Posted on Nov 10, 2012
As I said at the close of my last post, the reason I chose homosexuality as a topic for discussion is because it’s the most glaring example of our unpreparedness. It is a very difficult topic. It is also impossible to ignore. We have to deal with it, but we cannot deal with it well unless we (pardon the repetition) learn to deal with it well.
Our position and reasoning cannot be explained in sound bites. The ideas don’t sit on a bumper sticker as easily as (for instance) “Hate is not a family value.” SSM advocates have lots of sound bites. They can say Jesus never mentioned homosexuality—and they’re right! Touché! It’s quick, sharp, and to the point. They can say that Old Testament (OT) commands against homosexuality are mixed in with other manifestly outmoded and barbaric commandments. Right again! Ouch!
And the student encountering such repartée (it’s all over the Internet) concludes, maybe there isn’t a good answer even in the Bible, and maybe it really is weird and wrong to believe what my church is telling me about SSM. Maybe my church is wrong about a lot more than that besides.
Of course these two SSM sound bites only work for those who don’t know what they’re talking about, but unfortunately that number includes far too many of us, both in the church and outside.
For in fact the Bible supports man-woman marriage from Genesis 1 through the Epistles (arguably even Revelation). Jesus explicitly affirmed it. The Bible clearly says that sex is a good that is to be experienced between a married man and woman, and that it is immoral and humanly damaging in other contexts. Given that, the Bible hardly even needs to mention (though it does say it) that sex between man and man or woman and woman fails to meet the standard for morality.
As for those so-called barbaric OT commands, Christians down through the centuries have known about them and have developed intellectually and historically responsible ways of sorting out which ones apply where and why, and which one’s don’t. Does the rest of the world think these passages just popped out of nowhere. Did SSM advocates discover them just now for the first time ever? How odd that they would treat them as if that were so!
Well, look: there’s a pair of pithy paragraphs the beleaguered Christian student could use to answer her pro-SSM friend right there! Except for this: she’ll have to explain it. The rhetorical situation is uneven: when one side says “Hate is not a family value,” everyone knows exactly what they’re talking about. When we say, “Marriage was always for man and woman throughout the Bible,” not even Christians typically understand what that’s about. (“What about polygamy?”) Or when we say, “The Bible explains, and thoughtful people have long explored, just what it is that distinguishes some OT commands’ longevity from others,” that’s yet another thing that needs some serious explanation.
And then there’s the deeper problem: whether the parties care that these so-called biblical jabs have sound biblical answers. Many think the Bible is irrelevant for any purpose other than showing how foolish we Christians are for believing the Bible is relevant. Thankfully there are excellent secular grounds for the defense of marriage, too.
So my question remains, how prepared are we to provide either biblical or extra-biblical (secular) explanations for our position? How much damage are we taking upon ourselves by not being prepared? Christians, consider these 5 Cs:
Challenge: Can you state one good secular reason to support man-woman marriage??
Caution: Complementary male-female plumbing isn’t among them; that is, it’s an argument of sorts, but not one of the better ones. Try it in debate and you’ll likely lose.
Corollary: If you can’t hold your own in these debates, neither can your son, daughter, niece, nephew, or grandchild.
Comprehensiveness: The SSM question is one of the most likely ones but it’s hardly the only one. “What, you believe in the Bible? How could you deny science that way? Don’t you know miracles can’t happen? What about all the other religions? What makes you think yours is so great? You can’t really mean Christ is the only way, can you?” And the student quietly slinks into acquiescence, concluding that Christianity really is just as weird as his friends tell him it is.
Comfort: You get points if you know where you would go right now to find an answer. It’s not as important that every church member know how to defend the faith in every respect, as it is that every Christian know that it can be defended, and that we all know where we would go to start looking for answers.
This series will continue and will move toward some new, extremely practical ways for you, your family members, and your church to become truly prepared. I think you’ll be excited about what I’ll be unveiling between now and the end of the year.