A Response to Tyler Huckabee on His Theology of Marriage

You can find Huckabee’s post here: http://tylerhuckabee.com/2015/07/07/i_support_gay_marriage/

Tyler Huckabee, this is an open letter of sorts to you. I went through and read your post about why you support gay marriage. I have enjoyed your writing and internet sass. Unfortunately, you are breaking with thousands of years of Christian tradition. I went piece by piece through your post and hopefully my problems spur discussion rather than outrage. Here we go.

You said of the creation account in Genesis: “On the face of it, it sets up a nice little proof text for straight marriage. A man is alone, so God makes a woman and, thus, a cosmic balance is achieved.” Do you reject the notion that God created the world patterned, ordered a beautiful singular vision for all of existence? If God is Lord and creator of all, he has a particular ultimate stake in the role of each atom, molecule, and ordered collection.

Did Jesus mean it in Matthew 19 when he reiterates what it says in Genesis in the context of why people would deviate from God’s design due to their hard heartedness,

““that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.””

Was Paul wrong when he grounded marriage in the very character of God? In Ephesians 5,

““For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”

You say: “Eve isn’t spun into existence for her uterus—the “child bearing hips” modern society imagines all ancient cultures reduced women to—but for love. It is not good for man to be alone.” Eve is a blessing to Adam but she is not made “for him” in the ultimate sense or “for love” in the ultimate sense. Eve can love Adam so much as she reflects God’s love. We do not exist outside of God. God did not make equals in Man and Woman. Ultimately all creation exists for God, “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

You say: “it is also not right for mankind to die out” after man sins God fundamentally disagrees with you multiple times.

You say: “while Adam immediately jumps to Eve’s function” which is an implicit judgement against Adam at the time, who was without sin at the time. This being a good and right thing he did, who are you to say you know better with knowledge of good and evil, like God.

You say: “it has to do with getting her pregnant.” which is most certainly not mentioned. You admit as much later saying, “The whole idea of childbearing doesn’t even show up until God curses humanity’s sin.” This great passage has to do with God’s blessing, his distinct beautiful design. The origin story for marriage. Genesis says,

““This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

You say: “God’s concern is communal. He’s a romantic at heart, this God.” But you equate two things which are separate in God’s design. God did not create a group of men for a group of women or a group of people for each other. He created man for woman and woman for man. Community then is a value that comes later and while relational unity finds its root in God like anything else, it is a mistake to say that community is equal with marriage, they are not the same. The romance here is only between one man and one woman, that romance is caught up in the distinctives of this relationship.

You say: “the Trinity—three persons whose love for each other runs so deep and pure that the boundaries of their identities blur and they become one” gives short shrift to the doctrine of the trinity. the phrase “love for each other” implies separation. As if they were objects that operate on one another. When Jesus says, “I and the Father are one” and when the bible says, “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men” the implication is not that these are three separate beings who blur into one another but One God in three persons, distinct roles with operational criteria. It is above our conception of person-hood. These are not three personalities nor three ideational constructs or imaginations. This is One God in an all knowing all powerful creator father, a 100% human son who it is in, and through whom, the world is made, and a spirit that dwells in all who believe empowering and giving life. Their love is also non-sexual. The only human component is celibate his whole life. This fights against your greater goal of using trinitarian relations to justify sex acts.

You say: “God does not think it is right for people to be alone because He Himself has never been alone.” Yes-ish to the first part no to the reason. God thinks it is not GOOD for man to be alone. It is not wrong for man to be alone because he is with God. Saying that thing are better with woman, as anyone who has met a woman will tell you, is not exactly rocket science. But God did not sin when he made Adam without Eve. The original sin was not God’s and things are good or bad because God declares them to be. This was not good because it was not good enough for God and his design not because loneliness is a higher, more moral good than God himself.

You say: “woman was not primarily utilitarian, but relational” the truth here is that she was primarily human, made in the image of God. Both relational and utilitarian roles flow out of this initial most important relationship with the creator. So while you almost get to this your following statement is incomplete, “God didn’t create women to be anatomically useful, but simply to be” but you should add an ‘in him’ to the end of that. There is no good to existence outside of God. I will bang this drum a lot because it is the central foundational truth that drives doctrines of sin, salvation, creation etc.

You go on to tell a wonderful little story. Great stuff for an ebook memoir. I’m not bullshitting it’s pretty good writing. You end it with: “in my heart, those answers were as sensible as Sanskrit.” I wish you had heard the holy spirit say,

““Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” and shared the gospel that God dies and imputes to us his holiness so that we can put off the old self and put on the new self. We can be as he intended, alive, and like God. Because we are dead in our trespasses and sin. God is enough. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Christ who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them we may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

You ask a bunch of questions: “Is the sin in simply being gay? [whatever that means] If so, loving the sinner becomes awfully tricky, because the sin is part of who they are.

Is the sin, as the plainest reading of the Bible would have it, in the act of [gay] sex itself? Perhaps, but what then is permitted for a gay person? If two gay men committed to a lifelong but celibate [so called same-sex, non-christian, unpatterned by God] marriage, would this union be welcomed by the Church, being thus sinless?” I have three objections here that I’ve put in ‘[]’s in your writing. Let’s work backwards. Two men committed to each other lifelong. This is not a marriage. If they have sex it is not a marriage. If they don’t have sex, this is not a marriage. A marriage is patterned by the creational order which we’ve already talked about. Would a church then allow an outsider, a non-christian, to define a core christian institution? No. There is an appropriate way for men and women to interact relationally but we’ll get to that. There is a word for two men who care about each other and have appropriate physical boundaries, that strive to live for Christ. These men are friends. A marriage is definitionally, in the context of family “leave his father and mother” enshrined by sex “be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” and the commitment therefore is a weight placed on the man and the woman by God as a result of these things. The first two frame the commitment. You cannot claim the commitment is a marriage without this foundation. When someone says, “I’m married to my work” this is humorous or sad because it is impossible. There is no amount of commitment to another object other than a woman for a man or a man for a woman that makes that relationship a marriage. Marriage is permitted and glorious for all people. If you reduce marriage to just commitment or to just love or to a contract between two parties whatever you reduce it to is not as comprehensive as what God has for us in scripture. You must break from God’s comprehensive definition, the definition Jesus, Paul, and Genesis use.

When you write, “as the plainest reading of the Bible would have it” you seem to kind of be ceding the point that nowhere in church history has christian sexual ethics included gay sex and that there are many hoops to jump through to get around all the wonderful scripture you cited earlier. But none the less you seem to hold that that Gay sex is not inherently wrong, sinful, or against God’s design. Jesus himself in Matthew 5 doesn’t loosen old testament sexual ethics but makes them more stringent, explicitly revealing how narrow God’s design is. Even a lustful thought outside of marriage to an improper object is sin.

You say: “is the sin simply being Gay?” Let me start by saying if God cannot not touch something, if he does not have something to say about something, he is not God. Too often we use the language of identity as if an existential crutch. Identity can be reduced to things we want, feel, do, and think. There is nothing in any of those categories, that should they change and change to God’s beautiful standard would make us immediately turn to ash which seems to be the image evoked by people who talk about identity. Identity is just feelings, actions, wants, and thoughts we don’t want on the table for conversation. That they are repeated over a period of time does not make them more than what they are. Matthew Anderson does a better job over here: http://mereorthodoxy.com/the-end-of-sexual-ethics-love-and-the-limits-of-reason/

If there was truly a physical biological part of the body that causes us to sin Jesus says to “cut it off” but the implication in that passage though is that there is not. It comes from within our sin nature. Do with that what you will but I tend to think that no matter your biology what you do is ultimately your responsibility before God. How you feel does not make something true or false but it can tell you something about yourself, what you want, and how you relate to God or people.

You say: “Not a gift of celibacy, but more of a curse—plagued with a longing for companionship forbidden by God Himself.” and here you drift into sin. Repent to God and be saved. To call what God calls a blessing a curse and to call what God calls an abomination a blessing. Truly this is the definition of sin. You call perverse desires “longing for companionship” as if God is not enough and you call the ordained bounds of marriage a curse and a burden but Jesus says,

“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.””

You say: “I am simply thinking of the LGBTQ men and women of the world and trying to find a good reason for God to condemn them to a life without love.” and here you lie about God again. As if Christ’s death was for nothing. As if God in his infinite kindness descending to earth to save us even as we were sinners was not good enough. That’s not love? That’s not sacrifice? Repent to God and be saved. He is good, right, just, and merciful. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. This is not condemnation.

You say: “This is a very Protestant view of eros, which has always elevated the act of sex to a mythic act of inevitably eternal consequence. I’m sympathetic to that line of thought, but I find it a bit wistful.” and we’ve been over this but I’ll reiterate. Everything has eternal consequence. There is not one good thing that a man cannot use for evil and not one circumstance that God cannot bend to his will. I am not here to defend children or natural law arguments so I’ll skip that part.

You say of the Apostle Paul: “This is a rather dim view of sex, which isn’t all that surprising, considering Paul. He seemed hugely unbothered by anything that wasn’t strictly spiritual. I love him for this, but I can’t help but think he would scratch his head at a good deal of the fuss made about marriage in modern Christianity.” Is this the same Paul? You don’t think he was concerned with the sex lives of his church members? You think he was so lofty he couldn’t write about the earthy real life stuff. Are you kidding me? His advice to timothy was just aspirational? You think it’s dim to say that if you are married you have less time for ministry. At this time particularly ministry was very valuable. In tumult who commits to what is very important. You think it is dim to reaffirm what you’ve been saying all along. That it is “not good for man to be alone”. Marrying has some very real, very material benefits that satiate in a God honoring way.

You say, “I don’t know. Could it be that Paul had no understanding of monogamous homosexual love? He did not address it because there was no ancient context for it? It could be true. Many people think so. I don’t know. Neither do you.” this is just self defeating agnostic blather (if you don’t know about something why bring it up?). It’s wrapped in an argument from silence. Could it be that Paul had no understanding of Bronies and Channing Tatum’s Abs? Are these phenomena then outside of the framework of scripture. Do ethics not apply to new situations?! Should our church’s moms group go see Magic Mike XXL? Paul doesn’t directly speak to that.

There is a clear center to christian sexual ethics. It has not changed. It will not change. To say that Paul was not aware of one particular context for perversion is to say nothing. That is not an argument.

You say: “a love that must hold people’s identity at bay is an imperfect love” You’re right. The love of Christ is not some suppressor. Some mute on the horn of sin. It is death. It puts to death identity and gives us a new life, a new identity in Christ. That is true love. But feeding sin is not something that God does and your demand that God change, that he must do what you want is an affront. He must do what you want? You presume to be over God.

I’m going to skip your civics bit. The law and recognizing competing religious institutions is a whole different issue.

You say:  “I won’t be damned for this. I don’t fear judgement, because I do not think God is some strict old schoolmaster who means to check beliefs against a divine answer key at the pearly gates.” oh boy. You don’t think you’ll be damned but not because Christ is a sweet savior but because you think God doesn’t take holiness seriously. God is light and in him there is no darkness. To say that disagreements over what is fundamentally incompatible with God’s character are just theological multiple choice questions is insulting. You’re in effect trying to minimize sin with God’s goodness but God does not minimize sin. He does not make it matter less. He kills it.

You say: “A life condemning others for something they can’t change about themselves? A life judging love?” if I haven’t made it clear enough. Repent and be saved. God is faithful, he will forgive us of all unrighteousness. There is now no condemnation in Jesus Christ. God can change anyone, any circumstance. We can hold every thought captive, we can be in the spirit and love of Christ with honorable appropriate loving relationships that happen in a community where we keep our clothes on and our eyes on Christ. A life judging love? is that the best you’ve got? You don’t want to feel judgmental? Of all the things about Christianity that would make you give it up…

Sincerely,

Matt Heimiller

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