Gay marriage has become the most important domestic social issue facing twenty-first-century Americans particularly Americans of faith. Most Christians are pro-marriage and hold traditional family values, but should they endorse extending marriage rights to gays and lesbians? If Jesus enjoined us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and the homosexual is our neighbor, does that mean we should accept and bless gay marriages? These and other, related questions are tearing many faith-based communities apart.
Across the country, states have voted, courts have debated, and churches have divided over the legitimacy of same-sex marriage. Amid the uproar one perspective is decidedly missing: that of thoughtful, pro-marriage Christians who, informed by their faith, are struggling to make sense of this issue. What God Has Joined Together? is an effort to bridge the divide between marriage-supporting and gay-supporting people of faith by showing why both sides have important things to say and showing how both sides can coexist. Drawing on scientific research as well as on the Bible, the authors explain that marriage is emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually beneficial for everyone, not just heterosexuals.
They debunk myths about sexual orientation, assess claims of sexual reorientation, and explore what the Bible does and does not say about same-sex relationships. The book ends with a persuasive case for gay marriage and outlines how this can be a win-win solution for all.
About the Author
David G. Myers, the John Dirk Werkman Professor of Psychology at Michigan's Hope College, is the author of fifteen books, and articles in dozens of periodicals, from Science and Scientific American to The Christian Century and Christianity Today. He serves on the National Marriage Project advisory board. Myers has been married for forty-two years and is the father of three adult children.
Letha Dawson Scanzoni has authored or co-authored eight previous books, including Men, Women, and Change: A Sociology of Marriage and Family, and her classic Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? She is editor and publisher of the Evangelical & Ecumenical Women's Caucus publication Christian Feminism Today. Her many articles have appeared in numerous magazines, from Christianity Today and The Christian Century to the SIECUS Report and Utne Reader. Scanzoni is the mother of two and grandmother of five. She lives in southeastern Virginia.
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What God Has Joined Together?A Christian Case for Gay Marriage
By David Myers
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 David Myers
All right reserved.
The Great Divide
How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God's people
to live together in harmony!
-- Psalm 133:1, TEV
A long-ago sermon recalled a time when the village church was burning. At the front of the bucket brigade was the town's atheist. "Why come now?" "Because the only time anything exciting happens here is when the church is on fire."
Today's church is on fire, and the spectacle is agonizingly exciting. From across the battle lines, advocates and opponents of gay marriage and of gay ordination are throwing flames. Headlines express the passions: "180 Arrested in Protest over Church's Gay Policies"; "Fury As Church Appoints Gay Canon as New Dean of St. Albans"; "Church Gay Rift Widens"; "Conservative Methodists Propose Schism over Gay Rights"; "Presbyterian Battle over Homosexuality Still Unresolved."
The Reformed Church in America's general secretary, Wesley Granberg-Michaelsen, speaks for many denominational leaders when he says, "No issue today has as much potential to spawn divisiveness, mistrust, gossip, suspicion, and conflict in the church as this one. No issue has more capacity to confuse our focus, drain our energy, injure our fellowship, and divert our mission than this one. No current issue can so easily demoralize our meetings, paralyze our process, fuel our anxiety, and cripple our confidence as this one."
Battles over ordaining gay and lesbian elders, deacons, ministers, priests, and bishops are but one front of this culture war. Advocates for marriage renewal and advocates for same-sex unions clash with passions that rival those surrounding the taxpolicy war, the job-outsourcing war, and even the war war. In 2004, eleven American states passed amendments banning gay marriage. With more such amendments in the draft stage, and with voices shouting both for and against a federal anti-gaymarriage amendment, the passions are not subsiding.
"Barring a miracle, the family as it has been known for more than five millennia will crumble, presaging the fall of Western civilization itself," observes an alarmed James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. "For more than 40 years, the homosexual activist movement has sought to implement a master plan that has had as its centerpiece the utter destruction of the family."3 The approval of same-sex marriage by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court "is not just about homosexual rights," concurs Charles Colson, Prison Fellowship founder. "It is even more importantly about the death of marriage and family as we have known it for thousands of years." Colson calls the battle over the definition of marriage "the Armageddon of the culture war." Same-sex unions "degrade" marriage, claimed Pope John Paul II. "Legal recognition of homosexual unions [would] obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity," contends a pope-approved statement by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
"No one is waging war on marriage," responds New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. "It's just the opposite. This is all about people who are longing to embrace it." Gay-marriage advocates also point to a justice issue. "We have been together for 43 years," notes a gay letter writer to the New York Times. "Britney Spears was married for 55 hours and had more legal rights than we ever had."
The fire that now is ripping through Catholicism and mainline Protestant denominations likely will spread as attitudes change. In but a thin slice of recent history, younger Americans' attitudes have done an about-face. In 1978, 53 percent of entering collegians agreed that "it is important to have laws prohibiting homosexual relationships"; but among their 2004 counterparts, only 30 percent agreed with that statement.10Most Americans over age sixty-five oppose same-sex marriage, but most under thirty support it (see appendix B, "Attitudes Are Changing"), and from them will come tomorrow's church leaders. Sooner than you might expect, even conservative faith communities such as Southern Baptists may find themselves aflame. Generational succession is destiny.
Could it be that today's Holland, Belgium, and Canada -- each of which now allows same-sex marriages -- give us a glimpse of tomorrow's America? Are Vermont's civil unions and Massachusetts's legal same-sex marriages just the first beachhead of a social transformation that will sweep the nation as did the civil rights and women's rights movements in earlier decades?
James Dobson fears it. He writes that gay activist goals "that seemed unthinkable just a few years ago have largely been achieved or are now within reach ... We in North America and Europe are not simply 'slouching towards Gomorrah,' as Judge Robert Bork warned in his best-selling book; we are hurtling toward it." On the other side of the divide, New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan finds himself "so surprised" by such conservative resistance. Allowing homosexual persons such as himself to marry "is the most pro-family measure imaginable -- keeping families together, building new ones ... [which] is why some elements of the old left once opposed such a measure."
Excerpted from What God Has Joined Together? by David Myers Copyright © 2005 by David Myers. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
|A Personal Letter to Our Readers||xi|
|1||The Great Divide||1|
|2||The Longing for Belonging||11|
|3||The State of Our Unions||23|
|4||A Newer World||37|
|5||Understanding Sexual Orientation||52|
|6||Changing Sexual Orientation||69|
|7||What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say||84|
|8||What God Has Joined Together?||105|
|Appendix A||Why Marriage Matters||137|
|Appendix B||Attitudes are Changing||140|
|Appendix C||Discussion Questions||150|
What People are Saying About This
“A well-reasoned, important and timely contribution to the national debate.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Marriage is not a Christian institution, and America is not a Christian nation. Furthermore, same-sex marriage is something to be deliberated upon by same-sex couples. Homosexuals aren't permitted to decide whether a heterosexual union is valid - why should heterosexuals have a say in the validity of same-sex love?