Ben Witherington’s Post on Redefining Marriage

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BWIII just put up a thought provoking post on redefining marriage and looking at it from a Christian perspective. Very informative and thought provoking. Here is the link. Here are some excerpts:

“What should Christians think of this matter? Well, in the first place not only is marriage defined in the Bible as an act between a man and a woman, it is said that God initiated such an act in the first place. God brought the man and the woman together (read Gen. 1-2). The result of that marriage was a ‘one flesh union’, something which, if we understand it and exegete the phrase properly, is not possible for two men or two women to have with each other. Male and female were created in such a way that they, and they alone, can produce a one flesh union. This is not to say that other sorts of sexual activity could not create bonds of intimacy between two persons. This of course is the nature of intimate sharing in sex. The point is that these other sorts of unions are not what the Bible means by a ‘one flesh union’ (see e.g. Ephes. 5.21ff.).

The result of a proper marriage is not merely that the two become one, but that one of them, the male, becomes a husband and the other the female becomes a wife. It is no more possible for a female to become a husband than it is possible to have a female uncle or a male aunt (I’m am talking here about the issue of identity, not roles that one or another person might be able to play in some fashion).”

0 Responses

  1. That was very well-stated.

    I have a difficult time with this issue because it is SUCH a polarizing issue. Lots of folks who struggle with gay/lesbian temptation vilify Christians for how we support our views — unfortunately rightfully so. I often wonder that if I boldly rallied against redefining marriage whether that might end any possible evangelistic conversations I might have with folks of that ilk.

    That said, I still vote my conscience.

    There’s a lot that’s difficult about this issue.

  2. The late Stanley Grenz laid out a good case for the “welcoming but not affirming” position.

    Here is the real sticky, “rubber meets the road” question: Are we willing to welcome a gay/lesbian person into the church community, teach them about Jesus, baptize the into Jesus Christ, and allow them the time (years?) to overcome such sexual sin in a loving, rather than scornful, manner just as we do with other sinful behavior (greed, anger, idolatry, drunkeness, etc…)? If we are not, then there is a double standard. As it stands, the fellowship I am associated with seems more than willing to allow God to sanctify a new believer from the worldly ways such as drunkeness or greed and not brand them as a degenerate. This does not mean that we tolerate such behavior as though it were normal or acceptable for the Christian, it simply means that we do not withdraw our fellowship from those believers with such a struggle. Yet when it comes to homosexuality (and other sexual sins) we have a different standard.

    I do not know what to do about this issue, for it is a thorny issue that will always cause division. Personally, I want to make a distinction between the person who knows right but struggles to do so (with failures) and the person who could care less and goes about living in rebellious sin. Having said that, in my experiences, from an official standpoint, churches seem too tolerant of sinful behavior but in an unofficial manner there seems to be a serious lack of grace that results in scorn and shame. And the problem is that I have never seen scorn and shame teach a person to say no to ungodliness.

    Just some rambling thoughts…


  3. Dan Kimball has an interesting take in his They Like Jesus But Not the Church DVD and book. I don’t fully agree with all of his exegesis and some people have misquoted Kimball as being extremely liberal on this issue. But I think his approach of being accepting of the person and yet open about what scripture has to say about the issue with that person is a good option. We have to value what scripture says. We cannot twist scripture to come to the conclusions we want it to say (which many people do to make scripture pro-homosexual or at least neutral on homosexuality). Just like with any sin we have to be upfront with people on it and deal with them in love. Somehow this sin has gotten made way bigger than all the rest and that isn’t fair. It is also one of the sins that Christians have been most antagonistic about with the world and given ourselves a bad name. We are in need of helping people see Christians as kind and loving again.

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