Why the Church Can Never Embrace Gay Marriage
By David W. Virtue D.D.
The Church of Jesus Christ, in all its myriad manifestations, is in the midst of the greatest cultural change on sexuality since Apostolic times.
Never before in church history has the ontology and cosmology of human sexual behavior been so challenged. Not even the Borgia Popes dared challenge the definition of sexuality, however debauched their behavior was. In some denominations today efforts are underway to overturn prevailing definitions. The speed with which all this has taken place is breathtaking in its brevity and stunning in its acclamation.
When I wrote my first editorial in 1979 for the Virginia Churchman titled Gay is Not Okay, I could not have envisaged, over three decades later, the ordination of openly homosexual practicing bishops, both men and women. Nor could I have possibly dreamed that this would become such a defining issue that it would tear the fabric of the Anglican Communion apart, pitting province against province, diocese against diocese, archbishop against archbishop, bishop against bishop, splitting whole congregations, and leading to massive schism with lawsuits running into the tens of millions of dollars. It has also led to broken friendships, angry bloggers, screams of homophobia, and capitulation by churches, including bishops and archbishops, as well as corporations, states and possibly, in time, an entire nation led by a homosexual affirming President.
It has been a sexual blitzkrieg without moral equal and with a ferocity unequalled since the beginning of the Civil Rights movement with its struggle for racial equality in the 1960s.
Still the case has not been made that the Bible is either irrelevant on the subject or can be ignored or deconstructed to make it mean something other than what it says and means. It is disingenuous to write off the Apostle Paul as locked into his own culture or that the Bible never speaks to committed, faithful same-sex unions. Few, if any, serious Christians will deny the Apostle spoke prophetically and wisely on adultery and fornication. To say that what he said about homosexuality can now be discounted is to deeply violate Scripture.
While many denominations and churches have conceded that monogamy (from monos, “single,” and gamos, “marriage”) is the same as or the virtual equivalent of a “stable homosexual union,” Gamos in scripture is usually always rendered “marriage,” which assumes a heterosexual union. It is a highly idiosyncratic use of gamos to translate it as a “stable homosexual union.” Gamos (“marriage,” “wedding”) and gameo (“to marry”) occur 16 and 29 times respectively in the New Testament. In NO case do they refer to same sex oral or anal intercourse.
So also with the term homophobia, which so often appears in anti-Catholic and anti-Protestant polemics. The word rightly refers to fear of sameness, not to fear of homosexuality at all, as is often assumed.
Wherever homophobia is bandied about, its etymology should be first examined before any knee-jerk defensiveness or marginalization is elicited. “Classic Christian teaching is not homophobic but hemophilic in the sense of attesting God’s love for all of us as the same kind of sinners in need of unmerited grace,” writes Thomas C. Oden, Professor of Theology at Drew University.
Christian marriage is by definition an enduring covenant between one man, one female since grounded in the potential gift of sexual generativity, bonded with a solemn promise of enduring mutual commitments in the service of holy matrimony, offered up in the presence of God and the community of faith, so as to provide a nurturing environment for the parenting of children, the most precious gift that can come of sexuality, says Oden.
Same-sex intercourse cannot offer this gift or lead to generativity or natural birth, but only to fleeting individualistic, narcissistic pleasure that may haunt memory, undermine identity, and sear conscience.
Classic Christian teaching views it as an oxymoron that persons of the same sex might be feigned in God’s presence as being “married” in a valid holy matrimony, though they may indeed have enduring friendships and may, like all of us sinners, receive the forgiving grace of baptism and Eucharist, says Oden.
JESUS AND HOMOSEXUALITY
When Jesus was asked questions about marriage, he went straight back to the defining passages in Genesis that say that marriage is between male and female and is meant to be life long. He saw the Creation accounts in Genesis as authoritative in His day. And what is authoritative for Jesus is authoritative for Christians, also. While Jesus did not specifically teach on homosexuality, His establishment of the Genesis passages as the fundamental passages on marriage (even more fundamental than the Law) leaves no doubt as to the outcome. One might also point out that Jesus said nothing about Bisexuality, Bestiality and any of the now 58 other sexualities that litter the sexual lexicon. He did firmly condemn child abuse.
“And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’“
—Matthew 19:4 (NKJV)
“But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’”
—Mark 10:6 (NKJV)
Whenever the Bible mentions marriage, it is between a male and a female. The first mention of marriage, Genesis 2:24, describes it as a man leaving his parents and being united to his wife. In passages that contain instructions regarding marriage, such as 1 Corinthians 7:2-16 and Ephesians 5:23-33, the Bible clearly identifies marriage as being between a man and a woman. Biblically speaking, marriage is the lifetime union of a man and a woman, primarily for the purpose of building a family and providing a stable environment for that family.
The Bible alone, however, does not have to be used to demonstrate this understanding of marriage. The biblical viewpoint of marriage has been the universal understanding of marriage in every human civilization in world history. History argues against gay marriage. Modern secular psychology recognizes that men and women are psychologically and emotionally designed to complement one another. In regard to the family, psychologists contend that a union between a man and woman in which both spouses serve as good gender role models is the best environment in which to raise well-adjusted children. Psychology argues against gay marriage. In nature/physicality, clearly, men and women were designed to “fit” together sexually. With the “natural” purpose of sexual intercourse being procreation, clearly only a sexual relationship between a man and a woman can fulfill this purpose. Nature argues against gay marriage.
So, if the Bible, history, psychology, and nature all argue for marriage being between a man and a woman—why is there such a controversy today? Why are those who are opposed to gay marriage/same-sex marriage labeled as hateful, intolerant bigots, no matter how respectfully the opposition is presented? Why is the gay rights movement so aggressively pushing for gay marriage/same-sex marriage when most people, religious and non-religious, are supportive of—or at least far less opposed to—gay couples having all the same legal rights as married couples with some form of civil union?
The answer, according to the Bible, is that everyone inherently knows that homosexuality is immoral and unnatural. The only way to suppress this inherent knowledge is by normalizing homosexuality and attacking any and all opposition to it. The best way to normalize homosexuality is by placing gay marriage/same-sex marriage on an equal plane with traditional opposite-gender marriage. Romans 1:18-32 illustrates this. The truth is known because God has made it plain. The truth is rejected and replaced with a lie. The lie is then promoted and the truth suppressed and attacked. The vehemence and anger expressed by many in the gay rights movement to any who oppose them is, in fact, an indication that they know their position is indefensible. Trying to overcome a weak position by raising your voice is the oldest trick in the debating book. There is perhaps no more accurate description of the modern gay rights agenda than Romans 1:31, “they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”
To give sanction to gay marriage/same-sex marriage would be to give approval to the homosexual lifestyle, which the Bible clearly and consistently condemns as sinful. Christians should stand firmly against the idea of gay marriage/same-sex marriage. Further, there are strong and logical arguments against gay marriage/same-sex marriage from contexts completely separated from the Bible. One does not have to be an evangelical Christian to recognize that marriage is between a man and a woman.
According to the Bible, marriage is ordained by God to be between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:4-6). Gay marriage/same-sex marriage is a perversion of the institution of marriage and an offense to the God who created marriage. As Christians, we are not to condone or ignore sin. Rather, we are to share the love of God and the forgiveness of sins that is available to all, including homosexuals, through Jesus Christ. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and contend for truth with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). As Christians, when we make a stand for truth and the result is personal attacks, insults, and persecution, we should remember the words of Jesus: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).
In an era of rampant sexually transmitted diseases where an estimated 110 million Americans have an STD, the ecclesial blessing of same-sex intercourse is hardly a constructive contribution to a “safer” form of sex. “Safe,” according to its advocates, refers merely to the avoidance of pregnancy or disease, not to the moral strength or spiritual serenity that follows from obedience to the divine command. Sex that draws people into illusory dreams and demoralizing liaisons never becomes truly safe.
Marriage is an important goal for most Americans, research shows, although it may not be their top priority. Having a successful marriage is “one of the most important things” in life for 36% of adults, according to a 2011 Pew Research survey. An additional 48% said it is “very important but not the most” important. Being a good parent is seen as “one of the most important things” by a larger share of adults (53%).
What are the advantages of marriage? According to the public, it is easier for a married person than a single person to raise a family (77% say so).
Gay marriage is untenable biblically; it is a capitulation to the culture; it is a caricature of real marriage. As Kenyan Anglican Archbishop Eliud Wabukala noted, marriage is under attack and the homosexual movement has become an ideology that attacks human identity as male and female created in the image of God. He also said that laws legalizing same sex marriage passed in England recently are “a profound rejection of the law of God.” He is right.
He affirmed his church and the Bible’s stance that marriage is the lifelong union of one man with one woman for the raising of children, joyful companionship and the blessing of society and the nation. “We have no other position than the teaching of the Bible.” His statement openly rejects polygamy.
“In his teaching about marriage, Jesus reaffirms that marriage is the coming together of a man and a woman in accordance with the pattern of creation itself when he says ‘from the beginning of creation God made them male and female’ (Mark 10:6). For the health and well-being of both church and society we must promote this great God given gift of marriage without compromise and ambiguity,” the Archbishop concluded.
Ten reasons why homosexual marriage is harmful and must be opposed can be seen at this link:
VOL is indebted to the following sources for this article: Requiem: A Lament in Three Movements by Thomas Oden. Recommended Resources: The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage: 6 Things You Must Know About What’s Really at Stake by Erwin Lutzer and Logos Bible Software and Mr. S. Michael Houdmann