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Russell Moore’s controversial LGBT comments at Justice Conference: Hateful or he …

Russell Moore speaks to 1100 attendees at The Justice Conference in Chicago, Illinois. Image courtesy of The Justice Conference

What happens when one of America’s most outspoken conservative Christians speaks at the largest Christian conference focused on progressive social justice issues? All hell breaks loose, that’s what.

Attendees of The Justice Conference (TJC) fell silent on June 4 when Russell Moore delivered a keynote talk decrying “the violent act” of abortion. But silence gave way to protest when the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm shifted his focus to homosexuality midway through his 26-minute talk.

“[Some Christians are] afraid to speak up on a biblical view of issues of human sexuality because they’re afraid that somehow that means they will be associated with people in polyester somewhere that they don’t want to be like,” Moore said, “How cowardly!”

At this point, one attendee noted “an audible ‘wow’ from somewhere on the other side of the sanctuary…a moment of shocked silence…snarky murmurs.” A handful of apparently frustrated attendees even stormed out of the venue in protest. In the next session, speakers Lisa Sharon Harper and Rev. Traci Blackmon took subtle swipes at Moore’s comments and affirmed LGBT people.

Following Moore’s talk, some conservatives celebrated the brave proclamation as a helpful framing of today’s most pressing issues. They saw his comments as truth spoken in love. But progressive Christians voices condemned his comments, with some characterizing them as “hateful.” But neither assessment seems fair or complete.

The Justice Conference is the largest Christian gathering focused on social justice issues. - Image courtesy of The Justice Conference

The Justice Conference is the largest Christian gathering focused on social justice issues. – Image courtesy of The Justice Conference

Vickie and Mark Reddy, executive producers of TJC, told me they knew they were taking a risk when they invited Moore to speak “on the subject of a consistent ethic of life.” But it’s easy to understand why they took the gamble.

Since assuming the reins of his organization in 2013, Moore has taken positions on immigrationrefugeesanimal welfare, and the Confederate flag that aren’t exactly GOP-approved. He has even denounced ex-gay reparative therapy while many of his evangelical colleagues support it. At the same time, he has held the line on cornerstone conservative positions when it comes to opposition of abortion and gay marriage. This has made Moore a bit of an enigma, simultaneously liked and disliked by both conservatives and liberals.

Moore’s predecessor, Richard Land, was a gruff partisan. Under his leadership, the Southern Baptist Convention became something of a mouthpiece for the Republican party and tarnished the denomination’s credibility. But Moore almost revels in being the anti-Richard Land, and his winsome and unpredictable approach has improved the denomination’s reputation. If Russell Moore didn’t exist, Southern Baptists would have to invent him.

Given Moore’s passionate opposition of abortion, the Reddys expected that his talk might be “somewhat controversial” among many attendees. They characterized Moore’s defense of a pro-life ethic as “considered and reasonably measured.” But the Reddys were less than satisfied with Moore’s comments about human sexuality, a topic they felt was unrelated to the one about which they invited him to speak.

“If we are silent about what the Scriptures and 2,000 years of Church history has taught us about human sexuality and what it means to be right with God and what it means for children to grow up with both a mother and a father, if we are silent at any of those points then we’re really not justice people, we’re really not Gospel people,” Moore said. “We’re just people who are protecting our platforms and we’re just choosing on which one to stand.”

Vickie Reddy said she felt Moore unfairly linked a pro-life position with a traditional Christian view on marriage and sexuality. She noted that the tone Moore employed was hurtful to some, but not “hateful.” Many LGBTQ Christians attend the Justice Conference, which “does not have a position on sexuality.” The Reddys say they haven’t decided whether they’ll post the talk online or when due to the talk’s effect on some attendees.

“Dr. Moore’s message is his prerogative, and we regret the hurt caused,” Vicky Reddy said. “The controversy, and anger raised were not in keeping with the values of our community.”

Daniel Darling, vice president of communications for Moore’s organization, told me that he is confounded anyone “could have felt unsafe” due to Moore’s comments.

“I do think it’s remarkable that anyone at an evangelical conference could consider to be ‘controversial’ an affirmation of traditional, orthodox positions on things like justification by faith, the doctrine of hell, or a Christian sexual ethic,” Darling said. “I just don’t think there’s anything hateful about calling people’s attention to issues that Scripture addresses and that the church has believed.”

While they may disagree on whether Moore’s talk was kind or true, Darling and Reddy agree that it wasn’t “hateful.” I have often lamented the reckless use of this word to describe anyone who espouses a view with which they disagree. The h-word has become a grammatical casualty in the hands of some people–mostly progressives.

Hate is real, of course, and some people do harbor it against others. It is not a myth or a fable. But we’re quickly approaching a moment, if we’ve not already reached it, where true hate is conflated with any unpopular opinion. This word is just too powerful, too explosive, too damaging to be used imprecisely.

Moore is no hater of LGBT people. After 50 gay people were murdered at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last week, Moore called on Christians to “love and serve and weep and mourn” with their LGBT neighbors.

Many in our world glorify “tolerance”—a word that is often scoffed at, but one I believe is quite valuable. Yet those who champion this virtue are often quick to abandon it upon encountering people with whom they intellectually diverge. Tolerance is not Lombard Street; it runs both ways. The progressive Christians who attend the Justice Conference cannot claim to be tolerant if they gasp, protest, or storm out when anyone presents a dissenting view.

But just because Moore’s words were not hateful doesn’t mean they were helpful or prudent either. It’s less-than-kind to label Christians of mutual goodwill “cowardly” simply because they interpret the Bible differently than you do and disagree about human sexuality. While changing the epithet “coward” to the adverb form “cowardly” takes the edge off, the effect is similar. Rather than raising a point of genuine disagreement, Moore made a judgment of character and motivation.

The most impudent comment, however, was Moore’s contention that certain attendees are “not Gospel people.” There is a troubling trend among some Christians today to speak and act as if they hold the deed to the word “gospel.” While this word has been used as a noun by most Christians for millennia, these believers have transformed it into an adjective. The adjectival form of “gospel” then gets affixed to anything or anyone that aligns with these individuals way of being Christian. The good news of Jesus, as it is formulated in the New Testament as well as the historic creeds has never asserted a position on human sexuality. To claim that somehow one’s position on the matter means they are “not Gospel people” is a unnecessarily inflammatory, theologically imprecise, and historically unique way of speaking about one’s fellow Christians.

A day is quickly approaching when most American Christians may question the mettle or faithfulness of anyone who espouses Moore’s view on this matter. To avoid unnecessary divisiveness on this issue then, we should have a full-throated conversation now. We need to hear from voices on both sides of this debate, and we need to hear from Russell Moore. But these conversations must be carefully articulated in the right forums and at the right time and in the right way.

One of the best ethical standards for judging one’s tone and rhetoric is also one of the oldest: The Golden Rule. In Matthew 7, Jesus said, “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” Given the importance of this discussion, it’s worth asking whether Moore embodied that ethic in this talk.

Would Russell Moore let a Christian who affirms homosexuality speak at an ERLC conference? Would he lend the stage to a Christian who opposes gay marriage like the Reddy’s offered theirs to him? And if Moore invited a more progressive Christian to speak about another topic, would he appreciate it if they used his platform to speak words they knew might offend attendees?

I asked Darling about this in a follow-up email to his previous response. He did not respond. I asked the question again, and Darling again did not respond. While I do not believe Moore would want done to him what he did to others in this case, given his organization’s silence, we can only speculate.

This situation offers much for us to appreciate and learn from.

Moore demonstrated courage in speaking opinions he knew would be unpopular. We need more people like Russell Moore who are discontent insulating inside echo chambers and willing to cross lines of disagreement for the sake of dialogue. I can affirm his spirit, even though I question his execution.

The Reddys demonstrated what true tolerance looks like by inviting Moore to speak. I’m glad they did, and I hope this experience does not discourage them from inviting other conservative speakers in the future. Every Christian benefits from regular exposure to challenging, even unpopular, opinions.

When there is a clash of Christian conviction, hell doesn’t need to break loose. May we learn to be tolerant of those with whom we disagree, and when we speak, may our words be plated with 24-karat kindness.

 

 

About the author

Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt is senior columnist for Religion News Service and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He has published more than 2500 articles in outlets like USA Today, The Week, Buzzfeed and National Journal. Jonathan is author of "Jesus is Better Than You Imagined" and "A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars." He resides in Brooklyn, NY.

138 Comments

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  • “At this point, one attendee noted “an audible ‘wow’

    Oh dear. I hope this person was able to run to their ‘safe space’.

  • It is one thing to be acknowledged as someone who has a different point of view. It is another to have your motives impugned. By calling gay-friendly Christians “cowardly,” Moore suggests we must not be doing so as a matter of conscience, we must be worried about how other people regard us.
    Conservative Christians don’t like being called “merely hateful.” They don’t like it when others can’t recognize they are being true to what they genuinely believe.
    Its that. Pot, kettle.

  • One minor point with the author: Though the creeds don’t speak on sexuality per se, they lend credence to traditional sexual roles, e.g., “I believe in God the Father, almighty maker,” and “Jesus Christ his only begotten, Son” and “conceived by the Holy Spirit.” If one affirms Christ as the Bridegroom and the church his Bride, then one has affirmed the husband-wife, heterosexual union, which offers a metaphor of the gospel’s mysterious purpose. The ethic of procreation, life and human sexuality are inseparable subjects. I’m not surprised that Moore sees a connection.

  • “If we are silent about what the Scriptures and 2,000 years of Church history has taught us…:

    Oh, channeling the proslavery Southern Baptists of my great grandfathers’ day are we? The appeal to scripture and history to justify perpetuating injustice towards others has been done before. It’s easy to find one of the SBC’s founding fathers, Thornton Stringfellow’s once widely read proslavery pamphlet: “Scriptural and Statistical Views in Favor of Slavery:

    Here are his arguments that he used in his apologetic.

    1st. The sanction of the Almighty in the Patriarchal age.

    2d. That it was incorporated into the only National Constitution [OT laws] which ever emanated from God.

    3d. That its legality was recognized, and its relative duties regulated, by Jesus Christ in his kingdom; and

    4th. That it is full of mercy.

    Remind you of anything that you’ve written about LGBT people?

    #3 has been modified to “That its illegality was affirmed by Jesus Christ” to help justify the “religious liberty” to discriminate and segregate law abiding LGBT people going about their lawful business.

    Being condescending to a minority group, as Mr. Moore was to the LGBT community in his condolences piece, isn’t love.

    Your disparagement of minority relationships as just being about sinful sexual activities (something done before by some white Bible Belt “conservative” Evangelicals), and with your incessant lobbying to perpetuate legal economic injustice against minority couples and their families by prohibiting their marriages from being legally recognized (something done before by some white Bible Belt “conservative” Evangelicals),,,

    …makes your “genuine disagreement” really genuine hate mongering and unjust minority stress creating propaganda, however flowery it is phrased. Your crocodile tears are not fooling everyone.

  • “By calling gay-friendly Christians “cowardly,” Moore suggests we must not be doing so as a matter of conscience, we must be worried about how other people regard us.”

    This is spot on. The idea that many Christians can and do support their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is nearly unthinkable to Moore and his ilk. If pushed, I suspect Moore would question the faith of those Christians. I doubt he’d say they simply hold a different opinion. And by calling gay-supporting Christians “cowardly” he’s just showing his true spots. I’ve said it before, by Moore is just the kinder, gentler face of the same patriarchal brand.

  • “It’s less-than-kind to label Christians of mutual goodwill “cowardly” simply because they interpret the Bible differently than you do and disagree about human sexuality.”

    Nothing to interpret. The New Testament affirms what is taught in the Old Testament; sex was designed for marriage which is between a man and a wonan. Moore was courageous but so many others are intolerant, not trusting in God’s way.

  • I agree with Merritt that everyone needs to avoid casually charging people with being “hateful.” That said, some of Moore’s comments–and his entire theological view of same-sex sexuality–are arguably rooted in hate even if delivered without a hateful tone or intent. It is dehumanizing, and hence hateful, for example, to qualify his call Christians to weep for the victims in Orlando with an unnecessary nod to “genuine disagreement” about issues like same-sex marriage. Especially when they were killed precisely for being LGBTQ. His comment undermines his compassion by, again, taking away some of the humanity of the victims; he quietly turns them back into a mere “issue” (to borrow a point from Matthew Vines).

    And so I think I disagree with Merritt when he says we need to hear “both sides of the debate” now to avoid further divisions in the future. No, we don’t. Because we’re not talking about a mere intellectual debate, certainly not after Obergefell and Orlando, and not before either. In fact, I wish Merritt hadn’t framed things in that language, because it risks reducing people to mere problems to be solved. Again. Yes, Christian groups and churches will need to continue to argue and learn. But the time for pretending there are two equally plausible, equally valid “sides” is over. All of the arguments–about sin, the Bible, nature, etc–have been made, rebutted, clarified, answered, and rehashed a hundred times over by this point in history.

    And it has been demonstrated by this point that none of the objections to the full inclusion of gays and lesbians hold water any longer. I can understand someone who grows up with “traditional” views or someone who simply hasn’t done their homework. I can’t understand someone like Moore who can and does know better. At a certain point–a point we are rapidly approaching as Merritt notes–opposition to gays and lesbians, in church or in civil society, seems less like a reasonable commitment to “traditional” norms and more like willed ignorance or rank prejudice. In other words, like hate.

  • One problem with Abrahamic religions is they are fixed in stone in societies between 1400 and 3000 years old and reflect cultural norms. All condemn homosexuality with Judaism and Islam prescribing death. Societies have evolved but the scriptures haven’t so you have a struggle between fundamentalists and progressives. When you start ignoring scripture on one topic, where does it end?

  • For starters, you recognize that you are not reading a text which ever would allow you to enshrine it as a consistent rulebook. It is full of its own internal disagreements — something modern fundamentalists, and the people who take their word for how to interpret it, don’t seem to admit. It is not possible to live perfectly consistently with a document which is itself inconsistent. In other words, to take it seriously, you gotta get out of the fundamentalist trap. And by the way, “fundamentalist” doesn’t mean older, or purer, or more traditional. The people who put Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 right next to each other, were not obsessed with literal reading, and were not above keeping one story from one era alive next to another.

  • Except there is also that odd story from the Song of Solomon — who don’t appear to be married. And whatever it was that went on between Ruth and Boaz — I know it will blow minds, but “uncovering feet,” was a euphemism.

  • It’s one thing to believe that gay people are sinning. Have at it. I don’t care. I think it is an abuse and misuse of scripture, but again, I don’t care.

    It’s quite another thing to use your religious belief to give a thin veneer of respectability to an ancient, vicious, and durable prejudice. It’s quite another thing to call my marriage a threat to everything good and holy, and to call for a constitutional amendment to outlaw it because of my alleged sin, harming my family and my life, to make me a criminal because of my alleged sin, to pay religious grifters large amounts of money because you believe it’s a sin.

    When you take the same kinds of action again all of the other people you believe are sinning, you might have a point. But right now, it’s just plain old religious bigotry.

  • Yeah, sure….bigotry that was the law of the land for 200+ years and NOBODY said it was bigoted or irrational until 5 years ago.

  • ” Moore called on Christians to “love and serve and weep and mourn” with their LGBT neighbors.”

    Dude, stop caping for someone who continues to want to oppress us, albeit doing so in a ~kindler, gentler~ tone. Does Moore support anti-discrimination laws? Does he support equal civil rights? No? Then he IS hateful, regardless of whether or not he spews invective the way Steve Anderson does.

    I have friends who don’t necessarily “agree” with homosexuality but support equal civil rights. THEY’RE not hateful. Moore, however, is. I don’t care how nicely he says stuff. A polished turd is still a turd.

    But I guess I don’t expect much from someone who harassed a feminist for being pro-choice. Did you ever apologize to Dianna Anderson for that, by the way?

  • “The New Testament affirms what is taught in the Old Testament”

    Dear Lord… Spare us your silly folly.
    Christ’s message is an utter repudiation of The Old Testament.
    To drag that hateful Old Testament into Christ’s Message is to drag His Word in to the gutter.

  • Thank you for displaying your usual ignorance on the subject. It is exceeded only by your callous disregard for others.

  • None of this is pre-monarchical. Unless you are a fundamentalist and think it fell from the sky into Moses’ lap, or that any of it was written at the time of the events it relates. Which nobody at your nearest secular university or mainline Protestant seminary does.

    Leviticus: “The traditional view is that Leviticus was compiled by Moses, or that the material in it goes back to his time, but internal clues suggest that the book developed much later in Israel’s history and was completed either near the end of the Judean monarchy in the late seventh century BCE or in the exilic and post-exilic period of the sixth and fifth centuries BCE. Scholars debate whether it was written primarily for Jewish worship in exile that centered on reading or preaching.” (from Wikipedia, I’m in a hurry)

    Ruth: post-exilic. (Jewish Encyclopedia.)

    Song of Solomon, back to Wikipedia “The Song offers no clue to its author or to the date, place or circumstances of its composition.[12] The superscription states that it is “Solomon’s”, but even if this is meant to identify the author, it cannot be read as strictly as a similar modern statement.[13] The most reliable evidence for its date is its language: Aramaic gradually replaced Hebrew after the end of the Babylonian exile in the late 6th century BCE, and the evidence of vocabulary, morphology, idiom and syntax clearly points to a late date, centuries after King Solomon to whom it is traditionally attributed.[14]

  • What I find interesting about so many atheists is that they seem to take the fundamentalists’ word for how scripture ought to be read, and assume that is how it has always been read. You might want to sign up for a class in the religion department at a local secular university. You’ll learn so little was “set in stone,” ever. Or if this particular issue is of interest, glance at John Boswell, the late Yale historian’s “Christianity, Homosexuality and Social Tolerance: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era Until the Fourteenth Century.” I realize we are concerned with Hebrew writings, but he discusses those as well, in the lead-up to the first century, and describes how the texts we’re discussing were interpreted by Jews in that era. It received a National Book Award in the 80’s, when it was published.

  • I think your wrong about that. Most of the educated atheists I have encountered know far more about the bible, having actually read it, then the vast majority of bible believing Christians.

  • Moses could not have written the Torah, seeing as he describes his own death and funeral in the past tense.

  • Funny thing is in the complete absence of accepting the New Testament, Jews still manage to find justification in scripture to promote social justice, charity, and interfaith efforts. It’s not the book. It’s how you use it.

  • Ben, I wasn’t talking about lay Christians across the US –you get no argument from me. Christians as a whole — their numerical strength is largely evangelical and southern. But that doesn’t mean they know what is understood in religion departments and Ivy league divinity schools and reformed Jewish, Catholic, and mainline Protestant seminaries. Not all lay people in those religious communities (Conservative and Reformed Jews, Catholics, and mainline Protestants) are particularly interested in questions like when can we date the writing of Deuteronomy, and how has it been interpreted through time. But if that’s your thing, seems like you’d want to know what’s going on up at Yale or Vanderbilt or U of Chicago Divinity schools, no? — and maybe quit arguing with your cousin who sings in the choir down at the local Baptist church.

  • Marcion, in the 2nd century, thought just that. He wanted to throw out the OT. But the idea was ruled heresy, and the Old Testament remained in the Christian canon. Apparently the early Christians thought if it was good enough for Jesus, it was good enough for them. That doesn’t mean we can’t have conversations about how to interpret it. But I maintain there is more grace and consistency with Christ’s message in the Old Testament than most people (who might not be fully familiar) know. Yep, disturbing stuff too, but plenty of beauty and consistency with Christ’s message.

  • Also, closer to you in Oakland (Ca?) perhaps, Pacific School of Religion, (and all the Bay Area schools in the Graduate School of Religion) Claremont School of Religion, and the good ole’ religion department at UC Berkeley.

  • Generally, no disagreement from me. But I would put it to you that a great many so called Christians don’t actually get care what is going on in the colleges. Like Shawnie, who comments here as frequently as smugly as she can, they are bible literalists, bible inerrantists, sola scriptorum Christians.

    In sort, those who disagree with them are not True Christians (TM).

  • Yep, that’s what I said. Plenty of people are evangelicals/fundamentalists, and plenty of people who aren’t, just aren’t interested in talking about the dating of Deuteronomy. And some people say that those who don’t agree with them aren’t True Christians.

    What I’m suggesting here though, is that some (not all) who write here as atheists seem to want to tell me what it is to be a Christian or a Jew — and seem to have taken most of the fundamentalists’ ideas about that. Jim thinks Deuteronomy was a case against the Canaanites and its interpretation set in stone. I said no it isn’t — it was written much later, and as Boswell attests, no Jew was walking around the first century making cases against homosexuality because of it.

  • And that’s even after one does their homework and checks out the scholarship and reads everybody’s posts on all sides. You’re right.

    Gay marriage is biblically wrong, period. Practicing gay ministers are wrong, period. The gay activists are biblically wrong, period, and if they wanna call themselves Christians, they need to clean up some stuff. We all got issues, but we don’t need to pretend that gay marriage and homosexual behavior are A-Okay. They ain’t.

    Nobody wants conflict or stress. But the Bible is clear on this topic, and it points in only one direction.

  • Your take on the Bible has only 1 position. The belief it is the only take out there is nothing more than empty egotism and sectarian puffery.

  • Amen! God gets to decide our sexual ethic, not us. We will stand before Him at the judgement at our deaths and will be made to give an account for everything we say and do. What is our answer if He asks why He should let us into heavens gates and not cast us into hell? The correct answer is because of the work of Jesus. Therefore, let us offer our bodies up as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God and not live to gratify the desires of the flesh.

  • Traditionalists are adapting to the neomoral paradigm allowing LGBT proponents a greater share in the implementation of rights based on sexual proclivities. In areas of polygamy, etc., restrictions are still in place and both sides agree on that. In the application of benefits, marriage was substituted for partnership which increased coverage. It seems family relationships such as parents, siblings, and the children of close relatives should have received greater consideration in receiving coverage, but they are defined by relationships involving Agape, not Eros.
    It amazes me that science agrees that life begins at conception. The NIH Medline site recognizes, at all stages of pregnancy, the entity within as “your baby.” That our Supreme Court decided that life begins and rights are accorded at the first breath seem based on different religious viewpoints (or lack of) on the matter of abortion. It smacks of primitive human sacrifice as opposed to a modern scientific understanding.
    One thing is certain. Christian intolerance is not a violent threat to the LGBT community as is Islamic intolerance where the death penalty is becoming increasingly common.

  • As a married woman who follows Jesus and happens to be of transgender experience, I have to say that I am not impressed at all by Moore and his ilk. His words ring very much like the racist who claims to have “colored friends.”

    Conservative Christians have *so poisoned* and *bloodied* the “drinking well” of relations between the Christian and Queer community that is it likely that nothing short of God’s Spirit will change things, and I speak as one plank in the bridge that Christ has been trying to build between our communities.

    Such people teach, preach, and harp upon our “sin” even to the point of calling for our deaths, that we face constant hurt from society, from family, from fellow believers, even the weak minded and fragile people who actually beat and kill us. They assume our very lives, our very God-given identities are sin, while they overlook the *grievous* sins they commit in they way they treat us “in love.” When we point-this out, we are blamed for the hate directed toward us.

    Every bit of (1st Corinthians 13) love that comes from the Queer community to Christians is pure grace coming from the hand of Jesus – it is one of our world’s best examples of “loving our enemies.” Yes, many MANY non-Christians acting more like Jesus than the people who claim Him as their God.

  • And that’s exactly what the pro-gay activists and allies are doing. There’s a lot of hatred against the Bible out there.

  • Dash the heads of the little ones against the rocks, and slice open the pregnant women, because they worship a different god. This is found in numerous places in your hate filled bible.

  • Stone your disobedient teens, girls who have premarital sex, and Gay people. Again, straight from your hate filled bible.

  • The bible teaches how to handle your indentured servant and your SLAVE as well. This is not love. It is hate.

  • The hateful god turned Lot’s wife to salt, had Lot impregnate both his daughters, and was so hate engorged, he flooded the earth. All from your hateful fairy tales.

  • Derek, I guess you have not read the Bible? Romans chapter one clarifies the point that the New Testament affirms the Old Testament. BTW the message of both is the Gospel or good news. Men have a sin problem. Jesus came to save men from their sin problem but sinful man must seek Him. By being born again, the heart of stone is changed to a heart of flesh. The Law is written on the heart enabling the man to become more like Christ. Jesus came to fulfill the Law of the Old Testament.

  • Song of Solomon? Not married? Solomon was married with many concubines. It got him into some trouble.

    Umm…uncovering the feet doesn’t mean what you think it means. Boaz is the kinsman redeemer, a picture of Christ.

  • Ben, I don’t believe that just gay people are sinning. ALL people are sinners / sinning all of the time including me. Sin came into the world through one man, Adam. God is holy tolerating no sin. Man must find a way to be acceptable to God. Jesus is the way through the work on the cross, His life, death, and resurrection. I just mention that Romans chapter one cannot be misinterpreted. You can call your partnership a marriage but historically marriage has been defined by the Bible as being between a man and a woman. That is point: the gay movement redefines when it should create a new language to clarify the difference. The point of marriage is the enactment of a covenant for a stable environment for procreation. The family us the most fundamental building block of society. Of course, that has all changed too sadly hurting so many people.

    My best to you. I understand your anger at Christians as the values of the Bible are not supportive of your choice. It appears wrong that many societal benefits are awarded to the married. The preservation of marriage and the family has been an important value for society. As American society repeats the mistakes of Rome though, I do expect alternative families to receive more benefits.

  • I’m sorry Christine, but we’re just going to have to disagree. I know no reputable scholar who believes Solomon was the author or subject of the book. Their work involves taking into account how traditions assigned authorship and what the text itself tells us (by its language, syntax, grammar) about when it was written. The Wikipedia article about Song of Songs offers a quick summary if you’re interested. But I do understand that in some conservative Christian circles, that scholarship is disregarded.

    And nobody for centuries thought Boaz was a picture of Christ. That reading back into a text–finding Boaz to be a sort of prototype of Jesus, if I understand you correctly– has been productive for many Christians, but it isn’t the only way to understand a text. It is one way to think about a story, but it requires reading into it. And I don’t expect everyone to recognize a Hebrew euphemism — but there it is. Since English has euphemisms too, it would be odd if Hebrew didn’t, wouldn’t it? At the end of the day when we’re tired, we might say, “I’m outta gas.” Three thousand years from now, people will try to explain that literally, or shrug their shoulders, or people who study 21st century American English will explain it.

  • Except for the Christian churches which do and say otherwise. But in the infinite malice of fundamentalists, they are not “real Christians”. Because they consider love thy neighbor more important than the contorted and self serving interpretations used to justify bad behavior against gays.

    It’s bad enough you think the Bible excuses attacking gays. But to attack Christians who chose not to hate alongside you is just that much worse. You make hate a defining feature of your Christian belief.

  • Yes, we will have to disagree as the Bible is intended to be understood in context of the OT and the NT being all about Jesus. It is clearly all about salvation for those who are given eyes to see and ears to hear. I wasn’t born again until I was almost forty years old. He called and I answered when I was all alone in my living room. As Jesus told Nicodemus, ye must be born again.

  • I find the Bible less life-giving when I imagine it says exactly the same thing on every page, then when I let it speak the word it seems to want to speak in that story, on that page, in that verse. I don’t think when Paul told Timothy to remember his coat, it was about Jesus. But I agree with you — that as a whole it tells the story of God’s desire to save us. But I’d like to understand every story, every passage’s intent, and not try to flatten it all out to say the same thing.

  • Ouch! The Bible is not life giving…Jesus is. I used to try to read the Bible but found myself limited. By my own effort, I could not read it. After I was born again, I was awoken very early in the morning and all I wanted to do was to know God through His Word. I read the entire Bible in about a year and one half.

    Have you been born again?

  • The difference, Christine, is that whereas you READ the bible, and prattle on its dots and dashes, I and my enlightened Christian brothers and sisters are, through The Holy Spirit, INSPIRED BY, and BLESSED BY, its Wisdom and Truth.

    Shun the word, Christine, and embrace The Word.
    I’ll pray for you.
    derrick

  • C’mon Christine, don’t literalize my words just to play a game of gotcha. OF COURSE Jesus is life giving. And the life-giver. And yep, born again at 14.

  • Hmm…if someone told me that a book is full of internal disagreements, I wouldn’t believe a word of that book. If one thing is proven false, all things in the book could be considered false.

  • For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
    Romans 1:26‭-‬27 ESV
    http://bible.com/59/rom.1.26-27.ESV

  • Any god that hateful had to have been created in the image of the people who invented him.

  • “And that’s even after one does their homework and checks out the scholarship and reads everybody’s posts on all sides. You’re right.”

    It’s almost like you have no idea what you are talking about.

  • I’m sure you mean well, and mean to be kind. So for that, I will thank you.

    However, you are dead wrong on many counts.

    Romans is of course being misinterpreted. Paul is talking about idolatry and the punishment for that.

    Marriage has been defined in the bible as many things,concluding polygamy.vthere is no misinterpreting that. Also a rapist and his victim. Also, as Paul says, better than burning.

    I don’t care what the bible says. I care what my government says. And my government calls it a marriage, because we are talking about CIVIL marriage, not holy matrimony. If you need a different term, have at it. You don’t own the word.

    When procreation is required for procreation, or procreation for marriage, let me know. Otherwise, it’s just your fantasy. Let me know when you refuse marriage to people who cannot or will not reproduce.

    I didn’t choose to be gay. It chose me.

    If the family is the fundamental building block of society, why does only YIUr family deserve marriage?

    I have no idea how preventing my marriage preserves or protects anyone’s marriage. Perhaps you can explain it with facts. It certainly has nothing to to with the seven combined marriages of newt Gingrich and Limbaugh. Correct heterosexuals first, before you presume to correct me.

    I have exactly the same “benefits– as if that is all this is about– as any married heterosexual. I want nothing more, and nothing less.

  • 50 LGBT people are dead now yet Merritt seems more concerned about liberals being too mean to Moore because Moore has a history of making extremist comments about gay people. Merritt conveniently and disgustingly ignores Moore’s comments where he said parents should not go to their child’s gay wedding because it might imply they support their child and that’s apparently a sin now or something.

  • That is classic anti-Judaism and ignorance of Judaism. Prejudice is bad for everyone. You cannot end a prejudice by using an older prejudice.

    I should add that as a Jew, I find much in the “New” Testament that is hateful. Reading it made me sick to stomach.

  • If you can’t tell the difference between criticism and hate, you probably shouldn’t be commenting in public.

  • “An utter repudiation of the Old Testament,” you say. Hmm.

    Well, here is something that Jesus said. Tell us what it means:

    ‘Until Heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the law, until all is accomplished’ (Matthew 5:18).

  • Actually, I think it’s YOU and your side who has the problem with hatred. You clearly hate the Bible, and you clearly hate Christians who believe that Bible.

    But some of us no longer feel the need to placate or appease you on it. If you be a hater, then you be a hater, but like Russell Moore, we’re not going to shrink back or be scared about affirming the plain Scriptures any more.

  • But I do. It’s YOU who haven’t been doing the homework around here. I’m just the guy calling you out on it.

  • That is cute but way overused and dishonest as heck. But churches in line with your views are using their time, resources and rhetoric to attack civil liberties, attack other churches, promoting ostracizing people and discrimination, and make end runs around notions of Christian love of mankind. That is hateful action. Calling attention to it, opposing such ideas is not.

    You not only want to hate gays using god’s word as a pretext, you hate Christians who don’t want to follow along. Worse still you want to pretend it’s your privilege to attack others with no expectations of being criticized for it.

    John 13:34-35
    Love ALL people as I love you.

    (Did Jesus place conditions after that statement, nope)

  • The National Book Award is awarded by publishers, not scholars. Boswell’s peers mostly dismissed his book as advocacy scholarship, which indeed it was. The unfortunate man spent the better part of his life trying to reconcile his own homosexuality with Catholicism — for which many gay atheist scholars have particularly scant patience for him.

  • No, he’s hateful. Not only did he feel the need to gratuitously bring up his position on homosexuality in an unrelated talk, he explicitly called people who did otherwise cowards and implicity called them unprincipled snobs. Or do you really think that he thinks people who don’t speak about a “biblical” understanding of sexual it do so because they don’t want to be associated with people in polyester. What do you think that statement was meant to convey, exactly?

  • Your “marriage” is not a threat to me, and if you don’t care about any Christian based afterlife implications, then you have nothing to complain about either.

    As for an “ancient, vicious, and durable prejudice”, that sounds like you have made a basket full of judgments and assumptions yourself, none of which I care to address.

  • Saying a marriage should be between one man and one woman is not “bigotry”, it’s an opinion.

    Saying that people who don’t have the same opinion as you are wrong and bad is…what should we call it?…

  • Homosexuality is based on behaviors and acts. One becomes a homosexual by what one DOES, not by any other venue.

    I become a paratrooper by jumping out of a plane several times after joining the Army, not because I was born with a predilection for staring out of an open door in a flying plane.

  • I know there are arguments, particularly about later chapters in the book. Not so much the earlier portions which are relevant to this discussion.

  • “All have sinned and fallen short the glory of God”.

    You seem to have confused sinning with ignoring sin. Christians know what they are supposed to do and not do. They also know that they will fail on a regular basis. They also know that they aren’t allowed to pick and choose what is sin, based on they decide or what others tell them.

    If you want me to say your sin isn’t sin, then you are going to go away disappointed. God and Jesus Christ tells us not to judge other people, but we can (and are instructed to) judge actions.

  • Except Christ said this: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.”

    So it looks like the Ten Commandments still stand.

  • Hmmm, a self proclaimed 32nd Degree Christian with oak leaves and diamond clusters…you have almost attained “Pharisee” level with your preening of religious goodness.

  • Christine, you are obviously a member of the Jesus Christ Fan Club (JCFC). which is your right. And you obviously have chosen to abide by certain cherry-picked verses in you ancient rule-book written by people so ignorant that they didn’t even know the earth is a sphere revolving around the sun, and that is also your right. But you do NOT have the right to force non-JCFC-members to also abide by their rule-book.

    You write as if your beliefs are based on facts, but the lack of supporting evidence shows they are based on FACTs (Fantasies Accepted as Complete Truth).

  • When and if you have the time, perhaps you’d like to present them and can look at them more closely.

  • I know what is going on in the colleges, Ben. I’ve spent much time there, and I know all about how academia operates. And I’ve actually read much of the literature itself rather than just assertions passed about from one atheist website to another. And therefore I know that much of what passes for biblical scholarship is mainly guesswork based on a set of assumptions based on other assumptions.

    If the scholars themselves are operating on speculation, then what are the everyday atheists around here operating on? And why should any of them be taken seriously when they come around trying to tell us how to be Christian?

  • No, you Believe that that is what I want you to say.

    And if it makes you feel better, pray continue.

  • The very next time Christians are put in jail in this country for being Christians, called threats to everything good and holy, and murdered for walking down the street, you might have a point.

  • I’m also dismayed that Merritt would ignore Moore’s comments that he apparently thinks LGBT rights are against justice.

  • Are celibates respected for their self control?
    Predictions are that people will substitute human relationships for robotic ones. I suppose no arguments and no criticism will be the popular choice. Maybe a robot that can metamorphose into any number of shapes and sizes will fly off the shelves.
    One thing certain is that politicians who legislated for and judges who decided on major societal changes regarding sexuality, while allowing large numbers of immigrants who find such behavior abhorent, were shortsighted as to the serious problems and conflicts that have resulted.

  • So this guy isn’t quite the troglodyte that prior heads of the loathsome SBC have been, and we’re calling him a hero? christianity, like all religion, is superstitious codswallop. If nasty people who believe in a sky fairy get to set the tone of the discussion, then I want to come bring my belief in Santa Claus to the table. But unlike the hateful beliefs of nasty christians, my worship of Santa Claus doesn’t hurt anybody.

  • It is OK to be against abortion. It is not OK to force everyone to adopt your version of morality. Better to let God be the judge. There are Christians who think being gay is a sin yet there is nothing in the bible stating it is a sin. Yes Paul ranted about it but we only follow the parts of Paul’s writings we agree with. Yes Leviticus mentions it but we Christians don’t follow any of Leviticus. No Paul did make a profound statement that if you follow one law you must follow them all and the law can’t save you. So let us not tell others which law to follow when we don’t follow them all; it makes us no better than the pharisees.

  • What Russell Moore, the SBC, and Jonathan Merritt don’t get is that GLBT people are no longer going to negotiate on our human and legal rights. Those days are over and we aren’t going back. All that’s left is for Russell Moore, et al to figure out is how they’re going to live with the new reality. They’re no longer in charge, or in any position to be making demands.

    Many of us warned Evangelicals that some day the tables were gonna turn, and it would be their turn on the rack. They shined us on. Well, guess what? The tables are in the process of turning. I’d say they best pray to their God for mercy, but given they had none to give when they were in charge, their God well may let them suffer. They should have paid attention to their holy book, where it says “blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy” (paraphrasing).

    Actually, Evangelicals should pay attention to the suffering that gay people have endured all these decades at the hand of Evangelicals and others – they might learn something. It made us strong, and it never diminished our resolve to gain our freedom and rights. We have been to hell and back, and we’re still here. We have seen it all and we’ve had the worst thrown at us. Our resolve is not one bit diminished by what happened in Orlando.

  • We notice again and again and again that Christians and Christian leaders not only feel they must discuss controversial issues but that God actually calls them–and all Christians–to do the same, instead of directing all that energy and time into loving and serving all people. By emphasizing certain OT and NT verses instead of others, consulting commentaries, citing the views of widely-recognized Christians and pastors, they come up with the “explanation”–or even the “answer”!– about abortion, or eternal security, or homosexuality. My prayer is that the Lord Himself will forgive us Christians and give us the desire to be led by Him in all matters. And Lord, deliver me and all Christians who make and idol out of being “correct”.

  • Romans 1 is not being “misinterpreted”, Ben. You know what it says already, in plain English. You know it doesn’t permit gay marriage. Neither the gay activists, nor the government, can repeal Romans 1.

  • It’s called proof texting, the minor version of hermeneutics– the fine art of getting your holy book to say what you need it to. Avoid the clear indications of the word wherefore. Ignore what Paul has to say in Romans 2:1 about judgment.

    Some day, maybe, antigay people will start just saying “yeah, I’m antigay and proud of it.” Instead of using their bibles to make them seem like decent people.

  • They have been murdered for having a Bible Study, fined for not making a cake (and then ordered not to talk about it), had a sheriff’s deputy visit their home for putting a Bible verse in a lunchbox, etc., etc., etc.

    So thanks for taking my point, but to be perfectly candid, I welcome weathering whatever storm comes and the harder path in front. Strength comes from adversity, and we Christians have become a flabby, lazy lot.

  • Call it what you will and whatever makes you feel good. I don’t need any additional comforting or affirmation from you, so save it for those who crave it.

  • I’m a staunch supporter of Israel — know many anti-Semites like that ?

    Like most liberals, you can dish it out — but you can’t take it.

  • We who truly walk The Path of Jesus shun the bible babblers much as one sidesteps a steaming pile of doggie doo on the summer’s sidewalk. The stench may linger; but one need not wipe one’s shoes before entering The House of God.

    Peace.

  • ” He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this…”

    Sound like anyone you know?…

  • Heh. “I’m not anti-semitic – I support Israel” is just a fancy way of saying “I’m ok with Jews existing, as long as they live 5,000 miles away from US soil”.

  • I take my inspirations from Augustine, Francis, Dominic and Ignatius.
    Not from bible school babble dolts.

    You bore me.
    You are dismissed.

  • Absent a coherent defense on your part, then the comparison stands as presented.

    When you are done being bored, maybe reflect upon what has been said in these comments. Don’t be one of those crying “Lord! Lord!” at the end, even if you think nothing in Matthew 7 applies to you.

  • No, most of my friends growing up (and still today) are Jewish. My best friend in HS and my tennis doubles partner is Jewish and I’ll be attending his 4th son’s Bar Mitzvah in a few weeks. We just went to a Mets game together.

    I support the Jewish state because it’s the right thing to do. Do you ????

  • The Moore quote you quoted:
    “[Some Christians are] afraid to speak up on a biblical view of issues
    of human sexuality because they’re afraid that somehow that means they
    will be associated with people in polyester somewhere that they don’t
    want to be like,” Moore said, “How cowardly!”

    Your interpretation of this quote:
    “It’s less-than-kind to label Christians of mutual goodwill “cowardly”
    simply because they interpret the Bible differently than you do and
    disagree about human sexuality.”

    Clearly you’ve misinterpreted the people who he is calling cowards here as being people who disagree with him theologically, when he’s actually referring to a different group of people. A group that has a theological perspective from Scripture (probably those who agree with him), but out of fear, abstains from speaking about it.

    It’s possible that, because I have not heard the whole speech, the context surrounding this quote gives it more of the flavor that you ended up speaking to, but whatever the case, that’s not evident in this quote. This quote seems more aimed at his people who stay silent because of fear, rather than his opponents.
    Just my two cents… feel free to print the redaction now.
    😛

  • I was at the Justice Conference and heard Moore speak. Yes, you could feel the tension in the room at that time but this is what happens when you are discussing several controversial issues that Christians are split over. I did not struggle with his jutraposing the abortion issue with the homosexuality issue but with his use and definition of what it means to be “pro-life.”

    I believe Christians should be holistically and consistently “pro-life” in areas of justice issues. How Moore defines these issues is by what he refers to as innocent life in the womb. He has no problem with the state death penalty or going to war since murderers deserve to die and going to war is for higher ideals like protecting the innocent or possibly protecting one’s national interests. Moore from my perspective is very traditional in his SB approach to ethics but I believe this younger generation has a much more holistic approach even where I may differ from many of them on the gay marriage issue.

    I will say when Christians like Moore talk on issues like homosexuality, he does what many Christians leaders do, puts others on the defensive and somewhat stereotypes Christians who disagree as unfaithful to the gospel. Although my understanding may be similar to Moore on how we interpret the Scriptures on this issue, I think its better for Christian leaders to be proactive than polarizing, and contra Moore, silence rather than being cowardly may be preferable than speech that can sometimes sound like hate towards others who have a different understanding of the issues.

    I agree with Meritt that I don’t think Moore’s speech was hate speech but it does show how you say things and knowing your audience may be more important than even the content of one’s speech. If we can not say things in a way for others to hear it, then it really won’t matter in the end what we were trying to say at all.

  • “Controversial?” Please. What a sad indictment on the “Justice Conference” that calling sin what it is is deemed “controversial.” After our relationship with our Creator, the most important relationship in the universe is the relationship between a husband and his wife. Marriage is the oldest institution in the history of humanity–older than God’s covenant with the nation of Israel, older than The Law, older than the church. Marriage is one of the earliest truths revealed by God. If ANYTHING is true, marriage as the union of one man and one woman is true. On this, there can NEVER be compromise. http://www.trevorgrantthomas.com/2015/06/the-us-supreme-court-abandons-eternal.html

  • You’ve defined perfectly what being totally depraved is about. ‘you don’t care’. Exactly the same attitude and degree of ignorance to heed warnings as those in Sodom, and its exactly what the Lord said happens to those who ‘don’t care’ and go “the way which seems right unto themselves, but the end is death’. The Lord turned them over to a reprobate mind Romans 1:28. But as you stated, you really don’t care. How sad that Malachi 2:2 has already taken place in your life. Your post is 100% defensive and can’t produce a single absolute to substantiate your distortion of the term ‘marriage’. Without Christianity you have no bases for the beginning, definition or continuation of the event, meaning and purpose which you have distorted to satisfy your own lusts. YOUR marriage is a lie, an abomination, it has no historical foundation, no standard to base credibility upon, no scriptural support; but again, you don’t care, for if you did care you would understand your condemnation for such blasphemy and fall on your knees in fear and trembling to the Holy and eternal ‘I AM”. .

  • No, dear, I don’t care what you think, or what you think your book says. I don’t even care about how much vitriol you spew about people you don’t know and know nothing about. And I really don’t care about how much you revile and slander, bear false witness, and violate everything your God had to say about judging others before you yourself have achieved spiritual perfection. That’s between you and your God.

    But you give away your whole thing with the word blasphemy. It’s not about God, it’s about you.

    Who decides there is such a thing as blasphemy? Why, MEN do. I’m pretty sure there is nowhere in anyone’s holy book that defines it particularly clearly, if at all.

    Who makes the complaint of blasphemy against one of their brothers? Why, MEN do. nowhere is god showing up and saying, “These people blasphemed ME.”

    who decides blasphemy has been committed? Why, MEN do. at this crucial phase, God is again pointedly absent. Not witness, judge, jury, spectator, lawyer.

    Who decides and administers the punishment? It’s god’s perfect opportunity for bolt of lightning or a yawning pit. But, it’s MEN again. The agents of the STATE, or the agents of a church strong and wealthy enough to have a constabulary, or the state working the church’s agenda, which may not be a righteous one.

    Hence, power and money.

    QED.

    You may kiss my big gay ring.

  • You have no idea what your talking about concerning Romans, you and your underground Sodomy books pretending to know Greek and be apologetic in defense of sin is pathetic, its like a child who soiled their diapers trying to argue why its ok to waddle in them because they like it so why clean up. You said you dont care what the bible says, therefore you are not a Christian, AND the Bible says the those outside the faith can NOT understand the things of God, this is you and yet you think you know Romans. Well I challenge you to actually read it along with the rest of the Bible and then come back for an educated discussion instead of your canned mantra you took out of some of the gay librarys that are passed around. Read it for yourself instead of hiding behind others distortions and proclaiming your great wisdom. BTW, I don’t hate you, I dont even dislike you, but your typical posts are like that of all those in sin trying to make excuses for lifestyle, not just sodomy. Deal with Christ or perish, this includes adulterers, sodomites, fornicators, liars etc etc. They’re all depraved and haters of God because they justify their sins when God says He will judge them all. Sadly, you don’t see how badly you need to fall upon your knee’s and ask for grace and mercy, read Romans 9, you are Pharaoh and have no power outside of Gods grace, and if you mock this revelation given to you now there will most likely never be another opportunity, there is a time when Christ shakes the dust off His feet, turns His back from you and goes to those who seek Him. He will not take the perils of the Gospel to be trodden under foot as you have done. I hope you heed His warning.

  • When your God actually shows up and demands my fear and trembling, I will give it some consideration. But as long as it is just you talking, I think I will enjoy another cup of coffee.

  • What’s strange to me is that Russell Moore’s view of human sexuality was probably the view held by the vast majority of people in the auditorium 5-8 years ago. Yet now they’re traumatized to hear someone actually present that view to them, and they have the audacity to call it “hateful.” What was Lisa Sharon Harper’s view of gay marriage back in 2008? I’m pretty sure she felt perfectly comfortable voting for candidate Obama back then despite the fact his views at the time are considered “hateful” today.

  • “We’re just people who are protecting our platforms and we’re just choosing on which one to stand.”

    I guess it all boils down to this: whose platform will you choose?

  • I believe “The Great Falling Away” has begun. (This is not to imply we have entered the seven years of tribulation.)
    I have heard of an actually met a person who believes people born in the USA are Christian. Be that as it may, the USA is very pagan: American liberals are at least as pagan as Muslim terrorists.

  • Have you decided to help the secular humanists murder the real Christians. Soon, you will decide to die with and for Christ, or kill for Satan.

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