2015 was a year of monumental change. One of the biggest shifts we saw was the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage, making it legal to get married in all 50 states. This changed things for gay couples who had waited for so long for their state to legalize same-sex marriage. It also made it easier for couples who were married but didn’t live in a state that recognized the marriage. Since the ruling, most Americans have celebrated along with their friends in the LGBT community. However, there has been a rift between those who want marriage equality and those who feel that gay marriage interferes with their religious beliefs. For the most part, these religious people have kept quiet, and some religious people see nothing wrong with same-sex marriage… but things can get complicated when a person opposed to same-sex marriage is asked to serve a same-sex couple. We have seen this covered by the media on several different occasions.

religious freedom and marriage equality

SCOTUS ends marriage discrimination in Obergefell v Hodges

The Legend of Kim Davis

No doubt you remember Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who dominated national news when she refused to issue a single marriage license after the Supreme Court’s ruling. This includes for both homosexual and heterosexual couples. Davis is a born-again Christian, and she claimed issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples was contrary to her religious beliefs. She also attempted to bar her staff from issuing these licenses (they were issued her name). Her battle over the issue went on for months, and while it may not be completely over yet, here’s a condensed timeline of what we’ve seen:

  • She was sued by four couples, and she was told by a judge to begin issue marriage licenses again immediately.
  • She continued to refuse, and was eventually held in contempt of court.
  • She spent five days in jail before being released on the condition that she not interfere with any more marriage licenses to be issued.
  • When Kentucky’s new governor took office several weeks ago, he signed an executive order removing the clerk’s names from the marriage certificates.

Battle at Fontbonne Academy

One of the most recent victories in same-sex equality concluded just a few weeks ago at Fontbonne Academy. Fontbonne Academy is an all-girls Catholic school in Massachusetts. In 2013, they offered a job to a man named Matthew Barrett. Barrett was to be the school’s food service director. However, when he accepted the job and filled out his paperwork, he listed his husband as his emergency contact. Once the school board members found out he was gay, they rescinded his job offer. Barrett sued, and a judge ruled that the school discriminated against him because of his sexual orientation. The school claimed that it was their Constitutional right to take back their job offer because it went against what they believed in, but it was not enough to sway the judge.

Continued Challenges

While the fight has largely been won, LGBTQ individuals still face significant challenges across the country. While it’s delightful to hear that marriage equality groups in more progressive areas like Vermont are able to shut their doors in the wake of victory (as happened recently), other areas seem to be moving in the opposite direction: in states like Georgia lawmakers are still proposing bills that would undo marriage equality, and some Presidential Candidates have outlined specific proposals to accomplish the same feat.

What Does Religious Freedom Mean?

This is just a couple of the many examples of  some particular religious beliefs and gay couples clashing. It has made many people wonder where the line is to be drawn. However, what these people fail to realize is that you can have your religious freedom while leaving those who have a lifestyle you disagree with alone. Just by living their own lives freely, people aren’t interfering with your right to religious freedom. We are all children of the same universe; regardless of your particular beliefs, our task is not to judge but to show love and compassion for our fellow man.

New Year, New Strides?

We made great strides forward on the path toward equality in 2015. In the new year we shall surely see even more challenges to the idea of universal acceptance, but we hope eagerly to find ourselves even closer to the ideal state when the year closes. The world is fractious enough as it is, perhaps it’s time that we stop manufacturing these conflicts and come together.

What do you think? Can 2016 be the year of true equality?


  1. Alvin R Jones says:

    Follow the Laws of the Land(or Leave the land)!. Once a law is passed, if you break it, you are liable to the consequences in spite of personal beliefs or prejudices.

  2. James Pace says:

    It’s sad that a law had to be passed to allow people the right to be happy.

    1. Ray says:

      Sorry but any/all opinions by the SCOTUS are not laws. The whole issue to begin with is the government is involved In this. The Constatution is very clear about marriage and says ZERO about it for good resson, it is a 100% church matter. But this is just my opinion.

      1. William says:

        Work on your English. You can’t even spell simple words. Can’t take you serious as it’s usually the uneducated Christians that don’t accept equality for everyone. Who are you to judge and to think you know better than the Supreme Court? I’m s9 happy to live in Canada a truly free nation of peace.

        1. Ray says:

          I don’t where to begin with your rude remarks. I just stated the facts according to OUR laws, personely I don’t care who marrys who, they will answer for it on judgement day. As far as spelling you might want to relook at yours. But you have a blessed day

        2. Shane Lowrey says:

          Speaking of English, s9? And, punctuation does matter.

          Regardless, it was legible and ironic.

      2. James Pace says:

        I believe you are forgetting man’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

      3. lee says:

        the Constitution say Life, Liberty and th Persuit of happiness for all. It also says separation of church and state. Let those who wish to practice a religion do so…but do not foster your prejudice on the rest of us.

    2. John Owens says:

      HAPPINESS is not something that can be legislated. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are endowed to all by their Creator. The subject of this particular issue is not. The idea that because a certain law has been enacted, that certain groups of people will NOW be happier than before is a bit pie-in-the-sky. Happiness will not be more widespread because of it. I’m just saying. This will not cure the ills of society and people will not stay satisfied or have richer lives because of it.

  3. Alvin R Jones says:


  4. Kathy Kovachick says:

    The Father wrote the law. I can not and will not ignore that. If we as Christians say nothing, then we allow these things to happen. And in doing so we deny the Father. I am child of The Great I Am. I will not run from that.

    1. Howard Cuevas says:

      Well as a true follower of Christ, which by claiming yourself “Christian” I would assume you would follow Him as well. I would try to follow the love your neighbor as yourself rule. Or His message of love. It sounds as if you aren’t following that, but instead sitting in judgement or holding yourself above others. So in essence you are proving yourself to be a hypocrite. I would suggest starting over and going back and reading the gospels again because your missing the entire message.

      1. Kathy Kovachick says:

        I am not above anyone. But I do feel I walk on even ground. We have all had hard lives. I wish all the best. Everyone of us. But I stand where I stand and I and I Will Not Back Down. I ANSWER The Father. We live on this world together. I have no problem with how people live.I no malice toward no man. I do have a problem.When it Is shoved don’t my throat. I can bend or stand up for I what believe. You see my happiness is threaten. You did not look at that did you. I am not blind.And That’s exactly What Has Happened. Be blind all YOU Want. I AM NOT. MAY GOD BLESS YOU.

    2. John Jernigan says:

      You’re missing the point, Kathy. Everyone doesn’t share your beliefs and it’s wrong try to force them to. You may believe and practice as you like, but so can everyone else. The US Constitution is a secular document that recognizes no specific religion. To say it does is un-American.

    3. Craig says:

      Love your neighbor as you love yourself, judge no one and you will not be judged. Do not gossip. News articles, TV news are examples of hearsay. We are to uphold the Commandments and to warn those sinning but how would one know of a same sex encounter without committing a sin ourselves. God says nothing about being a homosexual that is sinful. However, expanding a same sex union into the physical activities of a man and woman is referred to as sexual immorality. I do not care about what I will never know, all are my brother’s and sister’s, and I love them. I love good and hate evil but I love my enemy even though he is evil. Peace, soon we will free from this world ruled by Satan and find eternal life with Our Father!

    4. Rev. Russ Daniels says:

      The matter of judgement lies with our Creator, not with us. Judge ye not, lest he be judged…unless you wish to be judged. Be careful what you wish for.

      1. Rev. Mother Melissa K. Slanga says:


  5. Cindi says:

    Why are we so concerned about what the government says? Because Christ Jesus said we must give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s .
    She took the clerk’s job and was given employee regulations/rules. She disobeyed her employer. She shouldn’t have taken the job if she intended to disobey.

    1. Kathy Kovachick says:

      Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Give unto Hitler what is Hitler’s. Great Rulers according to who? They forced there will on others. These people had no choice. And millions died.Murdered. You are right we live in country founded on freedom. Supreme Court is not all perfect.Passed a law that said obortion was okay, a law we must have health insurance or get fined. And now Homosexuality. If I don’t marry them then I get fined. Or worse. I only know what the scriptures say. I walk in hope. And Hope is Faith Unseen. When l stand before My Father, what am I to say? The Supreme Court Ruled it Law. I AM NOT MISTAKEN BY THIS MY FATHER IS THE SUPREME LAW.You do in your heart what you think is best, what makes you sleep good at night.We are Gods Babys.I feel no malice toward no man. Absolutely None. The Father Blesses All of Us.He Gives Us All Gifts. “ALL OF US”. GOD LOVES ALL. HE IS ARE MAKER.

      1. Brother John says:

        Calm down, Kathy. I doubt that any “homos” are going to ask you to marry them so you needn’t be concerned about “being fined, or worse.”

  6. Alvin R Jones says:


  7. Walter Green says:

    A private citizen has a right to believe as that citizen believes. However, when you take a public office, whether paid or volunteer, you assume an obligation to abide by the rules, regulations, and laws governing that office. No one forces a public official to become a public official. Most public officials swear an oath to abide by the laws of their jurisdiction, and there is certainly an implication that the oath is a statement governed by religious proscriptions (why else is the Christian Bible sometimes displayed in such oath takings). So the official has a freely accepted legal obligation to uphold the law in its broad sense (including statutory law, regulatory law, case law, the constitution, and treaty law), as well as a moral obligation imposed by the freely taken oath.

    If we take this a step back from the rights of gay people to the equal treatment under the law guaranteed by the Constitution, I can pose a clear example that relates to me. For several years I worked as a volunteer emergency medical technician in a state authorized emergency medical services agency – performing a public service and performing a public duty as a volunteer. As an officer of the organization I freely swore an oath to perform my duties in accordance with the law. Let’s say I climbed out of my ambulance at a Catholic Church where a member of that church was having a catastrophic medical emergency. Now, Catholics murdered several ancestors of mine during the genocidal Saint Bartholemew’s Day Massacre (I don’t think any of my ancestors have ever been murdered by gay couples in a genocide, but I digress). So I bear a certain strong religious aversion to saving Catholics who are awash in the sin or murder (admittedly several generations ago). If I am subject to an action to remove my certification for refusing to help an individual in extremis when I had the knowledge and tools to do so, would not my religious beliefs that all Catholics deserve to die be an adequate defense?

    In reality I bear Catholics no ill will – different time, different values. But the business of deciding who deserves public services is a slippery slope. If I can deny marriage licenses based on my religious believe, I can equally withhold medical treatment, refuse to extinguish a burning building, or take no law enforcement action to stop a lynch mob. Those things have happened, and not that long ago, and have done neither our country nor the religions involved any good. They are certainly not Christian in their essential character, even if Christians have embraced, and continue to embrace, them.

    1. William says:

      Well put!!

    2. TERRI DAVIS says:

      Thank you Walter

    3. Kathy Kovachick says:

      You have know Idea who you are talking to. None. I have know hard ship.I know pain. I was 2 years old when my sister was raped and beaten. I was 8 when it happened to me. Well all have pain in are lives. My sister choose to kill herself. I choose God. I embrace all. I LOVE.I am to make to a choice. I am being threatened. My Happiness, My freedom IS Being Threatened. According to God we have have freedom.We have free will. We can say yes we can say no. I Choose YES. AND I ALWAYS WILL. THAT IS MY CHOICE.

    4. Phoenix Morgaine says:

      Walter, thank you.

  8. Ed Moriarty says:

    I must focus on not judging others while continuing to show love and compassion for all- including those who feel and act as if they are my enemy.

  9. guidvce4 says:

    With all this ballyhoo re: marriage equality, I see a weakening of the rights of those who don’t agree with the LGBTQ agenda. In the Fontbonne case, the religious school was forced to hire someone who flaunts a lifestyle that is in direct opposition to the beliefs espoused by the school. Who’s rights were violated in this case? When the government can force a business, or a religious school, how they run there business, we no longer have a free society. Who’s harmed by the business refusing to hire the gay person? In a way, that is the government forcing a set of beliefs, re: gay marriage, etc., on a private enterprise. Who is hurt or injured by the school refusing to hire the gay person? The feelings of the gay applicant. Are there other jobs out there for this person? Probably. Were I he, I wouldn’t want to work someplace that did not want me around.

    1. Nagash says:

      Agreed. When the “tolerant” sodomites call you a homophobe or a bigot because you don’t agree to their perverse agenda, we see who the real intolerant ones are, and it is they.

      1. ralph baginski says:

        what convoluted logic…are you seriously arguing that gays need to tolerate being discriminated against?…listing one’s partner as an emergency contact is not flaunting a lifestyle…it is giving the name and number of the person you have trusted to act on your behalf…if the employer see’s anything more, they are reading far too much into it…it is tantamount to firing a black person for having a black family, which, by the way, is also illegal…I won’t berate you with the lexicon of tolerance and acceptance, I suspect it would fall on deaf ears, but to suggest that any minority needs to tolerate discrimination, or be labeled as intolerant in a negative light, is beyond absurd…it is a fool-hardy defense of bigotry, nothing more…

        1. William says:

          Well put!!

        2. Phoenix Morgaine says:

          Thank you Ralph.

      2. Kathy Kovachick says:

        This discussion can go on for ever. For me it is over. I do have a favor to ask. My brother Michael has Cancer, in His Lungs , Brain, and Leukemia. Please PRAY FOR HIM.

    2. James Pace says:

      The government is most certainly not forcing a set of beliefs on anyone…they are not requiring you to be gay or to follow any certain religion…they are simply forcing you to treat everyone as equals…sad that the government should have to pass a law for that, considering Jesus taught us to love one another as you would love yourself…not just the people you agree with….

      1. Dark Gray says:

        Agreed. I think Paul put it pretty well in Galatians 5:

        22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

      2. Brother John says:

        Good comment, James. Unfortunately there are still many who believe the U.S. was founded as a “Christian nation” and as a result, the laws of the land should be in line with their perceived Christian values. More importantly, there are people in politics that believe it’s their duty to incorporate the Christian beliefs of the “founding fathers” in the fabric of law (Sarah Palin as an example).

        I encourage everyone holding this belief to educate themselves about the country’s history. This well researched and documented article would be a great start.


  10. Bill Bannon says:

    I feel it is important to keep in mind that the Supreme Court is not talking about the same thing as the churches when they use the term, “marriage.” Government is concerned with maintaining an orderly society. When it comes to those things the government regulates, marriage is defined by the Supreme Court. It tells us how governments must approach the union of two people. No church has to allow its members to marry those of the same gender. They can deny membership or fellowship, The Catholic Church has, for centuries, denied priests the right to marry anyone. The Supreme Court has not attempted to tell churches what they must believe. But if a church or an individual engages in a basically non-religious activity (such as baking cakes and selling them to the public) they must follow the secular rules that apply to secular activities.

    The Supreme Court has the right to define what the Constitution protects. The Supreme Court has made no new law or violated the Constitution; it has interpreted what the Constitution means. That is the quintessential purpose of the Supreme Court as laid out in the Constitution.

    Finally, I know of no place in the Bible where marriage is specifically defined. Examples are given, but no strict definition. The fact that various Christian denominations disagree on the issue demonstrates there is no single “Christian” position on same sex marriage.

    1. Kathy Kovachick says:

      Man shall not lie with man.

      1. Brother John says:

        As a CHRISTian, Kathy, you are a believer in Jesus and his teachings. I’m certain that you so not adhere to all of the 600+ laws in the OT, so why pick this one and ignore others? What did Jesus say about homosexuality?

  11. John Plunkett says:

    Although I do not belong to one religion, I must say, ” dislike the sin and not the sinner”. With that said, The Federal judges do not have the constitutional power to make laws. We must keep with the original constitution and leave the decision of such marriages up to the states.

  12. Rev. Billy (Ray) Vaughn says:

    The Supreme Court has no right to create laws, only uphold laws. Marriage has always been a state by state matter and should stay that way. I also think there should be two recognized types of marriage, church and state issued. Both separate and equal legally.

  13. Scott Frase says:

    Explain what happened to Sodom & Gomora.

  14. John A. Owens says:

    Laws cannot make people happy or equal and cannot change human nature, much less change the Law of Almighty God. People have always been more or less the same and will continue to be so until the Kingdom of God comes to pass. Until that day, societies will have ups and downs. We are in a downward trend now.
    I do believe in live and let live, but that is not what this Supreme Court decision is trying to do. The pro-gay marriage crowd says if you don’t like the law to leave. By that same logic, all of them should have left before this BECAME the law.
    I could say that same thing about gun laws. If you don’t like the 2nd Amendment, please leave. That kind of rhetoric doesn’t accomplish anything. Tolerance does not mean the same thing to everyone. To me it means, don’t start any trouble and I won’t bother you. Don’t play your music too loudly too late at night, and I won’t bother you about it.
    If two members of the same sex want to snuffle each other’s backsides in private, there is no reason it should bother me. If they want to parade around town flaunting their sexual attraction to one another in front of children and old people, that is a different matter. If you act ignorant with me, don’t demand that I act like an intellectual toward you. If you act like a heathen, don’t pretend you can judge the depth of my reverence for God. If you go out of your way to offend me, don’t be offended when I protest. “…Prick us–do we not bleed? Wrong us–shall we not avenge?”
    I just want to tell all of you who believe in this utopian humanistic world to come, I MAY not survive, but you CERTAINLY will not. You are barely useful idiots (not my term, but a communist term with which you should be familiar), that are being used to rip the fabric of society. When the society comes all apart, you will have outlived your usefulness, and you will not be pleased with your status in the new society. Just think about that for a bit.
    If happiness can come from a committee of old people re-interpreting a document that most of you despise, then by all means, be HAPPY. Just don’t try to interfere with MY happiness, or neither of us will be happy, I promise. Your right to the pursuit of happiness ends right where mine begins, and vice-versa.

  15. Raymond Knight says:

    Marriage is the union of 1 man and 1 woman. I stand on the Word of God.

    1. Dark Gray says:

      That’s a pretty bold-sounding statement of faith. Where in the Word of God does it say that?

  16. william vaughn says:

    Everyone has there own opions. But mine is right to the point. First you cant be Christian and live right knowing homosexuality in the bible is a abomination. A sin without being forgave. You cant live by god n man both. I think if people would actually read a bible properly they would know this. Me personally i care less if someone is gay. But also in return i dont think god made us this way to live. God made it very clear man n woman. When jesus was asked he said haven’t ye heard in the beginning god created man n woman. Not adam n steve.

    1. Thomas says:

      There is nothing in the bible about homosexually

    2. Brother John says:

      What does the bible say about adulterers, disobedient children and slavery William? Civilization has thankfully moved well beyond the Bronze Age.

  17. Minister Mike Jackson says:

    we are not here to judge anyone. this is the stumbling block that keeps people from going to churches. I am more concerned to get them in church, teach thems Gods wishes, guide them to salvation and allow God to judge them upon death if their choice to be gay is correct or not. I am adrerssing the problem that I have been asked to wed a pre op trans ftm and their significant other. Who am I to judge? Should I do it? Minister Mike WV

  18. Gary says:

    It all boils down to imposing your brand and interpretation of your faith onto others. That should not be allowed and leads to a Christian version of “Sharia-Law”. Marriage has taken many forms and customs. I say let the government give everyone a civil union and if you want a religious ceremony ‘marriage’ go to the church of your choice. If some churches choose to perform same-sex marriages, fine, if not, fine also.

  19. Tom Jaynes says:

    As my Chriatian friends would attest, there is a bible verse that states, “The Kingdom of God is within.” Wise words and, honestly, quite appropriate for our ULC which espouses that “We are all children of the same Universe.” With that in mind, it is really quite simple. If you do not approve of same-sex marriage, do not marry someone of the same sex. Do not take a same sex partner, do not officiate a same-sex wedding, and above all, do not tell anyone else what they should or should not do based on your own deeply held and personal religious and/or moral beliefs. The only time any of us should be faulted for our beliefs is when we try to impose those beliefs on others. That is a no-no!
    Two men or two women marrying each other does not affect anyone’s “traditional” marriage in any way, shape or form. It does not denigrate any other marriage, diminish any other marriage or in any way change anyone’s loving committed relationship with their chosen spouse.

    If you do not like it, do not do it. I feel that way about brussel sprouts. I dislike them. I do not eat them. But I will never tell anyone else they have to do the same as I do. I will never tell the grocer to stop selling them because they offend my dietary sensibilities. I know, this is a silly comparison. But I make this comparison to point out that I am not in charge of others’ spiritual development any more than I am I charge of their diet. The Kingdom of God, or the realm of whatever divinity you chose is within all of us. That statement alone requires us to treat all other people equally. You are not invited to participate in their belief. You are, however, required to wish them well and order another vegetable.

    1. Kathy Kovachick says:

      I judge no man. That Right Belongs to GOD. And to be quite blunt, You ARE AN ASS.

      1. Tom Jaynes says:

        Kathy, your words say more about you than you can begin to imagine. Thank you.

        1. John Owens says:

          Well-said, Tom. Kathy says she judges no man, but sounds judgemental. Apparently, TOLERANCE is not good enough for her. You have to wholeheartedly participate, I guess, to be tolerant.

        2. Brother John says:

          I notice, Tom, that you’re not just called an ass, but an ASS. Are you OK?

    2. Phoenix Morgaine says:

      Well stated Tom. Thank you. And,,,,I love brussel sprouts, but I would NEVER try to force you to eat them! Lol.

  20. Kathy Kovachick says:

    For Me It this discussion is over. I stand for what I believe.

  21. Kathy Kovachick says:

    Leviticus 18:22 discussion over. I did not write it.

    1. Kathy Kovachick says:

      I can call myself Christian, Pastor, Minister, and some of you good people will make fun of me because I don’t punctuate or spell correctly. You say there is nothing written in the BIBLE about this throney subject. I beg to differ. The Great I Am made his rules. Read Leviticus 18 read all of it. I read this and I cry.I believe in My Father. The Great I AM. I WILL NOT DENY HIM. HIS WILL IS IRON. HISGRACE AND HIS LOVE, HIS PROTECTION. HE IS WHO HE HIS. I AM! HE FORGIVES EVEN ME.

  22. Rev. Donna says:

    Gay marriage does not impinge on anyone’s religious freedom. In this country, we are all free to practice our respective beliefs. So practice your own beliefs in your own home & allow others to do the same. Each person is equal in the eyes of God & in our Constitution. It is very simple. But, Creating conflict over one’s own beliefs is how wars get started. Living in peace, respect & love is the way. Believe what you wish & wish the best for all. Love thy neighbor as thy self.

    1. Kathy Kovachick says:

      Rev.Donna. Thank You .

  23. Kathy Kovachick says:

    I would like to request your prayers. My brother Michael has Cancer. He has Lung Cancer, Brian Cancer and Leukemia. He Needs PRAYERS TO SOFTEN HIS HEART. PLEASE PRAY FOR HIM.

    1. Kathy Kovachick says:

      Did anyone answer this request

  24. Thomas says:

    God does not ask us to choose between compassion and faith in the Bible.
    Christians are increasingly divided over the issue of the acceptance and inclusion of gay persons into the church. The debate itself is usually framed as essentially pitting the Bible, on one hand, against compassion and social justice on the other. Our Christian hearts, runs the (usually impassioned) argument, compel us to grant full moral and legal equality to gay and lesbian people; our Christian faith, comes the (usually impassioned) rebuttal, compels us to cleave, above all, to the word of God.

    Compassion for others is the fundamental cornerstone of Christian ethics; the Bible is the bedrock of the Christian faith. What Christian can possibly choose between the two?

    The answer is that no Christian is called upon to make that choice. The text of the Bible on one hand, and full equality for gay and lesbian people on the other, is a false dichotomy. God would not ask or expect Christians to ever choose between their compassion and their faith.

    Reconciling the Bible with unqualified acceptance and equality for LGBT people does not necessitate discounting, recasting, or deconstructing the Bible. All it takes is reading those passages of the Bible wherein homosexuality is mentioned with the same care that we would any other passage of the book.

    We can trust God; we can trust that God is loving.

    And we can trust that we can—and that we certainly should—take God, in this matter, as in all things, at his word.

    If there is no clearly stated directive in the Bible to marginalize and ostracize gay people, then it is morally indefensible for Christians to continue to do so.
    What cannot be denied is that Christians have caused a great deal of pain and suffering to gay persons, by:

    Banning their participation in the church, thus depriving them of the comforts and spiritual fruits of the church.
    Banning their participation in the sacrament of marriage, thus depriving them of the comforts and spiritual fruits of marriage.
    Damaging the bonds between gays and their straight family members, thus weakening the comforts and spiritual fruits of family life for both gays and their families.
    Using their position within society as spokespersons for God to proclaim that all homosexual relations are disdained by God, thus knowingly contributing to the cruel persecution of a minority population.

    Christians do not deny that they have done these things. However, they contend that they have no choice but to do these things, based on what they say is a clear directive about homosexuals delivered to them by God through the Holy Bible. They assert that the Bible defines all homosexual acts as sinful, instructs them to exclude from full participation in the church all non-repentant sinners (including gay people), and morally calls upon them to publicly (or at least resolutely) denounce homosexual acts.

    Without an explicit directive from God to exclude and condemn homosexuals, the Christian community’s treatment of gay persons is in clear violation of what Jesus and the New Testament writers pointedly identified as one-half of God’s most important commandment: to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.

    The gay community has cried out for justice from Christians, who have a biblically mandated obligation to be just. Because the suffering imposed on gay persons by Christians is so severe, the directive from God to marginalize and ostracize gay people would have to be clear and explicit in the Bible. If there is no such clearly stated directive, then the continued Christian mistreatment of gay and lesbian people is morally indefensible, and must cease.

    Heterosexual Christians are being unbiblical by using the clobber passages as justification for applying absolute standards of morality to homosexual “sins” that they themselves are not tempted to commit, while at the same time accepting for themselves a standard of relative morality for those sins listed in the clobber passages that they do routinely commit.
    Homosexuality is briefly mentioned in only six or seven of the Bible’s 31,173 verses. (The verses wherein homosexuality is mentioned are commonly known as the “clobber passages,” since they are typically used by Christians to “clobber” LGBT people.) The fact that homosexuality is so rarely mentioned in the Bible should be an indication to us of the lack of importance ascribed it by the authors of the Bible.

    While the Bible is nearly silent on homosexuality, a great deal of its content is devoted to how a Christian should behave. Throughout, the New Testament insists upon fairness, equity, love, and the rejection of legalism over compassion. If heterosexual Christians are obligated to look to the Bible to determine the sinfulness of homosexual acts, how much greater is their obligation to look to the Bible to determine the sinfulness of their behavior toward gay persons, especially in light of the gay community’s call to them for justice?

    Some Bible passages pertinent to this concern are:

    Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. — John 8: 7

    Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law — Romans 13:8-10

    Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you — Colossians 3:11-13

    Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. — Matthew 23: 23-24

    A fundamental tenet of Christianity is that we are all born sinners, that we have no choice but to exist in relationship to our sinful natures. And so Christians accept as inevitable that any given Christian will, for instance, on occasion drink too much, lust, or tell a lie.

    As we’ll see below, in the clobber passages Paul also condemns, along with homosexuality, those three specific sins. But Christians don’t think that they are expected to never commit any degree of those sins. They understand that circumstances and normal human weaknesses must be taken into account before condemning any transgression. We all readily understand and accept the moral distinction between drinking socially and being a drunk, between a lustful thought and committing adultery, between telling a flattering white lie and chronically lying.

    Even a sin as heinous as murder we do not judge without first taking into account the context in which it occurred. Self-defense, protection of the innocent, during a war—we recognize that there are times when taking the life of another is not only not a sin, but a morally justified and even heroic act.

    Christians evaluate the degree of sin, or even whether or not a real sin has occurred, by looking at both the harm caused by the sin, and the intent of the sin’s perpetrator.

    They do, that is, for all sins except homosexuality.

    Virtually any degree of homosexual “transgression” gets treated by some Christians as an absolute sin deserving absolute punishment. Such Christians draw no moral distinction between the homosexual gang rape in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the orgies to which Paul refers in his letter to the Romans, the wild sexual abandon Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians, and consensual homosexual sex between loving and committed homosexual partners.

    Heterosexual Christians are being unfair and hypocritical by using the clobber passages as justification for applying absolute standards of morality (and an absolute penalty) to homosexual “sins” that they themselves are never tempted to commit, while at the same time accepting for themselves a standard of relative morality (and applying no real penalty) for those sins listed in the clobber passages that they do routinely commit.

    As there is no demonstrable harm arising from sex within a committed homosexual relationship, and there is significant demonstrable harm arising from the discrimination against and condemnation of gay persons, what possible biblical basis can there be for not recognizing the vast moral differences between sex acts done within the context of a loving committed relationship, and sex acts of any other sort?

    Here are a couple of Bible passages that any Christian should bear in mind whenever he or she is called upon (or at least emotionally compelled) to render a moral judgment:

    Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. — Matthew 7:1-2

    Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. — Luke 6:41-42

    The Bible isn’t a rulebook, and Christians cannot lift out of its context any passage from it, and still hope to gain a clear understanding of that passage.
    It is important to understand that even the most fundamentalist Christian sects do not take the Bible wholly literally. The New Testament is two thousand years old, the old Testament much older. The Bible’s cultural contexts, along with the translation at hand, is always taken into consideration by any Christian serious about understanding this vast and complex work.

    To excerpt any isolated short passage from the Bible, and then claim for that passage absolute authority, is to fail to take the Bible on its own terms. If we wish to follow the word of God, then we must take the entirety of God’s words into account. For example, when the Bible itself identifies some of its words as proverbs, it is bestowing upon those words less moral weight than other words that it identifies as commandments. The Bible itself tells us that some of its contents are songs, some visions, some histories, some dreams, some parables, and some commandments. The Bible itself also instructs Christians that New Testament moral directives supersede Old Testament moral directives. The Bible itself tells us that its moral principles supersede any of its moral “rules.”

    The context of any Bible passage is as integral to its meaning as the passage itself. It may be appropriate to give equal weight to each clause within a business contract, each step within a set of mechanical instructions, or each rule within a game rulebook. But the Bible itself tells us that the Bible is not a uniform document, with each passage spelling out something clear and specific, and all passages having equal value. The Bible is not a rulebook for being Christian. We would be foolish to fail to understand that not everything in the Bible is a commandment, and that Christians cannot take a small section of the Bible out of its larger context, and still hope to gain a clear understanding of that section. Isolating a clobber passage from its context, and then claiming a sort of moral helplessness because “it’s in the Bible,” is failing to take the Bible either literally or seriously.

    Using the four Old Testament passages to condemn all homosexual acts is not in keeping with any Christian directive from God, nor with the practices of contemporary Christians.
    The Bible’s first four references to homosexuality occur in the Old Testament.

    While continuing to be spiritually inspired and influenced by the Old Testament, Christians were specifically instructed by Paul not to follow the law of the Old Testament, in such passages as:

    The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. —Hebrews 7:18-19

    Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. — Galatians 3:23-25

    So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another … — Romans 7:4

    For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. — Romans 6:14

    In practice, Christians do not follow the dictates of the Old Testament. If they did, polygamy would be legal, and things like tattoos, wearing mixed fabrics, eating pork, and seeding lawns with a variety of grasses would be forbidden. If Christians followed the dictates of the Old Testament, then today if the parents of a new bride could not, upon her husband’s request, prove that she was a virgin, that bride would have to be stoned to death. Christians would also have to stone to death any Christian guilty of adultery. And the Christian day of worship would be Saturday, not Sunday.

    Clearly, Christians no longer cleave to the rules of the Old Testament.

    Therefore, the use of the four Old Testament passages to condemn all homosexual acts is not in keeping with any Christian directive from God, nor with the practices of contemporary Christians.

    In the clobber passages Paul condemns the coercive, excessive, and predatory same-sex sexual activity practiced by the Romans—and would have condemned the same acts had they been heterosexual in nature.
    Because Christians’ understanding and practice of New Testament prescriptions naturally and inevitably evolve along with the society and culture of which they are a part, at any given time in history Christians have always selectively followed the dictates of the New Testament. Whenever a specific biblical injunction is found to be incongruous with contemporary mores, a reshaping of the conception of that injunction is not only widely accepted by Christians, it’s encouraged, as long as the new thinking is understood to be in keeping with overriding timeless biblical moral principles. This is why Christian women no longer feel morally constrained to follow Paul’s directives to leave their hair uncut, to keep their heads covered in church, or to always remain quiet in church. It’s also why the Bible is no longer used to justify the cruel institution of slavery, or to deny women the right to vote.

    Just as those thoughts and understandings of the New Testament changed and grew, so today is it becoming increasingly clear to Christians that the three New Testament clobber passages (each of which was written by Paul in letters to or about nascent distant churches), when understood in their historical context, do not constitute a directive from God against LGBT people today.

    Here are the three references to homosexuality in the New Testament:

    Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. — 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

    We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine. — 1 Timothy 1:9-10

    Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. — Romans 1:26-27

    During the time in which the New Testament was written, the Roman conquerors of the region frequently and openly engaged in homosexual acts between themselves and boys. Such acts were also common between Roman men and their male slaves. These acts of non-consensual sex were considered normal and socially acceptable. They were, however, morally repulsive to Paul, as today they would be to everyone, gay and straight.

    The universally acknowledged authoritative reference on matters of antiquity is the Oxford Classical Dictionary. Here is what the OCD (third edition revised, 2003) says in its section about homosexuality as practiced in the time of Paul:

    “… the sexual penetration of male prostitutes or slaves by conventionally masculine elite men, who might purchase slaves expressly for that purpose, was not considered morally problematic.”

    This is the societal context in which Paul wrote of homosexual acts, and it is this context that Christians must acknowledge when seeking to understand and interpret the three New Testament clobber passages. Yes, Paul condemned the same-sex sexual activity he saw around him—because it was coercive, without constraint, and between older men and boys. As a moral man, Paul was revolted by these acts, as, certainly, he would have been by the same acts had they been heterosexual in nature.

    The Bible’s clobber passages were written about same-sex acts between heterosexual persons, and do not address the subject of homosexual acts between a committed gay couple, because the concept of a person being homosexual did not exist at the time the Bible was written.
    It is critical to our reading of the New Testament’s three clobber passages to understand that while Paul would have known about sex acts that took place between persons of the same gender, he would have had no concept whatsoever of homosexual persons. Virtually no one in Paul’s time was “out”; no one lived, or in any way publicly self-identified, as a homosexual. Paul had no reference point for an entire group of people who, as a fundamental, unalterable condition of their existence, were sexually attracted to persons of the same gender, and not sexually attracted to persons of the opposite gender.

    Here is the opening of the OCD’s article on homosexuality:

    “No Greek or Latin word corresponds to the modern term ‘homosexuality,’ and ancient Mediterranean society did not in practice treat homosexuality as a socially operating category of personal or public life. Sexual relations between persons of the same sex certainly did occur (they are widely attested in ancient sources), but they were not systematically distinguished or conceptualized as such, much less were they thought to represent a single, homogeneous phenomenon in contradistinction to sexual relations between persons of different sexes. … The application of ‘homosexuality’ (and ‘heterosexuality’) in a substantive or normative sense to sexual expression in classical antiquity is not advised.”

    We can be confident that Paul was not writing to, or about, gay people, because he simply could not have been, any more than he could have written about smartphones, iPads, or televisions. We do not know what Paul might write or say today about gay people. All we know is that in the New Testament he wrote about promiscuous, predatory, non-consensual same-sex acts between people whom he understood to be heterosexual.

    The Bible does condemn homosexual (and heterosexual) sex that is excessive, exploitive, and outside of marriage. It does not, however, address the state of homosexuality itself, much less the subject of homosexual acts between a married gay couple. Christians, therefore, have no Bible-based moral justification to condemn such acts.

    Because there was no concept of gay marriage when the Bible was written, the Bible does not, and could not, address the sinfulness of homosexual acts within the context of gay marriage.
    The Bible routinely, clearly, and strongly classifies all sex acts outside of the bonds of marriage as sinful. But, because when the Bible was written there was no concept of gay people—let alone, then, of gay marriage—the Bible does not, and could not, address the sinfulness of homosexual acts within the context of marriage.

    By denying marriage equality to gay people, Christians are compelling gay couples to sin, because their intimacy must happen outside of marriage, and is therefore, by biblical definition, sinful. Christians, in other words, cause gay people to sin, and then blame the gay people for that sin. By any decent standard of morality that is manifestly and egregiously unfair.

    Being personally repelled by homosexual sex doesn’t make homosexual sex a sin.
    In addition to the Bible, many Christians cite as evidence of the inherent sinfulness of homosexual acts their own emotional response to such acts. It is understandable that many straight people find homosexual sex repugnant (just as many gay people find heterosexual sex repugnant). It is normal for any one of us to be viscerally repelled by the idea of sex between, or with, people for whom we personally have no sexual attraction. Young people, for example, are often disgusted by the thought of senior citizens having sex. And who isn’t repulsed by the idea of their own parents having sex? (When, rationally speaking, we should rejoice in the fact that they did—at least once!) But it is much too easy for any person to mistake their instinctive reaction against something as a moral reaction to that thing. Outrage isn’t always moral outrage, though the two usually feel the same.

    It may feel to a straight Christian that their instinctive negative reaction to homosexual sex arises from the Bible. But all of us necessarily view the Bible through the lens of our own experiences and prejudices, and we must be very careful to ensure that lens does not distort our reading of God’s sacrosanct word.

    “The greatest of these is love”
    The overriding message of Jesus was love. Jesus modeled love, Jesus preached love, Jesus was love. Christians desiring to do and live the will of Jesus are morally obligated to always err on the side of love. Taken all together, the evidence—the social context in which the Bible was written, the lack of the very concept of gay people in Paul’s time, the inability of gay people to marry, the inequity between how the clobber passages are applied between a majority and a minority population, the injustice of exclusion from God’s church on earth and from human love as the punishment for a state of being over which one has no choice—conclusively shows that choosing to condemn and exclude gay people based on the Bible is the morally incorrect choice. That evidence should instead lead Christians to the most obvious, and most Christian of all positions, stated so beautifully by Paul himself in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13:

    Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

    1. Kathy Kovachick says:

      I asked you Good People a few weeks ago to PRAY FOR MY BROTHER. HE IS DYING. He is scared He has yet to know GOD. His name is MICHAEL.PLEASE PRAY FOR HIM.

  25. James Pace says:

    I think this is by far one of the most enlightened posts by a Christian I have ever read….my applause to you…

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