Have We Changed the Gospel In Our Defence Against Same-Sex Marriage?

Has anyone else noticed that our confession of Christian faith has changed recently? The Apostle’s Creed now seems to read*:

“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth…
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord…
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church…
I believe in two complementary genders and marriage solely for a man and a woman.”

John the Baptist’s call to faith (Mark 1:15) has been slightly updated as well: “Repent and believe the good news! …Along with a regulated view of gender and sexuality.”

It feels slightly heretical to even write those words down. *And just to clarify, The Apostle’s Creed hasn’t actually changed, although it’s funny how believable that added wording really is. But it expresses a concern I am becoming more and more deeply worried about…

…Have we changed the gospel in our defence against same-sex marriage?

When I was at university, a leader from our Christian student group invited me out for a coffee (Sidenote: can Christians please cool it with the queer-concerned coffee dates?!). I assumed we were going to chat about how to read a gospel with someone else, because that had been the context of our previous conversations. Oddly, we turned to 1 & 2 Timothy and started reading. I can’t remember the exact passage we read from, but here’s a snippet which sums up the theme:

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” (1 Timothy 4: 1-2)

We were reading about false teachers. As a sidenote, it’s interesting that in the next verse of this passage, these false teachers were forbidding people to marry…

My leader then turned to 2 Timothy 2:17 where Paul names Hymenaeus and Philetus as two false teachers because they were preaching that the resurrection had already taken place. Ok that’s fair enough. But then he turned to me, and told me that he would start publicly naming me as a false teacher to those in our group. This was because I was posing questions and challenges to my peers about sexuality in the Bible. Sincere and personal questions that I was living through at the time and felt couldn’t be safely directed to my leaders (I obviously had something right).

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That “concerned coffee date” really shook me and has remained with me since. I believe the Holy Spirit keeps it in my heart so that I will always remember to hold firmly to the gospel, and only the gospel, in all I do (if only it were that easy!).

I’m telling you about this experience because it’s extremely relevant to the context of our current Christian discussions about same sex marriage, as well as gender and sexuality more broadly.

When Christians challenge our traditional view of marriage and sexuality, we can’t put them in the box of “abandoning the faith” and “following deceiving spirits”. When we start equating a Christian support for same-sex marriage as a loss of their true Christian faith, we’re changing the gospel. We are no longer saying that Jesus is the only thing that puts us in a right relationship with God.

When we do this, we have also forgotten who our true enemy is, and that the holy catholic church is commanded to live in unity and service to one another (Ephesians).

I recently sat through a “forum” on same sex marriage at a church where three people with three very Anglican views preached at our audience about not wavering on our traditional views of marriage and gender. This was followed by a range of questions from the audience about how people can steer their friends who have fallen away back to the right path. They weren’t talking about friends who were no longer Christian, they were talking about Christians who were starting to support same-sex relationships.

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This issue has become so central to evangelical Christian faith, it is creating a dangerous message: the gospel is just a liiiittle bit different now.

Disagreeing on the issue of marriage doesn’t make me a second class Christian, or no Christian at all. It doesn’t discredit my faith in Jesus or my heart that attempts to honour Him. Christians should be able to challenge and disagree on issues of gender and sexuality without being treated as if they have lost their faith. We can’t keep placing people outside of God’s Kingdom, that’s dangerous stuff.

Paul lays out the gospel in the third chapter of Romans:

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.”

Let’s not lose the gospel in the same sex marriage debate.

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12 thoughts on “Have We Changed the Gospel In Our Defence Against Same-Sex Marriage?

  1. Justin says:

    Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that he died on the cross for you. He didnt die so that you could be bible-bashed by Christians about how ‘terrible’ your lifestyle is, as if they are any better (because they’re not). He died for you. That is the gospel. My view is that LGBT should hear nothing else. Other conversations can take place if they are calling Jesus Lord. But also at their right time. You wouldn’t rebuke an alcoholic for still drinking their life away one day into their faith-decision (well at least that’s not my style). Rather, put your arm out and let them take it. If they ask you to pick them up, pick them up. Don’t get in their face about it. Pretty similar for LGBT i think xD.

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  2. Tom says:

    51Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” – Luke 13:51-53.

    Following Him doesn’t look like inclusiveness. Supporting his teachings is setting ourself against the things that are not from God. Created order, given as a gift from God, is subverted in homosexual relationships. Another example of subverted order: Adam and Eve listening to a creature they themselves had dominion over. Another: every day not worshiping Him like He deserves.
    – The PEOPLE are images of God…it’s not the people doing these things that aren’t guven by God, but their acts. He made clothes for Adam and Eve because he cared, he sent Jesus because he cared, for the people.

    The stance is not one of a belief of a “loss of faith” but of a differing interpretation of the scriptures. Not a differing interpretation of the gospel – but other teachings of the bible.

    Those audience members who were asking how to steer their friends back were in fact following the command in Ephesians. They wanted unity.

    “14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” – Ephesians 4:14-15.

    Christ, the head, announced his view in Mark 10:6-9. Unity in Christ, in the Spirit, in his teaching, and in one another as disciples, can show nothing other than upholding this.

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    • queervangelical says:

      Fair point. Although Christ was described as the “stumbling block” that would divide families. Jesus’ teachings didn’t deal with LGBT+ people, so do we need to have unity on this to have unity in his teachings?

      We obviously have differing opinions about the interpretation of Genesis – I don’t think it’s that literal. Science shows us the world has more than two sexes in existence.

      Apart from our differences though, it’s a good challenge – not to confuse inclusivity with unity. Cheers!

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      • Tom says:

        No, no, the Genesis creation account, amongst other things, is a revelation of God’s character, that’s how I was using it – I didnt mean to imply a literalist view.

        Yes, I’ll have to respectfully disagree with you there: I think there is a danger in not searching for unity. We are declaring our ideas of the truth – our ideas on what God does and doesn’t think/say/allow/forbid. We are declaring God’s very nature and character. This is an especially risky situation for topics not present in scriptures (though aspects of this topic can be found there most definitely). If we dont search for unity in these matters we risk altering the image of God. We risk talking a different/fake God. There are many topics the bible is silent on, we cannot have one God saying different things for each topic.

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      • queervangelical says:

        So how do we have unity in fellowship and in Christ when there are two groups (and even more) saying “you are condemning people with your teaching, and misrepresenting the scriptures”? And each group believes themselves to be interpreting the Bible more clearly than the other?

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  3. Alix says:

    Hello,

    “So how do we have unity in fellowship and in Christ when there are two groups (and even more) saying “you are condemning people with your teaching, and misrepresenting the scriptures”? And each group believes themselves to be interpreting the Bible more clearly than the other?”

    There is an answer to this. It’s an old answer (people seem opposed to old truths today. It’s a shame): the church decides the answer. Not the individuals in it: the leadeship. They deliberate on it, discuss it, study it, and pray about it. Their answer, in days gone by, should be taken as authoritative – they are the leaders God put in place.

    This is how it has been since the beginning. The letters from the apostles are examples of this.

    Following teachings from outside the church is dangerous.

    Can I ask some questions too?

    Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?

    And what sexual sins do you think it is referring to?

    Thanks

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    • queervangelical says:

      Sure, but we have church leaders who are saying these things. We also have the letter of Jude which puts the responsibility on ALL believers, not just leaders, to contend for the true faith (quick reference – Jude v.3).

      To answer your question – I think it takes more deliberation and thought than many people give it. This is a big conversation which I hope to blog about in future. But a quick Google search gives a thought-starter about the type of discussion by church leaders:

      “Given that this is just a list without any further context, no one knows for sure exactly what Paul had in mind when he included [the word most recently translated as ‘homosexuality’] in his list of immoral behaviors. It might be referring to weakness of character, or cowardice, or some other moral (but not necessarily sexual) shortcoming.”
      Read more here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/2015/08/clobbering-the-confusion-about-1-corinthians-69-10/

      Have you read David P Gushee’s book “Changing our Mind”? – very thoughtful, very Godly, very true to scripture. I think it’s only fair that Christians openly consider alternative teachings, they don’t have to support them, but there’s a lot in the apostolic letters about searching and fighting for truth.

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  4. Interstanding says:

    Heya! I am enjoying exploring this topic and am interested in hearing your thoughts on the following (there is no rudeness nor pointing of fingers meant at all! :))

    Homosexuality is certainly no greater sin than another but what do you think Romans 1:24-27 suggests? ” God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even women exchanged their natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.”(Romans 1:24-26) I read it that God does not create a person with homosexual desires rather the Bible tells us that people become homosexuals rejecting God because of sin and ultimately because of their own choice? After exchanging the truth about God for a lie and worshipping what they thought was the truth. How do you read this passage?

    Romans 3:23, tells us all humans, as sinners, are justified through faith in Jesus as you persuasively and wisely explained, but the question remains – What then? shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! (Romans 6:15) Is not then the gospel that remains: God’s forgiveness is*** just as available*** to a homosexual as it is to anyone else,(all have sinned!) but God also promises the strength for victory over sin, (v24 woo!) including homosexuality, to all those who will believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 4:13).?

    God Bless Sister!

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      • queervangelical says:

        Sorry for the delayed reply! This is a really big discussion, one that I don’t think I can do justice to with a quick online comment. I think our interpretation of this passage has to start with “why did Paul write this? what did he originally intend by this?” and our answer needs to align with moral logic that runs throughout the rest of the Bible. If we interpret it as “people become homosexuals, rejecting God because of sin and ultimately because of their own choice” – can we back that up with general principles of moral logic from other parts the Bible? Honestly, there is a lot of background to exploring the interpretation of this from all angles and if you’re keen on exploring a revisionist discussion which also lays out traditionalist arguments as well, I would really recommend “Bible, Gender, Sexuality” by James V Brownson. In the meantime I will try to write something that can summarise my thoughts… God bless!

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