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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage / marriage equality

Part 2: 2014-SEP:
About "Evangelicals for Marriage Equality:"
its advisory board, advertising problems,
support and opposition, the divisions within
evangelical Christianity, & webmaster's comments.

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We use acronyms:
"SSM" to represent "same-sex marriage"
"LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals,
transgender persons and transsexuals.
"LGB" to refer to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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About the new group Evangelicals for Marriage Equality (EME):

Among the EME advisory board are:

  • Author and speaker Brian McLaren. He is a prominent Christian pastor, author, activist, speaker, and leading figure in both the emerging church and progressive Christian movements. 10

  • Lobbyist Richard Cizik. He has been a strong supporter of creation care -- a form of environmental protection popular among evangelicals. He was the Vice President for Governmental Affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) where he lobbied the White House, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. His support for civil unions and statement that he was "shifting" on same-sex marriage during an interview at National Public Radio in 2008-DEC led to his resignation from the NAE. 11

  • Chris LaTondresse: He founded Recovering Evangelical and is its CEO. He also served as the Special Assistant to Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners Magazine, and was the "U.S. Director of Questscope, a Middle East based NGO pioneering education reform and youth empowerment strategies across the Arab world." 12 He writes of his generation of young adults:

    "We’re deeply spiritual, but deeply cynical about institutionalized religion. We’re committed champions for important social causes, but reject the co-optation of our faith to serve a particular political agenda. We believe that God is neither a Democrat nor a Republican.

    Moreover, for us, poverty, war, disease, violence and environmental degradation are not just negative forces to fight, or ideas to grapple with; they have names and faces."

Brandan Robertson a spokesperson for EME said:

"Our organization is not taking a theological position on the issue of the sacrament of marriage. We just want evangelicals to see that it is possible to hold a plethora of beliefs about sexuality and marriage while affirming the rights of LGBTQ men and women to be civilly married under the law." 8

From Robertson's statement, it appears that EME supports the right for members of the LGBTQ community to be married in civil ceremonies, while leaving evangelical clergy, congregations, and denominations free to discriminate against the LGBT community by refusing to marry loving, committed same-sex couples.

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Refusal of evangelical magazines to accept EME ads:

The EME attempted to place ads in three major evangelical publications: Christianity Today, World, and Relevant magazines. All three refused to accept the ad. The advertisement consisted of a view of the Bible, with two pages forming a heart shape. The caption reads:

"There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that talk about love. There aren’t any that talk about the civil definition of marriage." 9

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Other responses by evangelical Christians supporting and opposing SSM:

  • The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention organized a conference during 2014-OCT with the theme: "The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage," Speakers urged evangelical leaders to oppose marriage equality.

  • Author Matthew Vines is scheduled to lead a meeting in 2014-NOV to discuss increased inclusion by LGBTs in churches. He said:

    "We still haven’t arrived at a sea change among evangelicals, but the tone and passion around the issue of civil marriage equality has certainly been changing as more evangelicals are accepting that same-sex marriage will soon be the law of the land, whether they are pleased about it or not. I think they have a chance to persuade more evangelicals to lay down their arms in this culture war battle that has been so harmful to the primary mission of the church." 8

  • Jonathan Merritt, writing for the Religion News Service, said:

    "The Christian Church in the West is now facing the most important debate of our time. It threatens to shred the church by the seams and leave it in a tattered heap. And more importantly, it intimately involves people with feelings and emotions and dreams that have been socially marginalized and deserve to be respected, loved, and heard.

    Those on the left must stop labeling anyone who holds to a traditional Christian sexual ethic a 'bigot' or 'hater.' Those on the right must quit claiming that everyone on the left is a 'heretic' or 'doesn’t believe the Bible.' It is critical that Christians on both sides of the sexuality debate make their cases with winsomeness and grace. ..."

    The 'truth' in this matter will not be established by mob rule, public shaming, and marginalization tactics. Instead, everyone must allow those who disagree with their positions to make their cases as they see fit, even as they do the same." 9

    In other words, Merritt is promoting dialog in the place of debate and open intra-faith warfare.

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The theological divide:

Many religious conservatives will be surprised that an evangelical group can thoughtfully, sincerely, and carefully analyze biblical passages and conclude that any type of sexual activity by same-sex couples should be supported -- whether within a marriage or not. Conservative Christians have traditionally interpreted the six or seven "clobber passages" that seem to refer to same-gender sexual behavior as all condemning such behavior in the strongest possible terms for both men and women. They interpret a passage in Leviticus 20 as calling for the death penalty for sexually active homosexuals. They interpret a passage in 1 Corinthians 6 as stating that sexually active homosexuals will automatically spend eternity in Hell after death.

However others believe that it is quite possible to interpret Bible passages literally in their original Hebrew and Greek and conclude that:

  • Genesis 19 doesn't refer to loving, committed same-sex relationships. It describes a mass attempted rape and bestiality. The intended rape victims are not humans, but were angels -- a different species of intelligent life. So the attempted rape also involved bestiality. Neither rape or bestiality are activities of the vast majority of the LGBTQ community.

  • Leviticus 18 and 20 appears ambiguous; they either condemn sex with religious prostitutes in Pagan temples, or same-gender sexual behavior if it is performed on a woman's bed.

Similarly, one can translate Greek biblical passages in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) literally and conclude that:

  • Romans 1 condemns a group of heterosexual women and men who, against their basic nature, has sex with persons of the same gender. This might imply that persons with a homosexual orientation should not have sex with persons of the opposite sex.

  • 1 Timothy 1 condemns both men who sexually molest children and the victims they molest.

  • 1 Corinthians 6 refers to men who sexually molest boys. It states that both the abusers and their victims will spend eternity in Hell.

  • Jude 7 condemns people who engage in sex with non-human species, like angels.

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Webmaster's comment: (bias alert)

Harmonizing different interpretations of the Bible, different beliefs about the cause(s), nature, and changeability of sexual orientation, and the desirability of marriage equality is going to take a long time. It will cause major disruptions in both conservative and mainline Christian denominations. In all probability, the intra-faith conflict will continue long after same-sex marriage is legalized across North America. Resolving the conflicts will require good will, a willingness to dialogue, a commitment to find the truth even if it conflicts with their beliefs, and a lot of time.

Still, there have been some horrendous internal battles among Christian denominations in the U.S. in the past 16 decades over the definition of marriage, including:

The first three have all been resolved in favor of equal human rights. All three have been generally accepted as cultural advances. There appears to be rapid movement towards resolution of the fourth and latest conflict. It may well be more difficult than the others, because it involves human sexuality which is always a hard topic to handle.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. The Liberty Education Forum's web site is at: http://libertyeducationforum.org
  2. Evangelicals for Marriage Equality's web site is at: https://www.evangelicals4equality.com/
  3. Organizations marked here with an asterisk (*) have been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as as anti-gay groups whose propaganda is so extreme that the Center has classified them as "hate groups." See: Evelyn Schlatter, "18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda," Southern Poverty Law Center, Intelligence Report, 2010-Winter, at: http://www.splcenter.org/
  4. Robert P. Jones, et al., "A shifting landscape," Public Religion Research Institute, 2014-FEB-26, at: http://publicreligion.org
  5. "Survey | A Shifting Landscape: A Decade of Change in American Attitudes about Same-Sex Marriage and LGBT Issues," Public Religion Research Institute, 2014-FEB-26, at: http://publicreligion.org/
  6. Lauren Yingling, "What is a Millennial?" The Millennial Legacy, undated, at: http://themillenniallegacy.com/
  7. Billy Hallowell, "Are Young Americans Abandoning Their Religion Due to Teachings on Homosexuality? " The Blaze, 2014-FEB-27, at: http://www.theblaze.com/
  8. Sarah Pulliam Bailey, "Progressive Evangelicals Launch Campaign To Expand Christian Support For Same-Sex Marriage," Huffington Post, 2014-SEP-15, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  9. Jonathan Merritt, "Was ‘Christianity Today’ justified in rejecting this controversial ad?," Religion News Service, 2014-SEP-12, at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/
  10. "Brian McLaren," Wikipedia, as on 2014-NOV-19, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  11. "Richard Cizik," Wikipedia, as on 2014-NOV-28, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  12. "Meet the Recovering Evangelical team," 2014, Recovering Evangelical, at: http://recoveringevangelical.com

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How you probably arrived here:

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM sub-menu > here

Home > "Hot" religious topics > Homosexuality & Bisexuality > Religion & the LGBT Community > here

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2014-SEP-17
Latest update: 2014-DEC-19
Author: B.A. Robinson
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