A Progressive Christian Blog

Opposing the Already Oppressed

Nothing says “un-Christian” more to me than the responses of some Christians, organizations and churches to the recent ruling in Washington and to today’s announcement that California’s Prop 8 is unconstitutional.

When thousands (millions?) of American-Christians start to rally up the troops once again to combat any progress the LGBT community makes.

I just can’t fathom the spirit that says, “oh yeah! you think you gained some steps toward equality and respect and dignity in this country!? Well we will just see about that! We’ll rally together enough people to shoot you back down again! And if you don’t stay down THIS time, then we’ll just keep trying! Every time you take two steps forward, we’ll gather enough support to push you three steps backward!”

It just feels unChristian, doesn’t it?

I realize I’m bias. I realize that since I’m a straight-ally, and in full support of human equality when it comes to the rights people ought to have regardless of their sexual orientation, that my opinion on whether the above posture is “Christian” or not is going to be slanted. My version of Christianity, in my mind, takes after its figurehead: Jesus. And Jesus, as best as I understand him, was concerned about things like love, justice and unity. Not so much concerned with fighting to oppress the already oppressed. And certainly not concerned with a persons sexual orientation.

Nonetheless, when people who profess to also follow Jesus actively fight and campaign to continually keep gay and lesbian couples as second-class it makes me question their fundamental understanding of Jesus’ message, his Way, and his Kingdom.

Part of me can kinda-sorta understand a Christian’s commitment to what they view as the only acceptable form of marriage, and how that leads them to actively support movements to protect that belief. I don’t agree with them, but I respect their actions as coming from their convictions. But at some point, on some level, to just continue and continue to fight and campaign and appeal and argue, it just feels mean. I realize this sounds contradictory, and I’m okay with that. But to me there is a difference.

What am I proposing, then? I’m not entirely sure. I suppose it’s silly to say, “if at first you don’t succeed, then happily give up and go home.”

It’s just the immediate sense that I get from reading people’s response. The instant state of, “quick, assemble the crew, the enemy has gained some ground and we need to respond immediately!” I guess there’s just something innate to that that rubs me the wrong way, and feels less “Christian.” Less “Jesus-y.”  (Although, to be fair, I think opposing gay-marriage in the first place is not Jesus-y).

Some day, in the (hopefully near?) future, arguments like this will be behind us. We’ll reminisce about these days with a strange sense of, “wait, why did our country not let gay people marry?” in similar ways that we now reminisce about the days when blacks and whites had to drink from different fountains. That doesn’t make any sense to us now. And one day this won’t make sense to us either.

In the meantime, if you find yourself to be one of the millions of followers of Jesus who don’t think gay people should be allowed the same basic right as you, then I ask you to hold that conviction kindly. Handle it with love. If your sense of “what’s right” is so strong that you just have to fight gay-marriage, then please do it with grace and humility. Don’t immediately rush to kick the man again who just started stumbling to his feet.

I guess that’s what the above movements feel like to me.

10 Responses to “Opposing the Already Oppressed”

  1. Michael

    Colby…thank you for your post…I once had a friend who died of AIDS in the middle 80’s…yes he was gay and we had many conversations as to why he was the way he was…the sad thing is that he was not only confused about why he was the way he was, but he also had to put up with the oppression that came with the stigma of his being gay…he was a wonderful human being who had a wonderfully big heart and I will always remember him as a person who cared, a person with compassion, a person who loved…I might not have agreed with what he did, but I loved him because he was honest about who he was. I wasn’t a Christian then, but I am now and I must say that if you are to follow Jesus then we are to love the person…Jesus will judge that person and it’s not us that is to judge. Well written my friend and I’m thankful that you are wise enough to see through all the things that cause us to not be the kind of people we are to be.

  2. Bailee

    Hi Colby, I was thinking about you and missing your voice, so I searched you out online. This post surprises me. I do not think badly of you for having this opinion, but I don’t agree with what you are saying: If the Bible says that marriage is between a man and woman (I know you know the verses…also, do you not believe that Genisis is literal?), then why do same sex couples feel the need to marry? When you live a life differently from what the Bible teaches, you are living a sinful life. Sin separates us from God. It doesn’t mean that we exclude them from our lives, our church, our love, our society. It should also NOT mean that we have to ignore what we know as truth from the Bible by voting against our beliefs. I do not think that we should hate homosexuals. I want everyone to have a blessed life. I will let God be the judge of how people live their life. At the same time, I don’t want anyone to change our laws to something that is different from what God’s purpose for marriage is. I want to stand up for God’s truth. I also don’t want anyone telling my kids that to live in such a way is consistent with what the Bible teaches. If we start changing our laws, that is what will happen. It will be okay to teach kids in school that what God says about a man and a women is not true; you can just do what feels good to you. You say that it is the same as believing it is wrong for a black person to drink from the same drinking fountain as a white man. That doesn’t make sense to me. Man said that was not okay, not the Bible. Jesus loved everyone, but he also never backed down from God’s truths. In John 8:1 – 11 scribes and Pharisees had caught a woman in the act of adultery (the woman commonly referred to as the prostitute) and told Jesus who was teaching in the temple that the Mosaic Law required she be stoned to death….
    Once all the men had dropped their stones Jesus confronted the woman and asked her if any of the men were still there to condemn her. When she answered “No man, Lord”, Jesus told her that neither did He – He forgave her of her sin. He did not excuse the sin of adultery/prostitution, he forgave her of it. All behavior and thought that is sinful before forgiveness is still sinful after forgiveness. Not only was Jesus not afraid to call a sin a sin, He was not afraid to call a sinner a sinner. He even reminded her of the sin of adultery/prostitution by telling her “Go and sin no more.”
    I think Jesus loved her well, but I don’t see Jesus saying, “Let’s create a law that says prostitution is okay, so that you do not feel like you are being treated differently than others.” You have a big heart Colby, and I miss hearing your incredible voice at the Grove so much!!!! Don’t forget that we can feel and have God’s forgiveness and love always and freely, but because we love him, we need to live by and stand up for his truths. (I suppose we disagree about God’s truths, though, and I’m curious how you interpret God’s messages about gender roles and marriage so differently than I do?)

    • colbymartin

      Hey Bailee, thanks for stopping by!
      And thanks for sharing your opinion in a kind and respectful way. I’d love to engage with a few of your points/questions. But ultimately please understand this: I will not be trying to change your mind. That would be a fool’s mission. Change (at the type of heart-level required for something like this) only comes (I believe) through the Spirit of God. That was how I was (slowly, over several years) changed on these sorts of issues. That being said, I do feel compelled to be a voice for the voiceless in this arena. To try and expose people to other ways of seeing things, in hopes that I can help be a catalyst for change (even if it must be the Spirit that ultimately causes it).

      You seem to take for granted that “the Bible says that marriage is between a man and woman,” and you even assume that “I know the verses.” Well, I probably know the verses you have in your mind, but I’d still invite you to share them with me. Where, in the Bible, do you see so clearly that “marriage is between a man and a woman?” Maybe we can start there… and build some thoughts/questions out from there.

      Meanwhile, while you search for those and come back with your findings, here’s a few more thoughts from your post.

      You say “then why do same sex couples feel the need to marry?” This is a strange question, to me, because it assumes that since THIS group of people over here (some Christians) feel that marriage is only defined in THIS specific way, then THAT group of people over there (LGBT community) should just naturally assume THIS group’s convictions and “feel” the same way? If a gay couple in no way believes that the Bible has any authoritative rule over them, then why would they care what Christians say/think/feel? Or, if a christian gay couple, who DO believe that the Bible has authoritative rule over them, but do NOT believe that it speaks about marriage in the same way as you would, then why would they need to feel like they shouldn’t want to get married? Basically, the point I’m trying to make, is that same-sex couples “feel the need to get married” for the exact same reasons that you or I do. And to imagine it’s any different is quite strange to me. Why would the opinion of a group of people cause gay couples to NOT want to marry?

      You say “when you live a life differently from what the Bible teaches, you are living a sinful life.” Well, that gets a bit tricky, and way too complex to address here. But I will say this: I guarantee that you are also living a life differently from what the Bible teaches. How can I guarantee this? Have you ever gone to church and spoken a word? If so, then you are living a life differently from what the Bible teaches. Have you ever gone to church and greeted someone by kissing them? If not, then you’re living a life differently from what the Bible teaches. I’m not trying to be sarcastic and annoying, but the reality is that we all do selective picking and choosing as to what parts of the Bible we really want to live by, and what parts we ignore or excuse away. So the question isn’t, “are they living a life differently from what the Bible teaches,” (because all that probably means is that they are living differently from how “I” interpret the Bible), I think a better question is “how can I work out a way to describe what it looks like to live in a way the Bible teaches and be consistent with it in my own life?” And we start to deal with our own junk instead of worrying about what we perceive to be junk in other people’s lives.

      I am curious why you would bother saying, “I want everyone to have a blessed life.” That isn’t actually true. If it were, then you would be in favor of granting same-sex couples the right to marry. For them (as it would be for you, if you weren’t allowed) not being able to marry who they love is an enormous blockade (or at least, it can be) to having a blessed life. I’m sure you WANT to want everyone to have a blessed life, but by your own definition you are undermining that desire.

      True, “man” may have said that blacks and whites could not drink from the same fountain, but consider this: Paul, in his letter to Titus, affirmed a sweeping stereotype that borderlines racism… (“One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true.” Titus 1:12-13) So the Bible actually DOES have evidence of bigotry towards a race/class/type of people. Furthermore, you should well know that during the years of segregation (not to mention slavery) fundamental conservative Christians consistently used the Bible as the basis for their viewpoints. Used the bible to support their slavery, to support their efforts in segregation. We can look back NOW and see and say how wrong they were. And I feel like 50 years from now we’ll be doing the same thing with this. When people continue to take an honest look at the Scriptures and discover what it says and doesn’t say about homosexuality and marriage, slowly popular opinion will start to change (guided by the SPirit of God). And one day people will look back at us and wonder how we could have gotten it so wrong. The Bible has been used for oppression and alienation of people for centuries, and this issue is no different.

      I feel the way I do about same-sex marriage because my fundamental beliefs about the human nature and our sexuality are different from many Christians. I believe people are gay because they are oriented that way (through both nature and nurture). And that they are gay (or bi-sexual) because that’s who they are, and that’s how God designed them to be. I don’t believe the Bible has anything to say against people for being gay. It certainly has a few things to say about sexual sin (both hetero and homo), but nothing about a loving, committed, monogamous same-sex relationship (and hopefully, marriage). I believe gay people deserve just as much respect, honor and dignity (if not more so, because of how they’ve historically been treated) than straight people. And allowing them the right to marry is just a no brainer, it just naturally flows out, from my perspective on human sexuality.

      You closed by saying, “don’t forget that we can feel and have god’s forgiveness and love alway and freely, but because we love him we need to live by and stand up for his truth.” Believe me, I haven’t forgotten that. But thanks for the reminder.

      I, too, miss The Grove. I wish I could’ve remained your Worship & Arts Pastor.

  3. D

    This is a slippery slope you’re artfully walking, don’t you think? Why use arguments that diminish the power, authority and relevance of the Scriptures? To what end would you make these arguments? A facade of reconciliation between God’s holiness and culturally relevant values?

    I feel that more attention should be given to the way marriage–the institution and the word itself–is handled in our country. It is a messy combination of a spiritual covenant and a civil union. Those are two very different things aren’t they? They appear to be diverging, perhaps rightfully so.

    Regardless of what we think of civil unions, are you making the case that a same-sex couple can enter into a Scripture-honoring marriage covenant that brings glory to Jesus and displays his holiness to a fallen world?

    • colbymartin

      D, thanks for stopping by. Generally I don’t approve “anonymous” comments on my blog. If you can’t stand by your statements, then you probably shouldn’t be making them. But, this IS the interweb, where people thrive on hiding beyond their screens. So I guess I’ll let your comment through.. but It’d be great if you shared your (real) name with us.

      I’m curious what the “slippery slope” is that I’m walking? To what end do you see my course moving towards?

      I never desire to “diminish the power, authority and relevance of Scripture.” If you know me at all, then you’d know that I have the highest view of Scripture. At times I may question the traditional perspectives and the popular interpretations, but this is never because I want to diminish its power or relevance.

      Recently I said this to a friend on Facebook who was also questioning whether or not “marriage,” as a term/idea, had a place in the non-church world.. he said:

      “marriage is fundamentally a religious term.” Now, to YOU, that may be the case. But to many, it’s not. Marriage has existed (in some form) long before (and right alongside) any form of religion. It has served functions within societies far beyond just an affirmation of a religious covenant. So to deconstruct all the nuances and complexities of the concept of “marriage” to just a “religious term” is a terrible injustice.

      I wish you could see that for same-sex couples, simply being granted a “civil union” or “domestic partnership” is extremely de-valuing. It screams “second-class-citizen.” I just don’t think many straight, anti gay-marriage Christians, take the mental (and soulful) effort to empathize with the “other” in this case.

      Also, Under your suggestion, it would appear that the majority of marriages in this society are not, in fact, marriages at all. Since they were not tied to a “religious” function, or purpose, or blessing. And this perplexes me. But perhaps I’m not understanding you correctly.

      To recap: marriage, in our society, functions on so many more levels than just religious. And for the majority, it serves no religious purpose at all. It sounds like you would be in favor of radically altering all of that. To undo the very definition/function/purpose of marriage in our country. Remove it from the “secular realm” and replace it with something akin to “civil unions.” And allow “marriages” to exist only in the religious realm. Now THAT is scary. And I can’t imagine you would really support that. So I’ll assume I’m misinterpreting you…?

      So I ask you, D: do you think that the diverging you refer to is a good thing? Ought “marriage” be completely removed from the secular world and reserved only for the world of the church? And if so, then why?

      And to your last question, yes. Absolutely yes. A same-sex couple can enter in to a Scripture honoring marriage covenant that brings glory to Jesus and has the potential to display his holiness to a fallen world. 100% I believe that to be true. And nothing in Scripture has convinced me otherwise.

      • D

        “I’m curious what the “slippery slope” is that I’m walking? “…
        You appear to be ignoring clear references in Scripture to God-honoring marriage being between a man and a woman. This is not just one or two references, but a Biblical theme that is manifested in various forms. Once you set one of those themes aside, it can be difficult not to continue the trend when called upon to take a difficult stand for Jesus Christ. This, by the way, is one of those difficult stands.

        Furthermore, by equating “opposition to gay marriage” to a “civil rights violation”, you are implying that Biblical teachings are on the wrong side of a civil rights issue. Whether or not this implication is relevant to the authority of the Bible, it does seem to cast God in a very poor light. I tend to think this is why you don’t want to recognize God’s clear revelation of the man/woman marriage covenant: because you don’t want to be seen accusing God of being an oppressor.

        “Absolutely yes. A same-sex couple can enter in to a Scripture honoring marriage covenant that brings glory to Jesus and has the potential to display his holiness to a fallen world. ” …
        I’m afraid that since we disagree on this fundamental ideology, further conversation would be engaging, but full of non-sequiturs, unless we’re talking about that point and nothing else.

        I wish you good will in this, and I can see that the love of God is compelling you to stand up for a group of people who are simply trying to pursue validation and acceptance from society at large. I respect you for speaking out in order to demonstrate God’s grace to people in this difficult position.

  4. Scott

    I just stumbled accross this post but would like to participate in the conversation. It is interesting that there is a lot of talk about “my version” of Christianity. There isnt really our version of anythin in the Bible. There is the biblical version of things and we get to participate with those things and choose to apply them or not. Much of what is said in regards to Christians and how they behave is true and each person will be accountable to God for their actions. There is a request in the comments about actual scripture references that talk about marriage being sanctioned by God between men and women only. Here are a few: Genesis 2:19-25; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 1:26-27. In regard to Jesus himself there is not a direct address of homosexual marriage, but of course there wouldnt be because it was not an issue that needed to be addressed. When he does allude to marriage it is always in the context of a man and a woman. If you would like to read more into what he is saying that what is actually there you are free to do that, but there is no loop hole that I can see. Of course the reference to civil rights brings other things into the light. This is not an argument of whether or not gay marriage is right or wrong. It is an argument about whether or not God created them that way or not. If they were created homosexual then it is a moot point and we need to move on. But if it is a choice that is made by a man or a woman then it is very different than the civil rights movement and what was done to those men and women does not fit in the same category as what we are talking about here. The idea that Jesus is not concerned with a person’s sexual orientation is to remove the soveregnty of God from the equation as well. If he is not concerned with my choice of who I sleep with or am married to then there is some part of my life that is lived out of the perview of God’s power or influence. And yes we, as Christians, live in constant hypocracy. The goal should not be to point out one anothers hypocracy, but to strive to live according to the commands that Jesus left us with. Love one another. By this all men and women will know that we are his disciples. If we love one another. The trouble that I see with the post is that it assumes that to have a disagreement is to say that we have no love. That is untrue. You will not find me opposing gay marriage with a sign and a loud-speaker, but you will find me faithfully reading my Bible and preaching the truth of Jesus Christ and his saving love. Jesus died for everyone. Including those who are participating and supporting gay marriage. They may never fully understand that love because they are blinded to the truth by their desire to live life there own way. Jesus wouldnt have stopped them and neither will I. They can choose to say, “no” to Jesus and to me, for that matter.

    • colbymartin

      Scott, thanks for stopping by and adding your voice.

      To be fair, we all have our own “versions” of Christianity (and many of us borrow them from someone else). We all must do our best to interpret the Scriptures and discern what they mean and how they apply to our life. Any definition of what it means to be a Christian is simply an interpretation.

      Sure, some interpretations are probably better, more accurate, than others. But it is naive to think that there is a clear and easy “biblical” Christianity that we can just “participate in.” This has never been the case in the 2000 years of church history. There have always been seasons of interpreting things differently, of being “Christians” differently, of understanding the Christian faith differently. So while I can understand your aversion to language like “my version” of Christianity, on some level it is true for all of us.

      I’m really curious, Scott, why you reference Genesis 2:19-25, 1 Cor 6:9-11 and Romans 1:26-27 as passages that “talk about marriage being sanctioned by God between men and women only.” I kind see why you might appeal to Genesis, but the other two? Really!? I’ll quote them here:

      1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)
      9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

      I don’t see any reference to marriage.

      Romans 1:26-27
      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 gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

      Again, I ask, where is the reference to marriage?

      I can understand if you want to use these texts to argue against some form of homosexuality. But please don’t use them and say they “talk about marriage being sanctioned by God between men and women only.” Because they don’t. At all. Have anything to do with marriage.

      I can’t quite tell from your comment, but it appears that you believe that people who are gay are not really gay. But, in fact, they are straight people who choose to be attracted to people of the same sex. And if that’s the case, if you think that homosexual people don’t actually exist, then I’m not sure I can offer you anything. You stand in the minority on that one. Rare is the person or group of people anymore who still maintain that people who are gay are gay because they “choose” to be. I would advise you to spend some time researching that, in any way shape or form. Because you’re just not dealing with reality.

      You say, “the trouble that I see with the post is that it assumes that to have a disagreement is to say that we have no love”, and that makes me wonder if you actually read the whole post. Because in it, I acknowledge that different people have different convictions on this issue. And I support their need to act on those convictions. I’m only asking that as they do so, that they walk with kindness and love. I would never state that a disagreement is a sign of no love. That’s just crazy talk!

  5. Scott

    Colby, thanks for letting me into the discussion. It seems that you are intent on veiwing the scriptures in “2D”. Meaning that they can only have one application per text. “Thats just crazy talk”. To not have a greater understanding of the scripture and application is to say that if I wasnt born 2000 years ago the scripture doesnt apply to me. To say that those passages dont speak to the way we treat our bodies as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” is to diminish the very thing that you are arguing for. You are arguing for equality in marraige standing. What you are infering is that homosexuals can be married or civily united, but not participate in some of the other things that God says come with marriage i.e. Sex. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife.” This is a specific application of the scripture to life. To say that the other passages do not speak to marriage AT ALL is weak and tepid and deminishes the authority of the scripture in the life of every believer. It seems that you have answered my question about your understanding of homosexual origins. I do believe that they exist and I believe that they are decieved. I dont, however believe that this deception is any different that the deception that causes a man to leave his wife and family to follow his sexual passions elsewhere. I do not see it as any different that the addict who goes back to the bottle, or needle, or computer screen for another fix. Essentially I am saying that sin is still sin no matter what label you put on it. You cant get around it and you cant get out from under it. You tell me who you have ever met that further pursued their brokeness in an attempt to find healing and succeeded. You wont find it. And as much as God’s standards fly in the face of what is popular and globally accepted, it will remain true. Sin with a new label is still the same old sin with different clothes on. We are called to be loving and you are inferring that to be loving is to accept their way of life even if it goes against God’s satandards. I would say that it is loving to call them to the one who can really bring life, even if that is the hard or not so popular thing to do. Colby, I dont mean to be personal and you are a kind person to allow for others to disagree with you and give the a forum to voice their opinions. Thanks


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