Over at the Gospel Coalition, Kevin DeYoung came up with “40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags.” These questions were prompted by feelings of persecution he has experienced since the Supreme Court affirmed marriage equality. He’s really quite upset:
It’s one thing for the whole nation to throw a party we can’t in good conscience attend. It’s quite another to look around for friendly faces to remind us we’re not alone and then find that they are out there jamming on the dance floor. We thought the rainbow was God’s sign (Gen. 9:8-17).
In light of this, DeYoung came up with 40 questions that he hopes LGBT*-affirming Christians will answer. DeYoung says,
If you consider yourself a Bible-believing Christian, a follower of Jesus whose chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, there are important questions I hope you will consider before picking up your flag and cheering on the sexual revolution. These questions aren’t meant to be snarky or merely rhetorical. They are sincere, if pointed, questions that I hope will cause my brothers and sisters with the new rainbow themed avatars to slow down and think about the flag you’re flying.
Since Kevin DeYoung has asked sincere, if pointed, questions, I figured I’d give sincere, if pointed, answers:
1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?
Since I was 18, so about 12 years. I was attending a conservative Christian college after being homeschooled in a conservative Christian family my entire life. A friend of mine — also homeschooled in a conservative Christian family and also attending a conservative Christian college — came out as gay to me. This individual had never been abused, did not think being gay was ok, and thought that God had simply given him the cross of homosexuality to bear his entire life. I just couldn’t accept that God would do something like that to someone and none of the catch phrases about gay people I was taught were relevant to my friend. The cognitive dissonance was too great. I decided either the Bible was wrong on LGBT* people and marriage or that I was reading it wrong. I went with the latter.
2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?
Bible verses did not led me to change my mind; reality itself and the facticity of my friend’s testimony and sexuality led me to change my mind. But as I re-read the Bible, letting God’s reality help me better understand God’s word, I found a few verses that stuck out to me. One was from the Genesis account, when “God looked at everything he had made, and he was very pleased.” God spoke to me through that verse, letting me know that God made my friend just the way he was and God was pleased with that creation. My friend was not a mistake. I also found significance in James 1, where God says we are to “face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” When I look at privileged straight Christians like Kevin DeYoung wringing their hands in faux persecution, and then I see the real, actual persecution LGBT* Christians face daily, I know God is standing with the LGBT* Christians. Thus when I read that, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world,” I understand that the pollution of the world is not the pure love between LGBT* people but the excluding rejection of straight people towards them.
3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?
In the same way that I would make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the opposite sex is a blessing to be celebrated. God created sexuality as a beautiful process: it is how two people become one flesh and learn to live and love as one, in the same way that God has become one with the world through the Incarnation.
4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?
The same verses I would use to show that a marriage between two persons of the opposite sex can adequately depict Christ and the church. These questions pre-suppose that we have solid definitions of “same sex” and “opposite sex,” and erase intersex people. If I am to believe (and I do) that intersex people can be in relationships that mirror the relationship between Christ and the church, then I do not believe that the relationship between Christ and the church involves a specific genital and chromosome combination. I am not reductionist like that.
5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?
6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?
The multiple Genesis accounts do not give a definition of marriage. They give a poetic description of how God blessed sexuality and that sexuality makes two people one.
7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?
Considering the definition of porneia is “a selling off of sexual purity,” I think Jesus was referring to the enslavement and sale of other human beings for sexual purposes.
8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?
I think Saul of Tarsus is a cult leader who blunted the revolutionary nature of Jesus’s message. I’d rather stick with Jesus. **
9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?
I think those passages are referring to the Kingdom of God, which is not necessarily heaven. And yes, I do believe they are saying that certain actions and behaviors prevent the Kingdom of God from being fulfilled.
10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?
The abuse, enslavement, and sale of other human beings for sexual purposes. Which makes sense since we are referring to the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God, which is a kingdom opposed to the misuses, abuse, and oppression of other peoples.
11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?
That LGBT* people are beautiful, wonderful, normal people who do not deserve to be demonized or marginalized. You know, the same sorts of things that I believe I understand about the Bible regarding black people, Jewish people, and female people that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp.
12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?
All of the above arguments. (Nice attempt to cast yourself as an enlightened white savior sensitive to people of color, by the way.)
13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?
Absolutely. (That or fear.)
14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?
I think children do best when they are not subject to abuse and neglect and have the opportunity to grow up in loving, nurturing, and stable environments. As long as those conditions are met, I’m not particularly concerned with the specific genital and chromosome arrangements.
15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?
First, the fact that your ideal does not exist, is a modern invention, and thus we need to be asking different questions. Second, here’s some research. (I could give you more but, really? Just Google it. Do your own research.)
16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?
17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?
It depends on the marriage.
18. How would you define marriage?
A legally binding, contractual relationship between individuals interested building a life together and supporting one another that bestows significant government benefits? (Again, it depends on the marriage.)
19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?
Parts of the Bible seem to think so. But I’m iffy on this. There are health concerns, of course. But my main problem is that certain close family relationships would involve significant power differentials and thus could create a fertile breeding ground for abuse.
20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?
21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?
Consent, power differentials.
22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?
23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?
Provided they are capable of and have given consent, then yes, I believe that individuals interested in building a life together and supporting one another should have the right to enter into a legally binding, contractual relationship that bestows significant government benefits.
24. If not, why not?
25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?
Yes, provided that they do not violate the rights of other people to fully and equally participate in society.
26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?
Yes, provided that they did not violate the rights of other people to fully and equally participate in society. Then I will condemn my fellow Christians for acting in un-Christian ways.
27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?
I am opposed to all forms of emotional and verbal abuse, so of course I will speak out against shaming and bullying. But calling people out for furthering the oppression of marginalized groups is not shaming or bullying, and I know that’s what you’re thinking about, Kevin.
28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?
You’re in church leadership and have a significant platform; I’m not and don’t. Let’s start with you and the straight marriages.
29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?
Every individual church should answer that in the same way they’d answer about straight couples.
30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?
Any sexual activity (whether inside or outside of marriage, and whether involving LGBT* people or non-LGBT* people) that involves the abuse and misuse of human beings is a sin. So if LGBT* people can engage in sexual activity outside of marriage that is not abusive or misusing of fellow human beings, it would not be a sin.
31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?
Definitely not follow non-affirming churches’ models in neglecting issues talked about significantly in the Bible while obsessing with one issue barely talked about.
32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?
I define it according to biblical passages, such as 1 John 4:18-21:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
I also believe love put into action looks like Micah 6:8:
The Lord has told you what is good. This is what the Lord requires from you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to live humbly with your God.
33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?
34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?
I think we find the true meaning of God’s commands in the context of actually loving our neighbor. We find God in our neighbors.
35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?
36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?
37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?
Frankly, your lack of support for LGBT* people makes me more passionate about those things.
38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?
39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?
At this point, these questions are just getting offensive.
40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?
Saul of Tarsus is pretty clear about what he has in mind. The list is:
- Full of envy
- Evil dispositions
- Inventors of evil things
- Disobedient to parents
- Without natural affection
The common theme here is acting in such a way that disrupts and destroys communion between human beings, the relationship between self and neighbor that is a mirror of the relationship between self and God. When we act in such a way that alienates and marginalizes our neighbor, we sin. Which is an important perspective to remember when many people in the Church, including Kevin DeYoung, have such difficulties with accepting their LGBT* neighbors.