10 Concerns About The Supreme Court’s Same Sex Marriage Ruling

10 Concerns About The Supreme Court’s Same Sex Marriage Ruling

**edited to add P.S. at the end of the post – 7/10/2015**

I’ve tried to listen, pray, and think about the impact of last month’s Supreme Court ruling that now allows for same sex marriage. It seems to be a coming-out celebration party for everyone who identifies as homosexual and for their friends.

Some have described it in the same vein as Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. While I would not go that far, I do think many who have lived in the secrecy of public shame are emboldened that a public declaration makes them a little less sidelined and affords them a government-approved entrance ramp to marital bliss.

I’ve tried to imagine myself in their shoes. To be shamed for an orientation I did not choose, and to live with it secretly for fear of what others might think of me or do to me, would be a very heavy burden. So I do understand some of the “we-won” reaction.

However, the large majority of same-sex folk are not headed to the marriage altar. They just want their orientation “normalized.” And, like it or not in the church, this decision goes a long way in that direction.

A decision that impacts something as foundational as the definition of marriage will take a while to create consequences. As I look ahead, I have concerns (and some predictions) about the impact of this decision.

My theory of wrong is that it eventually proves itself wrong by the consequences it unleashes onto humans. I’ll list 10 concerns; though I have more.

  1. Public championing of same sex orientation will harm fragile children and teens in the formative stage of their gender identity development. Teens who feel insecure or unaccepted will look for a way to garner attention and acceptance. To declare themselves gay, and be applauded for courage to do so, may have nothing to do with gender orientation and everything to do with getting somebody to pay attention to them. Get ready for even more gender confusion among the young.
  2. The single laser focus on same sex marriage removes the spotlight from dating ethics, pre-marital sex, multiple sexual partners, destructive objectification of persons, discussions about virginity, potential disease, and love with boundaries—for heterosexual and homosexual persons. If we get all of these wrong, the chances of a God-honoring relationship are severely diminished.
  3. To normalize same-sex orientation with statements like “God made me this way” is an unloving act toward those whose orientation has been affected by rape, abuse, horrible family patterns, early experimentation, and other tragic events. These persons need wise and Godly counsel to discern what happened to them, how it has formed them, and what healing might look like. To normalize what tragedy has done in same-sex oriented persons is to rob them of healing.
  4. As a university president who lives in community with an average age of 20, I see students adding a rainbow to their Facebook page to support a friend who is gay. I get this. I won’t do it, but I understand why students might take this step. For them, life is all about current relationships. So I would ask my college friends to think carefully about the society we create by what we champion. What are you actually supporting? Our hopes that a friend can live in the community in honesty and acceptance? Or an agenda that has little respect for sexual purity, religious rights, and faithful witness.
  5. After this Supreme Court decision, what comes next? Can relatives marry? Can 3 or 30 people who love each other get married? If this right can be granted to 2 persons without any gender distinction, why not 3 or more? What is so special about 2? Can adults marry consenting children?I suspect that we will protect children from marital relationships longer than any other class. But the others will probably come sooner rather than later. I have little confidence that our courts or government will make future decisions based on Christian tradition or revelation. We are now a nation that operates on individual rights rather than responsibility for the common good.
  6. I continue to believe that same-sex orientation is a sign of the world’s brokenness rather than a creative act of God. And lest you think me shaming here, I am the first to confess that I am also broken by sin, as is every human born to woman. To normalize brokenness is to consign us to save ourselves. We must ask how grace responds to the brokenness that we each experience.
  7. Will same-sex persons who are currently married to an opposite-sex partner feel liberated to walk away from spouse and children in search of a federally-permissioned relationship? Again, will an individual’s rights trump their covenant promise to another, and to the children they have brought into the world? Or will they ask their opposite-sex partner to go along with an extra-marital marriage? Who gets hurt?
  8. Will society shame into silence the studies being done on suicidal rates, disease, life-span, depression, gender identity in children, gender-altering surgeries, and educational practices in gender formation? If these studies tell us something politically incorrect, will we fund them and listen to them?
  9. The decision seems to bring out the worst in everyone who has an opinion. I will confess that it does this in me. It has taken me several days to trust my own reactions. A nation bitterly divided is now even more so. A church that has perfected the art of playing God has another tussle ahead.
  10. I’m tired of thinking about this. I’ll stop now.

**added 7/10/2015 after original post published**:

P.S. There are several good posts in the comments section in reply to the original post with some understandable critique. Most friends suggested that this doesn’t sound like my normal posts. They are right. I normally operate from redemption theology which is rooted in the narrative flow of scripture, especially the life of Jesus.

But my teacher, H. Ray Dunning, taught me that there is also another body of Biblical literature, the wisdom literature, which is best seen in the Proverbs. This is a different but important way of speaking about life. The Proverbs are observations of life, human choices, and the consequences that flow from these choices. They are not predictions but probabilities based on experience.

The post above is this. While I seldom dip into this vein of theology to write and speak, sometimes it is the way we observe human actions in culture and imagine the outcomes.  It may not sound as gracious as the redemption narrative but it is Biblical.

 

Comments

  1. Bruce Barnard says:

    Dr. Boone – I thought your work A Charitable Discourse was groundbreaking for Nazarenes. I trusted that in that you believed, as you wrote, that to be charitable even when we disagree was of highest value. I believed that you were bridging a way forward that would help HEAL the church, and those who feel called to do the difficult work daily of repairing broken LGBTQ friendships. Words like “normalize” or “attention grabbing” or to put “God made me this way” in quotes as though to indicate it has no value – and then to couch it all in the fear language of “slippery slope” is really beneath what I’ve come to expect of you and your writing. As I read through your list of 10, I realized that either 1) you did not convey to the reader how your list is leading us towards a charitable conversation, or 2) I was completely wrong in my previous assessments. I hope it’s 1, I fear it’s 2.

  2. Margaret Conyers says:

    I’ve tried to imagine myself in their shoes. To be shamed for an orientation I did not choose, and to live with it secretly for fear of what others might think of me or do to me, would be a very heavy burden. So I do understand some of the “we-won” reaction.

    so I am clear, based on this comment of yours. “to be shamed for an orientation I did not choose”

    • I’m saying the large percentage of persons who identify as same-sex attracted did not make a moral choice to become same-sex attracted. In a similar way, I did not pray through about being heterosexual. I just became aware that I was. Orientation is not something we chose but rather something we discover about ourselves. In my book Human Sexuality: A Primer for Christians, I go into detail about this.

      • But you do go on to state #6, which is important. Just because someone may be born with a certain orientation doesn’t mean it’s God ordained or blessed but rather a result of the Fall and Original Sin.

  3. Pam McGraner says:

    Again, Dr. Boone, your words are profound and have mirrored some of my thoughts/fears, while at the same time encouraging me to think about others that might have never occurred to me. It has been tiring to watch – both sides have behaved badly. The “winning” (for lack of a better word) side of the SCOTUS decision has often times appears to be sporting an “in your face” attitude. While the the opposite side continues to preach that the world is at an end, as we know it, with often times ugly, hurtful accusing words.

    I believe wholeheartedly that marriage is a God-ordained covenant between one man and one woman. I’ve seen some of the things you’ve mentioned – in our children & young people, that are so vulnerable & impressionable. It hurts me to the core of my being that precious young ones are being given a false impression of what can free them and make them feel accepted or happy. Yet, I also feel the pang in my heart for those whose circumstances, beyond their control, have caused them to turn towards something that they don’t truly understand in looking for that acceptance & happinessl. I do see it keeping those individuals from seeking and finding what truly will free them – a relationship with Jesus.

    The Christian sometimes finds himself between a rock and a hard place. He/she wants to follow the Word of God in upholding His values, but also wants to show compassion and love towards the individual who has chosen, regardless of the reason, the homosexual lifestyle. I know that the action is a sin, but no more than the ones I’ve committed, yet this ruling seems to put a stamp of approval on homosexuality, to where healing and grace will not be sought. It may take years for homosexuals to realize that the happiness/acceptance they thought would come with this decision has not. Then what will happen?

    Then I fear the hatred that seems to spew forth from the mouths of so many Christians. How can those choosing this life-style ever come to realize what the love & salvation of Christ means if they see such anger & hatred spewing from those claiming to belong to Him? Will that hatred carry over to where these individuals will be denied basic human rights such as a job or a place to live?

    This is indeed a slippery slope we are on and could lead to a great many other things that will cause pain & suffering. And you’re right – it tires me to think about it. All I know is that I want to follow Jesus and I want people to see Jesus in me. I find that I must keep praying in order to have any hope of behaving appropriately. It is indeed a difficult time for all. But God is still on His throne and He is not surprised by any of this. I must hang on to that.

    • Pam, thanks for your affirming note. It seems that many Christians are taking the slippery slope tactic in dealing with this. I’d actually like to see us go the opposite way – imagining the community that Jesus is trying to create in the coming kingdom rather than fearing the one being constructed by our cultural powers. While my concerns may have sounded like “here we go to hell in handbasket,” I actually think that love at least names the concerns it has for people who might be affected by something. The OT prophets named the ways that national decisions harmed people. Same-sex-oriented persons have been deeply wounded by jokes, rejection, and shame. The church should have stood for their dignity and because we didn’t we are now receiving their anger. I want to speak for children whose gender identity is in process, for persons married to a spouse that may take the court’s decision as impetus to leave their family, and for people trying to do good research on the societal implications of same sex marriage. This is not hatred of anyone, rather an attempt at raising concerns where humans might be harmed in some way.

  4. L. Alan Thompson says:

    More words of great wisdom and solid biblical content, Dan. Thanks

  5. Steve Fountain says:

    It seems to me that #10 should have really been #1, because this is a really disappointingly thought-poor treatment of a very important issue. Is there a need to speculate (often with illogical and unvalidated arguments) about the effects of a society’s granting marriage rights to homosexual couples? Surely there is data from the last 15 years during which the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Portugal, Argentina, Denmark, Uruguay, New Zealand, France, Brazil, the UK, Ireland, Finland, Luxemborg, and Greenland have all granted marriage rights to homosexual couples. What would have been helpful was to look at what has actually happened in those places in the wake of their decisions, rather than voicing “concerns” and then deciding that you’ve thought enough about the issue. This piece is very much out of sync with Dr Boone’s usual reasonable discursive and thoughtful style. But we’ve all had bad days. I hope that this is not indicative of things to come.

    • Thanks Steve. And you’re probably right. But being in a university setting surrounded by research, I am already seeing (through accrediting bodies) a clamping down on data and research that reaches the wrong conclusions. And the stories I hear from students about gender confusion identify junior high moments similar to what I imagined. If this is all you’ve heard me say on the topic, I can understand that you would be disappointed. I released my new book on human sexuality a few months ago and it takes a different path to imagining the reaction of the church. In this blog, with everyone celebrating, I simply wanted to call attention to things that might happen as consequence. I’ve had enough experience at the crossroads of university life across the past 30 years to have reasonable concern in these areas. I just want us to keep doing good research, listen honestly, and discern the impact of societal decisions. I’m really not fearful of the future because I think this moment will help the church stop trying to bring the kingdom through politics and return to being a radical other option for human thriving in community.

      • Steve Fountain says:

        Dan, I have always respected and admired your willingness to encourage and to participate in dialogue–especially about the difficult questions. I look forward to reading your book (I wonder where I could get a review copy 🙂 ) and to hearing more from you on this and other pressing issues, and I am hopeful that the careful and love-filled consideration I see from you and others will continue.

      • Rebecca Wright says:

        hear! hear!
        among the myriad comments and discourses on the SCOTUS decision, i’ve now read and/or shared three most excellent posts by holiness pastors/educators/administrators. each provides a unique approach to the same perspective. each lifts up and affirms the Christlike response to a decision with which we, as the Church cannot agree.
        it is not our job to cast judgment or aspersion on those who give full or partial expression to their broken sexuality. self-satisfaction, hatred, and bigotry are not from our Lord. in God’s eyes, “our” sin is as awful as “theirs”. ALL sin destroys! there is no “little” sin vs. “big” sin! (James 2:10) as Redeemed wretches, we all should, as did paul, consider OURSELVES to be chief among sinners! (I Tim 1:15)
        our job is to pray for, lovingly share the Good News, and faithfully extend kindness and acceptance to the person, NOT the sin which besets him.
        living a holy life in a sin-fractured world is what our Redeemer expects of us (john 17, esp. 15-16).
        Dan Boone, thank you for your statement and prayerfully thought-out approach.

  6. Craig Keen says:

    Dan,

    You know I love you and respect you and am really glad you are in the position you’re in at Trevecca. I wish we still had those weekly conversations about what is weighing on your mind and mine. Those were life-giving to me. I’ve always found you to be a wise friend and a brave one.

    And there’s no winning when you voice an opinion on this subject. However, I do think that it is important to hear the calling of the church very different from the objectives of America. America does not and cannot promote the will of God. God does that.

    Perhaps the single most stifling dogma embraced especially by evangelical churches—and that means the Church of the Nazarene, unfortunately—is a fixation on a narrowly defined “family.” We have been captivated by an image of “one man + one woman + a small number of children” increasingly with the demise of the extended family. The challenge in local churches is not to keep children from falsely thinking that their desires are not as they are supposed to be, but how to keep children from being sucked inevitably into the social fragmentation that has led to debilitating isolation and loneliness.

    There’s no going back. That is a good thing. There will inevitably be negative consequences to this shift in marriage legality. There will also be positive consequences. Our task, it seems to me, is not to tense up in order to maintain a passing status quo at least within our compound, but to rethink and enact a sacramental vision of life in Christ, of procreation and child rearing, of multi-generational households, of non-conventional patterns of life together, and more. Otherwise, it seems to me, we will continue so to link the gospel with an American fantasy that we will become even more confused about the difference between the Reign of God and what we were raised to think of as a happy home and a successful life.

    I hope this reads as a friend’s gentle critique. I wish we could meet this afternoon over coffee.

    With love,

    Craig

    • Craig, I could not have said it better regarding the role of the church. I realize that many friends have only heard me express this one blog. My book on human sexuality was released a few months ago and it is reacquainting me with the far right and left of the church. I prefer neither and hope for a radical gospel that offers a different narrative to the world than either church camp has crafted. I do bear concerns for the things I mentioned and believe that suffering love is the best way to deal with them. Somewhat in the spirit of I Peter, i think the church needs to hear about the life of dispersed exiles who live under the powers but are amazingly free from them to imagine a different world. I think the church could possibly find its future from this place. I was simply trying to locate where we might be as we look ahead. And thanks for the gentle correction. There was a lot more tiredness of the topic than fear behind the post.

    • Lynn Jones Green says:

      Thank you, Craig. Well said.

  7. Hans Deventer says:

    Dr. Boone,

    So far, I’ve been quite impressed with your approach to current issues. I know your attempt at charitable discourse hasn’t always given you good press in certain darker corners of the church, but I applaud you for holding on and keep looking for a charitable way forward.

    Therefore it kind of puzzles me why this (as far as I can seen) deep rooted attitude is somewhat missing here. I’ve recently started following SNU’s Dr. Tomothy Crutcher’s blog and he appears to be arguing for what he calls a “radical moderate approach”. I actually thought that approach would fit you like a glove. Perhaps it still can.

    This is the link to his third article on the issue: https://timcrutcher.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/a-rose-by-any-other-name-a-radically-moderate-approach-to-marriage-part-three/

    As to the many questions you ask, quite a few can be answered by looking at places like my country (The Netherlands) where we are some 14 years “ahead” of the USA in this regard. Perhaps 14 years is not enough, but on the other hand, it isn’t nothing either. And of course there are quite a few more countries.

    Blessings,
    Hans

    • Hans, I just read Tim’s work last night, all 3 posts, and think it is excellent. I realize that if this current blog is all you have heard me say on the issue, you might be disappointed. I released a new book titled Human Sexuality: A Primer for Christians, a few months ago. It is much more in the spirit of Charitable Discourse and carries Tim’s tone. This blog is an attempt to express that the decision may have unintended consequences that could be troubling. For instance, polygamous marriage rights are already making their way through the US court system. I’m not being fear-driven or reactionary, just trying to say what i think the consequences might be. Either way, it does not change the call of the church to craft loving expressions of family, faithful witness, and to practice hospitality to all.

      • Hans Deventer says:

        Dr. Boone, I’ll get to your book! Unfortunately, the stack is growing all the time but this is an important issue and I’ll be sure to read it. Thank you for your reply!

        Hans

  8. By you statement, “An orientation they did not chose” I can only understand that you believe what atheistic medical science is claiming, that they are ‘born’ this way. While I understand that some were accidentally changed in the womb from female to male or vice versa by drugs administered to the mother (decades ago) I cannot make the leap to accept this.

    • I actually think there are about 5 root causes, some experiences that a person has had, others more developmental. I don’t think it is genetic but I am open to the studies that say it may be something in fetal development.

      • Bruce Barnard says:

        What would those 5 root causes be? For example, we have Christian friends with gay children – none were sexually abused, none were addicted to gay porn, none were emotionally abused by the church, all were leaders in their youth groups, all attended church faithfully and Nazarene colleges, none were drug addicts or alcoholics, etc. I struggle (as they do) to see what experiences, environmental factors, or developmental stages in their lives “made them gay” (or “made them choose gay”).

        • Bruce, yes. In my book I talk very specifically about those who have no apparent cause or experience that formed their orientation. I fully accept the scientific mystery of this and am open to what we may still learn. My point in the blog was that for those whose orientation is formed by these kinds of experiences, it would be unloving to dismiss this as normal.

  9. Randy Owens says:

    Dr. Boone,
    Thank you for a helpful attempt (a quite good one) to articulate a thoughtful Christian response. I am currently frustrated by many of my Christian brothers and sisters who see any expression of concern over the decision as either bigoted or unloving toward the LGBTQ community.

    Likewise I am heartbroken by angry cries of folks on the other side who fail to seek understanding of other perspectives. Their position does nothing to provide clarity, only dispense hostility.

    Sadly, any position taken in this matter will engender disdain from someone. That must not keep us from efforts like yours.

    • Thanks Randy. I hope I have made the case for Christian hospitality in my book on human sexuality. I just wanted folk to know that I also have some concerns about consequences that may be experienced.

  10. Randy Anderson says:

    Good job, Dan! Thanks for addressing the inevitable consequences we will face. Thanks for addressing the sin/brokenness issue. Thanks for being my friend. Praying for you always

  11. Lori Ward says:

    I appreciate your boldness and vulnerability in writing so frequently on the questions of our day. Thank you for wrestling aloud and thereby paving the way for others to also converse. You knowingly situate yourself in the line of fire from all sides while trying to navigate the via media. Thanks! I appreciate you!

  12. Dr. Boone, I haven’t read your book on sexuality yet, but I can say that I very much appreciate this post. I respect the time you took to ensure your response to the SCOTUS decision was thoughtful and deliberate. I think you have shared your concerns charitably. Thank you!

  13. Dr. Boone,

    Thank you for the thoughtful response. I do believe that this will be a hinge pin issue for the church in the next several years as it has been the “last battlefront” of many issues over the past couple decades.
    Figuring how to speak truth and lead with love will be the challenge facing evangelicals, and I can only pray that the power of Christ in me be what is evident in dealing with people created in God’s image. Seeing them as Jesus sees them… For what the can be and not what they currently are

    Looking up,

    Ernie Ley

    • Ernie, maybe this issue will help the church look for the kingdom to come in loving/suffering obedience rather than a governmental decree. We are meant to be somewhat odd in the world as the followers of one crucified by dark powers in the place where people were abandoned. I don’t really want to act in fear but rather be a better story for people to live into.

  14. Doug Stark says:

    Dr. Boone,

    Thanks for sticking your neck out and remaining a true voice of reason on an emotionally charged issue. I often recommend your Charitable Discourse book for good advice on having these discussions. The celebration of sin, brokenness, rebellion, or whatever one chooses to call it, is a troubling sign of the times in a post-Christian society, but you correctly point out that this also represents an opportunity for the church to shine in the darkness and once again stand out as a place of refuge.

    The politically correct culture we find ourselves mired in today is most concerning for me as the subject moves to the taboo and mobs are assembled to bully any and all dissent. People deserve the truth and not some whitewashed version of reality. Sadly, it seems more and more that we are getting the latter when what this world truly needs is being increasingly suppressed.

    Some people may not like your opinions but they are clearly based on an objective and informed experience on the subject. Often times this cannot be said for those who are most upset with you.

    Keep fighting the good fight and showing the way to a civil discourse based on reality as opposed to wishful thinking and disinformation.

    God bless

    • Thanks Doug. I am no expert on any of this but have had enough trench experience dealing with humans in pain that I felt compelled to list my concerns. Many who have written to challenge have been most gracious and they help set the tone. I hope to inject some honesty about potential harm to humans into a conversation that assumes the opposite.

      • Doug Stark says:

        Yes, it takes two to tango. The key to avoiding the common back-and-froth I call “the game” (which is usually centered around political differences first and foremost) is to refuse to be drawn into the bickering. Being charitable negates the threat and need to be heard or “right”.

        I also agree that those who don’t like your boldness in your assertions are couching things carefully, as they have much respect for you, and that should lead to some fruitful conversations. But in the end this issue in particular tends to bring out irreconcilable differences we must acknowledge and respect mutually.

        My heart breaks for the young people I know and teach and how they have been indoctrinated to be seemingly incapable of separating their core beliefs on the subject from their feelings toward family and friends who are affected. It’s as if a condemnation of behavior and choice is somehow conflated with people and their salvation. I see and hear a lot of what I call “Momma bear theology” and the like, based only on feelings alone. I understand it, but I am not getting far breaking through it.

        May God grant us the words to say and the patience to listen more and expound less.

  15. Jonathan Privett says:

    I liked your article. This is one those subjects that require our best. Agape jumps in and works for the broken and sometimes my agape gets sloppy. I need to remember the ache and blank stares of all the people I have pastored who have a family member who walk this lonely road. I believe it will require the courage to draw a circle to include the broken others exclude. That’s grace and when it happens it is amazing. The wretches just happen to be wretched in a different kind of way. I will not be throwing any stones.

    • Thanks Jonathan. My more gracious narrative on this is in the new book I wrote. Having walked the pastoral trail, I see their faces and know the shared pain of their stories.

  16. Honestly I don’t read most of your posts. I read this one completely. In my humble opinion (I’m no University President or Theologian) I think you’re correct in your assessment of the impact this decision is and will have on the younger generation.

  17. Cynthia says:

    Here’s were you lost me… quite early I may add! :
    “However, the large majority of same-sex folk are not headed to the marriage altar. They just want their orientation “normalized.”
    WOW.
    1) “They” this is key. “They” … there may be no better word to describe the churches inability to minister. Them – they-those people- the “others” ! We’ve made it clear over & over again as the body of Christ what we will normalize & what we will shun. If you’re in doubt about who those we’ve intentionally ostracized & selectively shunned its cleared up easily by identifying the people we call “THEY” and follow it up with a paragraph where we speak FOR “them.” We verbalize their motives. We’ve concluded about their agenda. “Those people ” are the ones WE have all figured out and no clear examples of actual relationships with “them” to back up THOSE HUGE CONCLUSIONS… no testimonies of how we ministered to “them.” No personal prayers of how God’s worked through us for them. Because IF we did… we wouldn’t refer “those people” that way… linguisticly, we don’t use distant language for people who are close to us! Personally, we don’t speak on behalf of people who we have ministered too…we just quote them!
    2)What does it say about a church that opposes equal rights? The simplicity of it has been painted over by righteous indignation. It’s a right! A right previously denied. A right that should not be disputed… by anyone… especially by the people who understand what it’s like to live graciously under God’s gift of free will.
    3) You speak about your fear for our children. I also fear for our children. Because if the church refuses to minister here… we may raise kids who don’t know how to minister well! They will know how to theorize doctrine & judge from a far… but their chances of seeing THIS generation demonstrate CHRIST LIKE ministry in the deep waters of a changing culture is about as likely as the churches ability to affect the divorce rate with in its own walls during the last generation!

  18. Greg Crofford says:

    Dr Boone, can you tell us when your book will be available for sale online as an e-book? Most of my reading these days is done in that format, as I suspect is the case for others. Thanks.

  19. Hans Deventer says:

    Dr. Boone, I was looking for your book and only found it at the Trevecca Nazarene University Campus Store. However, there it says: “Shipping: $5.99 flat-rate per order. US addresses only.”

    Do you know of any way I can purchase it? And indeed, as Greg wrote, if possible an e-book would be great.

  20. Jeffrey Purganan says:

    Dr. Boone,

    I have read your post and some of your comments and agree that this post is not “representative” of your broad perspective, however, it does reveal how you feel at a gut level and it is this instinctual tone that I want to address. I have replied inline to your text to save people the hassle of scrolling.

    1. Public championing of same sex orientation will harm fragile children and teens in the formative stage of their gender identity development. Teens who feel insecure or unaccepted will look for a way to garner attention and acceptance. To declare themselves gay, and be applauded for courage to do so, may have nothing to do with gender orientation and everything to do with getting somebody to pay attention to them. Get ready for even more gender confusion among the young.

    My main concern with this point is the conflation of multiple categories. Sexual Orientation is not the same as Gender Orientation, Gender Identity Disorder, Transgender or Transsexual.

    People with Gender Identity Disorder face isolation and ostracization (as does the LGBTQI community as a whole), so this is neither commonly mimicked nor will it produce the desired results. So, while our “gut” may tell us that this is a serious concern, it seems irresponsible to draw this conclusion.

    Also, the Christian leaders who continue to ignore these nuances of identity among the LGBTQI community, yet find the time to split hairs over minute theological differences communicate a lack of care (even if it is not intended).

    2. The single laser focus on same sex marriage removes the spotlight from dating ethics, pre-marital sex, multiple sexual partners, destructive objectification of persons, discussions about virginity, potential disease, and love with boundaries—for heterosexual and homosexual persons. If we get all of these wrong, the chances of a God-honoring relationship are severely diminished.

    The spotlight in the church of the Nazarene is dim at best on issues related to sexual ethics. In the last 2 decades as a student of PLNU and NTS and now as a pastor in the denomination, there is no “spotlight” being lost. If anything, the conversation about gay marriage has opened up opportunities for us to speak openly (although when we are honest about the environment we have created within the education community and clerical corps, nobody can really dissent from the church’s teaching lest they risk losing their jobs and credentials).

    3. To normalize same-sex orientation with statements like “God made me this way” is an unloving act toward those whose orientation has been affected by rape, abuse, horrible family patterns, early experimentation, and other tragic events. These persons need wise and Godly counsel to discern what happened to them, how it has formed them, and what healing might look like. To normalize what tragedy has done in same-sex oriented persons is to rob them of healing.

    First of all, in a pluralist society, it seems inevitable that multiple sexual ethics would be “normalized.”

    Secondly, the implication/presumption in this statement is that the majority of the LGBTQI community have experienced trauma and or abuse and that this is the root cause of their sexual preference. This is offensive and also based on hotly disputed data. In 1947 R.H. Ahrenfeldt began challenging this “hunch” in the British Medical Journal with the article Homosexuality and “Sexual Trauma.” and multiple studies continue to provide inconclusive evidence of any link. I point to Ahrenfeldt because he works with both homosexual and heterosexual survivors of trauma.

    This concern also ignores or diminishes recent research that points to a physiological (not biological) link with orientation This also seems consistent with what you have stated elsewhere in that the “cause” of homosexual preferences can be environmental or physiological, although you withhold support from any direct biological (direct genetic linkage) cause.

    What we can say with certainty is: sexuality remains a physiological and biological mystery for all orientations. So, while the “cause” of sexual attraction continues to be explored scientifically, the growing number of gay people who have come out and have not been abused cannot be ignored or dismissed. We have had many Nazarene children testify to this fact, but we continue to marginalize and ignore their voices.

    Lastly, simply saying “You weren’t made that way.” is not helpful in engaging any sort of serious conversation with the few gay people willing to engage the church in conversation. If you want to have multiple voices in the conversation, don’t start with or say this at all.

    4. As a university president who lives in community with an average age of 20, I see students adding a rainbow to their Facebook page to support a friend who is gay. I get this. I won’t do it, but I understand why students might take this step. For them, life is all about current relationships. So I would ask my college friends to think carefully about the society we create by what we champion. What are you actually supporting? Our hopes that a friend can live in the community in honesty and acceptance? Or an agenda that has little respect for sexual purity, religious rights, and faithful witness.

    There is no mysterious disembodied “agenda”. There are people who are acting out their political will with conscious and deliberative choices. When we speak of the “gay agenda” as if it were some nefarious spiritual cloud we diminish the actual people with these desires. This type of language also incites fighting metaphors that are related to phrases like “propaganda” and “sides.” The conflation of political agendas with people is also lazy. “People” are created in the image of God and hold a special category within the Christian narrative, agendas are tools to shape perceptions and social constructs. While they are related, they are not the same thing.

    It is plausible that many of our Nazarene students can be for abstinence, fidelity, institutional religious independence AND want a safe, loving and caring place within the church for people. The questions you ask set up a false choice.

    5. After this Supreme Court decision, what comes next? Can relatives marry? Can 3 or 30 people who love each other get married? If this right can be granted to 2 persons without any gender distinction, why not 3 or more? What is so special about 2? Can adults marry consenting children?I suspect that we will protect children from marital relationships longer than any other class. But the others will probably come sooner rather than later. I have little confidence that our courts or government will make future decisions based on Christian tradition or revelation. We are now a nation that operates on individual rights rather than responsibility for the common good.

    Don’t gloss over the complex sexual narratives that are in scripture. A simple reading of scripture will provide multiple God honoring arrangements, including polygamy, sex with relatives, sex with slaves and forced marriage after rape.

    Also the tired argument that gay marriage is a slippery slope to polygamy is fear mongering. What actual evidence do you poses that this is a valid concern for you? There may be some who want polygamy, and there may even be some gay people who want to be polygamous, but this is not a majority opinion. If anything, the continued trend toward atheism is where you will find the most support for a completely unregulated sexual ethic.

    Also, Christians, and really all religious traditions are not bound by any political order. Christians can always resist the way of the world and deal with the blessing that is persecution.

    And, is this decision all it took to make America no longer concerned with the common good? And why does the Church of the Nazarene get to decide what is the common good and not the larger category common people? And why did you ever put your faith in the federal govt. to make decisions based on Christian tradition and revelation? The rhetoric seems hyperbolic and unnecessary to make your point.

    6. I continue to believe that same-sex orientation is a sign of the world’s brokenness rather than a creative act of God. And lest you think me shaming here, I am the first to confess that I am also broken by sin, as is every human born to woman. To normalize brokenness is to consign us to save ourselves. We must ask how grace responds to the brokenness that we each experience.

    Your hermeneutical lens/conclusion is not in being challenged here (although it may be contested elsewhere), however, why a non-church entity disagreeing with church teachings “consigns” the church to saving itself is a strange conclusion and seems antithetical to Christian belief. Regardless of how the courts, legislatures or executive branches of government normalize behaviors, the church is never doomed to save themselves. In fact, scripture tells us that this is impossible.

    7. Will same-sex persons who are currently married to an opposite-sex partner feel liberated to walk away from spouse and children in search of a federally-permissioned relationship? Again, will an individual’s rights trump their covenant promise to another, and to the children they have brought into the world? Or will they ask their opposite-sex partner to go along with an extra-marital marriage? Who gets hurt?

    Isn’t this individualistic nature of Americans a general concern with divorce or is this specifically troubling because now it is divorce for “gay” reasons and that is somehow more appalling?

    Secondly, we can’t ignore the environmental factors that pressed gay people into relationships that they shouldn’t have committed to in the first place and then leave them with all of the responsibility for figuring out what to do. We all attended these weddings and vowed to support them… so isn’t an equally valid concern that the families who will experience this type of divorce will be treated poorly by their congregations as a whole?

    8. Will society shame into silence the studies being done on suicidal rates, disease, life-span, depression, gender identity in children, gender-altering surgeries, and educational practices in gender formation? If these studies tell us something politically incorrect, will we fund them and listen to them?

    The church has largely abandoned the gay community and ignored the bullying and shaming that comes with being gay to begin with… so the better concern would be how can we offer sanctuary to people who are suicidal, diseased (especially those with life threatening STD’s), etc. To pretend that there is some sort of reverse oppression on the Christian community, at least from my perspective, reeks of fear mongering.

    Any and every church is free to engage the broken communities around them and the SCOTUS decision does nothing to block that.

    9. The decision seems to bring out the worst in everyone who has an opinion. I will confess that it does this in me. It has taken me several days to trust my own reactions. A nation bitterly divided is now even more so. A church that has perfected the art of playing God has another tussle ahead.

    This doesn’t have to bring out the worst in us. We also don’t have to share every opinion. Let’s be gentle, listen to each other, learn, weep and wrestle together.

    10. I’m tired of thinking about this. I’ll stop now.

    That seems like a bummer of a way to end the list. Just change your title to 9 “concerns.” It will feel less dismissive to this deeply felt discussion.

    • Jeffrey, sorry not to be able to respond to every point. You’ve assumed a lot of things about my thinking in this. I actually make many of your same points in my book on human sexuality. A blog of this length does not permit me to deal with every category of sexual identity. I have called the church to recognize the wide diversity of persons and situations in the book. The point of this blog is to share my concerns for the potential consequences of a decision. Similar to Proverbs, we are asked to think carefully about the consequences of choices. I understand that we may agree and disagree simultaneously and I will seek to respect and consider your wisdom in the matter.

  21. Chad Steinborn says:

    If Dr. Boone, this article, and the Nazarene community are a model for what Christianity stands for, I can no longer call myself a Christian. Luckily, there are responsible Christians out there that leave their bibles at home and allow the suffering of others to write the “truth.”

    Olivet Nazarene Alum

  22. Anonymous says:

    I am shocked to find a total lack of Christian voices speaking about the social justice victory of the SCOTUS decision to equalize THE GOVERNMENT DEFINITION of marriage.
    When are we going to give up forcing Caesar to serve our Lord and begin to regain our voice saying “Jesus is Lord”
    God was and is not threatened by the SCOTUS decision. But for some reason, we are.

    More than that, we feel threatened by our gay Christian brothers and sisters.
    We feel threatened because they are Christians too.

    I dare say God often sides with those who are being oppressed. I wonder which side the church will find herself?
    What if we are the ones being the oppressor?
    What if we are the ones doing the “breaking”?
    How hypocritical are we to “stand for” social justice, but criticize social justice when it happens?

    It is easy for me to celebrate SCOTUS. It was a major win for a marginalized group of people.
    That ‘gut reaction’ of celebration has nothing to do with my beliefs about the kind of lives God calls Christians to.
    We are not celebrating “brokenness” we are celebrating “justice” that thousands have been refused.
    We are not normalizing gay marriage in the church, we are saying our government has the responsibility to treat all citizens fairly.

  23. Elbert & Dianne Smith says:

    Dan, you are right on target, thanks for being bold enough to put this in print. Our prayers are with you. Keep up the good work. Elbert

  24. Jonathan Sharpes says:

    Hi Dan,

    So in studying as a MFT student I have done a lot of research on the LGBT community. Based on my research I have come to very different conclusions than where this blog lands. Some arguments you have made I find alarming and am interested to know if this blog is research based or meant to be a purely reflective opinion piece.

    If this is research based I’d love for you to share your sources with me so I can check them out. Depression and suicide is a big issue for LGBT youth but the reason behind the depression according to my reading is very different than what you offer in this blog. That is one example among others that I find you take information and interpret it very differently than I have based on my research. However I must say it in interpretation and therefore not objectively true.

    I promise I am not trying to start a fight!! I respect a lot of what you are doing for the Nazarene church. I have burnt out on the issues the denomination focuses on but I am glad you have not and are willing to address them. It takes guts to put your thoughts out here for all to critique… but critique I have… only because I believe questioning is a sacred act in the arms of the Lord.

    If you ever change your mind there are some great Episcopal churches around 🙂

    Grace & Peace

    • Hi Jonathan, let’s get coffee and talk. One of my concerns for not normalizing same sex orientation actually is the high depression and suicide rates among LGBT youth. I know that some of their pain comes from church and societal rejection. In other words, the church is probably the cause of some of the depression. But in the blog, I was trying to say that for many (those whose orientation IS rooted in some traumatic experience or dysfunctional home – 50%???), I don’t want to sweep their orientation under the rug as a normal orientation when it has roots in something that needs help. Lots of friends have expressed that not all same sex orientation is rooted in a tragic event. I have already made that point several times in other writings. I am also concerned that the hero-icizing (new word?) of the orientation will not play well in the lives of insecure puberty kids who are trying to differentiate in a tough world. In the complementary argument of NT Wright, I find good basis for viewing same sex attractions as a signal of a world that is broken not normal. I also say that I too (and everyone else) am broken by sin and need grace.

      • Jeffrey Purganan says:

        Dr. Boone,

        The core question of the previous post was about where your concerns stem from. Are they fact/research/poll based or just guesses.

        “If this is research based I’d love for you to share your sources with me so I can check them out.” – Sharpes

        This seems like a pertinent question and would help us to know how to read this. Instead of answering the question you sidestep and provide more guessing.

        “I was trying to say that for many (those whose orientation IS rooted in some traumatic experience or dysfunctional home – 50%???” – Boone

        I would like to echo the original question. What are the sources of information for your concerns (different than you theological rational for your ethical position). For example, how and where is “normalization” causing gender confusion or changes in sexual orientation? Where is public championing damaging children?

        I get that you want to provide proverbs, but how are we being taught to respond? What should people be doing? How are these proverbs making us wiser and less fearful?

        • Jeffrey, thanks for the long wait. We’ve been on vacation. My 50% guess is from about 30 years on college campuses talking with students (20 of those as acollege pastor). I found that about about half could directly identify with an expereince that happened to them, the next 25% or so suggested to me some serious family dysfunction, and the last 25% had no discenrable cause. I have not done specific reaseach on this but each time I have touched th eissue in my reading, I find these numbers to run similar to others.
          For the normalization issue, it is rooted in my suspicions. This is why I worte the blog as persoanl concerns. I have not set out to prove anything. As with Proverbs, time will tell. I do recall many (20-25) conversations with persons who have talked with me about a fragile time in their early youth when influences convinced them they were same sex oriented when they were uncertain. I have spoken with some friends who teach psychology who tell me that sexual identity can be quite fragile in early youth development. I actually hope you are right and I am wrong.
          In answer to your direct question, my concerns stem from a lifetime of pastoral care for persons who have shared their stroies with me regarding their same sex orientation.

  25. It is so hard to be honest about ourselves, yet this is the path to healing, peace and strength. Honesty lived out in the context of redemption enables us to acknowledge who we really are without having to loathe ourselves or live in condemnation, or remain in bondage to guilt or shame It enables us to receive the truth of God’s Word without having to re-interpret it or misinterpret it or think of it as judgmental or unChristlike, which seems to be the thinking in this article to some degree if one declares the Word’s clear position on the acceptance/rejection of homosexual activity as forbidden by God. All people are touched by the world’s fallenness. All people have weakness in some form. Re-defining that weakness and the sin(s) it can lead to is dishonest with oneself, others, and God. Christians should not be inhibited about saying so. Blaming the Church and Christians for being honest about God’s Word is a mistake. Publicly, we should be straightforward about the truth of God’s Word and not opaque, nor apologetic. Privately, we should share the truth at the pace of the one we seek to help.

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