Pre-post PSA: My convictions on gay marriage are not strong in either direction, and I really struggle with the issue. Although I often sympathize with Comedienne Jen Kirkman’s take on things: “I get upset at senators who say things like ‘Well, if we let gay people get married, what’s next? People gonna marry their pets?’ I’m also fine with that, ya psycho! Marry a table, life is hard! Get whatever you can get.”
This video has been going around on Facebook and other social media lately. (It is a clip from a longer video you can watch here).
In the segment, two pastors debate about gay marriage. Pastor Neil Thomas (identifies as homosexual) and Pastor Robert Jeffress (identifies as heterosexual).
CHRISTIAN PASTOR DESTROYS GAY PASTOR. Like, calm down, jeez. This isn’t a Pokemon battle. (Christian Pastor uses harsh words and it’s super effective!!)
In my opinion, Jeffress is being a very poor sport here. He dominates the conversation and constantly interrupts, as if he can’t wait to “correct” his opponent. Not very embodying of “Quick to listen, slow to speak”-James 1:19.
Unfortunately, Thomas does a really bad job of conveying his point about the “Bible evolving” or whatever, and Jeffress is able to quickly and easily rephrase his opponent’s argument in a way that makes it sound completely false: Jeffress reminds Thomas that God is unchanging, God is not schizophrenic, the Bible is unchanging, etc. I actually suspect that Thomas agrees with all these truths.
What Thomas was trying to say is that people evolve. Christians’ interpretation of God’s unchanging Word is constantly shifting throughout time to reflect changing societal values. For example, Jesus once said that women must wear head coverings. (1 Corinthians 11:6) Very few Christian women today wear head coverings, and that is because most people now do not interpret the verse literally, and instead take it to mean that women should be respectful and not cause a distraction in church by wearing something inappropriate.
God did not change, our society has just interpreted God differently.
(There are thousands of other examples of this, most found in the Old Testament, but I wanted to use a New Testament example, straight from Jesus’ mouth, just in case someone was going to use a “New Covenant” argument on me).
Side note: This is also why Jeffress’ “This is the way we’ve been doing things for 2000 years” argument is stupid. Christians are definitely doing things WAY differently than they were 2000 years ago. That doesn’t mean God changed.
And yes, Pastor Jeffress, we HAVE evolved on marriage. By that I mean, somewhere along the road someone thought, hmm, maybe God doesn’t want women to be treated as property in a marriage, and maybe he thinks they should be able to talk sometimes. Because yes, that is what it used to be like, and thank the Lord we haven’t continued that “tradition.”
It is dangerous, of course, to read societal norms into the Bible’s silence or ambiguity for the sake of convenience. But it is the mark of a foolish and arrogant man to not change his beliefs if they are found false because of new evidence. That is why I believe it is extremely important to diligently study the Bible’s precepts with an open mind. You could be praying, or listening to a sermon, or talking with a friend, when lo and behold, you see something in a new light. Then you have the ability, and arguably the responsibility, to change your practices. I don’t know any true Christian who would deny that they once believed something false. It’s totally normal and its how we grow.
In fact, you could say that God Himself is pretty into changing the way things are done. That’s how we got, ya know, JESUS. God didn’t suddenly change his own nature to stop requiring animal sacrifices. He just implemented a new way. A more beautiful way. A better way.
**If you want to know more about why most modern day Christians find it okay to “ignore” some Biblical laws and follow others, heres a great article explaining the difference between moral, civil, and ceremonial laws because I don’t have space to get into it in this post. Also, if you want to know how these 3 types of laws could apply to the gay marriage issue, I’m sure you can find some articles on that too.**
Things Jesus Didn’t Say:
- Gay marriage is totally cool with me. It’s about love. What could be wrong with that, you brood of vipers?
- Gay marriage is an abomination, like holy crap, ew.
So the question is, does the Bible leave enough grey area for appropriate societal re-interpretation so that gay marriage could be considered okay by the Church?
Here’s where the comparison of racial discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination comes in. The comparison is frequently used because racial desegregation is an example of a once “progressive” view the Church used to oppose, then later changed its views about. (Similar to gay marriage or homosexuality in general). So no, I don’t think it is an inappropriate comparison. Even if its not exact in every nuance, its the closest thing we have to use as historical precedence.
It’s also one of the arguments that causes me the most doubt in the gay marriage arena. Because Christians used to think that the Bible was pretty clear on slavery and racism being okay. Turns out it wasn’t. They were wrong on something BIG.
In ten years are all the Pastor Jeffresses going to be wrong too? Wrong to be touting their Matthew 19s and their Leviticus Everythings? I don’t know. All we can do is keep studying, and listening, and trying our best to follow Jesus.