1st Congregational Church, UCC

  • My response to the 40 questions floating about.

    I feel the need to begin with a general statement. The issue of recognition of weddings for all is a justice and civil rights issue. It ranks with recognizing interracial marriages and the rights of all citizens no matter race, religion, or creed. Religion often sides with the oppressor rather than doing the biblical mandate of standing with the oppressed. We are called to love and support widows, children, sick, mentally ill, outcasts of all sorts.

    1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated? In the 1970’s I first learned there were classifications for the sexual self-discovery scale. I thought this to be a tool for understanding not judgment and discrimination. My only previous option was holy unions – glad there will now be some better legal avenues.

    2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind? For me there was no change of mind. I have understood that Jesus said in John 3:16 that whosoever will is welcome. I take that seriously. There there is also Galatians 3:1 and Matthew 7:1-5 to name a few.

    3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated? I don’t think the holy scriptures are based on sex. Sex is not the focus of my life – it is an added blessing. Jesus did not really mention it at all. There are those who believe he had an intimate relationship with John. I’m not on that page but it is an option.

    To know God in scripture is the same though as to have sexual relations. So maybe we need to evaluate sexual expression as a form of knowing God through another.

    4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church? See above, but also consider that love is God. Love is a reflection of the Divine in many manifestations.

    5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship? Absolutely. Males being with males was very common in his era. It was reflected as the highest form of love by philosophers and the military thought it caused men to fight more vigorously for each other. Jesus saw no need to discuss it directly. It was to him a non-issue.

    6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman? He did not. He addressed the wrongs of divorce. He affirmed the celebration of unity.

    7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding? Prostitution, fornication, adultery, rape, incest

    8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1? Lust, sex for power, rape

    9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven? See above for response to this. Also – the only unforgivable sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

    10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to? see above

    11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp? Several of these folks are known to have had same sex lovers. Social and political powers also show up in church doctrines all too often.

    12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned? Some of these folks are way ahead of us in understanding that God calls us differently.

    God is love and in God we are free to be ourselves. We all must follow as God leads us, without fear.

    13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman? Politics not a fair gauge for the church.

    14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father? 15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion? Much research shows it takes a village to raise a child. It is best for a child to have many folks of varying sexual discoveries, genders, ages, races, professions and beliefs, who love, nurture and support them.

    16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad? The church is a place of blessing. It does not require any paper from the government to do its job. I apply this to senior citizens who would loose benefits with a state sanctioned wedding too.

    17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment? Yes! It points to a spiritual union. It should demonstrate loyalty, commitment, monogamy, grace and demonstrate the love of God for the other.

    18. How would you define marriage? Generally the state sanctioned unity of 2 adults. Grants legal rights for ownership and benefits.

    19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married? Not a healthy choice. Leads to genetic problems.

    20. Should marriage be limited to only two people? My Christian understanding says yes – but that is not true of all cultures.

    21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married? I advise folks with differing values and goals to seriously consider other options. Abuse is never acceptable. In my 25 years of ministry I have talked numerous couples into holding off on marriage.

    22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license? Sure – a voting adult would be good in my opinion but research indicates that a brain does not have fully sound reasoning skills until after 25. That sounds good to me too.

    23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage? 24. If not, why not? I struggle with the guy that was allowed to wed a head of cabbage, so no. Monogamy, devotion, mutually supportive without abuse, equal voice and power in relationship – all matter.

    25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion? Yes so long as they are not using established religions to promote prejudice and injustice. We have had this problem with slavery, rights for minorities, and Nazi Germany.

    26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue? I stand with the just and the holy. We don’t have to agree but we do have to do justice.

    27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics? AMEN. We all called to unity in Christ. Like Christ we need to reach out to the unlovely and those in power; to the sinner as well as the saint.

    28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles? I require premarital counseling. I recommend annual check-ups on the relationship/physicals. Folks I marry know my beliefs and I hopefully know theirs.

    29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline? I don’t think sex is a sport or social activity. Sex is part of a committed monogamous relationship. So if by open you go against that – I don’t affirm sin.

    30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage? definitely

    31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found? This should already be in place.

    32. If “love wins,” how would you define love? John says God is love. So love is God expressed, experienced and shared.

    33. What verses would you use to establish that definition? I John 4:8 & 16; I John 1:5

    34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love? Love, self-sacrificial compassion is who God is.

    35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make? absolutely

    36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith? no change for me.

    37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost? I know God is still speaking and revealing the Godself. I invite all to friendship with my best friend, Jesus.

    38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples? UCC, MCC, Episcopal, and more

    39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead? Certainly. God is not done with me. We all need to grow in our relationship with the Divine.

    40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind? Abuse of power, politics and religion, abuse of the creation and all its resources; abuse of the earth, the universe

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First Congregational United Church of Christ, Marysville, Ohio

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