Westminster-West prof "could affirm domestic partnerships" for homosexuals

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by darrellmaurina, Aug 16, 2012.

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  1. darrellmaurina

    darrellmaurina Puritan Board Freshman

    You're basically correct, Elder Van Der Molen, in understanding what I meant -- I have a long history of defending the importance of respect for office.

    That principle applies beyond the church world and I think I need to say a bit more than I did in my prior post to Martin Snyder.

    I don't have to like President Obama, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but according to Romans 13, I do have to respect their offices, and in a free nation like ours, my rights and responsibilities as a citizen include respecting their offices enough to remove them from office via peaceful means, namely, using my vote and my free speech rights.

    This has important practical applications to modern politics.

    While I like many things about the "Tea Party" movement, I cannot affirm the anti-authority attitudes which are growing in popularity in conservative circles. I am seriously concerned that if conservatives start using an approach to political activism modeled on Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals," that essentially anti-Christian view of government has its own logic and will take us into places we do not want to go.

    There are reasons why Abraham Kuyper's political party was called the "Anti-Revolutionary Party." We are conservatives. We are not revolutionaries. There is a difference, and a conservative version of French Revolutionary ideals and methods is just as contrary to Scripture as the French Revolution itself.

    In politics, we need to get to 50 percent to win. That means we need to take allies where we can get them, including people with whom we may have important disagreements. But let's not forget that if we don't follow God's methods, we cannot expect God's blessings.
  2. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    Agreed. From "Domestic partnerships" it's an easy step to homosexual "marriage."

    I was asked about this question once, and responded that domestic partnerships would only be acceptable if any two people at all could enter them: two brothers, a father-son, daughter-mother, etc., and were independent of sexual status. But as I found out not too long ago this isn't what government has in mind (A couple of sisters tried to enter into a "domestic partnership" in Europe-England, I think-and were denied because they were not sexual partners, which shows plainly where this is heading).
  3. jetbrane

    jetbrane Puritan Board Freshman

    In this case two Christians who hold the same beliefs about "striving to love our neighbor on chat boards" may appeal to neighbor-love to support or to oppose either castigating the neighbor or caressing the neighbor.
  4. jetbrane

    jetbrane Puritan Board Freshman

    Might I recommend here Christopher Goodman's Sermon

    How Superior Powers Ought To Be Obeyed By Their Subjects: And Wherein They May Lawfully By God's Word Be Disobeyed And Resisted.

    How Superior Powers Ought To Be Obeyed

    Also David W. Halls fine book wherein he deals with the issue of historical Calvinism and resistance to tyrants

    The Genevan Reformation and the American Founding: David W. Hall: 9780739106396: Amazon.com: Books

    Or this book on Romans 13

    Civil Government: An Exposition Of Romans Xiii,1-7: James M. (James McLeod) 1809-1 Willson: 9781172011629: Amazon.com: Books

    And you could profit by reading Jonathan Mayhew's classic on Romans 13
  5. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I am not understanding Dr. Horton as saying that he agrees or endorses any partnership that is sexually illicit. I am still waiting for him to clarify what he means but it seems to me he is saying that the civil realm is just (right) by Natural Law in giving security to those in civil unions economically and legally.

    Thanks for the clarification Darrell. Thanks for jumping in Mark. Those who don't read you or know who you are might read your comments differently than you meant them. I didn't know who you were till recently. On another note, my Pastors actually will let me spew stuff. I don't know why. LOL They will even listen to me sometimes. LOL
  6. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    Even if you disagree, I think the question is such a position (even if he clearly stated that he affirms that he could tolerate gay civil unions) against the Confessional standards as revised and adapted by the Churches (in this case the URCNA)?

    The Americanisation of the Reformed Confessions, in allowing for religious liberty of all sorts (something missing from the versions of the 16th and 17th Century) do seem to permit such a notion of separating private belief in truth/morality v. policy in the public sphere.
  7. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Randy, Horton in fact was making his statement in the context of an illicit gay relationship. He specifically made the point that such relationships "deny human dignity" in the very same sentence where he said he "could affirm" domestic partnerships to protect that couple's economic interests.

    I am hoping that Horton was just ignorant of the meaning of such unions when he wrote his piece. Civil unions are more than a simple contract that protects property interests. The following link gives an overview of the Illinois civil union law. It is specifically intended to convey on couples all rights, benefits, obligations, and procedures found in the forming and dissolving a marriage, just without giving it the name of "marriage":

    A Guide to the New Illinois Civil Union Law | Illinois State Bar Association
  8. darrellmaurina

    darrellmaurina Puritan Board Freshman

    Dr. Michael Horton has responded to my article over on CO-URC. I believe it is important to let him speak with his own words, and I'm copying his response from CO-URC and my response to him below.

    The original post and my response are here:

    Yahoo! Groups

    For those who don't know, Elder Mark Vander Pol is the clerk of consistory of Dr. Horton's local church, a member congregation of the United Reformed Churches, and he has been forwarding correspondence between Dr. Horton and the United Reformed discussion group. He is also the webmaster of the White Horse Inn and stated clerk of Classis Southwest United States of the URC.

    Dr. Horton is a brother in the Lord and an ordained minister of a confessionally Reformed church. We need to remember that, and treat him accordingly, which certainly includes listening to what he has to say. It is possible to be right on the Gospel and wrong on politics, and I think that's what's going on here.



    --- In [email protected], "mvpol31" <[email protected]> wrote:
    > Response from Dr. Horton:
    > ***
    > Dear Darrell,
    > Thanks for your note—and for your remarks defending my "overall" orthodoxy.
    > I don't regret anything I said, interpreted in the context in which I said it. The Free Republic simply misinterpreted my point and extrapolated, without the slightest foundation, that I would be willing to officiate at a same-sex union. How ridiculous! When I clearly and repeatedly argued against homosexual practice of any kind, much less a union!
    > Being open to affirming a civil arrangement that allows partners inheritance, insurance, and other economic benefits, is NOT being open to same-sex relationships!!! My point was to say that the gay lobby is not really interested in equal rights, but in equal affirmation of gay and heterosexual marriage. So Christians should NOT treat the marriage debate as if it were equivalent to civil rights. Some Christians do argue that we should allow a pagan state to honor "life commitments" regardless of marriage, but to argue that this should be called MARRIAGE is ultimately not a question of civil rights but of the meaning of marriage itself.
    > I cannot help the fact that some have apparently overlooked the distinction I've made—and the fact that it's part of an argument AGAINST gay marriage. I can only hope that people would not spread false impressions based on where they think it will lead rather than what I actually argued.
    > In Christ,
    > Mike Horton
    > ****
    > Mark Vander Pol, M.Div.
    > Candidate, URCNA
    > Elder, Christ URC (Santee, CA)

    Thank you, Elder Vander Pol, for passing on this response by Dr. Horton.

    Dr. Horton, I'm listening carefully to you when you say that until my comments, nobody had expressed similar concerns, and on the contrary, some people had said you were being overly negative toward homosexuality.

    I'm also listening carefully to Dr. Gerhard Visscher, head of the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary, who objected to the way I addressed you in my initial post. I'm going to try to write this post with the tone, length, and attention to detail that I would write if it were being submitted for publication in a Christian magazine.

    (For those people who will remind me that the internet likes short snappy responses -- sorry, this isn't a Twitter feed. This is a serious discussion about serious issues, and we're Calvinists who value serious discussion of theology. Let the broad evangelicals go have their short discussions; we're Reformed, and we write books on things about which broad evangelicals write paragraphs because we care about getting to the meat of what the Bible says. Furthermore, Dr. Horton is a respected theologian of the top ranks and deserves to be treated as such.)

    Dr. Horton, I'm glad that you wrote that "being open to affirming a civil arrangement that allows partners inheritance, insurance, and other economic benefits, is NOT being open to same-sex relationships." It clarifies that you continue to believe same-sex relationships are sinful, which was never something I doubted.

    Unfortunately, it also indicates that I did understand you correctly that you are "open to affirming a civil arrangement that allows partners inheritance, insurance, and other economic benefits." I had hoped I misunderstood you or that you had written something without due caution. It appears on that point that I understood you correctly.

    To see a respected Reformed leader affirm civil domestic partnerships is a problem.

    It is especially a problem in our current political context where they are being used as a half-way step toward full government recognition of homosexual marriage, or what in some ways is worse, privatization of marriage as a personal contract between people in which the state is not involved.

    You're a very smart man, Dr. Horton, and you already know that inheritance benefits can be provided by wills. Insurance benefits are usually a private arrangement between an employee, employer, and insurance company, and government has no business regulating most aspects of private property. You didn't mention hospital visitation, which is often an emotional issue raised by homosexuals, but let's ask this -- should a Roman Catholic or Baptist hospital be required to give hospital visitation rights to a "domestic partner" of a patient? I personally wouldn't advocate hospitals denying visitation to a domestic partner, but as long as you're concerned about the coercive power of the state, what are the implications of a formal "domestic partner" law for people who have conscientious objections to recognizing that domestic partnership?

    There are many things which could be said to engage your position, but let me begin by saying that I sincerely believe that you are on the right side of the fight for orthodoxy. You have done tremendous good in the Reformed world.

    I believe our differences on whether we could affirm domestic partnerships for homosexuals stem from a fundamental disagreement with you on your view of political engagement -- in your words, that "Christians should not seek to promote distinctively Christian doctrines and practices through the properly coercive power of the state." I believe all legislation reflects someone's view of morality, that there is no neutrality in the civil realm, and that it is not Reformed for Christians to leave their faith outside when they enter the statehouse door or the voting booth. We're called to live 24-7 for Christ, not restrict our faith to what we do in church.

    However, while that is an important issue, it is also a secondary issue. It is entirely possible to be right about the Gospel and wrong on politics.

    Furthermore, from my own political background, I am very much aware of the need to get to 50 percent to win, and that means I want to find ways to agree with people when I can, and that includes trying to find a way to agree with you, Dr. Horton. On most things we will agree. This is an exception.

    I believe it does Reformed people no good to divide into minuscule narrow camps of "true believers" who spend most of their time fighting over minor points with the people with whom they have the closest affinity. In the minds of some conservative Reformed people, that comment makes me suspect as someone who is not sufficiently "TR." My response is that John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, John Knox, and the Puritans in England and New England would never have succeeded if they had not learned to build coalitions with those who shared common core values, even when they disagreed on important but secondary issues. We're not going to agree completely on this, but I do believe we're going to be in agreement on the need to oppose sectarian divisive infighting. Some battles are worth fighting, some are not, and still others need to be conducted as polite conversations between brothers, not full-tilt battles for blood.

    With that preface said, Dr. Horton, let me move on to my main point -- that it surprised me when you said that nobody had expressed concerns similar to mine until now.

    To quote your words, "I've received criticism from evangelicals (and others) who thought I was too hard-line on the issue. So this one is a first. Until this one, I haven't seen any responses that see any of the dangers that Mr. Maurina raised here."

    I understand your point that your essay was intended to defend the importance of saying that marriage is only between one man and one woman, and that a homosexual marriage is not a marriage. I also understand that your essay would attract significant criticism from those who demand that government recognize same-sex marriages.

    While it does not surprise me that your comments were criticized for being overly negative toward homosexuals -- as you acknowledged in your original essay, those who advocate the gay agenda will keep pressing until they get what they see as full equality under the law -- I do believe your comments cross an important line into places where most conservative Calvinists will strongly disagree with you.

    I've received a number of emails either attacking you for having gone off the rails or asking me how the great Dr. Horton could possibly say such things. Obviously I have no inside insight into your mind, but I think what may be happening is that your view of political engagement is leading you to say things which are uncomfortably close to what political and theological liberals say.

    That's not good, and a lot of people, not just me, don't react well when we see people saying they "could affirm domestic partnerships." Many conservatives see that as a sign of weakness or willingness to compromise, and it is a major red flag given current cultural issues.

    I realize you may not want to fight the culture wars, but the culture wars have now come to you in the form of this "homosexual marriage" and "homosexual civil union" debate.

    Dr. Horton, I realize you don't live and work in the same world as most conservative Calvinists, who tend to live in some of the most conservative socioeconomic groups in North America.

    First, you're in Southern California. That might as well be a different planet compared to the Bible Belt where I live and work, and is even more removed from the Dutch subcultures in which most churches of your denomination are rooted.

    Here is just one example of how what you may consider to be common sense principles which are commonly assumed are not at all commonly shared in places where most Reformed people live.

    Your essay includes, almost as an assumed fact, the statement that "we can no longer say that 'Judeo-Christian' ethics are part of our shared worldview as a republic," and then asks whether, if that's true, we can validly be accused of being arbitrary in demanding that homosexual marriages be banned but not promoting efforts to "make divorce more difficult" or a "ban providing legal benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples."

    The lack of a shared Judeo-Christian worldview in America may be assumed in Southern California, but that sure isn't a given in a lot of the rest of the United States.

    Also, Dr. Horton, with respect, there **ARE** people talking about things like "covenant marriage." I wish there were more, and I think we can agree that the "easy believism" of too much of evangelical Christianity and lack of church discipline is not helping our case in the gay marriage fight. The divorce rates among evangelicals are a scandal and the gay marriage battles could very well be a punishment by God of the American church for our weakness on the issue of heterosexual marriage. On the other hand, if by "benefits" to unmarried couples you mean insurance benefits, which is what that term typically means in the context of homosexual partnerships, I grant that a private corporation or insurance company can do what it wants. Government has no business intruding in most matters of private property rights.

    Second, much of your training has been in some rather rarefied circles of elite academia, and that creates a risk for you of being viewed by your liberal colleagues as so much of an ultra-conservative that you may inadvertently slip into some liberal views that don't get challenged by more conservative friends and acquaintances. It's very easy for conservatives in academia to say to themselves when criticized, "What do you mean, I'm a liberal? I'm one of the most conservative person I know outside my Westminster Seminary faculty, and I regularly get attacked as a right-winger by academic and evangelical colleagues."

    Dr. Horton, I saw that myself when attending Calvin and then dealing with the Christian Reformed fights. The temptation to compromise for acceptability is powerful, and a number of ministers and elders had to privately pull me aside asking why on earth I was conceding ground to the liberals on areas where Scripture and the confessions have direct teachings or clear implications. "Go along to get along" gets taught to children beginning with kindergarten by both precept and example, and it's not a good thing to learn. We're supposed to be testing everything and holding fast to the truth, not trying to be liked.

    I have seen far too many conservative evangelicals who do not have a confessional foundation fall into moderately liberal positions precisely because they do not have a confessional foundation, while still reassuring themselves that they are staunch conservatives because most people around them are much more liberal.

    When "conservative" is seen as a relative term rather than adherence to the plain text of a written confession, the slippery slope can quickly become very steep.

    You already know that from your study of history. You're a confessionalist and have fought for confessional integrity.

    Dr. Horton, I've said repeatedly that I believe your core orthodoxy is sound, even though you've gone in some strange directions with this essay. I urge you to carefully rethink whether it was either prudent or necessary for you to say you "could affirm domestic partnerships" for homosexuals. In an area like homosexuality which the authors of the confessions never had a reason to address, I think the biblical principles are so clear that there can be no compromise by Christians.

    The discussion of domestic partnerships is not happening in a vacuum. It is part and parcel of a homosexual agenda. To affirm domestic partnerships in the current context is to compromise -- or at least to be seen as compromising -- with the homosexual agenda.

    I realize that Christians have to deal with the reality of the political systems in the nations where they live. The political actions of Christians in one nation may have to be different than those in another. Geneva was not Zurich, Scotland was not England, the Huguenot regions of France were not the Netherlands, and the Calvinists living under Turkish rule in Hungary had a different set of political problems altogether.

    Maybe in a radically secular country I could imagine a Christian politician tolerating homosexual domestic partnerships. In the late 1800s, I can't imagine that any American conservative Christian would have ever imagined we'd have to choose between voting for a Mormon presidential candidate or a man who left a liberation theology church -- Americans were actively using Christian values to prosecute Mormons on polygamy charges and refused to let Utah into the United States unless it outlawed polygamy. We're now forced to decide between the lesser of two evils, both of which evils would have been inconceivable to our forefathers.

    Politics makes strange bedfellows, and if something isn't done quickly to fix what's wrong with America, we're going to be facing more and more hard decisions, of which homosexual domestic partnerships will not be the worst.

    But what you said was not that you could tolerate homosexual domestic partnerships, but that you "could affirm" them. That raises a red flag with me, and with many others, I believe.

    We don't live in France with a radically secular foundation for their Republic. We live in the United States, a nation with a Judeo-Christian foundation, and also a nation where outside the radical extremes of the West and East coasts, most of America still thinks of itself as a Christian nation.

    Dr. Horton, please seriously reconsider whether, in a nation where we can still appeal to Judeo-Christian values that are shared by most Americans, there is any good reason to affirm domestic partnerships. I believe all that does is run the risk of having those who support the homosexual agenda cite your views and then say, "See, even Dr. Horton, a well-known conservative, thinks domestic partnerships could be okay."

    That's not someplace I'd want to go.

    Darrell Todd Maurina
  9. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Mark, I am asking Dr. Horton specifically these questions. I understand the context he was speaking in and how they related here. I am asking him some very specific questions so that I can wrap my mind around this. I think he is affirming the right of the Government to do as it will here based upon this Natural Law / Two Kingdom's perspective. I do not believe he is affirming the right of individuals to act wickedly. Now how those two are not related is confusing to me. Dr. Horton fully acknowledges that Homosexuality and Illicit sex between a man and a woman are sinful and are acts that God will pour out His wrath upon.

    In the mean time I am saddened that Dr. Horton has been accused of endorsing Homosexuality and I am saddened if I have played a part in that even indirectly. He would never do that. He has a reputation of calling all men to Christ for Salvation. I do have problems with his doctrine of what the Gospel is but that is another issue. So I am not fully giving my support for his doctrinal stances. I am trying to get clarification on what some of those stances are right now so that we may all speak intelligently about the subject at hand. As you know I am not a 2 Kingdom / Natural Law guy. I am not a fan of the way that law and gospel are portrayed. I am not Klinean and have called some teaching in the Church Modern Reformed Thought. I do know that Dr. Horton does not endorse individual wicked actions.
  10. darrellmaurina

    darrellmaurina Puritan Board Freshman

    Martin Snyder has raised a question over on another board about my last post. It's a fair question. I think I can defend my statement, but let's use this instead: "To see a respected Reformed leader say he could affirm civil domestic partnerships is a problem."

    I have absolutely no desire to misrepresent Dr. Horton. This is an area where words count and I want to stick as closely to his actual words as possible.

    Darrell Todd Maurina
  11. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member


    Thread is straying far from a discussion on the original article. Our rules do not allow the importing of discussions from other forums, forwarding people's responses from other venues, or posting of private emails.

    Besides, the link to the Yahoo group presupposes that everyone has an account. Many of us don't.

    Let the discussion stay focused on the original article, and do not import other discussions. If that cannot be done, the thread will have to be closed.
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