Skip to comments."Should We Oppose Same-Sex Marriage?" (Westminster prof "could affirm domestic partnerships")
Posted on 08/15/2012 7:38:20 PM PDT by darrellmaurina
I appreciate the responses to my previous posts on this issue and, after reading some of the questions, thought somewhat pressed to write this last one. OK, so we know what Christian marriage is. We preach that, teach it, and expect believers to embrace Scriptures instructions regarding sexual conduct, although we are still sinners who must continually repent, trust in Christ, and receive his pardon. Got it. But what about the public argument?
As I said in the last one, we arent authorized to speak in Gods name where he hasnt spoken, but we are commanded to do so wherever he has. This is where it gets dicier, though. Id like to frame my response, first off, in terms of two extremes that we have to avoid:
1. Treating references to homosexuality in the Old Testament as either irrelevant or directly applicable to the current question.
You see this in public debates of the issue, where extremists on both sides talk over (and past) each other. One thing they often share in common is interest in quoting passages from the Old Testament on the question. Then the person on the left reminds us that the sanction mentioned is stoning. Do you want to stone gays?, one shouts. No, but I believe what the Bible says about homosexuality. Well, right next to that verse it says that you should stone disobedient childrenOh, and not eat pork, and not touch a woman who is having her period. Bottom line: the skills of biblical interpretation are about equally as bad on both sides of the table.
The statements in Leviticus are part of the Mosaic covenant. They pertain uniquely to the covenant that God made with Israel as a nation. The laws that governed every aspect of private and public life, cult and culture, were a unique episode in redemptive history. Their divine purpose cannot be rationalized in terms of sanitation, public health, or personal well-being. The whole focus was on God and his desire to separate Israel from the nations, preparing the way for the Messiah to come from her womb. Therefore, there is no more biblical warrant for stoning homosexuals today than there is for avoiding Scottish cuisine.
If theres every reason to distinguish these two covenants, we have to be very careful nonetheless that we dont make the opposite interpretive blunder of contrasting the Old and New Testaments on the question of homosexual practice itself. Ive heard of late several times committed Christians acknowledging that the Old Testament forbids it, but the New Testament is silent. Its mean Moses versus nice Jesus: a familiar but completely baseless contrast. Affirming that the the civil laws are now obsolete doesnt mean that the rationale explicitly given for some of these laws should be disregarded, especially when God singles some acts out not simply as dependent on Gods will for that time and place, but as abominations. Homosexuality is included in that list, as it is also in the New Testament (1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10right up there with murders, enslavers, liars, and perjurers). The church does not have the power of the sword in the new covenant. Nevertheless, Gods statement on the matter is pretty clear: he hates homosexuality. It violates the natural orderreflecting the extent to which fallen humanity will go to suppress the trutheven that which can be known by reasonin unrighteousness (Rom 1:18-32).
Jesus brings forgiveness of sins, not a newsupposedly easer, happier, more fulfilling law. In fact, he upbraids the lax view of divorce tolerated in his day. Jesus does not ground marriage between a man and a woman in the Mosaic covenantor in the new covenant, but returns to the order of created nature: He answered, Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate (Mat 19:4-6).
It should be added that Pauls point in Romans 1-3 is to sweep the whole worldJew and Gentileinto a heap, condemned under the law, in order to announce that Christ is the Savior of all, Jew and Gentile, and justifies the ungodly who trust in him. We are all called to repentlifelong repentance, in fact. In this, as in everything, we fall short; our imperfect repentance would be enough to condemn us if we werent clothed in Christs righteousness. However, to repent is to acknowledge that God is right and we are wrongon the specifics of precisely where we want to assert our sovereignty.
2. Allowing same-sex marriage because since this isnt a Christian nation, we should not seek to make the traditional Christian view public law.
Yes and no. The argument sounds like a two-kingdoms approach, but I think its actually more on the historic Anabaptist side.
First, it is certainly true that America is not a Christian nation and in any case Christians should not seek to promote distinctively Christian doctrines and practices through the properly coercive power of the state.
Second, however, I believe that we have to carefully distinguish general and special revelation, common and saving grace, the kingdoms of this age and the kingdom of God. Traditional Roman Catholics and Protestants are the vanguard of the pro-life movement, but in addition to witnessing to the depth of Christian conviction on the subject they also make arguments that can appeal to the conscience of non-Christians. The goal is certainly to legislate morality (just as the pro-abortion lobby attempts). However, it is the attempt to include the unborn in the category of those to whom the most basic right to life applies (namely, human beings). It is not a distinctively Christian view that the unborn are human beings (many pro-abortionists even agree, but rank the mothers choice and happiness higher). Nor is it a distinctively Christian view that human beings shouldnt be murderedregardless of the parents economic or psychic well-being.
I think that the same can be said here as well. Marriage is not grounded in the gospel, but in creation. Special revelation corrects our twisted interpretations and gives us a better map, but general revelation gives sufficient evidence at least for minimal arguments from antiquity. Knowledgeable people will disagree about the strength of those arguments, since, for example, Greek elites often had teen-age boys entertain them on the sidewith the approval or at least the awareness of their wives. Yes, others reply, but that was part of the downfall of the Greek civilization. In every case, it will be a debatable pointnot to say that it isnt worth arguing, but in the light especially of recent studies, it probably will not change a lot of minds.
Third, in my own wrestling with the political debate, love of neighbor looms large. Some on the right may offer arguments that reflect more the same demand for special rights as those on the left of the issue. The legal aspects of that are beyond my pay-gradeand they are important. Others may treat this issue as irrelevant: Look, it doesnt affect me. I just dont want to live next door to some creepy home like that. However, in terms of specifically Christian witness, love of neighbor (as Gods image-bearers) should be front-and-center. We have to care about our non-Christian neighbors (gay or straight) because God cares and calls us to contribute to the common good.
The challenge there is that two Christians who hold the same beliefs about marriage as Christians may appeal to neighbor-love to support or to oppose legalization of same-sex marriage.
On one hand, it may be said that if we can no longer say that Judeo-Christian ethics are part of our shared worldview as a republic, then the ban seems arbitrary. Why isnt there a campaign being waged to ban providing legal benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples? Or to make divorce more difficult? It just seems more symbolic than anything else: it looks like our last-gasp effort to enforce our own private morality on the public. On the other hand, we might argue that every civilization at its height, regardless of religion, has not only privileged marriage of one man and one woman but has outlawed alternative arrangements. Same-sex marriage means adoption, which subjects other human beings to a parental relationship that they did not choose for themselves. Are we loving our LGBT neighborsor their adopted childrenor the wider society of neighbors by accommodating a move that will further destroy the fabric of society?
I take the second view, but I recognize the former as wrestling as much as Im trying to with the neighbor-love question. Legal benefits (partnerships) at least allowed a distinction between a contractual relationship and the covenant of marriage. However, the only improvement that marriage brings is social approvaltreating homosexaul and heterosexual unions as equal. Although a contractual relationship denies Gods will for human dignity, I could affirm domestic partnerships as a way of protecting peoples legal and economic security. However, the marriage card is the demand for something that simply cannot consist in a same-sex relationship. Human love is defined not by a feeling, shared history, or animal attraction, but by something objective, something that measures usnamely, Gods moral law. To affirm this while concluding that its good for Christians but not for the rest of us seems to me to conclude that this law is not natural and universal, rooted in creation, and/or that we only love our Christian neighbors.
At the end of the day, what tips the scales toward the second view is that I cant see how neighbor-love can be severed from love of God, which is after all the most basic command of all. Even if they do not acknowledge nature and natures Godor anything above their own sovereign freedom to choosereality nevertheless stands unmovable. Like the law of gravity, the law of marriage (of one man and one woman) remains to the end of timenot just for Christians, but for all people everywhere.
Post 37: Multiple amens!
Aha, I get now. ^^; Thanks for clarifying that.
For what it’s worth, you made me snicker now that I get the joke.
A day without a snicker is a wasted day, I say. Happy to help! And may God bless your studies and ministry! Here, have some cake:
If it is not a sacrament, then marriage is ultimately in the human realm and subject to human prudential judgement, like the Tower of Babel. So whether you are "strict" or not, the result is still a sorry one for the society as a whole, because as a whole the least common denominator rules. Currently, that denominator is contraception and serial marriage, and rapidly shifting to include homosexual "marriage".
Very strange, but thank you for the explanation, even though I heard it before.
The strictness of certain groups who consider it merely a contract is admirable, but ultimately rests on the notion of marriage as an ordinance of human provenance.
Our society no longer considers marriage an inevitable and necessary building block of civil order. The notion of marriage as a contract as promulgated by the private-judgment crowd is grounded on the assumption that society will always take marriage for granted as a basic civic necessity. As with every other initiative of the private-judgment contingent, that was a bad mistake founded on unjustifiable assumptions.
Ultimately, all theologies that reject the sacramentality of marriage are rejecting the teaching of the Apostles - as recorded in Scripture and in the Tradition - and will run into the difficulties we are grappling with on this thread.
I swapped some emails on the subject with my pastor. He made the point that flagrant homosexuality is a sign God is already judging a people:
“So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him...
THEREFORE God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie...
FOR THIS REASON God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise...men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
As others have pointed out, you don’t need specific divine revelation to know certain body parts don’t belong in certain other body parts. The natural revelation given to ALL makes it obvious. There may be an obscure exception somewhere, but I don’t know of any society that endorsed homosexual ‘marriage’ during the last 5000 years.
When people ignore excruciatingly obvious natural truths, THEN God gives them up to dishonorable passions. It is not an unforgivable sin, but it is a sign men and society have rejected God already, and God is already preparing their judgment. God is bringing their rejection of Him to the surface so all can see how just his judgment will be.
“Because I have called and you refused to listen,
have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when terror strikes you...
...Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.” - Prov 1
Marriage is most definitely a divine institution. At least we both know that. And I can understand your argument on why you believe it's a Sacrament too, so I know where you're coming from, and I can see why the Roman Catholics have defined it as such.
I think that at least we can find common ground in that marriage is a gift, a command, and an institution created by God himself, and that same-sex marriage makes a mockery of that institution. Whether we hold to the argument that marriage is a Sacrament or not, we know that marriage is still important enough that we must resist all mockeries and perversions of it.
I think that the issue that we’re having is on the definition of a Sacrament. From my time in the seminary, I’ve learned that a Sacrament is the vessel that God uses to pour his forgiveness out on his people. So Baptism and Communion definitely are, but marriage? That’s a little trickier, especially because marriage was instituted before sin entered the picture and before there was the need for forgiveness.
But Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed, and Orthodox should all agree that marriage is most definitely a divine institution.
Thanks! And sorry about the misunderstanding again. ^^;
I could not agree more. There is no worse prescription for the rapid destruction of Western civilization than the decline of the gold marriage standard.
I did my master's thesis in the mid-90s on the SCOTUS's enthusiastic dismantling of the institution of marriage since the 60s. It was astonishing to read what passed for "reasoning" in the decisions that resulted from the constant legal assaults on marriage and family by feminists, Marxists and the birth control and abortion lobbies.
It is ironic that I went into the process as a default liberal fully expecting to agree with the Court and feel smug about the "progress" towards fewer restrictions and more "freedom." Instead, I became a "born again conservative" from reading in those judicial power spews just how ludicrous human meddling in God's design can be.
The Apostolic, pre-Luther understanding is that they are means not just of absolution, but also salvation and sanctification.
marriage was instituted before sin entered the picture
Marriage prevents sin, as St. Paul explains, in that it sanctifies an act which would otherwise be sinful outside of it.
He gave our first parents everything they needed in order to avoid sin, including marriage.
Okay, sanctification and salvation too. They’re all wrapped up in a neat little package called ‘grace.’ Because they all go together. *Shrugs*
Dr. Horton's post and my response on the Christian Observer message board for the United Reformed Churches in North America are here:
Additional discussions of this issue and the case of pro-gay blogger Misty Irons (PCA member and wife of a former OPC minister) can be found at these locations on the Christian Observer discussion groups for the United Reformed Churches, Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Warfield List, and the Puritan Board:
Misty Irons responds to Presbyterians-OPC at Gay Christian Network:
Westminster-West prof “could affirm domestic partnerships” for homosexuals:
Warfield Group: www.groups.yahoo.com/group/bbwarfield/message/36040
Puritan Board: www.puritanboard.com/f54/westminster-west-prof-could-affirm-domestic-partnerships-homosexuals-75516/
“Old Reformed” views and “Escondido 2K” views of politics
Warfield Group: www.groups.yahoo.com/group/bbwarfield/message/36000
Puritan Board: www.puritanboard.com/f54/old-reformed-views-escondido-2k-views-politics-75448/
For those who don't know, Elder Mark Vander Pol is the clerk of consistory of Dr. Horton's local church, a member congregation of the United Reformed Churches, and he has been forwarding correspondence between Dr. Horton and the United Reformed discussion group. He is also the webmaster of the White Horse Inn and stated clerk of Classis Southwest United States of the URC.
Dr. Horton is a brother in the Lord and an ordained minister of a confessionally Reformed church. We need to remember that, and treat him accordingly, which certainly includes listening to what he has to say. It is possible to be right on the Gospel and wrong on politics, and I think that's what's going on here.
Response from Dr. Horton:
Thanks for your noteand for your remarks defending my “overall” orthodoxy.
I don't regret anything I said, interpreted in the context in which I said it. The Free Republic simply misinterpreted my point and extrapolated, without the slightest foundation, that I would be willing to officiate at a same-sex union. How ridiculous! When I clearly and repeatedly argued against homosexual practice of any kind, much less a union!
Being open to affirming a civil arrangement that allows partners inheritance, insurance, and other economic benefits, is NOT being open to same-sex relationships!!! My point was to say that the gay lobby is not really interested in equal rights, but in equal affirmation of gay and heterosexual marriage. So Christians should NOT treat the marriage debate as if it were equivalent to civil rights. Some Christians do argue that we should allow a pagan state to honor “life commitments” regardless of marriage, but to argue that this should be called MARRIAGE is ultimately not a question of civil rights but of the meaning of marriage itself.
I cannot help the fact that some have apparently overlooked the distinction I've madeand the fact that it's part of an argument AGAINST gay marriage. I can only hope that people would not spread false impressions based on where they think it will lead rather than what I actually argued.
(Forwarded by Mark Vander Pol/Elder, Christ URC, Santee, CA)
Thank you, Elder Vander Pol, for passing on this response by Dr. Horton.
Dr. Horton, I'm listening carefully to you when you say that until my comments, nobody had expressed similar concerns, and on the contrary, some people had said you were being overly negative toward homosexuality.
I'm also listening carefully to Dr. Gerhard Visscher, head of the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary, who objected to the way I addressed you in my initial post. I'm going to try to write this post with the tone, length, and attention to detail that I would write if it were being submitted for publication in a Christian magazine.
(For those people who will remind me that the internet likes short snappy responses — sorry, this isn't a Twitter feed. This is a serious discussion about serious issues, and we're Calvinists who value serious discussion of theology. Let the broad evangelicals go have their short discussions; we're Reformed, and we write books on things about which broad evangelicals write paragraphs because we care about getting to the meat of what the Bible says. Furthermore, Dr. Horton is a respected theologian of the top ranks and deserves to be treated as such.)
Dr. Horton, I'm glad that you wrote that “being open to affirming a civil arrangement that allows partners inheritance, insurance, and other economic benefits, is NOT being open to same-sex relationships.” It clarifies that you continue to believe same-sex relationships are sinful, which was never something I doubted.
Unfortunately, it also indicates that I did understand you correctly that you are “open to affirming a civil arrangement that allows partners inheritance, insurance, and other economic benefits.” I had hoped I misunderstood you or that you had written something without due caution. It appears on that point that I understood you correctly.
To see a respected Reformed leader say he could affirm civil domestic partnerships is a problem.
It is especially a problem in our current political context where they are being used as a half-way step toward full government recognition of homosexual marriage, or what in some ways is worse, privatization of marriage as a personal contract between people in which the state is not involved.
You're a very smart man, Dr. Horton, and you already know that inheritance benefits can be provided by wills. Insurance benefits are usually a private arrangement between an employee, employer, and insurance company, and government has no business regulating most aspects of private property. You didn't mention hospital visitation, which is often an emotional issue raised by homosexuals, but let's ask this — should a Roman Catholic or Baptist hospital be required to give hospital visitation rights to a “domestic partner” of a patient? I personally wouldn't advocate hospitals denying visitation to a domestic partner, but as long as you're concerned about the coercive power of the state, what are the implications of a formal “domestic partner” law for people who have conscientious objections to recognizing that domestic partnership?
There are many things which could be said to engage your position, but let me begin by saying that I sincerely believe that you are on the right side of the fight for orthodoxy. You have done tremendous good in the Reformed world.
I believe our differences on whether we could affirm domestic partnerships for homosexuals stem from a fundamental disagreement with you on your view of political engagement — in your words, that “Christians should not seek to promote distinctively Christian doctrines and practices through the properly coercive power of the state.” I believe all legislation reflects someone’s view of morality, that there is no neutrality in the civil realm, and that it is not Reformed for Christians to leave their faith outside when they enter the statehouse door or the voting booth. We're called to live 24-7 for Christ, not restrict our faith to what we do in church.
However, while that is an important issue, it is also a secondary issue. It is entirely possible to be right about the Gospel and wrong on politics.
Furthermore, from my own political background, I am very much aware of the need to get to 50 percent to win, and that means I want to find ways to agree with people when I can, and that includes trying to find a way to agree with you, Dr. Horton. On most things we will agree. This is an exception.
I believe it does Reformed people no good to divide into minuscule narrow camps of “true believers” who spend most of their time fighting over minor points with the people with whom they have the closest affinity. In the minds of some conservative Reformed people, that comment makes me suspect as someone who is not sufficiently “TR.” My response is that John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, John Knox, and the Puritans in England and New England would never have succeeded if they had not learned to build coalitions with those who shared common core values, even when they disagreed on important but secondary issues. We're not going to agree completely on this, but I do believe we're going to be in agreement on the need to oppose sectarian divisive infighting. Some battles are worth fighting, some are not, and still others need to be conducted as polite conversations between brothers, not full-tilt battles for blood.
With that preface said, Dr. Horton, let me move on to my main point — that it surprised me when you said that nobody had expressed concerns similar to mine until now.
To quote your words, “I've received criticism from evangelicals (and others) who thought I was too hard-line on the issue. So this one is a first. Until this one, I haven't seen any responses that see any of the dangers that Mr. Maurina raised here.”
I understand your point that your essay was intended to defend the importance of saying that marriage is only between one man and one woman, and that a homosexual marriage is not a marriage. I also understand that your essay would attract significant criticism from those who demand that government recognize same-sex marriages.
While it does not surprise me that your comments were criticized for being overly negative toward homosexuals — as you acknowledged in your original essay, those who advocate the gay agenda will keep pressing until they get what they see as full equality under the law — I do believe your comments cross an important line into places where most conservative Calvinists will strongly disagree with you.
I've received a number of emails either attacking you for having gone off the rails or asking me how the great Dr. Horton could possibly say such things. Obviously I have no inside insight into your mind, but I think what may be happening is that your view of political engagement is leading you to say things which are uncomfortably close to what political and theological liberals say.
That's not good, and a lot of people, not just me, don't react well when we see people saying they “could affirm domestic partnerships.” Many conservatives see that as a sign of weakness or willingness to compromise, and it is a major red flag given current cultural issues.
I realize you may not want to fight the culture wars, but the culture wars have now come to you in the form of this “homosexual marriage” and “homosexual civil union” debate.
Dr. Horton, I realize you don't live and work in the same world as most conservative Calvinists, who tend to live in some of the most conservative socioeconomic groups in North America.
First, you're in Southern California. That might as well be a different planet compared to the Bible Belt where I live and work, and is even more removed from the Dutch subcultures in which most churches of your denomination are rooted.
Here is just one example of how what you may consider to be common sense principles which are commonly assumed are not at all commonly shared in places where most Reformed people live.
Your essay includes, almost as an assumed fact, the statement that “we can no longer say that ‘Judeo-Christian’ ethics are part of our shared worldview as a republic,” and then asks whether, if that's true, we can validly be accused of being arbitrary in demanding that homosexual marriages be banned but not promoting efforts to “make divorce more difficult” or a “ban providing legal benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples.”
The lack of a shared Judeo-Christian worldview in America may be assumed in Southern California, but that sure isn't a given in a lot of the rest of the United States.
Also, Dr. Horton, with respect, there **ARE** people talking about things like “covenant marriage.” I wish there were more, and I think we can agree that the “easy believism” of too much of evangelical Christianity and lack of church discipline is not helping our case in the gay marriage fight. The divorce rates among evangelicals are a scandal and the gay marriage battles could very well be a punishment by God of the American church for our weakness on the issue of heterosexual marriage. On the other hand, if by “benefits” to unmarried couples you mean insurance benefits, which is what that term typically means in the context of homosexual partnerships, I grant that a private corporation or insurance company can do what it wants. Government has no business intruding in most matters of private property rights.
Second, much of your training has been in some rather rarefied circles of elite academia, and that creates a risk for you of being viewed by your liberal colleagues as so much of an ultra-conservative that you may inadvertently slip into some liberal views that don't get challenged by more conservative friends and acquaintances. It's very easy for conservatives in academia to say to themselves when criticized, “What do you mean, I'm a liberal? I'm one of the most conservative person I know outside my Westminster Seminary faculty, and I regularly get attacked as a right-winger by academic and evangelical colleagues.”
Dr. Horton, I saw that myself when attending Calvin and then dealing with the Christian Reformed fights. The temptation to compromise for acceptability is powerful, and a number of ministers and elders had to privately pull me aside asking why on earth I was conceding ground to the liberals on areas where Scripture and the confessions have direct teachings or clear implications. “Go along to get along” gets taught to children beginning with kindergarten by both precept and example, and it's not a good thing to learn. We're supposed to be testing everything and holding fast to the truth, not trying to be liked.
I have seen far too many conservative evangelicals who do not have a confessional foundation fall into moderately liberal positions precisely because they do not have a confessional foundation, while still reassuring themselves that they are staunch conservatives because most people around them are much more liberal.
When “conservative” is seen as a relative term rather than adherence to the plain text of a written confession, the slippery slope can quickly become very steep.
You already know that from your study of history. You're a confessionalist and have fought for confessional integrity.
Dr. Horton, I've said repeatedly that I believe your core orthodoxy is sound, even though you've gone in some strange directions with this essay. I urge you to carefully rethink whether it was either prudent or necessary for you to say you “could affirm domestic partnerships” for homosexuals. In an area like homosexuality which the authors of the confessions never had a reason to address, I think the biblical principles are so clear that there can be no compromise by Christians.
The discussion of domestic partnerships is not happening in a vacuum. It is part and parcel of a homosexual agenda. To affirm domestic partnerships in the current context is to compromise — or at least to be seen as compromising — with the homosexual agenda.
I realize that Christians have to deal with the reality of the political systems in the nations where they live. The political actions of Christians in one nation may have to be different than those in another. Geneva was not Zurich, Scotland was not England, the Huguenot regions of France were not the Netherlands, and the Calvinists living under Turkish rule in Hungary had a different set of political problems altogether.
Maybe in a radically secular country I could imagine a Christian politician tolerating homosexual domestic partnerships. In the late 1800s, I can't imagine that any American conservative Christian would have ever imagined we'd have to choose between voting for a Mormon presidential candidate or a man who left a liberation theology church — Americans were actively using Christian values to prosecute Mormons on polygamy charges and refused to let Utah into the United States unless it outlawed polygamy. We're now forced to decide between the lesser of two evils, both of which evils would have been inconceivable to our forefathers.
Politics makes strange bedfellows, and if something isn't done quickly to fix what's wrong with America, we're going to be facing more and more hard decisions, of which homosexual domestic partnerships will not be the worst.
But what you said was not that you could tolerate homosexual domestic partnerships, but that you “could affirm” them. That raises a red flag with me, and with many others, I believe.
We don't live in France with a radically secular foundation for their Republic. We live in the United States, a nation with a Judeo-Christian foundation, and also a nation where outside the radical extremes of the West and East coasts, most of America still thinks of itself as a Christian nation.
Dr. Horton, please seriously reconsider whether, in a nation where we can still appeal to Judeo-Christian values that are shared by most Americans, there is any good reason to affirm domestic partnerships. I believe all that does is run the risk of having those who support the homosexual agenda cite your views and then say, “See, even Dr. Horton, a well-known conservative, thinks domestic partnerships could be okay.”
That's not someplace I'd want to go.
Darrell Todd Maurina
I'm petty sure marriage must have broken down at other periods in the past, e.g. during captivity/slavery, during war when most able-bodied men were separated from their wives and families, and in the aftermath when they came home maimed, sick and broken or ddn't come home at all; and in times of plague. But in all those instances, the breakdown of the family was forced on people; they knew that they had been forced into a pit, and that it was the end for them.
This --- now ---seems to be the first time that it's all broken down in times of prosperity, and by (so to speak) "choice."
It's all so strange. Friedrich Engels, anti-marriage theorist, less than 150 years ago still saw both heterosexuality and monogamy as "natural" and desirable; he thought these traits needed only liberation from private property to truly flourish. Even 100 years ago, communists and socialists expressed repugnance for sexual perversion, and saw homosexual practices as, at best, twisted traits of a twisted capitalist society: Red Emma Goldman was one of the very very few to venture into a pro-homosexuality position, foe which she was denounced by the Left!
Now the flippin Girl Scouts --- and so-called "chuches" ---are mainstreaming doctrines more radical than those of Engels and Goldman.
Clearly Mr. Horton should have realized that the use of the term "affirm" implies a positive acceptance to the point of agreeing with the whole concept of homosexual domestic partnerships. But everyone knows (or should know) that positive acceptance of domestic partnerships was the first step towards the current insistence that Americans accept with open arms the idea that a homosexual marriage is nothing different from a heterosexual marriage and that the rights that they now want is to force churches to accept homosexual employees and pastors and to force churches and individuals to give their children up to homosexual couples for adoption as if there is no distinction between a family with a father and mother and a family with either two mothers or two fathers.
We didn't misinterpret what he said. If he actually meant to say that he believes that homosexual couples should not be allowed to adopt children with whom they are not directly blood related or that homosexuality is a sexual perversion and a grievous sin such that it should be discouraged at all levels including the church and society at large, then he should say so. He should AFFIRM the traditional view of homosexuality that it is a sexual perversion and is not to be viewed in any context as NORMAL behavior.
He was obviously referring to me when he said it was ridiculous that we should read between the lines to suggest that he might be willing to officiate at a domestic partnership ceremony, but these days, with all the formerly Reformed Churches slipping into apostasy over the abortion and homosexual issues, we cannot assume that Michael Horton is not capable of following that road into error. We are all sinners saved by grace and there but for the grace of God we would all fall into error.
Let us know if Mr. Horton answers your points. I'd like to see him own up to the error in his use of the term "affirm". I'd like to think that he would be humble enough to admit that the use of that word in that context was regrettable. It seems, however that up to this point he does not regret using that language. That is regrettable.
More explicitly, Darrell, thank you for your attention to the 'political' aspect of this conversation that you point to, because I believe there is cause for concern.
Dr. Horton is quite explicit in saying, "My point was to say that the gay lobby is not really interested in equal rights, but in equal affirmation of gay and heterosexual marriage." He also firmly states, "Being open to affirming a civil arrangement that allows partners inheritance, insurance, and other economic benefits, is NOT being open to same-sex relationships!!!"
Because I have been heavily involved in conservative politics for decades, I know that the phrase "affirming a civil arrangement" can easily become a tacit stamp of approval to help establish state and federal laws that allows "civil" marriage for homosexuals.
What needs to be made very clear is that Dr. Horton's reference to a 'civil arrangement' (for inheritance purposes) is in no way supportive of local, state or federal laws that establish homosexual marriage or any other type of domestic union.
Lastly - I wanted to point out that there are numerous homosexual churches that are conducting gay marriages frequently - all over Hollywood, North Hollywood and the surrounding Los Angeles area. They seek the approval of the public, as well as local, state and federal government - and most certainly from the leadership of any and all mainstream Christian churches.
May God richly bless you, and Dr. Horton - we live in what the Chinese curse refers to as 'interesting times.'
Indeed, without a discussion on what exactly a sacrament is, that should be a firm and common positions of all Christians.
The source of your astonishment is in the notion that the Left wing project is rooted in reason. It is not: it is a sustained over centuries act of vandalism when all methods would do. There is nothing to be gained by arguing with someone who wishes to destroy you.
My astonishment was not with the arguments of the left: it was with the contortions of the the Supreme Court justices to appease them.
But again, why do you think that the acts of the Supreme Court are driven by reason? They merely provide an intellectual veneer to the decisions drawn on their sociopolitical preferences.
It must be nice to be as intellectually superior as you are. You can see into the past with today’s knowledge and rearrange all the knowledge available at that time to meet today’s standards. Nice trick!
I'm more convinced than ever, DM, that Horton poorly wrote what he was trying to say. He seemed to be a bit more clear in his response to you than in his article.
I agree with you that "affirm" is the exact wrong word to use if you actually mean "I can follow the logic of".
I renew my call for Horton to be chastised for poor writing skills, and that because what he wrote didn't convey what he meant.
And sadly, what he wrote could be taken a number of different ways, so we'll never be certain what he meant, and especially if he was actually putting out a "civil union" trial balloon.
Although the reformed do write books when the rest of us struggle with mere paragraphs, the reformed also, when they slide away, slide into some of the "damndest" places you ever could imagine.
ping to #74
Right, obviously there are many Christians who don’t think it is a sacrament but hold the institution as a matter of faith in some regard. The problem, in my opinion, is with those who have been conditioned that marriage comes from and is defined by the state. Statists like that because it is a good way to control the culture, homosexualists like it because it is a good way to punish those who don’t buy into their nonsense.
"I cannot help the fact that some have apparently overlooked the distinction I've madeand the fact that it's part of an argument AGAINST gay marriage. I can only hope that people would not spread false impressions based on where they think it will lead rather than what I actually argued."
All wise people are humble because they can truly understand how much they don’t know.
Ayn Rand embraced Natural Law Theory (with no God) and hated the irrational philosophy of the German Postmodernists —which swept away Natural Law Theory and the Age of Reason (the Modern Age which Founded the US). John Locke was the Father of Classical Liberalism and his philosophy was based on Natural Law Theory (Higher Power in the Rule of Law).
In the 1800’s—Godless philosophies (this is John Austin, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Jeremy Bentham, etc.) became the norm in Western Civilization-—first in Europe and then it swept into America with all the intellectuals fleeing the wars in Europe and taking over the universities—publishing companies and textbooks and Foundations. They literally are killing “Right Reason According to Nature”=Just Law-—they twist the meaning of words to mean NOTHING-—they are Deconstructing Western Civilization to “Kill God”—because the only thing all these people had in common was a vile hatred for Christianity (since Voltaire).
This irrational thinking-—for materialism does take “faith” but they “lie” about “knowing”. Religious people admit that ‘Faith” is needed—but Atheists never do when their “thinking” actually takes more “faith” than the Judeo-Christian Theology.
When you have no Standards-— ( we did for hundreds of years-—GOD) —for Right and Wrong (Decalogue), then you can have valid argument that you can Deduce from these “Truths”. It uses logic when you study nature and learn the patterns in human nature and the world-—get Common Sense. St. Thomas Aquinas in the 1200’s infused Catholic Theology into Natural Law Theory which was the basis of Cicero’s thinking (Just Law came from him).
There is no arguing with people who have no moral standards except what they “feel” is “good”. They use emotions to decide “truth” instead of the intellect. They also have Darwinism as their religion, so they BELIEVE that humans evolve-—and as such, they can “progress” or be perfected.
Now, ALL of history says that there can be NO perfection of man-—in fact, God is the only thing which keeps man from becoming, so inhuman like Stalin and Hitler and Mao. Marxists want utopia-—without a God. It is not possible—it is IRRATIONAL—in fact, it has proven Satanic and evil.
All geniuses in the past stated it is necessary to read all the Classics and philosophy of Western Civ to become Wise. You can NEVER know everything-—you need to continue LEARNING until you die FROM THE BEST MINDS. It is the purpose of life-—to be Wise (and then you will be happy). You need to get OUT of Plato’s Cave. Most people NEVER do. They “think” they are seeing “reality” but they don’t even come close to understanding the Truth of the world and what is REALLY going on.
(The Matrix illustrated Plato’s Cave that the masses live in....a fantasy-—they “feel” what is good==they can’t “think” because they know nothing worth knowing. They don’t study the Classics and philosophy to understand where all their ideas came from—and every one of your ideas have an origin. Best to find it.
I believe P-Marlowe hit the nail on the head with his comments that while Dr. Mike Horton “is a giant in theological circles, he is clearly a neophyte in the culture wars.”
I think some Freepers may now be seeing why for several years I've been getting requests from frustrated elders in the Reformed world to pick up my pen and challenge the Two Kingdoms theology, especially its more radical forms. There are very few people with significant experience in the media or in politics who have enough theological training to challenge men like Dr. Horton, Dr. Daryl Hart, Dr. David Van Drunen, Dr. R. Scott Clark, and others.
I don't think I'm adequate to the task. Dr. Horton would blow me away in virtually any debate on theology. My academic and writing abilities aren't anywhere close to those of Dr. Horton and I know that. I regret the need to write what I wrote; somebody else should be doing this work, not me.
However, some things simply cannot be allowed to go unchallenged, and enough Reformed people have been bugging me into publicly challenging the “Two Kingdoms” theologians that I finally decided I need to do so since very few other conservative Reformed people are doing it.
We all specialize. Nobody can be equally good in everything, and Horton has been pretty clear over the years in his opposition to Christians being, in his view, sidetracked into a focus on politics rather than preaching the Gospel. He's got a valid point — too many churches have placed their energies into something that is primarily the task of Christian laymen, not the institutional church — but we saw with this essay the sad result of a Christian citizen wading into the political arena when he wasn't prepared to do so. At the very least, his words could be seriously misinterpreted.
I have great respect for Dr. Horton in his ecclesiastical battles against broad evangelicalism which often claims to be anti-intellectual, anti-creedal, anti-historical, and anti-authoritarian, but out of ignorance has adopted positions which are outright Pelagianism. Years ago, Dr. Horton read a Roman Catholic statement of faith at a certain evangelical school without explaining where the statement came from, asked if they could affirm the statement, and was told that the Roman Catholic statement was “too Calvinist.”
Dr. Horton probably wouldn't like my use of his story, but I've used his narrative as an example of why evangelical Protestants who know their Bibles should cooperate with traditional Roman Catholics. At least committed Catholics know their history and their creeds; too many evangelicals barely know anything about the Bibles whose inerrancy they claim to affirm, focusing on feelings rather than sound teaching. We have a major problem with teaching and discipleship in the evangelical church world, and to his credit, Dr. Horton's focus has been on changing that.
Much of his ministry over the years has avoided politics or deliberately sought to downplay a distinctively Christian view of politics, arguing instead for a “natural law” approach to citizenship in the secular sphere. I have major problems with that.
Now that he's veered into politics... well... his essay didn't make much more sense than something from my pen would make on the subject of a Christian view of sports. I haven't studied the issues in adequate detail, I don't have actual experience in the field, and anything written by me on sports would quickly show I don't know what I'm talking about.
For conservative Reformed people reading this — remember that reformation and revival both require active involvement of laymen. Preachers have their jobs and we have ours.
Dr. Horton's job as a seminary professor is fighting aberrant theology, not political engagement. Let's do something to deal with this “Two Kingdoms” theology, compliment Dr. Horton on the good work he's done in the church, and politely but firmly explain to him and his colleagues that if they really believe what they say about keeping the institutional church out of politics, they need to stay quiet and let us laymen do our job of being Christian citizens fighting evil in the secular world.
I'm not necessarily a firm supporter of the concept that the institutional church has no role in politics — “cases extraordinary” do exist, according to the Westminster Confession, and I believe abortion and homosexual marriage are examples. By his own stated principles, however, Dr. Horton ought to focus on getting rid of advocates of homosexual marriage inside the church like Misty Irons (PCA member and wife of a PCA elder and former OPC minister) while letting us laymen fight political battles in the civil realm.
It gives me no pleasure to criticize Dr. Horton. First and most importantly, I'm not the right person to do so. For a hundred different reasons, I'm simply not qualified. Second, it's always hard to throw stones at someone who's done lots of wonderful work.
It has to be done, however, and I hope enough Reformed people contact Westminster-West to make it clear to Dr. Horton and the seminary administration that this is not a minor issue. Dr. Horton is a reasonable man and I believe he can be persuaded to at least back off from his position even if he doesn't change it. That was a poorly worded essay and as an academic I believe he can affirm the need to use words better than he did.
Marriage is understood as a union between a man and woman is from Natural Law Theory-—which evolved in Western Civ from before Sophocles and was basically totally formed by the time of Cicero—as we understood it in Locke’s time.
Common Sense comes from the Laws of Nature. Understanding HOW nature works—you’re able to predict things. It is why the West was so superior to other cultures-—we devised Common Sense (Logic) and thus, Wisdom.
Leftists have to destroy Logic-—Right Reason according to Nature. By promoting irrational concepts like homosexual “marriage” it actually destroys logic and reason-—especially in the foundation of children which will mean they will never be rational-—with a faulty foundation of Truth. Pushing socialism is also irrational-—because it is pushing theft—A Vice. Justice NEVER can push Vice by Law.
It is true that St. Thomas Aquinas inserted Natural Law into Catholic Theology around 1245-—he knew Faith and Reason shouldn’t conflict-—since Nature was created by God. One should be able to rationalize all material aspects of life through logic since God made man “Rational”—Faith” always exists in man-—no matter what belief system.....it is needed for the all supernatural “thinking”. As D’Souza wrote in his book, What’s so great about Christianity?—it is because it is the most reasoned religion in the history of man.
Natural Law theory posits that all things in nature have a teleological end-—and humans-—it is to procreate and raise the next generation. All based on logic and history —and the Romans had access to numerous cultures and they found Universal Truths in all cultures-—one—marriage/uniting of men and women to have children. Justice was enshrined also-—which is a Virtue (Nicomachean Ethics) and that for “Just Law” you have to promote Virtue.
All Virtue was deduced by observing Nature (Natural Laws).
I find that the study of Natural Law Theory is what gives Catholic Theology the fundamental advantage over Protestant Theology. It is where Common Sense and Logic and Reason come from and the Bible should really never conflict with the teleological design of man (which is to unite with the opposite sex, have children, and then do their natural Duty of raising/protecting their own children and families.
St. Thomas Aquinas knew—since God made man rational—that we were meant to understand the things in Nature and their teleological ends-—Our intellect is meant to be used for understanding the world—since it is His creation and points to understanding of God and Truth.
I find that many people with PH.D’s are irrational and have no logic and it is because of their embracing Postmodernist philosophy which gets rid of Natural Law-—because then they can get rid of the Designer and make themselves into gods.
Your logic is much better than MANY theologians in today’s world. Pastor Bonhoeffer stated in 1931 that in America (as well as Germany) the Christianity being practiced was “religionless”—esp. by the pastors on the cover of all the prominent newspapers and magazines at the time.
Truth/Justice/Logic/Virtue/Wisdom====all go together-—can’t have any of it without Natural Law Theory. You especially have to use Logic with the Bible—not only Faith.
Excellent comment and completely correct. This also gives lie to the argument that homosexuals just want the same legal privileges and protections married people have. They've gotten civil unions which are legal and economic contracts/partnerships, but that's not enough.
Why the push for homosexual marriage? To try and get man to affirm what God has denied.
Marriage is a sacrament and cannot be consented to without the approval of God.
Look at all the sociological/psychological evidence. Science is finally catching up to God. We now know that rampant sexuality in any form isn’t healthy. Marriage works best. Families built around marriage are what create great civilizations.
To state otherwise is to ignore the historical record. It’s simple dissembling.
Since I’m not Reformed, I have no impediment to criticizing Dr. Horton’s 2 kingdom’s view.
First, it’s utterly unsupported by the actual stories of the bible. Whether Joseph and Pharaoh, David and Samuel, Hezekiah and Isaiah, Daniel and Babylonian Emperors, Esther and the King, Jesus and Pilate, James and Herod, Paul and Felix, and maybe even John and the Emperor, there is no shortage of God-believers involving themselves in affairs of state.
Jesus’ words to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s” does not say to be uninvolved as citizens. There is no doubt, of course, that Christianity is not about taking over kingdoms and forcibly subjecting them to our beliefs. (We’ll leave that to Islam.) Christ’s intent was that believers actually believe, not that they be forced to say they are believers.
To say we are to withdraw from the reality of the political responsibilities that are upon us is no different than saying we should withdraw from the responsibility to help fight a fire at our neighbor’s house.
Truly, Christians must be involved in the political process.
Just one clarification — being Reformed definitely does not require one to believe “Two Kingdoms” theology. Many conservative Calvinists believe that Dr. Horton and the Westminster-West people have imported a Lutheran view of the state. I do not understand Lutheran doctrine well enough to make that claim and I don't want to bear false witness against Lutheran brothers. I'm “pinging” a Freeper who is a Missouri Synod Lutheran, Rev. Charles Henrickson, to see if he wants to comment.
I do know Reformed doctrine well enough to believe that “Two Kingdoms” theology, especially in its more radical forms, cannot possibly be reconciled with what Ulrich Zwingli did in Zurich, what John Calvin did in Geneva, what John Knox did in Scotland, what the Dutch burghers did in the Netherlands, and what the Puritans did in England and New England. I cannot imagine how anyone can say with a straight face that Calvinists historically did not believe their faith had direct political implications.
Some of the “Two Kingdoms” people admit that the “Old Calvinists” were, in their words, “theocratic” but say the American revisions of the Westminster Confession make that unnecessary to believe anymore. Others, including a Ph.D student in my own theological circles, are making serious efforts to prove that John Calvin himself advocated “Two Kingdoms” theology. I plan to read his doctoral dissertation or subsequent books, but I just don't see it.
Exactly right xzins.
The same thing goes for Abortion and every other thing that God is displeased with.
We do this because we love our Children, our Family, our Friends, and even our Enemies, because our Heavenly Father desires this out of us.
Another long thesis of self-congratulation. When any of you wise latinos out there has actually done the 24 months of research into each letter of the legal opinions as I did, charting the progression from the Supreme Court’s CLEAR UPHOLDING OF MARRIAGE AS THE BUILDING BLOCK OF US SOCIETY in the 1960s, on through its dismantling, block by block, including not only SCOTUS’ own decisions but the 500 or so lower court cases stemming from their decisions, and has written a detailed history of those decisions as I have, can you thump your back in one-upmanship on the topic.
While I appreciate your comment that my “logic is much better than MANY theologians in todays world,” credentials count in the academic world. Someone with better academic credentials than me needs to be responding to these Two Kingdoms people.
On the broader issue you raise of natural law, my concern about natural law is not primarily the Roman Catholic way of viewing it but rather how the Two Kingdoms people are saying we should apply natural law and not Scripture in dealing with civil government.
In fact, some Reformed people have agreed to some extent with a Thomistic view of natural law. RC Sproul and the “classical apologetics” movement are in that category. I'm not in agreement with them but that's not an issue on which I'm going to fight.
I'm not going to ask you to agree with a Reformed view of total depravity — if you are a Roman Catholic, you need to be faithful to your own doctrinal position or leave your church — but once the doctrine of total depravity is affirmed, I'm sure you can see why most Calvinists do not believe the sinful human mind is able to understand general revelation properly.
In other words, even if natural law would in theory be sufficient to understand God's will from it, our sinful brains can't make sense of it and will come up with really bad perversions of it. General revelation is enough to leave us without excuse four our sin but not enough to lead us into the right paths. Yes, “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead,” but while that's enough to leave us without excuse it's not enough to save us.
Romans 1:18-23 applies here: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”
Again, I'm not asking you to change your Roman Catholic viewpoint, only to understand the logic behind the reasons why which most (not all) Calvinists do not emphasize the use of natural law or general revelation.
Hope this helps.
Absolutely. This is a stewardship issue. A vote has been placed in our household, and we must care responsibly for it.
Excellent point, brother.
I repeat: I do not think the acts of the Supreme Court are driven by reason. Twenty years ago, when I began the research, I believed that a majority of justices still adhered to their personal bias towards a JudeoChristian form of marriage, in view that the SCOTUS repeatedly UPHELD traditional marriage against challenges up until the 1970s, when Thurgood Marshall and other encroaching leftists started appeasing the underworld socialists and communists ON THIS ISSUE.
Please read the words of my original post, including the dates cited, before jumping on the "you so stupid" bandwagon here. I actually did the research in one of the nation's most outstanding law libraries. Why continue to insist that I must be wrong from the comfort of your sofa without having done similar research yourself? Could it be...vanity?
So very true, dear brothers in Christ!
Well apparently the point I made must have ticked off someone since my post was removed. I certainly didn't request that it be removed.
Moderators, could you explain why my post was removed?
Yes, Lutherans do teach the doctrine of the "Two Kingdoms," because it is the biblical teaching.
This is a huge subject. In fact, I taught a whole week's course on this subject at a pastors' conference in Indonesia in March, under the theme, "The Two Kingdoms: The Proper Distinction of Church and State."
Here is a blog report I wrote on that conference: The Luther Academy goes to Indonesia. I'll quote from that article now to give you a quick synopsis of the Lutheran view:
The topic on which I lectured . . . was The Two Kingdoms: The Proper Distinction of Church and State. . . .
We started with the distinction of Law and Gospel, since that is the basis for the distinction of how God rules in his two kingdoms (or governments), Church and State. The first use of the Law, written on human hearts, is how God keeps order in the world, especially through civil government. The Gospel is the special ministry of the Church, by which God saves sinners for Christs sake for eternal life. Law and Gospel, Church and State--these need to properly distinguished and not confused, so that each can do its necessary job.
The seminal work by Luther on the topic of the Two Kingdoms is his 1523 treatise, Temporal Authority: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed (Luthers Works, Volume 45). All subsequent Lutheran teaching on this topic stems from this essay. I led the group through this treatise, which was also a good way of getting at the key Bible passages, which Luther handles.
Next we went through the pertinent portions of the Lutheran Confessions, especially the following. From the Augsburg Confession: Articles IV, V, and VII, on Justification, the Ministry, and the Church; Article XVI, on Civil Government; and Article XXVIII, on Church Authority. Likewise, from the Apology: Article XVI, on Political Order. And from the Small and Large Catechisms: the Fourth Commandment and the Table of Duties.
After all of this, we were able to identify six key passages that Luther and the Confessions always were citing: Matthew 22:21, Render unto Caesar; John 18:36, My kingdom is not of this world; Acts 5:29, We must obey God rather than men; Romans 13:1-7, government as Gods servant that bears the sword; 2 Corinthians 10:4, The weapons of our warfare are not carnal: and 1 Peter 2:13-14, very similar to Romans 13.
Then we went through other biblical and historical examples of how the two kingdoms operate and how they often have been confused. From the Imperial Cult of Rome to Constantinian Christendom to the Medieval Crusades, from the Protestant Reformation to the Prussian Union to issues of Church and State today, history bears witness to the importance of keeping the two kingdoms in their proper perspective.
If anyone's interested, I can send you the three handouts I used at the conference, which give: an outline of the course; excerpts from Luther's essay on "Temporal Authority"; and excerpts from the Lutheran Confessions. Send me a freepmail with your e-mail address, and I'll send you the three documents as file attachments.
I'm planning to use this same material to teach a class at my congregations this fall on the same topic, "The Two Kingdoms: The Proper Distinction of Church and State."
BTW, Luther's important and helpful 1523 essay can be found online in pdf form: "Temporal Authority: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed"
I'll post a comment on the particular subject of this thread here in a moment.
God has written his law, a sense of right and wrong, on human hearts. This is the basis for civil law, e.g., laws against murder, stealing, bearing false witness. See Romans 2:14-15: "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law [i.e., the Ten Commandments, given to Israel], by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them. . . ."
As much as possible, civil laws and societal norms should correspond to God's Law, his unchanging will for human society. When they do, a society works better. When they don't, a society declines. In our lifetime, American society has declined especially in the areas of marriage and the family, sexual behavior, and the like. We can and should work for improvement in these areas, both in unwritten societal norms and in written civil laws.
Matters such as abortion and homosexual "marriage" (sic) fall under the category of Law. One need not be a Chrisitan to recognize that these things are wrong. Nature, reason, and conscience all attest that abortion and homosexual behavior are wrong. To oppose these abominations is not a distinctively Christian position.
What IS distinctively Christian is the content of the Gospel, e.g., the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of the person and work of Christ, the doctrine of justification, the preaching of forgiveness and eternal life for the sake of Christ. This is the exclusive domain of the Church. This is the ministry of the Gospel.
The Law cannot save. Only the Gospel can do that. The Law can make for a better society, and it should do that.
One more post in a moment on what Michael Horton said.
Thanks for this. I’ll give it a look when I have time. I like guy who knows his stuff.
Summing up my position (and what I think is close to Horton's): Homosexual "marriage," no. Contractual arrangements between individuals, already permissible. But no special status bestowed by society on immoral relationships.
We agree on that, then. Sorry if I came across belligerent or vain.
You said, "My astonishment was not with the arguments of the left: it was with the contortions of the the Supreme Court justices". My thought was that since you were astonished by a [mental] contortion, you must have expected reason instead of a contortion. I misunderstood something; it happens to me often.