|(Railroad bridge, Monroe, MI)|
(I periodically re-post this, to keep it in play. Over the years I have written several blog posts affirming marriage as between a man and a woman.)
The core issue is one of authority. What is your authoritative text. Whose voice or voices do you bow before?
If you are not a follower of Jesus, or if you are an atheist, then - of course - this question has no relevance for you. But, again, you still have a worldview. The philosophical question is: Is your worldview correct?
Is it possible to get beyond a shouting match and have a civil discussion?
Below is my flow chart for having a civil discussion on gay marriage. (BTW - our culture has already decided on this one, sans understanding. But, in matters of Christian understanding, the moral pronouncements of the prevailing culture are irrelevant. It's like using the sport of throwing horseshoes to critique the game of tennis. Within the worldview of Christian theism, this remains a discussable issue.)
This process is a slow-cooker. In my case it has spanned almost five decades of thinking, studying, researching, dialoguing, and praying. You probably do not have the time to do this. But note this: If you are unfamiliar with the relevant literature, then do not hastily judge me. (Like, "How hateful John is!")
Here's the template.
On a scale of 0-10, how authoritative is the Bible for you (with '0' being no authority, and '10' being fully authoritative). This is the first matter that must be discussed, without which there will be no meaningful outcome.
If the Bible has no authority, or very little authority, then the Christian discussion is over. Because, of course, we will disagree on same-sex marriage. There will be a kind of "clash of civilizations" (following Samuel Huntington - see below*).
However, I am interested in the person who gives the Bible little or no authority. I want to ask them: "What text (narrative) is authoritative for you? Have you thought about this?"
Again, if someone goes to Step 1a, then the intra-Christian discussion is over. But, since everyone has a worldview, a narrative they live by, what is theirs? And, should one respond "I have no guiding narrative," that itself is a guiding narrative, to which I will ask for some justification.
After years of teaching philosophy, I have concluded that few people understand and evaluate their worldview. And note again: the rejection of all worldviews is itself a worldview. Like, e.g., the rejection of all metanarratives is itself a metanarrative (contra Foucault, et. al.).
To say that the Scriptures have great authority is to say they guide and influence our faith and life. They are not just occasionally read, but studied and looked to and lived by.
We must handle the Word of God correctly, or rightly.
To do this requires study. Two good books on how to interpret the Bible are:
- Grasping God's Word: A Hand's On Approach to reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible
- How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth
The person who ends up here must justify their interpretation of Scripture, and conclude that God affirms same-sex unions. They might find themselves agreeing with people like Dan Via (presents view #2) and Matthew Vines, et. al., for example.
The person who ends up here must justify their interpretation of Scripture.
At this point I have long laid out my cards on the table. I'm with Keener (and N.T. Wright, Ben Witherington, Tim Keller, Robert Gagnon, Wesley Hill, Francis Chan, et. al) when Keener writes: "I believe that the biblical passages about homosexual behavior are fairly clear... most exegetes, whether they agree personally with Paul or not, still regard Romans 1 as disagreeing with homosexual practice... I would be happy to be persuaded otherwise, but so far it continues to appear to me that this is where the exegesis strongly points."
Does this mean I hate people who disagree with me? Of course not. (See here.)
* "It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.
Samuel P. Huntington. The Clash of Civilizations? The Debate: 20th Anniversary Edition (p. 3). Foreign Affairs. Kindle Edition.