Carl Trueman on “The Case for Gay Marriage”

Carl Trueman has responded briefly to last week’s Newsweek cover story by Lisa Miller, “The Case for Gay Marriage.” Trueman makes an excellent point about Miller’s article that is worth more than a moment’s reflection:

“Behold the future. The piece is prophetic because, in a week where a high-ranking member of the NAE had to resign because he was `shifting’ on gay unions, at a time when the full weight of the opinion forming social media is behind the normalisation of homosexuality as acceptable, challenges such as this are clearly going to be coming thick and fast. I grew up in some ways as the hidebound, unthinking traditionalist on sexual morality at which Ms Miller takes aim: everyone knew homosexuality was wrong (even if only from a basic anti-gay bigotry), and so there was no need to mount arguments against it either in the church or the wider society. That is not the world of my children. They need to be given reasons as to why their gay friends are following a lifestyle that is sinful. And those reasons need to be well-thought out, calm, and articulated with a Christian grace and love. At the level of theological education, this means that the issue of biblical authority and interpretation needs to be very carefully addressed. For example, Ms. Miller’s implicit contrast of individual passages of the Bible with its overall message raises the very legitimate interpretative question of how these things are related; church and colleges and seminaries need to make sure they can give a thoughtful answer to that one or the Ms. Millers of the world are going to take them to the cleaners.”

Trueman is right on target here. The argument that Lisa Miller is making in Newsweek will be made very soon by some who call themselves evangelicals. The issues will be hermeneutical, and they will have everything to do with the authority of the Bible. Some ‘evangelicals’ who would ostensibly endorse the importance of the Bible are actually adopting interpretive strategies that undermine the authority of scripture. This is why we all need to be vigilant. We are in a new era.

12 Responses to Carl Trueman on “The Case for Gay Marriage”

  1. Don Johnson December 18, 2008 at 10:32 am #

    Denny wrote: “Some ‘evangelicals’ who would ostensibly endorse the importance of the Bible are actually adopting interpretive strategies that undermine the authority of scripture.”

    This sentence could be lifted almost verbatim from the arguments of slaveholders in the 1850s as to why slavery was Biblical.

    What the slaveholders and Denny are claiming is that if you do not agree with their interpretation, then you do not hold to the authority of Scripture; and I wish people would not make these kinds of claims. Someone might be simple wrong in their interpretation, this is possible for all of us.

  2. Nathan December 18, 2008 at 12:05 pm #

    Don,

    So are you saying that there can be a vaild argument for homosexual marriage in the bible?

    The bible acknowledges slavery but never condoned the American version of it. And the slavery of the ancient world was rarely like the slavery of the Americas.

    While your point has merit on many levels, I believe Denny’s statement was based on the post’s discussion of homosexuality and homosexual marriage.

    There are many, including Lisa Miller, who want to espouse that the New Testament does not even call believers to holy lives after receiving Christ. Denny’s statement would fit for that discussion as well.

    Can you further define what you were saying? Thanks!

  3. Don Johnson December 18, 2008 at 12:15 pm #

    I do not know if there can be a valid argument for homosexual marriage from the Bible, it is clear that Ms. Miller failed to make a valid one.

    As I understand the Bible, the righteous choices are heterosexual marriage or celibacy (if given that gift). But I am willing to learn more, I realize I can make a mistake. In the meantime I try to act in faith based on my understanding, realizing we are all sinners.

  4. Darius T December 18, 2008 at 12:44 pm #

    “I do not know if there can be a valid argument for homosexual marriage from the Bible… As I understand the Bible, the righteous choices are heterosexual marriage or celibacy… But I am willing to learn more, I realize I can make a mistake.”

    This is EXACTLY why egalitarianism leads to pro-homosexual. Everyone is their own authority, so they could be wrong. Once people lose sight of the authority of Scripture, then they will believe in anything.

  5. Don Johnson December 18, 2008 at 12:55 pm #

    I do not believe a Magisterium exists, there is no infallible teaching authority. This is one reason I am a protestant. But it is also the reason there are so many protestant denominations.

    I believe in the authority of Scripture, but I also realize that Scripture has been misread and used to justify oppression, sometimes incredible evil. All of us can be selfish or deceived or simply ignorant and interpret Scripture in ways that do not please God.

    I do not interpret Scriptures in a vacuum by myself, I rely on scholars and I read ones I generally agree with and ones I expect to disagree with. And I have changed my beliefs as I have learned more. I agree that I am ultimately responsible for the way I interpret Scripture.

  6. Darius T December 18, 2008 at 1:14 pm #

    “I also realize that Scripture has been misread and used to justify oppression, sometimes incredible evil…”

    Yes, and they were wrong, even back then. They had peers who told them they were wrong, so it’s not just hindsight.

  7. Don Johnson December 18, 2008 at 3:58 pm #

    There was a debate, this debate led to the formation of the SBC and other “southern” forms of various denominations. It was only a few decades ago that SBC repented of this position.

    In hindsight we can see that they were wrong, but it sure did not seem that way to them then. We need to be careful to NOT emulate them.

  8. Brian Krieger December 18, 2008 at 6:17 pm #

    Don:

    Wow. Don’t you think that is “there is no truth”? It certainly sounds just like it only in a nicer way that almost sounds like there is truth. As in there is absolute truth…..but it’s subjective. The Scriptures have authority, but don’t really say so since we can’t divine the true will of God. Then again, that’s very -esque.

    I know we have to shy away from shutting our ears and running (along the lines of what Nathan said), but that is far from what is going on here. Just as a point, then, following your logic, as a Christian, I can’t and shouldn’t assert that Christ is the only way, and that he wasn’t God’s son and that he wasn’t really God. After all, we don’t really know precisely what the words mean. That’s just what they mean to me right now.

  9. Darius T December 18, 2008 at 7:12 pm #

    Exactly, Brian. Don, to use your logic, we can’t say anything definitive about Christ, because we might be wrong. You obviously don’t believe this, but you also don’t realize the incredible danger in your views when applied to the full extent.

  10. Don Johnson December 18, 2008 at 8:28 pm #

    Of course there is truth, Jesus is Truth and speaks truth, as does Scripture.

    I have said I believe same sex activity is a sin, but there are lots of sins in the sin lists; if I would pick out the one that is not a temptation for me and concentrate on that it would be too much like the Pharisee who was glad they were not like the publican.

    Part of the truth is some verses are harder to understand than others. It is also possible to be wrong because of ignorance or being deceived.

    Are you claiming that your understanding of Scripture is the same as when you first became a believer? For me, I have learned many things.

  11. Matt Svoboda December 18, 2008 at 9:25 pm #

    “I do not know if there can be a valid argument for homosexual marriage from the Bible”

    Don,

    How can you possibly not know that? It is crystal clear that there can in no way be a valid argument for homosexual marriage from the Bible. The Bible is not neutral on the issue… If it was then we could say, ‘i don’t know,’ but it isn’t. The Bible is clear in its stance of homosexuality and its implications for marriage.

  12. Don Johnson December 18, 2008 at 11:11 pm #

    I think it is clear, so I try to act in faith based on that, but I might be wrong.

    I have been wrong before about things I thought were clear because I did not know some cultural context. In other words, in a few other cases, I was misreading Scripture but did not realize it until I learned more.

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