Same-sex relationships and the church

A very helpful interaction of the kind that is called for by people who love deeply and follow Christ. You will find things to disagree with but if you agree with everything why bother to reconfirm you own views? I submit this as a helpful and civil exchange.

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Chicago’s Archbishop Cupich’s Response to the Supreme Court’s Ruling

bioIn my post yesterday I referenced the response of some conservative Christian ministers and leaders to the Supreme Court ruling on marriage announced last week. A Chicago news report noted that Archbishop Blasé J. Cupich, on Sunday, July 5, urged Chicago’s Catholics to adopt “mature and serene reflections as we move forward together.” Cupich noted that the Court’s decision had “redefined civil marriage.” He also said that the Catholic Church has “an abiding concern for the dignity of gay persons.” But, he added, “It is also important to stress that the Supreme Court’s redefinition of civil marriage has no bearing on the Catholic Sacrament of Matrimony in which the marriage of man and woman is a sign of the union of Christ and the Church. In upholding our traditional concept of marriage, we are called to support those who have entered into this sacred and loving bond with God and each other.”

Can you not see the striking difference in both wording and tone in the archbishop’s response and that of stridently conservative evangelicals and Catholics in other parts

The Week That Dramatically Altered the Culture Conflict and the Future of the Church

th-1Response to the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage has been all over the map, to say the least. We have seen some amazing celebrations and all the expected denunciations from many Christians. At First Baptist Church in Dallas the pulpit was adorned with red, white and blue last weekend. The pastor called the ruling “an affront in the face of Almighty God.” Robert Jeffress, pastor at First Baptist Dallas, said the court had acted in a way that represented “depravity, degradation and what the Bible calls sexual perversion.” The White House, in contrast, was bathed in the rainbow colors of the LGBT movement. Many other churches, mostly Protestant mainline congregations, called attention to the decision with prayer and joy.

The pastor at First Baptist in Dallas said he was not discouraged at all. He added, “We are not going to be silenced. This is a great opportunity for our church to share the truth and love of Jesus Christ and we are going to do it.” Now, if ever there was a line I personally agreed

Same-Sex Marriage Dividing a Local Parish

On the same day that I read the Associated Press report that I referenced yesterday regarding the new Pew Research about same-sex marriage there was another report from Great Falls, Montana. This story struck me as one filled with profound pain and difficulty.

Church PictureRoman Catholic Bishop Michael Warfel of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings conducted a meeting with about 300 parishioners from St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown on Saturday, September 20. There is a huge controversy inside the St. Leo congregation. Fr. Samuel Spiering, the priest at St. Leo’s, has decided to prohibit a gay couple from receiving the Eucharist unless they take three steps. First, they must legally divorce. Second, they must live separately. And third, they must write a statement affirming that marriage is between a man and a woman. The 300 people from the parish who met with their bishop were said to be evenly divided about the counsel of their priest. (Note: This is not an urban center where large numbers of gays might live in communities.)

The same-sex couple, in

Has the Political Support for Same-Sex Marriage Leveled Off?

imagesHas American political support for same-sex marriage leveled off in recent months? A recent Pew Research Center poll says: “Yes.” After years of continual and dramatic growth for the support of same-sex marriage this growth may have slowed, if not stopped. The poll’s authors caution that it is too soon to make definitive conclusions about this new data. To give but one example of the data, since February this new poll reveals that support for (legal) same-sex marriage has declined from an approval of 54% to 49%. The percentage of those opposed during the same period went from 39% to 41%.

The same survey showed that religious influence in America was also declining. Yet most who were surveyed saw this decline as a negative. Interestingly, about half of the respondents said churches and houses of worship should speak out more openly on public issues. And nearly half of all respondents said businesses should be allowed to deny service to same-sex couples if the owners have religious objections.

I think the most amazing number from this new Pew Research was

Gay Scouts and the Culture War

UnknownI do not know of a cultural debate that reveals the profound differences among conservative Christians in America more than the recent decision of the Boys Scouts of America (BSA) to openly accept homosexual scouts. (A move to allow openly homosexual scoutmasters to serve Scout troops has been delayed.) This new policy clearly reveals the wide range of Christian responses that exist among Christian leaders and churches.

Ernest Easley, pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia, who is the chairman of the Southern Baptist executive committee, says his church will shut down its scout troop at the end of 2013 because of this new policy to allow gay boys to be scouts. Other churches are following this lead in significant numbers.

One of America’s largest mega-churches, Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, has announced its own plan to shut down their troop, effective January 1, 2014. Still other visible critics are taking more of a “wait and see attitude” (USA Today, May 31-June 2).

About 70% of Scout troops are chartered by faith-based groups. Southern Baptist churches alone sponsor

Sex in the Modern City: The Consequences of Our Cultural Patterns

images-1Sex is the lifeline of all human life on this planet. Virtually all forms of animal life mate in one form or another. This is how they procreate their species. For most species the ability to share the physical act of sex is restricted to only a few time periods during each year. This natural observation leads me to the conclusion that God designed humans so that we have a unique ability to couple sexually much more often than most species. During each month there are several days in which a woman is fertile and can conceive a child but most of the time we can have sex and not create a child.

Let’s face it – sex is a powerful human force, for good and ill. Men have killed their rivals for it and died to protect those they are sexually committed to in various contexts.

I am old fashioned enough to believe that one of the greatest gifts that you can give to your spouse is the gift of sexual purity before you are married. This means

Sex: Understanding the Two Great Fallacies That Harm Marriage

The current debate about marriage, same-sex marriage, and the relationship of both to orthodox Christian teaching, all seems to finally come down to sex itself. I am convinced, however, that if we draw this conclusion it is incredibly flawed.

images-2I ended yesterday’s post by saying that we have inherited two fallacies regarding sex. First, we have inherited the idea that sex is nasty, dirty or disgusting. This is often (wrongly to a large extent) blamed on the Puritan ethic. In reality this idea is generally due to a virulent strain of old-fashioned Manichaeism. The Manichean heresy taught that the spirit was good, nice, clean. The body, and thus all matter, is dirty and evil. This is total heresy. The church teaches that matter and spirit are both equally good since God created them. If you’ve ever read that the church taught the world at large that sex is unclean then you have read something that is far, really far, from the real truth. (St. Augustine’s personal issues and concerns, rooted in his life of promiscuity before conversion, aside.)


Human Sexuality and Holy Marriage

I concluded in yesterday’s post that marriage is in deep trouble as a social institution in Western culture. After centuries of development, and developing legal support, the institution is now falling apart in a little more than one generation. This tragic loss has little, or nothing, to do with the same-sex debate that is raging at the moment.

I ended yesterday’s post by giving three purposes for marriage as I understand the ancient faith tradition of the Christian church and the fairly straightforward teaching of Holy Scripture on this subject. I begin today by saying that marriage is a rich, reimages-1warding and holy thing. God gave me a wife in order to bless me and to call me to deep love. I am called to intimacy with this amazing person so that I am deeply prepared for eternity and the romance and bliss of my eternal marriage with Christ (cf. Ephesians 5:21-33).

Jesus said that in heaven there is neither marriage nor giving in marriage. But the closest thing on earth to the joy of heaven is a deep,

Romance, Human Bliss and the Changing Place of Marriage in Our Culture

87665In the introduction to his classic book, Orthodoxy, the famous G. K. Chesterton says that he wished “to set forth my faith as particularly answering this double spiritual need, the need for that mixture of the familiar and the unfamiliar which Christendom has rightly named romance.”

This quote baffled me at first sight. How can a “mixture of the familiar and unfamiliar” in Christian thought and practice, or orthodoxy, be called “romance?”

Romance refers, at least most commonly, to a love affair. It especially describes an intense and happy affair involving young people. It can also refer to an inclination, or spirit, for adventure, for excitement, or for mystery; e.g. one rooted in love and deep, intense feeling.

Chesterton juxtaposes ideas like “strange and secure” as well as “wonder and welcome” to describe the yearning he believes lies behind all human pursuits. This is the hunger that we have to climb the next hill, or peer around the next corner, and to gaze longingly into another face, to see the true home which we long for so deeply. Chesterton was