I recently came across a post from The Gospel Coalition entitled 40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags. To be honest, the questions seem mostly loaded towards “playing gotcha” with Christians who are (perhaps newly) LGBT-affirming. But as one Christian waving a rainbow flag (that is, as an LGBT ally), here are my answers.
1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?
About 3-4 years.
2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?
Mostly the “clobber passages” cited by those who say it’s a sin to be gay (the verses actually don’t condemn being gay; see #3). I think the burden of proof is on the people who claim that being gay is a sin.
3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?
This article articulates my views much better than I could myself. I would recommend reading it before you finish this post, as I reference it several times later, and it’s just super fantastic.
4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?
All the verses about marriage depicting Christ and the church. None are specific to heterosexual couples.
5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?
6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?
He didn’t. He was speaking to the cultural context he was in. Here’s some more reading.
7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?
For the uninitiated, porneia is the word that Jesus used when speaking against sexual immorality. Here is a lexicon entry; interestingly enough, it’s where we get the prefix “porn-” in English. But I digress; there is absolutely no credible evidence that porneia is inclusive of homosexuality.
8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?
See the “Prooftext #2” section in the article I linked in #3.
9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?
Well, no; standard Christian theology teaches that Jesus forgives all sins including sexual immorality. But this question is misleading; the question is not whether sexual immorality is bad but rather what constitutes sexual immorality.
10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?
Probably things like adultery, sexual abuse, rape, etc.
11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?
Not much, but I’m glad you brought this up. They all translated the “clobber passages” as prohibitions of pedophilia/pederasty (men taking young boys as sexual partners) or masturbation (it wasn’t very popular among religious authorities back then). Here is some further reading. It was only in the 19th century when LGBT relationships entered the cultural radar that Biblical translators began interpreting the “clobber passages” as condemnations of homosexuality.
12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?
Again, see #3. Also, it’s awfully homogenizing to assume that all Christians in three continents are opposed to LGBT relationships (and that, if they are, it’s not because they were indoctrinated by white American missionaries.)
13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?
I think they were motivated by either ignorance or political incentive, or perhaps both.
14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?
I think they often do better with two parents, due to increased household income and parental attention if nothing else. I don’t think that the genders of the parents matter.
15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?
16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?
17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?
Yes. This question seems to be assuming that gay people only care about sex and emotional highs which is frankly quite patronizing and demeaning.
18. How would you define marriage?
In a Christian sense, the union of two people who seek to glorify God through their shared and permanent commitment to each other.
19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?
20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?
Maybe. That’s an entirely separate discussion, though. The argument implied in this question and the last is guilty of the slippery slope fallacy.
21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?
From a legal standpoint, I’m not really convinced that the government should be responsible to decide who can get married at all. From a Christian standpoint, I doubt I need to cite Bible verses saying incest is bad.
22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?
23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?
24. If not, why not?
Children shouldn’t be able to get married as they aren’t old enough to understand what they’re doing. Marriage is a consensual relationship between adults.
25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?
Yes, as long as those beliefs do not infringe on the rights or well-being of others.
26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?
It depends. I will not speak up for a county clerk who is fired because s/he refuses to issue marriage licenses, or a nurse who refuses to provide care to a gay person. I would speak up if someone tried to force a pastor to marry a gay couple when s/he didn’t want to. I do believe in religious freedom; just not the bastardizations of it being asserted by many conservative leaders.
27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?
Yes. I will not speak out against shaming of cruel or immoral behavior, though.
28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?
The same ones I take towards people in straight marriages. I don’t think there’s any extra responsibility to be placed on LGBT couples. If anything, we straight folks should have figured it out after a few hundred years.
29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?
If by “open relationships” you mean “they are publicly in a gay relationship” then obviously no. If you mean a relationship in which the individuals agree to have other sexual partners, it depends on the church and the beliefs they choose to affirm. Just as with straight couples. Believe it or not, being gay does not automatically make one promiscuous.
30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?
It’s just as much a sin (or not) as straight people doing it. Again, that’s an entirely different discussion.
31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?
The same things that non-affirming churches do, I guess. Which, based on history, isn’t much.
32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?
1 Corinthians 13
33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?
34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?
This question is pretty irrelevant. The “gotcha” is that we have to tell people they’re sinning if we really love them, but that just begs the question of whether it’s a sin to be gay.
35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?
Yes. Based on the subtext to this question, it’s important to note that being gay is not a choice.
36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?
It’s not a change for me. But my understanding of faith is constantly evolving as I experience the world and learn more about God.
37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?
It hasn’t. It has, however, made me much more aware of the people that get run over in pursuit of these objectives.
38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?
Many of these meet those criteria. To answer the implied argument, yes, many LGBT-affirming churches do not prioritize the same aspects of the faith that The Gospel Coalition does; no, that is not an indictment of their quality as churches or of the worthiness of their beliefs.
39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?
I don’t like the word “committed” in this context. It implies a stale grasp on the present rather than the dynamic way that I understand faith. I certainly hope to understand more about the church, Christ, and the Scriptures in the years ahead.
40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?
Let’s throw it back to questions #3, #8, and #12!
Whew. I hope I got my point across. To be frank, many of these questions strike me as shallow rephrasings of the arguments that Christians have been lobbing at the LGBT community for years. They sum up to just two, in my mind: is it a sin to be gay, and can a gay person be a good Christian. If you skipped to the end and you just want the meat and bones, you should really read the article I linked earlier; it provides an excellent summary of a pro-LGBT theology and thoroughly answers both of those questions.
But now, it’s my turn to ask some questions. Christian friends, you are going to encounter many LGBT people in your life, even more now after the recent Supreme Court decision. Will you love them? Not just in your words but also in your actions? Will you recognize the pain they have felt at the hands of religious people? Will you grieve for those who have committed suicide at tragically young ages? Will you stand next to the gay teenager being bullied in the locker room? Will you applaud the gay couple finally marrying after 50 years of commitment? Will you weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice?
The world is anxiously awaiting your answer.