By Rick Plasterer, Juicy Ecumenism
Same-sex marriage is a difficult reality Christians must face, and yet it will not go away, and will require that Christians faithfully, unflinchingly confront it. John Stonestreet, Fellow of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and Sean McDowell, Assistant Professor of Apologetics at Biola University, discussed the baseline Christian position at Alex MacFarland’s Truth for a New Generation Apologetics Conference in Spartanburg, S.C. on September 5.
Stonestreet began the session by noting his conversation with an Evangelical youth pastor who said he would no longer talk about same-sex marriage because “that ship has sailed.” Yet to regard the issue as unimportant is “a dereliction of duty,” Stonestreet said. He quoted N.T. Wright, who said that “the church doesn’t always get to choose what it talks about. Culture sometimes forces conversations on the church.” Faced with another pastor who helped lead the legal fight against same-sex marriage and who said “it’s over, we’ve lost,” Stonestreet asked what it is that has been lost. The Kingdom of God has not ended, he observed, despite the greater legal challenges of being faithful to Christ. He went on to cite T.S. Eliot, who said that when confronted with something new, we should ask “what can I do with it, or what is it for?”
The second question should be asked first, to avoid abusing the unknown. In the case of marriage, the purpose of marriage should be ascertained before claiming it should be extended to homosexual couples. “The legal status of something doesn’t change our Biblical responsibility to it,” Stonestreet said. He noted the legal status of unborn children or African Americans as examples of cases in which the law has not accorded persons the legal status they deserve, although Christians must stand for their proper status. The proper status of marriage can be determined by asking first how God defines it. After that we can draw support from general knowledge shared across cultures.