Thursday 10 May 2012

Obama uses Jesus' Sermon on the Mount to justify same sex marriage

US President Obama yesterday gave his endorsement to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Here is a full transcript of his statement courtesy of Life Site News.

Their report also gives an interesting account of how Obama's views have changed back and forth on this issue over the years.

It is thought that Obama was placed in a position of having to make this statement as his Vice-President Biden had done the same two days earlier. Leading Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney immediately expressed his opposition to legalisation.

I have previously posted my 'Guardian Reader's Guide on Biblical teaching on Sexuality' which takes a different position to that Obama currently holds.

See also my 'Ten Reasons not to legalise same-sex marriage'.

Transcript of Obama's statement

I have to tell you, as I said, I’ve been going through an evolution on this issue. I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally. That’s why in addition to everything we’ve done in this administration — rolling back Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, so that outstanding Americans can serve our country, whether it is no longer defending the Defense Against Marriage Act which tried to federalize what has historically been state law — I’ve stood on side of broader equality for the LGBT community. And, I hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient. That that was something that would give people hospital visitation rights and other elements that we take for granted. And I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth.

But I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage. At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

Some of this is generational. You know when I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same sex equality or, you know, sexual orientation that they believe in equality. They are much more comfortable with it. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.

This is something that, you know, we’ve talked about over the years and she, you know, she feels the same way, she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, you know, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president.


  1. "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."

  2. How are we to be salt tho'? By compelling or persuading? Are we really supposed to compel others to adopt the characteristics of NaCl? There is an issue of what's perceived to be good for society, but for good or ill it's by democratic means that we set our legislation. Setting aside whether or not government have a mandate on this one issue(in the absence of a referendum), is there a better way? One man's theocracy is another's dictatorship. Surely a hallmark of the created order is freedom to choose?

    1. The hallmark of democracy is the rule of law for the common good. And every law limits someone's choice.

      You cannot grant liberties to one group without restricting the liberties of another.

      Same sex couples already have civil partnerships which grant them all the rights of married couples.

      Let's leave it there rather than redefining marriage for everybody else. It is not one size fits all.

    2. yes CPs may provide the same rights, but as Obama is trying to say- the issue goes beyond simply 'rights'. Does anyone get married simply for the rights they gain? Did you marry your wife simply to have legal rights as a couple, or did you marry her also because marriage is a special recognition of your love, and for the official status of that?

      And as the point has been made so many times... 'marriage' is already being redefined through sham marriages, marriages that last mere hours etc. so many people would argue that gay marriage won't make any impact upon straight marriages, and i still fail to see what this impact is actually supposed to look like in reality.

      i am open to having my views changed but i have not yet found an argument that convinces me, or even almost convinces me, that letting same sex couples use the sacred word 'marriage' will have any impact on heterosexual marriage.

    3. One of the main problems is how a same sex marriage law would be framed without at the same time changing the nature of heterosexual marriage.

      The definitions of consummation and adultery are the most problematic as they are crucial in dissolution, inheritance etc.

      If marriage is to be fully equal then the definitions must be the same, but because of the anatomical differences(!) they can clearly not be.

      This will effectively decouple sex from marriage which will change the nature of heterosexual marriage profoundly.

  3. Without getting too explicit, are you REALLY proposing that marriage is defined by who puts what bits where? I imagine many heterosexual couples might run aground or at least feel that this wasn't something that they 'signed up to' when they were married. There's enough debate, even amongst Christians, about words like "submit" - what you're invoking opens up a whole can of worms...

    I come back to my original point - the created order is arguably the model rather than a human construct (democracy) for what is good (or very good). Democracy was not installed as part of the created order - it's a pretty modern addition. Freedom of choice was there from the start. It was also reiterated in Jesus' conversation with the rich young ruler, with Nicodemus, with the woman at the well, with the calling of the first disciples, with the woman caught in adultery... Even with Paul in Romans, folk are allowed to pursue their wishes to live in a way which is contrary to God's desire. Freedom of choice is clearly a priority to God, as He is revealed in both OT & NT. Indeed, if we accept Plantinga's argument on this issue (shanemuk's disparaging dismissal notwithstanding ;-)), it's the best understanding we have of the presence of moral evil in the created order.

    Can you find a single instance in the NT where Jesus required folk to jump through hoops before He accepted them? Sure, after they accepted him, or when they were contemplating following him, He pointed out the cost, but He never advocated compulsion to behave in a certain manner. And at what stage in his ministry/his disciples' discipleship did He suggest they be salt and light? After they'd recognised who He was doctrinally? No. After they were exemplary models in their personal lives? No. After they had sorted out their treatment of women and slaves? No.

    To be clear, my reading of the NT leaves it difficult for me to support an active homosexuality (however nice I would like to be towards friends and strangers), but that is a different matter from legislating against choice between consenting adults.

  4. Generally I wonder if the atheist/unbeliever is missing out all the theological arguments the Bible gives for marriage, and so they are left (like Obama seems to be in his recent speech), floundering to work out what is wrong with "gay marriage". By "marriage" I am talking about marriages conducted in a Christian church.

    There are creational aspects in Genesis that show God made a woman for Adam, clearly, and the Fall shows how things got changed in terms of a man and womans relationship. The Apostle Paul (not an Apostle by his own choosing, but by Christ's choice) builds on this in the New Testament, explaining how a man and woman in marriage is a symbol, or "type", of Christ Jesus with His Bride (the Church), and that when you have sex with someone you become "one flesh" with them...intercourse is not just rubbing bits or you against bits of another matters in the Spirit. And Christians are called to be holy, even though we are saved out of all sorts of backgrounds and lifestyles in the mercy of God.

    Since the 60's we have heard of "free love", and slowly we have got used to fornication and adultery without comment, it has become seen as normal hetrosexual behaviour (and gay behaviour actually, as there is a recognised propensity amongst gays to swop partners regularly in the club scene). But the debate on gay life long faithfull marriage draws us back to the issue of what the Bible says clearly,- not vaugely,- that sex is for marriage between one man and one woman and gives reasons why. Free love is not taught in the Bible, the cost is marriage for life.

    I have to wonder why, if you are a non-beliver, would you want to get married in a Christian Church? Tokenism? But they are trying to force the Christian Church to bow down to athiest rules then. If they want to demand to married in a Christian Church, and tread over all our doctrine, it looks like Gay activists are going to have to do some serious Bible study to argue against Paul's assertions and the creational order revealed in Genesis, and later in the Pentatuch.

    Hetrosexualism is the new sin (sic) in the Cultural Marxist book of politically correct positions, as it were.

  5. I don't consider the above to be necessarily at odds with my previous comment. At present at least, the legislation being considered is in a state context, not in a Church context. If folk want a Christian marriage in a church, conducted by clergy, they have to accept what the Christian Church's understanding is of Christian marriage (no other grouping is better placed to define it). I was responding to objections to the definition of marriage by society atlarge. Whilst we are entitled, (and arguably should) attempt to influence that, I'm not at all convinced we should be seeking to impose a Christian definition on those who don't subscribe to the faith.

    1. you're right slicer. there is a massive misconception in the church that suddenly gay people will be married at the altar. same sex marriage as proposed by the current reforms is for state marriage only, same sex couples will not be able to have their marriage in the church. however, civil partnerships can be accompanied with church ceremonies in churches that choose to host these, and that's where it becomes a confusion because people think that suddenly gay unions will be endorsed by the church when actually if the legislation goes through it won't make any difference to the number or style of same sex unions that happen within a church building, in fact quite the contrary because non-christians would probably opt for state marriage. it is more likely to be committed christian couples who opt for civil partnerships so that they can have the ceremony in a church.


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