I am apparently out of practice with writing persuasive essays, or coherently assembling researched examples, or writing this sentence,.? I’ve tried writing this clearly several times, and have ended up deleting it. So…
Here it is, as a bit of a ramble:
I’m really certain that the Bible is telling us to embrace same-sex marriage. The most obvious part is where, in I Corinthians 7, Paul is like “it’s better to stay single if you can abstain from your sexual urges, so you can focus on serving God, but it’s better to marry than to burn with passion.” Or the whole context of the relationship between sex & sin, where all sex outside marriage (whether fornication (pre-marital) or adultery (post-marital)) is sinful, but sex within marriage isn’t sinful—it doesn’t matter whether it’s sex with your girlfriend, your betrothed, your same-sex partner, your mother, or your brother’s wife; if you aren’t married, it’s sin. But then Deuteronomy 25:5 actually commands men to marry their brothers’ widows, and once they do, sex with them is no longer a sin, but a fulfilling of God’s command—just like any other sex-inside-marriage is, as reinforced by I Corinthians 7!
So if marriage is the only way to have sex and it not be sinful, and if it’s thus “better to marry than to burn with passion”, isn’t it clear that we should get married to a person we “burn with passion” for, regardless of their gender (as long as doing so would not require adultery; as long as they and we aren’t already married), so that all Christians may be saved from the fires of their own passions through the covenant of marriage?
Paul doesn’t say “it would be better to abstain, and better to marry if you can’t abstain, BUT some of you don’t get that option because of who you want to marry, so if you can’t abstain you’re just going to have to burn in Hell”, it’s just the first part: “It would be better to abstain, and better to marry if you can’t abstain.” And importantly, he also talks a lot about grace; i.e.: “It would be better not to sin, but if believers do sin, grace & mercy cover that sin, so they won’t have to burn in Hell for it.” I think this all ties together; even if we commit adultery (which also includes: re-marrying after divorce while your first spouse still lives) and even if we fornicate, we’ll be forgiven, but that doesn’t give us license to sin more (see: Romans); we’re supposed to do everything we can to reduce our own sin and to help fellow Christians reduce their sins—and since marriage is the only way to help two people avoid sin while having sex, we should be encouraging people to marry (regardless of gender) while providing a supporting community which will help that marriage last, stably, without ending in adultery and/or divorce. (I won’t attempt to get into the adoption/orphans side of this; that’s fairly well covered & obvious.)
Teaching abstinence-only, to any group which has not been led by the Spirit to intentionally choose that path (i.e.: monks/nuns), is not Biblical. We should be teaching healthy marriages, building communities to support healthy marriages and build strong families, and encouraging those who struggle to abstain from sex to work toward marriage—we should certainly not be admonishing sinners for trying to be righteous, or preventing them from undertaking the one covenant under which sexuality is separated from immorality.
Ooh, here’s another important point: So in Acts 15, the early church is trying to make a ruling on whether new Christians (Gentiles specifically; e.g.: not Jews) need to follow all the Old Testament rules, and in verse 20 they say, effectively, “Nah. Just tell them not to do these 4 things: Don’t eat meat sacrificed to idols, don’t eat the meat of strangled animals, don’t eat blood, and don’t be sexually immoral.” But then in Romans 14 the issue of eating meat comes up again because some people, because they couldn’t know for sure whether the meat at the market had been strangled, or sacrificed to idols, were abstaining from eating any meat at all—and more so because other believers, having fully absorbed the lessons Jesus teaches in Matthew 15 understood that it is not what goes into our mouths which defiles us (that’s just food), but it is by what comes out of our mouths that we may be defiled, were fine with eating meat.
Now, to me it seems clear that this isn’t just about eating meat (read the rest of Romans 14), but about freedom and about what rules we need to follow as Christians. Gentiles were given a mere 4 rules to follow (out of the hundreds in the Old Testament), 3 about what to eat and one about sex, and in the very next book of the Bible it becomes clear that “strong” Christians understand that they don’t really need to follow those rules, as long as they are “fully convinced in their own mind” and do so “giving thanks to God” in whatever they do—and why wouldn’t that apply to sexuality, too? At the very least as regards marriage, if not all sexuality?
Which, of course, goes to the main point of Romans 14, which is that, while some of us may be strong enough in our faith to understand that even same-sex marriages are marriages and even the sin of same-sex sexuality has been forgiven, we must not treat with contempt those whose faith is too weak to accept same-sex marriage. At the same time, those whose faith is too weak must not hold in judgement those of us with faith strong enough to permit it. And those of us strong in the faith must not flaunt our freedom in Christ, lest we put a stumbling block in the way of our brother or sister. Now, in the globalized, Internet-connected modern age, the recommendations at the end of Romans 14 become more challenging; the Church is not just the local community, any more, nor the body of believers who may stumble over our freedoms merely those who see us with their own eyes.
Therefore, although it seems clear to me that the Bible supports and encourages same-sex marriage (as it encourages anything which will help reduce sin), it also seems clear that we must be cautious not to cause those whose faith is not yet strong enough to embrace that concept to stumble, by acting on the freedoms given us in Christ. Instead we ought to focus on encouraging and strengthening the faith of our brothers and sisters, studying the Bible with them and teaching them (and showing them, through our actions, attitudes, and behaviors) of grace and mercy and forgiveness, that one day this stumbling block may be removed from before them. (Just as we have long since moved past a fear of eating meat sacrificed to idols, even knowing that most every piece of meat available to us was sacrificed to the idol of wealth. Our faith is strong enough that we do not become defiled by eating. Someday the Church will have faith strong enough that we will not stumble over helping people avoid sin.)