Rambling thoughts on same-sex marriage & stuff.

Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.  This news, of course, has the blogs abuzz – both with high praise in some quarters and massive condemnation in others.  Politically, I have a hard time justifying a ban on stuff that consenting adults do, including how they choose to express their love for one another.    I realize that the issue is more complicated than that, but I think its unjust for the majority of citizens to enjoy civil rights “more equally” than the minority.  Feel free to disagree – it won’t hurt my feelings – but I don’t care to argue about it.

I guess the reason I feel somewhat compelled to write here has more to do with the moral question of homosexuality.  Before I began scribbling here today (when I really ought to be working on 4 different papers!), I ran across several (Christian) blogs condemning the SC’s decision, calling for homosexuals (i.e. sinners) to “repent, for judgment is coming.”

I understand that the folks who are writing these blogs (most of them, at least) are doing so out of a genuine sense of concern for the well-being of gay folks.  (I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here.)  On the other hand, I have some issues with their argument.  Many of them argue that homosexuality is a sin.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  My view on sin is perhaps different from theirs.

As I have come to understand it, Sin (capital “s”) comes down to idolatry.  Name a sin, eventually it leads back to idolatry.  Sin is a state of unrighteousness.  It’s opposite is, obviously, righteousness.  To be righteous means to have faith in (pisteuo is the Greek verb, meaning not only to “have faith,” but also to “have confidence” or even to “believe”) God as the only source of life.  When we place confidence in created things (other people, pet ideologies, our own abilities, religious moralism) without recognizing God as the true source, we’re sliding down the greasy sled of idolatry.

The other day I was reading Luther’s The Freedom of a Christian in which he talks about justification by faith in the promise of God’s grace versus a reliance on “good works.”  Luther seems to say that, from a human perspective, a person’s works do seem to make them either good or bad. He points to MT 7:20.  “Thus you will know them by their fruits.”  But he says that this is purely external.  By making these kinds of judgments, we can be making big mistakes.

The problem is that we need to look beyond these external signs.  “One must look away from works and focus rather on the person and ask how one is justified,” remembering that “the word of God (that is, the promise of grace)” – not what we do or don’t do – that justifies us.

The trajectory here is that we don’t know whether a person is justified or not.  As people declared righteous by God’s saving power in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, we of all people should recognize free grace and treat others as though they are justified like us.  Putting others on the wrong side of the boundary denies God’s saving power and is not a faithful witness to what we believe.

So, while I believe Christian moralists are upholding what they believe is the right opinion (even though I don’t agree with them), I think there is a danger of idolatry.

The delicious irony, of course, is that I may be just as guilty by holding my opinion.  It points to Luther’s other understanding that, no matter what we do or think or say (even if we’re “sinning boldly”), we fall short of the glory of God and need justification from outside of ourselves.


2 Responses to “Rambling thoughts on same-sex marriage & stuff.”

  1. Your rambling thought was actually done so well I added you to my blogroll. I never really thought of sin in such a way, and I am going to have to think this one over for a bit. Thanks for giving me something new to think about.

    Personally, I always try to make the argument that we have to realize that there is a difference between that which is Constitutional and that which is Biblical. Or I point out the holes in the various scriptures that the church uses to point out the sin in homosexuality. Which by the way, are many.

    This though is a nice new spin on the matter. I applaud you for that.

  2. Thanks for the comment! I appreciate your stopping by. See you either on your blog or mine. 🙂


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