My Game-Changers Regarding Same-Sex Marriage

In the pietistic Lutheran Church in which I was nurtured as a young Christian, we never talked about homosexuality or same-sex marriage. The traditional view that marriage God intends for marriage to be reserved for a man and woman was just assumed. It was like the air we breathed.

I now embrace a non-traditional view of same-sex marriage; believing that God will bless a same-sex marriage wherein each marriage partner has made a covenant commitment to love the other person for a lifetime. What precipitated this change in belief? I attribute it to two “game-changers.”

The first game-changer is the strong empirical evidence that one’s sexual orientation is not “chosen”; rather it is a “biological given.”

This empirical evidence calls into question the belief of traditionalists that sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is “natural,” while such sexual intimacy between same-sex partners is “unnatural.” Try putting yourself in the shoes of a man (or women) who is sexually attracted to another man (or woman). For that person, it is sexual intercourse between same-sex partners that is “natural.”

Of course, it is important to make a distinction here between sexual orientation and sexual practice. Whatever one’s biologically given sexual orientation, one can choose sexually intimate behavior that is destructive (I will consider the possibility of “”exploitative” choices later). But a  covenant marriage commitment to love a same-sex partner for a lifetime will not countenance such destructive choices.

A second game-changer for me is comprised of the stories that some persons who are in same-sex marriages have shared with me about their aspirations to be faithful followers of Jesus despite strong, often vitriolic, opposition by many “straight” Christians who view them as “inferior” Christians, at best, or not Christians. The life-stories I have heard reach an entirely different conclusion. They reveal that many Christians who are in same-sex marriages are deeply committed Christians who aspire to faithfully follow Jesus as much as I do. Have you, my reader, whether you have been willing to listen to their stories. If not, doing so could also be a game- changer for you.

Of course, the most prevalent critique of the non-traditionalist view of same-sex marriage that I now embrace is that it is not supported by the Biblical record. Numerous biblical passages are pointed to, from both the Old and New Testaments, that appear to give strong support to the traditional view. But my challenge to my reader is to ask you to critically examine the “context” for each such portion of Scripture to ascertain whether the apparent prohibition of same-sex marriage has in mind the definition of same-sex marriage that I have embraced, in which each partner has made a covenant commitment to love his/her partner for a lifetime.

For example, it has been argued, persuasively I believe, that the verses in Leviticus and Deuteronomy that clearly prohibit sexual intimacy between same-sex partners are referring to sexual relationships that are “exploitative” in nature, which is far removed from my definition of same-sex marriage. In Old Testament times, such exploitation took the form of older men taking sexual advantage of young men (pederasty), or masters taking sexual advantage of slaves, or Temple prostitution.

Not being a Biblical scholar, I cannot claim that all such Biblical prohibitions of sexual intimacy outside of marriage between a man and a woman fall into this “exploitative” category. For disagreements that two highly regarded Biblical scholars have regarding this issue, I refer you to the twelve month conversation on human sexuality that I hosted on my website. But I want to stress here the importance of my reader considering the “contexts” for all apparent Biblical prohibitions of sexual intimacy involving same-sex partners.

A looming question still remains as to whether Christians who experience same-sex attraction can find the love that they (and all human beings) need by means other than sexual intimacy. It has been argued that any Christian church should encourage celibacy on the part of members who experience same-sex attraction by showering numerous “alternative sources of love” within the church. My personal response to that suggestion is to ask for a rationale for “substituting” such alternative expressions of love when sexual intimacy can be such a deep expression of love. I fail to grasp such a rationale. However, for those readers who wish to examine differing views on this issue, I refer you to Topic #1 (Voices from the Gay community) in the conversation on human sexuality on my website, in which two deeply committed Christians disagree with each other about a possible “call to celibacy.”

As I hope is apparent to the reader by now, I am not trying to be “heavy- handed” here. I recognize the complexity of these issues, and acknowledge that deeply committed Christians have some strong disagreements. But I do want to lay bare the two “game-changers” that have significantly informed my transition to a non-traditionalist” belief about same-sex marriage. I leave it to each reader to reach a belief about the strengths, or weaknesses, of my reflections.

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