Culture,  Theology/Bible

‘On Faith’ on Gay ‘Marriage’

The ‘On Faith’ blog (a joint venture of The Washington Post and Newsweek) is hosting a discussion about the religious case for gay “marriage.” The topic is inspired by last week’s Newsweek cover story by Lisa Miller (which I wrote about here). Panelists include those from the religious left and right. Albert Mohler, Leith Anderson, and Charles Colson are among those representing the biblical view.

Colson has a good word about Miller’s call for ‘inclusiveness’:

‘Miller admits that the argument for a biblical support of gay marriage is usually not made from any particular passage but from, as scholar Walter Brueggemann puts it, “the general conviction that the Bible is bent toward inclusiveness.”

‘Miller is only partly right.

‘Christ’s invitation to sinners to come and find salvation truly does go out to all. But this invitation is not to stay as we are. The Bible is inclusive in this–all of us have the same opportunity to turn from our sins, whether that is the sin of pride, unbelief, greed, or any number of sexual sins, including the kinds made by patriarchs, modern homosexuals, and everyday covenant breakers. God loves us enough that he won’t leave us as he finds us.’

Amen to that.


  • Russ Ware

    I heard Miller and Mohler on NPR today discussing this. Miller came across as being way outside of her field of knowledge and Mohler schooled her pretty soundly. I actually found myself appreciating his contribution. Which may be a first. 🙂

    Gotta love Colson!

    I am sincerely curious, Denny. Do you agree with Colson’s statements:

    ‘Christ’s invitation to sinners to come and find salvation truly does go out to all.


    The Bible is inclusive in this–all of us have the same opportunity to turn from our sins…

  • Russ Ware

    I said it was a sincere question. I am trying to learn. My gut is that Denny would agree to those statements. But it would be educational for me to hear how he would in the context of Calvinism.

    Please call off the dogs.

  • Brian Krieger


    Calvinists deny culpability? I kinda short-cut there (ha ha).

    The closest I can get is a father-child analogy*. I see my child reaching for the cookie. I tell him don’t, you’ll get a tummy ache. I “know” when I leave the room, he’ll try it again. I could explain how the gastric system performs poorly when too much sugar is consumed, thus causing the ache. But he’s 3 and doesn’t know how to spell “consumed”. Thus a life lesson. He’s responsible that he chose to eat the cookie. He also understands (hopefully) a little better that I was serious. He is culpable (even if he can’t spell it), but I “knew” what he would do. The differences are drastic, of course, but, in the end, similar. God knows the heart and we do have the same opportunity. The end was known before the beginning, but we are no less culpable for our decisions.

    * – one which isn’t necessarily true.

    PS: Which one is the dog, DJ or Darius? Am I too late to be in the running?

  • D.J. Williams


    I hoped the smiley would communicate the tounge-in-cheek nature of that one. This subject seems to come up almost constantly.

    I’ll try to be as simple as possible. The gospel is freely offered to all people. It is a legitimate offer. However, all people will reject the offer because of our sinful condition (spiritually dead) unless God directly intervenes.


  • Brian Krieger

    As infuriating as it may be, I do enjoy reading the panel (it gives a good sense of how many people actually view their faith as opposed to how they may state it in a crowd). Some interesting quotes:

    “The issue is never what the Bible says; it’s what the readers say it says.”

    “A far better goal is to ask people not to attempt to impose their theology on those who hold a different theological point of view.”

    “…the Bible does not anticipate most features of today’s debates.”

    “If the Qur’an teaches that sexual activity outside of marriage is a sin (and it does), how can I condemn a significant portion of the population to sin or to a life of celibacy (which the Qur’an frowns upon as well)?”

    “Gay people prefer people of the same sex, so if God made them that way, then that was God’s choice.”

    I think Paul’s words on tickling ears definitely come to mind. One distinction that is made and lost is that Christians condemn the sin, not the sinner. The unfortunate thing is that there are plenty of Phelps characters who take the wrong view (Peter’s words on gentleness and reverence come to mind). I think a good essay on the Christian side of the issue that is not just centered on the question of “OK or not?” is on Boundless. Our compassion isn’t demonstrated by embracing the sin, rather, in embracing the sinner (just as we would a repentant adulterer, a spouse-abuser, an embezzler, etc.). The balance and difficulty comes in remaining steadfast in the word (which does include turning out those who remain steadfast in their sin) while showing love (and compassion) for all. Condoning and embracing the sin is far more unloving.

  • Brian Krieger

    Would it be too bombastic to say that I’m a complementarian calvinist who believes Genesis isn’t just a borrowed story? I would draw a smiley but I have to use alcohol to get the ink off the screen.

  • Russ Ware


    Thanks for being as simple as possible for me. 😉

    I’ll throw you a bone…

    Your explanation of the Calvinist construct does seem to allow for the Calvinist to agree with both statements logically. The Calvinist position is nothing if not logical and consistent. 🙂

    Nevertheless, particularly in the case of the second statement…

    “all of us have the same opportunity to turn from our sins…”

    I can see how the Calvinist would be able to agree with the statement in the sense that outside of grace we all have the same opportunity, and it is zero. But I think we can assume that is not what Colson means. I think he is saying ALL >truly are extended the offer in a way that we may choose to accept. And that in fact, it is the desire of the Father that we all would. That’s why he is using this as an example of how the Bible is inclusive.

  • D.J. Williams


    We all are truly extended the offer in a way that we may choose to accept. We just won’t. That doesn’t impugn the legitimacy of the offer.

    Let me illustrate this way. I’ll assume that you would say that God knows with perfect foreknowledge who will end up choosing to accept his offer of grace (if not, then we need to be having a whole different discussion altogether). If that is the case, are those he forsees as rejecting the gospel truly extended the offer? God knows perfectly that they never will accept it, so is his offer disengenouous? If you’re going to say that Calvinism sets up this problem, then I think your own system is also suspect.

    Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

  • Russ Ware


    Thank you. Your explanation makes sense.

    At first I had written a fairly lengthy response… but it would have been the type of discussion that has probably played out on this site any number of times, not to mention in other contexts with theologians far more equipped than either of us to discuss such things. 🙂

    At the end of the day this is really about the Calvinistic doctrines of limited atonement and efficacious grace. Total Depravity is in play as well, of course, but we agree on that.

    I was just wondering if, given Denny’s “Amen” to the Colson quote, I could get an explanation of how a Calvinist could truly and heartily agree with the what seems to me to be the clear heart of Colson’s statement in regard to the inclusiveness of the gospel.

    The gospel means good news, but a great offer that only some are equipped to receive is only good news to some.

    If some are not given the “equipment” to receive because God knew that they would choose to reject it anyway, that’s one thing. But, I’m pretty sure that’s not what you believe.

    The bottom line is that I do not see how a Calvinist can truly embrace the Colson statement, though I was hopeful that I might hear something new to enlighten me as to how one could.

    Not yet. 😉

  • D.J. Williams


    Your comment, “a great offer that only some are equipped to receive is only good news to some,” seems to imagine a group of people who believe God’s offering a great deal but just don’t have the tools to cash in on it. Not to sound snide, but when you meet one of those people, let me know.

  • Russ Ware

    There are no such people, because to those whom God has chosen to withhold grace from solely on the basis of his sovereign right to do so, it was never a great deal.

  • Darius T

    Russ, you (like most Arminians) tend toward looking at God and salvation as a glass half empty situation, or “what has God done for me lately?” if you will. We need to look at it from the other direction… what do we humans deserve outside of immediate damnation?

  • Russ Ware


    The Church had things to say about this long before Calvin’s constructs and Arminius’s attempted corrections.

    In other words, I’m no more interested in being an Arminian than I am being a Calvinist.

    And your characterization is false. Of course, none of us deserve to be saved. This is not about us and what we deserve.

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