In the light of the decision of the US Supreme Court, a decision that has legal holes running through it like Swiss cheese (not least that two of the judges who gave ruling should not have been involved due to pre-judgement statements) Evangelical pastor Kevin DeYoung has posted 40 Questions for pro-gay marriage advocates. These questions are:
1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?
2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?
3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?
4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?
5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?
6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?
7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?
8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?
9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?
10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?
11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?
12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?
13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?
14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?
15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?
16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?
17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?
18. How would you define marriage?
19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?
20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?
21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?
22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?
23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?
24. If not, why not?
25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?
26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?
27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?
28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?
29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?
30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?
31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?
32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?
33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?
34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?
35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?
36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?
37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?
38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?
39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?
40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?
Doing an internet search I can find no proper answers to these questions. Instead, Matthew Vines - who claims to be an "evangelical" but advocates gay marriage - has responded by posing his own 40 questions. The best response to these that I have found is here from Dr Michael Brown http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/50477-dr-michael-brown-has-40-answers-and-2-questions-for-gay-christian-matthew-vines so I will not waste time by answering them. Instead I wish to point out failures in Vines' understanding of theology, psychology and history.
Firstly Vines continuously refers through out his questions to gay Christians. If you read Vines's website and book it is clear that this refers to people who identify themselves as gay first and Christian second. The centre of their identity is their homosexuality. As Paul wrote to the Phillipians this worldview is wrong - the centre of our identity is not our sexuality, it is not our denomination, it is not our ethnicity, it is Christ! Vines and those like him, including groups like Changing Attitudes, Accepting Evangelicals, the Marin Project, Gay Christian Network and Thinking Anglicans, and even more "orthodox" writers like Wes Hill, fail to witness Biblical truth by allowing their identity to revolve around their sexual identity.
Secondly Vines suggests gay marriage is OK, without giving any verses to support this. He asks the question "What do you think the result would be if we told all straight teenagers in the church that if they ever dated someone they liked, held someone's hand, kissed someone, or got married, they would be rebelling against God?" The problem is, as Vines has shown by his silence on Bible verses on gay marriage, this is a false question. The Bible is clear that marriage is between male and female. Churches provide pre-marriage courses and counselling to help those who are engaged or who want to enter heterosexual marriage to do so. Part of this is making sure that the person they are married to is the right person. So Vines is being dishonest by asking this question. There are no theological grounds to tell teenagers wanting to enter into heterosexual marriage not to do so, quite unlike homosexuality where there is no Biblical grounds for gay marriage.
In his questions Vines asks whether people are aware of the higher attempted suicide rate amongst teens not supported by their parents when they come out. But he ignores the fact that those who identify as homosexual are four times as likely to suffer from mental health conditions than heterosexuals while those who are in gay marriages are around 8 times as likely to have mental health problems than heterosexuals. Vines does not differentiate between those who "come out" whose parents accept them and help them accept and embrace their sexuality, those whose parents accept their decision but do not accept their lifestyle choosing instead to walk with them through the following years thereby keeping the door open for change of heart and possibly sexual orientation, and those whose parents are truly homophobic. As such Vines fails to be honest about the situation, trying to use statistics to shame his opponents.
On the shaming of opponents tack Vines then, in a number of questions, attempts to liken homosexual rights to the battle against slavery. It is not a coincidence that while Vines was posting his questions South Carolina was debating the removal of the Confederate flag with all its reminders of the slave trade. But this is a false association. There is no evidence that people are born gay, as the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the World Health Organisation, and the American Psychological Association, have all recognised. Also we see a major difference between slavery and homosexuality in the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation homosexual behaviour is seen as sin, sin so great it can exclude people from heaven, sin so great it does against God's created order - from before the Fall sex was only to be between male and female. With slavery we see an evolution in human rights, just as we do with the rights of females even ending up with female Apostles such as Junia. In the books of the Law (Exodus to Deuteronomy) we see restrictions put on how slaves can be punished, how people can be enslaved with the release of slaves at set times unless they become bond servants. We see that slaves and servants can also inherit the estates of their masters. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul writes to Philemon concerning liberation from slavery as an ultimate goal. The slavery of recent US and European history was often based on the misrepresentation of one verse from the story of Noah where the descendents of Ham were cursed, that because of this curse those tribes that come from Ham were somehow less worthy than those that come from Shem and Japheth. This was compounded by the theory of evolution that saw white males, and more specifically white upper class males, as more evolved than Africans. (This is the root of the IQ test that was developed by Galton to prove that working class men and women were not "evolved" enough to have the vote, and is the root of the cartoon leprechaun which appeared in anti-Irish Home Rule posters and is based on the ape suggesting that the Irish were not evolved enough to rule themselves.) As part of this we must also mention the issue of bestiality which Vines challenges people over what is worse, homosexuality or bestiality. Again this is a false question, though we are now seeing efforts to legalise bestiality - or zoophilia as practitioners call it - in the US and elsewhere. Bestiality is sin, is condemned, as it goes against God's created order as man was made for sexual relationships with females. The creation story tells us that God had all the animals pass before Adam who named them but that there was no mate there for Adam. This is the context of the phrase "it is not good for man to be alone". The same story tells us that God created a mate by making Eve, so that man and woman would become "one flesh". What Vines and others who promote homosexual marriage do not realise, or do not want to realise, is that by rejecting the Biblical mandate of sexual relationship between male and female as shown in the Creation story they are also rejecting the Biblical mandate of the creation story of animals not being suitable partners for humans. Why? Because we are stating that God was wrong in seeing only opposite human sexes as suitable partners for the other.
We must now look at the failure of Vines concerning the history of homosexuality. While homosexuality and lesbianism are modern, Victorian, ideas and terms the idea of same-sex love is not. In his Symposium Plato (written 385-370BC) quotes Aristophanies who sees male-male love as the most noble form of love - especially when it ends in sexual union and the relationship lasting over life. (Plato also speaks against homosexual relationships in other works). Paul, who was able to quote Greek scholars and uses philosophy in his theology, would have been aware of this work and philosophical idea yet still wrote the condemnation of homosexual and lesbian practice in Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, and to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:10). There is also the Pseudo-Lucian "Affairs of the Heart" where the Athenian Callicratidas argues for homosexual love as "ordained by divine laws" (that is from Greek gods such as Zeus and Apollo who both had male lovers). Lucian wrote after Paul, between AD 125-180. Against these writings the Church actually stood against homosexual relationships. Ptolemy of Alexandria (2nd century AD) wrote about women born under a certain star sign who - contrary to nature - engaged in sexual relationships with women (Tetrabiblos 3) and the Church Father Clement of Alexandria wrote at around the same time about women who married women and how this was contrary to nature (Paidogogos). Ptolemy's view is interesting as he argues a "nature" argument - that some women are "lesbian" because of their star sign. While the most common form of homosexual behaviour in Greek culture was the paedestry relationship, though this was only amongst males not females, the early Church was aware of the "born gay" and loving gay arguments and opposed them. (This though does not contradict the concept of homosexuality and lesbianism being modern philosophical concepts as the terms did not exist before the Victorian era, and also the arguments of Aristophanies and Callicradites are more religious based than the scientific arguments used today being more inline with the theology of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and other pro-gay bodies than the "science" of Kinsey, the APA and others as their philosophy and the science that came with it were born out of religion rather than from a rejecting of religion.)
Finally we must look at the issue of change and celibacy. The Bible is clear that sexual relationship are between a man and woman within marriage - anything else is sin. As such those who identify as homosexuals are in the same situation as heterosexuals who are not married - they are expected to be celibate. To do anything else is to sin. Change though is not easy, but contrary to Vines and other anti-change voices, it is no harder than dealing with an eating disorder, loosing weight or dealing with a serious addiction. Neither is attempting to change any more harmful than dealing with these issues and it is falsehood to claim otherwise. The problem is, to quote the Pentecostal minister F S Boswell, people are missing the healings that occur because they are looking for miracles. People expect massive change rather than a journey to wholeness.
I agree though with Vines that to speak of celibacy as the only option, as some groups within the ex-gay movement do, is dangerous. I recently received an email from a friend from one such group announcing his engagement to a male. When I contacted him to ask why he told me that he had lost hope through being told all he could do was be celibate. God calls us not to be celibate but to holiness, whatever our struggles. He also calls us to wholeness, and change will often happen to a greater or lesser extent (but people need to learn to walk in the testimony of their healing). Celebrating brokenness through gay marriage does not pursue either holiness or wholeness. This is the message of the ex-gay movement, through groups like Restored Hope Network and Hope for Wholeness as well as Exodus Global Alliance and Live In Christ, and the failure of the gay Christian movement in all its hues.
That is the choice to pursue holiness and wholeness or celebrate brokenness. Vines has chosen to do the later. I hope those who read this will join me in doing the former.
(Edited to correct typos and to remove link to video where Vines was quoted but did not participate).