Why I Do Not Support or Oppose Gay Marriage

A few weeks ago I posted Support Us or You’re a Bigot? here at the blog. I received a steady wave of feedback. It was mostly civil. I learned this much, if you want to boost your blog traffic just express your views on homosexuality or gay marriage.

The primary point of Support Us or You’re a Bigot? was to voice my concerns over the name-calling and the vitriol that is so common when we allow extremists to set the stage of any debate. It’s wrong, unfair, and dishonest. A person can disagree with “gay marriage” and still love their gay neighbor, just as they do their Muslim, Wiccan, and white supremacist neighbor. I’m pleased to say that my post resonated with gay folks I know who also don’t approve of the way both progressives and fundamentalists have handled the debate.

Let me be clear. I don’t support or oppose gay marriage. And for good reason. It is for me a conviction rooted in Christ and his ability to creatively navigate cultural situations and contexts for the sake of the Kingdom.

I wonder if you have recognized that we can’t hear a third way of dealing with this in the culture because the matter is truly unlike most issues involving civil rights. It’s not a race issue, it’s a moral issue. And some folks are legitimately concerned that if “gay marriage” is sanctioned (based on the feelings one person has for another), then what is to stop polygamy, or something even more detestable? Are you going to deny their “rights” too?

You can’t easily brush this question aside if you’re an honest, thinking person. Why should “rights” stop with gay couples? It shouldn’t according to the logic of the LGBT folks and supporters I’ve heard. But what sort of world would we be inviting? It’s a question for the church and the state.

There you have it, folks—one more reminder why politics, and the rules it must operate by, will never be able to bring the full measure of peace, freedom, and justice we long for in the world. You have to draw the line somewhere, but it will require that we reach beyond utilitarian logic itself to a divine, transcending order in the universe.

Something, oddly enough, even America’s deist founders understood.

No pragmatic politics or ethics will do. Without moral boundaries given from above, i.e. built into creation and divinely revealed, we must make it up as we go. “Do what thou wilt” shall be the whole of the law.

In case you missed it, I’ve been upfront that I don’t believe homosexuality (or even faithful “monogamous” homosexual relationships) is God’s best for humanity. And I believe this should be lovingly addressed in the church, right after we address the problem of divorce and adultery among heterosexuals. So, I believe it’s at this point an “in-house” issue.

The real problem I see here is what happens to the issue when it enters the ambiguous, complex, and nasty realm of politics. As an Anabaptist thinker and practitioner, this is where I bow out with a purpose.

While I don’t believe in a complete, unilateral withdrawal from politics, I’m convinced that a political response from evangelicals is not helpful at this point. All of this is happening because the church has failed to display the beauty of the covenant relationship between a man and woman, and because of her unwillingness to love neighbor and enemy alike.

In other words, the acceptance of homosexuality and a “gay identity” in our culture is symptomatic of a much bigger problem.

The way I see it the church’s engagement with politics should (on most occasions) be a creative indirect engagement with the state.

Our faithfulness to Christ in community, seen by the way we conduct ourselves in the church, is the primary means by which we persuade the State to conform to the Kingdom.

Every day that goes by (in this so-called “democracy”) makes it more difficult to maintain our witness for Christ and also involve ourselves with the business and conundrums of the state.

It’s just unfortunate to me that most evangelicals never question the methods of politics. Jesus distanced himself from worldly kingdom power and taught his followers to do the same. He refused to enter into pointless, hot-button debates by choosing sides. And that’s why I have chosen neither to support or oppose what’s going on within politics on this issue.

With that being said, because of the nature of this debate, I do think that this whole thing wouldn’t be such an uproar if the state would deal only with civil unions, and leave “marriage” to the local church.

The church should concern herself with the church and let the state do what the state’s gonna do at this point. 53 percent of Americans are in favor of gay marriage, including many Christians. I suspect that number will continue to rise. It’s the world we now live in folks. Entering into the political debate is doing more harm than good for the Gospel of Christ.

I think it might be different (allowing the church to speak out on the issue) if she had been faithfully following Jesus in the first place. But how can we speak up when we’ve made a bloody mess of the institution of marriage ourselves. We’ve failed to protect marriage and our gay neighbor made in God’s image, therefore we’ve lost the right to speak.

Speaking from a political platform only perpetuates the problem—-as well as thinking that buying Chic-Fil-A in an organized boycott-retaliation helps the cause of Christ and communicates love for our neighbor. We must stop allowing the world to shape us into its mold, and give up on the American “let’s-police-the-world” approach to issues that concern us.

This hostile and down-right belligerent defense is nothing more than sanctified bullying and coercion done in Jesus’ name. And we’re reaping the consequences for it all in our now “post-Christian” society.

D.D. Flowers, 2013.

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About David D. Flowers

David received a B.A. in Religion from East Texas Baptist University and a M.T.S. in Biblical Studies from Houston Graduate School of Theology. David has over 15 years experience as a pastor and teacher in and outside the church. He currently pastors an Anabaptist congregation in Virginia. View all posts by David D. Flowers

35 responses to “Why I Do Not Support or Oppose Gay Marriage

  • Susanne

    What has convinced you that homosexuality (or even faithful “monogamous” homosexual relationships) is not God’s best for humanity?

    • endtimedelusion

      Umm, the Word of God himself is pretty convincing as to what his best for humanity is, I would think, Suzanne. Would the Creator himself not know?

      • susanne

        I do think our loving creator knows all. I just don’t think we know all. I think it is our job to love God and others and leave the judgement to to Him. The Spirit teaches us and I am guessing a lot of us will be surprised at how wrong we have been.

        • endtimedelusion

          I will disagree with the statement that the Holy Spirit teaches. It is the Word that teaches – God makes it emminently clear that his Holy Scripture is for teaching doctrine, and all things he wants us to know. The Holy Spirit opens our spiritual eyes to the fact that the Bible is God’s truth for us, sufficient and complete for all time and for all God’s purposes for us.

          The people you mention who will be “surprised how wrong we have been” will be, in my view, those who have tried to put other things, things of this world, in the place of Scripture as their source of truth. In terms of this discussion, that would be such things as social pressures, political correctness, and unbiblical views of marriage, to name a few.

          Nobody who faithfully follows the Bible as the Word of Almighty God himself, believing without reservation that it is truly inspired and God-breathed, will ever need worry that one day they will find out that this Word has led them into error.

    • David D. Flowers

      Hey Susanne, to put it simply… I’m convinced by Scripture (Matt 19:1-11; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10; Jude 7), human reason (concerning science & sociology), the created order (human evolution & propagation of life), and 2000 years of church tradition.

      • Barry

        Dave… Thanks for the Greek translations. That has always intrigued me. As to some of your points…

        quoting Leviticus… I know my thought here is not very scientific, but very practical. The law was the law. It was of sorts done away with by the New Covenant (being very careful of interpretation of that as Jesus said He came to fulfill the Law). So the things of the Old Testament Law are of the Old Testament Law. The things of the New Covenant are of the New Covenant. You must reconcile the things that are found as “Law” in the Old Testament Law that are also mentioned in no uncertain terms as being grave sin in the New Covenant, or New Testament. I know separating the “Old” and “New” is a bit dicey and blurry at times. The ones that are easy are the ones found in both

        In Daves defense, I think it is a stretch for you to claim he is equating homosexuality to white supremacy. And you also, like so many others who are of your opinion, claim those who think differently are just mean and hurtful. I have been able to understand that only to an extent in being empathetic. But I find commonly a hidden motive in that claiming hurt and mean and bigot and phobia is disingenuous in that it is only used to silence the “opposition”.

        As to cherry picking certain words in translations and Greek, I whole heartedly support your pursuit of meaning. I didn’t though, see anything in your discoveries that negate such scripture as Roman ch 1. I actually think your word study has reinforced Rom 1. Be very sure you are not trying to find an escape from the very distinct edict laid down in said scripture. The very acts themselves are absolutely detailed – almost to the point of being a bit risky – in Rom 1. So much so that there can be no escaping it’s meaning.

        As to Jude and the comparisons of different sex and love. I think the whole context of scripture distinguishes clearly that there is love and sex in marriage, then there is other.

        As to your claim that the time period context there was much homosexuality, you are correct. THE SCRIPTURE IS ADDRESSING IT.

        As to Jesus being silent on the issue… He keeps speaking through the continuing New Testament as His Spirit inspires the whole of the New Testament. Please do not make the mistake thinking that His silence on the issue is license for it. He is the one who called Paul. His Spirit is the one who inspired the words of Paul which include his address toward this subject.

        Yes this is tough. Thanks for your dialogue. Barry

      • Barry

        Hi Dave… now you have hit a point I have often heavily pondered. Thank you. I have said to others in jest – but dead serious – that I wonder why God gave me testosterone to the point of running out my ears, but applied so many seeming restrictions on its – shall we say – implementation. Speaking of the bedroom… it is a bit of a mystery, because no rules exist, except that “… the marriage bed be not defiled.” I think you are mainly speaking of marriage. How sexuality plays out in the marriage bedroom can’t be legalistic, because nowhere is found a “Thus sayeth the Lord” law or guide.

        A couple of guidelines.
        The first guideline: I think the Bible’s stand on homosexuality excludes homosexual marriage.
        The second guideline: The Lord compares his relationship with His church and the picture thereof to the marriage between a loving couple. Jesus, in His comparison, paints a desired perfect picture of His relationship with His bride – the church – and a desired perfect picture of a married couple (though we know few marriages are perfect). In all descriptions given of marriage in the Bible, it is between a male and female.

        This is not a dispute over the fact that desires and acts and lusts and burnings of homosexuality and extra-heterosexuality exist, but I don’t think they can be compared with the same found within Biblical marriage.

      • David D. Flowers

        Dave, thanks for reading and commenting. If you would… please try to keep comments brief and focused on one or two items at a time. Long posts can be overwhelming and discourage discussion. It makes it hard to follow and respond. I’ve included this in the blog Rules, but luckily I’m a gracious blog-comments moderator.

        From what you’ve written above in your original address to me, what concerns you the most? What specific item would you like me to respond?

      • David

        Hi David,

        Sorry for the delay in coming around to this. Crazy schedule! And I apologize for the novel-length post… I’ll do my best to be more brief and focus on one point.

        I think the thing that concerns me the most from and I would care the most to see addressed is the and suggestions about “not acceptable way of being human” and the notions of comparison from this post with respect to “white supremacists” and such.

        I read one of your earlier posts regarding homosexuality and the biblical interpretations, etc. so I can see that our viewpoints are opposed, but even speaking from your standpoint I don’t understand how this can be a loving and Christ-like approach.

        To me this seems to be largely in contrast to how Paul taught in dealing with people when coming into a group or a culture – he would speak to people where they were at.

        For example in Acts 17:16-32 when he is speaking to the people of Athens he doesn’t come in condemning, he actually comes in a way that shows a real respect for the people he is addressing.

        This is a common theme for Paul, and if we look further into his letters this is dealt with in a different fashion largely because he is addressing the churches not the world at large.

        In a public forum such as this, knowing that the nature of your post will undoubtedly attract a lot of attention from believers and non-believers alike, how is it beneficial to be injurious to and alienate people with what you’ve said and how does that benefit the advance of the Kingdom?

        Much love,

        Dave

        • David D. Flowers

          Hey Dave, sorry for my delay. April has been crazy.

          Truth be told, I know gay people that aren’t offended by my comments. But here’s the deal… people are offended even when you’re not trying to offend.

          When it comes to disagreeing with folks on this issue, especially if they believe homosexuality is not a sin, there isn’t much you can say (if anything at all) that won’t upset them. I always try to choose my words wisely. All I can say that I’m all the more vigilant that words have the power to build up or tear down.

          I mean to build up, for sure. But I will not back away from how I understand the sin of homosexuality and it being like all other sins, even those of my own. This is the best I can do when writing online. Keep in mind that you can read certain things (e.g. ideas, tones, motivations, etc.) into posts that were never intended.

          Thanks for reading.

      • inorga

        Hi Barry,

        Thanks for your response.

        If we’re looking at Rom 1:18-28 I find the subtitle from the NIV helpful – “God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity”. This is describing actions that stem from godlessness, wickedness, rejection of God, darkened hearts, shameful lusts, etc.

        He goes on to give a summation of this in Rom 1:28-32 that is more broad in description.

        He is painting a bigger picture of an entire way of being which is in stark contrast to the way I have come to experience relationships between gay couples who I’ve known.

        In all of the places in the text that describe sexual immorality, homosexuality is not the main focus… The sinful way in which they are living and how that has fueled the fire of appetites that stem from the flesh motivate their actions is.

        So what of a relationship borne of living out your life in God-centered way between members of the same sex?

        If your argument for your guidelines is that you would reject the idea of homosexual relationships being valid at the out-set, this stunts what I am trying to impress upon.

        I’m just asking that you look at this and entertain the possibility that there is an alternative to the perceptual inference that perversion is at the root of all homosexual relationships and that these loving relationships do exist. That being said, how does that impact the teaching based on the context of deviance that’s being described?

        This can be exceptionally interesting when looking at all-male relationships as you’re looking at two people who are apt to be overwhelmed with the complexities of testosterone and it’s steering on their motivations and can move past this to a point that is on living on par with 1 Corinthians 7:1-7, Ephesians 5:22-23, Colossians 3:18-19, Hebrews 13:4…

        All I ask is to give it some thought.

        Much Love,

        Dave

      • RuannM

        Dave, how about, very simply, the anatomy of the human body?

  • Chris Gorton

    My brother David, I cannot write AMEN loud enough!

    “The church should concern herself with the church and let the state do what the state’s gonna do at this point…. Entering into the political debate is doing more harm than good for the Gospel of Christ.”

    The gay marriage issue is just one of many where the enemy of our souls uses false alternatives to encourage us to cross lines that should not be crossed. We win by laying down our lives, not by trying to preserve our lifestyles.

    Using political power to prevent the State from performing gay marriages is worse than doomed to failure. Even were the activity to succeed, it would require the Church further yielding her jurisdiction to the enemy.

    We must not battle on his terms. We have been given far more powerful weapons than his, if we will but use them.

    David, thank you for permitting me to offer this link to my recent post which expands on this idea and the topic you have addressed so well here.

    http://radicalfish.net/victory-in-spiritual-warfare-is-determined-by-jurisdiction/

  • bobbyjonewell

    Thanks David, have to say I relate to your message on this. I don’t want to pick sides and don’t feel led to. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

  • Bob Demyanovich

    David, thank you for your emphasis on a third way. The Body of Christ follows His commands that are not contradictory to “civil” law. We are exhorted to pray for kings and all that are in authority that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives.
    1Ti 2:1-8
    The problem that arises where 2 governmental systems apply is the interface. The ruling of the Supreme Court in this country will be enforced. Will you marry a gay couple? Will you cease to perform any marriage so as not to trespass a civil law?
    Mar 11:28-29, 33, Luk 9:1, 20:20,
    A quick glimpse of Ray Comfort’s facebook page is a reality check. There are numbers vehemently opposed to Jesus Christ.

  • Sean Durity

    I don’t think the church can give up its prophetic role in speaking truth. The prophets of Israel spoke against pagan nations AND God’s people, especially when Israel departed from the covenant. This is not an “either/or.” The church must demonstrate Biblical marriage and speak God’s redeeming truth about homosexuality.

    And you know my position on “political power.” God has called some into that role of leadership. I will support them as they contend for faith in the public square. This is not a time for retreat and isolationism. Jesus didn’t listen to polls. He spoke truth even when it drove the crowds away. Often that was his objective (see John 6).

  • Gary Patton

    Sean, can you tell us where in the New Covenant does it say that non-Followers must obey what Jesus Followers are commanded nor live like we must? I’d suggest a Jesus Follower’s only prophetic role and voiuce is to make disciples, as Jesus says in Matt. 28:18-20 …not try to fix the unfixable kingdom of the world any more than Jesus did… as David says.

    David, do you extend your approach to the other major, political hot buttons like abortion?

    • David D. Flowers

      Hey Gary,
      It’s terrible that abortion is legal, but I don’t think the only way (or even the best way) to respond is through politics. Instead, like the early Christians, we should find ways to help women considering abortion. Furthermore, this too is an issue that is complex when addressed through politics. For example, there is a strong correlation between poverty and abortion. A person could vote for a candidate that intends on addressing poverty, but is “pro-choice”, and believe they’re doing the most good to stop abortion. This goes to show how ambiguous politics can be.

      Thanks for reading, bro.

      • garyfpatton

        Thank you, David! I enjoyed what you shared originally and agree completely with your position re homosexual marriage plus your response to my question.

        I feel that Christians sin, according to the New Covenant, when we try to dictate to non-Jesus Followers that our religious beliefs should trump their political right to do what is legal e.g., abortion, gay marriage, fornication, etc..”

        Blessings,
        Gary in Toronto

        • David D. Flowers

          Hey Gary, I agree. It’s entirely antithetical to the Gospel and the non-coercive God of Jesus to do so.

        • Sean Durity

          John the Baptist disagrees. He called Herod to account and lost his life for it. Not all of God’s messages are designed to win popularity. The plumb line is the plumb line. Ask Amos…

          It is interesting to study Amos 7. In the first 2 visions, Amos pleads with God to relent – even though the nation of Israel has continually rejected God. God does relent. However, in the third vision (of the plumb wall and plumb line), Amos does not plead for mercy and God offers none. The judgment is surely coming. We need both the compassion and courage of Amos as we speak to our culture and plead for judgment to be delayed.

        • David D. Flowers

          It’s not about popularity, Sean. It’s about moving forward in a way that resembles Christ. Let Christ increase, and John the Baptist decrease. 🙂

        • Sean Durity

          My point is that we cannot let the popularity (or not) of God’s message change the message. As you said elsewhere, there is no way to be inoffensive to all. Every viewpoint is exclusive in some way (even being all-inclusive excludes those who are exclusive – if you follow). What prophet was ever popular in his time? Certainly not Jesus, who was executed for his declarations against the religious establishment. I am finding Amos to embody the ability to speak difficult truth with compassion and love – a very tough combination to get right.

  • henryfrueh

    Amen. No amount of political shouting or voting booths can make a dead man come alive. In the end, although we refuse to damit it, the things we clamor about and seek political leverage are those things which irititate us and invade our surroundings.
    The truth be told is all the gay people were living quiet lives in some obscure portion of the world the church would pay them little attention. It is only because we demand cultural comfort morally and economically that we are brought to action.
    And by the word “action” I mean political as well as a steady stream of talk radio and television complaining. No, the church is not opened week nights for fasting and prayer for these sinners. But denouncing sinners for what they do is shooting fish in a barrel. It changes nothing but it does provide a self righteous meal for the ecclesia.

  • David Lee

    My only problem with not taking sides is, we may not have a go at them, but they will certainly have a go at us. If the LGBT groups have their way, they will sue us, our businesses & our churches because we refuse to conform to their image.

    Here in the UK people have already lost their employment, their businesses & been sued because they refused to conform, even though we have civil partnerships that confer the same rights as marriage, except divorce.

    I agree we should not use vitriolic statements against the pro gay marriage groups, but we must stand for what is morally right.

  • Barry

    I give everyone the assignment of reading 1 Cor 5. Very important. The text addresses how our concerns should be separated between what goes on in culture outside the church vs. what goes on within the church body. Interesting read, and very applicable to this discussion.
    Do you realize that since the “state” has been stepping into the issue over homosexual marriage as brought forth to the supreme court that this type of conversation, such as your blogs David, is going on a million times over in the whole western world? This is important stuff.
    I Cor 5 makes it clear that we should let the world be the world as far as our concerns toward it over moral issues. But once you step foot over the threshold into the church body, it’s a whole different matter. But oh, that no none wants to hear that the same text says to put out of the church the sexually immoral.
    The elephant in the room – that only some choose to see – is that in the end, whatever the state dictates, the impact will be felt in the church. It seems that the 1Cor 5 text directs the believer to not be so concerned over the morality of the world outside the church. Question is… should that principal be extended to the churches’ concern toward the state, since what the state does in the end will be to dictate laws that will DIRECTLY effect the church?

  • Chris Gorton

    The invisible elephant in the room is that most “Churches” are congenitally joined to the state by some sort of legal status. Here in the U.S. it is usually the 503C status which creates an artificial person created by the state and entirely subject to it.

    It is but one more example of the church surrendering her jurisdiction in exchange for the protection of foreign princes. She has exchanged the birthright of her freedom for the porridge of a tax deduction.

    If Christians would simply exercise free association, and simply give to those who serve her without the need for a kickback from the State, she would not easily fall prey to foreign potentates. Why does the church feel compelled to seek legitimacy, from the hand of the State? Is her Lord’s hand not sufficiently strong?

    When those powers finally do attack, it will be in the form of unadulterated persecution, which will grant new life, growth and purity to the church. We should prepare for, rather than fear that day.

    We can follow the narrow path blazed by King Jesus and His ambassadors, or take the broad detour paved by Constantine and Augustine. One hurts now, the other later.

    I know these words seem strange, but please pray for the king’s enlightenment for all of us. I do not pretend to see all the traps our enemy has laid for us.

  • Gary Patton (@GaryFPatton)

    Right on Barry and Chris? Well said!

    David, I think our Brothers addressed correctly your feeling that the Ekklesia doesn’t need to “…stand for what is morally right”. In my opinion, the only exception would be to politely and non-judgementally make our New Covenant stand clear to someone who asks (1 Peter 3:15-18).

    Sometimes we Jesus Followers cling with clenched fists to this life and our so-called, but New Covenantally non-existent, rights in the Kingdom of the World.

    Boy, there’s going to be a lot of disappointed and upset Christians around North America when that strong persecution hits to which Chris refers …sooner rather than later if I “read the sky correctly”.

    Blessings all!

  • Bob Demyanovich

    The Word of God is accomplishing His purpose. Prayer becomes unity. How to walk is so fitting in this consideration as our living becomes praying.
    Mat 5:38-48, Rom 8:37, 2Cr 13:4, Eph 4:2-3

  • Robert Martin

    David, EXCELLENT post. Mixing politics with morality is never going to end well… especially when it blurs the lines between morality and rights issues.

    I’m with you… and I quote John Howard Yoder here… “Let the state be the state. But the church should, first and foremost, be the church.” Our secular government, as much as it may have (debatably) been founded with some Judeo-Christian principles, is not interested in establishing a moral code, it is interested in keeping order based upon what the people in the country ask of it. It’s simply doing what it is intended to do. It’s time for the church to wake up and do the same.

    • David D. Flowers

      Thanks, Robert! Yoder is always a breath of fresh air.

      • Robert Martin

        I find that, when we are tempted to try and bring the church into a power-over position with the state, it’s always helpful to remember Jesus’ words to Pilate: “My kingdom (kingship, royal power) belongs not to this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My followers would have been fighting to keep Me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, My kingdom is not from here (this world); [it has no such origin or source]” (Amplified version of John 18)

  • inorga

    Hi again David,

    Other points of focus aside, I do agree that the biggest way in which we can have a lasting and powerful effect on our country and culture is to live out the Christian walk as wholeheartedly and boldly as we are called to and have the impact of that change the world as we know it.

    It’s no accident that many things that are taken for granted by most people – like hospitals that care for the sick and dying and the social support system we have to care for the poor and underprivileged (imperfect as they are) – and the ideals they strive to uphold are the long-term result of Christian principles being infused into our society.

    Looking forward to future posts.

    Much love,

    David

  • z317mighty

    “All of this is happening because the church has failed to display the beauty of the covenant relationship between a man and woman, and because of her unwillingness to love neighbor and enemy alike.”

    “We’ve failed to protect marriage and our gay neighbor made in God’s image, therefore we’ve lost the right to speak”

    Amen and amen.

    I expressed similar views here, and got the same polarizing, but energized response.

    http://brandonchase.net/2013/07/03/a-plea-to-christians-shut-up-about-gay-marriage-and-abortion/

    The Church needs to be on mission via the Life and Love of Jesus, not wasting breath and energy in judgement.

    Bless you David.

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