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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

 

Wednesday, May 11 2005
Jon Kennedy, webmaster

A letter to a
teen columnist

Today's Jonal is a response to a column I found online on Tuesday. Click here for the column that inspired it.

Joshua Parker
Tucson Citizen

Hello Joshua,

Having been, like you, a teen columnist myself when a junior in high school, and having made my livelihood writing and editing ever since, I was attracted by a link to your column, “Gay marriage untraditional? Well, so is divorce.” I was impressed by your logic, your breadth of knowledge, and your way with words. In the years since I was in high school I’ve taken some graduate studies in theology and more in journalism, and at times have edited religious magazines and secular newspaper columns in the field of religion, so I’d like to challenge you to broaden your perspective and deepen your historical knowledge a bit.

First, the heading saying that divorce is not “traditional” is not correct. Divorce was well established in Judaism before the time of Christ, and, while lamenting that it represents a failure to love, He allowed that divorce could be justifiable in some circumstances. The Orthodox Church, established by Christ and his apostles and existing in a clearly traceable lineage of leaders ever since, has never prohibited all divorce, and this was most likely known by the English church leaders who told Henry VIII that certain grounds for divorce could be found (though Henry’s grounds were hardly included in Christ’s formula for when divorce may be allowed; Matthew 5:32). And, of coure, nothing is sacred because it's "traditional"; principles become traditional only if they have proven themselves true and in the best interests of institutions and civilizations.

But more serious than this faulty assumption is basing your central argument on Old Testament principles of law which had been superseded by the time of Christ. The law, in the detailed ramifications you cite, was given through Moses for the nation Israel. But Israel was no longer a self-governing theocracy—no longer a nation—at the time of Christ, but a province of the Roman government. Its civil law was Roman law and Israel has never gone back to the theocratic law of Leviticus. Besides the changed status of Israel's government, other points of the theocratic law, and the Jewish ceremonial law, were specifically set aside by teachings given by the Holy Spirit to the founders of the church and the authors of the New Testament, as recorded in the book of Acts (chapter 10), and affirmed in the rest of the New Testament.

This central teaching of the New Testament (that many provisions of the Old Testament have been superseded) has always been high among the doctrines of the Christian church, yet I see the same disregard of it repeated in many other articles dealing with how society and Christians in particular should regard homosexual practices. Leviticus and Deuteronomy have been superseded, but the moral laws in them have been reiterated and retaught to the church by Christ and the apostles in and through the New Testament. It’s interesting that apologists for the gay goals and lifestyle generally cite Leviticus, apparently because they can say Christians don’t follow other ceremonial rules in that book, but they fail to mention that St. Paul specifically and repeatedly mentions homosexual fornication—and heterosexual fornication—as among violations of the Christian and natural moral law. Also, Jesus himself praised the effort of the young rich man who came to him (Matthew 19:15-17), accepting that he had kept the law in all points (but also adding that keeping it legalistically but not in spirit was insufficient). “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Jesus taught (compare verse 21 and Matt. 19:48).

You are right, of course, in saying Christianity is not the only major religion in the United States, and Christians under the Golden Rule know that what they defend as rights and privileges for themselves they must also defend for all others (secular humanism, the main competitor for the hearts of Americans, has no comparable motivating standard). You don't mention that none of the other organized world religions approve marriage of same-sex couples, and neither did Ancient Greece or Rome, even though the sexual practices of those empires were much like those now in our society, and in some quarters of ancient Greece, their debauched practices went beyond current standards. (Wicca has its following but it’s neither centrally organized nor is it worldwide in any sense close to the other religions you mentioned.) Moreover, the immorality of ancient Greece and Rome are generally credited by historians with having led to their downfall.

“Defending marriage” is not about specific people’s marriages, but about trying to keep it as something to aspire to and to seek in life for security and, pre-eminently, for the creation and nurturing of families. Every world religion has recognized this, not just conservative American evangelicals, Catholics, and Orthodox. Already, as you say, easy divorce as well as widespread acceptance of "living together" without marriage are attacking the institution and its wholesome strength as the place to bear and raise children. Adding yet another major front on which to undermine it is neither wise nor in the best interests of families, children, or our society.

Jon Kennedy 

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005

Perspectives

I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.

Sent by Trudy Myers  

Thought for today

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John Quincy Adams   

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