Christianity and Same Sex Marriage in the Public Sphere – Two Views

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The Backstory

In a week or so, Hawaii legislators will vote on whether to recognize same sex marriages. Despite the fact that the law specifically states that churches won’t be forced to perform same sex wedding ceremonies if that would violate their religious beliefs, Pastor Wayne Cordeiro of New Hope Oahu came out on record saying

“We want a bill that protects anyone of the Christian faith to say, ‘We understand that those of this lifestyle are part of our society. We embrace them. They’re valuable, they’re wonderful people. However, we have a faith that disallows us to endorse and advocate them,'” explained Pastor Cordeiro.

“It doesn’t protect anybody of faith, for example, if you’re a photographer and you’re a Christian and you feel that you cannot photograph a wedding — you’re in violation, that’s a discriminatory act and you are now in violation. It doesn’t allow you as a person of faith that is Christian to say, ‘I can’t do that.’ You’re not able to, so it takes away your will and it takes away your discretion.

The First View

Basically, what Pastor Cordeiro is saying is that a Christian wedding photographer or baker should be allowed to refuse to photograph or bake a cake for a same sex wedding.

Now I could go into the legal aspects of why a church can refuse to perform a same sex wedding (or even an interracial wedding) if it violates their beliefs but a private business can’t do the same even if the owner is a Christian.

But instead of going the legal route, I want to try a different tack.
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The Second View

Earlier this year, a Christian business owner refused to sell a lesbian couple a wedding cake stating that it violated their beliefs. In response, Micah Murray wrote a post titled, “Perhaps Love Bakes a Cake” where he proposes the following:

Christianity is a religion of love and of grace. Whenever morality becomes elevated above love we have veered away from the meaning of the faith.
Perhaps the most Christian thing of all is to love God and love our neighbors.
Perhaps Love is patient and kind and keeps no record of wrongs.
Perhaps Love covers a multitude of sins.
Perhaps Love doesn’t demand that everyone live up to our standards.
Perhaps Love gives with no strings attached
Perhaps Love meets people where they are and cares about them as people instead of issues.
Perhaps Love bakes a cake.

What do you all think? Which is the more Christ-like response – refusing to bake a same sex wedding cake to a same sex couple or baking them the moistest, most delicious, most beautifully decorated cake they’ve ever seen as a way to demonstrate Christ’s love to them?

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4 thoughts on “Christianity and Same Sex Marriage in the Public Sphere – Two Views

  1. A few points perhaps?

    1. While Jesus spent time with “sinners” and forgave them, he never ever affirmed them in their sin.

    2. Read Mark 10:17 – 22 and replace “sell your possessions and give the money to the poor” with “give up your hard won sexual freedoms”

    3. The characters in the New Testament that remind me most of the few outspoken gay activists that I know of these days are the Pharisees. They are the ones who claim the moral high ground. It is pretty much immoral in many circles to question their dogma.

    • My responses…

      1. Totally agree that Jesus never affirmed sin, but I don’t recall the verse where Jesus called same sex marriage a sin. I’ve written before on the topic of same sex marriage and sin before and one of the points I make is that “based on Jesus’ hermeneutic of love, I don’t believe that either Paul or Jesus (were they writing or teaching today) would stand against same sex marriage.” (You can read the entire post here.)

      2. That’s interesting. It’s usually the people who support same sex marriage who get accused of rewriting the Bible. 😉

      I apologize for the snark response, but I honestly don’t see your point here. The Mark passage you reference is about a rich person who is faithful in obeying commandments but unfaithful in extending love towards the poor. At least that’s how I read it.

      3. I’ll certainly grant that there are some marriage equality supporters who hold very strong opinions and may have a hard time extending grace to those who disagree with them. However, in my experience, the reason why some of them respond this way is because throughout their lives, they have repeatedly been on the receiving end of hate and intolerance – often from Christians.

      That said, while I agree with you that there are some supporters of same sex marriage who “claim the moral high ground” and make it difficult to “question their dogma,” I think the ratio is skewed pretty strongly against the LGBT community.

      I can think of a great many churches (like New Hope Oahu in the story I referenced in my post) where I can expect to receive a hostile response if I tell them that I support same sex marriage. On the other hand, in just about every city I’ve ever been in, there are very few churches where my LGBT sisters and brothers can feel welcome or even safe.

      …and now a question of my own, the same question from my post:

      Which is the more Christ-like response – refusing to bake a same sex wedding cake to a same sex couple or baking them the moistest, most delicious, most beautifully decorated cake they’ve ever seen as a way to demonstrate Christ’s love to them?

  2. 1. Considering that the concept of homosexuality (as a named, spoken about form of identity) has only been in the lexicon for the last hundred years, I would be surprised if Jesus mentioned it. Needless to say he did describe marriage as between a man and a woman and spoke in terms of them becoming one flesh. He would rail against our notions of “easy to get” divorce and defined adultery in such a way that even I am guilty of even though the only woman I have known in the biblical sense is my wife. I would see it as drawing a very long bow to say that he would succeed to our culture of sexual freedom. Considering that Paul lists same sex sexual activity as a form of degradation which was given to those who reject God’s truth – I really cannot see how you would draw the conclusion you mention – I will read your previous post to see who you deal with what Paul says in Romans 1.

    2. In these verses, Jesus went to the heart of the matter for the person who asked the question. It is not a prohibition of having wealth it is about priorities. Would I give up the thing that matters most to me to follow Christ? Even if that meant giving up my sexual freedom? Or my career? Or my family? Jesus calls me to take up my cross DAILY and follow him. What is that cross? It is certainly not a literal lump of wood.

    3. Point taken. There are a lot of churches that don’t act as Christ would. Lucky for us that our sins are forgiven and all we really have to do is repent and work on not sinning further.

    What would the Christ like response be to all this – to take our sins away by dying for us, coming back to life and asking us to trust in him, not in our over inflated notions of sexual identity.

  3. Sorry for the late response, it’s been quite a busy weekend.

    1a. re: “Considering that the concept of homosexuality (as a named, spoken about form of identity) has only been in the lexicon for the last hundred years, I would be surprised if Jesus mentioned it.”

    Couldn’t agree with you more and that goes a long way towards explaining why I support same sex marriage – because when the Bible speaks against “sodomites” (1 Cor 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:9-11 NRSV) or “unnatural/shameless acts” (Romans 1:26-27), it’s not talking about what we’re talking about today.

    Back then sex between people of the same sex was often done in the context of slavery or ownership. It’s no wonder that Paul would condemn that kind of behavior. However, today, when we’re talking about same sex marriage, we’re talking about two people of the same sex desiring to enter into a committed, loving, life-long relationship with one another.

    As I read it, the radical message of the NT is that…

    “One of the overarching messages of the Bible is that God’s primary concern centers around two things: 1) love of God and 2) love of neighbor as self (Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34, and Luke 10:25-28). Significantly, in the Matthew passage, Jesus makes the radical statement that “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,” (Matthew 22:40 NRSV). For a Jew, “all the law and the prophets” basically means all of the Bible as it was known at the time (all of the Hebrew scriptures). So Jesus is making the startling claim that all biblical texts need to be read through the twin lenses of love of God and love of neighbor as self.” (source)

    And this is why I asked my question, “Which is the more Christ-like response – refusing to bake a same sex wedding cake to a same sex couple or baking them the moistest, most delicious, most beautifully decorated cake they’ve ever seen as a way to demonstrate Christ’s love to them?” (A question, I might add, that you still haven’t addressed. You mentioned what Christ has done, but what do you think a Christian baker should do?)

    1b. re: “I would see it as drawing a very long bow to say that he would succeed to our culture of sexual freedom.”

    Yeah, I would agree with that too. Please note that I’m not advocating for complete sexual freedom. I think it’s impossible to make a biblical case for casual, promiscuous sex. However, I do think it’s possible to interpret the Bible as saying that the proper context for sex is with in a committed, loving relationship and that includes same sex couples.

    2. re: “In these verses, Jesus went to the heart of the matter for the person who asked the question. It is not a prohibition of having wealth it is about priorities.”

    That is certainly a valid interpretation of Jesus’ message. However, based on the larger context of Jesus’ message about wealth and poverty, I think a good case can be made for the idea that Jesus was speaking specifically about giving to the poor, not just about what was important to this rich man.

    Lastly, re: “the Christ like response be to all this – to take our sins away by dying for us, coming back to life and asking us to trust in him, not in our over inflated notions of sexual identity.”

    While I appreciate you outlining your atonement theory, as I mentioned above (at the end of point 1a), I’m still not sure what your response is regarding the more Christ-like response. I’ll rephrase the question a bit:

    How can a Christian baker better reflect the love of Christ – by refusing to bake a same sex wedding cake to a same sex couple or by baking them the moistest, most delicious, most beautifully decorated cake they’ve ever seen?

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