On Tuesday, during an interview with Jimmy Carter about his forthcoming memoir at 90, Huff Post Live’s Marc Lamont Hill worked the conversation around to the topic du jour: gay marriage.
Carter deftly deflected the initial question saying that he has no problem with it. Then the former President, aware of his stature as a public moralist, offered up his opinion that as an evangelical Christian, he does have a problem with abortion. Not distracted, Lamont pressed the gay marriage question again, asking Carter specifically whether he believes Jesus would approve of gay marriage.
Carter answered: “I believe Jesus would. I don’t have any verse in scripture.”
When Lamont continued to press Carter to speculate “intuitively” about how Jesus would feel about gay marriage, Carter added,
“I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that’s just my own personal belief. I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else.”
Carter knows the scriptures. So when he says “I don’t have any verse in scripture” to support his “personal belief,” he’s speaking volumes.
Biblical support for same-sex marriage does not exist. There is not one verse in either the Old nor the New Testament that can be used to positively assert that God affirms homosexual relations of any variety. The best arguments are based on stripping the existing scriptures of their plain meaning, reinterpreting texts, or simply arguing from silence. Because Jesus never expressly condemned same-sex marriage, it is argued, he must have been in favor of it. In debates of every kind, the weakest argument one can make is the argument from silence.
Jimmy Carter is a student of the Bible. He continues to teach Sunday school every Sunday he’s home in Plains, Ga. Even as President of the United States, he continued to teach Sunday school whenever possible. He knows what the Word of God says and he knows well what it does not say. He also knows the power of the bully pulpit he possesses as a former President.
His affirmation of same sex marriage in the Huff Post interview is just that–the affirmation of a man. It should not be construed as the affirmation of God.
Putting words in God’s mouth is dangerous business. Deuteronomy 4:2 says, “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you” (ESV). God repeats that teaching in Deuteronomy 12:32, “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it;” and confirms just how seriously He means it in Revelation 22:18-19.
Make the arguments that will be made for legitimizing same sex marriage, but leave Jesus out of it. He didn’t say anything about it and, much to the chagrin of those whose personal belief is otherwise, the canon of Scripture is closed. God has said what He has said. Our challenge is to live in response to what He has said, not manipulate it according to our will.