Render Not to Caesar What Is God’s

I just finished reading and signing The Manhattan Declaration (MD), and I urge you to do the same. The Manhattan Declaration is a document affirming the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of marriage, and the rights of conscience and religious liberty. All three of these items are under siege in our culture today, so a group of Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians have drafted this statement and call upon others to defend life, marriage, and religious liberty.

You need to read the entire document, but I would like to highlight the end. It commits signatories to civil disobedience under certain conditions. It’s punchy and dead-on:

“Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.”

74 Responses to Render Not to Caesar What Is God’s

  1. Lucas Knisely November 20, 2009 at 8:48 pm #

    The growing tension I feel in my own view of the homosexual marriage situation hits me in a few ways.

    1. It is the duty of the church to love people and call all men to repentance.
    a. This duty is never prescribed in a way whereby the church should use the government to procure the church’s moral law and enforce it on all men
    b. However, the current laws of this country are greatly woven with the moral law of Christianity

    This of course leads to my other thought which creates the tension

    2. All laws represent the moral convictions of the majority and restrict the whole, not just a part of the whole
    a. A law restricting same sex couples from marrying is only limiting their equality as citizens if civil unions are disallowed
    b. If civil unions are disallowed then a class of citizen has been created with less rights. To say it another way, the whole is not being restricted, only part of the whole

    This leads me to my current conclusion (I say “current” because my tension may one day break and sway in one direction) that the church should always protect marriage but should never limit the equality of fellow citizens in such a way that is unloving and contrary to this country’s founding documents or contrary to the idea of law restricting the whole. Creating a class of citizen that is treated differently is, in my opinion, counter Gospel. William Wilberforce battled the slave trade built on his Christian belief that all men are created equal. However, there are two sides to this sword. Equal in dignity and beauty as image bearers of God, but more importantly, equal in their sin and condemnation before God. So we treat men as equal creations with love and compassion, but call them to repentance as equal sinners with love and compassion. We don’t create law that forces men to repent, be baptized, and take the Lord’s Supper, so we should not create law that establishes inequality based on Christian moral belief. As soon as you separate our equality (ie: we are all equally sinful but not all equal under the law), any call of the Gospel will likely be muted.

  2. russware November 20, 2009 at 9:40 pm #

    Thank you, Lucas. Your thoughts are helpful to me in my struggle with this issue. To me, personally, the question, in the context of legislation, has never been the fundamental issue of homosexuality per se, but how we approach the issue politically as Christians.

    Something has been rumbling around in my head ever since Denny’s post on the singular effectiveness of the voice of the the ‘Christian right’ in the abortion debate. I keep thinking… of all the different political issues associated with conservative Christianity, is abortion not the most vital and most unequivocal in its Christian moral imperative? Maybe that is why it finds the most resonance.

    I have grown more and more disgusted over the years with ‘Christian voter guides’ that suppose to tell me how to vote as a Christian on any number of issues, as if being anti-gun control is as incontrovertibly biblical or Christian a position as standing against the slaughter of unborn babies.

    I have been wondering. If ‘we’ want to end the killing of babies in this nation, what if it would mean giving up all of ‘our’ other issues (for a time), to focus on that issue that is most clear and most imminent?

    I guess what I’m saying in the context of the MD is, I wonder how much more of a powerhouse this document might have been if it had reserved itself to the life issue.

  3. Denny Burk November 21, 2009 at 2:03 am #

    Lucas,

    That argument simply will not work. You are assuming that same-sex “marriage” is marriage, yet that is precisely what is at the heart of this debate! You cannot assume what is your burden to prove.

    Signers of the MD and other Christians argue that marriage is the covenanted, monogamous union of one man and woman. It’s not just the Bible that that teaches this. There are also natural law arguments that also show this to be true (arguments which are included in the argument).

    No one is “creating a new class of persons” with less rights. Every citizen has the right to get married–meaning, every citizen has the right to enter into a covenanted, monagamous heterosexual union with a person of the opposite sex. No one has the right, however, to say that marriage now includes homosexual unions. Those who want to privilege homosexual unions in law in the same way that heterosexual unions are already privileged are proposing unjust and immoral laws.

    Some object that we cannot legislate morality. That is poppycock. All laws grow out the moral convictions of the people that make them. Thus we cannot legislate anything but morality.

    Your argument will not work.

    Thanks for taking time to comment.

    Sincerely,
    Denny

  4. Lucas Knisely November 21, 2009 at 11:41 am #

    Dr. Burk,

    I’m afraid you may have misunderstood my argument. See here:

    a. A law restricting same sex couples from marrying is ONLY limiting their equality as citizens IF civil unions are disallowed
    b. If civil unions are disallowed then a class of citizen has been created with less rights.

    I also say this:

    …the church should always protect marriage but should never limit the equality of fellow citizens in such a way that is unloving and contrary to this country’s founding documents or contrary to the idea of law restricting the whole.

    If we keep same-sex couples from civil unions, we are creating a class of citizen with less rights. Do we say that fornicators and adulterers can not have civil unions? I whole heartily agree with protecting marriage, and keeping it defined as between a man and a women. But limiting the rights of citizens passively asserts that said citizens are not created equal. To say to a homosexual couple, “I’m sorry, you cannot enter into a civil union in an effort to get the tax breaks and insurance benefits,” is restricting only part of society rather than all of society. My argument states that this separates our equality (they are equal under God’s law, but not under American law). Again, we do not do this with fornicators or adulterers, so we are being inconsistent, and as far as I see it, creating extra-Biblical mandates. Where do you establish, biblically, that Christians should seek to establish God’s moral law through the government in such a way that passively asserts inequality among men? Fornicators, adulterers, and homosexuals are all to be treated equally in that we call them to repentance. But taking homosexuals and singling them out for limited rights just does not make sense to me.

    In closing, to be as clear as I can. I am against same-sex marriage. I am for defending God’s establish institution of marriage as being between a man and a women. What I am against is restricting the rights of people based on a sin they commit and establishing inequality as a result.

  5. Mrs. Webfoot November 21, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    I signed, too. Thank you for making us aware of this.

    Lucas, with all due respect, there is no law in any state of the union that prohibits a homosexual from marrying – they just have to marry one person of the opposite sex, if we can remember what sexual opposites even are.

    Besides, there are many denominations where a homosexual couple can get “married”, having their union “blessed.” Homosexuals are not being denied any rights that all Americans already enjoy.

    What is being demanded is special rights based on how some people have sex, not equal rights.

    Yes, I signed the declaration without hesitation and with my real name.

    God bless,
    Mrs. Webfoot

    Donna L. Carlaw

  6. Lucas Knisely November 21, 2009 at 2:00 pm #

    Donna, you are not addressing anything I actually said. I am speaking mostly with reference to civil unions. In the realm of civil unions homosexuals are being denied rights. If the majority of this country wants to say that homosexuals should not be allowed to enter into civil unions with one another, then you have to call it what it is. It is part of society being restricted. Like I already asked, would you deny a fornicator or an adulterer the ability to have a civil union? Would you want the tax benefits and shared health insurance of a married person to be immediately revoked when they commit adultery?

  7. Darius T November 21, 2009 at 2:23 pm #

    I’ll support civil unions when they abolish the minimum wage. Same concept.

    Actually, I’m fine with civil unions if all they entail is the ability for individuals (regardless of gender or “sexual orientation”) to make contractual agreements with each other involving health insurance, tax benefits, etc.

  8. Ryan K November 21, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    Let me throw my two cents into the ring for why marriage, as it is defined now, should remain. While I support the Biblical arguments and those from history I think there are equally compelling secular arguments that must not be ignored as we continue to discuss what kind of nation and people we want to be.

    Governments originally got involved in certifying marriage because it has a vital, vested interest in procuring healthy, productive, future generations of citizens; not what kind of sexual relationships it would recognize.

    The state by sanctioning marriage between a man and a woman has historically done because all evidence tells us this is the absolute optimal environment for raising future generations. From a state perspective it was never an issue of sex, but of survival and thriving.

    We have already begun to see some of the effects of dismantling, and devaluing the state sanctioning of marriage in secular progressive nations in Europe.

    Though a Christian, I make no religious argument for maintaining the historical definition of marriage, when the case can be made by simply looking at how marriage has historically, throughout human history, been the best environment for the rearing of children and future generations. I am not saying that two men or woman can’t raise a child, they obviously can. Heck a child can be raised by an entire village. By social science is pretty conclusive that children receive the best upbringing when they have a stable home with both a mom and a dad.

  9. David Vinzant November 21, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    Parallel argument:

    When interracial marriage was illegal in most states, no one’s civil rights were denied. Everyone could marry someone of the same race.

    Note: I am not equating race and sexual orientation. The point is that the “we’re not denying anyone their civil rights” was used in the exact same way 40 years ago.

  10. Mrs. Webfoot November 21, 2009 at 2:49 pm #

    Hi, Lucas,

    Thank you for your response.

    You know, Lucas, where we live homosexuals are a privileged class. They are well educated, wealthy, and influencial. I have trouble seeing them as a downtrodden minority. In fact, we have some neighbors that I like very much who are a gay couple. I consider them my friends and always go out of my way to talk to them.

    You see things differently as far as civil unions go, and I will respect your opinion. We are in agreement on same sex marriage.

    I think that what the Manhatten Declaration is addressing is how churches will respond if new laws are forced on them in violation of the first amendment. Will traditional Christian, Biblical morality be labelled hate speech and criminalized?

    It is something to consider. If it comes to that, it’s good to have a plan.

    God bless you, Lucas, and thank you for talking to me,
    Mrs. Donna “Webfoot” Carlaw 🙂

  11. Lucas Knisely November 21, 2009 at 3:04 pm #

    Donna,

    I am not attempting to give the impression that homosexuals are a downtrodden minority like some of the hyperbolic slavery parallels some people make. But what I am attempting to show is that by denying them any rights you are passively asserting them as unequal. Your first paragraph, even though your intentions were pure, sounds like homosexuals aren’t equal but are lucky to be ‘privileged’ to have an education, wealth, and even your friendship. Would you ever type a similar paragraph about fornicators? Which I’m sure plenty live in or around your neighborhood. It would just sound silly. “I live next door to a fornicator and he has a nice car and a respectable job. So I don’t see any problem denying him the right to have a civil union.” It passively gives the impression that they have enough rights since they actually deserve less.

    Now, I admit I’m extrapolating quite a bit from the word ‘privileged’, but my eyes were opened to these types of statements when I watched a special on racism. A very well made argument showed how bad it sounds when white people say things like, “I have friends that are black.” or “I don’t even see that you’re a black person.” It all gives the impression that you are doing the black person a favor by ignoring their race/inequality. Your paragraph gives the impression that since homosexuals have jobs and property it isn’t a big deal if we restrict their rights with respect to civil unions.

  12. Mrs. Webfoot November 21, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

    Lucas, how old are you? I’m just curious.

    BTW, it is the homosexual lobby that makes the “hyperbolic slavery parallels.” I’m glad that you don’t buy those arguments.

    What do you have left, then? What specific right do you think homosexuals are being denied in your state?

    Each state’s laws are different.

    The question remains. How will Christian organizations respond if their first amendment rights are violated? What if traditional, Christian, Biblical morality is criminalized?

    God bless,
    Mrs. Webfoot

    PS
    BTW, I think that my fornicating neighbors have all the rights they need. In fact, there are times when getting married jeopardizes a person’s economic welfare.

  13. Lucas Knisely November 21, 2009 at 3:51 pm #

    Donna,

    I’m 28 years old, and hope I’ve not been disrespectful in tone or word. I sense you are probably my elder, and hope to show you due respect and love.

    Civil unions are currently only available to same sex couples in some shape or form in 12 of our 50 states. So that is the specific right being denied to homosexuals in most of the country.

    My point about your fornicating neighbors was that you would never argue for limiting their rights as less than yours simply because they are sinning. That is the line of thinking you must take in order to argue that homosexuals should be denied the right to a civil union. Well, you may take a different line of thinking, but I’ve yet to hear a good argument against civil unions for homosexuals.

  14. Mrs. Webfoot November 21, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    No, not at all! I didn’t mean that at all.

    You are very polite. I was just wondering.

    Civil unions give a homosexual couple all the rights and privileges of any married couple. In our state, domestic partnership is the term used, but it means what civil union means elsewhere.

    Civil unions are same sex marriage by another name.

    How can you be against same sex marriage, but in favor of civil unions? You can do it, of course, but you do realize it is just a game of semantics?

    The important question remains. How will civil unions – in which partners are given the same rights and benefits as heterosexual married people – affect little details like the First Amendment?

    I would be interested in your thoughts on that, if you have time to give them. We could also explore how in the world polygamists and other non-traditional forms of “unions” can now be told that their rights are not as important as those of homosexuals and heterosexual married people?

    We could also explore the function that marriage and the family have in society. These are especially important questions for the next generation of Christians and Americans.

    Of course, the moral climate of ancient Rome was pretty hostile to Christianity, and the church thrived. How much can we render to Ceasar, though, are questionst that the Church has always had to grapple with?

    Then, how do we treat our unbelieving neighbors?

    Then, if I tell you that one of my spiritual mothers was a black woman and one of my “sons” is a young black man, will you call me racist? 😉

    God bless,
    Mrs. Donna – or whoever I am

  15. Lucas Knisely November 21, 2009 at 5:33 pm #

    Donna,

    You asked: “How can you be against same sex marriage, but in favor of civil unions? You can do it, of course, but you do realize it is just a game of semantics?

    There is actually more of a difference than just semantics. Civil unions, for example, have nothing to do with the church or any biblical mandate from God. So, in other words, civil unions belong to Caesar, not to the church/God. To say it the other way around… marriage, in the Christian mind, has more to do with God and His church than the state. In other words, marriage belongs to God, not to Caesar. I think this distinction can be made just like we make a distinction between taxes and tithes.

    Next you asked: “How will civil unions – in which partners are given the same rights and benefits as heterosexual married people – affect little details like the First Amendment?”

    I think if the church is diligent to draw the distinction that I just did above, then our first amendment rights will stay in tact. This country is a long, almost inconceivable way, from Christians being incriminated for “hate speech”. The KKK is probably our best example of how hate speech does not result in very much criminal prosecution.

    Then you said: “We could also explore how in the world polygamists and other non-traditional forms of “unions” can now be told that their rights are not as important as those of homosexuals and heterosexual married people?

    I would say that the difference between a polygamist and a homosexual is that a civil union is between two parties. Currently we are limiting who can be the two parties. To redefine a civil union as being between multiple parties is to redefine the entire word. It is kind of like saying that a homosexual should not be discriminated against when they apply for a job but then worrying that a polygamist will come behind them and say they should be able to get hired along with his 5 wives. A job is defined as employment of one person, and to redefine that as being employment of multiple persons will not automatically happen just because we do everything to have equality in the work place.

    Then you said: “Then, if I tell you that one of my spiritual mothers was a black woman and one of my “sons” is a young black man, will you call me racist?

    To be clear, my point about that was not to say that when you say such things you are being racist or discriminatory. My point was that they passively imply inequality. Would you make it a point to tell me that a short person was one of your spiritual mothers? Or that you adopted a child with blond hair? Does that make sense?

  16. Mrs. Webfoot November 21, 2009 at 6:03 pm #

    Lucas, I’ll talk a little more, and then maybe leave this until another day.

    Lucas:
    Civil unions, for example, have nothing to do with the church or any biblical mandate from God.>>>>

    Legally, at least in our state, neither the marriage contract one files with the county nor civil unions have any religious significance whatsoever. No religious institution has the right to issue marriage liscenses.

    In fact, in our state, it is not even required that a person have any kind of license to perform a wedding.

    Lucas:
    So, in other words, civil unions belong to Caesar, not to the church/God. To say it the other way around… marriage, in the Christian mind, has more to do with God and His church than the state. In other words, marriage belongs to God, not to Caesar. I think this distinction can be made just like we make a distinction between taxes and tithes.>>>>>

    By using your logic, homosexuals already have the right to marry, since there are many churches who will perform religious marriages. The religious marriage of a same sex couple has no more legally binding authority than the religious marriage of a heterosexual couple.

    Lucas:
    I think if the church is diligent to draw the distinction that I just did above, then our first amendment rights will stay in tact. This country is a long, almost inconceivable way, from Christians being incriminated for “hate speech”. >>>>>

    It may be a long way, and it may not be. We need to be prepared.

    Lucas:
    The KKK is probably our best example of how hate speech does not result in very much criminal prosecution.>>>>>

    We even have US senator Byrd – Democrat, West Virginia – who is a former Klansman! Yes, he was young and foolish and has distanced himself from his racist past.

    So far, our first amendment has held strong. We need to make sure that it does.

    Lucas:
    I would say that the difference between a polygamist and a homosexual is that a civil union is between two parties. Currently we are limiting who can be the two parties. To redefine a civil union as being between multiple parties is to redefine the entire word. It is kind of like saying that a homosexual should not be discriminated against when they apply for a job but then worrying that a polygamist will come behind them and say they should be able to get hired along with his 5 wives. A job is defined as employment of one person, and to redefine that as being employment of multiple persons will not automatically happen just because we do everything to have equality in the work place.>>>>>

    Many may wish to limit civil unions to same sex partners – and maybe other couples – but how will our legal system be able to make such distinctions? It would be discriminitory to give special rights to homosexual couples and deny those rights to, say, polygamists in stable, loving relationships.

    Besides, an employer is not hiring both partners in a civil union, only one. The benefits go to both.

    Lucas:
    To be clear, my point about that was not to say that when you say such things you are being racist or discriminatory. My point was that they passively imply inequality. Would you make it a point to tell me that a short person was one of your spiritual mothers? Or that you adopted a child with blond hair? Does that make sense?>>>>>>

    It doesn’t make sense that there was a Canadian black woman who came to our neighborhood to evangelize and teach us toe heads. It does not make sense that I would have an Afro-Cuban son. He thinks it’s funny. Why don’t you? He adopted ME!

    Hey, it’s fun to talk with you. You are a thoughtful young man. Thanks for taking someone from the “forever young” generation seriously – if I can say that without your thinking that I’m saying that you are not my equal!

    God bless,
    Mrs. Webfoot

  17. Lucas Knisely November 21, 2009 at 8:21 pm #

    Donna,

    You said: Legally, at least in our state, neither the marriage contract one files with the county nor civil unions have any religious significance whatsoever. No religious institution has the right to issue marriage liscenses.

    My point was with respect to where the Christian’s concern should be. Civil unions are not in the Scriptures and solely belong to Caesar. Marriage is in the Scriptures and solely belongs to God. Yes the state is involved with marriage, but marriage still primarily belongs to God.

    You said: By using your logic, homosexuals already have the right to marry, since there are many churches who will perform religious marriages. The religious marriage of a same sex couple has no more legally binding authority than the religious marriage of a heterosexual couple.

    When I said “church” I was referring to the church, as in God’s established body of believers. But I am also drawing a distinction between civil unions and marriage with respect to the aim and concern of Christians. Our aim should be to protect and keep sacred what belongs to God and what is mandated by Him. Civil unions belong to Caesar and are not mandated or talked about in God’s word. So no, my logic does not lead where you took it. My logic simply states that civil unions are rendered to Caesar since it is solely in the realm of government and doesn’t touch God’s church or biblical mandate. To say it another way, a civil union is recognized by the state, so if Susan and John enter into a civil union but refuse to get married the church would not recognize the civil union as meaning anything. In fact, if they were living together the church would call them to repentance and encourage them to get married.

    You said: Many may wish to limit civil unions to same sex partners – and maybe other couples – but how will our legal system be able to make such distinctions? It would be discriminitory to give special rights to homosexual couples and deny those rights to, say, polygamists in stable, loving relationships.

    This is pure speculation and I have not seen any actual evidence for it happening. They are not lobbying to be allowed civil unions at the cost of others being denied. They are simply asking to be included. However, you agree that it would be discriminatory to give special rights to homosexual couples while others are denied which means you readily admit that the current setup is discriminatory.

    Now, I already addressed the polygamy issue because that would mean redefining civil unions as well as contracts with businesses and health insurance companies everywhere. As it stands, if you apply to work at McDonalds they cannot refuse to hire you because you’re a Christian, nor can they refuse to hire Bob because he is a homosexual. You are both treated as equals. With respect to civil unions, you are allowed to enter one with another man so that you both get tax breaks and insurance benefits. Bob, however, is denied the ability to enter into a civil union with his partner simply because they are homosexuals. You are not treated as equals. Now enter the polygamist. A civil union, like a job, is defined a certain way. When McDonalds says they have a position available, it does not mean a polygamist can insist since a homosexual was hired that McDonalds should hire the polygamist and his 5 wives. It is a position for one person. With civil unions, it is a contract between two people, so just like the polygamist and McDonalds, he has no argument.

  18. andy November 21, 2009 at 11:17 pm #

    What do you think is the goal of the homosexual community with regard to this issue? Is their goal to simply establish civil unions? If civil unions are granted, will they then be content to cease pursuing legal rights for marriage? Should Christians be advocates of civil unions only to later oppose the legalization of homosexual marriage? Could a Christian rightfully mourn the legalization of homosexual marriage when they previously approved (although passively) the formation of homosexual civil unions?

  19. Mrs. Webfoot November 22, 2009 at 12:47 am #

    Lucas, I honestly hope that you are right.

    Even so, we should never take our freedoms for granted.

    I see that Randy Alcorn is one of the signators of the Manhatten Declaration. You know that Randy was conviced of raketeering under RICO don’t you for his anti-abortion work? It took him years of battling in our courts for him to get that reversed.

    I am not so trusting of the beast that is called “Ceasar.” All is not sweetness, goodness, fairness, and light in our system.

    OTOH, two leaders of denominations in Cuba showed me letters that they were drafting to send to their government protesting the same sex marriage law being promoted by Raul’s daughter – who is a lesbian.

    I forgot to ask them last time I visited Cuba how that came out. Christians in Cuba have had years of practice in dealing with a very hostile Caesar.

    The same sex marriage is being called “civil union.” Christians there weren’t fooled.

    Interesting, no? Something to think about.

    Have a good rest of your weekend and a blessed Lord’s Day,

    Mrs. Webfoot

  20. Denny Burk November 22, 2009 at 12:52 am #

    Civil unions are no better than homosexual “marriage.” We want covenanted heterosexual unions to be privileged in law. Civil grant the benefits of marriage to those who are not married. That is why those who believe in the sanctity of marriage cannot condone civil unions.

  21. Allison Miller November 22, 2009 at 9:39 am #

    Hello everyone,

    My husband sometimes reads this blog and directed me to this comment thread.

    Dr. Burk, I’m wondering why it is necessary to you that “covenanted heterosexual unions…be privileged in law”?

    Why is that important to you? What does that prove?

    Thank you,
    Allison

  22. Mrs. Webfoot November 22, 2009 at 12:46 pm #

    Allison, I wanted to ask the same question. I know the answer I would give. Traditional, heterosexual marriage covenants do indeed deserve special status in our society. They are the necessary foundation for every other institution.

    Two heterosexuals reproduce, they have children. Homosexuals do not and cannot. They don’t have the right physical conditions to reproduce.

    The traditional family is the foundation of society. If we say that two homosexuals living together in a loving relationship are equal and deserve the same rights as a heterosexual married couple, then we have created an even bigger problem than we already have. The two relationships are not equal at all. There is no benefit for society from the civil union, same sex marriage, domestic partnership laws that are being crafted or have already passed. In fact, they have the potential of doing much damage to our society.

    What legacy are we leaving? Without children, we are leaving no legacy. We are cutting off the future of our society, which to many doesn’t matter. All that matters, it seems, is what people want and what people demand – and the homosexual lobby is very wealthy and very powerful. They are not a downtrodden minority.

    We will get what we want as a society, but we will not be able to control the consequences – and there are and will be many unintended consequences from putting homosexual relationships on a par with heterosexual marriage – let alone covenant marriage.

    Here in Washington, the marriage covenant is already so damaged as to have very little meaning left in it anyway. So if traditional marriage has been so corrupted by redefinition, little things like feminist accusations of it being an abusive arrangement that favors men, abortion on demand, and women being lured out of the home and into the workforce, then of course same sex unions don’t seem like such a big deal against that already compromised backdrop.

    We are already so far down the road, outright abomination doesn’t look so bad from down here.

  23. Scott November 22, 2009 at 1:54 pm #

    Denny,

    At least try to reasonably and intelligently engage the arguments that Lucas has put forth.

  24. Scott November 22, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    Mrs. Webfoot,

    Do you truly believe there are so many homosexuals in this world that granting them civil unions will put society in danger of not “producing enough children?”

  25. Lucas Knisely November 22, 2009 at 2:04 pm #

    Dr. Burk,

    You said: “We want covenanted heterosexual unions to be privileged in law.”

    We are free to want this, but what is the biblical argument for such a want? Where is the biblical mandate to blend covenantal marriage with governmental privileges?

    You then said: “Civil grant the benefits of marriage to those who are not married. That is why those who believe in the sanctity of marriage cannot condone civil unions.”

    Again, what is the biblical argument for this? Because I feel like this is unfair and it airs on the side of bullying anyone in support of civil unions. “You support civil unions? Well then you don’t believe in the sanctity of marriage.” I see no biblical warrant for such a statement. In light of my distinction that civil unions belong to Caesar and that marriage belongs to God, I don’t see how you can passively blanket anyone who condones civil unions as automatically not believing in the sanctity of marriage. I suppose one could flip it around and say that someone who equates a civil union with marriage does not believe in the sanctity of marriage. To me, for something to keep its sanctity, it is good to keep it separate. My stance does this with keeping civil unions under Caesar and marriage under God. Your stance equates a civil union with marriage and lowers the level of separateness that marriage has. Like I said before, if John and Susan enter into a civil union the church will not recognize it as being equal with marriage. But according to your argument it is equal to marriage which is why it should be disallowed to homosexual couples.

    Donna,

    I understand the point you are making, but you have to see how hurtful it is to any heterosexual couple who cannot have children. According to your argument, they, just like a homosexual couple, are not benefiting society simply because they are unable to have children. If we are ultimately going to say that civil unions should be disallowed to homosexuals because they “don’t benefit society” because they can’t have children, then where do you find the biblical warrant for taking such a stand?

  26. andy November 22, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    Could a Christian rightfully mourn the legalization of homosexual marriage when they previously approved of the formation of homosexual civil unions (assuming that there is a distinctino between civil union and marriage)?

  27. andy November 22, 2009 at 4:03 pm #

    I meant distinction, not “distinctino.” That’s funny.

  28. Don Johnson November 22, 2009 at 5:16 pm #

    The Manhattan Declaration says “We must reform ill-advised policies that contribute to the weakening of the institution of marriage, including the discredited idea of unilateral divorce. ”

    I am not sure what “unilateral divorce” means. I do know Israel did wrong things that violated its covenant with God and therefore God divorced Israel, even tho Israel may not have wished this.

  29. Lucas Knisely November 22, 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    Andy,

    Yes, a Christian could rightfully mourn the legalization of homosexual marriage because that is something specifically addressed in Scripture. If I say that a homosexual should have a certain right it does not automatically mean I approve of homosexuality. I would still call them to repentance. And that is a point I made at the very beginning of all this. They are equally condemned under God’s law, and equal under American law. Currently, the latter is not true. Just like a fornicator is to be called to repentance, but I would still stand up for the fornicator’s rights as a citizen of this country. Standing up for the fornicator’s right to a civil union does not mean I approve of fornication.

  30. David Vinzant November 22, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    It is not the place of the government to enforce religious opinions regarding marriage. Churches are, of course, free to do this. The Catholic Church has very strong views on divorce and remarriage. I think we would all agree that it would be inappropriate for Catholics to try to pass laws that would enforce their views on divorce on the entire population.

    In the same way, evangelicals have no business using the government to impose on all citizens their opinions regarding same-sex marriage.

    Once upon a time, Southern Baptists understood the separation of church and state. What happened?

    From the 1981 Southern Baptist Convention:

    “Be it further RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention, in accordance with and in commitment to the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and to the historic Baptist principle of church and state separation, deplore and reject the arrogation of the right of any group to define and pronounce for all people what is the Christian faith, and to seek through political means to impose this faith upon the American people under a government which is mandated to safeguard and respect the people of all religious and no religion.”

  31. Lucas Knisely November 22, 2009 at 6:59 pm #

    David,

    What you quoted from the 1981 convention is referring to imposing the Christian “faith upon the American people“. Defending the definition of marriage is not imposing the Christian faith, but standing for what we believe to be an objective reality. Think of it another way… When we stand for the definition of murder, human dignity, and theft according to our religious convictions, that doesn’t mean we are imposing our faith on other people.

  32. David Vinzant November 22, 2009 at 7:39 pm #

    The problem there is that there are all sorts of things that various religious groups might consider “objective reality” that would be rejected by as such by rational citizens who do not belong to that religion. By your logic, why shouldn’t Catholics seek to impose their views about divorce and remarriage on the rest of society?

  33. David Vinzant November 22, 2009 at 7:41 pm #

    Incidentally, I hope you don’t plan on imposing your definition of murder from Matthew 5:22 on the rest of society.

  34. Don Johnson November 22, 2009 at 7:52 pm #

    My take is the gov’t should get out of the marriage biz. I do not agree that they get to define it.

  35. Allison Miller November 22, 2009 at 10:51 pm #

    Dear Mrs. Webfoot,

    In your reply to my question, you stated, “There is no benefit for society from the civil union, same sex marriage, domestic partnership laws that are being crafted or have already passed. In fact, they have the potential of doing much damage to our society.”

    What is the potential damage to society that civil unions could cause?

    Also, in response to another part of your post, are there any benefits to marriage outside of having children?

  36. TheDisciple November 23, 2009 at 1:31 am #

    The state is not bound by any religious group or tenet. It can and will make laws that it sees as advantageous. Yet believers and the Church can and should point out any state action which is immoral. (For immoral actions are detrimental to society and to the individuals.)

    As believers we have an obligation of discerning the truth of morality and seeking to live it by the power of the Holy Spirit–knowing our imperfections and shortcomings–seek forgiveness. Even if this means peaceful civil disobedience at our peril in loss of resources or liberty if the state requires us to disobey God.

    We also understand that those outside of Christ cannot live in the power of the Spirit to overcome sins–and that laws, no matter how righteous, can empower anyone to obey them.

    Nevertheless, the state will find it advantageous when enacting and enforcing laws that promote righteous acts and not sinful acts. Believers who have opportunity to influence the state in this regard should so act to the degree they can.

    Understanding that all such actions (being political in nature) are not the same as promoting the Gospel. This was not made clear in the Manhattan Declaration (MD). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about having or following right laws but about being reconciled to the Father through faith in what Jesus did for us by his death and resurrection.

    I think it is vital to continue to clearly make this distinction when believers as individuals or as a community make such statements as the MD. Salvation is by grace and forgiveness. The MD is not the Gospel but a line in the sand against unrighteous acts gaining influence in our culture.

    No doubt the waning influence of the body of believers has contributed to an increase of unrighteousness in our society–of which believers and church leaders have contributed to by conflating the Gospel with political positions and by watering down the Gospel and the call to truth and holiness.

    No doubt I have had a part in that demise.

    To summarize:
    1. As an American, I will vote against laws that I see as harmful to the state.
    2. As a believer I will seek God’s will for society and for individuals in particular–primarily that God’s grace influences their thoughts, their acts, their life and their soul.
    3. I will keenly keep the distinction between point 1 and point 2.

  37. TheDisciple November 23, 2009 at 1:40 am #

    Correction in the third paragraph:

    Laws cannot empower anyone to obey.

  38. Lucas Knisely November 23, 2009 at 10:27 am #

    David,

    You said: “By your logic, why shouldn’t Catholics seek to impose their views about divorce and remarriage on the rest of society?

    I think you are sort of dodging the refutation that I said with regard to what you quoted from the 1981 Convention. You are failing to make a distinction between the Christian faith and beliefs of American citizens who are Christians. I was simply pointing out that when you quote passages like that it has nothing to do with the current discussion. Nobody here is attempting to impose the Christian faith, but rather, just like everyone else, voting and legislating according to what they believe to be true. If a mayor is an atheist and believes that murder is wrong, he cannot prove that it is objectively wrong, he merely believes it to be. He is going to make sure there are proper laws in place to ensure that murderers are prosecuted, imprisoned, etc. This is not an imposition of his belief system, but merely him being human. Everyone votes and legislates according to their core beliefs, even though they cannot be empirically, exhaustively, and objectively proven. Nobody can point to a scientific irrefutable empirical argument that lying under oath is wrong, but most of the country believes lying to be wrong, so there are laws in place. I already addressed this in my very first comment here. I said: “All laws represent the moral convictions of the majority and restrict the whole“. That is the basic role and function of law in this country. For example, most of the country thinks incest is wrong. Are we imposing the Christian faith on those who wish to have incestuous relationships because there is legislation against incest?

    Then you said: “Incidentally, I hope you don’t plan on imposing your definition of murder from Matthew 5:22 on the rest of society.

    Which clearly indicates you are either being facetious and not profiting the discussion any further, or that you have completely misunderstood Matthew 5:22. In either case, this really isn’t the venue for joking and jesting, nor is it the place for a hermeneutics lesson.

  39. Joe Blackmon November 23, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    If civil unions are disallowed then a class of citizen has been created with less rights

    I’m sorry. I missed the part where this is a bad thing.

  40. Lucas Knisely November 23, 2009 at 11:13 am #

    Joe,

    You missed it because you pulled that quote out of lots of lengthy posts that I’ve made. For example I said that, “William Wilberforce battled the slave trade built on his Christian belief that all men are created equal.” Do you think that homosexuals are not equal to you? Then what about fornicators? Adulterers? Thieves? Anyone who sins? Going the full track you arrive at the conclusion that all are sinners. So if you esteem yourself higher simply because you don’t commit a certain sin then I’m afraid you’re being Pharisaical.

    Or maybe you think discrimination is okay. You are free to think that, but I’m afraid is does not mesh with love or freedom.

  41. Joe Blackmon November 23, 2009 at 11:18 am #

    Denying someone the “right” to do something that the Bible says is wrong is not discrimination. I am perfectly fine with a legal prohibition against gay marriage and civil unions. If that makes them second class citizens in your eyes or the eyes of anyone else, I am completly comfortable with that.

  42. Matthew Staton November 23, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    Lucas,

    I don’t know where I come down on this. But I appreciate your efforts to explain your thoughts on this. I think it is important to acknowledge the perspective of others, even if we disagree with them. So we may disapprove of gay behavior but it is important to express as much understanding of their perspective and the consequences to them as possible. It seems to me that this is partly where you are coming from.

  43. Nathan November 23, 2009 at 12:07 pm #

    Lucas,

    Your argumentation keeps revolving around the perception (in my opinion) that homosexuals will be categorized into a second-class citizenship without, at a minimum, civil unions. It appears that this is difficult for you to digest. However, there are many so-called second class citizens in our country today. Felons are second-class in voting rights, etc. Anyone with a sex-offense against a minor, even if it is not a felony, is regulated to second-class status. These two issues are probably items you don’t have a problem with, but how about children under the age of 18. They are second-class citizens labeled as incapable of making appropriate decisions on their own. Do they not suffer injustice?

    The other item where your argumentation seems lacking is that marriage is not supremely Christian. It is just as much historical as anything else, and, as Denny pointed out, has nature’s laws on its side. Futhermore, polygamy would have a better argument than homosexual marriage, yet I did not see your suggested support for it. Are polygamists not second-class citizens as well? As are the polyamorus and anything else individuals want to conjure up in our current topsy-turvy world.

  44. russware November 23, 2009 at 12:13 pm #

    Joe,

    You wrote: Denying someone the “right” to do something that the Bible says is wrong is not discrimination.

    Of course it is. The question, in this context, for the Christian is whether such state enforced discrimination is justified from a missional, kingdom of God, gospel standpoint.

    There are a lot of things the bible ‘says [are] wrong.’

    Would you be in favor of discriminatory civil laws against those who are neglecting to be a part of Christian fellowship, give to those in need, or speak the truth in love?

    Our firstmission is to call sinners to the gospel, making Christ followers, and baptizing them into the kingdom.

    That being said, of course laws reflect morality. Denny’s earlier attack on the notion that we shouldn’t be legislating morality (he called it poppycock) was a straw-man argument. No one is suggesting that. The question is always who’s morality, and how much.

    The gospel is not interested in dealing with sin by legislation. In fact, that is anti-gospel.

    Generally speaking, Christians should vote for and support laws that we feel would be good for society based on our beliefs. But I’m not concerned so much with our vote as our voice. What are we communicating in light of the gospel? And, are we always putting gospel concerns first, over and against the loss, real or perceived, of our ‘rights.’

    If history teaches us anything, it is that the Christian State myth is always bad for the gospel.

  45. Joe Blackmon November 23, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    What are we communicating in light of the gospel?

    Translation: They call us mean-spirited hate mongers. We should be loving them into the kingdom. If we support laws against gay marriage, it makes them want to ignore us.

    I do not agree that making gay marriage illegal is discrimination just because you say it is. However, even if it is I can live with that. My conscience won’t even tingle a little bit.

  46. Lucas Knisely November 23, 2009 at 12:51 pm #

    Joe,

    Where does the Bible say anything about civil unions being wrong? You say you are fine with denying someone the “right” to do something the Bible says is wrong. But civil unions are not condemned in Scripture, homosexuality is. So you are denying them right to civil union based on a sin they commit which means fornication and adultery would also disqualify someone. I’ve posed this problem numerous times here and you aren’t addressing that. You are simply asserting that civil unions are wrong, but make no Biblical argument.

    Let me say it another way. We stand for a definition of marriage that can be found in Scripture. The entire argument rests on God’s word. However, to stand in opposition of civil unions people have taken two approaches so far. Dr. Burk has equated civil unions with marriage based on the similar governmental privileges. You seem to be taking the second approach which is to rest the argument on the condemnation of homosexuality in the Bible. I don’t think either of the arguments stand. I’ve already responded to Dr. Burk’s position. Your position, I have already showed time and time again that if we deny someone a civil union based on homosexuality being a sin, then you must deny fornicators and adulterers as well. A civil union has nothing to do with God and His church, it is purely between the citizen and the government. This, I’ve already argued, places it under Caesar. Marriage has everything to do with God and His church, and when biblically viewed it is primarily between the Christian and God.

  47. Joe Blackmon November 23, 2009 at 1:06 pm #

    Civil Unions are simply marriage by another name.

  48. Lucas Knisely November 23, 2009 at 1:09 pm #

    Joe,

    I’ve already dealt with equating civil unions with marriage. If you equate them with marriage, you are the one who damages the sanctity of marriage. You are equating a governmental-citizen relationship with God’s ordained institution. You are again, failing to make a biblical argument.

  49. Nathan November 23, 2009 at 1:21 pm #

    Lucas,

    It appears you are avoiding my other examples of second-class citizens. You stated to Denny, “What I am against is restricting the rights of people based on a sin they commit and establishing inequality as a result.”

    I gave you at least two examples of restricting rights based on sin (felons, sex offenders), that you have yet to address. Moreover, restricting rights of all citizens under the age of 18 is inequality. Why should these stand, but laws againsts homosexual marriage come down?

  50. Lucas Knisely November 23, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    Nathan,

    I’m not ignoring you. I’m at work and typing up a response as I get time.

  51. Lucas Knisely November 23, 2009 at 1:36 pm #

    Nathan,

    You said: “ However, there are many so-called second class citizens in our country today. Felons are second-class in voting rights, etc. Anyone with a sex-offense against a minor, even if it is not a felony, is regulated to second-class status.”

    These are all crimes with consequences and punishments. Currently, under American law, homosexuality is not a crime that is punishable to any degree. Neither is fornication or adultery. So, these examples simply do no parallel. When I said, “What I am against is restricting the rights of people based on a sin they commit and establishing inequality as a result.” I was referring to sins, not crimes. Yes, it is a sin to commit adultery, but it is not a crime that should restrict someone’s rights.

    You then said: “These two issues are probably items you don’t have a problem with, but how about children under the age of 18. They are second-class citizens labeled as incapable of making appropriate decisions on their own. Do they not suffer injustice?

    Children under 18 are not the same because every single citizen is restricted up until the age of 18, so the whole is restricted. Now if you said that just children under the age of 18 who have fornicated should be restricted, then you’ve got a working parallel. Now, I need to restate that much of my view is built on the idea that civil unions are a Caesar issue, while marriage is a God issue. So before you can even really start picking apart the finer points of my argument, you need to establish how civil unions are not a Caesar issue.

  52. Nathan November 23, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    Fair enough Lucas,

    Although I would argue that you didn’t address polygamy, which, as you would say, is a Caesar issue. Now, before you say it is currently against the law, the question looms as to why it continues to be. Homosexuality used to be against the law (I believe sodomy still is in certain states). Adultery, and fornication all used to be (and still are, in various forms) against the law. Just ask divorce lawyers whether compensation can hinge on adultery.

    So then, opening the barn door to homosexual marriage (or even civil unions) is certainly going to bring about pressure on legislators to eliminate laws against polygamy. So, would you be for legislation continuing the ban on polygamy, and if so, why?

    Also the issue on second-class citizenship for minors is also not fully open since some states have different laws for issues of parental consent. So, are you for abolishing states rights and only implementing federal laws? This too plays enormously into the issue of homosexual marriage/civil unions since every state that has had the vote to ban it–has banned it.

    I simply don’t see this as the simple issue you make it out to be.

  53. Lucas Knisely November 23, 2009 at 2:27 pm #

    Nathan,

    I already addressed the polygamy issue to some extent: click here

    To say a bit more in response to your statements. I would not say that Polygamy is a Caesar issue because it pertains to the definition of marriage. Marriage, as I’ve already stated, is a God issue. In light of that, we should continue to protect the definition of marriage in the same way we defend the definition of person-hood and human dignity with respect to abortion. Now, if Polygamists want to redefine “civil union”, I already addressed that in the link provided above.

    You said: “So, are you for abolishing states rights and only implementing federal laws? This too plays enormously into the issue of homosexual marriage/civil unions since every state that has had the vote to ban it–has banned it.

    How it all plays out through legislation, and state vs federal is an area where I’m extremely under-educated. The little I know would have me leaning toward state control with respect to these issues. But I’ve not studied it enough to take an exhaustive stance.

    I’m not trying to simplify a complicated matter, but in light of the venue, discourse will remain more simplistic and less nuanced. In my defense, I’ve written quite a bit more on this blog than everyone else, and nobody has put forth a biblical argument against civil unions for homosexuals, nor has anyone put forth a nuanced position.

  54. Joe Blackmon November 23, 2009 at 2:31 pm #

    I’ve already dealt with equating civil unions with marriage.

    Oh, and of course, since you’ve dealt with this issue, then the last word is spoken on it, huh? Further, anyone who disagrees with you is, what, wrong?

    Arrogant much?

  55. Lucas Knisely November 23, 2009 at 2:47 pm #

    Joe,

    When I said that I had already dealt with equating civil unions with marriage that doesn’t mean the issue is settled, it means you need to respond rather than simply repeat the same already addressed assertion. You came into a discussion, which means you need to read what has already been said for the sake of brevity. You have done nothing but post short little responses, repeat already made and addressed arguments, and now crassly accuse me of arrogance. I’ve typed lengthy responses in effort to engage this topic, and if you just want to respond with one liners and accusations, then you’ll only achieve dissension rather than discussion.

  56. Nathan November 23, 2009 at 2:49 pm #

    With all due respect Lucas, your argument about polygamy is thin, at best.

    Furthermore, the bible does argue against civil unions because title, property, inheritance, and name are all based in marriage (both for monogamous/polygamist heterosexual unions). Why do you require the bible to speak to an issue that it would not have any reason to refute? It refutes it based on the biblical notion of marriage and family. Futhermore, since the bible condemns homosexuality in all forms there is no need to even require the consideration.

    Moreover, your dogma of insinuation that citizens (at least Christian citizens) cannot oppose possible laws is strange, at best. Laws, by their nature, create inequality. To infer that since homosexuality is not currently a crime (as it used to be) therefore it deserves even more “equality” is absurd.

    So, Christians or other citizens opposed to civil unions and marriage for homosexuals are denying them rights? If that is the case, then you also should argue that Christians and others who are pro-life should sit down because abortion is settled law. Beecause, according to that logic, once something that was unlawful becomes lawful, then everyone should just get out of the way and open the floodgates.

    Finally, your argumentation doesn’t back a states right view because inequity exists in different states and your argument is based on equity.

  57. Nathan November 23, 2009 at 2:59 pm #

    Plus, civil unions are an invention of the homosexual agenda and they need to offer legitimate argument to justify them rather than the rest of the country justifying their exclusion.

  58. Nathan November 23, 2009 at 3:03 pm #

    Lucas, I don’t want to get into a lengthy discussion of property, inhertance, hospital visitation, etc., over civil unions. My point is that the homosexual community invented them as a means to sway the ultimate argument of desiring to rewrite marriage.

  59. Joe Blackmon November 23, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    Lucas,

    The last time I checked, and admittedly it has been a while, I don’t need your permission as to how, what, when, or where I post. Further, I’m sure your opinion matters to some people. I just don’t happen to fall into that catagory.

  60. Lucas Knisely November 23, 2009 at 3:40 pm #

    Joe,

    You continue to be uncharitable and refuse to abide by basic understood rules of discourse. I’m afraid I’ll have to ignore you from this point on. Your approach is dismissive and unkind, and I hope you come to see that.

  61. russware November 23, 2009 at 3:44 pm #

    Joe,

    Your approach to this discussion is most unproductive and uncharitable. I trust that you have great passion for our faith, and that you mean well. But you come across as being very angry.

  62. Lucas Knisely November 23, 2009 at 3:46 pm #

    Nathan,
    You said: “With all due respect Lucas, your argument about polygamy is thin, at best.”
    Maybe I should elaborate a tad. A civil union is a contract that is defined as between two parties. For the Polygamist to have an argument, they would have to show why said definition is wrong/unfair. They would also have to argue against the basic fabric of contracts in our society. The burden of proof lies on the Polygamist to redefine our basic understanding of a contract. As I already tried to show, I don’t think they have an argument.
    Then you said: “Furthermore, the bible does argue against civil unions because title, property, inheritance, and name are all based in marriage (both for monogamous/polygamist heterosexual unions).
    Where is this in the New Testament? Where is the church told that property, inheritance, and legal rights are tied to marriage? I’m not saying you are wrong, I just think that when you wed the government and marriage, this is the problem you run into. You are assuming things are tied to marriage the Scriptures never prescriptively tie to them. I already asked Dr. Burk this question: “Where is the biblical mandate to blend covenantal marriage with governmental privileges?” We just assume this entitlement on the basis of tradition, which isn’t necessarily wrong, but it certainly isn’t biblical.
    Then you said: “Futhermore, since the bible condemns homosexuality in all forms there is no need to even require the consideration.”
    Yes, and it also condemns fornication and adultery. Nobody has responded to my charge that it is inconsistent to deny civil unions on the basis of homosexuality being a sin. It is a governmental relationship between two citizens. We don’t attempt to deny rights to fornicators and adulterers, and the result is that we treat homosexuals as “special” sinners.
    Then you said: “Moreover, your dogma of insinuation that citizens (at least Christian citizens) cannot oppose possible laws is strange, at best. Laws, by their nature, create inequality. To infer that since homosexuality is not currently a crime (as it used to be) therefore it deserves even more “equality” is absurd. ”
    You seem to have completely ignored my opening statement on this blog and have thus wrongly described me as insinuating something I have never insinuated. My point about homosexuality not being a crime is that it doesn’t currently bring about punishment by our legal system. Remember, I was responding to your attempt to parallel felons with homosexuals. Again, if you are going to use the logic that a sexual immoral act should result in the restricted rights of a citizen, then there is way more than homosexuality to be placed on the table.
    Then you said: “Finally, your argumentation doesn’t back a states right view because inequity exists in different states and your argument is based on equity.”
    I assume when you said “inequity” and “equity” you meant “inequality” and “equality”. If that is what you meant, then you are again, putting words in my mouth. My opening statement addresses the understanding that all laws restrict the whole based on the convictions of the majority. I’ve never said or implied otherwise. Equality should be strived for with the understanding that some laws will restrict citizens based on criteria like age, sex, etc. For example, when slavery was abolished it was done so on the basis of equality, but blacks were not given a blank check, laws of this country still restrict them. So arguing for the rights of homosexual on the basis of equality doesn’t automatically mean I am saying all laws are bad and should be done away with. You are creating an idea foreign to my argument, and foreign to the argument of equality in general.
    Then you said: “ Plus, civil unions are an invention of the homosexual agenda and they need to offer legitimate argument to justify them rather than the rest of the country justifying their exclusion.”
    What other argument do they need other than they want to pursue happiness? I’m not trying to get all Hallmark Commercial on you, but honestly, why can’t citizens approach the government and say, “We currently can’t do X and would like to do X, so can you provide us with a legal document to grant us X?” This is what small businesses do every day. They come to the government needing legal documents for privileges and rights as a business that they don’t presently have. You are trying to step in and say, “No, you see, you are committing a sin, and are therefore denied the ability to have X granted to you.”
    Finally you said: “ My point is that the homosexual community invented them as a means to sway the ultimate argument of desiring to rewrite marriage.”
    Or they invented it as a means to procure rights wanted for better cohabitation? I think we tend to get very “man behind the curtain” paranoid when this discussion comes up. We need to be careful not to blanket in ways like this that may be inaccurate.

  63. Joe Blackmon November 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm #

    Uncharitable and dismissive? Yep, that’d be me.

    Oh, and Russ–don’t tell me, let me guess? ELCA?

  64. russware November 23, 2009 at 4:16 pm #

    No.

  65. Nathan November 23, 2009 at 4:25 pm #

    Lucas,

    I understand that you don’t believe polygamist’s to have an argument, but that is opinion, no different than mine or others on the homosexuality issue. By that way, I have already discussed that adultery does deny rights (in divorce court) to areas of property, children visitation, etc.

    As to the New Testament and property rights it does boil down to government (Rom 13), however citizens in a democracy have every right to dictate laws and your argument appears to say that homosexuals should just be allowed to be happy or to gain rights like any other small businessman. Yet, if they are bringing radically new forms of legislation to the table (legislation that has never existed before) they have the burden of justification on them and they are not winning the battle, hence they created civil unions to work around the system. Consequently other citizens don’t have to buy it and they have every right to stand opposed.

    Help me on the crime issue. You stated earlier that since homosexuality was no longer a crime, it justified their desire for civil unions. My response to that was (1) it used to be against the law and still is in certain acts. (2) since it is no longer against the law, that appears to make it an open and shut case for you for approving civil unions. Therefore (3) based on that logic any item that is currently allowed should then never be opposed. Hence: abortion should not be opposed because it is law. Am I missing your argument? So, since we are opposing abortion based on Christian belief, we should stop doing that in this country as well. Correct me where I misread you.

    Finally, I may have misunderstood you on state’s rights and equality. You appear to argue civl unions based on equality and I was pointing out that states are not equal, therefore you would need a federal mandate to see your argument enacted. Right now, the Federal Government does not recognize civil unions (only certain states do). So I was saying you could not be a state’s rights guy because if a state votes against civil unions you would need to be cool with that. I probably misunderstood you on that one..

  66. Lucas Knisely November 23, 2009 at 7:19 pm #

    Nathan,

    You said: “My response to that was (1) it used to be against the law and still is in certain acts. (2) since it is no longer against the law, that appears to make it an open and shut case for you for approving civil unions. Therefore (3) based on that logic any item that is currently allowed should then never be opposed. Hence: abortion should not be opposed because it is law. Am I missing your argument? So, since we are opposing abortion based on Christian belief, we should stop doing that in this country as well. Correct me where I misread you.”

    You did not misread me, you are inserting an idea that I never argued for. I have never once said that since it is no longer against the law it should then automatically be allowed. And even if I did, that does not lead to your conclusion that anything currently allowed should never be opposed. You are creating a sequence that I never argued for. Again, the only reason I said anything about homosexuality not being a crime was because you paralleled homosexuals to felons. You continue to remove my comment from that context, insert the idea that since it’s legal it should be allowed, and then conclude that once it’s allowed it should never be opposed. That entire argument and sequence is both fallacious and ultimately a straw man.

    I have argued that civil unions fall under Caesar and that while law restricts, equality among men should be sought after in light of arguments of William Wilberforce and Paul on partiality. Opposing civil unions restricts/blocks a group, and the only two grounds I’ve seen to root this in are the sinfulness of homosexuality or that civil unions are equal to marriage. First, the sinfulness of homosexuality blocking new permissions would mean that all fornicators and adulterers should be restricted/blocked as well. Ultimately, if pressed far enough, nobody should be allowed to do anything because we all sin.(for example, much of the country has lots of premarital sex.) Now, you have shown that in divorce, adultery plays a role in the splitting of possessions. However, divorce hearings are attempting to find who has claim over items, not over who has more/less civil rights. If the adulterer is shown to be the main cause of the divorce and it is concluded that they are entitled to less property, they are not being denied civil rights, they are having possessions denied on the basis that another person who had prior joint ownership, now in light of the divorce, has full ownership. Second, if you equate a civil union with marriage then you are saying that two parties entering an agreement under Caesar is equal to two persons entering into a holy covenant under God. I have argued that this taints the sanctity of marriage more than drawing a distinction between the two. I have also shown that governmental privileges for marriage are never discussed or prescribed in the Scripture, so to argue that similar governmental privileges makes civil unions equal with marriage is an argument that can not be made from Scripture.

  67. RK Brumbelow November 23, 2009 at 9:00 pm #

    Dr Burk, I will comment to you since I know you personally and have never personally met Dr. Mohler (and you know I am serious since I am not calling you Denny). I am concerned with this increasing aspiration to a cultural mandate you have been showing over the years. I commend you to go back and reevaluate “De civitate dei” (aka City of God) and look at the 2 kingdom ethic proposed there.

    Now that the business is taken care of, do you think Tim M (the former grader of yours at Criswell) could get a recommendation from you to RTS? B.C.(4 offices down from your old one) is not responding and time is getting a bit critical. I am sure TIm would ask himself but I have always been more direct and obnoxious about things so I am beating him to the punch.

  68. andy November 24, 2009 at 1:56 pm #

    Lucas,

    Obviously, you have given much thought to this issue. I’m curious as to what you would propose as a solution to the problem that you perceive (one of inequality?). I say this because, frankly, many of us are prone to conduct our affairs hypothetically while rarely acting on our convictions. I’m assuming you would not have singed the Manhattan Declaration, so what would you do?

  69. andy November 24, 2009 at 3:20 pm #

    Does the clearing of the temple have any relevancy to this discussion? In that case, something of God was being used contrary to its original intent. Also, (just thinking out loud here), is a broader question here whether or not Christians should fight to uphold biblical standards in their society (whether or not this is through governmental means seems irrelevant)? Or, should they turn the other cheek, since the kingdom of Christ is not of this world?

  70. ex-preacher November 24, 2009 at 4:56 pm #

    The temple was, of course, a religious site. Can anyone really picture Jesus petitioning the Roman government to stop granting divorces, to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the Roman Empire, or to place the Ten Commandments in Roman courts?

  71. Don Johnson November 24, 2009 at 5:02 pm #

    FWIIW, the Roman gov’t did not grant divorces, the act of moving out was a divorce that was recognized in law.

  72. Joe Blackmon November 27, 2009 at 10:14 pm #

    Can anyone really picture Jesus petitioning the Roman government to stop granting divorces, to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the Roman Empire, or to place the Ten Commandments in Roman courts?

    Translation–The only POSSIBLE way to live authentically as a Christian is to support left-wing politics.

    The funny thing is that all the people who belly ache the loudest in the “Christian” community about “separation of church and state” are left-wing nut jobs who want nothing more than to muzzle Christians and who agressively support liberal politicians. Your cries to “keep politics out of Christianity” would sound a lot more sincere if you did it yourselves.

  73. Jennifer April 13, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    “You know that Randy was conviced of raketeering under RICO don’t you for his anti-abortion work?”

    I knew this, and he richly deserved it. His treatment in jail was his comeuppance for harassing women in front of clinics and encouraging this criminal behavior in others.

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