Mohler Discusses Gay ‘Marriage’ on NPR

Yesterday on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” Albert Mohler offered a counterpoint to Lisa Miller’s “Religious Case for Gay Marriage.” It was a fascinating conversation, and I thought Dr. Mohler made a compelling and winsome case.

You can listen to the program at NPR’s website, or you can push the play button below.

[audio:http://podcastdownload.npr.org/anon.npr-podcasts/podcast/5/98315676/npr_98315676.mp3]

Lisa Miller’s argument falls apart when a caller confronts her about polygamy. The caller points out that it is totally inconsistent for Miller to support gay “marriage” while opposing polygamy. Lisa Miller’s appeal to women’s rights as a basis for excluding polygamy fell flat. Dr. Mohler agrees with the caller and argues that if marriage is defined as anything other than the union of a man and a woman then there’s no logical reason for limiting its definition at all.

At the end of the day, the debate shapes up as a debate over the authority of scripture. Those who favor gay “marriage” do so by marginalizing or undermining what the Bible has to say on the matter (which is exactly what Lisa Miller’s article attempts to do). The “religious case for gay marriage” is really just a subterfuge. It offers a way for people to feel good about themselves for being “religious” while rejecting what the Scriptures teach.

This is not just any rationalization; it’s the most dangerous of them all.

31 Responses to Mohler Discusses Gay ‘Marriage’ on NPR

  1. jigawatt December 16, 2008 at 10:48 am #

    At the end of the day, the debate shapes up as a debate over the authority of scripture.

    A lot of time could be saved in these kinds of debates if people admitted this right off the bat.

    And a lot more time could be saved if instead of going to this scholar or that scholar whenever they don’t like what the Bible says, people would just up and say “I don’t believe the Bible, so my case for X comes from somewhere else.”

  2. Tom Fuerst December 16, 2008 at 12:11 pm #

    I would’ve been really interested to here Dr. Mohler’s reply to the last commenter (the 20 year old, newly married, evangelical woman) who asked why we can’t maintain a difference between church-marriage (as church sanctioned) and state-marriage (what the state sanctions). I thought it was a really intriguing question.

    Denny, do you know what he would say?

  3. JR December 16, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    I weary of the equivocal argument about “slavery.”

    American Slavery does not equal slavery in New Testament times.

    Plenty of Scripture that undermined the slavery that did exist–let alone the American version

  4. Brian Krieger December 16, 2008 at 6:08 pm #

    Tom:

    You bring up an excellent question. I can make a (relatively easy for me) biblical reason for condemning homosexual marriage and voting for prop 8 (-style legislation). How I vote is informed by such, thus my vote is easy. But if step one (for another) is to say that the bible lacks authority (is an ancient document, Christ didn’t say it, whatever…, and spot on, Dr. Burk and jigawatt), then how would we reason someone else to disallow civil unions. The closest thing I could get is the same polygamy argument (or as I heard it once, the “I want to marry an oak tree” argument) that would be tied with insurance and benefits, etc. (e.g. the logical extension has to be to polygamy, doesn’t it? If so, I would civilly unite myself with 30 of my friends to provide insurance, etc.*). I suppose there are other medical arguments (as eschewed by a certain Surgeon General nominee). But I think a good question.

    PS: Jigawatt: Your celebration of basic html and social crack me up.
    * – Didn’t this election teach me that insurance is an American right?

  5. Branden December 16, 2008 at 7:24 pm #

    Scott is my last name.

    Tom,
    I think that is a good question.
    I think it would be great if Churchianity would dump 501(c)3 status and liberate itself from Caesar. Why should the church (and husband and wife) license with the state that which is an institution of God? Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Is the Christian marriage of Caesar or of God?

    The civil union argument is a ruse, however. Once civil unions are given the OK, it will be brought to court and argued that civil unions must be made into marriages because “separate but equal” status has been created by allowing only civil unions and not marriage.

    That is where this is headed.

    Personally, I do not care what the Caesar wishes to bless(license). Ultimately, I am not Caesar’s subject, I am God’s subject. I am in this world but not of this world. I am reminded that we are implored to Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins,so that you will not receive any of her plagues.

  6. Darius T December 16, 2008 at 8:25 pm #

    “Ultimately, I am not Caesar’s subject, I am God’s subject. I am in this world but not of this world. I am reminded that we are implored to Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins,so that you will not receive any of her plagues.”

    Except, Branden, our children have to grow up in it. So, as far as it is in our power, I would prefer to have at least one less battle which I have to fight for my children (especially one where the culture says wrong is right).

  7. Branden December 16, 2008 at 11:45 pm #

    Scott is the last name.
    Except, Branden, our children have to grow up in it. So, as far as it is in our power, I would prefer to have at least one less battle which I have to fight for my children (especially one where the culture says wrong is right).

    Then come out of Her and do not partake of Her plagues.

    Start by homeschooling your children, Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

    You cannot be of this culture and expect to win. I have never seen any Biblical promise that says we will be anything other than hated because of Him… In the culture but not of the culture.

  8. Tom Fuerst December 17, 2008 at 8:29 am #

    Braden,
    I am much more inclined to accept your answer. Which is why I loved that woman’s question. It’s just interesting that that question is so far from most people’s minds….I guess Constantine is still stealing our souls!

    It is not my job to raise my children in a safe-empire. It is my job to teach them to love Jesus in the midst of the empire. It is my job to teach them to both love homosexuals and to live in God’s kingdom that is not driven or find its telos in the “safety” or “purity” of the kingdoms of this world.

  9. Crabapple Winthorpe December 17, 2008 at 9:29 am #

    It is interesting that feminist atheist liberal author Camille Paglia has what I think is an interesting proposal on this matter:

    The government should stop issuing marriage licences. All unions, whether hetero- or homosexual, should be civil unions only, conferring equal legal status.

    Churches may wish to hold ceremonies called “marriages” and thus may choose whom is eligible for such status.

    I would add one addition: simply propose a constitutional amendment that a civil union can only exist between two adult humans, i.e., not oak trees or caribou or salmon or whatever.

    Taking those steps would return marriage to where it belongs–church, synagogue, mosque, etc – and help us avoid the polygamy problem and so on.

  10. Paul December 17, 2008 at 11:26 am #

    Even though I am sure that Crabapple is not your real name, I agree with both you and Ms. Paglia. That is truly the ONLY sane solution.

    The only problem is, this country has very rarely been about sane solutions.

  11. Nathan December 17, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    While the discussion surrounding separation of church and state is good, we should at least admit a few essential items.

    1. The U.S. is not the Roman Empire
    2. Citizens in the U.S. have far more rights concerning legislative issues than Romans under Caesar
    3. To totally absolve oneself of participation in a representative democracy due to the current climate could be construed as disobedience to the Lord

    That is not to say that believers should participate in everything society is partaking in, nor is it saying believers should not govern themselves in the church under different protocols than outside the church.

    However, if believers simply excuse themselves from the God-given ability to participate in government because we are in difficult times, we would be guilty of not speaking the truth.

    It doesn’t mean that we will win the legislative battles and it doesn’t mean that those battles are more important than sharing the gospel, but the Lord has blessed us with the ability to participate.

    To not would be wrong… In my opinion

  12. Tom Fuerst December 17, 2008 at 8:43 pm #

    Nathan,

    1. Clearly there’s not a one to one correlation. Nobody’s saying that. But you can’t deny there are many similarities…the characteristics of various empires, especially the powerful ones, vary only in degree, not really kind.

    2. Nobody is denying this.

    3. It’s a pretty strong statement to say it is (morally) wrong to not participate in the voting enterprise. That would pretty much equate not voting with sin…and as the NT isn’t at all concerned with such things, I think your statement is too strong. I’m much more comfortable saying voting is value-neutral. If it’s against one’s conscience to vote, then one shouldn’t vote. If it’s against one’s conscience not to vote, then one should vote. Expressing Christian freedom may be a bit tougher, but I think it’s the place to go on this one.

  13. Darius T December 18, 2008 at 12:22 am #

    I agree, Nathan. To not vote is to be a (very) poor steward of the responsibility that God has allowed for us living in a democracy. It’s amazing that anyone can promote this idea. That said, there are times where not voting for either candidate (in either local or national races) might be a good option. But never voting is not an option left to those of us commanded to promote Kingdom values.

  14. Tom Fuerst December 18, 2008 at 1:40 am #

    The question isn’t whether or not kingdom values should be promoted. The question is ‘How?’ the kingdom values should be promoted.

    I never see Jesus asking the empire to pass his laws. I see him binding his imperatives on the people who willing choose to live by the narrative of cruciform love, not political persuasion.

    So please don’t misunderstand that I’m promoting inaction. I’m merely asking which kind of action is really the best. I think it has to be left up to Christian freedom to decide on voting. It is not an ethical imperative unless it is binding on your conscience.

  15. Nathan December 18, 2008 at 11:50 am #

    Tom,

    I agree that it is a difficult situation, but Jesus did not live in a democratic society. Yet if we are to love our neighbor as ourselves and then we choose to opt out of voting privileges where our neighbors are affected by the outcome, have we truly loved our neighbor?

    Again, I am not saying the church shouldn’t be about things the government doesn’t do that Christians are told to do.

    But, if Christians shy away from voting, they should not complain about the state of the country. While that doesn’t necessarily mean Christians must participate in every vote, to simply think we can “come out of her” as Branden insinuated in an earlier post and stand on the sidelines is, as Darius said, being a poor steward of the gift God has given us in this country.

    This is my personal opinion, but I simply don’t see how giving the country to the pagans is showing love for our neighbors.

  16. Branden December 18, 2008 at 11:53 am #

    Last name = Scott.

    Tom, I am in agreement with your last two posts.

    Not voting does not equal sin. Yeshua was far more concerned with His Father’s Kingdom than any earthly ones. I think this is where many lose sight of the goal.

    And lastly, though Tom you may not agree, I do believe that voting for the lesser of two evils is wrong. If I see what is there, and I see two evils, neither one will receive my endorsement. And though some here may jeer at such a thought, I am not of their mindset. Their beliefs may want/require me to believe as them, but my beliefs do not require me to.

  17. Branden December 18, 2008 at 12:14 pm #

    And perhaps to further clarify.
    Participate in politics all that you want. I do not see condemnation of such in Scripture and that is not my point.

    When I see the Church and government come together, if that is a clear way to express it, I do not see the sanctification of the government through this interaction, I see the corruption and seduction of the church.

    Perhaps this is what the Danbury Baptist Association was worried about as well…that is the influence of the State upon the Church and not the other way around as it has twisted to today.

  18. Tom Fuerst December 18, 2008 at 12:24 pm #

    Hey guys,
    Great discussion – and I appreciate the gracious tone of it.

    Nathan,
    I am not advocating leaving the country to the pagans. Even Jesus had a prophetic voice to the Roman government (I may be one of the few on this blog to actually agree with NT Wright’s assertion that much of the NT was contra-empire rhetoric). So, no, I do not advocate abandoning our prophetic voice to/in the state.

    Rather, I’m merely allowing for Christian freedom on the matter. Branden doesn’t feel free to vote for the lesser of two evils – it would violate his concsience! So it would be sin for him to do so. All I want is for people to stop enforcing voting as a spiritual discipline when there maybe be legitimate concerns on the part of some Christians.

    This election year was exactly that for me. I didn’t vote – to do so would have violated my conscience on one or more issues. I did not feel it was my Christian duty to vote in such a circumstance. The lesser of two evils argument didn’t work for me either.

    Branden,
    I completely understand. I would just say with the lesser of two evils idea that if someone’s conscience allowed them to vote for the lesser or two evils, they should be able to do so in faith.

    Also, for our side, we have to remember that the early church didn’t have separation of church and state. For them, the state and their religion permeated everyday life – which became a problem for them when they became Christians b/c they had different values than the imperial cult allowed for.

    We also have to take care to still be active at least in a prophetic manner. We cannot, as Nathan says, merely give things over to the pagans.

  19. Darius T December 18, 2008 at 12:25 pm #

    So, Branden, let’s test out your moral compass, as well as your logic. On the macro political level, you must believe it was wrong for the US to ally with the Soviet Union to defeat Hitler. On the micro personal level, you might think it sinful to get involved in a fight where two men are fighting each other. The catch is that one man has a gun and says he’s going to shoot the other guy while the other guy just wants to punch him a couple times, but not kill him. Since they both have evil intentions, they are morally equivalent in your eyes. Moral equivalency is a pretty big evil in the modern church, and this is not the first time I’ve heard a professing Christian espouse it. It is inherently anti-Biblical. There are differing degrees of sin, and we have to be discerning and wise enough to see the difference. Killing a baby is VERY different than punching a man. If one can’t see the difference, then that person is a fool and irrelevant to any discussion of morality.

    Do you honestly expect us to believe you live this way, or do you just wrongly view politics as some special entity where you can self-righteously live above it all while you would never do so in the rest of your life? Democratic politics and government are nothing more than communities of people coming together to decide how to live as a group. If you would serve your community outside of the mantle of “politics,” why would you not also serve it by political means?

  20. Branden December 18, 2008 at 1:23 pm #

    Darius,

    I believe nothing that you have stated in that post.

    You seem to either have a trouble understanding what I am stating and are confused, you are deliberately trying to fit what I have stated into some stereotype you have concocted, or perhaps something else…I truly do not know. You do seem to be more in an accusatory stance and wish to impart on me something that is not there, but perhaps I misunderstand. I am trying to be charitable, but my view is clear and it is in fact very much not about moral equivalency, in fact if anything then quite the opposite. I have not espoused it. You accuse me of wrongly viewing politics and being self-righteousness…

    Stalin was evil. Hitler was evil.

    Were the East Germans/Polish/Czech/Hungarians/etc. happy to have been left to the loving caresses and tender mercies of the Soviets? Should we have left them there and allowed the slaughter of those that dared to oppose the atheist-secular-utopian-soviets?

    Were the 15+ millions killed by Stalin in the Ukraine less worthy of life than the 6+ millions jews killed by Hitler? And how about the 40+ million that were killed in Mao’s Great Leap Forward?

    Was it right to leave North Korea locked under communist jack boots? Should we have followed General MacArthur’s views, invaded North Korea, go clear through to China, and dropped The Bomb on China? How many countless have died under communist China? Should we have turned a blind eye to the Killing Fields in Cambodia after we left the Vietnamese to the communist North?

    If we go by mere body count, Hitler was not the top dog. Perhaps we should have joined Hitler against Stalin and then turned on Hitler, and finally China(which would have possibly prevented Korea and Vietnam as well)?

    (See I, too, can throw a lot of stuff out there as well.)

    Darius, please reread what Tom has posted and what I have posted. You are not gleaning from the posts what I am stating. Communication in this format not always being completely clear…

    And to Tom,
    I completely understand. I would just say with the lesser of two evils idea that if someone’s conscience allowed them to vote for the lesser or two evils, they should be able to do so in faith.

    I agree, I do not feel similarly convicted as those that might feel the need to vote under those circumstances(lesser of two evils), as I have made clear. I do not condemn them though. I just do not agree with their view and I do not require them to agree with mine. It does seem at times that they do require me to agree with their view however.

    As I stated above, and thought I was clear:
    Participate in politics all that you want. I do not see condemnation of such in Scripture and that is not my point. That is, my point is not to condemn those that do. I think the fight in the hearts of men, culturally, is more key than the fight politically.

    Though there are difficulties with clear communication in this format, I believe that you and I are in agreement in general on this subject. I too wish to allow for freedom on this matter and agree with your spiritual discipline point in regards to voting.

  21. Branden December 18, 2008 at 1:31 pm #

    It would be great to have an edit function for the posts…so for all you grammarians out there, you have my apologies.

  22. Darius T December 18, 2008 at 1:38 pm #

    “Perhaps we should have joined Hitler against Stalin and then turned on Hitler…”

    You know what they say about hindsight…

  23. Nathan December 18, 2008 at 2:32 pm #

    Branden,

    I don’t want to get into all the history you and Darius are splicing, but I would like to address your original two evils post.

    You said, “I do believe that voting for the lesser of two evils is wrong. If I see what is there, and I see two evils, neither one will receive my endorsement.”

    I think Darius’ larger point might be that we live in a world of choosing the lesser of two evils constantly, so to claim that one can actually live life without choosing would be difficult.

    For example, we need cars, buses, etc. to get to work, but these vehicles emit toxins into the air. However, we choose to pollute in order to provide for our families, because the alternative (poverty) is also an “evil” in that we are called to take care of our families.

    So my question to you would be, “Do you analyze this lesser of two evils (choosing neither) in every aspect of your life or only in certain compartments.

    Also remember that the Bill of Rights in this country was put in place to allow a religious (denonminational) voice in the political realm, not to allow government to dictate to the religious.

  24. Darius T December 18, 2008 at 2:42 pm #

    “I think Darius’ larger point might be that we live in a world of choosing the lesser of two evils constantly, so to claim that one can actually live life without choosing would be difficult.”

    That is a great synopsis of my larger point.

  25. Branden December 18, 2008 at 4:25 pm #

    (Branden Scott)
    Nathan,
    Bad examples. We have Scriptural directions as to our responsibility to take care of our families. Also, the whole polluting thing can be a bit ridiculous as according to some our simple living and breathing is polluting. This “evil” seems to be preference for against things that are not perfect v. very not perfect or which is the good thing v. a not so good thing.

    If you are asking me some hypothetical, such as, You can only save one person from a fate. One is a woman whose is about to be raped and the other a child about to murdered. Which do you choose? I choose neither. I would want both to be saved.

    Hyperbole, but will use it to make it clear. Stalin is evil, Hitler is evil. I would not vote for either if there was an election held against each other.
    I would want neither to be elected.

    More down to reality, as it were, is this: I saw McCain as a very flawed man that held Christians that have commitment to their faith in contempt. I see Obama very much the same, probably worse. Neither could I support. I am sure you might believe you can offer me argument to why one is better that the other. I could argue back as well. I really don’t have any desire go back and forth over it.

    In regards to things that are not absolutes, or something of that type, then feel free to choose a “lesser of things”. Well, actually feel free to do whatever, as I am not your master and you are free to choose whatever, being that you bear the consequences. But hopefully you understand me in that regard already.

    And to,
    Also remember that the Bill of Rights in this country was put in place to allow a religious (denonminational) voice in the political realm, not to allow government to dictate to the religious.

    My point above, and perhaps I was not abundantly clear, is that Jefferson’s letter to Dansbury is about protecting Church from the State. And perhaps that is what Dansbury was worried of…of the government and what it does or could do to Church. Perhaps that caution as to what state does to church could be (and should be) more broadly applied (beyond the so called separation idea, beyond the establishment idea). That is, that the state corrupts the church and that the church does not sanctify the state.

    Or simply put, there is a reason why the church needs to be protected from the state, not the other way around. The idea of separating the Church from the state was not to protect the state from the church, or from the church’s religious beliefs/teachings/morals…that is what many misguided people try to use as a way of discrediting Christians etc from participating in the public square.

    Turned completely on its head as how the ruler of this world typically does things.

    I hope I have communicated clearly. Probably not, but I am trying.

  26. Darius T December 18, 2008 at 4:37 pm #

    “If you are asking me some hypothetical, such as, You can only save one person from a fate. One is a woman whose is about to be raped and the other a child about to murdered. Which do you choose? I choose neither. I would want both to be saved.”

    Yes, but we don’t live in a hypothetical world. Would you really not save either if you were given the opportunity to save just one? Where exactly do you find this supported in Scripture?

  27. Darius T December 18, 2008 at 4:38 pm #

    Branden, I again repeat, like Nathan, my significant doubt that you live like you talk. Your theories are idealistic, but there is no possible way that you live out those in your everyday life nor would you want to live them out.

  28. Branden December 18, 2008 at 5:06 pm #

    (Branden Scott)

    Darius,

    My point was about the highlight the absurdity of the hypothetical. I choose neither as such things are by their nature ridiculous to decide between. Do you care to debate how many angels can dance on the head of a pin as well? (rhetorical)

    I always do my best to see evil and stand against it. I will assume you do so as well. You assuming of me otherwise is insulting and I will not address it anymore.

    I do live out what you refer to as my theories (what is your purpose in this seemingly insulting connotation/insinuation?)…You or Nathan, and your feelings on it notwithstanding.

    Darius, do you live out your theories? Why are your beliefs called beliefs and mine are called theories? That was rhetorical, Darius.

  29. Nathan December 19, 2008 at 10:23 am #

    Branden,

    Your dismissal of my point about pollution actually makes the point I was attempting to dialogue with you about. The bible also commands for us to be stewards of the earth, so the issue boils down to your individual choice about what is or what is not evil; even individual perceptions of shades of evil.

    This was exactly my point in asking you if you analyze this lesser of two evils (choosing neither) in every aspect of your life or only in certain compartments.

    I think you have answered that (only certain compartments). So, pollution (at small levels) is not evil enough to thwart your responsibility to provide for your family. I get that!

    My original argument is that politics is essentially about choosing the lesser of two evils. Believers should decry the faults in both parties, but even if both have aspects of evil, sometimes you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, you have to choose. Because reality is almost certainly never going to be Hitler vs. Stalin. So, if you didn’t vote, then don’t complain.

    I realize this is my personal opinion and you are free to disagree.

  30. Branden December 19, 2008 at 1:07 pm #

    Nathan,
    The bible also commands for us to be stewards of the earth, so the issue boils down to your individual choice about what is or what is not evil; even individual perceptions of shades of evil.

    I think defining evil in the way you are doing so here diminishes Evil into more of a individual preferences item. I do not view evil in this way. Evil is evil. Some things are not so absolute. Some things are not evil, and calling them evil seems to do a disservice to the ideas of Good/Holy and Evil/Unholy. So I think there is a disconnect between the two of us here.

    For example, in regards to polluting, since adding carbon to the air is now an evil thing (which I would argue it is not as there are plenty on scientists that argue against this idea as well as those that argue for it), were the priests of Israel that offered/burned sacrifices in the Old Testament as commanded by God evil polluters or those following the will of God? Was it evil to burn and add C02 to the air or would it have been evil to have not followed the will of God.

    I bring this up, not because I am trying to make some case that Israel should have not been sacrificing due to its supposed negative consequences on the environment (according to some but disputed by others). I bring this up because it is at best nonessential… at worst it seems convoluted, pedantic, and/or legalistic (if something that has nothing to do with true evil and true good can be legalistic as being discussed here). I am not speaking to nonessential things. Thus, this seems to me to be of little sense.

    I have probably been flogging the dead horse with that…The essence of it is simply, such things do not matter. Thus I do not think of this as some sort of compartmentalisation, except perhaps in the most basic of ways, that is, they are not really related. Again this all makes little sense.

    An oak tree is not a rabbit, though they are both living things. So what does this have to do with single celled bacteria?

    And now politics and the lesser of two evils: There is a threshold where both evils rise to a level where both are too evil to consider. My threshold is at a different level than others. Mine is obviously different than yours. That is my conscience/conviction.

    And the if you don’t vote then don’t complain argument does not fly. A non-vote is a vote of sorts. If you can get them to add none of the above/no confidence in any, then I could perhaps pull that lever. Also, to not vote is to not give your approval to something…To not support it…To be against it. And that is a statement of conscience/convictions as well. My not being able to support something does not remove my ability to be against it or to disapprove of it.

    You may not share my conviction, but that does not invalidate it.

    And so I do follow upon these beliefs. This is no joke or game that I am playing. Most people I know of do not agree with me.

    Again, this may not have been completely clear, but I am making no claim to be the greatest communicator.

  31. Branden December 19, 2008 at 1:12 pm #

    And I forgot…as to abide by the posting rules. My name is Branden Scott.

Comment here. Please use FIRST and LAST name.

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