If you were to read the Time.com story, “How Evangelicals Are Changing Their Minds on Gay Marriage”, a teaser piece to get you to read the full article (subscription required), and take it as truthful, then yes, Evangelicals are changing their minds. However, a quick look at the information presented reveals a few quick rebuttals on the author’s presumptions.
- A single large church with no authoritative stance on their own doctrine cannot be considered a “quintessential evangelical mega-church”. Such a determination by the author represents at best, an ideological stretch. The author should know that the “rock-style worship” or “thousands of strong-attendance” does not make an evangelical church. I know nothing of the church quoted in the article and so will not comment here. However the quote of the Sr. Pastor is worth noting. “I refuse to go to a church where my friends who are gay are excluded from Communion or a marriage covenant or the beauty of Christian community…..It is a move of integrity for me—the message of Jesus was a message of wide inclusivity.” Inclusive in the sense that all are welcome, yes. Exclusive however in the reality that “narrow is the road that leads to life.” (Luke 13:24). En-treatment to all to experience the fullness of life in Jesus should be proclaimed regularly. Acceptance of every lifestyle the Biblical text views as sin as Jesus’ “message of wide inclusivity” misses the mark – and hardly can be counted as ‘quintessential’ evangelicalism.
- Conversations about LGBT issues by well-known Evangelcial leaders do not equal a pathway to endorsement. A statement like, “Conversation about gay marriage is no longer seen as an automatic compromise on Biblical authority” only tells me the author has no basis for the presumptive conclusion that conversations were ever seen as an automatic compromise. Partnerships with gay activist groups against the horror of human trafficking, or discussions with gay congregants to better ‘understand their stories’ can hardly be seen as a changing of the mind. Perhaps it is an outward acknowledgement that people are simply not a sum-total of their outward behavior. And understanding that reality is a good thing.
- Wheaton’s hiring of a “gay, celibate, Christian” is not a “half-step toward inclusion”. It is unfortunate that the author is so quickly to rush out the story of the hiring of Julie Rodgers, without telling more. She considers herself gay and ‘someone who identifies as homosexual but does not act on her same-sex desires because she also believes such behavior is sinful.’ Furthermore she uses the term gay to mean ‘she is attracted to women but does not consider this attraction to be central to her identity.’ And she wrote emphatically that she owes her “ultimate allegiance … only to Christ.” Full context is really important.
The ongoing discussions around LGBTQ and the church is very healthy. However, the discussion about the reality of societal acceptance does not mean the the difficult biblical text that with which we grapple are any less relevant or true. As Christians, we believe the Bible is God’s revealed word and therefore is absolutely true. Therefore we must adapt our life – both intellectually and physically – in accordance with that truth. Our allegiance is first to Jesus and his revealed word, not the billowing and always changing cultural norm.
This is not an easy pill to swallow. Truth changes us always for the better. Our willingness to confront our own behavior or addiction or self-centeredness or whatever else has a hold on us, often stands in the way. The reality is, however, Christianity makes demands on us. Demands that are difficult. Demands that may cost us friends, careers, and income. But they are demands that grant us life and life more abundantly. And that makes those demands not just tolerable, but embracing.
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