A Senator published an article today in which he used the Bible to arrive at an unbiblical conclusion.
What I am referencing in this post is the recent editorial article written by Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on the issue of so-called gay marriage. Portman has been a proponent of the biblical definition of marriage for most of his life and career, but he recently changed his stance. His editorial explains why.
Initially, I think the easiest way to respond to this editorial is to attach a link to a short audio clip that chronicles Pastor John Piper’s response. Piper gives a clear and concise response that I believe helps inform Christians who want to remain consistent on the doctrine of biblical authority and inerrancy.
A couple of things about Piper’s response:
1) You’ll notice that he refers to the issue at hand as “so-called gay marriage.” I have heard this issue referenced like this before, and I think it is a responsible way to speak about it. Despite what specific state legislatures or even the federal government of the United States chooses to say about the reality of marriage, real marriage is not in danger of being “re-defined.” Marriage was not created, nor its true definition established, by a local, state, or federal government. It was created in the beginning by God, designed by Him intentionally and definitively, and its identity does not shift dependent on the changing winds of any specific culture or time. The creation of marriage is recorded in Genesis 2 and explained in light of Christ’s redemption in Ephesians 5 (among other places in the New Testament). The foundation that marriage is built upon is not in danger of shifting from the ultimate reality that Scripture reveals based upon the subjective impulses of fallen and finite human beings.
2) A sound hermeneutic: In the 2 examples Piper gives we see that Portman is “absolutizing self-defined” principles counter to consistent biblical principles. Portman is (perhaps unintentionally) using the Bible against the Bible because his feelings about its clear application in this instance prove to be difficult for him to accept.
Some will look at this issue (and even this post) and think it is about politics. It’s not. Some will think it is about so-called gay marriage. It’s not.
Some will think it is about the biblical definition of marriage. Again, that’s not why I’m writing.
I’m writing this because I think it is extremely vital that we understand what is happening here, because Portman’s mistake is not something that develops in one’s perspective overnight. His mistake is attempting to “stand on the Bible” instead of putting himself, his feelings, and the feelings of those in his family “under the Bible.” He is allowing his subjective definitions of “happiness,” “love,” and “marriage,” to usurp the objective and authoritative biblical definitions of all three of these things. He is missing the beauty of the truth that Scripture reveals because he sees this truth as limiting rather than freeing.
I’m not here to pass judgment on Rob Portman. I have no idea how I would respond if I was faced with what he is faced with in his family. I pray that God’s grace would surround him and his children. The issue of same-sex attraction is a huge one that the Church needs to address and respond to with love, grace, and biblical consistency. An individual or family faced with these factors should be able to lean on their church family and journey in and with it to the outcome God desires.
The major issue here is how we view and use the Bible. Portman is ordering Scripture by his life circumstances, rather than the other way around. As we order our lives by the truth revealed in Scripture we are liberated, not bound. This is because we are designed this way, as image-bearers of God. The opposite is also true. When we attempt to refashion God or His Word into a persona that takes its cue from us, we are calling ourselves “god.”
I think Romans 1 is an appropriate place to end this blog, because it speaks about all the issues herein addressed. It’s a sobering word, and one I pray God’s grace quickens to our hearts and minds.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.