As I support religious freedom, one defense I have heard is that gay marriage is never addressed by Jesus, and cannot be found in the New Testament either. Basically, some argue that what the bible says about gay marriage is only addressed in books like leviticus and simply doesn’t apply to today. Let’s examine this:
The Old Testament is Inspired by God
Let’s ask the question, if Homosexuality is only addressed in the Old Testament, can we authoritatively use what it says?
Yes. First of all, how many times does something have to be in the bible to be true? 1? 7? 100? Even if the issues around homosexuality were limited to the Old Testament, how would that disqualify it? It may give us a slightly different understanding, but that isn’t the case anyway. Here’s what Jesus said about the Old Testament:
“Jesus believed that the Old Testament was divinely inspired, the veritable Word of God. He said, ‘The Scripture cannot be broken’ (John 10:35). He referred to Scripture as ‘the commandment of God’ (Matthew 15:3) and as the ‘Word of God’ (Mark 7:13). He also indicated that it was indestructible: ‘Until Heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the law, until all is accomplished’ (Matthew 5:18).” – BeThinking.org http://www.bethinking.org/bible/q-how-did-jesus-view-the-old-testament
If Jesus says the Old Testament is important, than I think we should too.
What does the Old Testament say about Marriage and Homosexuality?
The bible addresses our cultures current issues in two ways. First, it provides a model for what marriage is to look like. Second, it warns us about homosexuality.
First, we are purposely made:
Genesis 1:27 New International Version (NIV)
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Then God explains how marriage is to be:
Genesis 2:24New International Version (NIV)
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
So that addresses marriage, but what about homosexuality?
Leviticus 18:22New International Version (NIV)
22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.
Leviticus 20:13New International Version (NIV)
13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
There is also the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. While recent scholars claim the sin of Sodom was of inhospitality, that is not the traditional view. It is also a position that takes much more work to get to than if you just read the story and listen. Here are a few reasons the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah are about homosexuality, not inhospitality.
- Sodom was judged because of a grave sin (Gen 18:20). It is unlikely that being inhospitable to guests is a grave sin.
- It was an example of gross immorality and pursuing strange flesh as described in Jude 7.
- 2 Peter 2:7-9 wrote about the “corrupt desires of the flesh” when discussing Sodom.
There are several reasons to believe and interpret the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as a punishment against homosexuality and as a warning for us today. None as blunt and clear as Jude 1:7:
New International Version (NIV)
7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
For a great article on Sodom and Gomorrah, I suggest you visit Stand to Reason here http://www.str.org/articles/what-was-the-sin-of-sodom-and-gomorrah#.VSPrTBPF8kU They do a great job dissecting the conversations around this topic.
Before we move on to the New Testament, I wanted to share one other thought on this to tie these verses together. Any business person or homeowner knows that you can go to a bank and borrow money. When you get a loan, you also agree to comply with both positive and negative covenants. In banking, positive covenant are things that you must do. Negative covenants are things that you must not do. You can’t pick some. You must maintain both positive and negative covenants. Similarly, when it comes to marriage and homosexuality, we must also comply with the warnings against homosexuality and the proper covenant of marriage between one man and one woman.
What does Jesus (the Gospels) say about Marriage and Homosexuality?
Besides reaffirming the Old Testament, Jesus held marriage in high regard. High enough that Jesus chose the wedding at Cana to show his first miracle.
But what did Jesus say about marriage? Read it for yourself:
Matthew 19:4-6New International Version (NIV)
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Mark 10:6-9New International Version (NIV)
6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’[a] 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,[b] 8 and the two will become one flesh.’[c] So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
There is always a description of one man and one woman in marriage. It doesn’t say two people. It says a man and a woman.
What about the New Testament?
There are several passages that address homosexuality. Again, I will let you read them for yourself:
Romans 1:26-27New International Version (NIV)
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10New International Version (NIV)
9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Timothy 1:9-10New International Version (NIV)
9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine
Revelation 22:15New International Version (NIV)
15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Why Not Bake a Wedding Cake for a Gay Ceremony?
Let’s start by looking at this issues on a moral basis. To a practicing Christian, a wedding is a ceremony and is part of a covenant. A covenant is a sacred event and this is witnessed by God himself. God says, he is literally there and woven into each marriage. It is common for Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 to be read at a wedding. The third strand is representative of God in their marriage.
Marriage is a covenant:
Malachi 2:14New International Version (NIV)
14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
Proverbs 6:20-29 is a fearful warning against breaking the marriage covenant and it still applies today.
Conclusion and my Opinion:
There is no argument to be made that marriage and homosexuality aren’t addressed by Jesus, or the New Testament. It is clear that the New Testament confirms and upholds the law of the Old Testament. They prove to buttress the argument for marriage as one man and one woman and that homosexuality is a sin.
It is also clear that participating in a gay marriage ceremony is participating in a covenant and there are very clear warnings and many reasons for Christians to have a religious conscience against breaking a covenant.
Refusing to participate in a gay marriage is not discrimination. It is the proper, scripturally sound reaction to the situation for a Christian.
A contract to provide a service should NEVER trump a constitutional right to freedom of religion.
Forcing a person to violate their conscience is in itself the discriminatory act. It equates to removing one persons’ constitutional right to the First Amendment by violating their right to their own faith and religious conscience.
Further, the government should never decide through courts or legislation that practicing ones faith is discriminatory when they decide NOT to do something. Not participating doesn’t hurt anyone. There is a big difference between actively doing something that may discriminate, and choosing not to do something.