Dave SlikerDavid Sliker is a Senior Leader at the International House of Prayer Kansas City and the Director of Elijah Revolution.

Here’s the problem with gay marriage: there is no such thing. It doesn’t exist.

How could I say such a thing? I am by no means attempting to be inflammatory or sensational. Simply truthful: marriage is not a man-made institution; thus man has no right to define, redefine, or transform what God has ordained and established sovereignly. Marriage is from God, belongs to God, and is a prophetic declaration that He wants to make to the human race about His relationship with us. Therefore, we need to tread carefully and fearfully around this subject. It is precious to Him.

Hear me now: I don’t want to talk about civil unions, and the rights that homosexuals can receive from our government related to cohabitation and life together. It’s an entirely different issue that merits healthy discussion, as it relates to the subject of what our government should, or should not, sanction and promote within American society. In that arena, a discussion on the issue of basic human “rights” and privileges granted by our society is very appropriate to discuss and debate. These civil issues of American governance fall within our God-given “sphere” to work through together as a nation.Marriage, however, falls outside of the boundaries of debate and human “rights”. No one has a intrinsic “right” to redraw boundaries that God Himself has drawn and defined. The subject of marriage, why it exists, and what it was originally intended to display is not something we get to speak into or shape; it is a part of a storyline that God Himself jealously guards. It is as immutable a truth as grace itself, or mercy, or love. We are not allowed to define any of those truths – we must encounter them by the power of the Holy Spirit and be instructed. In the same manner, we must encounter the Bridegroom God to truly understand marriage and what it shouts to the nations of the earth.

The secondary issue related to a gay man’s “right” to marry is the cry, “How can true love be denied?” Again, both the issue of “rights” and “true love” are beside the point. Outside of intimate relationship with Him, the Father has given men the freedom of choice and the freedom to walk in a manner contrary to His will. However, calling that free expression of the heart “love” does not mean that God now approves, sanctions, or desires to fill the earth with homosexual relationships. His opinions do not evolve, and His boundaries for men and women are clear.

Therein, however, lies the heart of the matter. If this was truly only a fight for “civil rights” within a free society, then the issues at hand could be contained within a political, or legal, debate. If rights within a free society are being denied to men, then citizens must work together to see that all men and women are treated equitably, charitably, and honorably. However, it is not really about what is ethically, politically, or legally permissible. This debate is about – and has always been about – what is morally and spiritually permissible.

What lies at the core of the debate is not the right of men to live with other men and enjoy civil and political rights and privileges; it is about men being able to engage together in intimacy and have that union considered as holy and sacred as the union between a man and a woman in “holy matrimony.” In other words, the ultimate desire in redefining marriage is the redefinition of morality itself, what is sin and what is not, and what is shameful – and what is not.

That is the ultimate problem with the “gay marriage debate”. We conduct the discussion from within a man-centered arena as we look to present the most compassionate arguments for our “side”. Beloved, God is NOT on “our side” of the debate. The plumb line and ultimate test – in the fear of the Lord – is whether or not we are on His side.

“What do you think, Father?” This must be the primary question on our hearts and minds – we must work to align ourselves with His heart rather than bolstering our wise-sounding opinions. We must not succumb to wisdom that is not from above – wisdom that is “earthly, sensual,” and, ultimately….”demonic” in nature. This kind of wisdom breeds confusion and “every evil thing”. This kind of wisdom destroys the very lives compassionate, well-meaning folks are trying to save, and help.

I know this – the church cannot be passive on this issue. We can be loving, we can express love, and we can treat men and women struggling with immorality (homosexual AND heterosexual) with compassion, tenderness, and kindness. What we cannot do is redraw God’s boundaries in the name of compassion. That is not compassion. That is compromise. It is not loving. It is fearful.

This is not the hour to be fearful, but to be loving as God is loving and declare the wisdom of the boundaries He has drawn – in relationships, in marriage, and in love. To do this is the only true way to serve, love, and honor those who are hurting, broken, and trapped in the shame of immorality. To be faithful to declare the truth of God’s word, God’s heart, and God’s plan is to participate in His means to true freedom and joy for all who turn to Him.

68 Comments

  1. Danielle

    This is one of the best statements I have heard on this subject. The real question must be asked to the Lord in the place of prayer “God, what is your heart on this issue?” This disarms us from our own ideas and opinions and roots and grounds us in the truth…real truth. Lasting truth.

    • Billy Humphrey

      And there you have it @Danielle has broken the ice. This page has gotten the single highest one day view total yet, only one comment. I appreciate Dave’s even take on the subject and the admonition for believers not to handle this in the realm of sentiment or emotion, but in the arena of bold meekness, love and prayer.

  2. Jason Christman

    Thank you for giving us vocabulary to clarify the true issue. As love and grace are being redefined by many in the church, we need to find ourselves in agreement with how God defines these things. I always enjoying reading and hearing insights form David!

  3. Angela Larson

    All I can say is yes and amen. The language of this post is exactly what I’ve been looking for as I’ve prayed about this very subject. I’ve been wrestling with the compassion versus compromise and the language here explains that so well. Thank you for reminding us that His is the only opinion that matters and that to be afraid of man is not the stance we should take but rather the truth in love. Thank you

  4. emilaineassis

    Reblogged this on Emilaineassis's Blog and commented:
    Worth reading it… David Sliker talking on the subject of Gay Marriage.

    The church cannot be passive on this issue. We can be loving, we can express love, and we can treat men and women struggling with immorality (homosexual AND heterosexual) with compassion, tenderness, and kindness. What we cannot do is redraw God’s boundaries in the name of compassion. That is not compassion. That is compromise. It is not loving. It is fearful.

  5. Tim M

    It’s perfectly fine for someone to be personally against gay marriage, but why force your beliefs on other people? Separation of church and state plays a huge role in this topic, and religion has no authority to mandate the marital actions of society as a whole.

    • Billy Humphrey

      @Tim Thanks for your comment. I’ll let Dave speak for himself when he has time, but I’ll just reference that in the article he’s actually not addressing social or political angles on this issue. But rather that the real issue at hand is the redefinition of morality. Marriage is an image-bearing institution created by God as holy and to reflect specific things about His nature, it’s not for us to define, since He already has.

      • Tim M

        Thank you for your response Mr. Humphrey. To me, this article sounds like a call to action. Phrases such as “the church cannot be passive on this issue” and “declare the wisdom of the boundaries he has drawn” give the impression that it is a christian’s responsibility to enforce the forbidding of gay marriage to those around him rather than simply staying firm in his own beliefs and paying less attention to society as a whole. Excuse me if I appear pugnacious; my intention is not to fight.

        • Billy Humphrey

          @Tim Thanks for your comment. You don’t seem pugnacious to me. What would “staying firm” in one’s own beliefs entail in your view? Would it include prayer? Sharing the gospel? How bout supporting righteous laws? Or would it be more private?

          In your view are Jesus’ followers called to impact society and culture with the power & love of the Gospel? What does “staying firm” equal?

          Sent from my iPhone

          On May 2, 2013, at 7:04 PM, “billyhumphrey.com”

      • Tim M

        It did not allow me to reply to your last message so I’ll just write my response here. What I meant by staying firm in his own beliefs is to not force your beliefs on all of society. If someone would like to personally object to gay marriage that is completely fine, but forbidding others to marry because of your beliefs, that are not held by everyone, is wrong in my eyes. Why should two men being married upset a Christian? How will their choice to get married affect your life in any way at all? Also, how does a Christian have the right to tell a homosexual that they can’t get married? Just because you personally object to gay marriage doesn’t mean that you are allowed to enforce that objection throughout society.

        I am not personally religious, so I can’t honestly say that I have an opinion as to what Jesus’s followers are called to do. But I can say that Christians have no right to define marriage for all of society based on their beliefs. What if the Muslims decided that it is wrong for everyone to eat pork, such as is in their beliefs? The country would be in uproar if Muslims attempted to ban pork because they believe it is harmful. I view Christian’s stance on gay marriage in a similar manner. It is perfectly fine to personally object but attempting to enforce your beliefs on others is wrong.

        • Billy Humphrey

          @Tim I understand your perspective, and especially since you don’t hold to a Christian worldview.

          Let me ask you this…based on your last sentence, “It is perfectly fine to personally object but attempting to enforce your beliefs on others is wrong.” If this is your logic, can you see how it should apply both ways? Isn’t redefining marriage and then legislating it also “attempting to enforce” a certain belief upon others?

          For now I believe the conversation is best left in the spiritual arena, which then begs the questions, “What is the standard for morality?” What is the plumb line? Popular opinion?

          I propose there is a set moral standard authored by God, written in our hearts that instructs us regarding right and wrong. This standard is established & corroborated in the Scripture. Otherwise we are left to the whims of mankind to establish right living and moral societies, an impossibility to be sure.

          Sent from my iPhone

          On May 2, 2013, at 8:23 PM, “billyhumphrey.com”

      • Tim M

        I honestly don’t see how allowing gays to marry would be enforcing beliefs, seeing as it wouldn’t be infringing on anyone’s rights. Just because the government makes gay marriage legal doesn’t meaning that they are forcing anyone, specifically Christians, to accept that it is right in the eyes of God.

        I believe the standard for morality should be popular opinion. This country was founded on the beliefs of the people and that’s the way it should stay. If the beliefs of the people change so too should the government. A perfect example of this is civil rights. Just 50 years ago black people had nearly no rights in this country. But the beliefs of the people changed, obviously for the better, and government reflected that. It is clear that the public is becoming more accepting of gays each day, and I have faith that the rights of gays will follow a similar path as that of blacks.

        From what I’ve seen, there are flaws in the moral code of god. Deuteronomy 22:13-21 states that a woman who is not a virgin that gets married should be stoned to death on her wedding night. Clearly not all Christians hold this belief. This is just one example of outdated moral beliefs that are expressed in the bible. With many questionable moral standards, why should homosexuality be the standard that Christians hold to?

        I want to state again that I mean no disrespect to you or your beliefs. I am simply stating my opinion and am quite enjoying this discussion.

        • Billy Humphrey

          @Tim I don’t feel disrespected by you in anyway and do genuinely appreciate your candor in this discussion.

          To be clear, in your view popular opinion should be the standard for morality? That means if popular opinion was that all first born female children should be tortured and murdered before their 2nd birthday, or something like it, you’d be ok with it?

          In regard to Deuteronomy or any of the specific moral laws that God required of Israel and how they relate to us today – to HONESTLY engage in that conversation would require us to look at the context in Israel at the time in view of the cross of Christ and its application to all humanity now. Can we agree that throwing out an Old Testament text without a broader discussion doesn’t do our current topic or the honest study of that text justice?

          And now I’ve taken us a bit off topic. Lets try to stay with the original topics in the post. 🙂 I’m looking at you Humphrey.

          Sent from my iPhone

          On May 2, 2013, at 9:04 PM, “billyhumphrey.com”

      • Tim M

        I do believe that popular opinion should be the basis of morality because I have faith that the people of today’s society possess the moral code to set the correct standards of our nation. I can gurantee that no American society would set the moral standard of killing or torturing infants or any other ridiculous rule like that. I know that our nation has the character to set the standards of morality and not rely on the beliefs of Christianity which clearly infringe on the rights of homosexuals.

        I also do not believe that we can simply throw out the Old Testatament seeing that, as far as I know, that’s where the belief that homosexuality is sinful stems from. If we can throw out the belief that a woman must be a virgin to marry then why can’t we throw out the belief that being gay is wrong?

        • Billy Humphrey

          Tim,

          Thanks for your comments. I believe I understand your perspective.

          To your points, It’s no secret that the laws of our nation were and are based on the 10 commandments. This is where the character of our nation comes from.

          I wouldn’t put my faith in the innate goodness of America, seeing as how we have legislated atrocities like slavery, the slaughter of Native Americans, Partial Birth abortion, etc…

          Finally, I never suggested that we should throw out the Old Testament, but rather that if we are going to use the Old Testament in an honest manner, that we need a much broader discussion. Using the Scripture without regard to context is not helpful in a dialogue of this nature.

      • Tim M

        And when I said throw out, I meant discount.

      • Tim M

        And that, Mr. Humphrey, is where I believe our conversation switches from a matter of fact to simply a matter of opinion and therefore draws to a close. I want to thank you for the stimulating discussion. I hope you have a great day.

      • Loren

        God’s Word>Constitution

        Sidenote: The phrase Tim M used in his comment “separation of church and state” never appears in our constitution or founding documents. It is from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1803.

      • Tim M

        It’s still relevant

      • Tim M

        And how can you say that God’s word is more important than the constitution when not everyone believes in God’s word or even God for that matter? Why do you have the right to force your beliefs on others?

  6. Dan Chapman

    “To be faithful to declare the truth of God’s word, God’s heart, and God’s plan is to participate in His means to true freedom and joy for all who turn to Him.”

    This is great, but the word “declare” I feel can be too brash in some cases. We need to be bold about our beliefs, but also be wise about not recklessly declaring God’s truth about homosexuality to people who we don’t have friendships with (specifically via social media), and moreover who don’t fundamentally know Jesus. It needs to be prompted by the Holy Spirit. If it’s not Holy Spirit lead, it often just sounds like your preaching to them, and could even sound like you’re judging them.

    People who don’t know Jesus probably don’t understand the insanely complex metaphor of marriage which represents Jesus and his church. We need to not make that point the bread and butter of our argument if we’re trying to reaching the non-saved.

    One of the most effective ways I’ve found to love people is to get to know them and have conversations with them, not just spray the Internet with politically bible-versed water guns and hope some “cooling water” reaches non-believers. I’m not saying posting verses and dialoguing specifically about politics over social media is wrong at all, but it must be lead by the Holy Spirit! Truthfully, everything involving making disciples and telling people about Jesus needs to be lead by the Holy Spirit!

    • Billy Humphrey

      @Dan Thanks for the comment. If the knowledge of God(i.e marriage as an emblem of Jesus & the Church) shouldn’t be the bread and butter of the gospel, what do you suggest should be?

      • Dan Chapman

        I appreciate your response. So your question is pretty broad, but I’ll do my best. The knowledge of God does not JUST = marriage as an emblem of Jesus and the Church. Of course the knowledge of God is the bread and butter of the gospel, because the gospel is about Jesus and Jesus is God. I would say a more accessible first step in sharing the gospel with someone who doesn’t know anything about Jesus could be more like, “Jesus loves you. He died for you. We all deserve to die for our sin but Jesus died so that you can know him and know God. God wants to have a relationship with you and for you to know his love and for you to surrender your life to him.” This is also the knowledge of God. It’s a bit more accessible to someone who has no idea who Jesus is. People need to know the awesome mystery of Jesus’ love for the church, but it’s just hard to grasp at first so I have not found it to be the most effective point to make, RIGHT OFF THE BAT with someone who doesn’t know Jesus. This is all I meant by it not being the “bread and butter” of our conversations with non-believers. I could’ve been more clear on that point, but hopefully I’m making more sense.

  7. Dan Chapman

    And what I’m saying is NOT a critique on this article. This article is not geared towards non-christians. I’m just saying in general, when Christians post stuff on Facebook and Twitter for anyone to read it needs to be lead by the Holy Spirit.

  8. Gary Wallin

    As much as this may give some evangelicals “language” for what they feel, it simply does not help in a secular society. As much as I believe that Gay marriage is a sin, and I do, freedom of religion, which America was founded on (and which Christians love to quote when their freedoms are attacked), means that non-Christian citizens need not adhere to our morals. To say “there is no such thing as Gay marriage” is to dodge the conversation altogether. EVERY CULTURE has had marriage throughout the world regardless of religion- Christians cannot place a monopoly on it. Thats akin to saying- “Since Allah doesn’t exist (or is a false god or whatever) what Muslims are doing 5 times a day isn’t actually prayer…” I see this argument as unhelpful rhetoric. Legislating personal morality isn’t on God’s heart; transformation through relationships has always been. For this reason, the church needs to lose the marriage wars.

  9. Danielle

    @gary side note: Judaism existed before Islam and marriage existed… Just sayin.

  10. Gary Wallin

    And other cultures married throughout the Ancient Near East before Judaism… just sayin

    • Billy Humphrey

      @Gary Can we agree that God is the one who came up with the idea of marriage, i.e Adam and Eve in the garden?

      Sent from my iPhone

      On May 2, 2013, at 5:55 PM, “billyhumphrey.com”

      • Gary Wallin

        Absolutely! But “God’s intentions” does not equate “government legislation”. We would have to legislate divorce, greed, sloth, lying, gluttony, and every other deadly sin. And, Israel was given laws from YHWH’s mouth and it did not stop them from their wickedness. I am all for Christians affirming homosexuality is a sin… I just think there is a better way to express God’s love than through the political arena. Especially when legislating against gay marriage seems like an obtuse hill to “die” on. If that makes sense.

        • Billy Humphrey

          @Gary I’m following you. But since marriage is a God designed institution, would it make sense to expound His intentions and hold fast to His ways, rather than passively allowing His institution to be redefined by legislation or popular opinion? Or would that also be obtuse? 🙂

          Sent from my iPhone

          On May 2, 2013, at 6:06 PM, “billyhumphrey.com”

      • Corey

        Billy,

        Does holding fast to God’s ways mean we must make others act the same way through state or federal legislation? Why can’t we hold fast to our beliefs and allow others to do the same?

        • Billy Humphrey

          @Corey Wouldn’t this line of reasoning legalize ANYTHING anyone wanted to believe? Where is the line, if its not biblical morality, then what?

          Sent from my iPhone

          On May 2, 2013, at 6:51 PM, “billyhumphrey.com”

      • Corey

        That’s a tough one. Legislation is usually murky and difficult. I think legislation must sit carefully weighed in the balance between the will of the governed and protecting the freedom of its constituency. Murder should be prohibited because society agrees limiting the freedom of one to kill another is better for society than preserving freedom – the benefit outweighs the cost. With same sex marriage, I don’t see any reason why we should limit the freedom of others. I can’t endorse the cost of limiting freedoms if the only benefit is preserving some sort of superficial collective morality.

        All of this stems from delineating between civil law and religious morality.

  11. Corey

    “Marriage, however, falls outside of the boundaries of debate and human “rights”. No one has a intrinsic “right” to redraw boundaries that God Himself has drawn and defined.”

    I think we must delineate between marriage in religious and civil contexts. If our religious views negate the concept of “homosexual marriage” then so be it – in a religious context, homosexuals cannot truly be married before God. But to go beyond that and say, “God defines marriage this way, therefore the federal government cannot define it another way” ignores the fact that civil law does in fact define marriage and give it legal force in our society. We cannot assume that the laws that govern our society and those that govern our church should be the same. (If you do not like that idea, consider moving to Afghanistan. They are very comfortable making that assumption. We call it Sharia law, and it means church law and state law are one.)

    I can see two courses of thought: 1) We can say the government should not define marriage and that it should be purely religious. If that is the case, the problem becomes moot, “marriage” caries no tax implications, and it quickly becomes an amorphous institution with as many definitions as there are people who use the term. 2) We can acknowledge that the civil government must define marriage if it is to have meaning in our civil context.

    If you chose the latter, you must ask yourself this enormously significant question: Why should civil law define marriage this way? The answer cannot simply be “Because the Bible says it is wrong.” The Bible says many things are wrong: Divorce, marrying a divorced woman, hating your neighbor, idolatry (Hinduism and really any other religion), provoking your children to wrath… Shall we legislate all these, as well? If not, why some and not others?

    Civil law defines what is acceptable in the context of society, NOT what we think is acceptable in God’s eyes. Because marriage exists in that society, our civil government must define it. Does anyone have a reason for opposing a definition of marriage that includes same sex couples beyond, “I think the Bible says you shouldn’t do it”?

    -Corey

  12. davidwsliker

    I’ll ask the same question here that I asked above – what is God’s intention, definition, and desire for marriage? Secondly, does that information transcend our political inclinations and opinions?

    God’s definition of marriage goes farther back than the Garden of Eden – it was in His heart from before the foundations of the world. Therefore, I am not concerned with ANE cultures did regarding marriage. I’m not planning on instituting betrothal ceremonies in my home, either. I’m after something more intensely personal within the heart of God as it relates to this incredible story that He is writing – one that He has set within the framework of marital language.

    The objections to my post, if I am reading them rightly, seem to be defaulting to issues of governmental legislation and what my government has the right to do. Personally, I don’t really care at all, as it relates to this conversation, about what my government *does* – I care about what the church *believes* and, therefore, about how the church *lives*, and ultimately loves. We need to, within the church, regain a unified, biblical understanding of marriage found within the knowledge of God as our first priority. Then we can seek the word and seek God in prayer for wisdom in the application of that knowledge.

    I’m not in a hurry to figure out what my government should do about marriage between two men or two women. I am, however, quite adamant about remaining free from what the government decides for me as it relates to my sphere…which is how the founding fathers intended for “freedom of religion” to actually work: as a response to tyranny from governmental interference, not “tyranny from evangelical believers” (as it has now come to be defined).

    • Corey

      “Personally, I don’t really care at all, as it relates to this conversation, about what my government *does* – I care about what the church *believes* and, therefore, about how the church *lives*, and ultimately loves.”

      I live in Washington, DC. I live, work and go to church with many very educated people who live and work in the political realm. (My context is overly political, know that.) Our church lives in society, and we cannot isolate ourselves from its government. This society is already moving on these issues (Rhode Island became the 10th state to legalize same sex marriage just hours ago), and we must supplement our prayers with thought and reason to stay abreast.

      Doesn’t the church have a role to help engage its body in politics? Where will God’s beloved learn how to interact in that society if not from its pastoral leadership? We MUST think through and address these issues! Our failure here has led to a society who rightly belittles the religious right because so many of us blindly endorse the politics of prominent Christian leaders whose positions are patently ill though out.

      • davidwsliker

        I absolutely agree that the church has a role to play in engaging society. Note that I said, “as it relates to this conversation”. I wrote this post to help think through these issues, not as a means of avoidance of the issues.

        In seeking understanding of an issue, what is our first priority? Is it to examine the socio-political ramifications of our beliefs, or to formulate them in a manner that is loyal to the scriptures and the heart of God?

        I am positing the idea that our lack of authority on this particular issue is knit, in part, to our lack of clarity on the subject of marriage itself. If we focus *first* on the social or political dynamics of homosexual marriage within a free society, we are actually skirting the heart of the matter, not truly thinking it through, and thus unequipped to actually address the issues in a helpful or loving manner.

      • Corey

        So many threads…

        So you are speaking in the context of the church. I got you.

        “In seeking understanding of an issue, what is our first priority? Is it to examine the socio-political ramifications of our beliefs, or to formulate them in a manner that is loyal to the scriptures and the heart of God?”

        It has to be both. Faith that is not engaged in the sociopolitical denies the nature of our relational existence. Is it pleasing to God if I see my neighbor naked and starving, decide that is bad, but end it there? Of course not – faith must impact people to be pleasing to God.

        I think most conservative evangelicals believe homosexuality is wrong and they can articulate why. I am comfortable with that. However, I have met few who can articulate why they endorse the specific policies they do. My fear is that we are creating Christians who are fervently engaging in the sociopolitical realm without any clear view of the reasoning behind or the implications of their actions. My frustration is furthered by the fact that I think they’re pushing for the wrong side, in case you haven’t already figured that out…

        • davidwsliker

          Corey – you can’t have two “first priorities” 🙂

          In other words, I am not negating the need to act. I am simply calling for a more precise and clear understanding of marriage – one knit to the knowledge of God. Growing in knowledge and understanding as our base for godly action is a process. The beginning of the process is not cultural engagement – it is the prayer that “love would abound”, causing us to grow in “knowledge and all discernment” that we might “approve of the things that are excellent”. The “fruits of righteousness” (righteous actions and their fruit) follow. You can’t do both simultaneously. Clear understanding must precede sensible action.

          Thus your statement, “My fear is that we are creating Christians who are fervently engaging in the sociopolitical realm without any clear view of the reasoning behind or the implications of their actions” seems to be in agreement with this article’s reason for existence.

      • Corey

        To look at a moral dilemma and say one can EITHER choose to examine the social impact of the idea OR see it in a way that is loyal to God’s intent is to create a create a false dichotomy. It’s like saying what is more important, faith or works? The answer is both – you cannot separate them into primary and secondary importance. I’m not advocating two first priorities, I’m arguing that you cannot, in this case, separate what is moral in God’s eyes from how it impacts society.

        I hear you saying that Christians should should seek God’s will regarding homosexual marriage as it relates to the church. I love that thought! This is really calling for another article, but when and how do you think that revelation ought to spill over into public policy?

  13. davidwsliker

    Gary – you seem to be seeking to conduct this discussion through a cultural lens, assuming conclusions in my post that I did not make. You haven’t really addressed my points in a substantive way. You simply addressed them in a dismissive way. I am not talking about how the church should address the government, I am talking about how the church should think about the very subject of marriage itself. Your argument that “other cultures marry” is irrelevant if the central question is, “what is God’s desire for marriage”?

    Unless, of course, you are suggesting that we ask their gods what marriage should be and have a Deity Panel Discussion. Then, I suppose, your point would be germaine to what I wrote 🙂

  14. Gretchen

    What fascinates me about this discussion is that it seems more centered around the legislation of morality than actual homosexuality, generally speaking. And if I’m right, then I’m wondering if you, Corey, feel the same way about other moral, civil issues such as slavery, abortion, etc, which all seem to be moral issues with attached legislation. I feel like a SIGNIFICANT portion of the entire existence of government is exactly TO legislate morality. And in the end how you define the plumbline of morality is extremely significant because it dictates right and wrong, defining the criminal from heroic…

    • Corey

      Can I just say I love that we’re having this conversation 🙂 I brought this up at college (conservative Bible college in upstate N.Y.) several years ago and I feared for my life.

      Government absolutely regulates morality. (This notion that separation of church and state aims to divide the two is silly. I think Camus puts it plainly in the Rebel when he asserts that everything is a moral (value) statement. To eat is a statement that to live is better than to die, or to slake my hunger is better than to let it remain.) My contention is not that the government legislates morality, but that we are being reckless in our legislation. I fear we are becoming the tyrants we despise.

      In our debate here, what happens if we legalize same sex marriage? It still remains wrong in our Christian moral and religious context. If God does indeed not recognize it, those living in sin are still living in sin. Christian marriages are still holy before God because the vessels themselves are holy. God’s marriage hasn’t changed, and society is no worse off than before.

      What happens if we do not legalize it? It remains wrong in our moral and religious context, people go right on being gay, and those living in sin are still living in sin. We risk limiting the rights of others and becoming tyrants ourselves, but for what gain?

      • davidwsliker

        Corey, thanks for participating in the conversation and pressing the key issues. I want to attempt to clarify my position in response to your question here: the government is going to do what it will do according to the will of the people (theoretically – the courts have recently pioneered a new form of governance); if it decides that marriage equals two dogs and a cat, so be it. But I don’t have to call it “marriage”.

        Note: I would vote against any initiative that seeks to define marriage as “two dogs and a cat”.

      • Corey

        Well maybe if it reflects the will of the people and all, but do we have to use the term “marriage”?

  15. Danielle

    This is AWESOME!

  16. Jerret Hammons

    Dave needs a national platform. His words cut to the core. Not only in believers, but obviously unbelievers and “unsures” alike.

  17. Andrew Harman

    First, I have to say, I really appreciate this conversation and the level-headedness of those involved. Usually by the 4th comment, threads on such topics take an angry turn! Good job, y’all!

    @Dave. (I loved the first comment you posted—@7:26pm. Great revelation in there!)
    One of the issues—not the only one, of course—is the use of the term “marriage,” not the *rights* of individuals to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (in whatever form that takes), right?

    Beyond the spiritual ramifications and what you’ve already stated, one potential, practical ramification to consider:
    Let’s say that the term “marriage” *is* legislated and redefined by the State as something other than a union between a man and a woman (ie: the Church’s definition). Currently, the State has no qualms about interfering with the matters of the Church, though the idea of the Church interfering with the matters of State is verboten. What is to stop the State from mandating the Church (under lines of discrimination and hate-crimes) to perform “legal ceremonies,” simply because the State no longer recognizes the Church’s definition of “marriage” as legitimate?
    While Jefferson’s intention of “separation of church and state” was to prevent such actions by the State, bills have already been pushed that would brand preachers who speak against homosexuality—*in church*—as perpetrators of hate-crimes.

    Does that sound legitimate, or am I postulating too much?

    • Gregory Beaver

      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

      In other words, no, your hypothetical is 100% unconstitutional. Congress cannot pass a bill forcing a church to perform a marriage, as it prohibits free exercise of that religion. The law could differ from state to state, of course, as the federal constitution only applies to federal laws. It depends on how the state constitutions are written.

      I would also take issue with your characterization of the state having no qualms interfering with matters of the church because of the reciprocal relationship in the first amendment. There are always going to be gray areas depending on how the church defines itself. Basically once the church extends past the boundary of the people who actually attend the church and starts affecting those who do not belong to the church, things get messy.

      The nice thing is that crazy bills such as the hate crimes bill you mention tend to die in committee, and even if they pass into law, they tend to die a quick death in lower courts because they’re blatantly unconstitutional, both because of free speech and free exercise of religion. Now if those preachers incite their congregations to go out and lynch someone and they actually go do it, THAT could be a hate crime, and is already illegal under current laws.

  18. Gregory Beaver

    “His opinions do not evolve, and His boundaries for men and women are clear.”

    As a Christian, it is our responsibility to follow Christ. In the old tradition pre-Christ, justice and morality was defined by following a set of rules, mostly set out in Leviticus (and the source of the 10 commandments). These were the Word of God. What is truly remarkable about Christianity is that this was a clear case of God’s “opinions evolving,” or more accurately, our understanding of God’s will evolved. The truth of loving God is the realization that we are incapable of understanding God’s will, and thus even things that may seem obvious now as God’s will may not in fact be what God wills for us. This is not the same as saying “well since we can’t know, let’s just party all the time and forget morality!” On the contrary, it is captured well in Matthew 7, as well as the idea that he who is without sin should cast the first stone: we are ALL sinners because of original sin, and none of us can judge with clarity as a result.

    In fact, if our understanding of God’s will had not evolved, the vast majority of Christians would still be unforgiven heathen gentiles in the eyes of God. God was quite clear in the Old Testament that the only people favored by God were the Hebrews.

    Jesus in the sermon on the mount spent a great deal of time expressing explicit changes in this human understanding of God’s will while taking pains to say he was not changing the laws of the prophets, but fixing our understanding of them.

    Again, he explicitly reminds us in Matthew 7 that we are not to judge others lest we risk bringing that judgment upon ourselves.

    Denying the institution of marriage to adults where there is no evidence of abuse is a form of judgment, regardless of whether you are pro- or anti- whichever form of marriage that may be. As an interesting case, there is a lawyer in Utah who is currently arguing that laws prohibiting polygamy are also a civil rights violation, and he cites as examples the many polygamist prophets from the Old Testament. I am personally strongly and vehemently opposed to polygamy because of what I see as obvious reasons, and therefore will never attempt it in my own life, but who am I to judge other people I do not even know personally? Perhaps it is wrong in God’s eyes, but I am not God, and I cannot judge a peaceful marriage as being wrong. Should violence seep into that marriage through abuse of some kind, then we can intervene with confidence.

    I am inspired by the examples of Jesus. Who did he seek out to share his company with? Those who were universally reviled for their sinfulness or outcast status: tax collectors, prostitutes, Samaritans, lepers, children. Who was he least interested in? Those who were rigid and uncaring of other people in the name of the law: Pharisees and scribes. In fact, the people who ultimately took him away from us so violently were the very people who were supposed to be the most upright, holy men in the community: the pharisees and scribes. They, in the name of preserving their morality and the law, murdered the Christ in one of the most horrific way imaginable.

    Along those lines, Christ also calls us very explicitly AWAY from action, something I did not understand at all until recently. By this statement, I am referring to Matthew 5:38, the revision of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” to turn the other cheek. What Jesus is teaching us here is that some evils cannot be corrected by action, and that by choosing to fight them, we only bring more evil into the world. This is a radical philosophy, and one Jesus lived out fully by allowing himself to be crucified when he could have easily fought the Romans and the Pharisees and scribes, as the people were expecting from a Messiah – they expected a great warrior king to liberate the Jews from the yoke of the Romans.

    No, by loving our homosexual neighbors, we bring God into the world. This does not mean peacefully telling them that what they are doing is wrong or legislating it for them. Love does not force change upon its target in any way, that is part of what makes love love. Love loves you as you are now. Yes, God loves us for who we are, flaws and all. What is remarkable is how that love can awaken a change towards God in those who are loved without any violence, anger, or judgment.

    • Jodi

      @Gregory, Thank you for your post. This is how I wish many Christian would regard this issue……it is very refreshing. When people use their religion to preach hate and damn people to hell because of something they were born with, it makes me question religion altogether. I am straight, I was raised Catholic but I often disagree with Catholic church and their teachings. Then there is the question, “Do I believe in God” and I float back and forth on this question quite often. But ultimately i believe the answer is yes, but the God that I choose to believe in shares your ideologies. This God that I believe in, love everyone whether he/she agrees with their lifestyle or not. I believe that God loves people, gay/straight, black/white, Lutheran/Catholic, Muslim/Jewish. Gay marriage does not make Christian marriages less sacred, married Christian couples aren’t going to throw in the towel and give up simply because their gay neighbors can now benefit from the same rights allowed to straight people. And I said straight people to point out another fact. Straight people can have Godless marriages too and they happen everyday. You have to get a marriage license before you get married in a church, actually you don’t even have to get married in a church. You can get married at a court house by a judge, on a boat by the captain, in mexico by a justice of the peace. Godless marriages are still that, marriages. As you said, you simply cannot pass judgement and damn people to hell for how they were born, don’t Christians believe that God made everyone? It wasn’t that long ago that Christians were passing the same judgements on straight interracial couples using the same hate speech and hiding behind their Bible. If homosexuality was a choice, don’t you think they would choose to be straight? I mean it would be a hell of a lot easier to be straight IF it was a choice. It is just simply wrong to hide behind religion to point the finger at others and proclaim they are going hell. That is kind of hatred that makes me question organized religion altogether. Live and let live, do not judge people and do not allow others to judge you, love and let love, because that’s just it, love is love no matter whom it is between, man and woman, mother and child, brother and sister, man and man, woman and woman, when its real love….its all the same love.

      • Billy Humphrey

        @Jodi
        I don’t think that Dave’s post even slightly smacks of people desiring to ‘Use their religion to damn others to hell.’ In saying this are you, perhaps, judging his intentions?

        I think I I understand your viewpoint. Your statement about ‘the God you have chosen’ to believe in is clarifying.
        One question I would have on this point, if you can choose(choose what he/she is like etc…) the god you want to believe in, is that god a god at all?

        Thanks for your post.

        • Gregory Beaver

          Thank you for posting the guest blog Billy.

          I’m almost positive Jodi was not referring directly to Dave’s post, as she mentioned her upbringing in the Catholic church in the next sentence. I can’t read her mind, but perhaps she is drawing a link because the opposition to gay marriage is shared? In any case, Dave is presenting a fresh perspective on the debate that is not hateful at all. This does not change the fact that the debate over gay marriage outside of this blog has been very, very hurtful to many people, and both opened old wounds and created new ones in all people, gay or straight, Christian or other. Recognizing that fact, I hope that we can all agree that this blog does not represent any of that vitriol, and move on without fear or nitpicking over choice of language.

          [quote]I think I I understand your viewpoint. Your statement about ‘the God you have chosen’ to believe in is clarifying.
          One question I would have on this point, if you can choose(choose what he/she is like etc…) the god you want to believe in, is that god a god at all?[/quote]

          This question got me thinking. One of the truths of the universe is that God is immutable. Another poorly understood truth of the universe is that humans are not. We relate to existence through our senses, and through our thoughts, which means we cannot know the truth in its entirety. Part of faith is acceptance of this reality and believing anyways. The other part is recognition of our own humility, our own inability to discern what OTHER people are perceiving. This is part of what Jesus is speaking of in Matthew 7. To withhold judgment is to recognize that we are humbled by our inability to see the truth and be certain of it.

          One of the tenets of the Christian faith is that we do have a choice, God does not force us to believe or to do good things. When we say we believe, we are explicitly choosing “a God to believe in.” This does not mean we are necessarily believing in a different God. So, I would say, in answer to your question: Yes. That god is a god, and is the God. Put another way, the God we choose to believe in when we are 6 years old is very different from the God we choose to believe in when we’re 26 years old, but does that make this a different God? No. It is we who have changed, not God, and therefore our relationship to and understanding of God will change as well. The only reason it appears we are choosing a god to believe in is because we can only know reality as we perceive it. This is not just my opinion, the scriptures have plenty of examples of God appearing in different ways to different people. God is the baptismal fire of the Holy Spirit, God is the Father, God is Jesus manifest on Earth. God is a burning bush. God is a pillar of smoke. God is a voice from Heaven striking Saul off of his donkey. And so on. Even Jesus appeared in different forms. In the end of the Gospel, his disciples did not recognize him several times after he was resurrected.

          Of course, at this point we have strayed way off topic, but I hope that we can begin to agree on the main point of my first reply: It is our responsibility as Christians to bring God’s love into the world by loving people as they are without fine print or conditionals, and through this, we will begin to discern the path forward on issues such as gay marriage. Do we love our gay neighbors more by stepping in their way or by allowing them the free will to choose their own path with regards to marriage? Only by asking questions such as these can we begin to obey God’s entreaty to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and Jesus’s entreaty to extend that to loving our enemies as we love ourselves.

  19. Timothy Hyer

    When we abdicate to the state the decision about what to sanctify, we should not be surprised when they look to sanctify things we don’t agree with. “Holy Matrimony” is an act of the Church. It is the place of the Church to follow God. When we gave up responsibility for determining what constituted “Holy Matrimony”

  20. Kiah

    Hmmm… Who has the right to decide what is right? Do perfectly “good” people have that right? Do “We The People” naturally have a litmus test to tell us what is wrong and right outside of what has been given to us by God? Or are we trying to say that their is NO God now? When we say, One nation under God what do we really mean? Does that mean that “We the people” shape our government around what God desires or what we desire that God should do, or should change? If God is the one who shapes our desires then we what kind of government do we have? If our government is shaped by the God of the Bible that we speak of we should follow Him and not the other way around; but as it is, we are trying to take Him out of the equation all together. It is a case of a society that has turned their backs and not their faces… If we are a nation under God then He should be the One drawing the Line… And if we the Church are who we say we are, “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15) we have to stand for that Truth.. That means that we, in Love remind our people that We still ARE one nation under God. And no matter how “common” the idea gets, God does NOT evolve. Our nation has evolved for hundreds of years in some ways for the better and some for worse, but I think the thing that we are forgetting is that we are human, and God is holy. The reason we have evolved (better or worse) is because we are still sinful. But we would LIKE to think that we are not. We are arrogant and imperfect.

  21. psalmist121

    Dave,
    This is the best explanation and commentary I have ever heard on such a black and white subject. Thank you for articulating it so wonderfully. When so many issues seem muddled by world view, you have clearly defined and magnified God’s heart as well as what our response should be. The Lord has truly gifted you to simply state truth. Thank you!
    Chrissy Larson
    Jacksonville, FL

  22. jaketalbert

    Reblogged this on jaketalbert and commented:
    Here is a blog post from billyhumphrey.com. It was written by David Sliker. I thought the content was really insightful and wanted everyone to check it out.

  23. Billy Humphrey

    @ Gregory
    I believe the Scriptures not only encourage Christian’s to “step in the way”, as you put it, by call us to do so. I’ll be posting a blog on this idea shortly. The most loving thing you can do for one who is unknowingly heading toward destruction is to gently, but boldly, step in their way and offer an alternative. Thanks for your comment.

    • Gregory Beaver

      Ah yes, but what if YOU are the one who is unknowingly heading towards destruction? Again I am brought back to Matthew 7. It is all too easy to assume that one’s own understanding of scripture is the correct and only way, but God calls us not to change others but to change ourselves. Others are changed by divine inspiration, and we can only help them to seek this inspiration through our own example. Having the courage to allow others to make their own choices, but to provide an example for them through our own actions is also a far more effective force for change than, as you put it “gently but boldly” (and as I put it) strong-arm them into an alternative path :).

      • Billy Humphrey

        I’m glad you mentioned Matthew 7… I’m planning to write on that soon as well. 🙂

        I think you may be leaving out the explicit admonitions of of Scripture when you say, “we can only help them to seek this inspiration through our own example.”

        I’m not sure that’s what Jesus meant in Matthew 28:19-20. Or what Paul had in mind in 2 Timothy 2:24-26.

        • Gregory Beaver

          You may be right, but I am a teacher of earthly things as a profession, and I can say with authority that 80% of what students learn is who you are, not what you tell them. The other 20% is much more effective if you help students discover what you want them to learn on their own than if you tell them. What I am also saying is that some students are not ready to learn, and you cannot force them to learn, they must choose to do it.

          As for the scripture you quote, there is no conflict with what I am saying. Paul says “if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth” which is a simple rephrasing of what I wrote: divine inspiration is not granted by man, but by God. Jesus says to baptize the nations and turn them into disciples, but does not say “go and make them do this.” We are forced to extrapolate as to how to make this happen, and I would suggest his example is a pretty good model. He goes around doing good works, answering questions when asked, telling people that THEIR faith has healed them, etc. etc. Each of the disciples chose to follow him, he did not draft any followers.

          As for Dave’s assertion that leading by example is bad parenting or passive, I would remind you that I am commenting on this blog in an attempt to sway those who believe that judgement is the way forward on this issue, but I am in no way the Christ (just ask my wife) :). I am also a parent, and I very much lead my child through example. This is very different from ignoring things she does that are wrong! My goal is to help her to be a better person through my example when there is a conflict. I am not always successful, but when I am, she is much faster to transition from anger to laughter than she used to be when she was younger, and starting (for example) to share her toys and food with others unsolicited. Of course, I am a parent, so there are innumerable times that I have been at the end of my rope and lost my temper or made my daughter do something she didn’t want to do. What I have learned is that this never has the result I expect it to have. Often, she was so hurt, I ended up addressing the slip-up for days. Now, I am more willing to wait for her to be ready to do something, or gently re-direct through humor or some other self-directed action because of what she has taught me through her example.

          You see, I am arguing not passivity, but that the direct action we so often take to “correct” wrongs has the opposite effect: it brings more evil and conflict into the world, and pulls us further from God ironically because we took action in the name of God.

          Let me remind everyone that one of the most passive actions you can take is a hunger strike. This is just refusing to eat, but it has a powerful possibility to change the world, and does not involve action against other humans at all. What I am suggesting is the opposite of passive, it’s actually more effective than telling people they’re not righteous, no matter how gently or compassionately we do it.

      • davidwsliker

        Gregory –

        Is it safe to assume that you wouldn’t advocate this approach to parents as it relates to bringing up their children? I don’t ignore things my children are doing that are clearly and inarguably wrong morally in order to “change myself”. The Sermon on the Mount calls us to be salt (preservative through truth) and light (revealer of truth) – that the body of Christ would work together to preserve and transform society as they pursue grace from God to be transformed themselves. The way this works practically is that, if I am friends with a practicing homosexual than I have an obligation in love to call them to purity as I seek purity in my own life. I don’t wait until I am in full purity before I bring loving correction to a friend.

        The gospel has social ramifications, not just individual or personal ones. There is a righteousness, or a standard according to God’s “rightness” that has been revealed to all men, according to Paul in Romans 1:16-18. Part of the good news is that God offers to impute to our lives that righteousness as a free gift, that we might be joined with Him and dwell with Him forever in His kingdom. As such, the wrath of God has also been revealed related to those who reject both God’s righteousness and His free offer to impute and impart it.

        The problem that folks here are rightly identifying is the tendency to call “non-friends” that they have little to no relationship with to righteousness and purity. Without the foundation of solid relationship built on the love of Christ, it is hard to call a stranger to the truth. It takes an open door made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. The problem is that unloving Christians with no open door to the hearts of men dogmatically proclaim truth out of principle, not out of compassion. I appreciate why folks would react within these comments – this kind of unloving dogmatism does not represent Christ or His heart at all.

        However, neither does passivity in the name of, “who are you to judge?” It is not loving to see a brother drowning and leave him to his fate because I haven’t sorted out my own issues with water. That is idealistic and not representing the heart of what Jesus was asserting in Matthew 7.

  24. JV

    Hey Gregory,
    I enjoy your comments. I wanted to chase a rabbit you flushed up a little earlier:
    “When we say we believe, we are explicitly choosing “a God to believe in.” This does not mean we are necessarily believing in a different God. So, I would say, in answer to your question: Yes. That god is a god, and is the God. Put another way, the God we choose to believe in when we are 6 years old is very different from the God we choose to believe in when we’re 26 years old, but does that make this a different God? No. It is we who have changed, not God, and therefore our relationship to and understanding of God will change as well.”

    I’d like to challenge that a little.
    Instead of imagining someone’s relationship with God, imagine their relationship with you or me. A 6-year-old and a 26-year-old will each have a different kind of relationship with me, but that difference is different than that same 6-year-old and 26-year-old having a relationship with you. You and I have different characters, we look different, we sound different… because we are different people.
    I think it’s the same with God. My understanding of Him has changed as I’ve grown, but I’m still relating to the same person. It has not changed in the same way it would if I started worshiping a different god. My knowledge of His character has deepened, but I haven’t dropped it in favor of some other god with a different character.
    I think there’s a temptation, because God is “infinite”, to make that mean that He has no distinct character… but I see the exact opposite in Scripture.
    Rather than defining God by His incommunicable attributes, the God portrayed in the Bible is defined as the One who made covenants with Israel, created the Universe, revealed His name as YHWH to Moses, accomplished the Exodus, took on human flesh as Jesus of Nazareth, died and rose from death, and will judge everything and everyone at the close of the Age.
    If the god someone else is worshiping did not do these things, I would respectfully submit that they are not worshiping the same god as me. To say otherwise would be like claiming someone had a relationship with you because they had a relationship with me.

    • Gregory Beaver

      Yes, what you say makes sense, but the context of my comment was in response to someone questioning whether she agreed with all of the teachings of her Catholic church. She had said she chose to believe in a loving God. This is not at all against the teachings of many, many denominations of Christianity. Perhaps you are suggesting that each denomination really is worshiping a different God, and I do understand some people believe that. Fortunately, because we are not omniscient, it is never possible to be sure someone else believes in a different God with 100% certainty. We can only suspect that this is true.

      Case in point: I have had a few arguments with co-workers where we were both sure we disagreed with one another over an idea so much so that we were sure our viewpoints were diametrically opposed. After arguing for quite a while, we decided to demonstrate the ideas to each other, and realized that in spite of the opposition of our language, we were actually arguing for the same thing. If this can happen with petty things, it can most certainly happen with important ones such as how we choose to describe God.

      We, however, are also not God, and so cannot know whether our own beliefs are true or another person’s are false.

      This simple fact is the essence of what I am arguing here (and is what I believe Matthew 7 is about). Because we cannot know, we cannot judge. We need perfect information to make a judgment with God’s certainty. We should act with the humility to recognize that if acting on our beliefs call us to cause pain to another person, it is possible that we are in the wrong, and that acting on these beliefs could bring us further from God’s will. By the same principle, I could be wrong about the idea that we should love without condition, but I’d much rather risk being wrong because I chose to love too much.

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