"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15
A tale of two Christians
There are perhaps hundreds of examples (or even thousands or even hundreds of thousands) of when two Christians come to a different conclusion on the same topic. Some of these differences could be as simple as disagreeing on who wrote the book of Hebrews, or something as complicated as the creation account in Genesis. Having been in the apologetics game for a little over two years, I have had my share of disagreements with Christians on some theological matters.
Over the last two months we have had the ability to literally watch this unfold on national TV. It was so subtle, that I doubt many of you tied these two events together to compare and contrast these two Christians.
What am I talking about?
About two weeks ago, President Obama, declared to the world that, based on his understanding of his faith, he believes homosexuals should be allowed to get married Here’s exactly what he said:
And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others.
But, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president.
Compare and contrast this to Kirk Cameron, who stated the following when asked about same-sex marriage:
I believe that marriage was defined by God a long time ago. Marriage is almost as old as dirt and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve: one man one woman for life – ah till death do you part. So, I would never attempt to redefine marriage and I don’t think that anyone else should either. So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No I don’t.
Could there be a sharper contrast between two people when it comes to applying their faith?
One Christian is saying that same-sex marriage is okay because the Golden Rule says to treat others the way you would want to be treated, while the other affirms that marriage is defined by God, and is between one man and one woman.
These are mutually exclusive ideas, so one has to be right and the other wrong. How are we to gauge which one is correct? Since both claim to be Christians and because the Christian faith is rooted in the Bible we should look to what the it has to say about the topic, right? Additionally, we have to assume that both hold the Bible to have some sort of authority, since both quoted it.
According to scripture (Specifically Acts 17:11) we should be like the Bereans and test everything that is taught against scripture. Based on that, we have 3 specific points that we must review in order to come to an educated conclusion about these two different viewpoints: 1. What does the Bible say about homosexuality; 2. How does the Bible define marriage?, 3. What does the Golden Rule mean?
So what does the Bible say about Homosexuality? How does it describe God’s thoughts on it?
Lev. 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”
Lev. 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act”
1 Cor. 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Rom. 1:26-28, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”
So here we have two examples, two from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament. All provide a clear example of what God thinks about homosexuality. Please understand that I am not passing judgment on those that are homosexual. This is God’s Word. God’s Word is pretty clear. Homosexuality is a sin, an abomination, and a detestable act. There doesn’t appear to be any gray in this area.
How does the Bible define marriage?
There are several (and when I say several I mean numerous) Bible verses that speak directly to marriage. A quick sampling includes Genesis 2:22 – 24, Proverbs 5:18-19, Proverbs 12:4, Matthew 19:4-6, 1 Corinthians 7:1-16, Ephesians 5:22-23, and Colossians 3:18-19.
The one that really sticks out is Hebrews 13:4 where the author writes “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
According to the author marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure. God will judge those that do not keep it pure. This includes those that are adulterers and the sexually immoral. Adulterer is a fairly well defined and specific term. Sexually immoral however, appears to be more general or a more encompassing phrase. What does it refer to? In the New Testament it typically refers to any sexual sin. This would include homosexuality. Here the Bible appears to be very clear that all must honor marriage (clearly defined as man and woman throughout the Bible) and to keep the marriage bed pure (excluding all sexual sin including homosexuality).
What about the Golden Rule?
This verse can be found in Matthew 7:12. A basic summation of the Golden Rule is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is exactly as the President stated. But what does it mean? I found a great explanation of this in a commentary written by Matthew Henry. From the golden rule we can derive 3 things: 1. We must do that to our neighbor which we ourselves acknowledge to be fit and reasonable; 2. We must put other people upon the level with ourselves; 3. We must, in our dealings with others, suppose ourselves in the same particular case and circumstances with those we have to do with and deal accordingly.
So what does all of this mean?
As Christians we are called to obey the word of God. The Bible is considered the word of God thus we are called to obey it in its entirety. This means that a Christian’s response to gay marriage must encompass all of the above, and not just one component.
It is clear from the scripture above that God considers homosexuality a sin. It is also clear that marriage was designed by God to be a covenant relationship between a man and a woman for a lifetime. We are also called to treat others the same way that we would want to be treated. However, the way that Obama uses the Golden Rule redefines it in a way that basically says “I wouldn’t want someone else to tell me not to get married so I can’t tell someone else that they cannot get married”. The use of the Golden Rule in this manner opens a Pandora’s box. One could simply replace the “get married” with anything they like and the Golden Rule would apply (I wouldn’t want someone to tell me not to sell drugs to kids, so I don’t think drug trafficking should be illegal). I’m sure that President is a bright guy, but this line of “logic” is obviously absurd.
Where the Golden Rule does apply is in how we deal with those who are homosexual and support gay marriage. We are to treat them with the same respect that we would want to be treated. We would share a kind word with them in the same manner that we would like to have others share with us. We would help them when they need help, be there for them when they need it…the list goes on. Part of this includes loving them enough to tell them when they are doing something wrong. This would be similar to a loving parent telling their child that what they are doing is wrong and they will get hurt if they continue to do it.
You see, it takes no love at all to condemn someone through silence or endorsement of something that is not good for them. In the same way that silence can kill someone who is addicted to drugs, an open endorsement of something that is clearly wrong and sinful can be emotionally, physically and spiritually destructive. That takes absolute love and the absolute application of the Golden Rule to tell someone that their choices are putting them in danger (see the Omega Study for empirical evidence as to why we are calling homosexuality and same-sex marriage “dangerous” – and that’s even ignoring the spiritual aspects of the issue). The application of the Golden Rule here: I would want/expect my friends and loved ones to tell me when I am doing something wrong, thus I would tell my friends and loved ones when they are doing something wrong. The key here is to do it in a way that is loving and caring. In this context a Christian who says to a homosexual, “I love you and I want what’s best for you… The lifestyle you have chosen is patently dangerous and because what you are doing goes directly against the Word of God, it is a sin…” demonstrates more love for that individual than the person who says “Do whatever makes you feel good…it’s all okay.” The ability to stand in front of someone and state the truth is pure love and is the ultimate application of the Golden Rule.
We are not saying definitively that President Obama has rejected the Christian faith in its entirety – Whether the President is an evangelical Christian is a discussion for another time. Specifically, in this post, we are simply pointing out that the logic behind his use of scripture as justification for affirming same-sex marriage is ignorant and misguidedly faulty at best and dangerously deceitful and manipulative at worst.