[This is in response to a posting in the Episcopal Colorado Diocese forum about same-sex unions. Revised 02/09/00 08:29.]
OK, Dave. I'll take "de-bait." <grin> You said you wanted to hear from "the right." I'm sympathetic to both the AAC and First Promise. I'm also proud to be politically incorrect, straight, white, pro-life, born-again, and of the opinion the spotted owl tastes like chicken. :-)
...what is my theological justification for saying, "No?"
I see the issue as one of sexual relations. At the page linked from one of John Morgan's replies, the author quotes from 1 and 2 Samuel. But it's ridiculous to conclude that Jonathan and David had a sexual relationship simply because they loved each other. Furthermore, the specious argument is made that marriage "is much older than the Christian Church. It was originally a property arrangement ..." That's a red herring. The fact is, as Jesus declared (and as is cited in this thread by Ed Brown) in Mark 10:2-9 -- especially verses 6-8 -- God made us male and female, and in marriage the two become one. Of course the concept of marriage older than the Christian church -- the first marriage occurred at creation between Adam and Eve! God instituted the covenant of marriage -- the church's traditions have varied over the centuries. (Which makes John Morgan's evidence about early-church same-sex unions a red herring, too.) While I'm on this subject, allow me assert the sophistry of John Morgan's other reply where he says that Jesus was addressing the narrow issue of male-female relationships. His statement reminds me of Genesis 3:1: "Did God really say...? [emphasis mine]" Needless to say, I agree with Ed's exegesis over John's.
How does [the same-sex] case differ from the [heterosexual] fornicators?
This is a key point of Mark 10:2-9 -- that man and woman together become one flesh. The difference is the man and woman are no longer fornicating if they have sex within a marriage. Although the Bible is replete with examples outside the norms, nowhere is there a hint that God endorses any sexual behavior except between a married man and woman. God is very specific in Leviticus 18 about all the ways the Canaanites "defiled" the land. I suppose you may have chosen two women for your example specifically because that act isn't covered in Leviticus 18. It is, however, condemned in Romans 1:26.
Is gender so important here that our compassion for our fellow Christian should be ignored?
Yes. In today's generation, it's called tough love -- to tell someone the truth even though it's not what he or she wants to hear. May God help those who have same-sex temptations! But as Jesus says in Mark 9:43-47, it's better to suffer while resisting temptation than to go to hell. None of us has lived up to Jesus' standard of cutting off a member or plucking out an eye. This is a hard teaching, but the Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. (See John 6:60-63.) That's what's at the heart of this entire debate -- accepting the authority of all of scripture.
I ministered to a non-celibate gay man via e-mail. He was tempted by pornography. I've been tempted by pornography. We found kinship in our shared struggle against sin. Unlike the members of my own denomination, this man reached out (in a mailing list dedicated to the Promise Keepers movement, BTW) to his brothers in Christ for support to resist sin. He didn't demand that his desire be accepted as normative. And he didn't toss any Scriptural exegesis into the discussion that explained away his sin.
We're all called to an unattainable standard of holiness. That doesn't mean we should cheapen the standard. Even though Mark Twain meant it in the context of a repudiation of Jesus' teachings (read a selection of his apostate comments), this declaration is widely quoted -- to good effect -- to highlight its orthodox truth: "It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."
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