyists fighting against the legalization of same sex marriage. After the discussion, Haseltine realized he actually hadn’t given the entire subject enough thought, and wanted to process some questions to formulate a more thoughtful position. As he describes on his blog:

“I was immediately aware that I had not given much attention to the dialogue about gay rights.  I knew it was a focal topic for many people in the church, and that it was a major issue in the growing partisanship of American politics, I just had not had the opportunity to think about it much.”

So, he did what someone should do when wrestling with an issue– he wanted to process the arguments. Unfortunately, he’s a public figure and decided to process the issue on twitter, which now has him feeling the Evangelical backlash.

Perhaps what most set people off was his twitter admission that he realized he was finding the argument against the legalization of civil gay marriage to be less than compelling, and asked if anyone had other reason to convince him:

“I’m trying to make sense of the conservative argument. But it doesn’t hold up to basic scrutiny. Feels akin to women’s suffrage. Is the argument born of isolated application of scripture or is it combined with the knowledge born of friendship with someone who is gay? I just don’t see a negative effect to allowing gay marriage.  No societal breakdown, no war on traditional marriage. ?? Anyone?”

Let us just say, the tribe isn’t too happy about his questions. The response on their Facebook page was vile; fans saying they’re done, nearly every thread has been hijacked regardless of the actual original post, and there were even comments taunting same sex marriage supporters to commit suicide. One of the most disturbing aspects of the story is how the Conservative Christian Internet quickly began twisting his words into their headlines, especially the consistently dishonest folks over at Christian News Network. Headlines across the internet continue to read that Haseltine has “come out” as a gay marriage supporter, which continued to fuel the fire since that’s not what happened.

And of course, we have Michael Brown over at Charisma News who is quickly becoming the angry father figure on the American Christian landscape. I suppose no news would be complete without Michael’s predictable response.

  All this, because he simply asked questions about the legality of civil, same sex marriage.

The Evangelical response to him simply asking questions on civil same sex marriage is quite telling, when we step back and look at the big picture from a cultural point of view. To get a 50,000 feet view of where various Christians land on the issue, consider the following graph which describes the six categories I see people landing in (there may be more, but this is just my view of things):

In understanding the issue and the significance of the Jars of Clay backlash, its important to understand how these categories work and some of the main concepts involved. Primarily, we must be able to distinguish civil from religious marriage. Marriages in our culture are only legal when recognized by the civil government.  Everyone, regardless of faith tradition or none at all, gets a marriage license from the local government. When that licensed is signed and filed, the marriage becomes a legal marriage in the eyes of the state. To solemnize the marriage, one can choose to have the marriage blessed by their faith community (“religious” marriage) or they can have the marriage officiated by an officer of the state, such as a Justice of the Peace (civil marriage).

Historically, the most in-fighting that takes place is between category 1 and 2, as they are the most diametrically opposed. Category 2 would be the default conservative Christian stance, while category 1 would include some mainline traditions and those in progressivism proper (born out of mainline). There are also a number of progressive Evangelicals/Emergence landing in category 1, but not all of them by any means, so it’s important to not make any assumptions.

Typically, there is a strong response when someone shifts from category 2 to 1 (non-affirming to affirming)– which is understandable, that’s a massive shift. Where a growing number of Evangelicals are trying to find a peaceful solution in the current culture is by shifting not from 2 to 1, but from 2 to 3 or 4. These are Evangelicals who either have shifting theology (Category 4) or shifting social views (Category 3). Those in category 3 have realized that there are real societal benefits tied to legal (civil) marriage and that every member of society should have access to those benefits. As a result, they become a supporter of marriage equality even though their theology has not changed (they support the legality of SSM, but aren’t advocating for their faith tradition to endorse it from a religious aspect). Essentially, those in category 3 simply separate church and state in their own mind and feel very little rub in doing so- it gives people equal rights in society while maintaining religious freedom. Category 4 may share these same sentiments, but also has the component of shifting theology on the issue, so they arrive at a similar place, simply by slightly different means.

Here is where the Jars of Clay incident shows us something interesting from a cultural standpoint: we see that Evangelicals won’t even tolerate their own people separating church and state by moving into category 3, or even consider moving to category 3, since that’s all Haseltine did. He did not question theology, he did not say his faith tradition should begin solemnizing same sex marriages–  he simply questioned if legal (civil) same sex marriage was the right and proper thing for a secular society to do. Classic separation of church and state.

However, he’s being treated like he moved all the way into category 1, which isn’t what happened. He reported via twitter that some radio stations are now pulling Jars of Clay from the radio– which wouldn’t shock me if he moved to category 1, but category 3? I think this is a new line being drawn in the sand for today’s Evangelical: you cannot separate church and state on this issue and still be in the tribe.

In the World Vision nonsense, we learned that Categories 4&5 were off limits, but now we see that even thinking of moving to #3 gets you booted from the tribe as well.

Clearly, Dan is learning that questions are frowned upon.

What can we learn from this? I think it’s clear: unwavering opposition to both civil and religious same sex marriage is now a hallmark of being Evangelical. No reasonable, middle ground (separation of church and state in the matter) will be allowed– and they are willing to fight a civil war to make this issue the foundation of American Evangelicalism.

Ugh. Aint nobody got time for that.

Addendum: In hindsight, I think there should be a category between 4 and 5:

Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and earned his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller.

He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus.

It's not the end of the world, but it's pretty #@&% close. Trump's America & Franklin Graham's Christianity must be resisted.

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477 Responses

  1. I don’t support gay marriage. I believe that homosexuality is wrong. It’s their life. What they do in their homes, yards, cars is up to them. This is between God and them. We can say what we will to change them. They don’t need our approval. God’s judgement is the only one that counts. I say yes to civil marriages. I have a hard time the Church condoning homosexual pairing.

  2. Interesting, thought provoking article! My only comment is that you consider adding another CATEGORY for me and fellow Christians: 6-Not my role to judge or point out sin! I fear I would be too busy pointing out people who keep too much change given to them by accident(stealing), those who order water and fill their cups with iced tea (stealing), those who claim more giving than they did on their taxes (lying/cheating/stealing), those who say, “tell them I’m not here” when they don’t want to come to the phone (lying), drive too fast (disobeying authority), etc. Not sure if there is a hierarchy in sin but where I land is that I have enough to do to keep my own heart right before God and to share the GOOD NEWS that Jesus died for our sins. So unless the actions of someone threatens the safety and well being of my family, society and me, IDC (I don’t care)! #toobusylovingtohate

  3. I disagree with the accusation that Evangelicals are “willing to fight a civil war to make this issue the foundation of American Evangelicalism”. This is an issue that is being forced upon us and the church is frantically trying to figure out how best to respond. This is clearly not the foundation nor is any legitimate evangelical leader suggesting it should be, to my knowledge. It is, however, an issue that we must respond to based on what the Scriptures teach rather than what our culture demands.

  4. Seriously?!? “Shot For Asking a Question”??? What a horribly irresponsible way to title an article. Great way to get readers, Ben. Come up with a title that suggests there’s breaking news about some whacko murdering another person for posting stuff on Twitter. Can’t take your rantings seriously if you can’t use just a bit of honesty in how you promote your stuff. Shameless…

  5. Homosexual lifestyle is a sin, just like drunkenness, fornication, and adultery. It is that simple. 528 times the bible uses the term wife not one time does the context refer to a man. 120 times husband is used never once referring to a woman. A husband shall “cleave unto his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” This is the marriage God has laid out that will honor him. There is noo other type of “marriage” that honors Him.

    1. Yes, many things are considered sins, ad yet so many Christians will only deny marriage to homosexuals, while giving drunkards, fornicators, and adulterers a free pass to marry as many times as they want. That looks like hypocrisy to me.

      1. I find it very hard to take people seriously when they say that the sin of gay marriage should be illegal, but they make no effort to criminalise the sin of Hinduism.

        1. That’s an argument I’ve brought up many times when people have implored how important it is to our society that civil gay marriage NOT be allowed to happen – that it would tear down the fabric of our Judeo-Christian ethics. I’ve often countered by asking if the same folks are striving SO hard to outlaw Hindu marriages, since that belief system is polytheistic, and surely more of affront to God, right?

          I never get an answer to that one, either.

          I get if churches do not wish to perform the ceremonies for a gay wedding – that’s fine. But, using a theological Scripture stance to fight against it occurring in the secular society, while not fighting against other faiths abilities to marry comes off as resoundingly hypocritical to me.

  6. I don’t have a problem with his original question and discussing the potential effects/non-effects of civilly recognizing gay unions, but I DO have a problem with this follow up statement he made:

    “I don’t think scripture “clearly” states much of anything regarding morality.”

    Really? Wow.

    That’s a direct quote, and I think more of a window into what his point of view really is.

  7. “He did not question theology, he did not say his faith tradition should
    begin solemnizing same sex marriages– he simply questioned if legal
    (civil) same sex marriage was the right and proper thing for a secular
    society to do.”

    Um, no. I openly called into question both the authority and clarity of Scripture in addressing moral matters at all. He fully deserves the backlash. Meditate publicly with words that imply the Bible has little moral authority, and you ought to expect some sort of reaction.

    There is no reason for this conversation about so-called “gay marriage” to exist except as a way of capitulating to very recent culture. The whole impetus behind this sudden surge of questions comes from reflecting the culture rather than embracing the Word. That reflection of the culture has become far too strong in recent years; frankly I’m surprised that he got much of a backlash at all, given the current state of things.

  8. The key issue with many was when he stated he could not find, in the Bible, guidelines for “morality”. When people have kids & teens following this guy & group and they portray themselves to be a “Christian” group, that’s a problem. I know many who now won’t touch them now.

    1. But I see that as a problem too– why “not touch” their music (an entire band) because folks don’t like something he said on twitter? Even if he was wrong, how would that nullify the usefulness of all the music they have produced? Reminds me of when my “bible school” pulled all of Sandy Patty’s records off the shelf because she got a divorce.

  9. What happened to Christians following the command to LOVE? I agree with Dan. he is THINKING… he is questioning. Congratulations to all of the judgemental ..better then them….pious believers in Jesus Christ. You have just confirmed what the lost world thinks about you already and YOU…NOT DAN HAVE MADE IT DIFFICULT TO SPREAD THE LOVE OF JESUS! Soooooooo Frustrating!

  10. Don’t mind being booted out of a tribe of condemners. Satan is the greatest example of condemnation. Constantly trying to remind the Father how horribly we have failed. I continue to like Jars of Clay.

  11. For me, the issue of SSM is also one of equality under the laws of our country. The government sells licenses to be married, right? How can the government sell a license to a heterosexual couple but refuse to sell one to a homosexual couple? So, I completely understand from whence Haseltine’s questions came.

  12. Benjamin, your final statement in bold is well put. History repeats.

    Dissent was never tolerated by the Apostolic Fathers. Ignatius taught a
    literalist interpretation of Paul, and absolute obedience to the
    Bishop. Tertullian believed that heretics must not even be allowed to
    read the Scriptures, as only the Apostolically ordained can rightly
    interpret them. Heretics, schizmatics, pagans, sodomites, Gnostics and
    Judaizers were anathematized. Thanks to Bishop Ambrose of Milan, In 391
    AD. the Theodosian Decrees outlawed all religions other than orthodox
    Trinitarian Christianity. Whatever persecution pagans had meted out in
    the past could finally receive payback, and with generous interest.

    I don’t know how many Evangelicals are willing to start a civil war
    over SSM, but the judicial legalization of same is inflaming the
    zealots. While not being gay, I would support category 6. More pro
    SSM law will simply arouse more hatred and violence toward a despised
    minority. Sects as diverse as Mormon, Catholic, and Evangelical at least
    now have a common enemy to demonize and distract them from minor
    squables over the Trinity or predestination.
    Thanks to political, media, and economic power, Evangelical fundamentalism
    is able to define Christianity, revise history, and erase the Age of Reason.

    Sadly, some male victims of homophobic violence aren’t even gay; they
    just look frail, wimpy and “wrong”. Cerebral palsy, autism, and
    similar birth defects can hinder a male from ever developing the muscle
    mass and co-ordination needed for so called “normal male activities”.
    While the Christian mother grieves, the boy suffers bullying and abuse
    for that of which he is not guilty.
    Alas, alas, where is the justice, mercy and truth which Jesus came to teach?

  13. Benjamin, this is a really excellent observation. To me, it seems like you have named a kind of “reinforcement of isolation” that is occurring.

    It’s my opinion that actively opposing LGBT equality requires a certain degree of isolation from LGBT people, especially LGBT Christians. Let’s face it, when one has to interact with an LGBT Christian who is, or has been deeply wounded by one’s own rhetoric and actions, it can be particularly uncomfortable. Isolation prevents this experience, prevents this discomfort.

    I believe that it’s been getting harder and harder for those who oppose LGBT equality to isolate, with the civil equality and social acceptance LGBT people are achieving.

    Perhaps your observation speaks to this. Perhaps in an effort to alleviate some of the discomfort caused by the activity in the civil and social spheres, evangelicals are reflexively reaching to increase their own isolation in the religious sphere.

    The error here is, of course, that only through love and forgiveness is discomfort alleviated.

  14. Ah, Ben – thank you for this. I hope you manage to weed through all the negativity to find a supportive comment!

    Last Sunday I told an old, old story about two Christians on a bridge talking about theology, until some minor point of difference caused one to throw the other off the bridge as a heretic. While I like your categories, in a way they are just another way of trying to describe WGMTOTB – what gets me thrown off the bridge. What I’ve heard in the comments – along with a lot of judgmental behavior – is a lot of folks who are desperately looking for the progressive Christians who still *build* bridges, rather than just throwing folks off them.

    I’m sad for Dan and Jars of Clay, and I do think this kerfuffle will be helpful to the dialog in the end. But there’s another old story that ends with a snake saying, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.” Saying “I’m not sure” where conservative Christians can hear it is just like that – it’s a little silly to expect to not get bit. I hate that people keep getting bit, but I’m old enough to remember the backlash against Michael English, or Amy Grant’s divorce, too – this behavior is nothing new. Your article points out that the root issue is *not* about same-sex marriage – it’s about the fortress mentality of Christianists, who keep throwing people off the parapets when they don’t hold any part of the party line.

    I’m ever so grateful, as a gay Christian man, for the support of many of the people who have commented.

  15. Witch! Witch! But seriously, this stuff is getting ridiculous. Are their eyeballs aching from the logs stuck in them? Hateful behavior from people who endlessly wear out the cliche, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

  16. Hey Benjamin. You bring some interesting observations. However, Dan did more than ask a few questions. Here is one of his posts “Because most people read and interpret scripture wrong. I don’t think scripture “clearly” states much of anything regarding morality.” In fact, I can’t find any question in this post. For some, it seems like it’s fine to comment on this subject in huge public forums, unless you support or defend the conservative theological take on the scripture. I totally defend Dan’s right to speak out on the subject. I also totally defend the right of those who disagree with him to say so…without being accused of “shooting” him. Let’s be honest, If we look hard enough, we’ll always be able to find careless and inflammatory comments on both sides of this conversation.

  17. I think the above chart left out category 8, commonly called the “Christian Libertarian” viewpoint.

    People in this group are generally theologically opposed to SSM. However, we also believe that marriage is none of the state’s business; and we would advocate repealing the marriage licensing law and every governmental benefit associated with it. This would allow people, gay or straight, to write out their own agreements, call them whatever they want to call them, and have those agreements solemnized by whichever community or church is willing to solemnize it if they so choose. It would also allow those on the other side to maintain our theological objection to SSM without infringing anyone’s rights to form agreements.

    1. So you believe that gay people should just have to wait for the rest of the country to come around to your point of view in order to have equal rights under the law? Thanks for nothing. We’ll just go ahead and keep winning the way we are.

  18. I’m a gay Christian, active church goer, in a fulfilling same sex relationship and obviously a category 1. I’ve known quite a few Christians who have moved from 2 to 1 over my adult lifetime, but it usually happens in a relational context. People get to know gay couples, see that their relationships exhibit the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) and that softens their heart.

    Dueling Bible passages and appeals to so-called “Scriptural authority” (which is a diversion from the real appeal to the authority of a specific interpretation) or tradition aren’t effective in convincing people to change their views. It takes walking with each other.

    There are more and more evangelicals moving in an inclusive direction. Ken Wilson, a Vineyard Minister, talks about his journey here:

    I personally tend to regard the overreaction seen here and with World Vision as a last loud gasp of a dying interpretation of Scripture, similar to discarded interpretations regarding slavery, the place of women and our relationship with Jews.

      1. Sir, your statement makes no sense. Your “truth” is not necessarily mine I’m sorry if the concept of subjectivity is lost on you. But, I’m afraid that won’t likely be corrected in this forum.

        1. So you are saying there are different truths then? Are you saying your truth is more “truer” than mine or more valid than mine? I am unsure what the basis of your post is. It does not make sense to make a statement such as yours and expect someone to think that it makes any difference to the conversation whatsoever unless you believe there is something wrong with what Christians believe and that you believe you have something truer that what they have. I understand the concept of subjectivity, but I just have not met any human being that really is subjective in their thinking.

          1. There certainly are different subjective views of what is true. That much can not be argued. We could argue about what “the truth” is but that is tedious and pointless in a forum such as this. I don’t ask anyone to believe what I believe. But I am a great proponent of thinking. To shut down discussion on any subject because of someone’s the interpretation of a few lines in a book written in a preliterate age is shortsighted and silly.

            1. There are different views of truth, for sure, but this does not mean that all of those views are equally true. They can contradict each other and therefore there are some views that can not co-exist in reality. An important example is the view that there is no God and the view that there is a God. Both of those views can not be equally true at the same time.

              When Dan Haseltine was expressing his views, it did not sound to me like he was even interpreting the Bible. Christians are called to be unified and unified in thought when it comes to issues of morality, and the Bible is meant to be our guide to help us come to such unity. I am pretty sure that Dan would agree that this is supposed to be our guide and that truth us not subjective. The ability to ask questions and being subjective in regards to truth are not the same thing.

              As I have argued elsewhere, Dan’s mistake was not in asking questions, but in claiming to have a view without even having searched diligently for the answers to those questions first.

              1. And it seems obvious to me that there are plenty of Christians who are engaging in conversation over this.

                1. Also, the Bible was not written in a “preliterate age”. Just about all the Jewish people could read at the very least.

          2. There are objective truths. Two plus two equals four is easily proven if you have two apples and I have two apples.

            Subjective truths are different. Jesus Christ is the Savior is a subjective statement. You may believe it down to your boots, but it can’t be seen, measured or weighed. There’s no way to verify it.

            Laws are passed on objective truths. Not subjective beliefs.

        2. Are you saying your truth is “truer” than mine? That the Christian view of truth is wrong? If not then whatever point your making makes absolutely no difference in this conversation. All it comes across as is an emotional appeal to side with your belief in subjectivity that has no reason behind it except that you want people to believe in it. No matter what you call Christian belief in truth, whether it is “Christian Industrial Complex” or whatever, you supply absolutely no reason for someone to think that “freethought” is something that they should believe in.

        3. Are you saying your truth is “truer” than mine? That the Christian view of truth is wrong? If not then whatever point your making makes absolutely no difference in this conversation. All it comes across as is an emotional appeal to side with your belief in subjectivity that has no reason behind it except that you want people to believe in it. No matter what you call Christian belief in truth, whether it is “Christian Industrial Complex” or whatever, you supply absolutely no reason for someone to think that “freethought” is something that they should believe in.

            1. I don’t think you get it, the truth is in the Bible. And there are actually some people who are sharing its core message.

              1. You’re right. I don’t get it, because there isn’t anything to get in your viewpoint. (That there is one truth that is easily agreed upon by all people calling themselves Christian.) There IS truth in the Bible. And I believe wholeheartedly in its core message. And I like to share that core message. The situation here is that I absolutely don’t think the core message is the same thing you think it is.

                1. If you are confident that you think my version of the core message is different from yours then what do you think that I think the core message is? And what do you personally think that message is?

                  1. Irrelevant. We’re passing in the dark, and that really is OK. I’m saying there are as many views as there are people and you’re saying there’s one Christian view. Passing in the dark is allowable; we’re looking through the glass darkly, as some wise writer once said.

                    1. How is what I said irrelevant? You made a statement where you claim to know the truth in a situation, but you have not given any evidence to back that statement up.

                      I am saying there is only one truth about what Christian faith should look like and that it is revealed to us by God in His Word. Otherwise, you have no basis for defining what a Christian is or is not other than your own human judgement and we all know that human judgment can be faulty and not totally relied upon. This is one of the reasons God gave us a guide of truth in the first place.

                    2. No, no. What you said wasn’t irrelevant. What I think you believe and what you think I believe about the Bible are irrelevant.

                      You’re saying there is only one truth about what Christian faith should look like and that it is revealed to us by God in His Word. I’m saying there’s no way for both of us to read the same words and get the precise same meaning.

                    3. So are you trying to argue that we could never come to any agreement on anything regarding what the Bible says? Or how about what anyone has written? And if this is the case, how can two people even communicate and agree that we are talking about the same principles?

                    4. I’m not arguing. I’m telling you my viewpoint. I’m not angry with you, nor am I trying to change your mind. I believe we could come to an agreement about some things that are written down, but the likelihood of any two humans agreeing completely about what The Truth is is miniscule. There’s my point.

                      “how can two people even communicate and agree that we are talking about the same principles?” is a superb question.

                    5. In the English language the word “argue” has different meanings. This is a point actually of communication, and understanding what we are reading. The context is so important.

                      As far as changing anyone’s mind is concerned, I think persuasion is an important part of communication as well. I believe God has called certain people to persuasion on occasion and it isn’t a reliance on the human intellect to try to outwit an opponent. It is asking God to supply us with the words when we don’t feel like we have the capacity in ourselves to influence positive change.

                      I believe in God. It seems like you claim that as well. And when I come to that point it blows whatever doubts we have about what can and can not happen out of the water.

                      I also wonder if we can come to agreement about some clear things that the Bible says? For example, what do we think about a prayer of Jesus? In John 17, Jesus prays, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (21-23). There is so much power in that prayer. In the midst of all of the confusion and disagreement, there is God’s voice calling His church to “complete unity”. And this isn’t a mere prayer to brush off. If we can look at the context of the Bible, and that is a crucial point of being able to come to agreement about what the Bible says, we will know that there is something of utter importance to notice in who the person is that is making that prayer. We should be able to see a person who was always within the will of God and therefore know that He is praying something that is within the will of God. There is no wavering or doubt to hinder a prayer like that. We also know that the Bible also says that whatever does not seem possible for man is possible with God. So we have a choice in this matter. We can doubt and/or deny that the text even says these things or accept the clear message of the text and believe that not only is it possible for “complete unity” to happen, it will happen.

                      I don’t believe it is just going to happen with just a snap of the fingers, but belief is going to have to precede it. We must accept not only what Jesus asks for in His prayer, but also consider the broader context of Scripture, and accept that God commands this kind of unity from His followers in spite of the disobedience that we may currently see. The Bible is known as God’s Word and that means when Paul says, “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10) that those who claim to be believers should take notice and do those things that they should be doing in order to bring this about. Anything else is acting in disobedience of God.

                      God doesn’t just leave us without any clear guidance about how to go about bringing such obedience. Paul certainly had faith that the Scripture itself could help to bring it about in spite of the doubts of many, including the doubts of those who claim to follow Jesus. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. “Every good work” Paul says, and I think that would include being useful to helping the servant of God to bring about “complete unity”. Paul certainly seemed to believe in truth and in the formula to bring about unity when he spoke in Ephesians 4:11-16:

                      So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

                      Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

                      I don’t think those words that are spoken are unclear and I think they are understandable by someone with a grasp of language.

                    6. Yes, your understanding is the only correct understanding. It’s very clear now.

                      I’m sorry I was too stupid to know the word “argue” had different meanings. I stopped reading after that sentence, since it was obvious I wasn’t going to get it, anyway.

                    7. Wow, okay. That was just an emotional response demonstrating that you aren’t seriously willing to consider the arguments for biblical truth. That’s all that I can take that as.

                    8. Yep, you’re right. You know me, obviously. I couldn’t have possibly been offended at how you were addressing me. I have no desire to consider arguments for biblical truth. Correct.

                    9. Also, I do not claim to know the truth. I claim to know my understanding of what the Scripture says. I do NOT claim to know The Truth.

                2. Are you confident that you know what I think the core message is and that it is different from your view? What is my view, if that is the case, and how is it different from yours?

      2. I think that, if the Christian view of Truth is correct, maybe God should have gotten his act together and given everyone the same revelation. The fact that there are literally a thousand different versions of Truth (i.e. a thousand slightly-or-significantly different denominations) in North America alone does kind of make it hard to decide which type of Christian is supposed to have the right one.

        1. I think when discussing this topic of truth and Christianity there should be a separation between what Christians say and what a Christian should believe. The authority for faith should be from the Bible, and you will find that there are many things that influence someone’s reading of the Bible. It could be family heritage, cultural heritage, someone’s bad habits, etc. that could influence how someone wants to look at the Bible. The thing is that the words of the Bible never change, but people can easily try to take a verse out of context and make it seem like it is supporting any of those lists of thing you can come up with that are seen as influences outside of the what the Bible is actually saying. This is why there are “denominations” which I don’t believe in and then groups that some would consider to be cults because they do not hold to the commonly held tenets of the Christian faith. God did give us the same revelation. The problem is that human beings sometimes have a hard time listening to God.

  19. My main exposure to religion was Catholic school and even though I am not Catholic anymore (Agnostic after a series of attempts in Protestantland), I am glad that my parents are not religious. They always taught me to ask questions and not to agree simply to go along. I am sure being an interracial couple in the late 60s, early 70s taught them that real quick.

    I always questioned things and if I didn’t believe it or I believed something else instead, that was it for me. When I started to meet people who simply agreed because ‘the Bible said” I was shocked! It’s like their brains turned off when they opened the Bible or listened to their pastor. Especially Americans who want to be left alone to do what they want even if it is bad for them, yet many are so eager to have someone tell them what to do in the name of the God.

  20. Good chart. I’ve been a Category 3 for a while. As for this article, it seems a bit harsh. Judging ANY group by the internet comments of their followers is silly, and smacks of the same unwavering judgmental mentality that Ben paints evangelicals with. Surely there are many evangelicals who plant their flag in SSM opposition, but there are plenty who don’t. Unwavering opposition is hardly a hallmark of evangelicals as a group.

  21. It seems like Mr. Corey wants to keep this topic in the world of reasonable and middle ground. Wonder what other scriptural topics he feels belongs in this world of reason and middle ground and what topics he might think are absolute?

  22. thank you for adding to the conversation and for the chart you created. the chart is very helpful. i tend to be in category 3. that said, i dont really read dan’s tweet as a question. having heard him and met him a few times, my observation is that his communication style is laced with questions and comments that reveal what he believes or thinks but are not neccessarily clearly stated as opinions/facts but more laid out there in a questioning way.

  23. “And of course, we have Michael Brown… I suppose no news would be complete without Michael’s predictable response.”

    Can I just say I find this comment deeply ironic in a response post that is just as predictable?

    I’m not trying to specifically disagree or comment necessarily on the content, but any time I see this specific blog linked, I know exactly how it’s going to go: citation of random comments out of context from Facebook strewn throughout–selected for the scare factor for anyone not particularly right leaning–commentary on how all these crazed individuals are wrong, and throw in at least one prominent “other” (whether religious leader or whatnot) to bash for good measure.

    I’m just making an observation here. Perhaps it would be best if both sides tried to stop bashing? Or maybe I should just sit back and bask in the irony.

    1. Funny– I’ve included comments from Facebook in what, 4 or 5 pieces over 12 months? Yup, that describes the average piece– I guess… if I had only written a handful of times this last year.

  24. I find it funny, in an article that criticized CNN for using misleading article titles, part the title is “Shot For Asking a Question”, which mislead me into thinking that someone was shot for asking a reasonable question. I’m not trying to undermine the point of the article, just you should be more carefully not to something you’re criticizing in the same article.

  25. Great article. Thanks for delineating those categories, which I have for some time been trying to articulate. I’m currently a 3, but with more study, am leaning toward 4.

  26. Well done, Benjamin! Thanks for being a voice of reason and understanding in an atmosphere that is largely phobic and knowledge-ridden.

  27. So happy to have landed upon your blog this morning – phew – a place where where “thinking” Christians can gather and not be judged for not complying to some of the mainstream evangelical views. I appreciate this current entry and definitely appreciate the sensitive and level headed responses from a number of the comments made here – it gives me hope that Love rules and Jesus is still worth following . There are days when I can’t “wrap” my head around how some Scripture is presented and how it’s so easily used to “divide” and wage judgement upon anyone who doesn’t conform to “mainstream” ways. Thank you for having this blog – period – how badly the body of Christ needs it:)

    1. I think you are talking about probably the influence of teenager like people which has nothing to do with what Christians are saying or actual legalistic cults that ostracize people in their own families. And Westboro Baptist Church is not a good example because they hardly represent the majority and it is hard to imagine people would commit suicide over anything they have to say.

      1. I could also imagine that there are people who would ostracize people in their own family for taking drugs and those family members could commit suicide. This has more to do with the terrible mindset of a family than it has to do with whether something is wrong or not. There should be a logical separation.

  28. Thanks for this post. The issue is an important one and I agree with your general thesis.

    My question is this – do you think Twitter is a good objective source to draw on to get a sense of the general response to the JOC guy?

    I can think of a lot of ways in which the source is skewed. I have to think Twitter users tend to be younger, people who choose to opine tend to be either really supportive or really angry, etc.

    I guess what I’m saying is that it seems Twitter responses represent a particular segment of the conservative Christian camp that skews the response towards the especially vitriolic. It wouldn’t be much different than making judgments about the whole of any group based on blog post comments.

  29. Benjamin – thank you for your voice of reason in this hour. Christianity has lost touch with its namesake. Barbara Symons author of Escaping Christianity ~ Finding Christ

  30. I think the loudest voices are the ones who fall into Category 2, in spite of the fact that there very well may be more people who fall into Categories 3 – 6. It’s just that those people aren’t responding in such a knee-jerk way as the Category 2 folks.

  31. Protect the church body at all costs. It is the bride of Christ, and is holy and sanctified as such, and is not to be defiled. That goes for the individual born again believer, since his body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; and it also goes for the body of believers of whatever gathering. Let the world do what it does, because you have no control over it. Dark government will legislate darkness upon a dark society. God will deal with it. Stand against laws the world makes that promote sin that the world then tries to force upon the church. Notice I didn’t say stand against dark laws, but stand against dark laws if the government try to force them upon the church. The sanctity of the church body is the key.
    And yes I know… the problem with homosexuals is that they won’t be satisfied with just laws that legalize and legitimize their lifestyle. When they accomplish those, they then try to force them on everybody – dangerously fascist style.

    1. I once talked to an atheist named Margot DeWilde, a Jewish woman who was imprisoned in Auschwitz and subjected to experiments by a man named Joseph Mengele.

      After hearing her account, your labeling of gay people getting married as a ‘facist style’ is absurd to the point of hilarity.

      1. You didn’t properly read my statement. I said the homosexual lobby has law in place now the legalizes and legitimizes their lifestyle. That is one thing. The nature though of the homosexual lobby is that they are driven to force the lifestyle – or the acceptance of the lifestyle – onto those who are opposed to it. The lifestyle of course is not fascist, and if you read more thoroughly, you will see that is not what I said. It is the lobby itself that is in line with fascism. It is vicious, hateful and mean spirited and is driven to force by legislation the acceptance of the lifestyle onto whatever entity they deem to oppose it. There are lawsuits abound against businesses that choose to not work with homosexuals. That is only one extreme where fascism creeps in – or eeks out of the homosexual lobby. We’ll talk one day when a lawsuit is filed against a church for somehow denying homosexuals of something.

        1. The “Christian lifestyle” was once considered fringe and an endangerment to the accepted Roman lifestyle. That was only changed when an emperor was converted and forced conversion on the rest of the known civilization.

          The arguments that you are using have been used throughout time to legitimize discrimination. Gender, race, faith have all been targeted with the same language.

        2. Businesses aren’t permitted to discriminate. We had that discussion in the 1960s. Churches are. No one is trying to force you to change your beliefs. It’s not fascism to hold all beliefs as equal and require those engaged in business to refrain from discrimination. It’s fair and rational.

          As to lawsuits, yes, it could happen. In the U.S., anyone can sue anyone for virtually anything. I can sue you because I hate your haircut and it’s causing me mental anguish. Winning the suit, that’s something entirely different. The Catholic Church’s long-standing policy against marrying people who have obtained a civil divorce would be precedent for permitting a church to refuse to sanction a marriage-ceremony that it believed was against its doctrine. And just remember, the losing party is responsible for court-costs. Anyone engaging in a frivolous lawsuit is likely to wind up owing tens of thousands of dollars.

          1. fascism is here. Many of us see it. You apparently don’t – or won’t. It will increase exponentially until all will see because of it being dangerous and bizarre and apparent. But even then – with it right before some’s very eyes, they will deny it, while others are persecuted for speaking things. It will get worse. The leftist marxist fascists among us – in the millions, and make up the democrat party of the US continue to get more mean and evil by the month. The left – mainly the democrat party own the fascism of this day.

              1. Probably smart. He has used the phrase “modern day fascist nazi marxist communists” to describe something on another of his posts. Beyond being hyperbolic (a tendency of mine!) some of these political ideologies are actually in opposition to one another.

                1. Ah yes. The old “jam everything you don’t understand in one bucket and then hit someone you don’t like with it” strategy. In the past, I’ve suggested people using it invest in a dictionary. Knowing what words mean can make for less internet embarrassment.

            1. A Marxist fascist is a historical oxymoron. fascism was an anti-communist ideological movement. if you knew a damned thing about history you would know that

              1. The real phrase is “leftist marxist fascist kenyan muslim”, anyway. Bigzers obviously hasn’t been keeping up with his Tea Party talking points memos. 😉

              2. dear I wonder… there is a natural procession of movement of ideology that has played out in history a thousand times. The movement proceeds something like this… dissatisfaction of a class against another class or a government; the rise of resistance toward said entity; the rising resistance group develops power and begins castigating all who oppose them; they become organized to the point where they begin to take over parts of the government leadership- this by fiat or force; they then make laws criminalizing anyone that opposes them and their – your word – ideology. This is where fascism has crept in full blown. After that, they situation moves full blown into whatever “ideology” or system that follows. It moves into that system by brut, fascist force.
                Here is a perfect example: The Bolshevik revolution. The imperialist rich class presumably kept the common man down, poor and as a lower class. The common man rose up. In their pursuit of conquering the upper class and becoming “equal”, they became incredibly cruel and evil, and implemented fascism. It’s implementation is not purposeful, it is a natural byproduct, or as you describe ideology, that creeps into the forefront. You see, it’s virtually impossible to form and continue such a movement without fascism. The end result… communism, after a few hundred thousand murders.
                Another example: The Nazi movement. This one is more historically apparent. Everyone knows how fascism was at the forefront of the Nazi movement, and everyone knows how it grew and how the results ended up in a world war and millions of people murdered. The beginning of the process was an ideology of one people insisting their world view upon another. In this case, the jews were the targets. Its ideology naturally progressed into – you guessed it – fascism. That’s the only way to move forward in this natural procession.
                Fascism is a movement of people that criminalize speech and thought, then enforce it by law- over time – usually at gunpoint, torture, prison and death. The end result can be anything; marxism, communism; you name it. It all first must pass through fascism. And I promise you, once the latter is in place, the fascism that brought it to prominence stays fully active in place

                1. The conservatives in North Carolina have passed a law that criminalizes a minister performing a church wedding for a homosexual couple. Is that what you’re talking about?

                2. dear “bizness”
                  so, in your opinion, the common man is simply not equipped to look after his own interests, and the least equipped for self-governance are the despised elements of any society.

                  why didn’t you just *say* you’re a social darwinist? had I known the position you were arguing from, all would have been made clear.

                  i mean, truly, why bother with democracy at all, then really? let the 50 wealthiest families each purchase a state to govern as they see fit.

                  ETA fascism *is* already starting to creep into this country, but you woundn’t recognize it if its boot was standing on your neigbor’s neck

                3. 1000 times exactly? How fortunate to have an accurate count.
                  no doubt the rest of your narrative is similarly precise and truthful.

    2. Comparing people being free to follow their own beliefs and marry who they choose to fascism is a Godwin award winner! Congratulations!

      1. another one of you who don’t understand how to read a clear statement. I didn’t say the the lifestyle is fascist. Get off the rum. I said those who want to and are attempting to squelch disagreement and make law to force the lifestyle upon others are fascists.

        1. You don’t understand how to respect the rights in our country of those who do not worship your deity and you do not appear to understand what fascism actually is. You should get off the rum and get your head into a dictionary.
          Your ignorance is showing.

          1. I’m a student of these things. I see. You don’t. Some see. Some are blind. Some are fascists and they want to be.

                1. Since Atheists (and many others) don’t regard the Bible as authoritative, that would not be an answer for anyone but yourself.

                  1. Well, Ben is an avowed Christian, so this entire blog is based in that view. And, I don’t know Bigzers, but it appears his viewpoint is of a Christian. So, that would be where his understanding of how an atheist is an atheist comes from.

                    1. Personally, I think it’s best to try to understand people from their view of themselves, not your beliefs about them. Doing otherwise is putting your beliefs on a pedestal and expecting the rest of us to bow down to them.

                      For example, someone would be mistaken to lump all conservative Christians in with the nuts at Westboro Baptist, no matter what points of theology they can be made to appear to share.

                      Ben is open to the views of those of us on the outside. His openness makes for dialog. Simply refusing to listen to us or understand our point of view drives us away. No one will willingly listen to someone who ignores or insults them. That’s just rude. Frankly, that’s how some Christians, especially those who roam the world with a set of “clobber verses” in their pocket, come off.

                      And, I’m sorry, but Bigzers does not know The Irish Atheist’s mind. Knowing a Bible-verse does not grant him a profound understanding of human nature. I can sing the preamble to the Constitution, but that does not make me a constitutional scholar.

            1. How would you like it if I said that Christians en masse are just playing the religion game because it brings them social benefits, but they don’t really believe it? That statement makes about as much sense as yours.

                1. Do you recognize the same in your own position? Atheists don’t believe. That’s why they’re atheists. Why would you presume to know their minds better than they do?

                  1. sticking with the original point… the homosexual mafia is going fascist. It doesn’t matter their motive, even though the motive of fascism is fascism. This will get worse if not stopped. if you aren’t seeing it now, you will soon. If you do a little research now, it will be pretty easy to find proof that may surprise you.
                    moving on. laf and smyl.

                    1. Your definition of fascism, and for that matter your definition of mafia, do not match any other definition I’ve ever seen or used for either word. Fascism is the denial of people’s rights based on an extreme right-wing ideology. Granting people rights, and expecting everyone in society to respect those rights, is not fascism. You are not losing any rights when I get the right to marry the person I love. You’re losing the privilege of being the only one who has those rights, but that’s not the same thing.

    3. How exactly have gay people forced their “lifestyle” (in quotes because it’s not my lifestyle, it’s my life) onto everybody? In places where there is same-sex marriage, churches are not forced to perform it.

      1. Lawsuits and bully fascism. You need to inform yourself on the history of lawsuits that have come like a flood in the very recent years as homosexuals sue other individuals – mainly in business – to get their way. Their way is based on forcing their lifestyle on others. The next phase of this will be lawsuits against churches. Mark my word, and when it starts happening, you will remember this conversation. You need to also inform yourself on how the “homo-mafia” is developing in attitude and materializing in going after public figures for saying anything deemed inappropriate by the homosexual lobby. You need to also inform yourself on the hate speech laws that are already in place in Europe and that the leftist homosexual lobby is trying to have legislated in the United States. If you don’t inform yourself on these things, then you remain blind and unknowing.

        1. In a just world, all your fears would come true. Unfortunately, the world is not just.

        2. I live in a place where gay marriage has been legal since 2005. The only lawsuits against churches from gay people have been as a result of churches breaking contracts for discriminatory reasons – that is, they sign a contract, then discover they don’t actually want to do business with the people in question (for example, rent a church hall to them) and try to break the contract. Nobody has been sued for saying, “I’m sorry, you can’t be married in this church because your marriage violates our beliefs.”

          Owning a business doesn’t give you the right to decide you won’t sell to certain people. If that’s fascism, then I’ll take fascism over what you call freedom – the freedom to tell other people they’re not good enough to buy from you.

          1. In reality, you have been real. You will “take” fascism. Allot of other people did once in very recent history. Somewhere over in Europe I believe. It started out with the average knuckleheaded citizens “taking” fascism. Then we ended up with gas chambers.

            1. You don’t recognize sarcasm when you see it, do you? What you’ve described isn’t fascist. What you’re trying to do, on the other hand – mark people as inferior and accord them different rights or no rights on that basis – that’s fascist.

    4. The church, the Bride, is full of people that should be eating with sinners every day, just like it’s Husband.

  32. They will know we are christians by our love! I wish I could delete the phrase “love the sinner hate the sin” from everyones minds/hearts. It is not scriptural. Love everyone, hate your own sin. Remove the log from your own eye before you even think about patiently, lovingly helping a brother or sister with the speck in their eye. And let America be the land of the free, and the home of the brave enough to fight for those who disagree with them. Christ died to free us from sin, and hundreds of thousands of people who most likely did not agree with everything I believe in died for me to live in a land of freedom. Do not mock Christ’s sacrifice or that of American service people who gave everything for ALL OF US.

  33. I gotta ask you (anyone really): If sin is so important to the judging of others by the Conservative Christians, doesn’t it seem ludicrous to focus on one sin as opposed to all the others? Imagine if the guy from JOC asked a question about the ridiculous amount of money made on wall street and the inequality in America for which the sin is greed.
    Crickets! That is what you would have heard.
    I don’t believe gay love is a sin myself but I always am amazed at what gets these type of conservatives going.
    Not to mention the fact that by focusing on this so called sin and fighting to prevent gay marriage, haven’t christians drifted over to become the children of the dark. I mean, I thought Christianity was about love and forgiveness and not denying others rights.
    Ah, silly me.
    Time to go make some Meth. LOL

    1. Taking meth is wrong. It is bad for you. The ultimate outcome will not be improvement in your life. I am telling you this because I care about your well being. How is that?

      1. Of course taking Meth is wrong and so is making it. That was a test if you could see that my name is the same as a fictional character. I was making light of that. Of course, thank you for caring.

        1. I realize that, but this is the point that the Bible has about homosexuality. I made my statement in irony.

          1. I wish I could show you the love, joy, and support I find in my same-sex relationship. You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a condemnation that would make the same sense as “meth is bad” if you could see our relationship. Meth is clearly bad. There is physical evidence on the bodies of people who use it to show that it is bad. The same is not true of same-sex relationships.

            1. Actually there have been studies regarding the physical dangers of the kind of sex that people who are in same-sex relationships engage in. But besides that, the feelings that someone experiences in a relationship certainly can not be the sole basis of deciding whether or not the relationship that someone is engaging in is ultimately beneficial to an individual and/or if it is right or wrong. There are people who avoid dealing with certain aspects of reconciliation in their relationships in their lives who engage in adultery and would justify their adultery by saying that they feel better with the new person that they are with, but adultery is wrong, for example.

              1. The studies that show that gay male sex has a few more risks than het sex also show that lesbian sex is somewhat safer than either type, actually, so there goes that argument.

                I have a friend in the process of ending her marriage to her husband. She’s given him a year and a half now to sort things out and to be there for her and their son, and instead he’s committed adultery, wrecked the family finances, and she’s just discovered him in a few more lies. And yet, to look at their marriage, you would have had no problem with it. They were two people of the same age range, who met at their church Youth Group, whose families knew each other well. The type of marriage they were in – a hetero marriage blessed in the church – ultimately had nothing to do with how well the marriage lasted or how healthy it was for the couple.

                Contrast that with the lesbian couple I married (as in, performed the ceremony for) in February. They’ve been together fifteen years. They’re both professional women, with children from prior relationships who get along beautifully and stood up for their moms at their wedding. One of the ex-husbands was in attendance, even, to wish his ex well – he didn’t have what she needed but he was happy for her. They’ve got a relationship that works and I was happy to be able to make their marriage legal for them.

                My point is that you can’t judge the health or rightness or wrongness of a relationship by the genitals of the people involved in it. Many het marriages fail miserably. Many same-sex marriages do, too. Many het marriages are affirming and supportive and beautiful. So are many same-sex marriages. My own relationship is healing and affirming in every possible way. Every now and again the two of us read something like your comment and just laugh at the ignorance of it. What we have is beautiful in every way.

                1. There are articles by well established medical organizations that talk about the physical health risks.

                  As you indicate, that there can be all kinds of bad relationships, however the topic here is the overall biblical message for relationships. Yes, this is the topic because that is where the whole sense of this blog comes out of in describing a Christian response to something that is not representative of the norm in what the Bible describes in relationships.

                  Females and males are different. Not just physically different, but in all kinds of ways. Yes, this may be an obvious point, but it means something a lot deeper than just the obvious observation.

                  They are complimentary to one another. I would strongly argue that in the sphere of relational experience without either females or males there would be something missing. God said it wasn’t good for the man to be alone and this is the very reason that it is described in Scripture that God created the woman. Woman was created for the man. This is a very relevant point when it comes to the whole marriage experience. Marriage relationships were meant to have a strong female and male representation. It makes the whole family experience complete. By attempting something different, there is something very wrong happening. And although, there has been a breakdown in heterosexual relationships because of sin (which is also demonstrated in the Bible), God wants to bring reconciliation in what has happened between man and woman.

                  I would never argue that people of the same sex are not meant to have strong relationships together. I appreciate the camaraderie I feel when I get together almost every week with a group of guys because I know that I can be freely open on a level of understanding that I can not always have with a woman. That is a powerful thing, but it is not the complete thing – it’s not the ultimately challenging thing and ultimately fulfilling thing. Of course in that kind of setting, we sometimes talk about the challenges that we have with engaging in relationship with the opposite sex, but we rejoice in the victories together of seeing God’s desire being fulfilled in the reconciliation of the opposite sex that has often been torn apart in today’s cultural wars.

                  One of the main reasons that Christians should believe that same-sex relationships are wrong is because it is totally in-congruent with God’s design.

                  Another reason it is wrong is that it flies in the face of God’s desire to reconcile the relationship between females and males. Rather than entering into that challenge, it totally runs away from it and avoids the core issues that have gotten our society into such a terrible place. From what I have seen, the greatest travesty is unreconciled pasts and unreconciled issues. The Christian faith is all about reconcilation between not only man and God, but human being to other human being. Rather than pointing a finger at heterosexual relationships and saying to ourselves, “See how screwed up those relationships are, we have got to find another alternative that works for us.” We should be saying, “The relationships between men and women have been screwed up for a very long time, we need to find a way to reconcile this and rebuild that which has been torn down.”

                  There are things in people’s lives that happen that lead people to seek an alternative and this is more than just describing a “lifestyle choice”. I am not speaking in ignorance. I observe these things in people I have known personally and I have heard the testimonies of those who have come clean with what has happened in their lives.

                  I would ask that people take an honest look at this article and think about whether anything mentioned in it makes sense for those who have had same-sex attraction – ie. can they see how some of the experiences mentioned did happen to them and influenced their decision to pursue a same-sex relationship?

                  And if you want some further things to think about, I suggest reading what a former APA president has to say about some of the issues about how the ideas about “gay rights” have evolved. He is not speaking as a Christian, or even as someone who I completely agree with in terms of same-sex marriage, but he does not fail to mention the lack of objectivity that has occurred in our society regarding this issue:

                  1. I’m not going to comment on your interpretation of gender roles in marriage as laid out in the Bible, other than to point out that those roles evolved over the course of the Bible and over the course of the 2000 years since then. To pick this piece and say, “This is the line you will not cross; all those others were not real lines to worry about” is hypocritical and arbitrary.

                    I find your first link very interesting. It indicates that the most significant risks faced by lesbian and bisexual women are not necessarily from the relationships themselves; they’re from the perceived place of those relationships in society. In other words, more acceptance of those relationships and more ability to live openly lessens those risks. To be honest, in Canada right now, I almost never experience discrimination in my day-to-day life. I’m happier and better-adjusted than I’ve ever been, thanks in large part to the mutually supportive relationship I have with my partner.

                    Have you compared the CDC link for heterosexual STIs to the one you posted about lesbian/bisexual women? What you’ll find is that they have about the same tone of “protect yourself in sex.” The fact remains that plenty of people engage in same-sex relationships without physical harm, and the same is simply not true of hard drugs; therefore your original comparison is invalid.

                    I’m raising two daughters. The “females and males are fundamentally different” meme is high on the list of most harmful things society has done to them. And it’s been debunked in study after study after study, especially if those studies look at populations beyond North America. For example, the idea that boys are naturally good at math and girls are naturally better at language plays out in our school system as girls dropping math earlier, and an under-representation of girls in STEM courses and careers. In Asia, however, there is no gender gap between boys and girls in maths and sciences. Why? Their expectations are different and their teaching methods are slightly different, and the culture isn’t telling girls who get Bs in math that they’d better just drop it.

                    1. There is nothing in the Bible that indicates that gender roles were to be evolved into same-sex relationships. I think you missed the point there about what I was saying about female and males created to be in marriage relationships together. I am not picking up any pieces arbitrarily. God clearly was looking for a suitable partner for man and he didn’t find anything else in creation and so he created woman. He did not just create another man. Jesus emphasized this point when He said, “Haven’t you read . . . that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother to be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19: 4-6). Jesus was speaking in the context of the idea of divorce, however he was also emphasing what marriage relationships were to look like. No mention of same-sex relationships at all because it didn’t even cross His mind that this was to be pursued.

                      I am not sure exactly what you mean by other lines in the Bible not being crossed. God certainly has not changed his mind about any of the sexual sins he mentions in His moral law – this is the context in which he talks about homosexuality in the OId Testament.

                      I could have pointed out articles that only talk about the physical health risks, but I was pointing to a well known source for medical information. It is easy to get side-tracked by the points I have been making and to talk about how those who engage in same-sex behaviour can respond to negative feedback to the issues they are dealing with and how that can cause physical health concerns. Honestly, whenever someone points out negative behaviour in us or mistreats us when they do not understand the issues we are going through, it can lead us to a response that causes us more damage. This does nothing to argue against our behaviour being negative in the first place, however.
                      I am sure that having people respond better to the kind of behaviour you engage in than they do in other places would remove some of the problems that you experience. Of course it does, yet this does not argue against any of the points that I have made that you did not respond to.

                      As for the whole STI issue, in a heterosexual relationship where you are aware of each other’s sexual background (if there is perceived honesty), there is not the same kind of risks as in same-sex relationships. For example, in this article: It is mentioned specifically, “Some STIs are more common among lesbians and bisexual women and may be passed easily from woman to woman (such as bacterial vaginosis) . . . (then later on) . . . Bacterial vaginosis (vaj-uh-NOH-suhs) (BV). BV is more common in lesbian and bisexual women than in other women. The reason for this is unknown. BV often occurs in both members of lesbian couples.” So there are specific health risks that you are taking that are specific to the kind of sexual relationship you are engaging in that are not found in heterosexual relationships. My point was that there are physical health risks that you are taking. One question would be if those risks would be heightened in a natural way if you were just engaging in sexual behaviour without any human made protection. I don’t think you could compare natural heterosexual behaviour to same-sex sexual behaviour when this is considered. Same-sex behaviour presents considerably more health risks and would be more in line with taking hard drugs if this was considered.

                      That word “meme” that you used is an interesting word considering the “meme” that is definitely there when it comes to the whole message about same-sex behaviour. This is why I posted about Nicholas Cummings and what he says as a former president of the APA. There is definite evidence that he presents of this that is readily available online. A lot of what has been spread in our culture about same-sex behaviour is not based on real evidence, however there is ton of evidence out there that females and males are different. It isn’t just a “meme”.

                      I realize that a lot of the talk about differences fall on the idea of the issue of employment and financial remuneration, which has nothing to with what I have talking about in terms of the complimentary attributes of females and males which are the basis of human relationships and are supposed to be the basis of marriage as God intended. There are plenty of studies about females and males being different in general characteristics and this goes back to my very initial point about God’s creation of females and males in the Bible. You are missing a significant part of the family component when you remove a strong example of either.

                    2. “I am not sure exactly what you mean by other lines in the Bible not being crossed. God certainly has not changed his mind about any of the sexual sins he mentions in His moral law – this is the context in which he talks about homosexuality in the OId Testament.”

                      Sure he has, or at least society has crossed plenty of lines in the sand related to Biblical marriage. Men are no longer expected to marry their brother’s widow and get her pregnant so that their dead brother has an heir. Barren women are no longer considered cursed. A man marrying multiple women and having concubines on the side is no longer considered normal or permissible. A father no longer has the power of life and death over his wife and children. Marriages are no longer arranged. Adultery no longer gets you stoned in the public square, beating your wife or having sex with her against her will are both illegal, and divorce is common even among Christians. The list of ways marriage has changed down through thousands of years is long and varied. When Christians talk about Biblical marriage, they cherry-pick the quotes and examples that suit them and ignore the rest, writing it off as no longer relevant. But they draw the line at this one. Why? The only reason I can find is that it squicks them right out to imagine a man with a man. (Interestingly enough, it doesn’t generally squick them out to think of a woman with a woman. But I digress.)

                      “Same-sex behaviour presents considerably more health risks and would be more in line with taking hard drugs if this was considered.”

                      Again, that’s not true. While there is increased risk of certain STIs, the fact is, overall lesbians have a lowered risk of most of the really serious STIs.

                      But even if it were true, what you’re saying is that the heightened risk of STIs in a relationship is the equivalent in severity to taking hard drugs. That is, any same-sex behaviour is immediately as dangerous as taking addictive substances that immediately start poisoning your body. Are you listening to yourself? That’s ridiculous and incredibly easy to disprove. All you need to disprove it is a collection of lesbian and gay couples who have clean bills of health and live healthy lives for many years.

                      There is no safe way to do meth. There are many, many safe ways to do same-sex relationships. Ergo, they are not equivalent.

                      The word “meme” simply means “idea that is prevalent and spread as a nugget of an idea throughout society.” In that sense, it is a meme that men and women are fundamentally different, and the meme may be true or untrue and still be a meme.

                      A word about what harms children, since I have plenty of experience in that area: children are traumatized by losing a parent. They’re traumatized by abuse, by neglect, by witnessing a parent being abused, and by the behaviours associated with addiction in parents. They are not traumatized by having parents of the same biological sex. In fact, the studies into families headed by same-sex couples generally show better-adjusted, happier children than the control group of traditional families. Your arguments do not hold up in the face of evidence.

                      We’re never going to agree, so I think I’m done here. Have a nice life.

                    3. So for your examples. The laws you are mentioning about the issue of heirs is specifically regarding the Israelite culture and the issue of the division of land in different tribes. Of course, those specific laws about the land of Israel have nothing to do with us. As well, the curse of having barren women also only applies to the disobedient nation of Israel. That is the specific context you are talking about I think.There are no laws in the Old Testament commanding people to have multiple wives. There is allowance for it, but was it something God ultimately desired of people? There is nothing in the Old Testament that would indicate that God was pleased with that. In Deuteronomy 21 God gives specific commands to protect women in that situation, but that does not mean He ultimately is saying that this is what He wants. I think it is the exact opposite. The negative circumstances regarding having multiple wives can be seen over and over again in the Old Testament. God also allowed Israel to have a human king in the Old Testament, but if you read the text completely, you will realize that also is not what God desired. He allowed it to happen in order to teach people a lesson, but we should not mistake God allowing certain things to happen with Him condoning the behavior. I don’t know where you find the idea of a father having the power of life and death over their family in the Old Testament – I don’t remember ever reading that anywhere. Not all marriages were arranged in the Old Testament – it certainly was not a law, however Israel was under specific circumstances to maintain the roots of their tribes that is not applicable today for obvious reasons. Punishment for sin has changed because Jesus took on our punishment for sin – plus those laws were specific to the covenant God had with Israel to protect Israel from those who were not willing to live under the covenant. Never was beating your wife and having sex with her against her will ideas in the Old Testament – I don’t know where you get that from. Divorce among Christians is not something the Bible condones regardless of what human beings do or don’t do. The biblical foundation of marriage certainly has not changed throughout history as you have tried to say. And every example you try to give is describing marriages between men and women. That is foundational. I already mentioned to you that the issues of what is viewed as sexual immorality has not changed and this is the context in which sexual behavior between people of the same sex is mentioned in the Old Testament Law. There is no “cherry picking” in what I am saying. You will find no one who truly is committed to the Bible is saying that the issue of gay sex is one in the list of sexual immorality that they are only going to stick to. That is truly false. Read the list in Leviticus 18.

                      Are you saying lesbian sex has less physical risks without any man-made protection at all? That’s the point I was making.

                      What I am saying about the whole issue of the differences between men and women is that it not just an idea that has spread throughout society.

                      The problem with the studies that have been made is that they do not even address any of the issues that I have raised. There are issues that have not been resolved from the past and this is not a good model as a parent. Of course, this can also happen in heterosexual relationships, but there are also other problems. Maybe this article will help everyone to understand a little bit more:|EJ3010014234&u=viva2_tcc&zid=a9764475de34e422c34761f9631ce865

                      I truly question any studies that have been made because I question the elements of life they have been studying regarding children ie. they are incomplete and I question the complete objectivity of them. This is some of the things that are questioned regarding their methodology (said a few years ago in 1999):

                      “Many of these studies suffer from similar limitations and weaknesses, with the main obstacle being the difficulty in acquiring representative, random samples on a virtually invisible population. Many lesbian and gay parents are not open about their sexual orientation due to real fears of discrimination, homophobia, and threats of losing custody of their children. Those who do participate in this type of research are usually relatively open about their homosexuality and, therefore, may bias the research towards a particular group of gay and lesbian parents.

                      Because of the inevitable use of convenience samples, sample sizes are usually very small and the majority of the research participants end up looking quite homogeneous—e.g. white, middle-class, urban, and well-educated. Another pattern is the wide discrepancy between the number of studies conducted with children of gay fathers and those with lesbian mothers…
                      Another potential factor of importance is the possibility of social desirability bias when research subjects respond in ways that present themselves and their families in the most desirable light possible. Such a phenomenon does seem possible due to the desire of this population to offset and reverse negative images and discrimination. Consequently, the findings of these studies may be patterned by self-presentation bias.”

                      Some psychologists would try to argue that more recent studies are better due to the improving status of LGBT people, but there still is not always protection from a lack of objectivity in what they are studying. And the problem also goes back to what I have said about the APA already and what Nicholas Cummings says about the bias that can exist in that organization.

                    4. All the way through your paragraph about the lines being crossed, you peppered your examples with “I do not think” and “obviously that doesn’t apply to us today.” You’re interpreting Biblical marriage and applying the filters of our culture to it already, and then you’re claiming those changes and filters to come directly from God. That’s pretty much the definition of cherry-picking.

                      God also gave specific commands to protect slaves in slavery, and never ever said that slavery was wrong. Both sides in that debate ended up using Biblical justifications to support the continuance of slavery and its demise.

                      “Are you saying lesbian sex has less physical risks without any man-made protection at all? That’s the point I was making.”

                      Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. There are fewer physical risks with lesbian sex than with any other type of sex including heterosexual sex. That’s if you’re talking about people who have multiple partners over their lifetime. If the people involved have had no partners other than each other as Biblical marriage (modern version) would require them to do, the risks are very, very low indeed, regardless of whether the sex is gay or straight. You can’t pass along an STI you never acquired to begin with, after all.

                      I agree that the studies are not perfect, for all the reasons you listed. But you would expect that even a biased study would have some data that is off the normal bell-curve. Not all of the studies were small; some involved close to a thousand participants and did not rely on self-representation as the main way of determining the health and well-being of the children involved. (Independent analysis does exist, after all. To get a complete picture of a child’s life, you can look at medical records, school records, extra-curricular involvement, university admissions, just to name a few. All of those show that the children of LGBT couples present as well-adjusted and productive members of society.) Yet they still showed the LGBT parents as substantially less prone to abuse and neglect of their children than heterosexual couples. You can dismiss it all you like as a biased sample; the fact is, your position (that LGBT-headed families are inherently bad for kids) cannot be supported by sociological studies.

              2. It seems my earlier reply to this did not post, so let me try again.

                The studies showing a (slightly) increased risk from homosexual sex are specifically talking about male-on-male gay sex. When lesbian sex is factored in, gay sex comes out pretty much even with het sex because the risks with lesbian sex are much lower than the risks with either het sex or gay male sex. The fact is, though, it’s entirely possible to have safe gay sex, which puts it out of the category of meth or other hard drugs; it’s simply not possible to safely use meth.

                I have a friend who is in the process of breaking up with her husband. Six years ago, everyone who knew them thought it was the perfect match. They had grown up in the same church, gone to the same youth group, and their parents were friends. You would have seen nothing wrong with their marriage. It was even celebrated in their church. Now, some years later, she’s kicking him to the curb for adultery, wrecking the family finances, and continual lying.

                Contrast that with the lesbian couple whose marriage I celebrated recently. They’ve been together fifteen years. They own a house and they’re doing well financially. They love each other dearly and understand each other well. It’s a loving, supportive union, and if I left off the gendered pronouns when describing it, you’d probably see it as a blueprint for a healthy marriage (if they’d been able to marry fifteen years ago when they got together, they would have.)

                My point is that a relationship’s rightness or wrongness has absolutely nothing to do with the genitalia of the partners and everything to do with their communication skills, their ability and willingness to work through difficulties, their honesty and integrity, and their love for each other. The idea that my partner and I are not good for each other because we’re both women is laughable. Nobody is being hurt by our relationship and many people, especially the two of us, are supported by it.

    2. All sin is sin and should be denounced, but the people commiting those sins aren;t trying to get their behavior accepted as ok. It is absolutely the LOVING thing to do to tell someone they are sinning and urge them to repent.

      1. Excuse me? Did you hear the “Greed is good” speech? The “makers and takers” comments? See “Wolf of Wall Street?” We write sonnets to greed, hold the greedy up as icons, and make cable-TV shows about them. Not accepted? Think that through.

  34. I think, just for logical completeness, there should be another 1/2 category that permits one to be “not affirming-holds historic view that SSM is a sin.” But that also “Supports civil marriage and supports the right of ecclesiastical bodies to make their own decision.”

  35. I think this is a great illustration of why people are moving away from Christian Churches in droves. They are required to hate others to be a part of the gang… and it make good people feel sick.

  36. Proud Category 5. I have no heaven or hell to put anyone in. My righteousness is like filthy rags. I have no room to judge anyone. With all the Bible has to say on any given topic, I’m sure something has been left out. If we are to believe that God is just we have to overlook the misogyny and other social ills in the Bible. The Bible also teachs, to know God is to know love. Would the inverse also be true (to know love is to know God)? So, whether it is same sex or “not” same sex, to know love is to know God.

  37. All I can say is that I am glad that I’ve never been an Evangelical – nor would I ever be inclined to consider being one. I’d rather remain a Christian … ahem 😛

    1. Agreed. I’m a follower of Christ. I don’t believe Christ is concerned with our categories or definitions. It may be a helpful exercise for some, but our Savior has one mission: seek and save those who are lost. As His follower it is also my mission. It is not my mission to condemn, dictate behavior, or qualify those who agree or disagree. And Christ will fulfill his mission with or without us, whether we like it or not. It’s a lot simpler to follow Christ.

  38. If it is vile for people to make knee-jerk assessments of a singer’s position on ssm on social media, then surely it’s equally as vile to use single posts from several individuals to cast a damning generalization on a whole group, right? And how do those peoples’ single posts differ at all from the comments you allow on this blog?

    The truth is social media and blogs have confused people and sold them the lie that everyone is equally capable of being knowledgable on a particular subject. Gone are the days when anyone had to prove that they were actually critically thinking through options. Now everyone has a Ph.D. on any given topic. Now the most eloquent ones are the ones who receive a hearing and following, regardless of their qualifications.

    I’m not singling out anyone here. You’re just not going to blog someone into agreeing with you. Those people can just find a singer or blogger they like better never come to listen/read again. If you want to influence people towards true change you need to get to know them personally–get behind the Facebook facade and lovingly point them in the right direction if they truly need that.

    It would also be helpful if we all did a little introspection and realized the depths of our own sin before casting others out because of a single fb post.

  39. “One of the most disturbing aspects of the story is how the Conservative Christian Internet quickly began twisting his words into their headlines”. Never mind the “Conservative Christian Internet” – things get twisted on the internet, full stop (period). It’s certainly disturbing to watch Christians behave this way, but you don’t have to go far to find the opposite phenomenon to the one you describe – people who paint all the categories you describe except category 1 as evil and bigoted.
    (I would describe myself as category 4 in your scale – which has caused some fairly serious wedges in friendships with category 1s).

  40. you know what really makes me mad about this… Haseltine did not even think of the consequences of his actions before he started on this rant on his twitter page.. He never thought about the effects this would have on his band members, their families, nor all the people that work for them, all because he says he couldn’t sleep on a flight from Australia.. Days later writes an apology for not thinking… a little late.. Perhaps a little fore-thought before we begin the next round of table topics on a midnight flight from anywhere. Really disappointed in this guy for not thinking about the consequences in 140 characters. Think people..

    1. Yeah, because asking questions is something you should need to apologize for. You are the one who should think long and hard about being in an organization where asking questions means negative consequences.
      Stay loyal and be a good sheep.

    2. It makes me mad that the so-called “church” would punish him & everyone he knows for thinking out loud

      1. And it wasn’t a rant. Rush Limbaugh rants. Bill Maher rants. DanHaseltine asked a few questions

  41. The whole argument, whether for or against is fundamentally shortsighted. Please define what makes a man or woman. If it is only a biological definition, then our God is a small and limited god. I was a pastor for 40 years with several courses of study in theology as well as adult development. I fundamentally believe that marriage i.e. intimate caring and supporting relationships work best when one partner is male and one is female. However, a simple study of adult development will reveal no one is either 100% male or female in their personal development. I’ve known men who assume the traditional female roles of homemaker and nurturer in a marriage while the wives were the traditional bread winners. Why? Because the husband was more female than male and the wife was more male than female in spite of their biology. Without exception, all of the same sex couples I know have one who fulfills the male and one the female roles. Biology can never dictate personal development or personality. Again, the relationships (the deep and intimate ones) work best when one is male and one is female. Bottom line? Marriage can still be defined as being between a man and a woman, but the definition should not be limited to sex organs.

  42. I understand that he only asked a question, which he should be allowed to do. i think part of the problem is how he framed his tweets or whatever – he didn’t make it clear that he was only asking a question – he sounds like he is advocating for gay marriage as he says nothing about separating civil from religious…
    I cannot fathom how all these commenters can claim to follow Jesus, yet advocate for either civil or religious gay union. It is wrong. It is sin. If you advocate for wither one, you are telling the gay person that you accept their liifestyle, and that lifestyle will send them to hell, so you are about as FAR from being loving as you can be, although in your “progressive” mind you think you are loving a neighbor – NO, you are loving SIN….smh – where are the REAL Christians anymore?

    1. The REAL Christians are apparently the ones torturing gay kids with electroshock therapy.

      Or maybe they’re the ones shooting people of other denominations.

      If you have the power to decide who a real Christian is based on your arbitrary standards, so do I.

      1. Actually, no you don’t. But I do, as the Bible states that we are to judge fellow Christians and to rebuke them if they are sinning or teaching false doctrine.

        1. William I really Hope you are joking. You keep speaking about judgement and rebuking people. You keep throwing out texts from the Bible and you keep telling people you can say if they are Christians or not. It’s disgusting. The Bible says Jesus came to this world not judge, but to love. The Bible says to remove the plank from your eye, before trying to fix your brothers’. God does not want brainwashed followers who obey everything their pastor says. He wants to think, wander, create, invent, and become our own person who decides to still follow Christ. I’ve read most of the comments on this forum and you are the least Christ like.

          1. That is because most people try to insist that God is ONLY love and seem to forget that He is also vengeful, jealous and will be returning full of wrath to destroy His enemies. That’s part of the Bible too. You can’t just expect to live a sinful life and then go to heaven without repenting.

            1. 1 John 4:8 God is love. 1 John 4:16 God is love and whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. You say who can say who is Christian and who is not. I will listen to the Bible 10/10 before listening to you. You spread hate amongst this page and say you do it for God. No, you use the Bible to justify your hate. You are a pharisee.

              1. Sure. Pick and choose only the verses that you want. I never said who was Christian and not, but many people who claim to be these days aren’t – that’s just a fact. I don’t spread hate, except the hate of sin. I never said I hate gay people, I don’t. I love them so much I want them to stop sinning, repent, and go to heaven. And btw, God hates sin and the Bible teaches that.

            2. God’s job is very much different than ours. God gets to judge. We get to love people and introduce them to God, if they let us.

              WHAT IF the purpose of life is not to worry about the salvation of people who are not like you?

              1. not worry about people’s salvation? we are told to share the Gospel. How do you introduce someone to God and not tell them about sin and repentance?

                1. I would think if you introduced them to God, God would reveal His desires for their lives, including a conviction of their own sin.

                  It was a question. What if it’s not? What if it’s to participate in the Kingdom of God right now? “The Kingdom of God is at hand” are the words of Jesus.

                  It’s only a question. That’s all.

                2. You would make the worlds worst missionary William.

                  I speak as an MK who has watched my parents share the real love of god with communities that have been historically abused by the church and it involved them first showing love and compassion. The sin and repentance issue comes only after the unbeliever is attracted to how the believer lives their life and treats others.

                  The message that resonates and brings people to Jesus is Love. Your approach will lead no one to Jesus unless it is based on fear.

        2. Hahahahah. Haaaaaaaaaaa! Hahahahahah! Yeah, that’s exactly what it says. Yep. Sure is.

          Every verse that includes, “…Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” has a very relational aspect. Scriptures aren’t here for you to beat people with them.
          Oh, hell. Nevermind, I’m just some yammering woman who isn’t serious about being faithful Christ, God and Wayshower. You win! Congratulations, you win everything.

          1. It seems you’re conflating the discussion. The truest question out of all of this is, is homosexuality, and by extension SSM, a sin that the Bible condemns and that has no place in God’s kingdom? Regardless of the relational communication profeciency or tact of any of us, if we have the message wrong, our methods are of little consequence.

            While we can agree there are certainly circumstances that call for different approaches…Peter’s first sermon was hardly a touchy, feely love-fest, and Paul did exhort his listeners through many tears in some cases.
            There is but one acceptable outcome to the leadership of the homosexual lobby (clumsy terminology, I realize, but I’m at a loss on how to properly phrase it). They demand and expect full capitulation and affirmation from society AND the Church. How lovingly one chooses disagree isn’t the issue; that’s simply a rabbit trail to nowhere.

            1. I disagree that that is the “truest question.” The truest question we can ask has nothing whatsoever to do with the sexual identity of our brothers and sisters. The truest question we can ask is: Are we loving God with all our might and are we loving our neighbor as ourselves? Jesus taught this rather directly.

              The “homosexual lobby” is made up of human people FOR WHOM JESUS DIED ON A CROSS.

              Our “truest question” had better be “Are we loving people truly?” Because if not, we are _worshiping the Bible_ and our understanding thereof (be that a learned or average understanding).

              The Word of God isn’t the Bible. The Word of God is Jesus Christ.

              1. It’s the truest question in this discussion, which is specific to one topic.

                I do not see anywhere in the Bible where loving others includes affirmation of their sin at the expense of truth.

                And since Jesus isn’t here in bodily form, the Bible better be good enough.

                Good grief.

                1. Congratulations, you win, too!

                  I still disagree, it’s not even the truest question in this “discussion” (quoted because it mostly isn’t one.)

                  Sidebar: Should I assume you’re familiar with The Holy Spirit? She’s the person of God that Jesus left us with after his ascension. We don’t need to worship the Bible, we still have God with us.

                  Again with the sidebar: You should now feel justified in discontinuing any conversation with me.

            2. I would step in to argue that this is not God’s Kingdom. This is the United States of America. We have a specific document that governs our law-making document, and it is not the Bible.

              1. You are exactly correct. But the thrust of the post is that Christians should help affirm SSM, and by extension, homosexual sin. The State can do as it will. Ben is arguing Christians should decouple our understanding of Scripture from our thoughts on civil matters. That’s not a logically defensible (or Scripturally defensible) stance, as has been shown by several responses in this thread.

                1. Civil law and religious belief should be separate. Civil law concerns itself with preventing harm. Activities that cause no harm to society as a whole should not be made illegal.

                  Religious belief is different. You absolutely should follow your beliefs. However, you should leave others to do the same. If conservative Christians can outlaw same-gender marriage, then Christian Scientists can outlaw medical treatment, Jehovah’s Witnesses can outlaw blood transfusions, Orthodox Jews can outlaw bacon and Muslims can outlaw miniskirts. The only way everyone’s religious beliefs are safe is if no one’s beliefs are enshrined in law.

                  If your beliefs are made the law of the land today, they can be outlawed tomorrow.

  43. Great article. I put myself in cat 3. Jesus put it simplest, Let him that is without sin cast the first stone. Well said Jesus.

  44. It’s always helpful if people define their terms when speaking to or critiquing someone else on the issue. We’re in the mess that results from centuries of the Church allowing the State to determine the nature of marriage (where the church has been content to simply provide the flowers and a guy in a robe to give window dressing to an essentially civil institution). A big part of clearing through this mess as our culture shifts on the issue will be in properly delineating our positions and comparing/contrasting them with those with which we disagree.

    This is where I see a lot of hope for evangelicals who take a more Libertarian approach on the issue. I’ve never experienced any backlash from my fellow evangelicals when framing the issue as separate government civil domestic unions and religious marriage concepts. Most of them feel that it is the best approach that will preserve the most rights for the most people (civil rights and religious rights).

    1. I’m sympathetic with this position,
      but it seems to duck the big questions by an appeal to freedom and liberty
      which are words entrenched in a philosophy of natural rights that few remember the reasoning for anymore. But how would you address the problem I listed below, namely, that there will be some definition of marriage? The argument for freedom does not address the natural limits of the institution marriage or it purposes. In the age of biological engineering, we are coming face to face with the genetic reengineering of the human person, what do we think the natural tendency of transsexualism will be in the face of the science of experiment? The philosophy of desire over biological nature is creating an ethical foundation with the power to dissolve any rational limit on human self-re-organization. These are the sorts of things I worry about….

  45. This kind of behavior is no different than the Westboro Baptists insanity. Why are we so concerned about legislating this particular sin when there are so many other sins we are ignoring?

    I laugh at the “Gay marriage destroys the sanctity of marriage” argument. Heterosexual promiscuity and divorce already destroyed the sanctity of marriage decades ago. If we want to restore any sanctity to marriage we should be focused on helping marriages to stay together.

    At the end of the day America is NOT a religious nation and that isn’t a completely bad thing. If Christians feel that the laws must conform to their beliefs they have no ground to complain about Muslims who want to make Shariah Law the law of the land. Personally I would much rather allow homosexuals to get married than have Shariah Law become the law of the land.

    Personally I have no problem with legalizing Gay Marriage as long as Christians aren’t persecuted for not agreeing with it. If a homosexual wants to become a Christian they will have to come to grips with the fact that it is a sin just like heterosexual converts need to acknowledge their sins before God.

    Bashing homosexuals will not make them want to become Christians. If they aren’t Christians we can’t expect them to follow Christian beliefs.

    1. That is true, there is no reason to expect non-Christians to follow Christian belief. That is why in Christian countries people of whatever religion have the right to get married and have children. It is a natural right, but your question begs the question of how we are to have a “common” society. There is no such thing as law that is not impacted by positive religion or those positively against religion. America is not a nation that has an established religious practice of worship. But it is difficult to argue that America has not been dominated by Christian morality texts painted on the backdrop of a morality of natural conscience (also, but not exclusivly a Christian concept) as it would be by Islamic morality if we were Muslims. Isn’t that the debate? Whether this historic Christian morality has a basis in fact and justice? And yes, this causes a conflict with Jesus, because he was not just about civil justice, he was also for grace. So how are we to accomplish both? Is there one way to be a Christian as citizen and another to be Christian as member in a community whose primary purpose isthe proclamation of grace? That is a trick question….

  46. It really just shows that religion is not about love. of anyone.

    I hope that the extremism being displayed will push him totally into category 1, since as he is questioning, he is too smart to remain with the hate of the category 2 people.

  47. Wow, I’m just so deeply saddened by the all the bullying coming from the Christian camp. Saying things like, “I’m out,” and pulling JC’s songs from the airwaves sounds a lot like tantrumming to me. It’s disturbing and embarrassing to see my brothers and sisters act this way. I’m really thinking that this is partly the fallout from the Facebook culture. We are all too used to engaging in faux conversations and making bold, sweeping statements without ever getting to know someone’s heart. I hope Dan H. knows we’re not all like this. Many of us will continue to support him and his band and be extremely thankful for their artistic and inspired music.

  48. I’m not sure your categories are fair. What about one that says the original Bible texts were in Aramaic and latin, both dead languages, and were edited and translated into Greek and other languages and could’ve been intentionally or unintentionally misinterpreted against homosexuality, since Jesus never mentioned it? Thus, this makes me supportive legally and spiritually of same sex everything?
    What is that? Category 11? 14? 19?
    I managed a band in the mid 1990s that opened for Jars of Clay. I’ve said hello and shook the hand of Dan. I watched him interact with people who were both sober and drunk, nice and and not so much. He was brilliant with all of them. He’s a good man. He asked some questions. Even Jesus questioned his father.
    I honestly think if Jesus were alive today, fundamentalists would call him an ungrateful, sinful hippie and bash him on Facebook too.
    When I face my judgment before the Lord and he asked me “did you support love”, I want to be able to say yes, all kinds of love.
    I can live with that. Hang in there, Dan.

  49. I had the same thing happen to me. I posted a link on my face book about the DD issue. I grew up super conservative upcoming Pentecostal and then switched to Southern Baptist . When I got married my husband was IFB. I have struggled with so much as far as church is concerned. I can’t get passed the point of reconciling my reason with what the Bible says. So far I get “the Bible says it period”. I don’t believe that being gay is a choice. I truly believe that these people are attracted to their partners and love them. If it were a choice I believe they would go with what’s easy. Easy would be chose to not be attracted to someone of the same sex. I have readtread the account of Soddom and Gomorrah . I did not come to the conclusion that these cities were destroyed because of homosexuality. The Bible talks of wickedness . They were looking to rape the men that came to the city. Lot offered his virgin daughters to them. These men were rapist . Furthermore they had each other if they were just homosexual. They were looking for unwilling victims . This has nothing to do with being gay. However I not allowed to voice these questions. I’m not supposed to apply reason and thought to the Bible. I’m just supposed to listen and do what everyone else says. I was told that I believed a lie and I am a agent of Satan. Jars of Clay guy you are not alone. I have questions too.

    1. Keep seeking truth–I agree with what you’re saying, Lisa. Here’s a verse a lot of homophobic Christians (especially affluent ones) ignore: 49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” (Ezekiel 16:49-50)
      Sodom’s sin was not just rape, but ignoring the plight of the poor. In this thread, people have asked for reasonable Christians to speak up. I’ve been a Christ-follower my whole life and find the hatred other Christians spew toward the LGBT community (and the way they oppress women) is unconscionable and wrong. Jesus loved all people, we are to do the same. (I’m a category 4 but moving toward a 1 most days.)

    2. Anyone who claims someone asking reasonable questions is an agent of Satan is frankly nuts and should be ignored. I think you could argue that anyone condemning someone for asking reasonable questions is more likely to be said agent themselves.

    3. Lisa, if you are really wanting help with this, I teach the history of sexuality and also study the historical and linguistic roots of the passages in the bible that supposedly condemn Christianity. Please feel free to contact me, and I would be happy to share some of my research with you or to point you in the direction of reputable scholars ([email protected]).

  50. I think it is time for us to ask if stoning is not the proper response. Jesus call for the first without sin to throw the first stone. I’m a member of category 1 and I’m ready for my stoning. How about we have the stoning at my Malta Bend United Methodist Church where my ancestors paid for two of the big stained glass windows and my grandfather who built the kneelers and modesty railing for the choir. Plus I will light two candles for my Baptist Preacher Grandfather and Methodist Preacher Great Grandfather. Where my Grandson is a 7th generation to participate in this church. Yes, lets have a stoning and then after everybody works up a hunger after the stoning we can have a dinner in the fellowship hall to celebrate that we are keeping our faith pure. Again I will volunteer to be the first to be stoned…. Lets go!

  51. It is tragic that the response to such statements as Haseltine’s is often one of jumping to conclusions when someone is trying to think things through and asking for reasons. This happens on both sides of tribes 1 and 2 too often. However, it is
    a basic category mistake to argue this issue on the basis of the separation of church and state (“C&S”). Theists put forward public policy based morality which is based upon, in part, moral doctrine found in religious text. Non(or anti)-theists put forward a public policy based upon morality which is based upon their non-text based moral doctrines (well, they may actually appeal to human anthropology or philosophical text etc.). The central point being, all sides of this issue are using religiously metaphysical frameworks to generate their moral framework to make civil judgments. The idea that moral arguments have no civil traction because they can be supported by religious texts is extremely problematic as it would mean that murder should not be criminal, based upon separation of C&S, because it is considered a sin by some religious texts.

    Ideally, from a civil policy perspective, it would be great if people would agree,
    assuming we are going to reject moral nihilism as self-refuting, that we should
    start by analyzing the principles of sexual morality that we generally agree upon and then see how this applies to SSA and marriage.

    We need to reconsider whether it’s coherent to argue that marriage which regards sex is religious while marriage which disregards sex is non-religious. It seems to me that separation of Church and State has little to do with the arguments on either side. I’d be interested to hear why you think this is a matter where the Church and State principle is decisive? Isn’t it more complicated than that?

    1. All of the civil society arguments have to do with “preserving the sanctity of marriage”. The State is not in the “sanctity” business, for it to do so would be an establishment of religion in law. This is clearly prohibited in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

      1. Yes, this sort of language is used, and it certainly shows that there is religious reasoning behind marriage. But that is not the same as marriage being an establishment of a particular sect of religion. Sanctity simply means to set something apart to be respected. It is used often in law. A search of 2014 legal cases in the 9th Circuit has the following results: “to be secure in their persons against unreasonable seizures in the sanctity of their home;” “Any questioning of the jurors should be as limited as possible so as to protect the sanctity of the jury’s deliberations;” “ensure the sanctity of a judgment.” The argument this word appeals to, as it appears to me, is simply an appeal to tradition. Now, there are considerably deeper arguments than “brut fact” tradition, but this word “sanctity” does not make marriage a religious establishment. In fact, protestant theology, historically, by way of Luther, Calvin, and the Anabaptists, did not consider Marriage a sacrament, but rather a civil act rooted in natural law and the law of nations. So I would argue, respectfully, that au contraire…the state is in the sanctity business, it must be for it is in the business of law (minimalist in its perfections as it is).

        Consider, if “marriage” was inherently a violation of religious establishment, then any kind of definition would be, and that can’t be correct, can it? People sometimes talk as if the state can just walk away from any definition and leave this up to the parties, and I suppose it could, but then any sort of contractual relationship between people would be sanctioned (ah, look another form of the word sanctity…we just can’t escape it)(and this is not even true of contracts, some of which are invalid on moral grounds). This would ignore natural biological paternity (groups could have parental obligations to children, etc,) and all sorts of things taken for granted even in the present debate would have to go out the window. But this points to a basic problem with arguments from equality. The basic question is: on what basis are things equal? I would suggest that only looking to desires is a woefully reductionistic way of looking at flourishing human relationships. I love my SSA friends ( I have several in the dance world, I have one that is now happily opposite-sex married with a biological child too), but to legalize the triviality of gender in sexual ethics?…this is deep water my friends, very deep…and the implications for a philosophy of human nature are so devastating its hard to know where to begin. We are talking about the exile of the meaning of physical bodily structures, or we are talking about ultimate physical determinism. If we were consistent on either of these points do we realize what that would mean? I don’t think we do…

        1. As to the several States, the act of marriage was regulated for a number of reasons, having in large part to do with ensuring racial “purity” (as in the anti-miscegenation laws), eugenics, prevention of birth defects, and suchlike. These are secular, not religious, purposes. The fact that common-law marriage and marriage before a judge exist, two forms of marriage which persist to this day, and both without benefit of clergy, shows that the use of the term “sanctity” in reference to the State’s recordation of the legal status of the contractual act of marriage is misleading and inappropriate.

          You cite the use of the word “sanctity” in a few court cases, and in all of them it is meaningless surplusage: “to be secure in their persons against unreasonable seizures in the sanctity of their home” could just as easily be ““to be secure in their persons against unreasonable seizures in their home”; similarly “Any questioning of the jurors should be as limited as possible so as to protect the sanctity of the jury’s deliberations” could be “Any questioning of the jurors should be as limited as possible so as to protect the jury’s deliberations”. None of these matters have any connections with a religious sacrament – however, when the word “sanctity” is used in conjunction with the word “marriage”, as in “the sanctity of marriage”, it definitely has a religious connotation; to insist otherwise is sophistry. The “sanctity of marriage” referred to here is the “sacred character of marriage”. The church is the guardian of the sacred, the state that of the profane, and the two should not be mixed.

          1. In any case, mixing church and state would result in confusion of the laws, as some churches ordain and marry homosexuals – such as the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church of Sweden, the Lutheran Church of Denmark, the Lutheran Church in Norway, the Lutheran Church of Iceland, the Protestant Church of the Netherlands, the German Lutheran and United Churches in Evangelical Church in Germany – while others, such as the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Reformed Church in America, Southern Baptist Convention, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and most of the Islamic traditions regard homosexuality as sin and proscribe it. Most Pagan religions and mythologies, and their modern-day expressions, view homosexuality with acceptance (see

            It’s best to let the state have the role of recording civil unions between consenting adults without prejudice to any form of them, while allowing religious bodies to form their various opinions and acceptance of such unions according to their respective beliefs on the matter.

  52. It’s funny, but the same “evangelical” churches that are so offended by homosexuality have no trouble with adulterers (and given what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, that might include divorced people who remarry) and liars. I think the reason they pick on homosexuals, a population which seems to be associated with a recessive genetic epimarker (, is that they won’t piss off the paying customers, the very great majority of whom lack this inborn trait. They attack people who have an inborn genetic trait over which they have no control, and favor those who practice deception and adultery, both of which are choices over which people *do* have control. I think the apposite reply has to do with removing the beam from one’s own eye before removing the speck from the eye of one’s neighbor…

    1. nope. we are just as offended by adulterers and liars, but they are not trying to get us to accept their behavior as ok. ALL sin should be denounced. The problem is that no one is calling it sin anymore

      1. The trouble with that position is that homosexuality is an inborn trait, not a choice. It’s not like people who are homosexual make a choice to be that way, and this is backed up by science: On the other hand, adultery and deception *are* choices, which means they may be and are committed with the intention to do so, which means they could justly be defined as sins – as bad actions. It’s like saying – as the Mormons did 100 years ago – that being born black was a sin – the “mark of Cain” – which persisted for life and which could not be removed, even though there was no intention to commit a bad act. It’s inherently unjust to consider inborn characteristics in the same class as bad actions. If there is any “fault”, it is in God for having created them that way, not in them.

        1. who are you or i to decide what is or isn’t just? God decides.
          so people are born gay? we are ALL born with sin. being gay is just a perversion of what is right. You CAN resist it the same as you resist any other sin. We are all born lustful – it only matters if you act on it.

          1. As far as I can see, God is not on this thread. You are currently claiming to be speaking for God. Did you mean to?

            We certainly do decide what is just or unjust in a democratic civil society. God’s will does not enter into it at all. If God showed up at the polls, and could produce proof of American citizenship, God would get one vote. Only one. God could stand around wreaking miracles all day, and at the close of business, God gets only one vote.
            (With apologies to Douglas Adams.)

              1. We are indeed a democratic republic. The democratic refers to our electoral process by which we elect our representatives. The republic refers to our representative process, by which our representatives govern. I used civil to refer to the legal and governmental aspects of society.

      2. You believe in a religion that detests homosexuality. However, you live in a Country that is supposed to be blind to religion and any of its beliefs or claims that are outside of the laws of man. The Country makes civil laws, not religious ones. If you don’t like it MOVE OUT.

        1. um, nope. we are not supposed to be blind to religion of any kind – no idea where you get that…what a stupid statement – why don’t you move out….because i believe it’s wrong i don’t belong here? try the 1st amendment.

          1. Separation of church and state man. Pretty simple concept.

            I’m not sure what you are trying to get out of evoking the 1st Amendment either. The 1st Amendment gives you the right to Freedom of Speech. It does -not- give you the right to make other people live by your religious creed in a state that is separate from the church. .

            1. maybe you should finish high school before commenting, as the 1st amendment includes freedom of religion…and separation of church and state only means that the gov’t cannot set up one religion or interfere in any…pretty simple concept if you understand what it means…

              1. Actually, it means it can’t favor one religion over another as well. Many religious groups currently favor marriage-equity. Many don’t. If the government enforces laws that ban same-sex marriage, that favors one group over another. By allowing civil marriage and letting churches set their own policy as to who they will marry, no group is favored.

                You do not get to decide how others must live. You do not get to enshrine your beliefs in law. No one does. That is also pretty simple.

      3. No-fault divorce is legal. Adultery is legal. Fornication is legal. Lying is legal, unless one is sworn in in a court of law. You can call things sinful and leave the law out of it. In fact, you do that every day.

        1. so because one bad thing is legal we should make them all legal? and besides, everyone that lies or fornicates knows it is wrong, homos want us to think it is right…and again, the people that commit those things are not shoving in our faces and trying to force us to accept it…it used to be you could refuse service to anyone you wanted, even if they didn’t have shoes on but now businesses are forced to serve homos? how is that free for them? why then are there couples suing churches to force them to marry them? how is that freedom for them?

          1. That’s as far as the train goes for you, William. No need to be calling people “homos” even if you are theologically opposed on the issue. It is unnecessary and makes Christians sound like rednecks, which is counter productive to what I’m building here.

          2. Yes, anything that causes no direct harm to others should be legal. That’s pretty much the definition of a free society. You don’t get to force your beliefs on me and I don’t get to force my beliefs on you. Your or my beliefs in right and wrong don’t enter into it. This is why Orthodox Jews can’t outlaw pork, Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t ban blood-transfusions, and Muslims can’t mandate burkas.

            No, many people who lie, or have multiple lovers don’t believe they are doing something wrong. Some couples have open relationships where, as long as there is no deception, fidelity is not expected. Some people feel they are serving a higher good by lying. Political promises come to mind here.

            As to businesses, we had this argument with the Jim Crow South. You don’t have to approve of someone to do business with them. You just have to take their money and provide the goods or services you are in business to offer. Not allowing a group to participate in trade caused much more damage to society than outlawing discrimination does. The “no shoes, no shirt, no service” standard is still allowed in restaurants, as are rules for formal attire in some upscale restaurants. Where did you get the idea that they weren’t?

            Churches are different than businesses. Churches are permitted to discriminate in any activity that is not profit-making. To my knowledge, there is no lawsuit pending against a church. However, there could be. In the States, anyone can sue anyone for any reason. I can sue you because I don’t approve of the way you spell your name. I would, however, lose, and be forced to pay all court costs. Since churches are held to a different standard than profit-making businesses, anyone filing such a suit would lose, and be on the dock for tens of thousands of dollars.

  53. I would venture most cat. 5 ppl, & even some cat 1 ppl would say they think ecclesiastical bodies should have the right to set its own policies on marriage.

    that’s the beauty of separation of church and state- believing you’re right doesn’t mean taking away someone else’s right to be wrong

    1. I would agree with that, Wonder. I would liken it to the Catholic Church’s policy on divorce. They don’t recognize many civil divorces, and have their own annulment process. They often won’t perform 2nd weddings for divorced people. That does not stop divorced Catholics from marrying. They just have civil ceremonies. The Catholic Church is not required to perform a ceremony they believe is in error, and the couple is married without their sanction. I don’t see why that wouldn’t work for same-sex marriages.

  54. I am a Category 1 married to a Category 6. Yeah… not going to say much more, I think you know how much hassle I would get for admitting that in public. I can no longer attend church with my husband for fear of embarrassing him because I know I would not be able to keep my mouth shut.

    1. The fear of embarrassing your spouse is stronger than standing up against oppression?

      It sounds like your husband could use the embarrassment. It’s his beliefs that are embarrassing, not his wife.

      1. As of today, our anniversary, we have been married 41 years. There is a lot of give and take in a marriage, just because we don’t agree on this issue doesn’t mean I am oppressed or beaten down in any measure. I don’t embarrass my husband because I love him and not because I fear him. He knows my stance as I know his yet we still enjoy each other. I do fear that this subject can and does cause discord and vitriol which should not be. Where is the agape in this subject?

  55. i am gay i left the church for obvious reasons god rejects me then i reject him or her or whatever it is …screw christians who needs them i live in a free country and i should get married to whoever i want …

    1. I’m sorry you think God rejects you. 🙁 I don’t think God rejects anyone. I’m sorry that Christians (in name) didn’t treat you like followers of Christ should try to treat everybody – with love and respect.

      You can be gay and Christian, you can be Christian and be gay. Unfortunately, the opposite is often taught. I hope that if you desire religion one day that you can come to this understanding. I’m not trying to preach, I just think sometimes someone needs to say out loud that it is okay to be who you are and to also love and follow God and not be condemned or rejected.

  56. Haseltine seems to be in more like category 3.5: he thinks it’s a sin, and he’s not sure whether it should be allowed in civil society.

    I’m in Cat 1, myself.

    And speaking as a Cat 1er, the responses you’ve posted in the article are sheer lunacy.

  57. Interestingly enough, Mr. Corey, I don’t think I recall an instance where you positively identify what category you are in. I’m aware that you support civil SSM, although I couldn’t tell you what category you’re under.

    And I’m not saying you need to divulge the answer publicly. I just find it to be a curiosity. Unless, of course, you have stated your current position and I missed it.

    1. I admitted to Cat 4 presently. I am trying to sort out the theological side (doing that right now with Matthew Vine’s book God and the Gay Christian). I try to function more as a 1 but to be intellectually honest and someone with a view that we can’t toss away scripture, I claim Cat 4 while I still sort out things on an academic/theological level.

      1. Well, I confess myself to be disappointed. It just seems like such an obvious and easy answer. But then, you’re in a different place than I am and have different priorities.

        On the other hand, it again confirms one of my biggest issues against religion and Christianity in particular. The theology interferes with basic human decency. Not that you aren’t acting decent. But if you removed theology entirely from the equation, there wouldn’t even be a struggle.

        1. I hear you. I’m not in between those categories to be easy, it’s actually hard- as you’ve seen, I have no shortage of my own tribe members wanting to off me. I have been on a consistent trajectory towards Cat 1, but have been trying to reach it in an intellectually honest way that completely satisfies my own issues that I’m trying to sort out with the handful of scriptures involved.

          1. Rory O’Neill (aka Panti Bliss), an LGBT activist from Ireland, said it better than I can. When someone who is LGBT turns on the television and sees someone like you – “nice people, well-dressed people, educated people” – get on a stage in a panel and debate the validity of their marriages or their families, it’s oppressive. The fact that this debate has to happen at all is demeaning in and of itself. The fact that you’ve made six categories out of people’s marriages and families is beyond hurtful.

            You struggle. I get it. But you are not struggling with yourself, or with your Bible. You’re struggling with other people. You say that you’re struggling with the theological issues. And that’s what LGBT people are going to hear. They hear that you love them, but that you’re struggling with what capacity you are allowed to love them in. That they are an issue. A struggle. It is a label. An incredibly dehumanising and painful label no matter what capacity it’s being used in. And yes, that feels oppressive.

            You are saying that you’re trying to resolve your own issues, but Ben, this is not about you. I know what the Bible says about marriage and homosexuality, but dammit the Bible is wrong. The moment it affects how you view others, it’s wrong.

            1. I’m sorry if my categories were hurtful. I was simply trying to give a helpful break down of how I see the culture divided.

              I would agree that when it affects how we love and treat others it is wrong. So my question would be, in 11 months of having known me, has my theological agnosticism on the issue caused me to view, love, or treat anyone wrongly? I hope instead I have a year of evidence that I’m willing to be ostracized by my own community, and willing to sacrifice real-life friendships, in order to speak up for outsiders.

              1. They weren’t hurtful to me. I’m not gay married.

                I can’t answer your question definitely, because I’d have to take a poll of LGBT people you’ve had contact with. Have your position or actions hurt me in particular? No. Not at all.

                But if you were to tell someone, openly and honestly, that you loved them, you will fight for their right to a civil marriage, but that you’re struggling with whether you can personally marry them in your church? Yeah. I really do think that would hurt a lot. And I know it might also hurt for me to say so, but it’s the truth.

            2. Wow I live it and haven’t found the eloquency of that feeling expressed. Thank you. It’s my issue of people looking at right you saying “I love the sinner but hate the sin”.

            3. “I know what the Bible says about marriage and homosexuality, but dammit the Bible is wrong.” And thus the circle the progressives cannot square. The Bible is pretty clearly a take it or leave it proposition. Not just for homosexuals, not just for Ben, but for all of us. And thank God for His eternal wisdom in that. The progressives don’t do well with that, however. Ben isn’t struggling with whether he thinks homosexuality is a sin. He’s clearly past that. He’s trying to figure out a way to ignore what the Bible clearly condemns, even in the New Testament (since the OT is clearly not a trustworthy accounting of who God is) while maintaining the ability to preach the parts of the Bible he finds more palatable. He wants so badly to believe homosexuality and that those fully living an unrepentant homosexual lifestyle are ok with God. Because, well, because a loving God would not punish someone for their sexuality when it’s conducted in a loving, committed relationship. Eventually Ben’s public blogging will match up with the decision he has already made in his heart. He will part ways fully with the Bible as God’s Word and lean on his own understanding and the deceit his own heart has committed against his soul will be complete. It’s the only allowable conclusion for the trajectory he is on.

                    1. I’ll admit the Poe reference is lost on me. I do know that anyone with any level of intuition and logical reasoning can see what Ben is up to and where this is all leading. I’m simply freeing him to stop dancing around the obvious. He’s not really wrestling with anything, despite the theater of struggle and angst in his blogosphere world. Call me cynical, but is there any doubt where he is (already) going to land on this issue?

                      In an even broader context, I believe I have read where Ben (perhaps you prefer Benjamin, I apologize if you do) described the OT as an inaccurate description of God. Perhaps I am mistaken, but if I am recalling that correctly, he is already past any attempt to rationalize and has moved to a much more problematic conclusion. Parts of the Bible just aren’t true. If Ben or you or I am allowed to reformulate, redact, reduce or re-anything any portion of the Bible, then logically it all must go. Even the agreeable parts where Jesus went about doing good and was loved by the masses (again, paraphrasing my understanding of Ben’s perspective) are subject to deletion.

                      Since Ben is heading towards deciding the parts of the Bible that clearly outline marriage and label homosexual behavior as a sin are not relevant to the 21st century, he will lose his credibility to inspire anyone to follow Jesus. Not with me, but with those he is attempting to lead. Ironic, I think.

                    2. you must be new. like, after the death of christian philosophy. because the bible IS up for debate, and has been for 2000 years. well, it was until baptists scared everyone away in the 1800s…

                    3. Pretty sure the Bible being up for debate is not Biblical. Nowhere did Jesus instruct us to debate His teachings or words. Now, the Bible is debated, but that’s not a subtle distinction.

                1. I would be happy to respond to anything about my comment that you find indecent. Frankly, I’m not sure how you come to that conclusion from what I’ve typed here, but it is not my intention to offend for the sake of shock.

                  I find it interesting that a few comments below this, you point Ben to the error in his logic, “But if you were to tell someone, openly and honestly, that you loved
                  them, you will fight for their right to a civil marriage, but that
                  you’re struggling with whether you can personally marry them in your

                  I can same with absolute confidence where Ben is in all of this for this reason: Ben is very likely intellectually brilliant. He is obviously well versed in logic and reason, as part of his educational background. And because of that, he has to know that his open willingness to support homosexual marriage allows for only one intellectually honest option for his categories above…and that is category 1.

                  Here is why I can come to this conclusion with such certainty. Suppose Ben has friends who are non-believers and who are gay and intend to marry. Should those friends seek his council on the Bible’s stance on homosexuality and by extension, SSM, he cannot with any credibility, support and affirm their marriage today, and yet hope to in the future lead them to a Jesus who is not accepting of their homosexual sin, and would require them to undo what Ben lovingly “fought” to help them do. It’s a logical bridge too far for someone as reasoned and thoughtful as Ben.

                  And so, I can state with absolute certainty, that Ben’s blogging has yet to catch up with the decision he has already made in his heart.

                2. I really like your posts and I see where you are coming from. I can’t speak for all Christians but I can explain how I feel. In a civil court no one should stop two people from getting married. When it comes to religion, who am I to cast judgement on people I do not even know. I am not perfect; I have my own sins and struggles. Why should I start judging people who I do not know or control when I can’t fix the struggles of my own life? Jesus hung out with prostitutes, adulterers, and thieves. He did not hate or “rebuke” them. He loved them and treated them with dignity and respect. If our God who is perfect and without sin can love sinners unconditionally, why can’t we? The last point I do want to make is the only time Jesus really got angry is when the synagogues had businesses operating in them. Now we have churches with Starbucks, McDonalds, etc. and we ignore that issue?

              1. To quote the Irish Atheist, “On the other hand, it again confirms one of my biggest issues against religion and Christianity in particular. The theology interferes with basic human decency.”

                If the only reason you have for condemning a behavior is that you think God mandates that condemnation, if I were you, I would consider looking at my view of God. You seem to be saying that God is not reasonable, rational or loving. Is that your view? You also seem to be saying that your specific view of the Bible trumps rational thought. Does it?

            4. This is where I think most biblical arguments fall apart – with the notion of certainty.

              “I know what the Bible says about marriage and homosexuality, but dammit the Bible is wrong.”

              Anytime someone says they KNOW what the Bible says/means/implies automatically makes me question the validity of that statement. If we actually KNEW what the true meaning is of every Bible passage then we wouldn’t have countless scholarly books written every year that try to articulate and define Biblical passages.

              So anytime someone says, “this passage means…” I automatically want to dig into it and see if I can come to the same conclusion.

              The Bible was written in language we don’t understand, over a period of hundreds of years of culture that we didn’t experience (and thus have trouble understanding). Some of it is poetry, some is hyperbole, some are eyewitness accounts passed down from generation to generation in the form of verbal storytelling. If we compare that to, say, Shakespeare, which was also written in a language I don’t understand I can tell you that every time I read Romeo & Juliet I pick up on a joke or a theme or a word that suddenly makes sense that I never got before.

              If we can dissect literary works of art and learn something new about them all the time, then I have trouble with people who don’t do the same with the Bible. My long-winded, rambling point is that you may THINK you know what the Bible says about homosexuality, but maybe what you think it says isn’t really what is intended. And if so many people reading it are coming up with different interpretations of what they think is said, then it’s difficult to every argue the point (SSM) when the foundation is completely different based on how one reads the Bible.

  58. What ever happened to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s? There’s your argument for separation of church and state. But evangelicals seem to conveniently forget this. I’m not a Christian, or an atheist for that matter. I’m just a gay man who is just glad to have allies in this world. I respect Christians, or anyone of any religion who recognizes my right to exist, and also recognizes my right to a civil marriage, which is and should be everyone’s right as an American citizen, or wherever in the world you happen to reside. I personally don’t ask that religion agrees, and I don’t want churches against gay marriage to have to even accept gays, or be forced to provide marriage services. I only ask that I have rights equal to any straight person.

    1. My Quaker meeting marches in the pride parade in Portland each year. For this year’s parade I’m planning on ordering a t-shirt with “Straight White Atheist for Equality” written on it. Haven’t decided on adding “neck-bearded”, though it does apply.

    2. EVERYTHING belongs to God, so Caesar gets NOTHING…
      You HAVE equal rights…you are asking for SPECIAL rights…

      1. so special as in… the ability to murder without repercussion? get freebies that others don’t get? not be blamed for the deaths of soldiers?
        Also, the phrase is a figure of speech, but if you want to play that way, God himself created gay people, so who are you to judge his will and creation like that?

          1. Who says it’s unnatural? You? God? Tell me where in the Bible it says two men marrying one another is unnatural. Marrying, not having pre-marital sex. Neither Jesus nor God ever said marriage was natural in the first place. Marriage was created a love bond between two people. People who couldn’t have children together could still get married in the eyes of God, so how is that any different than two men or two women who love one another and want to make a monogamous commitment? There is no difference, other than you find it icky. Just because it grosses you out, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The idea of straight people engaging in sex is not appealing to me, but do I think it’s wrong? No, I just don’t think about it. Simple as that.

            1. you have no idea what i think is icky or gross…
              God created man and woman, with different plumbing that work in conjunction with each other…your opinion doesn’t matter. my opinion doesn’t matter. only God’s does and He calls it adbominable.

              1. God also calls you to love first and not judge. LOVE FIRST! Christians get so wrapped up in politics that they forget what God has commanded of them. Must we re-read what God says in the bible. He not only calls homosexuality a sin but also lying, stealing, infidelity, and so on. Many of these sins are sins that we each commit every day. Yet, some Christians only want to point out the ones they rank as the really bad sins. Every sin is equal. I just wish that we, as christians, would love people more. Love them without judgement, love them regardless of their sins. That’s what God wants us to do.

              2. You are a prime example of someone who needs historical and linguistics training. Let me provide that for you! The passage you are referring to is in Leviticus, and this statement (Thou shalt not lie with a man as with a woman) is part of the purity laws that are meant to reform the practices of the Canaanites who did silly things like sacrifice their babies to Moloch by dropping them in the fire. The word abomination back then meant ritually unclean, not intrinsically evil. This is why they use the same word for eating pork, shellfish, lobster, meat over 3 days old, or trimming beards. It has to do with the ethic of contamination. And here is where it gets good! The literal translation of the bible is “Thou shal not lie with a man as the lyings of a woman”. The structure of the Torah assumes the dominate male and submissive female. The issue then, is that when one of the men in the sexual encounter is treated like an inferior (or the way a woman was) through penetration, then this would reduce him to property, which was considered prostitution. Most of the passages that modern Christians think are condemning prostitution are actually condemning cultural pederasty and child prostitution. For example, historians have found that in Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, homosexuality was totally okay, until it involved a King or higher official being penetrated by another (see the story of Horus and Seth or The Epic of Gilgamesh). So homosexuality was fine for powerful men (as long as they were the givers). The issue here is not with homosexuality or sodomy then, it is with gender roles, which is an entirely different can of worms to open!

            2. Ray, I appreciate your stance (especially that you’re not against Christians in general -and more importantly- appear to know more scripture than someone who looks like they are faking being a Christian (WRG).

              I’m both a conservative and liberal evangelical and I think God’s intention for ‘marriage’ (which doesn’t involve the government) is two believers who love God more than each other.

              It seems we stopped caring about that tradition a long time ago.

            3. The early Christian church has a long history of marrying same-sex couples. There has been a very well researched book written by a historian on the topic. Also, the 7 clobber passages that mention homosexuality are constantly misinterpreted due to people who have no historical or linguistic training. See for example the fact that Sodomite did not have anything to do with homosexuality when the bible was written or that all passages discussing “homosexuality” are actually discussing cultural pederasty, which is the practice of a young boy being forced into sex with an older man. It was common across cultures such as the Aztec, Samurai of Japan, Greeks, Persians etc. Most linguists who have translated those passages have discovered that they had far more to do with prescribing proper gender roles and with condemning male on child prostitution than with any kind of homosexual acts. In fact, the concept of homosexuality did not exist until the invention of the word in the mid-19th century. Even colonial Americans did not believe in the idea of one’s sexual identity being determined by one act. I wish people had to take courses or read books on the history of sexuality, as much of the crap they “learn” and bring into these debates is just completely false.

              1. “The early Christian church has a long history of marrying same-sex couples.”

                A bold claim that I haven’t heard made by a single scholar- can you cite a credible source please?

                1. Of course I can….I’m a history instructor at a university in North Carolina. Read the book “Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe,” written by a historian from Yale University, John Boswell.

                2. Also, you clearly need to brush up on your modern historical research, as there has been a great deal written on the topic since his seminal work.

      2. No, we’re asking for the exact same rights you have. It’s you who has special rights. You can legally marry the one you love, and reap all of the benefits of said marriage. I, in most states, cannot. Tell me, how is that special rights? And, you obviously haven’t read the New Testament very closely. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and Unto God what is God’s is a quote from Jesus Christ himself. What did he mean by that? He meant that everything you are spiritually belongs to God. But you still must follow the laws of the land. The constitution says all men are created equal, and their unalienable rights are life, liberty, and the persuit of happiness. Marriage is covered under that, whether you’re gay or straight. If you try to bar that, you’re not giving unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and you’re pretty directly defying your own saviour.

      3. New International Version
        Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him.

        So, you disagree with Jesus?

    3. Yes, I agree. I see many things in scripture (particularly the New Testament, when Jesus comes onto the scene) which the evangelical circle picks and chooses what to acknowledge or ignore, depending on what their agenda is for that topic.

  59. I am a part of that most vilified group, those who are not theologically unsure and do not have doubt that the Word of God is against homosexual acts, and therefore stand in opposition to both civil and religious SSM. I also do not believe that my understanding of the Word of God constitutes “homophobia” unless that is now defined as simple disagreement. I am also against the plague of easy divorce and remarriage, which is doing much more than homosexuality to defile the church.
    Would I be comfortable worshipping next to an active homosexual? I have been thus far. But if they are to participate fully in the life of the church they need to repent and abstain.

    1. Rest assured, the most vilified group is not the one that is picking out who will be welcomed at the Jesus-land party.

      The most vilified group is the one that was forbidden from openly serving their nation with dignity and honour. The one who has watched laws pushed forward in this country that forbade them from teaching in public schools. They’re the one who was hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic and watched as church leaders blocked funding for relief, claiming that it was God’s plague on their kind. The one that was often forced into tortuous therapy by their parents and your clergy.

      The most vilified group is the one who cannot marry their loved ones. Who cannot often adopt children in need. Who are painted by your brothers and sisters in Christ with lies upon lies about potential pedophilia. The most vilified group has endured in agony as the incredibly powerful organisation you revere has kicked them down, despised them, oppressed them, tortured them and killed them.

      If you’re are defining ‘vilification’ as being told that you can’t do that anymore, then I put forth that you do not, and never will know the truth of the word.

      1. This is the sort of thing I usually reply by saying, “Preach the good word.” This time, maybe “YES! EXACTLY THAT!” instead.

    2. [Word of God is against homosexual acts, and therefore stand in opposition to both civil and religious SSM.]

      How does that follow? IF the Word of God is against homosexual acts, how does it follow that CIVIL SSM should be against the CIVIL law?

      Do you also believe that no-fault divorce should be made illegal? And those in second marriages should have their marriages legally nullified?

      Do you think that ALL sins should be made against the law?

      1. Most sins are against God’s law that is why they are sins. . You must agree that some people divorce for the most trivial reasons. And not just once. Why bother marrying f you do not mean to live by your vows. Yes know some people are badly used by bashed humiliated. Etc. but before divorce was so easy to obtain. Did not people. Forgive each other for slight misdemeanours rather than rush to divorce .

        1. You don’t seem to have answered my questions. Yes, people sometimes divorce for trivial reasons. Do you therefore think no-fault divorce should illegal in the United States, and it be made illegal to remarry after divorce?

          1. Being of Polish catholic upbringing divorce technically is a no no . Plus I live in Australia. Maybe more counselling would be good and pre marriage prep might help to stop divorces, and no divorce is not something which should be illegal . It’s not a crime just a big sadness

            1. Well, I don’t think so either. But it’s condemned in the Bible. If people think SSM should be illegal because the Bible says it’s a sin, why not divorce? Because that one would affect them instead of somebody else?

              1. One thing I hope comes from this is that the body of Christ re-evaluates this very question. It seems quite clear that Christians have made much more accommodation for divorce and remarriage among professed believers than Jesus himself allowed. There are some who do believe and teach that a divorced believer should refrain from a second marriage. Rare but true. Perhaps all of this “what the Bible says about marriage” talk will cause some to read those passages on divorce with more discernment.

                1. Not a chance in the seven hells. Re-evaluating their position on divorce would require many, many Christians to change their own lifestyle. It’s much easier and convenient to focus on a ‘sin’ which you don’t have the slightest inclination to indulge in yourself.

                  1. You are correct, in all likelihood. But, that doesn’t change what Jesus said and expects. The truth and meaning of His commandments and teachings aren’t dependent on % of those who accept and adhere.

      2. It doesn’t really matter what I think on these issues. SSM is going to be legal in every western country; it is a futile battle to resist it. But since this issue has become the touchstone of political correctness I also fear lest the thought-police make it a crime to think or speak against it or in any way call homosexual behavior a sin, or refer to those Scriptures that do.

    3. Hypothetically, I disagree that people against same sex marriage should be allowed to marry. Therefore it is illegal for people of your sort to be granted marriage licenses. Would you take away my freedom of speech over a simple disagreement?

    4. I think you’re only vilified if you want to have your beliefs given force of secular law. Believe as you will. Find a church that reflects your beliefs and celebrate it. But understand, by claiming that right for yourself, you must accept that same right for people who disagree with you. Otherwise, what you want is not religious freedom. It’s religious domination. The desire to dominate others should be vilified.

  60. I find that a lot of Christians I know fall between category 2 and 3. Simply put, the thing that we struggle with is, is it right to separate church and state for those of us who are called to follow the Lord? Are we not supposed to try and be Christlike in EVERYTHING that we do? This being said. Yes, we are called to love. Which I believe is the excuse most people fall back on as they fall into category 3. But we are also called to stand up for what is Godly, walking in the spirit and following the Lord. So is there a way to convey love while also showing that homosexuality is in fact a sin? Then taking those questions and coming back to the “church and state” aspect and asking if it is in fact appropriate to separate the two. I believe as Christ followers we need to stand up for what is Godly, we need to show love as Christ did and we need to find a way to translate those beliefs into our politics and not separate the two. We need to be leaders in a crumbling world unafraid of the persecution we’ll get from those who don’t hold the same beliefs. 2 Timothy 3:12 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” So I guess I’m a #2. But not the hater kind. 🙂 I do think what Dan did was not out of line he was asking a question and deserved a response. But i feel if he were struggling with such a controversial matter it would have been wise to, as a Christian leader and example, ask it in a more private setting. Take it to prayer and wise counsel first instead of to the wolves. I think the responses of other Christians was hastily done and not out of love. If I were Michael Brown, or any other Christian leader I would probably privately email him food for thought and pray for him to pray and ask God for wisdom on the matter.

  61. I’m in category 5. I see both sides of the Theological argument, but like Dan, I’m not convinced it is a moral premise at all. In fact, I believe it isn’t. Still, rather than vocally supporting anybody and everybody doing what they want, I uphold what I believe to be Christian marriage, which is beyond a compatibility-based love-union. I believe Christian marriage is ultimately about holiness and some stuff about male & female persons being completed in God and each other. That’s where the debate is for me. But equal opportunity at Christian marriage for gay couples? Absolutely, let’s wrestle with that. But I’m not American so I’m not in the culture-war so much. I’m also Anabaptist and a World Vision supporter so maybe that says something about why I don’t associate with the Evangelical crowd.

    1. Aaron, so much of this is being driven by American cultural evangelicalism, which is also arrogant and narcissistic. American evangelicals believe they have the right to control behavior and opinion. Many believe they speak for God. Personally, I’m fearful of such flawed assumptions.

  62. It is very frightening that Christians are willing to slander and disown their brothers and sisters for simply asking questions. It is also very telling. When someone doesn’t have a reasonable way to participate in a conversation, it is easier to devalue the other than to wrestle with their perspective. Not only is this intellectually lazy, it is also just plain cruel. The underlying message seems to be that the evangelical church is not for seekers. It is for those who already have things all figured out.

    1. I think you might have something there, Mary. When you know you don’t have a logical, reasoned argument, irrational attack may seem to be your only option, short of capitulation.

      When you believe you can’t change your viewpoint, and you don’t have an objective, reasonable argument you can put forward for your viewpoint, you’re stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place. Personally, the times I’ve found myself there, I’ve taken it as a sign that it’s time to re-evaluate my views.

    2. As one of my favorite quotes says: “Only a closed mind is a certain one.”
      In this case, we could substitute the word “perspective” for “mind”, but it’s basically the same thing. I wholeheartedly agree with you. We as human beings MUST question in order to gain a deeper understanding of our beliefs. Why does anyone choose to simply be spoon-fed something as life-shaping as their theology? Obviously, I don’t have that answer.
      It’s very VERY dangerous to claim to know God’s mind. Jesus’ message: to love unceasingly.

  63. I can’t support civil same-sex marriage, but I don’t think that is the same as me getting involved in what the secular courts do. I would rather continue to argue why same-sex marriage is wrong to everyone (along with whatever other sins society seems to want to accept) and hopefully there eventually will be enough influence to convince some, if not all, that this kind of thing negatively impacts our society as a whole.

    As for asking questions there is nothing wrong with that, however, I think there is something definitely wrong if a Christian can not see how same-sex marriage will have a negative impact on society. It does not seem like a question entirely to me, but a statement. I think it is wiser to withhold an opinion until you delve into answering the questions.

      1. We could talk a lot about how two people should not get married under various circumstances and that does have teeth, although we can not make that law very easily. And the same definitely goes with two people of the same sex. There are many emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual issues that could be talked about in terms of people considering that kind of relationship and I don’t expect a lot of people to be able to uncover that realistically without some help. There are reasons why God has never condoned same-sex relationships.

        1. Things in the Bible that God condoned.

          Buying and selling of children
          Executing rape victims.

          With that sort of record, the fact that your god never condoned same-sex relationships is actually a point in their favour.

          1. The Bible recorded things that humans did and still do. It is an honest book. It is made up of history as well as commands. You will not see in that list legitimate claims. The Bible certainly does not say rape is right. It does not condone killing of whole races of people out of a mere hate or as a scapegoat in which modern day genocide is about. And modern day slavery is not the same as slavery in the context of what the Bible describes in all cases. And the rest of those items may be described as what humans did, but it is definitely not something legitimized or condoned in the Bible.

            1. You should read the Bible sometime.

              Like the part where the God commanded Israelite men to rape Midianite virgins. (Numbers 25)

              And where God commands the genocide of the Amalekite and Canaanite peoples because they’re in the way of the Israelites (the Book of Joshua)

              And you should read the parts of the Bible which specify how we can own slaves. How we can own them as a permanent inheritance, never to be freed. (Lev 25:44) And how women must sexually please their male masters (Exodus 21). And how you can beat them as long as they don’t die right away (Exodus 21: 20-21)

              And where God commands the murder of the LGBT community (Leviticus 20:13) or mouthy children (Leviticus 20:9)

              And how to sell your children (Exodus 21:7)

              And how if a woman is raped but no one heard her scream, she must be executed (Deutoronomy 22:23)

              All, according to your Bible, direct commands from God to his followers.

              I can’t lie, I have more respect for people who have the balls to try and defend such things than claim the Bible doesn’t really say that.

              1. I have read the entire Bible several times. Have you read it in its entire context or have you decided to only read parts of it that seem to fit your particular perspective? That’s what it sounds like.

                I just looked at Numbers 25 and I can not see anything there regarding what you are talking about.

                As for some of those other things you mention. It only accentuates the point that human beings can be pretty ignorant about how serious their actions can be. We should be grateful that God demonstrates mercy to human beings, who in their own freewill have attitudes that are destructive to the society around them.

                Thus explains why God allowed the destruction of the Amalekites and Canaanites. Their way of living was destructive and God knew their hearts enough that they were not going to change.

                God allowed for slavery in the Old Testament for those who could not meet their own financial needs, but you misread it to insinuate that it condones abuse. It does not. The New Testament also allows for voluntary slavery, but speaks negatively of slave traders and encourages people to free themselves if it is financially viable for them. It says nothing about sexually pleasing in the Old Testament- you added a word there – that is dishonest. It does not condone beating your slaves. It is saying that the slave owner suffers their own financial loss because of their actions. In the context of this, is given a way to provide for your children’s financial needs if you were not capable. This happens in today’s environment believe it or not where children are taken away from families that can not take care of their children. And the children were not mistreated.

                There is a whole list of sins in which people could be put to death for, but this was only in the context of the agreement that the Israelite people had agreed to in their relationship with God – it was not for all of the other nations that God sometimes left unpunished, at least in this lifetime in such a direct manner. The Israelite people were meant to be set apart from the other nations around them to be an example of how to live and an allowance for these kind of sins could not be tolerated in light of that covenant.

                And briefly, a woman who did nothing to attempt to stop a rape was stepping over the boundary of committing adultery.

                  1. Umm, are you culturally aware of what can happen? Or even aware of the culture we are speaking of? We aren’t exactly talking about a bunch of strangers when referring to the Israelite culture and that is where it takes actual thinking before making comments about the Bible or responding to people who have a personal knowledge of the faith they are talking about.

                    1. Personal titles do not mean a thing in the context of biblical discernment.

                  2. Yes, because I am being culturally aware that we are talking about the Israelite culture where there are no real strangers.

                  3. Yes, because I am being culturally aware that there really were no strangers in the Israelite community.

                    1. Great historical analysis. I wonder why there are so many verses written to ancient Israel regarding how they’re supposed to treat strangers? Also, it’s surely a good thing that rape only happens with strangers and people never get raped by someone they know.

                    2. You are just being dumb to support your own analysis of what the Scripture is trying to say. If you do nothing to try to prevent an evil from occurring you are just as culpable as the person committing the evil.

                    3. 1. Even if you know your rapist, it’s still a rape.

                      2. According to Exodus, there were 600,000 Israelite men at the time of the Flight from Egypt. If there were no strangers, those men must have gotten around.

                      You are literally making things up about your own Bible to justify being a rape apologist.

                    4. Where are the exact verses in the Bible that support rape? You haven’t demonstrated any and so you can not justify saying that I am a “rape apologist”.

                    5. The only ones who should be trying to find an excuse for their sinful actions are human beings. The Bible describes sinful actions and speaks against them. By saying rape is wrong, you are only supporting what the Bible says about human beings. You are speaking no argument against it.

                    6. I’m fairly certain that God’s command to sell rape victims to their rapists so they can be raped for the rest of their lives is a clear advocacy that rape is alright as long as you pay cash to do it. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29).

                      But more importantly, your claim that if a woman knows her rapist and doesn’t do anything to fight back it’s adultery not rape is a clear and condemning example of rape apology.

                    7. You don’t get the culture we are talking about and trying to apply the things in our society to a society that had made a covenant with God and has a totally different mindset.

                      That passage you quoted is not condoning rape. It is laying out the consequences if you gave into your sin in the context of the Israelite community. The rapist would not have seen it as a reward and the woman would have seen it as protection from living a life in destitution.

                      They had to draw clear distinctions in their rules about rape because otherwise they could easily just put her to death because they would not otherwise have known whether or not she was complicit in what happened or not.

                    8. It is a clear twist of Scripture and ignorance of cultural context. Israelite society is different than ours and had a different mindset.

                      That passage does not condone rape at all. It would be seen clearly as a negative repercussion to the rapist and protection to the person who was raped. Otherwise the woman could be left to financial destitution because nobody would marry her otherwise within in the context of that culture and the mandate to hold highly to the standard of sex being only a part of marriage.

                      And a clear response from the victim was a protection from any false claims that she was complicit in what happened otherwise she could have been seen as having committed adultery and condemned to death.

                1. “And briefly, a woman who did nothing to attempt to stop a rape was stepping over the boundary of committing adultery.”

                  Richard you just stepped in it and no biblical passage will help you be able to deny that you by definition are a rape apologist.
                  Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more people against another person WITHOUT THAT PERSONS CONSENT.

                  So Richard, I want to know, when is the victim at fault here considering the word rape MEANS that the victim did not consent by definition?
                  Would it be before or after I knock every tooth out of your head, beat you to the point of submission and then rape you mercilessly? Seriously when does your ceasing to stop me turn into adultery and consent?
                  Because that is what you are arguing, that failure to appropriately fight of a rapists means the victim has blame.

                  You are a rape apologist plain and simple because you ignore the definition of rape and recreate it to fit your narrative. A culturally aware rape apologist is still rape apologist because you blame the victim, who by definition cannot be liable as rape means NO CONSENT!

                  You are an idiot and a dangerous one at that.

                  1. I didn’t step into anything except that I hurt my back and I have taken a break from responding to anything here.

                    Many people commenting here are ignorant of Israelite culture and trying to compare their modern circumstances. Simply does not transfer. The Israelite culture was one that took the issue of the sexual bond seriously as they were to be set apart completely from the nations around them as they has a covenant with the true God. Today’s culture does not come anywhere close to having the same mindset.

                    The Bible is not condoning rape at all, but describing circumstances and punishment in the light of what I just talked about. Unless people get that into their head, of course they are not going to understand it.

                    If people read the context of the passage in question rather than just reading a few select verses (which is often the problem people have when reading the Bible – totally taking things out of context), they would be able to see what is happening here. There are other circumstances described regarding rape, including those circumstances where someone is raped in a secluded location. The context in which the rape in question is however, in circumstances where there are other people around and the full consequences of a rape are preventable. We are not describing the kind of society where people were not taking God’s commands seriously and would have been afraid to interfere if there were screams. There was greater accountability than we see in today’s society. A woman would be in a situation where she could respond and help would come. In order for a woman to be able to clear herself of any part in the sexual act she had to respond or else she could be accused of committing adultery as much as the perpetrator of the act. The Israelites had to have a means of being able to discern what was happening in order to protect their covenant with God and to protect their ability to continue to separate themselves without letting someone get away with dishonesty under the circumstances and letting behaviour fester that would be harmful to their community.

                    And something that is missed, as well, is that there is as much of as a punishment to the rapist as well as protection to the person who was raped in what the Bible is describing where the woman was not guilty and a virgin. The Israelites were well aware of the law and a potential rapist would have been aware of the consequences of their actions. It is not a situation that would be very favourable for the rapist to take care of someone financially for the rest of their lives (on top of the money given to the family of the girl) when all they wanted to do was give in to lustful temptation. Under the circumstances, the sexual bond was taken seriously, and the Israelite culture understood that in this situation of a virgin being raped. There was dishonour given to the girl who was raped as a virgin and she would have financial protection for the rest of their lives. And also everyone would be aware of the dishonour placed upon the head of the rapist, it is hardly something that someone wanted to live with, it is not something that would give anyone incentive to rape a girl – you have to question the mindset of any man in today’s culture who would say that would this be a positive thing for the man. That says more about the modern man than it says about the culture of the Israelites. This was something that all of the Israelite community agreed with under their covenant with God. We are not describing today’s society here where people are all over the place in terms of their relationship with God.

                    And I should emphasize again that the Bible is not apologizing for rape at all – it is only describing one particular circumstance where the punishment is more drastic under the circumstances than what we would be used to in our own culture.

                    It is crazy to call me an idiot or a “rape apologist” when I am just describing a different
                    mindset than today’s culture. This culture doesn’t take the sexual bond
                    very seriously. I think that is idiotic and we can see the results in
                    all the problems we face.

                  2. Many people commenting here are ignorant of Israelite culture and trying to compare their modern circumstances. Simply does not transfer. The Israelite culture was one that took the issue of the sexual bond seriously as they were to be set apart completely from the nations around them as they has a covenant with the true God. Today’s culture does not come anywhere close to having the same mindset.
                    The Bible is not condoning rape at all, but describing circumstances and punishment in the light of what I just talked about. Unless people get that into their head, of course they are not going to understand it.
                    If people read the context of the passage in question rather than just reading a few select verses (which is often the problem people have when reading the Bible – totally taking things out of context), they would be able to see what is happening here. There are other circumstances described regarding rape, including those circumstances where someone is raped in a secluded location. The context in which the rape in question is however, in circumstances where there are other people around and the full consequences of a rape are preventable. We are not describing the kind of society where people were not taking God’s commands seriously and would have been afraid to interfere if there were screams. There was greater accountability than we see in today’s society. A woman would be in a situation where she could respond and help would come. In order for a woman to be able to clear herself of any part in the sexual act she had to respond or else she could be accused of committing adultery as much as the perpetrator of the act. The Israelites had to have a means of being able to discern what was happening in order to protect their covenant with God and to protect their ability to continue to separate themselves without letting someone get away with dishonesty under the circumstances and letting behaviour fester that would be harmful to their community.

                    And something that is missed, as well, is that there is as much of as a punishment to the rapist as well as protection to the person who was raped in what the Bible is describing where the woman was not guilty and a virgin. The Israelites were well aware of the law and a potential rapist would have been aware of the consequences of their actions. It is not a situation that would be very favourable for the rapist to take care of someone financially for the rest of their lives (on top of the money given to the family of the girl) when all they wanted to do was give in to lustful temptation. Under the circumstances, the sexual bond was taken seriously, and the Israelite culture understood that in this situation of a virgin being raped. There was dishonour given to the girl who was raped as a virgin and she would have financial protection for the rest of their lives. And also everyone would be aware of the dishonour placed upon the head of the rapist, it is hardly something that someone wanted to live with, it is not something that would give anyone incentive to rape a girl – you have to question the mindset of any man in today’s culture who would say that would this be a positive thing for the man. That says more about the modern man than it says about the culture of the Israelites. This was something that all of the Israelite community agreed with under their covenant with God. We are not describing today’s society here where people are all over the place in terms of their relationship with God.

                    And I should emphasize again that the Bible is not apologizing for rape at all – it is only describing one particular circumstance where the punishment is more drastic under the circumstances than what we would be used to in our own culture.

                    It is crazy to call me an idiot or a “rape apologist” when I am just describing a different mindset than today’s culture. This culture doesn’t take the sexual bond very seriously. I think that is idiotic and we can see the results in all the problems we face.

          2. Perfect response, save for driving the point home that most Christians believe YHWH is Jesus. I like to paraphrase [Jesus] over “Lord, God, Father, Holy Spirit” and perhaps add [Jesus] to the beginning of “The Destroyer” in Exodus. I don’t know, just saying.

      2. Ben, you really want to take the stance that sin, regardless of which one, doesn’t negatively impact society?

      3. And it is also very interesting how humans react to God’s commands sometimes. We act like we know better than He does. We don’t always see the outcome of our actions, but He does.

        1. Lots of people believe that. If the Bible is the literal word of God, I’m one of them. And, guess what? I have the same rights as you do. I am equal to you before the law. I have the right to my beliefs, as do you. I’m not trying to stop you living your own life according to your beliefs. You appear to want to enshrine your beliefs in law. Do you?

          1. I want people to realize what is going on in our society and to realize the fundamental mistakes that they have made. This isn’t just about beliefs. This is about the foundation of our society. It is up to people to become convinced of this in their own minds. There are already some of my beliefs about right and wrong enshrined in the law. Like stuff about stealing and murdering, for example.

            1. Why do Christians believe that marriage is the foundation of our society? Honest question. I know it’s mentioned in the Bible, but didn’t Jesus actually speak against marriage, except for those who can’t control their sexual impulses?

              1. Actually I believe you are thinking of Paul though there are plenty of Christians who seem to confuse the two. As to your actual question, I cannot really answer it. I agree that there is a great irony in the way many Christians put great, possibly primary, emphasis on the words of Paul in regard to so much while at the same time having such an enormous emphasis on marriage.

              2. Jesus did not speak against marriage. He upheld the idea that marriage is between a man and a woman. Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 19:4-6, ” ‘Haven’t you read’, he replied, that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

                Actually this is why Christians believe that marriage is foundational to our society. Jesus was restating what happened at the very beginning of creation. The male and female relationship is what God created as a model. He created the female as a perfect complimentary companion to the male. God did not just create a duplicate of man to be united with another man. The reality is that the body parts function so that naturally men and women can reproduce together.

                It was the apostle Paul who said it was better for people to not be married so that they could focus on the work of God, but even when Paul said this, you can see in his words in 1 Corinthians 7 that there were not many who could handle being single and so he encouraged people to be married in order to deal with those sexual impulses you are talking about.

                  1. No Paul, was not wrong. He was describing a concession based on the state of the world. That can be clearly seen by what he says. He acknowledges that there is a lot of immorality in the world so it is better for a lot of people to be married. He didn’t apparently struggle with some of the same things as others did surrounding this issue and he saw it as a gift that not a lot of people have, although Paul confesses elsewhere that he definitely had struggles against sin just like everyone else.

            2. Here’s my problem with your position; stealing and murder cause obvious, unequivocal harm. That’s why we have laws regarding them. These “fundamental mistakes” you’re referring to (I assume you mean things such as marriage-equity) don’t meet that standard.

              Slavery was fundamental to many societies, including the American South. It was still a monstrous miscarriage of justice. Denial of voting rights based on gender or race was fundamental to many societies. It still is to some. It’s still unjust. Religious discrimination against Jews was fundamental to parts of Europe in the Middle Ages up through the Enlightenment. It was still wrong. The group in Nigeria that kidnapped 200 schoolgirls has, as its fundamental principle, the idea that fact-based education is sinful. They’re wrong. Many societies have had, as fundamental principles, great wrongs. Believing something is fundamental to your societal foundation is no excuse for injustice, in my view.

              As to people being convinced of your beliefs, the opposite appears to be happening. They have the same rights you do. So do I. I regard your beliefs regarding God’s law as mistaken. I don’t get to tell you you must live as I say. You regard my beliefs about God as mistaken. You don’t get to tell me now to live either. That’s equality. That’s fair.

              1. People already have their beliefs, so I won’t worry about the appearances of how people are responding and I never assume to know what is going on in everyone’s mind. I only hope that somehow people are given some things to ponder on beyond this dialogue.

                I don’t know what you are talking about as far as injustice is concerned. I am merely trying to convince there is something wrong with same-sex marriage, nothing more. I realize that people in this society are going to decide whatever they personally decide, but I will defend my position until I am “blue in the face” because I know it is right. I can tell you how to live just like you are trying to tell me that I should live with a different opinion. I realize this does not mean I will be able to convince you, but I hope you will be.

                As for those things you try to compare to this issue, there is little comparison because as far as I can see same-sex marriage is pretty much legal already in North America. Some people who already have had their own way to their own detriment and that is the whole sad thing about this.

                Instead of helping people deal with the real issues in their lives, we have people pandering to to the harmful decisions people want to make because it is easier to do that than to really love them back to relational wholeness. I would liken it to when people try to throw money at an issue and hope it will go away or just deciding that it is too hard to try to stop a person from doing drugs so we will just tell them that we will love them and let them continue on their path to destruction without any sort of confrontation.

                People who say they believe in the Bible are losing any backbone they have to stand up for the truth because they are afraid of how others will react. I am not afraid because I know that what I stand for is love, not the opposite as others try to suggest. I understand there are people who have gone through a lot of hurt already and this is where I see the decision to become gay has come from as well as the decision to support those who decide to become gay. I don’t see this as any different from anyone else who engages in harmful behaviour – it usually comes from a place of hurt.

                What I am strongly advocating is that the church needs to be better at engaging people in that place of hurt and not just accepting people’s behaviour as it is because it is not helpful to that person ultimately. There are unreconciled issues there that should be addressed. If someone is making a decision out of hurt, it is very hard to argue that it is ever beneficial to that person.

                1. Frankly, if you’re trying to convince me there’s “something wrong with same-sex marriage, you’re not doing a good job. You’ve presented no evidence at all, just your opinion, based on religious belief.

                  If you have any evidence, present away. If not, then you don’t have the right to enshrine your beliefs in law, any more than a devout Orthodox Jew can prevent Baptists from buying bacon.

                  Perhaps people who believe in the Bible aren’t “losing backbone,” perhaps they’re realizing this basic fact: If you don’t want someone to try to control in your life, don’t try to control theirs.

                  That said, you have the absolute right to your beliefs. You just don’t have the right to control the beliefs of others. Many religious groups are affirming of marriage-equity. You have no more right to tell them they must change than they have the right to tell you that you must change. If you can’t understand that by trying to pass laws based on your beliefs, that that’s what you’re trying to do, I just don’t have anything more to offer you. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    1. Why do you believe your views should be enshrined in law? I can see no negative influences, but even if there were some, things such as alcohol consumption, extreme sports and some foods are just a few of the legal things that have downsides. Heck, you can even fly a Nazi or Confederate battle-flag, join the Communist party or become a white-supremacist. No law against any of that. We don’t outlaw things unless they have profound negative outcomes and the outlawing would not discriminate against a group. Marriage-equity meets neither standard.

      People believe interracial marriage is a sin and has negative impacts. People believe home-schooling is wrong and has negative impacts. People believe vaccines are sinful and have negative impacts. People believe blood transfusions are sinful and have negative impacts. People believe girls attending college, birth-control and medical-care in general are sinful and have negative impacts. Why should your beliefs be honored and not theirs?

      The only everyone’s freedom is secure is if everyone’s freedom is respected. To be free to live according to your beliefs, you must respect my right to live according to mine. The law only interferes when we do measurable, fairly extreme damage to someone else. I can see no way that restricting the right of individuals to marry who they choose rises to that standard. Why do you think it does?

  64. I think the real problem here is that apparently no one is allowed to THINK. You have to either react instantly the way you “should” or you are obviously damning yourself and other people to hell, and everyone around you has to abandon you or they will go to hell, too, until you repent and conform. That in itself is a major problem. If there’s no room for thinking, then you’re in a cult. Period.

    1. The influence of someone like him is not taken lightly. It has nothing to do with having the ability to question or being condemned to hell.

        1. He didn’t just ask a question as far as from what I read. He made a statement of belief without having really thought about it and then asked questions about why someone would believe differently than his statement.

          1. Did you actually read his twitter feed? He asked questions, and sought a controversial conversation. When someone of influence CAN’T ask questions, we need to start questioning who we want to influence us. His stances doesn’t have to affect anyone else’s. He’s simply asking questions and trying to understand.

            1. It is naive to think that someone of influence does not influence others – this culture speaks for itself as far as that is concerned. Yes, his stances don’t have to affect anyone else’s, but they do.

              My argument is that people too often hold to stances based on things such as the influence of others rather than honestly looking at all the arguments for and against something. He admitted himself that he hasn’t even done the responsible thing and seriously reflected on it. It only makes me go back to my original comments.

              1. Cause we’d hate to influence people into thinking critically and reflecting on their stances, right? Should he really just be a robotic mouthpiece for evangelicals and repeat only what they want to hear? God forbid we let our celebrities (and really, let’s use that lightly since I haven’t heard from JoC in over a decade) have personalities and humanity about them. And clearly his influence has only meant that too many people see his questioning and attack him. He lost a lot of fans and a lot of radio time he didn’t really have to lose. Apparently in Christian Culture you don’t influence anyone unless you fit into the proper mindset of what they’ve decided you should think.

                1. You don’t fit in the Christian culture unless you are willing to admit the truth of how God thinks and how God created things to be – that is what it comes down to. Dan Haseltine has made the personal decision to be a part of that community and he is held accountable to that.

                  Dan Haseltine’s response to the whole thing wasn’t about influencing people to think critically because he hadn’t even thought critically about the whole situation before he made a statement of belief. He even admitted that himself so I don’t see how your point even fits in these circumstances.

                  I can hardly see the ability to think critically from the opposition to the biblical perspective of homosexuality. All that I can perceive are some points of view that are just repetitions of what other people have said. I can hardly see any real investigation into why the Bible says things as it does and real investigation into the issues that are at the core of homosexuality.

                  The Bible encourages people to be able to give reasons for their faith and that requires people to be able to think critically. That is hardly what I can see from those who are against the Christian faith. And under this circumstance, Dan Haseltine didn’t take the time to think critically as he should have.

                  1. If the Bible (and I love how you lump totally disparate writings that had to be compiled by early church leaders in order to have the consistency of tone and philosophy that it now enjoys so people like yourself can then have the bizarre view that it’s a book that reflects “God’s view”) encouraged people to think critically, it wouldn’t present everything it claims as a FACT. Don’t you ever find that strange, Richard, how the Bible is the ultimate book on FAITH, but in regard to every claim it makes it refers to them all as FACTS? Doesn’t that seem a little peculiar to you? A book that asks people to believe through faith that Jesus rose from the dead….because it’s a FACT that he did? Not to mention dozens and dozens of other claims? All FACTS? To think critically, Richard, you can’t at the same time BELIEVE the thing you’re thinking critically about. It doesn’t work that way. Your belief is precisely what makes critical thought impossible. At best all you can do is “think of really well thought out reasons for why you believe what you believe.” This

                    1. I have read the entire Bible many times. There is nothing “totally disparate” about the writings within it. I am actually more amazed every time I read it how cohesive the Bible is in spite of the different writers that God chose to contribute. It actually presents more evidence that it was God who was behind it than the opposite like you are trying to infer. And it makes sense that it has different writers behind it because it records different periods of human history and events in different places.

                      Faith and facts always co-exist together. It isn’t strange to me at all.

                      The more and more I look at what people in science try to say, which is a whole other topic, there is a great deal of weight placed on theories that seem to be based on “facts”, but really are beliefs about the “facts” when it really comes down to it. Anyone seeing how scientists can flip-flop on different issues can understand what I mean. It isn’t the “facts” that change. It is the way people are viewing those “facts” that changes.

                      It is easy for me to see that I am looking at “facts” when I look at the Bible while still thinking critically about them. Some people when reading the Bible, do not see the entire picture and so they miss out on details and bring out wrong conclusions about it. This is no different than what people do when they make misinterpretations of data in science – they are not seeing the bigger picture.

                      If I am guilty of not having critical thought as you say because of belief then the logical conclusion is that this is the same for everyone else in life when they are looking at anything that they see as factual.

                      I think that the only conclusion you can draw is that either no one is capable of critical thought or that faith and facts go together in life and you can’t detach one from the other. We all put our trust in something.

                    2. Richard, the books in the Bible aren’t disparate because early church leaders threw out books that didn’t go with other ones. This is why the Bible has this amazing “consistency” you speak of; it was EDITED so that all the tone would be consistent. Secondly, of the New Testaments 27 books, Paul wrote 13 of them!! Of course it seems consistent, the New Testament was HALF written by ONE person! Take the 4 Gospels out, and the only books left number 10! Of COURSE it seems consistent! Secondly, in the Old Testament, as the authors were composing their books, they had OTHER Old Testament writings to REFER to! They all came from a culture with the same stories, tales and history so that as each writer put something down, they were literally READING the OTHER books that were slowly becoming the Jewish Old Testament! Finally, we know that the Pentateuch, the Old Testament books that are the ones Christians most often refer to, we’re written by ONE author, most likely. So of COURSE you think the Bible is consistent! There’s no need whatsoever to attribute this to God’s doing! (let this serve has evidence against the assumption you make that you think critically. Because frankly Richard, you really don’t. You possess blind faith and it renders your faculties of critical thought highly lacking.)

                    3. They weren’t edited. They threw out the books that they knew were not associated with the apostles. There were a lot of spurious writings at that time trying to justify certain beliefs. This is no different than all of the other “religious texts” people have made up in order to justify their beliefs. It was crucial to be able to look at the evidence for the attachment to the apostles to verify what was from God and what was not.

                      There is no evidence of any adjustment to manuscripts. I have never heard of any.

                      As for Paul writing a lot of the books of the New Testament, it makes sense in light of the direction of the new covenant. Paul was specifically given the mandate to reach out to those who were not Jewish and so it makes sense that a lot of what we see in the New Testament are Paul’s writings. He was Jewish, but had a knowledge of the broader culture around him. He was a former Pharisee and so he was not as uneducated as some of the other writers.

                      Even the gospels are consistent with one another in spite of them being directed towards different types of readers. If anyone looks at them thoroughly, they can see how they they compliment each other in the details.

                      I do not know that the writers of the Old Testament had immediate access to the other writings, but you are right that they would have had some, not that they took an extraordinary amount of effort to make sure that their writings were consistent with what they had read previously. But you are missing out on the Old Testament as a whole. It was not a collaborative effort to make sure that each author was consistent with the next and that their message was cohesive as can be seen when doing an in depth study. The direction of the writings are much more elaborate in their sophistication than could possibly be understood by merely looking at the backgrounds of those people who were doing the actual writing.

                      We do not know that most of the Pentateuch was not by one author. There is nothing to suggest this except for the end of the Pentateuch which records the death of Moses. Of course, to complete that story someone else would have had to have written the end.

                      There is tons of evidence to attribute it to God’s doing although it does come down to what you are going to believe as far as where the weight of the evidence lies.

                      I have a whole book that describes the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled as far as the Old Testament is concerned. Jesus could not have orchestrated that fulfillment Himself, and the others involved in His story could not have either.

                    4. Let’s examine that last point of yours, that Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophesies. As you well know, the Gospels were written by people who were well aware of the Old Testament prophesies. And as you also know, the Earliest manuscripts of the Gospels are all anonymous. So consider the following explanation for Jesus “fulfilling” OT prophesies;
                      1) Jesus lives and dies.
                      2) time passes. Decades.
                      3) people tell the story of Jesus’ life over and over again during the decades between His death and when the Gospels were actually written.
                      4) eventually someone (remember, they’re anonymous) decides to write down the stories they’ve HEARD about Jesus’ miracles and prophesy fulfillments based on the STORIES that have circulated. They write down the stories they HEARD about how Jesus fulfilled them all.
                      5) they write a Gospel.

                      Notice how the one thing NOT required is that the person writing their gospel requires that they personally knew Jesus, saw the miracles or fulfilled prophesies, or needed to fact check them or even interview someone who claimed to have been there. ALL that would be required is for stories to have flourished about how Jesus did those things, and for those STORIES to have been written down, the fact is Jesus needn’t have done ANY of them, just that tall tales of Jesus’ amazing miracles and accomplishments circulated.

                    5. Now, given that simple explanation, why do you suppose Jesus had to have in FACT fulfill them, when my account more than adequately accounts for it. Name any alleged prophesy Jesus is said to have fulfilled and my explanation more than explains it. The NT accounts prove nothing whatsoever.

                    6. The second possible explanation (other than what I’ve expressed, that stories of Jesus life got more and more far-fetched until they eventually became tales of miracles and fulfilled prophesies) is the very simple fact that a person WRITING a Gospel account of Jesus’ life (and thus believed those stories) would also already BELIEVE he fulfilled them. So all that person would have to do is peruse the OT, find an instance where a prophesy is stated about the Messiah and think, “well…Jesus WAS the Messiah, so therefore he MUST’VE fulfilled this prophesy I’m reading about. So I guess I’ll include in my Gospel account how he DID fulfill it.” Very simply and innocently, the Gospel writers simply wrote down the stories they heard about Jesus (however outrageous or far-fetched), wrote down the stories they’d heard about him fulfilling prophesies but had no evidence for, or simply took license to write a prophesy-fulfilling account because “surely he HAD fulfilled them, because Jesus WAS the Messiah.” It really is that simple. No fulfilled prophesies, just stories about him doing so, written long after the fact with the aid of tall tales and the OT text. Simple.

                    7. Do you even know who the gospel writers were? Two of them were actually original disciples of Jesus. The other two knew the original disciples. There is plenty of evidence for this. They were not just writing stories that they heard about Jesus.

                    8. All four Gospels were anonymous. No author ever signed their names to them. This is well known. Early church leaders attributed those Gospels to people they thought must have written them, people that seem the likeliest. But they weren’t signed. Why not? Don’t you ever wonder why there aren’t 12 Gospels instead of 4? Why there aren’t any Gospels written by ALL of the disciples? What about a voluntary Gospel written by someone who followed Jesus but wasn’t a disciple? Or an account written by ANY of the people Jesus healed? Or relatives or friends of those he healed? All we have are 4? That’s it? And they’re all four anonymous?? Don’t you also find it Odd that Jesus never wrote anything, never made sure someone wrote down his teachings while he was alive or appointed someone to write about him after he died so that his message would continue? Why didn’t he say to the disciples “write down my life story, all 12 of you, so that my teachings will go on.” Jesus never thought to do this? And the disciples themselves never thought to do this? And their only job was to spread Christianity?! We’re they idiots? Jesus never even predicted that there would BE Gospels and a New Testament? That he never predicted Paul?

                    9. What you are missing out in your description of the New Testament is that it doesn’t even fit. The gospels were written in the time period where people would have been aware of the historical events surrounding the texts and would easily be able to figure out was accurate or inaccurate about them. Details of the history in the New Testament are verified by other ancient texts that have no stake in the claims of Christianity.

                      Thus, Jewish people would have known very well where Jesus was born, for example. This was no mystery to the Jewish people and would have been easily debunked in Jewish writings, but we have no history of this. So one thing that Jesus could not control was where He was born. Where the Messiah was to be born is recorded in the Old Testament. Jesus was born in Bethlehem and that is exactly where He was born.

                      As for what you say about Jesus’ miracles specifically, even the Jews who denied that Jesus was the Messiah did not deny that He seemed to perform miracles. This can be seen in the oral tradition of the rabbis that is recorded in the Talmud. They accuse Jesus of performing magic and sorcery. These supernatural occurrences in the life of Jesus were not the result of the imagination of His followers.

                    10. This is what you need to understand; the Gospels were written by people 30-60 years after Jesus’ death. That’s an incredibly long time. The Gospels were anonymous, meaning they weren’t signed (you can easily look this up). Whoever wrote them SAID Jesus was born in Bethlehem because they were TOLD he was born in Bethlehem, because that writer had read the Old Testament prophesies. Notice that no Gospel writer ever interviews Mary, or Joseph, or claims to have traveled to Bethlehem to corroborate whether the prophesy was true. Literally by the time the Gospels were written, Jesus had been dead for decade. Even if there were people who would’ve disagreed with the claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (if he hadn’t been), they weren’t ASKED. The Gospels started circulating to people who all believed that Jesus was born in Bethlehem because he was the Messiah (so he must’ve been born there) and that story became the one everyone believed because it was WRITTEN in the Gospel. There would be no corroberation, no person “coming forward” (coming forward where? How would they find the author of this manuscript before he died? How would a person from Bethlehem make it their personal business as an elderly person to TELL the Gospel writers “No! He wasn’t born there!” What would be the odds of this. Jesus was said to have been born in Bethlehem because that’s what the Gospel writer was either led to believe or simply WROTE that because of the OT prophesies. If the Gospels said that, what people would disagree? And even if they did, all the Christians would say, “Of course he was born in Bethlehem, the prophesy said so.” Can you not see this?

                    11. Let me explain this to you in simple terms. Imagine you and I are living in a desert 2000 years ago. I have a book that says 1) a particular guy will be born in a particular town, 2) he’ll raise the dead, and 3) he’ll come back from the dead and float up into Heaven. Let’s say you and I haven’t met. After you die, stories start to circulate about how you were this particular man. Amazing stories. Stories that get more and more amazing as they keep getting told. Some 40 years later I too hear amazing stories about you and I think, “someone needs to write this down!” So I write down all the stories I’ve heard about you and I also look at my ancient book which says you fulfilled a bunch of prophesies. Since I believe you’re that guy and the stories all prove that you’re that guy, I write in my Gospel “Richard was born in this particular town, raised the dead, and was himself resurrected and then he floated up into Heaven.” Now, did you do all those things? Probably not. But now this book says you did! So now, everyone who reads the book goes “Richard fulfilled all these prophesies!!” You see it’s not that you did, it’s simply that the book says so. So now it’s 50 years after your death. Who the heck is gonna come forward and insist the story be re-written? Who would even be alive? Who would even know that such a book existed 40-65 years after the events described?? This is how Jesus “fulfilled” all those prophesies!

                    12. There were plenty of people still alive. There’s plenty of ways to critique the Bible, but this isn’t one of them. The Gospels were written while there were still plenty of eye witnesses to correct it had it been full of legends. Furthermore, all of the disciples, less John, were martyred for their faith. Had they been perpetuating a myth, instead of eye witness accounts they truly believed, they never would have gone to their death to insist on the validity of the story.

                    13. Benjamin, “there were plenty of eye witnesses to correct it”? Then why didn’t they write accounts of it? Why didn’t TONS of eyewitnesses write their own accounts? Secondly, what, do you think there’s just a bunch of people all standing near each other like in a school play? People “around”? None of the Gospels EVER say “I saw this miracle occur” or “I saw Jesus resurrect”. They all say “they saw this” and “they saw that”. You really think events that weren’t even written down for 30-65 years AFTER they occurred have people still alive and actively “correcting” them if they’re incorrect? What makes you think this fail safe occurred when the authors of the Gospels 1) don’t claim to be witnesses, 2) don’t find the actual witnesses 3) don’t go and talk to people close to Jesus like Mary and Joseph to get THEIR personal accounts of Jesus’ life, 4) NO non-follower of Jesus EVER wrote an account (even though Jesus met and healed HUNDREDS of people)?? Despite all this you think “they would’ve been there to stop something false from being written. There would’ve been people to prevent it.” How hopelessly naive do you have to be?

                    14. Secondly, Benjamin, you misunderstand what a martyr is. Or at least you only are considering One definition of a martyr. A martyr isn’t just someone who willingly and courageously dies for their beliefs. They’re also someone who is abducted and killed for their beliefs, whether or not they want to die or not. What I mean is, a Christian who is arrested and is going to be killed for BEING a Christian might not be given the option of renouncing Christ at all. They’re just…killed. That person is then described as a martyr; they were killed for what they believe in. Secondly, the disciples of Jesus didn’t need to have SEEN miracles in order to follow Jesus any more than you need to SEE miracles in order to follow Jesus. They were simply killed for regarding Jesus as the Son of God. Now, as for “seeing” Jesus resurrect, we know that all four Gospel accounts differ completely. The only thing they have in COMMON is that Jesus’ body was GONE the morning of his alleged resurrection. So what happened? What LIKELY happened (if we can call a miracle “unlikely”); the body wasn’t there and people immediately started spreading word that Jesus came back. Thus, even the disciples would believe he resurrected, because they already believe he’s the Messiah. Cut to: years later and that same disciple is going to be martyred. He followed Jesus, saw that Jesus’ body wasn’t at the tomb that morning and therefore believed Jesus resurrected. 30-65 years go by, the story gets told over and over and over, it gets more and more embellished, until finally the highly exaggerated version gets put in the Gospel. Everyone concerned is either dead or not immediately “around” to contradict it, and because EVERYONE who reads it is a Christian that WANTS to believe the exaggerated story, has only HEARD the exaggerated story for 30-65 years, accepts it. They accept it just as a Christian today accepts it; because there were “eyewitnesses”!! They were as credulous then as Christians are credulous today. THAT’S how martyrdom happened. Not because the martyrs “must have seen” the miracles. Seriously, don’t be naive about how a rumor+time+the power of the written word can create a religion. Don’t be so naive.

                    15. Benjamin, I just thought of a perfect example that refutes your logic; Matthew is the only Gospel that says at Jesus’ tomb there was an earthquake and an angel that came down from the sky and was sitting on the stone. Now, according to your logic, plenty of eyewitnesses would’ve read Mark, Luke and John and said, “wait a minute, there’s no mention of the earthquake and the angle that sat down on the rolled away stone!” So naturally, the authors of Mark, Luke and John would’ve corrected the fact that they omitted that crucial and real and true event that eyewitnesses saw. So it would’ve been put into all four accounts….right?? So why ISN’T it in all four accounts? Why just one? And if all four Gospels describe the events of the resurrection differently, how come “eyewitnesses” didn’t fix the discrepancies? Because they were written by people years later, that weren’t there, that didn’t bother talking to actual witnesses. They simply wrote down the STORIES they’d heard. This is why no one corrected them. Your argument doesn’t account for the resurrection discrepancies in ANY of the four Gospels where they fail to include ANY other Gospel’s information.

                    16. You say that there are plenty of people who would’ve been from Bethlehem and would’ve known if in fact that wasn’t Jesus’ actual birthplace. Let me give you a perfect example of something perfectly analogous to your logic of people debunking the claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem if in fact he wasn’t; in Matthew the author says that Herod went to Bethlehem and killed every male baby two years old and under after hearing that Bethlehem would be the birthplace of the Messiah (as told to him by the three mages). So what we have is a small town wherein a horrible massacre occurred, where an entire town of Jewish people had their babies ripped from their arms and killed in front of them. Yet there’s NO historical account outside the Bible of this event EVER happening. Now, how can this be? How can it be that absolutely no one except a Gospel writer has any record of a massacre? One that would’ve resulted in outrage, protest, maybe even retaliation on the part of the Jewish community. And even if NONE of these, them at least that it be RECORDED in some Jewish document. HOW could this be? Simple; the Gospel writer heard “stories” about the massacre having occurred (which fulfills a prophesy, incidentally) or WROTE that such a massacre happened, 70-95 years after it “would” have happened. Now, yes, no one wrote that it DIDN’T happen, but no extra biblical account said it DID. NONE. How?? Because like the author saying Jesus was born in Bethlehem, they wrote it SO long after the alleged time it occurred, no one would be around (nor interested) to contradict it. There’s your answer.

                  2. Richard, being able to give reasons for your faith has NOTHING whatsoever with thinking critically because faith-based belief, by definition is to willingly NOT think critically because one believes that faith is something critical thought doesn’t pertain to. Faith is literally the perspective that one willingly believe in the existence of something for which there is no factual evidence. 2) The Bible isn’t a single literary work with one singular message, because it was written by different people, at different times, and selected and compiled by still other people, so it’s fallacious to say the Bible “encourages people” or “requires people” to do anything. Critical thought would show you that. 3) humans wrote the Bible, not God, so there’s no reason to accept unequivocally that “God” wrote or inspired it. Critical thought would force you to reckon with this. 3) since the Bible was written by men and then compiled by other men, it therefore reflects the opinions, beliefs and biases of those particular men, and there’s no reason to accept that anything more is occurring. 4) God himself never endorses the Bible. God Himself never anywhere in the Bible signs it or says, “Yes, I endorse this book. It really is my message to the world.” 5) the Gospels are anonymous. 6) early church leaders DECIDED to attribute the Gospels to writers they THOUGHT would’ve written them (look this up). 7) the authors of the Gospels never claimed to have witnessed the miracles they describe having occurred. 8) the authors of the Gospels never claim to have personally known or even have met Jesus. 9) the gospels were written so long after the events they refer to, they most likely were just writing tall tales that they’d heard about Jesus, stories that got more fanciful and miraculous over time. 10) the principles of faith based belief work for ANY religion, not just Christianity. What this means is that a Muslim “uses” faith the same way a Christian does, which is how it is BOTH the Islamic faith, the Christian faith, the Mormon faith, and any other monotheistic faith still THRIVE in the world today instead of dying out; because “faith” is a cognitive process that applies to ALL religions. It’s not a “Christian” phenomenon. I could go on all day.

                  3. “You don’t fit in the Christian culture unless you are willing to admit
                    the truth of how God thinks and how God created things to be” How do you or they know what God thinks or his reasons behind things? Are you not aware that Christ died to save all of humanity, past, present and future? Are you also not aware that Christians follow messianic law and not mosaic law? You need to pick up a bible and learn to read it.

                    Ephesians 2

                    “1 Therefore, remember that formerly
                    you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who
                    call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human
                    hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

                    14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

                    19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

                    Colossians 2

                    “Freedom From Human Rules

                    16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you.
                    Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen;
                    they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

                    20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”

              2. And it’s tyrranical and dangerous to.assume that people of influence cannot ever reconsider their.positions lest they.lead others astray

                1. It is dangerous to consider a position that is not in line with God’s. It has nothing to do with tyranny either. It has to do with God creating all of this and knowing a heck of a lot better than we do about everything and knowing what is best for His creation. I think Dan Haseltine would agree with me on that point.

                    1. God has a view on what marriage is supposed to look like for human beings. People should realize that the basis of the discussion here is on what the Christian position should be towards same-sex marriage.

                    2. But as a non-Christian, I have trouble deciding between the Christians who support same-sex marriage, and those who oppose it. Why should I support denying the civil right of marriage to homosexuals, when Christians can’t even agree on what God wants?

                    3. The Bible is pretty clear about what God wants. The problem is with human beings and those who call themselves Christians, yet are too influenced by the world around them.

                      I have given some points about the Bible in some other posts and the reasoning. If someone calls themselves a Christian, but does not really have good arguments from what the Bible says, that is a pretty safe bet that they are not in line with what God says.

                    4. Richard Williams, correction; the Bible is pretty clear on what a small handful of male writers CLAIM is what God wants. Those writings were then compiled and published as a religious book by still more men. You cannot in any way factually substantiate the claim that God co-authored or inspired the Bible through such writers, so you’re not entitled to tell non-believers how they should live their lives. It’s that simple.

                    5. I don’t know what being a man has to do with this. It seems illogical to argue that men would be against gay behaviour more than women would considering that it seems like there are a lot of men who have chosen the homosexual lifestyle.

                      I would ask, do you believe that there is a God? If you do, then exactly how do you think God has communicated with mankind? Or do you think He has not declared His desires to us and that He has just left us to figure things out for ourselves?

                      I believe in a God who loves His creation and that He has communicated His desires for us.

                      I think it should be easy for people to admit that the human mind can be faulty and for us to rely on it when there are so many different opinions in different people’s minds about what right and wrong is, is a dangerous game to play. This is why God chose to have something definitive to guide us. If there is a God, like I believe there is, I don’t think it is impossible for Him to provide a written word for us that would be a solid foundation. As much as people’s minds minds can be faulty, I do believe that God could choose people to speak His truth through, but it would have to be through something that is more solid than someone’s mere verbage. This is how the Bible comes into play because it is not just based on mere verbage. It is based on actual recorded history.

                      It seems like you have an issue with men for some reason. This is not a logical argument for a case against the Bible. The reality is that the Bible has words in it to protect women in spite of its many misinterpretations. Any abuses that we see in life are because of the sinfulness of human beings (which the Bible is quick to point out, by the way), and not because of God’s commandments.

                    6. Richard, I mentioned men simply to state that MEN wrote the Bible, not God Himself. I thought that was clear. Secondly, I don’t believe in the existence of God. But don’t you think it’s just as reasonable to think that IF God exists, He HASN’T communicated with mankind?; there are literally thousands of religions which all claim to be inspired by God, yet the all disagree with one another. In all cases PEOPLE wrote what God’s message is for the world. In the case of the Bible, the religion you happen to believe, God ONLY communicated with ONE culture, at a time in history when civilization had already existed for thousands of years, then came along and negated that religion (Judaism) and REPLACED it with another (Christianity)?? Of COURSE God hasn’t “declared” His desires; He insists on being a faith-based phenomenon in a world filled with differing and contradictory faith-based religions! Of COURSE we’re having to figure it out for ourselves! That’s what the entire history of human civilization has been about.

                    7. You mentioned “male writers” for some reason, so no, you weren’t clear.

                      It isn’t reasonable to think that He has not communicated regardless of how confused people are. I think that what you see is a result of many who have tried to jump on the “inspiration bandwagon” to try to justify whatever position they have because they can see the results of what having the Bible has done for those who believe in it. There is not one other faith based text that has the kind of historical backing that goes from the very beginning of mankind to the end of time on this current earth like the Bible. Not one. That it even sets out to do this as a cohesive whole despite the various authors is evidence that this is more than something that has just been thrown together haphazardly.

                      It is true that God had a special relationship with a particular people, but God was speaking to people before that culture even came together as is recorded in the text of the Bible itself. As well, that culture was meant to be set apart in order to draw others in from the outside which happened to a few from other cultures, but the Israelite people did not fulfill their end of the covenant completely as a light to the other nations – all details recorded in the Bible. As I mention these points that answers what you are trying to say about Judaism and Christianity. There was an old covenant that Israel broke so God made a new one. God declared His desires from the very beginning. You can read the entire Old Testament in context and be able to see that. The Old Testament is constantly pointing to a better reality for God’s people and this is what the writings of the New Testament demonstrate is fulfilled through Jesus Christ.

                    8. Richard, “historical backing” because one author wrote how he thought the world began and another author wrote about a vision regarding how it will end? That’s “historical” to you? The fact that someone described the origins of the Universe MEANS it’s historically credible? Because someone else wrote how they thought the world would end the Bible is therefore a book which is more legitimate than religious books that don’t have either?? This is absurd. Secondly, Judaism came about after the Egyptian culture had existed for 2000 years. Christianity came about after The Egyptian empire had existed for 3000 years. Think about that. Also, Christianity didn’t REACH countries like Japan until the 12th century! You really think if God wanted to get the message of Christ to humanity He’d ignore Egyptians for 3000 years and the Japanese for another 1200 years?? It didn’t reach North America for 200 years after that. This means God was fine waiting 4300 years for a Native American to experience a text Jewish people had already had for 43 centuries! You really think this unbelievably slow and inefficient process is an indication of a Divine Creator??

                    9. No, it is historically credible regardless of what anyone thinks of it. It just happens that there is a lot of evidence outside of the Bible that verifies what the Bible says about the cultures that existed in the time that it was written and times and people and places. This is more than anyone can say for any other “religious” writing.

                      The Bible is more credible because in it we see a God leaving nothing about life that needs to be known unanswered.

                      I have thought about Egypt. The majority of that culture claim now to be Muslim which is not the same as the ancient culture that you talk about. Ancient Egyptian culture and beliefs have not stood the test of time. As well, they have had no unified set of beliefs prior to Islam or texts to unite them regarding any direct communication of the truth of their existence and their purpose so there absolutely is no comparison. That may be why many have turned to something like Islam, although its basis itself is in the history of the Bible.

                      The Bible talks about history of the Jews and Egyptians so I don’t know what you mean them about the Egyptians being totally ignorant of the truth. They knew about the God of the Jews. The Bible also talks about the awareness of the nations around them and the Jews’ belief in God.

                      There is also evidence of belief in one God in other nations other than just in Israel. Some historians try to argue that this belief in one God developed at the same time, however, the Bible records belief in one God from the very beginning, although people did turn to false gods.

                      As I said, Israel was meant to share the message of there being one God to the rest of the nations and they did not complete that purpose as they were meant to. The Bible records that information. Yet, the Bible also declares that no one, at the same time, has an excuse for not believing in one God in spite of Israel’s failures. That goes the same for anyone who has not heard the message from Christians. God will judge people based on the knowledge that they have received and either accepted or rejected.

                      No one is going to have an excuse for their immoral actions based on conscience and when you examine a lot of the nations around Israel, there was not always a lot of listening to conscience regardless of whether or not they heard that the Jews had a covenant with God. The Bible talks about the kind of practices other nations were engaged in and it isn’t normally in a positive light.

                      So, not only have the nations failed in how they have regulated their actions between in each other, but they have also failed in the recognition of God.

                      This follows the regular arguments for the existence of God. No one, who is thinking in the right mind, has an excuse for rejecting God and His character. That means people should know that God exists from the very nature of what they see in creation. They should also know the complete goodness of God through what they see in creation – that God has designed things for the provision of creation regardless of how his own creation has done things to manipulate and destroy what He has created. The issue of conscience also points to the goodness of God. God has not left us without direction regarding what right and wrong is even if people are ignorant of the history of God as recorded in the Bible.

                      Where does that leave humanity? The existence of God and the existence of morality should be known by us. It should also be known by the existence of a conscience that we all have fallen short of what He desires. The other nations actually show their recognition that they have done wrong by the history of recorded sacrifices even though their efforts were misdirected. It should also be known that there was failure to please some sort of deity and that is the reason they decided to engage in such behaviour. There was a definite acknowledgement of failure. The problem with humanity is that they have not always turned to the one true God as they should have. It is a simple thing although humanity is pretty good at getting things confused and that’s why God has communicated to us in a direct way to reach people. God does not desire from us sacrifices because there is absolutely nothing you can give to God that He does not have in His power to possess already without any of our actions. Once there is a recognition that there is God, this is a pretty simple conclusion to make – He has everything to do with what exists and there is nothing that we can give God . This points to Jesus actually and His divinity and what the Christian faith says about what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. It is true that although we can not give God anything in the universe, we still owe God for what we have done to His creation. Even without knowing everything about Jesus Christ, a human being can throw themselves at the mercy of God and that is exactly what the Jews did without knowing all about the Messiah and who He was to be. There is no reason to believe that nobody else could do this regardless of what they have not heard from people who already have had the truth more clearly communicated to them.

                      And there is evidence that some groups have had truth about God communicated to them without having heard anything directly from the Bible, although this information was incomplete and they were waiting for that message to be shared with them. There is evidence of these things recorded by missionaries. A good book to read in regards to this issue that I am describing is called “Eternity in Their Hearts” by Don Richardson.

                    10. Then why is it not a Commandment and why is it Jesus never brought up the issue in three years of preaching day in and day out? Jesus was entirely clear, however, on the issue of divorce, Richard, but you and I both know Christians get divorced and remarried all the time. Yet Jesus emphatically preached against this common practice. Yet not a peep on this aspect of Jesus’ teachings from the Christian community. Why is this? Why so vocal on something Jesus didn’t mention, gay marriage, but uniform silence on the issue of divorce, something he spoke about several times? How can you possibly think God was clear on gay marriage when He didn’t write the Bible (people did), he didn’t make opposition to gay marriage a commandment and Jesus never brought it up? How can you make such an unfounded claim?

                    11. Hey Richard, I just now read that in Bogota, Colombia a church bus returning from a religious function burst into flames, killing 31 children and 1 adult. Apparently it happened when the bus driver attempted to pour gasoline into the bus’s engine through the bus’s floor (the driver escaped, by the way.) My question to you is; as a Christian, and someone who believes God actively works in the lives of his followers, and actually causes various events and happenings in the world….why didn’t God simply make the bus not start that day? Why not have the bus’s ignition simply not turn on that day? I ask this because in light of the belief that God DOES do amazing things all the time, every day, in countless people’s lives, why didn’t He simply prevent 31 children, YOUNG children from burning to death? He could’ve made the bus driver sick, had the bus stall, given it a flat tire, had the children safely vacate, etc., etc. Yet God, who you and I both know CONSTANTLY MAKES events OCCUR in the world every day, did nothing to stop 31 children in Colombia from dying an agonizing, unbearably painful, horrific death. So, in light of this, what makes you think God does things to make your life blessed and have meaningful things

                  1. “Dangerous”? Seriously, Richard? There are entire cultures all over the planet that aren’t remotely influenced by the Bible, cultures that are either based on an entirely different religion, or the complete absence of religion in how their culture functions. And they’re doing just fine, Richard. They’re not all collapsing left and right. They’re functioning just fine.

  65. Somehow SSM has become the litmus test as to one is a “real” Christian. Not what you believe about Jesus Christ or anything else about scripture or salvation. Just SSM and homosexuality…. obviously devout people aren’t even allowed to ask serious questions without getting the whip.
    Does anyone even see that’s all this gentleman did? He asked some serious questions after hearing what is an absurdly illogical argument against SSM.
    The vitriolic reactions and character assassination that occurred in the comments sections of these articles will definitely drive more people out of the church especially the younger generation who have no tolerance for the lack of grace being shown by “believers”.
    This issue is dividing churches, hurting families and I’m not exaggerating when I say driving people to desperation.
    I can honestly say in decades of Christian life I have never seen such hateful things said. I can only continually pray. ..”God forgive us”.

  66. I’m definitely a 1, but since I don’t really believe in the concept of sin, it’s an easy call for me. I can understand the 3-5 positions as simply accepting the basic separation of church and state – that one’s view of sin shouldn’t be a part of civil law, which must operate on the standard of preventing harm. Positions 2 and 6 leave me scratching my head. How can someone want to ban something in law that affects no one except those engaged in it and has no downside for society as a whole? Do such people understand what the separation of church and state means?

  67. Categories.. how can one categorize God’s law? Maybe he didn’t come right out and say that he supports same-sex marriage, but the very question infers doubt of God’s word, and like a plague doubt spreads quickly. Biblically, maybe there is no verse that outright condemns homosexual unions, although it does seem like there is one in Proverbs, but regardless Jesus teaches love and to accept folks as they are, not wish them to your a boulder around their necks. We are all trapped in our own sins, are we not? Who are we to say which sin is better or worse. Personally, Ithink homosexual marriages are a violation of God’s law, and I don’t condone it. But who am I to judge? God will have his day, and then all things will be clear.

    1. And 100 years ago, people thought slavery was just fine with God, too. 50 years ago, people thought prohibiting interracial marriage was God’s law. Why can we not allow interpretations of the Bible to evolve? Who among us has a direct line to god? No one. No one at all.

      And whether or not civil marriage should be legal is irrelevant to what ANYONE thinks is God’s law.

      1. Interpret God’s law… can noone see what is wrong with that? There is no interpretation. It is or isn’t. You obey or you don’t. People thought God means this.. people thought God meant that. God is pretty specific about what he means. If you don’t agree, well that’s a you issue, not a God issue. Get out of the letter And find the Spirit. Lean not on your own understanding.

          1. I’m trying to find a charitable way to reconcile historical changes in Christian theology with God being “specific” and also with “lean not on your own understanding.” If God is clear, and people do what they’ve done in God’s name, that’s a pretty damning verdict against God, no? God is clear or God is mysterious. Which is it? Based on human actions, mysterious is probably a safer argument.

            1. The mystery of God. Is not the only mystery left the rapture? When it comes to God’s word specific “do’s and don’ts” are pretty clear. Like in the garden of Eden “don’t eat the fruit of the tree…..” pretty specific right? Then comes Lucifer and attempts to ” interpret” God’s word. You will never rationalize the past violence with God’s word. Violence is not a fruit of the Spirit. Paul gives pretty specific instructions to the Romans concerning homosexual behavior in chapter 1 I believe. Do you believe Jesus literally died, rose, and ascended into heaven? Is there any need to interpret this single cornerstone of our faith? No. You believe it point blank, right? Why does the rest of his word need interpretation?

              1. No, he doesn’t believe it point blank. You are talking to an atheist so your current line of argumentation probably isn’t going to move anything forward.

                Why does the “word” need interpreting? Because it’s an ancient document, written to ancient culture, in an ancient- now dead- language. There’s lots of interpretation necessary. Furthermore, Paul doesn’t precisely use the word “homosexual” that we would use today. Biblical translators have only been rendering the word this way in English since around 1946. Thus, there is debate as to what it meant in antiquity and the application for today’s culture.

              2. in genesis, a specific word was translated incorrectly. the word for “unit of time” was accidentally turned into “day”. that one word made it so fossils and an earth over 7000 years old is a sin and the work of satan. Yeah. that’s why the work is mysterious.

                1. Which word? And does translation of a word create sin? Sin was created when Adam and Eve fell from grace. No?Does it matter if it was 7 thousand or 7 million years ago? Sin is not the fault of an ignorant scribe.

                  The word rapture may not appear in the Bible, but the theme and idea both run rampant through the New Testament.

                  Consider your best friend. Are they mysterious to you? Is God your best friend?

                    1. How is it not? Did Philip not experience a form of rapture after witnessing to the eunuch? 1 and 2 Thessalonians are pretty clear. John gives abrief account of the rapture, and even the ascension of Christ is proof of rapture. And yes, I’ve read the Greek. I’ve had this argument with my step father more times than I care to remember.

                      Where is your proof that the rapture is not part of historic Christianity? You give the work of man. The holy spirit of God’s word is my truth. Study long, study wrong.

                    2. How is it not part of historic Christianity? It’s not, it’s just a historic fact. I can’t do the homework for you.

                      It was popularized by John Nelson Darby and simply isn’t part of historic Christianity. Even hard core dispy’s like Thomas Ice et al, will say the “rapture is not explicit” in scripture. I’ve written about 18 pieces on it, so if you’re interested in learning, you’ll have to read them. But until then, to pretend that the rapture is what Christians have believed in throughout Christian history, is a falsehood that not even rapture believers in academia will claim.

                    3. So again history according to academia. You have yet to address the actual Bible. I gave you pretty specific cases according to scripture that you seem to willfully ignore. 18 or 1800 articles wrong is wrong. I fear, like the rest of your colleagues, you fail to see the forest for the trees. Quit reading what people write and just read what GOD wrote. Get into the wilderness. There are no people in the wilderness, only God. There is where you can hear his voice.

                      Sometimes, you can learn too much.

                      I’m done. May God bless you

                    4. That’s fine– if you’re not interested in learning what the Bible actually teaches and would prefer to follow the teachings of John Nelson Darby, suit yourself.

                    5. GOD wrote nothing. Your argument is invalid and you are following the written words on men.
                      You fail to see the irony for your truth.

                    6. So the more you learn about something, the less you know about it? Yeah, THAT makes sense. /sarcasm end

  68. I saw this happening last week as I read Dr. Mohler’s response to Matthew Vine’s book “God and the Gay Christian.” There was no attempt at dialogue, just several different ways of saying, “You’re absolutely wrong.” I see the problem stemming from the simple fact that there are very few (or no) openly gay Christians in conservative evangelical churches. Just letting people inside the tribe would change a lot of hearts – or, at least it would allow for a little understanding towards people who are willing to reconsider the party line.

    1. Can you imagine sitting every Sunday next to someone who believes you should be dead? So many gay Christians are shown the door and disfellowshipped that the opportunity isn’t there to stay in the church of your choice. A local church is moving towards being more inclusive. A client of mine said “I can’t stand the idea of two lesbians sitting next to me in church. I will have to look for another church. ” I asked her how would she know they were lesbians? Must be the horns on their heads. I then asked so you would turn away someone that wants to seek and worship God? No answer.

  69. Essentially our culture has turned political and other issues into a college football game. It’s two sides against each other (who possibly hate each other) and it’s all about who is winning. So to see a player on your team (perhaps, “your team”) give up a little bit of ground weakens the whole team, or so we think. So we have to stay hard in our positions, subborn, not giving any ground lest we lose the fight/game.

    Plus, we love to judge and push others to a position lower than ourselves, again in our perception only, generally.

    FWIW, I’ve long been a Category 2, but over the past year have slid thru 3-6 and wound up, unbelievably to myself, at Category 1. I read the gospels furiously trying to gain a better picture of who Jesus is and then imagined myself having to tell him whether or not I found committed gay relationships to be sinful. And I could not. This blew me away as for the longest time people knew me as unsympathetic and unempathic. I guess something broke, or perhaps someone broke me.

    1. You won’t ever have to, FWIW. He’s handled it all with completed work on the Cross.

    2. “I read the gospels furiously trying to gain a better picture of who
      Jesus is and then imagined myself having to tell him whether or not I
      found committed gay relationships to be sinful. And I could not.” That is some tortured, twisted up Scripture logic. Fortunately, we don’t have to depend on what you think is sinful. The Bible clearly lays out what is, and just as importantly, what the only answer is. Jesus, quite frankly, isn’t asking us what we think is or isn’t sin. He commands us to repent, be born again, and believe in Him for salvation, and because of that follow all of His teachings. Even those found someplace other than the red letters. Even those which a sinful and lost society deems hateful.

      1. Jesus himself never mentions homosexuality. Not once. You’d think that if it was such a sin to love someone of the same sex, Jesus would have spoken up. If you’re a follower of Christ, the only words that should matter are his. Not Paul, not anything in the old testament. What makes someone a follower of Christ, is living by his word, and his alone.

        1. However, don’t forget that the ENTIRE Bible is God’s Word! Whether, Paul wrote it, or Jesus said it, it’s all been orchestrated by God! So, if we ascribe, as believers, that God’s Word is infallible and is completely His, then it all needs to be adhered to. Now, the issue of sacrifices and some of the old testament arguments that come about were all covered by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross! All scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16) I do believe homosexuality is a sin. I also believe lying is a sin and unfaithfulness in marriage is a sin. I don’t believe, however, that ANY human being should be treated in a way that is disrespectful or degrading. This is an issue, that for me, is one that I look to Jesus, and God’s Word and am trying to figure out. I can’t see Jesus treating anyone the way African Americans, LGBT, divorced Christians, Dan Haseltine, Me, or others, have been treated. Will I not be accepted in certain crowds? Probably. Will Jesus love me? Absolutely! Will I love God and Love People? Always!

          1. I get what you’re trying to say, and I respect your views, but the bible was scribed, originally by men. It may be divinely inspired, but that inspiration was filtered through the minds of fallible men. Then later, the old testament and Gospels were actually voted on at the council of Nicea. Men voted on what was holy scripture and what wasn’t. Fallible men. Then, kings and such edited things to fit their agenda.Most All of the versions of the bible these days are based on the King James manuscripts. And they’re not exactly infallible.

        2. “If you’re a follower of Christ, the only words that should matter are his.” Faulty premise and therefore, faulty conclusion. All of the Bible is the words of God. Who do you think wrote the OT that you dismiss so easily? Who gave the 10 Commandments? The God of the OT wasn’t running around doing things Jesus didn’t know about. John 14:9.

          Nowhere in the NT did Jesus retract, renounce or apologize for anything in the OT. He quoted the prophets and the Scrpitures of the OT. He affirmed every aspect of the Law.

          1. where does it say/written that ALL of the Bible is the Word(s) of God? how do some of the ‘killer’ instructions in the book of Ezekiel square with that? do YOU get to pick and choose ‘the Best of the Bible”. what do you know about the history of the Bible?, and how it got to the present? Belief is the other side of Doubt. Understanding is on a much higher level.

            1. Among others:

              2 Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

              16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

              All is a pretty inclusive word.

          2. God didn’t write anything. Men did. And, if that’s true, if Jesus actually affirmed every aspect of the OT law, then why don’t Christians still stone children for rebelling? Why do you not marry your daughter off to her rapist? Why is polygamy illegal, and obscene to most Christians? Why do Christians still eat pork and shellfish? It seems that certain Christians only follow the OT laws that they want to follow. For the ones they don’t, oh well Jesus died so we don’t have to do that anymore. So which is it? You cannot have it both ways. Either Jesus wanted the law followed in it’s entirety, forever and always, or he died so that people wouldn’t have to live by those harsh laws.

            Growing up (yes, I was a Christian at one time. And I’m still fond of Jesus, just not some of those who claim to follow and speak for him), growing up, I was always taught that since the temple doesn’t exist anymore, the old temple laws weren’t in effect, which is why Jesus was born the savior of mankind, to die to free people from the shackles of the OT temple laws, and to be the final blood sacrifice. That was supposed to end reliance on the old laws, at least until the temple was rebuilt and the Messiah returned.

            God himself never authored the Old Testament, nor did he author the new. The old testament was a history of the Jews, and was passed along orally until about the middle ages, when scribes wrote the stories down. The New testament, none of the authors were contemporaries with Jesus. The stories are second and third hand accounts of his life, and things he said.

            Paul claims to have had a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus, yet he gives two very different accounts. In one account, his companions saw Christ, but couldn’t hear him. In the other, they heard Christ but didnt see him. It doesn’t say some saw and some heard, both accounts are pretty specific on what Paul’s companions saw and/or heard. If God wrote it, don’t you think he’d have kept the story straight?

            My point with all this? The Bible is a collection of stories, first about the Jews, then about Jesus. Does this mean none of it is true? No, but it had so many writers, who had so many perspectives, it is no wonder there are contradictions.

            There’s a lot of good in the Bible, but theres quite a lot of questionable things as well. I think what Jesus said, for the most part, was great, and if more Christians actually followed Jesus, and paid less attention to Paul, and the OT laws, the world would be a much happier place, and I think more people would want to be a part of that. But, with all the judgment and hatred and ignorance slung by so many professed Christians, is it any wonder more people are turning away from Christianity?

            1. Galatians 1:6-9 (written by Paul)

              6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
              7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you
              than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

              So, you are calling Paul a liar. Which is fine. But it certainly invalidates anything you have to say about Scripture.

  70. I am wondering where Jesus himself would fall in on the categories…Probably somewhere between God is love and love thy neighbor…not much left to undo if you feel the love he expressed by his “show and tell…”

    I will never…ever…no not ever…call myself a Christian again…what’s to question.

  71. Can there be a Category 7 – Theologically apathetic/agnostic? Because that’s where I am now – I simple don’t care nor have time to invest in theology. And based on the reactions from the World Vision situation and Dan Haseltine’s honest questions, frankly, I’m about done with anything evangelical. Instead I’m trying to love my wife, love my kids, fulfill my responsibilities to my employer, care for my staff, and find a way to find community that is motivated by grace and love.

      1. Maybe – except there’s no wrestling anymore. Perhaps that simply pushes me outside the box altogether.

    1. you are very close to the Kingdom. There’s one thing left to do; give your heart and life to Jesus and get right with God. You will then very easily and without burden fit right into His kingdom.

      1. Oh, I’m confident with God because God is love. What I am quite less confident about is finding that same love in an evangelical tribe. The recipe you listed is for the tribe’s kingdom.

        1. God is love, absolutely. But he is also just. Love ultimately means you let the one you love do whatever they want, no? (assuming it’s an adult)

        2. I agree with you Tim. At least, I think I do. From what I’m gathering, it isn’t God you have the issue with, it’s man…is that correct? If so, then you are NOT alone! My husband and I have growing concerns and questions surrounding the church as an institution, rather than as a community. Anyway, we try to just measure everything up against what Jesus taught and love and such, as you mentioned. I suppose the rest isn’t worth my time fighting against?

          1. Thank you, Olivia. It is exhausting trying to measure up everything against Jesus in the institution – it feels a bit like “where’s waldo”. I agree the rest isn’t worth fighting against any longer, but it’s also harder and harder to find people willing to live out the love and grace of Jesus without condition inside churches.

            1. MY heart breaks listening to your messages Tim. I know that feeling all too well. I left the church, and my faith, more than two decades ago because I couldn’t reconcile a loving God with the toxicity I saw among his self proclaimed followers.
              My faith is forever gone, but I truly hope you can keep yours. Your relationship with God is not dependent on a community, but I understand how important a community is. A lack of one is what made me leave for good.
              Have hope. I know there are people out there who walk in love. I think more outside of Christianity these days than inside of it, but they are out there. Live the life of love you want to see in your community and you will draw those of a similar heart to you.

              1. Man Tewaz that was hard to read. Sorry for whatever it is that you went through two decades ago. I needed to read this comment today. Thankyou.

                1. You bet, and in truth, my story has a happy ending. I am sharing my life with the most wonderful man I’ve ever met (have been for 11 years now), and I have a new family and community that is loving and kind. When one is true to themselves, and puts love out into the world, they draw that light back to them eventually. 🙂

              2. Simple solution; make friends with an Atheist. You’ll realize not only that Christianity doesn’t make Christians better people, you’ll also realize NOT having Christianity doesn’t make a person any. LESS good than a Christian. God is not Love, by the way. Love is a human emotion, imagined in the minds of humans ONLY to the degree which that person can comprehend it, and never more. A Christian who is not very loving can therefore say that “God is love” and be referring to something paltry, hateful, negative. Likewise, a person who thinks love is simply an emotion but who happens to be quite loving therefore needn’t believe “God is Love.” God isn’t Love because Love needn’t BE God.

                1. Nearly my entire circle of friends are Atheist or Agnostic. I am Agnostic and my partner is Atheist. Yes, each of them behaves in a more Christlike manner than most Christians I have met. There are exceptions, but as a general rule I think that a truly good person is one who does not need a bronze age book to tell them what is right and wrong, because they have empathy for that.

                  1. Tewaz1, I couldn’t agree more. Along that same line of thought, think on this; when a Christian and an Atheist both do something good (help someone, behave kindly, chose any kind of goodness over evil foe the sheer sake of performing a loving act), the Atheist is the only one of the two that is doing that act PURELY out of kindness and for no other reason. Ostensibly, or on one level, they’re both doing such an act out of an altruistic impulse, but only a Christian can be altruistic AND have an anterior motive (or be doing it entirely for anterior motives). A Christian might well be doing it out of a sense of Christian duty, a desire for a heavenly reward, a fear of spiritual punishment, as a way of showing God their gratitude (paying back the favor) and on and on. An Atheist, on the other hand, CANNOT have an anterior motive for performing a kind act. They can ONLY behave altruistically for it’s own sake. So in a genuine sense, if a Christian and an Atheist both perform an altruistic act, the Atheist’s act is always morally superior to the same act performed by the Christian. I find this quite interesting, because even if Christians are MORE giving, they do it fo

                    1. Yeah, my family is very fanatical Evangelist Christian. I’ve had this conversation with them many, many times.
                      I tend to lean more toward Utilitarian, or consequentialist ethics, with a bit of virtue ethics mixed in, so I tend to approach it from another angle, that, if one does not know by empathy and compassion to treat others as they would like to be treated, but instead relies on a (in my opinion) morally and credibly dubious book to know how to act and not act, they are the definition of a sociopath, one lacking the biological function of empathy.

                    2. Exactly. In the truest sense of the word, Chrsitianity is a cynical religion with a cynical view of humanity. The word cynical has two definitions, and the more popular one refers to someone being negative or only seeing things in a pessimistic way. What the word really refers to is some one who thinks people aren’t driven by sincere or genuine motives. The irony of Chrsitian morality is that it regards people as incapable of choosing good for its own sake, and that people cannot be genuinely good without Jesus in their life. What this means is that they think non-Christians must not REALLY love goodness or prefer goodness in and of themselves. While Christianity, on the other hand, allows for NUMEROUS alternative reasons for being altruistic than the ONE kind of altruism which is genuine; kindness entirely for its own sake, or rather, kindness that doesn’t require Christian beliefs. So Christians are cynical about people who can’t have an ulterior motive, while they themselves CAN’T NOT have one.

  72. The graph is very insightful to reflect on. No matter where one stands, in affirmation or not, I believe we all can agree that the comments left on JofC’s facebook page are sickening and simply pathetic. To actually take time to think of a destructive comment, then type it all out so others can “hear” you pontificating has absolutely zero reflection of Jesus and does not mirror His Kingdom. One’s theological stances in Christianity should not be based upon philosophical certainties, so for Dan Haseltine to take so much heat for asking questions is utterly disheartening. Why can’t we see that this is God revealing him/herself to a Christian leader?

  73. I would call myself a category 3, however I do toss around the idea of category 2. I just can’t seem to get past the fact that, as a disciple of Jesus, even though it would make “civil” sense to allow the world be the world, it doesn’t make sense in the light of living a life that is a platform for God’s honor to allow the honor of sin be something I would be willing to approve, even in a civil sense. Yes, I see how it makes perfect sense to just let homosexuals obtain a legal marriage certificate since this is the world we live in. But I am not just a citizen of a civil government. I am to “do all things to the glory of God” (which in context is really referring to making sure our lives are a platform for God’s glory and honor, contextually in light of Christian liberties, but secondarily in reference to everything we are and do) and I am not my own, I have been bought with a price. I have been risen to new life. My mind is not to be lent to the carnal leanings of an age. It may make perfect sense, but only according to the sense of this world, which is yet to be fully redeemed. To allow the right, I feel (again, I toss around the idea, but this is my leaning) would be to take God off of the platform of my life and replace him with love, compassion, and tolerance. There is a place where both God and love, compassion, and tolerance share the platform, because, after all, God is love, compassionate, and tolerant. But I do also believe that we can take something that God is and give honor to that attribute while at the same time removing Him from preeminence, and then apply those characteristics to items that were not intended to receive them. After all, what is tolerance? You can’t have tolerance without disagreement. To tolerate something is to disagree with it yet be patient with it. You don’t have to tolerate something that you’re in full agreement with! Therefore, homosexual supporters are NOT tolerant. They are merely supportive. While I do seek to be patient with the sinful world around me, my desire in all that I do, believe, and support, is to give God the honor of preeminence. I believe that supporting civil marriage of a homosexual couple would make sense in a civil sense, but would also give LOVE preeminence, apart from Him who gives it to us.

    1. You may want to “do all things to the glory of God” but the civil government has no such ideal. It can’t, since it represents people who worship other divinities and those who have no divinity. It can’t follow your principles without discriminating against those who believe differently. Does that make sense to you?

      The only concern of the civil government should be preventing harm. Harm such as crime, discrimination or extreme environmental damage. Neither your or my ideas of virtue should be a standard the government enforces.

      1. It makes complete sense to me. But regardless of what I can or cannot accomplish via my ideals and dedications, I cannot act in a manner that is contrary to my beliefs. I already concede defeat to the way of the world. I’m not blind. I see where it’s going. But that does not mean I have to support a decision to honor something I believe dishonors God. Otherwise we might as well worship all the same divinities. In America’s case, the divinity of self. I completely get where you are coming from. But it does not change the practical outcome of my convictions. What’s the point of believing something if my actions represent something else?

        1. As the commenter above said, I’m assuming you favor a law that makes divorce illegal as well? Even so, remember, that God still allowed legal divorce even though HE disproved of it– Jesus said he allowed it because of the harness of hearts. So, it seems that even God will recognize society’s legal necessity for doing certain things.

          Your position is fine if you follow it consistently– wanting to ban all hand guns since they dishonor God, ban divorce… ban all kinds of things. The key is, are you willing to follow through on the belief in a way that is consistent.

          1. Just wondering about citation for hand guns dishonoring God. It (in some form) may be in the Bible, I’m just not aware of it. If there was a political agenda to ban divorce, I’d probably support it. And the legality thereof that was made allowable (as I’ve come to understand) was Moses making the arrangement allowable because “of the hardness of their hearts” bringing husbands to find other means to dispose of wives that they’d decided they didn’t want anymore. A hardness of heart that would not just go away in the next generation. In that case, it was either murder or dissolution of a marriage contract. My research may not be accurate, but if you have some other research concerning what the “hardness of their hearts” referred to, I’m all ears. I’m always willing to learn. There are really several things points made above that are worthy of lengthy discussions, but I already know engaging would get nowhere. So I’ll wait for your response to the above, read it, consider it, and get back to the rest of my life. I already know I’m not going to make much of an impact here. I just felt I had to say something. Some wish to stand up for people’s rights. I just feel few have this kind of passion to stand up for God’s honor in the midst of a world that is full of carnal wisdom that ends up diluting our honor for God. There may not be a single element that does so, but all this stuff put together creates one weak Church.

            1. Handguns are made to kill people. Jesus forbade the use of all violence and said those who act as true children of God embrace nonviolence. While Jesus never mentions homosexuality, he teaches about nonviolence consistently. Paul even writes twice that a commitment to nonviolence is a requirement of church leadership. So, getting rid of handguns seems like a no-brainer if we’re going to force Christian principles on the outside world.

              1. I’m not going to try to rebut your statement here. I meant more for you to respond to the divorce segment. But concerning handguns, you have made it apparent that you are definitely smart enough to read those passages with a little better contextual accuracy. I don’t think you’re honoring the texts here as much as you’re honoring your ideals. I don’t mean to be demeaning, but I’m a bit shocked that someone who has proven himself in the past to believe in context will draw those kinds of modern conclusions about the passages you alluded to. Perhaps I’m just not catching on to satire. And I’m not trying to force my views on the outside world. I’m just trying to give honor to God where He deserves it. I know it’s a losing battle that Christ will one day succeed, but like I mentioned on gimpi1’s post, i have to be the light that I was made to be, whether for the sake of the small audience I have or just for the sake of standing up for God’s honor alone. I cannot and will not attempt to force my views on anyone. But that does not mean I have to shut my mouth and watch the world dwindle and die. even though I already know it’s bound for destruction before redemption comes.

                1. You’re shocked that folks would read the nonviolent teachings of Jesus and take them to mean that we should live nonviolently? You do realize, that we’re called Anabaptists and that there’s a boat-load of us out here, no?

                  1. I’m talking about thrust. I’m all for non-violence, but I don’t believe those passages necessitate the belief you can’t own a firearm. And I don’t care how many of you there are. Not really sure why you’re bringing it up. I would not consider myself a traditional fundamentalist (as you seem to define them anyway) either, but there is much on this website I disagree with, and there are a lot of us (who disagree with you) out here. I could say “there are a boat load of IFB’s/Catholics/Muslims/Atheists out here.” Not really sure what it accomplishes, but thanks for the random info.

                2. And yet you cannot seem to apply any context to the Bible’s very few passages that relate to homosexuality. Your arguments were used to keep women from voting. Your arguments were used to keep interracial marriage illegal. Your arguments will lose to love and freedom, every time.

              2. Ben, your reply is ignorant of the facts both in Scripture and practical application. There are literally tens of millions of handguns legally owned in the US. The number of people killed each year by handguns (even in cases where justified self-defense is involved) is well less than 10,000. While each one of those losses is tragic, the facts do not support your hyperbole. Nor does Scripture. Violence and self-defense are not the same thing and unless you are ready to stand idly by should an attacker physically harm your wife and child, you should carefully avoid such erroneous obfuscations.

                1. You realize you just pretty much cut Matthew 5 out of the Bible and called every Christian for the first 400 years of Christianity, ignorant, no? Nonviolence (no such thing as justified violence) is the historic, orthodox Christian position– of Christ and all the early church. What you are describing is an American Jesus– he’s an idol. He’s not real.

                  1. Matthew 5 clearly addresses vengeance, retribution and personal vindication. Those are quite different than safeguarding family. Yet, you still are willing to deny millions of us the ownership of an amoral, inanimate object because you personally find the thought of a handgun distasteful and unnecessary. Equating ownership of a gun with violence is illogical and a false conclusion.

                    1. The Ten Commandments say. In them thou shalt not kill. Jesus even says to get angry is like killin g we kill with words too . My be not literally but the soul and heart. If I remember correctly divorce was for in the case of adultery. And of course it was the men who did the divorcing the most important commandment love God with all your heart mind and souls and love thy neighbour as oneself.

        2. I guess I would say the point of acting contrary to your beliefs is believing in freedom enough to allow me to follow my beliefs, as I believe in freedom to allow you to follow yours.

          If we allow laws to be passed based on belief, we could someday outlaw blood-transfusions, women voting or eating pork or shellfish. We could have laws allowing husbands to beat their wives or mandating beards on men or banning tattoos. These are all things some people believe strongly in. Do you think your beliefs should trump everyone else’s? If not, it’s simple. You follow your beliefs. You rejoice in the. You permit me to do the same. Neither of us permits laws that infringe on the other. To me, pretty basic.

          1. Again, I’m not saying I expect my views to be adopted by government. All I’m saying is you cannot expect someone who believes one thing to just bow to the demands of a sinful society. I already know I won’t get anywhere, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be a light among darkness. perhaps someone will see it. And that someone is worth it. Even if no one sees it, God’s honor is worth it. Everyone else wants to honor “people’s rights.” If such was the best way to honor God, I would do so as well. But my end goal is not for all men everywhere to have whatever rights they deem appropriate. My goal is to honor God, and I will act in a way suitable unto that end, even though I know my audience consists of only a few. The Gospel of Jesus and the claims of the Bible are, in fact, exclusive. Jesus is the only way. Why do you think Jesus gave his disciples the great commission? Because there are people out there that don’t believe it and are dying in their sin. It’s not my job as a follower of Christ to sit back and watch the world burn. It’s my job to be God’s voice among a fallen world as best I can, being nothing more than a single spec in God’s universe.

            1. As long as you don’t want your views adopted by the government and enshrined in law. I totally support your right to live as you believe you should.

              However, I think tyour beliefs would not put you in category 2. Category 2, as I read it, is for those who want the government to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. Categories 3, 4, and 5 are those who believe in the Biblical injunction against same-sex relationships and don’t want their church to recognize them, but recognize that their church’s ideals have no place in the law or governance.

    2. So then I hope you also support making it illegal to get a divorce. Because that would at least be intellectually honest. Because there are much clearer scriptures about divorce and remarriage. I’m old enough to remember the days when a divorced person was asked to leave the church. Removed from positions like Sunday school teacher and church librarian let alone a pastorship. When I read a person walked into a church filled with one handed and one eyed believers I’ll believe you are the best literalists I have ever met. But that day has yet to come. Because when it is convenient we call some scriptures historical, cultural or even hyperbolic IF it suits their agenda. Even the red letter words of Jesus Christ himself are interpreted. When we seek God in our own lives than all should be for the Glory of God. I for one sin everyday. … Most of them quite legal. Then I walk in grace and rely on mercy.

  74. There’s no telling how many former adherents of Christianity have become nones or even outright agnostics or atheists as a result of religious folks’ continued condemnation of gay relationships and same-sex marriage. Other than actually reading the Bible (all of it), nothing drives people away from the Christian faith like this issue.

    May the exodus continue!

    1. Same-sex marriage opposition isn’t the whole of Christianity. While some who are incredibly biased may see it that way, there’s a whole lot more to it- both good and bad.

    2. It’s not the issue that is driving me away, it’s the behavior of Christians. It could be SSM, the lack of equality of women, health care, the inequity of wealth – all of these examples bring out the true colors of Christians that I’m simply no longer interested in being identified with.

      1. There are a lot of Christians on both ends of the political spectrum. I’m assuming you’re talking about the conservative end as opposed to the liberal end? Or, are you saying you don’t believe these things should be part of Christianity at all?

        1. The issues themselves absolutely should be discussed. It’s the ungraceful behavior of people in their disagreements (no matter which end of the spectrum) that I’m no longer interested in associating with.

        2. Unfortunately, Anana, the far-right of the Christian spectrum has been the loudest and most dominant since the 1980s and the “Moral Majority” movement. Even the way the media phrases things, such as “values voters” play to the meme that conservative Christians are the only ones with morals or values. Christians and others who don’t share their priorities have been shoved to the side. That’s changing now, and conservative Christians don’t like it one bit.

          Frankly, Christians like Ben, Rachel Held Evans and others are doing their best to let the world know that Driscoll, Robertson, Reed and Dobson don’t define the brand “Christian.” I applaud their work, but I think other Christians need to step up to the plate. Every time. Every election. Every statement from your crazy uncle. Every lawsuit against an abusive minister. No excuses. No exceptions. Otherwise, you risk being defined by the far-right outliers who have the loudest voices. It’s not nice. It’s not fair. But that’s how it looks from the outside.

      2. Tim, it isn’t just restricted to Christians – it’s a trait apparent to humans in every walk of life. As a Christian I find myself extremely sad and incredibly angry because of other Christians who oppress, marginalise, shun and torment others, simply because they don’t ‘measure up’ in their own eyes. I think it’s wrong – full stop – but I’m also irritated that I’m tarred with the same brush, simply because they profess to believe in the same God as me. If they really did believe in the same God as me then they would know that he loved/loves everyone, regardless of race/gender/status/age/sexual orientation, etc. I don’t really care what goes on between two consenting adults in a happy and healthy relationship, especially when corporate greed causes millions of people to suffer each day. Any human is capable of great good, just as any human is capable of great ‘evil’, for want of a better word. Having faith in anything should suggest that you, as a person, are attempting to work towards the former, rather than the latter. Sadly not everyone understands that, which is why there are some people with a faith AND some people who have no faith at all who treat others with great unkindness and selfishness.

        1. Rachel, I would say to you that you need to step up and make yourself heard. I’m not a believer, wasn’t raised in a religious family, and live in one of the most unchurched part of the country. (The Pacific Northwest.) Mostly what I know of Christians is what is in the media, and in many cases it’s not pretty. One of the reasons I lurk here is to get some perspective, but I don’t think you can fault people for not taking the time to do that.

          If you don’t want to be tarred with the same brush as the far-right Christians who have dominated the conversation, take it back from them. Firmly. Every time you read a hateful, judgmental, prideful statement claiming to be “Christian” speak up. We’re listening, out here. Ben can’t do it by himself.

          1. Is that not what I’m doing, Gimpi1? As I’m located in the UK I doubt that my viewpoint would make a blind bit of difference to the far-right Christians who are, indeed, dominating the USA media networks (at least as far as the rest of the world can tell). There are many Christians in the USA who are making themselves heard, such as those who hug members of gay pride parades all across your country (rather than those that just picket) or those who are determined to stand in between Westboro Baptist Church members and Funeral mourners, simply because they do not agree with the hate that Westboro is peddling and wish to show kindness to people who have already been dealt a devastating blow with the death of their loved one. They are there, they are shouting just as loud, but your media can’t really make a lot of money out of that. Bitter, angry, arrogant and selfish people who misguidedly spew venomous rage at others, regardless of who they are….now that sells as far as the media is concerned. The only way that I might be able to make a difference is if I, in the right way, and from time to time, say “That isn’t me. That isn’t a lot of people. None of us are perfect, but that doesn’t mean that some of us aren’t hoping for better. I believe in a kind, loving God who would give up everything for the likes of imperfect us, and that compels me to try to be loving and kind too.”

            1. You’re right, you are doing it. I guess all I can suggest is encourage everyone you know to do the same. Loudly. Every time. What I see too often is loud, angry conservative people carrying on, and everyone cringing away from them because to challenge their views is to invite pain. I’ve done it myself, to keep peace in the family. But no more. Nonsense must be challenged, or nonsense becomes the norm.

              But, sort of like moderate moslems who denounce terrorism, but never get remembered or noticed, the voices of reason are easy to forget or ignore. You need to be heard. Keep it up!

        2. Rachel – you are absolutely right. As Christians, we are supposed to be seen to have victory over this trait – to be known by our love. Sadly, I don’t have much hope this can be reality anymore.

    3. My obsessive reading of so many positions on this issue definitely helped get me to atheism while the gett’n was good.

  75. I find myself, I believe, in category 3. I know that makes me unpopular with some people in Category 1… but most certainly anathema to folks in category 2. I can explain my theological stance to those who wish to talk about it… but it is not something I believe is conducive to internet comment threads, facebook statuses, etc., because I believe any such conversation should be a relational conversation… Meet me at the local pub/coffeehouse/diner, we’ll grab a beverage of your choice, maybe some munchies, and have some good convo…

    But this whole mess of totally excoriating someone over a QUESTION… dude, this needs to stop.

    1. I appreciate that. I had been Cat 2 historically, shifted to Cat 3 in seminary, find I live most days in Cat 4 now as I still wrestle with the theological side of things… even though people probably assume I’m Cat 1.

      Agree on the relational aspect– I like what Boyd says in Repenting of Religion (my paraphrase) “helping someone apply biblical truth to their life is something that can only be done from the inside of their story”.

      For me, where I land on the theological side of things will in many ways be irrelevant– I will still be here, non-judgmentally inviting everyone to come and follow Jesus and welcoming in anyone that wants to come along on the ride… and I would still be here advocating that all people, everywhere, be treated as equal under the law.

      1. I appreciate your last sentence. Equality before the law is as basic a principle of justice as you can get. Injustice benefits no one.

      2. I assumed at first you were Cat 1 which is were I put myself until to made your position clear to me. I think your position on this matter is quite principled even though I disagree with it. I agree with 100% on your statement that: “I will still be here, non-judgmentally inviting everyone to come and
        follow Jesus and welcoming in anyone that wants to come along on the
        ride… and I would still be here advocating that all people,
        everywhere, be treated as equal under the law.” It is however sometimes very hard to put that statement into action.

        1. I might be a 4.5er, because I affirm each Christian tradition has the ecclesiastical authority to make their own decisions on the matter. The only reason why I don’t claim 1 presently is because I’m trying to be intellectually honest that I don’t have all of the theology worked out yet.

    2. I cannot reconcile any “Christian” making a threat of physical harm or doing physical harm to another because of that person’s statement of belief. It just doesn’t mesh with what Jesus teaches us in scripture. Any such threat or action of harm is a repudiation of all that Jesus taught and a rejection of God. I am not saying we cannot disagree, but the only possible use of physical force that might harm someone and not be a rejection of God is force needed to protect someone who cannot protect him or herself, such as a child.

      There are many people who need to ponder the meaning of their actions and words in light of God’s Kingdom and Holiness.

      This is without taking a position on the rightness of wrongness of homosexuals marrying. First, I have to be right with God, before I can take a position about someone else being righteous.

    3. Actually if people find the leader of a “Christian” group saying he can’t find info. in the Bible that addresses “morality” shocking, and they decide not to purchase their music now (or follow them), it’s ok. That’s their freedom and right. They are not required to purchase their products for their kids or themselves and if they disagree, it’s just fine. They are not required, Scripturally, morally, legally or ethically to support, agree or follow them any longer, it’s fine and it’s allowed.

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