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Common Invalid Arguments for Absence of Gender Roles in Marriage and Ordination

A Change of Heart: Inside the evangelical war over gay marriage - Time

"For many evangelicals, the marriage debate isn't really about marriage or families or sex—it is about the Bible itself. And that makes many evangelicals all the more uncompromising. The roots of the conflict are deeply theological. . . .

"And there is another, just as fundamental, obstacle. So far no Christian tradition has been able to embrace the LGBT community without first changing its views about women. The same reasoning that concludes that homosexuality is sin is also behind the traditional evangelical view that husbands are the spiritual leaders of marriages and men are the leaders in churches. . . .

"'It is not an accident that the women's-liberation movement preceded the gay-liberation movement,' Robinson says. 'Discriminatory attitudes and treatment of LGBT people is rooted in patriarchy, and in order to embrace and affirm gays, evangelicals will have to address their own patriarchy and sexism, not just their condemnation of LGBT people.'" ("A Change of Heart: Inside the evangelical war over gay marriage" Time, Jan. 26, 2015, pp. 47-48.)

Under Many Banners - New York Times

"When the Apostle Paul declared: "In Christ there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free," this was a liberating message that proclaimed equality and justice. However, the proclamation that we are all "one" can sometimes blur our differences and reinforce the norms of the majority. Thus, in our church communities, we might reword Paul's declaration by saying, "In Christ, there is male and female, old and young, disabled and temporarily able-bodied, lesbian, gay and heterosexual."

"We are seeking new theological "wineskins" that can adequately hold and convey the good news of God's love and justice for our day, as well as recovering the old language and imagery when it is life-giving and can convey to people in our times the heart of the message. — The Rev. Melanie Morrison, in Open Hands, published by Protestant organizations welcoming gay men and lesbians." [1]

Galatians 3:28 and the Abolition of Gender - Spectrum Magazine

"There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28 NRSV) . . . is Paul serious when he speaks of the abolition of these three entrenched social classes? Yes, he means it. Take gender for example. From ancient times until today we differentiate the sexes by our dress, our vocations, our hair styles, and our domestic roles. Granted that these are to a degree being challenged in modern western democracies, but even so, they still influence our social networks . . . the community that gathers together in the name of Christ knows no status or gender privilege. It’s not simply a matter of personal salvation . . . according to Galatians 3:28, the community that gathers together in the name of Christ knows no status or gender privilege. It’s not simply a matter of personal salvation; the verse describes the very nature of the body of Christ, that is, the church.

"If Galatians 3:28 defines for us the character of the community as being without gender bias, why would we then choose those who minister within it specifically on the grounds of gender? Doesn’t that contradict the essence of the Christian community?" (Source: Spectrum Magazine)

Gay Pastors, Female Clergy and the Gospel - Huffington Post

"People of faith, we must do better than this. Christians, we need to take inventory of the times. Consider the opportunities we have to speak the truth of human dignity to the power of a culture that bullies gay kids to the point of suicide, that even now demonizes gay adults, that in secular and sacred realms says girls should understand their roles are defined by their organs. Consider the witness we have always struggled to bear and have often borne too late: the proclamation that if we were all dead in sin before our lives touched Christ's, so too may we all live under his radical care and in his radical kingdom. So too are we equal before God, in whom there is no male nor female, Greek nor Jew, gay nor straight. Please, friends, help us get this right." [2]

Gay Pastors, Female Clergy and the Gospel - Huffington Post

"In most cases, the refusal to ordain women or to treat homosexuals with fairness, dignity and grace, stem from a certain kind of biblical hermeneutic that deals with Scripture in very limiting ways. Even if you believe that the Bible is the literal, accurate transcription of what inspired people heard from God, it doesn't necessarily follow that you must believe that what God said through the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth is the same thing God said to the church, let's say, in Rome. And, in fact, it isn't." (Source: Huffington Post)

Can You Be Against Marriage Equality and Not Be a Bigot? - Huffington Post

"I, on the other hand, as a Christian do not believe that God condemns committed same-gender relationships. I believe that in God's eyes, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). In other words, I don't believe that the race or gender of the person I love is what matters to God." [3]

Same Bible, Different Verdict On Gay Marriage - NPR

"'I just think of the words from Galatians where it says, 'There is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female, slave nor free,' " he says. "And what is happening there is that they're pointing to what the kingdom of God looks like ... it's open to everybody and everybody has equal status.'" [4]

Disoriented Theology

"If Paul had been living in the 21st century, would he have added 'neither gay nor straight' to Galatians 3:28? As you might know, Galatians 3:28 reads:

There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
. . .
"You know, kind of like divorce. Wait, what?

The Bible mentions divorce 34 times. It features prominently in the levitical law. In Malachi God is described as hating divorce, and in Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus equates divorce with adultery and even gives specific reasons in which divorce is acceptable. Paul argues Christians shouldn't even divorce their non-Christian spouses and reiterates Jesus' command against remarrying after a divorce.

So how many people actually follow that? Nearly 40 percent of regular churchgoing Christians are divorced. And I would guess a good percentage have remarried or plan to be. They have already made the decision that the Bible's clear, multitestamental admonitions are confined to a specific culture.

Perhaps you would disagree.

Would you also disagree about women covering their heads? Women wearing jewelry? Men wearing long hair?

At some point, everyone – even the most ardent of biblical literalists – says: This is not universal, not timeless, not applicable for me in my 21st century life. Your reasons for advocating silence for women in church while ignoring the examples of outspoken female leaders in both testaments may be sound, but you're still arguing for a culturally limited reading of at least some of the Bible. You have drawn a line." [5]

Neither Gay Nor Straight: Biblical Christianity

"All this takes on a surprising relevance when we recall just what is the distinguishing mark of the new age of salvation according to Paul: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). Christ has inaugurated the Kingdom of God, the sure sign of which is the abolition of all the "taboo" distinctions! This is precisely the meaning of Paul's claim that Christ has abolished the (Levitical) law. Seen this way, the bracketing of Old Testament strictures against homosexuality is in complete accord with Paul's own theology.

"And this obliteration of all legalistic categorization must imply the overcoming of the gay/straight dichotomy just as surely as that of the male / female distinction. The resulting scenario would be something like the new "androgynous" form of consciousness predicted by June Singer, where (a la the variation along the Kinsey scale) sexual attitudes and orientations are no longer dichotomous, but form a graded continuum. All options are legitimate.12" . . . "All in all, then, I have tried to show that the hermeneutical bracket­ing of anti-gay biblical texts is actually quite a biblical thing to do. This became apparent when Paul's doctrine of the supercession of the Law in Christ was interpreted via anthropological insights as to the dual role of "categorical transgressions." The very boundary-breaches which under the Law denoted ethical abomination, came to herald the inbreaking of transcendence, of Christ's Kingdom (Galatians 3:28). The resulting state of affairs finds no place for the stigma of "perversion" since "all things are lawful. It Thus since legal prescriptions are no longer in play, a new and highly flexible basis for moral judgment is introduced, i.e., enlight­ened "expediency." This pragmatic approach is governed only by the twin concerns of deference to others and refusal to be enslaved by com­pulsive pursuits oneself. Pauline eschatological pragmatism thus offers a norm for biblical morality that survives the sweeping away of the Law with its moral taboos. The whole scenario should be of interest to various segments of Evangelicalism. But it provide s gay Evangelicals with a set of hermeneutical tools with which both to clarify their position vis-a-vis "Bible-believing" critics without, and to negotiate moral standards within." [6]

The House of Bishops Statement on Gay Marriage

"There are wider issues at stake as well. When St Paul talks about 'the works of the Law' he is not referring to a legalistic righteousness; rather, he is talking about the cultural boundary markers which specify who is 'in' and who is 'out'. Where the Hebrew community of the time rested in a sense of identity that was bounded by things like circumcision, food laws and sabbath observance, for Paul these were overtaken by our identity in Christ. Hence in Galatians Paul famously writes that in Christ we are neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. What this does – and Jesus lives out this teaching before Paul codifies it, when he spends his time with the sinners and tells them that they will enter heaven before the religious teachers – what this does is establish a new form of social organization."
. . .
"EITHER – the church still thinks an active homosexual relationship is sinful, in which case we stick by established teachings, and the consequence of that is, logically, to disbar married gay couples from baptism and communion, due to their unrepentant sinfulness. The trouble with that is that almost nobody in this country is seriously suggesting it, and it runs very much counter to the warm words which the Bishops speak about homosexual relationships; OR they could say, we now accept that God is working through the culture, we have been in error and now see the light – and so fully buy into the changes that the government legislation enacts; OR they could say, we are working through these issues.There are still many conversations to be had around nature of marriage, but we no longer see homosexuality as necessarily sinful. Therefore, as a sign of our good faith, we are accepting blessings for civil partnerships and setting up some new liturgy for clergy to use.

"The Bishops don't choose any of the consistent or creative possibilities, they simply continue to fudge the situation. Why? And what is being held constant? It's certainly not a strict reading of the Bible, for that would entail a much stricter approach to divorce than these Bishops have accepted, as Jesus discusses this morning. No, this is simply a political document. Sadly, the interests of this Church in England continue to be sacrificed to the altar of the 'worldwide Anglican Communion'. This statement is quite clearly driven by placing interests of parts of the established churches in Africa ahead of the gay people in this country and abroad." [7]

Neither Jew or Gentile, Slave or Free, Male or Female: Did Paul REALLY Mean That?

"And Paul says more: there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus. "
. . .
"Paul is teaching there is no longer male nor female in Christ Jesus. And if this is true then this changes a whole lot in Scripture: then there are no women's roles and men's roles in the home, in the world or in the church. And if there are really no genders or no difference in gender then why does it matter so much to some folk who can marry who. I know I'm in a COGIC house, so I'm not going to go any further with that but Paul raises the question for us.
. . .
"Paul has hit all of the major categories that still divide us in our times. Ethnic identity which we now experience as racial and cultural identity, speaking to bias against black folk and Hispanic folk and Arab and folk – we are one in Christ Jesus, gender identity which includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex identities, bodies and a variety of gender performances – there is more than one way to be a man and more than one way to be a woman and we are one in Christ Jesus." [8]

Reconciling Our Homosexuality - It Is Possible!

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal 3:28 NIV)

"In the Body of Christ, we are one. There is no gender. We are not Greek and we are not Jews. We are not slaves or free. For Paul states that there is neither "male nor female." But we are all in one with Christ Jesus our Lord." [9]

Christian and Gay - Newsweek

"If you are a gay person, don't be ashamed of who you are and who God intends you to be. Remember, God is Creator. God has a divine plan for your life. God loves you. You are not an orphan or stepchild of God. If you have personally accepted Jesus Christ into your heart and life, you are God's child. Remember, God has no orphans, no stepchildren. All believers are full members of the family of God.

"You are all son/daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal. 3:26-28)

Did you get that? We are one in Christ."

"In the Christian story, the message of acceptance for all is codified. Jesus reaches out to everyone, especially those on the margins, and brings the whole Christian community into his embrace. The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, cites the story of Jesus revealing himself to the woman at the well— no matter that she had five former husbands and a current boyfriend—as evidence of Christ's all-encompassing love. The great Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann, emeritus professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, quotes the apostle Paul when he looks for biblical support of gay marriage: "There is neither Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ." The religious argument for gay marriage, he adds, "is not generally made with reference to particular texts, but with the general conviction that the Bible is bent toward inclusiveness."[10] *The, "Bible is silent on this topic both ways" argument.

Love Comes from God - God's Rainbow Revolution

"People whose holy book says "There is neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ" and whose holy book says "what God has joined together, let not man separate" have chosen on the basis of gender to tear apart men and women joined together by Love.

Not only should followers of Christ be endorsing the love of others, but we should also be the very representation of God's love here on earth.

Unfortunately, our love has been clouded by legalism, culture, politics, and misunderstanding of historical context. The simple, non-legalistic guides of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (i.e. treat others as they would want to be treated), "Love others as you love yourself", and "Love does no harm" have been shoved aside to focus on enforcing upon others our limited, legalistic, word-for-word understanding of scriptures. Never mind that our understanding of those particular scriptures undermine and contradict the scriptures about love and union and about love coming from God.

Right now, the church is bound up in a straitjacket of incorrect interpretations of scripture passages. As long as we bind ourselves to false interpretations, we will not be free to love people as we were called by Christ to do.

But the truth will set us free." [11]

Accepting Evangelicals

"No says Paul! Faith in Christ has made us all equal. He concludes with that fabulous and shocking verse to the people of the time, verse 28. He gives three examples, "there is neither Jew not Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but he doesn't stop there. He goes one "you are all one in Christ Jesus", so that to the end of eternity when the church tries to set up barriers we can go on adding categories – so there is indeed neither gay nor straight is God's kingdom! Martin Stears-Handscomb" [12]

Women's Ordination and Homosexuality

"Last Autumn was the tenth anniversary of the Church of England's vote to ordain women as priests. In the hubbub of such a historic decision a little detail was missed by many. The week after the momentous vote, a short letter appeared in an Anglican weekly from the Gay and Lesbian Christian Movement. It read, 'Dear Sir, Please note that all the arguments used for the ordination of women can also be used for the ordination of practising homosexuals.'

"It might seem astounding to link the two issues, but the author of the letter was correct in his analysis. The arguments for the ordination of women were of three types: sentimental, utilitarian and political. The sentimental argument went like this: 'Suzy is such a compassionate person. She too has suffered by being excluded, so she can identify with the marginalised in our society. She is such a good person, not to ordain her is so hurtful!' The utilitarian argument was, 'Janet is a good preacher and a bright theologian. She can do the job as well as any man. As a woman she brings special gifts. She will complement the totally masculine ministry.' The third argument was political: 'This is an equal rights issue. Women can now do any other job in our society. Why not the priesthood?'

"Make the necessary changes and you can see how the same arguments are equally valid for the ordination of practising homosexuals: 'Gary is such a compassionate person. He too has suffered by being excluded. Why be so judgmental and unkind? Why exclude him just because he lives with Dennis?' The utilitarian says, 'Kevin is a brilliant theologian and a compassionate pastor. Why should his sexual preferences affect his ability to do the job?' Richard Kirker, the chairman of the Lesbian and Gay Christian movement, summed up the political argument. In a comment to the Church Times a week after the vote in 1992 he said, 'The vote now opens the way for the Church to move with determination to the last remaining major injustice inflicted among its members: lesbian and gay people, unless celibate, are not officially accepted into the ordained ministry.' [13]

Invalid Comparison

"It is at this point that a traditional Judeo-Christian fundamentalist would cite the Old Testament in order to reinforce the claim that homosexuality pertains to sexual immorality. The reference to homosexuality is found in Leviticus 18.22, in which we are told that Yahweh (i.e. "Jehovah") considered homosexual acts to be "detestable." However, in the very same book of the Bible, Yahweh also decreed that his followers must not cut the hair on the sides of their head, nor trim the edges of their beard (Leviticus 19.27)." [14]