A Response to “My Lesbian Daughter, The Bible, and Sex”
On January 6th there was an opinion piece at FoxNews.com written by Shari Johnson entitled “My Lesbian Daughter, The Bible, and Sex.” It’s a very moving admission by an evangelical who learns her daughter is a lesbian and the ensuing journey to acceptance with that fact.
First, as an Evangelical and parent myself, I can understand how hard it would be to be confronted with someone you love who admits they are what you’ve always thought was wrong. However, my concern with the article is that it’s an example of how we as Evangelicals (and a culture as a whole) have two modes: Intolerance or approval.
Tolerance these days does not mean tolerance in the classical sense. To be tolerant in that sense you must first disagree, then still respect the person while not accepting their views. When we use the word these days what we really mean is that we’ve moved from disagreement to approval.
This article is about that journey. And while I completely sympathize with the situation (my family has always been evangelical and my uncle came out as gay, so I do know something of how this can play out) the article troubles me for a few reasons.
In my beating on Heaven’s door, telling God He had to change her, He instead changed me. It seems that He was far more disturbed about my lack of love than He was about her homosexuality.
Where did this information about God come from? Now, it may be the case that God views a lack of love more severely, but that’s not the point. What’s the basis? Feeling? Scripture? Logic? Divine revelation? None is given, though I imagine it’s the first. I may be wrong.
When I hear terms like “God’s design” and “Biblical marriage” I have to wonder who decides these things.
Well, for one Jesus does:
2And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,[a]8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:2-8 ESV)
Yes, this passage is about divorce. But Jesus answers the question on divorce by explaining marriage itself. God made them male and female, therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife. It’s rooted in the created order of male and female. Paul echoes this in Romans 1. The Jewish law forbid homosexual relationships. A law Jesus said he did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.
You have to go through quite a few mental gymnastics to get out of it. Now, you might disagree with what the Scripture says. Fine. But it’s consistently clear on this point.
Our cultural adaptation of marriage has certainly evolved through the ages—had God not intervened, Joseph could have had Mary stoned to death for being pregnant with a child that was not his. (An engagement at that time was considered the same as a marriage.)
In order for there to be a “cultural adaptation of marriage” there has to first be a basic idea of what marriage is before it can be adapted. Same-sex marriage isn’t about adapting, it’s about redefining. But marriage can only be defined by the Definer. Cultures may distort the ideal (as they often do), but marriages pre-existed governments and cultures. Heterosexual marriages are how society will naturally organize itself. This is a historical and sociological fact.
Marriages have looked different in different cultures. So what follows from that? The cultural adaptation of marriage may have changed, but it’s still rooted in a natural order. The argument here is that marriage has always changed and now it’s changing again. But this time it’s outside the natural order or design. Even in polygamy one sex is married to other sexes and people are not married all to each other. In that instance, one person is married multiple times. A little different than what’s being advanced now. (It too falls outside God’s parameters for marriage, but that’s another topic.)
That is just one example—so many books could be written on the history of marriage. Yet we keep a death grip on the scriptures that suit us—and the translation of those scriptures becomes more a matter of tradition, opinion and convenience than the Word of God.
Which scriptures are we holding to that suit us? What scriptures are we rejecting that do not suit us? This is a statement that must be backed up to be taken seriously. Translation of scripture (and I think she means interpretation, not translation) becomes a matter of “tradition, opinion, and convenience?” It’s true that many interpret scripture this way. It’s unfortunate. However, the irony here is that this is exacty what Johnson is doing. In essence: “My daughter is gay, therefore my interpretation of the bible must change.” Convenient.
If one can find anything amusing in all this, it is that those who are upset about sex outside of marriage are the same ones who are opposed to marriage equality.
I think this is supposed to mean: “Look, if you want people to stop having sex outside of marriage, quit denying marriage to people.” But again, sex outside of marriage is wrong for the same reason homosexual relations are: they both fall outside of the parameters God established for sex.
As for the term “marriage equality” I think it actually comes closer to stating what the marriage issue is about. It’s not about individual rights. It’s about saying this relationship between these two types of people are the same as the relationship between those two types. It’s about saying these relationships are identical. And they aren’t. One results, by nature, in the next generation of society and one doesn’t. And the only reason government should be involved in these type of relationships at all is to preserve the next generation of society. For two relationships that are supposed to be “equal” the outcomes for each are not.
The principles for heterosexual marriage are the same for same-sex marriage—love, commitment, faithfulness, loyalty, honor and respect. How can we deny that to anyone?
The claim here, and I think it’s an unintentional one, is that if same-sex marriage isn’t passed then we will be denying those couples the above things: love, commitment, faithfulness, etc. But this makes no sense. You don’t need government endorsement to set up housekeeping and do those things. Again, the government doesn’t care who we love, they (should) care about ensuring the continuation of society. And as stated above, one type of relationship does this, the other does not.
When I asked a wise friend how she reconciled the scriptures with her daughter’s homosexuality, she said, “I can’t. So I just let God sort it out.” I took her advice and I learned things about God I would never have known if I were still telling Him what His scriptures mean.
Maybe the issue here is that we don’t know how to love those who disagree with us. And if that person is close enough to us, something’s got to give. In this case, we claim we don’t really know what the Bible says about the issue, so we don’t have to deal with it.
This story will resonate with many readers. Honestly, it resonates with me. It’s powerful. It’s emotionally moving. But emotions have to be kept in check with reason. And while this opinion piece tries to make the case that “hey maybe we’re wrong about God and homosexuality” it does not give one solid reason why the “traditional” interpretation is wrong. Instead this trades on the most effective rhetorical device of the 21st century – a moving story – and in going straight for the heart bypasses the head altogether.