more (hopefully) helpful conversation about faithful Christians and same-sex marriage

For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19)

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IT’S A WRAP: I think that – out of fairness to other important topics – I’ll (try to) wrap up this episode of the “same-sex marriage” conversation with today’s post. The dialogue (via comments, facebook, email, and in person) has been fascinating, illuminating, confusing, and – most of all – challenging in all the ways that thinking about faith must be. Thanks for your input.

WHERE DO WE DRAW THE LINE? One of the really good points raised in response to yesterday’s post – Freedom, Conscience, America, and the PC(USA) – questioned the idea of being bound by conscience. “I definitely DO want to belong to a church where ministers have to follow defined boundaries,” the reader wrote, “not just any ‘minister’s conscience’. Where do we draw the line?”

It’s a good question. In fact, “Where do we draw the line?” is at the heart of the current debate… the current controversy… the current angst… the current confusion.

Personally (and – although I am a fairly high-profile voice – I hold no ecclesiastical or denominational credentials, other than being an enthusiastic member of a vibrant, all-about-Jesus, Bible-teaching Presbyterian church), I see enough faithfulness and scholarship in the heart of both sides of the issue that I believe it’s time to move beyond the idea of “I’m right – you’re wrong,” no matter who you are.

In short:

  • I know (and respect) many faithful disciples of Jesus, thorough students of the Bible, who are absolutely sure that same-sex marriage is an affront to God.
  • I know (and respect) many Christians of deep faith, honest seekers of truth in scripture, who are 100% convinced that God blesses and affirms same-sex couples.

Consequently, with such diversity of heart-felt conviction within the church, I feel that the action of General Assembly to allow each minister to follow their own conscience in this regard is a good decision.

AS FOR ME…? I have to understand that if I am torn, if I understand and respect the positions of both sides of this debate, and if I also recognize and affirm the authentic Spirit of God in and through the faithful witness of so many people who are diametrically opposed regarding this issue, then I must move forward understanding that the definitive point of our witness cannot be tied to one particular stance on gay marriage.

Obviously this conversation is not going away, and it may well result in more division in the future, but it must not distract us from the essential and central truth of the Christian faith – the real and vital business of any church – and that is the invitation of Jesus to accept his love, to follow him, and to be reconciled to God.

Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:9-10)

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)

STAND! Whatever your “old life” has been, Jesus wants to bring you into a new one! Wherever you stand on any given social issue, your first and most important stand must be to stand for God. However we agree, or disagree, on what the Bible teaches, we must be united in our conviction that it teaches us to follow Jesus.

Still loving the Presbyterian Church!
Still loving the Presbyterian Church!

Stand with me on that; stand next to me in worship; stand on the promises; and we will stand together for the Good News of the Kingdom!

In love, and because of love – DEREK

5 thoughts on “more (hopefully) helpful conversation about faithful Christians and same-sex marriage

  1. Taylor Hill

    Another question besides “where do I draw the line?” is “When do I take a stand?” I too want to be open and explore all sides and be a faithful student rightly dividing the word of truth. Where I draw the line is when others are hurt, oppressed and imprisoned by a stand. Jesus said to the Pharisees that they laid heavy burdens on others that they themselves were not able to bear. Respecting both points of view is commendable in the beginning, but I doubt that many Christians I know today would still respect the point of view that slavery is supported by the Bible. Resistance to the change of new wine is what ultimately crucified the Lord of glory. Respectfully, Taylor Hill, Bradenton, Florida

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  2. Elizabeth Smith

    I’ve always felt it was the height of arrogance for any adult to tell another that their way of loving was wrong. I will be forever grateful to my neighbors Dave and Dave, who taught my children that same-sex couples are the simply the people next door, that love and committment have many faces but the love is what you see first. Isn’t that what we should seek in all of us?

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  3. Tamara Nye

    No one is “telling” another that their way of loving is wrong. However, if the Bible makes it clear (in my opinion it does.) that the act of Homosexuality is a sin – wrong – then for a church to “marry” people into a sinful lifestyle is wrong. Romans 1 clinched it for me. Fornication is a sin, lying is a sin, stealing is a sin. Would we love people enough to help them out of these lifestyles?To love people is one thing – but to love someone is to help them out of a sinful lifestyle not help them into it. How as Presbyterians do we say it’s okay to marry gay couples when the Bible tells us it’s sin? I know there are arguments out there that say the Bible is not against homosexuality – I’ve read them, studied further and still have come to the same conclusion – it’s sin. How is it loving to allow someone to separate themselves from God?

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    1. J.

      I, as a woman married to a smart, beautiful, and kind woman, feel less close to God when people tell me that He believes my life is a sin. I already have a relationship with God and it makes me feel bad when people tell me that I am somehow separate from Him. Another person cannot know my relationship with God, and I affirm that I do have one.

      If I could change one view about this debate, it would be about other people’s relationship with God. Other people think that they can know my – or any other person’s, gay or straight – path, but you cannot for your are not God. Let us find our own way to him by being welcoming to us. Let us be in your places of worship and learn to worship Him. How will we know how to follow Christ if you deny us the opportunity. I, as a follower of Christ, welcome all people, holistically and without judgement. Please do the same for me.

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