same-sex marriage

The Specter of 'Normalization'

Image via Rene Bach / Flickr / RNS

In the fight over gay rights, conservative Christians have a new enemy. No, it isn’t a politician or activist or organization. It isn’t a noun at all, but rather a verb: normalize.

In Albert Mohler’s forthcoming book, “We Cannot Be Silent : Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, & the Very Meaning of Right & Wrong,” the president of the flagship Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., discusses the normalization of same-sex relationships a whopping 39 times.

“The normalization of homosexual relationships and the legalization of same-sex marriage” is, in Mohler’s words, “the debate of greatest intensity of our time.”

God’s Authority: Same-Sex Marriage and a Kentucky County Clerk

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A Kentucky clerk claimed “God’s authority” this week when she refused to issue a marriage license to same-sex couples. As I read her story, I was reminded of Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, who had a vision about God’s authority.

This story is told in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 10. The story about God’s authority comes down to this verse:

"God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean."

This verse was an absolute game changer for Peter and the early church. And it should be a game changer for us today.

Supreme Court Says Kentucky Clerk Can't Deny Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Image via Mike Wynn / The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal / RNS

The Supreme Court refused Aug. 31 to let a Kentucky county clerk deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of what she said were her religious beliefs.

The ruling, made without comment or any apparent dissents, is an early indication that while some pushback against gay marriage on religious grounds may be upheld, the justices won’t tolerate it from public officials.

Casting Ourselves Before Stones

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As an undergraduate student at a Christian university, I realize that my degree of experience within American social trends is limited to the last two decades. However, my age does not disqualify my faith as a Christian, nor should my faith as a Christian disqualify my faculty of reasoning.

I cannot speak as one who knows the mind of God, but as a Christian I have been called to have the mind of Christ. And through careful inspection of the texts left for us, it is possible to discern what a Christ-like mind is — what a Christian mind is supposed to be. 

Black Clergy Walk a Fine Line Between Religious Liberty, Discrimination

Will Sterling of Sterling Photography / RNS

The Rev. Jerry Young, 18th president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. Photo via Will Sterling of Sterling Photography / RNS

Since the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is constitutional, the Rev. Jerry Young has been in a quandary.

As the president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, a predominantly black denomination, he is grappling with a new reality: how to respond to the specter of discrimination against gays. While he doesn’t support gay marriage, the refusal of some religious bakers and florists to provide services to gays prompts memories of racially segregated hotels and restaurants.

“On the one hand, you have to be sensitive to the fact that you do not want people to be victims of discrimination — that’s just an absolute fact — you just do not want that to happen,” said Young, who grew up in Mississippi in the civil rights era and is developing a position paper to guide NBCUSA congregations on these issues.

“And on the other hand, there is this tension between what, as Christians, we believe God has called us to do, and what it appears to be, in some sense, what the culture seems to be doing.”

In Defense of Marriage

Image via  isak55/Shutterstock

Image via  /Shutterstock

A few weeks ago, the single person’s lament was eloquently stated in The New York Times opinion pages, with a piece called "The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts’ Club" by Michael Cobb. Cobb articulated some of the pause that many of us singles have felt as the conversation has gone on about marriage, in particular how Justice Kennedy captured the spirit of the age by extolling the matrimony as the highest institution in the land.

I don’t disagree about the importance of marriage, but I have a lot of concern about how it has been talked about and in many ways idolized in this country. Much of the church has led the way on this idolatry — on the policy end, claiming the need to defend marriage; on the spiritual side, treating marriage as a pseudo-salvation, as though being married means that in some way you’ve "arrived" spiritually.

A few weeks ago, the single person’s lament was eloquently stated in The New York Times opinion pages, with a piece called "The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts’ Club" by Michael Cobb. Cobb articulated some of the pause that many of us singles have felt as the conversation has gone on about marriage, in particular how Justice Kennedy captured the spirit of the age by extolling the matrimony as the highest institution in the land.

I don’t disagree about the importance of marriage, but I have a lot of concern about how it has been talked about and in many ways idolized in this country. Much of the church has led the way on this idolatry — on the policy end, claiming the need to defend marriage; on the spiritual side, treating marriage as a pseudo-salvation, as though being married means that in some way you’ve "arrived" spiritually.

A few weeks ago, the single person’s lament was eloquently stated in The New York Times opinion pages, with a piece called "The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts’ Club" by Michael Cobb. Cobb articulated some of the pause that many of us singles have felt as the conversation has gone on about marriage, in particular how Justice Kennedy captured the spirit of the age by extolling the matrimony as the highest institution in the land.

I don’t disagree about the importance of marriage, but I have a lot of concern about how it has been talked about and in many ways idolized in this country. Much of the church has led the way on this idolatry — on the policy end, claiming the need to defend marriage; on the spiritual side, treating marriage as a pseudo-salvation, as though being married means that in some way you’ve "arrived" spiritually.

I’m Ready to Say Yes

Image via nito/Shutterstock

Image via /Shutterstock

The year is 2005. We are sitting down to dinner with our friend, Michael, in his apartment. Michael is gay and he’s wrestling with what that means. He is also searching for a church and he is drawn to oursbecause his theology and his understanding of God appear to align well with it. At some point in the meal he stops the conversation and asks bluntly,

"Do you think I would be welcome at your church? Is there is a place for someone like me?"

Jason and I exchange a look and the table falls silent. Finally I look up at Michael and say quietly,

“No. No, I don’t think there is. I’m so sorry.”

Fast forward several years. We’re in a new city and a new church. Jason gets an email from someone interested in checking out said church the following Sunday. She explains that she is gay and believes God made her that way. She’s not interested in debating the point. She’s just interested in finding a church. She thinks ours might be a good fit and asks the exact same question that Michael asked:

"Do you think I would be welcome at your church? Is there is a place for someone like me?"

Jason agonized over that email for days and it pained him immensely to write her back and say no. No, I don’t think there is. I’m so sorry.

How I Went From Texas Baptist to LGBTQ Advocate

Image via Kichigin/Shutterstock

Image via /Shutterstock

“I believe Jesus would. I don’t have any verse in scripture. … I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that’s just my own personal belief. I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else…” —Jimmy Carter, from his interview with Huffington Post Live

I grew up in Texas as a churchgoing Baptist. I memorized Bible verses as part of my “sword drills,” went to church camp, took part in the clown ministry and even helped in the nursery.

Then I was kicked out at age seventeen for asking too many questions. My youth minister actually threw a Bible at my head and, in a less than nuanced way, invited me to move on, lest I contaminate the minds and hearts of my friends with my doubt.

Some of my questions had to do with their biblical interpretation, which was literal — and their assertion that the texts we were memorizing were the perfect, infallible Word of God, straight from the mind of the Divine to the paper on which it was written.

I had questions.

Why Civil Disobedience Is Irrelevant to Gay Marriage

sergign / Shutterstock

Photo via sergign / Shutterstock.com

Despite threats from some conservative Christian dissenters, civil disobedience may turn out to be an irrelevant response to gay marriage.

To understand why, we have to think seriously about what civil disobedience really is.

Here’s a good definition: If a government mandates what religious people believe God forbids, or forbids what religious people believe God mandates, civil disobedience may be required.

In the first case civil disobedience involves the refusal to do what government commands, and in the second case it involves the continued practice of an act that government has banned.

Could this apply to the new legalization of gay marriage nationwide?

Jimmy Carter: Jesus Would Approve of Gay Marriage

Adelle M. Banks / RNS

Former President Jimmy Carter. Photo via Adelle M. Banks / RNS

Former President Jimmy Carter said in an interview that he thinks Jesus would approve of gay marriage.

“I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else,” Carter said in a HuffPost Live interview with Marc Lamont Hill published July 7.

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