Several people have sent me this list entitled 40 Questions For Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags. It was written by a pastor by the name of Kevin DeYoung, in a post in which he expresses his sadness about the new Supreme Court decision. His questions were aimed at people like myself who are Christ-followers who are affirming of same-sex relationships. I think it’s always a good idea to question… well, everything… and to take a step back and examine and re-examine why you hold the beliefs you hold. So I decided to answer them.
It was pointed out to me that I was rude and unkind in my last post, so I did my best to answer the questions with care and consideration. I don’t know Mr DeYoung, so my answers are not aimed at him, but at the thoughts/ideas/beliefs he’s presented here.
And finally, I’m leaving comments turned off on this post right from the start. I don’t want to host unkindness and attacks aimed at each other on my page again.
Here then are his 40 questions, along with my response.
1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?
Twenty years ago I would have (emphatically, I might add) agreed with this author. Sometime between then and now God worked on my heart and something changed… first to, “Okay, it’s a sin, but if they’re not hurting anybody, why all the fuss?”; and eventually, “Why shouldn’t a committed gay couple be afforded all the same rights and recognition as its heterosexual counterpart?”
2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?
If anything, it was a lack of scripture supporting the church’s stance on homosexuality that first prompted me to look deeper. Despite the divisive, grandstanding issue this has become, the Bible barely mentions it, and Jesus himself didn’t mention it even once.
3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?
The issue at hand is marriage, not sex. It’s disingenuous (and quite honestly, a little creepy) to spin it into “celebrating sexual activity”. Marriage is about love and commitment. It’s about companionship and friendship. Making decisions together, building a home together, going through life together, raising children together if you so choose. When you look at the years and days and hours that go into a marriage, sexual activity makes up such a minuscule portion that it’s insulting to use it as a defining factor. So, to answer the question, I’m not celebrating anyone’s sexual activity, gay or straight.
4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?
The Bible is full of scriptures on how to conduct yourself as a Christian (therefore depicting Christ and the church) including but obviously not limited to John 13:34 – “Love one another as I have loved you.” There are no qualifiers or disclaimers that tell us it’s only possible if we’re not gay.
5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?
6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?
Because he was speaking to heterosexual Jewish men and rebuking them for their divorce practices. Context matters. If his statements were meant to pronounce one man/one women as the only acceptable marriage combination at that time, why would polygamy be permitted and blessed by the Jewish people (and by God) throughout the Old Testament and into the first century AD?
7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?
Porneia is a broad term that can refer to many types of sexual immorality: adultery, incest, rape, bestiality….
8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?
The societal climate at the time Paul made the address in question was one in which there was rampant abhorrent and deviant sexual behavior, including predatory, coercive, non-consenting sex between men and prostitutes and slaves, and grown men and boys. That was the behavior that Paul was addressing. It isn’t at all applicable to a committed, consensual relationship between two adults.
9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?
I believe Ephesians 2:8 when it says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”. But okay. A word for “homosexuality” as we know it did not exist in that time. Where that translation is made in 1 Corinthians 6:9 it refers specifically to two words: malakos, and arsenokoites. When taken in context, they most likely refer to the victim and the perpetrator of sexual violence… again, rape, pedophilia, forced prostitution, etc. I’m pretty sure we can all agree those are wrong. Revelation 21:8 deals with “the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars”…. any of which are forgiven of repentant people who choose to accept the free gift of salvation by grace through faith.
10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?
See question nine.
11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?
That’s a pretty loaded question. I certainly don’t claim to understand things that those people failed to grasp.
12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?
Another loaded question. I wouldn’t. I believe my job as a follower of Christ is to 1) continually seek out who He was and what he wanted from me here on this earth, and 2) live out that faith to the best of my ability… not to argue and explain to others why my understanding is more “correct” than theirs.
13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?
I wouldn’t even begin to make assumptions about someone else’s motivations.
14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?
I think children do best with loving, committed, attentive parents… no matter what gender they may be.
15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?
I think an answer here is kind of pointless, because a quick Google search will yield you articles that cite research to support any side of any argument. Here’s a study that says that children of gay parents are happier and healthier than their peers. But I don’t need research to tell me that healthy, happy parents raise healthy, happy kids.
16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?
17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?
18. How would you define marriage?
Legally, as a recognized contract between consenting adults that affords them certain rights and benefits as stated by the government (I’m the first one to admit that it’s complicated, and that I don’t know how it all works) From a non-legal standpoint, and in super-simplistic terms: It’s a deep commitment, and a partnership, and a daily choice to “have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death parts us.”
19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?
I think there are lots of reasons why close family members shouldn’t get married.
20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?
To be honest, I’ve never spent any time thinking about it. I generally tend to feel though that what sorts of relationships consenting (non-related) adults choose to enter into are their business, and their business alone.
21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?
It’s not my job to prevent consenting adults from getting married.
22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?
23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?
Anyone? No. Consenting adults? Yes.
24. If not, why not?
25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?
Yes, but…. I really believe this is the other side of the “slippery slope” that those who oppose gay marriage like to cite. People should be able to exercise religious beliefs, yes. Absolutely. But if those religious beliefs are being used to discriminate and be unkind, what’s to stop them from picking and choosing who they want to discriminate against, and just citing their religious beliefs as the reason? Stores proudly display their signs that say that they won’t serve gay people for instance, because it’s against their religion. I think it’s an incredibly discriminatory and unkind thing to do, but they have the right to do it. Why stop there though? Why that one issue? Why not put up signs that say you won’t serve people who are arrogant, or liars, or gossips, or gluttons, or people who cheat on their wives, or cheat on their taxes, or drink too much, or steal internet from their neighbors, or watch porn? If you believe it’s a sin, and all sins are equal, I don’t understand how you can use religious beliefs as an excuse to marginalize this one segment of society. We all sin. To just answer the question as it’s written though: Yes, people who disagree with homosexual practice should be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution or coercion. Even if one believes their actions to be wrong, two wrongs never make a right.
26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?
This is pretty much the same as #25, just re-framed.
27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?
I speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, yes.
28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?
I don’t think it’s my job to ensure that *anyone’s* marriage is healthy & in accord with scriptural principles. My job is to to focus on my own marriage.
29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?
It’s hard to answer this question without bias, but I think that churches have done enough damage by focusing on discipline, and on guilt, and on shame. I believe that the best thing a church could do right now (for all their members, of any orientation) is focus on love and healing.
30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?
I’m not sure. But I’ll say that I believe that the same standard should apply to both heterosexual and LGBT relationships.
31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?
I really can’t speak for what churches are going to do, since I’m not a church. As for what I think they should do, see #29.
32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?
“Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?
God IS love. I think whatever else being a Christ-follower means, it should always start with 1) Loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and 2) Loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22-37-38)
35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?
36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?
I think faith is, and should be, a constantly evolving, growing, deepening, living organism. A stagnant faith is a dead faith. So yes, absolutely, my understanding of faith is always changing.
37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctive like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?
It hasn’t helped me become more passionate about those things. It has however helped me become more passionate about loving my brother as myself. About reaching out to my fellow man. About extending compassion for those who the world wants to marginalize. About removing the rather large plank from my own eye before worrying about my brother’s sliver.
38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?
I haven’t looked for any churches like that.
39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?
40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?
The final paragraph in Romans 1 talks about a “depraved mind” and specifically mentions things like envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, arrogance, boastfulness… people being senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless. We don’t have to guess what sins he has in mind. He’s spelled them out for us. But you can’t stop reading at the end of chapter one, because the entire message (and Paul’s whole point) is tied together in what immediately follows your “those who give approval to those who practice them” quote.
You therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
It’s God job to judge, not ours. It’s our job to love. Fully, radically, and unconditionally.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”