Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash
… the historical evidence is there, which would indicate that a public sanctioning of the homosexual lifestyle is not good for society at all. (Sodom, Gomorrah, Rome, more recently Scandinavia) Perhaps socially speaking, the proof in research findings is not immediately forthcoming (but neither is evidence in the other direction).
In those cultures (past and present), I think the social harm resulted/results from rampant Epicureanism – the gratification of self at the expense of others. I’m seeing potential danger of a post hoc ergo proctor hoc in your line of reasoning here. Sexual immorality, I think, is a symptom of a society in moral decline. When preaching the Law and Gospel, I think the onus of the Christian is to demonstrate that, while certain actions may be legal, they are displeasing with the God of revelation and history and require repentance.
There is also the folly of rashly altering a socially pervasive custom, just because of the agenda of a few. Then there is the arrogance of assuming that the nearly unbroken unanimity of past civilizations was because they were obviously backward and bigoted.
In 1972, nine families in Pennsylvania rashly altered the socially pervasive custom of arbitrarily excluding children with mental retardation from the public schools. In hindsight, anyone reading the old legal briefs of school districts would regard categorical exclusion on the basis of disability draconian and a violation of Constitutional due process protections on its face. Which leads me to …
There is also the false confidence in comparing this issue with the civil rights issues of the past ... as if homosexuality has been proven to be no different than a physical trait. There is the danger of a constant redefining that will eventually usher marriage into a state of meaninglessness.
Only when Christians allow a redefining of God-pleasing marriage, will marriage be thrown into a state of meaninglessness. Christians today have the challenge … or perhaps the privilege … of living in a world that is becoming increasingly akin to the world Paul traveled. It is worth noting that Paul’s defense of Government as bearing God’s sword of justice was set against a very, very pagan Roman backdrop. Our failure as Christians has been to allow the State to supplant the Church as civilization’s moral conscience.
As much I as believe homosexuality is unnatural and sinful, because the United States Constitution expressly distances itself from establishing a Christian theonomy, pagans have the same civil rights as Christians in this country. Sadly, marriage in the United States (at least in the last century and a half) has become little more than a civil right in the eyes of its citizens. That is a failure of the church, not a failure of government.
But my point is, there is enough reasons (even secularly speaking) to not actively change a foundational institution, merely because of political pressure. And that's exactly what's happening.
But is it really changing a “foundational institution” or is it providing for a pagan definition of marriage by which those with pagan-worldviews can be married? You might compare this to the issue of no-fault divorce – in the past, divorce laws reflected Christian mores and it was very difficult for someone to obtain a divorce sans adultery or abandonment. Creating a new standard – a pagan one – that is inconsistent with biblical teaching in regards to how a Christian is to conduct his or her self does not prevent Christians from upholding the revelatory standard.
The Christian, or anyone else, is justified in being against Gay "marriage" for those reasons alone.
And when gay marriage is made legal across this nation, Christians ought to oppose its encroachment into Christian doctrine regarding marriage. To deny a Constitutional basis for homosexual marriage, however, requires one to build a factual record demonstrating either the harm caused by or the absurdity of recognizing its legitimacy. I’ll gladly go on the record as saying that I believe homosexual behavior is abhorrent and sinful, but at this point I’d have to say I cannot find a compelling Constitutional basis for preventing pagan-Americans from marrying under pagan standards.
I was with Cullman through the first two points. His third point (and his second less so) seems dangerously subjective. I would not see legal recognition of homosexual unions as a “transgression of legitimate [State] limits.” The foundational Constitutional principles protecting our inalienable rights, and right to due process of law whenever the State encroaches on those rights unjustly, protect the American Christian and American Pagan alike. Using the law to force-feed Christian mores on citizens is harmful to Christians and pagans. Until the State makes it illegal for me to voice my disapproval of homosexual marriage on revelational and moral grounds, I wouldn’t say it has transgressed its legitimate limits. Christians ought to take seriously the biblical institution of marriage. I agree with you that the Church’s abdicating its legitimate role as civilization’s moral conscience on this issue would be error – but this culture war must be fought in the marketplace of ideas, not in the courts.
I would challenge you, however, if you are characterizing my worldview has having been secularized – actually, I think my political views are closer to being Pauline than yours seem to be. When injustice is done, and the Christian finds his/her Constitutional rights violated, the Christian ought to pursue whatever action, including legal action, necessary to right the wrong. By example, Paul often did this when invoking his rights as a Roman citizen as he did when he was illegally imprisoned and beaten in Philippi (Acts 16ff). The issue of abortion is one in which I believe Christians ought to be vigorously working to reshape public policy to restore the inalienable right to life to the unborn. I find it impossible, however, to sustain a Constitutional argument against recognition of homosexual marriage by the State without finding myself on the edge of a precipice. Without more facts, I can’t say I’m willing to make that leap of faith with you on this one. The biblical record is unambiguous enough, but the Constitution is not an extension of the biblical record.
Having read Luther, do you think he would be apt to agree with your view of the Church and law, or mine? From everything I've read of Luther, I feel certain that he would be vehemently opposed to legalizing such a travesty of holy matrimony.
You might forget (or perhaps didn’t know) that Luther would also have recommended to the German Princes that my son be thrown in a river and drowned for being an abominable “body without a soul.” While I have great respect and admiration for Luther’s theology, particularly his soteriology, some of his least shining moments occurred when he intervened in State affairs. These failings of Luther are a good indication of the wisdom behind separating church from state. Clergy shouldn't do the work of statesmen and statesmen shouldn't do the work of the clergy.
If the issue was church recognition of the legitimacy of homosexual marriages, I have no doubt I’d be standing next to both you and Luther on this issue. But we are not talking about whether homosexual marriage is “holy matrimony” … no legal proclamation can do that – only biblical revisionism. Yet I still cannot see how my view of government runs contrary to Paul’s when, in the same letter in which he strongly denounced homosexual behavior as unnatural, he counseled the Roman Christians to obey the Roman government as you pointed out. I think this is illustrative of how the Church can honor God by preaching Law and Gospel AND obey government. I think Augustine captured the Pauline concept very well in "City of God."