“No man [sic] may vow to do anything forbidden in the Word of God.” Thus states the Westminster Confession (6.126). The Westminster divines probably never would have dreamed of same-gender marriage as a possible case to which this prohibition might apply. But there is no more obvious contemporary case where these words do apply than to today’s solemnizing of same-sex unions, calling on God to bless what God explicitly forbids.
The case for same-gender marriage cannot be made without doing violence to the Jesus to whom the Scriptures bear unique and authoritative witness. The historical, biblical Jesus only endorsed committed celibacy and heterosexual marriage. The way that Jesus dared to challenge the Judaism of his day on the issue of whether a sexual relationship can be erased is proof that if Jesus could ever bless or endorse same-gender marriage, he was in an unprecedented position to correct us on this issue.
Rather than repeat myself, I refer you to my previous Outlook blogs on “Same-gender marriage in ancient Rome?” and “A progressive myth,” the latter dealing with the false claim that the Bible did not know that same-gender sexual intimacy could be loving and mutual and could be driven by an orientation that is inborn and immutable.
There is no right way to do a wrong thing. That is, there is no ethical way to do an immoral act. Some think homosexual intimacy can be made holy simply if we provide a way that it can be done with maximum love and commitment. But our entire objection to sex with children collapses if we follow such reasoning. Prove that sex with children can be done with caring and without either party getting hurt, and what do we have left? Some of the same professionals who proved to us that same-gender attraction can be good now wish to push the envelope further in exactly this direction.
One need look no further than ancient Greece for support, where one can argue than man-boy relationships were done in a context of the loving care of a mentor. I personally reject that whole argument, but that’s because I reject the starting premises that there is a right way to do immoral behavior, and that anything is OK if it is done in love and no one gets hurt. Because I start with the foundational biblical teaching that sex is only to join a man and a woman in a lifelong bond (“the two [man and woman] shall become one flesh”), I am in a better position to reject all forms of misuse of God’s gift of sexuality.
As my wife Catherine has observed, permitting same-gender marriage in our church is like permitting nudism in our midst. There is no halfway I’ll-do-my-thing, you-do-yours compromise way this can be practiced; our whole church becomes the equivalent of a nudist beach. That is the choice we face, and the consequences will follow.
No one may vow to do anything forbidden in the Word of God, much less institutionalize such a vow. To believe that God can or will bless same-gender sexual intimacy is to willfully deceive ourselves. Let’s not talk ourselves into such a senseless mistake.
TOM HOBSON of Belleville, Ill., a PC(USA) pastor for 29 years, is adjunct professor at Morthland College, West Frankfort, Ill. and is currently seeking a call. He is author of What’s on God’s Sin List for Today? (Wipf and Stock, 2011).