Monday, August 9, 2010

Christianity and Voting for Obama: Compatible?

We are big fans of the Quinn and Rose morning show out of Pittsburgh. On the 28th of July, Rose read an email from an old acquaintance who was taking her to task for a particular controversial position she has aired in recent weeks - that a person cannot be a true Christian and an Obama voter, and that people of faith who voted for Obama need to repent and apologize for their lapse. On the surface, it is easy for a conservative pro-life Christian to agree. But what does Rose really mean by that? On one level, it seems clear that support of abortion is incompatible with faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings. But it is not so clear that every person of faith who voted for Obama was thinking “The hell with the babies, I want government-run health care,” or “Who cares about murdering infants in the womb - we need a black president.” It’s just possible that a person of faith who voted for Obama might focus their thoughts on the second halves of statements like that without considering the abortion issue at all. One might judge their action in this regard as terribly irresponsible and imprudent, and we would not disagree. We might even go as far as to call it a sin - of omission if not one of commission. And there is a limited sense in which any sin is incompatible with faith. But in a broader sense, one which allows for people who love our Lord but still fall into sin on occasion, there remains some doubt whether voting for Obama is on par with driving a pregnant girl to an abortion clinic. Is it really an excommunicable offense? Or is Rose saying something else? I am pretty sure she is not Catholic, so it is open to question whether she believes in the traditional (and Biblical, but that’s another argument) doctrine of mortal sin, a sin that is so serious that by committing such an act a believer can voluntarily extinguish in his or her own soul the light of grace ignited by God, a light that no external force or pressure could be strong enough to put out without the saved soul’s consent. It may be that Rose embraces instead a notion of salvation that would exclude the possibility of a soul truly saved ever being able to commit such a sin, so that if someone does do something really bad, one might say that such a person was never actually saved in the first place (that position renders nonsensical the Protestant Assurance of Salvation doctrine that goes hand in hand with the theological position heretofore described, but, again, that is an argument for another day). In that case, she might think that someone who voted for Obama might not be a believer because that person might never have been saved in the first place. Such an assumption, taken dogmatically, is incompatible with the Catholic faith. It would also be uncharitable to assume any believer who voted for Obama committed a mortal sin. That would necessarily involve a presumption of certain subjective elements in the conscience of the voter which might not have been there and for whose absence they might not be entirely culpable. But if Rose’s assertion is understood as simply saying that no believer in Christ who voted for Obama could have done so in total moral innocence, having fully considered everything that he or she should have before casting such a vote, we wholeheartedly agree with that assertion, so understood. Regardless of whether there is a subjective innocence, there is an objective moral law by which persons who voted for Obama will be judged by God if they do not repent.

- Teresa and Kevin Rice (Teresamerica and The Naked Ontologist)


Here is the audio of that particular segment
of the Quinn and Rose Morning Show:


40 comments:

innominatus said...

I sit on the Protestant "side of the aisle" so I'm not qualified to say much about what Catholic teachings apply here. From my point of view, though, cutting up babies is a deal breaker. Nobody who is strongly "pro-choice" will ever get my vote, regardless of where they stand on other issues.

Some politicians are wishy-washy on the subject and I could possibly see voting for somebody who is half-heartedly pro-choice as long as it wasn't part of their agenda and they were really good at every other issue. But earlier in his career, Obama actively pushed abortion and tried to kill legislation that would mandate care for babies who survived it. Barbarism, in short.

We're on a downhill slide as a country, and it will take more than just good conservative leadership to fix things. I believe that unless God gets involved, we're too far gone for mere men to straighten it all out. I don't see God intervening for our country if we keep doing things like electing avowed pro-choicers and letting judges impose gay "marriage".

Quite Rightly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quite Rightly said...

Sorry, bad typo in previous comment.

Here's what I wanted to say:
All the people I know who voted for Obama (which is just about everybody I know) thought that Obama was going to make stingy rich people (not themselves, of course) provide health care to poor sick people, and they were sure, as a Democrat, that he would end war and injustice, which is what they would do if they were president.

In the minds of these people, Republicans and others who did not vote for Obama were actively supporting the murder of innocent people, including children, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many people (and religious leaders) have a knee-jerk reaction to be kind and charitable without thinking through cause and effect.

That's one reason why "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

I see the overwhelming support of Obama in my little corner of the world as a BAD thing, but I also think only Omnipotent God can weigh the motives of the human heart against the expected or unexpected consequences of those motives.

We the people... said...

Being Christian and voting for Pro-Choice Democrats does not compute. Real Christians should vote Conservative or, if they must, Pro-Life Democrats (if they can find one).

Trestin said...

I have asked a similar question. I do not know how Latter-Day Saints can know the clear teachings of Ezra Taft Benson on socialism, and support Obama's agenda.

Opus #6 said...

Many Obama voters convinced themselves he was a moderate and would move toward the middle as president. They did not vote for socialism or communism. I do not blame them for his radicalism, as we have been raised as a lackadaisical nation of voters. I am thankful for all of the concerned citizens I see now who care very much.

And all of the reading/blogging is great for educating people, even about abortion. I pray that hearts are opened to the rights of the unborn to life.

Dan Trabue said...

I'd hope that one day we all could move beyond this, "I can't imagine someone being a Christian and voting for..." stage.

We are a flawed humanity - this is one of Christianity's basic tenets. We have a limited genius - this is one of conservatism's basic tenets. We don't always know right and wrong fully well. We have sincere disagreements on moral issues all the time. It's a basic condition of humanity - we don't agree.

Generally speaking, when we don't agree, it's NOT that some want to choose evil and therefore, deliberately disagree with those who are seeking good. No, rather, we believe something good and are simply mistaken about it, or at least we might think "it's not that bad..." and dally in wishy washy-ness, but still not be deliberately seeking to do evil.

As Camus said, “The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.”

Or, Mary Wollstonecraft, "No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks."

So, having said that, I and probably 90% of the people at my church and in my Christian circles that I travel, probably voted for Obama (and 8% probably voted for the Green Party candidate...). We don't think that those who voted for the GOP are evil, nor do we think that they are deliberately embracing evil.

We think that they mistakenly think that the GOP is a better way to have a good gov't.

We tend to think that the Democratic and/or Green Parties are the best chance of having a least-awful gov't.

And perhaps that's true of many GOP-ers, too.

We recognize that gov't is a flawed institution, made up of flawed human beings. Just like corporations, factories, militaries, libraries and churches, synagogues and mosques.

We are an imperfect people with an imperfect and incomplete knowledge of right and wrong.

cont'd...

Dan Trabue said...

That being the case, in MY faith tradition (which is more in line with anabaptism - the Amish and Mennonites), we don't have a concept of "mortal sin." We believe in grace. We believe that sometimes, in our imperfect heads, we will mistakenly assume a "bad" activity is good. We believe good, decent conservative Christians who oppose gay marriage, for instance, are embracing a moral bad - in the way they treat our gay brothers and sisters, in their blocking of a moral good (marriage) for them - and doing much harm by that.

Nonetheless, we don't think they are deliberately choosing evil, just that they are mistaken. And on that judgment day, we don't believe God will say to them, "You were MISTAKEN! SHAME on you for your cruelty and the harm you've done! Go to hell!"

No, we believe God's grace covers our sins, even our unintentional and unrecognized sins. We believe that is what the Bible teaches and what makes most sense. This is a fairly universal protestant point of view on that issue. Do you disagree with that?

If so, what sins do you all say are "mortal sins," for which there is no forgiveness - even if committed in sincere ignorance?

Dan Trabue said...

Opus said...

And all of the reading/blogging is great for educating people, even about abortion.

This is true, but it does require that we actually engage in rational and respectful conversation, don't you think? And part of that is answering questions asked, to help clarify one's position, right?

I've had an awful lot of experience where this sort of communication - Left to Right and back - has been difficult. There seems to be chips on the shoulders of many people, ready for a fight and ready to demonize right away, rather than simply converse.

Do you all think we can learn to communicate in meaningful ways, ways that helps in understanding our fellow citizens and fellow Christians - even the ones with different backgrounds?

MK said...

Given how excitable obama gets about killing the unborn, you'd have to be a pretty weird sort of Christian to support him. Perhaps an attendee of the church of reverend wright.

Teresa said...

Dan,
If one believes that murder is evil, and abortion is the murder of innocent human life how can one in good conscience support someone that supports and advocates of abortion, which is evil?

'I'd hope that one day we all could move beyond this, "I can't imagine someone being a Christian and voting for..." stage.'

"Moving beyond this", as you put it would be to deny the reality of abortion and to accept a philosophy of moral relativism and bargaining with the devil where one finds something "good" about the person to justify his/her vote for a person who supports a bad or an evil act --abortion- Obama is the most pro-abortion president in history.

Abortion is a deal breaker for myself. But, if any person who claims to be Christian votes for a politician who supports abortion, they are in fact committing a sin. Yes, that person can be forgiven but one must learn from past mistakes and avoid (to the best of their ability) committing that mistake over and over again.

"We are a flawed humanity - this is one of Christianity's basic tenets. We have a limited genius - this is one of conservatism's basic tenets. We don't always know right and wrong fully well. We have sincere disagreements on moral issues all the time. It's a basic condition of humanity - we don't agree."

I agree.

Dan Trabue said...

If one believes that murder is evil, and abortion is the murder of innocent human life how can one in good conscience support someone that supports and advocates of abortion, which is evil?

1. Not everyone agrees that abortion is the murder of innocent human life.

2. Most of us have reasons that we think killing is acceptable. Most conservative Christians think killing our enemies - even the children of our enemies (as in Hiroshima) is a good and righteous thing. Am I right?

3. Do YOU think that Hiroshima was an act of terrorism and an atrocity that Christians should not have taken part in or supported, or do you support it even though we deliberately targeted civilians and innocent children and babies?

4. In this fallen world, we all have less than clear lines we address. As an anabaptist/ peacemaker Christian, I can't in good conscience vote for a war-monger for president, just a a pro-life Christian, you don't feel you can support someone who does not oppose abortion. Nonetheless, we can extend the same grace that God extends each of us and say to one another, "I know it's not easy making some of these judgment calls and we must all follow our conscience, by God's grace, as best we can."

5. Should the anabaptist and other peaceable Christians be in the business of denouncing all conservative Christians who vote Republican, simply because they tend to be more hawkish? Or, should we extend grace and the benefit of the doubt?

I'm curious to hear your answers to some of these questions.

Also, I'd be interested in hearing your answer to these earlier questions...

No, we believe God's grace covers our sins, even our unintentional and unrecognized sins. We believe that is what the Bible teaches and what makes most sense. This is a fairly universal protestant point of view on that issue. Do you disagree with that?

If so, what sins do you all say are "mortal sins," for which there is no forgiveness - even if committed in sincere ignorance?

Thanks.

Peace.

Kevin T. Rice said...

Dan,

Not all moral "mistakes" are subjectively innocent. Sometimes we are consciously aware that we should have known better. Sometimes one has a duy to know better. One cannot evade moral culpability for sin by escaping into willed ignorance. That is bad faith. When one is "simply mistaken", there is no sin, but it is far from the case that all or even most mistakes in moral reasoning are simple, innocent miscalcuations.

Moving on:

Why don't you write a post in your own blog about Hiroshima and we can discuss that there. While you're commenting here, why not stick to the subject. Is abortion murder or is it not? It is irrelevant that not everyone agrees on this issue. There is no issue that I know of that can boast universal agreement. But Teresa used a conditional statement - IF. If it is murder then voting for those who support it is evil, and to the extent that one knows what abortion is, support for its legality is no less sinful than support for legal slavery was before the end of the Civil War. Can you dispute that? Or will you dispute that abortion is murder and instead imply, as you seem to be doing, that it is justified killing? How would you justify the killing of an innocent baby in the womb, growing, sucking its thumb, developing, feeling, and waiting to be born?

Kevin (The Naked Ontologist

Dan Trabue said...

Sometimes we are consciously aware that we should have known better. Sometimes one has a duty to know better. One cannot evade moral culpability for sin by escaping into willed ignorance.

Agreed.

And yet, in my case and in the case of the majority of folk at my church, we come to our positions by way of striving to find God's will. I come to support gay marriage simply because I sought God's will on that topic and that is where I sincerely fall.

And I'm willing to believe that for most Christian Conservatives who support warring, they come by that position honestly and sincerely - as much as it boggles my mind and as much as I have a hard time believing it, I DO believe that they sincerely believe, for instance, Hiroshima was a good thing.

My point being that we simply can't rule someone out as a Christian simply because of how they vote. We, Christians - and other folk, too - reach our ethical decisions after genuine soul-searching typically.

That was all I was getting to. In other words, God is not a Democrat. Nor a Republican.

Dan Trabue said...

While you're commenting here, why not stick to the subject. Is abortion murder or is it not?

The subject, I thought, is "Christianity and Voting for Obama: Compatible" - at least according to the title. She wrote on that topic using the instance of abortion, but I presumed the title was the point of the post.

Do you want me to comment on the subtopic of abortion? I can, if you'd like, I was just trying to stick to the topic, and did so by offering other sticky situations that Christians of good faith might disagree upon.

Is it wrong to kill a child? Sure. It's wrong if the child is in Pittsburgh or Hiroshima, during war or peace. Seems to me.

Simple enough. Can we all agree thus far?

Moving on, then: Is a fetus a child in the full sense of the meaning? I tend to think yes. Other people tend to think no.

I have no definitive answer from God on this point. The Bible does not tell me "pre-born children are fully children in every sense of the word," nor has God ever revealed that to me.

Nonetheless, from a purely humanist and scientific point of view, I tend to think that a pre-born fetus IS a human being, deserving of the appropriate respect. My example on this front is that, if while my wife was pregnant, someone shot her and the fetus died, I would have wanted that person charged with murder.

But, at the same time, I understand that not everyone agrees with me, just like not everyone agrees with me that Hiroshima was mass murder and terrorism on history's grandest scale. However, just because fellow Christians don't agree with me, I don't feel justified in calling them "killers" or "not Christian."

I understand that some topics are difficult to decide what is and isn't right. I try to side on the side of grace on this point.

You?

Dan Trabue said...

Teresa used a conditional statement - IF. If it is murder then voting for those who support it is evil

1. Clearly, abortion is not legally a murder, by our laws.

2. So, the question is: Does GOD consider abortion murder? The answer for me is, I don't know. God has not told me and, so far as I know, God has not told you.

3. Similarly for Hiroshima, I don't know that God condemns that sort of attack as murder or as genocide or as terrorism. I just know that I think it obviously wrong.

4. I'm not "god enough" to speak for God on points that God has not spoken. Are you?

5. Returning to the Hiroshima moral quandary - I wonder why you would not want to address tricky moral questions here. Is abortion a tricky moral question with no clear "GOD SAYS" clarity on its morality? Yes. Is attacking cities a la Hiroshima a tricky moral question with no clear "GOD SAYS" clarity on its morality? Yes.

6. The world is, unfortunately, full of issues where a clear moral answer is lacking and where even Christians of good faith may disagree. That does not mean we ought not hold strong opinions on these topics or work towards what WE BELIEVE the right answer is, I don't think. It just means, I think, that we ought to allow the same grace towards one another that God allows towards us.

7. If we have to be right on every moral issue in order to be saved, who among us can stand up and say, "Yes, I am wise and holy and righteous enough to always be right?"

Anyone?

Dan Trabue said...

How would you justify the killing of an innocent baby in the womb, growing, sucking its thumb, developing, feeling, and waiting to be born?

Sorry for the many comments, but Kevin has asked many questions and raised many points and I'm trying not to leave questions unaddressed (I'd appreciate the same consideration if it's possible - understanding that we all have limited time...)

1. I think an unborn child is a human being and probably ought to have most or all the rights that any other human being ought to have.

2. I also think that families have the obligation and responsibility for making medical decisions for themselves - not imposed by some Big Gov't entity.

3. IF a horrible accident were to happen and I was no longer aware (I was in a vegetative state), I would not want to prolong my life. I don't fear death, for it just leads to the Life Beyond. I've made my wishes known to my wife. IF I were in that position, I would hope my family would honor my wishes and allow me to die, rather than prolong my life artificially.

I WANT MY FAMILY FREE TO MAKE THAT DECISION, not some gov't entity. It's an individual liberty and small gov't issue for me.

4. Similarly, while I can see few if any circumstances in which we would have opted for an abortion, I understand that there are times where a loving parent may think the best thing for the child is to allow that life to end. Such a decision would (should) be as heartbreaking to that family as the decision to allow a vegetative loved one to die.

My heart goes out to those who have reached such a place and I'd hope that I could be there in the most helpful way possible for any friends in such a place. But I want that decision to be the family's and their supportive community, not the gov't's.

That is roughly my position on this difficult, difficult subject.

Teresa said...

Dan,
"Generally speaking, when we don't agree, it's NOT that some want to choose evil and therefore, deliberately disagree with those who are seeking good."

Most of the time that is true, but there are those people that know what they are doing is evil and do that particular evil anyway, and refuse to listen to God out of their own selfishness. There are also those that advocate for evil, and spread evil because they believe in evil. I don't call abortion a "wishy washy" issue. Preborn babies are innocent human beings that don't deserve the pain of dying just because they do not have the capacity to speak for themselves.
Do you realize what the primary purpose of marriage is? If you do, then you should understand why some people believe that gay "marriage" would be a perversion of the meaning of marriage. It is simply impossible for gay couples to have an openness to procreate naturally. The primary purpose of marriage is to procreate. That doesn't mean that the marriages of heterosexual couples who have not conceived a child is any less of a marriage though. These marriages had the possibility and always had an openness to the possibility of procreating but gays do not have this capacity. I have no problem with civil unions and think gays deserve the same rights such as medical insurance, hospital visitation etc. but without violating the sanctity of marriage.

CONT...

Teresa said...

Dan,
"No, we believe God's grace covers our sins, even our unintentional and unrecognized sins. We believe that is what the Bible teaches and what makes most sense. This is a fairly universal protestant point of view on that issue. Do you disagree with that?"

But, does God's grace give you permission to deliberately commit the same sin over and over again or violate the Ten Commandments over and over again? Shouldn't one strive to learn from their sins, avoid that/those sins, instead of acting like you have a blank slate all because of grace? There are distinctions between actions that are right and wrong, and between immoral and moral and one must not use the consequences of a situation to dictate what is right and wrong. There are moral absolutes that if you violate, are considered sins. If one violates those moral absolutes then one must repent and make reconciliation with God but they must also be willing to accept responsibility for one's actions at the same time. God forgives, but he also preaches that one must take responsibility for one's actions or for their sinning against God also.

For a sin to be mortal it must meet these conditions:
Mortal sin is a sin of grave matter
Mortal sin is committed with full knowledge of the sinner
Mortal sin is committed with deliberate consent of the sinner


Mortal sins include:
Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-20).

Continued...

Teresa said...

Dan,
More mortal sins: The voluntary murder (Genesis 4:10)
The sin of impurity against nature –Sodomy and homosexual relations (Genesis 18:20)
Taking advantage of the poor (Exodus 2:23)
Defrauding the workingman of his wages (James 5:4)

pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth (acedia).

The Church also tells us that the sins of anger, blasphemy, envy, hatred, malice, murder, neglect of Sunday obligation, sins against faith (incredulity against God or heresy), sins against hope (obstinate despair in the hope for salvation and/or presumption that oneself can live without God or be saved by one’s own power) and sins against love (indifference towards charity, ingratitude, and/or hatred of God) also constitute grave matter. This list of grave sins, is based on Jesus Christ’s interpretation of the gravity of the Ten Commandments.

All Sins can be forgiven :


A person who repents of their sin, intends to live a new life of grace, and receives the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be forgiven of all their sins (mortal sins in particular must be confessed in the Sacrament). Our sins can be forgiven, because Jesus Christ paid for the price of human sin by dying on the cross for the redemption of humanity. Jesus Christ, true man and true God, was the perfect sacrifice for human sin and as a result saved those who are baptized, repent and believe in him.

Because a baptized Christian can still sin, Christ instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus gave the power to forgive sins in his name to the Church. He told his apostles, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained" (John 20:22–23). This means that the apostles and their successors, the priests and bishops of the Catholic Church, can forgive sins in Jesus’ name.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Teresa. Where you said...

Do you realize what the primary purpose of marriage is?

I did not know that God nor anyone else had given a "primary purpose" of marriage. In fact, God has not done so - not in the Bible anyway.

What is your hunch on the matter? To have children? If so, you are welcome to that hunch, but do you mind if other God-fearing, rational people make up their own minds about what marriage's "primary purpose" is?

More later...

Dan Trabue said...

Teresa said...

does God's grace give you permission to deliberately commit the same sin over and over again or violate the Ten Commandments over and over again? Shouldn't one strive to learn from their sins, avoid that/those sins, instead of acting like you have a blank slate all because of grace?

No, God's grace does not give us permission to deliberately sin. God forbid!, I believe Paul said.

But are you understanding the point I'm making? I'm not saying, "We think this behavior is a sin and we want to engage in it anyway and rely upon God's grace to save us." You ARE understanding that, right?

What I am saying is, "We have studied this issue/behavior/action, seeking to find God's will and only to walk in Jesus' steps by God's grace, and our conclusion is "X" is NOT a sin, but a good thing." Whatever "X" might be.

I'm not talking about committing a sin and relying upon grace to cover our sins, I'm talking about having a difference of opinion on whether or not a particular behavior IS a sin.

If YOU THINK that condemning gay marriage is a good and right thing to do, then you die, get to heaven and God says to you, "sigh, my child, who put you in charge of deciding who does and doesn't get married? Your actions caused pain and division and harm..." I tend to think that the next sentence would be, "...and yet I know your heart, I know you did this sin in ignorance and my grace covers your ignorant sin, enter into my kingdom child..."

THAT is the point I'm making - that being fallible human beings, we will sometimes sin unaware. We will do action X that WE think is a moral good, and yet we may find out that we were wrong. It happens.

cont'd...

Dan Trabue said...

So, looking at your parameters for mortal sin...

For a sin to be mortal it must meet these conditions:
Mortal sin is a sin of grave matter
Mortal sin is committed with full knowledge of the sinner


It would seem that your sinning in error (or MY sinning in error) is NOT a mortal sin, by your definition, since it would not be with the "full knowledge of the sinner," if you (or I) truly thought we were not doing wrong.

Am I understanding you correctly?

If so, then those of us who have sought God's will and reached the conclusion that gay marriage (for instance) is a good and blessed thing, IF we were to find out that we were mistaken (and I don't think we are), we would not have made a "mortal sin," just a sin.

Am I understanding you correctly?

Just a few follow ups, then:

What makes a sin, "grave"? I would think something like supporting the bombing of Hiroshima - an action where lives were destroyed and harmed, an action with serious real world consequences - THAT would be a grave sin, as in the definition: Fraught with danger or harm.

In that case, I don't see how being mistaken about gay marriage could be considered "grave" in any way.

I do understand how being mistaken about abortion could be grave, in that sense.

But in your view, are there any parameters for defining "grave?"

Also, on what biblical basis do you distinguish between mortal sins and other sins? I gather this is a Catholic church teaching, right? Where do Catholic theologians get this notion, as it doesn't seem to have biblical support, as far as I can recall (and I'm pretty familiar with the Bible).

Thanks!

Kevin T. Rice said...

1 of 3

Dan,

You wrote a great deal, and though I want to address everything adequately, I also want to be brief so we don't get bogged down. So please let me know if I neglect some point that you particularly wanted me to address.

Since your God-given moral intuition tells you that the child in the womb is a human being, I don't see why you would want to quibble about the term "murder" and the status of laws which allow the legal killing of that child. Murder was murder before the U.S. passed laws against. Murder is still murder would remain murder even if all legal prohibitions against homicide were lifted. Killing an innocent child is a very despicable kind of murder, and making it legal only makes the state formally complicit in the act.

Your understanding of mortal sin, and of the requirement that those who commit it must be doing so in full knowlegde in order to qualify is correct. But if one is operating in bad faith and willfully ignores evidence that one knows would convince one of the truth, the deliberations and conclusions of his self-mutilated conscience do not excuse him. Just because one seems, even to himself, to lack full knowledge, does not mean he really lacks it. Full knowledge need not be comprehensive in order to be full, it need only be adequate. Nevertheless, we who are not God are in no position to declare definitively that such a thing is happening in any given instance with this or that Omama voter. As for ruling someone out as a Christian, that is not so straightforward either, but Christ did give the Church the authority to define what Christianity is and what it is not, and to excommunicate unrepentant heretics.

Kevin T. Rice said...

2 of 3

According to our Lord Jesus, God defined marriage right at the beginning, in Genesis (Matthew 19:4). From Genesis 1 & 2 we can derive a normative description of the institution, and also discern abberations from the norm:

1. Marriage involves one man and one woman - a husband and a wife.
2. It is the foundation of a new family unit ("therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife" - note that Adam did not have a mother and father, so this is not a description. The language is entirely prescriptive).
3. The two shall become "basar echad" - לְבָשָׂר אֶחָֽד׃ , that is One Flesh.
4. The two are blessed by God to "be fruitful and multiply", which is what the terms "husband" and "wife" are all about. That is the meaning of the words - they are normative and socially sanctioned procreators. As he saying goes (some gay activist coined the phrase, I cannot recall who he was), "marriage is for breeders." This does not disqualify couples whom God chooses not bless with children (e.g. Abraham and Sarah for the first several decades of their marriage), but it does make procreation the normative purpose of the institution and the only reason why the state (which cannot yet manufacture new citizens in labs) has any interest in the institution at all.

Same sex couples can stimulate each other's genitals and stick them in various orifices for pleasure, but they cannot become "one flesh" - they cannot join their bodies in such a way as render it possible for them to perform an important biological function, that of reproduction. They cannot be frutiful and multiply. Abberations of the one man one woman as husband and wife norm for marriage include same-sex coupling, polyandery, polyamory and polygamy. These are in descending order of their abberation. Men who marry many women can father many children and make all his wives mothers. But the women will be at odds with eachother and compete with each other for the a mere portion affections of the man,and thus th eman is necessarily cheating each of his wives whatis due to all of them: all of him. Women who marry many men cannot become conceive all those men's children at once. People who marry multiple people are not forming a coherent family unit and any children who are concieved will at bets be ambiguously parented, and the fathers will feel less responsible for the children that are born to such "mariages" than the mother.

Marriage is fundamentally about a man and a woman who pledge to God and the rest of human society that they wish to form a unit, and is asks the rest of society for its consent to this union for the sole reason that, as a result of this union, God may create a new soul and society may be increased. Society has a right to be informed and even to have a chance to say No to that proposal: “If anyone knows of any reason why this union should not take place, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.”

Kevin T. Rice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin T. Rice said...
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Kevin T. Rice said...
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Kevin T. Rice said...

3 of 3

While more can probably be said with regard to the biblical case for mortal sin than I am going to say here, for brevity's sake. I will draw your attention, Dan, to the fact that the very term is a quote from an English Bible that is older than the King James version, namely the Douay-Rheims. You can find it in 1 John 5:16-17. It was a translation of ἁμαρτία πρὸς θάνατον (hamartia pros thanatos). Later English Bibles call it "the sin that leads to death". In that passage, John says that sins that are not so serious can be forgiven when we pray for that sinner, but not the "hamartia pros thanatos". Forgiveness of moral sin cannot be mediated by someone else's prayer to God on behalf of the sinner. That sinner must repent himself and confess. St. Paul candidly tells us how he disciplines his body in order to avoid such a sin that would "disqualify" him from salvation (1 Corinthians 9:27). Paul is very clear that salvation once won can be lost through sin. That is why you are to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12) and he warns us as follows: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Cor 10:12). That is, fall "from grace" (Galatians 5:4). The Epistle to the Hebrews references this in chapters 4:1 and in Hebrews 6:4-6, the inspired author goes into detail. The danger of mortal sin is why our Lord told us we must "endure to the end" to be saved. Matthew 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13.

Kevin T. Rice said...

Addendum - errata

Murder is still murder would remain murder even if all legal prohibitions against homicide were lifted.

change that to:

Murder is still murder and would remain murder even if all legal prohibitions against homicide were lifted.

They cannot be frutiful and multiply. Abberations of the one man one woman as husband and wife norm for marriage include same-sex coupling, polyandery, polyamory and polygamy. These are in descending order of their abberation

change to: They cannot be fruitful and multiply. Aberrations of the One-Man-One-Woman-As-Husband-And-Wife norm for marriage include same-sex coupling, polyandery, polyamory and polygamy. These are in descending order of their aberration.

Men who marry many women can father many children and make all his wives mothers. But the women will be at odds with eachother and compete with each other for the a mere portion affections of the man,and thus th eman is necessarily cheating each of his wives whatis due to all of them: all of him. Women who marry many men cannot become conceive all those men's children at once. People who marry multiple people are not forming a coherent family unit and any children who are concieved will at bets be ambiguously parented, and the fathers will feel less responsible for the children that are born to such "mariages" than the mother.

change to: A man who marries many women can father many children and make all his wives mothers. But the women will be at odds with each other and compete with each other for a mere portion of the affections of the man, and thus the man is necessarily cheating each of his wives out of what is due to all of them: all of him. Women who marry many men cannot become conceive all those men's children at once. People who marry multiple partners are not forming a coherent family unit and any children who are conceived will at best be ambiguously parented, and the fathers will feel less responsible for the children that are born to such "mariages" than the mothers

Marriage is fundamentally about a man and a woman who pledge to God and the rest of human society that they wish to form a unit

change to: Marriage is fundamentally about a man and a woman who pledge to God and the rest of human society that they wish to form a family unit.

Kevin T. Rice said...

one more addendum: At one point I refer to mortal sin as "moral sin":

Forgiveness of moral sin cannot be mediated by someone else's prayer to God on behalf of the sinner.

Oops. That should have been MORTAL sin.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks for the thoughts, I'll respond as soon as I get a chance.

Dan Trabue said...

I really don't have time to delve too much more into this, but let me just address this, where Kevin says...

According to our Lord Jesus, God defined marriage right at the beginning, in Genesis

I understand that this is what SOME folk think, that MANY think that God "defined" marriage in Genesis and that "definition" can only be understood as "THIS AND ONLY THIS is what God allows in Marriage."

But some of us disagree with your take on that passage. We desire to follow God's will, we take the Bible seriously, we read it's pages, researching and praying for God's will to be done and in the end, we don't conclude that that one passage (which Jesus does echo) means, "THIS AND ONLY THIS is what marriage means."

The problem, it seems to us, is that this is an excessively wooden and literal interpretation of an idea which the Bible does not clearly stake out a position upon.

If we take ANY ONE passage out of the Bible and say, "Because this passage is in the Bible, then THIS AND ONLY THIS understanding of that phrase/passage is the only God-approved understanding." I imagine you could agree with that concept.

For instance, if I point to a passage that says, "disrespectful children should be put to death," and my conclusion is "THIS AND ONLY THIS understanding of that passage is the only God-approved understanding: that we must kill disrespectful children."

The Bible is more nuanced than that. Some passages are fairly clear and universal, others are not so much.

Are we agreed upon that notion of biblical exegesis, at least?

Dan Trabue said...

And where I state...

"We desire to follow God's will, we take the Bible seriously, we read it's pages, researching and praying for God's will to be done..."

That is not an indication of what you call, "bad faith and willfully ignor[ing] evidence." I am seeking God's will. I have read "the evidence" on the topic of gay marriage, for instance and have reached a conclusion in GOOD faith that is contrary to yours, not ignoring any evidence at all.

Do you see how that is possible, even if you don't agree with our conclusions?

Kevin T. Rice said...

To Dan Trabue, with little thanks and less sympathy -

"I understand that this is what SOME folk think, that MANY think that God 'defined' marriage in Genesis and that 'definition' can only be understood as 'THIS AND ONLY THIS is what God allows in Marriage.'...But some of us disagree with your take on that passage."

On what basis other than the fact that Some Of You can't make Matthew 19 and Genesis 1-2 compatible with your liberal theology and your I-just-sit-and-meditate-and-sincerely-ask God-to-tell-oh-so-special-me-something-totally-at odds-with what-He-has-already-revealed-to-everyone method

If only God had people like you around when He inspired scripture, perhaps unenlightened, hateful, bigoted passages like these would never have shown up in scripture. Too bad you weren't there to set Him straight!

" if I point to a passage that says, 'disrespectful children should be put to death,' and my conclusion is 'THIS AND ONLY THIS understanding of that passage is the only God-approved understanding: that we must kill disrespectful children.'...The Bible is more nuanced than that. Some passages are fairly clear and universal, others are not so much....Are we agreed upon that notion of biblical exegesis, at least?"

Don't look for agreement from me on general, absract principles until you hunker down and deal adequately with the specific, concrete arguments and evidence already presented instead of wasting your time and mine with all this handwaving. You want to walk to talk exegesis (Like Aitch-EE-Double-Hockey-Sticks you do!)?? Well get to it and let's compare nuances! You can hunt down some passage in Leviticus or Deuteronomy that never had any proper Christian application, nor did it apply to anyone outside of theocratic Israel under the Mosaic Law of the Old Covenant, and then try to apply some "nuance" to the fact that when Jesus is asked about divorce He compares the practice, and its use under Mosaic Law, with God's original intention regarding "the situation between a husband and wife" and whether or not "it is better not to marry", in creating man "male and female". (Matthew 19:4-6,10)

Dan Trabue said...

Kevin...

On what basis other than the fact that Some Of You can't make Matthew 19 and Genesis 1-2 compatible with your liberal theology

For the record, I was a conservative when I changed my view. Currently, I am anabaptist (Amish, Mennonite) in tradition, but I'd say a progressive anabaptist. I'm not a classically Liberal Christian, for your information.

Regardless, it was not "liberal" ideology that caused me to change my position from anti-gay marriage to pro-gay marriage. It was, as noted, on the basis of Bible study and prayer, as I have said.

Kevin...

If only God had people like you around when He inspired scripture, perhaps unenlightened, hateful, bigoted passages like these would never have shown up in scripture. Too bad you weren't there to set Him straight!

You appear to be getting upset or emotional in response to my questions, comments. I apologize if I've said something to cause that.

Speaking for myself, I do not find these passages you reference to indicate bigotry or hatefulness. I find them to be indicative of the times that they lived in. I don't think passages speaking of men/women in marriage anymore bigoted than I do passages speaking of slavery or polygamy.

God does not need me, or you, to set the record straight. Fair enough?

As to your last paragraph, I'm sorry, but I'm unclear as to what it is you're asking. I am interested in your exegesis, it's why I asked. I am interested in finding out where we agree as a starting point to figure out where we disagree. Does that seem reasonable to you, like a good way to begin some Christian communication?

I've always found it helpful to find out what common ground I have with someone with whom I have a disagreement before moving on to figure out where we disagree.

We agree, then, that marriage is a good thing. It is better to marry than burn with passion, indeed.

Are we also agreed that it is not good biblical exegesis to take one or two passages out and say, "This and only this is the proper way to interpret these passages," without further consideration to the Bible as a whole?

Do we also agree that it's not good to presume to speak for God, what God has not said?

Dan Trabue said...

Kevin...

You want to walk to talk exegesis (Like Aitch-EE-Double-Hockey-Sticks you do!)??

I wonder what would cause you to say something like this?

Kevin T. Rice said...

Can we agree about this? Can we agree about that? Can we agree about a wiffle ball bat? PLEASE! Interpret the passages and show me how the exegesis I have already given is wrong! If you can! Show me how Jesus wasn't teaching that man was made for woman and woman for man and that marriage was a lifelong union of man and woman! He was correcting a misunderstanding of the "lifelong" part of it, and the other part is addressed to you.

Dan Trabue said...

Show me how Jesus wasn't teaching that man was made for woman and woman for man and that marriage was a lifelong union of man and woman!

I thought I was pretty clear. I agree that a man and woman being married is a very good thing. I believe in marriage. I believe in fidelity, in family, in love.

I'm not sure exactly what you're wanting me to say.

Let me return to four points you made earlier on this front.

You said...

1. Marriage involves one man and one woman - a husband and a wife.

I agree. In Genesis it speaks of this and later, with Jesus (who was speaking of divorce, responding to Pharisees who were testing him about divorcing for "any and every reason"), he said,

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'?

Jesus believed that marriage was intended to unite a man and a woman and that ideally, they would stay together. During that day, it was not uncommon for a man to divorce his wife willy nilly for not much reason, placing her in financial peril. It was a matter of justice for the wives that Jesus seemed to be especially concerned for, seems to me.

But, does that passage (or the Genesis passage) say, "This and only this is a legitimate marriage"? No, it doesn't. In fact, we can see that OTHER forms of marriage (specifically polygamy) were allowed for then, as it was a culturally accepted norm. Also, it wasn't marriage in the exact same sense as today, they tended to be more arranged and the women tended to have less say in any of it, as I understand it.

For instance, there's the place where God tells Israel to go in and destroy a nation, leaving no one alive (not even the young boys) EXCEPT for the virgin girls, who could be taken home and wed.

Well, THAT is hardly what we would call today a healthy marriage model, I'd hope we could agree. But it appeared to be accepted back then. It was a different time and culture. We no longer (most of us) have any respect for the polygamy model or the forced marriage model that was acceptable back then.

All of that to say, this passage does not say, "This and only this - one man and one woman - is God-approved." It just doesn't. And the context of the rest of the Bible makes it clear that it WASN'T only "this and only this."

So, before moving on to the other three points, what you think so far?

And beyond that, the point of this post isn't really "What is your biblical position on gay marriage?" but "Is Christianity compatible with voting for Obama?"

And my point for raising the gay marriage thing was to say that some times Christians disagree on topics. That doesn't mean that you aren't a Christian because you disagree with me or vice versa.

And that led to what Teresa and I discussed, can we be mistaken on some "sin" or "not sin" and still be saved? It being my contention that obviously we can. We are fallible human beings and entirely capable of being wrong. That's why being saved by God's GRACE is so vital. It's why it's vital that we live into that grace, showing that same sort of grace towards our fellow believers that God shows towards us.

You think I'm mistaken on gay marriage or abortion? Well, okay. I think you're mistaken, too. But that happens. What you think is "obvious," I don't find obvious at all, and vice versa. We're humans, fallen from perfection.

I'm glad to continue the sideline about gay marriage/marriage if you'd like, but I'm trying to get more to the heart of the post here and try to reach some understanding - if not total agreement - on when we can and can't disagree. Does that sound reasonable?

Kevin T. Rice said...

"But, does that passage (or the Genesis passage) say, "This and only this is a legitimate marriage"? No, it doesn't. In fact, we can see that OTHER forms of marriage (specifically polygamy) were allowed for then"

Good, we're finally getting into this. No, they weren't allowed for with Adam - Cain's descendants started that, and Jesus doesn't allow for it either. So you're saying that Jesus, if He wasn't ok with two men marrying, or (since you bring up polygamy), for that matter, all six of the original members of the Village People, being married to each other, He should have said, "Oh, by the way, fellas -- there isn't any marrying of each other, I hope you know that -- no sanctified sodomy." I think your position is ridiculous on its face. Have you ever heard of a rational inference? If Christ's words were not to be rightly understood as excluding other forms of marriage, why did the Church Christ founded abandon polygamy (as well as the licitness of divorce) pretty much from the apostolic age?

The complementarity of the sexes in marriages is an essential aspect of it, not an accidental or arbitrary accessory. It is oriented to procreation, which same sex couples are BY NATURE unable to do. So same sex unions can not be the same in category as the relationship that man and woman were made for. We already have a concept of marriage an dthat word to refer to it. Broadening either to include just any relationship drains it of its distinctive meaning, effectively eliminating it as a meaningful institution. That is not something that you can easily be innocently mistaken about. BTW, to my knowledge, Obama is not mistaken about that. He is still, a least officially, against same sex marriage, as far as I know. Similarly, it is not easy to be innocently mistaken about murdering babies in the womb before thye even have the chance to draw their first breath of air.