Marriage equality is a thing that’s happening so there’s no need to waste your time with an introduction to the issue. For the most part, I find myself profoundly unaffected by whether or not a worldly government wants to grant secular contractual privileges to people or not, so my interest in the issue is almost exclusively in how it directly affects the Church and God’s people in it. I’ve seen two articles in the last few days that I found particularly thought-provoking. They are Kevin DeYoung’s Gospel Coalition post, 40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags, and Matthew Vines’ 40 question response on Religion News Service. There’s a lot that I agree with in both of those posts, and a lot that I frankly think misses the point.

I think it misses the point because the Church generally (and many if not most local churches specifically) fails to teach people to think theologically–to connect the revelation of God given in Jesus Christ and attested to by Scripture with contemporary issues and everyday events and problems. As a result, we talk past each other and see the world through the wrong lens, because we ask the wrong kinds of questions. We ask questions that fail to address first things. We ask questions and make arguments without reference to our basic relationship to our Creator. We ask questions that are focused on our feelings about things, questions that hinge on culturally conditioned priorities, questions that expect black-and-white Bible verse answers. It’s like trying to jump into algebra without learning multiplication tables. We can only get so far if we fail to cover the foundations (or get the foundations wrong).

So I would like to humbly propose this alternative set of questions, all of which I consider to be more foundational than most of the questions being fired around the internet and media. Without reflective answers to these questions, the rest of our conversations very quickly devolve into straw men arguments, name-calling, and Bible-thumping. If I succeeded at all in what I set out to do with this post, the list will avoid a neat categorization into “pro-” or “anti-” marriage equality (as I find my own opinion doing). Some are rhetorical, some are leading, some are thoughts that I genuinely don’t have an answer for. I hope you find them helpful or challenging, or whatever else you might need them to be.

  1. What is the role of Scripture for Christians, collectively and individually?
  2. What aspects of your life have been reoriented by an encounter with the Word of God in Scripture?
  3. What is the purpose and end of human existence?
  4. What does it mean that all things were created good?
  5. Do you believe that the Fall of Genesis 3 radically broke the goodness of God’s creation?
  6. What ramifications does the Fall have for human relationships–to self, God, and others?
  7. Is natural occurrence an indication of inherent goodness or rightness?
  8. Is sexual attraction the ultimate measure of love?
  9. Can love exist apart from sexual attraction?
  10. From where do we derive a definition of what love is?
  11. How has Western culture shaped your understanding of love and romance?
  12. Can human beings fulfill their purpose apart from a romantic and/or sexual relationship?
  13. If you are heterosexual, have you ever given any thought to celibacy?
  14. If you are heterosexual and sensed God calling you to be celibate for your whole life, what would your reaction be?
  15. How much of the Bible have you read?
  16. What is the relationship between the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) and the New Testament?
  17. How do you decide which Levitical laws are cultural purity laws and which have some kind of ongoing moral relevance?
  18. Is it possible that the Bible just doesn’t really address homosexuality as it is an issue in our culture?
  19. If so, where does that leave us?
  20. Can you think theologically about homosexuality and transgender issues in a way that amounts to more than quoting a handful of Bible verses out of their original context?
  21. What defines identity?
  22. Is your primary concern in all things how you and others relate to the Creator who made us in his image?
  23. Is it possible for something to be a broken result of the Fall, yet not be “sinful”?
  24. What exactly is sin, anyway?
  25. Is sin violating an abstract moral law?
  26. Is sin a condition? a tendency?
  27. Is sin a relational term?
  28. What does it mean that Jesus conquered sin?
  29. What does it mean that God became human?
  30. What is heaven?
  31. Does Scripture ever talk about someone “going to heaven” vs. being kept out of heaven or going to hell?
  32. If being homosexual or acting on homosexual desires is sinful, does that identity or lifestyle prevent someone from having a relationship with Jesus?
  33. Does one have to have intimate experience of something before their opinion is valid?
  34. Is it possible to hold moral convictions without being bigoted or small-minded?
  35. Does the State currently, and has the State ever, held any power over the kingdom of God on earth?
  36. What is the kingdom of God?
  37. Is it possible to view homosexuality as wrong theologically, and yet also advocate for State-recognized marriage equality?
  38. Is it possible to speak about love without reference to Jesus Christ on the cross as the full revelation of God’s love for human beings?
  39. Have you thought about the implications (theological, ethical, governmental, etc.) if history (or eschatology) shows whichever side you fall on to be wrong?
  40. Do you believe that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, by whom and through whom and for whom all things are made, and that he has conquered sin and death and is sitting at the right hand of the Father as the true Lord and God of the earth–and yet either discrimination and hatred, or else moral failure and compromise, catch him off guard and threaten to bring his never-ending love and gracious salvation to an end?