GROUPS: Life on this earth has always found us humans forming into variable relationships with other humans. People gravitate toward certain social groups (such as sporting hunters), political groups, job groups (such as labor vs. skilled workers vs. tradesmen vs. professions, etc.), friendship groups, racial & ethnic groups, gender groups (girls' night out; women's tennis), and long-term individual relationships. Grouping, almost compellingly, leads to some type of profiling to see if a person is "one of us".
MARRIAGE: Biblical marriage is/was a special heterosexual pairing (along the lines of procreative biological pairings of other species). Relative to our modern USA, by the time of Israel and Moses and the commandments and The Law of Israel, marriage became a primarily religious pairing, religious rules being essentially the same as the cultural and legal rules of those days (around 1250 BC and thereafter). In thinking of marriage and discussing issues of marriage, we Christians should not lose sight of the marriage indicated in our Faith, "sacramental marriage". Unfortunately, "marriage" has evolved into a main secular emphasis in our USA civil & legal arena (the legal arena having implications of...and potential for...lawsuits and big financial gains & damages). So, might there be room for marriages which are socio-legal, civil marriages and ones that are sacramental. Those who have a sacramental marriage could also opt in to be classified as legally married, too.
Nations and "the People": Societies in different countries of the world tend to divide up into classes of "citizens" or "subjects" of the government. As with some others of the animal kingdom (geese & mourning doves), for 1000s of years, there has been a strong personal and societal tendency for humans to "mate for life" heterosexually.
In the ancient Middle East, the Israelites (according to the Bible Old Testament) were a chosen people by God who were divinely given rules for human relationships in their society. The reason for such rules was to assure a close-knit peoples who are (both individually and collectively) capable of rightly honoring the one true God, YHWH.
In their "fallen humanity", the Israelites failed over and over again. In attempts to deal with their faltering ways, they ended up with a very legalist approach under The Law. This reminds me of America today: rather than Judeo-Christian and ethical undergirdment of our societal behavior, we depend nearly totally on laws & regulations and fight and sue and jail for infractions (rather than stoning, etc.). God sent Jesus into the world to save us both (1) during our lifetimes on earth (2) and for eternity. Jesus set out clarifications as to how to live rightly with right relationships (righteousness) in TWO COMMANDS. And, I have some thoughts on Holy Spirit indwelt Christians entering into marriage, HERE.
From time to time in human history around this world, there have been attempts to obliterate entire segments of society: example = Hitler attempted to exterminate Jews and Gypsies [INHUMANITY]. In the other direction in current times, there have been forces demanding special recognition of various ethnic, gender, or sexual orientation groups. In their zeal for special recognition and respect, it seems to me that there has been a real and huge strain on true right relationships. People are learning how to feign acceptance...even to a point of being over-zealous. The demands by same-sex (same gender) couples for recognition of "marriage" has caused special strain. The strain is special because positions often pivot on what it is supposed that the Bible says. In that it takes deep thought and honest discussion for many to try to get their heads around the multiple points of arguement & disagreement, it is troublesome that there is pressurized and agressive demand for instant and absolute acceptance. This cannot be good for right relationships & societal unity!
So, what about the general issue of same-sex marriage (about marriage)? The Bible has much to say about the "right" way to live life (in all respects) in this fallen world. As to marriage, it seems to indicate that such a special relationship has (1) a strong interest in the human function of procreation of new generations of humans and (2) good stewardship of the earth (humans being the prime divine interest and crown jewel for all of creation). In the absence of modern fertility science and medicine, this required a man and a woman. So, the sexual organs naturally form (when the person is without birth defect) in logical shapes and anatomical locations for mankind and all other species. Thus, Biblical marriage is a special status and bond between a man and a woman intending to be committed for life to each other.
Tied in with such a status are related rules about sexuallity. There are no rules against even extremely close relationships, man-to-woman, man-to-man, or woman-to-woman. But there do appear to be special rules against men having sex with men (Leviticus 18:22 & all sorts of sex sins, Leviticus 20). Yet, Jesus has since come to mankind with The Gospel. Beyond this, nations have tended to use "marriage" even further as a civil and legal name for this union. However, modern societies are now in high profile turmoil because some want to expand the legal definition of a word having a gender specific meaning for thousands of years.
Such turmoil is counter to right relationships! In this very emotion-laden zone of society, the confrontations force a "them against us" posturing which brings out anger and indignation. The rare actual civilized debate hinges around unproveable positions such as whether sexual gender attraction is inherited with compelling intensity vs. learned or chosen attraction vs. a combination of factors, HERE.
Much more commonly, society is wrenched by what amounts to "in your face" demands of acceptance of, and "respect" for, the demanded new order. The media, who can flash a video around the world in minutes, stimulates viewership by selecting the most upsetting examples to the point that the people are forced into deeply polarized positions. I think that the ELCA Lutheran Church (Protestant Christian) has, in the meantime, come up with a means of congregational safe havens for all while society debates, sorts things out, and evolves: "reconciling in Christ" congregations. The Catholic church has an approach called Dignity.
So, what are some of the passages in the Bible that are used in this debate [a 1 minute video]?
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This website author would note (1) that Jesus is all about unity rather than divisiveness. And (2) it is God, Himself, who appears to declare homosexuality a "sin". BUT, rather than be offended by the word "sin", check its meaning HERE. Jesus followers & denominations recap their positions as to homosexuality in good faith because of what is interpreted as what God says! Yet, Jesus wants us to love and relate well to all in all relationships, HERE (this link gives a 2015 update as to the idea of a "gay gene", etc.). Focus on the Family is another organization with resources to help non-traditionals who are dis-illusioned with their involvement in any LGBT lifestyle and also to help parents understand factors. Hope for Wholeness Network is a resource. DesertStream is a resource. Also see a Christian Church website, Transforming Congregations.
FINALE: Lest we allow ourselves to stay upset, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!" [see that very short Bible story of Jesus' warning, HERE] Careful with your radar detector!!!
[posted 24 December 2013; update 13 September 2015]