Matt Walsh published a piece about Jen Hatmaker’s interview with RNS where, among other things, she stated that she affirms marriage equality. It was a turn around for her previously held position that marriage was to be strictly between men and women. She has already experienced a fair bit of pushback as a result, including the end of sales of her books at all Lifeway Christian bookstores.
Walsh’s post boiled down to the main theme that when we’re talking about issues of faith, our feelings don’t matter, we just have to follow what the Bible SAYS. And it SAYS (according to Walsh) that gay sex is bad.
First thing, it’s not super clear that the Bible ever addresses loving same sex relationships. I know the verses that Walsh laid out in his post. And I’ve read lots of pieces from both those who oppose gay and lesbian relationships and those who support them, and there’s just not a consensus.
Personally, I think the context of the passages points to the ritual sex acts with prostitutes. It just seems odd to list things like idol worship and greed and slander and then, in the middle of that, sneak in a bit about two guys who love each other doing it. If a passage just talked about idol worship and then uses a word that COULD translate to sex as a form of idol worship, doesn’t that make sense contextually? It does to me.
So the whole idea that the Bible is Very Clear about gay sex is maybe not really the case. Walsh puts it out as a disagreement between “a lady on HGTV” and the Apostle Paul, but there are a number of scholars who would say that the HGTV lady and the Apostle Paul were on the same page, to the degree that they don’t speak the same language or exist in the same culture or have any of the same framework.
I have been with gay and lesbian couples and I cannot see something that causes harm. Walsh says that opposing same sex relationships “seems quite sensible and utterly consistent with the innate moral intuition that all human beings possess.” I find it to be the opposite. And yet gay people do no hold this “innate moral intuition.” I do not hold this “innate moral intuition.” Jen Hatmaker apparently does not hold this “innate moral intuition.” In fact, many people, probably numbering into the billions do not hold this “innate moral intuition.” Which makes me wonder just how innate it really is.
But beyond that I want to address the issue of feelings. Because that seems to be the real sticking point of Walsh’s piece.
When we start talking about feelings and obedience, I don’t see how we can avoid talking about slavery.
The Scripture never condemns slavery. It condemns poor treatment of slaves. It condemns kidnapping someone to use as a slave. But it never says that slavery is wrong or sinful or morally bad.
Yet most of us feel that owning another human is wrong. Not because the Bible tells us that it’s wrong, just based on our feelings. I think those feelings are good and right. I think they are based on the overall context of the Scripture and how we are best to love one another, but they aren’t based on a particular passage. Our feelings toward slavery have changed, and as such, our practices regarding the morality of slavery have changed.
I believe very much that we humans are created in the image of God. Throughout the Scripture, I see an emotional God. A God who shows compassion. A God who weeps when a friend dies. A God who spares a woman who deserves death. A God who feeds the hungry. A God who eats with the outcast and marginalized. Over and over through the stories in the Bible, we see a God who acts in a way that doesn’t always jive with the rules, but is simply an emotional response to the objects of affection – namely us, the creation.
This emotional, feeling God is in whose image we are created. How do we then draw the conclusion that we are to exist without feeling? How can we believe that we are simply here as mindless automatons, programmed to ignore our feelings and the feelings of those who we love? Jesus told us that his sheep will hear and recognize his voice, and the voice of God that I see throughout the entirety of the Scripture is one that is filled with feeling. That is the voice I choose to listen to.
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. The words of this simple song are some of the first and truest things we learn about the Gospel message. We are loved, the Bible tells us that we are loved.
Matt is right – feelings aren’t always true. But when our feelings point us toward becoming more loving, more compassionate, more graceful, then we can trust that we are hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd, the One who is telling us the Good News that all of us are loved by the One who has created and called us by name.