A Response to Matthew Vines’ 40 Questions For Christians Who Oppose Marriage Equality Part 2
Picking up where I left off, I continue my responses.
8. How many gay brothers and sisters in Christ have you walked with on the path of mandatory celibacy, and for how long?
I have walked through the experience with as many gay brothers and sisters as I know, which is none. This says nothing about my willingness to do so, nor about the rightness of it. If a brother or sister came to me and told me of their struggle, I would advise them to remain celibate if traditional marriage was not something they would pursue, and I would walk through that struggle with them. Again, the absence of my experience in this matter is completely irrelevant to the issue of the morality.
9. What is your answer for gay Christians who struggled for years to live out a celibacy mandate but were driven to suicidal despair in the process?
The premise of this question seems to be that struggling for years to live celibate is what drove the person to suicidal despair. That someone would be suicidal over that suggests much deeper issues than celibacy in light of same-sex attraction.
10. Has mandatory celibacy produced good fruit in the lives of most gay Christians you know?
If by “mandatory celibacy” you mean celibacy because someone told you that’s what the rules were, then no “mandatory” behavior has ever produced “good fruit” in anyone’s life, if you mean spiritual fruit. However, forbidden behavior, for whatever reason, produces all kinds of bad fruit.
11. How many married same-sex couples do you know?
Just one. How many do I need before it becomes obvious that it is irrelevant?
12. Do you believe that same-sex couples’ relationships can show the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
Relationships don’t show the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is expressed in individuals through relationships. Love? Among other things, Paul says that love “…does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6) Leviticus 18 and Romans 1, among other passages, clearly show homosexual behavior to be examples of “unrighteousness.” Peace? Maybe, but it sure seems like it is incumbent on those of us who disagree with you to cave in order for the peace to prevail. Among such couples? That will vary. Goodness? That begs the question. If homosexual behavior is sin, and sin is evil, then it is impossible for homosexual relationships to bear the fruit of goodness. Self control is also out the window if the claim is that same-sex attracted people cannot live celibate.
13. Do you believe that it is possible to be a Christian and support same-sex marriage in the church?
It is possible for to be a Christian and be confused and mistaken about a great many things. The issue is, on what basis does the Christian support same-sex marriage? Being a Christian means recognizing one’s sinful condition and need of a savior, and trusting in the person and work of Jesus Christ to reconcile us to God. We come to this knowledge through Scripture. If someone claims to accept this teaching of Scripture, but rejects the teaching on sexual boundaries, it is fair to ask on what basis they accept the teaching about Jesus.
14. Do you believe that it is possible to be a Christian and support slavery?
*sniff sniff * Do I smell fish? It must be that red herring over there.
15. If not, do you believe that Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards were not actually Christians because they supported slavery?
In what sense do these individuals “support slavery?” What kind of slavery? Often the indentured servant provision of the Mosaic law, this was what was provided for as a “welfare” program for those who found themselves in poverty. They could “sell” themselves for up to six years to pay off the debt. They were housed and fed, and were not considered property. However, what does it even mean that these people “support” it? In any case, see my answer to 13. It applies to any Christian and any problematic belief.
16. Do you think supporting same-sex marriage is a more serious problem than supporting slavery?
There’s that fish again.
17. Did you spend any time studying the Bible’s passages about slavery before you felt comfortable believing that slavery is wrong?
I spent enough time to realize that this question trades on the equivocation of the word “slavery.” Vines knows this word conjures up visions of the antebellum south and chattel slavery in the United States, when the Bible passages regarding slavery speak to no such condition.
18. Does it cause you any concern that Christians throughout most of church history would have disagreed with you?
It causes me no more concern than it does Vines that for 3500 years, the Judeo-Christian worldview has disagreed with him.
19. Did you know that, for most of church history, Christians believed that the Bible taught the earth stood still at the center of the universe?
Does Vines know that all the homosexual people who lived before Copernicus though the same thing? His point?
20. Does it cause you any concern that you disagree with their interpretation of the Bible?
No more than it concerns me that I disagree with the Roman Catholic interpretation of the Bible. If numbers of people and length of time counted for anything, Vines would not even be making his case.
21. Did you spend any time studying the Bible’s verses on the topic before you felt comfortable believing that the earth revolves around the sun?
No, but then I know the difference between factual assertions and phenomenological language (describing things as they appear, rather than as they are. Even in our scientific age, every weather forecasting website and newscast still speak of “sunrise” and “sunset.”)
22. Do you know of any Christian writers before the 20thcentury who acknowledged that gay people must be celibate for life due to the church’s rejection of same-sex relationships?
I have no knowledge of any Christian writers before the 20th century writing about how gay people should behave, and no Christian writer I read bases such ideas on what the Church accepts or rejects. The question is what does God’s Word accept or reject. This question is also a red herring.
23. If not, might it be fair to say that mandating celibacy for gay Christians is not a traditional position?
No, it would be fair to say that Scripture mandates celibacy for any Christian who is not married (in the traditional man/woman sense.) That is the traditional position.
To be continued… (cue fanfare with dramatic reverb.)