Scripture Prohibits a Woman’s Right to Vote and Civil Rights to Homosexuals?

 

Earlier this year, Blood Stained Ink (BSI) asked, Are Women Second Class Citizens in America? This post briefly provided statistics regarding the number of women elected to the US Congress, as compared to women elected to legislatures around the world. That got me thinking about I Timothy 2 and Empire.

I Timothy 2:11-15 A wife should learn quietly with complete submission. I don’t allow a wife to teach or to control her husband. Instead, she should be a quiet listener. Adam was formed first, and then Eve. Adam wasn’t deceived, but rather his wife became the one who stepped over the line because she was completely deceived. But a wife will be brought safely through giving birth to their children, if they both continue in faith, love, and holiness, together with self-control.

When America was debating the merits of women’s suffrage in the early 20th century, pastors often cited Genesis 1-2 and I Timothy 2 as grounds for denying the right to vote for women. Take a look at this quote from the Council of Congregationalist Ministers of Massachusetts.

The appropriate duties and influence of woman are stated in the New Testament…. The power of woman is in her dependence, flowing from the consciousness of the weakness which God has given her for her protection…. When she assumes the place and tone of man as a public reformer… she yields the power which God has given her… and her character becomes unnatural.

Likewise, consider Rev. Justin Fulton’s, 1869, statement,

Who demand the ballot for woman? They are not the lovers of God, nor are they believers in Christ, as a class. There may be exceptions, but the majority prefer an infidel’s cheer to the favor of God and the love of the Christian community. It is because of this tendency that the majority of those who contend for the ballot for woman cut loose from the legislation of Heaven, from the enjoyments of home, and drift to infidelity and ruin.

While their arguments sound absurd to event he most conservative Evangelical, these were mainstream Evangelical arguments in their day. It is easy in our context, culture and time to deny the power of these arguments, but that was not the case in the early 20th century. What this shift exposes is the power of history and culture upon our imaginations as we seek to interpret and implement scripture. It also exposes our relative ignorance for how these forces are at play upon us in the present time. In other words, were Christians truly following the logic of scripture in denying female suffrage in the early 20th century, or were they picking up the biblical language to use it within the defense of a long standing cultural preference? Woman’s suffrage may no longer be the Continental Divide of biblical exegesis today, but the cultural struggle for civil rights among homosexuals is certainly the new center for exegetical wars.

I don’t agree with those that want to interpret scripture in such a fashion as to deny the clarity of the sexual ethic for the people of God, so I would side with those that see scripture requiring all sexual activity to be confined within in the covenant of marriage. Nevertheless, moral injunctions for those that follow Christ are not the same thing as civil rights.

Does scripture require us to deny a hospital visit between two people at the end of life? Does scripture require us to deny housing, employment or other civil economic opportunities to people caught up in a particular sin? Does scripture require us to enact laws to make Christian morality the norm for all in society? Does scripture require us to deny the ability to cover loved ones on health insurance policies?

Is your visceral reaction against a discussion of civil rights stemming from a scriptural mandate or is it the product of culture preferences? How can you distinguish your position on this matter with any more certainty than those that wanted to deny woman’s suffrage in the early 20th century? How do you know?

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32 Responses to Scripture Prohibits a Woman’s Right to Vote and Civil Rights to Homosexuals?

  1. Mark Notestine says:

    Arguements for denying women the right to vote seem to be inappropriately mixing the City of God with the City of Man. I would also tend to agree that we cannot legislate morality on unbelievers in all areas. But the two complications I see are: 1. Where is the border? “Do not kill” is also legislating Biblical morality too. There is inevitably a legislating of morality but no clear border between civil society and theocracy. 2.Equilibrium is almost impossible; things will either slide to legislation of Christian morality or the criminalization of Christian morality. (We are heading for the second right now)

    • So here’s the thing that immediately came to mind as I read your comment. As a Reformed Christian, I presume that you would argue that the Law functioned primarily as a means of proving to the people that they could not be truly moral/holy. If that is true, than why would we expect legislation to work in the United States, when it didn’t even work in Israel (the only nation ever truly called by YHWH)?

      Second thought. What’s the worst thing that could/would happen if Christian morality were criminalized? Persecution of believers …? If that’s the case, is that not exactly what letters such as 2 Peter promise will happen? It seems to me that a good portion of our Christian energy is often directed at preserving our safety (and the safety of our children), when our temporal safety seems to be, at best, a secondary concern for YHWH.

      • Mark Notestine says:

        I would agree with you that the Law functions primarily to show people their sin. Secondarily, when followed by a society, even imperfectly, it generally increases the general welfare (perhaps an aspect of common grace).

        I would not expect the legislation to work in every aspect of Christian morals since I mentioned we cannot legislate morality to unbelievers.

        One point is that an equilibrium cannot be maintained. A society’s laws can become generally more Christian (transition of pagan Europe into so-called Christian Europe) or generally less Christian (western society in the last generation or two). These are generalities, I know there are exceptions in specific aspects of morality, for example slavery.

        Another point is that societies must implement some aspects of Christian morality (do not steal, do not murder, etc.) otherwise there is only anarchy. The question comes down to what aspects are acceptable/feasible and which are not. Legislating sexual morality, abortion and temperance are good examples of where those laws cannot work because individuals in our society do not generally adhere to them. I am not advocating these laws; if probhibition was brought back I would be one of the first to visit a speakeasy for a good glass of wine.

        I agree with your second thought and I believe that is the way things are going.

    • I would suggest that we don’t truly legislate morality, even in the case of murder, but we do sufficiently regulate our behaviors for he common good (economics). Given the secular state and its need to legislate for the common good I don’t think morality, in the classical, Christian sense of that term, comes to bare in our society today.

      • Mark Notestine says:

        I agree. In society people do not murder or steal generally because of the fear of temporal consequences from the authorities.

        The way I see Christian morality come into play today is that we are living on borrowed capital from the past where Christian morality claimed a stronger hold on Western civilization. I would argue this Christian influence is the reason Western civilization (Europe and America) is the way it is with concepts of freedom and rights that do not exist to the same extent in Islamic or Asian cultures.

  2. Mark Notestine says:

    My comments are not well formed since I am doing this on my phone at lunch.

    As a different take/tangent, I am not convinced that universal sufferage is always a good thing, and I am not talking just men vs women. Too many people can vote themselves benefits without responsibility.

    The Greek democracies only allowed a subset of society to vote in full citizens (land owning males). The thought was that they had “skin in the game” and had a better vested interest in the well being of the city. They also had the responsibility to be soldiers, not the poor (opposite of today).

    In the Roman Republic everyone could “vote” but they voted in blocks of people that skewed toward the rich land owners. The land owners were also the ones expected to fight, not the poor. The Roman Revolution destroyed all this.

    I am not saying adopt these ideas exactly but there is a wisdom in giving authority to those who can handle it better, but the responsibility to clean up the mess of bad decisions needs to go hand in hand.

    • Not a criticism…I know you were at lunch, but I was expecting more historical, cultural Roman insights here. Tell us, how did Rome deal with the issue of same sex, sex? How did the early church deal with that cultural reality. In our post-Christian culture we are more like Rome than unlike Rome.

      • Mark Notestine says:

        Off the top of my head so it may not be as organized as it could be….

        **Graphic Content Below Warning!!!!!***

        I would argue that the Roman society around the early Church inherited its views of homosexuality from the Greeks during its expansion outside the Italian peninsula during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC (perhaps earlier since there were Greek contacts back into the pre-Republic period). Before the 3rd century BC Roman society generally was frugal, stern, non-materialistic, family oriented. Loyalty, frugality, sternness and faithfulness to the state was the greatest virtue (severitas) in the early Republic.

        Roman/Greek aristocratic society was very open to all types of sexual mores. Man-woman, man-man, man-boy, etc. Slaves were a commonly bought for these purposes.

        Even though they had an almost anything goes attitudue there are a couple of limiting factors they put in place:
        1. The older partner in a homosexual relationship (see the explanation below) was expected to only be the dominant partner. If the older partner became the submissive partner then you had a scandal.
        2. Sexuality in all its forms was expected to be done in moderation for maximum health. Too much and you would get sick by losing all your vital fluids. Too little and you would get sick because of all the stuff building up in your body.

        Sex was displayed everywhere and prostitution was very common. Look at non-censored pictures of the wall art in Pompeii. The exploits of the imperial families (written mainly in Suetonius) are truly shocking. Also think of the cult of Aphrodite. A lot of this behavior actually caused people to marry later, not marry and/or have fewer children.

        Augustus was horrified by all of this behavior and how and its effects on reducing the available male population for the army and government. Augustus tried to put “family values” legislation in place to encourage the birth of more children through tax breaks and inheritence laws. Of course he had to banish his own daughter for violating these “family values.”

        Asectics (Christian and Pagan) were look upon with suspicion.

        Homosexual relationships were temporary and did NOT replace traditional marriage. The idea of gay marriage was a FOREIGN concept to the Romans/Greeks. The idea of long term monogomous homosexual relationships was also a FOREIGN concept. The way homosexuality was practiced in the ancient world would offend even the most gay-friendly liberals today.

        Homosexual relationships were mainly a grown man with a teenage boy. For example a Greek aristocrat would seduce a teenager with the consent of the teenagers parents; all this while being married to a woman. They would enter a relationship with the adult as the dominant partner (no equal relationships here) until the boy reached manhood. Then the relationship ended, the teenager (now young man) would marry have children. The older man would move on to new boys and the young man might carry on the tradition with the next generation of young boys. Or Romans would simply by young men as slaves for these purposes. Rather shocking.

        This behavior was not necesarily universally accepted. There was a Greek king who wrote about the deaths of soldiers in the Theban Sacred Band (a division of 300 soldiers / 150 man-man couples). The king defended their homosexual behavior and said they did nothing wrong. The implication is that the king would not need to defend the behavior if is was universally accepted.

        Also the average subsistence farmer would have no time for all of this nonsense; only aristocrats with too much time on their hands.

        I would see the Christian church dealing with this in the way that Paul wrote to the Corinthians. Have no part in it but marry to avoid burning in passion.

        I have not read other early Christian writings that have directly dealt with this issue from what I can remember. Augustine may have dealt with it in his critique of pagan culture but I cannot remember it except his ridicule of the promiscuousness of the gods and showing how they were hypocrites for forbidding humans from certain behaviors while engaging in them.

        • Good stuff. Thank you.

          It would appear that even our understanding of same sex, sex (even if approving of it) is very culturally driven. A book I recently read made the argument that “homosexuality” as an individualistic issue of identity is largely a modernist, western invention. Like you said, the act was the focus in the ancient world not the identity piece.

          In light of the historical sketch above and the relative silence (compared with conservative Evangelical political activists) of the early church on these social matters (as opposed to moral matters for the people of the church), it seems to highlight some of the point I was driving at in the post. Our cultural situation drives much of our interoperation/cultural application of scripture. What is the ancient, Christian equivalent to the Chick-fil-A protest?

          So, can we use history and an awareness of culture’s influence upon our interpretation of scripture to create a space we can step back into to ask the questions posed above? I obviously think so. Can we use that space to slow down the cultural pace, contemplate and thoughtfully engage the culture? I obviously think so.

          • Mark Notestine says:

            “the act was the focus in the ancient world not the identity piece” is a very good summary of it. The current “gay identity” is a modern innovation.

            As far as the relative silence it is hard to say since arguements from silence can be problematic. I would think the early believers had as strong opinions on sexual morality as the conservative do today.

            The situation was the opposite of today in that the early Church they were the Christian revolutionaries in a pagan tradition, today we live in a society where pagan revolutionaries are overtaking the Christian tradition.

            Perhaps you can make an odd parallel between the modern Christian political activists and the ancient pagan traditionalists wrote bitterly attacked the Chruch (I think Celsius was one…I am forgetting the names of the ancient pagan polemists).

            So instead of asking what is the ancient Christian equivalent of the Chick-fil-A protests, a better question might be what was the ancient pagan equivalent of the Chick-fil-A protests? Perhaps meat sacrificed to idols???

            (Although I see the current Chick-fil-A protests were started by the modern pagans and the Christian behavior was a reaction to a fight the modern pagans started.)

          • Mark (from your comment below) …

            While I agree that arguments from silence are dangerous footing, I do think that sense of how Christians engaged culture can be gleaned from other topics. Take for instance the issue of abortion and the issue of preventing conception. From as early on as the Didache (generally considered to be the first post-Apostolic literature), Christians are writing against the practices of culture that they find abhorent. I’ll be tracing this in an upcoming post this Wednesday, but for now, suffice to say that Christians did engage cultural practices in their writings. So why don’t we see much via way of homosexuality, pedestry, etc…? Any thoughts?

          • Mark Notestine says:

            Ryan,

            My comment on the Didache was more specifically to Scott’s question, which admittedly was somewhat diverting from the original topic of your post.

            You said, “early church engaged the dominant powers through political power on these issues.” I would argue that the early Church did not engage with the cultural authorities in this way because they could not. They were a “novel superstition” that did not infiltrate into the ruling aristocracy and was sometimes persecuted (Nero, Marcus Aurelius, Trajan Decius, Dioletian/Galerius).

            It was not until Constantine that Christians began to have significant influence (along with false believers who saw Christianity as the path to advancement) but even then they were still a minority. It took probably a century more until Christianity could claim majority status within the population or ruling elites (the Senate in Rome being a notable pagan holdout). By that time Theodosius was putting laws in place that engaged political power, such as removing the pagan status of victory from the Roman senate and perhaps banning pagan sacrifices.

            Later by the time of Justinian (527-565) Christianity had a thorough hold on the empire and enacted laws forbidding homosexuality, pagan sacrifices, closing the Socratic school in Athens, etc.

            So it seems that when Christianity gains a dominant pluratity or majority of power then it “[engages] the dominant powers through political power on these issues.” So it is not unique to our time.

            There is a danger in each time of “evangelicals” aligning with the dominant culture in that they begin to be diluted INTERNALLY by false believers (path to advancement in Rome, cultural conservatives in the church who have not been regenerated).

            It also leads to it being dilted by EXTERNAL forces, such as in the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) agreement. In order to gain politial power that agreement glossed over the issue of justification in that it said “saved through faith by grace” but did not include “ALONE” which becomes a denial of what the Reformation fought for.

          • @Mark…Thank you and Scott for the lovely stroll through the roses bushes, but let’s get back to business. I understand the dynamic of Christian power in the Constantinian world, and that is why I asked about the early church. BTW, how did that whole legislating of Christianity and bringing about the KOG through political coercion turn out for the Church during those days? Why, in a post-Constintinian world, are we trying to repeat the old playbook?

        • Mark Notestine says:

          Scott,

          I reread 7 translations of the Didache and I have to change my view on the relative silence on homosexuality. I saw the prohibitions against abortion, infant murder, etc. But before that I saw the Didache prohibitions against sexual sins. I do not think the Didache is relatively silent on the matter but rather very explicit in its condemnation of homosexuality, just as strong, if not stronger as the prohibitions against abortion (the homosexual prohibitions come before those against abortion).

          In Chapter 2 / Second Commandment there are the following prohibitions near the beginning:
          – probhibition against “adultery” (7 of 7 translations)
          – probhibition against “fornication” (6 of 7 translations, the 7th prohibits “unlawful sex”)

          Directly IN BETWEEN these two aforementioned probitions is another prohibition translated in the following ways:
          “sodomy” (2 translations)
          “not sodomize young boys”
          “not corrupt youth”
          “not seduce boys”
          “not corrupt boys”
          “not commit pedastry”

          This “sodomy” prohibition condemns directly the DOMINANT FORM of homosexual practice in the ancient world, grown man with young boy (see my comment above). The other forms of homosexual behavior could perhaps be caught under “adultery” and “fornication”

          So I would argue in this document that we do clearly see condemnations of homosexuality / pedastry just as prominant as abortion, etc.

          • My post explicitly says there IS a sexual ethic for the people ofGod, but I am raising the question about what we do about that in the broader culture. It does not appear that the early church engaged the dominant powers through political power on these issues. True, they were not a democracy, but is Evangelicalism aligning itself too closely with the dominant culture when it uses the cultural forms (voting, ect.) to push a moral agenda?

            Moreover, why is Evangelicalism so focused on that moral issue, through the law, and not divorce, adultey, fornication or others? Is it the culture or scripture at work?

          • taizegoose says:

            Mark,

            We can’t see condemnation of homosexuality in dogmatic/didactic texts because the ones who gave us those texts didn’t conceive of any such notion. The six phrases you posted correspond to sexual abuse of a minor as modern legal systems would identify them. Adult male abuse of power, power over children, is the express concern noted in the Didache. Those practices were completely foreign to Jewish cultural norms; the early church inherited the same norms.

            Also, it may be helpful to note that the words sodomy and sodomise were created some 1000 years ago. They’ve been anachronistically read, with modern connotational aversions applied to them, back into older texts.

            The early church was not silent on what it understood to be the abuse of children by adults. The early church did not pronounce on homosexuality. For too long Holy Scripture has been misused in this regard; we must guard against subjecting the Didache to the same misuse.

          • Thanks for stopping by to comment, and I am hopeful we can engage in friendly conversation about our disagreement here. Please do read anything I write in the most generous fashion and please know I will do that for you regardless.

            I am familiar with the passages you are referencing, and I have read scholarly literature that offers a similar interpretation. Let me conceded that these interpretations have something to offer, and I don’t believe your interpretations are unreasonable or implausible. However, I don’t necessarily agree.

            Before I explain my disagreement I’d like to know more about your position. In particular, I’d like to understand how you fit Romans 1 into the interpretive grid you, and others, have established with the other passages you have referenced.

        • Mark Notestine says:

          I cannot speak to the rest of the ancient Christian literature right now (that would be a LOT of reading) but the Didache would seem to be relatively more authoritative because of its early date.

  3. Carrot says:

    I like being able to vote. I like being able to drive a car without my husband’s permission. I enjoyed my time in college. While I didn’t like every job I ever had, I did like knowing that I could provide for myself and family if it came down to it. The idea that now we’ve got in-office politicians that think the whole thing was a bad idea is alarming to not only me personally, but to civilization. We condemn countries where women are property and killed for things such as honor (a mystery to me why men aren’t strong enough to carry their own honor), yet here we dance the prelude of doing the same thing.

    Denying someone else a freedom you have on the grounds of anything is preposterous. I don’t think there are words in the English language that describes my contempt for people who stare blankly at me and repeat poorly cobbled “logic” on why you cannot draw comparisons between freeing the slaves, giving women the vote, and desegregation to gay rights.

    I have a hard time believing the bible should be used to support any political argument. It also tells me not to eat shellfish, not to wear garments of blended fibers, and live in a tent while menstruating. Yeah. Don’t think so. If we’re going to pick and choose those rules to live by, why pick ones that prevent people from being able to live freely? I don’t think they’ll be removing shrimp or lobster from any black-tie conservative political dinner any time soon.

    The idea that you cannot have pork because it infringes upon my religious freedom? The idea that you cannot have a beer at the 4th of July bbq because it infringes upon my religious freedom? You cannot enjoy the same legal rights that I do because you possessing freedom infringes upon my personal freedom?

    Assinine. A thousand and a thousand times more. No freedom granted to any human removed a freedom from another, save the freedom to oppress, to control, to own, or to abuse.

    • Carrot, Thanks for stopping by to read and taking the time to comment. Your comment about scripture being used in a political context was interesting to me.

      Many of the writings in scripture speak very directly to political issues. The birth narrative of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew, as understood in its original context, was nothing short of a shot over the bow of Caesar Augustus’ imperial power. Jesus’ commanded to his disciples, regarding their rule in the “new polis,” ekklesia (a Roman political institution we later translated – church), was that they should not adopt the hierarchy and power structures that the Romans used, leading to injustice. I could go on and on with examples.

      This rather politically subversive literature was used in the fight for civil rights in the 1960’s. It was used to argue against slaveholding in the 19th century in America and Britain. Post-colonial cultures have used it to over throw incredibly unjust powers and systems of oppression. It is still used to argue for the moral necessity for feeing the poor, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoner, ect.

      The Bible is a story. It is God’s story of creation and love towards humanity, but our failure to live selflessly. It is a story of His radical concern for the broken world swimming in injustice. So radical was His commitment that he came as a man to suffer as we do. He came to die as we die. But his death resulted in resurrection or triumph over sin and death. It is a story of hope for all that want to claim him and his work. If we are united to him and his work we will suffer as he suffered, work to overthrow injustice as he did and put our hope in his promise to at some final point bring an end to all corrupt and unjust systems of human government, re-establishing the peace our world so desperately seeks. In the end, scripture declares that Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not, and we are either with Caesar or Jesus. Scripture is inherently political.

      • Carrot says:

        I always read, even if I don’t understand the commentary regarding local church politics. And some days I have narry a witty thing to say.

        It might have been used for reason to overthrow unjust systems, but its also been used to uphold them. A divine right or manifest destiny if you will, meaning that there will a slave class of some flavor or another. Interpretation, it seems is in the mind of the beholder. Do we free the slaves, or do we keep them where they are for their own good since they clearly aren’t smart enough or civilized enough to take care of themselves?

        While is has been the champion of feeding the poor and tending to the sick in the past, I don’t see much of that usage now. Perhaps when politicians spend more time working to eliminate poverty and to make sure everyone has access to health care and equal representation before a law (a secular law that governs a people of a multitude of different beliefs) than they do in trying to legislate the female reproductive tract, then I’ll believe they’re actually promoting a Christian message.

  4. lamehousewife says:

    Mmmm…I don’t know quite how to respond to this. I am just coming up with a lot of questions. Should we as Christians work toward making laws that are just or not, is that what you are asking? Is there a point when we should be changing civil laws to make them more…civil? What does that mean? Should we just sit on Christianity like it is an island and not try to share the Good News? Should we be desiring to be persecuted by giving into the destruction of all healthy boundaries or should we be trying to share the Good News of redemption? Now if a law is an unjust law, it really is not a law at all, as Augustine would say. What should a Christian support? I think why I am having trouble finding answers to the questions you set forth is that you are comparing a woman’s right to vote to the acceptance of homosexual marriage. Did I understand that right? Should I feel insulted? The only thing that I can see that relates is that question of a soul is coming back into the game…sort of. But it’s not from the Christian side. Now, it is not a question of whether or not women have souls, but “do human beings have souls, all of us? Does it matter what God says if we don’t have souls? Why can’t we make laws that undefine marriage since we don’t believe there really is any sort of true justice and authentic Truth anywhere in anything? God is a relative term. He means what I want Him to mean. If He doesn’t do as I say, then I will say I don’t believe in Him.”
    Thanks for the question-provoking post! God bless, brothers…

    • So what I’m about to say is probably going to sound really condescending. Please don’t take it that way. I’m honestly talking about my journey, not yours. 🙂

      For me, asking a lot of questions was the beginning of my journey towards reconciling faith and doubt. My church background was so rigid on so many of the non-essentials, that I didn’t know how to distinguish between the core and the peripherals. I just assumed that everything was absolutely vital.

      All that to say, it made me smile when you said that the post raised a host of questions. In my humble opinion, questions are the cornerstone of a ever-deepening journey towards God, because if He is who He says He is, then He is the Great Answer. And my questions don’t push me further away from Him, they draw me to Him.

      Thanks for stopping by, friend.

      • lamehousewife says:

        My questions have never led me further from God either. He usually answers the tough ones I give Him:)

    • My point is exegetical, hermeneutical and cultural. I want, firstly, to alert us to HOW we read scripture. Particularly, I wanted to raise the issue of cultural influence (unbeknownst to us) upon our reading.

      I do think there is a parallel, in spite of the fact that there is no sin involved with being a woman, insert gender in-sentive joke here. Maybe a better question is…would we, Christians, deny civil rights for someone that commits adultery, fornication or self-amusment? Why do we single out homosexuality as a sin that receives the legislative spot light? Is that scripture working on us or the culture?

      FYI – please note I mentioned the word marriage no where in the piece. That was not unintentional.

      Also, note the intentionality of ending the post with questions rather than statements. At times we posse questions as ways of making strong statements in softer ways. In this instance, I am asking questions. I don’t have my thinking worked out a head of time on this one. The cultural challenge of homosexuality is too new for any Christian to claim to have it all worked out, regarding how the sexual ethics of scripture work themselves out into culture.

      • lamehousewife says:

        I am sorry I assumed, so what civil rights were you referring to? I am pretty sure the health insurance rights are already available, as are the other ones listed. I don’t believe homosexuality is the only “sin” or issue in the spotlight right now. I also don’t think it is a new issue. Cultures of the past had homosexuality as a very important part of their culture. I guess my confusion with your article is coming from the question of Scripture. Are you asking should Scripture define a culture? Or are you saying that culture is defining Scripture? Or are you wondering if people are reading Scripture according to the culture?
        I think many of these questions on Christian sexual ethics have been answered. Have you read Theology of the Body? It is lovely! God bless…

  5. I am reading Michael Horton’s “The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way” for my Sys. Theo I class at the conservative Evangelical school TIU. I found his introduction to sys. theo. quite good, so I went in search on the net for his blog. He has one called White Horse Inn. He is part of what he posted on this present topic of discussion…Mark pay attention because he is one of your Reformed, Calvinistic brothers…

    The challenge there is that two Christians who hold the same beliefs about marriage as Christians may appeal to neighbor-love to support or to oppose legalization of same-sex marriage.

    On one hand, it may be said that if we can no longer say that “Judeo-Christian” ethics are part of our shared worldview as a republic, then the ban seems arbitrary. Why isn’t there a campaign being waged to ban providing legal benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples? Or to make divorce more difficult? It just seems more symbolic than anything else: it looks like our last-gasp effort to enforce our own private morality on the public.

    On the other hand, we might argue that every civilization at its height, regardless of religion, has not only privileged marriage of one man and one woman but has outlawed alternative arrangements. Same-sex marriage means adoption, which subjects other human beings to a parental relationship that they did not choose for themselves. Are we loving our LGBT neighbors—or their adopted children—or the wider society of neighbors by accommodating a move that will further destroy the fabric of society?

    I take the second view, but I recognize the former as wrestling as much as I’m trying to with the neighbor-love question. Legal benefits (“partnerships”) at least allowed a distinction between a contractual relationship and the covenant of marriage. However, the only improvement that “marriage” brings is social approval—treating homosexaul and heterosexual unions as equal. Although a contractual relationship denies God’s will for human dignity, I could affirm domestic partnerships as a way of protecting people’s legal and economic security. However, the “marriage card” is the demand for something that simply cannot consist in a same-sex relationship. Human love is defined not by a feeling, shared history, or animal attraction, but by something objective, something that measures us—namely, God’s moral law. To affirm this while concluding that it’s good for Christians but not for the rest of us seems to me to conclude that this law is not natural and universal, rooted in creation, and/or that we only love our Christian neighbors.

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