This news story was brought to my attention by someone who was curious as to my reaction to it, so here are some thoughts regarding it. As always, I welcome comments on my opinions but I ask that anyone who comments to take the time to watch the story and/or read the transcript at the link already referenced so that any discussion can be useful and productive.
I can certainly identify with Zak Rittenhouse in hearing that homosexuality is sick and know that he’s right when he says some parents can’t deal with their children coming out.
Heidi Neumark is correct when she says that the church needs to be part of the solution when so often it has been part of the problem.
Had I been told by my campus minister or campus worship leader that I couldn’t serve or speak on behalf of my campus ministry because I was attracted to the same sex, I would’ve been crushed, just as Joey Heath was.
Matt Gromlich found it unhelpful when homosexuality is simply tossed out in a list of sins. Even if it isn’t railed against, such a list is often offered in an unhelpful way and his reaction of simply not returning to those churches is understandable.
Homosexuality is one of the most politically-charged issues of our day. Enough controversy over my own blog has been stirred up to warrant a meeting with my pastor, a meeting I would consider quite lengthy. The visible church in America has often not been a place willing to strive with people in their brokenness in any area of life. Teachings (ironically enough, given where Gromlich goes to school) coming from the pen and mouth of John Wesley have actually served to fuel the problems each of the interviewees have observed. In many instances, it is not alright for a person to be in the Church and have a crisis of faith because their inner life doesn’t line up with what a book says it should. This emphasis on inward transformation leads to a lot of condemnation for those who wrestle with their inclinations in the pews (and in the pulpits).
But the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:1-2 that “there is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus; for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
So what are we to do with such condemnation? Take the position that prohibitions of homosexuality are in Scripture and that we should preach God’s law so as to conform people to the image of Christ? Take the position that the Scriptures give us a trajectory, morally speaking, and that we have matured past such attitudes toward love displayed between two members of the same gender?
It would seem that neither position is put forth in Scripture as viable.
How can Leviticus 18:22 exist alongside such wonderful good news as Romans 8:1? I am, in this series of articles, going to take the stance that Scripture is, in fact, a unified whole. I am taking as authentic the statement from Peter which elevates Paul’s writings to the level of Scripture and then, by extension, relating Paul’s statement about Scripture to be “God-breathed” as applying to what has been passed down to us from the tip of his pen.
Note: This stance is not the specific debate of these posts, though I am open to questions regarding them via email. This stance could very well be the topic of a future series of posts, so I will carefully consider any communications I receive in regards to my ‘fundamentalism’ in this regard and treat them with all seriousness.
Jeff Gill said:
Yes, David, I think this is the real question to be answered — BEFORE any of the others can be addressed. Competing views of scripture are at the heart of the matter. Your statement that “It would seem that neither position is put forth in Scripture as viable” contains a kind of circular reasoning that betrays the underlying bias in your own view of scripture — and, I would say, most likely predetermines the outcome in your thinking on this issue. So, yes, I would want to strongly challenge your fundamentalism before trying to sort out what a proper response to the issue of homosexuality on the part of Christians might be. It is so important for contemporary Christians to understand just where the fundamentalist orientation comes from historically and theologically, how relatively modern a phenomenon it is, how artificial its hermeneutics is, and how inadequate it is as the epistemological tool so many want it to be. I’d suggest that anyone coming from a fundamentalist set of assumptions about the scriptures read Brian McLaren’s latest book, A New Kind of Christianity (I think the title raises more suspicionns than it really should, frankly, because I don’t think what he’s talking about is new at all — just new to those who have been sold the fundamentalist version of Christianity). He’s very good at speaking in ordinary English about the problems with such a view of Scripture and how we can hold a very high view of Scripture that doesn’t lead us down this false path.
I will eventually address McLaren’s book in a completely separate set of blog posts. One thing at a time, Uncle. 🙂
Jay Miklovic said:
fundamentalist gay evangelical has to argue against family member who endorses brian mclaren. this is truely a rare happening in many ways! 🙂
By the way, from what I know of Dave (limited to twitter interaction) I think the label of ‘fundamentalist’ is misplaced. In fact it seems in this post that he cites Wesleyan fundamentalism as a primary cause of misunderstanding in this debate.
Josh Goeke said:
I’m glad that the 9 minute blurb included the pastor who still struggles with same-sex attraction. His testimony and example of explaining that attraction does not equal sin is something that is often so lacking from the oft-politicized discussion.
And Dave, I also think you are wise to cite the problems in some of Wesley’s theology as being at the root cause of both sides of the error!
How difficult it is to hold in tension the unconditional call to righteousness and the standard of love that God demands with the unconditional grace and love offered by Christ to everyone who fails to meet that standard! We either want to think that the standard has changed or that our failure to meet the standard makes that standard unfair or our selves worthless.