Our message to “Christians” advocating gay marriage: “Repent and believe.”

Fr. Lawrence Farley, an Orthodox priest, says that those “Christians” who revise the church’s teaching on marriage are preaching another Jesus, not the Jesus of the Bible. He writes:

Groups that preach another Jesus and another Gospel are rightly regarded by us now as heretically non-Christian, and thus the Orthodox Church does not have an official ecumenical dialogue with Mormons (that I know of) or with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our message to them is simply “Repent and believe”; we do not meet with them for wine and cheese to discuss Christology at conferences or produce scholarly papers at symposia about the thought of Joseph Smith or Charles Taze Russell. In the same way, any church group or denomination which officially commits itself to blessing homosexual activity or gay marriage is preaching another Jesus, and Orthodoxy should also suspend any official ecumenical dialogue with them. We badly misread the homosexual debate if we regard it simply as another moral issue (like abortion), and a debate over whether or not a particular activity is sinful. It is more basic than that. It is not simply a moral issue; it is a Christological one. If we continue ecumenical dialogue with groups that bless homosexuality, at best we are wasting our breath. At worst we are adding credibility to what Paul called “another gospel”.

This is a man who understands what is at stake when churches succumb to false teachers tempting Christians to forsake what God’s word says about sexuality and marriage. We are not disputing about trivialities but about the essence of things. Read the rest here.

I am sometimes asked why we should regard this issue as essential when marriage and sexuality aren’t mentioned in the Apostle’s Creed. If sexual morality is so important, why isn’t it mentioned there? My answer to that question is simply to highlight another apostolic document–the New Testament–which strongly condemns not merely deviations in doctrine but also deviations in sexual morality.

Jude’s epistle is a classic example of this. Jude commands Christians to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Why? Because false teachers had crept into the congregation. These false teachers are under “condemnation” because they “turn the grace of our God into licentiousness” (Jude 4). In other words, these false teachers had introduced a poison into the congregation that appealed to God’s grace as a basis for immorality. In effect, they had denied the Lordship of Jesus Christ, which is the essence of spiritual death.

We are not fighting a mere culture war. Much more is at stake in this conversation, and if the church of the Lord Jesus Christ fails to bear witness to that, then who will?

(HT: Andrew Walker)

36 Responses to Our message to “Christians” advocating gay marriage: “Repent and believe.”

  1. Linda June 10, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    Biblical literalists like you will someday be burning in Hell along with the other fundamentalist Christians who similarly used the bible and the “word of God” literally to undergird the evil institutions of racism, slavery, segregation and the anti-miscegenation laws. You are bearing false witness just as they were.

    The progressive denominations like the Quakers were the first to question this biblical literalism supporting those institutionalized evils. It took another 100-150 years for the fundamentalist sects to eventually come around.

    The anti-gay clobber passages in the Bible are not referring to loving committed same-sex couples we are referring to today, but to rape, gang rape and cultic pagan temple prostitution (idolatry). It was common practices for *heterosexual* men to rape or gang rape enemy prisoners (and others they were in conflict with) in a show of domination and degradation, and pagan temple prostitution (homosexual and heterosexual) was common in that part of the world. Those verses were not even referring to Gay men! (And definitely not Lesbians on which nothing is said except for the story of beautiful love between Ruth and Naomi).

    What we are seeing today, thankfully, is churches and Christians realizing these passages have been mistranslated and taken out of historical context to smear, disown and attack (physically and verbally) LGBTQI people for CENTURIES – just as fundamentalist/literalist Christians had used Bible passages to support slavery, segregation, racism and the interracial marriage ban. What we are seeing is the first wave of churches and Christians revolting against this evil bearing of false witness against Gay people.

    • Dan Phillips June 10, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

      “Biblical literalists like you will someday be burning in Hell along with the other fundamentalist Christians who similarly used the bible and the “word of God” literally to undergird the evil institutions of racism, slavery, segregation and the anti-miscegenation laws. You are bearing false witness just as they were.”

      Dis you mean that literally? And the rest of your post? And your reply to these questions?

      There will be a followup.

    • Denny Burk June 10, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

      Linda, Thank you for taking time to read and comment. Please use your last name in future comments. Blessings!

    • Chris Ryan June 10, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

      Hi, Linda, I think you’re confusing literalism with conservativsm. I’m a literalist and I oppose all those things you mention. Further, I think that many people use the Bible to justify their own preconceived political views. This happens a lot in conservative circles, where you’ll see certain Christians adopt the atheist Ayn Rand and her views on libertarianism, taxes, and (not) helping the poor. You’ll also see some people use the Bible’s clear, unequivocal language that homosexuality is sinful to justify their own homophobia. That is wrong.

      But, likewise, you have liberals, and I myself am a political liberal, who try to similarly twist the Bible to justify their own preconceived political views. Like gay marriage. The fact of the matter is that the Bible is unequivocal on this matter. The mistranslation theory hangs by the slenderest of threads. Even Matthew Vines can’t “prove” the translation argument; at best he asserts it. Ask yourself: Do you honestly think that Jesus or Moses or Paul or Peter would officiate a gay wedding? Can you seriously imagine Paul, who barely supported even marital sex, officiating a gay marriage??? If you answer in the affirmative, so be it. But if you hesitate, if you have the slightest doubt, then there you have it.

      • James Bradshaw June 14, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

        Chris writes: “Can you seriously imagine Paul, who barely supported even marital sex, officiating a gay marriage?”

        No, but I can’t imagine him getting behind a woman running for high political office, either, even if it is a secular position. This is the same man, after all, who insisted that women keep their heads covered. I can’t imagine Paul or Christ officiating an interfaith wedding or a heterosexual on a second or third marriage or suggesting masturbation is an acceptable sexual outlet.

        Of course, times have changed, so even “conservative” Christians have come to different conclusions about these things, all the while claiming to uphold Biblical inerrancy.

        If you want to uphold the Biblical model for life (as lived by the early Christians and apostles), one really should live in a communal setting where everything is shared, no one acquires wealth and everyone remains single and dedicated to evangelism or whatnot.

    • C. M. Granger June 10, 2015 at 7:08 pm #

      But of course, these rehashed arguments supporting same sex committed relationships have been refuted extensively. Repeating them ad infinitum doesn’t make them any more valid or true.

    • dr. james willingham June 17, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

      And what about those homosexuals who take out their desires on children. You should see the devastating effects that it has on their lives for as long as they live. Pedophilia has been removed, so they say, from the list of mental disorders by the APA, but that will not change the reality of effects on the children in childhood nor in adulthood. Having dealt with them as a professional counselor, it is sickening to see such a defense of those who include in their parades those who advocate such practices. God’s aim in marriage is for the happiness of all concerned, but it involves a moral and ethical standard and practice which is more than beneficial to just the couple. There is the children, the church, the community, and the country. We are aware of the fact that one young man in his twenties who had lesbian parents complained that he should have had a father, a masculine presence in his life as a balance. The homosexual community labeled him as a bigot, and they seem bent on a get even attitude as well as that of assimilation. In other words, the aim seems to be our way or else. Even the Washington Post has called attention to this aberration. Seems that the extremes do come out with such advocacies, it would appear that the Christian community is right to take its stand against practices that are deleterious and even destructive to society. Certainly, they are contrary to God’s law and will.

  2. Dan Phillips June 10, 2015 at 11:05 am #

    But doesn’t Orthodoxy by and large preach a false Gospel, pretty much along the lines of Roman Catholicism? And much of the same issues of effectively adding to the Bible, prayers to and for dead people, and so forth?

    • Roy Fuller June 10, 2015 at 11:16 am #

      Dan, excellent point. Burk and other are so desperate to support their interpretation of orthodoxy that they are willing to partner with those with whom they would disagree on many theological points and practices.

      • Dan Phillips June 10, 2015 at 11:38 am #

        To be clear as to my own thinking, I don’t think Denny’s “desperate” to do anything other than serve God faithfully and present His Word truthfully, which I think Denny does well and effectively.

        I was just asking what I was asking. I ran into Orthodox writers trying to write as if they were just other Christians some decades ago, checked in further to what they believe, in their own words, and was horrified by what I found.

        • Roy Fuller June 10, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

          I will own the “desperate” comment. But your point is still well taken, and I would believe that Burk is not unaware of the significant differences between his evangelical theology and Orthodox theology and practice. It seems as if the principle is: Any Christian making the point I want to make will be promoted in spite of significant theological differences which in other circumstances would lead to the use of terms like “another Gospel,” “denying the Lordship of Jesus,” and “false teaching.” Why so generous to those with whom you agree with on this one issue (and yet disagree on so many other points) and so ungenerous to those to those with whom you agree on many more issues, just not this one? Rhetorical question. Burk makes his reasons clear.

    • Denny Burk June 10, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

      Hey, Dan. The quotation above is not meant to suggest that Protestants no longer have long-standing and crucial differences with Eastern Orthodoxy. In fact, those differences persist. I sometimes quote Roman Catholics as well, and I certainly do not mean to glide over those differences either.

      So I don’t mean to announce an endorsement of everything this guy believes (I don’t know much more about him except what’s in this blog post). I don’t even endorse his entire quote (in particular, the bit about abortion). My only point in quoting this guy is that he seems to grasp the fundamental import of sexual ethics. Also, I like it that this grave warning is coming from someone who is not one of the usual suspects–us cranky evangelicals!

      • Bill Hoard June 16, 2015 at 10:44 am #

        To Roy’s point though, if following the real Jesus and the real Gospel means agreeing with you on the best interpretation of the entire New Testament and not only those doctrines which the church has historically recognized as essential to the Gospel generally codified in documents like the apostles creed, then it strikes me that you must view Easter Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Copts as far more “non-Christian” than folks like Justin Lee who’s understanding of the New Testament differs from yours on far fewer points. Aren’t you, by quoting him, doing the very same thing he is recommending against (the online equivalent of “discussing Christology at a conference”)

    • James Bradshaw June 14, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

      Dan, the Bible has already been “added to”. The story of the woman taken in adultery, for example, was not in the original manuscripts. It was a later addition made by a copyist. Keep in mind that the canonicity of Scripture’s current books were debated by church leaders for several centuries. The validity of the book of James and some of Peter was called into question. Then there’s the whole apocrypha – an entire group of books rejected by many (but accepted by the Catholic Church).

      John Calvin (or maybe it was Luther?) questioned the canonicity of Revelation.

      The Bible didn’t fall out of the sky in its current form. It was compiled by human beings who, we are told, were prompted by the Spirit of God in terms of what was valid and what was not.

      I’m also told we’re not permitted to question these peoples’ claims.

  3. Don Johnson June 10, 2015 at 11:58 am #

    I am sure that Denny knows that any discussion between prots of any sort with Orthodox on ecumenical things means prots get told with “First reconcile with the Roman church, as you split off from them.” Both the Orthodox and the Roman church believe in a big T Tradition that while different for each of them tells each of them how they must interpret Scripture. This is far from what most prots believe. There are vast differences in interpreting Scripture between prots and Orthodox, in fact Orthodox have the largest set of apocryphal books, beyond what the Roman church has, so the definition of what Scripture even IS is different between the Orthodox and prots.

  4. julia nolastname June 10, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    I’ll start listening when you stop being so arrogant as to use scare quotes around Christian for those who don’t believe that homosexuality and Christianity are incompatible. How much hubris you must have to say that those who don’t interpret theology the same way as you do not qualify as real Christians. That tells me that you are not truly interested in listening and engaging with others.

    • Denny Burk June 10, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

      Julia, Thank you for taking time to read and comment. Please use your last name in future comments. Blessings!

    • Dan Phillips June 10, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

      Interesting. You judge people who judge people. But when they do it in submission to God’s Word, it’s “hubris”; when you do it… totally different.

      Interesting.

    • Scott McCauley June 10, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

      Julia, we’re not talking about some nuanced interpretation of theology. Of course there is room for disagreement among Christians when it comes to those things that are not core to Christ’s message and are not clear in Scripture. The issue of homosexuality is core and is clear. Denying core, clear Scripture is denying Christ. I think the scare quotes were appropriately used.

    • C. M. Granger June 10, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

      Unrepentant homosexuality and true Christianity are incompatible, just like unrepentant adultery, unrepentant fornication, unrepentant stealing, etc.,

      The challenge you face is making something God clearly condemns into something that is good, holy, and pleasing to Him. It can’t be done, at least not with a quiet conscience.

  5. Frank Grayson June 10, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    Very interesting, Dan.
    But not surprising. Julia’s comment epitomizes the struggle some have in reconciling God’s word with their place in “the world”.
    It’s part of that rebellion thing which started in the garden.

  6. Johnny Mason June 10, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    The male/female distinction in creation is a picture of Christ and His Church. It exists as an icon of that most blessed union. And when Christians come out and say that there are no differences between male and female and that the “union” of a man and a man is perfectly normal, they are denigrating that Holy union.

    1 Cor: 6:15-19:
    “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

    Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

    • buddyglass June 10, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

      “And when Christians come out and say that there are no differences between male and female”

      This is an exaggeration of those folks’ position. Pretty much “nobody” is saying there are no differences between male and female.

    • Chris Ryan June 11, 2015 at 3:17 am #

      The Bible itself has far more to say about the similarities between men & women than with the fairly small differences. The Bible is not a justification to shove women back into the kitchen and keep them barefoot and pregnant. No matter what some reactionaries may wish. Its good and appropriate for women to have big, successful, remunerative, fulfilling careers.They’re neither children to be ordered around nor second class citizens with separate but equal perquisites.

      • Christiane Smith June 11, 2015 at 8:31 am #

        Hi CHRIS RYAN,
        in the history of the struggle of women for the same respect as is owed to all humankind, there is a wonderful speech by Sojourner Truth on the right of women to vote. And in it, she says ‘the womens are coming up, and they bringing the mens up with them’.

        When dignity is restored to any human person, it honors the dignity of all mankind as made in the image of God. The old slave woman Sojourner Truth understood this. And her wisdom still has meaning today when some men cannot find it in themselves to honor the humanity of another person because that person is female. In doing so, these men dishonor themselves without realizing it.

        ‘the womens is coming up, and they bringing the mens up with them’ . . . may it be so in the Kingdom of Our Lord

        • Chris Ryan June 11, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

          Hi, Christiane. Amen! If it weren’t for women half our churches would have no one at all!

    • Bob Marean June 11, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

      The quote above seems to me to be strictly aimed at prostitutes. Are you claiming that those involved in a same sex relationships are prostitutes? Are they both prostitutes? Or just one of them? And if so, which one? Who gets the money? Or are we to take it from the quote above that only women are prostitutes? In which case gay men having a relationship together are ok?

      My point is that you can read into the quote anything you want to. However, to me the basic message of that quote is that having sex with someone who is doing it only for money or not for any true sign of love is wrong. “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body” The “he” and “her” are basic placeholders, interchangable with “she” and “he” or “she and she” or “he and he”. The quote is about ANYONE having sex outside of a relationship not made of love, and it is saying that the person having sex is no better than the prostitute. They are one with the prostitute in body.

      But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. THAT is the key message. And the keyword is WHOEVER.

      Whoever. Not He. Not she. Whoever. That means anyone. Let’s repeat that again. “WHOEVER is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.”

      Please stop demeaning others who are united with the Lord and are one with him in spirit. Doing so prostitutes yourself. Merriam Webster says that to prostitute is to devote to corrupt or unworthy purposes. I do NOT want to suggest that anyone here is devoting themselves to corrupt purposes. But unworthy? Unworthy of the Lord for sure when casting aspersions on anyone involved in a true love relationshop…

      “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.””

      Is there any he or she in the above quote? No. It refers to ALL people. It is NOT aimed at homosexuals. It is aimed at ALL people. It is about heterosexuals involved in relationships outside of love as well as homosexuals. It is about ALL.

      • Johnny Mason June 11, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

        Homosexuality is sexual immorality. So all people should flee sexual immorality, heterosexual and homosexual.

        Earlier in 1 Cor 6 is says this:
        “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

        Not only should we flee this immorality, but it is possible to do it with the power of the Holy Spirit.

  7. Johnny Mason June 11, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    That passage at the end of Cor 6 is not strictly about prostitution it is about how we treat our bodies, because “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?” So what we do with our bodies matters, because they are members of Christ. So when I have sex with a prostitute, then I, as a Christian, am using a member of the body of Christ, me, to perform that act. The same is true with gay sex. By performing that act, you are not only defiling yourself, but the very Body of Christ.

    “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

  8. Nathan Cesal June 11, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    When you leave this discussion within your family and within your church, it makes perfect sense.

    When you try to strong arm secular America, where people have the right to exercise their preferred form of religion, into following your idea of marriage, then I see a problem. Christians can (and should) allow for marriage equality from a secular standpoint. If it is not anti-Christian to allow someone to pray to someone other than God, then it’s not anti-Christian to allow them to marry a person outside biblical prohibitions.

    The state honoring one form of marriage above another is enforcing religious ideology at some level. That should stop. Plan and simple.

    People who object to the behavior of another should have the right to refuse entry into social and religious settings. The right to refusal should necessarily exclude business settings because commerce is how people obtain livelihoods, and necessities like medical care, housing, education, food, utilities, etc.

    • Johnny Mason June 11, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

      Nathan, you can’t have marriage equality until you define what marriage is. If marriage is the union of man and woman, husband and wife, mother and father, then it is impossible, by definition, for two men to get married and yet you still maintain marriage equality.In order for gay men to marry one another, then the definition of marriage as bringing together the two halves of humanity would have to change. Now who decides the marriage policy and what marriage is for these policies? The only reasonable and Constitutionally designated persons are the states via their elected representatives. What is happening is that the definition of marriage is changing not by the will of the people, but by judicial fiat.

      Also, what religious ideology is being enforced when every culture and religion for millienia have defined marriage as a man and a woman? Christian, Jew, Pagan, Atheist, Muslim, and heathen have all recognized that marriage was between a man and a woman up until 10 years ago. The only ones forcing views here are the pro-SSM crowd who are attempting to change a pillar of civilization that has been around for centuries by fiat.

  9. Christiane Smith June 12, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    To repent is to pray in the biblical way:
    ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner’ . . . we have all done this, and we all will need to do it again in our lifetime

    But if we would help someone else who needs Christ, here is something to think about:

    We must look into the eyes of another human being and relate to them directly, as Our Lord Himself would have done instead of thinking that our Christian faith is lived out in condemning that person at a distance by simply denouncing the label we have pinned on them . . .

    To ‘go forth’ into the world is to encounter those who need the very Christ Who we know has shown mercy to us in our own weakness.
    That is what we are called to do. And in must be done with the humility of one who knows he is himself a sinner saved by Christ. Then, we will be heard. Then people will listen.

  10. Travis Henderson June 12, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    The scare quotes will never not delight me. Never change, Professor Burk.

  11. Curt Day June 16, 2015 at 2:08 am #

    The issue of same-sex marriage in the Church isn’t over whether we will say that same-sex marriage is unbiblical, it is over how we will say it. We will rely solely on evangelism or will we promote Christian privilege in society in forcing the Christian view of marriage and homosexuality on the rest of society.

    Those who choose the latter say to those in the Church that if you must oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage to say that it is unbiblical. But some in the Church will note that marginalizing and oppressing others are unbiblical too and thus will naturally conclude, in order to avoid marginalizing those in the LGBT community, that same-sex marriage and homosexuality must be biblical. And some of those will do so because of the association between saying same-sex marriage is unbiblical with opposing giving full equality to those in the LGBT community.

    When talking about same-sex marriage in the Church, the issue is whether or not it is biblical and the answer is that it isn’t. But when talking about same-sex marriage in society, the issue becomes broader. The issue is about equality because society is made up of both Christians and nonChristians. And thus the issue is about how we will share society with each other.

  12. Cheryl Daughtry June 17, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    Your first sentence in this article is all you need to read to show how arrogant and judgemental you are. Why would anyone want to be a part of Christianity when they would have to be around a judgemental, narrow-minded soul, as youraelf, Denny?

  13. Dan Phillips June 17, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    So, Cheryl, I take it you condemn judgmentalism? And you would not want to associate with someone so excluding? This is what you said. You stand by it resolutely, do you?

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