The mainline Protestant denominations continue to debate the question of homosexuality in extended and excruciatingly inconclusive controversy. In one sense, these liberal denominations are caught in a bind. Their members at the grassroots level, along with those pastors and church leaders who hold to orthodox doctrine and biblical concepts of sexuality, will not accept an embrace of same-sex marriage or the ordination of practicing homosexuals. A residue of biblical commitment prevents these denominations from an open embrace of what scripture so clearly condemns. On the other hand, the liberal elites in control of the seminaries, institutions, and bureaucracies of these denominations are generally committed to revisionist understandings of theology, sexuality, and church doctrine.

Unwilling to risk the financial and membership losses that would surely result from an open embrace of homosexuality, these denominations inch their way towards a progressive, if inevitable, embrace of homosexual practice. This progressive embrace of the homosexual agenda is propelled by activists who offer various rationales and arguments for the normalization of homosexual relationships and behaviors. Over time, these arguments are intended to have a cumulative effect, wearing down conservative resistance and convincing fence-straddlers of the inevitability of homosexual advance.

Evidence of this approach continues to build, and the emergence of a new book, What God Has Joined Together?: A Christian Case for Gay Marriage, offers a summary of the arguments now common among the proponents of same-sex marriage.

Written by David G. Myers and Letha Dawson Scanzoni, What God Has Joined Together? is likely to incite considerable controversy. After all, Myers serves as the John Dirk Werkman Professor of Psychology at Hope College in Michigan--a school long associated with the Reformed Church in America. Scanzoni is one of the leaders within the Evangelical Ecumenical Women's Caucus and edits their newsletter. She is well known for writing one of the first books advocating the acceptance of homosexuality to a Christian audience.

The authors begin by asserting: "We believe in marriage. We want to see it strengthened. Knowing that strong, healthy, loving relationships are beneficial to the individuals involved and to any children they might have, we want to see couples flourish. We also believe that society, by supporting marriage, benefits as well."

So good, so far. Nevertheless, the authors reveal the lines of their argument very quickly. In what is identified as "A Personal Letter to Our Readers," the authors lament that "some who have yearned for such a public commitment have been denied it." They link historical opposition to marriage "for reasons of social class, race, or ethnicity" to the current debate over same-sex marriage. Note carefully how they pose today's most pressing issue: "The burning question in our day is whether persons of the same sex should be prevented from sealing their love commitment in socially recognized marriage." Before going further, consider that Myers and Scanzoni have already normalized a "love commitment" between same-sex couples and posed the question as if the burden is on orthodox Christians to argue that same-sex couples should not be able to "seal" their commitment in "socially recognized marriage."

"Voices have been raised to suggest that permitting persons of the same sex to marry will destroy the institution," the authors acknowledge. "We think not. We believe that opening marriage for gay and lesbian people could actually strengthen the institution for all people."