In previous discussions on this blog about homosexuality and the Bible, I have argued that the closest parallel pastoral ethical issue we can find from the scriptures is the issue of divorce and remarriage.
Unlike homosexuality, Jesus teaches explicitly on the issues of divorce and remarriage. For generations (and still today in certain churches) all divorce (or at leas the vast majority) is considered sinful and remarriage was not an option. All of this was backed up by a straightforward reading of the relevant Biblical texts.
Yet, over the past 30 years, there has been a generally progressive approach to this issue — even among Conservative evangelicals. (For the record, as a pastor, I have embraced these more progressive approaches).
Theologian and blogger Michael Patton, whom I both respect and often disagree with (it is possible to do both, lol) has posted an apologetic for his progressive view on divorce and remarriage. It should be noted that Michael is a solidly conservative, reformed, evangelical theologian (who rejects any progressive approaches on the topic of homosexuality). One of the things I appreciate about Michael is his humble posture/tone and his detailed, reasoned and abundantly clear argumentation.
You can read Michael’s full post here — worth reading. Go read it now, and then come back…
What strikes me about Michael’s argument is that he (unknowingly) is fully embracing my Plan-B Hermeneutic — that is, sometimes in a broken world we allow things that are the lesser of two evils… it is not God’s best or first plan, but it may be the best option for the individuals given the full reality of the situation.
Michael writes in his conclusion:
If you have been divorced and have remarried, by God’s grace and mercy enjoy the blessing of your marriage and build your family in a godly way. Don’t spend your time second guessing your decision to remarry. It will drive you nuts and create more problems than it might solve. After all, there is no decision that we make that doesn’t have some precursor of sin. As God’s providence finds its realization, we must understand that lives riddled with sin are all he has to work with. If this is not true, then grace is no longer grace. (emphasis mine)
I think this is the only real way to apply scripture to our lives and one that is both pastoral and consistent with what it means to follow and obey Jesus.
Most of us read Michael’s argument regarding divorce and remarriage and say “yeah… makes sense… grace… maybe not ideal, but it is the right answer.”
But most of us also will say when the same approach is applied to LGBT folks, “Nope… no way… evil!”
I would submit that these are parallel issues and that the same hermeneutics and ethics apply. This has led me to conclude that for many LGBT folks — living as we all do in a Plan B world — a loving, committed, monogamous, covenanted, Christ-centered partnership is the best option available — and therefore the most Christ-honoring option available.
After reading Michael’s post and thinking through the parallel issues, I would to hear your thoughts…