Sacramento Presbytery: About marriage and the battle in and for the church

traditionalBy Viola Larson

In the May newsletter of the Presbytery of Sacramento our General Presbyter, Rev. Jay Wilkins  has written a message about the debate going on in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on same sex marriage. He is very polite and straight forward about it and I appreciate that, but I am bothered that Wilkins refers to it as a ‘fuss.’ I think that perhaps he and others, particularly the progressives in the denomination do not understand the seriousness felt by many of the orthodox Christians on this matter. [1]
 It isn’t just about marriage; instead it is about the authority of Scripture. It is also about Christology. And yes, it is also about morality. It is all tied together. When Jesus spoke about marriage, in the context of divorce, he went straight to the heart of the matter. He bypassed all of his religious peer’s arguments and went to the beginning of the story of God’s creation of marriage.  Because God created a woman to be a companion to a man, the model is set with glorious consequences:
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
Jesus uses this beautiful picture to explain why, except in the case of immorality, there is to be no divorce.  To disobey the text is to disobey the Lord. But the door of mercy is wide. After Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:9 names many of the sins of his day, including homosexuality, he lists what God in Jesus Christ has done for the sinner, which we all are:
Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”



Comments 21

  • “and Peter confronted the wicked men who put Jesus to death in Acts”
    You’re identifying the centurion with whom Peter ate (Acts 10:22-48) with the centurion who oversaw the crucifixion (Mark 15:39-44). “In Acts” is a slip for “with axes.” They hammered the Lord to the cross with pickaxes. But the Golgotha centurion accepted the Lord before the resurrection (Luke 23:47), while Cornelius received the Holy Ghost afterwards with the rest of his house. Are you saying that the baptism in Acts 10:48 was salvatory? That’s heresy from the Reformed perspective.

  • Mr. Fincke,
    Seldom in all my years do I have to witness such a perverse assessment of Scripture as your “interpretation.” Nothing in your analysis comes, even close, to Reformed Theology (or what R. C. Sproull calls covenantal theology). In fact, your characterizations hold true to no authentic theology grounded in genuine reading of the Holy Scriptures.
    Antinomian Gnosticism best describes your antics; blended with an agenda bent on securing political correctness instead of spreading the Gospel. How sad for you and how uninformed you are. Just as Jesus had no trouble calling out the money changers (den of robbers) in the temple and Peter confronted the wicked men who put Jesus to death in Acts; I have no trouble calling you out for what you are. In times past, you would be identified as a heretic. As such, I have dismissed your opinion entirely. You seem to be well versed in worldly ways or as you describe them, “21st century reading;” however, based on your comments here, you are no follower of the Christ glorified in the Holy Scriptures. Quite frankly Mr. Fincke, I prefer the readings of our wise and obedient founding fathers over your “21st century” perspective any day, any time.

    In Him and Him alone,

  • You’ve got to remember, Mateen,
    David was like a rock star. While his magnum opus, the Psalms, hadn’t yet hit the bookstores, snippets of his work had leaked out and are visible at such places as 2 Samuel 23:1-7 and the Dead Sea psalms scroll (11Q5) columns 19-22. After the prank with the slingshot, women from all over “came out” to greet the king, but quickly changed their tune when David appeared on the scene. See 1 Sam. 18:6-7. The women, Jonathan and Saul himself were all swept away by the magic. See 1 Sam. 16:21: “And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.” Not just armourbearer, but also court musician. See verse 23: “And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.” It took Michal to cut through the charisma and see the man behind the harp. 2 Sam. 6:16: “And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.” Your portrayal of Jonathan as a sexually prolific progenitor is mistaken. (“He is told that Jonathan’s lame son, Mephibosheth still lives, and David takes him in as family, thus fulfilling his pledge to Jonathan.”) At 2 Sam. 19:24 Mephibosheth is called correctly “the son of Saul,” specifically the son Saul’s girlfriend, Rizpah, brought forth illegitimately (2 Sam. 21:8). The connection with Jonathan comes from the Hebrew tongue-twister “Mephibosheth,” which means “from my mouth shame.” All those solemn vows Jonathan made to David (1 Sam. 18:3, 20:12-17, 20:42 and 23:16-19) were so much “shame from my mouth” of the crown prince.

    • Mr. Fincke,

      I never spoke of Jonathan as a “sexually prolific progenitor,” but I did speak of Mephibosheth as his son. You point to 2 Sam 19:24 to correct me, indicating that Mephibosheth is “called correctly the son of Saul” there. Perhaps you have missed (it’s easy to do) the fact that there are two Mephibosheths in Saul’s extensive lineage — a son by Rizpah, and a grandson by Jonathan. Check out 2 Sam 21:7-8, where David rescues Jonathan’s grandson, but turns over Saul’s son to the Gibeonites to be executed as blood payment for Saul’s attempt to exterminate their clan.

      Thank you for giving me the opportunity to show even more clearly David’s vow to honor Jonathan’s descendants.

  • Dear Mateen,
    After my brother married a Greek woman, I was invited to Greece and witnessed (and experienced) males kissing males on the lips. It always sent a chill up my spine. That’s not what we’ve got here. 1 Sam. 18:3-4:
    3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.
    goes way beyond gesture. Protesting love like a husband caught with lipstick on his collar – it rings of “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Would Jonathan really strip himself naked and give his clothes to David as a sign of innocent friendship? Was his father’s throne that repulsive to him? And what about New Testament John? He wasn’t prepared to surrender his garments to the risen Lord. See Mark 1:6: “And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle.”

    • Dear Mr. Fincke,
      I continue to be amazed at your eisegesis. What in 1 Sam 18:3-4 is an innocent display of love and loyalty you take to be a striptease act. In the context of covenants being made, gifts are often given. Since Jonathan is at this point a prince and David is a relative nobody (shepherding son of Jesse who has lately be propelled into the limelight because of his fighting skills and victories), it is natural that Jonathan would be giving gifts to David rather than the reverse. The words translated as robe and garments do not imply that Jonathan was left with nothing to wear, and the word “girdle” simply means belt that both holds garments in place and serves to anchor a sword. This is reported with such nonchalance by the writer that the story is followed immediately by a line which serves as a concluding thought to the whole section: “Whatever mission Saul sent him on….”

      If you’re luxuriant interpretation were correct, one would expect a lot more explanation since such an event would have been prurient news among the Israelites.

  • Viola,
    I agree with you 100%! When a normal 21st century reader reads:
    “And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. 42 And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, The LORD be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever.”
    at 1 Sam. 20:41-42 he says, “How disgusting! Look at these faggots kissing each other and getting all emotional and ejaculating (King James: exchanging ‘seed’) behind the rock!” Luckily – and here’s the beauty of salvation – we Christians have a risen Lord who can guide us to the deeper meaning of Scripture. Just as the intercourse of David and Jonathan was fruitless in terms of producing offspring, so the nonintercourse of Joseph and Mary resulted in a Savior. While effectual love – that which brought about David’s kingship – exists only in the homosexual context, effectual coitus – which continues the sinful race called mankind – is a heterosexual prerogative.
    Happy Mothers’ Day!

    • I have never been more stunned by such an uninformed and agenda-driven reading of a biblical text than that rendered by Andrew Fincke concerning 1 Sam 20:41-42). I hope before God that he has no teaching ministry anywhere, lest innocent learners be dangerously misled.

      His principle evidence beyond kissing (which by the way is still common practice in the Middle East among men as a sign of friendship, completely non-sexual — I grew up in Saudi Arabia, where such kissing is commonplace, but where homosexual activity is punishable by death) is the writer’s statement “The LORD be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed forever” (KJV). He jumps wildly to the assumption that “seed” here must mean ejaculate, when the immediate context clearly intends “descendants.” As evidence for this, let me point out a few exegetical matters.

      First, if what David and Jonathan were doing was mingling sperm, how could Jonathan possibly be invoking God’s everlasting presence with ejaculation soon to dry up and disappear?

      Second, the larger context makes it clear that David and Jonathan want their family lines to remain faithful to each other — that is what leads David, after the slaughter of almost all Saul’s house, including Jonathan, to look for any survivors to show kindness “for Jonathan’s sake” (2 Sam 9:1ff.) He is told that Jonathan’s lame son, Mephibosheth still lives, and David takes him in as family, thus fulfilling his pledge to Jonathan.

      Third, the word “seed” (literally zera’) is capable of many meanings. In this context, “semen” is highly unlikely. Consider 1 Sam 24, where Saul comes to realize that God is going to give David the kingdom of Israel. He calls out to David, “Swear to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my “seed” after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house.” His concern obviously is for his legacy and memory through his descendants. I’m intrigued how Mr. Fincke might find anything ejaculatory here except for Saul’s outcry.

      Lastly, the word zera’ is used in so many places concerning offspring and descendants that it is difficult to consider any other meaning unless the context deals with agriculture or sexual practice (as in Leviticus for the latter meaning). How does Mr. Fincke understand Gen 3:15 — the seed of the woman at enmity with the seed of the serpent? Is Eve’s ovum going to do battle with the Ur-serpent’s spermatozoon and somehow rescue humanity? How about Gen 9:9, where God promises to establish his covenant with Noah and his “seed” after him? Or Gen 15:13, where the LORD promises Abram that his “seed” would sojourn in a foreign land, being oppressed as slaves for 400 years. That’s a long time for sperm to hang around — and who would want to enslave sperm that long? It makes our modern sperm banks seem very short-sighted….

      One could cite hundreds of other texts pointing out the same truth. See particularly Gal 3, where Paul interprets Gen 18, applying the term “Abraham’s seed” to Jesus Christ as God’s ultimate fulfillment some 2000 years later.

      Mr. Fincke is indeed reading words from the Bible in the 21st C, but he is anything but a “normal” reader. Any good reader seeks to understand a passage within its own context, not bringing his/her own agenda to the text, but allowing the evidence to speak for itself. Please, Mr. Fincke, don’t look for a deeper meaning to the Scripture until at least you have understood its intended meaning.

  • Doug: “Human sexuality isn’t that complex” is right on target. See 1 Sam. 20:41-42: “And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. 42 And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, The LORD be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city” is the most blatant homosexual account conceivable – replete woth foreplay and climax.
    Viola: “Jesus uses this beautiful picture to explain why, except in the case of immorality, there is to be no divorce” is also correct. In the face of David’s need to fulfill his divine destiny, the lovers had to test their mutual fidelity by undergoing long periods of separation. The early church – as Jim rightly notes – dealt with this “great mystery” (Eph. 5:32) by comparing “Christ and the Church” with a bridal chamber. The disciples’ despair – “it is not good to marry” (Mat. 19:10) is excessive. If you’ve joined a body of believers, “seek not to be loosed” (1 Cor. 7:27) “saving for the cause of fornication” (Mat. 5:32). The best safeguard against adultery is to divorce your wife and commit fornication. Only the most callous of sinners would indulge in both simultaneously.

    • Well Andrew, I guess you disagree with Jim about there not being that kind of sexual relationships in biblical times. (You can argue that out between yourselves.) But I have to say that your ungodly interpretation leaves no room for true friendship between men & men and women & women. What a horrible thing to face, that in order to be in that kind of friend relationship others will see you as something other than what we are. Besides that you misquoted the scripture.

      You know usually it is the Holy Spirit that guides our understanding of Scripture, but if we are looking for an interpretation to bolster our sin the dark powers of hell will oblige.

  • Jim, You have it backwards I believe. You are reading a 21st century idea ‘that the first century did not possess those who believed they were homosexual’ into to a text that shows that they did. Why don’t you take the common sense reading of scripture? The only reason I can find for your thoughts is your desire for same gender sex to be okay. You need to let scripture both judge and offer transformation.

    • Viola, I don’t know whose words you are quoting, but they are not mine. “The text shows that they did”? I have no idea what text you are referring to. As for “a common sense reading of Scripture”? If by “common sense” you mean allowing ancient prejudice to color my reading of the texts, despite the gospel’s message of love; if by “common sense” you mean reading Scripture thoughtlessly, without taking into account historical context and without thinking critically about its meaning for us today; if by “common sense” you mean choosing bigotry in response to new and more enlightened understandings of the complexity of human sexuality and the diversity of God’s creation, then I have no use for your “common” sense. And I return your question and ask you to consider why you won’t let Scripture, and Christ’s message of love, transform you?

      • What is Christ’s message? It isn’t anything goes. It’s about his sacrifice for sin and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us from a life of sin. It’s not just about letting “Christ’s message of love transform you”. It’s about Christ paying the price for the wrath of God revealed from heaven against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. That’s not to say it isn’t about God’s love, but you seem to be ignoring sin in your response. Human sexuality isn’t that complex. People were sinners then, as they are now. There isn’t really anything new. The gospel call is still to repent and believe.

  • In my military career I pulled a stint on NATO and spent some time in Sweden. Home of the state church, Church of Sweden (lutheran) which enjoys the support of taxpayers, but their churches are empty, no one attends, but do not close due to the state subsidy. The Church of Sweden ordained and recognized gay ceremonial rites 10 years ago,as well as made the definition of marriage sex and gender neutral in its constitution.

    Those religious or attending churches not of the Church of Sweden are called free-church, cultural Christians, or non-comformist by the secular majority. Substitute PCUSA for a European state church in ethos, policies, outlooks and behaviors, and it is the closest we get to a state church in America.

    It is no surprise the fastest growing religion in Sweden is not Christian, but Islamic, as true throughout most of Europe, accompanied by the raise of xenophobic-neo-Natzi parties. Such is the case in the collapse of authentic, biblical Christianity in a any culture. The PCUSA in its embrace of such social tends as the re-definition of marriage more or less parrots the secular State and its ruling elites. What is true in Sweden and Europe now, will be true here. Nature and belief abhors a vacuum.

  • Regarding Mr. Phoenix’s comment “requires you to read a 21st century interpretation into a first century text”
    Ah yes! we now have “more light” than those uneducated Christians of almost 2000 years ago.

    • Paul, we may not have more wisdom than the early Christians, but we do have more knowledge. Pity we aren’t willing to trust it.

  • The passage from Matthew 19:4-6 states more fully, “And He (Jesus) answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female, and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

    It must be understood that Jesus is quoting Himself from Genesis 2. In historic, orthodox Judeo-Christianity, the Jesus of the New Testament is the God of the Old Testament. From Genesis 1:1 to The Revelation 22:21, there is no rational way that one may conclude that there is any other kind of orientation other than male and female, and that God made them for each other. To use the Bible to defend one’s sin, demonstrates an extreme form of denial, and leaves one unrepentant, and therefore, unsaved, entangled in the old heresy of antinomianism. As Scripture states, “…there is nothing new under the sun,” just the same old “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.”

    • The fact that you equate “male and female” with sexual orientation shows how little you understand. Male and female refer to gender, not to sexual orientation. You write, “To use the Bible to defend one’s sin, demonstrates an extreme form of denial,” when it is you who are using the Bible to shelter your own ignorance. Talk about denial. Learn the science of sexual orientation and gender identity. Make some attempt to understand where LGBT people are coming from. If you are unwilling to do that, then who is the true sinner? Christ was willing to break with convention and the letter of the law when love pointed to a higher understanding. He excoriated the Pharisees who were so bound by tradition and law that there hearts were hardened.

      • I do not entertain your assertion of there being a distinction between orientation and gender. In fact, I REJECT it – there is only ONE creation, and that is ‘man for the woman, and woman for the man.’ To believe otherwise is to reject the Word of God. Please, no more psychobabble on orientation and gender. I also reject as corrupt and limited, your Aristotelian logic – the material world being the answer, the ‘hic et nunc,’ or the ‘here and now.’ (I realize that you did not say that you were Aristotelian, however, it is clear from your position). Try a little Plato, who at least observed that if there is a good chair here on earth, there is the ‘perfect’ chair in heaven. Ergo, if there is a man on earth, there is the perfect man in heaven. He got that right, the perfect God-man, Jesus Christ.

        And don’t think that it is lost on us that once you cannot persuade using the Bible, you pull out the ‘Pharisee card.’ Don’t you understand? We of the historic, orthodox, Judeo-Christian belief also REJECT the legitimacy of homosexualism (LGBTness, if you will). To us, you defending homosexualism as legitimate Bible orthodoxy, is the same as if you were trying to Biblically defend robbery, murder, and burglary. Human orthodoxy, it may well be, but not of God and His Kingdom.

        You said, “Christ was willing to break with convention and the letter of the law when love pointed to a higher understanding. He excoriated the Pharisees who were so bound by tradition and law that there hearts were hardened.”

        Christ, with the woman caught in adultery, certainly abrogated the immediate death penalty for that sin, but by no means did He overlook it. He forgave her, and told her to go, and sin no more. Jesus Christ came to be the last sacrifice for sin, and in doing so, He came to save, not to condemn, however, He told us that in due time, there would be the Judgment Day. The blatant sin of homosexualism is not one from tradition – its condemnation is from the very mouth of God. Show us ONE place where Jesus Christ made sin ‘good,’ and pointed to a higher understanding (more light?). We do not show “love” by denying truth. I do not intend to ‘love you to hell.’

        Someone above suggested that you were a “more light” type person. I recommend that you go to the True source of light, God and His Bible for not “more light,” but TRUE light, or as Francis Schaeffer put it, “TRUE truth.”

        Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…… i.e,, a spirit and soul that are cauterized by sin.
        1 Timothy 4:1&2

  • Yes, it is about Scripture, and yes — important point — Jesus was speaking in the context of divorce. Jesus was not speaking to the current “fuss,” or whatever word you want to use, regarding same-sex marriage. He spoke about marriage in the terms of the society he lived in (first century Palestine). Was he defining marriage as male-female only, once and for all time? You may believe he was, but that is your reading. It is not mine. Scripture does not tell us one way or the other. As for Paul, again, context is everything. He was speaking about same-sex behavior among non-Christian/non-Jewish cultures of his time. He was not, many would argue, speaking about homosexuality in terms of sexual orientation, as we understand it today. You have every right to believe otherwise, but to do so requires you to read a 21st-century interpretation into a first-century text. If you truly respect the Scriptures, you will tread carefully here.

    • Its obvious that you don’t believe the Bible is God’s Word, written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. If you did, you would recognize that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament.

      If you reject that, then you reject that God is all-powerful, all-knowing; is, was and will be. He knew what the current culture was like in Babel, in Sodom, in Israel, in Judea, in Greece, in Rome, and through the centuries to today, and what it will be in future.

      As far as Paul was concerned, to say he didn’t know of orientation does not explain why he talks of ‘soft ones’ in Romans. The specific Greek word used would have been understood by Greek speakers of the day as “one having an effeminate orientation”.

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