8 May

oh, north carolina.

if you haven’t heard, the southern state voted in approval of a gay marriage ban as an amendment to their state’s constitution.

just curious…

why is it that folks fight so strongly to ban gay marriage, but have no problem with straight divorcees, hindus, muslims, mormons, buddhists, jews, agnostics and atheists getting married?

is this really about a ‘biblical’ marriage, or is it more an issue of fear, ignorance and intolerance?

what do you think?


14 Responses to “curious.”

  1. Joel Hacker May 8, 2012 at 11:34 PM #

    Well, I don’t think one thing justifies another. It’s kind of like asking, “Why is it OK to drink alcohol, but not smoke marijuana?” One can arguably do more damage than another, but that doesn’t make either one right. In God’s eyes, a sin is a sin, is a sin. Personally, I don’t agree with our government changing the definition of a “marriage”. A marriage is defined by God in the Bible as a union of one man and one woman.

  2. Melissa Anderson May 9, 2012 at 8:51 AM #

    Oh, Michael. I know that you use your blog to try to start conversations neutrally. But juxtaposing that chart of “biblical marriage” with your chosen questions in reference to the North Carolina vote is not a neutral conversation starter.

    You are making an implied argument here, and it is a fallacious one on several different levels.

    While all of the kinds of marriage in your “biblical” table do exist in the Bible, not all of them are “biblical,” meaning that not all of them have God’s approval. Even the first entry in the table gives a false definition of the marriage of Adam and Eve in Gen. 2:24. If we look at all of Genesis 2, submission is not mentioned at all, even though it is listed as such in the table. Eve is Adam’s “helpmate” (a Hebrew word that is also used of God in His relationship with man, so it has nothing to do with subordination). Submission is addressed in Ephesians 5, and if we do not take it out of context, then it is mutual submission.

    As for the rest of the table–
    (1) God NEVER approves of concubines or polygamy. Jesus emphasizes the one man/one woman “biblical” marriage when He quotes Genesis 2:24 in Matthew 19:4-5, “Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, `A man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.’”
    (2) The Levitical rules and rules of warfare referred to in the chart were a product of OT culture and do NOT reflect God’s intention for marriage. I could go into detail for all of them, but let’s just take one—in that culture, a raped woman would have NO chance of marriage, would have been ejected from her family, and would have been forced to become a prostitute or starve to death. As sick as it seems to us, marrying her to her rapist was that society’s way of righting a wrong.

    My point is that this table commits the logical fallacy of division because it presents all marriages in the Bible as being “biblical” (approved of by God). By posting it, you are saying that a “biblical” picture of marriage has some unbiblical elements so, therefore, the idea of a “biblical marriage” should be questioned.

    Then, you use the table to, in effect, commit the logical fallacies of poisoning the well and appealing to emotion. If biblical marriage is truly this (which as I just said it is not), then it is bad because we have negative emotions about marriages which are like this. After poisoning the well with this faulty definition of biblical marriage, you then offer the North Carolina vote, committing yet another logical fallacy—and here I can’t decide whether it’s a non-sequitur or a false analogy. I think it’s both.

    Your post implies that because we cannot accept the chart’s definition of biblical marriage OR because we DO accept that definition and parts of it include sinful practices, then we must accept homosexual marriage. But there is no logical connection between the chart and the acceptance of homosexual marriage (a non-sequitur), and any analogy between the two breaks down—while a homosexual union is a union between two people, it is not a “marriage” as defined in the Bible (see Matt. 19:4-5 above), even if you were to go so far as to accept the unbiblical marriages in the Bible as part of the biblical definition. Thus, it is also not only a non-sequitur, but also a false analogy.

    Then, you go on to beg the question… “is it more an issue of fear, ignorance and intolerance?” That is like asking someone if he has stopped beating his wife. It is not an unbiased question intended to start dialogue. It is a biased question that inhibits it.
    Sorry, Michael. I usually LOVE your posts because they are so thought-provoking and challenging. This one just takes a fallacious position under the guise of starting a conversation.

    • the WayWard follower May 9, 2012 at 10:38 AM #

      thank you for sharing your thoughts, melissa. i sincerely appreciate your thoughtful response.

      of course, i’m sure you’re aware i realize not all of the marriages listed on the table above are necessarily ‘approved of by God’ as i understand the scriptures. and while it is true that the reason for the image was to poke a few holes in the ‘biblical definition of marriage’ argument, i fear that you and joel may have misunderstood my intentions.

      you write,
      ‘Your post implies that because we cannot accept the chart’s definition of biblical marriage OR because we DO accept that definition and parts of it include sinful practices, then we must accept homosexual marriage.’

      i’m not attempting to change people’s personal convictions regarding same sex marriage.

      i do believe it’s the right of every person to determine their own convictions regarding homosexuality. this includes conservative christians who believe that scripture teaches that gay sex is sinful. conversely, i also believe that every person in our county – regardless of their religious conviction, race, gender, orientation, et etera – has a right to be provided the same civil liberties as people who share my own convictions, just as people who do not share those same convictions also have that right.

      jesus certainly did not endorse prostitution. but he didn’t picket the homes of prostitutes or put up signs in their workspace saying how sinful they were. he didn’t raise millions of dollars to ban their behavior. instead, he went to them, developed caring relationships with them and stood up for their rights as human beings. i feel called to do the same.

      i don’t believe it is appropriate to ask all christians to agree with same sex marriages or relationships. i just question the validity in responding to our personal conviction by raising funds and mobilizing others for the purpose of fighting against the rights of others. the implications of the north carolina ban go far beyond the LGBT community’s inability to marry.

      what do we gain? we don’t stop their behavior. the same sex couples in north carolina still went to bed with each other last night. the only thing we may have stopped was their ability to move any closer to God, because many christians just vocally took away their rights.

      i don’t see gay marriage as an ethical or moral issue – i do, however, see it as a justice issue.

      • X May 9, 2012 at 2:42 PM #

        What if everybody agreed with a single decision maker; and a homosexual couple came up and asked if they could be married, and the decision maker nonchalantly said sure, and no body cared…. would the couple think marriage and rights were such a big deal, then? They would still feel empty inside.

        I think it’s a liberty issue. Liberty covers all topics from the preUSA and colonial times to now, Genesis through Revelation so to say… Liberty is rights. Rights are given by God, and yes God gave us the option to use our liberties to sin.

        As for North Carolina I don’t care. Pass a law against bed wetting and people will still wet the bed. Maybe less if they have to purchase a license, or pay a fine, but that may lower taxes. As for taxes and civil unions…. If the government offers it I say take it.

        The real issue is liberty. When the strong try to manipulate the weak the illusion of control is with the strong and the liberty of the weak is exchanged for the consequences. Therefore how liberty is exersized by the strong or by the weak is “regulated” through laws.

        Moral of the story: Specific laws have their limits of control/regulation. This is where Jesus our liberator, in fact, fulfills the laws of Moses by breaking traditions of the pharasees — the Spirit behind the law in this nation and state is more important than the laws themselves. By the way… do consider there would be no purpose for laws had no one offended another.

        Virtue, Liberty, Spirit, Law… consider marrying these.

      • Melissa Anderson May 9, 2012 at 3:41 PM #

        I think you may have missed my point, Michael. If you’ll look carefully at what I wrote, I never stated my position on the matter, and yet you seem to be implying that I support the NC vote. So let me state that I, personally, do not believe in trying to “legislate morality” on this issue. I don’t think that is how Jesus would have gone about reaching out to the homosexual community, which I do believe Christians need to do–in love. On that point, I think you and I agree. Mark and I have two relatives who are lesbians. One has chosen to remain so, and the other decided on abstinence when she came to Christ. Both follow what they believe, and we love both of them equally. Though I will witness to them in the love of Christ, I will not tell them how to live.
        My post was in response to the PRESENTATION of your case because I felt that you misrepresented what biblical marriage is, and then used that misrepresentation in an emotional appeal. Regardless of where a person stands on this issue (and it is a very difficult one), no good can be gained by misrepresenting one side of the issue in order to try to raise support for the other. In the end, that cheapens one’s argument, and heaven knows there’s been enough of that on the internet.
        Dialogue is a wonderful thing. That’s why I love your blog. That’s also why I was surprised to see you post that table and then see what you did with it. You might believe that “not all of the marriages listed on the table above are necessarily ‘approved of by God’ as [you] understand the scriptures,” but you didn’t let your readers know you believed that until your response to my post. Not clarifying that in the original post implied otherwise, especially in the context with which the table was posted. By your own admission, you posted it to “poke a few holes in the biblical definition of marriage argument.” This confuses me. If you believe that not all marriages in the table are “biblical” (approved by God), then why use them to “poke a few holes” in the biblical definition of marriage argument? This seems at the very least intellectually dishonest to me. It also seems to contradict your statement that you were “not attempting to change people’s personal convictions,” for if this was not your purpose, then what is the point of trying to “poke a few holes in the…argument”?
        There are many ways to present a convincing case against the NC vote, but I don’t think that misrepresenting the definition of biblical marriage is one of those ways. Your response to my post is actually better in this regard than your original.
        Shoot straight with biblical matters and continue preaching the love of Jesus, Michael. It’s your strong suit.

      • the WayWard follower May 9, 2012 at 7:14 PM #

        melissa – so glad we’re having this discussion – i thought of sending you this via email, but decided it wouldn’t be a bad thing for my readers to see, either… so i am responding here.

        thank you.

        thank you for your honest candor and willingness to enter into the discussion with me. you state, in your comment, that you felt i ‘misrepresented what biblical marriage is, and then used that misrepresentation in an emotional appeal.

        you are right. i was wrong. i am sorry, and deeply appreciate you calling me out on it. i humbly accept your correction.

        [for melissa, or anyone else reading this comment || please realize :: this is not a sarcastic or snarky attempt at a cynical response. i actually mean it, and truly believe the spirit of God convicted me through melissa’s response.]

        lest i seem insincere, allow me to explain my thinking behind the ‘biblical’ marriage table.

        so often, the ‘biblical definition of marriage’ argument is the reason i hear for people who vehemently oppose my LGBT friends’ civil right to get married (which includes, of course – the rights that come along with it :: social status, the feeling of ‘belonging,’ equal employment opportunities, job security, anti-discrimination laws, the ability to visit your spouse in the hospital and to transfer property, which can mean being able to remain in the family home when your spouse has passed away, et cetera). same sex couples are often denied hospital visitation when there’s been an accident or illness, the ability to obtain ‘family’ health coverage, protection when the relationship ends…the list goes on.

        regardless of whether i agree with someone’s life choices, i don’t believe it’s christian of me to argue they ought to be treated differently simply because we don’t share the same moral conviction.

        it saddens me that many people use their interpretation of select scriptures or ‘God’s definition of marriage’ to mistreat others – missing, in my opinion, the entire point of the gospel of jesus.

        i’d seen the table circulating online several months ago. though it does have the potential of misleading someone who isn’t as well versed in scripture as others, i believe it does make the following point :: the biblical definition argument takes some interpretation of scripture, and also some acknowledgment that marriage hasn’t always been so simply defined – even by those who follow God.

        my hope in using the table was to open some folks up to the possibility that the ‘God made adam and eve, not adam and steve,’ argument isn’t so strong that we have a 6,000 year history of getting it right until the gays came along and messed with the definition of marriage… it’s a bit more nuanced than that.

        that’s the poking holes part.

        then i hoped to engage in conversation around my question ::

        why is it that folks fight so strongly to ban gay marriage, but have no problem with straight divorcees [as i myself am], hindus, muslims, mormons, buddhists, jews, agnostics and atheists getting married?

        i don’t see many christians trying to take away my marital rights or the rights of other religious groups to get married in the name of defending a biblical definition of marriage, even though they may interpret that marriage not to be what it is intended to be :: a reflection of our relationship with God.

        still, you are right, melissa – not explaining the chart in my original post (perhaps even using the chart at all?) is a misrepresentation of what i know scripture to say, and as you said ‘at the least intellectually dishonest.

        ‘Dialogue is a wonderful thing. That’s why I love your blog.‘ – i agree, dialogue is wonderful. thank you again for your loving correction. i hope that in our having this discussion openly, others – on either side of this issue – may be inspired to lower their defenses and elevate the conversation in a God honoring way. i ask that you, and my other readers, would forgive me.

      • Melissa Anderson May 10, 2012 at 7:18 AM #

        (There is no “reply” to click under your most recent post, so I hope this post gets placed in the proper order. If not, it is my response to your post of May 9, 7:14 p.m.)

        Thank you for that post, Michael. Of course, I forgive you. As a passionate writer like you, I, too, have had times when I have gotten so carried away with the justice of my cause that I have not always thought clearly about the arguments I was using. Almost always, I have come to regret those times, or at least to wish that I had first allowed reason to rule over passion before constructing my words.

        I, too, am glad we had this dialogue. Your latest response is your best explanation yet of your beliefs. I can now see the reason, passion, and love that I often see in your posts.

        Your heart is obviously on fire with God’s love, and I know you are motivated to spread that love to others. God will use that desire within you for His glory. Because of this, I see you as a blogger who has the potential to raise the level of conversation above the typical verbal duals on the internet. That excites me because I am SO tired of the typical duals, and that was the main reason for my response to your initial blog as well. I really didn’t want to see you descend into that typical internet blog mode where passion supersedes reason and love gets lost in the balance because expressing love has always been a characteristic of your blog.

        I’m glad you took my comments as you did. For a few moments yesterday, I worried I had let my passion overcome my reason in my word choices, and I hoped it would not keep us from becoming better friends because I truly like and respect you. Still, I want to encourage you to be the best writer you can be because, as I said, God has a purpose and a plan for that passion in your heart!

  3. Kathy G May 9, 2012 at 2:12 PM #

    I whole-heartedly agree with your point, Michael, but I think the chart posted is misleading and potentially damaging. “Biblical” is not synonymous with “God-approved.” A non-believer viewing this chart may falsely assume that they are one and the same. Thanks so much for your thoughts. We’re all in this together, right?

    • the WayWard follower May 9, 2012 at 7:28 PM #

      thanks, kathy. a response to the point about the biblical marriage chart can be found in my response above to melissa.

      thanks for reading and sharing!

  4. Ryan Copeland May 9, 2012 at 2:21 PM #

    I’ve seen my views on same sex marriage change over the years. I used to be against it, now though, I just stay out of it (politically). As a Christian, I have to acknowledge homosexuality as a sin, otherwise I am rejecting God’s word. I do however, agree with the stance you take about how “christians” should interact with the gay community. The fact that we (christians) are trying to force our biblical morals on a very unbiblical, unchristian society through politics is absurd to me. The world has it’s own morals (or lack thereof) and we are not to force our morals on them, but instead we are to show them the love of Christ, in hopes that God will draw them to Himself and purify them from all unrighteousness.

    • the WayWard follower May 9, 2012 at 7:31 PM #

      thanks, ryan. i like how melissa stated it :: not believing in ‘legislating morality.’ sometimes i fear we act as if our interpretation of scripture ought to be implemented like sharia law. and just as i pray for those who i don’t think ‘get it,’ i am reminded of how far i fall short in my attempts to love well and honor God.

      lord jesus christ, son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

  5. mparkhill May 9, 2012 at 8:12 PM #

    There are plenty of things that are written in the bible that we have chosen to ignore in our modern times. Slavery and stoning non-virgins to name two. So, clinging to the idea that we cannot support marriage equality because the bible says it is bad is hypocritical. I know that there are plenty of thinking and caring christians who understand this. I wish that they would speak up so that more christians would treat their homosexual sisters and brothers with the equality and love they deserve – a christian belief if I’m not mistaken.

  6. Andrew Jackson May 9, 2012 at 10:48 PM #

    The marriage chart is neat. I don’t really agree with the use of the some of the verses the marriage diagrams are based on. People often make straw men out of the Laws by making it sound as if women are to be sex slaves. That’s also a common Catholic Church teaching (divorce so separation is sin and all that) which is abusive to women. Saying that a women is required to marry her dead husband’s brother is totally false. The man is required to marry her (actual wording) — to provide for her, for her benefit. It doesn’t mean she has to marry him if she wants to marry someone else, as far as I know.

    Polygamy is cool. It’s been that way for thousands of years until the Catholic Church outlawed it in the West 1000 years ago. Communist China outlawed it in 1951. India is similar. The “Preserving a 5000 year old tradition called marriage” argument being one man and one woman is completely false. Really it’s 1000 years and only in the West under Catholic / Protestant rule. The Koran is the only religious text in the world that says marry only one, but Sharia law will recognize 4 wives. I have traditional views and I don’t think marriage should be any different now than it has been for thousands of years. We are the same people. The high marriage failure rate in the West is nothing to be proud of.

    Michael, I like how you think it is unfair that Christians condemn homosexuals for their sexual sin, but mostly overlook heterosexual immorality. But I think it would be better to be more against heterosexual immorality instead of being borderline supportive of homosexuals.

    Allowing homosexuals to legally marry will bring in other issues like joint taxes reducing revenue and allowing people to use the system to gain US citizenship. That’s why I don’t think gay marriage is coming any time soon.

    The whole thing is a wonderful distraction to keep people occupied in a dead end issue while not paying attention to the breakdown in heterosexual relationships and the family structure.

    This cartoon sums it up:

  7. X May 10, 2012 at 11:40 PM #

    Note: It MAY be wise to consider the role of arranged marriages through out [biblical] history as well. Maybe it simplified decisions; maybe people practiced polygamy because they Didn’t like who they were stuck with, too. In America arranged marraiges were common up through the early 1900’s.

    How we use this liberty of dating, romance, courtship, and marriage, factually, DOES alter through out history. My understanding is that That may be a point the chart is making. As for legislating morallity, I believe with no morality there would be no law. If that’s true then, all laws are a product of morality due to one conviction or another.

    Michael, and Melissa (specifically), what is your take on this?

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