Chris and Pat Should Definitely NOT Get Married

Preston Sprinkle —  May 6, 2014 — 43 Comments

In my previous post, I asked the question: Should Chris and Pat get married? As we’ll see, I don’t think they should.

In the debate about homosexuality, those in favor of same-sex marriage often appeal to several virtues that justify a marriage regardless of the gender of the two partners. For holding-handsinstance: if a couple is committed to faithfulness and mutual love, if they abstain from sex until they are married, if they are both committed to Christ and desire to follow him, then they should get married.

After all, there’s nothing destructive in such a relationship. There’s no harm to themselves (one could even say they are harming themselves by not pursuing marriage), nor would their marriage cause any harm on other people.

To get more specific, one could say that sex between two men is potentially harmful to themselves. Without getting into the details, some studies show that male-male sex is biologically harmful. But: Chris and Pat are not two men. In fact, the sex that Chris and Pat will enjoy after they are marriage are the same acts that heterosexual couples engage in.

If the biblical standard for marriage is mutual love and sacrifice, commitment and Christ-like faithfulness, and pre-marital purity; and if sin is determined primarily in terms of whether it breeds destruction upon the ones committing the act or upon others—then I see no reason why Chris and Pat should not get married.

And to give a few more details: Pat is 28 and Chris is 26, and neither have been married before. And no, Chris is not the name of Pat’s sheep.

However, I don’t believe they should get married. No way. And neither do you. Because the biblical standard for marital union goes beyond pre-marital purity, consensual love, and undying faithfulness. The Bible gives additional qualifications for a valid marriage, and sometimes the Bible doesn’t give explicit reasons why. There’s some truth to the old school belief that God’s rules are right because they are God’s rules; sometimes He explains why, and sometimes He doesn’t. Just ask Job.

So why shouldn’t Chris and Pat get married?

Because Chris and Pat are brother and sister.

No, I’m not equating same-sex marriage to incest. The point of the analogy is to show that the logic often used to justify same-sex marriages can equally be used to justify sibling marriages. Consensuality. Mutual love. Purity before marriage. And since they can’t have kids, there’s no harm done to anyone else (i.e. the whole genetic mutation thing). There’s nothing visibly destructive about Chris and Pat’s marriage.

We could also add that sibling incest, as far as I know, is only forbidden by Old Testament law, in Leviticus 18 for example. But—so the argument goes—Christians don’t obey all sorts of patlaws in Leviticus. Why should we uphold the incest laws? (1 Cor 5, by the way, doesn’t prohibit sibling marriages.)

This certainly doesn’t solve the debate about same-sex marriages. No way. There are too many other factors and many more passages to consider. But if “the essence of Christian marriage involves keeping covenant with one’s spouse in a relationship of mutual self-giving, which doesn’t not exclude same-sex couples” (Vines, God and the Gay Christian, 146), then it shouldn’t exclude sibling couples either.

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Preston Sprinkle

Preston Sprinkle


I'm married to a beautiful wife and we have four kids (3 girls and a boy). I've been teaching college level Bible and Theology classes for a few years now (since 2007), and enjoy hanging out with my family, running, surfing, and life in SoCal. Before I became a teacher, I was in school. Lots and lots of school. I did a B.A. and M.Div here in SoCal, and then did a Ph.D. in Scotland in NT studies. Before coming to EBC, I taught at Nottingham University for a semester, and Cedarville University for a couple of years. Along with surfing, I also love to research and write, and I've written a few things on Paul, Early Judaism, and Hell.
  • AmannGrapheus

    This might open a big fat can of worms…but Abraham and Sarah were half-siblings. (no I’m NOT arguing for incest).

  • Julie

    For purposes of this discussion, sexual intercourse is insertion of the penis into the vagina (vaginal sexual intercourse) or the anus (anal sexual intercourse).

    Consummation is defined as “making a marriage complete by
    having sexual intercourse,” so I don’t know that it could be said according to this definition that a couple has consummated their marriage without sexual intercourse. But to say their marriage is “invalid” is wrong. That would mean a sexually impotent man and his wife have an “invalid” marriage.

    Joseph and Mary were considered legally married before consummation after Jesus’ birth. I would not have considered their marriage “invalid” for their entire first year of marriage and I would not have considered their covenant commitment any less binding.

    • Phyte_On

      So the virgin birth of Jesus would be the exception to the rule in the Bible. Thanks, Julie. Helpful.

      I have summed up my final observations for Preston and have posted it on his 3rd blog on Matthew Vines Book – God & the Gay Christian. I hope he publishes it soon (not there as of Fri. AM May 16th).

      My conclusion is that the Bible is not as helpful as I thought in persuading Gay Christians that a conservative traditional point of view of sexuality, marriage, and family is God’s standard for ALL Christians as I once thought.

      Mostly, we get lost in the weeds. I think there is a larger picture (larger world view) that differentiates Gay Christians vs. CT (Conservative/Traditional) Christians. The issue is teleological.

      The wall of separation between Gay Christians vs. CT Christians has to do with teleological arguments. I discuss this in more detail in my final post mentioned above – hope it shows up soon.

      God Bless. Peace.

  • Julie

    //You are asking ancient writers to describe things in
    westernized 2014 definitions.//

    I am? Which comment of mine “asks ancient writers to describe things in westernized 2014 definitions”?

    //Is it necessary for Jesus to explicitly say that Marriage = M+W?//

    No. I never said it was necessary for Jesus to explicitly say that marriage = one man and one woman. I don’t think it’s necessary in the least. What is written is sufficient, and it’s sufficient even though no definition is given.

    I simply pointed out that Jesus never said that marriage = one man and one woman.

    But, sure, if one wants me to believe something is biblical, then one must be ready to demonstrate clearly with biblical evidence that it is, indeed, biblical. You know, like I showed in the above post all of the biblical marriages as seen in the OT.

    //The assumption throughout the NT is unambiguous that
    marriage = m + w….//

    It is /your/ assumption that the definition of marriage is “one man and one woman.” Jesus never said that. Paul never said that. To say that is the NT definition is to say that all the polygamous marriages in the first-century church were not, by
    definition, marriage. Remember, some in leadership had to be the husband of one wife, rather than be the husband of more
    than one wife (i.e. polygamy).

    Of course, NT writing about marriage presupposes that at least one man and one woman are involved, but that’s not the same thing as giving a definition.

    Again, I’m not saying what’s necessary. I’m simply pointing out what is and what is not written in Scripture.

    //What if we demanded explicit, detailed language in the
    definitions of other beliefs / doctrines from the Bible? Would we continue to hold onto truths like the trinity? That’s a high standard.//

    If one can’t defend their biblical view with sufficient biblical evidence, why bother holding the view at all?

    • Sun

      Your polygamy view is a real head scratcher. I’ve no need to comment on that.

      I agree with that last statement….and yes, more than sufficient biblical evidence does indeed define the trinity….. as it does marriage.

      (for one example on marriage Read Mark 10: 6 – 8)

      But persuading others of the evidence is usually an exercise in futility. My Mormon buddies will disregard the most logical arguments of the trinity because they like their faith the way it is.

      It’s clear that you have adopted the views of people like Vines and Lee, and I’m not sure any amount of evidence will change your mind. Your language is lock step with theirs.

      I personally have relational and emotional reasons to embrace Vines view. And as a true Evangelical, I would do that in a heart beat. But I can’t. Vines approach is inconsistent and in my view dishonest. For me, scripture clearly sides with the traditional view on this topic.

      I’m moving on. No need to respond.

      • Julie

        //Your polygamy view is a real head scratcher. I’ve no need to comment on that.//

        /My/ polygamy view? You must mean the /bible’s/ polygamy view, since all I did was point you to marriages IN the bible.

        //(for one example on marriage Read Mark 10: 6 – 8)//

        Yes, it’s very clear that we should not separate what God

        //My Mormon buddies will disregard the most logical arguments of the trinity because they like their faith the way it is.//

        They told you that they disregard your arguments because “they like their faith the way it is”? If not, your assessment sounds a bit presumptuous. Sometimes people are simply more persuaded by certain arguments rather than other arguments. Not being convinced by your argument, Sun, doesn’t always mean one is irrationally inflexible.

        //Your language is lock step with theirs.//

        Really? Well, I’m unfamiliar with Lee’s argument. And I had already come to my conclusions /before/ reading Vines’ book. But, okay, I guess it could be.

        //For me, scripture clearly sides with the traditional view
        on this topic.//

        By all means, you should remain steadfast to your


  • Phyte_On

    Thanks. It is interesting though that the Bible 100% of the time ALWAYS has ONLY 1 Man in a marriage. Logically, I think I could argue from the Bible that as long as ONLY ONE MAN is involved in the marriage then it is truly a marriage. This seems to be the baseline structure for marriage in the Bible. Just an interesting observation.

    Just trying to understand the case for gay marriage from a gay christian point of view. This is the only forum where I can ask questions to get more clarity.

    My question has to do with the basis of gay marriage. It appears on the surface that the argument for gay marriage diminishes the importance of father & mother – not all that necessary as a basis for family structure – no harm. This seems to be the model that gay marriage exemplifies and proclaims. It is just an observation.

    I am simply comparing the observation to the Bible that models mother & father as an important feature of marriage & family – something gay marriage seems to say is not that important – not critical to family formation and cannot (in any way) offer this feature to children.

    Clarity is what I am after. I totally get that secular government can define these things anyway they want. I’m trying to understand the gay christian point of view.

    • Julie

      //Thanks. It is interesting though that the Bible 100% of
      the time ALWAYS has ONLY 1 Man in a marriage. Logically, I think I could argue from the Bible that as long as ONLY ONE MAN is involved in the marriage then it is truly a marriage.//

      I suppose you could. I feel like people focus too much on trying to figure out the definition when it’s the purpose that matters. Who cares what the definition is if the purpose can’t be achieved? Anyway, that’s how I’m seeing it. Of course, as we see with OT biblical marriage, the purpose changed based on need of the time. NT seems to portray the supreme purpose: to reflect the unique bond between Christ and His Church through self-sacrificial giving of oneself to the other. In my estimation, what makes the bond so “unique” is the quality of intimacy, and that can only be achieved through the profound love within covenantal union.

      //Just trying to understand the case for gay marriage from a gay christian point of view.//

      Maybe befriend some gay Christians? And, to be clear, I’m straight. I don’t want you to think you’re getting a “case for gay marriage from a gay Christian pov” when you’re not.

      //I am simply comparing the observation to the Bible that models mother & father as an important feature of marriage & family – something gay marriage seems to say is not that important -…//

      Well, let me say a couple things. First, just because gay marriage can’t supply both father and mother in the household is insufficient reason for disallowing gay marriage. Shall we begin removing children from their single parents? Second, I find great value for children to have both a father and mother
      influence. If it were me, I’d do my very best to ensure they had that influence. For example, if I lost my husband, I’d make sure my boys had another father influence with their grandpa, uncle, or a male friend on a very regular basis. That’s my personal opinion.

      • Phyte_On

        The only point I was making was that gay marriage intentionally chooses to not offer the feature of mother & father to children. It is purposeful and intentional by design. Gay marriage by design will not offer this benefit to children. Again, not making a value judgment. Just a statement of fact. The gay marriage is fundamentally different from husband & wife unions (the potential to offer a mother & father to children). Again, just a statement of fact and obvious observation.

        I will let you decide if there is HARM or not.

        See my post above your post and the 2 points (probably written just before your post). If Gay Marriage is Biblical then having children in gay marriage must also be Biblical.

        Again, thanks for your input.

      • Phyte_On

        Thanks. You have a wonderful grasp of the gay christian point of view. I do have gay friends but they do not have the Christian/Biblical part down as well as you do. You have helped me immensely. Thanks so much for your patience.

    • Phyte_On

      Just one final addition to my point re: family structure and gay marriage.

      1) Gay Marriage intentionally, purposely, and willfully establishes a family foundation that excludes the mother & father feature for children (assuming the gay couple wants children).

      2) If Gay Marriage is Biblical then it must follow that it is ALSO OK for a Gay couple to have children regardless of denying children a mother & father.

      As long as Gay Marriage is Biblical then children must be allowed – I just wanted to make that clear. That would only be logical to me.

  • Phyte_On

    I still feel like I’m swimming in a sea of ambiguity. I have zero interest in argument. I’m just thoroughly confused.

    Can someone who is a Gay Christian explain how they arrive at the definition of marriage (based on the Biblical text) as the sacred coupling (mutual love) of consensual adults regardless of gender in light of N.T. clear descriptions of marriage as Male & Female; and Husband & Wife. Specific and identifiable – no ambiguity. (eg. in MT 19 the sovereign all-knowing Lord Jesus is very specific and identifies the structure of marriage explicitly)?

    Again, I feel like the underlying logic is this: “Well, Jesus described the sky as blue but that doesn’t mean it can’t be green.” Or Jesus said, “2+2 = 4 but that doesn’t mean he is not OK with it being 5.”

    Sorry to be so precise here but the definition of marriage in the N.T. seems awfully clear to me. What am I missing from the Biblical Text?

    The whole same-sex issue just is not that much of a big deal to me. Heteros have a variety of sexual pursuits today so the sex part just doesn’t bother me as much as the definition of marriage. Getting the definition of marriage correct according to the Bible seems vastly more important than what consenting adults want to pursue in consensual relationships.

    The slippery slope I fear is the deterioration of logic, reason, and exegesis in regards to what the Bible teaches on really important matters (eg. marriage and family structure). If we can just make things up where do we draw the line in interpreting scripture? How creative can we get? This is my biggest fear. This is my phobia. I have heresy-phobia. I admit.

    I have zero interest in debate. I remain utterly baffled over the definition of marriage in the Bible.

    The secular state (Caesar) can define marriage anyway it wants. I get it. But I’m talking about Christian definition of marriage under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ.

    And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

    • Julie

      Jesus doesn’t say “marriage = one man and one woman.” Jesus quoted Genesis, which was an account of something that took place—not a definition—in order to explain why “any matter” divorce was not an option.

      “Biblical marriage” is not simply “one man and one woman.” Biblical marriage is varied depending on needs of the culture. Some examples are: 1) man + woman, 2) man + woman + concubine, 3) man + woman + female slaves, 4) man + woman + woman + woman + woman…, 5) man + brother’s widow. In each biblical marriage, the arrangement took place depending on need such as: procreation, companionship, to fulfill a promise, property transfer, population control, status, social welfare, inheritance security.

      If marriage = one man and one woman, Jesus would have been saying all those thousands of years of “biblical” marriage were never really marriages.

      One may perceive that the purpose of marriage as seen in the NT is to reflect the intimate bond between Christ and His Bride, the Church, that leads to the self-sacrificial giving of oneself to another. One might say that if the purpose of marriage can be potentially realized, you have yourself a biblical marriage according to the NT.

      • Phyte_On

        Thanks. I noticed all your examples involve a man. Why do 100% of all marriages in the Bible involve a man?

        Also, you did not address the concept of family structure in the NT text. It seems the NT clearly describes family structure involving a Mother & Father.

        For example, in gay marriage involving lesbians the argument follows that fatherhood as a basis for marriage and family structure is dismissed as unnecessary – fatherhood trivialized?

        What am I missing? Stuck and confused.

        • Julie

          //I noticed all your examples involve a man. Why do 100% of
          all marriages in the Bible involve a man?//

          My guess? Women had no rights. They needed a man to survive.

          //Also, you did not address the concept of family structure in the NT text. It seems the NT clearly describes family structure involving a Mother & Father.//

          I’m not entirely sure what you’re asking. Surely, the ideal is to have both a father and a mother, although the NT doesn’t say this. Parents divorce. Parents die. Sometimes a child grows up with one parent or with one grandparent or with an older sibling raising the younger. Less than the ideal structure doesn’t make it sinful.

          Are you saying that gay marriage is okay as long as there
          are no kids adopted?

      • Sun

        I think Phyte On has framed it well here. You are asking ancient writers to describe things in westernized 2014 definitions. Is it necessary for Jesus to explicitly say that
        Marriage = M+W? (BTW–I believe that he is crystal clear)

        The assumption throughout the NT is unambiguous that marriage = m + w….but again, this kind of framing seems foreign to the ancients.

        What if we demanded explicit, detailed language in the definitions of other beliefs / doctrines from the Bible? Would we continue to hold onto truths like the trinity? That’s a high standard.

  • Phyte_On

    “The point of the analogy is to show that the logic often used to justify same-sex marriages can equally be used to justify sibling marriages.”

    Preston, thanks for your diligence on this subject. I’m really struggling with basic logic behind the modern construct of gay – there’s just so much ambiguity and conflation in the reasoning that it seems that gay is for all intents and purposes identified as a 3rd gender fixed similarly like ethnicity and race.

    I totally understand the issues of compassion, dignity, respect, love, tolerance, etc. toward human beings.

    But It seems the basic line of reasoning for gay marriage can easily support polygamy too. The very same reasoning behind gay marriage can be applied for a threesome (a husband and two wives) – as long as it is consensual and adults and loving and affirming and committed and devoted and etc, and etc, and etc.

    I’m not suggesting a slippery slope. I’m only suggesting that the logic and reasoning is the same.

    The only thing in the N.T. that discourages a threesome (a husband and two wives) is the fact that Jesus and other N.T. writings clearly specify two people (eg. MT 19). But it seems that Gay Christians are dismissing male/female and husband/wife attributes that are also specific and identifiable in the definition of marriage in the N.T. If we decide the male/female and husband/wife may be dismissed in N.T. teaching for same-sex, husband/husband then why not dismiss the attribute of 2 people.

    This whole thing bothers me more at an intellectual and logic level – not from a moral point of view. I feel like folks are just making things up. This is the part that bothers me more than the morality itself. It seems like a detachment from reality or a redefining of a new reality. A new worldview is being constructed ex nihilo. This seems far more troubling to me than the morality issues.

    I’m baffled.

  • Preston

    Hey all,

    First of all, my apologies for letting the comments in so late. I didn’t think anyone had commented on the last couple posts until just a few house ago when I realized I was looking at the wrong section in the blog. But alas, I now see that people were reading and thinking through my posts!

    So, let me try to respond to some of the more salient pushbacks and concerns regarding my posts. It’s quite ironic that my posts seem to make both affirming and non-affirming people equally upset (scan my Facebook comments if you want to read some bewildering accusations from conservatives about my character, leadership skills, etc.) I’m still not sure what to do with that.

    In any case, as many of you know, I sometimes use the blog to test out my thoughts. No, I don’t blurt out everything that comes to mind. If I did…well…that would be really scary. Instead, I chew on something for a while, read what other people have to say, run my thoughts passed some people, and then if I want to refine my thoughts still the more, I take them to the blog. That said, I’ve been thinking about the gay marriage/incest analogy for a while–and it’s an analogy of a specific point, not an equation of the two acts, but we’ll get to that below–and I wanted to see how it would be received by my diverse readers.

    I’m genuinely sorry that it has offended some of you. Those who know me know that I would never want to offend somebody by my rhetoric and a main part of my mission over the last year has been trying to improve the rhetoric and posture of conservative Christians regarding homosexuality. So, I’m super bummed, actually, that the rhetoric of my post was offensive. All I can say is that this wasn’t my intention and I will try to be better next time.

    Now, to the main critique. Ford, Tobias, Vines, and others (via Facebook and Twitter) have read my blog as equating incest and gay marriage. Larry, for instance, said that I “assume that allowing gay marriages can easily lead to affirming sibling
    marriages, or polygamy, or any other aberrant forms of behavior.” Ford said that I “draw direct comparisons between gay marriage and incest.”

    I don’t mean to be defensive, and there are many times when I’ve willingly corrected something that I stated wrongly. I’m quite happy to do this. However, I just don’t see how what I said can be taken as equating incest with gay marriage. I explicitly said: “No, I’m not equating same-sex marriage to incest. The point of the
    analogy is to show that the logic often used to justify same-sex
    marriages can equally be used to justify sibling marriages.
    Consensuality. Mutual love. Purity before marriage.” Again, the only point of comparison is that “the logic often used to justify same-sex marriages can equally be used to justify sibling marriages.”

    I’m equating the logic. Not the act. Nowhere did I equate the act. (And I never even implied that gay marriage will lead to incest, polygamy, or other “aberrant forms of behavior.” Larry, where did you get this from my blog?) Both blogs were simply pointing out a very narrow point, that some people (not all) use moral logic to justify same-sex marriages and yet considered by itself that same moral logic could also be used to justify sibling marriages. That’s it. I’m not saying same sex marriage is like incest, as bad as incest, or will lead to incest.

    Now, my dear friend Ford. I was honestly super bummed that my post offended you and that it didn’t exemplify the tone of my previous blogs. I know that Christians in the past have actually compared same-sex relations to incest, bestiality, polygamy, etc. I’ve never done that and never will, and I still don’t think my words can be taken to mean that in my current blogs. Perhaps the mere analogy of the logic (even if I wasn’t comparing the act) opened old wounds? Regardless, it truly pains me to see anyone hurt by rhetoric–even if we disagree on the meaning and intention of that rhetoric.

    Just a few misc. clarifying remarks.

    Ford, you said that sibling love is “sick and twisted” and “distorted, damaging familial relationships.” I guess my question is why? On what grounds can we say this? It seems that incest is wrong only because it crosses certain (familial) boundaries created by God. And if they are infertile (as I said in the previous post) and can’t have kids, then there’s no harm to their offspring as you said (you said that I looked “past the fact that the harm of Pat and Chris’ relationship is borne by their offspring – not themselves”).

    Larry, you suggest that I assume that “if X is OK then why not Y Z and P?” In which case I would pushback, only if N comes between L and C. Seriously, though, I’m having trouble understanding what you’re saying at the beginning of your post. You raise some interesting questions throughout, though, and I appreciate your tone and approach.

    Back to Ford, regarding the male/male gay sex comment. I probably shouldn’t have even mentioned that. To be clear, all I said was that “one could say that sex between two men is potentially harmful
    to themselves” and I meant that literally…that one COULD say but not that I was affirming this; and also that “some studies show that
    male-male sex is biologically harmful” which is true: some studies show this. But again, I wasn’t affirming the validity of those studies. I was just saying they exists, and I was actually trying to push back on conservatives who use these studies who try to disqualify gay unions. (Which, I think, is a lame argument.) But I wasn’t clear on my intentions here, so it would have been better if I had not mentioned this at all. Thanks for pointing it out. I’ll try to be more clear next time.

    • Preston –

      When someone in my class says something unintentionally offensive, I ask the other participants to help them understand why it’s offensive. That’s what I’m going to endeavor to do here.

      By virtue of your analogy, you are drawing a moral equivalence between covenant gay relationships and incestuous relationships. In order for moral logic to apply the same to two things, those two things must be moral equivalents.

      Matthew’s moral logic is that the hallmarks of Christian marriage are manifest in same sex relationships; gay marriages cannot be condemned by calling them inherently immoral.

      You argue: If gay marriage is permissible by that standard, then incest must also be permissible (i.e., the slippery slope that Larry mentioned). But there are moral considerations regarding incest that are beyond the logic at hand. The progeny of the incestuous union are likely to face serious health concerns – the union will potentially cause pain and suffering to real people. That makes it morally different than a gay relationship. That’s why the comparison fails.

      Similarly, your moral logic is that we must apply the biblical standard for marriage to assess the morality of a relationship. Fair enough.

      But (using your reasoning) I could say that if heterosexual marriage is permissible by that standard, then we must also allow marriage between a 30 year old man and a 13 year old girl. Certainly the latter relationship meets all the criteria of biblical marriage (and, in fact, is probably closer to it). But there are moral considerations regarding coercion and consent that are beyond your logic that must also be considered.

      Your marriage to your wife is not the moral equivalent of child marriage. My marriage to my husband is not the moral equivalent of incest.

      I hope you can understand that your analogy is offensive on it’s own merits. It is not my reaction to “old wounds” – it is an assault on my character and my marriage every bit as potent as the ones I’ve experienced in the past. And it propagates this offensive rhetoric. I’d encourage you not only to stop using this analogy, but to also take down these posts.

      • Phyte_On

        Gay Marriage, unless someone can defend it based on the N.T. definition of marriage and family structure, is an alternate reality – a new world view. Creating a new reality separate and distinct from N.T. Teaching is far more immoral than incest. Heresy and the coercion to accommodate the heresy is vastly more evil than incest or polygamy. Redefining reality ex nihilo opens Pandora’s box to all kinds of false teaching.

        Again, I wait for someone to define marriage and family structure according to the N.T. Text? What is the structure of marriage and family according to N.T. Text?

        I feel far more threatened by heresy than I do sexual practices among consenting adults.

    • JTobias

      Thanks for the response Preston. For what it is worth, I certainly don’t question your sincerity or the intention of your post, and I can’t speak for someone else but I would certainly say that just the very use of the comparison invokes a negative response. Opening old (or maybe not old) wounds as you put it, for sure.

      I’ve read your post again, and in my opinion, I think the issue may be the way in which you phrased your last sentence, and that fact that that was the end of the argument. For me personally this is when the post invoked a visceral response. Now that I have reread it multiple times, I think I understand your point. As I understand it you are saying if you are going to define marriage in these broad terms, then sure same gender couples will fit within that definition. However, based on that definition alone, other kinds of relationships such as siblings would also fit.

      When I read that last sentence the first time, it seemed to me that if you weren’t equating the two then it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. As they are not the same, it is more complicated that that, and therefore the definition of marriage is not the only factor to consider. Maybe your post was clear to those who don’t already have these triggers, I don’t know. Anyhow, that’s how I took it.



      • Phyte_On

        Joe, you make an observation that sibling marriage is not the same as a gay marriage and vice versa. The same argument can be made that the union of husband & wife is not the same as a gay marriage – unequal and separate things.

        I don’t know if you have noticed but a lot of folks in the nation ALSO have a visceral response when gays equate gay marriage/sexuality with husband & wife unions.

        A visceral response can go both ways. So I don’t think we should stop discussing logic and reason just because someone might have a visceral response.

    • Larry

      Preston— You assume that the logic endorsing a gay marriage is the same as that which might endorse a sibling marriage. In order for your analogy to work, sibling attraction must be the same thing as same sex attraction? If so, it’s not a huge leap to assume that you would argue that the logic that justifies gay marriage also opens the door for sibling marriage or any other form of marriage as long as love, loyalty, and commitment are affirmed. If you do not endorse this type of slippery slope logic explain how gay marriage is different from sibling marriage. But that would seem to undermine your whole point in the blog.

      • Phyte_On

        Is gay marriage different from the union of husband & wife? Is the union of husband & wife of entirely different quality with inherent characteristics that make it separate and unequal in design, structure, function, purpose, meaning, and value?

        In fact, it seems that an adult consensual loving sibling (infertile) marriage more closely aligns with the union of husband & wife than gay marriage does.

        I’m not condoning sibling marriage just doing a contrast and compare.

  • Mike W

    Thank you for the thoughts Preston. You make a valid point here. Some might be offended and think that you are comparing the two issues, so I’ll leave incest out of my question. Here’s what I think we should ask: Is the belief that something is not harmful or destructive a good indicator for what is morally good. Is it true that when something from our perspective feels right, is mutual, logical and even seemingly beneficial, we can then say that it might be God’s desire for us?

    Years ago, a christian friend of mine convinced me that him living (and sleeping) with his girlfriend before marriage was a good thing. Who was I to judge. He and his girlfriend both fully embraced the idea. He ran through the benefits of the arrangement to me…..there seemed to be plenty. He didn’t want to get into a whole Bible discussion about his chosen path, but he did mention that he believed that our denominations understanding of what the bible says about fornication was a bit out-of-date. He believed that the texts that apparently forbade fornication were more accurately referring to promiscuous / multipartner activities. Having only a superficial understanding of scripture at the time, I became okay with it and never brought the topic up again.

    Yes, this is different than same-sex marriage. However, at times, the same line of reasoning is found in the justification of both. (It’s not destructive or harmful to anyone, it’s mutual, it feels right and it might even seem beneficial)

    Are we okay with this line of reasoning when applying it to other moral issues within the church, like fornication, pornography, open marriages and others? Or should the apparent good reasons for an activity be irrelevant?

    • Phyte_On

      Yes, the rationalization for co-habitation is just another manifestation that personal desires define reality. What is real and authoritative is one’s personal desire not ancient texts and outdated notions of Natural Law.

      This new world view, this new paradigm is the overwhelming zeitgeist in American culture today.

      This is why discussions based on the Bible are becoming increasingly less relevant. A generation of Americans are simply struggling with truth, reality, and natural law – making things up ex nihilo.

      Biblical Christians need to come to terms that we no longer live in the America of past generations. We are missionaries in a foreign land.

      Best to understand the culture we are dialoguing with.

  • Larry

    Preston— this seems like a “slippery slope” argument that assumes if X is OK then why not Y Z and P? Even though you say “you’re not equating same sex marriage to incest”, for the analogy to work it does just that. If you don’t think they are equated, identify the differences. Why might same sex marriage be legalized but not marriage between siblings? Maybe the one relationship is about a sexual orientation not choice, while the other is about a deviant choice with moral implications. I don’t find your hypothetical consequential or analogous argument all that compelling, especially when it seems to assume that allowing gay marriages can easily lead to affirming sibling marriages, or polygamy, or any other aberrant forms of behavior. From a legal stand point, it does not seem that the courts understand that affirming a gay marriage opens the door for any form of marriage. We’ve always had those voices who see any challenge to traditional thought as an unimpeded descent into moral chaos. For the record, I taught NT for 15 years at a conservative Christian College, and like you, am working once again through the texts and issues with respect to homosexuality. I appreciate the forum you’ve provided to think out loud and challenge one another on this issue. I have many friends and a few relatives who are gay and I really want to build bridges rather than walls. My biblical and theological roots prohibit a mere yielding to the loudest voices on this issue. My pastoral instincts is inclusive of those pushed to the margins and constructing a safe place for all to journey together— what ever ecclesial form that might demand.


  • Julie

    There’s also no physical harm to others when condoms are used, so should we go around having promiscuous sex? I believe even /potential/ physical harm to others is an indicator the action is wrong. What if the condom doesn’t work? What if the siblings become fertile? I also suspect that just as promiscuous sex has been shown to cause psychological damage; sexual activity between siblings would cause psychological damage.

    • Phyte_On

      The biology of male to male intercourse is contrary to the design of these body parts. This incompatibility has health ramifications. We call this harm. There are degrees of harm and probability of risk for harm. But harm nonetheless.

      • Julie

        Firstly, not all gay men engage in anal intercourse.

        Secondly, it’s not the “incompatibility” of body parts that contributes to health concerns. Heterosexual married couples who engage in anal intercourse will have the same concerns. Also, many married gay
        men take whatever precautions are necessary to avoid any health concerns just as married men and women do. There are always minimal health concerns when two people engage in sexual activity.

        • Phyte_On


          You say that married gay men take whatever precautions are necessary to avoid any health concerns just as men and women do.

          I’m sorry. I’m married and heterosexual. I’m not aware of the health risks that I take when having intercourse. I have not taken any precautions. What health precautions should I take when I have intercourse with my wife?

          • Phyte_On

            Julie, a few follow-up questions:
            1) What is the definition of sexual intercourse?
            2) Is sexual intercourse necessary to consummate a marriage?
            3) Do we have any examples in the Bible where a marriage does NOT involve sexual intercourse at least one time? Any teaching in Bible re: a real marriage without sexual intercourse ever occurring?

            I appreciate your patience.

          • Julie

            Perhaps you’re too young to be aware of these issues or
            perhaps your wife doesn’t concern you with the issues. But depending on a variety of factors (i.e. size of husband, post-childbirth, menopause, vaginal pH), necessary precautions
            must be taken to avoid minor health concerns (i.e. tearing leading to bacterial vaginosis, thinning of tissues leading to urinary infections, disruption of pH level with semen leading to yeast infections).

          • Phyte_On

            Yeah, some minor stuff I guess. Thanks. So I assume then that anal intercourse among men can be just as safe as normal sexual intercourse between husband & wife if gay married men take the necessary precautions – no real harm. I didn’t know that. Thanks.

  • Preston,

    I can’t begin to express my disappointment with this post. It’s patently offensive and perpetuates harmful rhetoric. You do, as a matter of fact, draw direct comparisons between gay marriage and incest (i.e., both fobidden by Levitical law and both unhealthy in practice). You once claimed that you don’t see gay people as sick and twisted. This post comparing the covenant relationship of gay people to distorted, damaging familial relationships belies that claim.

    Moving beyond your grossly misleading, ignorant statement about the harmfulness of gay sex, and looking past the fact that the harm of Pat and Chris’ relationship is borne by their offspring – not themselves (which makes the moral considerations substantially different); there’s a key question you completely ignored that further renders your inflammatory comparison fallacious.

    WHY are mutual care-taking, life-long faithfulness, mutual self-sacrifice and a shared life of contributing to community the hallmarks of Christian marriage? Because, according to scripture, we are created as relational beings and marriage is a unique, profound way to live into God’s creative intention for humanity. I presume that these essential human needs informed your own decision to marry rather than choosing chastity through celibacy instead.

    Pat and Chris have options for living into God’s creational intention other than marrying each other; you do not allow such an option to people who are gay. You are insisting that gay people must suppress their God-given sexuality and be closed to any relationships that would emerge from it. You put up barriers to non-sexual relationship by insisting that gay people live a less than fully human life. By attempting to exclude gay people from dating and marriage, you are claiming that the human condition is different for them. You are diminishing the humanity of people who are gay.

    Further, you have not asked what harm comes from teaching gay people that covenant relationships immoral and therefore unavailable. The Church demand for gay people to live contrary to God’s creative intention causes demonstrable harm to flesh-and-blood people. Damage you have observed first hand. Obedience is life-giving; not destructive.

    So would it be such a tragedy if faithful Christians are convinced by Matthew Vines’ arguments? The fourteen year old gay kid in the front pew is safer when the Church honors rather than diminishes his humanity. What if that kid was your son? It’s time for the Church to stop causing harm. It’s time to believe differently.

    • Phyte_On

      Ford, just wanted you to know that I really appreciated your very clear answer to my question re: sexual immorality as defined by a Gay Christian. By way of reminder and full disclosure I am a conservative traditionalist Christian.

      I have another question for you. Again, I have no interest in debate or argument or judgment. I’m just after clarity.

      In Matthew 19 the discourse clearly defines marriage having the following attributes:

      1) Male and Female – the two becoming one flesh
      2) A husband & wife

      There are other N.T. passages as well that reinforce that the attributes of marriage are very specific and identifiable (male, female, husband, wife). There is no ambiguity.

      I guess I’m stuck and would really appreciate your take that in the N.T. it seems the attributes of marriage are: 1) specific; 2) identifiable.

    • Yeah, you’re who Preston was correcting. That is, your logic doesn’t work and actually defines you as non-Christian (“It’s time to believe differently” is the most revealing quote).

  • Josh Manriquez

    After reading your first post about Christ and Pat, I wanted to think more about it before responding. I’m surprised you provided a follow-up post so quickly!

    As I was driving yesterday, I turned off the music to think more about that first blog, and my thoughts were directed to precisely what you describe here: incest. I also began playing devil’s advocate with myself, suggesting that perhaps Paul is not describing sibling incest in 1 Cor. 5—that text is “ambiguous” whether or not he’s against it! (of course, I disagree).

    Needless to say, I definitely agree with you that it is *not* okay for Chris and Pat to marry. If a couple truly desires to have a Christ honoring marriage, then their marriage must truly *honor* Christ by submitting to His norm for marriage as prescribed in the Bible.

    On a personal note, what do you think of this Preston (or anyone else): I have a huge family on my dad’s side (all living in Mexico); it’s so huge that two cousins somehow fell in love before realizing they were cousins, got married, and now have three perfectly healthy boys. They’ve now been married for well over 20 yrs, they’re not believers, but they have heard the gospel. *If* they were to put their faith in Jesus, what then? Are they to be exhorted to get a divorce? This is a serious question for me, because I’ve grown close to my female cousin in that marriage and with two of her sons, so I struggle with knowing how to minister to them.

    • Preston

      Hey Josh,

      On your question at the end, I don’t know of any passage that condemns marrying your cousin and certainly nothing in the NT condemns it. (I’d have to double check Lev 18.) In fact, marriages between cousins is often viewed positively in the Bible (Genesis, for instance). So, I’m not sure if we can say that it’s biblicaly wrong. Culturally, maybe.

      Am I missing something?

      • Josh Manriquez

        Thanks! You may not be missing anything at all. My question just may have stemmed from my own assumptions that have developed over the years.

        Your comment was actually very helpful. 🙂

  • JTobias

    “But if “the essence of Christian marriage involves keeping covenant with one’s spouse in a relationship of mutual self-giving, which doesn’t not exclude same-sex couples” (Vines, God and the Gay Christian, 146), then it shouldn’t exclude sibling couples either.”

    This seems like an oversimplification, and I would be interested in an explanation for why one couldn’t exclude siblings? I think we can have different reasons for why we would still wish to “uphold” the prohibitions on sibling marriages, and not same sex marriages.

    If you aren’t equating the two then why are the arguments are necessarily tied to one another?

    • Phyte_On

      It is a rule of logic and reason.

      Once you establish a rule you can test the rule (logic) to see if it applies to various circumstances. Nobody is suggesting that all circumstances are morally equivalent. I think Preston is simply suggesting that the rule is ambiguous (faulty) and that the rule allows for other kinds of loving consensual adult arrangements and structures.

      The point is this. The rule, the logic is shallow and lacks clarity. That’s all. Don’t take it personally. It’s just not good reasoning.

      In order to allow for Gay Marriage (and restrict other structures and arrangements) you must redefine (or pick and choose) ex nihilo some rules of logic that are not in the N.T. text or in Natural Law or other ancient texts such as Aristotle.

      The N.T. text is explicit about marriage and family structure and we can specifically identify the structure and arrangement that falls under God’s rule and reign. The scope and structure is very well defined under God’s domain.

      • Julie

        //In order to allow for Gay Marriage (and restrict other structures and arrangements) you must redefine (or pick and choose) ex nihilo
        some rules of logic that are not in the N.T. text or in Natural Law//

        That doesn’t sound accurate at all. Other arrangements (i.e. adult incest, child marriage) are prohibited for obvious reasons: potential harm to offspring and lack of proper consent. And, as Ford1968 pointed out, all participants have /other/ options to live into God’s creative intention for their lives while gay folks do not.