Kevin DeYoung wrote “40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags”, because he was apparently *shocked* and *horrified* when a bunch of people rainbowed their profiles in support of same-sex marriage. So, now he needs to reassert the tribal boundaries and point out how we’re not real true Christians. As far as I can tell, the whole article boils down to “I don’t think you’re a real Christian, so I don’t have to take anything you say seriously. Prove to me that you’re a real Christian who can check off the list of appropriate beliefs. Oh, by the way, no matter what you answer, I will still not think you’re a real Christian.”
It reminded me of a conversation I’d had on Facebook on the same topic. When I didn’t suddenly change my carefully thought-out beliefs because he threw some Bible verses at me, he felt the need to give me the third degree about what church I go to and how often I read the Bible. The implication was the same: you’re not a real Christian, so not only do I not have to listen to a thing you say, but it’s my religious duty to browbeat you back into the fold.
There have been responses to the 40 questions, a lot of them really good. I particularly like Matthew Vines 40 questions of his own. Getting straight to the point, there’s also 1 Question for People Who Won’t Wave the Rainbow Flag. That one question is “When are you going to listen to the answers to your questions?” The author points out that it’s arrogant to constantly expect LGBT people and allies to explain, and defend, and justify. Particularly when they’ve answered those questions again and again and had those answers brushed off and ignored every time.
I’m certainly tired of what feels like shouting at the top of my lungs about things like LGBT teens living on the street because their “good Christian” parents kicked them out, or someone sitting in a waiting room while their partner of decades breathes their last because the hospital didn’t want to recognize their relationship. Without fail, that gets brushed off. I’ve never, never, never, been debating gay rights with a supposed “good Christian” who has said “Wow, that is a serious problem,” or “I didn’t know that; that’s awful.” They just literally do not acknowledge it at all, so they can go back to quoting Bible verses at me. Or, like the last guy, they actually have the gall, when I say that if Christianity loved gay people so very much, it would quit hurting them, that “sometimes love hurts” and bring up someone who’s in love with someone they’re not married to. Because unrequited affection is totally the same thing as having your parents disown you and sleeping on a park bench. If I’m fed up just *talking* about it, imagine living it.
Maybe I’m just cynical because I’m frustrated, but I think the answer to Alise’s “When are you going to listen?” is “Never.” So, at this point, I don’t have the patience for well-reasoned, carefully thought out answers to the 40 questions. I do, however, have snark. Lots and lots of snark. So here’s my deeply sarcastic, eye-rolling take on the 40 questions.
For evangelicals who lament last Friday’s Supreme Court decision, it’s been a hard few days. We aren’t asking for emotional pity, nor do I suspect many people are eager to give us any. Our pain is not sacred. Making legal and theological decisions based on what makes people feel better is part of what got us into this mess in the first place. Nevertheless, it still hurts.
There are many reasons for our lamentation, from fear that religious liberties will be taken away to worries about social ostracism and cultural marginalization. But of all the things that grieve us, perhaps what’s been most difficult is seeing some of our friends, some of our family members, and some of the folks we’ve sat next to in church giving their hearty “Amen” to a practice we still think is a sin and a decision we think is bad for our country. It’s one thing for the whole nation to throw a party we can’t in good conscience attend. It’s quite another to look around for friendly faces to remind us we’re not alone and then find that they are out there jamming on the dance floor. We thought the rainbow was God’s sign (Gen. 9:8-17).
If you consider yourself a Bible-believing Christian, a follower of Jesus whose chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, there are important questions I hope you will consider before picking up your flag and cheering on the sexual revolution. These questions aren’t meant to be snarky or merely rhetorical. They are sincere, if pointed, questions that I hope will cause my brothers and sisters with the new rainbow themed avatars to slow down and think about the flag you’re flying.
Okay, first off, you’re afraid that religious liberties will be taken away because you define religious liberty as “treating gay people terribly and getting away with it because Jesus.” You want to be able to turn people away from your business because they’re gay, but you’d never stand for it if someone wanted to deny service to Christians. Your church isn’t going to have to marry gay people. Much like the Catholic Church doesn’t have to marry divorcees.
Also, that feeling of isolation, of being alone, of having what you thought were friendly faces not be so friendly? Congratulations, you’ve just experienced a tiny sliver of what it’s like to be a gay Christian. Except that instead of just changing their Facebook profile to something you don’t like, they were saying you should burn in hell, and that if you’re bullied, beaten, and mocked to the point of committing suicide, it’s your own fault.
Also, as far as “slow down and think,” wow, I’m so glad you said that. I totally haven’t read and prayed and considered this for *years.* I just saw that all the cool kids had rainbow profile pictures and I wanted one too.
1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?
Most of the last decade. And I’m actually *late* to the party. Take the Quakers, for example. There were Friends meetings affirming same-sex relationships in the *sixties* and *eighties* for Pete’s sake. But, please, continue trying to convince yourself that this is just some wacky thing somebody came up with later.
2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?
Wow, that’s totally not a loaded question at all. What Bible verses led you to believe same-sex relationships were sinful? And I’m sure you totally read them in isolation and came to that conclusion all on your own, rather than believing same-sex relationships are sinful because it’s what you’ve been taught.
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?
“Sexual activity.” Way to make love and commitment sound dirty. But you’re totally not trying to dehumanize people by reducing whole lives and relationships to sex acts you find icky.
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?
And again with the prooftext game. Never mind that it’s a shallow and simplistic way to read the Bible, let’s just grab some verses out of context to prove a point.
5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?
Well, he had the opportunity to throw a “Go and sin no more” at the centurion who asked for healing for the servant he may well have had a sexual relationship with (the word pais can translate as “male concubine”). And he didn’t.
6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?
Okay, since we are playing the proof-text game, how about you show me where he said *anything* about the quantity of wives. Jesus said you couldn’t toss your wife aside to marry someone else, but polygamy was practiced in Israel, and he didn’t say a word against multiple wives.
7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?
If we’re still talking about the same verses, the context makes it pretty clear that we’re talking about cheating on your spouse.
8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?
Or, how about you explain to me how you understand Romans 2:3? Was that just tacked on for the heck of it, and the real point of the passage is “don’t be gay”? While we’re at it, let’s totally ignore the fact that people in the first century didn’t know that sexual orientation was a thing that exists, and thought that same-sex sex was the result of an excess of lust.
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?
Do you believe that Romans 8:39 teaches that *nothing* can separate us from the love of God? Because, you know, that’s what the verse says. While you’re at it, maybe go ahead and explain why you’re so eager to grab verses that condemn something you have no interest in doing but don’t focus on verses like Luke 6:35 and or 1 Peter 3:34. If you’ve ever put on a nice suit for church or said no to someone who wanted to borrow $500, maybe you’re not in a position to judge.
10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?
Does it matter what I think? Like, really, I could go on for paragraphs about a consistent sexual ethic of mutual care and consent, and back it up with relevant sections from the Bible, but I’m not going to convince you that every mention of sexual sin ever isn’t referring directly to those icky, icky gays.
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?
Dude, for real? First off, I’m not a “you must not think or do anything unless you can cite chapter and verse to support it” kind of Christian. I’m much more partial to overall themes and ideas. But for starters, Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin and Luther *all* had a pretty deplorable view of women. And yet Jesus pretty clearly taught that women are valuable. So, if their being such awesome Christians couldn’t overcome their culture’s sexism, why would it overcome their culture’s homophobia?
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?
I never claimed my understanding *wasn’t* culturally conditioned. You’re the one who’s claiming that we know being gay is bad because the church condemned it, even as you presumably condemn things the church approved for 1800 years, like slavery.
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?
No, I think that they grew up in a heterosexist culture and somehow, magically, were untouched by that bigotry.
14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?
Of course. That’s why we should require divorcees, widows, and single parents to remarry. Also, instead of carefully screening potential adoptive parents, we should pass out kids to random opposite-sex couples.
15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?
Let me freaking google that for you.
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?
See my answer to question 14. *Obviously* we should push gay people into the closet and convince them to marry people of the opposite-sex. Certainly, those relationships, based on lies and fear, will be perfectly healthy for the resulting children.
17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?
Of course not. Who needs emotional and sexual fulfillment? Married people should be miserable.
18. How would you define marriage?
As a sacred and divinely ordained relationship between one man and as many women as he can afford to buy from their parents. Or a commitment between two people to love each other and build a family. But that second one isn’t “traditional” so it can’t be right.
19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?
Ooh, we’re getting into the “slippery slope” questions. Awesome! Are you going to ask if I think someone can marry a toaster? Or a tree?
20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?
I can see valid arguments either way, but strangely enough, the Bible doesn’t have anything negative to say about polygamy.
21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married
I like how you throw “consenting” in there when talking about incest. Because someone who’s spent their whole life being sexually abused by a parent isn’t under any pressure to consent or anything.
22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?
Yes. Obviously no one should get married until they hit puberty, as is Biblically ordained.
23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?
From a legal point of view, the relationship doesn’t even have to be meaningful. There’s no legal bar to me divorcing my husband, running off to Vegas and marrying the first random man who buys me a drink. So, yeah, equality entails that we not discriminate on the basis of gender when two people get married, whether in a church or by an Elvis impersonator. I’m sorry this is hard for you.
24. If not, why not?
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?
Maybe someday your LGBT brothers and sisters in Christ will be allowed to *exist* without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion. Or, you know, physical assault. And murder.
And it depends on what you mean by “exercise their religious belief.” Rant on Facebook, attend an anti-gay church? Knock yourself out. Refuse to do their job as a clerk of the court and sign a gay couple’s marriage license? Not so much. Run a business that’s a public accommodation and deny service to members of a protected class based on their membership in that class? How about no.
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?
Not “if” but “when.” Not fear-mongering at all there, are we? The gay mafia is coming for you! I will defend anybody’s right not to be fired from a job for religious beliefs that don’t adversely affect their ability to do the job. I will defend a priest’s right not to marry a gay couple, in whatever alternate bizarro world that that happens. But if people criticize your beliefs, you’re just going to have to put on your grown-up pants and deal with it.
27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?
That depends. Are we talking about actual bullying or the fake bullying where Evangelicals don’t get everything they want?
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 don’t know, but I do know that preaching against divorce keeps people in abusive relationships. So maybe we could stop fixating on everybody else’s sexual sins. Nah, that’s crazy talk.
29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?
Sure! Because “church discipline” totally isn’t code for an authoritarian church browbeating people into toeing the line.
30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?
Considering that they weren’t allowed to *get* married until about 10 minutes ago, I’m not going to judge.
31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?
See previous statement about divorce.
32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?
Love is patient, love is kind. Love is probably *not* trying to push gay people into pretending they’re straight.
33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?
Ooh, we’re back to prooftexting again! Let’s go with 1 Corinthians 13.
34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?
Oh, I know this one! This is the gotcha where you get to abuse, demean, and discriminate against gay people and call it “love” because you were just warning them about their sins.
35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?
I tend to think yes, but all those people who decided to take food out of the mouths of poor children rather than have them fed by a married gay person would probably disagree.
36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?
Well, I no longer try to force all the parts of the Bible that contradict each other into some kind of sense. Nor do I assume that because Paul said it, God ordained it.
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?
As a what now? You never said anything about “evangelical.” You said “Christian.” But, let’s move the goal posts a bit, shall we? I hate to break it to you, but running away from evangelicalism was the best thing possible for my spiritual growth and mental health. See previous statement about mental gymnastics to make the Bible not contradict itself. Oh, and living in deep soul-crushing fear of hell, either for myself or for loved ones, that was fun too.
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?
Gee, I don’t know, how about the Episcopalians? Not orthodox enough for you?
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?
Nah, I’ve decided to become more committed to orgies and recreational drugs. Seriously, thanks for implying that I’m *not* committed to Christ. Way to love those who disagree with you.
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?
I think he was making a larger point. Hence Romans 2. But, you know, let’s stop quoting where it’s most convenient.