Tag Archives: Gay Activism

Two Christian women threatened with jail time for refusing to celebrate LGBT events

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

Is it safe to live as a Bible-believing Christian in America? We all know that you can live comfortably as a “Christian” by just behaving in compliance with whatever the secular left tells you. But what happens to you if you take the Bible seriously on moral issues? Is it easy to live consistently with the Bible in America?

Consider this article from Daily Wire:

Two female Christian artists in Arizona who refuse to make custom-art for same sex weddings could actually be jailed for sticking to their religious beliefs.

Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski , who own Brush & Nib Studio, make custom artwork using painting, calligraphy and handlettering. They filed suit against the city of Phoenix, as a Phoenix city ordinance threatens them with up to six months and/or a fine of $2,500 each day they refuse to make the artwork. First the women filed in state court to overturn the ordinance, but lost in a court of appeals, prompting them to appeal to the state’s Supreme Court, which said on November 20 it would hear the case.

There’s a video about the case from Fox News:

In other news, Christian baker Jack Phillips is STILL in trouble with the secular left fascists in Colorado. Although he won his case at the Supreme Court, the LGBT activists and their allies in the state government are still going after him to punish him for his Christian beliefs.

The Federalist had a really, really good article about it:

On June 26, 2017, the day the Supreme Court agreed to hear Phillips’ case, Autumn Scardina, a transgender attorney and activist, called Masterpiece Cakeshop and asked Phillips to design a custom cake with a blue exterior and a pink interior to symbolize a transition from male to female. Phillips politely turned Scardina down. “I was stunned,” the lawyer risibly claimed in her complaint to the Civil Rights Commission.

Scardina, of course, didn’t accidentally ask the most famous Christian baker in the nation to make a “transition” cake. Scardina is leading a crusade against Phillips. In one call, Scardina allegedly asked for “an image of Satan smoking marijuana.” In another, members of “the Church of Satan” asked for “a three-tiered white cake” with a “large figure of Satan, licking a nine inch black Dildo.” “I would like the dildo to be an actual working model that can be turned on before we unveil the cake,” went the request. You can just sense the sanctimonious smugness of people who think this sort of thing is edgy.

In any event, the state of Colorado has allied itself with such activists, formally determining that there was probable cause that Phillips had indeed discriminated against Scardina based on “gender identity.” Of course the baker’s refusal to make dildo and pentagram cakes only proves that Phillips isn’t specifically antagonistic to the newly consecrated belief in malleable “gender identity,” but that he’s shown a consistent adherence to his less malleable Christian values.

It’s those values that upset Scardina and members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Though they can’t say it explicitly, most progressives are fine with discrimination against religious groups. In their hierarchy of moral concerns, free expression isn’t nearly as concerning as the hurt feelings of an aggrieved gay couple. And Colorado is again complicit in another attack on the Constitution. Until SCOTUS comes down with a ruling that explicitly protects religious liberty from state-sponsored attacks on faith, they’ll keep trying.

But it goes well beyond those legal concerns. Activists — including the civil rights commission — are trying to destroy a man for thought crimes. This state-sponsored harassment isn’t only about Phillip’s modest business in Lakewood, Colorado, although that’s surely part of it. It’s a warning to all those with unpopular opinions to stay in line.

I’ve found myself thinking about how to live in a world where every day you get up to go to work, your livelihood is threatened by secular left fascists who want to use the government as a weapon to destroy your basic God-given human rights. And the only answers I can come up with to this are 1) avoid putting my children into public schools run by the secular left, and 2) retire as early as possible so that I don’t have to deal with the coming generation of social justice warriors in an office setting.

First, I need to avoid dealing with the secular left in public schools (my future children) or the workplace. This is because a lot of legal problems start when the secular left finds out what Christian parents are teaching their children. The easiest way to not deal with public schools is to not get married, unless you marry a woman who has carefully made pro-marriage decisions with her education, career and finances. Decisions designed to keep her future children out of the public schools. It’s very rare to find a young, unmarried Christian woman who has made correct decisions to protect her future family from the secular left, though. Thanks to the uncritical acceptance of radical feminism in the church – right under the noses of traditional conservative male pastors – most don’t want to homeschool and they haven’t made the right choices in education,career and finances to help their future husband afford homeschooling and/or private schools, anyway.

How about the workplace? Well, it’s fine for now if, for example, you live in a red state and you’re in the private sector and you’re working in a STEM field. But there’s a generation of unstable social justice warriors coming through the assembly line of government schools, and they’re going to hit the workplace shortly. I don’t want to be there when they finally arrive. The easiest way to get out of the workplace early is to have enough money saved so that you can retire early. But this is getting harder to do. In our culture, we’re always hearing that “good people” only have one acceptable way to vote: for higher taxes, more unskilled immigration and more government spending. This is the case even in conservative churches. Just last month, my Southern Baptist pastor told our Bible study that “Jesus was a refugee”, which is in keeping with the Democrat talking points of open borders leftists like Russell Moore. The more we vote for government to be the “solution” to people’s bad choices, the higher taxes will go, and the more exposed Christians are going to be to troubles in the workplace.

Well, I probably track these religious liberty stories more than most. And I worry about it more than most, too. I am more prepared than most to avoid having my conscience violated by the secular left. But I don’t see things getting better. There just isn’t any seriousness among Christians to hold the line on Biblical teachings and values. We’ve long ago dumped the masculine aspects of Christianity – uncomfortable theological truths and politically incorrect moral rules – for a more feminine focus on non-judgmentalism, feelings, self-esteem, universalism, etc. In the church today, you’re unlikely to win an argument about a moral issue by citing the Bible and then supporting your claim with peer-reviewed evidence. Instead, the church decided that the highest authority is to conform to the demands of people whose best argument is “agree with me, or I’ll commit suicide due to bad feelings!” That apparently has a lot of weight in the feminized church today. But not with me.

Christian teacher fired for not using transgender person’s preferred pronouns

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

People who push progressive social policies tend to think that they are the tolerant ones. Many people who want to feel compassionate and be seen to be compassionate go along with them. After all, nobody wants the leftists to feel bad, right? In today’s post, we’ll see how leftists can sometimes make those who disagree with them feel really bad.

The Daily Signal explains:

A Virginia high school teacher was sacked Thursday for allegedly misgendering a student, marking the first time in the state that an educator has lost a job for using biological pronouns to refer to a student.

The West Point School Board voted unanimously 5-0 to fire Peter Vlaming who teaches French at the school, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Vlaming, 47, was charged with discrimination after failing to use male pronouns to address a biologically female student. Vlaming did not intentionally misgender the student, but avoided using any pronouns to address or talk about the student in order to accord with his Christian faith, the Times-Dispatch reported.

“I’m totally happy to use the new name,” Vlaming told local NBC affiliate WWBT. “I’m happy to avoid female pronouns not to offend because I’m not here to provoke … but I can’t refer to a female as a male, and a male as a female in good conscience and faith.”

Vlaming has a wife and four children, and he has been fired by the public school administrators right before Christmas.

Honestly, I would not have done any different. People have a right to name themselves, but they don’t have a right to force me to participate in their self-delusion. He used her preferred name, but he would not use her preferred sex. Unfortunately, he’s working in a public school system filled with unionized Democrat teachers and administrators. He didn’t stand a chance. And public schools are taxpayer-funded. Vlaming and other Christians paid for the salaries of the leftists who had him fired. Which is why Christians should never support government-run public schools.

National Review has the teacher’s comments about his termination.

Vlaming’s lawyer called the school’s requirement “unconstitutional compelled speech.”

“Public schools have no business compelling people to express ideological beliefs that they don’t hold. This isn’t just about a pronoun; this is about forcing someone to endorse an ideology under threat of losing his job,” said attorney Shawn A. Voyles. “My client has always respected this student’s rights and continues to do so; he simply asked that his rights be respected as well. Unfortunately, the school board refused to consider any solutions that would respect the freedoms of everyone involved.”

I’m not a lawyer, but it sounds like he is using the same defense as other Christians have used to win at the Supreme Court.

There’s a Go Fund Me for the family here. According to Rod Dreher, the Go Fund Me has been verified legitimate.

Matthew Vines and Michael Brown debate homosexuality and the Bible on Moody radio

The audio of the Matthew Vines vs Michael Brown debate is streamed here on the Moody site.

Details:

Can you be gay and Christian? Matthew Vines says you can and he’s created a viral video and best-selling book defending his view. This Saturday on Up for Debate, Vines joins host Julie Roys to debate author and leading evangelical apologist, Dr. Michael Brown. Is gay monogamy an option for Christians? Is it unloving to reject gay marriage? Listen and join the discussion this Saturday at 8 a.m. Central Time on Up for Debate!

Summary key: Julie Roys (JR), Matthew Vines (MV), Michael Brown (MB)

Summary:

Opening speeches:

  • JR: Why should Christians be open to reinterpreting the Bible on homosexuality?
  • MV: Consider the lives and testimonies of gay Christians. Here is my personal story.
  • MV: According to the Bible, a person with same-sex attractions would have to embrace lifelong celibacy. I refuse to do that.
  • MV: There are 6 passages in the Bible that are relevant to the goodness of homosexuality. All are negative.
  • MV: None of these passages address gay relationships that are “long-term” and “faithful” that are based on “commitment” and “love”.
  • JR: You say that it is “damaging” for Christians to disagree with you views, is that true?
  • MV: Yes. One of my friends declared his homosexuality and he did not feel safe to come home. He felt pain because Christians disagreed with him.
  • MV: You cannot ask a person with same-sex attractions to be celibate, it causes too much harm to ask gays to abstain from sexual relationships.
  • JR: Respond to Matthew.
  • MB: The Bible only permits heterosexual sexuality and in every case condemns homosexual acts.
  • MB: Matthew is taking his sexual preferences and activities as given, and reinterpreting the Bible to fit it.
  • MB: Genesis talks about women being made to help men, and to fulfill God’s commandment to procreate and fill the Earth.
  • MB: The Bible speaks about the complementarity of the sexes when talking about how two become one in marriage.
  • MB: I am very sensitive to the stories of people who are gay who experience discrimination as “gay Christians”.
  • MB: You can feel sad for people who have two conflicting commitments, but that doesn’t mean we should redefine what the Bible says.
  • JR: Stop talking, we have a break.

JR takes a caller for the next topic:

  • Caller 1: I had same-sex attractions and I was able to change my sexuality.
  • JR: Matthew, respond to that.
  • MV: Alan Chambers of Exodus International says that 99.9% of people he worked with had not changed their gay orientation.
  • MV: Lifelong celibacy is not acceptable to gays, so the Bible must be reinterpreted to suit gays.
  • MB: Matthew thinks that God himself did not understand the concept of sexual orientation and inadvertently hurt gays because of his lack of knowledge.
  • MB: There is a solution in the Bible for people who cannot be celibate, and that solution is heterosexual marriage
  • MB: If a person is only attracted to pre-teen girls, do we then have to re-write the Bible to affirm that so they won’t be “harmed”?
  • MB: Alan Chambers was speaking for his own group, and his statement does not account for the fact that thousands of people DO change.
  • JR: What about the Jones/Yarhouse study that found that 38% of reparative therapy subjects were successful in changing or chastity?
  • MV: (no response to the question)
  • MV: (to Brown) do you accept that the Bible forces gays to live out lifelong celibacy

Another break, then Brown replies:

  • MB: Yes. But change is possible.
  • MV: Do you know of any Christian who acknowledged that this was the consequence of the Bible’s teaching for gays?
  • MB: Paul’s explanation that the options for ALL Christians are 1) celibacy or 2) heterosexual marriage. For 2000 years.
  • MV: Paul (in Romans 1) is talking about people who are not “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships.
  • MV: Paul was not aware of “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships at the time he wrote his prohibitions in Romans 1.
  • JR: How do you know that fixed sexual orientation is true? And that the Biblical authors would written different things if they knew?
  • JR: Are there any references in the first century to “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships?
  • MB: Yes, in my book I quote prominent historian N. T. Wright who documents that those relationships were known.
  • MB: Matthew’s view requires that God did not know about sexual orientation when ordaining the Bible’s content.
  • MB: Leviticus 18 is for all people, for all time. This was not just for the Jews, this was for everyone.
  • MV: I am not saying that Paul was wrong because he was ignorant.
  • MV: Paul was writing in a context where “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships were unknown.
  • MV: NT Wright does not cite first century texts, he cites a problematic 4th century text.
  • MV: Absence of 1st-century references to “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships means that God did not intend to prohibit them.
  • MB: Whenever the Bible speaks about homosexuality, it is opposed to it – Old Testament and New Testament.

Another break, then the conclusion:

  • JR: Respond to the Leviticus prohibition, which prohibits homosexuality for everyone, for all time.
  • MV: It is a universal prohibition on male same-sex intercourse, but it does not apply to Christians.
  • MV: For example, Leviticus prohibits sex during a woman’s menstrual period. And Christians are not bound by that.
  • MV: What is the reason for this prohibition of male-male sex in Leviticus? It’s not affirm the complementarity of the sexual act.
  • MV: The Bible prohibits male-male sex because it is written for a patriarchal culture.
  • MV: In a patriarchal culture, women are viewed as inferior. That’s why the Bible prohibits a man from taking the woman’s role in sex.
  • MB: The prohibition in Leviticus is a universal prohibition against male-male sex, applicable in all times and places.
  • MB: Homosexual sex is a violation of the divine order.
  • MB: We can see already the consequences of normalizing this: gay marriage, and supports for polygamy and polyamory.
  • MV: So the earliest reference there is to a “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationship is a 4th century text.
  • MV: But that gay relationship is not like modern gay relationships.

I have a few comments about Vines’ points below.

My comments:

Even heterosexuals who have not married are called upon to embrace lifelong celibacy. I am in my early 40s and am a virgin because I have not married. I wouldn’t seek to reinrepret the Bible to allow premarital sex just because what I am doing is difficult. I would rather just do what the Bible says than reinterpret it to suit me. And it’s just as hard for me to be chaste as it would be for him to be. In short, it’s a character issue. He takes his right to recreational sex as non-negotiable, and reinterprets the Bible to suit. I take the Bible as non-negotiable, and comply with it regardless of whether it seems to make me less happy. With respect to the purposes of God for me in this world, my happiness is expendable. If I don’t find someone to marry, I’m going to be “afflicted” with the lifelong celibacy that Vines seems to think is torture, but let me tell you – God is happy with the contributions I am making for him, and if I have to be chaste through my whole life, I am 100% fine with that. I serve the King. And not the reverse.

Notice that he talks about “long-term” but not permanent relationships, and “faithful” but not exclusive. This is important because the statistics show that gay relationships (depending on whether it is female-female or male-male) are prone to instability and/or infidelity. I just blogged on that recently, with reference to the published research on the subject. Vines is talking about a situation that does not obtain in the real world – according to the data. Gay relationships do not normally value permanence and exclusivity in the way that opposite-sex marriage relationships do, especially where the couple regularly attends church. The divorce rate and infidelity rate for religious couples is far below the rates for gay couples, depending on the sexes involved. Vines is committed to the idea that marriage is about feelings, e.g. – “love”, but that’s not the public purpose of marriage. Marriage is not about love, it’s about complementarity of the sexes and providing for the needs of children. We have published studies like this one showing that there are negative impacts to children who are raised by gay couples, which dovetails with studies showing that children need a mother and that children need a father. We should not normalize any relationship that exposes children to harm. We should prefer to inconvenience adults than to harm children.

Matthew Vines made an argument that Christians have to stop saying that homosexuality is wrong, because it makes gay people feel excluded. I wrote previously about the argument that gay activists use where they say “if you don’t agree with me and celebrate me and affirm me, then I’ll commit suicide”. In that post, I quoted a prominent gay activist who made exactly that argument. I don’t find the threats to self-destruction to be a convincing argument for the truth of the view that gay marriage being the same as heterosexual marriage. In fact, this is confirmed by a recent study which showed that features of gay relationships themselves, and not social disapproval, is to blame for high rates of suicide in the gay community.

Vines seems to want to argue that the context in which the Bible authors were writing did not allow them to address the problem of gays in “long-term”, “faithful” relationships. Well, we have already seen that statistically speaking, those relationships are in the minority. One British study mentioned in the post I linked to above found that only 25% of gay couples were intact after 8 years. The number is 82% for heterosexual marriages, and that doesn’t filter by couples who abstain from premarital sex and who attend church regularly. If you add those two criteria, the number is going to be well above 82% in my opinion. Studies show that premarital chastity and church attendance vastly improve the stability and quality of marriages.

In addition, Vines is trying to argue that 1) the Bible authors were not aware of “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships and 2) their failure to explicitly disqualify these “long-term”, “stable” gay sexual relationships means that the Bible actually condones them. A friend of mine pointed out that this is a textbook case of the argument from silence, where someone asserts that because something is not explicitly condemned, then it must be OK. Carried through to its logical end, that would mean that things like identity theft are OK, because they are not mentioned explicitly. Brown asserted that there was a blanket prohibition on homosexual acts. He is arguing from what we know. Vines says that “long-term”, “faithful” homosexual relationships are not mentioned, and are therefore OK. He is arguing from what we don’t know. And he is trying to reverse the burden of proof so that he doesn’t have to show evidence for his view. Brown wouldn’t take the bait. The fact of the matter is that no one for the last 2000 years of church history have taken Vines’ view. Every single Christian before Vines, who were closer to Jesus’ teachings than Vines, understood the verses that Brown cited to be providing a blanket prohibition on homosexual sex acts. If Vines wants to claim that the Bible condones what he wants it to condone, he has to produce some positive evidence from the text or from church history or church fathers. He has nothing to support his case that could convince anyone that this is what Christians have believed, and ought to believe.

Finally, if you are looking for another debate, I blogged about a debate between Michael Brown and Eric Smaw. There’s a video and summaries of the opening speeches in that post.

Secular leftists demand Christian student senator resign for disagreeing with them

Isabella Chow, surrounded by secular leftist fascists
Isabella Chow, a Christian woman encircled by secular leftist fascists

I had to blog about this story about a tough girl at UC Berkeley who is taking a lot of heat for her Christian beliefs. It would have been easier for her to keep them private. But they forced her to vote, and she had to respect her conscience. Campus Reform posted an article about the facts of the case.

It says:

Isabella Chow is an elected student senator who represents the Associated Students of the University of California party Student Action. But after choosing to abstain from voting on a resolution to oppose the recent Title IX changes proposed by President Donald Trump, Chow’s own party disavowed her.

The proposed Title IX changes lack a legal definition of gender, effectively limiting “gender identity” to one’s physical sex, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The resolution before the Berkeley student government was a statement of opposition to these proposed changes, intended to display solidarity with members of the LGBT community, specifically “transgender, intersex, nonbinary and gender nonconforming students,” as reported by the independent student newspaper the Daily Californian.

That article was from November 9th, but The College Fix had some news in their article posted Monday:

Chow has faced intense backlash over her position, with numerous individuals slamming her on social media (one commenter on Facebook called Chow a “mental imbecile”) as well as in person. The response has been so hostile that Chow has made changes to how she gets around campus. “I don’t feel safe walking alone to class and take precautions not to walk alone at night,” Chow said.

Chow provided The Fix with multiple Internet postings openly accusing her of bigotry and hatred. One, from student senator Teddy Lake, said that Chow’s Christian beliefs “were not beliefs at all— they were hateful prejudices that deserve nothing less than the strongest condemnation.”

Several posts on the website Reddit were filled with angry comments. One commenter accused Chow of “sanctimonious holier-than-thou bullsh*t,” and another said: “She’s a horrible person.”

The editors of The Daily Californian published an editorial calling for Chow’s resignation, accusing her of “publicly dismissing the identities of individuals on campus” and “eras[ing] and dehuman[izing]” numerous Berkeley students.

“Chow used her powerful public platform to negate entire experiences and identities. UC Berkeley students cannot allow and accept leaders like Chow to make decisions on their behalf,” the editors wrote.

The campus’s Queer Alliance Resource Center, meanwhile, produced a statement in opposition to Chow.

“Her ‘love’ is no protection against the current oppression faced by trans, intersex, and non-binary individuals. Instead, her ‘love’ pads her condescending disapproval towards us and reminds us of our history of surviving so-called ‘love.’ Senator Chow’s ‘love’ is not of warmth and compassion but of judgement and disapproval. We cannot sit idly by while Chow sits on moral high ground casting moral judgements,” the statement reads.

The Center also produced a petition calling on Chow to resign.

[…]At a student senate meeting last week, numerous members of the Berkeley community publicly expressed their opinions, almost all of them explicitly critical of Chow.

“I condemn Isabella Chow’s words, not because they’re different from mine, but because they are dangerous, and inherently prejudiced. I encourage Senator Chow to reach a dialogue with queer-affirming Christian communities that LGBT existence is compatible with the love of God,” one student said.

Another attendee said to Chow: “Your Christian morals should not be in our student government or for any government; and if you cannot separate your religion from your job as a senator, please resign.”

Another accused Chow of “speaking words of hate, mashed under the name of love.”

Chow eventually approached The Daily Californian asking if the publication would run either a statement or an op-ed by her. The Daily refused to publish either.

She has sunk a ton of money into her education, and now she is at the mercy of far-left professors and TAs. For her sake, I hope that she is working toward a STEM degree. It will help her to find work going forward. This is definitely going to affect her whole life going forward – a lot of big companies aren’t going to hire someone like her who refuses to go along with the LGBT agenda. I hope she’s prepared for that.

Resiliency

I was watching this video from Prager University on resiliency, and it was talking about several ways that a person can make themselves defensible against unexpected setbacks.

Watch:

I think it’s important for Christians to think carefully about what they will study and where they work. Having a good education and money makes it easier to deal with threats like the ones arrayed against Isabella. It allows you to find work more easily, to move if you have to, etc. It’s important to train your character by studying hard things, doing hard things and finishing what you start. Having a platform to tell your story is important. Having a network of accomplished friends helps, too.

If you marry, then marry someone with courage and strength, who will stand by you, and help you to persist. It’s a serious mistake to marry someone who doesn’t understand Christianity as service, and who doesn’t have any strength to deploy in case of a crisis. If you’re being attacked, you want a stable partner who has strength in practical areas, and informed convictions. Not someone who is drowning in sin, narcissism, student loan debt, peer pressure, drug addiction, reckless thrill-seeking, etc.

Some jobs and cities have a lot of anti-Christian progressives. It’s easier to avoid those if you have a good education, practical skills and a good resume. Often, the influence you have is going to be determined by the decisions you make to make yourself resilient. My ambition has always been to have an influence without allowing the secular left to easily silence me. If they know where I work, and where I live, then they can put pressure on me to recant my views. Conversely, if I am careful about education, career and finance, then I can put pressure on them to back off if they challenge me.

As we saw when fascists broke down the door at Tucker Carlson’s home, we are living in a time of secular leftist facism. And this fascism is defended even by the elites in the mainstream media.

Here’s a concept every Christian should know that people in information security speak about… being a “hard target”:

hard-target is a person who, due to their actions and/or appropriate protective measures, is able to minimize existing risks and thus most likely represents an unattractive target. Originally, these two terms come from the military and relate to protected and unprotected targets.

The Christian life is a lot more strategic than churches teach us. We’re obsessed with compassion, feelings, and not being judged. Instead, we should be focused on having an influence and making ourselves into hard targets for the secular culture. We have a sanitized view of how sin corrupts non-Christians, allowing them to do unspeakable evils to Christians who merely disagree with them. We think that secular leftists will behave like moral people, as if denying God’s existence makes no difference to a person’s ability to be moral. We think that nihilists will respect our basic human rights – human rights that they can’t even rationally ground in their worldview. And we think that God’s job is to protect us and make us feel good no matter how unprepared and reckless we are.

If you want to have an influence, then you need to make every decision wisely, in order to prepare for the day when your cover is blown behind enemy lines. Remember, with respect to God’s purposes in the world, your happiness is expendable.

Matthew Vines and Michael Brown debate homosexuality and the Bible on Moody radio

The audio of the Matthew Vines vs Michael Brown debate is streamed here on the Moody site.

Details:

Can you be gay and Christian? Matthew Vines says you can and he’s created a viral video and best-selling book defending his view. This Saturday on Up for Debate, Vines joins host Julie Roys to debate author and leading evangelical apologist, Dr. Michael Brown. Is gay monogamy an option for Christians? Is it unloving to reject gay marriage? Listen and join the discussion this Saturday at 8 a.m. Central Time on Up for Debate!

Summary key: Julie Roys (JR), Matthew Vines (MV), Michael Brown (MB)

Summary:

Opening speeches:

  • JR: Why should Christians be open to reinterpreting the Bible on homosexuality?
  • MV: Consider the lives and testimonies of gay Christians. Here is my personal story.
  • MV: According to the Bible, a person with same-sex attractions would have to embrace lifelong celibacy. I refuse to do that.
  • MV: There are 6 passages in the Bible that are relevant to the goodness of homosexuality. All are negative.
  • MV: None of these passages address gay relationships that are “long-term” and “faithful” that are based on “commitment” and “love”.
  • JR: You say that it is “damaging” for Christians to disagree with you views, is that true?
  • MV: Yes. One of my friends declared his homosexuality and he did not feel safe to come home. He felt pain because Christians disagreed with him.
  • MV: You cannot ask a person with same-sex attractions to be celibate, it causes too much harm to ask gays to abstain from sexual relationships.
  • JR: Respond to Matthew.
  • MB: The Bible only permits heterosexual sexuality and in every case condemns homosexual acts.
  • MB: Matthew is taking his sexual preferences and activities as given, and reinterpreting the Bible to fit it.
  • MB: Genesis talks about women being made to help men, and to fulfill God’s commandment to procreate and fill the Earth.
  • MB: The Bible speaks about the complementarity of the sexes when talking about how two become one in marriage.
  • MB: I am very sensitive to the stories of people who are gay who experience discrimination as “gay Christians”.
  • MB: You can feel sad for people who have two conflicting commitments, but that doesn’t mean we should redefine what the Bible says.
  • JR: Stop talking, we have a break.

JR takes a caller for the next topic:

  • Caller 1: I had same-sex attractions and I was able to change my sexuality.
  • JR: Matthew, respond to that.
  • MV: Alan Chambers of Exodus International says that 99.9% of people he worked with had not changed their gay orientation.
  • MV: Lifelong celibacy is not acceptable to gays, so the Bible must be reinterpreted to suit gays.
  • MB: Matthew thinks that God himself did not understand the concept of sexual orientation and inadvertently hurt gays because of his lack of knowledge.
  • MB: There is a solution in the Bible for people who cannot be celibate, and that solution is heterosexual marriage
  • MB: If a person is only attracted to pre-teen girls, do we then have to re-write the Bible to affirm that so they won’t be “harmed”?
  • MB: Alan Chambers was speaking for his own group, and his statement does not account for the fact that thousands of people DO change.
  • JR: What about the Jones/Yarhouse study that found that 38% of reparative therapy subjects were successful in changing or chastity?
  • MV: (no response to the question)
  • MV: (to Brown) do you accept that the Bible forces gays to live out lifelong celibacy

Another break, then Brown replies:

  • MB: Yes. But change is possible.
  • MV: Do you know of any Christian who acknowledged that this was the consequence of the Bible’s teaching for gays?
  • MB: Paul’s explanation that the options for ALL Christians are 1) celibacy or 2) heterosexual marriage. For 2000 years.
  • MV: Paul (in Romans 1) is talking about people who are not “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships.
  • MV: Paul was not aware of “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships at the time he wrote his prohibitions in Romans 1.
  • JR: How do you know that fixed sexual orientation is true? And that the Biblical authors would written different things if they knew?
  • JR: Are there any references in the first century to “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships?
  • MB: Yes, in my book I quote prominent historian N. T. Wright who documents that those relationships were known.
  • MB: Matthew’s view requires that God did not know about sexual orientation when ordaining the Bible’s content.
  • MB: Leviticus 18 is for all people, for all time. This was not just for the Jews, this was for everyone.
  • MV: I am not saying that Paul was wrong because he was ignorant.
  • MV: Paul was writing in a context where “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships were unknown.
  • MV: NT Wright does not cite first century texts, he cites a problematic 4th century text.
  • MV: Absence of 1st-century references to “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships means that God did not intend to prohibit them.
  • MB: Whenever the Bible speaks about homosexuality, it is opposed to it – Old Testament and New Testament.

Another break, then the conclusion:

  • JR: Respond to the Leviticus prohibition, which prohibits homosexuality for everyone, for all time.
  • MV: It is a universal prohibition on male same-sex intercourse, but it does not apply to Christians.
  • MV: For example, Leviticus prohibits sex during a woman’s menstrual period. And Christians are not bound by that.
  • MV: What is the reason for this prohibition of male-male sex in Leviticus? It’s not affirm the complementarity of the sexual act.
  • MV: The Bible prohibits male-male sex because it is written for a patriarchal culture.
  • MV: In a patriarchal culture, women are viewed as inferior. That’s why the Bible prohibits a man from taking the woman’s role in sex.
  • MB: The prohibition in Leviticus is a universal prohibition against male-male sex, applicable in all times and places.
  • MB: Homosexual sex is a violation of the divine order.
  • MB: We can see already the consequences of normalizing this: gay marriage, and supports for polygamy and polyamory.
  • MV: So the earliest reference there is to a “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationship is a 4th century text.
  • MV: But that gay relationship is not like modern gay relationships.

I have a few comments about Vines’ points below.

My comments:

Even heterosexuals who have not married are called upon to embrace lifelong celibacy. I am in my early 40s and am a virgin because I have not married. I wouldn’t seek to reinrepret the Bible to allow premarital sex just because what I am doing is difficult. I would rather just do what the Bible says than reinterpret it to suit me. And it’s just as hard for me to be chaste as it would be for him to be. In short, it’s a character issue. He takes his right to recreational sex as non-negotiable, and reinterprets the Bible to suit. I take the Bible as non-negotiable, and comply with it regardless of whether it seems to make me less happy. With respect to the purposes of God for me in this world, my happiness is expendable. If I don’t find someone to marry, I’m going to be “afflicted” with the lifelong celibacy that Vines seems to think is torture, but let me tell you – God is happy with the contributions I am making for him, and if I have to be chaste through my whole life, I am 100% fine with that. I serve the King. And not the reverse.

Notice that he talks about “long-term” but not permanent relationships, and “faithful” but not exclusive. This is important because the statistics show that gay relationships (depending on whether it is female-female or male-male) are prone to instability and/or infidelity. I just blogged on that recently, with reference to the published research on the subject. Vines is talking about a situation that does not obtain in the real world – according to the data. Gay relationships do not normally value permanence and exclusivity in the way that opposite-sex marriage relationships do, especially where the couple regularly attends church. The divorce rate and infidelity rate for religious couples is far below the rates for gay couples, depending on the sexes involved. Vines is committed to the idea that marriage is about feelings, e.g. – “love”, but that’s not the public purpose of marriage. Marriage is not about love, it’s about complementarity of the sexes and providing for the needs of children. We have published studies like this one showing that there are negative impacts to children who are raised by gay couples, which dovetails with studies showing that children need a mother and that children need a father. We should not normalize any relationship that exposes children to harm. We should prefer to inconvenience adults than to harm children.

Matthew Vines made an argument that Christians have to stop saying that homosexuality is wrong, because it makes gay people feel excluded. I wrote previously about the argument that gay activists use where they say “if you don’t agree with me and celebrate me and affirm me, then I’ll commit suicide”. In that post, I quoted a prominent gay activist who made exactly that argument. I don’t find the threats to self-destruction to be a convincing argument for the truth of the view that gay marriage being the same as heterosexual marriage. In fact, this is confirmed by a recent study which showed that features of gay relationships themselves, and not social disapproval, is to blame for high rates of suicide in the gay community.

Vines seems to want to argue that the context in which the Bible authors were writing did not allow them to address the problem of gays in “long-term”, “faithful” relationships. Well, we have already seen that statistically speaking, those relationships are in the minority. One British study mentioned in the post I linked to above found that only 25% of gay couples were intact after 8 years. The number is 82% for heterosexual marriages, and that doesn’t filter by couples who abstain from premarital sex and who attend church regularly. If you add those two criteria, the number is going to be well above 82% in my opinion. Studies show that premarital chastity and church attendance vastly improve the stability and quality of marriages.

In addition, Vines is trying to argue that 1) the Bible authors were not aware of “long-term”, “faithful” gay relationships and 2) their failure to explicitly disqualify these “long-term”, “stable” gay sexual relationships means that the Bible actually condones them. A friend of mine pointed out that this is a textbook case of the argument from silence, where someone asserts that because something is not explicitly condemned, then it must be OK. Carried through to its logical end, that would mean that things like identity theft are OK, because they are not mentioned explicitly. Brown asserted that there was a blanket prohibition on homosexual acts. He is arguing from what we know. Vines says that “long-term”, “faithful” homosexual relationships are not mentioned, and are therefore OK. He is arguing from what we don’t know. And he is trying to reverse the burden of proof so that he doesn’t have to show evidence for his view. Brown wouldn’t take the bait. The fact of the matter is that no one for the last 2000 years of church history have taken Vines’ view. Every single Christian before Vines, who were closer to Jesus’ teachings than Vines, understood the verses that Brown cited to be providing a blanket prohibition on homosexual sex acts. If Vines wants to claim that the Bible condones what he wants it to condone, he has to produce some positive evidence from the text or from church history or church fathers. He has nothing to support his case that could convince anyone that this is what Christians have believed, and ought to believe.

Finally, if you are looking for another debate, I blogged about a debate between Michael Brown and Eric Smaw. There’s a video and summaries of the opening speeches in that post.