According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power
is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. - anon

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Equal Rights for Gay Marriage and How It Affects Christian Ethos Rightly or Wrongly

“Fundamentalism” of the Left
Very interesting! I had forgotten that Bush advocated that. The one area where you and I may disagree is whether churches and synagogues (etc.) need to see a civil union license before performing a marriage ceremony. I don’t think so. The two things should be disengaged entirely. The government should have no say in what persons churches and synagogues (etc.) marry and churches and synagogues (etc.) should not care about the government’s decisions about civil unions.


Daniel W says:
Perhaps all legal domestic unions between two consenting adults should be called “civil unions” instead of “marriages” at the state and federal levels. What is considered a “marriage” should be left to churches and other religious organizations. Each religious organization should be able to decide which individuals they consider to be married in God’s eyes. Obviously, the state should really have no part in that. On this issue, I prefer the model of some European nations, in which church marriage and state marriages are separate. In France, if an elderly woman would lose her deceased husband’s pension by becoming legally remarried, she can still get remarried before God in a church without going to the courthouse to procure a legal marriage.

rogereolson says:
I have publicly agreed with that and taken a lot of flack for it–including from baptists who would be horrified if the government started deciding which persons are “really” ordained (which was the case in some European countries until recently). I am completely clueless as to the distinction between ordination and marriage when it comes to church and state. Until a century to two centuries ago marriage was always a religious institution. Government only got into the “business” of issuing marriage licenses for the non-religious and to prevent certain persons from being married. We need to take separation of church and state to the next logical level.


Bev Mitchell says:
Roger, You remind us, ”Not long ago I wrote a column advocating civil unions for any two adults. I argued that “marriage,” being a religious institution, should be left to churches, synagogues and other religious organizations. I was vilified by people on both sides of the homosexuality debate. For many gay rights advocates, that’s not enough. For many anti-gay activists that’s too big a concession.”

How did I miss this? You make exactly the right point – thanks for having stated it so boldly, and stick to your guns! We Christians rightly celebrate Christian marriage – a marriage before the Judeo-Christian God which seeks the blessing of that same God. How can non-believers honestly celebrate this kind of marriage? Why would they want to? However, and beyond where you may wish to go, if the word ‘marriage’ has become irreversibly universal (religious, civil, Vegas etc.), so be it. An adjective may well be required and ‘Christian marriage’ should do just fine. Perhaps we should make this small change and get over it!

I know this will sound like giving in to many. However, we already have all kinds of marriages that make no reference whatever to religion of any kind, let alone The Christian kind. There appears to be little outcry about calling them marriages. How, logically, does the gay issue make any difference. Why fuss now after the horse is well out of the barn and headed for the next county?

rogereolson says:
I would prefer to call what the government licenses “civil unions.” I am often inclined to stick to the original meanings of words when it’s too late. :) I suspect we agree on the basic issue. I blogged about it way back near the beginning of this blog and I wrote a column about it in the local newspaper. I received harsh e-mails criticizing me for my suggestion. Even some baptists still want our governments deciding about Christian marriage. My question to them is why they don’t want our governments deciding about valid ordinations, baptisms, etc. “Marriage” is a sacrament (in the broadest sense), not a civil institution. In my opinion, churches and synagogues (etc.) should decide whom to marry without government interference or even knowledge. If the couple wants the protection of a civil union, they can add that.


Bev Mitchell says:
Roger, Yes, we do fundamentally agree. We also share the tendency, even strong desire, to insist on keeping the meaning of a word after the majority have arrived at a quite different meaning, or worse, many meanings. It reminds me of a book I used to own, but can no longer find, entitled “Good English, and Other Lost Causes”. And yes, marriage is a sacrament – that is, what we do, what we say and what we mean, as believers before the Lord are indeed sacramental. The word ‘marriage’ used to summarize these sacramental acts nicely. I am simply concerned that it no longer does – indeed, as you say, it has been stolen from the faithful. But, the theft occurred many moons ago, and, I think, largely without complaint from the ‘owners’.

It would be wonderful if the state would keep its hands off of the Church’s sacraments. But do we also want people of other faiths, with other sacraments to leave our Christian word alone? Is it indeed a solely a Christian word? Is it reasonable to complain loudly now, especially based on one issue that has so many confusing overtones? Is it reasonable to re-claim sole ownership, after all these decades of neglect?

I’m mostly full of questions today, it seems, but here is another that you are far better equipped to answer than many. While marriage is clearly a sacrament for Christians, what is it considered to be, by Muslims for Muslims, by Buddhists for Buddhists, Jews for Jews etc.?

rogereolson says:
To the best of my knowledge all religions have some form of what we call marriage. I have no objection to them performing those ceremonies and observing those institutions. Christians will call ours marriage whatever they call theirs.

Government should offer any two people the opportunity of civil union for specific legal purposes–sharing of property, having the right to visit the other one in hospital and (as assigned by his or her partner) make life and death decisions for him or her, etc., etc. All the rights and privileges of what the government now calls “marriage” would go to civil unions but without any of the religious connotations and without any implications for sex.

Laws against abuse would stand. (For example, adults would not be allowed to enter into civil unions with minors. Parents would still have special rights over their children, etc.) However, any two consenting adults could form a civil union solely (in the government’s eyes) for financial purposes and for purposes of decision making. Everything gay people want when they demand the right to marry would be given them in civil unions. They could call their civil union “marriage” or whatever they want to call it. The government would only issue a civil union license which would permit them to file income tax returns jointly, own property jointly, inherit common property without taxation, etc.

Churches and other religious organizations would decide without government interference who is married (or whatever they call their arrangement that we call a sacrament). For example, a church might decide it will not recognize gay civil unions as true marriages or it might require a civil union license to marry people (or not), etc., etc. A gay couple can become married by finding a church that will perform that ceremony and declare them married (which would only be valid for churches that recognize it as valid). Or they can simply have a civil union and call it marriage, but they could not expect everyone to recognize their civil union as marriage. The two are entirely separate arrangements–one civil and one religious.


Steve Dal says:
Roger, You simply cannot raise any gay issue now without being seen as an ‘anti-gay activist’. The end. Its past discussion now and rational debate over the various aspects of the issue. Even in the ‘church’.

rogereolson says:
Or, I might add, without being seen as a “gay activist” or “pro-gay.” As with abortion, the middle ground is missing and even vilified when you try to work it out.


Rick Frueh says:
For every verse about the sin of homosexual behavior there are twenty about greed and hedonism. The only reason I am against abortion or believe homosexual behavior is sinful is because I was born again. I do find it quite curious that a church full of divorce and adultery finds those sins redemptive-ready, while gay sin provides a wonderful platform to trot out our pristine Biblical credentials. (sarcasm alert) Since I endorse orthodox divorce between a man and a woman, and orthodox adultery between a man and a woman. Perhaps a constitutional amendment supporting that?

rogereolson says: