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Same-sex marriage to religion: Adapt or else

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As the Supreme Court turns to same-sex marriage in the wake of popular approval in three states last month, the religious opposition is beginning to adjust to American society's accelerating acceptance of full civic equality for gays and lesbians. 

The LDS Church, which went all out in support of California's anti-SSM Proposition 8, has adopted a new posture of openness towards same-sex attraction. The University Notre Dame, with the support of its local bishop, has announced a plan to provide support and services for GLBTQ students.  

Of course, changes in attitude are not the same as changes in doctrine. One can hope, as Michael Sean Winters does, that the Catholic Church will achieve a new theological understanding of homosexuality, as it has in the past achieved new understandings of slavery, lending at interest, and the status of non-Catholic faiths. Unburdened by Roman bureaucracy and the heavy hand of natural law doctrine, the Mormons could move faster, given the First Presidency's accessibility to direct revelation (as in the forswearing of of plural marriage and the admission of African-American men to the priesthood).

But in the meantime, public acceptance of SSM can serve as a timely reminder to conservative religious leaders that their traditions have always adapted to changing social norms. And that they have usually been wise to do so.

Topics: Ethics


  1. Mark, Let’s see, you say religious leaders should adapt their belief to changing social norms “unburdened” by even natural law doctrine. To listen to you we would have to conclude God remains entirely passive.  In your world there apparently is no such thing as a Divine calling. Nor do you seem to concede much importance to a thing we call history. You seem to sponsor a here and now philosophy which is in start contrast to what any well formed Christian whose faith is essentially an event.  I find your argument in stark contrast to rational thinking.

  2. Oh,wow,Matt; where do I begin? Your blatant jettisoning of Scriptural norms in favor of cozing up to the culture and joining the lemmings heading for the cliff is stunning,to say the least!! What always gets me is that those who finally decide that the Word of God is a lie don’t bother trying to defend their positions with Scripture(duh,how could they?),no; now it’s simply whichever way the cultural winds blows them! After all,if the culture is leaning that way,who is God to stand in their way,right? Now,we decide what sin is;we determine what is abominable;what need we of His strictures and commands! Woe unto you,America!!! Woe!

  3. Lets see, we must change biblical norms and what the bible says (The Word of God Mark)
    and adjust to changing societal “norms” so we don’t offend others…even though what they do (SSM) is biblically wrong.  I don’t think so.

  4. When the Church formed her teachings on this subject, the society in which many of her members lived was not too unlike that of today. It was preChristian, rather than post Christian, but aberrant sexual behaviors were certainly seen as normal and acceptable then as well.  Abortion (more difficult to accomplish then) and infanticide were rampant and acceptable then, as now (although now with technological superiority we mostly kill babies before they are born now).  The Church then opposed aberrant sexual practices and the killing of the unborn, and of the weak and helpless of any age.  She continues to do so.  She will continue to do so when our current society is as remote as that of ancient Rome is today, whatever might happen between then and now.  (Unless the Lord has come again in the meantime.)  So, give it up.  You are dashing your head on a rock.  Remember that king who had the sea beat with rods? Your words are just about as effective.

  5. So Mr. Silk, how is it that back in the day when the Church more or less followed societal norms like slavery (to use your example), they were wrong, but today when the Church resists societal norms they are wrong? 
    Could it be that there is a Truth, not of this world (including the Supreme Court!), to which we need to adhere as Christians, and that this is now, has been, and always will be seperate and above societal norms?  (The answer is yes.) 
    How ironic that your own responsibilities as both a professor of religion and as a director of the program on public values, place you within this very conflict, although it would appear that you consider that these should be one and the same.

  6. Susan Peterson gets no little bit risky when she talks about the Christian Church opposing infanticide or abortion, even in crude ancient times because they church was a leader in murdering all kinds of people simply because they could not accept particular church beliefs or practices.  Don’t forget the Crusades.  Don’t forget the sale of indulgences.  Don’t forget burnings at stakes.  Don’t forget handing numberless people over to the state for awful imprisonment.  Don’t forget Galileo’s house arrest for declaring a scientific discovery.  Don’t act like the church’s hands are clean.

  7. So, Mark, when enough perverts convince the majority that child-molestation, bestiality and every other depraved act in God’s sight is OK, the religions will just have to change. Sorry. God said that heaven and earth will pass away, but his Word will never pass away. You can have your “morality” floating on the shifting sands of pragmatism and relativism. Some things are always wrong. Not because I think so, because the Eternal God said so in his Word. Faithful Christians have been martyred through the ages because they refused to believe lies like yours. As Luther wrote, “The body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still, His Kingdom is forever.”

  8. I am an EX-homosexual changed by the supernatural power of Jesus Christ, who is the One who defines what marriage is which is between one man and one woman. Are you seeking to change me, and at what cost? Are you going to make me? What do you mean when you imply an ‘or else’ in your posting here? Pain of death, hanging, lethal injection, guillotine?

  9. Bring on your “or else” because I will gladly die in this world so as to never stand against the Word of God! I am IN this world but unlike you, sir, refuse to be OF it.

  10. The postmodern humanists are clearly aiming for Christians. 

    Homosexual activists have successfully rammed down “sexual orientation” protection policies at numerous educational institutions, corporations, and some governments in the post-Stonewall era.  At Happy Valley, the Faculty Senate ordered that policy as payback for Joe Paterno, Sr protecting women’s basketball coach Rene Portland and her “no alcohol, no drugs, no sexually deviant behaviour” policy after sexual deviants protested against Mr. Paterno and Miss Portland.  That policy, through the victories of activists, led to protecting child molesters under the guise of “sexual orientation” protection (Mr. Sandusky had the legal protection in question protecting him) and created a massive scandal, and yet we rarely hear of that fact. 

    And we hear of protests at Methodist college Wofford in the Upstate, which already declares homosexual partners “spouses” for benefits, of where they want a similar “sexual orientation” policy to be added, not knowing that led to child molesters protection.

    Homosexual activists want “marriage” redefined as to convert churches into social clubs where preaching of God’s Word is prohibited via Hate Speech codes (see Shepard-Byrd), groups opposed to their agenda are prohibited (Chick-fil-A, BSA/AHG), and they are unable to help at-risk youth (such as Connie Maxwell or Epworth), serve their adoption, or foster care agencies as their policies conflict with the policies of the state.

    The agenda is designed to wipe churches off the map and led to the idea the State is all that there is.

    Leviticus 18 and Romans 1 are both correct;  we have seen the desensitisation of the deviants’ agenda via Hollywood and academia in the past four decades, and a generation that watches modern popular culture but will not set foot to study God’s Word, as is the case now for much of today’s youth, worship their false deity.

    The bull’s eye is on anyone who does not comply with the worldview of today’s postmodern generation.  I’ve seen it in church when I publicly questioned the youth for having a “worship service” organised consisting of kids “dancing” to pop tunes and nothin else.  I was trashed by almost everyone on emotional reasons, and nobody saw the truth.  Are Christians being persecuted by the New Humanist Agenda?

  11. God flatly has already spoken and historically flatly disagrees and brings sure judgement on individuals and cultures and societies that think they have evolved and are now wiser than Him. Buyer beware.

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