Chaput on the Significance of Gay Marriage

Carl Trueman reflects on Roman Catholic  Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput’s 2014 Erasmus Lecture, ‘Strangers in a Strange Land.’  It’s worth the read. The quick point: whereas the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling makes abortion legal based on whether or not human life is present founded on chronology, the the legitimizing of gay marriage represented not simply a sin within a legitimate reality but a fundamental rejection of human nature. This is, according to Chaput, a tipping point that makes this moment most perilous.

Here is the article.

What We Were Told Back Then- Robert George Examines the “Evolution” of Same Sex Marriage by Its Defenders

Robert George is a fav. He is a Natural Law theorist at Princeton who appeals to reason as sufficient to demonstrate that same sex marriage is not marriage. While he is a Roman Catholic, he has a high regard for the capacity of reason to explore and reach defendable conclusions about the nature of the moral order as a real thing. Protestants are suspicious of Natural Law, seeing, as they do, the mind as fallen, tainted by Original Sin. Their preferred vantage point for describing moral absolutes is “thus saith the Lord,” quoting chapter and verse. While it is true that unregenerate man is tainted by sin and uses reason to suppress knowledge of the truth, humans do not become animals operating only by instinct. They remain in the image of God and through His grace are able to seek after Him and His ways, drawing sufficient conclusions that make them responsible to a recognized moral order.

In this talk, Robert George compares what same sex marriage defenders told us 15 or 20 years ago and what these same proponents say today. Then they asserted that they did not want to attack the traditional definition of marriage but only make it accessible to the gay and lesbian community. Today the very definition of marriage is put on the chopping block. Marriage has been redefined by them only as companionship with no demand for permanence or even exclusivity. In other words, under their influence marriage is merely a name for companionship. Sexual reproductive complementarity is not essential to marriage.

 

Here is the link to George’s presentation at the Institute of Religion and Democracy’s Diane Knipper’s Memorial Lecture, October 16, 2024. It is irritatingly formatted into 11 parts so that you have to see more ads. When you get through with the first one the next one will automatically load, but you will have to click through an ad. It is all worth the labor and distraction.

George’s argument in full is in his book What Is Marriage? It is not an easy book. Go slow, be patient and the power of his argument will come together before your eyes.

God and the Gay Christian

Today is the official release of Matthew Vines’ volume, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. Vines has gotten a lot of press as a spokesman within the Evangelical church for ssm. He is soft-spoken, articulate, kind, and speaks the lingo Evangelicals want to hear – including a supposedly high view of Scripture. Vines’ publisher — Convergent Books — is closely related in organization and leadership to evangelical publisher WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. This would seem to present ssm as some sort of option among Evangelicals. Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, responds, “What is new is the packaging of the argument and the fact that this is being published — at least to some extent — within evangelicalism by an imprint associated with WaterBrook Multnomah that is targeting itself toward the evangelical community.”

Also released today is God and the Gay Christian? is a 100-page critique of Vines, edited by Al Mohler, who also contributes a chapter. Other contributors are: James M. Hamilton Jr., professor of biblical theology; Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies; Owen Strachan, assistant professor of Christian theology and church history; and Heath Lambert, assistant professor of biblical counseling. Burk, Strachan and Lambert teach primarily for Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Seminary.

Here we go folks. The players are getting into the ring. Many of the blows that have been landed on Evangelicals are from those outside Evangelical camp and vice versa. This is within! It won’t be so much about Vines. It will be more about Evangelicals who are looking for an off-ramp to move away from this issue, diminish its significance, consider it as just one among many issues we are allowed to disagree on, and then move on to other things. It is not going to be that easy. Those who will not declare themselves one way or another, who refuse to address the morality of ssm, will be safe for awhile. But ultimately the rift is only beginning. And the rift, as it almost always is, is about the nature and authority of the Bible.

Of course, this debate will not touch the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church. Their acceptance of historic Christian morality is a done deal. They are not even having this discussion, even as they are not discussing the ordaining of women to the priesthood. Watch as Evangelicals continue to slip into these communions due to their strong moral commitments. Evangelicals who do so will have to seek ways to diminish some of the doctrinal barriers that continue to exist between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, particularly over justification by faith alone. Evangelicalism in the West might have to shrink for awhile as it clarifies what its moral commitments really are. SSM won’t be the only topic. The Evangelical comfort with easy divorce and cohabitation is going to come into the crosshairs, too. It will be hard for the Evangelicals to isolate ssm from its own looseness on other issues of sexual morality. It is already happening and will only pick up speed. Western Evangelicals better be quick to settle this one or increasingly be marginalized by the worldwide communion of the Evangelical church.

In my own ministry I have made it clear that I stand with the historic church on what constitutes marriage. But I have so far not publicly taught on ssm for the simple reason that the Evangelical church needs to be clear on its own acceptance of divorce as normative, a de facto state of affairs, if not exactly a doctrinal surrender. Let’s start there. The church as it is made up of 50% of its marriages dissolving and then remarrying or cohabiting, often with multiple remarriages and multiple partners. Given this state of moral condition, it does not have much of a platform to address the sexual immorality of anybody.

We all fall short. No arguments there. But it’s not about that. It’s about the teaching position of the church, its moral aspirations and vision. Does the church teach, support and expect “one man, one woman, with children, together for a lifetime”? Hardly. As far as I can see, it is the Roman Catholic church alone which nurtures this vision. While I do not support many of the ways it seeks to enforce this vision and its often heavy-handed authoritarianism and legalistic process for annulments, it has not accommodated the cultural pressures to diminish the sanctity of marriage. There are a thousand qualifications I would want to make about this, but the broad outlines are clear. I regularly hear the horror stories of how the church has handled those divorcing and the piling on of unnecessary pain. It often, maybe even most often, is not very redemptive.

I am hopeful concerning this purifying process. The deep Christ-followers in the pews have grown tired of the waffling leadership of their churches. They will be encouraged that now choices will be forced and their leadership pressed out into the open on these moral issues. It will be dramatically clear if these leaders do not want to come into the open. Churches which are clear will be blessed with growing numbers of Christians who want to follow the Lord.

Of course, churches must not slip into legalism or harsh authoritarianism and must tenderly and mercifully exhort the flock of God. Some will be unwise and think that their stand of this or that moral issue will ipso facto make them a good church. Not so. At the heart of the church is love of God and love for people. This must be the root from which the church takes growth.