(THIS IS PART 2; CONTINUED FROM PART 1, WHICH YOU CAN READ HERE)
The reason that much of the gay community hates the Church is because they perceive that the Church hates them. They perceive the Church hates them because we are openly lobbying to keep away all of the bullet pointed rights above from them (as well as many others not listed). How would you feel if someone took all of those rights away from you? You might assume that person hated you.
If we are to be fair and not discriminatory, we should allow homosexual couples to have the same legal and financial rights as heterosexual couples. But does that mean we need to throw out the Bible? Does that mean we need to ignore the Bible’s commands that sex is meant to be inside of a marriage between a man and a woman?
No. The Bible has been around for around 4000 years and has saved and transformed trillions of lives along the way by introducing people to the love, grace and mercy of God. We aren’t going to throw away what we as Christians believe is God’s authoritative, inspired word to us. But we also can’t shove it down people’s throats who don’t ascribe to it the way we do. Whether that person is in a homosexual relationship, is an atheist or just simply doesn’t believe in Jesus and the Bible the way we do. Shoving the Bible down someone’s throat has never gotten anyone anywhere.
So what does all of this have to do with homosexual weddings?
The Lansing City Pulse recently did an article listing out the “gay friendly” churches in the area. One of the primary qualifications to be on this list was that you would officiate a gay marriage. That you would officiate a marriage that directly breaks the commands of the Bible of what marriage is supposed to be, but that also (someday when passed by law) would grant the 1,138 legal and financial federal benefits currently deprived to those living in same-sex unions, something that indeed seems pretty unfriendly.
So back to my original question: Why in the world are pastors given the authority by our government to allow someone to file their taxes together, or to share their Social Security plan or to be able to make emergency medical decisions on behalf of someone else.
I preach the Bible, not tax law and medical benefits.
At the end of the day, what the Bible says about marriage has been different from what our culture has said about marriage for quite some time now.
The Bible says to wait until have sex until marriage, something that seems comical to most of popular culture today.
The Bible says not to lust, while popular culture has made lust a multibillion dollar industry.
The Bible says not to divorce except for sexual infidelity; culture says to divorce over “irreconcilable differences.”
The Bible says a marriage is to be two people forsaking all others; surprisingly large subunits of our culture practice open marriages or have no problem with their spouse looking at porn or going to strip clubs.
The Bible says marriage is to be between a man and a woman, culture says it can be between a man and a man or a woman and a woman.
All of these show that our ideas of “marriage” are two different things, with people going into them with two very different sets of motives, promises and expectations. This is not a recent phenomena, nor is it exclusive to the gay marriage debate. I preach from the Bible when I do a wedding, the Justice of the Peace doesn’t.
So why are both of these very different institutions lumped under the same word: “marriage”?
Doesn’t make much sense to me.
One of them is very religious, following what the Bible says about marriage.
One of them is very cultural, following what culture deems proper.
So couldn’t we call them two different things?
Couldn’t we separate Church from State?
Couldn’t pastors, like myself, legally forsake their State-given authority to legally bind anyone in marriage. Then, if I’m interviewed by the City Pulse on if I do gay marriages or not (a.k.a. “Are you unfriendly to gays?”), I can simply answer “I don’t do marriages at all actually, but I genuinely love all gay people and am very friendly toward them, as is my church.”
I will do a religious ceremony before God and your friends and family where we open the Bible and make a covenant before God and each other that you will follow all the Bible says about sex and marriage with people who believe the Bible already. We could call it a gameo, the New Testament Greek word for “marriage,” for this is what Jesus had it mind when he spoke the word, not the very different entity our culture has turned marriage into. I’ll give up the English word in favor of the one that literally came out of Jesus’ mouth when he gave the teachings that I’ve committed my life to follow.
Have your gameo done at my church, then go to the Justice of the Peace, or the IRS, or the mayor, and have them give you your marriage tax benefits and your insurance benefits and your inheritance benefits. And if in the meantime they decide to give these benefits to men who want to marry men, women who want to marry women, men who want to marry 5 women, or women who want to marry their cousin or their brother or their mom, that’s their business (and/or the democracy’s business). It’s not going to change the 4000 year old Bible that I preach and operate under. A Bible that doesn’t say anything about who should have shared Social Security benefits and who shouldn’t.
Here’s something the Bible does say that Christians should take note of when considering who should be given basic civil rights and who shouldn’t: (Jesus speaking) Matthew 5:44-45 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
God isn’t selective on who gets the basic rights of the sun and the rain. We don’t need to be so selective on who gets the basic right to take bereavement leave or to share an auto insurance policy.
If someone wants to start a petition where pastors can reject their State-given authority to perform marriages, I’ll be the first to sign up. But if anyone would like a gameo officiated, I would be honored to oversee it.
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- Ep. 24, Interview with Tyler St. Clair on dealing with the grind and insecurity of pastoring + race & the Church - January 17, 2020