Matthew Vines has posted 40 questions for Christians who oppose same-sex marriage, and while I do not normally do this sort of thing, I realized in reading through that many of my answers, especially about my personal relationships, are likely different from how Matthew expects people to be answering. Therefore, I thought I would complete his entire questionnaire.
It gets a bit more complicated because of the difference theologies of salvation, justification, and sanctification that different Christian communities have. Given a person who professes faith in Christ and even many doctrines of the Church but rejects some other doctrines, some theologies would say that such a person is not a member of the Church because we are once-saved-always-saved and the person’s rejection of a key doctrine would preclude him from salvation and therefore he must not have ever been a part of the Church. Others would say that his faith in Christ is all that is necessary, and others would fall in between or even have entirely different answers to the question.
As a Catholic, I would say that any baptized person is a member of the Church and therefore a Christian, but that those who reject doctrines of the Church are not currently in communion with the Church and not “living members.” They are united to the Church in virtue of their baptism and so they are Christians, but in their support of same-sex marriage (or slavery, as per #14) they have cut themselves off from the sanctifying and life-giving power of Christ and the Church.
Put more concisely, Christians can sin. In fact, Christianity has always taught very strongly that Christians will sin as we are fallen creatures. There is no contradiction between supporting same-sex marriage or slavery or murder or countless other things and holding the name Christian, but in doing so such Christians sin.
When Christianity first came into existence, it lacked the social power to eliminate all slavery, but Christians did what they could to improve the life of slaves by making sure that they were treated well, were kept together with their families, and were even paid. There are many records of newly converted Christian slaveowners freeing their slaves. Several of the first popes were even former slaves. Early Christian writers such as St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 330) and St. John Chrysostom (c. 349) condemned slavery. Early Church councils in 452, 506, 511, 517, 538, 549, 585, 589, 615, 633, and many others promulgated legislation about the rights of slaves, including in some cases prohibition of slave trafficking. This is a very, very brief picture and I encourage you to do more research, but suffice it to say that you are greatly mistaken on this point.
This is consistent with the way that early Christians wrote about nature and the faith. To the early Christians, the Scriptures taught, as the saying goes, “how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.” St. Augustine of Hippo (c. 400) is a fairly standard citation of this belief. Even Copernicus, who was supported by the Pope and the Church as he helped to pioneer the theory of heliocentrism about a hundred years before Galileo, declared that the Bible did not teach geocentrism.
Yet even if you were unconvinced by this, it is still not relevant. See the answer to #20.
In the early Church there were debates about whether or not all Christians were required to practice lifelong celibacy. Even after it was settled that this was not the case, lifelong celibacy was still required in many parts of the Church for widows and widowers for some years, and when it was finally settled that this was unnecessary, celibacy was still promoted for centuries as the Christian ideal, and was always mandatory for western priests and for all bishops. The We also see plenty of statements that those who are separated from their spouses – even if the separation is involuntary or unjust - must remain celibate for life. In some places in early Christianity, marriages had to be approved by one’s bishop before they could be celebrated, and this permission was sometimes denied.
This should be sufficient to answer the question, because it establishes that there is very much a tradition in Christian history holding at least some persons to mandatory celibacy, even when it is not voluntarily chosen.
To this, we can add the countless writers - many of the same who wrote of preferred or mandatory celibacy - who condemned homosexual relationships. The understanding of a homosexual orientation as a fundamental reality to a person’s existence is of course relatively new. Throughout most of Christian history, people simply didn’t understand it in this way, and so the writers who do condemn homosexuality tend to look at it as some kind of moral condition or disorder more than a psychological or biological reality. They didn’t understand it as a lifelong intrinsic reality, and so expecting an explicit statement about lifelong celibacy is not reasonable in the same way that it would be unreasonable for an anti-vaxxer to ask for historic Christian statements on the morality of vaccinations because historic Christians had no concept of vaccines.
What would be more reasonable would be to look at the way that historic Christians viewed disease and medical treatment in general and then apply those principles to vaccinations in order to get a sense of what historic Christians would have thought about them. In fact, the connections between lifelong celibacy for gay Christians and historic Christian writings are far, far more direct than the connections would be if looking for those pertaining to vaccines, or the internet, or carbon pollution, or any number of other things.
Quite simply, early and historic Christians unanimously believed that lifelong celibacy was a difficult but mandatory cross for any person who could for whatever reason not be in a legitimate marriage. This includes gay couples, because they also unanimously believed that two persons of the same sex could not be in a legitimate marriage.
As a Catholic, I believe that marital love is a total self-giving of one person to his or her spouse which admits to holding nothing back, whereas lust is any use of one’s sexuality whichdoes hold something back. This includes giving one’s gift of fertility to the other. This means that contraception or fellatio, for example, would constitute lust, for it would seek to receive some of the goods of sexuality while holding back the fertility of a person. In the same way, two men or two women who engage sexually by their very nature cannot give their fertility to one another. Rather, we are called to follow Christ’s words that it is the giving of one’s very life – of everything one has – to another which constitutes love. Even when a person’s fertility is old or damaged and no longer functions, sexual intercourse between spouses can still offer it in whatever state it is in, in a way that homosexual orcontracepting relations cannot.
If you would like to learn more about this, look into the “Theology of the Body.” There are many books, articles, and videos available to dig into it in far, far more depth than is possible here.
So, for example, even though I regard all unmarried sex as a sin, sex between a committed but unmarried heterosexual couple is better than sex between a heterosexual couple in a one-night stand. Both are gravely sinful, but in the case of the committed couple, there is present some additional good and right intention which is lacking in the one-night stand. Similarly, a man who steals a toy to give to his child is sinning, but it is still better than a man who steals something for himself. In the same way, a committed homosexual couple would have some good that is lacking in a homosexual couple which met at a bar one night before having sex. This goes back to the principle from # 12 that God can do good even in the midst of evil.
He is making a statement about what is natural and unnatural just as in Romans, but we misunderstand it because of differences in cultural norms – so both, and neither!
There are two factors to consider here. The first is that cultural norms are different as to just what constitutes long hair. For example, based on a variety of Scripture passages it is likely that St. Paul himself wore hair that would be considered long for a man by today’s standards. Jesus may have as well, if as some suggest he at some point took a Nazarite vow. Therefore, St. Paul is certainly not condemning as unnatural hair as one may see on some men today. The second is that in this passage, St. Paul did not use the typical Greek word for hair, θριξ. Rather, he used another word, κομάω, which seems to have referred in particular to a particular style of tresses worn by women.
In short, his point was that it is unnatural for men to make themselves look like women.
Think of it like two different couples meeting with a pastor as to plan their wedding. One couple is asking the pastor, “If we get married, do we have to have kids?” The second is asking, “If we want to have kids, should we get married?” Big difference!
An infertile or post-menopausal couple making love are still doing an act which is by its nature ordered toward procreation, even if in their case that act won’t actually procreate, just as are a fertile couple making love outside of the woman’s ovulatory period. Of course, the little leaguer could, by the grace of God, manage to actually get a hit against the major league pitcher, and sometimes infertile or theoretically post-menopausal couples do in fact conceive.
I am not familiar with these authors. However, I have read the works of LGBT Christians such as David Morrison, Eve Tushnet, and Steven Gershom, who oppose gay marriage. I have also viewed documentaries like The Third Way or Desire of the Everlasting Hills (which gay friends tell me they think is better) featuring of gay Christians who oppose gay marriage. Have you?
Off the top of my head, I do not. Of course, I could easily produce a list of names of persons who died from violence, persecution, or suicide who I am sure you would not know off the top of your head, either. We unfortunately hear these kinds of stories every day on the news. However, I can assure you that if I did at any time hear or read about their deaths that I prayed for them and their families, as I do for all deaths that I hear about, especially deaths that come from injustice. I am also quite certain that the Catholic Church has offered prayers for them, as Catholic parishes regularly include public cases such as this in their prayer intentions.
Noting similarities between two things is not the same thing as declaring moral equivalency between them. In cases where people have compared same sex relationships to things like the practice of bestiality or the indulgence in pedophilia with the intention of creating a moral equivalency – that is, with the intention of saying that they are just as bad – I have objected.
I must note how in your question you talk about the act of participating in same sex relationships while you talk about the inclination to pedophilia. This is an important distinction because most Christians who oppose same sex marriage would accept that gay persons are not be responsible for their sexual orientation (as per #1), just as pedophiles are not responsible for their pedophilia. Both are responsible for their actions alone.
The difference, of course, is that one’s sexuality is an incredibly integral part – indeed, from a Catholic point of view, the integral part – of the human person. This means that approaching this particular issue in a callous way would have much, much stronger, painful, and harmful results. There is no question that same sex attraction and the call to lifelong celibacy is a cross – and a very difficult one to bear.
This is why, for example, the Catholic Church (and many other Christian churches) approach this issue not by speaking about what God forbids, but about the gift of integral sexuality that God calls us to. We speak about what God has to give us, and the calling to goodness that it is. Ministries such as Courage, an international organization of and for homosexual Catholics trying to live out Christ’s call to celibacy and sexual integrity are extremely important. Did you know that it exists? http://www.couragerc.org.