Monday, September 7, 2015

Gay Marriage

Gay Marriage
Pastor Paul Viggiano
Published 3/19/08

          Heated discussion in the State Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of Proposition 22 (the one man, one woman marriage bill passed in 2000), reinvigorates the question: Why is the Christian right so concerned about what others do in private?  And it’s not merely homosexuality. 
          At the risk of sounding self-deprecating, I confess that Christendom is extremely narrow in painting the boundaries of amorous: no premarital, no extramarital, no incestuous, no pedophilia, no gay, no lesbian, no bisexual, no polyamorous, no trans-sexual, no bigamy or polygamy, no necrophilia, no bestiality, no prostitution.  According to Christians, it’s mom, dad, junior and sis.  Departing from that is simply wrong and should not be sanctioned.      
          The Christian right opposes the type of liberty necessary for these multi-variegated sexual preferences to flourish and are, therefore, viewed as a bigoted lot.  Our culture comforts itself by assigning them with a psychological disorder and then hoping they’ll go away.  But that doesn’t seem to be happening.  Are Christians truly bigots or are there good reasons for their narrow view of what should constitute a household?
          Reasons to oppose divergent unions should not be founded upon ignorance, anger, hatred, self-righteousness, psychosis or simply because people think it’s yucky.  After twenty-five years of ministry, I’ve seen all these ugly dispositions in the church.  It’s carnal indignation and it’s wrong.  But there are good reasons for the exclusive ‘mom and dad’ criterion. 
As a Christian, I believe the declaration of Scripture (which clearly addresses the subject in question) is sufficient to arrive at an ethical conclusion.  But it is a mistake to think the ethics of Scripture are arbitrary—as if man would be happy if God would just leave him alone.  No one knows man like God knows man.  And no human counsel can elevate the soul and culture of man, like the wisdom found in God’s word.

A biblical apologetic for the traditional household:

          At creation God declared that one thing, and only one thing wasn’t good—it wasn’t good for man to be alone.  Biblical anthropology suggests something incomplete in a single gender.  The simple nature of the case is that there are two genders.  These two genders are interdependent, that is, they can’t survive without each other.  Men and women were engineered by God in such a way as to produce life.  But these physical life-giving distinctions are not the end of it.   
Men are women are emotionally and psychologically distinct as well.  Interests and temperament between the sexes is universally divergent.  And regardless of what examples one uses to demonstrate gender distinctions, it is virtually impossible for any rational person to ignore that they exist.
One reason Christians push for the traditional family is due (or at least should be due) to the recognition of gender distinctions and how they work together augmenting the spiritual and psychological well-being of children and culture.  A household which contains the necessary components to produce healthy, happy and well-balanced offspring is a household comprised of a mom and dad.  To publicly promote a model which purposefully ignores or excludes this does harm to households and the societies which households produce—it therefore becomes a public affair.  Prisons are not comprised of inmates raised by loving moms and dads.
          And even if a couple is past the child bearing age, or doesn’t intend to have (or adopt) children they still provide a model.  An eighty-year-old couple who can no longer have children (even those who never had children) still convey to their culture the substance of what generates a healthy psyche.  They are still the archetypical standard of an ideal home.
          It is occasionally argued that this ideal may become impossible if a parent dies or leaves.  But the mere assertion acknowledges that when this happens the ideal has been compromised.  It is one thing to fall short of an ideal out of necessity or neglect, it is quite another matter to alter or abandon ideals altogether.
          A final explanation, one that is less likely to be embraced by our increasingly apostate culture, is the picture given in Scripture of fathers, mothers, husbands and brides.  God calls us to view Him as a Father with the father’s attending roles of love, provision and protection.  Jesus is compared to a groom who lays down His life for His bride, the church.  It can easily be argued that human roles have, as their primary design, these pedagogical ends.  

          We can say these are private matters but they inevitably become public and work their way into the fabric of our corporate psyches.  After all, if it were truly a private matter it wouldn’t be at the State Supreme Court. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Godless Constitution?

A Godless Constitution?
By Paul Viggiano

          July 4, 2013 the Los Angeles Times ran a full page ad encouraging the people of the United States to “Celebrate Our Godless Constitution.”  The ad frames six founding fathers accompanied by dubious, out of context, quotations designed to enlighten the reader to the general disdain these fathers had when it came to God’s unwanted intrusion into the political affairs of men.  The ad was sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
          This splash of tabloid revisionist history would be humorous if it didn’t seem to be effectively dismantling the fabric of American culture.  Whatever one thinks this country is, or should be, the notion that the founders and their predecessors did not view America as a Christian enterprise requires a tower of suspended disbelief. 
An immense volume of photos, along with an exhaustive textual record of the holocaust was secured to the end that people would not doubt that the event occurred (though in one generation there are many who do just that), we have even greater assurance and evidence that our founders understood the disastrous consequences of a nation that appealed to anyone less than the “Supreme Judge of the world” to justify their political transactions, to wit, our founding documents and the very buildings where our political leaders engage in their deliberations.
E.g. Moses, holding the Ten Commandments, is the central figure atop the building where the U.S. Supreme Court meets; The Ten Commandments are also found in the Supreme Court courtroom; Bible verses are etched in stone in virtually every federal building and Monument in our nation’s capital.  James Madison stated that “We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” 
Patrick Henry said “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”  Since 1777, every session of congress has opened with prayer by a preacher subsidized with tax dollars.  52 of the 55 founders of the Constitution were members in good standing of orthodox Christian churches.
The Mayflower Compact opens with the words “In the name of God, Amen” followed by “Having undertaken, for the glorie of God, and the advancement of the Christian faith and honour of our king & country, a voyage to plan the first colonie in the Northerne parts of Virginia.” 
The introductory paragraph of The Declaration of Independence appeals to the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”  Jefferson found it fitting, and within the boundaries of his views of politics to indicate that “men…are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”  He justified his intentions by “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world.”
It is certainly true that the establishment clauses of the First Amendment indicate that “Congress will make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”  And to this I say ‘Amen,’ for no clear thinking person would desire a state run church.  But the separation of church and state, at least according to the founders, was quite different than the separation of God and state.
It was clear to Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address that “this nation [was] under God,” as well as in his Emancipation Proclamation where he appeals to “the gracious favor of Almighty God.”  I am halted now merely by space and not further content of the founders recognition of a country’s need for the ultimate and transcendent authority found in the God of the Holy Scriptures. 
The Freedom From Religion Foundation boasts in their appeal to reason as they seek to beguile us toward the notion of a godless constitution and the liberty thereof.  Perhaps we would do well to ponder the godless political systems of the 20th century under Sung, Minh, Pot, Lenin, Stalin, Mao et al.  The only liberty the tens of millions of innocent found under these godless systems was liberation from their own lives.  That doesn’t sound reasonable to me.