May 23, 2012

Slavery, gay marriage, and hypocrisy in the black church

by Jesse Johnson

In the aftermath of President Obama’s announcement that he supports redefining marriage to include same-sex couples, many news outlets featured stories that compared the desire of gay couples for marriage to the plight of the American slaves. In fact, it became a common theme that black churches who opposed gay marriage were guilty of cultural and biblical hypocrisy.

Many of these articles even expressly stated that the use of the Bible to limit marriage to heterosexual unions is tantamount to supporting the kidnapping, sale, and perpetual ownership of Africans as slaves. After all, some slave owners used the Bible to defend the institution of slavery, and some Americans are using the Bible to define marriage, so the similarities should be obvious.

Here is an excerpt from one example, titled “Is the black church guilty of spiritual hypocrisy in same-sex marriage debate?” from CNN’s religion blog:

Why would the black church cite scripture to exclude gays when a similar approach to the Bible was used to enslave their ancestors?

“It’s so unfortunate,” says James Cone, one the nation’s most influential black theologians and author of “The Cross and the Lynching Tree.”

“The literal approach to scripture was used to enslave black people,” he says. “I’ve said many times in black churches that the black church is on the wrong side of history on this. It’s so sad because they were on the right side of history in their own struggle.”

Call it historical irony: Black church leaders arguing against same-sex marriage are making some of the same arguments that supporters of slavery made in the 18th and 19th centuries, some historians say. Both groups adopted a literal reading of the Bible to justify withholding basic rights from a particular group.

These articles (which appeared in dozens of major news publications over the last few weeks) are by necessity short on actual scripture references. But they generally followed this argument:

1. A literal reading of Scripture defines marriage as heterosexual
2. A literal reading of Scripture was also used to validate American slavery
3. American slavery was morally wrong
4. Therefore the Bible should not be used by anyone, but especially black churches, to define marriage

It is precisely the second point—that a literal reading of the Bible validates American slavery—where this argument errs. In fact, the truth is the opposite. Here are four reasons why a literal reading of the Bible actually condemns the institution of American slavery:

1) Kidnapping someone for any purpose—but especially for the purpose of slavery—is a capital crime in the Bible. Exodus 21:16 reads, “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.” This passage, if treated literally, would have ended the American institution of slavery.

2) Slavery in Old Testament times was fundamentally different than American slavery. It was an institution of mercy, which people entered voluntarily, for the purpose of providing for their families. It was not based on the kidnapping, sale, and ownership of individuals. Slaves were released very six years (Exodus 21:2). There is no concept of perpetual slavery in the Bible.

3) The Bible prohibits returning run-away slaves to their masters. Deuteronomy 23:15-16 forbids fugitive slave laws. If a slave runs away, he is given his freedom and is allowed to dwell “wherever it suits him.”

4) In the Roman world, where kidnapping for slavery was more common, the New Testament says that a person who sinned in such a way was not welcome in the church. In 1 Timothy 1:10, Paul writes that “enslavers” have no place in the kingdom of God. The Greek word used for “enslavers” refers to those who took people into slavery against their will.

Much could be said about the horrors of American slavery. But any assessment of the Bible’s teaching leads to the realization that Scripture actually stands in opposition to the American slave trade. Yes, the Bible does say, “slaves, obey your masters” (Eph 6:5). But the kind of slavery described in the Bible is fundamentally different than the kind of slavery that was practiced in the Americas, and any honest historian should know that.

There is a real irony to the accusation that deriving a heterosexual definition of marriage from the Bible is analogous to using Scripture to justify of American slavery. In fact, in the list of practices that have no place in the church (found in 1 Timothy 1:9-10), right before “enslavers” is this word: “homosexuals.” The exact same passage that condemns the forcible trade of humans as property also condemns the act of homosexuality.

You can believe that passage, or you can reject it. But what you can’t do is say that those who twisted Scripture to defend slavery are using the same arguments as those that define marriage in heterosexual terms. The comparison actually goes in the opposite direction:

1. The Bible condemns both the act of kidnapping and the ownership of a person against his or her will
2. The Bible also describes homosexual acts as being sinful

In the gay marriage debate, the ones using slave era hermeneutics are those that ignore the clear teaching of Scripture on marriage.

Jesse Johnson

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Jesse is the Teaching Pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. He also leads The Master's Seminary Washington DC location.
  • Beyond the fine arguments offered above, the whole comparison of homosexuality with slavery is a very bad analogy because it is so far removed. The closer the analogy the better. The Bible places homosexuality in the contexts of other sexual sins as in Leviticus 18:6-23, where the context is incest, adultery, homosexuality, and bestiality. The same with Leviticus 20:10-17. Paul’s vice list in 1 Corinthians 6:9 follows a similar vein. To compare homosexuality with slavery, as pro-gay advocates do, amounts to a false analogy, because it is apples and oranges. To compare the LGBT situation to that of race or gender is non-sequitur, as both are innate, immutable, and benign. But then, pro-gay advocates are quite fond of arguing the ridiculous while ignoring the obvious.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting Mark. I have read and appreciated your book on this topic.

  • This is just a ridiculous false comparison going on, and its the type of thing you’d expect from a goofy source like CNN. So it’s similiar to be enslaved simply because the state government doesn’t recognize your definition of marriage? One of the dumbest comparisons I’ve heard.

    • What stuns me about the comparison is that it is “theologians” who are making it.

      • Adam

        Please, for the sake of all African Americans, blacks, or anyone with a decent tan, do not mention James Cone and the word “theologian” in the same sentence. Other than that, thank you very much Jesse for the article. Well stated. God Bless.

        • Adam

          Not that you called James Cone a theologian. More of a response to CNN’s article

        • Hey, I used the sarcastic quote marks in my comment!

  • Well, if they did know their Bible well enough, they might point out, in response to the above, that the Old Testament did allow the Israelites to have “perpetual slaves” of the peoples they conquered, just not “perpetual slaves” of their own people (Leviticus 25:44-46). Of course even slavery in OT times as well as ancient Rome was nothing like what happened with the American black slaves — household servants in ancient times, even some educated and given responsibility for educating the family’s children. And the Bible clearly condemns the slave traders, such as the men involved in American slavery.

    But agree, the secular media comparison is incorrect and they only show how much they hate the light, how like (certain) bugs they scurry away as fast as they can from what light they are given.

    • And even those slaves in Leviticus 25 were given their freedom in the year of Jubilee. Not only that, but they became perpetual slaves through a public ceremony, done in front of a priest, and after having served six years with one year off. I mean, this is so far removed from the forcible kidnapping and perpetual ownership seen in the Americas, it is difficult to know why someone would make this comparison.

      • I was away yesterday, didn’t have time to come back to this until now.  Leviticus 25:44-46 does state very plainly that the Israelites could have foreign slaves and these were not returned in the year of jubilee. Only the slaves of their own people could be returned in the Year of Jubilee.  I’ve also checked many different online commentaries from reputable sources, and all the ones that address this point, both in modern times and historically (John Gill, Matthew Henry, etc.), recognize what it says and that these foreign slaves were for life and not returned in the Jubilee.

        I would think a better answer to questions about this, such as from Sarah, comes from some of the points brought out in commentaries, such as the following from Thomas Constable:

        God permitted the Israelites to own slaves from other nations (vv. 44-46). That they were not to mistreat them goes without saying. Slavery in itself, as the Mosaic Law regulated it, did not violate basic human rights, but the abuse of slaves did.
        “In the first place, for one people or person to enslave another is, by that very act, to claim the other as one’s own; it is in a fundamental sense to claim another’s life as belonging to oneself. Such a claim, however, flies in the face of the biblical story that we have heard thus far. If the creation narratives of Genesis tell us anything, they tell us that the sovereign source and lord of life is God—and God alone. It is in just that sense that to God—and God alone—all life, ‘the work of his hands,’ ultimately rightly belongs. Therefore, from the standpoint of these biblical narratives, anyone besides God laying such ultimate claims to another’s life would in effect be arrogating to oneself another’s prerogatives. In essence, such a one would be making the most presumptuous claim any human being could make—the claim to be God.” Footnote: Michael Goldberg, “Expository Articles: Exodus 1:13-14,” Interpretation 37:4 (October 1983):390-91.

        “The jubilee release does not apply to foreign slaves (vv. 44-46). A theological reason underlies this discrimination: God redeemed his people from Egyptian slavery, to become his slaves (vv. 42, 55). It is unfitting, therefore, that an Israelite should be resold into slavery, especially to a foreigner (cf. Rom. 6:15-22; Gal. 4:8-9; 5:1). The jubilee law is thus a guarantee that no Israelite will be reduced to that status again, and it is a celebration of the great redemption when God brought Israel out of Egypt, so that he might be their God and they should be his people (vv. 38, 42, 55; cf. Exod. 19:4-6).” Footnote: Wenham, The Book . . ., pp. 322-23.

        • Sarah B.

          “Slavery in itself, as the Mosaic Law regulated it, did not violate basic human rights, but the abuse of slaves did.”

          Isn’t one person owning another person as property, regardless of how the owner treats the owned, a violation of human rights?  

          One of the most basic and profound enunciations of human rights declares that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Of course, that was penned by a slave-owner which is a little ironic but still… I would think that not being “property” is a fundamental human right.  It’s difficult for me to read and understand the laws set out regarding slavery in the Bible, and not come away with the conclusion that this is a very big moral question (can one person own another person?) that the Bible got wrong.  Or, if you don’t think it’s wrong, then you have to accept that the Bible condones the ownership of certain people (ethnically chosen, no less) in a permanent, completely controlled way, don’t you?

          • Hey Sarah, 
            I replied to this basic point below. You can skip down there to see it. Thanks.

  • Robert Turner

    A very, very informative article. It exposed my own error regarding the subject of slavery. Good job!

    • Thanks for reading Rob, and I appreciate your comment.

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  • Jkatches

    Extremely helpful and clear. The second to last paragraph on 1 Timothy 1:8-11 was powerful. Keep up the good work Pastor Jesse!

  • Daniel Clarke

    Hey Jesse, great article. The arguement I am always faced with is the comparison to The Civil Rights Movement and the denial of same sex marriage, not necessarily American Slavery. I have heard both, but I know the Civil Rights arguement is starting to pick up speed. Hope you are well brother, thanks for your commitment to the blog!


    • Thanks for your comment Daniel. Things are going very well.

  • Sarah B.

    I’m not sure I understand point #2 about slavery. According to that verse, Hebrew slaves were released every six years, but slaves of another race, or female (of any race, I guess) slaves, were not released. I’d have to double check, but I think even the year of jubilee only frees the Hebrew slaves. The Bible explicitly describes slaves as property in several places, such as Exodus 21:20-21 (“Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.”) I think describing another human being as “property” is where people look at the Bible and say that is got a major moral question wrong. In fact, the face that slaves of one ethnicity were treated quite differently than slaves of other ethnicities does look more like American slavery – after all, we had indentured servitude in America for white settlers who were released after a time, and then we had slaves who were seen and treated as property. Believing that one person can indefinitely own another person, and beat them to the point where it may take a day or two for them to recover… I know I sometimes read that and wonder.

    Even then, if you decide that slavery back then was so different than it was in America, can’t an argument also be made that the cultural and social factors surrounding homosexuality now are fundamentally different then they were in the Bible? There was no structure for homosexual marriage back then, so any homosexual encounter was technically “pre-marital sex.” How can you be so sure that a married homosexual couple today is living “sinfully”?

    Most evangelical Christians (at least the ones in my school) defend the Bible’s passages on slavery by declaring how very different slavery was back in the Bible, and I don’t see why the same can’t be said about homosexuality, which in the Bible would have always been extra-marital and often linked to idol worship (I have heard many gay advocates discuss Romans 1:21-27 as a description of idol worship which included homosexuality, and not as an attack on homosexuality).

    • Sarah,

      You ask some really good questions. I’ll answer them one comment per paragraph: Exodus 21 does apply to the Hebrew slaves. Foreign slaves were protected by the Sabbath though (in Ex 20). The key difference between American slavery and the distinctions in OT Israel is this: slaves entered OT slavery voluntarily. They were not kidnapped. They were purchased, but the money went to the slave, not to some slave trader. That is why it was an institution of mercy. The owner became responsible for the protection and well being of his slaves. Slavery, if available, became one of the most sure ways to a stable life.
      Even the laws on beating a slave show mercy. People fight each other. The idea that a person would be put to death for killing a slave is a protection to the slave, not statement that it is ok to beat a slave. In our American context, laws against rape show protection for women, and their existence is not a statement about the permissible nature of the crime.

      • Tuesdayschild86

        This is the part that I’m not sure is true: “The key difference between American slavery and the distinctions in OT Israel is this: slaves entered OT slavery voluntarily. They were not kidnapped. They were purchased, but the money went to the slave, not to some slave trader.” Leviticus 25 says that Israelites can become indentured servants, and that people from the nations around them can become slaves for life as “inherited property” (Leviticus 25:44). The reason I’m leaning on this point so harshly is that I don’t think there is such a great distinction between slavery in the Bible and slavery in America. Additionally, saying that “people fight each other” is not the same as the Bible saying “you can beat your slave and, as long as they recover, you don’t get in trouble because that person is your property.” And this, “Also, keep in mind, that any slave could run away from their master at any time and be given protection in a city of refuge under the OT law” refers to slaves that run away from non-Israelites to an Israelite (see all of the commentaries here: Again, if you were the non-Israelite slave of an Israelite, there was no protection for you, except for getting a day off every week and not being murdered by your master. Foreign-born people being sold into a permanent, generational slavery from which there is no escape and very few legal protections… that is much more similar to the American slave trade than this post would suggest, isn’t it?

        Rules protecting the slave DO condone slavery, because the rules could have just as easily been, “Don’t have slaves. Don’t let parents sell their children into indefinite slavery.” Instead, there are guidelines for properly treating a slave, which is nice except that people are not property.

        This seems very important to me… for the Bible to condone one person owning another person, and not in the context of indentured servitude, but in the manner of American slavery…. that makes me understand people who do not want to use the Bible as the sole basis for our laws.

        • Sarah,

          I really appreciate how thoughtful your comments are. A thorough answer is longer than a blog comment can give. I was writting a blog post on it, but it is longer than a blog post can give. So here is a link to what I put together:

          It is in three parts: What the Levitical Law says about slavery, how the slave release laws work together, and where OT slaves came from. I hope it is helpful. Some day I might post them here, but for now I’ll leave that link active for a few weeks at least. If you have any questions about it, reply here. Thanks.

          • Sarah B

            Thank you for that response.  It did give me a lot to think about, but your last sentence still just doesn’t seem true: “All slavery in Israel is considered voluntary because people chose to enter into it.# The closest it comes to being involuntary is the sale of a thief who could not pay his fine.” This seems to apply to male Hebrew slaves, but not for anyone else.  Deuteronomy 20:10-15 declares that prisoners of war will either be forced laborers or die.  The women, children and livestock (nice grouping…) are “plunder.”    Again, the six year rule only applies to Hebrew slaves, so those captured in war who had to chose between slavery and death, are slaves for life (or fifty years).  Israelites could not “kidnap,” but they could purchase male and female slaves from the surrounding nations and they would become “property.”  I should have been clearer – this is not analogous to the slave trade, where slaves were kidnapped in Africa and brought to America.  This is analogous to the institution of slavery where, once here, slaves were considered property that could be beaten within an inch of their life with no repercussions for the owners.

            A person is not property.  The Bible describes people as property.  This is the single, undeniable fact (again, see Lev 25:45, Exodus 21:21) that makes people VERY uncomfortable about the use of the Bible to construct US law, especially because our country has a history of using the Bible to justify completely wrong acts.

            We may be straying from your original point here; I don’t believe in the Bible as the literal word of God, so it’s every letter doesn’t matter to me as much as the overall ideas and themes expressed throughout it.  But I think that you do believe that the Bible is the literal Word of God, completely true and not open for “interpretation.”  And that’s where we find a problem, because some of those who owned slaves in the past fully, 100% believed that they were biblically justified.  They were wrong, we would say, just as I would say that some others are wrong to think that the Bible is justification for denying homosexuals the right to marry. 

            This is why the black church should support, or at least not attack, gay marriage, not because the Bible condoned or didn’t condone slavery, but because *people thought* that it did or did not condone slavery, and when we leave the freedoms and rights of one person up to what another person thinks about religion, things can get shaky.

            I know the response to this is probably something like, “but the Bible is SO CLEAR about homosexuality,” and *that* is why I have been arguing with you about how the Bible is SO CLEAR on an ethnically-motivated slavery system that reduced non-Israelites to “property.”

            Again, thank you for your response.  I don’t expect I’ll change your mind, just as my mind isn’t particularly open to change on this point, but I hope I could make a little clearer that the way I have heard this discussed among gay advocates isn’t about whether or not the slavery in the bible was the same as slavery in America – it’s about whether or not people used, and firmly believed, that is was, and thus deprived people of their basic human rights and dignities using their reading of scripture, which is, unfortunately, always fallible (the reading, not necessarily scripture.

          • The concern about the word “property” is pretty anachronistic. As you said above, it is not reasonable or fair to compare the freedoms that we have in light of the declaration of independence to the social environment of Palestine 4,000 years ago. Scholars, many of whom I cited in the link above, are pretty unanimous in describing the kind of slavery that existed in Israel under the Levitical Law as an act of mercy. I get your objection to the word “property” but I don’t think it is a valid objection. I also think much of your objection comes from your view of the Scripture. 
            Thanks for your interaction here,

    • The idea that slavery then was different than it was in the Americas is simply a way of responding to people that think that by using the word “slave” the Bible is allowing American slavery. The idea that homosexuality is sinful simply because it falls into the category of “pre-marital” sex is incomplete. Homosexual acts are specifically forbidden in the Bible, such as 1 Tim 1:10 and 1 Cor 6:9 (which lists homosexuality as different than both adultery and “pre-marital sex”) . My point about slavery is that it is precisely the area which transcends culture it is sinful: kidnapping and holding someone against their will, or not offering protection to a run away slave, are both sinful. That was sinful in the OT, and it was sinful in 1700’s. Ditto with homosexuality.

    • In your final paragraph, are you saying that the the Bible only condemns homosexuality in the context of idol worship? If that is what you are saying, I’d disagree. At the very least, you have those acts banned in the context of Levitical Law, given to the Jews. Then you have those acts described in Rom 1 as the last stop on the train of immorality. The point in Rom 1 is that because homosexuality flows out of wrong worship, that makes it more sinful, not less. Followed by the description of it as a sin in 1 Tim 1:10, where it is connected to kidnapping no less! You’d have to say that if you can kidnap someone for slavery w/o the connection idol worship, then it is ok. I think that is a huge stretch.

      • Fred Butler

        If she is arguing that homosexuality is only condemned in the context of idol worship, then does that mean bestiality, adultery, and child-sacrifice are okay, too, just as long as they are not in the context of idol worship?

        • Sarah B

          No that’s not what “she” is arguing.  I don’t understand this comparison between those acts and homosexuality.  Homosexuality is about a consenting relationship between two adults (not animals or children) who are not necessarily breaking vows (as in adultery) or murdering someone (as in child-sacrifice).

          • Fred Butler

             What about a consenting relationship between 4 adults? As in the polyamorous movement?  Or, in the case of many European countries, a consensual relationship between a 44 year-old man and a 13 year-old girl?

            Homosex advocates can try to wiggle all they want around this issue, but if we apply their logic to its ultimate conclusion it brings disastrous results to our society. 

            Even IF the acts of homosexuality are between consenting adults, the very act of homosexuality is labelled an abomination in the same categories as these other condemned acts in Lev. 18 and 20.  It is the act that makes it an abomination, not the context, ie, it’s done in the context of idol worship.  If what makes it sinful is the context of idol worship, homosex advocates still have to explain how the other abominations are no longer abominations if they are removed from that context. 
            Appealing to “it’s consensual” doesn’t answer that question.

  • Glenn Entwistle

    I had similar thoughts when reading this article

    Well said.

  • Kevin

    real irony is that homosexuality makes “slaves” of those who believe they have
    the freedom to practice it.    As Peter wrote, “…a man is a slave to
    whatever has mastered him.” (2 Peter 2:19). 
     After years of struggling against
    homosexuality, I surrendered to it and lived 14 years as an openly gay
    man.  In short, and I think I’m speaking
    for a lot of gay men here, homosexuality is not something I chose; rather
    homosexuality had chosen me.  My only “choice”
    was to capitulate to my “master” and obey my desires.   I
    indeed was a slave to what had mastered me, and a willing one at that.  Yet, for no other reason than the unmerited
    and unfathomable grace, mercy, and love of our Savior; the Lord granted me the
    ability to repent and believe in Him.  Jesus
    Christ redeemed me from the slavery of homosexuality by allowing me to choose Him
    to be my Master instead of sin.  (And for
    more irony: I did not choose Him but He chose me – John 15:16)!   As a
    heavy wooden yoke is the master of the oxen who are under it, so too does the
    yoke of sin control the very steps of those who live apart from Christ.  Yet when Christ saves us, He beckons us to
    not only cast off the yoke of sin, but in its place, to “Take my yoke upon you
    and learn from me…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light”(Matthew 11:29-30).  In other words, He is saying, “You will
    always be mastered by something so choose Me as your Master instead of sin”.  It is no wonder, therefore, that Paul wrote, “You
    have been set from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” (Romans 6:18).   Yes, I’m
    still a slave but now slave of Christ!

  • Miles8c

    Its an unbeliever with a  non-Biblical worldview that would paint the black church (What?) with hypocrisy. The black church (What?) is correct is using scripture as the means to denounce same sex marriage. Sadly, the ideology of white supremacy used the Bible to endorse slavery. Much of it due to a concoction of Talmudic scholars, who promoted the idea of the “Hamitic” curse being relegated to black people and that they would/should be servants to whites. Of course “religion” became involved and revolutionized the idea for trillions of dollars of profit through the agency of forced free labor. What is interesting, is, white churches (What?) in America upheld the ideology of black slavery by teaching their people, blacks were subservient and had no souls.

    The institution of chattel slavery in America was so bad it was coined the “Peculiar Institution.” To “make a slave” the Eurocentric slave traders employed, working from sun-up to sun-down, torture, molestation, rape, maiming, murder, exploitation, fear, no education, little to no food, and that what was given was fit or unfit for animals, separation of family and other means. This African Holocaust lasted for 350 yrs and then Jim Crow began which included some of the same. The images of the 60’s are familiar with most people. Attack dogs biting at the breasts and genitalia of black persons, water hoses, lynchings, “N word”  non-service in white retail establishments, segregation and etc.The Bible certainly did and does not endorse these diabolical acts. So, for people” to make the gay agenda synonymous to the African Holocaust and then the Civil Rights Movement, is unintelligible.

    When the director of the FBI and governors of states are violently opposing gays in the streets using law enforcement, when lynchings are occurring like the “noon day sun”, when there is t.v. footage of gays being sprayed by firefighter water hoses strong enough to peel the bark off of trees, when German shepherd dogs are attacking groups of gays, then talk of “synonymous” might be appropriate.

    With this in mind the black church is not guilty of hypocrisy. Yes the Bible was twisted by deranged whites who professed Christ, but knew nothing of Him. No, the Bible did and does not endorse chattel slavery and the domination/exploitation of man by man.Yes the Bible condemns same sex romantic relationships up to and including marriage.

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  • Excellent analysis of the Bible.   My short response to the fallacies they offer is that skin color is morally neutral and sexual behavior is not.

  • glorious

    I listened and heard you today on Brannon House’s show and though I agree with much of what your opinion is. I am still amazed that the only time AA’s opinion is of any value is when it is an issue affecting politics or some other national issues then you folks seem to crawl out of the cracks and dominate the airwaves. And even in that sense you appear to be talking in the positive by the negative always comes out eg AA/BP’s “were never trained” “therefore created their religiosity out of cultural etc, etc, It’s interesting to note that AA/BP were once called’ the consequence of the nation” but maybe you were to young to remember those times. Anyway the nation is in a moral mess and AA/BP certainly have not been in charge. Obama is just the fall guy the fool for the mess that was already created.

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  • Sydney Lew

    In defense of the articles you criticize, use of the Bible to defend slavery provides an apt comparison to using it to defend the ban on gay marriage, but only to a limited extent.  Yes, the Bible prohibits homosexual sex unambiguously, but nothing in that prohibition suggests that we need a law in the United States to prevent same-sex unions being recognized by the government.

    There is a lot of sexual sin in the United States, but we are a nation of diverse views, religious beliefs, lifestyles, etc.  While we Christians hope for some agreement on a shared morality as one American people, we have to be careful in how we expect to achieve that goal.  Preventing gay marriage in our own churches is a clear right of Christian churches, but it is an entirely different effort to hinder other law-abiding citizens who seek state recognition of their same-sex union.  Bringing religion to the fore as the justification behind a law that applies to everyone, regardless of their religion, should only happen when there is a particularly compelling interest we are protecting.  That’s why even pro-choice advocates have to admit that anyone trying to end the practice of abortion has a pretty good reason for their beliefs: protecting the right of an unborn child from the moment of conception is hard for anyone to disrespect (though obviously many disagree with that definition).

    You might find it offensive that same-sex unions exist, and that it potentially could confuse your children about the definition of marriage, but these two fears should not make banning state-approved same-sex unions into a priority of the church.  The biggest problem facing traditional marriage in modern America is not the possibility that there is a secular right to same-sex unions.  One example of a much bigger problem is the proliferation of access to pornography, which is a continuous threat to every family with an internet connection.  Not only does it threaten the cleave between many husbands and wives, but children too may have their own views of sexuality perverted simply by the ease with which the imagination may be drawn down a sinful path, without any chance of being caught by a family member.  Rejecting the theoretical propriety of other peoples’ same-sex unions is far easier, as we can see on this discussion board, than facing our own possible indiscretions in this new age of electronic information access.

  • I wish more pastors were bold enough to articulate this rather than the squishy acceptance we are seeing.  The combination of homosexual issue and race issue makes this a very volatile place.

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