Tag Archives: LGBT

Same Sex Marriage “Stuff” – Part Two

Click here to read Same Sex Marriage “Stuff” – Part One

Religious-freedom-is-not-freedom-to-discriminate

50 years ago religious freedom arguments that are being made today to discriminate against LGBT people were being used to justify the discrimination of black people and interracial relationships.

At that time scripture was misused to support the exclusion and oppression of black people and interracial couples. Today we have people doing the same thing to justify the exclusion and oppression of LGBT people and same sex couples.

Most people have never taken the time to study what scripture says about same sex relationships for themselves. Most people read scripture with preconceived ideas that have been formed by believing what they have been told by someone else.

If anyone is willing to set their preconceived ideas aside and take the time to study original language while also taking historical context into consideration they will be able to comprehend that there is nothing in scripture that clearly condemns a loving, healthy same sex relationship. NOTHING!

I know!, because as a parent of a gay son I was diligent in my effort to find out FOR SURE what scripture did and didn’t say about same sex relationships. I loved my son enough to go to the trouble. Do you love anyone enough to go to the trouble? If you do, I would be glad to help you.

In fact, there is more evidence in scripture to support slavery than there is to support the condemnation of all same sex relationships.

Scripture also doesn’t put forth the idea that marriage is to be only between one man and one woman or that it has anything to do with people falling in love.

Scripture proves one thing about marriage … that marriage has been changing since the beginning of time. As society progresses, learns and improves, our institutions change.

Traditionally marriage was not between one man and one woman. The idea of marriage as a sexually exclusive, romantic union between one man and one woman is a relatively recent development. In the ancient world, marriage served primarily as a means of preserving power, with kings and other members of the ruling class marrying off their daughters to forge alliances, acquire land, and produce legitimate heirs. The purpose of marriage was primarily the production of heirs. Often times peasants wouldn’t even bother with marriage since they had no property or position to worry about.

The church didn’t even get involved in marriage until the 5th century. It wasn’t declared a sacred sacrament until the 12th century. And it wasn’t until the 16th century that weddings were performed publicly by a priest and with witnesses. A license to be married wasn’t commonplace until the 17th century which was around the time when romance began to have some involvement. As the middle class formed in the 19th century only then did young men begin to select their own spouses and start marrying without the consent of their parents. The idea of women having rights and not being a subordinate to their husband didn’t become common until the 20th century. It was 1965 before the Supreme Court ruled that a wife could be raped by her husband. Until then husbands who forced themselves on their wives were not guilty of rape, since they were legally entitled to sexual access.

The institution of marriage has always been in a constant state of evolution.

“Marriage, like transportation, has always been a part of human existence. But riding a donkey is very different from flying in a jet, and modern marriage has only superficial similarity to what went before. Just as we embrace each new mode of travel that enhances human welfare, no one should mind adapting marriage to the needs of modern people.” – Steve Chapman

Extending matrimony to same-sex couples advances the same interests cited in support of heterosexual marriage. Legalizing same sex marriages encourages stable commitments that offer a framework for procreation and upholds the interest of children in a legally protected family.

The evidence before us is that same sex marriage offers the same benefits to individuals and society that opposite sex marriage does.

And finally, there is nothing in scripture that would support the idea that Christians should not sell their services or products to someone who is, in their eyes, sinning. In fact, that would go against the very tenets of Christianity. Any use of Christianity to justify discrimination is evidence of a misunderstanding about who Jesus was and what his good news was meant to convey to and about humanity. Discrimination and exclusion were not values of Jesus and are in conflict with the precepts of the Christian faith.

Oh – and one last point – the First Amendment does not guarantee us the right to discriminate based on our religion, it instead guarantees us the right not to be discriminated against based on our religious beliefs.

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Same Sex Marriage “Stuff” – Part One

This post is part of the July Synchroblog which invites bloggers to post about “Same Sex Marriage.”

As someone who has a gay son and who owns and facilitates a Private Facebook group for more than 500 moms of LGBT kids I have a LOT to say about same sex marriage “stuff.”

In fact, I have so much to say, I don’t know where to start.

But, I guess a good place to start is with my own story about how I went from believing same sex relationships were sinful to believing that condemning same sex relationships is sinful.

same-sex-marriage

When my son came out he told me he had come to the conclusion that the bible did not condemn loving, committed same sex relationships.

I fully expected to be able to prove him wrong.

I was accustomed to “studying” scripture as I taught women’s bible studies for years. I knew what it meant to dig into original language and consider the historical context of the verses I was studying.

I was shocked to find that my son was right …  none of the “clobber” verses were speaking about a loving, monogamous, healthy same sex relationship.

In fact, after a lot of studying and searching I had to admit there was no sufficient evidence in scripture that “clearly” condemned or supported same sex relationships.

One would have to put their integrity at stake and make scripture say more than it does in order to claim that scripture clearly condemns or supports same sex relationships.

(I could go into greater detail here about what I found and didn’t find in scripture, but instead I would like to share a link to a message by Pastor Stan Mitchell of GracePoint Church in Franklin, TN. The message is “Dialogue On Full Sacramental LGBT Inclusion.” This message includes almost everything I discovered in my own journey. I personally think this should be required listening for all Christians living in 2015 but I will just say “if you are a Christian who loves anyone – ANYONE – who is LGBT, you should take the time to listen to this message right away.”)

In light of discovering there was insufficient evidence in scripture to condemn same sex relationships I then had to ask myself, “What should I do?” and “How should I respond to something if scripture doesn’t clearly condemn or support it?”

The only thing I could think is I needed to find out if there was any evidence to indicate same sex relationships hurt people.

I searched and I couldn’t find that kind of evidence either – in fact, the evidence I discovered showed healthy same sex relationships had the same healthy effect on individuals and society as opposite sex relationships have on individuals and society.

Two more things happened which ended up playing a significant role in my journey.

First, I ran across this quote:

“A traditional religious belief is that “grace builds on nature,” in other words religious life depends on a good foundation in human health. Therefore we can legitimately evaluate the validity of a religious belief system by its psychological consequences. Good theology will result in good psychology and vice versa. Accordingly, bad theology will have negative psychological consequences. This is nothing more than an application of the biblical norm: “You will be able to tell them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16) If Saint Irenaeus proclaimed, the glory of God is humans FULLY ALIVE [emphasis mine], then clearly a belief system that results in the destruction of human health cannot serve the glory of God.” ~Dr. John J. McNeill

And second, I kept bumping into Micah 6:8:

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

The quote by Dr. McNeill made so much sense to me and supported what I had always believed in my heart … which was the tenets and beliefs of Christianity should mostly lead to a person’s health and wholeness. In other words, our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health should all be “better” if we are embracing good theology. Like Dr. McNeill explained, good and right theology should mostly lead to good psychology (good fruit).

As I considered this idea I began to understand that when our theology about something is resulting in a lot of bad fruit or bad psychology – such as hopelessness, depression, self hate and self harm – we have an obligation to re-examine what we believe and ask ourselves why we believe it.

And Micah 6:8 became like a guiding light for my journey. The words reminded me that justice (doing what is right) is a very high priority to God and led me to ask, “What would it look like, in light of what I have discovered, to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God?”

Everything combined together led me to the conclusion that it would be unjust, and lack mercy and humility, to condemn a loving, monogamous same sex relationship.

There was nothing in scripture to clearly mandate the condemnation of same sex relationships, there was no evidence that same sex relationships caused harm to anyone (in fact, the opposite was true) and the theological position of condemning same sex relationships was not producing good psychology (good fruit).

Those things together have given me peace in my heart about being a Christian who affirms same sex relationships. Those things have led me to believe that condemning same sex relationships is a sin.

The transition didn’t happen overnight. Although I was able to see right away that what I had believed wasn’t right, it actually took somewhere between one and two years of study, prayer, learning, listening and thinking for me to officially change my position/belief.

I’ve been accused of letting my love for my son blind me to the truth, but nothing could be further from the truth. My love for my son made me study more than ever, it caused me to ask tougher questions and to carefully consider all the evidence before me. I love my son too much to mislead him in the wrong direction if I can help it.

I’ve been accused of disregarding scripture and the Christian faith, but nothing could be further from the truth. My high view of scripture, my determination to not make scripture say more than it says, my commitment to study in a thorough manner, my deep devotion to being a follower of Christ and to do my best to live into the kind of radical love that he demonstrated and calls me to imitate … those things have led and guided me to where I am today regarding same sex marriage. I do not affirm same sex relationships in spite of my faith. I affirm same sex relationships because of my faith.

And as I have talked to other Christian mothers of LGBT kids I have witnessed them going through the same sort of process … digging deep, not accepting easy answers, wanting to make sure as much as possible.

As mothers our love doesn’t let us off the hook … instead, it is the reason we must be even more resolute and thorough. Our love is that great.

Like I said … I have a LOT to say about same sex marriage “stuff” and this is just the beginning … but I’m a firm believer that blog posts shouldn’t be too long … so stay tuned for part two of “Same Sex Marriage Stuff” coming soon. (Go here for part two)

In the meantime, check out the other July Synchroblog posts about “Same Sex Marriage

A Reflection for Good Friday

jesus-carpenter123

Jesus was a carpenter, if a same sex couple asked him to make them a table he would have built it and it would have been as good as any table he had ever built, and then, when it was finished and sitting in their home, he would have sat with them and had dinner on it…..

but before they ate he would have probably washed their feet.

I believe this because of the way Jesus treated those the religious people excluded, because of the way he defended and befriended the ones the religious people called sinners, because of the way he chastised religious people for the way they misconstrued God’s way of thinking and because of the way he was always pointing out that the very people the religious people were railing against were a better example of God’s love than they were – more likely to enter the kingdom of heaven – more likely to have their prayers heard.

On this Good Friday I am remembering a Jesus that would have hung up a sign in front of his business that said “All are welcome here” – because he wouldn’t want anyone to have to walk in wondering how they would be treated.

That is what I’m reflecting on this Good Friday.

Nobody knows why or how same-sex marriage is harmful.

This post is part of a Synchroblog, where a group of bloggers post on the same topic on the same day, so that people can surf from one to the other and get different views on the same basic topic. You will find links to the other participants at the end of this post.

You hear a lot of people say same-sex marriage would harm “traditional marriage”, is bad for children and damaging to society … but when you press them to give you more specifics, to explain what they base their opinion on, to help you understand how and why … well, the arguments start to fall apart, they tend to get stumped or emotional, or both.

Of course we might be unfair to expect the average person to be able to clearly articulate and argue these points – but surely there are experts that could “expertly argue” how and why same-sex marriage is so harmful … someone that the average person could turn to and learn from. OBVIOUSLY NOT – or at least it didn’t seem to be the case in the recent Prop 8 trial.

Here’s some excerpts from the recent Prop 8 Trial in which the best legal minds, with the best experts at their disposal, were arguing that same-sex marriage is sooooo harmful that it should be illegal ….

MR. COOPER: It’s the state’s purpose that’s important here. And if the state has any conceivable rational purpose, I have to win. Proposition 8 has to be upheld, we believe, under the authorities that control this issue. And so the focus has to be on: what is the state’s purpose?

THE COURT: Well –

MR. COOPER: — restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples. Yeah.

THE COURT: All right. Let me throw in a question here. Assume I agree with you that the state’s interest in marriage is essentially procreative, as you’ve put it.

MR. COOPER: Yes, your Honor.

THE COURT: Assume that I agree with that. How does permitting same-sex marriages impair or adversely affect that interest?

MR. COOPER: Obviously, my submission here to you is rational-basis standard applies. And so, yes, my here are premised upon –

THE COURT: I’ve given you one assumption. Give me one, for purposes of argument. And that is that this is not rational basis review; this is intermediate scrutiny.

MR. COOPER: Well, then, your Honor, I’m going to be coming back to you with arguments.

THE COURT: Now we’re having a dialogue here. Now assume that you have to have established that this is the minimally effective means of imposing this discrimination between same-sex marriages and opposite-sex marriages. So what is the harm to the procreative purpose or function of marriage that you outline of permitting same-sex marriages?

MR. COOPER: Your Honor, even under a compelling-state-interest standard, I would submit to the Court that the state’s interests in channeling procreative activity into enduring relationships would be vital, and would satisfy a compelling-interest standard. And I would also submit to the Court that there would be no reasonable available way for — for that purpose to be fulfilled and advanced, other than the way the state has chosen — every state has chosen, with five exceptions, and California has chosen through Proposition 8. And, your Honor, that gets to the — to the fundamental, I think, theoretical disagreement that I mentioned earlier between the Plaintiffs and the Defendant-Intervenors here. They say that it’s not enough, as you were suggesting here, for opposite-sex unions to further and advance these vital state interests; that we have to prove, in addition to that, that including same-sex unions into the definition of marriage would actually harm those purposes and interests. That is not the Equal Protection construct, your Honor.

THE COURT: I’m asking you to tell me how it would harm opposite-sex marriages.

MR COOPER: All right.

COURT: All right. Let’s play on the same playing field for once. Okay.

MR COOPER: Your Honor, my answer is: I don’t know.

THE COURT: Does that mean — does that mean if this is not determined to be subject to rational basis review, you lose?

MR. COOPER: No, your Honor.

THE COURT: Okay.

MR. COOPER: I don’t believe it — it does.

THE COURT: Just haven’t figured out how you’re going to win on that basis yet?

MR. COOPER: Well, your Honor, by — by saying that the state and its electorate are entitled, when dealing with radical proposals for change, to a bedrock institution such as this to move with incrementally, to move with caution, and to adopt a wait-and-see attitude. Keep in mind, your Honor, this same-sex marriage is a very recent innovation. Its implications of a social and cultural nature, not to mention its impact on marriage over time, can’t possibly be known now.

THE COURT: So this is a political question, and the Court should abstain? Is that it?

MR. COOPER: Well, your Honor, certainly at the root of all our arguments here are that this is a question of social/cultural dimension that the people themselves in this state — and every other — have the authority to answer. So, yes, the Court — the Court should do as the Supreme Court did in the assisted-suicide case, and say that this issue is being debated throughout the land on — in terms of its legality, its morality — its morality, and its practicality in the democratic process. And that’s where it should be, and that’s where it should remain.

MR. COOPER: your Honor, I guess it’s important now to come back to this — to this point about why it’s not necessary for me to prove including same-sex unions in the traditional definition of marriage would actually harm that institution, or harm the vital purposes that that institution –

THE COURT: Well, I understand your answer to that question is you don’t know. You don’t know.

MR. COOPER: No. Well, your Honor, that’s –

THE COURT: It’s a fair answer. If you don’t know, you don’t know; or if you can’t — you can’t say, or it depends on the development of a factual records, well, but –

MR. COOPER: Well, your Honor, it depends on things we can’t know. This is a — this is a — that’s my point.

Mr. Cooper, the expert representing proponents of Prop 8, is stumped. He has no idea what the adverse effects would be.  He’s come to argue a landmark case without being able to articulate how same sex marriage is harmful.

The judge brings up the point later in the proceedings….

THE COURT: What are those potential adverse consequences?

MR. COOPER: Well, your Honor –

THE COURT: Has anybody identified them?

MR. COOPER: There have been some, yes, your Honor. For example, there seems to us to be little doubt that if the plaintiffs prevail here, and the definition of marriage is to be expanded to include same-sex couples, then the existing parallel institution of domestic partnership will also have to be expanded to include opposite-sex couples. And that parallel institution, with all the same benefits, will be available to opposite-sex couples. That’s exactly how things are proceeding in The Netherlands. And in The Netherlands –

THE COURT: What’s the effect of that? Is that harmful?

MR. COOPER: Well, your Honor, there do appear to be a number of adverse social consequences in The Netherlands from this. Domestic partnership is now used, apparently, more by heterosexual couples — opposite-sex couples — than is marriage. So marriage — the effort to channel procreative activity into that institution has abated quite a bit. There’s — there are — there are other socially unfortunate –

THE COURT: But –

MR. COOPER: Whether there’s a causal relationship, your Honor –

THE COURT: Has that been harmful to the society in The Netherlands? Has it been harmful to children? What’s the adverse effect?

MR. COOPER: Well, your Honor, again, I don’t — I don’t have a presentation for you on that; but I do, your Honor, submit that it is not self-evident that there is no chance of any harm. And unless it is, the people of California are entitled not to run the risk. And unless he can prove — Mr. Olson and his colleagues can prove that there is no harm that can possibly come from this, then the people of California are entitled to make the decision that they did.

THE COURT: When do constitutional rights depend upon proof of no harm? Freedom of speech? Freedom of press? Lots of harm flows from those fundamental and basic freedoms of ours — misinformation, incitement to passion, and so forth — but we tolerate those risks in a free society. So when does the application of a constitutional principle require proof that its application will not impose any risk?

Mr. Cooper is actually trying to convince the judge that the opponents of Prop 8 have to prove that same-sex marriages are “not” harmful in order for their constitutional rights to be upheld.  That’s crazy!  (even though there is probably some proof that same-sex marriages aren’t harmful)

Olson, the prosecuting attorney sums up the problem very well:

MR. OLSON: …the reason why they keep coming back to procreation and the raising of children is that that might be a rational basis, but it doesn’t work in terms of excluding individuals who wish to marry someone of the same sex, because procreation doesn’t require marriage, as your question pointed out. Marriage doesn’t yield procreation. Same-sex marriage does not dilute, diminish, inhibit, or deter opposite-sex persons from getting marriage. And the prohibition of same-sex marriage doesn’t mean that individuals who would prefer to be married to someone of the same sex is going to go out and marry someone of the opposite sex, produce children, and raise them in a happy relationship. That blinks reality. All of those arguments that are made about — you asked the point: if you had to prove that there was a harm by allowing same-sex marriages to exist alongside heterosexual marriages, what would that harm be? And I think I heard Mr. Cooper say he didn’t know. Now, he’s spent a lot of time on this case. And I don’t know, either, what the harm could be to heterosexual marriages by allowing same-sex marriage.

It seems the one thing everyone agrees on is … Nobody knows why or how same-sex marriage is harmful.

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Check out all of the October Synchroblog participants:

Kathy Baldock at Canyonwalker Connections – Marriage “I Do” For Who

Dan Brennan at Faith Dance – Sexual Difference, Marriage and Friendship

Steve Hayes at Khanya – Same Sex Marriage Synchroblog

Sonja Andrews at Calacirian – In Defense Of Marriage

John C O’Keefe – Exactly What Is Gay Marriage

Liz Dyer at Grace Rules – Nobody knows why or how same-sex marriage is harmful

Herman Groenewald at Along The Way – Same Sex Debate

Margaret Boelman at Minnowspeaks – What Have We Done

David Henson at unorthodoxology – ban marriage

Erin Word at Mapless – Synchroblog: Legalizing Same Sex Marriage

Joshua Jinno at Antechurch – The Church Is Impotent

Tia Lecorchick at Abandon Image – Conservative Christians and Same Sex Marriage – A Match Made In…America

Kathy Escobar at The Carnival In My Head – It’s Easy To Be Against Equal Rights When We Have Them

Peter Walker at Emerging Christian – Synchroblog – Same Sex Marriage

K. W. Leslie at The Evening of Kent – Mountains, Molehills and Same-Sex Marriage

Three Things Tuesday

JENNIFER KNAPP

Jennifer Knapp, Christian music artist, recently came out publicly about being gay and in a long term same sex relationship.  Check out her facebook page and you will find that another coming out has occurred as you read all the argumentative and condemning messages that so many Christians are posting there.  There are Christians coming out as allies who aren’t so hateful (check out this post by Chad Holtz) but they seem to be in the minority.

FYI – I am straight, married, with two sons and Christian (although I prefer to use the label “follower of Christ” since the label “Christian” has so much negative baggage) and I have seriously studied scripture and found that there is not clear evidence (when you look at original language and historical context) that loving, monogamous same sex relationships are wrong.  Without sufficient evidence I believe that it is unjust to condemn and oppress people in loving, monogamous same sex relationships.  If Christians who believe these relationships are wrong continue to refuse to admit that their interpretation is only one interpretation and that there is a possibility that they are wrong they (imo) continue to look ungenerous, unkind, stubborn, unreasonable and lose credibility all the way around.

And one more thing … if they are right why is it that they are so obsessed with this particular sin and how do they justify trying to bully and intimidate others into agreeing with them and do they really think they are going to change someone’s mind by winning their argument and why aren’t they more concerned with being kind, loving, generous, compassionate, merciful, patient and humble.  I could understand them getting a little riled up if they were actually standing up for some individual that was being mistreated or hurt but I don’t understand their passion about this issue and the way they treat others over it.  It really seems that they care the most about convincing everyone they are right and forcing everyone to agree with them.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention …  Knapp’s new album, Letting Go, will be released May 11.  Check it out here. If you preorder from her site you get Evolving EP free.  I already received mine and am loving it.

Perspectives on Arizona’s Immigration Law

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently signed into law the highly controversial senate bill 1070 which is considered to be the harshest anti-illegal immigrant law in the country.  The bill makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally, empowers Arizona police to verify immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion, enacts harsher penalties on employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants, and makes it a crime to transport, harbor, or shield illegal immigrants.

As you might have guessed there are two opposing Christian views of the bill.  I thought Emily Patterson-Jackson wrote a well balanced post covering the two views.  Check out her post here.

TransFORM

I’m headed to Washington, DC this week for the TransFORM: East Coast Gathering.  I’m really excited about the guest speakers who will be there and the crazy part is the conference is completely free.  Everyone working on this conference is donating their time and energies for free because they believe in the ideas that this conference supports.  I think that is amazing and beautiful.  I’m also really excited about the attendees – I know so many of them through facebook and twitter and now I will get to meet them face to face – in person.   Check out the info on the conference here.   Some of the main sessions will be live on the Ustream Channel online.