Marriage is an Icon of Salvation: a needed perspective in the debate over same-sex marriage

Joachim-and-Anna1

Joachim and Anna, an Orthodox Icon of Marriage

As a blogger who writes on both theological and psychological themes it seems inevitable that I would have to join the discussion on same-sex marriage. I have avoided it like the plague because, well… it is a plague; it’s a guaranteed lose-lose outcome for someone like me.

From a religious standpoint I am an Orthodox Christian with firmly established views on same-sex marriage. From a professional standpoint I am a psychotherapist, a field in which same-sex marriage is roundly defended and applauded. Hence the lose-lose: if I side with same-sex marriage I am in conflict with my faith, but if I oppose it I am in conflict with many in my profession.

I believe this fear of the ‘lose-lose’ challenges many Christians from every stripe. For many the potential social and professional damage from entering into the debate is too great. Instead, they, like me, silently observe the back-and-forth on the news, on social media, and around the proverbial office water cooler as fellow Christians are harassed and condemned as bigots for not happily embracing same-sex marriage. For those who fit this description, I’m with you. I’d rather just shut up and watch, since, let’s be honest, entering the debate is a little like voting in a national election with an electoral college – your vote really doesn’t matter. But I’ve determined to share an Orthodox perspective for two reasons: (1) some of the reasons Christians give for opposing same-sex marriage make me cringe every time I hear them, and (2) I think advocates of same-sex marriage have the right to hear what exactly historic Christianity has against the practice rather than the usual “the Bible says homosexuality is a sin” thing.

So here’s my best shot. I’ll start with a quick look at the two most popular arguments one hears from Christians today, the first of which I just mentioned.

The Bible says homosexuality is a sin.”

Is this true? Its true if the phrase is stated more accurately as “The Bible says homosexual acts are sin.” I think this is indisputable, whereas homosexual attraction is a different question. For some this nuance is irrelevant but it can only seem so for him who equates sexual attraction with the actual act of sex. How is a man who is attracted to men more or less sinful than a man who is attracted to married women? Does the Bible not condemn adultery? The issue, it seems, turns on actual engagement of the desire. Besides, the Bible never uses the term “homosexuality” since the word wasn’t invented until the 19th century, but it describes homosexual acts as clear as day. Getting the nuance right helps discourage miscommunication. At any rate, I think those who argue that the Bible is neutral on homosexual acts are attempting a hermeneutic stretch that (impressively creative as it is) will never transcend the historic Scriptural interpretation held by both the East and the West for the last 20 centuries. But this is not the primary reason why Orthodox Christianity is against same-sex marriage (I speak specifically of the Orthodox Church in this article). We can all think of hypothetical situations which would make it impossible for a married couple to have sex. For example, it is not unheard of that a couple will marry while one partner is incarcerated for life. But even with this scenario, where sex would be impossible, the Orthodox Church would not marry a same-sex couple. More examples could given but let this one suffice to demonstrate that in principle it is not simply homosexual acts that constitute the Church’s rejection of same-sex marriage.

Procreation is the primary reason for marriage; ergo marriage precludes same-sex couples.”

Is procreation THE foundation on which marriage is built? No, and as anyone can deduce this argument has fatal flaws. Marriage based strictly on procreation is neither Biblically defendable nor logically defendable since many couples have no chance of procreating, yet have never been denied marriage in the Church. Consider for example a couple in their 70’s tying the knot, or a couple who have a physical disability preventing them from having their own biological children.

St. Basil the Great observed that children add to the fullness of the nuptial union; they are epakolouthema, an “appendix,” a possible but not indispensable result (P. Evdokimov).

St. John Chrysostom wrote, “There are two reasons for which marriage was instituted… to bring man to be content with one woman and to have children, but it is the first reason that is the most important. As for procreation, it is not required absolutely by marriage… The proof of this lies in the numerous marriages that cannot have children. This is why the first reason of marriage is to order sexual life” (Homily 12). He further explains that their intercourse in marriage effectuates the mysterious joining of their bodies as one, becoming an image of nothing on earth, but of God Himself.

And it was Chrysostom who gave perhaps the clearest expression possible of what marriage is in the eyes of Christianity: “Marriage is the mysterious icon of the Church.” Throughout Scripture the image of Christ and His Bride, the Church, is well known. Clement of Alexandria was one among many who taught that, “God created man male and female. The male is Christ, the female is the Church.” Summarizing St. Paul’s teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5:32 (“This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church”), Paul Evdokimov states that, “The love of Christ for the Church becomes the archetype of marriage… Thus marriage goes back before the Fall; as archetype of the nuptial relations it explains the name of Israel and that of the Church, the Bride of Jahweh.”

The main reason the Orthodox Church does not and will not recognize same-sex marriage is not due to some built-in hatred of gays, it is because marriage is an icon of salvation.

To alter its image is to alter the historic Christian understanding of salvation, which will simply never happen. It is not a matter of being “anti-gay,” it’s a matter of sacramental significance that transcends such modern accusations of bigotry.

Each of the sacraments have their specific content, marriage is no exception. Being baptized in water and not in Jell-O is not a slam on Jell-O, it’s a matter of sacramental significance. Likewise, marriage between a man and a woman rather than a same-sex couple is not a slam on gays, it is a matter of sacramental significance.

To disparage the Church for defending its sacramental life is an act of bigotry, not the other way around.

Thanks for reading.

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88 thoughts on “Marriage is an Icon of Salvation: a needed perspective in the debate over same-sex marriage

  1. I am personally a fence sitter on gay marriage, but do you think a gay couple should at least gain the pragmatic benefits marriage accords (tax cuts, etc.), even if you cannot consider them married under god?

  2. ok. My take on it – I can’t quote the exact words unless i look them up, but the meaning for John the Baptist to baptise Jesus, was, as Jesus said, for the time. So, for the time – man is not supposed to lay with man – that doesn’t stop him loving his brother but just not in a sexual context. Again – For the time – marriage is about a ‘coming together’ whether sexual to procreate or not. based on this ‘stuff’ Jesus said about ‘for the time’, I think that homosexuals and bi-sexuals are fore-runners of what is to come when the Bible and its icons will no longer be required (like laws and circumcision etc., etc), because we will all ‘come’ together in/as one. There will be no more man and woman, no more this or that, division of any kind, we will be at-one. Hope you get the connection and the point? It enables a sort of understanding of both positions – now and the future and removes the division by being somewhat in the middle – a stepping stone.

  3. Ethan, I’ve never fully understood what the big deal was about gay couples having visitation rights in hospitals, tax benefits, and whatnot.

  4. ” I think that homosexuals and bi-sexuals are fore-runners of what is to come when the Bible and its icons will no longer be required”

    Yah, you lost me there.

  5. A courageous article, Eric.
    Most people nowadays find the notion that sexuality should be ordered to the spiritual very foolish, because they deny the latter to begin with. The narrative is that as long as there is consent between adults, anything goes. I remember my college days when people would say that they had just “slept with” (I spare you the actual words) “the woman” (same here) they met last night and there was nothing more going on because they could not stand her in the first place. So there was no point in even talking to her.
    You may have a hard time with your reasoning with this crowd. Ironically, they may become your patients due to the damage they are doing to themselves and others.

  6. Yes Eric, I was going to begin with ‘not up your street Eric’ as i thought i would lose you there. Fortunately, (sigh of relief – joking!), Your reply does not contain a question mark, so, i will just leave you there. I expect my view may come up again in some form or other somewhere (if not in your blog), and I may be requested then to try to explain! I can, of course always try, so perhaps a taster eh – I am talking about the future – that’s enough ‘for the time’ being!! 🙂

  7. Eric, I am apologising for my last reply with its hidden meaning, but, I’m, rightly, and acutely, (with your help), conscious of not being taken for anyones mother.(Some mothers do have some things right, and are over-anxious to inform their children, which causes all sorts of problems for both and ends up a nightmare!). Thing is, there is a right time for everything.

    Maybe it’s time for me to leave your excellent blog which has helped me much. I don’t know, but time will tell, as it always does, in due course (naturally, often not in our lifetimes though eh?).

  8. I have no trouble whatsoever with everyone having the “pragmatic benefits” as a previous commenter called it, of inheritance and medical decisions, etc. i am concerned, however, about an article I read that some orthodox priests in Illinois who are no longer signing state marriage licenses because Illinois now officially recognizes gay marriage. Church members will have to obtain a civil marriage separately. I just fear this will lead to lawsuits and someone attempting to force the church to marry a same sex couple. Your thoughts?

  9. Oh, I believe the lawsuits and “force” is inevitable, and has been the fundamental goal since the push for same-sex marriage began. This movement is a power grab, plain and simple. It has very little to do with equality and everything to do with ousting Christianity from the political power seat it has enjoyed for a long time. This is why you will not find gay activists attacking Muslim owned bakeries and floral shops, much less mosques, and why you won’t see it in the near future.

  10. You’re right, I would definitely have a hard time with that crowd. But that crowd should at least know what it is that truly animates the historic Church against changing marriage to suit impulses of our generation. The debate is basically lost on the political stage. Now its just a matter of defending the fort, so to speak. Christians themselves seem to be a little lost on why marriage should not be altered at least within the paradigm of their faith. With them I hope to make a difference.

  11. Dichasium, we have an interesting dynamic happening here. I do hope you stick around, whether or not I “get you” on all accounts. I certainly would not expect you to get me all the time.

  12. Re. “…homosexuals and bi-sexuals are fore-runners of what is to come…There will be no more man and woman, no more this or that, division of any kind, we will be at-one.”

    Nonsense.

  13. Eric, thank you very much for that reassurance. I do currently like it here (as always), and i certainly would not expect people to agree with one another all the time! The problem is just that my ideas are sometimes not traditional – you and some company are not likely to appreciate me for them. I have no need whatsoever to argue, to be put in the ‘lion’s den’, or the ‘looney bin’ . It seems that my presence here may be taking us that way. Lastly, ‘Manners maketh man’ – I seek conversation on a decent level or not at all. I’m certainly not interested in rudeness or arguing with personal, trivial remarks or one worders.
    I certainly will hang around Eric and if i find myself restricted i’ll know what to do. Thank-you again for your reassurance. Dichasium

  14. Yes crossbow, some would say that. Some will ask further questions and maybe enter, an intelligent, polite, debate. Some would keep silent but bear it in mind.

  15. Dichasium, if you can say how it is that you know homosexuality and bisexuality is the forerunner of the future, or what your evidence or rationale is, or draw a wider picture that can be related to, then I might respond with more than one word.

  16. I would tend to agree with anonymous, if people want to have their relationships recognised in law then there should be no problem with them having a civil marriage, the Romans had two forms of marriage – one which could be dissolved easily and another, religious marriage based on a covenant which could not be dissolved. The difficulty which many churches and Christians have with same sex marriage is that, as you so wisely point out, Eric, the enforcement will be aimed at churches and it will be about eroding the influence of the church in society. In England there is the added complication of the Church of England being the established church of the nation; instead of a separation between church and state where the civil/religious marriage model could work easily the established church is part of the state. Every person in England belongs to a parish and comes under the care of the church, the church cannot refuse sacraments without showing good reason. Over the years this has led to the rules on re marriage of divorcees being relaxed until there are almost no rules and this is where the secularists will come after the church in the area of same sex marriage, too. Once the church of England is forced to perform same sex marriages the pressure will then be on to compel other churches to do the same; but, strangely, mosques, temples and gudwaras will be left alone.
    Many people ask me how I feel about same sex marriage as they know I am a Christian, I would have to say that I have no strong feelings about civil marriage but I do feel that the Bible is clear that marriage is about a man and a woman and I wonder why people want to belong to a club when they don’t like the rules.

  17. What a good reply from hermitageno8. On that basis, i hope the church does seperate from the state. Then people would hopefully be able to choose and no longer have the responsibilty able to affect the church. Of course, it makes me wonder why the church hasn’t already gone its own way rather than have its faith diminished? Perhaps it will. ‘One cannot serve two masters’.

  18. Excellent post, hermitage. Great point about the Church of England. Being neither British nor Anglican I hadn’t really considered this crossroad of the Anglican Church. May God be with your Church and may He strengthen it’s back against this heavy burden.

  19. Eric, I’ve been intending to research the Orthodox church and now this issue is warming me more. So, which particular Orthodox is yours (and can you tell us a tiny bit more about its particular brand of Orthodoxy – (as I’ve asked you to do for quite some time)), and I assume, these days, one can become an online member (when conditions fit)? How can you help with these questions? (I know I can research it, and I will, but would much appreciate any comment from you too, for the time being and for encouragement). Ta!

  20. Dichasium,

    You make an interesting point. I see the correlation you are trying to draw but it is too much of a stretch. Jesus was referring to the fact that when we receive our ‘heavenly’ or ‘incorruptible’ bodies they will be asexual (this following part is an inference) as apparently the joy we will experience will be better than anything sex has to offer.

    Homosexuals are not asexual. They are using sex in a way that God did not intend and actually forbids. I am not trying to be judgmental; God forbids ANY sex outside of marriage between a man and a women. NO EXCEPTIONS. In fact, when Jesus told the disciples that the only reason for divorce was adultery or death they balked. So Homosexuals aren’t the only ones who use sex in a way that is not intended.

    The reason why Orthodox Churches such as Eric’s and Non-Denominational churches such as mine are not happy about the potential of Gay marriages being potentially forced on the Church is because as Eric says, marriage is the Earthly representation of the relationship between Jesus and the body of Christ. I think the closest equivalent I can come up with is to have someone serve brisket as Jesus body at communion instead of bread. For Christians this would not only be seen as heretical but flat out evil.

    The reason the Homosexual issue has become a problem for both the Western Orthodox and Fundamental Churches is their inability or willingness to deal with open, public sin in the Body. Now the Orthodox Churches seem to do better with Divorce but still fail with sexual immorality such as single sex (singles sleeping with each other), porn, and cohabitation and swinging (Yes, these do unfortunately go on in Orthodox and Fundamental Churches).

    I do believe Christians and seekers who have same sex attractions should find Church a safe haven to seek assistance and understanding in dealing with their sin. However, by not dealing with people who publicly commit sexuality immorality and call themselves Christians we now have left the door open for other public sins to enter into the Body with no pragmatic way to address the issue.

    This issue derives from the more foundational issue of the Western Church unwilling to disciple.

  21. Reblogged this on Translating Christ and commented:
    “St. Basil the Great observed that children add to the fullness of the nuptial union; they are epakolouthema, an “appendix,” a possible but not indispensable result (P. Evdokimov).

    St. John Chrysostom wrote, “There are two reasons for which marriage was instituted… to bring man to be content with one woman and to have children, but it is the first reason that is the most important. As for procreation, it is not required absolutely by marriage… The proof of this lies in the numerous marriages that cannot have children. This is why the first reason of marriage is to order sexual life” (Homily 12). He further explains that their intercourse in marriage effectuates the mysterious joining of their bodies as one, becoming an image of nothing on earth, but of God Himself.

    And it was Chrysostom who gave perhaps the clearest expression possible of what marriage is in the eyes of Christianity: “Marriage is the mysterious icon of the Church.” Throughout Scripture the image of Christ and His Bride, the Church, is well known. Clement of Alexandria was one among many who taught that, “God created man male and female. The male is Christ, the female is the Church.” Summarizing St. Paul’s teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5:32 (“This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church”), Paul Evdokimov states that, “The love of Christ for the Church becomes the archetype of marriage… Thus marriage goes back before the Fall; as archetype of the nuptial relations it explains the name of Israel and that of the Church, the Bride of Jahweh.””

  22. Thanks for that savebyj. On my specific point about homosexuals possibly being fore-runners – I have not said that in a proper manner they may be expressing this correlation. I admit that to accept the idea that they are fore-runners but not in the proper manner will leave one with little apparent meaning to the whole idea, and therefore makes it an even further stretch of the imagination than before! Never-the-less, i still think there is something interesting (and not looney!), in that concept and suggestion. Clearly, I’d have very few pick up on it! Also, it does all depend on what format our heavenly marriage will turn out to be exactly, and that does truly remain to be seen whatever interpretations we currently may have. I agree entirely with all your other points. It would be interesting for me to find a non-denominational church -it sounds just ‘up my street’. Unfortunately though, I am not aware of any in the mid-Wales, UK areas. I will be looking into church membership in due course. Thanks for all the help. Very much appreciated.

  23. R.Lin – Could you please confirm your last sentence for me – Are you saying that Israel and the Church are BOTH representations of the bride of Jahweh? (Sorry, but this is all new(ish) to me).

  24. Eric thanks, but even in context of your article my question remains – Israel and the church are BOTH the bride of Christ? (Incidentally, ALSO the bride of Jahweh (God – I assume Christ & God as Christ & God are as one in the Trinity))

    And a comment.regarding your words on mere attraction sexually- We are surely called to subdue any desire which does not work in strict accordance with God’s plan. Therefore, I do not see how it can be acceptable to God’s plan for even mere attraction sexually in same sexes. It is fact that our thoughts can readily turn to words and deeds. This is a perfect reason why such feelings are indeed desires and must be subdued with the aim eventually of erasing completely. It is not God’s plan. (An aside – Animals desire is carried through in same sex copulation but man is called to be above animals). If merely attractiion in terms fo love (and also expressed as a Christian greeting of a kiss), I think this is to be commended. For these reasons, I do not see how even mere attraction in a sexual context between same sexes can be agreeable to God’s plan.

  25. The Orthodox Church I attend is Antiochian, which simply means that our archdiocese is in Antioch (which was founded by St. Peter and Paul). But it is the same as Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, etc., in that we are one Church, are in communion, etc. The primary differences between the titles are simply to signify where the archdiocese is, and of course the culture and language you can expect to find if you go.

    Can one become an online member? Not really. Becoming a member is to first become a catechumen, which means you are sort of “engaged” to the Church and learning the faith. Then comes baptism and chrismation and then your first participation in the Eucharist. None of this can be done online. It really does require being present in the actual Church.

    There is a wealth of info on what Orthodox Christianity is. My hope is that some of that is communicated on this blog (if not I’m seriously missing the boat), but of course there is unlimited online sources and books for the inquirer. I’d love to answer any specific questions you have. Feel free to shoot them at me.

  26. We believe that the Bride of Christ is indeed Israel, but the Church is present day Israel. Israel was always a matter of faith, not a matter of geography. We also try not to separate the Bible into Old Testament and New Testament in the sense that they are somehow two different accounts of God and His salvation. It is a continuous story. It’s more like: Part One and Part Two of an epic drama.

    As to the sexual attraction part. I can say this, that Christ was tempted in all ways as we are. If that’s the case then He was tempted sexually. To be tempted is not sin. Now, to actively lust after something in the heart is most definitely active sin in that one is committing the act in their heart. But an attraction to sin does not entail an active psychic lusting after. That is something we must decide to do, whereas attraction comes naturally.

  27. The disestablishment of the Church of England would be a huge victory for the secularists and would only weaken the church itself. As with many other issues such as the ordination of women, remarriage of divorcees and women bishops, the debate within the church will be played out on the national stage and will also have a political impact, giving Christians the opportunity to preach the gospel and to model love, mercy and grace.

  28. Thank you for your prayers, we are all, of every denomination, coming under this particular burden as the secularists continue to attack Christian belief at every opportunity. The persecuted church, however, is also the church victorious as His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Grace and peace to you, my friend, in Jesus Christ.

  29. Thank-you very much hermitageno8. I suppose not serving two masters is not applicable where the church is involved with the state as being in the world but not part of it is more appropriate for the church activity within the state arena? And 2nd point – it will be interesting to see what occurs with the churches that will not bend to secular ways – will they be the weaker parties or the stronger? Would you be so kind as to offer your opinions please?

  30. Eric, have you missed my point? I was saying that (whilst we need not fight against male with female sex activity (in the right conditions)), we ought to fight even the thoughts of same sex sexual attraction (love is clearly a different matter)?
    (Incidentally, this point of mine also relates to your article comment ‘What is the difference between sexual attraction for a married woman and same sex attraction’).

  31. Nope. I got your point. Yes Christ calls us to fight against aberrant sexual thoughts. The attraction, i.e., the natural disposition to be tempted in all manners is natural and not sin, whereas the mental entertainment of temptation is already sin even before it manifests in action.

  32. Thanks Eric, If and when I find specific questions, I’ll certainly turn to you first. If there are no orthodox churches in my locality of mid-Wales I’ll be unable to join then – interesting that. Still, since there is indeed a time and a place for everything –che sara, sara. I have asked hermtageno8 about the non-denominational churches which, at the moment, sound interesting also to me. I’ve not had a response but will also look into this for me here in mid-Wales.

    Now that the reply box has gone from the web-page replies I can no longer see a reply to me at the same time of writing my responses in the web-page box. I have to copy and paste any replies onto a Word document to see the reply alongside my responses, then I have to copy and paste my response from the Word doc. back onto the web-page! And now, I’ve clicked the reply box on the e-mail and it won’t open, and gives me the message ‘Sorry, but all the values are required’! Hence, I’ll have to respond on some other e-mail and it won’t be with your reply! I’m pretty sure it’s not my laptop playing up!

  33. Eric, if you’d said ‘Yes’ before telling me the rest it would have been beneficial! I did understand the bit about the attraction being temptation but not sin.

  34. Right, but I was responding to your question: “Eric, have you missed my point?” To this I could not have answered “yes.”

  35. Eric me old mucker! Of course you couldn’t reply ‘yes’ to the question ‘have you missed my point’! Of course, I would not ask you to! It can only apply to the previous question and that, of course, is what i am referring to when i am put in need of asking ‘have you missed my point’. If you’d first said ‘yes’ (to the first question) before providing the other bit of info (which i was pleased to recieve), then, I would not have needed to place the 2nd question of ‘have you missed my point’. Get it?

  36. “…the natural disposition to be tempted … is natural and not sin, whereas the mental entertainment of temptation is already sin even before it manifests in action.”
    So well said.
    May add some words with it? The individual’s temptations, and their internal and external resources vary in strength though; for instance, troublesome impulses and desire vary in strength in respect to different types, occasions and situations, from mild to powerful, as does the intelligence and intellect vary in identifying alternative and better courses of action, as does the strength of will vary; as does one’s life exposure to helpful influences, training, education and good guidance. And there are various neurosis and delusions that can afflict one and interfere in best self governance. It is possible for a person’s temptations to occasionally be greater than they can overcome without help, or even with help. And their are nefarious influences from others, in certain situations even from friends and family, from community cultures and workplaces, and even coming from seemingly good sources, such as the drug and sex push and the push towards feelings worship that comes out of some quarters of education and community health services. …it is a tricky world to navigate through well. Ultimately though, the battle between desire and better judgement is an individual one; we fight it on our own, but with help from God, and hopefully some help from others too. We should not forget to help others, whenever we can. A few encouraging words, a gesture, some kindness, some practical or personal support, can make a great difference in someone else’s life, and helps our own life too.

  37. If the church refuses to perform marriages which go against clear biblical teaching there may be pressure from both sides of the debate for the church to be disestablished. The debate will therefore become one of national importance as separating the church from the state will change completely the nature of the British constitution and the relationship between the people and the monarch ( who is head of the church) as well as the relationship between the people and the church. The secularists would have to air their objections to church teaching, showing their true goal of destroying belief, which may win some unlikely allies for the church from other faith communities – as they will surely be in the front line should the church be removed. There is already much debate as to whether being a broad church – one which welcomes many point of view – is a weakness or a strength…I suppose time will tell!

  38. Eric you say ‘Oh boy’. I thought you might and it did make me laugh!
    As it will be far too long, I won’t provide the lengthy connected list of our communication with explanations to show how and where our communication went awry when you failed to acknowledge my original suggestion (about there being a sin occurring, not in the original natural temptation of the thought, but, if the thought is allowed to keep coming back without us trying to stop it from arising). (This process of fighting temptation can finally win and prevent it (the actual thought) from returning). The long list shows that, alas, you merely gave further comments on the difference between thought and deed, which I was not discussing. My point was new to the discussion and you finally acknowledged it, and agreed with it, about four comments later, when I’d had to chase you for it.

    Let me give this summary: I didn’t mean you could have said ‘Yes’ to ‘Have you missed my point?’ (Obviously you would legitimately answer that with yes or nope). If, in response to my original suggestion on thought alone, (June02 9.35am), you had said ‘yes’ or a more lengthy acknowledgement, (as you finally did about four comments later, after me chasing you), none of the rest would have been necessary at all! (Let alone the confusion since regarding which ‘Yes’ I was referring to!)

    Ps. I do sincerely hope you take the trouble to at least read the last paragraph above, as, the sharing of truth, by way of words, is dependent on good communication and the understanding of it, isnt it! 🙂 Now, i must get out to take up some of the summer which has finally arrived in the UK, especially as the nights will be drawing in from about 3 weeks time!

  39. Yes, but each church reads it ‘clear’ly, and still they disagree. How does any church provide grounds for reading the bible the clearest?

  40. That’s interesting hermitageno8 – on june 03 at 2.35 , I put this question to you – ‘the churches that will not bend to secular ways – will they be the weaker parties or the stronger? Would you be so kind as to offer your opinions please?’ It seems that the last sentence of your last post to Eric provides your response to my question. It makes me wonder – your church is non-denominational so they should be able to accomodate and bend the most – but to secular views is a totally different matter. Perhaps we’ll have the denominational churches, the non-denominational, and the churches that bend to secular views!! They will probably become the ‘acceptable’ church of the state and perhaps the monarchy? Very interesting, and where will hermitageno8 stand? (Perhaps you and me will have to find a way to join Eric’s!)

  41. I may be new to ‘churchy’ matters but it does not make me incapable of thought! I am aware that many on Eric’s blog are well versed with the arguments. Being one of these, as you are, hermitageno8 (BTW, why number eight?), I’d like to ask you, why would disestablishment ‘weaken’ the church? Surely, since church (God’s) principles can never change, it matters not where the church is or how many there are in it (‘the road is narrow and few there are on it’)? I hope you are not afraid to voice your opinion for me as I’d appreciate hearing it -help me please. Is it not possible that this trouble for the church could be a kind of separating ‘the wheat from the chaff’ (rather than a weakening that you envisage)?

  42. crossbow, I’ve never got round to reading all Eric’s correspondence with the other chap Oo and yours must have got ‘filed’ with them as I’ve only just seen it -sorry! Anyway, I think you must be careful not to blame others for your own choices in life and I’m sure you’ll recognise this. In any case, it doesn’t matter if you respond with one word, say for example ‘disagree’ or ‘maybe’, but ‘nonsense’, really! It’s not a matter of one word, but which word!. So, having said that (for better or worse!), now to answer the other point you made:
    1st – I did indeed give what i could (more than one word), to explain myself. Some things are deep in the mind and even beyond words. I do my best and will always try again if asked. This time, I think I have no more to offer at the moment. Sorry.
    2nd – You’ve asked me to explain how i know.- I did not say i ‘know’, I said , i ‘think’. (This relates to my 1st answer above, in that, there are often things like the existence of God that words will not prove). In any case, I merely siad ‘think’ because I do not know it. It is a suggestion for anyone to see as they feel fit – even as ‘nonsense’.

    Hope this helps crossbow as i ‘know’ i have no other motive.
    Very best to you, Dichasium

  43. crossbow, I’ve been looking over past comments to copy, for a friend, something you said before (I think you said it) about some going from cradle to grave without changing – Unfortunately, i can’t find it (for the exact words – it was funny), Anyway, i came across something else you said: ‘It is possible for a person’s temptations to occasionally be greater than they can overcome without help, or even with help.’ I just wanted to say -Yes, absolutely. This is why we cannot judge each other – because, only God knows ‘every hair’ on our heads. I’m with you on this (and the rest you said in that post).

  44. It might have been when I said that some people skip maturity and go straight from immaturity to senility.

    he he, its funny because its true.

  45. No worries.

    I have worked with those who dream up ideas like homosexuality being the new spirituality pointing the way forward for humanity, and have seen how they disseminate their ideas and how they adjust and present them to take root in different demographics. They are not nice people, although they do their best to convince themselves and everyone else that they are.

  46. Crossbow (still your icon is just a black box), As far as I know, I thought up that idea, about homosexuals, myself. So, if i still think it a possibility and am pepared to suggest it to others, does that, according to you, make me one of these ‘not nice’ people? (Don’t worry, I’m not too sensitive in myself, I’m just seeking truth and that never hurts).
    (Thanks for your actual hilarious words about some people never maturing. My friend was saying something similar about an old friend he’d recently met up with. Of course, our other point about some people having more to bear than we ever get to realise, could apply to these people eh).

  47. Just another thought to share with you crossbow – Re. some people skipping maturity and going straight from immaturity to senility:

    Although it appears, at times, that some people skip maturity and go straight from immaturity to senility, it is possible that these people may have something occur in their life tomorrow, or the next day, and suddenly they go beyond our own thinking. It’s just another thought of mine which stems from the fact that we are all so quick to judge and that we must all beware of our own folly.

  48. Thanks crossbow – i hope to God that i never fit that category of yours. As to your ‘tactic’ with people of a different thinking to your own, I don’t go as far as you, but i frequently keep silent (listen), while other blurt out their true thoughts, and yes, it is quite informative, and often rather sad, but, i am reassured because i have faith in God’s ability to set all things straight, whoever of us has it wrong! Here’s another thought you probably won’t approve of – Good minded people have killed others for not thinking the same as them – we all need our minds cleansed to some degree and it may not occur in this life, but, as we’ve touched on a couple of times now, only God can judge every hair on our heads. Possibly, you’ll not agree this time? I won’t dislike you for not agreeing with me though! 😉 (obligatory friendly face to show sincerity).

  49. That’s good to hear crossbow. You said ‘it’s funny because it’s true’ – this obviously sent me down the wrong path then. (Looking at the time diff. between Australia and UK, I think you must get little sleep but i suppose I’d better use Eric’s site more for religious related matters!)

  50. Thank-you crossbow. I know it wouldn’t bother you anyway but in case you thought I was criticising you- I was not. I am quite aware of all the things you’ve mentioned – the enormous pressures to conform in certain professions and how all too often people are perfect examples of ‘pot calling kettle black’. As soon as I’d posted I thought how my comment about good people killing others was too simplistic and would lead to confusion. I am aware of some people’s dreadful desire to force something to their moulding only to shatter it completely and I am aware that judgement is needed. I have been weighing everything up in my mind for as long as I can remember and I will make judgements, when required, without fear. (We must not forget forgiveness of course). These subjects are really too big to discuss here and will inevitably lead to some misunderstanding, so I’ll leave it there for my part. I am a little puzzled as to what made you react quite so strongly, though I appreciate you doing so.

  51. Thank-you, Crossbow and Eric for this important discussion and your insightful words of response to Dichasium. I am a Christian and a minister for the church of Christ and have been praying for ways to show God’s love to those who are GLTB. My present understanding of homosexuality as Romans 1 describes it, it is a “shameful lust” that must suppress the truth of its unnatural and sinful character by seeking acceptance. Those who embrace this sinful condition seek freedom from the shame by defending the sin instead of acknowledging it as sin. Once this begins, any disagreement tends to be perceived as hatred. There is no escape from this shame within short of recognition and contrition with the loving support of God’s grace in the fellowship of His people.

  52. Anonymous, I hope you nor anyone else thinks I was defending homosexuality. I was not. The body was not designed for this purpose. I also expressed my belief that even the thought must be dealt with. I do not condone the act or condemn the participants.

  53. Crossbow – 1st -Even people, like myself, who have never been professional in a paid job can perfectly know what you have explained to Eric. 2nd – I think all of these words you believe Eric to be will fit to any mature, (in character), person. Because I am very contented with all these characteristics in others and would always try to fit them myself, I am able to question all things and to be questioned on all things. I treat others the same way I wish to be treated, unless they show a dislike for it. On that basis, I would say (and I cannot know if you’d agree), that sometimes being easily amused (as I also am), can reflect a hidden inner sarcasm and superiority complex, rather than simple amusement at other people’s follies etc. 3rd – I do wonder why some people do not answer questions if they sincerely want to help; when busy, even short answers can often suffice. It makes me wonder if they are not sincere or fear their own truth; and i think it can show lack of respect towards others (don’t mistake me, I know there are a few times when silence is the better part of valour, but, I find, these are not frequent in normal conversation between free thinkers). Any small/large comments from you or Eric about these comments of mine, or is this a no-no, forbidden, can’t be bothered, or can’t speak my truth area, or any other excuse, genuine or otherwise?

  54. Its alright Dichasium. I understand. And we are friends.

    Despite some of your frailties seeming to fit my description of elitists, as might be considered evident in the odd post here and there, (and all us humans have frailties; I certainly have plenty; that is what being human is all about), I was not aiming at you, but taking a deliberately all inclusive shot. I expect you caught one or two of the peripheral pellets. The bulk of them went elsewhere though.

    Do not be offended. Spiritual people don’t get offended, and don’t kowtow to those who do get offended, and don’t support their being offended, because being offended is not a virtue, its a weakness.

    Only so much can be understood via the written word, for more understanding, we must contemplate and open our self up. Then when understood, we must live it out, to make it alive and part of us, so that we know it.

    I am pleased you appreciate other’s individual freewill. That makes two of us. It is a wonderful thing, freewill and its potential to learn. Freewill is how individuals learn and grow; there is no other way. Our value of other’s freewill should take precedent over our love for them. In other words, we should love them for their freewill. If we do otherwise, then our love becomes oppressive and controlling, idealistic, and pretty soon it is not love at all, just a controlling pseudo-love, toxic and destructive to others and our self. If we do not love others for their freewill, then we do not love them at all, for freewill is what they are, and love is for freewill. Love is the heartfelt wish that others learn and grow with a minimum of suffering. We can contemplate this wish of love for others, feel this wish well up inside our heart and we can breathe it forth from out our heart to others. And with our wish we can include prayer to God as the source of our love; we can breathe in his love into our self form above our soul, and breathe it out through our heart to others. God loves us for our freewill, so we love others for their freewill. Our love for others then becomes tuned with His love for us. Our understanding of freewill and its ability to learn and suffer and grow, and love – our heartfelt wish that others suffering be minimal as lessons be learnt and growth be had, and the reachings of our soul within and up to God, and at the same time outward to others, and all this with our prayer and heartfelt wish, breathing in from God and outward to others, and the love coming in and flowing out, facilitated by our breathing, our entire being becomes attuned with true love. God’s love. It will flow through us like a powerful and smooth force, radiant, nearly bursting our heart, hurting and healing at the same time, reassuring and using us, going forth from our heart and helping others, easing other’s suffering while allowing learning and growth. This is love, faith, prayer, truth, breath, all combined and aligned, working together. And so much is possible from here.

    As for socialism/progressivism/leftism, there are three layers. The outer ring, most numerous, comprised of those attracted by the emotions and feel-good feelings associated with leftism. They are sincere but emotional and naïve. And there is the middle ring, less numerous, and comprised of those who like the image of being seen as a caring and righteous person. They are still emotional but also mental in that they are image conscious. And there is the central core, least numerous, comprised of those who manipulate those in the two outer layers. These types are consciously and mentally centred, deliberate and in control. This three layered formation is standard in any leftist organisation. (It naturally forms as a collective reflection of the individual human psyche – the central conscious and controlling self, the surrounding mental layer in which thoughts are imaged and structured, and the outer emotional layer, then the physical structure. The direction of drive, impetus of control or flow of motive force flows from the core outward through the layers, be they layers respective to the individual or to a collective.)

    Understanding these layers, their functions, qualities and relations to each other, – as component parts of the personality and as layers within a collective – not only enables us to better understand and govern our self, but it also enables us to recognise where others are at within their self, and who is who within a collective leftist association. It is quite easy to spot the enthusiastic emotional ones, the more mentally aware image conscious ones, and the well centred manipulative ones.

    It can help to understand that: The true opposition to good is not apparent evil but apparent good. That which is obviously bad or evil is only half way down the spectrum, in the middle. Low further along the spectrum and evil starts to dress itself as good. The worst of the worst portray themselves as the best.

    But as some say, its all good; for goodness cannot progress without apparent goodness to compete with. Sincerity needs insincerity like both sides of a coin need the other. So although socialists seek to change the world and in so doing wipe out all conservatives (if you doubt that refer to the millions murdered by Soviet Socialists, German National Socialists, Mao’s Socialists, Pol Pot’s socialists…) we should not be too annoyed at them. They are a natural opposition to genuine love, being those who want power and control but in a society that values goodwill they have to fake their love and goodwill. They keep the scales balanced between the two, enable us to fine tune our discrimination. Those committed are unlikely to change, but for the sake of those who are uncommitted, in the two outer rings, or for those susceptible, for them I speak my mind.

    Now I have waffled on again, and veered away from the subject of the thread, being homosexual marriage. I remind homosexuals that when socialists obtain unbridled power they even murder the minority groups they seduced to help get them into power. And it is leftists who are stirring homosexuals and pushing hardest for same-sex marriage. True leftists are anti-Christian and hate the church, and pushing for same-sex marriage is about attacking the church, not about kindness to homosexuals. Homosexuals should bear in mind that socialists don’t have friends, they just use people.

  55. I don’t know what you are talking about Dichasium.Your comment is loaded with inference. What question/s am I not answering?

  56. crossbow thanks, i love the fact that you cared enough to waffle on. 1st There you go again, telling me about true love – i have told you a few times that i truly understand all the things you say (so far), about Love. I am as aware of these things as you are. i practise them every day so that it has/will become inherent in my nature. I believe it is but must always keep watch and improve! As for the ‘odd’ comment from me, firstly, they are always meant to be in the from of a suggestion open to help from, or debate with, anyone; secondly, no-one knows everything or everything right about the things they do know, so, I’ve found that sometimes when we think something ‘odd’ it is merely a reflection of our own ignorance. Let me here be loud and clear – I am NOT claiming to know more than you or to be better than you. Hope you’ll always remember that about me from here on. Also, please trust me, i am not sensitive or offended by anyone or anything at any time, I merely pick up on loads of ‘stuff’ and try to discuss it (this has been, in the past and now with you, misinterpreted in ways like sensitive/ or dog-with a bone), but mostly only when i question something, and here is one of them which I been getting at and now offer you again (to do as you will, including ignoring which you rarely do):
    All the things you say about leftest people, I find in every sector, faith,political partyies etc. I question why you do not. I think it may well be due to so much time of yours being in with a heavily ‘infested’! 🙂 leftest inclined workplace. I question the balance and measure of your view that these ‘qualities’! apply merely, or even mostly in the leftest people. Can we proceed from here?

  57. crossbow, thanks for picking up on my heavily loaded comment. Sometimes in an effort to be ‘tactful’, i merely hint and this can be a nuisance, i know. Sometimes, I’m merely suggesting and hope the person will tell me about themselves by saying more or telling me that ‘the cap does not fit’ them. I like sharing ideas and info about one another. So, to answer you – Eric has also been under this friendly criticism from me and when he asked what he’d not responded to for me, there was in total so many things that I decided it was best not to go over the old ground for several resaons, not least the enormous work it would be to sift them out of all the rest which got involved and followed on, but also, because i think it would not have been neglectedin the first instance had he been sufficiently concerned. So, i must take the same approach with you (same reasons),but am glad to have raised the point, even if you still wish to conclude that i am being ‘odd’! (No, I’m not being sensitive – just my (odd!), humour!) 🙂

  58. crossbow, hope you see this before any possible reply you may kindly , howevergive to to my earlier comments as i forgot something which may help quite a bit in our mutual understanding. I like your three teir descriptions of people,(because i also see it as a biasic guide), however, because i am MOST certainly one of the ‘some’ you speak of who believe ‘ALL things work for the good of God’, (& have stated it here and other places on numerous occasions) i truly believe that all the types. (socio-political and the rest). contain degrees of ignorance, and, as such, whilst good to recognise the htree rough levles, they are ALL within the eternal Love and serving a good purpose for all, including themselves. This is why i cannot accept your partial version of people in your category being socialists and feminists. (BTW, the reason i can see why ALL is for the good of God is that I can see how it all fits the totally good plan from beginning to end of this particular holy design). Hope this helps to fill in.

  59. Dichasium. I am aware that this is an open internet site, and as such I am not just conversing with you, but with anyone who has internet access, now and into the future.

  60. You expect others to cater to you too closely; to read and adhere to your every word, to answer your every question.

    Then when someone does not respond exactly to your liking, or misses a question, you start with your self praise about what a gentle and considerate person you are, and how well you treat other people, coupled with condescending snide inferences that others are insincere and disrespectful for not making sufficient effort when communicating with you.

    Then when others ask you what are your questions that we have missed, you say its too difficult now for you to go back and find them.

    You are not the gentle considerate person that you so badly portray yourself to be. You are egocentric and manipulative.

  61. crossbow, i am forced to attempt to read your mind from that very short and unclear reply. i think i read it properly and it is sad but I do understand. (Funnily, the moment after posting to you i had someone with feelings like yours but from the opposite side of the coin which is a perfect example of my point that prejudice is unbalanced. The only other meaning i can possibly think you are hinting at is that we are using Eric’s site for issues other than religious. I don’t think you mean this at all but just in case, i must add that all is relevant to our religious.spiritual beliefs so i don’t think it matters or that Eric would object. BTW as you’ve previously suggested that i become more succint I’ll sum my thought up with this: inadequate knowledge leads to inadequate weighing up, this leads to imbalance which leads to wrong conclusions and is often the precursor of hate and the atrocity of war.

  62. Dichasium, I haven’t read this latest round of posts but it seems that you are posting a lot. To be honest I’m beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with the sheer volume of your posts. Just wanted to let you know.

  63. crossbow, I’ve just seen your latest reply. i do appreciate you expressing your view – yes that is sincere.

  64. Eric, I don’t want to make a rash decision but I did mention leaving your site recently and being reassured by you, I’m glad that I stayed. However, if you’ve read the latest posts, it’s clear that I am doing something wrong. (I imagine that I must learn not to expect too much of others or myself). So, I’ll wait a while to see if you reply, or, just in case I should be tempted back for another attempt, but if neither occurs, I’ll not want to stay if I can’t be of use, so I’ll then take my leave, and for now, just in case of that,I’ll thank-you for your good site and your kind efforts for me, and wish you the very best of Love for your life (& beyond). Oh! I just went to post this and saw your (this) last post to me Eric. I wasn’t expecting you to engage in the long ‘debate’ between crossbow and me, but I take your kindly point. I think I can be overwhelming and, i hope that’s of the matter, rather than than Crossbow’s view. Whatever, thanks again and I’ll take yours as a kindly and polite request to leave off (which is as I had also already decided). Thanks again, hope to meet you later when God has cooled down my fervour! I am indeed a ‘dog with a bone’ but I sincerely don’t want to chew on anyone else!  God bless all.

  65. BTW Eric, I do not think you necessarily meant me to read that I have my marching orders absolutely, but perhaps, more likely from you, that I should take it easy from here on. And indeed, a rest from here is is what I need and I can put more in elsewhere for now. Also, in case you are in any doubt, whilst taking it on board, i will not be overly concerned by cross bow’s reaction as i have an wonderful response of love from far too many others. (He is right that i expect to much but not in the way he suggests in his reaction). Thanks again.

  66. I think the biblical definition of marriage as a covenant relationship between a man and a woman for life in which they become one flesh is fairly unambiguous. The main stream churches, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican and Evangelical are all pretty united on this teaching.

  67. I think that ultimately the church which follows Jesus and not the world will be the stronger. The state will have to repudiate the beliefs of a lot of people if it casts off the church of England over this issue.
    Where do i stand? As I said before I have no problem with same sex civil marriages and I would not presume to judge what other people do in their private lives but I do think that asking the church to perform same sex marriages is a bit like asking it to bless the proceeds of bank robbery. I come back to the question – if people are so convinced that the church has got it wrong then why are they so anxious to have its blessing?

  68. The church of England occupies a unique position in our national life, as the established church it has the right to speak into national debate and to give the nation spiritual guidance on a range of matters. If the church were to be disestablished it would lose that authority to speak, other church traditions take their part in the public debate but their voices do not carry the same weight as that of the established church. Those who seek to disestablish the church from the secular side want to silence the voice of faith in our national life.

  69. Yes hermitageno8. My thought is that no matter what happens to the church position, the strong will stay with her. I’m sure this is true but from your reply i see that it would be a sad day if people and youngsters who have not come to God cannot experience some of it in their lives. I’ve always felt it is a sad thing that in non church schools we no longer have a daily assembly which incorporated hymns and a prayer. I’ve loved hymns and benefitted from them ever since my school days.

  70. ha! Yes, I agree with all these hermitageno8. I also wouldn’t presume to ‘judge’ a single soul but, when asked, i do say that i believe God made all things in order for particular purpose and I do not think the sexual parts were designed for other parts of the body. i do not judge those who do, of course.

  71. Thank-you hermitageno8 for all your replies. I know this article was on homosexuality but I’d actually asked the question in the broader context about churches because I’m looking into becoming a church member. (Actually. i have little choice here in my part of Mid-Wales). I do agree with your specific comment, thanks.

  72. Eric, just a quickie -no worries if you miss it. I finally understood what you comment is probably relating to. (I tend to look first to see if i’ve done something wrong). So, just to say, i perfectly understand – we all have other priorities which must be attended to. See you later when the time is right.

  73. Dear crossbow, I’ve now found the time to consider my response after my initial acknowledgement and thanks for your effort. It is this:

    I would imagine that you’ll know the saying ‘Patience is a virtue’. I have good reason to know that, whatever else you know about others, you have, as a result of not having patience, made a mistake in your judgement of me. It could have cost us two mistakes, but fortunately, unlike some of the people who may fit your judgement, I am strong enough to take one of these away for you and this is why I am responding to you. I do not know what you will do about the remaining one (this being your judgement of me), because it is something you alone can deal with, and, I do not presume to know you better than you know yourself. Time will tell, but meanwhile, I have given you my response, as I should to keep in order and to be respectful.

  74. Unless asked by you crossbow I will not offer any more than this clear summary regarding YOUR judgement of my character. However, my reasoning is available.

    I have not committed any of the offences you have charged me with. Hence, your presumption to place yourself in JUDGEMENT of my character has been based on false premises. Hence, the jury is still out. Thankfully, God, but not any man, is my jduge and His evidence will be pure.

    And, I am forced, by conscience, to point out to you, that I am very conscious of my faults and am indeed grateful for any valid correction, but, I have never presumed to JUDGE your character or that of others. For me, that is a step too far. You may, of course, tread where you wish, whoever’s grounds you may be stepping onto, and I may, of course, take the right and time to reply. We are of a like mind and do as we do with a view to being helpful,

  75. crossbow my sincere apologies, I forgot to say ‘I have not committed any of the offences’ ……- in your portrayal of things’ Portrayal, like patience, makes all the difference! Now I’ve finished my response.

  76. Thanks crossbow. I thought you may give me this opportunity at some time. I am perfectly comfortable with you being wrong about me. I prefer to understand as much as possible as i find it very useful as a tool for myself and between people. In the greater scheme it matters not one iota, but, for this scheme on earth, I find it is valuable in the sense that we can try to understand fact from error, through communication, in order to assist the smooth running of our earthly machinery which ultimately helps peace along in our earthly lives. In less words – to assist understanding in our communication. This is also why I PERSONALLY prefer to avoid facetious, sarcastic or unpleasant manners. I find that my preference has been particularly useful when we live less close to one another and have less time for communication. But, it does require quite a lot of words which some find a strain, (this is one of the things you soon suggested to me that I try to reduce. The irony is that I love brevity and very direct speech but find it best used when people are familiar with each other). Most importantly, i find the terms you, Eric and others (I have found it to be more of a man thing), often resort to can send someone less strong packing and that loses our opportunities. But, I’ve been aware for donkeys years (something you think i forget, but i do not), that it must be each to his own and that we are all human. Hope this help answers your question and that it may assist with any further communication purposes. I love you too!

  77. SerbianPhysicist,

    I know your post was made in jest but in truth all believers are the Bride of Christ. We are received in Christ as neither male nor female. The “marriage” motif is symbolic of our eternal union with God through theosis, or deification.

    Hope that doesn’t ruin your joke.

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