“i need a good argument on being against gay marriage” was a search term that led someone to my blog. It must have led him (her?) to one of two of my blog posts in which I present those arguments they’re searching for and then refute them, exposing them for the thinly-veiled bigotry that they are.
When someone types in the phrase “arguments against gay marriage,” I imagine that searcher must be too dumb to think of a logical reason for their prejudice and they’re hoping someone else has come up with a nice sounding rationalization so they can pretend to base their arguments on intelligence.
Still, it’s a rare gem when I see a search term so blatantly admitting that the searcher doesn’t actually have a good argument for their view, they’re just holding to it.
And this is what bothers me so much about the apparently thousands of people lining up for tasteless chicken sandwiches at Chick-Fil-A in order to show support for “Traditional Marriage.” Most of these people believe they are nobly standing up for their faith, but really they’re just blindly condoning prejudice. And no, I don’t mean Chick-Fil-A’s prejudice, I mean their own.
In my original post on the topic, I concluded that there was no good logical argument against legalizing Same Sex Marriage, and thus one could only claim faith-based reasoning (an oxymoron if there ever was one) or just admit that they didn’t like homosexuals. Pure and simple prejudice. I ended up writing an Addendum piece because I had been confronted with an interesting counterargument that claimed to be based on facts, not faith. I’m not going to accurately convey the argument here, nor will I be able to sufficiently sum up my rebuttal (read the original post), but needless to say I was not convinced. There is no evidence that Same Sex Marriage in any way hurts society, despite the dire warnings of the prejudiced.
I know plenty of decent, Christian people who oppose Same Sex Marriage as a matter of faith, and I’ve always tried to remain open-minded and believe that, yes, you can oppose this form of equality and not be homophobic or prejudiced. It’s the whole, “Love the Sinner, not the sin,” thing. And while I’ve never really found that aphorism very compelling, I’ve tried to give the benefit of the doubt (because, when I was a Christian, I surely threw that phrase around some).
But I’ve been having this niggling doubt in the back of my head, a kind of cognitive dissonance that always makes me instinctively twitch when people make claims reconciling the obstruction of rights with ‘Christian love.’
Let’s put aside the question of whether America, a secular nation, should base laws on faith. Whether we should or not (not), as long as we have this many Christians in the country, it’s going to happen, at least in part.
I only want to focus on the justifications that each individual Christian must go through to stand against Same Sex Marriage. I’m ignoring the obvious, hate-filled pussbags like Fred Phelps; this is for the Christians who I believe are generally good, loving people. Help me understand my confusion.
The Bible on Homosexuality
Let’s say you’re an intelligent, educated Christian. Most of my friends would fall into this category to some degree or another. As such, you’ve read the Bible (hopefully) and you’ve found that homosexual acts are condemned in various Bible verses in the New Testament, so despite Christ bringing the “New Covenant,” the Old Testament prohibition against it still stands (even though most of the other Old Testament prohibitions don’t).
The reason an intelligent Christian doesn’t pay much heed to Old Testament prohibitions on homosexuality is because if they do they have to explain why they don’t follow the other rules in there, and many of those rules are bizarre if not flat out impossible to maintain in this modern society (there are a lot of acts punishable by death).
The New Testament verses that explicitly mention homosexuality (homosexual acts) are few:
Romans 1:27 – In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
1 Timothy 1:9-11 – We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
I’m open to correction, but I do believe those are the only New Testament verses that use the term homosexual or explicitly describe a same-sex act. Other verses that are sometimes lumped into this discussion talk about sexual immorality or depravity, which can be any number of sexual acts (especially considering the Old Testament’s obsession with the subject).
In these passages that mention homosexuality, the author always discusses other sins, too. Liars and perjurers, drunks and slanderers, the greedy and swindlers (there goes Wall Street), and in the fuller passage of the Romans verse above (1 Romans:22-31), gossips, those disobedient of their parents, arrogant people and slanderers (again; must be especially hated by God) are all mentioned in the same breath as homosexuals.
Where are the chicken chains coming out against gossips? I’ve never met a Christian who didn’t enjoy a juicy piece of gossip (because I’ve never met any person who didn’t). And slanderers? In two separate passages, it is placed on par with homosexuality. In fact, bearing false witness against your neighbor (slander) is prohibited in the Ten Commandments. Homosexuality doesn’t justify a mention there.
On a base, human level, I’m bothered by any Christian who spends time pointing out the splinter in the eyes of homosexuals while ignoring the logs of gossip, slander, greed, thievery and other repugnant acts in their own. Take care of your own house, Church, before you come into someone else’s and start rearranging the furniture. I spent years in the church and I can assure you, every single one of those prohibited acts occurs among God’s People (even murder; what is a child’s suicide because of intolerance and mockery if not murder?).
If you went to Chick-Fil-A to show support for ‘Traditional Marriage,’ shame on you. I don’t care if someone eats there. I don’t care if you’re indifferent to the whole subject and you just want your bland fried fa(s)t food to stuff into your lard-excreting gut. But if you went on Wednesday to show appreciation for a chain because of their stance on one (and only one) type of sin, you are deplorable.
Now, most of my Christian friends probably didn’t go (though I know at least a couple did, or tried). Most of my Christian friends who believe homosexuality is a sin and homosexuals should not get married aren’t interested in the petty social battle. They will not vote to allow Same Sex Marriage and they will stand up for their beliefs, but they don’t feel the need to join a herd of sheep for crap food.
Good for you, if you’re one of those. But here is where the conversation turns on you.
As a God-fearing, engaged Christian, you obviously care about studying your Bible. Not just the words in your modern translation, but the words that were actually written. After all, you know that Paul and the others weren’t writing in English.
It would be naive for you to believe that any language can be translated word for word into another. Language translation is never a ‘1 for 1’ proposition. Interpreters take context and concepts and craft a translation that as faithfully as possible represents the meaning the original author intended.
Any person who tries to take a theological stand based on the English translation of the Bible is standing on sand instead of the firm rock.
So, you, the smart, intelligent, well-read and pure of heart Christian know that to understand, Biblically, a contentious issue such as homosexuality, one cannot settle for the shallow English reading of the Bible but must delve into the deep, original texts. Now, I’m not saying one must be able to read Greek and Hebrew to be a true Christian. There are scholars in those languages that can offer you their insights.
So, on the issue of homosexuality, what do those scholars say?
Well, for one, it’s well-established that the term ‘homosexual’ has no exact corollary in Greek or Hebrew. The term ‘Homosexual’ is a compound word taken from Greek and Latin roots, firmly English while being neither Greek nor Latin.
So, any English version of the Bible that uses the term is already committing the sin of shoveling modern bias on ancient texts. Why use the term when it couldn’t possibly have been the author’s exact intent? If you faithfully want to represent the Word of God (and not just your own personal prejudice), shouldn’t you seek the most accurate translation, not the For Dummies version?
The Original Greek: Malokai and Arsenokaites
So, what is the word used in Paul’s original text? Well, there are two, the first being ‘Malokai’ which means ‘soft’ or, essentially, effeminate. The other, more pertinent word is ‘Arsenokoitēs’ (literally male-bedder or male-situater). It’s a word Paul apparently made up, so it doesn’t have an accurate translation. This makes it difficult to know what Paul’s meaning was, precisely.
More importantly, it’s worth noting that the Greeks did have a word for a man who sleeps with another male, it was ‘Paiderasste’. Let’s be clear, this word means sex between a man and a boy. It is not meant to indicate homosexual in the broad way we mean the term. So, does that mean arsenokoitēs was Paul’s attempt to coin a broader term such as homosexual?
I wouldn’t deny that it’s a possibility, but we also have to consider the cultural context. Our idea of a homosexual, a man or woman who exclusively has sex with someone of their own sex, is new. Bisexuality was not uncommon among the Romans and the dichotomy of lesbians and gay males did not exist. Considering that we can’t possibly know Paul’s exact meaning (not helped by him being the Stephen Colbert of his time and coining phrases left and right), this whole issue tends to just go in circles.
In fact, the whole conversation is an unending, raging debate, something that tends to happen when arguing the meaning of 2,000-year-old texts in which we don’t even have third or fourth generation copies, let alone originals. Depending on your personal persuasion (you might even say, orientation) you are going to take one side (Paul meant ‘homosexual’ as we know it) or the other (Paul’s meaning is unclear but it seems unlikely he meant ‘homosexual’ in the English sense).
So, here is where I come at you, my intelligent Christian friend. Why have you chosen your side? Why are you siding with those who argue that homosexuality is a sin, thus requiring you to take a stand against Same Sex Marriage and the happiness of millions of people?
There are intelligent, educated people on both sides of the debate. Maybe you don’t find the argument of the ‘Paul didn’t mean homosexual’ camp particularly compelling. Ask yourself, why? Are you actually taking a stand in this matter because of reasoned, learned interpretations of the Bible, or are you taking the stance that feels most comfortable, perhaps because you were already biased to find homosexuality abhorrent?
How do you know that your principled stance in the face of social pressure is really all that principled? Principles have to be based on something, or they aren’t really principles at all. You are standing up for a Biblical principle, but whose translation of the Bible? Why have you sided with the people who hate homosexuals if you, as you claim, don’t hate homosexuals? Look into yourself and ask why you would want to take any stand at all on something that doesn’t affect you and doesn’t cause any proven economic, social or political detriment.
If you’re a Christian, and you believe God wants you to vote against Same Sex Marriage, explain why. Not to me, to yourself.
Are you really so sure you aren’t the same as the guy who typed in “i need a good argument on being against gay marriage?” Are you biased because of your justifications, or are you justifying your biases?
Don’t stand for hate. Don’t stand for Bible verses that can’t be interpreted with any certainty. Stand for love. Stand for unified families. Stand for the Bible verses that offer no confusion: Love they neighbor.
And if you’re standing up for Chick-Fil-A, maybe take a few laps around the track while you’re at it.
I’m not pulling my information out of thin air. Some of my references:
Meanings of the Greek word “arsenokoitai”
“Malakoi and Arsenokaitai” from Dirt, Greed, & Sex: Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and Their Implications for Today by L. William Countryman
Boswell & Lexicons: Email exchange
Interpretation by Religious Liberals
The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality
Original Greek translation of 1 Timothy