(Tim) On Facebook, a friend and former CGSer has been discussing sodomy, marriage, divorce and the civil law with several friends who have said things like: "semantics is a cheap reason to deny a minority their civil rights. None of the many gay folk I know agree with the "semantics justification" for denial of marriage. Also, such a social mandate (YOU live by OUR rules) has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ--and everything to do with the teachings of the Pharisees."
Wanting to say a couple things, I pointed the conversationalists to this page and here's my own contribution to their dialog. Sorry I haven't linked things, but I wanted to get this up before all our guests arrive for Thanksgiving Dinner. If any of you want to add links, just post them in the comments.
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Sam, Scripture isn't just dogma; it's narrative. Descriptive isn't necessarily prescriptive. It can be, but with divorce, incest, polygamy, concubinage, etc. Scripture reveals both where it was that every culture got marriage and also the laws to which God bound all sexual intimacy.
So, for instance, when Jesus was asked a question similar to yours (but this one concerning divorce), He responded saying it wasn't that way from the beginning (Creation) and that God made male and female for each other for life with the two becoming one--not three, four, or a thousand (Matthew 19:3 ff.). So there's no inconsistency between the Old and New Testaments on this matter. The two, male and female, shall become one until, by God's decree, death parts us. (My dear wife and I are on our thirty-third year, now, and still chugging away in harmony and love, praise God!)
All Christians through all time have always spoken this truth...
It's a central dogma of the Christian faith.
God created woman for man because "it was not good for the man to be alone." Here's what actually, historically, undeniably, literally happened: "The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.' For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:22-25)."
Every wedding I've presided over has had this account read in the presence of the people as a witness to the universal law God has put at the heart of the life of this race Scripture names 'adam,' or 'man.'
So to be a Christian is to witness to God's law and purpose; it is to to love those who are opposing that law and purpose. Concerning marriage, for instance, whether their opposition is in principle, practice, or both, such love leads us to testify to our neighbors that God will not be mocked, and that the one who sows to his sinful nature will, from that sinful nature, reap destruction (Galatians 6:7,8).
It is the love of God that constrains us to love men and women given over to the lusts of their hearts, thus calling them to turn from destruction and be saved while there is yet time. God has not just decreed the laws binding all sexuality to His design, but He also decreed that, after death, He will judge every one of us with unerring discernment and justice (see every page of Scripture for this truth).
So again, as in the days of the Roman Empire when John the Baptist confronted the Roman ruler, Herod, over his incestuous relationship with his brother's wife and lost his head for his effort (Mark 6:18 ff.), followers of Jesus Christ today confront each other and unbelievers about sin, not just in the privacy of our churches but also in the public square (op-ed pages, blogs, and Facebook).
And it is from this love that the laws of the Western world have been written. Read any history of Common Law and you'll see the undeniable truth that our Western world has received freedom from laws and governments patterned after God's Word. Even the balance of power between the three branches of government at the heart of our own "Constitution" is bequeathed to us by the Bible's doctrine of the depravity of man since the Fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden. Given original sin (check out Blaise Pascal's "Pensees" on that theme), we must live with eyes wide open to the abuse of power that will always happen, writing into our laws controls for that abuse knowing Scripture is true when it declares, "The heart is deceitful and desperate wicked; who can know it (Jeremiah 17:9)."
The Christian has loved his neighbor and has sought to use our civil law to lead him away from sickness and poverty; from cruelty and oppression of his animals; from betrayal and abuse of his wife and children; from death and Hell.
This is not bigotry, but love. We don't desire our neighbor's destruction here in this life or eternally in Hell.
God-haters deny and defy God's law, seeking to use the laws of the civil authority to aid them in their rebellion and to enforce that rebellion on their neighbors (you will rent to fornicators or else). But theirs is a morality every bit as moralistic, dogmatic, and religious as Western Common Law or the laws against sodomy, pederasty, and bestiality Christians seek to pass and enforce. The difference is only what morality, what dogma and god we serve.
Pagans serve their god of creation and her creatures, dogmatizing her demands as they themselves have written them, trying by force of law to bind all consciences to her well-being as they, in their infinite wisdom, reveal it to us. (And I've lived long enough to know that the laws needed to protect nature are as changeable as the seasons.)
Christians serve the Only True God revealed in Jesus Christ, and we seek to bind all consciences, not to His worship, but to the minimal aspects of His revealed Law that alone will assure that our civil society is civil, and that it is a society.
These laws are not constraining, but they are the very definition of freedom. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. That's all, folks!
There are a few more, but many, many fewer than the pagan moralists trying to change the Western world to follow their own dogmas.
So the pagans throw out the big laws at the heart of the Common Law of the Western world, replacing them with an infinite number of little, petty, nursemaid, prissy, do-goody, narrow, dogmatic, religious theocratic laws all aimed at making every citizen bow to their gods. No smoking. Click it or ticket. No littering. Booster seats for older children. No watering lawns during the day. No breaking eggs of bald eagles. No does--only bucks. Shotguns only. Bows and arrows only. No spitting. No jaywalking. No cutting down this or that tree. Pick up your dog poop. Recycle. No batteries in your trash. Replace your catalytic converter.
Now, am I opposed to these laws? Are Christians wanting to leave dog poop in public parks and the right of way? Do we think patrons of restaurants and bars should have to eat their food with smoke up their noses? Do we want to break bald eagles' eggs and muck up lakes with our phosphates?
No, of course not. But place the laws we seek to defend and enforce next to those laws the pagans defend and enforce, and all the dogmatic convictions of the pagans become very clear. They desire to deny eternity, judgment, God, and His creation laws while enforcing their own tight, moralistic, dogmatic worldview with nature at its very center.
But what about nature's God? What about our wives and children? What about sodomy's victims who are dying for their sin? What about the victims of rape and incest? Why should we protect our citizenry from the loss of bald eagles but not from the loss of one human being murdered by sexual immorality committed with a man who, following intercourse, sneers at his prey, "Now you've got gay cancer!" (See the late Randy Shilts' "And the Band Played On.")
And what about the estimated 1,000,000,000 (that's one billion) children slaughtered in the womb worldwide during the past few decades as the necessary fruit of the pagan sacrament of unlimited sexual intercourse and its liturgical chant, "The inorgasmic life is not worth living?"
Yes, here's the best illustration of the utter hypocrisy of pagans as even the patriarch of the "Village Voice," Nat Hentoff, sees with perfect clarity. Yet he's a Jewish atheist who, for years, served on the board of the ACLU there in New York. Another one who sees it with perfect clarity is Ken Kesey, author of "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest," who said that abortion is the most awful karma of our time.
So you see, Christians want limited government. Christians believe in freedom, but not freedom to murder bodies, hearts, and souls through sexual immorality. And so we spend our time and votes seeking the temporal and eternal safety of our neighbors from the wrath of God and its consequences even today in the lives of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, neighbors, colleagues, and co-workers.
We'll give you your littering laws if you'll give us our laws punishing sexual immorality. We'll submit to your ban of the visual pollution of Boston Common by candy wrappers and soft drink cups if you'll submit to our ban of the moral, financial, public health, and spiritual pollution of every bath house, hotel, dorm room, YMCA, park bathroom, airport restroom, sibling relationship, home, and family caused by men lusting after anyone other than their spouse, committing what is an abomination in the sight of our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we'll consider your laws love for your neighbor as long as you acknowledge the clear truth that ours is love for neighbor, too.
Quite reasonable, aren't we?