I was browsing the Internet and came across Matthew Paul Turner’s response to the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage (“Do you disagree with SCOTUS’s decision about marriage? I have questions, so many questions…”). Turner is a so-called progressive Christian; he’s written some good things before, but unfortunately, one readily notices his complete lack of interacting seriously with any biblical texts and his over-reliance on emotional rhetoric on many topics, ranging from church membership, church discipline, and theology in general. In this particular article, these traits were especially egregious, and not only that, as someone allegedly defending tolerance, he came off as extraordinarily haughty and spiteful. For example, here is how he prefaces his questions:
I have a few questions for those people—those Jesus-loving folks who seemingly believe that they own the copyright on what God thinks about marriage. While I doubt my questions will change anybody’s mind on the matter at hand, I do hope my inquiries will at least cause some people to pause long enough to think about their actions, their words, their posture, their faith…
Yep, “those Jesus-loving folks who seemingly believe that they own the copyright on what God thinks about marriage.” That sounds like you want liberal dialogue. While such an attitude is rarely useful, it would at least be understandable if he presented a plethora of razor sharp arguments; instead, he builds strawman after strawman and asks a bunch of condescending, presumptuous questions. It is amusing that such progressive Christians want to be the face of tolerance and social justice for the church and then go ahead and rely on such tactics.
It would be easy to dismantle Turner’s article; in this case, it may be even more helpful to show him and other Christians like him how exactly they are arguing (it will be helpful to give his a read first). So in the spirit of his own article, I have a few long-winded questions for him and others–you know, those Jesus-loving folks who seemingly believe that they can ignore the Bible and make up what God thinks about marriage.
What if you’re wrong? I know that, for some of you, that’s likely impossible for you to even imagine. But if your life is truly driven by faith, a concept of belief that is, at its core, biblically defined as confidence in what we hope and assurance about what we do not see (Heb. 11:1), then you should be able to at least consider the chance that you don’t have it all figured out better than the Bible does. Faith without scriptural truth isn’t faith; it’s cultural certainty, little more than a lifeless creed you can shout at the top of your lungs in rallies, write in all caps in online comment sections (along with posting rainbows), and whisper under your breath like a curse whenever challenged. It’s fine if you’re not willing to consider even the chance that you could be wrong. But your stubbornness isn’t because you possess faith, it’s because you’ve anchored yourself to a system of ideas, and it scares the s*** out of you to even consider any other possibility.
But the fact remains: you might be wrong. Think about that for a moment. What if all of your “tolerant and progressive” declarations about gay marriage are incorrect? What if all of those Bible verses you ignore in defense of your opinions actually mean what you’re scared they mean? Or what if they don’t mean what you’re scared they mean, but nonetheless the entire biblical account of sexuality even outside of those passages rests on the presupposition of heterosexual marriage? What if those laws you want to forget are like those other laws that you readily bind yourself to? You know, the ones that you inconsistently hold on to despite poor theological knowledge, non-existent exegetical ability, and worldly disapproval… Like that law about adultery or the one about lustful coveting or that law that prohibits you from mistreating the poor. Or for those of you who have invited the Jesus to live in your hearts, do you adhere to his biblical ideal of one man and one woman united as one flesh (Matt. 19:5) with the same passion that you try to twist Paul’s very clear words about “homosexuality,” words that quite obviously mean what they say despite people’s desperate attempts at bad word studies? In other words, are you a polygamist? Are you a serial adulterer? Do you promote pederasty? Do you start making excuses based on poor analysis on context and timeframe whenever Jesus teaches about loving your enemies and taking care of the poor?
Progressive Christians love putting gay relationships on a pedestal.
But what if you’re wrong? What if all of the blatant statements you’ve made for gay marriage are little more than wasted words, fake “love” that you’ve mistakenly packaged with Christ? What if all of the time/energy you’ve spent fighting/debating/proclamating is just lost time/energy that could have been used for some other, more life-giving activity, like actually telling the truth to everyone about sin (including gay people) and sharing the Gospel to them?
Being passionately wrong has consequences, and that’s true regardless of whether or not you present your views hatefully towards other Christians or with so-called Christian love.
What if you’re right? What if God approves of anal sex between men as much as you do? What if, upon learning about the Supreme Court’s decision to extend marital rights to all people, God put a miraculously huge rainbow in the sky, visible to all the earth, as his own Facebook update? Because it’s certainly possible. What if, just like you, amid great confusion on topics and ideas regarding homosexuality, God capitulates to the wisdom of man and changes his design for creation? And that, maybe just like you, God is pulled this way and that way by feelings and societal pressure? Why? Because God knows just how much pleasure you receive when there is no standard of holiness and people do what is right in their own eyes, and amid Heaven opening its gates to every unrepentant sinner, every one of your “intolerant” Christian friends will realize that you were right about God all along.
Would you really be okay with being right about God? Before you answer that, consider what you’ve said about God, the words that you’ve put in God’s mouth (quite outside Scripture), the slight relief (perhaps joy?) that shoots through your veins every time you consider the day when your God finally declares to Planet Earth that you were right. Do you want to be right about God, who forfeits his authority to man and therefore provides no justice to any sin, including adultery? Would you even care about standing before the God that you’ve erected at church or in conversation or online? What does your personalized deity suggest about you, about God?
And what if you’re right about God? What if, like so many progressive Christians suggest, God really is an impotent being with borderline personality disorder, either the smallest and most insignificant God ever or the one that somehow judges “judgmental” Christians?
But again, if you are instead wrong, does mimicking your version of God on Facebook help your God or satisfy you or truly help the people you are allegedly defending?
If you’re a parent, what is your reaction to Friday’s verdict teaching your kids? What has your child learned from watching your actions and listening to your conversations over the last few days? Does he/she have more faith that God is the sovereign Creator and that the Bible is trustworthy in what it tells us about Jesus Christ, or is he/she filled up with apathy about God and Jesus or the fear about being unfairly labeled a “bigot” if he/she disagrees with you, as you’ve been not-so-subtly advertising? Has your demeanor showcased a belief that God is faithful to his Word and his own creation or have you communicated that God only matters when we feel like he matters? Whether you want him/her to know what you’re thinking or not, they more than likely do. And what they’re soaking up is creating a foundation for how they will think and feel in the future. They will either mimic your close-minded and rebellious actions or they will be put in a position in which they are forced to overcome the foundations you’ve helped inspire.
What if your child takes the Bible’s commands on gay relationships seriously, even if, gasp, he or she has same-sex attraction? That thought might terrify you. Still, what if they do? What if their biblical literacy is actually somewhat adequate, somewhere on a spectrum between a small child’s and an average layperson’s? Has your reaction created an environment in which he/she will be free to tell you what they’re feeling or have you set yourself up to be the last one to know?
I’ve seen a lot of vile reactions from progressives over the last few days. In many cases, their thoughts have foretold just how much they care that they and their kids are “free” to simply seek what they desire, no matter what it is. As somebody who grew up in a Christian home, I knew every time my parents made mistakes, stumbled, and sinned… and even when I didn’t know why, I almost always felt the temptation to sin like they did, though often the grace of Christ kept me from it.
Whom have you silenced? Many Christians who stand for traditional marriage remain silent because they fear the harsh backlash from the world, even from some Christian friends and family. Because among Christians who are vocal about their defense of gay marriage, creating backlash towards believers who might feel differently than they do is considered tolerant and loving. I’ve had fellow Christians react angrily to the fact that I think gay relationships are sinful. I try to ignore such outbursts, knowing that any answer except “Love wins, gay marriage is awesome!” was going to create drama that I didn’t feel like engaging. And I am always right; their reaction to my biblical answer is anger and resentment, as if all of my spiritual, personal, and relational worth was hinged on me hating certain biblical commands as much as they do.
Have you ever thought about how many people you silence? Push away? Exclude? There are countless pastors across the United States who have strong legal, moral, and biblical objections to SCOTUS’s decision. But they can’t say that aloud in a public forum, at least, not if they want to avoid public harassment and bullying (and perhaps, in the future, the loss of tax-exemption). Because in society, the progressives who often come off as bullies toward anything involving LGBTQ are rarely willing to agree to disagree. They almost always will fight the cause, threaten some form of lawsuit, $top their $upport of religious freedom, or seek to have the conservative pastor or the conservative assistant pastor or the conservative church volunteer publicly lynched.
Do your words keep your friends silent about their faith? Do your opinions silence potential sharers of the Gospel? Does your certainty about what God thinks regarding gay people paralyze the good work of God?
What are you losing in this fight? Because chances are, whether or not you’re willing to admit this, you’re losing, missing, not experiencing something because of this impassioned fight you’re engaging. And if it hasn’t happened, there’s a good chance it will. Are you missing out on knowing and loving God on a deeper level and building a great relationship with a Christian with same-sex attraction but who has turned everything over to Christ? Are you gambling with the future relationship between you and one of your children? Are you so distracted by this mission that you’re failing to engage what’s truly important in life? Is it worth it? In the grand scheme of this life and even the next life, is it really worth it?
Is it because you’re afraid? Are you bored? Are you so intoxicated by your social ideology that you’ve lost the ability to love people with the truth, even if they have no plans on eventually agreeing with you on this one?
Isn’t God, the God you claim to believe in, big enough to be the Judge without your commentary? Does the answer to that last question scare you?
It’s okay. It scares me too. But I imagine we feel different kinds of fear.