Homosexuals are Sinners? All the More Reason for Them to Marry

Jason Micheli —  July 3, 2014 — 21 Comments

rainbow-cross_aprilMy nook of United Methodism recently resolved not to resolve (yet) a proposal to change our denomination’s official language on homosexuality, opting to curate a ‘conversation’ instead.

Like a virtual, online Sisyphus, here’s another modest attempt to push the burden forward:

Those who oppose gay marriage in the Church- or even gay membership in the Church- most often do so by citing homosexuality as a sin. Indeed the ‘S word’ predominates much of the discussion on sex.

Homosexuality violates the Levitical codes and while Jesus never speaks of homosexuality neither does he single the subject out for one of his ‘you’ve heard it said’ segues.

While much is made of how scripture views homosexuals as sinners, little commented upon is how marriage’s purpose in the Church- it’s vocation (i.e. it’s calling)- is the healing of our sin.  Our sanctification.

Under this view marriage, same sex couples would appear to be prime candidates for the very covenant denied them by the Church- and for the very reason they’re so denied.

Sanctification is a theological term that describes one’s growth in grace; it is the process of growing ever more holy in the love of God.

Sanctification is a theological term that describes one’s growth in grace; it is the process of growing ever more holy in the love of God.

It’s living with the Other and learning to them nonetheless that we learn to love as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Married love conveys and communicates to one another and to others something of the grace of God thereby growing us in grace.

The Orthodox Christian tradition, following St. Gregory of Nyssa’s understanding and reading deeply in the Song of Songs, has understood marriage and sexual intimacy to be a means of sanctification, an entering into Trinitarian love.

Marriage allows for Christians’ sanctification for it creates the space and time for eros (intense but self-centered love) to become agape (charitable, other-directed love. In this fashion, married love teaches Christians how to love as God loves.

Marriage is medicine by which the Spirit heals our sin-sick selves.

Married couples do not stay the same people they were on their wedding day. The binding covenant of Christian marriage provides the context-the confines- in which Christians can grow in holiness by growing in the love of someone other than themselves. In this way, Christian marriage makes visible to others the Holy Spirit’s active, invisible work in our midst.

If Christian marriage is also understood as a means of grace and sanctification, then to deny that source of grace to same sex couples is to withhold the medicine for sin under the auspices of sin.

Thus, to deny that source of grace to same sex couples might be understood to frustrate the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

And if you know your bibles, then you know that grieving the Spirit- not what ones does under the sheets- is the only unforgivable offense.

RogersAs Dr. Eugene Rogers my very first theology teacher at UVA writes:

The question of same-sex marriage therefore comes to the church not as an issue of extended rights and privileges, but as a pastoral occasion to proclaim the significance of the gospel for all who marry, because marriage embodies and carries forward the marriage of God and God’s people. 

To deny committed couples marriage deprives them not of a privilege but of a medicine.

It deprives them not of a social means of satisfaction but of a saving manner of healing.

Those couples who approach the church for marriage–and those whose priests prompt them to marry—are drawn there by the marriage of Christ and the church, which alone makes it possible for human relationships to become occasions of grace.

Couples who delay or are denied marriage are like those who previously waited for deathbed baptism; they unaccountably put off the grace by which their lives might be healed. 

There is no question of whether the marriage of Christ and the church is available to sinners, but only how it is so. 

Because the love of God for God’s people is real, and the declaration “this is my body given for you” is true, the church needs as many witnesses as the Holy Spirit and its mission may draft. Same- and opposite-sex couples who want to marry in the church bear witness to the love of God for God’s people and to the power of that love to atone, reconcile, and heal. Not that they can do those things by their human power alone, but the Spirit can attest their witness to the atonement and healing of Christ. 

Jason Micheli

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21 responses to Homosexuals are Sinners? All the More Reason for Them to Marry

  1. Sorry, nowhere in legal or religious text is there a clause preventing homosexuals to enter into a conjugal marriage. Agreed that marriage would help save homosexuals from sin. Disagree with re-defining marriage as non-conjugal.

    • Jason Micheli July 3, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      While I agree, I didn’t intend to imply that homosexuals should have only a non conjugal relationship, especially since the vulnerability of sex is one of the ways we approximate the love of Trinity.

  2. I’m not convinced, but I have to say that you have provided the only argument in years that has given me pause to say I have to think over this again. And you did it without the usual set of attacks or demeaning of others for thinking differently than you. For both of these things I truly thank-you.

  3. The logic of this article indicates that the healing and sanctifying effect of a same sex marriage will convict the the homosexual of his/her sin and perhaps lead to repentance. However, I doubt that’s your intent, is it?

    If not, then what is the”medicine for?

    • Jason Micheli July 3, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      Marriage can provide a growing into union with God which would entail other sins surely- perhaps, from your vantage, even graver ones (greed for example).

  4. Your post is poetically written and almost convincing. Yet marrying same sex couples leaves people in a situation where sin has now become blessed by civil and church authority. It seems to say that the LG Christian couple is unwilling to give up their lifestyle so we may as well co-opt it and give them an opportunity to have a means of sanctification. I am a grevious sinner as well; but please don’t contrive a means to plant me in a garden of my particularly favorite temptations under the guise of growing me in grace.

  5. Bobby Ray Hurd July 3, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    I’ve had the thought that if marriage is one of two Christian vocations, and if being gay disqualifies you from marriage, we need commitment cards when we baptize children. Kind of like True Love Waits but you don’t get laid at the end.

  6. The minute we discuss changing God’s clear word and twisting scripture to make us feel better about the sins of ourselves and others we are lost.

    • Jason Micheli July 3, 2014 at 3:53 PM

      Of course, the minute we imply that God’s word is ‘clear’ on what we know of as same-sex monogamy we’ve already twisted scripture in order to make us feel better.

      • Well said, sir.

      • Genesis 2:24 – For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
        That seems pretty clear to me. Not trying to be a troll here and clearly you have me on biblical experience so I’d love to hear where this issue gets muddy?

  7. Bobby Ray Hurd July 3, 2014 at 9:18 PM

    Infant baptism celibacy commitment cards are still an option

  8. Bobby Ray Hurd July 6, 2014 at 10:54 PM

    By the hermeneutical rationale you’re using, Bobby, slavery, patriarchy, and monarchy are all institutions that are blessed if you want to proof text like that

    • Again, i’m not a biblical scholar but if the bible was pro slavery why did the abolitionists use it against slavery?
      I’m also not sure what you mean by “proofing” text but if you are referring to the translation I can copy the bible.Com link that shows about 8 different translations and they all say this man and this woman.
      Paul writes about the need for a man to have a wife and the wife to have a husband in 1 corinthians 7:1-2.
      Suggesting that the Bible is not God breathed as are the translations is also not a road I’m willing to travel here. To me and many like me, I want for everyone to feel the love of God’s Grace. The forgiving and healing power is huge, but to pretend God left out a section or to try and extrapolate a wild idea from a fairly straight forward scripture is not helping anyone.
      We as a society are to blame for nurturing sin. It’s our nature. We are sinful in thought, word and action. We are doing a disservice to these men and women by even having a vote or continued discussion on this topic. The sooner we each feel the conviction and weight of our sin the sooner we can begin to be repentant of it and feel the power of God’s Grace. For the church to embrace a Godly bond between two people of the same gender is a misrepresentation of Scripture and a sin.

      Jesus saw into the souls of everyone he met (John 2:25). Not once did he stand up for homosexuals like he did for prostitutes, tax collectors, drunks, etc. Omission is not support. Furthermore he said the apostles were his voice. So Paul’s numerous condemnations of homosexual behavior and his affirmation of marriage to one man and woman are like Jesus’ words.
      I appreciate the plight of homosexuals. As a sinner myself I too long for the church to create a special exemption for my favorite sin, but to do so would be wrong and an affront to God. My salvation if eon through Christ’s sacrifice for me and my faith in that sacrifice with a repentant heart. To be repentant of my sins I must first acknowledge that sin. If we embrace homosexual marriage then we are pretending that homosexual relations are not sinful. Even the thought of it is a sin. We are doing a disservice to our brothers and sisters in Christ if we allow it.
      It is with love that I write this for love it what Christ preached. We must turn away from sin, not embrace it.

      • In response to bobby. Thank you for your very well written response. It is indeed lovingly written with logic and Biblical evidence. The church is called to walk alongside each other not in condoning and blessing one another’s sins but in confronting and supporting one another in turning from those sins. Yes, the times they are a’changing but God’s Word remains the same.

  9. Well said bobby.

  10. bobby, the reference to proof-texting is related to any particular translation, it is the citing of a single verse of text as if it proves something. Rarely does a single verse, even of the inspired Word of God, taken out of its relevant context give us the divine view of something. Rather, it may use divine words, but because of the editorial process used to pick a particular text from all others that might also be germane, it simply gives us a what one human views as important.

    Now, I’m not saying not to use verses from the Bible, please, don’t hear that. But consider that many verses appear to be clear to the person who cites them given that they appear to support the idea already in their own head, but taken in context with other passages and different ways of perceiving the passage, they might not seem so clear to everyone else.

    With regard to Genesis 2:24 – “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” — I want to begin by asking, for WHAT reason? It would appear from the context, that the reason they shall become “one flesh” is because the woman was taken out of man.

    Now, as to your interpretation, so speaks so clearly to you, if this verse was meant to indicate that the only thing that the only sort of marriage which God could bless is that between a man and a woman so that they become exactly one flesh, one has to question all of the other forms of marriage that get not only recognized in the scriptures, but in which God also acts to bless the participants. (I trust that you’ve been reading on this subject long enough that I don’t have to go through and list all of the various instances.) So, it suddenly becomes less clear to me exactly what the passage you reference is commenting on.

    What I will do is give you this, that Jesus too references this passage when commenting on marriage. And I think that lends substance to your argument that it does not have apart from his comment. (Paul references it as well.) There usage of the text tells me that they consider the marriage of exactly one man to exactly one woman to be normative. What it doesn’t tell me is if that means only that it is the norm in Jesus’ cultural experience or if he sees it to be normative and therefore directive of all other experiences universally?

    The usage of this passage by Jesus leads me to lean toward the idea that it is indeed to be understood as universally normative. But, I can only assert that it leads me in that direction. I hardly think that it “clearly” proves it for anyone. If that were true, I would have expected some sort of negative commentary on the multiple wives held by Israel’s patriarchs and other notable figures, and none is forthcoming anywhere in either Old or New Testaments.

    • The problem I see with the line of thinking of “all these other forms of marriage were valid, if not endorsed, in some part of the scripture” is simply that still, nowhere in scripture is same-sex marriage included as one of those forms. You’d be better off trying to endorse polygamy this way than same-sex marriage.

  11. Jason Micheli July 7, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    It’s worth noting (later blog post) that when Paul quotes Genesis in Galatians (neither Jew nor Greek…neither male and female) Paul doesn’t continue the ‘or’ pattern male nor female that the reader expects but lifts the male/female complement straight from Genesis. In other words it’s not our gender that’s reconfigured in light of Christ but the male/female norm of Genesis that’s obliterated by Christ and put in submission to it. So those who want to make hay w Complementarianism do something Paul explicitly rejects.

  12. Of course the Galatians passage isn’t about endorsing complementarianism, nor egalitarianism. What Paul was doing in Galatians was rebuking the way of categorizing people into dichotomous groupings that could be set against one another.

  13. Bobby Ray Hurd July 7, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    Right. Scripture was used by abolitionists to help abolish slavery. But you will see yourself that Scripture has no outward rejection of it as an institution (which is, hermeneutically speaking, the same thing marriage equality advocates are trying to do).

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