Gay marriage . . . and bubbly.

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Wherein I reflect on gay marriage and just a wee little bit upon marriage itself. Please note, I really have no business writing this stuff. But I just don’t have the sense…

Okay, so during my one-hour drive home from work a couple days ago, I was listening to public radio and heard a story about a woman who was undergoing a divorce from her spouse — another woman. (Turns out it’s as hard to get a legal gay divorce as it is to get a gay marriage in some states. That’s why the story…)

Partway through her narrative, this lady described how, after the wedding, she and her lover stopped at a homey little restaurant for dinner, mentioning that they had just gotten married. A few minutes later the server delighted them when he arrived with compliments from the chef and owner, presenting them with flowers and champagne to celebrate their nuptials.

I paused. I reflected.

What if I had been that server? How should I have responded? (How would you respond?) Do I congratulate the new couple? Do I say anything that indicates happiness for them? Would this condone their relationship?

Or do I give them sacred stony silence and the cold shoulder of moral outrage?

Further, though I do not approve of their “marriage,” shouldn’t I stay silent at least? Why tell my manager, knowing that he will award the complimentary house bubbly? (Nevermind whatever I might think about the morality of drinking that “demon likker!”)

After un-pausing, I considered my reflections….

For myself, I think I would congratulate them, give them the best wine the house has to offer, and add them to my prayer list. (They’ll certainly need both!) Whatever else might happen during my service would be up to the Lord and any conversational opportunities that come up.

My moral example?

When slapped in the face and confronted with relational and governmental injustice, Jesus told his followers to turn their heads, offering the unslapped cheek as well. When pressed into service to carry a hated Roman soldier’s baggage for a mile, Jesus instructed his listeners to not stop at the end of the mile (which the law allowed) but to go even further — to go the second mile. When sinned against, Jesus told his disciples to forgive. And forgive again. (Again and again and again Finnegan.) When modeling how to pray, Jesus demonstrated a plea for God’s forgiveness predicated on our own proactive forgiveness of others sins against us.

If we’re to offer such unconditional forgiveness against personal injustices, what right do I have to hold sin against someone who hasn’t sinned against me, but against God himself?

I agree with my fellow conservative bloggers: We should fight hard to preserve the sanctity of the very concept of marriage in our culture, with the caveat that we haven’t done so well at preserving the sanctity of marriage within our own churches — more than half of us cannot bear to stay wed despite our protestations of holy, straight matrimony.

Thus, I also agree with others that we desperately need to clean up our own act and a good place to start is living holy lives, and leading and loving unbelievers to Jesus.

And building healthy, holy marriages.

Moral outrage? That’s easy. Beautiful, Christ-like lives? That’s hard.

No wonder so many of us are combative.

Rich

[tags]blogrodent, christlike, ethics, forgiveness, forgiving, gay-marriage, gay-wedding, glbt, holiness, homosexual, homosexuality, marriage, morality, wedding, npr, public-radio, radio, sex, sexuality, culture, divorce, gay, love, justice, compassion, sin, culture-war, Jesus[/tags]

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29 Responses to Gay marriage . . . and bubbly.

  1. Pingback: Lingamish

  2. Thorpe says:

    Okay, we get it. You won’t stand up for what’s right and true and good and holy. You would rather sit there in your ivory tower and snipe at the Church than to take a stand in holiness against the godlessness and paganism, evil and sin threatening to overrun this country. You would rather hand out some wine with your grins in order to honor your “lifestyle evangelism” than ever speak hard truths that offends the wrongdoer.

    It’s easy to say we should be more loving when it takes no courage to stand for the truth. But it’s hard love that pulls sinners back from the fire that consumes. It’s not loving to stand back and sip your champagne while you “lovingly” watch them roll headlong into the fire. It’s not loving to see them throw their lives away without even a single word of protest. It’s not loving to fail to speak the truth in love.

    It is not loving to celebrate their sin.

    And that, sir, is what you recommend here. I challenge you to repent.

    You, mister blog rodent, should know better. You claim to be a pentecostal but you do not have the prophetic voice of a man full of the Spirit. You are more full, sir, of the spirit of the age than you are the Spirit of God. Again, repent before it is too late for your soul and you say, “Lord! Lord!” while he tells you to depart from him.

    .t.

  3. Rich says:

    Interesting points, Thorpe, and passionately argued, I must say.

    In response, I merely wish to point out that Jesus only told those who believed in him to “go and sin no more.”

    Your world and mine diverge on this one point: I expect sinners to sin.

    (Shucks, I expect believers to sin. I just think believers have a little divine help to avoid it. Pagans get no such help.)

    Peace,

    Rich

  4. Jeremy says:

    Let’s make this a little more interesting…

    Let’s use a different “moral example.”

    Rich, what would you do if instead of having two women come celebrate their marriage, it was instead a pederastic relationship, like the ones rumored to be at the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint compound at the Yearning for Zion Ranch. Suppose the government made pederastic relationships officially legal, what would your reaction be?

    What if both parties of the relationship were apparently happy and celebrating their new found “right”, would you still be winning the Christian congeniality contest?

    Jesus did say to the woman caught in adultery go and sin no more, but that doesn’t mean he was implicitly condoning her affair. What you are suggesting you would do in the restaurant is implicitly condoning their relationship by “congratulating” the homosexual couple. You’re congratulating the couple for the government recognizing their sinful desires, which can be the judgment of God (see Romans 1:26-27).

    How can we congratulate somebody for a political entity recognizing their state of basically being under the judgment of God?

  5. Todd says:

    Good to hear from you Rich. Even better is your response to a potentially difficult situation. Being pentecostal gives one no right to point out a persons sin. Homosexuals have come to expect militant immature christians to put them down.
    Jesus set the example for us. He loved people where they’re at. The only people He was hard on were the religious people.

    I have a cousin who is involved in a same sex marriage. My cousins partner was surprised when I hugged him at a family function. He even went so far as to say “I thought you christians …” I said nothing. If and when the subject of their sin comes up … then and only then will I tell them what they already know … that they’re lifestyle choice is wrong and that Jesus loves them and wants to build a relationship with each of them. Until that time I am forced to follow Jesus’ example.

    I heard an interview with John Lennon and a christian interviewer. They were discussing the words to the song Help.

    “Help, I need somebody,
    Help, not just anybody,
    Help, you know I need someone, help.
    When I was younger, so much younger than today,
    I never needed anybody’s help in any way.
    But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured,
    Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors.
    Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
    And I do appreciate you being round.
    Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
    Won’t you please, please help me.
    And now my life has changed in oh so many ways,
    My independence seems to vanish in the haze.
    But every now and then I feel so insecure,
    I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before.
    Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
    And I do appreciate you being round.
    Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
    Won’t you please, please help me.
    When I was younger, so much younger than today,
    I never needed anybody’s help in any way.
    But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured,
    Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors.
    Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
    And I do appreciate you being round.
    Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
    Won’t you please, please help me, help me, help me, oh.”

    To me it is clear that Lennon/McCartney were looking for answers …

    The interview went on to talk about how there was a bunch of christians on the tarmac burning Beatles in a 55 gallon drum.

    The ones who were supposed to let their light shine were obviously too busy being self righteous. And that my friends is just one of the many examples that a dying world has come to expect out of those who call themselves christians.

    I will continue to build relationships with “sinners” loving them unconditionally.

    Were the apostles clean when they were caught by the Master ? … Let’s catch the fish and leave the cleaning up to Him.

  6. If you recall, in the Greco-Roman culture homosexuality was very rampant in society.

    Yet somehow, the early church maintained its witness in the midst of it all without compromising its message.

  7. Rich I think your response is Christlike……other comments that appear are more Pharisaical.

    Now a proud member of an incredibly supportive community (the gay community) I guess I can safely say there is an intense hatred for Christians and the church within my community.

    How was this created? It wasn’t created by love, or going the extra mile, or tending to those who suffered from AIDS, or by demonstrating Mt 25; 35-40. The hatred was created by people who use the bible to condemn and judge others. Much like the Pharisees of Jesus day.

    thank God there are still Christians in the world who remind of Jesus.

    http://alifeofunlearning.blogspot.com/2008_03_01_archive.html

  8. Rich,

    First, welcome back. Now, I don’t think necessarily that same-sex marriage is a sin. How would you come to that conclusion? I think homosexual acts are sinful, but anything after that is just part of the whole picture. I think it’s important to make this distinction as it relates to the theological discussion. As for same-sex marriage, I am opposed to it on social reason, but I don’t think it is a “sin” as much as I think of when any two non-believers get married. Just because two sinners do something, doesn’t make the thing itself a sin. Make sense?

    As to how I would respond. I think the issue is really a matter of expecting Christians to behave like Christians and non-believers to act like non-believers. I don’t expect the opposite. So if two non-believers express happiness over some lifestyle decision I don’t agree with as a Christian (choosing to live together, happy she got a job as a stripper, losing her/his virginity to a lover last night, etc), I think the “human” thing is to express sympathy (same emotion – happiness or sadness) with the person. How you continue your sentiment may then be the “witness” component. It’s not endorsing their sin anymore than going to a wedding of two non-believers or a house-warming party of a couple moving in together. It’s about expectations. Of course, if it violates your conscience you shouldn’t do it. I have refrained from going to a wedding before because I could not agree with the couple’s decision to get married. But being kind is not the same as being condoning. And it’s not always necessary or helpful to “tell the truth in love”. Sometimes we are encouraged to hold our tongue (Prov).

    I would never say, “I’m a Christian and I think it’s great you got married.” I would congratulate them because I’m a human. I would be kind because I’m a Christian. I may even say, “I am a Christian and I believe in the power of prayer, so I will pray for you in your relationship.” We don’t have to remind them that they are sinners before we tell them God loves them! God loves them because they are human, made in his image, children of God in the broadest sense, purchased by the blood of Christ, no matter how moral or good their lives are without God.

    Thanks for the post.

  9. Rich says:

    @John Laukkanen:

    Thanks for your comment, John. I agree with you that marriage, itself, is not the sin, but we really can’t get away from the presumption that it’s not much of a marriage without intercourse. (Saving, of course, for such extreme exemptions such as couples incapable of intercourse due to some physical handicap.) Nevertheless, I see what you’re saying regarding the logic of separating one ‘s response to marriage from response to the sexual sin itself. For sure, I’m not sure it’s wise to confront the sin of unbelievers when we suspect it’s there. Else, all my conversations would have to begin with whatever known sin is on the table. And what benchmark do I use? Do I use my standards as a believer? As a mature believer? If I’m talking with someone who’s obviously drunk do I make that my entree every time?

    “Hey, buddy, I know you didn’t ask, but I just gotta tell you, you’re given over to the spirit of drink and you just have to say no!”

    Yeah, that’s winsome.

    Like you, John, I’m opposed to same-sex marriages for both societal and biblical reasons. I’m opposed to same sex sexual behaviors for similar sociological and biblical reasons (and even more so among believers).

    And I think the question needs to be raised, why celebrate when anybody but two believers get married? Why do we presuppose marriage is holy or sacred when only individuals contract to get married when they don’t invite the Lord of marriage to participate? Isn’t marriage between unbelievers, as you note, as much a non-starter as marriage between homosexuals?

    I might as well tell any married couple, “Look, unless you’re both practicing disciples of Jesus Christ, I have nothing to celebrate with you?”

    You mentioned:

    « It’s not endorsing their sin anymore than going to a wedding of two non-believers or a house-warming party of a couple moving in together. »

    Interesting you say that. When my wife and I lived in Chicago, we were invited to a house-warming party for her coworker and her live-in boyfriend. There would be grilling, there would be smokes, and there would be much drink. We went, of course.

    During the course of the evening, at some point, one girl around the table began talking about love and fidelity and finding “the right guy.” I piped up. We had a friendly debate. To date, my wife counts that conversation as one our most memorable witnessing moments: I held forth on the sanctity of marriage, the absolute commitment required to truly love some one, and the value of marrying without the convenience of living together first. I spoke in such as way as to be sure to convey my appreciation for our hosts and having no desire to offend or alienate them, but I wanted to be sure to put another perspective out there for my friends to chew on. It was a great moment aided, I am sure, by the likelihood that my wife and I were among the few not debilitated by drink that night.

    We all remained friendly, despite my strong opinions. Friendly enough that we’ve driven at least one of Jen’s co-workers home to protect him and other drivers from his inebriation. That guy’s appreciate for us is off the charts. Why? Not because we lectured him about drink, but because we loved him.

    Thanks for joining in, John!


    @Anthony Venn-Brown:

    Thanks for chiming in and for your compliments. Although, you might rethink that after reading other things I’ve had to say on this blog about homosexuality, faith, and relationships. I’m not convinced it is s possible to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ and engage in unmarried sex or homosexual sex (married or otherwise). But I thank you for your compliment all the same.

    I do recognize that Christians are hated among the gay community (however one defines the community), and I think much of the hatred is certainly warranted by our own sinful behaviors and attitudes. Though it’s understandable, it’s not always excusable After all, we are not nearly so well hated by those who are gluttonous, serial monogamists (married, divorced, remarried, divorced, married again, and so on…), philanderers, thieves, liars, and murderers. Somehow, we’ve figured out how to love others “as ourselves” in those areas, but we haven’t figured out how to love anyone who’s gay as ourselves.

    And what does that mean, anyhow? I agree with C.S. Lewis on this issue. When we love another person as we do oneself, we love them, think the best of them, and want the best for them despite our all-too-evident shortcomings. When I look in the mirror and see myself, I look past the sin I know too well, and still want the good for myself. You and both sin, and yet we don’t necessarily do violence to ourselves because of it (though some with aberrant psyches might). That’s how we are to treat others.

    I think you do have something, though, in noting that when the world sees Jesus, there’s a natural warm response. There’s the title of the recent Dan Kimball book, They love Jesus, but not the church. That sums it up well.

    It’s been observed so often it’s nearly a cliché: those who truly hated Jesus were not the pagans — it was the religious elite of his day.


    @Oengus Moonbones:

    Thanks for the chime-in. Your observation is absolutely correct. Our role is not to win society for Christ as to encounter Christ ourselves and win individuals to Christ. We cannot baptize and disciple a culture.


    @Todd:

    Hi, Todd, thanks for your contribution to the dialog!

    I agree with you: “Being pentecostal gives one no right to point out a persons sin.” However, whether one is Pentecostal, Evangelical, or Baptist, there are times when we need to address sin and point it out to deal with it — namely when it’s within our own life, and when it’s within the Body. But, like you noted, that’s not necessarily the case in the example I cited.

    And I like your strategy:

    « If and when the subject of their sin comes up … then and only then will I tell them what they already know … that they’re lifestyle choice is wrong and that Jesus loves them and wants to build a relationship with each of them. Until that time I am forced to follow Jesus’ example. »

    And I like that line, “Let’s catch the fish and leave the cleaning up to Him.”

    Thanks, again, for stopping by.

    Rich

  10. Rich says:

    @Jeremy:

    Jeremy, thanks for your addition to the dialog, and thanks for taking my argument to an absurd conclusion. You offered the hypothetical scenario of a pederastic relationship being celebrated, supposing it were legal. What would I do? Why stop there? Why not imagine a young unbelieving doctor celebrating his first successful D&C (abortion)? Or go back in time a bit and find myself serving dinner to a young unbelieving landowner celebrating the purchase of his first slave?

    My response would likely be quite different, though I can’t quite put my mental finger on just why. My gut feeling is that reasonableness isn’t found in the extremes.

    After all, I might as well refuse to celebrate birthdays, a clearly unbiblical celebration and, if the celebrant is an unbeliever, a frank admission of another year of living in pagan darkness.

    Why, after all, should I ever allow an unbeliever even enjoy his meal the slightest without preachments and calls to repent? The unbelieving sinner cannot eat his meal in the light of gratitude for God’s gift of life and nourishment? Without being thankful, without recognize God as the owner and source of all he enjoys, he should take no joy in the simple act of filling his belly whatsoever. Without serving God, he is a slave to his belly! Thus, I have every moral duty, under this logic, to exercise my full rhetorical skills to get that sinner right with God before he encounter even one more tasty morsel.

    Right?

    If your argument in the extremes is my guide, then it should apply not only in the heights of moral evil, then it should apply in venal shallowness as well. If I’m obliged to react critically in every case, then nothing should be left to graciousness.

    I don’t see it as a “Christian congeniality contest,” but your language makes it sound like you prefer a “Christian incivility marathon.” For, really, you could not draw a line, and the only arena for civil kindness and love would be among those who believe exactly as you do. That would take far more endurance for outrage than I have the strength for. I’m too outraged at myself to have that kind of energy.

    You ended with this question:

    « How can we congratulate somebody for a political entity recognizing their state of basically being under the judgment of God? »

    Probably for the same reasons that we don’t immediately move our family to a more conservative state where our taxes don’t support such political entities and the politicians who made it happen. If you’re going to insist that the extremes rule in this context, then you need to apply it to other areas of life where you may be implicitly condoning sin as well. If you allow your tax dollars to support legalized gambling (the lottery, if nothing else), then you condone it. If you allow your tax dollars to support abortion procedures for those on welfare, you’re condoning it.

    Really, the list could go on an on. Every day, perhaps all day long, you and I are both failing to stand up and speak out against big and small sins. You would probably say that silence does not equal consent, and you might add that my participation in this scenario’s celebration goes far beyond mere silence. But if you’ve ever celebrated the Fourth of July, are you not also condoning, implicitly, everything our government might have supported that is morally bad? Say, abortion?

    I appreciate the dialog, and I really appreciate the mental and moral challenge to think clearly. I’m just not sure we’re there yet.

    So, tell me, how would you have responded?

    Regards,

    Rich

  11. Darn you Rich – you did it again. You made me think about how I would react in an uncomfortable (for me) social situation.

    It took me a few minutes to think through how I would act – which is why I love reading BlogRodent! Thanks again for another thought provoking post!

  12. Rich says:

    Thank you, David, you sound like a paid endorser! I appreciate the compliment — it is high praise, indeed! And it’s what ever blogger craves to hear. Thanks.

    Rich

  13. Jeremy says:

    “After all, I might as well refuse to celebrate birthdays, a clearly unbiblical celebration and, if the celebrant is an unbeliever, a frank admission of another year of living in pagan darkness.”

    Your argument doesn’t hold water.

    Yes, they are living in pagan darkness, but it is a celebration of life. When a homosexual couple has the state recognize their sinful relationship as a “marriage” you congratulating an inherently sinful relationship that is public. Birthdays aren’t celebrating a specific sin, just the life of someone, while the homosexual relationship is specifically celebrating a sin.

    “I have every moral duty, under this logic, to exercise my full preaching ability to get him right with God before he encounter another morsel.”

    Did I say that you need to preach to them, no.

    But while you are hypothetically congratulating their specific and inherent state of sin, I am accussed of preferring a “Christian uncivility marathon.” Just because my argument is that you shouldn’t congratulate the homosexual couple, that’s now being considered uncivil?

    Apparently, you’re assuming that we, as Christians, cannot be gracious without congratulating homosexual couples.

    “But if you’ve ever celebrated the Fourth of July, are you not also condoning, implicitly, everything our government might have supported that is morally bad? Say, abortion?”

    No, there is *something* about this country that is not inherently evil in its founding, even though we have allowed slavery, abortion, etc. When I celebrate fourth of July, I’m not celebrating the evil that it has done, but when you are congratulating homosexual couples, what part of the relationship isn’t evil.

    There is some *good* that can be celebrated on the Fourth of July. What part of the homosexual relationship is *good*, that’s what I’m wondering.

    “So, tell me, how would you have responded?”

    I wouldn’t have congratulated them, I would have probably kept silent, served their food as usual. I wouldn’t be condoning their relationship though. That’s not the message I would like to send to them. I would still be gracious in dealing with them, neither would I demean or act superior or more righteous than them. I would try to demonstrate the love of God, which surpasses the cultural norms of “civility.”

  14. jim says:

    How refreshing, Rich, to find a Christian who speaks by the tug of the Spirit rather than an opinionated swing of the Sword. I have long pondered the attitude of the Church in general in regard to this issue from many perspectives. While it seems there is no doubt as to the condition being “wrong” from about any angle one might wish to approach it, and while personally I can not buy into the “theology” of those who would define it as genetically birthed, it yet strikes me that we, as a society, in one way or another, create the problem ourselves (allowing that the individual, just as the alcoholic, make their own decision in the matter) and then determine the solution to be setting the group on an island somehwere to be nuked once we have them all gathered….

    Give me, my friend, a believer who is at least willing to sit down, scratch his head, take the Book and allow the Holy Ghost to walk him through the veil…and, if you’re like me, one trip doesn’t eliminate all the questions.

  15. slw says:

    Are we expected to take everyone we come across who is in the midst of sin to task? Jesus did not. Should we celebrate that sin? That’s a different question. Rich, how do you see Eph 5:6-7 applying to this kind of situation?

  16. Rich says:

    @Jeremy:

    I understand where you’re coming from. But I still feel that this is the job of waitstaff. To allow my judgment of their lifestyle to intrude on the dining experience would be failing to fulfil my obligations as a server. I suppose if I found I could not do my job excellently in light of a moral need to either express disapproval or to withhold my enthusiasm, then that would be a job forbidden me.

    After all, there are many believers who can not, in good conscience, work as bartenders. There are some who can.

    Thanks, again, for the thoughtful dialog. And if it seemed I was accusing you of being mean-spirited or caustic, please accept my apology: that was never my intent.

    Peace,

    Rich

  17. Carl says:

    @slw – as usual going biblical

    @Rich – I am not sure “Rejoice with those who rejoice” would mean celebrating the sinful union. I am pretty sure I would have smiled and said, “wow!” and left it at that.

    And not to split hairs but I am not convinced that a believer can be a bartender. To say one is a follower of Jesus and not be convicted of getting people drunk on vodka seems somewhat of a oxymoron. If drunkards cannot inherit the kingdom of God how can one who creates drunkards?

  18. Jeremy says:

    “To allow my judgment of their lifestyle to intrude on the dining experience would be failing to fulfil my obligations as a server.”

    So your obligation as a server involves congratulating and thereby, condoning an explicitly sinful behavior? My main argument is that you don’t have to congratulate them, and that you shouldn’t. But just because you don’t congratulate them does not necessarily mean your are passing judgment on them.

    If you are *sincerely* congratulating this couple on their relationship, then doesn’t that mean you approve of their relationship, however slightly? How can one congratulate someone or something if they disapprove of it?

    If you are insincerely congratulating this couple on their relationship, then aren’t you being deceitful?

    If I were the server, I would say that the flowers and champagne are from the manager, and that the manager congratulates them on their relationship. Thus, I’m not being deceitful by congratulating them, and I, personally, am not condoning their behavior.

  19. Common Swift says:

    I’m just too happy to argue. I’m getting married…La La La La La…

    :: to busy ordering the crab legs for the reception to listen to the prattle from the school marms on this post ::

  20. Will says:

    Hi Rich,

    This is my first visit to your blog (via Julie Neidlinger’s Lone Prairie Blog), and I appreciate your effort to discern what a Christ-like response might be to the situation you describe. I believe I would respond in much the same way.

    As a former pentecostal (which makes me apostate to many, I am sure), I experienced first-hand the judgmentalism and lack of grace that many in the church of my youth demonstrated when my father (a pastor in The Church of God, Cleveland, YN) had an affair and divorced my mom. What was especially hurtful was that both the judgment and lack of grace extended to my mom, the victim of his actions.

    After leaving the Church for a few years, I determined that, when I returned to the fold, it would be to a church that demostrated more of a Christian demeanor.

    Thanks for your post, and keep up the good work.

  21. David says:

    I must say, having over 20 years of working directly with the public has given me a wealth of experience. I have learned many, many things about people in general. I have also learned that courteous and professional care can certainly be achieved without giving approval (implicitly, at the very least) of the patron’s lifestyle/situation/choices. One can deftly move the conversation to where they are headed after the wedding, for example. Or, perhaps asking if they are from the immediate area and moving the topic to where they work/live/whatever. Ultimately the core of the job of servers is to make the patron feel comfortable in the establishment so that they will want to come back and spend more of their money there. I absolutely agree that it’s not the job of waitstaff to pontificate on personal matters when the relationship you have with them is, at it’s core, a financial one.

    However, I do feel that giving congratulations on the wedding is giving tacit approval of their relationship. If one cannot stay neutral while serving food, then waitstaffing is not the profession to be chosen. Why would they ever feel that I’m judging them? They would only be able to tell if I was not able to stay professional. And, seriously, “withhold my enthusiasm”?

    No offense Rich, but as a devout Christian why would you find yourself enthused?

    Finally, while I’m not sure I totally agree with Mr Jeremy, I don’t know that I would rate his comments as absurd or that he’s trying to “find reasonableness in the extremes”. It seems to me that he’s taking the new criteria for marriage (simply being “in love” … whatever that means) to it’s logical conclusion. I fully believe that the vast majority of people 75 years ago would have said the idea of homosexual marriage being legal was an “absurd conclusion” also.

    Dave

  22. Bethany says:

    Rich,

    I so appreciate your thoughtfulness and graciousness in this case. I just got back from dinner with a group of folks that included 2 gay couples, 1 straight, living-together couple, and 1 other married couple. They all know my husband and I are Christians. But so what? I’m getting to know these people, chatting about work, and sharing a few laughs. I’m not going to point out theirs sins out of the blue. And I’d have to confront the un-married straight couple as well.

    I guess my point, if I have one here, is that I understand my role here as showing Christ’s love to these, my new friends. They don’t need to be told what the Bible says about homosexuality. What they don’t know, or haven’t experienced, is the brute force of the love of God.

    I loved the question, “If we’re to offer such unconditional forgiveness against personal injustices, what right do I have to hold sin against someone who hasn’t sinned against me, but against God himself?” Especially when God doesn’t hold it against them — not in the sense of saying, “you have to change before I’ll accept you.” The whole point is that no one deserves forgiveness, but He offers it for free. While we were yet sinners, He died for us.

    And how often do I grieve the Lord every hour? How often do I celebrate my acts that God would mourn over, like congratulating myself on how much I tithe?

    Jesus doesn’t not ignore anyone, but seeks out everyone with open arms. Last time I came to Him, I know I was not required to get my life all straightened out (pun intended) before He accepted me. Because, of course, I can’t straighten myself out. The only thing I have to pin my hopes on is Jesus, his great love, and his work on the cross for me.

    Thanks for writing.

  23. Alaine in the Plains says:

    I think it really deserves to be pointed out that Rick is only talking about performing a social service that (almost everybody understands) requires saying things you don’t believe and which nobody takes personally (who is mentally healthy).

    When the waitress says, “Thanks for eating at Sloppy Joe’s” I don’t believe she’s personally delighted I’m waiting for her to bring me food. Any customer will do. The woulds would be the same.

    No, we don’t take it personally, and we shouldn’t. When Rick offers congratulations at my wedding (I’m straight) as my server I wouldn’t take it as an endorsement (implied or otherwise) of my straight happy marriage, either. He doesn’t know me.

    We are straining at the gnats of implied endorsement because we cannot swallow the camel of grace. What I read Rick talking about here is being gracious.

    How many of us would have turned off the NPR station at the first hint of an interview with a homosexual?

    Alaine.

  24. Dane says:

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Rich. I just found your blog and I’m a week behind on this post it seems.

    The biblical model for our response to the server/homosexual couple scenario is probably not first-century Palestine, but Daniel in Babylon.

    Perhaps an important distinction needs to be made in the scenario: Is the owner a Christian or a pagan. (Is the “authority” Christian or pagan). If I’m a Daniel and the king asks me to serve pork to a pagan, I do it. I may not partake myself, but I will give service with a smile and seek to emulate the hospitality that the king desires in his courts. My effective witness is not to the periodic passers-by in the cafe. My witness is long-term to the king and my coworkers.

    If I’m asked to serve alcohol, then I do so. If the patron has had too much and is obviously getting inebriated, I can politely say when asked to bring another drink, “Sir, I’m glad you are enjoying the food and drinks but I am most concerned about your safety. You are not going to be driving anytime soon are you?” IF the person wants more to drink then I tell my manager (king). If the manager says give him more to drink, then I do it but I’m not responsible now. The next day I can tell the king, “I’m not comfortable serving more drinks to an enebriated person. That’s endangering too many lives.” Then pray for your manager. Pray for a better job. And see what God does. Chances are there’s actually a company policy about NOT serving more drinks to someone who has already had more than enough.

    Now if you own the cafe, then you get to call the shots! (no pun intended.) If you are the king, then you can demand what you want to demand. But if you are a Daniel in Babylon, you may only be able to control your own diet.

    People we are living in Babylon. We are not the ruling Pharisees in Palestine anymore! We once had the control of the culture and morality of this land. We do so no longer. The rules have changed. But we can still be an effective witness. But its from the bottom up and not the top down.

    Honor God today by living in Christ’s joy even in Babylon. Pray for the prosperity of the people around you. Build houses. But don’t eat the king’s food and don’t bow down to his gods.

    Joyfully serving homosexuals is not eating the king’s food. Engaging in homosexual relations IS eating the king’s food. Daniel didn’t eat the food, but he served those who did, without raising issues of conscience.

    Just some thoughts.

  25. Ichabod says:

    “Yes, they are living in pagan darkness….” Oooh, not just any old darkness, but PAGAN darkness!

  26. Common Swift says:

    First, I want to say Hi to Anthony Venn-Brown, big fan here. For those who don’t know who he is in respect to the Assemblies of God Church, google his name.

    I wasn’t kidding about planning for my reception Rich (you DID know I live in L.A. right?) Now that things have died down, I can give a respond to your post.

    It means alot that you would congratulate me Rich. You doing that would be one of the biggest witnesses you could give if I were an un-believer and I knew you were a Christian, more so than if you looked at me with a “at least I’m not as un-holy as THAT lot” sneer, I wonder why the simplicity of that is lost on some people here. You and me are on the opposite ends of the homosexuality debate as you know, but you have shown me nothing but respect on your blog. Your not only a “good” Christian, your also a good man Richie, worthy of my respect.

    It’s beneath me to give a response to the poster comparing my relationship of mutual love and respect with a man my own age to a pederastic, exploitive, relationship with a child. I may have had big differances with ant-gay posters like slw and Carl, but even they didn’t go below the belt with going into that ugly area of un-truth.

    To Todd, Jim, Will, and Bethany,

    Like with Rich, I disagree with you that a loving relationship dedicated to the Lord is sin, according to the BIBLE, but I love the Christian charity. Why is it like pulling teeth for most Christians to just show the same consideration they themselves would want in their everyday lives?

    “Demon likker” LOL!

  27. hi Rich….sorry but I just found your comments in a Google alert that showed up. sorry.

    the compliments were justified without reading everything else on your blog.

    I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt through this incredibly interesting journey is to let go of judgment. Just like Jesus said.

    it was a rather strange revelation considering I was an active christian for 22 years……and never realised just how much of it i did.

    Always great to have fans common swift. thanks.

  28. Rich,

    Good word! I get it. Thanks for the thoughtful wrestling about how to live a beautiful Christlike life!

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