Ted Grimsrud—May 22, 2012
In Part One of these three posts, I suggested that Christians should be disposed to affirm gay marriage—and then noted three arguments that tend to be used to override that positive initial disposition. Then, in Part Two, I focused on two of those three arguments that tend to be used as bases for withholding affirmation of gay marriage in Christian churches: that by the nature of it being between people of the same sex, gay marriage is harmful to the people involved and that gay marriage undermines the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. In this final post, I will look at the third argument: the teaching of the Bible.
The discussion of the Bible’s teaching is probably the most contentious of all three of our “debates.” Here are just a few thoughts.
The Bible, on the one hand, contains a great deal of teaching and many stories that indirectly speak to our general theme of affirming gay marriage (or not). Not least are the teachings and stories that speak about hospitality and God’s special concern for vulnerable people. As well, teachings and stories about human relationality (going clear back to the very beginning when God says of Adam that it is not good for this first human being to be alone). We also have teaching and stories about the importance of fidelity in relationships and the problems of socially harmful actions (such as violence, injustice, adultery, abuse in various forms).
On the other hand, the Bible does not say much directly about homosexuality (which is not surprising given that the term “homosexuality” itself is a modern term that seems to reflect a modern awareness of affectional orientation and sexual identity). What do we make, though, of the several texts that have typically been seen as providing a basis for generalizing about a biblical mandate to forbid same-sex intimate relationships (and, certainly, same-sex marriage)?
We should notice three things about these texts (the main ones that interpreters usually focus on are the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18–19, the teaching in Leviticus 18 and 20 against “men laying with men as with women,” and Paul’s references in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6 to problems with same-sex sexual behaviors [we could also include 1 Timothy 1:10 which clearly is derivative from I Corinthians 6 and adds no new information to the issues raised in these texts]): (1) the Bible speaks only of male “homosexuality,” (2) the Bible is concerned with various behaviors, not just one “homosexual practice,” and (3) the New Testament contains no direct commands to Christians concerning homosexuality. Continue reading “A basic Christian argument for affirming gay marriage (Part three)”