Who are my brothers and sisters?

Jonathan Merritt has a fascinating interview with Vicky Beeching, Christian musical artist who has recently come out as a lesbian. It’s a fascinating interview on a number of levels. Explaining her view that Christianity is compatible with gay marriage, she follows very closely one of the arguments made by Matthew Vines in his book God and the Gay Christian. I have commented on that argument elsewhere, so I won’t belabor the point here.

I would, however, highlight one portion of the interview worthy of urgent consideration. Ms. Beeching argues that our views about homosexuality ought not to divide Christians from one another. She says that those who affirm homosexual practice ought to be able to have Christian fellowship with those who don’t. She writes:

The church needs to become more comfortable with people not being on the same page about everything. We need the maturity to be able to still extend love to one another despite that. God loves us unconditionally, so we should aim to model that to those who see things from a different angle, even if that’s really hard to do. I’m trying my best to keep extending that love today to all the conservative Christians who are telling me I am “siding with the devil” because they are still my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Ms. Beeching is not the only one who has underestimated the gravity of our differences over these issues. There have been many others. And that is why we have to test her claim by scripture. Are we all really “brothers and sisters in Christ” even when we disagree with one another about an issue of grave moral consequence? No one should relish division for the sake of division. Nevertheless, we should not shrink back from it when faithfulness to Christ requires it. Jesus put it this way:

While He was still speaking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. And someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.”

But He answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold, My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” -Matthew 12:46-50

Jesus draws a line between those who are his brothers and sisters and those who are not. The line runs between those who are allied to God’s will and those who are in open defiance against it. Jesus is showing us that the great dividing line in humanity runs between those who are his disciples and those who are not. There will be many who claim to be Christians, but they won’t really be Christians if in the end they do not obey him. As Jesus teaches elsewhere,

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” -Matthew 7:21-23

I say this with trembling. Do not be deceived. The path of the revisionists is not the narrow way that leads to life, but the broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). The stakes are much higher than the revisionists suggest, and we are not helping anyone if we suggest otherwise.

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Related Post:

“Christian Musician says that Complementarianism is ‘Oppression'”

60 Responses to Who are my brothers and sisters?

  1. Scott Lencke August 15, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    Denny –

    This is a little different of a scenario than Vicky’s: Do you believe it possible to identify as gay/having same-sex attraction, choose to follow a life of celibacy and still be allowed to join the local church & serve within that local church?

    • Ian Shaw August 15, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

      Identification as gay is not the same as identifiying as someone that struggles with same-sex attraction. One can be a faithful Christian, stuggle with SSA and still achieve victory in that struggle. Can’t say the same for the former. If you identify yourself with a sin/habitual sin, how does that leave you any room to identify with Christ? That’s part of the problem. People who say they are gay Christians will often lead with that first (gay), rather than mention Christ at the start.

      That’s a interesting thing for recovery groups to get straight from the get go. You shouldn’t identify yourself as your struggle or your addiction. If you do, you’re basically saying that you have no belief that God can (through a process) change you and take things out of your life. I know this firsthand as I used to identify myself for a very long time with my habitual sin. Your identity should be as a Christ follower, first and foremost, if that is the case.

      • Jay Hall August 18, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

        “People who say they are gay Christians will often lead with that first (gay), rather than mention Christ at the start.”

        Speaking from experience, they only do that in conversations that are specifically about sexuality. For example, if we were having a discussion about race in the church, you might have various people calling themselves “white Christians” and “black Christians” and “Hispanic Christians.” Does that mean they identify predominately with their race as opposed to Christ? No. It’s just how we all tend to talk in conversations that deal with divisive issues.

        Similarly, in a discussion about homosexuality, gay Christians might use the term “gay Christian” to identify their particular viewpoint, but that does not mean this is an all-encompassing identity for them. There are many gay celibate Christians who uphold Biblical truth while sill using the term “gay” to describe their sexuality (Wesley Hill, Ron Belgau, Eve Tushnet, Julie Rodgers, Matt Jones, etc.)

        Now, you might say that instead of saying “gay,” they should say “same-sex attracted,” and I suppose I’d agree with you, but in my experience with his community, “same-sex attracted” ends up being simply a synonymous placeholder for “gay.” It can become an identity in and of itself, and many people, myself included, don’t see a difference between “gay” and “same-sex attracted.” One is synonymous with the other. A man saying he is “gay” does not always mean to say that he is sexually active or denying Biblical truth.

        Heck, I know many men who described themselves as “gay,” pursue celibacy, and ended up marrying women and having children. Even now, they’ll still sometimes refer to their marriages as “mixed-orientation marriages,” since they admit they have a non-heterosexual sexual orientation and that that can create unique, but not impossible, challenges in a marriage.

        Basically, to sum things up, I think calling oneself “gay” might be a matter of personal preference. It might not be the wisest thing to do, and I think Mr. Burk has said that before, but I wouldn’t consider it a sin, at least not on the same level as Ms. Beeching advocating for same-sex marriage.

    • Caleb Martin August 15, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

      Scott, I know you haven’t asked for my opinion, just Denny’s, but for what it’s worth I would say it IS possible. Two authors who seem to be doing just that are Sam Allberry and Wesley Hill. Both are men who experience same-sex attraction, but in obedience to Christ have chosen celibacy, and I believe at least one of them is a staff member at their local church. I encourage you to read both their books (“Is God Anti-Gay?” and “Washed and Waiting,” respectively). They are shorter books, very readable, and both are very excellent and Biblical. They have helped me much in thinking through these issues.

    • Deborah Ann August 16, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

      You absolutely can. Sin is action upon those desires, not the desires them selves.

    • Denny Burk August 17, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

      Yes, absolutely. We should all be willing to welcome brothers and sisters with SSA into our congregations. As they follow Christ, we want to welcome them and strengthen their hands for the journey.

      • Scott Lencke August 17, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

        Now, if one struggling with same-sex attraction reads this article, do we think this person will run to us asking for assistance and expecting compassion? Perhaps our communication methods need some adjustment to draw these people in?

        • Denny Burk August 17, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

          Scott, I’m certainly open to constructive suggestions on how to communicate more effectively. What specifically do you have in mind?

          • Scott Lencke August 17, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

            Denny –

            My greatest concern is that 4 out of 5 posts here at your blog tend to be about tragic scenarios, laws & anecdotes in regards to the LGBT community. I know that Jonathan Merritt has probably left a bad taste in your’s and many SBC mouths, but I think Merritt has something worth listening to – especially knowing his own personal challenges he’s walked through. As he states in his recent book, Jesus Is Better Than You Imagined, we say “hate the sin, love the sinner,” but when you do a Google search around this topic, some 95% of what you read is all about hating the sin and maybe 5% around loving the sinner.

            To be honest, sometimes I think we just need to take a step back, stop trying to win this cultural war – especially as I think we are trying to win from hostility than self-sacrificial hospitality. Proclaim the gospel & as we individually deal with LGBT folk, we can look to deal with each case as it calls, since each case it different based upon the differing person.

            Just today, we looked at Matt 25:31-46. In vs35, we read: “I was a stranger and you invited me in.” That word “stranger” would trigger something in the Jewish mind (harkening back to Lev 19:33-34. How the ancients usually treated a stranger (or “foreigner”) was not good – because the folk were of a different religion, culture, etc. But here, God called his people to do what we famously quote just about every day as a Christian community – “Love them as yourself.” And here’s the kicker – “…for you were once foreigners/strangers.”

            Something tells me we don’t treat the LGBT community as the Lord has asked us to treat the foreigner/stranger, of whom we used to be as well in regards to God himself and the community of God’s people. We keep posting article like this, we’ll keep sounding a clanging symbol. I speak with people who are dead-set against Christianity because they think we are simply against types of “others.” I don’t see that being deeply rooted in the ways of Christ.

            Those are some thoughts I have.

            • Denny Burk August 17, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

              Scott,

              I don’t totally disagree with everything you’ve said here. We want to be as magnanimous and inviting as possible to sinners of every stripe. No disagreement there. Nevertheless, this case is different because it involves someone claiming to be a Christian and saying that Christianity is compatible with a gay lifestyle. That is just false teaching–the kind that will have eternal consequences for those taken in by it. I want gay people to come to Christ. But they will never make it if they get side-swiped by the error that says Jesus allows his disciples to follow him AND pursue sexual immorality. That is a damning message. And that is precisely what this musician is offering in the name of Christ. Love for our gay neighbors requires us to light the way for them and to warn when sirens are leading them off the path.

              Denny

              • Scott Lencke August 18, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

                Denny –

                Of course we want them to come to Christ. Here’s an interesting thing – I believe Vicky is a Christian (of course, some might argue she is no longer, but I don’t think “losing salvation” fits within the SBC paradigm). I know, I know – we don’t truly know someones heart. That’s fine.

                But what if we responded to Vicky like her parents responded to her? – if we haven’t, check out the original Independent online article from last week. Gut-wrenching in so many ways. My insides were torn for her. Have you sat down with someone that a) is struggling with same-sex attraction or b) believes they are gay & it’s ok to follow Christ? Have you sat with these folk, listened to their story, shared a coffee, just listened without having to get that bit of truth in about how wrong it is before they leave? It’s like feeling we have to get in that little “gospel” nugget with the non-believer, in case we never see that person again. We end up forcing, rather than forging a path towards life, healing & right-living. How forceful are we being on a regular basis?

                I only ask you to ponder whether we/you can take a step back from such a plethora of consistent articles on this topic and a) simply listen more and b) just be with people that identify as LGBT and work with them at a one-to-one, pastoral place of conversation. I’m longing for us to forge better ways forward for hospitality, not hostility. We can pull the card that we will be “hated by the world” for standing for truth, so we should expect their resistance. But we don’t have to make it easier for them to respond that way. I want these folk to know they are image-bearing, greatly-loved humans of a good Father. Most of them don’t believe this at all because we don’t give them that message – they are absolutely frightened to be open & honest. And that really is true.

                There is a better way.

                • Ken Abbott August 19, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

                  “Of course we want them to come to Christ.”

                  At the risk of seeming dense, why exactly do we want them to come to Christ? What need do they have that Jesus meets?

                • Andrew Brian August 20, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

                  As a real live ex-Christian homosexual (hide the children!) I can attest to that. The more I read discussions on line from conservative Christian corners the happier I am that I walked away from Christianity (and that I live in Canada.)

                  I am fortunate that my experience, personally, as a Christian was generally positive. Most of the people I knew actually lived out there faith as best they could, putting people first as they wrestled with scripture. They didn’t have all the answers, didn’t have the “truth” (about things metaphysical for Pete’s sake!) buttoned down and all figured out. It could be messy but it was genuine and compassionate and usually loving.

                  I would certainly have a different take on Christianity if my only exposure to it was via American Christian conservative media. I’m regularly gobsmacked by the ugliness, both in content and delivery, that I see there. It’s not universal but it is prevalent. Sometimes the disdain for gay people is so palpable you can almost imagine it dribbling down the chins of some commenters. I think I almost prefer that though to the endless lies and empty promises of the more learned and superficially more civil participants. They minimize the legitimate needs of gay people. They denigrate their relationships. They lie about the malleability of orientation.

                  I find that these professional theologians are often “learned” in the tenants of their faith and ancient languages but not in much else – such as the lives of real gay people or people generally speaking who don’t fit neatly into their paradigm. Biology. Psychology. How weary I am of the endless pontificating and debate by the gatekeepers of the faith while they figure out what to do with their wayward brothers. Their best answer for their gay brethren is usually, “Suck it up, Buttercup, and wait for Jesus” while they retreat to their life giving refuges, their God approved and state sanctioned nuclear families.

                  If it only stopped at the church door. Nope. Enormous time and energy is spent on attempting to deny LGBT people in society at large basic protections and dignities – more “truth” missiles, delivered with love of course. And oh, the weeping and the gnashing of teeth from “persecuted” Christians, i.e. those Christians being made to feel uncomfortable from time to time.

                  So, yeah, I’d say there is a better way.

                • Tim Dukeman September 2, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

                  She didn’t lose her salvation. Her support of and participation in sodomy reveals that she was never saved to begin with.

                  Salvation has never occurred in the absence of repentance.

  2. Chris Ryan August 15, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    If we’re all God’s children then everyone is our brother and sister. And since we’re all sinners denying brothers and sisters fellowship should be done only in the rarest and most extreme of circumstances.

    I don’t really see the Scriptural basis for this “open defiance” dividing line. Unless someone maintains that they don’t sin at all, then we’re all in open defiance, no?

    • Ken Abbott August 15, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

      If memory serves, the very first of Luther’s 95 Theses maintains that the life of the Christian is one of ongoing repentance. That is a very biblical posture. The attitude of a professed Christian toward the sin in his/her life reflects hugely on the credibility of that profession. We ought always, under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, to be examining ourselves and rooting out sin. A Christian is neither deluded about the reality of his sin (insisting on an impossible perfectionism) nor “in open defiance” and willful rebellion against the revealed will of God–not if he genuinely seeks to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. And a major part of the responsibility that Christian bear one to another is to keep each other accountable to the commands of Christ.

      What was Paul’s counsel to the Corinthians concerning the immoral brother among them?

      • Chris Ryan August 17, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

        God sees all sin, so–unless you’re not a sinner–we’re ALL in “open defiance” of God’s will. There will be rare & extreme cases where excommunication, as such, may be called for (eg, a pedophile deacon, or a some member selling drugs to altar boys) but unless you plan to excommunicate/deny fellowship to everyone who’s ever divorced, I’d suggest this isn’t a rare/extreme case. Take for instance someone whose a combat infantryman in the Army. Not every war they fight in would be a “just war” using the Biblical standard, and yet every time they report for duty they’re “openly” saying they would kill others. Using the above rationale you’d have to conclude that the soldiers we sent to Iraq–a country that didn’t attack us & that didn’t have WMD–were in “open defiance” of the 5th Commandment. Why would we deny fellowship to soldiers in harm’s way though?

        • Ken Abbott August 17, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

          We are, perhaps, coming at your phrase “open defiance” from different perspectives. To me, it suggests willful rebellion, the ungodly attitude described by Paul in Romans 1. No Christian seeking to be obedient to Christ can consistently be characterized by the language Paul employs. Of course there are awful seasons of backsliding; the examples of such in Scripture are numerous. But the Spirit works continually to bring his wayward children under discipline into repentance and restoration. Are we all, this side of glory, sinners? Yes. Spiritual maturity typically brings heightened awareness of the gravity of our sin (again, witness Paul’s confession to Timothy late in his apostolic career that he was the foremost of all sinners), and yet “‘Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness'” (2 Timothy 2:19b).

          There has been a gross dereliction of the exercise of biblical church discipline in the western church, which is one significant reason why American Christians look so much like their unbelieving neighbors. No apologist for the cause of Christ can today point to the elevated morality of believers as an argument for the truth of the faith, which we must acknowledge to our great shame.. Excommunication is a last resort for the obstreperously unrepentant, but we have neglected even less dramatic measures to promote the purity of the church. Jesus will have his people be holy. It is the responsibility of local church leadership to work pastorally with the flock to help Christians recognize and root out sin.

    • Daryl Little August 15, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

      “If we’re all God’s children”. That’s a pretty big “if” Chris.

      The Bible says otherwise.

  3. Ken Temple August 15, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    It is shocking to see more and more people come out like this, and what is shocking is the way they seek to justify it with the Bible.

    Never heard of this Christian artist before. I found some stuff on the web, like it says a lot of Evangelical churches use “25 of her songs”. What are some of her famous / popular songs that churches use? (Anybody who knows)

    • Ian Shaw August 15, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

      I don’t listen to horrible music either. Must have passed it on Pandora between LS and DH.

  4. Ken Temple August 15, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    Scott,
    I hope Denny will answer your question. I sincerely would like to read a good and thought out explanation.

    I would say someone like that could possibly join the church if their decision to live celibate means they realize it is totally wrong and sin, repudiate it; and lust and fantasies are wrong also, and they don’t believe the lie that “God made me this way” type stuff. They must agree that God has the power to change them – as 1 Cor. 6:9-11 says. They are confessing the struggles and desires are there deep down, but they are fighting against them in sanctification and growth.

    Along with all other gospel truths to affirm for Biblical church membership.

  5. coramdude August 15, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    Excellent Denny. Thank you.

  6. pjtibayan August 15, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    Thanks Denny. Much of this applies to our situation at the Los Angeles Southern Baptist Association with the “third way” church on this issue.

  7. Nkosingiphile Mlambo August 15, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    Seems like it’s gonna be a time where we really need to stand on the scripture more than before, there is a huge wave coming against Christians who stand by the word especially in the area of sexuality but all will pass and the Word of the Lord will remain forever and it shall be known on the day of the Judgment which is which. As long as we stand by the Word of God we will be on safe side, better to be safe than sorry.

  8. Alistair Robertson August 15, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    It is difficult to be accurate in our assessment of another person’s Christianity – Christians can sin long and hard – but it’s not as difficult to judge doctrine or unrepentant behaviour. Whether or not someone is a brother or sister, we can still treat them as someone who is in sin and as such is out of fellowship.

    Of course, evangelicals have to make that call themselves, as there is no central authority to declare someone “in” or “out”. (I’m afraid the “centred set” won’t work here).

    • buddyglass August 17, 2014 at 2:45 am #

      What criteria would you use to determine when bad doctrine has crossed over into sin that should result in the withholding of fellowship?

      Or an alternate question: what severity of “bad doctrine” is needed to preclude someone from membership in the body of Christ?

      I think Beeching is flat-out wrong when she argues God approves of her lifestyle and that it’s compatible with His revealed word. That said, I’m fairly receptive to the idea that someone can be a Christian and yet still be plainly mistaken about (some) facets of doctrine.

      • Alistair Robertson August 17, 2014 at 3:36 am #

        As I say, it is up to evangelicals to make that call for themselves. Myself, I would bar a confessing Christian from communion if they were indulging in unrepentant sin, or if they were spreading false teaching. If they were part of church membership, I would do whatever the Church policy was for discipline.

        In terms of spreading false doctrine, I haven’t read the linked interview, but because of Vicky Beeching’s high profile (in some circles) I would also take her influence into account and – with others – decide how much influence her coming out and giving interviews will have on Christians. I’m guessing I would at the very least make some comment in order to explain that her position is not the accepted or orthodox view. In like manner, I would not recommend her as a as spiritually sound writer, even if some of her writings are spiritually sound. Not because every writer has to be perfect, but because 1) it’s a pretty huge departure from historic orthodoxy, and 2) it is one of the fronts the Church is engaging in at the moment, so merely expressing views about homosexuality, especially if identifying as homosexual, will create bigger waves than at other times.

        As for her songs, I would both teach and assess the effect on Christians who sing her songs in a congregation (assuming they knew who she is and what she believes), and use it as a teaching moment for how to respond to individual songs and to the people who write them.

        And I would take longer than the few minutes it took to write this to make these decisions final.

        • buddyglass August 17, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

          …or if they were spreading false teaching…

          This is what I was trying to get at. There seems to be “minor” false teaching and “major” false teaching. For instance, from a cessationist perspective the continuationist is “spreading false teaching”. But, typically, neither side of that debate considers it a significant enough disagreement to merit severing fellowship. Is there a coherent set of criteria for distinguishing “major” from “minor”?

          For instance, in Beeching’s case we might say she’s denying that something is sinful that is indeed sinful. Maybe that’s a good criteria to use. If so, though, should we also use as a criterion “calling something sinful that is not, generally speaking, sinful?”

  9. Ryan Davidson August 15, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

    While I disagree with her argument in support of the church’s affirming same-sex marriages, I have a difficult time seeing this as an issue over which we can start writing people out of the covenant. In seeking to do so, we risk making the Culture Wars a litmus test of orthodoxy.

    We have historically welcomed people as Christians so long as they affirm the teachings of the three ecumenical creeds. I see no reason to depart from that now.

    • Ken Abbott August 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

      Again, what was Paul’s counsel to the church at Corinth regarding the immoral brother (1 Corinthians 5)? A person’s profession of Christian faith ought to be credible–he ought to be a doer, not merely a hearer, of God’s word (James 1:22).

  10. Matt Cottington August 15, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    Not a very constructive article, in my opinion! Perhaps I’ve misunderstood it but Burk basically seems to be saying he doesn’t think Beeching is a Christian. If he is saying that, I think he should be more careful about using that kind of argument. We are members of God’s family by faith in Christ alone, and ultimately that alone is the basis of us being brothers and sisters in Christ. There are things all of us misunderstand about the Bible, even as believers. The article quotes Matthew 12:46-50 and says “Jesus draws a line between those who are his brothers and sisters and those who are not. The line runs between those who are allied to God’s will and those who are in open defiance against it.” John 6:40 says “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Everyone who believes in his Son. That’s the criteria. We are brothers and sisters in Christ based purely on our faith in Christ.

  11. Matt Cottington August 16, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    In addition to my previous comment, I also think the article misapplies Matthew 7:21-23. Those verses seem to confirm that what determines our standing with God is ‘knowing Christ’. The people Jesus describes as practicing lawlessness were doing some things that would outwardly seem pretty spiritual and good (prophesying in his name, performing miracles etc), but the problem was they never really knew Jesus. So, again, I think Matthew 7 confirms that the real measure of whether someone is saved (and therefore a brother or sister in Christ) is whether they know him. Faith in Jesus. Moreover, the point of those verses seems to be a warning against assuming we’re saved based on our works. So, again, I think it emphasises that faith in Jesus determines our salvation.

    At the end of the day we are saved by our faith in the true person and work of Christ, not by our particular views on other doctrines. This is not to say it doesn’t matter what we believe about those other things, but I think the article gets dangerously close to muddying the waters and making something other than faith in Christ the criteria for who is saved. If we are truly trusting in Christ then his blood washes away all our sin – including our misinterpretations of parts of the Bible (which we all have). Again, this is not to say our views don’t matter, but what, at the end of the day, is our salvation based on? I believe we must be very clear that it rests on Christ alone; his person and his work, his death and resurrection.

  12. Scott Lencke August 16, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    Here is what I hope – The “tone” of this article is possibly ok as a public abstract about homosexuality in general. But what I hope is that we’d realize in pastoral situations, we need to walk through things quite carefully and compassionately. We have to remember that the LGBT community, at least ones struggling to follow Christ, are already feeling ostracized – it’s simply in the air of evangelicalism. As you can see, you’ve got people even in leadership roles overly fearful to honestly share where they’re at. They already think we are “against” them and will be hostile. I am 100% for standing for truth – and I believe that truth is that God created intimate relationships of marriage to exist between a male & female. But I am convinced we have to find a better way of walking with these folk. I can only say from personal experience – not being gay myself, but interacting with a young lady in ministry school & church internship – that there is a more compassionate way to walk through things than many of things I see & hear from evangelicals.

  13. Esther O'Reilly August 17, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    Fascinating? Since when did the theologically impoverished axe-grinding of a gay liberal “Christian” become “fascinating?” Thanks, but I think I’d rather watch paint dry.

  14. Suzanne McCarthy August 17, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage,
    Jesus predicted same sex marriage in Luke 20:34

    • Ken Abbott August 18, 2014 at 8:07 am #

      Rather dubious exegesis. The context (Jesus answering a question from the Sadducees about the resurrection; they were trying to trap him, as they did not believe in the resurrection) belies that interpretation. Jesus’s hearers would not only not have understood such a reference, they would not have applauded his answer as some of them did (v. 39).

      • Suzanne McCarthy August 18, 2014 at 8:17 am #

        “Marrying” is the male role and “being given in marriage” is the female role – both roles filled by “sons.” What does this mean?

        • David Powell August 18, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

          Those are present tense verbs speaking of a present circumstance in Jesus’ time. “Same-sex marriage” was not a thing in Jesus’ time. In no way was Jesus even hinting at anything homosexual in those verses. All Jesus is saying is that human marriage is a present-age institution that will not have any part in the age to come (other than the fact that the Church will be wed to Christ).

          • Suzanne McCarthy August 18, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

            Is Jesus then using the phrase “sons of this age” to refer equally to men and women? Does he call an explicitly mixed gender group “sons.” Its confusing for people brought up with the KJV, where it says “children of this world.”

            Do you think it might help if humans were called “children of …” rather than “sons of …” especially when marriage is being talked about. Jesus talking about sons marrying each other sounds anachronistic. We need a Bible that is easier to understand.

            • David Powell August 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

              The Greek word is uioi (“sons”), used here in the same way that Paul uses it in Galatians, describing both men and women as “sons of Abraham” and “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (with regard to being heirs of the promises–not that gender has become a non-issue for Paul). Just as “men” is often used where in our day many would say “people,” “sons” is used where many in our day would say “children.”

              • Suzanne McCarthy August 19, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

                You refer to how “men” is used for people, but I interviewed the general editor of the ESV and he says that if it says “men” the translators thought that it meant men, real male human beings. If the ESV says “men” it means “men.” And in fact, the Greek actually says “people” in those cases, anthropoi – which is a word of common gender, not a masculine word at all. So that seriously confused me.

                However, the problem with “sons of God” is that is is detached from our traditional understanding. It used to be, in most Bibles, like the Geneva Bible, Calvin,s French Bible, Luther’s etc. And the KJV that the phrase “children of God” was used more frequently, or almost always, just as “children of Israel.” But now we learn that Israel had “children” and God has “sons.” Israel was a nation of people, God has a group of “sons” which somehow replace the nephilim and the heavenly court. It’s confusing because most literary references see ‘children” in the KJV and use that.the sons are those weird creatures in Gen. 6.

                The use of “children of god” dates back to the Anglo Saxon versions, and continues through the Reformation. Now, in the 20th century, we must become male to be Christians.

                I have yet to talk to anyone who has studied Roman inheritance laws. They changed continually, and women were adopted, women did inherit, if not in the same way men did. They had to be unmarried, or widows, and men had to have tasters to check their food. 🙂

                Regarding adoption, I have yet to talk to anyone who has studied Roman inheritance laws. They changed continually, women were adopted, women did inherit, if not in the same way men did. They had to be unmarried, or widows, and men had to have tasters to check their food. 🙂 The actual laws and examples are horribly confusing and many adoptions were post mortem agreements to pass on a legacy to a non-relative.

                But really, I feel this inconsistency, that Israel had children and God didn’t is concerning. I don’t like to feel that it is not sufficient before God to be a woman. And nobody has ever demonstrated to me, that as women, we are treated in the same manner as men. CBMW clearly teaches the eternal subordination of women. We are never to inherit in the same way men do. We will never be adults in the Roman legal sense.

                • Suzanne McCarthy August 19, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

                  Supposed to be a wink. 😉 Got interrupted writing this.

                  I know this phrase is retained from the NIV 1984. But what about real history? Calvin and Luther?

  15. Ken Abbott August 18, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    Not what you’re implying.

    1) Again, consider the context. Why does Jesus even speak of marriage in this passage? Some Sadducees, whom Luke in verse 27 identifies for his readers as deniers of the resurrection (for this is important in understanding what is going on here), posit a hypothetical situation regarding marriage relationships after death. Jesus replies by observing that marriage is a this-world phenomenon but not characteristic of the eternal state. He then goes on to school them on the matter of the resurrection specifically. So the passage is only incidentally about marriage relationships; the bigger question is the reality of the resurrection of the dead. Jesus was not known to insert offhand, irrelevant observations in his interactions with the Jewish religious leaders and teachers of the law; a “prediction” of same-sex marriage would have been precisely that.

    2) Look at the parallel accounts in Matthew (22:23-33) and Mark (12:18-27). In both, the observation about present marriage activity does not appear in the text; Jesus simply teaches that marriage is not a feature of resurrection life before he moves to the bigger question.

    3) What are the other uses of the phrase “the sons of this age” or like renderings in Luke? Jesus contrasts “the sons of this world” with “the sons of light” in Luke 16:8 in the parable of the shrewd manager, his point being that worldly people are smarter in their business and personal dealings than are those who value spiritual things more highly; it is of a piece with his counsel elsewhere that his disciples should be crafty as serpents while remaining innocent as doves–in other words, don’t be a sucker when dealing with the world. Note also his words as recorded in Luke 17:27, where he compares the normal, everyday activity that went on in the days of Noah leading up to the flood (and they were caught unawares) with what will characterize the day of the Son of Man: he says “they were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage,” without specifying sex.

    For what it’s worth, the NIV renders “sons” as “people” in Luke 20:34. I haven’t checked other translations except for the ESV, which retains “sons.”

    • Suzanne McCarthy August 19, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

      Marrying and being given in marriage implies both sexes are getting married in a heterosexual way. “Sons” well personally, I believe the original Greek actually meant “people.” Would it be too difficult to make the Bible comprehensible?

      • Ken Abbott August 19, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

        My sense of historical theology and biblical commentary down through the years lends a reasonable confidence that very few have had difficulty understanding the sense of this verse. I affirm the clarity of Scripture.

        • Suzanne McCarthy August 19, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

          Ken,

          Thanks for responding. However, I am not questioning the clarity of scripture either. This is a well-recognized idiom, listed under “ben” in the Hebrew Lexicon where it says that this refers to a category of people. I am only asking about the English translation and the use of “sons.”

          You write,

          “My sense of historical theology and biblical commentary down through the years …”

          I have to ask how many years. The first pew Bible that has this phrase “sons of this age” is the RSV so that puts us back to the middle of the last century, about when I was born. I usually think of history as something that happened before I was born.

          The KJV, Geneva Bible, Tyndale Bible, and Luther Bible, to name a few, and most others of this era, all had “children of this world.” So naturally when I read commentaries or “historic theology” that would be the phrase discussed in English.

  16. bobbistowellbrown August 18, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

    If someone says they are a Christian but continues in the homosexual life style or supports the homosexual life style for others they are not a Christian and not a brother or sister in the Lord:

    Hebrews 10:26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

    • Johnathan Youngs August 18, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

      By that reasoning, all who can’t control their eating and continue in gluttony are lost. Since Christ taught us that thoughts are equally as sinful as actions, all men who continue in lustful thoughts are equally as doomed. All who habitually break the speed limit, fudge on their taxes, fail to give generously… so it goes.

      Those last examples may seem trite, but if the issue is habitual sin then we are all doomed. Virtually all believers are habitual sinners in their thought life and even in their actions. If the issue is degree of sin, then we are all once again lost. Breaking the smallest commandment makes us guilty of the worst.

      Homosexual sex is a sin. Contemplating heterosexual adultery in ones mind is sin. The former is not a greater sin than the latter. I don’t condone either. Christ was punished in our stead for both. His grace covers all believers, including habitual sinners – which happens to be all of us.

      As for the Hebrews being written to in the quoted text, they continued sacrificing animals at the temple after they had supposedly accepted Christ as messiah. So while accepting the gospel with their mouths, they very clearly rejected the gospel in their hearts. All those who reject Christ should fear judgement.

      (This is a repost as my first attempt did not have my full name and was presumably removed.)

    • James Bradshaw August 19, 2014 at 6:02 am #

      You write: “If someone says they are a Christian but continues in the homosexual life style or supports the homosexual life style for others they are not a Christian and not a brother or sister in the Lord: ”

      So what CAN one do and still be a Christian in good standing?

      Let’s look back at Christianity’s history and at men who are still revered to tell us.

      Can you hold slaves? Certainly! Pastors like Richard Furman, Thornton Stringfellow, most of the South and the entirety of the Southern Baptist Convention did.

      Can you light another Christian on fire because of their “wrong” ideas? Of course! John Calvin did as much when he saw to it that Michael Servetus was burned alive for his “heresy”.

      Can you be a raging anti-Semite like Martin Luther and John Chrysostom, both of whom labeled the Jews as “dogs” and demanded that their synagogues be burned to the ground? I guess so …

      Meanwhile … be in a relationship with someone of the same gender and you’re a demon from Hell.

      I’ve said it a thousand times, but it’s worth repeating again: fundamentalist Christianity’s system of ethics is incoherent at best … psychotic at worst.

  17. Ken Temple August 19, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    Vicky Beeching denies the power of the gospel in her interview – denying the truth of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – “such were some of you”; Scott Lively holds to the truth of the Scriptures. (don’t know much about Scott Lively, but he was right here.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GivMLlmeAU

  18. D. V. Aguiar August 19, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    First of all these people are not gay, they are sodomites who are mocking GD and also showing no fear of Him. The work of the Holy Spirit is to give us a new nature, a nature that wants to p,ease GD, a nature that loves GD, a nature that grieves when we sin against Him.a nature that understands how depraved we were before our regeneration . We don’t love sodomites by playing loose with GD’s holy word we ; as believers; show love by treating them as humans created by GD who are in dire need of the GOSPEL message of unselfish love, yes unselfish love from GD above who is willing to call them His children if they will repent and turn to Him so He can remove the penalty of sin and give them the STRENGHTH to overcome the sexual perversion. It’s not easy but if GD is willing they should be willing.

    • Suzanne McCarthy August 19, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

      Women aren’t sodomites. A heterosexual couple can be sodomites, but not two wpomen.

    • Johnathan Youngs September 2, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

      Are you now sinless D.V. Aguiar? Are your thoughts continually pure? Do you love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind? If so, you are the first one to accomplish these feats since Christ.

      It is pride to think that the heterosexual’s ongoing “little” sins are somehow less sinful than the homosexual’s “big” sins, especially when the Word states that to transgress one law is to be guilty of all of it. Our guilt is absolute. Or at the very least our guilt *was* absolute. Our salvation is now just as absolute even though we still sin.

      I don’t condone homosexual behavior, but neither do I condemn homosexual Christians. To condemn anyone that has accepted Christ according to the gospel is to condemn ourselves.

  19. Mitch Dean August 20, 2014 at 5:08 am #

    “Jesus draws a line” Just one more verse of the same old “We’re right. They’re wrong. We’re in. They’re out.” song you’ve been singing for as long as I can remember.

    If I read this woman’s statement correctly, she hasn’t raised any challenge to your position on this issue. Rather, it sounds like a sincere appeal for connection with people of the same faith even if they don’t have exactly the same views. But that can’t be ok with you.

    It can’t be ok, for example, to just say you don’t agree with her and think she’s wrong. No, the minute she says she’s a Christian too, you set out to make sure people know “she’s not one of us” and to paint her as a dangerous blasphemer as a way to destroy any credibility she may have just in case anyone might ever agree with her. Not exactly “speaking the truth in love.”

    I would be willing to bet you’ve devoted thousands of hours writing just the blog posts I’ve managed to read that focus on the “importance” of excluding, judging, and condemning gay people (among others) in one way or another. When you think about the kind of black-hearted ugliness that could drive someone to devote so much time to such a nasty and despicable endeavor, it’s not so hard to imagine why Gandhi said ““I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

  20. Christiane Smith September 3, 2014 at 5:14 am #

    Who are my ‘brothers’ and my ‘sisters’?

    At the level of ‘created in the image of God’ and endowed with a soul by God Himself,
    I would have to say that all mankind descended from Adam are my family, too.

    At the level of the Incarnation,
    when Our Lord assumed a human nature and became fully God AND fully Man,
    I would have to say that all mankind represented in that Incarnation of Christ are my family, too.

    If I believe that the dignity of even one human person is not to be acknowledged, then I have lost something of who I am in the created Universe as one among many. Is God the Father of ‘all’? Who else holds them in existence but Him? Who else is the source of all being? Who else gives life to all creation?

    At the most seminal level of all in the natural world, I am a part of all mankind.
    At a spiritual level, I share a place among those to whom God has given an immortal soul.

    What makes me ‘human’ also determines who are my brothers and my sisters. I can find no other human being to exclude from that connection.

  21. Tammy Rainey (@Tammy_Beth) September 9, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

    it seems to me unreasonable to assert that Christians can respect each other’s differing views about the nature of even salvation itself, but dare not respect a differing view about sex.
    One can only infer from such an argument that the claim is that God is more concerned that we get the latter right than he is that we get the former correct.

    That “logic” defies credulity.

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