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Gay marriage has become a big issue, with the battle heating up since since the 90's (or even earlier with the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, NY), when gay activists became more aggressive in asserting their rights. Religious conservatives have taken up the battle.
States have allowed gay marriage then banned it. In Nov. 2008, a California ballot initiative amended its Constitution to prohibit it. Contributions for and against the measure surpassed $60 million, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.
It has caused splits in Churches, the most publicized being the division in the Episcopal Church.

The main Conservative Christian objections are:

  • The Bible says marriage is between one man and one woman.
  • The Bible says homosexuality is wrong.
  • Marriage by tradition is between heterosexuals.
Most people believe "civil union" or even "holy unions" may be OK to give partners rights having to do with taxes; insurance; visitation rights; and inheritance.

In Same-Sex Marriage. Understanding the Biblical Origin of Marriage, Lloyd Pulley ,pastor at Calvery Chapel in Old Bridge NJ, says:

"Certainly no-one's basic human rights should ever be denied. However, when a few individuals who have freely chosen to live an alternate and untraditional lifestyle begin tampering with the sacred covenant of marriage, Christians have a responsibility to let our voices be heard for the benefit of all. According to the Scriptures homosexuality is a sin, so to say that two people of the same sex can be united in marriage is a mockery of God's design. This is not about rights being denied to anyone and it is not about hate, anger, or frustration as many have claimed. This is about love, a love that cares enough to tell the truth."
He counters the argument that a comitted relationship is better than the promiscuous lifestile of many gays, by pointing to gay marriage in the Netherlands where it is legal and "fraught with problems".
See also: Where gay unions are legal, what lessons? | csmonitor.com
Other links below.

What the Bible says:
Marriage:
It doesn't say marriage is between one man and one woman.
It never defines marriage, however it does refer to women given to men and men taking women in marriage in multiple places. It never talks about marriage between two people of the same sex.

Genesis 2:24 says "Therefore shall a man leave his mother and father, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh."
In Mark 10:7-12 NIV
Jesus says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

In Matthew 19:8-9 Jesus allows divorce for infidelity,
"Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

Paul says: "To the married I give this command (not I but the Lord): a wife must not separate from her husband." 1 Corinthians 7:10

God repeatedly tells people to be fruitful and multiply. (e.g. Adam and Eve [Genesis 1:27-28]).
In Genesis 35:11 God tells The patriarch Jacob (later named Israel) "Be fruitful and multiply".
So he fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants). [Genesis 29:16-30, Genesis 35:22-26]
In fact Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel were all polygamists.

Homosexuality:
Old Testament:
Liviticus 18:22 says homosexuality is destable. In Leviticus 20:10-13 it recommends the death penalty for adultery and homosexuality. Leviticus has a list of codes for living in the ancient Jewish world, such as dietary laws [Leviticus 11], no cutting of sideburns [Leviticus 19:27], where to get your slaves [Leviticus 25:44-46], divorce [Deuteronomy 22:13-19],
Divorce is also mentioned in other places in the Old Testament [Malachi 2:16]...
(150 years ago people cited to Bible to justify slavery. [Leviticus 25:44-46])

In Genesis 19:4-5, it describes people in Sodom coming to Lot's house, where two angles were staying, and demanding he bring the angles out so "the people" could "know" them. In the King James version (KJV) of the Bible "all the people" is transliterated from the Hebrew "anshei ha'ir, anshei S'dom" and in the New International Version (NIV) it is transliterated to "men". Ya,da' in Hebrew usually means know a fact, but is some places it refers to a man knowing a woman refering to sex; Again the KJV translates it to "know" and NIV translates it to "have sex".
Some say that Sodom was destroyed because of homosexuality. However in Genesis 18, God has already decided to destroy Sodom because "their sin so grievous", but it does not describe the sin. See Sodom and Gomorrah in Religious Tolerance.

New testament:
Christ said divorce was wrong in several places (Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:3-9 [same as Mark 10]) but had nothing to say about homosexuality.
Paul condemns "men who were inflamed with lust for one another" [Romans 1:27] along with promiscuity and debauchery...
In his book "The Arrogance of Nations", Neil Elliott argues that this is a condemnation of the debauchery of Roman emperors Nero and Caligula.
Paul argued more strenuously against divorce.

Tradition of marriage:
The tradition of marriage has changed in the past.
By the 1970's most states had gotten rid of their laws against inter-racial marriage and "head and master" laws which gave husbands rights regarding the family not shared by wives.

In a December, 15 Newsweek Article "Our Mutual Joy", Lisa Miller argues:
"The Bible is bent toward inclusiveness". and quotes Paul:
"There is neither Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ."
There are many examples where Jesus reached out to social outcasts:
The good Samaritan parable.
The woman at the well who had 5 husbands.

Psalm 139 which praises the beauty and imperfection in all of us and that glorifies Gods knowledge of our most secret selves, is another example of inclusion over exclusion in God's eye.

Jesus didn't have anything to say about homosexuality in particular. Some people say that his reference to sexual immorality (the King James translation uses fornication here) in Mark 7:20 refers to homosexuality..

Links:
The Bible and same-sex marriages and Same-sex marriages (SSM), civil unions & domestic partnerships at Religious Tolerance
In Defending Marriage -- Take the Offensive! by James C. Dobson, Ph.D. at Focus on the Family

last updated 1 Jan 2009