Why a ‘yes’ to gays is often a ‘no’ to evangelicalism (COMMENTARY)

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An "Equality" flag waves against the sky as crowds gathered in front of the Supreme Court on April 28, 2015 as justices heard arguments about same-sex marriage. Religion News Service photo by Adelle M. Banks

An "Equality" flag waves against the sky as crowds gathered in front of the Supreme Court on April 28, 2015 as justices heard arguments about same-sex marriage. Religion News Service photo by Adelle M. Banks

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(RNS) When the editor of Christianity Today does not distance himself from “fellow evangelical” David Neff or The New York Times reports on a “brother in Christ” named Matthew Vines, the gatekeepers must spring into action.

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  • John

    When dealing with heresy, which this is, there is often much relational strain and angst involved. Go check you church history for more details on how these issues play out, like it or not. Though the people involved may be sincere, they are gravely mistaken in their ideas, which are vital when dealing with the character and truth of God. This is not a benign issue when one considers that holiness is the defining nature of God, and that his followers are called to reflect that holiness. Compromise on this issue and you have maligned the nature of God and his truth, and played out to its fullest implications would draw into question the redemptive mission of God and the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice. How evangelicals are viewed for their actions in this issue becomes the lesser concern.

  • Ben in oakland

    Or not.

    The minute you call out HERESY is the minute you have given up any pretense to representing God.

    Unless, of course, you have a letter of patent from God declaring that you are his official representative on earth, and are intimate with his mind.

    The catholic church used to claim to have such a letter, but it was discovered to be a forgery in 1517.

  • Larry

    Its the theological equivalent to the “Sunk Costs Fallacy”. The evangelicals have spent so much time and energy promoting the maltreatment and discrimination of gays that its tough to reverse course without alienating those committed to such a cause.

    Plus a lot of the people who would have opposed that stance have already left such sects. Evangelicals are not known for encouraging rigorous debate, polite disagreement or brooking dissent within their ranks. Under such an atmosphere, one is not expected to buck trends and expect to be treated with respect among their peers.

  • Ben in oakland

    It is not a rejection of evangelicalism, whatever that is. Usually, the “ism” represents an ideological viewpoint. No, this is a rejection of dominionism, and the claim that god is only represented by the hyper-conservative viewpoint on gay people. Obviously, as both Neff and Campolo demonstrate, the opinion is far from unanimous. Perhaps they are arguing from their bibles as much as the hyperconservatives are.

    Or perhaps they simply recognize that the bible has been distorted ad twisted and perverted to say something it doesn’t in support of an ancient and vicious prejudice long given a thin veneer of respectability by calling it “god says.”

    “We at CT are sorry when fellow evangelicals modify their views to accord with the current secular thinking on this matter… {Neff had enlisted} in a cause we believe is ultimately destructive to society.” nope, not a shred of bigotry there.

    Not a shred of evidence, either. Just a meme that is repeated ad nauseum.

  • Ben in oakland

    And then, there’s this: “For conservative evangelicals, there is no middle ground — no “third way.” Conceding that Christians can disagree about LGBT issues is tantamount to affirming those behaviors and identities. The way they see it, condemnation is their only choice…The problem for evangelical gatekeepers is that they have to double down on rejection whenever a leader’s condemnation is not severe enough.”

    Who said: Let he who is without sin…? Judge not…? Specks and beams? No one important to people who see their only choice as condemnation.

    All of us may be sinners. Only some people feel they are entitled to throw stones.

  • Maximus

    We do have a letter. It’s called the Epistle of Jude. Under your argument, we have nothing to glean from this letter today. Also, under your argument of “Judge not, but ignore the rest of Matthew Chapter 7” there should be no such thing as church discipline. You’re a theological liberal who rejects the authority of scripture. Just say it, and go to a church that believes like you do. But you’d better hurry. They are dying while Evangelicalism is still growing.

  • Shawnie5

    Interesting choice of words.

    “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” I Cor. 11:18

    “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses [one might even say “ambassadors” :-D] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

    “The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” I Cor. 2:15-16

  • Shawnie5

    Because pop culture is obsessed with it.

    I hardly ever heard the word spoken in a church context until everyone suddenly started demanding that we approve it. End of story.

  • Shawnie5

    Many churches certainly do, including the Catholic Church. Does that make you feel better? (My guess is no.)

    Although according to the NT, the problem is not so much the separation itself but remarriage ( I Cor. 7:11). The early church had no problem with married couples who could not live together living separately and celibately.

  • Greg1

    The issue with active gay men and women, is that there is no way to resolve their situation in the Church other than separation, followed by celibacy. Regarding divorced and remarried, well Christ was clear on that in Matt 5:32; there can be no remarriage unless the first marriage was considered defective in some way. That would be called an annulment. But fornication can be resolved simply by the two getting married, provided that neither had been previously married. So divorcees and gay men and women have similar issues in the Christian economy. In our day, however, many go into marriage not assuming it will be for life, and that would be enough to permit an annulment.

  • The Great God Pan

    Christians do consider homosexuality to be worse than many or all other sins, although they may claim otherwise in “mixed company” at sites like this. To see what they really believe, look at what they say when they’re writing for a Christian audience:

    Here is Robert A.J. Gagnon, an elder in the Presbyterian Church and a professor at Pittsburgh Theological seminary, on why homosexuality is a “particularly severe” sin:

    Andree Seu Peterson argues in a prominent Christian magazine that homosexuality, unlike other sins, “strikes at the heart of creation itself”:

    Scott Lively has a PhD in theology and says homosexuality is worse than mass murder:

    I could go on and on but there’s a character limit on comments here and I think you get the picture.

  • Be Brave


    LGBT’s, as they are attempting to infiltrate The Church, the group supported by soooooo many anti-Christians, WILL NOT REPENT of their sin. This is the ONLY group of so-called Christians that DEMAND that their sin is God-approved. That removes them and their supporters from any connection to The Church. Matthew Vines and his ilk are preaching “another Gospel.” The one in which Jude defines so perfectly. Campolo has decided on his paycheck. And no one should support him in that quest if they also believe Jesus was not a liar. Which obviously Campolo, Vines and every other sellout is claiming.

    If, homosexuals and their cheering throngs of anti-Christian supporters were honest people, and I am referring to those “claiming” to be a Christian, as well as their yoked together anti-Christ’s, if they were honest, they would support Christians that follow Christian truth, that marriage is immutably man and woman. The gay pride supporters are the bad guys.

  • Be Brave

    Hey Pan,

    You can’t be a Christian and hold firm that Jesus is a liar. There is no such thing as same gender marriage except for a non and more directly, an anti-Christian way.

    What we are seeing is the selling out of the Gospel for the sake of paycheck.

    Campolo and Vines and their kind, have been in The Church for a long, long time:

    “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” It takes awhile for a corrupt individual and group to make their desires overtake the Truth of the Gospel. Gay pride is as antithetical to Christian life as “affirming” the use of prostitutes.

  • Be Brave

    I’ve never seen an Adultery Pride Parade have you? I mean other than the Academy Awards and The Grammy’s. I’ve never seen or heard an adulterous Christian say they were born that way.

    Have you?

    Anyone that demands that God affirmed their sins from conception can hardly be defined as a Christian.

    No, no, they CANNOT be defined as a Christian.

  • The Great God Pan

    Frankly, I’m not sure what you’re even replying to here. You seem to be attempting to disagree with me on a matter that we both actually agree on.

    I agree with you on what Christianity says about homosexuality. The only difference is that I am not a Christian and I think Christianity is poisonous bunkum, but that has nothing to do with my reply to Tony.

  • JR

    On the matter of gay marriage, it should be a simple NO to an acceptance of its legality, since it is against every Christian belief and also has no historical precedent as a necessity to society. Christians should lose not one moment of sleep in debating this. Gay marriage is an illusion, an idea foisted on the world as a wrong that needs to be righted. It is not a civil right or equal rights matter.

  • Doc Anthony

    All of us ARE sinners, Ben, according to the Bible that you just quoted from. We’re all in the same boat. We all need a Savior and Lord, like the one described in 1 Cor. 6:9-11.

    But that very same Bible that you just quoted, ALSO says — in multiple places — that homosexual behavior is a sin. No exceptions. No middle ground. No civil unions. No one-night stands. No gay marriages. No shackin’s. IT’S A SIN.

  • Doc Anthony

    What makes you think Christians are silent about divorce and remarriage, Tony? Did you not see Shawnie5’s response? Don’t you have access to Google and Amazon?

  • Be Brave


    Well said. LGBT’s exist in an other worldly definition when viewed through the lens of the New Testament writings. This is why the movement is so utterly hostile to the Gospel. Even Matthew Vines and his kind of people know they must abuse the scriptures to get their way. Now, I have never understood why any Christian ever got involved in this gay pride issue. It is no different than opposing the practitioners of voodoo. If the world and its ways wants to affirm an abomination, well, as Jesus points out, that is the game it plays.

    It’s dust from the shoes time and leaving this group alone to their ill-fated eternal destiny.

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  • Greg1

    And like the Anti-Life Abortion ruling, Christians must hold their politicians accountable, and refuse recognition on religious grounds. Remember, most of these federal court judges and supreme court justices are appointed and/or nominated by the president, so let’s get Rick Santorum in there, and clean house.

  • Barry the Baptist

    That might be more indicative of how shuttered you and your church are than any fixation within “pop culture.”

  • Be Brave

    Santorum blew it and must live the consequences. It’s time to employ Christian lawyers to protect Christians from the LGBT beast stalking The Church. And it is far past time for Christians to confront the false teachers that “affirm” homosexual behavior.

    The homosexual world has always been antithetical to Christian life. Of course some homosexuals wormed their way into Christian places and we see the horrors of that. But oddly, in condemnation of religion and not gay life.

    We need to use the pride of the egomaniac (gay-affirming secularist judges) and confront the lascivious beast head on in the courts. Don’t forget that now “Bible-believing Christians” of all races are now an extreme minority class. And for the moment, the First Amendment (in the USA) protects these kinds of Christians from attack by the licentious majority (LGBTites).

  • Be Brave

    “Poisonous bunkum?”

    Christian hospitals and social programs are still exemplary to the goodness of man. In stark contrast to a secular world where slaughtering unborn people as a birth control method (abortion on demand), promiscuity cancer vaccines (HPV) and “You Can’t Rape Sleeping and Drugged People Laws (Yes Means Yes) define the anti-Christian secular condition.

    “Poisonous hokum?” You have the wrong orientation for that charge.

    How oddly laughable that we see the Gay mobs now demanding to be affirmed by The Church. The real one. The Conservative Evangelical positions that is. Otherwise they would have made the MCC the largest “denomination” in the world. But, you can’t find validation in heresy. And LGBT desires will never find affirmation in “real” Christian theology.

    But why don’t you start a gay church that preaches against Christian reality and get rich? The mobs are conditioned for that. Now they call that a human rights campaign.

  • Larry

    Gays are a far easier target than divorced people. Its not a matter of “sins”. its a matter of having a scapegoat and a perceived enemy to rally against. Bigotry as a unifying principle.

  • Priscilla141

    As Christians, we’re called to Judge works ( church discipline;) not hearts, many times in Scripture. As to the homosexual issue, I feel I can speak, having some experience ministering to this group. First of all, changing God’s definition of marriage is not a ” right. “. ( If you will research the ” rights ” they say they desire, you will see that they actually HAVE these, legally. ). Also, researching the ” homosexual agenda ” is quite useful
    Please read the first eight chapters of Romans; as well as the other references to homosexiality in Scripture. This is God’s commandment, and His view; NOT something Conservative Evangelicals made up. So, the remedy?
    While showing the love of Christ for all people, and I certainly include them in this, we must not compromise with sin. Now, like all other sins, this one can be forgiven in Christ. ( See Corunthians, etc, ). So, showing love to these folks, giving them the Gospel of Christ, I have seen a couple of them…

  • So, to continue; in the Southern Baptist Conventiin, recently we were forced to disfellowship a pastor who was ” marrying homosexuals. “. He was rebelling against God; refused to repent. All true Christians are called to obey the Scriptures.
    Also, when homosexuals are allowed to ” adopt ” children, the children suffer. I have counseled them, so have seen this.
    No society that has legitimized ” homosexual marriage ” has survived. One of the purposes of true natural marriage, God’s Design, is to naturally produce godly children. No ” homosexual marriage ” can produce children.
    Finally, their sin is a choice. Research shows this tiny percentage (.05 or so) is not ” born this way.” Even if they were, we’re all born spiritually dead.
    So, my response is to show them love, while also sharing the Gospel of Christ. A couple of them have become Christians. God loves them, so do we.
    We need to obey God, not men!

  • We’re not silent on the divorce issue in the SBC. However, some divorces, while regrettable, only involve sin on one side. For example, the person who is an unrepentant, serial adulterer. That person divorces his/ her spouse. The spouse didn’t sin in the divorce. Also the unsaved person who divorces the spouse. Then you have the case of a person who sinfully divorces, but repents.
    Ultimately it’s about a Christian NOT PRACTICING A LIFESTYLE of sin. IE. a divorce is a one time deal, can be repented of. A homosexual lifestyle ( or any lifestyle of sin) recurs over and over.
    I would refer you to passages about Christians not PRACTICING sin; as well as sin being forgiven. When a Christian sins; he or she is convicted, and repents ( no longer does that thing.). You don’t see repentance ( godly sorrow, and 180% ) change if a person just continues in a ” lifestyle ” of sin. For this to apply to divorce the person would have to divorce as a lifestyle, a daily thing.

  • Shawnie5

    @Larry: Excuse me but we did just fine without a “target” about 20-25 years ago when homosexuality rarely ever came up because everyone was still reading scripture with some common sense without unbelievers trying to tell us how we should “interpret” it.

    Were it not for this issue’s potential for eviscerating the First Amendment, I still would care little about it. Divorce is far more devastating to far more families and children than same-sex couples playing marriage. But i never take these “what about divorce” attacks from seriously (at least not from outside) because it never comes from a desire to call us to greater faithfulness to scripture but rather a desire to see us be as unfaithful as we can possibly be persuaded to be.

    And as always, kindly refrain from trying to tell us what we really think. We can handle that just fine, thanks.

  • Shawnie5

    LOL! I’m hardly shuttered. But it never came up because everyone read scripture with simple common sense and there was no “controversy” about same-sex behavior’s sinfulness. Even pop culture felt no need to constantly “deal with” homosexuality — it was too busy trying to get as much shock value as possible out of heterosexual sex.

    But when the secular fad du jour comes to the church door demanding entrance, then suddenly it becomes worth talking about. Pretty simple.

  • Ben in Oakland

    Of course you “feel” you can speak. But that’s because you “feel” that you can and should have dominion over the lives of people who don’t share your religious beliefs. YOU are not the authority on our lives. WE are.

    But of course you are willing to compromise with sin– just the sins that you wish to compromise with. It is a sin not to believe that Jesus died for our sins, but you have no problem whatsoever with living with your neighbors who don’t share your religious beliefs. The first eight chapters of romans has to do with idolatry, but I’m sure you have no problems living with Buddhist and Hindus. Just as I am sure you have no problem living with men who look lustfully at women who are not their wives.

    Just as I am sure you have no problem living with people who are divorced for any reason besides adultery.

    Quite possibly, you are one of THOSE sinners yourself.

    YOU are not the authority on our lives. WE are.

  • Ben in Oakland

    You are incredibly misinformed about just about everything you have to say.

    So you disfellowshipped a pastor he refused to “repent.” I bet you have NEVER disfellowshipped a single Baptist who was divorced for any reason besides adultery. We all know about Baptists in the South and divorce.

    I suspect you have never disfellowshipped a single Baptist who repeats such lies, slanders and reviling as fall so trippingly from your tongue. 40 years have studies have concluded that gay people make excellent parents. But YOU know better.

    The vast majority of scientific, medical, and professional organizations that have the slightest thing to say on the subject disagree that homosexuality is a “choice.”

    No society that has legitimized gay marriage has survived? NAME ONE. No society that hasn’t done so has survived. NOT ONE. An outright LIE. but that won’t bother you. Lyin’ for Jesus never has.

  • Jack

    Tony, it is the media that are in a frenzied obsession about the issue. The church, on the other hand, is the church. Walk into any one on a Sunday and the odds are, the pastor or priest will be addressing some other issue that has not a whit to do about homosexuality or same-sex marriage.

    Most churches, evangelical and non-evangelical alike, would rather talk on just about anything besides cultural issues. The idea that evangelicals talk about nothing else is, at least at the leadership level, hogwash.

  • Jack

    Larry writes, “Evangelicals are not known for encouraging rigorous debate, polite disagreement, or brooking dissent within their ranks.”

    This sounds more like a depiction of the politically correct left….a classic case of projection…..

    As for evangelicals, if you think they don’t debate rigorously with each other, it’s probably because you’ve never met any. Sometimes I wonder whether evangelicals do anything else other than debate with each other on just about anything.

    The fact that most evangelicals are against same-sex marriage is a simple reflection of the fact that it’s not even contemplated, let alone condoned, in the Bible. For precisely that reason, it’s one of the few areas that have united most evangelicals, especially those who are not in public life or in journalism and thus have no pressure on them to conform to the norms of political correctness.

  • Larry

    Well, until your church decided to make a big deal about funding and providing manpower to oppose such things. Probably some time after 2003, when the biggest legal barriers to marriage equality were demolished by SCOTUS.

  • Jack

    It’s a lot easier to say that same-sex marriage is not condoned biblically than it is to conclude that evangelicals, who by definition believe in sola scriptura, who condone it are no longer evangelicals. The Christianity Today crowd is attempting to make that distinction. I don’t blame them for making it, because in so doing, it is upholding the right of individual believers to interpret the Bible in accordance with what they honestly believe it to be saying.

    I believe that the dissenters are wrongly interpreting it on the gay marriage issue, but if they honestly believe that their interpretation is correct, it is not as easy as it sounds simply to read them out of evangelicalism.

    Granted, I believe Scripture is very clearly against them on this matter, but rather than read them out of the faith, it’s better to continue dialoguing and discussing, even if the discussions get contentious.

  • Shawnie5

    Indeed. In the almost ten years that we have attended our current church the pastor spoke exactly one time about homosexuality, and only then by special request from someone in the congregation wishing an explanation of the denomination’s offiicial position on the subject and the scriptural reasons underlying it.

    Unbelievers are often as ignorant about what the church is about as it was when they used to accuse us of cannibalism because they didn’t understand the Lord’s Supper.

  • Larry

    ” Excuse me but we did just fine without a “target” about 20-25 years ago ”

    You had a targets back then too. Secularism, Liberalism and minorities of all stripes. Prior to that conservative churches like your own were on the forefront of opposing racial equality. Its all about finding people to rally against and maintaining a “siege mentality”.

    “Were it not for this issue’s potential for eviscerating the First Amendment, I still would care little about it. ”

    The only people seeking to eviscerate the 1st Amendment are the ones delusional enough to claim discriminatory behavior and other malicious forms of harm are examples of free exercise of religion.

    The “what about divorce” argument is a non-starter because it presumes that Christians like yourself are consistent and rational in their approach as to whom to attack. Plus it misses the obvious tactical issue of alienating a good portion of your own flock.

  • Larry

    This condemnation and sudden obsession with discriminating against and maltreating gays is based on the changes in political situation.

    Prior to 2003 you can say in many places that being gay was a crime, therefore their rights could not be considered. It was at best a background issue not worth pursuing. Conservative Churches had different political priorities at the time.

    SCOTUS killed that with Lawrence v. Texas. After that gays could start challenging the myriad of gay marriage bans on a nationwide level and attack DOMA as well.

    Then you guys started to pay attention to it.

  • Larry

    You have no concept of civil rights or equal rights. Historical precedence is not an argument. You have to tell why it has to be taken seriously in the present.

    Your Christian belief is of no consequence to our laws. If that is your only reason for attacking its legality, you have to do better. Thanks to the 1st Amendment our laws can never be based solely on religious beliefs. They require rational and secular purpose.

  • Shawnie5

    “but rather than read them out of the faith, it’s better to continue dialoguing and discussing, even if the discussions get contentious.”

    But have you noticed that while scholars who advocate for gay marriage within the church write endless books to persuade those who lack the background to evaluate their assertions, they almost never agree to openly debate this with non-affirming biblical scholars? Poor Matthew Vines attempted this once and got eviscerated. Most won’t even attempt it. The reason is that they KNOW scripture and history is not on their side and that their position must always boil down to emotion alone.

    For those who favor affirmation because they simply don’t know what scripture and history say about all this, which encompasses many around here of course, then certainly, may the dialogue be as open and contentious as possible.

  • Shawnie5

    Gay being a crime or not made not the slightest difference wrt its sinfulness. The law countenances many sinful things.

    But when the law approves something, of course people come along wanting to drag it into the church. Which makes confrontation unavoidable. Since when is this anything new? People have been trying to bring sexual immorality into the church ever since Paul had to admonish the Corinthian Christians about messing around with the temple prostitution which was such an integral part of pagan culture.

  • Shawnie5

    “You had a targets back then too. Secularism, Liberalism and minorities of all stripes. Prior to that conservative churches like your own were on the forefront of opposing racial equality.”

    I happen to be a member of the United Methodist Church, a denomination formed for the express purpose of repudiating segregation. We are the descendants of John and Charles Wesley, fervent opponents of slavery and the primary influence upon abolitionism’s greatest hero, William Wilberforce. And while we have no secularists of course, we have liberals and minorities “of all stripes.”

    “Its all about finding people to rally against and maintaining a “siege mentality””

    Again, kindly refrain from trying to tell us what we really think. We can do that just fine, thanks.

  • Larry

    Not my point. None of your remarks explain the rather abrupt mobilization of rhetoric and efforts by conservative churches towards the maltreatment of gays in the 2 decades. Before, you guys had the luxury of discriminatory laws behind you. No need to take notice until now.

  • Larry

    And yet the lessons of Wilburforce are lost on the subsequent generations. Somehow you had the silly notion its an act of conscience to mistreat people. In all fairness the UMC appears to be divided on the subject. Its own clergy appear willing to dissent from the official church line as a matter of personal conscience and humanitarian concerns. Somehow I don’t see you sticking around, should their stance change towards being “affirming”. I may be wrong. Time will tell.

    “Again, kindly refrain from trying to tell us what we really think. We can do that just fine, thanks.”

    I am describing how you act and what you say in public. You guys have a lot of trouble owning up to actions and rhetoric if they have negative consequences.

  • Shawnie5

    I repeat: “But when the law approves something, of course people come along wanting to drag it into the church.”

  • Shawnie5

    “I’m describing how you act and what you say in public.”

    You don’t know how we “act.” You’ve already asserted that we don’t debate with each other–about as ludicrous a misrepresentation as one could invent.

    You remind me a great deal of a lady who used to follow me around Huffington Post who was also very fond of telling everyone what they think. She was quick to call others out on the use of stereotypes, but when called out for using her own she was of course only making an “observation.” LOL! You guys are so funny with your frequent talk of “self-awareness” and your complete lack of it.

    But I’ll give you one thing…we likely WON’T stick around if the United Methodist Church decides to approve same-sex marriage. We’ll probably go nondenominational.

    The Wesleys probably would, too. We need a couple more of them today.

  • Larry

    Jack tries lighting up another strawman, but his lighter is out of gas. Show me when the word “heresy” or “excommunication” has ever been used by myself and you might have a point. 🙂

    Evangelicals are constantly officially ostracizing people from their community for dissent. Uptight Christians have been doing that for centuries. Even going so far as to burn people at the stake for such things 🙂

    How often do evangelicals claim one is “not really Christian” or that a Christian sect is not being “Biblically correct” and simply go on the attack? More often than not. In fact the lack of willingness to discuss such subjects in an open manner is a major cause for people to leave churches. Any claim of rigorous debate is swiftly refuted by their actions

  • Jack

    Speaking of “shuttered” (cloistered is a better word), in Barry’s shuttered little world, adding “the Baptist” after one’s name is supposed to be funny (ha ha)– because in Barry’s world, Baptists or any other community of faith is about as common as snow at the Equator.

  • Jack

    Picture the characters in Rosemary’s Baby encountering a Baptist…..not likely.

  • Larry

    You mean evangelicals are not big on public speaking and actions? LOL

    Much like “Christian” taste in media debate is only acceptable when done within toothless, safe parameters lacking any real meaning. Their actions belie any claim you have that debate is taken seriously. Expulsions, official sanctions, and efforts to discriminate are not the sort of things done when one is interested in open discussion and real debate. Evangelical churches are not democratic institutions. They are hierarchical. Polite discussion gives way to official pronouncement.

    “we likely WON’T stick around if the United Methodist Church decides to approve same-sex marriage. We’ll probably go nondenominational.”

    If your church can’t kick people out who approve of it, you will make your own exit. Yep, there is a lot of tolerance for opposing viewpoints in your religious faith.

  • Jack

    Oh please…Every group, religious and political, that adheres to a concrete set of principles or values obviously has clear boundaries about what constitutes being in or out of the group. Thus if I’m a vegan, I won’t want cattle ranchers in my group.

    And political groups are as harsh as religious groups on that matter, in fact worse in many cases. Just ask anyone who’s been on the receiving end of attacks from the ideological left or the ideological right.

    So that’s not the issue. The issue is whether people within such groups engage in vigorous debate or discussion. And that’s where, in the case of evangelicals, the answer is an emphatic yes. Such discussions go on and on and never end. That’s why leading evangelicals is about as easy as herding cats.

  • Jack

    That’s a good point, Shawnie. If one genuinely believes that one is right on this, why not debate?

  • Barry the Baptist

    Hardly simple.

    Another explanation for your ignorance of any controversy could be the marginalization of minorities, which is common throughout American and human history. It’s easy to say “this was not a problem before” when you comfortably sit in the majority, not being denied equal treatment under the law. It’s doubly easy when you are surrounded by people who think the way you do. That’s the way it was for me. I was completely ignorant of the issue until I opened a few books and saw that people were being mistreated. Your poorly-referenced claim that “everyone read scripture with [a] simple common sense” approach (yours?) indicates that this is the way it was for you, too. I imagine your sense of “assault” by the issue is due to your passive treatment of it.

    This issue, like many others Christianity has opposed, didn’t come to the church door demanding entrance; the church barged its way into the civil court, demanding that everyone kowtow to its religious morality.

  • Barry the Baptist

    What world would that be, Jack, since you seem to have such intimate knowledge of me? I used to think I had religious family members, friends, and colleagues and that I grew up in a community of which nearly half of its members are associated with one flavor of monotheism or another. But you seem to know better. Or, maybe you don’t? Which is more likely?

    I’ll help you out: search for “Barry the Baptist” on the internet. Then, try to think about why I would have chosen that name. And, if you’re still of the opinion that you know who I am after that, feel free to ask me questions, instead of assuming that you know anything about me.

  • Shawnie5

    “I was completely ignorant of the issue until I opened a few books and saw that people were being mistreated.”

    Mistreatment is one thing…twisting scripture to affirm gay marriage is another. The former may have existed; the latter did not.

    “Your poorly-referenced claim that “everyone read scripture with [a] simple common sense” approach (yours?) indicates that this is the way it was for you, too.”

    I assume you know of some gay-affirming “interpretations” of scriptural passages about homosexuality that predates Boswell’s 1980s publications? Please elaborate.

    Boswell’s aim, BTW, WAS to demand entrance into the church (the RC, in his case) for practicing same-sex couples. And the church knew then, as it does now, that this is what it would come to once gay marriage received civil recognition — even as we were being most earnestly and heart-rendingly assured that gay marriage would not affect our lives in any way. Oh, never…

  • Larry

    Not every group. Some are far less rigorous about enforcement of a set of doctrines than others. Some even welcome debate on ideas and principles opening themselves open to being convinced of the merits of another POV. Not everyone is a fundamentalist like you.

    You are going from denying my prior statements to accepting them with the excuse, “everyone else is doing it too”.

    “That’s why leading evangelicals is about as easy as herding cats.”

    And yet they consistently vote in blocs, contribute money to the same causes and align themselves with a great number of politicians who serve collective interests. Reality has a bias against your assertions.

  • Larry

    You mean they are not debating the subject rigorously among Evangelicals?

    Oh right, what you tell others is usually different from what you guys say amongst each other. Christians are hypocrites. We get that.

  • Shawnie5

    There is a lot of room for reasonable minds to differ within Christian thought. I, for example, lean toward ultimate annihilationism, while others within my church– probably most–believe in eternal hell. Others differ, all with some scriptural support on their side, on the proper use of alcohol, on eschatology, on drug legalization, allowable forms of contraception, child-rearing, and any number of issues of which you, of course, wouldn’t know. However, there are times when utter disloyalty to the word of God goes beyond the pale, and this is one of those. Where the leaders of a denomination are willing to bless outright biblical sin, for which NO sane biblical case can be made whatsoever, purely for the sake of catering to the popular culture which Jesus instructed us we were NOT to regard, then it’s time to abandon the decaying tree and its bad fruit like the Wesleys did, and start over.

  • Shawnie5

    We’d like to debate it rigorously. They refuse. And they have good reason to.

    Even around here, almost no one on the gay-affirming side is willing to get into the actual meat of the issue surrounding homosexuality and the Bible. For most its ignorance. For some, unfortunately, it’s awareness of their position’s weakness.

  • Shawnie5

    According to the NT, the church of Thyatira faced a similar situation:

    “But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of sexual immorality …But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them– I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come” Rev. 2: 20-24.

    I suppose if they could not have thrown Jezebel out, they would have had to decamp as well. So has it ever been…

  • Shawnie5


    “That’s why leading evangelicals is about as easy as herding cats.”

    That mental image made me laugh so loud it startled the dog off my lap! And so true, too…

  • Shawnie5

    @Jack: “Every group, religious and political, that adheres to a concrete set of principles or values obviously has clear boundaries about what constitutes being in or out of the group.”

    BTW, just for funnies, if you really want to see some good ol’ sectarianism, ostracism and “heretic-burning,” try going on a radical feminist board and identify as a pro-life feminist. And have popcorn ready for watching the fireworks.

  • There is no debate. The Bible is very clear. God gave it to us so that we can know what is right and what is wrong. God condemns homosexuality from Genesis to Revelation. Christians believe God and His Word, Therefore Christians will NOT condone that which God condemns! There is nothing to debate. Who is a Christian? How does one become Christian? Again, there is no debate. All we have to do is read the words of our Lord. “Unless on is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” Jesus (John 3:3) We must receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior through faith to be born again, or born from above, which is a spiritual birth. When this happens it is the Holy Spirit within us that continually draws us to God. We want to do what pleases Him. Most of those who are “debating” this matter, are NOT born again to begin with. They are not even Christians by Jesus definition. We live in a day of deception and delusion. Jesus often warned us about the last days….”DO NOT BE DECEIVED!’…

  • larry

    “We’d like to debate it rigorously.”

    Is that before or after you guys throw the people out of the congregations, encourage peers and family members to shun them, strip them of their positions in the church or fire them from positions in church institutions? 🙂

  • larry

    Hey Jack & Shawnie, here is your rigorous debate right here!

  • Shawnie5

    It’s any time.

  • Shawnie5

    You can complain about a lack of substance in someone’s position as soon as you offer something substantive for yours, ‘kay?

    Not that you have any dog in this fight, anyway.

  • Larry

    You’re funny Shawnie.

    All that dishonest pretense of evangelicals being open to debate and discussion to be undermined by a very typical post by one of your own.

    Please tell me how Mark’s response is somehow atypical. I need a good laugh.

  • Shawnie5

    As I have invited you MANY times, Larry, give me your position about whether the church should accept same-sex practice or not, and your supporting evidence from both scripture and history–and I’ll be happy to debate it with you. So far, you have offered nothing debatable, just a lot of name-calling and froth.

    I can’t imagine why you’d be interested, being an atheist, but I’ll discuss with you anyway if you produce something that lends itself to discussion.

  • Larry

    You are trying to change the subject. Its not about my views. Its about what you making phony claims about your own churches and attitudes in an effort to show me up. .

    You and Jack both claimed that debate is common and even encouraged. It was complete bunk.

    Every Christian here who shares your views is saying that no debate is ever possible. That to be a Christian like themselves means to accept one position and one only. Even to the point of removing people from a given sect. Your assertions are being refuted by your fellow Christians. My work is done here. 🙂

  • Shawnie5

    I am not changing the subject at all — the article we are discussing is about the acceptance and non-acceptance of same-sex practice within evangelicalism. Some have indeed declared that “no debate is possible” because the bible’s position on the matter is so clear and straightforward the it is hard to take denials seriously, but the proper response to that is not to stand on the sidelines yapping like a stray dog about how mean we are but to present a reasonable case for why the bible DOES allow for affirmation. You have not done so (nor has anyone else) and I hardly expect that you ever will. In which case, your “work” here will never be done because you never had any “work” here to begin with.