Sunday, 27 April 2014

The intolerance of a tolerant society

I am blessed with some great friends.  In particular I am blessed with the friendships I share with other parents at my children's school.  I love the fact that they have shown such openness to a Baptist pastor.

One of the topics we have discussed is the whole issue of gay marriage.  I have pointed out that I believe that the Bible teaches that sex is for marriage and that marriage is for a man and woman.  Surprisingly they haven't burnt me at the stake for saying this.  Some of them may strongly disagree with me, but I hope they realise that my beliefs are not the result of some personal prejudice.  In fact one of these friends, whose position on gay marriage I don't know, pointed to the intolerance of our culture towards those who don't support 'marriage equality.'

While I believe in the separation of church and state, I don't believe that this means that Christian moral teaching has no place in public debate.  But I will have to post on this another time.  The thoughts I have here are for those who claim that Jesus is Lorcof their lives.

1.  The debate doesn't centre around a few ambiguous texts in Leviticus.  The debate begins with the Bible's teaching on the creation of humankind and the complimentarity of the sexes in Genesis 1-2.

2.  It is not really true to say that Jesus said nothing about gay sex.  When Jesus talked about sexual immorality he was speaking to a people who would have been clear that this included sex between people of the same gender.

3.  Before thinking that it is clever to point out that Leviticus also prohibited eating prawns read some Biblical theology.  The key to understanding Leviticus's relevance for today is in understanding how Jesus 'fulfils' the Old Testament laws in various and differing ways (see Matthew 5:17-18).

4.  I don't think Christians can simply claim that this is not a gospel issue.  The apostle Paul states that a lifestyle involving homosexual sex is incompatible with being in Christ's kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

5.  Intolerance is not simply the preserve of those who oppose gay marriage.  Some of the things that friends of mine have posted on Facebook, in favour of gay marriage, are grossly unfair towards those who do not agree with them.

6.  Courage is not the preserve of either side in the Christian community.  It undoubtedly takes courage for a church leader who believes in gay marriage to publicly say so, and thereby receive the scorn of other people in the Christian community.  But it also takes courage for those who hold to the traditional understanding of what the Bible teaches on this issue to speak about their convictions, and receive scorn from people both within the church and in general society.

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