Thursday, July 25, 2013

Marriage Equality, by Steve Kindle -- Review

MARRIAGE EQUALITY:   Why Same-sex marriage is good for the church and the nation.  By Steven F. Kindle.  CreateSpace.com, 2013.  178 pages (Kindle version available).

When the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June on a 5-4 vote it confirmed what growing numbers of Americans had already begun to believe – the definition of to whom one can be married has begun to change.  In recent years, slowly but surely the states have begun to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  The vast majority of states continue to ban such marriages, but as for the Federal Government, at least in states where marriage rights have already been granted, the Federal Government shall henceforth affirm them as legal marriages.

The trend may be moving toward both openness and affirmation, but there remains a strong though diminishing opposition.  Most opponents argue from a religious perspective – arguing that the Bible forbids it.  They may also turn to “nature,” but nature is proving to be a dubious ally.  And then there’s precedent.  We’ve just not done it that way.  Despite the push back by a small majority, support for same-sex marriage has continued to win the day.  While most of the resistance to extending marriage rights/rites to gays and lesbians comes from the religious community, not all religious communities share the same views.  My own denomination took the tentative step of extending welcome and grace to all persons, no matter their sexual orientation.  This resolution didn’t legislate marriage equality, but it recognized by a sizable margin that the denomination is moving toward not just openness but affirmation as well.

In Marriage Equality, Disciples of Christ pastor and advocate for the full inclusion of LGBT persons, Rev. Steven Kindle, gives the reader a straightforward, no-holds barred, defense of marriage equality.  Steve is Straight, but he has heard the call to advocacy.  The book is rooted in the seminar he has led for quite a number of years – a seminar that inspired the wonderful film For The Bible Tells Me So.  Steve hasn’t always been an advocate, but over time he came to believe that the church should be open to and affirm all of God’s children, including those who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender.  The results of many years of diligent study is made available in this book, which was released at the time of the Supreme Court Ruling.

In the course of this relatively brief book, Steve introduces the reader to what it means to be gay, helps us understand the nature of the closet many Christians are happy to push their LGBT neighbors back into, discusses the nature of marriage, and shares his insights into the biblical texts that are used in denying LGBT folks a place in church and society.  He has a chapter in the book that outlines the various options the Supreme Court could take – one may now look back and see if Steve has rightly defined the issues.  He also offers a word to pastors as to how they might take a stand in this cause and lead closed churches into being open and affirming ones.  As he deals with issue after issue, he reminds us that our LGBT neighbors are human beings, just like those of us who are straight – the only difference is the person to whom one is attracted.  He reminds us that this really isn’t about sex or even pleasure – it’s about relationship – intimacy.  In making his case he looks at the Bible and Theology.  He looks at church practice.  He also looks at the scientific and psychological evidence.  In the end he is able to examine and address many of the myths and even lies that have entered into the conversation.  The reader ends up with a much more complete picture of the situation, and as a result is enabled to take another step toward fully embracing LGBT neighbors as fellow Christians.

The book can be hard-hitting at times.  It can even be graphic when Steve feels that is necessary.  He’s not afraid to step on toes, largely because he believes this is a topic needing to be addressed for the good of the individuals involved, but also the church.

The book’s usefulness is enhanced by the presence of  discussion questions after each chapter for groups.  Faith communities looking to move toward affirmation will find this a most useful book.  Because the book humanizes and personalizes the story of our LGBT neighbors, readers are better able to stand with those seeking full equality.  So, If you are giving this question serious thought –  and I hope you are – you’ll want straightforward and reliable information.  Steve’s book provides this.   I believe that if you take seriously the arguments in this book you will become better acquainted with your LGBT neighbors.  You will likely find that your attitudes are changing.  You may even find any opposition you’ve had begin to dissipate.  Like Steve and like me, you may also become an advocate for the rull rights of our LGBT neighbors.

I would suggest that one read Steve’s book together with Jeff Chu’s Does Jesus really Love Me?  Jeff provides the narrative, while Steve provides the foundations for the work toward inclusion. Hopefully, in the end you will cease to wonder if Jesus loves his LGBT brothers and sisters.  If Jesus loves them, then surly the same is true of the rest of us. Indeed, one may even discover that the Bible isn’t as clear-cut as some had originally believed.

12 comments:

Baptist said...

Real Christians will never accept homosexuality as normal or moral, and will never accept "same-sex marriage" as real marriage.

Jeffery Agnew said...

Thankfully, it is not up to you -nor me, to decide who the "real" Christians are; I will leave that in the hands Jesus, thankyou very much. And while I respect your right to reach the conclusions you have from your reading of scripture, I wonder at your apparent inability to see how another faithful Christian might read the same passages differently. There is a great deal of scholarly work done on the cultural, linguistic and literary backgrounds to the 'proof texts' so often abused on this topic to staunchly cling to the view you have -particularly when it runs against the prevailing head winds if scripture that we love others as we love ourselves.

Baptist said...

Nonsense. The Bible is crystal clear regarding the perversion of homosexuality and that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Anyone who disagrees with the Bible is not a Christian. And obviously, you disagree with the Bible, so that makes you a non-Christian. Are you pretending to be what you are not? That is hypocrisy.

Robert Cornwall said...

Baptist -- to you it is crystal clear. To many others it is not. I'm not sure I've read anywhere in Scripture that says that if someone disagrees with your reading of the Bible they're not a Christian. I'm wondering as well, since youi're using the name Baptist whether you claim to represent all Baptists. I know of Baptists who would disagree with you. Are they not Baptists?

Baptist said...

Cornwall, you know very well that homosexuality is condemned in the Bible. You know it. And yet you want to pretend that the Bible "isn't clear" about it. You're dishonest. Same thing for marriage. You know that God defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. But still, you want to pretend it isn't so.
Every person who has trusted Christ as their savior, and has examined the Bible, agrees that homosexuality is wicked and that every real marriage must have both a husband and a wife. That is true whether they are Baptist, Methodist, or any other type. I would not be surprised if you know Baptists who don't believe the Bible because there are lots of them. And none of them are real Christians.

John McCauslin said...

Jeff, I look to Jihn who quotes Jesus Commandment that we are to love one another as God loves us. And I look to all those texts that call on us to take care of the marginalized, and the prisoners, etc., as well as the texts which make it our responsibility to rconcile with others, and not their responsibility to rconcile with us. All of that leads me to the understanding that I must reconcile with my neighbor, as much as a struggle as that may be, that I am to love my neighbor regardless of his circumstances (including sexual orientation) and that my primary obligation as a follower of Jesus is to love, not judge, and care for and not exclude, and to pray with, and break bread with all of my neighbors, and that I cannot exclude from my fellowship or from the lord's table those who fail to meet my standards or who fail to agree with me in matters of faith.

It seems the Baptist has a different interpretation of Jesus unconditional and very direct and very simple commandment.

Baptist said...

You have misunderstood the New Testament. And I would guess that your misunderstanding is deliberate, not accidental.

Robert Cornwall said...

Gary, you've changed your handle, but we seem to be debating the same old themes -- just like every time I write something about sexual orientation. I think I've gotten your drift -- after six years!

Baptist said...

But in six years you still haven't gotten right with God. You are still calling God a liar by denying that He condemns homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Time is running out for you. Life is short. None of us have any guarantee that we will be here tomorrow. If you don't want to go to Hell, you really should carefully compare your beliefs to what the Bible actually says. And not just your beliefs about homosexuals and marriage.

Robert Cornwall said...

Gary, I guess I should feel blessed that you continue to see me as a reclamation project. The problem is -- what I'm hearing from God is different from what you're sharing!

Baptist said...

Bob, you aren't hearing a thing from God. Your main interests are on things that contradict the Bible, and I know that God isn't in that. You're a lost sinner headed for Hell, Bob. I know you don't believe that, but there is soon coming a day when you will. But the probability of that happening while you are still in your present body are slim at best. I don't see you as a reclamation project. At least not one that I want to work on. I do feel somewhat sorry for your "church" because you are not qualified to be a pastor, and you are leading that congregation down the road to damnation.

John McCauslin said...

Gary,

In a lifetime, so far, you haven't gotten right with your neighbor, and until you do, you are delusional if you think you are right with God.