Letter, Civil Marriage: God’s Kingdom Is Inclusive

Written by on October 24, 2012 in Blogs, Letters to the Editor - 5 Comments

To the Editor:

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Civil marriage is a civil right. The referendum regarding same-sex marriage in Maryland deals with exactly that subject—civil marriage, the legal right for two adults to enter into a binding contract of marriage with all of its responsibilities and benefits. Some may claim that God doesn’t approve; some may point to a handful of Bible passages; but religious considerations should have no impact on the legal rights of our fellow citizens.

Some people have a deep conviction that homosexuality is sinful, based on their traditions or how they choose to apply a few verses in the Bible. I completely disagree with them. But their right to believe those things, and their right to implement those beliefs by not allowing same-sex marriage in their place of worship, are protected under this law. At the same time, just because some folks consider a certain action a sin is no reason for that action to be illegal in the State of Maryland.

Jesus never discussed homosexuality. Jesus did strongly reject prejudice and discrimination on the basis of faith, ethnicity, gender, age, and occupation. Quoting Leviticus is a rational non-starter—how can you hold up ancient Jewish rules against homosexuality when you reject nearly all of the other rules in that book? And Paul’s three New Testament references to homosexuality actually seem to have more to do with ancient practices of pederasty and ritual temple prostitution than our current understandings of lifelong, monogamous, publicly-accountable, same-sex relationships. The Bible, when studied, is not as hostile toward same-sex marriage as some loud voices would have us believe.

It may be that after reflection, study, and conversation, a peripheral Bible verse or two still seems negative toward homosexuality. That’s no reason to deny equal protection under the law to our fellow citizens. Nor is it even a reason to deny marriage rights within a Christian church. Christians throughout history have on occasion decided that being faithful to the ministry and call of Jesus Christ means setting aside some Bible passages shaped more by human sinfulness than divine inspiration. In parts of the Bible, slavery is condoned, women are told not to exercise leadership in the Church, and patriarchal family structures are commended. And yet our church supports none of those things. Not because we “gave in” to society, but because we listened more closely to Jesus than to human biases and traditions. Now is one of those moments in which Christ is calling those within the Church to set aside our inherited biases and realize a more full and inclusive vision of God’s kingdom.

In Christ,
Pastor Mark Parker
Breath of God Lutheran Church
Highlandtown

5 Comments on "Letter, Civil Marriage: God’s Kingdom Is Inclusive"

  1. MC October 25, 2012 at 9:10 pm · Reply

    To address the comment below: I find that your frequent use of the word “perversion” may suggest that you are fixated or disgusted on the idea of two members of the same sex loving each other not only in spirit but in body. I suggest that you direct your soapbox to another issue, one that actually affects you. Denying the phrase “marriage” to someone else in the belief that it will keep yours sacred is like calling someone else’s sugar cookie a shortbread because it will make yours taste better. God cooked us all up in one batch, except when he put you in the empathy oven it would appear you were half-baked.

  2. Katherine Harms October 25, 2012 at 12:07 pm · Reply

    Marriage has a definition: a man and a woman. It is a cultural truth for humans going back to the earliest societies. A lot of perversions have been tried, but this union, a man and a woman, persists as the definition of marriage. The union of two homosexuals can be a civil union, but it cannot be a marriage, civil or otherwise.
    I don’t have a problem with government legitimizing specific rights and benefits for a union of homosexuals, but it doesn’t make sense to corrupt the language on behalf of a lifestyle choice by a minuscule minority of people. The language has a word for the union of a man and a woman. There are only a very few absolutes in the world, but marriage is one of them.
    It also does not make sense to pervert the social structure of marriage. Redefining marriage will be a step toward redefining all the other elements of families. The French are already heading down this insane path. What becomes of families and children if you redefine marriage this way? If you think this is the end of the battle with the LGBT agenda, you are sadly mistaken.
    Let the government call a union of homosexuals a civil union, and let them give the civil union rights and benefits similar to those of marriage. I wouldn’t want it, and I wouldn’t vote for it, but I wouldn’t be disturbed by it, either. That the government can do. But nothing the government can do can legitimately turn a homosexual union into a marriage. Marriage is one thing. Human beings have defined marriage as the union of man and woman as long as there have been human beings. Homosexual union is something else.
    As for the whole argument about equality, this has nothing to do with equality. Each man and each woman in the USA stands on the same level ground before the law. Calling the union of homosexuals a marriage is not equality. It is a semantic game to make a small group of people stop whining in public about not being married. People who choose the homosexual lifestyle make their choice. If it doesn’t include marriage, that is still their choice.
    Some churches have begun to re-interpret and dilute or even sidestep biblical teachings about homosexuality altogether. The ELCA, for example, has chosen to pretend that on this subject humanity has outgrown the Bible and human beings must now step in and fix the revelation God forgot to give us in the Bible. This is quite sad.
    Mark’s comments about homosexuality in the Bible are fine as far as they go. However, the Bible does not teach everything by negatives. The Bible teaches that marriage is the union of a man and a woman from creation all the way through to the New Jerusalem. The union of Adam and Eve is the male/female union that God gave as the design of marriage. Throughout the Bible God uses the relationship of a man and woman, a husband and a wife, a groom and a bride, as the model of his relatioship with his people. When time is over and Christ comes down from heaven to live on earth again in the new earth, Christ comes down to join his bride, the church, the very model of man and woman on the day of their union, their wedding day. God elevates the union of a man and a woman to his highest purposes and promises. He does not in any place at any time legitimize the union of two homosexuals.The admonitions Mark wants to diminish are clear evidence that God does not equate the legitimacy or the honor of a homosexual union with the marriage of a man and a woman.
    The decision by any church to legitimze homosexual behavior and homosexual unions despite biblical admonitions to the contrary is a bad decision. I personally pray that the day will come when the ELCA rescinds this mistaken and misguided decision. However, that is not important to anyone who is not an ELCA Lutheran. I am. It matters to me. I agree with voters who will vote against calling a homosexual union a marriage.
    I pray Maryland will join all the other states where marriage has been put to the vote and stand firm for marriage as the union of a man and a woman. It’s the right thing to do.

  3. SAE October 25, 2012 at 10:12 am · Reply

    Sons of Gondor, of Rohan. My brothers. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come, when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of Fellowship, but it is not this day! An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you, stand, men of the West!
    (Aragorn – Lord of the Rings)

    @Tony – quoting the Bible here is about as enlightening as randomly quoting Tolkien.

  4. Amber October 25, 2012 at 9:24 am · Reply

    Thank you, Pastor Parker, for your eloquent, well reasoned, and articulate words. Your unbiased support of love, commitment, and fairness are true assets to our society. I am grateful for your beautiful letter; you are a beacon of hope in a world ridden with hate.

  5. Tony G October 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm · Reply

    For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
    And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
    (Romans 1:26-32 ESV)

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