Update 3/12/2019: It's been a while since I had posted this article and it appears that the link to the Facebook post goes nowhere now. As this is a article that I've been far removed from since I wrote it, I'm not sure what exactly happened or has been happening with Brandon Hatmaker's Facebook account; let alone the original post.
I read through Brandon Hatmaker's recent post on Facebook. I've done two things that were clear that he specifically asked for. First, I read through his post and decided to respond with the consideration in mind that this is not public. I accept and recognize that anyone could read my response to his post. Their reactions can certainly be on a wide range of a spectrum. Second, I've done the same degree of studying that Brandon describes in his post. I can even add a third one, I listened to the Holy Spirit who shaped my thoughts on the subject.
I certainly have prayed about the debate on the subject matter of LGBT. And, I'm more than happy to receive criticism on how churches have handled people who identify as either in the LGBT community or identify as supporters of it. I have no idea which churches are specifically being referred to, but I'm sure they exist, and I'm sure some, many, most, or perhaps all of them share a similar view that I do. Thus, thank you for the criticism that churches are not "safe places" for the LGBT community. However, rest assured that churches like mine and those that are in the same networks that we are in are certainly attempting to establish the safest kind of place for this community, by preaching the whole counsel of the Word of God and confronting them and ourselves in our sin with the Gospel of Jesus Christ which secures our eternity future. There is no safer place than a place where we can say with certainty that we are innocent of the blood of those attending our services by not shrinking back from declaring to them the whole counsel of God.
I appreciate what Brandon has described as a "journey" that he and his wife took. I appreciate the information that is provided for why Brandon and his wife Jen have drawn the conclusions that they have. They certainly provided information that is helpful either for affirmation of their views or for critique.
There are fundamental issues that I have to take with Brandon's post as with what Jen said in her recent interview. The issues that I would raise in response are a huge deal. Not because I'm making them a bigger deal than they need to be, but because the obvious nature of the issues of LGBT and marriage are huge deals. I take these very seriously. I believe I am compelled to take these issues very seriously. Out of respect for marriage, for fellow human beings, but even more importantly for the Word of God and for God's glory.
With as much possible respect as I can muster and as much sincere love as I can conjure from my understanding of Jesus' love, Brandon and Jen both missed it. I'm sorry if this comes across as offensive. I sincerely don't want this to be mislabeled. But let this statement ring loud and clear:
“He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his 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.””
(Matthew 19:4–6 ESV)
Brandon and Jen, thus, saw what they wanted to see on their journey instead of what was actually said, by none-other-than Jesus Christ himself. "They" were not created male and male and given the reason for a man to leave his father and mother (a heterosexual relationship) and be joined to his husband. Those two are never in Scripture declared to be one flesh. A woman and a woman are never joined together by God.
I understand if anyone who wants to legitimize their romance through a lifelong, monogamous relationship would like to then also have a social acceptance in the form of an officially recognized institution, that they were inevitably going to seek that out. I disagree with that when it comes to same-sex relationships, but I understand the desire to want to do that. It just certainly is still sinful, and it certainly is still not marriage; it especially is not "holy" before God. What do you call it when something is explicitly defined by God and yet people do not use what was defined by God in exactly the way God described? Sin. So if God defines marriage first by the biology of the spouses, male and female, then by the relationship they came from, heterosexual, and then states the inseparableness of said union, how can you conclude that deviating from the prescription equals holy and acceptable to God?
So with all due respect for Brandon, his journey does not explain how it is that God established in the Scriptures that marriage should or could be acceptable and holy before God if it's a same-sex "marriage". Or where God actually defines a same-sex, lifelong, monogamous relationship as the marriage. You might say that He wouldn't need to, but that doesn't solve the issue. He did define marriage and His definition doesn't include homosexuality.
Instead, Brandon, while attempting to affirm his and his wife's own journey on the basis of their study of Scripture, doesn't arrive at Scriptural conclusions, they arrive at the rhetoric of those affirming the LGBT side of things. I've lost track of who I've heard originating the argument that Brandon used because it's gained such a wide acceptance in the LGBT "Christian" community. Suffice it to say Matthew Vines certainly comes to mind. They actually, therefore, didn't abide by the Scriptures they abided by an LGBT presupposition. They then inserted that presupposition into, really, any passage of Scripture they were studying. Is it any surprise that when you want the Scriptures to say something that they end up saying what you want them to say as long as you can convince yourself of a good enough argument? There's no other way of explaining how it is that anyone can read that marriage is explicitly defined as between a man and woman that somehow also means other kinds of relationships as well.
The argument essentially goes as follows: God does not condemn nor define homosexuality or homosexual relationships as "sin" it defines the "abuse" or misuse of homosexual acts as sinful. For example, as Brandon himself stated, that heterosexual sex outside of marriage is wrong, therefore, homosexual sex outside of marriage is also wrong. The conclusion, therefore, is that the Bible condemns any and all such sexual acts that are not apart of a marriage. This is underscored in Brandon's paragraph here:
Every verse in the Bible that is used to condemn a “homosexual” act is written in the context of rape, prostitution, idolatry, pederasty, military dominance, an affair, or adultery. It was always a destructive act. It was always a sin committed against a person. And each type of sexual interaction listed was an abuse of God’s gift of sex and completely against His dream for marriage to be a lifelong commitment of two individuals increasingly and completely giving themselves to one another as Christ did for the church.
Besides Matthew 19:4-6 listed above, which Brandon's views clearly do not match up with Christ's definition of what Marriage is, Brandon is not being truthful about the Scriptural presentation of homosexuality. First, it's important to note that there cannot be the existence of gay marriages that are holy before the Lord because there cannot be homosexuality that is holy before the Lord as there are no homosexuals who are Christians. The very fact that Brandon could read Michael Brown and miss this point is a clear example that the argument of good, holy gay "marriage" was already accepted as fact and that Brandon and his wife saw what they wanted to see. Notice,
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9–11, ESV)
There are three striking characteristics of this passage of Scripture. First, is the fact that homosexuality is listed not in the context of abuse as Brandon wrongly indicated every example of homosexuality in the Bible would have to be in order to be sinful. Second, it is denounced as a sin that is called unrighteousness that prevents a person from inheriting the kingdom of God. It's clear that it states those who "practice" sin, or in other words, a person's continued, unrepentant involvement with sin. Certainly, those who struggle with same-sex attraction and seek help to deal with those attractions meaningful and Biblically are not those in view here. But it's impossible not to conclude that those who involve themselves in a seeming, life-long, monogamous, homosexual, commitment to marriage or those who don't care about a committed relationship but want to experience homosexual relationships, are in view. Third, is the definition of a Christian as someone who is washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God are those who are explicitly classified as no longer homosexual.
To summarize, the Bible obviously does list homosexuality as a sin in a context that doesn't call it to sin by calling it abuse. And the Bible does exclude the possibility of those who are Christians as being homosexuals.
A further consideration needs to be mentioned on the basis of the fact that Brandon said he researched the Greek and the Hebrew. But obviously, he either didn't research the Greek and Hebrew honestly or again only attempted to see what he wanted to see. As proof, let's turn attention back to Matthew 19,
They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
(Matthew 19:7–9, ESV)
The context has to do with Christ being questioned about His clear teaching of the life-long commitment of a man and a woman. Again, I reiterate, Jesus clearly defined through creation, "He created them male and female" and it was for that reason that a man leaves his parents who had a heterosexual relationship and joins into his own heterosexual relationship with a woman. The Pharisees then asked Christ about the Old Testament permission that was given to divorce. In other words, how can Christ say that it's a life-long, inseparable, God-ordained institution of marriage be a lifelong institution if Moses allowed divorce? Christ's answer is that Moses did so not on the basis of the ability to divorce for any reason but on the basis of the people's hard hearts. And furthermore, Christ stated that if someone were to divorce for any reason, other than a specific reason that Christ Himself is the only one allowed to define, and if you marry another you commit adultery.
What is problematic for people like Brandon and his wife is the exception that Christ gives for a divorce that enables a person to marry someone else without committing adultery. Christ said, "And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery". The phrase, "sexual immorality" is a word in the Greek text that creates a huge, unexplainable problem (in addition to the aforementioned problems) for those advocating for a "holy" gay "marriage". The Greek word is πορνεία (porneia) meaning "sexual immorality" or "fornication".
The wide range of meaning of porneia is astounding. It covers some serious ground with respect to sexual sin. For example in 1 Corinthians 5:1, fornication is used to refer to incest. According to the Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, porneia refers to any sexual act that is not lawful i.e. within marriage and in accordance with what God defines marriage to be. Notice,
πορνεία, ας, ἡ (1) generally, of every kind of extramarital, unlawful, or unnatural sexual intercourse fornication, sexual immorality, prostitution
Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Baker’s Greek New Testament Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 323.
Any and all sexual sin that the Bible defines as unlawful and extramarital or unnatural is absolutely porneia. This obviously from the context of the Bible would include homosexuality. It is both the unnatural (God created them male and female and said those two shall become one flesh) as well as the unlawful (homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God).
The reason why this creates a huge problem for the Hatmaker's is the fact that there is no possible way that God would both define homosexuality as a lawful reason for divorce and define homosexual marriage as holy. It's such a fundamental contradiction for the existence of a "holy" marriage when by the Bible's definition of one's ability to divorce without committing adultery or remarrying after a divorce without committing adultery is permitted on the basis of homosexuality in addition to all forms of fornication.
In light of the Bible's definition of reality, imagine the vows of a gay "wedding" from a Christian worldview. Vowing to love someone in sin and in a state of having a constant, Biblical ability to divorce them because of the sinful, immoral nature of the relationship.
It's one thing to fight for one's "right" to exist in a life-long, monogamous, gay relationship. That's certainly something that I'm still willing to debate from a Christian worldview as still not right, but that certainly is an entirely different argument than saying that homosexuality can exist in a marriage and be "holy" before God. That's absolutely untrue.