Conversation On President Obama, Gay Marriage and Christianity (Part 1)

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A good friend of mine, Philip Cunningham, asked me if we could dialog a bit on our perspective on the news that Obama was going on the record about endorsing gay marriage. We thought it might be refreshing to have a healthy and productive conversation on the web instead of all the trashing people do of each other. We were mostly focused on what we, as Christians, should think about and respond to President Obama saying he was pro gay marriage. Here is the first part.

Matt: One thing I will say and am curious to hear what you think, why do you think he (The President) has always previously said that he thought marriage was between a man and woman but that his thoughts are still evolving. But now that he is pro gay marriage his views are no longer evolving as you might think they should. It is as if you can only evolve in your thinking toward gay marriage being right and once you land there, there is no more room to evolve into an better view. Do you think it implies that? Am I reading too much into it? Well…there is my first post 😉

Philip: I think the President said that because he wants to get elected.  Politicians — at least the ones who are good at it — say what they say to win elections & consolidate power.  There are lots of harebrained ideas out there about the President.  But one of the most under-discussed is this:  he is a political animal.  He & his team are as skilled a political machine as our country has ever seen.  And so you’ll forgive me if I doubt the sincerity of his evolution on this topic.

In fact:  it seems that our President has been evolving quite a bit over the last several decades (HT CBN:

Perhaps the most absurd example of political “evolution” is the issue of Healthcare & our new national law.  Four years ago, candidate & then-Senator Obama campaigned against a national mandate in order to defeat Hillary Clinton in the primary. (HT ABC News:  And before all of the rancor & malice was stirred up on the right against healthcare, former Governor Romney pointed to his record in Massachusetts & championed a national mandate! (HT Boston Globe:  And now, this fall, America will observe both of these gentlemen argue the opposite positions passionately.

No- I don’t intend to defend the President on his “evolution” same-sex marriage.  Or expect any politician to lead the Church forward on this issue.

Are you concerned at how the President’s announcement will influence the country?  The Church?

Matt: I think that the president certainly does have influence, otherwise what is the point of having a president? Does the president’s view on something dictate it for the rest of us? Only if it becomes law and legally binding. Being the first president in U.S. history to endorse gay marriage is certainly a step in the wrong direction morally speaking. I do realize that there have been presidents in the past on the wrong side of various moral issues. That doesn’t make this a unique issue with Obama. It isn’t that only perfect people with perfectly biblical view points can or should be president…we wouldn’t be able to fill the office ever again. The problem I have with this is:

  • I disagree with his conclusion
  • My assumption (could be wrong) is that it is all political anyway.
  • Political or not this gives presidential backing to a very controversial topic in a way that has never been done before. In doing so he is giving more confirmation to society that homosexuality is normal (hey the president is on my side!) and that the fight they have been fighting to make this a social issue (something close to race) has succeeded.

Will it influence the church? Of course. Some will come out with guns blazing and will only confirm to the world that Christians are nuts. Others will stand for the truth in a more loving and gentle way. However, the church will still be the church. The church doesn’t stand or fall based on presidential proclamations or personal stances.

I ran across some items that came up on Obama’s website after his announcement.

I guess that means this announcement had been in the works a while (regardless of Joe Biden “oopsing” it) for his production team to have these on hand so quickly. My question for you is does it bother you that the Obama’s website is now selling pro-homosexual and gay marriage memorabilia? Do we just chalk that up to catering to his base and supply and demand or should we have a problem with him making a profit off his stance on these issues? It is not a new question, I am sure every president to date has made a profit off their stand on various issues and their stand on various issues has resulted in campaign contributions from those who support their view. I am curious to hear your take on that. Maybe I have already answered my own question.

Philip: I don’t know- the baby onesies for sale probably don’t bother me as much they should.  There are a whole lot of other issues that disturb me more than that — like the amount of money that is poured into our political campaigns in general.  I only have so much indignation that I can muster.

I did vote for the President in ’08.  I root for him to do well.  I want to like him.  So that’s my bias.

Still- I’m not yet convinced this announcement changes much.  The President isn’t pushing for legislation; he says the issue should be left to the states.  Most of the states in our Union have already settled on this issue one way or another.  The President’s announcement stokes the passions of the culture wars, but I’m unsure if it does little else.

And that former issue is my concern- how does the Church handle these culture wars?  How do Kingdom people dwell in a society where the unchurched are largely accepting of homosexuality & increasingly favorable to same-sex marriage?

How much of the Evangelical community’s contentiousness is a result of angst?  Angst over watching a “Christian society” slip away.  Our friend Rex ( and many others in the blogosphere (Rachel Held Evans, et. al.) have written so much about this — about the possibility of winning a culture war but losing a generation for the Gospel.  I don’t know how much more I could add.  Except maybe this…

I have a strong conviction about 1st Corinthians 5 being the normative passage on this issue for our day.  Paul is scolding the Church at Corinth over this guy who’s sleeping w/ his step-mother & bragging about it.  And he goes on & on about how it is our responsibility — the Church’s responsibility — to make sure we have purity within the fellowship of believers.  And he’s also clear about how his dictum to not associate with immorality does not carry over to the unchurched of Corinth.  v. 12 — “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?”

What business is it of our’s?  …to insist upon a what label is used on people outside of faith who want to pledge themselves to each other?

You know– Nero married a couple of guys in his reign.  We don’t see Paul or Peter organizing a million man march on Rome to “take their (society) back.”  That’s a notion that’s foreign to Scripture.

0 Responses

    1. Thanks Joe…I will have a read. It really is about changing people’s hearts and not just the stance on a handful of issues.

  1. It is so easy for us to forget that while we are to speak truth (even to “power” – a la John the Baptist to Herod), we are also to “speak the truth in love. Now I do not believe that all speech that some label as “hate speech” is really that, I do hear hateful overtones in much of what is said on this matter from the “Christian Right.”

    Of course, hate speech can come from any part of the political or religious spectrum. But, as one of you pointed out above, Paul asked, “What do I have to do with judging those who are without?”

    Our purpose must be to keep ourselves – and the church – pure by teaching the Word of God and putting it into practice.

    1. Disagreement is certainly not automatically hateful. So many people have a hard time hearing a dissenting voice as anything but that.

  2. One comment that gets plenty of mileage goes something like: “Jesus never said anything against homosexuality, so we shouldn’t either.” and, “It’s just another Jewish taboo that nobody follows any more, like eating pork or shellfish.” This one-two punch basically makes Christian opposition to full inclusion of practicing homosexuals out to be arbitrary and increasingly non-orthodox.

    Some Pharisees once asked Jesus a serious question, not intended to trap or discredit him. Challenging his stance on divorce, they pointed to an obscure reference from Deuteronomy where divorcees who remarry are forbidden from ever marrying their first spouse. See there? Moses commanded divorce certificates, so that makes divorce okay. Jesus then boiled marriage down to its essence, going back to Adam and Eve, and demonstrating that divorce, while permissible in some instances, goes against the heart and soul of marriage.

    So did Jesus ever say anything about gay marriage? He sure did.

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