Monthly Archives: June 2014

Jesus does not support gay marriage

One of Sunday’s [29 June 2014] news headlines was Elton John’s claim that Jesus Christ would have supported gay marriage. Now it’s corrupt simply to justify gay marriage, but even more so for someone to justify it in Jesus’ name. And this is one of the problems with modern ‘Christianity’: it’s based more than ever on emotionalism. If it feels right, it is right. If I say it’s Christian, it is Christian. If peace and love and freedom are the very definition of Christianity, those hippies in the 1960s would have been the best Christians ever! Increasingly, public Christian standards are not based on any reliable document, i.e. the scriptures given by the inspiration of God, but instead on worldly perspectives. You cannot define what is Christian. cannot define what is Christian. Nevertheless, God does in the Holy Bible.

The fact is that Jesus did not, does not and never will support gay marriage. First of all, Christians believe that Jesus is God: the Son is not a revision of the Father, but rather he came to fulfil what the Father had decreed. Jesus affirms this in his teaching about marriage. When the Pharisees approach him, he references Genesis:

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”  (Mark 10:6-9 ESV)

Jesus affirms that marriage has existed since the beginning of creation – so it is God’s ordinance, and not just a civil institution which we have the authority to define as we please. God made us specifically male and female, establishing by this order the head-helper covenant between the husband and wife, who consummate their marriage and become one flesh. And while it is true that many heterosexual couples and governments scorn the covenant of marriage through adultery and divorce, while it is true – as we read described, yet not prescribed in the Bible – that many Jews themselves perverted true marriage through polygamy, this is no reason to introduce more errors. The fact that we have sinfully redefined marriage in the past, that there were judicial laws to regulate malpractice because of the hardness of the heart, does not grant us the authority to redefine marriage further. Instead, we should repent and be conformed to the Word of God.

Jesus was at one time questioned by the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the flesh, concerning marriage in the new creation. Jesus tells us that there is no marriage in the new creation; the reason for this is obvious: there will be no need of marriage because there will be no procreation (‘be fruitful and multiply’). Procreation, though it be not required to complete a marriage, is integral to the purpose of marriage. Marriage is a covenantal relationship between a man and a woman, providing a safe and loving environment for the raising of children. Marriage, as we read in Ephesians 5, is moreover a symbol of the covenantal relationship between Christ and his bride, the Church.

Furthermore, Jesus stated that he did not come to overthrow the law, but to fulfil it. Now, should the usual protestation about mixed fabrics and seafood arise, as I have previously discussed on this blog, obedience to these ceremonial laws is no longer necessary because they were types and shadows of Christ before he was incarnate. The New Testament is clear about this. Yet God’s moral law, as it is intrinsic to his holy character, is unchanging and perpetually binding on all mankind, which is made in his image. The prohibition of homosexual relations, alongside all prohibitions of extra-marital sex, is clearly moral, not ceremonial, in nature, and reinforced in Paul’s letters under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – which are therefore equally the words of Christ as those Christ physically pronounced.

There is truly no such thing as same-sex marriage. It does not and cannot exist, and Jesus surely hates any mockery of his own ordinances. I am aware of the desires and struggles faced by homosexuals, and that they cannot be switched off at will, but these are no different to various sexual struggles faced by heterosexuals. The solution is the same as for any other sin: to mortify it, put it to death, nail it to the cross, trusting in the gospel promise that Christ has won our forgiveness, to pray and strive for our sanctification. It is not loving for us to delude people in their sins; neither is it God-honouring for us to endorse what he has condemned.  But the same goes for any sinner: to deny ourselves and take up our cross, losing our life for his sake, is in fact to gain true, eternal life.

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Protestant Mariology

Protestants rightfully disagree with the popish treatment of Mary which sprung up from medieval contaminations and grows increasingly dogmatic (thanks to papal infallibility) and increasingly idolatrous – often referred to as ‘Mariolatry’. This is a very sad situation, since, as much as it is demeaning to Saint Mary herself to exult her to such lofty positions, it also risks making her name almost taboo in evangelical circles – the name of her who is blessed among women.

Popish superstitions concerning Mary

Popery ascribes to Mary such titles as ‘Mother of God’ (Mater Dei). This is a poor translation of Theotokos which more accurately means ‘God-bearer’ and is also not found in scripture as a title, though it may be defended. The title ‘Mother of God’, however, promotes superstition akin to calling her Goddess, progenitor of the Creator himself. What we can securely say concerning the Holy Virgin is that she is the Mother of the Lord in that she did indeed bear in her womb the eternal Word in his fleshly incarnation, who is unceasingly both fully man and fully God. While I do not wish to go as far as to commit the Nestorian heresy by splitting the two natures of Christ into two persons, the popish stance on Mary is too worshipful and too great a stumbling block.

One doctrine underlining this stance is the Immaculate Conception which, while completely unwarranted in scripture, teaches that Mary was – like Christ – conceived untainted by original sin. While we can ascertain that the Holy Virgin was a righteous Jew and blessed among women, we must still acknowledge that she was a human under Adam and, as such, requires the salvation of Christ in the same manner as any other. If Mary were conceived in such a way, if she were completely sinless, then Christ would not be unique and she would moreover be equal to Christ. The only reason to invent this doctrine is the unscriptural belief that Christ’s conception by the Holy Spirit was not enough to preserve him from Adam’s sin. Indeed, the Immaculate Conception is a paradox because, should one hold such a belief, if Mary were to be ‘immaculate’, then her mother also must have been, and so on, all the way back to Eve. The ridiculous dogma of Immaculate Conception is blasphemy against God and also dishonours the Holy Virgin.

A further blasphemous practice is the praying to saints in heaven, including Mary, for intercession. Firstly, Christ alone is our Mediator and secondly, who dare give God’s glory to men by presuming that men in heaven are somehow omnipotent in hearing our prayers?

Perpetual virginity, Assumption and true honouring of Mary

While hating popish Mariolatry, I am of the view that modern Protestants are too quick to dismiss Mary’s perpetual virginity. All Christians must agree that Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus. But what happened thereafter is not explicitly stated in scripture. I hope that I am not impious in my treatment of this issue, but rather exhort Christians not to ridicule an early teaching in a way that gives some ammunition with which to attack us. The early Reformers, while cautious because of scriptural ambiguity and while not infallible, did not reject the tradition of perpetual virginity.  The word ’till’ in Matthew 1:25 does not imply that Joseph did afterwards know Mary and, while Greek had distinct words for brothers and cousins, it was not usual among Hebrews to distinguish between them and the Greek word for ‘brother’ is nevertheless used to translate ‘cousin’ and ‘nephew’ in the Old Testament. Zwingli appeals to Ezekiel 44:2 in defence of Mary’s perpetual virginity: ‘And the LORD said to me, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it. Therefore it shall remain shut.”‘ However, it must also be acknowledged that, while celibacy is a gift for some, vows of celibacy are not scriptural and that there is nothing impure about marital relations, which is also a gift from God. In an ordinary marriage, it is not proper for a spouse to withhold such relations from the other spouse without mutual agreement.

The bodily assumption of Mary into heaven is also not rejected outright by early Protestants. One Zürich Reformer, Bullinger, enthusiastically supported this tradition in a work wherein he attacked a number of superstitious doctrines. There is no scriptural basis at all to confirm or to reject the Assumption of Mary, and the Romish Church is wrong to teach both this doctrine and perpetual virginity as dogmata. Such matters, which are acceptable but not irrefutable to those who hold a biblical faith, should remain in the domain of Christian liberty. If, however, the Romish Church moves even further towards confirming Mary as a ‘Co-Redemptrix’ or ‘Co-Mediatrix’, as is popular among some Papists, we must combat such a move with the sword of the Spirit, and exploit it as an opportunity to reaffirm the truth of the gospel, that salvation comes through Christ alone.

Forever may we honour the Holy Virgin Mary by worshipping the living God only, for it so pleased him to bless her womb with his only begotten Son, who is our salvation!

Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to him alone: not to angels, saints, or any other creature: and since the Fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone. (Westminster Confession of Faith 1646 21:2)

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