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06 January 2012

Praise: Shari Johnson Accepting Her Daughter

Three days ago Mark Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, had an opinion page on Fox News that condemned sex out of wedlock and condemned wedlock for homosexuals.  This is not new territory for Mr. Driscoll who has previously spoken against girly men and gays.  The piece from three days ago included seven points, two of which rightfully upset Ms. Johnson.
1. God created us male and female in His image and likeness with dignity, equality, value, and worth. Men and women are different and complement one another (Genesis 1:27-28).
2. Love is more like a song than a math equation. It requires a sense of poetry and passion to be any good at it, which is why people who are stuck in their heads struggle and are frustrated by it, and lovers prefer songs to syllogisms (Song of Solomon, all of it).
3. Marriage is for one man and one woman by God’s design. This is the consistent teaching of the Bible from the table of contents to the appendix and the teaching of Jesus Christ Himself (Genesis 2:24-25, Matthew 19:4).
4. God created sex. God made our bodies “very good” with “male and female” parts and pleasures. When our first parents consummated their covenant, God was not shocked or horrified, because He created our bodies for sex. The reason that sex is fun, pleasurable, and wonderful is because it is a reflection of the loving goodness of God who created it as a gift for us to steward and enjoy (Genesis 2:24-25).
5. Sex outside of marriage is a sin. Sinful sex includes homosexuality, erotica, bestiality, bisexuality, fornication, friends with benefits, adultery, swinging, prostitution, incest, rape, polygamy, polyandry, sinful lust, pornography, and pedophilia (I Corinthians 6:9-11,18-20, Hebrews 13:4).
6. Sex is to be done in such a way that there is no shame (Genesis 2:25; Proverbs 5:18-23). Many people experience shame in regard to sex. Sometimes shame is a gift from God in response to our sexual sin, sometimes it is the devastating feeling we bear because we have been sexually sinned against, and other times we have not sinned or been sinned against sexually but feel shame because we have wrong thinking and feelings about sex in general, or a sex act in particular.
7. Your standard of beauty is your spouse. God made one man and one woman. He did not ask them if they wanted someone tall or short, light or heavy, pale or dark skinned, with long or short hair. In short, He did not permit them to develop a standard of beauty. Instead, He gave them each a spouse as a standard of beauty (Genesis 2:23, Proverbs 6:20-35).
Numbers one and two make sense to me, as do numbers four and seven.  Number three contradicts the Bible's frequent discussions of polygamy.  Solomon had how many wives again?  Number five does not make sense in terms of biblical laws, as having sex was either adultery (a sin in the Bible) or marriage (creating a new marriage if one did not already exist).  Number six is almost correct, as the only things shameful about sex are coercion and rape.

Shari Johnson describes herself as an evangelical Christian.  She was shocked when she learned that her daughter is a homosexual.  It took a while for Ms. Johnson to come to terms with the reality of her daughter's life and her own relationship with God.  In an opinion page on Fox News today, Ms. Johnson takes on Mr. Driscoll.  In particular, she challenges numbers three and five.
Pastor Driscoll shares “seven sex essentials from the Bible,” and I would like to address “3. Marriage is for one man and one woman by God’s design,” and “5. Sex outside of marriage is a sin.”
When I hear terms like “God’s design” and “Biblical marriage” I have to wonder who decides these things. 
Our cultural adaptation of marriage has certainly evolved through the ages—had God not intervened, Joseph could have had Mary stoned to death for being pregnant with a child that was not his. (An engagement at that time was considered the same as a marriage.) 
That is just one example—so many books could be written on the history of marriage. Yet we keep a death grip on the scriptures that suit us—and the translation of those scriptures becomes more a matter of tradition, opinion and convenience than the Word of God. 
The hypocrisy of a Christian parent who shrugs her shoulders over one child’s “living in sin” and says, “What’s a mother to do,” but goes to pieces when she hears of her daughter’s homosexuality, is appalling. I was that mother.
If one can find anything amusing in all this, it is that those who are upset about sex outside of marriage are the same ones who are opposed to marriage equality. 
The principles for heterosexual marriage are the same for same-sex marriage—love, commitment, faithfulness, loyalty, honor and respect. How can we deny that to anyone? 
My daughter and her partner were married in 2004 and I couldn’t ask for a better spouse for my daughter, or daughter-in-law for me. However, my attitude traveling to the wedding was far different from my attitude on the trip home. God attends gay weddings. Who knew?
Ms. Johnson continues to discuss more about marriage.  I am very happy for her, that she has come to accept her daughter and her daughter-in-law.  Some gays, long away from religion after extended rejection, would be surprised at the line God attends gay weddings.  If there is a God, then of course God must be everywhere.  Of course God attends gay weddings.
If we spent as much time obeying God’s two greatest commandments, which are that we love Him and love our neighbors as ourselves, and less time policing everyone who is different from us, imagine what a world it would be.
If more religious leaders had as clear a view of God's word as Ms. Johnson, the need for equality would be obvious to all and much of the hatred and bigotry in our world would fall by the wayside.  Shari Johnson had a tough path to travel to gain her wisdom.  People like Mr. Driscoll made that path harder for her than it needed to be.  We need more people with the perseverance, wisdom, and eloquence of Ms. Johnson.


  1. "Numbers one and two make sense to me"

    From No. 1: "Men and women are different and complement one another".

    I disagree. There is more difference AMONG the cohorts of XY and XX people, than there are absolute difference BETWEEN them. [And "complement"? What does that really mean, anyway? I would think that any decent relationship, platonic or romantic, would involve a good deal of complementarity, or mutuality. Gender has nothing to do w/ it!]

  2. My observations of my students (not sexual, but gender) is that there are differences between the ways that most boys think and the ways that most girls think. This is not a denial of the huge range within each gender and a huge overlap of the groups. Let me try giving a single example.

    When boys are trying to solve a problem, they are more likely to jump to a conclusion, arriving at a solution faster but with a greater probability of being wrong because they have skipped steps. When girls are trying to solve a problem, they are more likely to need more time as they consider unnecessary steps, arriving at a solution that is more likely to be correct but slower. These are generalizations and there are individuals who are more methodical males and individuals who are more logic leaping females. The difference, in general, means that in a mixed gender classroom I can be more likely to leverage this distinction to help students see the strengths and weaknesses of how they are going about problem solving.

    So, I do believe that, in general, men and women are complementary. A government with only men or only women in positions of leadership is going to be warped into something unpleasant.

    Where I think we agree, JCF, is that individuals are not locked in to absolutes. Further, there is a spectrum of gender ranging from XX through XY. While men and women are generally complementary, specific men and women may be complementary with others of the same gender. I think of this as the case for myself and my partner. (No, neither of us plays the woman ... we are equals, just different while being the same gender).

    Relationships are far more complex than gender. Love and commitment require both thought and chemistry to work well. For most people in our society, that means the opposite genders, for some the same genders. Each should be celebrated.


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