Monday, July 25, 2005


Same-sex marriage law passes 158-133
CBC News
The Liberals' controversial same-sex marriage legislation has passed final reading in the House of Commons, sailing through in a 158-133 vote...
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obviously, i've been thinking about this for awhile. (bill c-33 passed back in june and here it is the end of july...) there have been so many openly expressed positions already, that posting something seemed a bit pointless until i got into a conversation within a small bible study i lead. it seemed to me that, even with all of the political rhetoric and (self-) righteous posturing by so many, once again the everyday people with whom i try to interact regularly were still feeling a bit lost as to what they were to believe, how they were supposed to express it and why. such is life with almost any political football, i think. there are efforts made to inform 'the masses,' but in most cases this informing takes on the added colour of persuasion... probably because we have a really tough time actually being objective about anything.

(nice thing about a blog is that, for the most part, we all acknowledge that the writing is just a personal point of view, taken or left by the reader- a nice kinda freedom in that to just be- and in so being, being honestly, yeah? of course this doesn't address the whole problem of not being honest with ourselves, but that's probably a whole nother blog!)

so what to say to the 'sheep' on this issue? well, i'm not sure that the role of believers has really changed that much, regardless of the legislation. it is still our job to uphold the traditional (dareisay 'biblical' without the whole notion being confused by all who are eager to point out the many rather odd eastern cultural spins on marriage and concubinery that are also found in the bible?) concept of marriage and the nuclear family in an age where it would appear as though almost anything short of polygamy goes.

recently we (staff at my church) were asked to wear a yellow ribbon to express our position on the recent debate. i found this uncomfortable, not because of what i stand for, but because so often people misinterpret this stand as some form of spiritualized bigotry. without the chance to speak openly and directly to someone who inquires about the significance of the symbol, i was fearful that others would make presumptions about my faith and my God without actually asking. however, when asked, i found that the conversation was quite natural.

(tangent: now that i think of it, wearing crosses and the like is probably the same thing... nobody asks what the cross around my neck means- yet everyone probably makes assumptions about its significance and meaning based on their own experiences with people wearing that symbol too.)

in my view, the key is to share our biblical view face to face with those who inquire, and to use every opportunity to uphold the sanctity of the institution of marriage within the law rather than without it. in order to share the biblical view, or the denomination's company line on it, we need to know what that is. below is an exerpt from an email thread that spun out of the initial conversation at the bible study. my friend was having trouble sorting out the harshly expressed homophobia of his youth with his newly acquired understanding of the grace of God- he had now swung hard the other way to an 'anything goes because God loves us all' theology of grace and morality in attempts to somehow redeem himself from his loveless youth which he recognized as fascist and wrong. when our morality pendulum is permitted to swing back and forth in response to our life experiences, the end result is that we don't really subscribe to anything constant. my friend was frustrated by this, wanting to share Jesus' love for people, but confusing that with permissiveness.

i agree strongly with your statement about judgement. there is usually no love in the judgemental pronouncements we make about others- most of the time it is about 'legalism'. one of the things that God has given us as a light to guide us through life's issues is his Word. if we are careful to live life according to it, to 'walk in the light as He is in the light' (1john 1.6-7) then we are free to live according to his original vision for us.

your redemption is free, man. free to you anyway- it cost Jesus everything as we read in phil2. though you still feel the burden of your past, please remember that Jesus died to take that burden off of you. to keep taking it back is to take back that which Jesus has offered to take upon himself on the cross. it's like he bought your spiritual peace with his blood and now you don't even get what he paid for. don't worry about trying to rectify the mistakes of your youth, pal. they're long gone.

we all know that individuals have to make up their own minds on social issues, but part of that mind-making has to do with being informed. it is every believer's responsibility to develop convictions based on a synthesis of scripture and everyday life and relationships. it is only in order to offer some further perspective for you on this matter that i am sending the Bishop's words.

so, as to gay people's 'right' to marry and have the relationship legitimized in the eyes of God and man through a christian ceremony that acknowledges it as in accordance with God's design and plan, i think that taking a close look at the bishop's statement and the scriptures cited will help in clearing up the 'confusion'.

here, for your consideration, is the free methodist church in canada's stand on the matter, as found in the manual.

(and by the way, for the detectives out there, there are pictures of jollybeggar and mrs jollybeggar in a commissioning service that took place in july... as well as one old guy in the youth band that also looks strangely familiar... thanks for pointing these out, Pensive Johnny !)

¶630.2.8 Homosexual Behaviour

Homosexual behaviour is condemned by the Scriptures as immoral because it is a distortion of God’s created order, a practice contrary to nature (Romans 1:26,27; I Corinthians 6:9,10; I Timothy 1:8-10). The sanctity of marriage and the family is to be protected against all manner of conduct that moves away from the Creator’s design.

This behaviour is contrary to God’s intention for humans and therefore harmful to those who participate in and form habits toward such behaviour.

Homosexual behaviour is different from homosexual inclination; and persons with homosexual inclinations are accountable to God for their behaviour (Romans 14:12). Because Christians are part of fallen humanity we must deal with many inclinations to sin, but we trust that the grace of God is available and completely adequate to forgive and heal us (I John 1:9; Hebrews 7:25; Luke 4:18; I Corinthians 6:9-11).

While some Christians, regrettably, violate the church’s historic commitment to the deep worth of all persons, The Free Methodist Church in Canada affirms it (See ¶630.2.1). Therefore, Free Methodists have a responsibility to be God’s agents of healing, ministering in love to those involved in homosexual behaviour and giving them support as they learn to live a Christian life that is wholesome and pure.

personally, i feel that this statement is a balanced one in that it denotes a crucial difference between inclination and behaviour. people become slaves to their drives: nietzsche said that. however, it doesn't have to be that way, for the grace of God is free to all.

i realize, as i've participated in conversations that go this direction, that transgendered people and people with same-sex inclination can be hurt by well-meaning moralists who draw easy lines between behaviours that feel so natural and things like theft or murder. truth is, there are no easy lines. scripture does not support sexual lifestyle decisions that go in same-sex directions... however, scripture also fails to support the presumption that anyone with same-sex inclinations is somehow outside of the invitation that God made through Jesus to cast aside the earmarks of our old life in order to enjoy freedom within his grace to be all that we were intended to be when God dreamed us up in the first place. Jesus was always there in the middle of the crowd, showing love to the marginalized, the lost and the confused. he was enjoying supper with 'sinners and others' (people whose lives went in directions that were even too much for the new testament writers to describe in their gospels) much to the disgust of the religious right, and only preached against those who walked around lording their legalism over people.

i have gay friends and they know how i feel on this issue. they also know that i love them dearly. until we can be loving revolutionaries, do we subscribe to anything higher than the pharisees standing outside of matthew's party in matt9.10-13?

again and again i find myself marvelling at how Jesus dealt with people- somehow able to be openly loving and righteous at the same time.

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