Gay Marriage and the Wrath of God

Yesterday I posted here about Jim West, Miley Cyrus and the Wrath of God. At the end of my post I suggested that Romans 1:18 and following does not imply a clear condemnation of gay marriage, especially if the wrath of God is understood in the way that Jim West suggested.

In a comment on that post Gordon challenged me to explain the exegesis of that passage on which I based my remarks. As I stated in my comment in reply, that exegesis is “a tentative suggestion rather than a firm conclusion”. It is also offered from Jim’s viewpoint and so presupposing his view of the wrath of God. But I will offer here some further explanation.

Jim wrote, and I quoted, that

the wrath of God is God allowing people to reap what they sow.  In short, the worst thing that can happen to you is, well, you.

That implies that in Romans 1:18 (all quotations here from NIV 2011) “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven” means not so much “God is exercising his wrath” as “God is showing people that he is allowing them to reap what they sow”. The following preposition epi is usually translated “against” but more literally means “on to” and can probably here be understood as “concerning”.

On this basis verse 24 can probably be taken as the content of what is being revealed, that “God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.” Thus God’s wrath is to be understood not as sending these people to hell, but as allowing them follow their sinful desires. In the words of Hultgren quoted by Jim,

The wrath of God consists in God’s not stopping or rescuing people in their wrongdoing.

Note that in this verse “them” refers back to the gender neutral anthropoi “people” of verse 18, men and women, and so verse 24 is not about homosexual practice but more generally about sexual immorality. In verses 26 and 27 homosexual practices are introduced, but only as examples of a broader phenomenon. The last part of verse 27, “[they] received in themselves the due penalty for their error”, very likely refers not just to the gay men of the first part of the verse but to the “them” of the first part of verse 26, in other words to all ungodly people as in verses 18 and 28.

Miley Cyrus' gay marriage finger tattooSo what does this have to say about gay marriage? Miley Cyrus has expressed her support for this with a tweet that “All LOVE is equal” and a finger tattoo. Does the Bible support this idea? Perhaps it is not quite as negative as it might at first seem. We read in verse 26 that it is God who gave people over to “shameful lusts” including homosexual ones. This suggests that homosexual orientation comes from God, although more as a curse than as a blessing.

So if God brings a gay or lesbian couple together, let them be together. To quote Jesus’ words, “what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:9).

27 thoughts on “Gay Marriage and the Wrath of God

  1. That last paragraph seems to be a double-edged one, Peter. I can’t tell if you mean it in a good or bad way. Are you trying to separate out ‘marriage’ and ‘sex’? I don’t think that’s biblically possible.

  2. Benjamin, I am deliberately being a bit double-edged. But my point is basically that God has ordained, perhaps condemned, these people to a homosexual life, not to enjoy the normal blessings of family life, and it is not for us to stop them getting what God has given them. That doesn’t of course mean they will please God by what they do. But really I think it is none of our business interfering in the lives of unbelievers. It is a bit of a different matter if they call themselves Christians.

  3. Thanks for the clarificatiin. The problem certainly then would arise when churches bless same sex marriages and people feel GOD blesses their union or their lifestyle.

  4. No, I completely understand what you are saying. It’s not a matter of you endorsing gay marriage within the Church. What I am saying is that when churches DO bless homosexual marriages, or homosexuals look for the blessing of God because that is how they feel God made them, and churches go along with it… it creates problems. Then, we have “homophobes” within the Church because there is this other segment that “blesses” homosexuality.

    It just gets blurred when the Church can’t make up its mind on issues like this.

  5. Thank you Peter for sticking your neck out here. I have no objection to finding I must go back to Scripture and remind myself why I may have concluded something and possibly be ready to modify my current take.

    I once said to a work colleague , when the legislation was nearing Royal Assent that while I had misgivings, I could not join those who expressed outright opposition. To a point I felt that people will do what they will do and providing some legal and financial protection in return for a commitment seemed reasonable. So I share your thoughts in your most recent comment.

    The extent t which we impose ourselves on others is one I find tricky – and double edged. The Law was specifically given to the Jews and in its Christ fulfilled manifestation to Christians. And yet God’s way is still something we should show in our lives as the better more holy way, and encourage others to follow. Specifically the commanddment about a day or rest is arguably founded back in creation, which may be why it is explicitly applied to the aliens servants and livestock in the household. So I am more wary on that one. Must look at the relevant chapter in “Issues Facing Christians Today” again – Stott had something to say.

  6. Dan, it is a difficult situation when homosexuals come to the church looking for God’s blessing. I think we should bless them as individuals but not bless their partnership. But it can surely be pastorally difficult to know how to do that without alienating the people.

  7. Colin, thank you for raising some important questions. I agree that we should demonstrate God’s way in our lives. I would not say that we should seek to impose it on others. As for encouraging others to follow it, we need to remember that they can only start on that way through the cross. It doesn’t do them any good to go in the right direction in their ethical behaviour if they haven’t got on to the right road. I remember last year in Boston, Massachusetts I knew which direction I wanted to go in, and drove in that direction – but I found myself at the side of a broad river at ground level when I needed to be on a bridge high above me. To get there I had to retrace my steps back to the bridge entrance ramp and then go in the right direction.

  8. Another good one Peter. Excellent, really.

    We’ve gone back and forth previously on questions regarding Todd Bentley. Trying to get beyond the cheap online satires of Bentley. I think the same considerations apply here. If we had access to a quantum computer (assuming we’re smart enough to do a structured query!), then we might see God’s judgments as amazingly surprising. God could bless Todd Bentley’s work even on a particular day when Todd Bentley is out of touch with the Spirit (God adding an ordered overlay of healing despite Todd’s stochastic out-of-touchness – on that day – a timed series). Or God could withhold a blessing of healing from Todd’s ministry even on a day when Todd really is in touch with the Spirit (God causing a stochastic overlay of non-healing on top of Todd’s well-ordered day) because God has a different timed-series or a different purpose for healing for a specific individual on a specific day. That’s God’s judgment.

    I think the case with gay marriage is a lot like that. Case by case. Not even judgment case by case – but God’s judgment day by day, or moment by moment.

    Look at how many heterosexual marriages are suffering the Spirit’s corrections – day by day, or, moment by moment – because of episodic mutually abusive practices in otherwise healthy heterosexual marriages!

    The more I read of Jim West and his gang, the harder and harder it is to suffer their promiscuously broad brushed theological judgments. It’s almost like they spit out broad brushed judgments. Just to see what sticks.

    And talk about what sticks …

    Peter, like Bob Dylan wrote in a song about Calvinism, “it ain’t easy to swallow, it sticks in the throat.”

    Thanks for doing your best at differential diagnosis, Peter!

    Cheers, Jim

  9. Jim, I don’t get the comparison between Todd Bentley and gay marriage, unless it is simply to say that we shouldn’t put God in a box but let him decide for himself what to do. I agree with you about Jim West, but then he seems more interested in getting readers than in truth and consistency.

  10. Peter, you got it. Not to put God in a box. Here’s for you – from me – me as a charismatic (not as a student of religion this time, or as a student of sociology of religion, or of comparative religions). This is a personal statement. I do think we can know (still know in part, prophesy in part – only in part) the nature and direction of God’s judgment. Yes, I think we can know that. Through the Spirit. From the Spirit. We can know. For me, however, I’m fortunate to know God’s judgment in a mere single case. One case before me at this moment. The Spirit’s inner directions for a case. Known through listening and prayer. Just one case at a time. I pray with my clients. They pray too. They hear. Or I hear. Or we both hear. Not always. Sometimes.

    I don’t think this comment risks violating any confidences.

    I get weary with broad-brush theological judgments. I am wrong about that. Sometimes a theological version of Maxwell comes along. And synthesizes theology into something new. I need to watch my own bias against broad-brush theology.

    Anyway, you did get my point. ~ Jim

  11. Knowing you a little Peter, I’m thinking you’re having a laugh, but okay, I’ll bite.
    Two fundamental things – the sovereignty of God being misunderstood. Humans were given authority in the world at creation, which we then foolishly handed to Satan. Poor choices come from him, and God will not ever be bringing gay and lesbian couples together.
    Secondly, God spent all his wrath when Jesus was crucified. There is now peace between God and Man. When we make poor choices, we do suffer the consequences, and God would prefer us to avoid those, but It is Satan causing the harm.
    The lusts mentioned in Romans would not be shameful if God approved of them in any way.

  12. Wait a minute. Peter, please say that you were not just having some humor? I see the comment by Nigel Beaumont. I don’t really think this is humorous. And I don’t think the issue is whether God brings these people together. How many heterosexual people can say with absolute definitiveness that God brought them together? Why do I see so many divorce cases among heterosexuals who were sure that God brought them together? – why so many broken and dysfunctional families (not yet divorced) who are sure that God brought them together? – why so much domestic abuse in heterosexual marriages between heterosexual spouses who will say that God brought them together? And these questions do not even get into all the implicit and subtle abuse from male-dominance theology in heterosexual households. God allegedly brought Adam and Eve together – and they had a heterosexual field day blaming each other. And lying. And hiding under leaves. And heterosexual marriage was not – for sacred father Abraham of un-faith and of father of un-monogamy. Abraham who sold his wife out to Abimilech. And many others like Abraham.

    The question is what God is doing with all of us?

    We do what we do.

    God does what God does.

    And that is no laughing matter.

    As far as God’s personal judgment on marriages – that question about judgment holds equally for heterosexual and homosexual marriage. Those who flaunt judgment better clean their own houses.

    Peter, somehow in my heart, I know this criticism does not apply to you. But it is no laughing matter.



  13. Ah, yes. I thought that might be what you meant, and I’m more or less in agreement. Seems to me that when you get Christian activist groups campaigning against gay marriage the gospel is completely drowned out. That should tell us something.

    In many ways widespread acceptance of gay couples in society will return us more to the situation of the early church – isn’t that something charismatics like you and me are always keen on? 😉

  14. Nigel and Jim, thank you for continuing this interesting conversation. There are some elements of humour here. First, don’t forget that I am deliberately exploring the implications of a certain understanding of wrath which I don’t entirely share. Then it was a bit tongue in cheek that I quoted “what God has joined together…”, but it is good that this has opened up discussion of what it means for God to join a couple together.

    Nigel, I don’t completely accept that “God spent all his wrath when Jesus was crucified”. He has no more wrath against us who are in Christ. But the New Testament has enough about the wrath of God being on unbelievers to show that this is not the end of the story. But I don’t see this continuing wrath as being of the fire and brimstone variety.

    I agree that poor choices are prompted by Satan and his minions, although the people who make them are still responsible for them. But we have to consider the origin of homosexual orientation. Is it entirely mythical, just a matter of learned behaviour? Some Christians might claim that, but I don’t believe it. Can evil powers mess up the human psyche enough to be the cause of it? Possibly. Or is it because God chooses to create some of us that way, perhaps as an expression of his wrath on them? I don’t know. But we do know from biblical examples, like Pharaoh’s heart being hardened, that God can be behind people doing things which he considers shameful.

    Anyway, to take up Benjamin’s point, we are not going to save anyone by forcing them to abstain from homosexual practice, so we would do better to preach God’s love and healing power.

  15. Peter, thanks for your patience and kindness. In straightening me out. I missed the humor. Which means I partly missed your criticism. Thanks for laboring.

    Now this. This is humor. I came back here to tell you I’m correcting my blog post about you (no need for you to read it). To amend accordingly. So I come back here to your blog to say so.

    I get here to your blog. And I see this huge banner – an internet banner – flash and blink across my computer screen – “REGISTER HERE TO VIEW GAY SINGLES IN LAKE TAHOE!” – right here on Peter Kirk’s blog! I’m wondering? How much money Kirk is getting to promote these gay hookups :)?

    Peter, it’s our technology. I know you love your wife. I’m heterosexual and it’s not my heterosexuality that’s my problem. It’s my narcissism about it! So the reason why I did not sign up here on your blog to hook up with gay singles in my area – is not because of morality :). I’m just not interested. Go figure.

    I know that banner for gay hookups is not from you (or do I? – hehe). The banner to sign up for gay singles is from a third party source because the word – “Gay” – is in your blog post. The third party software assumes that people come here to your blog to hook up with gay singles. Peter, a little advice. You could make money from this [humor]!

    So? What now? Do I need to go back to my blog now? And rename the title of my blog post. PETER KIRK PROMOTING GAY HOOKUPS – “THERE IS NO WRATH OF GOD,” KIRK SAYS, “SIGN UP HERE!”

    Tell us, tell us all, how far do you want to take the word, dilettante, here?

    I’m going over to Rod’s house (Political Jesus) and start propagating the above meme in your name!

    But tell me. How many gay hookups are happening over at Jim West’s blog? – whenever he uses the word – gay – in his posts? Does West want to know? How much money is West making on the gay industry? :).

    I gotta get outta here. Your blog is bad for me. ~ Cheers, Jim.

  16. Thanks, Jim. I get a few pence or cents every time someone clicks one of those links. They are chosen for me by Google Adsense. I can block certain categories, and have done so. But I can’t block gay dating unless I block all dating. In fact I have just decided to do so, but largely because this category currently takes 13.7% of my impressions but only brings in 2.7% of my income. Better to redirect my traffic to other categories.

    Or perhaps I should encourage you to post your inflammatory title and direct to me lots of traffic from furious gays, who will want to rush to Lake Tahoe to cool off and so bring me lots of ad income. But somehow I don’t think it would work. Let Jim West try that one.

  17. Hi Peter, thanks for taking the time to explain your position on this issue. I understand where you are coming from but you do leave me with a couple of concerns.
    The first is your statement that we should recognise homosexuals living in a legally authorised relationship as being in the same position as a heterosexual married couple. ‘Whom God has joined together etc.’ In the light of James 1:14ff this is mistaken.
    My second point is that, assuming you are right and i am wrong here, and the status of the homosexual couple has been recognised as marriage, according to the law, what happens if one of them gets saved and takes the view that the relationship is sinful, has God still joined them together?

    Best wishes,


  18. Gordon, as I mentioned in a later comment, by point about “what God has joined together” was partly tongue in cheek. I don’t think we can really consider offering gay marriage as an enticement to sin as I doubt if any gay couples save themselves from sexual activity until they are married. I suppose if one of a gay couple were saved and decided to make the relationship a celibate one, and the partner agreed to this, it should continue. Otherwise the rule in 1 Corinthians 7:12-13 applies – but I would not apply the rule in 7:5.

  19. I had found this rather obscure “blog site” whilst googeling an entirely different topic. Yet, I was intrigued, and read further. Imagine my surprise to find several middle-aged white men, all proclaiming their heterosexual proclivity, and their Christian inclinations, discussing “gay marriage.” Yet, you’re not talking about marriage at all; you’re discussing sex. Right? Not sex as in gender, but sex as in, well, sex. Nakedness. Orgasms. Etc. Go figure.

    Before you rant..I mean…”Blog” out your “well I never!” reply, “I don’t think we can really consider offering gay marriage as an enticement to sin as I doubt if any gay couples save themselves from sexual activity until they are married” speaks for itself, does it not? Would you make such a blanket statement about all heterosexual couples? Of course you wouldn’t. You would come off as an idiot, reducing the complexity of human relationships to “did they do it before the got married” had you said that in any topic other than “gay marriage.” But beyond you boys giggling about “gay hook-up ads,” which was hilariously pathetic, it was the general theme of “maybe God makes fags so that they will come to see what happens to fags, when God makes fags” that was just about the lowest example of pseudo-intellectual reasoning that I’ve seen in quite some time. And, for the internet, that’s saying A Lot.

    It seems pointless to even attempt to offer a third alternative to you; you’ve already decided that the only two possible explanations for two females, or two males, falling in love, as people often do, are either “well that’s the Devil for ya” or your “God’s wrath” theory. Besides, your discussion was about sex, not love, not marriage; it was about sex. And you giggled.

  20. Nat, you misunderstand me. My post here was about gay marriage, i.e. about state recognition of same-sex partnerships. It is not about sex, although most partnerships involve sexual activity. Yes, there is perhaps a sub-text here that most of us discussing this matter believe that homosexual activity is not God’s ideal for humanity. But the discussion is quite explicitly not about that, but how gay marriage should be understood in that context. And if anyone actually offered what you call “just about the lowest example of pseudo-intellectual reasoning”, it was not me.

  21. Your “post” was a response to Miley Cyrus believing that “all love is equal.” That “God is love.” That the bible does not encourage a holier-than-thou approach to passing judgment on others. That only God can judge. Your point was that you’re pretty sure God hates fags, but perhaps God made fags to show us how much God hates fags. You simply cloaked your personal opinion behind what you’re pretty sure God thinks, then “most of you,” meaning you and a couple buddies, went on to discuss sex; the right kind of sex, the wrong kind of sex, etc etc. (he-he, giggle-giggle.) You’re a genius.

    Absolutely nothing wrong at all with an 18 year old lending her support to couples who are in love but feel judged and rejected by people who are unable to agree that “all love is equal.” She went on to say that “God is love.” Absolutely nothing wrong with that either. Her God is accepting of two people in love with each other, and her God does not see their race, their gender, their religion, in the same way that those who would condemn that couple do. Her God knows what is in their hearts; her God sees their love for each other; and her God is the author of love.

    There was an 18 year old girl affirming her God’s love for some other 18 year old boy, or girl that is in love with another 18 year old boy or girl, and her point was God made you that way and God loves you, and God loves your love, and God is love. Yet, you had real problems with that sentiment didn’t you? You saw “homosexual activity,” and you and your buddy giggled and giggled about “homosexual hook-up ad’s” that you had agreed to post on your website. And your fundamental rebuttal to her assertion/affirmation that “God made you that way” was to propose that, perhaps, God chooses to make every fifth, or tenth, or twentieth, child of God fall in love with another child of God of the same gender so that God can “express His wrath.” I understand that, to you, that is a fine example of not only deep thinking, but of clear and reasoned theology. And you understand that I think it’s pseudo-intellectual babble, put forth by an individual that is no less guilty of creating God in his own image as is Ms. Cyrus. You’re both in the entertainment industry, but that’s about as much as you have in common with each other, though the chances of me buying a Miley Cyrus CD are about the same as me clicking on one of your Google Adsense ad’s.

    Miley Cyrus’s Topic was God’s Love. Your topic was “homosexual activity,” not “state recognition of same-sex partnerships,” and it sure as hell wasn’t about “God’s love.” It was about you and your buddies discussing “homosexual hook-ups,” under the guise of “how gay marriage should be understood,” and you will cherry pick your verses and passages to support how Prophet Peter Kirk’s God feels about that, so spare me your condescending holier-than-thou “theories.”

    “Or is it because God chooses to create some of us that way, perhaps as an expression of his wrath on them….[because]…. homosexual activity is not God’s ideal for humanity” remains just about the lowest example of pseudo-intellectual reasoning, not to mention sophomoric circular-logic, that I have come across in quite some time on the internet, period. Maybe you were drunk, I don’t know. That’s just my opinion, but you were hardly “misunderstood.”

  22. Nat, my post (why the scare quotes?) was in response to Miley Cyrus’ campaign for the legalisation of gay marriage – at least that is how it has been widely understood.

    I never said anything like “God hates fags”, and I do not believe that or anything like it. I believe that God loves everyone, but also that he wants them to live according to his standards – which include sexual activity only within heterosexual marriage. I did not discuss sex at all in this post, except in the Bible quotation and when I wrote “verse 24 is not about homosexual practice but more generally about sexual immorality”.

    You quote a sentence of mine starting “Or is it because God chooses to create some of us that way”. Please note that this was one of three options I was putting forward, because others had suggested this. It is not my position, as I made clear when I followed it with “I don’t know.”

    I make no claim here to be a prophet speaking from God. I am only putting forward my own rather tentative ideas. I am happy for people to shoot them down. But I would prefer them, and I mean you, Nat, first to read the post and previous comments carefully and to understand what I am saying and what I am not saying.

  23. Thanks for the clarification, Reverend Pete.

    I’ll admit at first I was very confused as to why you seemed either unable or unwilling to actually address what it was that Miley Cyrus had said, and later, twice, your non-response to my direct quotes from her, about love. But you offered the link to a 15-sentence Huffington Post article about Miley Cyrus that you were actually commenting on.

    My sincere apologies. I saw those same tired arguments that were used to prove that God was anti-inter-racial-marriage back in the day (“God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another,”) only this time used to show how God is anti-gay. It’s been long understood that the reference is to the, at that time, rather common practice of sex with slaves/sex with animals/sex with children, etc etc, and that sex without love is not only meaningless, but actually harmful to the soul. No wonder you had zero intentions of addressing Miley Cyrus’s point that two people in love are simply in love, and why your only comments referred to sex. Her point was that two people in love should receive the same sort of respect from society that the rest of us enjoy. But, if I understand you correctly, it’s not the actual love that you find so objectionable, it’s the sex that might take place within the structure of that loving relationship. But I’m just guessing. Her original comments were about love, and all of your responses are about sex. Is it fair to say that it’s a kind of sex that you personally find repulsive, and that you are now using the same biblical reference that at one time was used to Prove why “the races should never mix” to Prove that God is anti-gay? Yeah, I think that’s fair.

    As for the quote that I attributed to your blogs, time and again; again, my apologies. It’s been long accepted that God gave us free will. And, at the risk of over-using the phrase, the oh so tired argument that God created certain people to behave a certain way, so that God could illustrate His Offense at their practices, has been in direct opposition to that understanding, that God created people with free will. So, I apologize for suggesting that you ascribe to that laughable theory. As you said, you’re not endorsing it per se, you “just don’t know.” The verdict is still out, for you, on the free will theory.

    Well I hope this clears up the misunderstanding:

    1. You aren’t interested in what Miley Cyrus said about love, and God’s love. You are replying to an article about her.
    2. The “sinful desires of the heart to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies” is basically how you see same-gender relationships. Irregardless of any assertion that the couple in question might actually be in love. (Replace “different race” with “same gender.”) As you interpret the passage, Love was not the missing element; it was strictly a reference to human genitals.
    3. “Or is it because God chooses to create some of us that way, perhaps as an expression of his wrath on them? I don’t know,” doesn’t necessarily imply that you are Not of the God gave people free-will school of theology; you just haven’t actually made up your mind yet.

    Please accept my sincere apology for taking your Blog seriously; I understand now.

  24. Nat, I am not a Reverend. I accept that I was responding primarily to what some people had said about what Miley Cyrus did and said, and not everything that she might have meant. I agree with you that “sex without love is not only meaningless, but actually harmful to the soul”. I agree that my objection is not so much to love in the abstract as to homosexual activity.

    But the issue is not at all with “a kind of sex that [I] personally find repulsive” as with a kind of sex that God has declared repulsive – at least according to how many people understand the Bible. I wish I could accept your understanding of Romans 1. I am not even saying that it is impossible. Indeed much of the point of my post was to explore alternatives to the “God hates fags and sends them all to hell” type of interpretation. However, the passage, and other Bible passages, do seem to make it clear that homosexual activity falls short of God’s standard of perfection. I am trying to explore exactly what that means in practice.

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