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Not So Civil Unions

28 May

      In talking to a friend this weekend she shared an e-mail with me from her brother. He was telling her how upset he was that she would not participate in his “civil union” ceremony with his partner. Of course both his current angst and his lifestyle has upset my friend. In reading the e-mail, this “civil union” began looking more and more like a “civil war” ready to explode. The situation began my thinking on how a Christian should react to such a situation. First and foremost, I think that a Christian must be cognisent of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. 

  • He says “Blessed are you when others revile and persecute you… rejoice and be glad for so they persecuted the prophets before you.” So Jesus knows that living for him will not always recieve praise.
  • Then He says “You are the salt of the earth” and believers should both preserve the world with their witness as well as enhance its flavor or essence. We preserve this world when we draw or point out anything unrighteouss in our immediate area of influence. We enhace the flavor or essence when we act to attract people in our immediate area to us.

     So what does this mean for someone who has a loved one living in any sin, but especially homosexuality?

  • REALIZE first that this is a sin just like all of the other sins mentioned in the Bible. Of all the sexual sins in Leviticus 18 none, not even homosexuality is mentioned as greater than another (read the article call “What Does the Bible Teach About Homosexuality” by Scott B. Rae in the Apologetics Study Bible for more info).
  • RESPOND in such a way that you draw or point out the sinfulness of the action, but be careful to not destroy your ability to enhance that person’s life with your Christian witness and influence.
  • RELATE to the person in question your genuine love for them, but your difficulty with their lifestyle.

     In a situation where you are asked to participate in a “civil union” this will most likely mean that you would not play the part desired in the ceremony. Even so, to preserve your witness and ability to relate your genuine love for the person, you should communicate with them carefully and lovingly how participation is not an option. This would also mean that you should not shun this person any time you see them or refuse to meet sociably with the person. This is a tough balancing act to walk, but perhaps one that will enable you to enjoy enough unitiy and civility with the person, living out before them love of Christ.

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4 Comments

Posted by on May 28, 2008 in Ministry of the Word, Shepherding

 

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4 responses to “Not So Civil Unions

  1. keltic

    May 28, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Didn’t Jesus also show up in places that the religious leaders of the time thought he shouldn’t? How does a christian remain the “salt of the earth” if s/he refuses to participate in the community and family in which they live?
    When my partner and I get married later this summer, we are expecting our friends and relatives to show up. To put a limit on love, is not love at all. Should someone decide they can not attend based on their religious convictions, I doubt that we will be able to continue a relationship with that person. That’s not love, and it’s certainly not what Jesus modelled for us.

     
  2. pastorsro

    May 29, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Keltic,
    I checked out your web blog and read a few of your posts. I discovered that many of the bloggers you interact with have an opinion opposed to yours concerning civil unions and homosexual marriage. After reading some of their posts I can understand your position. I am truly sorry that some people, seemingly of the Christian perspective seem to attack you directly.

    I want to make it clear to you that I do have an alternative opinion to yours and do not wish to force my opinion into your lifestyle but I would like to respond to your question about love and being the “salt of the earth”. My point was exactly that a person should do as much as possible to participate in the life of the individual who is homosexual, and not shun them. In fact that is why I am responding to your comment. At the same time, my understanding of participation in a wedding ceremony is that participation affirms and approves of the relationship as well as the union. For that reason I scrutinize all couples before I marry them, and for this reason participation in a marriage is different than having supper with someone.

    About love, you say “To put a limit on love, is not love at all.” and yet at the same time you say “Should someone decide they can not attend based on their religious convictions, I doubt that we will be able to continue a relationship with that person.” It seems to me that you are putting a limit on your love if you would not continue a loving relationship with a person if they did not agree with your stance or attend your ceremony. What do you think?

    I happen to agree with you. Ending a relationship when someone does not react or participate as you wish is proof of an unloving relationship. To truly love means that you accept a person, and desire God’s best for them. This seems to be the pattern of Jesus. He seems to love and not reject the sinner while encouraging them to resist doing things His Father called sin. He said of the woman in adultery (A sin by the way mentioned in Leviticus 18 just as is a host of sexual sins. Sexual sins are also are mentioned in the NT in detail concerning God’s giving people up to their “vile passions” Rom. 1:24-32.) “Has no one condemned you… neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:10&11) I want to echo those sentiments. If my Savior did not condemn this woman as a sinner, I cannot condemn you. Yet, I do however that for me, a sinner in my own right, I cannot participate in what I know His Word calls sin. I have been told concerning my own sinfulness to go and sin no more. That does not reference my particular sins, but any sins. I do not expect you to hold these same convictions, but I also think it fair for you to still respect my convictions as I respect yours.

    I have not yet approved your comments (as of 5/28/08 ) for publication on my blog but would like to do so along with my response to your comments. I will only publish them if you so desire. I give you permission to quote this entire e-mail, but not random portions of it. God bless and I will be praying for you!

    Letting the Shepherd Lead,
    Pastor Steven

     
  3. sgsnow

    July 30, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Jesus said nothing, not one word, about homosexuals. For those of you who insist that this does not matter, that the Bible is somehow clear elsewhere about the evilness of homosexuality, here are some questions.

    Why didn’t Jesus say that He was abolishing all the rules in the Old Testament EXCEPT the rule against homosexual intercourse?

    Why didn’t He distinguish between His forgiving the woman brought to him in adultery ( ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’ ) and His wanting to continue to hold homosexuality against people?

    Why didn’t He say anything about how homosexual marriage would defile the sanctity of the relationship of man and woman?

    Why didn’t He say anything?

    Did He just keep forgetting to mention it?

    Of course, there are apparent criticisms of homosexuality in the Bible. But do you have any idea what they mean, or do you just use them as a fig leaf for your own prejudices?

    To paraphrase Rowland Croucher,
    Leviticus 18:22, 20:13 and Romans 1:26-27 condemn homosexual activity. But lending money at interest, having sexual intercourse during a woman’s menstrual period etc. are also condemned; slavery and polygamy are condoned in the Bible. How consistent do you want to be?

    As for 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10, are you sure they’re about homosexual practice? Or do they talk about promiscuity and prostitution – sex for payment?

    “What about Sodom!”, you say?
    You should perhaps know that the issue was gang-rape (as in Judges 19-21) , not homosexuality. Every time Sodom is referred to in the OT and apocryphal books – and in the one Gospel reference, Luke 10:10-12 – it’s never in connection with homosexuality. In Ezekiel 16:49 for example, Sodom’s sins are pride, materialism, idleness or being uncaring.

    Please remember, dear Christians, about what Peter (4:17) said about the sin of judgment beginning in the house of God.

     
  4. pastorsro

    August 11, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Mr. Snow,
    As I respond to your comment, first I must clarify that you do want a response. From your comment on the blog I was unsure if you simply wanted to express your viewpoint or if you wanted a genuine dialog about issues we may disagree upon. The tone of your comments most definitely made me feel very defensive, as if you were trying to suggest that I was uneducated or unsophisticated. In any case here is my response in brief.

    One of the main problems I have with your arguments is the word/concept fallacy. Simply because a word is not in Greek or Hebrew texts does not mean that the concept is not present. Trinity is not mentioned in the texts and yet few argue against the concept. Incidentally there is a word in Greek for homosexuality and it is used in 1 Cor. 6:9 and other places. Perhaps even more damning is the context of the Hebrew texts which make explicit with a phrase the concept of man “knowing” man. Similarly you make the assumption that simply because Jesus did not mention homosexuality he did not count it as a sin. Since Christ was a Jew, and obviously he believed the OT Scriptures which teach that homosexuality is a sin, would it not be more damaging for him not to correct the faulty teaching of OT Scriptures as he did with idea that on adultery? His clarification was that adultery was not only when a man slept with a woman but when looks at a woman with lust (Matt. 5:28). By not mentioning homosexuality perhaps he thought the OT spoke for itself. Finally, you mention the work of Rowland Croucher. I am not extremely familiar with his work, but allow me to make a basic comment related to your field of study, government. Government does not always deal with issues that do not immediately require attention. In fact, government does not always deal with problems when they require attention. The biblical revelation is similar. At the time of Christ in Judea, homosexuality was considered a sin without a doubt due to the influence of Jewish law. Thus it was not an issue Jesus, who primarily operated in that culture, needed to deal with. Not surprisingly when Paul and the other apostles move into Greek and Roman society, where the practice was frequent, the issue was addressed. As a matter of fact the Greek words in the context of 1 Cor. 6:9 explicitly refer to homosexual acts both passively and actively.

    I do not have room to speak to each of your criticisms in this e-mail, but I do have a final point related to the tone of your comments. In reading the Constitution and Bill of Rights, I find that we all have freedom to speak as we see fit without recourse or limitation from the government or any other man. Tolerance has become the mantra of many in society based on this right. One would think that any viewpoint could thus be debated and the two sides leave with dignity and respect even if neither party was swayed. Yet religious tolerance is only acceptable as long as the opinion expressed conforms to opinions of certain segments of the population. Most definitely not accepted are those of “backward uneducated Christians”.

    Perhaps I overstate the case, or perhaps I echo the Baptist congregation which wrote to Jefferson with fears that the government would breech the boundaries and invade religious life. Jefferson’s response was that the right to freedom of speech provided a wall of separation between the government’s intrusions and the life of the faith. I believe that same principle exists between men. I will not breech your wall and force my opinions on you. Similarly I would hope you would not breech my wall and force your opinions on me. I especially would appreciate the government to simply remain neutral in all these matters not giving license or denying freedom. Yet, in a society such as ours it would be appropriate to welcome the debate over beliefs, because in the end we can agree to disagree.

    The openness of debate on the issue of homosexuality and other hot-button issues does not seem to be an option, even though the parties are free to agree to disagree. This seems to go against all that we won at the Revolution and subsequent founding of our nation. Similarly it seems to go against the very free will that I believe was endowed to us by our Creator. It also seems to go against the freedom to exist, as one pleases, that homosexuals are fighting to obtain. Personally I decry the outrageous attitudes of some in my own faith who attempt to take away freedom to choose a lifestyle we understand the Bible teaches as sin. Yet, I still desire that homosexuals come to trust Christ as I do, and reject their sinfulness in this are as I have had to reject my sinfulness in other areas. I am not naïve enough to think that nominally taking away the freedom to choose will help one to trust him. Only love for the sinner, affirmation of their worth as a person, and honest dialogue about the importance of Christ will lead one to trust Jesus. I feel that openly dialoguing and debating with the understanding to agree to disagree meets that ideal.

    Letting the Shepehrd Lead,
    Pastor Steven

     

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