The Manhattan Declaration — Part 2

Justin Kollmeyer's picture

I ask again what in the world could a declaration by that name have to do with those of us living here on the south side of Atlanta? Well, it simply bears the name of the place in New York where a gathering of well known and respected national Christian leaders met a year ago last November to make an important and historic faith declaration, much like the governmental declaration that was made in Philadelphia in 1776.

I’m going to share a second part of one section of it here with you this week. I shared the first part with you back in November, and I will still share a third part of this section with you next month.

What follows is the second part of the section entitled “Marriage.” The reason I share it is because I agree with it wholeheartedly and have actually become a “signer” of it, as you can too if you so choose. You can find the whole declaration and sign it on manhattandeclaration.org. (no dash)

As you will experience when you read what is below, it is quite an in-depth presentation. It may take you more than one reading to comprehend fully both the detailed lines of affirmation and the detailed and thoughtful lines of rebuttal to opposing beliefs.

“In spousal communion and the rearing of children (who, as gifts of God, are the fruit of their parents’ marital love), we discover the profound reasons for and benefits of the marriage covenant.

“We acknowledge that there are those who are disposed towards homosexual and polyamorous conduct and relationships, just as there are those who are disposed towards other forms of immoral conduct. We have compassion for those so disposed; we respect them as human beings possessing profound, inherent, and equal dignity; and we pay tribute to the men and women who strive, often with little assistance, to resist the temptation to yield to desires that they, no less than we, regard as wayward. We stand with them, even when they falter.

“We, no less than they, are sinners who have fallen short of God’s intention for our lives. We, no less than they, are in constant need of God’s patience, love and forgiveness. We call on the entire Christian community to resist sexual immorality, and at the same time refrain from disdainful condemnation of those who yield to it. Our rejection of sin, though resolute, must never become the rejection of sinners. For every sinner, regardless of the sin, is loved by God, who seeks not our destruction but rather the conversion of our hearts. Jesus calls all who wander from the path of virtue to ‘a more excellent way.’ As his disciples we will reach out in love to assist all who hear the call and wish to answer it.

“We further acknowledge that there are sincere people who disagree with us, and with the teaching of the Bible and Christian tradition, on questions of sexual morality and the nature of marriage. Some who enter into same-sex and polyamorous relationships no doubt regard their unions as truly marital. They fail to understand, however, that marriage is made possible by the sexual complementarity of man and woman, and that the comprehensive, multi-level sharing of life that marriage is includes bodily unity of the sort that unites husband and wife biologically as a reproductive unit ... In the Christian tradition, and historically in Western law, consummated marriages are not dissoluble or annullable on the ground of infertility, even though the nature of the marital relationship is shaped and structured by its intrinsic orientation to the great good of procreation.

“We understand that many of our fellow citizens, including some Christians, believe that the historic definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a denial of equality or civil rights. They wonder what to say in reply to the argument that asserts that no harm would be done to them or to anyone if the law of the community were to confer upon two men or two women who are living together in a sexual partnership the status of being ‘married.’ It would not, after all, affect their own marriages, would it?

“On inspection, however, the argument that laws governing one kind of marriage will not affect another cannot stand. Were it to prove anything, it would prove far too much: the assumption that the legal status of one set of marriage relationships affects no other would not only argue for same sex partnerships; it could be asserted with equal validity for polyamorous partnerships, polygamous households, even adult brothers, sisters, or brothers and sisters living in incestuous relationships. Should these, as a matter of equality or civil rights, be recognized as lawful marriages, and would they have no effects on other relationships?

“No. The truth is that marriage is not something abstract or neutral that the law may legitimately define and re-define to please those who are powerful and influential.”

Kollmeyer is Pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville between Lowe’s and The Pavilion. www.princeofpeacefayette.com

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