Roger Olson writes, in a post Are divorce and remarriage and homosexual relations comparable?:
A recent guest editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (April 1, 2012) argues that evangelicals are inconsistent, if not hypocritical, when they tolerate divorce and remarriage but condemn homosexual relations.
The article Olson refers to is by Tim Turner, a former pastor who is himself divorced and remarried. Turner doesn’t himself use “hypocritical” or related words, but that is what the charge he makes amounts to. He argues, rightly, that the Bible has a lot more to say against divorce and remarriage than against homosexual practice. He sees divorce as a much greater threat to families than gay marriage is. Then he writes,
So why all the blood, sweat and tears on the gay-marriage issue and not on the things that are truly a threat to families? Sadly, that’s easy enough to figure out.
Within our churches, and even the evangelical community, we want the freedom to do what we want.
We want to divorce when we want to and to remarry when we are ready, and we don’t worry too much about those troublesome words Jesus spoke 2,000 years ago. Christians divorce and remarry at a very similar rate to that of everyone else in our society.
However, most of us are not homosexuals; we may not even know any. And really, we have to draw the line somewhere, don’t we?
This is an issue which I looked at on this blog, from a rather different perspective, back in 2007, in a post Homosexuality, Divorce and Gay Marriage. See also my 2008 follow-up posts Is there a moral difference between homosexual practice and remarriage after divorce?, I do NOT applaud divorce and remarriage and Remarriage, homosexual “marriage”, and burning passion.
I stand by what I wrote in those posts. Jesus made it clear that sexual relationships outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage are wrong. He taught that remarriage after divorce, presumably if consummated, is adultery. While Jesus did not mention homosexual relationships, in the Old Testament and in the letters of Paul they are listed together with adultery as equally wrong.
Nevertheless Jesus taught that, in the law of Moses, God allowed divorce and remarriage, as a concession to the hardness of human hearts. Because of this concession, I have no objections to the state and the church permitting divorce and remarriage, provided that it is not used as a pretext for sleeping around, or for abandoning responsibilities for one’s family. But it should always be taught that this is less than God’s ideal.
My argument was that the same concession could reasonably be offered to gay and lesbian couples. Thus I have no objections to same sex civil partnerships with no Christian celebration. I would prefer the word “marriage” to be reserved for heterosexual couples, but would not want to make a big issue over the word.
As for celebrating civil partnerships or gay marriages in church, I am pleased that this is not a part of the UK government’s current controversial proposals. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that gay marriages in church should be allowed. But I do see the force of Tim Turner’s argument: it is indeed hypocritical for Christians to campaign against gay marriage, and to refuse to celebrate them in their churches, while at the same time they are happy to remarry divorced people with no questions asked.