Thursday, August 23, 2012

Evangelical Presbyterians’ Statement On Same Sex Marriage

I am involved in a group called Presbyterian Affirm. It is an evangelical group within the NZ Presbyterian Church which seeks to promote the gospel and the renewal of churches. A group of us under the leadership of Stuart Lange have worked to put together a statement on same-sex marriage. Our hope is that the government will not pass the legislation, believing that the legislation is not necessary and strays from God’s ideals for humanity. Here is the recently released statement. I would appreciate your thoughts on it.

PRESBYTERIAN GROUP OPPOSES SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BILL

Presbyterian AFFIRM, a widely-supported conservative network within the Presbyterian denomination, is speaking out against the Bill which would allow same-sex couples to marry, declaring its views in a “Statement on Marriage” (see below). Presbyterian AFFIRM believes that “marriage is a unique human institution and treasure” which has “always been about the pairing of a man and a woman”, and that re-defining marriage to include same-sex couples would unhelpfully confuse the meaning of marriage.

 A spokesman for Presbyterian AFFIRM, Dr. Stuart Lange, said: “We believe, that despite some isolated voices to the contrary, the great majority of active Presbyterians in this country want the definition of marriage to be retained as the union of a man and a woman, and that (as Helen Clark and Tim Barnett said in 2004) ‘Marriage is only for heterosexuals’ and ‘Civil Unions are an acceptable alternative’.”

 
STATEMENT ON MARRIAGE

Marriage is a unique human institution and treasure, universally recognized as the union of a man and a woman as husband and wife.

Marriage has always been about the pairing of a man and a woman, and it is a deeply-embedded human pattern. It is inherently related to the natural male-female capacity for procreation, and to the responsibility for raising children. Marriage is thus unique in its very nature, intrinsically different from any other type of human relationship which society may recognise. The concept of same-sex “marriage” is a contradiction in terms. To change that would in effect re-define marriage itself, and would demean the understanding and practice of marriage held by the vast majority of New Zealanders. It is not a “human right” for a small minority to re-invent marriage for everyone else. Parliament should not agree to such a radical social innovation.
 
Traditional marriage and family is very good for society.

   Marriage is greatly beneficial to the stability and wellbeing of society. Stable families with a loving father and mother still generally offer the optimum context in which to raise children. In a country with so many social problems, Parliament must be careful not to allow a further undermining of marriage by confusing its meaning.

The claim that the current Parliamentary Bill is about removing “discrimination” is unconvincing.

Marriage is freely available, but it is not a right which individual citizens are always able to exercise. Because of the inherent nature of marriage, society rightly licenses couples to marry only if they meet certain conditions: if they are adults, if they both agree, if they are not already married, if they are not closely related, and if they are of opposite genders. That is what marriage is about. Nobody is required to be married. There are also existing alternatives, of equivalent legal status.

Society has already made generous provision for same-sex relationships to be recognized in law as effectively equivalent to marriage.

   If the issue is about “equality”, then Civil Unions should be sufficient, given that they are of equivalent legal status to marriage, with partners in Civil Unions having the same protection under law as married couples (and similar rights except for adoption). Those entering Civil Unions have often regarded them as equivalent to marriage, in effect a “civil” marriage. If in fact there are any inappropriate inequities between Civil Unions and Marriage, Parliament should amend the Civil Union legislation, not the Marriage legislation.

 The intent of this Bill appears to be a political move to further increase the societal normalization of homosexual relationships.

To proceed, Parliament would need to be sure that advancing such an agenda would be for the good of society as a whole.


This Bill may be a strategy to help same-sex couples gain the right to adopt children.

Access to full adoption rights by same-sex couples needs to be discussed directly and openly, separately from this Bill, and with primary consideration for the welfare of children.

For Christians and many others marriage is sacred, the God-ordained bond of a man and a woman.

The Christian ideal of marriage lies behind all New Zealand’s marriage legislation, and is part of our national heritage that should not be abandoned lightly. Christians believe that marriage is the gift of God, defined by God, and approved by God. On the basis of the teaching of the Bible, Christians believe that God’s intended context for sex, reproduction and family is loving, faithful marriage between a man and a woman. Marriage is not just a social custom or a legal contract which can be drastically re-defined to suit human thinking. Marriage is recognized by the State but does not belong to it. Marriage as given by God reflects the essential complementary role of male and female as created in the image of God. It is grounded in nature, and in basic male-female physiology. The concept of same-sex “marriage” is spiritually offensive to many Christian people, who still constitute a very significant proportion of this country’s population and its voters. It is also objectionable to many cultural minorities and non-Christian faiths. The Church does not seek to impose its convictions on everyone else, but can and must speak up for what it believes is right and true, and for the good of families and society as a whole.


Presbyterian AFFIRM, August 2012

 The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, one of New Zealand’s largest mainstream church denominations, does not currently have a specific policy on same-sex marriage, but since 2006 it has ruled that people who are in relationships outside of faithful marriage between a man and a woman should not become ministers or leaders in the church.

 For further comment, contact:

Dr Stuart Lange, Co-Chairman Presbyterian AFFIRM, Ph. 09-832-5775, smlange@xtra.co.nz  021-0224-2957
 
What do you think?

 

 

 

 

337 comments:

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Jason Goroncy said...

Thanks for posting this Mark. Just two quick questions: Does that mean that Affirm have always believed that 'Civil Unions are an acceptable alternative'? Also, what do you think might be some of the consequences of Stuart's (and Affirm's) conviction that 'marriage ... does not belong to [the State]' vis-a-vis the church's own practices? (I have in mind here something that I've posted on before regarding the distinction that Barth makes between the domestic, legal and ecclesiastical features of marriage, much of which I have found to be very helpful in my own thinking through these matters. For those who may be interested in chasing this up, I have summarised Barth’s teaching on this here: http://cruciality.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/barth-on-marriage-some-notes-from-cd-iii4). Cheers, Jason.

Lisa Humphrey said...

Thoughts ....He that hath no sin cast the first stone.... will the presbyterian s also propose to resinstae public floggings and slavery maybe? This elitist way of thinking must spill over to examine every very area of 'SIN' ...how about women in the work force? Sex before marriage , second marriages, impure thoughts, coveting thy neighbors new car, Rugby as an idol, wearing two different types of cloth. Gay
parents statistically are ahead in the parent of the year club..because they choose to adopt . Rather than randomly breed because they can. Show some of that Christian love brothers!

Mark Keown said...

No Lisa, of course we won't be asking for those things and if it passes into legislation we will live with it showing love and respect to all. There is no stoning going on, that is ridiculous Lisa. We are taking our part in the democratic process espousing our view and the cards will fall as they do. The presenting issue before parliament is not outlawing rugby or the other issues you raise, it is same-sex marriage, and to that we have responded.Feel free to disagree and make your own statement.

Hey Jason. Theologically, I do not know what Affirm's position on Civil Unions is. I was not a part of Affirm during that period. I think there are likely differing perspectives on this within the people of the movement. Some I suspect would oppose it thoroughly. Others would see it as a good way of resolving the problems of human rights while preserving marriage in its traditional sense. It is more a case that the Civil Union idea can deal with any anomalies in terms of rights without redefining marriage as heterosexual.

In terms of the State and marriage, the idea is that the State is subject to a greater authority than itself. In that point, the statement is affirming a theistic perspective.

Jason Goroncy said...

Thanks for your reply, Mark.

Petra said...

I totally understand that the definition of marriage is a man and a women and that by allowing same sex marriage you are essentially changing the definition of the word.... However the issue is that those in a same sex marriage do not feel they are treated equally... Also I don't believe that a man and a women make better parents than a couple of the same sex... Society just needs to treat these families the same way. Also I totally agree with the comment above about actually wanting children rather than randomly breeding. Those are just my thoughts on the matter :)

Unknown said...

Mark, I don't want to speak out of turn in that you were answering Jason's question. It is obvious that the position is theistic, but in itself that is hopelessly vague. A wide variety of positions can be called theistic and approach political and institutional power structures in very different ways. You say that the state is subject to 'greater authority than itself', how does that then relate to the claim that marriage does not 'belong' to the state and the church's determination of its, and interaction with the state's, practices? What is this 'authority' and how is it determined?

Katie said...

Unfortunately I stumbled upon this and just wanted to respond to it. As much as I wish I could not take things like this to heart, having someone imply that because I identify as lesbian I am less qualified to adopt and raise children and that through being allowed the same right as everyone else to marry a female partner someday, I will be damaging and confusing society, feels pretty bad.

I was raised by a single parent, who never has shown judgement, or exclusion or any of the things that radiate from what you have written, but instead only compassion, love, openess, etc. and regardless of the fact that in your opinion a mother and father is the ultimate way to be raised, I am 100% confident in saying that I received one of the best up bringings of any of my peers, even if they did have married, heterosexual parents.

I was raised to value equality, compassion and love, and even though I am studying to become a nurse so that I can help in areas that need it, and contribute a decent portion of my earnings to charities within and outside of NZ etc I am still made to feel like a inadequate person for having a life style that conflicts with a few verses of a book, that a select group of people chose to follow/try force on other people. The additional slap in the face is that most of the marginalization seems to come from christians who appear to not follow the few things that I, and most people would agree are the actual important parts of the bible, like living and loving as Jesus did. I just really feel that if you are going to exert so much effort into something, why not put it somewhere that really matters, like the wellbeing of the poor in NZ, especially now as the disparity between poor and rich is continuing to grow. There are a lot of areas that could do with backing and publicity, that I feel like if God does exist, and is as loving as people say, he would be much more interested in you prioritizing.

Roughly one in four children in New Zealand live below the poverty line, I am sure some of them wouldn't mind it if you redirected your focus their way, it'd be a lot more beneficial than trying to impose your religious views on people who aren't trying to make rules for your life.

George said...

Thoughtfull and well written and food for thought, thanks.

George Dunning said...

I think that what I have found interesting is the intolerance of those who critise in an often vitriolic manner a group who choose to voice an opinion on something they hold to believe. Now there is no doubt a plethora of instances that can be pointed to of intolerant Christians (a lot more than there should be) but in this case while one may disagree with the views being expressed I cant see anything in the language that deserves some of the incredulous responses.
We live in an age of mediocrity and compromise to the extent that standing up for what you believe to be true is seen as stepping on the rights of others. I think the biggest cause for the decline in the church attendance has been this trend by some to try and make Christianity relevant to today and confused that with giving up positions long held.
Being accepting of others position on this an other matters is not something that should only be laid at the door of Christians or other groups who hold firm views on such matters.

Mark Keown said...

Hi Katie. Thanks for your courage in responding. I appreciate you using a name too. A few response. First, there is nothing in the statement saying that you can or can't adopt or have a family. What it says is that one does not need to change the traditional and long-held view of marriage to achieve this. Why not simply adapt the Civil Union legislation to allow adoption?

Secondly, by allowing marriage to remain in its traditional form does not create any injustice. One can adapt the State-created idea of Civil Unions to complete equality. This means we have a nice compromise between the idea that marriage is a heterosexual relationship and allowing "equal rights."

Why does one need to marry? Why not use the existing Civil Union relationship. There are also churches that will accept these on an equal status to marriage, like St Matthews in the City.

Thirdly, to say that we are imposing our religion is wrong on a number of counts. First, the converse is equally and imposition, it is and imposition of new definition of marriage that many find wrong. So who is imposing on whom? It is a religious/philosophical imposition to change the legislation. Second, the existing legislation that our forebears in their wisdom created, and which reflect the overwhelming majority of history, is marriage as a heterosexual relationship. This is not imposing, but defending what exists. Our political system welcomes such engagement, that is how our society works. Why should we not stand for what we believe? If you want to be able to, we need to be able to too.

Fourthly, compassion is not the issue. I and my friends are compassionate to all people, and were you to meet me, you would find that. Compassion doesn't mean I yield to every force that wants to imposes its view on me. One can disagree with the way one lives and show immense compassion. Jesus did this. He spoke out loudly against adultery and other sexual immoralty. Yet, he stopped people stoning them, and was their friend. This is not about compassion.

Fifthly, this is not about equality. You are equal before God and the law to me, yes. But that also means you are equally subject to the law, to God (if there is one or many), and to the views of other people. For example, NZ residents do not have the same rights as citizen, but they are equal.

Sixthly, I agree with you wholeheartedly that heterosexuality does not necessarily produce better children. That is a product of love.

Seventhly, I would love to not have to think about this issue. You suggest poverty is a bigger issue. Yes, I agree. But what causes poverty. Experts agree that one of the core causes of poverty is marriage and family breakdown. Some of us see the breakdown of the Judeo-Christian basis for family is one of the core reasons for poverty. So, by standing up for marriage, I believe I am standing in a broad sense for poverty. The two are connected.

So, I disagree with you on this issue. That doesn't mean I consider you worse or inferior or incomplete. I would encourage you to live within the world as you know it out of faith in Jesus Christ,and if members of his church are proven to be wrong on this (I may be), I will be the first to apologise. It's just that as I read the Bible, which has changed my life from a drunken man destined for self-destruction, to a man who has meaning, I see at no point any indication that heterosexual, monogamous, loving, life-long, marriage is not God's ideal. So, I am standing with others against the change to the legislation. That said, if it becomes law, I will not be making a song and dance about it, but will accept that is what NZ wants, and move on. I really encourage you to seek after God and live out of faith in Jesus and especially love. Blessings. Mark.

Katie said...

Hi Mark,

I'm aware that there are a number of ways in which you feel justified in your opinion and that is okay, I am aware that what one persons feels are not going to be enough to change someones mind - I just wanted to share in which the way myself, and others like me are made to feel marginalized by things like this.

I think linking poverty to a breakdown of family relationships and the like is fine, but I don't feel that it is justified to immediately connect that to homosexual relationships.

I also tried to phrase what I said carefully as I did not want to 'impose' my opinions, and sorry if you feel that in my wording I did so, but I feel a select group of people pushing for laws to effect another select group of people is in no means an equal form of imposition to what I said. People trying to obtain equal marriage rights does not impose on christians in the same way the opposite does on people in the LGBT community. If you don't agree with marriage between two people of the same sex, don't marry someone of the same sex. Problem solved.

Although civil unions provide almost (but not all) the same rights, the issue of inequality and exlusion arises due to the fact, atleast for myself, that it is not ONLY christians who can get married - which would make sense as it is a christian instituion that is done under 'Gods law', but instead it is ONLY one group of people who can not. Why in this case allow people who do not even believe in God, or follow other religions, or struggle with, but don't try imrpove anger issues or many things that the bible disagrees with, to get married. Aren't sins the same in God's eyes? If people don't believe in God, why is it okay for them to get married under Gods law, so long as they're heterosexual?

I am aware that this is not going to change your mind - and I have no desire to do so, however I just wanted to share an opinion from another perspective. If civil unions were the norm and only christians got 'married', I would not have an issue, but it is the exclusion of one group of people that isn't okay.

And the compassion you speak of, I'll believe it's there - I don't know you so I can't say otherwise but all I am saying is that it doesn't exactly feel like it's radiating for the opinions you have written here.

Thanks for responding, I'm not a big fan of debating, especially on issues that I don't think anyone is likely to budge on. I have read and taken into consideration what you have said, and I hope you do the same, however I have no desire to seek out the God, in whose name you are sharing these opinions sorry.



George Dunning said...

Katie I think you speak/write extremely well and make some great points. I have no doubt more voices such as your own (and Marks) being heard instead of some of the overblown rhetoric on both sides would make for much more solid foundation for everyone moving forward.

I know Mark and know him to be sincere in all he says, what he says comes from much reflection and from the heart, and reading your posts I have little doubt that at least in those areas of your lives you are indeed very similar.

It has been refreshing reading, thank you both very much!

Mark Keown said...

Hi,

You make some great points. I am sorry for making you feel marginalised. I think many Christians feel the same actually, it is not fun.

I agree with your challenging me that family breakdown should not be specifically linked to homosexuality. Fair point. Heterosexuals and many Christians are guilty as charged! I suppose I am not sure what a world will look like as we move ahead in this way.One of my friends reckons it will better. If we all love, it will.

On imposing opinion, we can't help but do this as human. I suppose the question is whether we are doing it within the framework of just discourse. Persuasion is part of being human. I do not think you have imposed. I hope I have not. One of us is right! So, I say all I do with humility. I may be wrong but, I am captive to my conscience, as you are.

Yes, ultimately I accept your comment, if you agree with homosexual marriage, don't marry a person of the same gender. Once the dust has settled on this issue, that is what we must all do. But, as with all things, we should debate these things robustly, and do so without violence and vindictiveness. You have done this extremely well, I applaud you.

I am not sure I agree with your take that only Christians can get married. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all share the same Scriptures. These Scriptures were central to the forming of the whole western world, the Islamic world, and indeed much of Africa, Latin American and an increasing number of Asian nations (e.g. South Korea). All cultures have had some form of marriage concept, with some variety. The idea of gay marriage on the same level, and I repeat, on the same level, as heterosexual marriage (whether monogamy, polygamy), is a modern phenomenon. So, I think marriage is a human institution more than Christian. In fact, in the Bible the idea precedes Christianity by thousands of years (Gen 2:24) and is for all of humanity. So, I don't get that idea.

I accept that if a society no longer believes in God to the point that they wish to define marriage by Christian (or even religious) perspectives, the State might act to change it. That is why I have said, I can live with it and will not throw toys out of the cot etc, protest, speak out. I believe in democracy and the people and government will decide. I will in the meantime express my view.

I sincerely apologise for anything that I have said that has offended. I do this cause I am a forthright person, gets me in a lot of mess at times. Let me just say, that if you ever turned up to my church at Glenfield Presbyterian, with your partner, you would be most welcome and I would take to task anyone who judged you in any way.

Please don't judge God by his representatives. jesus is the yardstick. I hope I represent him well, but like many of his followers, likely I mess up. He is the one we follow not his failed people. Check him out I say. And, if you like what you read and believe you are gay by birth, live it well by his precepts. Anyway, God bless you in your life.

Blessings
Mark

Lisa Humphrey said...

Mark marriage is governed by the law of the land . Therefore as citizens of the land every person is entitled to publicly declare their love to their partner and to have the same rights weather or not they are heterosexual or homosexual. That's the point of the legislation being passed. Christians may try to own it but it's not the issue.

George Dunning said...

Define 'entitlement'? . . . It surely implies that there is an ultimate arbitrator of right and wrong, a standard above and beyond human self interest?

..... this alone then shall remain. Love.

Mark Keown said...

I accept that comment to a large degree Lisa. A government must define what relationships are legitimate.

However, Christians are not claiming to own marriage. Muslims and Jews hold a similar world view and many NZers who have long since left the church.

Neither do humanists, secularists, or others own marriage. There is no neutral place. Nor are all who claim the name Christian on one page on this. Some are coming out in a different place.

What we are doing is contending within the framwework of public discourse. Why shouldn't we? We may be right, we may be wrong, but surely our system allows us all to partake of the process. The cards will fall where they fall and we will all move on.

Cheers
Mark

Mark Keown said...

This is interesting for those engaging on this issue. It shows the differences of perspective among those who name themselves Christian. Decide for yourself: http://stmatthews.org.nz/news.php?nid=260&sid=88.

Lisa Humphrey said...

Entitlement is laid out by the law or contract ... A belief that one is entitled or deserving of special benefits on offer to all people . Not necessarily love per se. Human rights . Equality. Freedom.

George Dunning said...

This has been an interesting discussion and just goes to show how whether we all agree on the issue in focus at the very least it opens the way for dialogue and that is never a bad thing. I think it is good that people are willing to take fixed positions on things they believe strongly in and one aspect of true freedom is to be able to voice those views without fear. Nice post, great discussion, thanks to all.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark
I enjoy reading your comments as I am studying at Laidlaw this year. A Green MP has today as much as stated they will triumph in their campaign by marginalising all the opposition. In other words they hope Christians will all "go away" or become a minority viewpoint of life.

Mark Keown said...

Yes anon studying at Laidlaw, that is the agenda of secularism, marginalise faith and other ideas that challenge the dominant ideology and social agenda of our age. There is a real distase for us giving our view.

Anna McLoughlin said...

Hi there, I am super interested in this debate.

I am a Christian but I do not oppose the same sex marriage bill.
The reasoning for this is because, in my opinion, gay couples are already couples.
They are already living together.
They are often already civilly unified.
The Christian faith did not create the institution of marriage.

Within this context we seem to be discussing the laws of the country, not a moral law. Correct me if I am wrong, but these appear to be two seperate lines of thought?

I would ask, why they would homosexual couples want to be married. Is it to appease a moral conscience? To become aligned with a moral law?

Getting practical here, why not have a box on the marriage licence that asks if it is a homosexual marriage or a heterosexual marriage?

There is no need to re-define marriage.

Marriage has historically, always been between a man and a woman.

I am however, opposed to people professing to be Christians partaking in a homosexual relationship and wanting to marry within this context or to be in a civil union. It goes against the belief structure of the bible as it clearly states that it is wrong. One cannot be a Christian and be in a homosexual relationship.

George Dunning said...

" One cannot be a Christian and be in a homosexual relationship."

Lost for words, I truly feel sad if that is how you feel. Not that you hold a the view but that you drag Jesus into such a judgmental position. To think you know the mind of God in this manner staggers.

George Dunning said...

Sorry for a second post I just wanted to say to Anna that I am not angry just the opposite, I truly weep for you. I can't believe how much that statement conveys.

Anna McLoughlin said...

Hi there George, I really want to hear your viewpoint on this.

I haven't found anything in the bible that states that it is ok to be in a homosexual relationship.

I am not talking about being a homosexual and a Christian. I am talking about being a Christian and in a homosexual relationship.

I genuinely want to hear your viewpoint. As what I have read in the bible, it seems pretty clear.

Anna said...

I would like you to also note that my statement in the previous post was a relatively bullet pointed statement rather than an explanation.

George Dunning said...

Anna what I think is immaterial it is what you think. You have read your bible and come to the conclusion you pronounce and condemn a group of people, the fact that your conclusion differs from that of many learned theologians (who may be wrong) matters not . . . you have 'stated' Gods position. I assume you would also say that Christians cannot be divorcees or woman should not preach?

I do not presume to know the mind of God on this matter based on a limited number of verses that historical and cultural study have shown may not be as clear cut as some would have (I have had the same discussion with the author of this blog). There is only one thing I am 100% sure of in regards to God:-

In Love
in Love we were conceived and created
in Love we walked side by side
in Love we were told we were free
in Love, we were left to walk away

by Love we were pursued
by Love we were nurtured and guided
by Love we were welcomed back
in Love, we were left to walk away

so Love came to find us
so Love came to walk side by side with us
so Love came to show us how to be free
in Love, Love walked to the cross for us

Love is in love
Love knows no other way
Love cannot give up for to do so Love would be something other

George Dunning said...

Jesus says come unto me ALL . . . .

He never never never then adds as long as you tick all these boxes and reach the qualifying standard . . . . He is Love!

Lisa Humphrey said...

Love it George !

Anna said...

George, You still haven't quite clearly stated where you stand on this.

Is it then possible to be a violent man, beating a wife, then staying in the church and professing to be a Christian, refusing to change, when he is constantly putting his own family's lives at risk?

Now I know someone who was killed by this exact type of man. Again from what I have read in the bible, it seems pretty clear about that.

I absolutely AGREE with what you say about God loving all people, there is TOTAL redemption through God. There is TOTAL wholeness found in him. Jesus still died for that man who was hurting his family. And he can still find redemption in God. Just like ANY human being on this planet. (This is the first time I have mentioned God or Jesus)

It is super clear in the bible that God loves ANY human being. But he seemed pretty intent on creating a way so that people could know Him, without sin.

But where does the bible state clearly that Homosexual initmacy is ok? I want to know all sides to this argument. I want to form an opinion through knowing both points of view.

I want to hear translations and see scriptures that clearly state that this is ok. Because all I have seen is the opposite.

I want the facts on this, from a different perspective. I think I have been fairly clear that I am wanting to hear your viewpoint, and feel that you will have some valuable insights to bring.

I don't want to make you weep, I want the theological facts. Take into account the first group of bullet points I said at the beginning also.

Remember here, I am not asking about people who aren't Christians, I am not judging anyone's voice.

This is a forum where we can learn you sound like a very well educated intelligent man, who (judging from the amount of comments you have made) feel strongly and very passionately about this.

I want to hear where you are coming from.
Thanks heaps

George Dunning said...

Anna just have some family over but I will try and reply later.

Pax george

Anna said...

Thanks George,

Just so you know, the subject about the man hurting his wife was in relation to divorce that you had mentioned earlier. It looks slightly out of context.

George Dunning said...

Hi Anna back now after a chance to give some thought as to how to respond and to be honest there is a part of me that says not to as I am not sure there is anything to be gained in such discussions, at least not much positive. Also you ask me where I stand and I not sure that really I stand anywhere. To say I dont care is not entirely true but maybe as I ramble on that position may become clearer.

If you ask me where I stand from a scriptural perspective then you are talking to a blind man trying to read the Bible in braille with thick gloves on. In my Christian (use that term loosely) walk I have found nothing as confounding as the confusing nature of many passages, they seem so categorical, some in a positive sense some in a negative sense but many of them in contradiction to others and to the nature of a God portrayed as love. These are issues I cannot resolve and to be honest I am not sure I envy those who seem to have it 'all worked out', they worry me given that Theologians have argued over many issues since the words were first transcribed (many times).

To me it seems that for many the words have superseded the Word, and to a degree this is understandable for we can try and make some sense out of words and arrive at a position we feel comfortable with, but the Word is someone in whose presence we are never truly comfortable. So what can we do, how can we make sense out of what we read . . . I think we must read the word through the Word not look to define the Word by our take on words - does that make sense? I wrote this once:- "Scripture is illuminated to us by the lamp that each of us carry which is a combination of our life experiences and that which the Spirit chooses to reveal at that stage of our lives. I cannot read it by your lamp and you cannot read it by mine, yet we may find that when we each bow our head over the same passage and read by the combined lights cast there, that we both see something new that was not clear as individuals."

What do I think about homosexual behavior? I don't understand it, why should I, how could I as I am not homosexual. It is as foreign to me as those who stand on street corners and try and harangue passerbys in to accepting Jesus or they will burn for all eternity.

What do I think of same sex marriage? Well I guess I don't care. If it makes them happy then so be it. Will it somehow legitimize it anymore in the eyes of God that they have a piece of paper or it accords them civil privileges? I don't think so, anymore than a couple who commit themselves to each other for eternity and so live a life of selfless love would be ignored by a God of love, by a God who is love, just because it was not solemnized by someone who by some authority invested by man calls himself 'priest'. I don't really think I am answering your questions but I don't know that I can - sorry.

I will leave you with this because I have already hijacked Marks blog enough for which I apologize to him and you and others. To many words that say nothing I am afraid. (emailgeorgedunning at gmail dot com)

"When all I am is stripped away when all my inhibitions are torn asunder when nothing else matters, and I think in my heart ‘I love you’; then and maybe only then I know there is a God, and God is love and I am one with the One. I want to cling to that moment because to soon the world comes crashing in and I am lost in the ocean swell of life."

George Dunning said...

Lisa you love it because He still calls to you and you cant drown Him out. You can cover your ears and cry rebellion and self reliance that drowns out the voice of man but you can never close your heart to the whispering of Love.

Lisa Humphrey said...

Ha nice try George alas I am an atheist... And proud of it. I am appalled yet slightly intrigued by some of the above comments . Gods PR people trying to interpret scriptures to back up their unjust arguments. . Marriage is and has always been governed by Law , it's not a Christian institution. The homosexual community has been persecuted enough and to deny them their human rights to marry like every other law abiding citizen is plain cruel. How kind of some to suggest civil union is enough for 'them'. As if they are second rate ? I shall be celebrating with the Gay community when the bill passes its 2 nd and 3rd reading. Using God and sin and a mish mash of scriptures s as a weapon is pointless. You will get more answers from the fairies at the bottom of your garden (excuse the pun)

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Ah Lisa see your first sentence sums up so much, are you really proud to be an atheist as if it is something you have created or built despite all? It is as anathema as those who are 'proud' to be Christians for the same reasons. There would be a lot less of these arguments if there was more humility and less pride.

I stand with you though in sadness and abhorrence of those who use God or Scripture as a weapon but that should not be confused with using it as part of a reasoned argument when asked to defend why they take the position that they do . . . this being a case in point. I also think it is sad that you lump all Christians into one 'nasty' bunch as all of us tend to do when we find ourselves in disagreement with a body of people. You know as well as I do that not all Christians view homosexuals as 2nd or 3rd grade people, actually I doubt there are many.

Enjoy your celebrations I think they will happen, though I doubt they will bring true happiness. I think sadly that many of these cases where it seems to be about 'equality' never really achieve the goal they set out to . . . it is not where we sit in society that makes us equal, not truly equal, it is who we are inside.

ps maybe God made faeries to, I would like to think so.

Karl Smith said...

Mark, wouldn't including people whom want to make a commitment to each other be a better witness of the Christian faith?
When a group puts itself in the position of judging and excluding, as opposed to loving and accepting, it does raise the question of where the heart of that group is. "Let he without sin cast the first stone".
A third of marriages currently end in divorce, also, any person can be married via a celebrant with no religious affiliation, so to me that suggests that the concept of marriage has long since passed from being an exclusive ritual within the domain of the church.
The Marriage equality bill as an opportunity in history for the Church to demonstrate the love of Christ, and include people without barriers or exception, however it will be a wasted opportunity if the attitude is one of exclusion rather than inclusion.

Lisa Humphrey said...

Yes I am proud to be an Atheist, it allows me to think critically, to embrace what I consider to be right and true. Without having to live with the fear of going to hell, it gives me the freedom to embrace today, the present moment and appreciate the people I connect and commune with. I do not believe in a heaven or an after life or any other promises that may offer me anything better? My time is now. Contrary to popular belief I also value what others think and believe in ...or I wouldnt be interested in Marks blog. Mark also adds 'what do you think? 'onto the end of most of his posts and he enjoys dialouge and debate. To say George 'There would be a lot less of these arguments if there was more humility and less pride' suggests to me that you may be uncomfortable with differing opinions? To argue and debate with people that hold different viewpoints is healthy, its connective, it tests what one believes surely or how else do we embrace change and learn from each other without some dialouge ? and I'm sure Mark knows me well enough to tell me to sod off if my views were too alternative. Neither do I bunch all Christians into one big melting pot. There is no such pot on a humane level as we are individuals at heart. However I do fight the good fight on behalf of the LGBT who have been oppressed, bashed, demon cast, suppossedly reorintated to become 'straight' and marginilised by the Church and whipped with the interpretation of scripture. And this way of thinking has bled like a rancid stench through the ages and still seeps out in Christian thinking today. So I dont believe in Gods love but I do believe in love...and acceptance.

Signing out now with

Love Peace and Vogels bread.

Lisa Humphrey said...

ps love your work Karl...great post...refreshing to read.

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Hi Mark, I know this has been going for a while, but I thought I would add my thoughts. You see, I am Katie's mom, and have also been a student under your teaching at Laidlaw.
I truly cannot understand why Christians/churches are getting involved in this debate. Surely we are citizens of a different kingdom, with different values, beliefs, and guidelines for living. Since when should we be involved in lawmaking? Marriage is only a word. A commitment before God is something different, and maybe this is where we should be heading, for those who want it.
Marriage breakdowns do not cause poverty. (Read Tim Keller's book, Generous Justice to see his breakdown of how poverty developed in Sandtown.Marriage breakups were the outcome of poverty, not the cause.)The cause of poverty, and other societal woes, are that the people of God not living as people of God. Statistically, what is the difference between the two groups? Divorce rates are the same, and many are indistinguishable as Christians, except where they stand against an issue. Looking at the character and heart of God, throughout the Old and New Testament, we see that Israel was charged with creating a culture of social justice for the poor and vulnerable because it was the way the nation could reveal God's glory and character to the world. (Quoted from Generous Justice). The problem is, a very small percentage of Christians are living as described in the bible. Instead of describing what we aren’t doing, lets look at how we should live.
We are told to repent. The meaning of this is to reevaluate our life and where we are heading, how we are living, and to turn 180degrees. I used to think that the “man who built his house on the rock” was the man who accepted Christ, and the foolish man was the one who didn’t. But it is the one who hears His word AND DOES THEM, who is the wise man. The bible speaks of fighting poverty, helping the poor, acting justly, and showing compassion over 2,000 times, (from Jim Wallis), but actually speaks very little about sexual issues in comparison. Ezekiel 16 v 49 + 50 describes the destruction of the city Sodom, not because of homosexuality, but because the people did not show the heart of God to those in need.
John says that the tree which does not bear good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire. When asked what he meant, he told them to share with the poor, and to act justly. This was said to those coming to follow him, not the general public.
So what are these words or teachings of Jesus that we should do? It is summed up in “love the Lord, and love your neighbors as yourself.” I always picture my grand child or family member as the one in need, and then think of my response to them. Jesus so clearly describes us living differently, and letting go of values that are no different to those who don’t follow Him. We can say that He didn’t really mean for us to give away many of our possessions, or to let our beliefs cost us, but He did. It can cost us everything.
We are to live as a citizen of the kingdom, not as one of this world. If Jesus gave up everything for us, we should be willing to give everything for our neighbours, to love them as we love ourselves. If we did this, society would change, people would flock to follow Jesus, instead of turning away because we try and tell others to live by our values - well, values that we somehow see describes the heart of the God we worship.
So I feel that the bigger issue here is not whether same sex partners can marry, but why are Christians not 100% committed to living as Jesus told us to. This is the bigger problem, where our focus should be.

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