Friday, July 3, 2015

Overwhelmed with Questions about Same-Sex Marriage?


I noticed conservative friends posting 40 Questions challenging Christians about their support for same-sex marriage. It did not take long for a counter response. So there are at least 80 questions available for you.

It's no surprise that the authors advance a point of view by asking a question, which assumes a premise that has not been established. I come at the questions from the perspective of a psychological scientist and former university professor--so I love to encourage people to think. And if I were teaching a relevant course, I'd probably ask students to think about the 80-questions. I'll include the links so you can see what the two authors are asking.

Christians come at the same-sex issue from many perspectives as I wrote about last week. I think for those Christians who have a spiritual struggle, the key question is about sin.

There is only one question for fundamentalist Christians to answer about same-sex marriage.

 Is there something about same-sex marriage that is sinful? 

To paraphrase:

Is there something about same-sex marriage that is morally wrong for a Christian?


I'm working with a team of Christians about Christian morality so it's something I've thought a lot about. People of good will have written a lot about morality for thousands of years. Most people have a sense that some things are right and some are wrong. Some things like child abuse, rape, and murder deeply offend most of us. Sadly, we hear news stories about these crimes. We cannot understand why human beings can be so evil.

Christians typically go to the Bible to find answers. So a lot of the 80 questions posed by the two authors take you back to the Bible to find answers. I'm not sure the questions will help you formulate a single Christian moral principle about same-sex marriage.

Christians sometimes refer to Christian morality as biblical morality. The words "biblical morality" or Christian morality" encourage Christians to look beyond their personal beliefs to understand righteousness from God's perspective.

What's wrong? Here's a philosophical question I get from my philosopher friend, Brandon Schmidly (my paraphrase so don't blame Brandon): If the Bible declares something is morally wrong is it wrong because God says so or is it objectively wrong? In other words, is something just plain wrong regardless of whether it is in the Bible or not?

It is hard to find universal moral principles if we just study different cultures. Surely some things are always right and others always wrong. Or perhaps, there are principles that guide moral decisions such that the principles are universal even if people sometimes justify horrible things like killing during time of war.

Can you think of something you would affirm as true for all people for all time? A common Christian answer is to always love your neighbor as you would love yourself (from Mark 12: 30-31).

Christian philosophers and theologians spend a lot of time organizing biblical texts in support of statements that provide moral guidance related to one issue or another. In my view, the best of these thinkers understand the language of the ancient texts, have an above average ability to reason well, and seek divine wisdom. Of course, they sometimes disagree. How do ordinary Christians decide what is right?


The 40-question man is Kevin DeYoung. Read his first few paragraphs and notice the words about feelings and emotions. I'm convinced a lot of the rhetoric we encounter has to do with feelings. Feelings are driving the debate about same sex marriage. And the feelings drive a lot of moral reasons-- about five to six categories worth as you will see in reading my previous posts. Moral reasoning from sound premises is important but reasoning will not lead to a definitive answer. Understanding the moral sentiment--the emotion linked to reasons-- can help us identify the power of persuasive arguments when premises lack a plausible foundation.


So it's time for the links to those 80 questions. I'm interested in your reactions. I may not always respond to every comment or question. But I would like to know if any of the 80 questions are helpful.

Kevin DeYoung
July 1,2015

Matthew Vines
July 3, 2015


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