Part 7: United Kingdom

This weekend I am speaking at a Salvation Army conference on my theological and missiological understanding of Scripture in regards to bridge building. Here is a small intro to what I will talk about. And thanks to this United Kingdom series I coincidentally was asked the exact question:

Are there particular biblical principles of mission and evangelism which shape your work?

I delve deeply into what I call the Theology of Bridge Builders: The Big 5, in my book, Love is an Orientation.[1] Instead of just repeating what I wrote in my book, I will focus here on a few other biblical principles I rely heavily on.

The Kingdom of God is inherited through belief (John 3:5-8)

I feel that so often, especially when talking about the GLBT community, theological conservatives focus so intently on behaviour modification that they completely forget about what it means to live and thrive in a baseline belief in God through Jesus Christ. I mentioned this in response to an earlier question, but what does it mean for us to be a true come-as-you-are-culture that works on God’s timetable, not on ours? I am not saying that any and all behaviours are biblically acceptable but what I am saying is that looking generally at Christendom, the proper progression of faith is not starting in the right place.

Faithful commitment over time is success (Proverbs 16:3)

What if a GLBT person never agrees with a conservative interpretation of Scripture? What if they accept Jesus Christ and then pronounce they are a gay Christian? What if they say they hear God clearly tell them that living in a same-sex, committed and monogamous relationship is a blessed, God-ordained way of life? Have you not done your job? Did you fail? Are you not fulfilling even the most baseline of Christian standards? The answer is that a faithful commitment to God is already a success. The more accurate translation of Proverbs 16:3 is, ‘commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will be established’. Success in God’s eyes is completely different from our modern understanding of the term. The fallout from this incorrect alignment leads to a creation of false expectations for ourselves in comparison to God’s biblical promises.

There are two main Kingdom differences between establishing and succeeding. First, establishing is rooting your motives and actions in God’s unknown process while succeeding is beating the competition with tangible outcomes that the mainstream (whether secular or religious) deems worthy. Second, establishing is the spiritual understanding that there is personal contentment in faithful commitment. This is not an excuse to be lazy but it is the Kingdom parallel to the flesh’s second version of succeeding which is having contentment in knowing the outcome. Christians today set themselves up for this disconnect because most of us only use a model of success versus Failure, a model created with the rise of an ‘advanced’ Western mindset of philosophy, evolution and business. All of those have since led us further from Christ’s metric of success.

All sins are equal (James 2:10)

I believe the Bible is the Word of God, breathed by the Holy Spirit through human authorship. With that as my framework, Romans 3:23 communicates that all people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. In addition to each of our imperfections as humans striving to be formed closer to God’s image, we must also remember James 2:10: from a Kingdom perspective, if you commit one sin it is as if you have committed them all. So then, biblically speaking, what separates my sin from anyone else, whether purposeful or not? Nothing.

A humble servant is an effective leader (1 Corinthians 9:22)

‘I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some’. This was lived out by Paul and modeled first by Jesus (Matt. 7:1-6 among many other references). It’s such a simple concept and yet so difficult to live out. Proverbs 16:7 says that if your ways are pleasing to the Lord even your enemies will live at peace with you. This verse is not saying that you just live at peace with your enemies. It is saying that they will reciprocally live at peace with you. Is your life and your love permeating so much that even your enemies recognize and revere the God behind it? This is the type of humbleness that relentlessly pursues, serves and loves despite social, cultural, political or religious norms, doing so until they can’t see you anymore because they can only see Christ in you and, because they are at peace with that, they are also at peace with you. All possible means that I might save some …


[1] Marin 2009: Chapter 7 (pp114-39). Although based on some of the texts traditionally used to support a conservative stance on homosexuality, it is important to recognize that my Theology of Bridge Builders is not a substitute for a traditional interpretation of Scripture. That is one of the biggest misconceptions from people reading my book through a lens of conservative skepticism. The Big 5 Principles are rather a new theological starting point of common ground working towards biblical reconciliation between two communities who don’t agree on much.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://petegoebel.blogspot.com Peter

    Okay, I think I’ve been misunderstanding you this whole time. You still believe, as most conservative Christians do, that homosexual behavior is sinful. Unless I’m misunderstanding you now?

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    I’m trying to post this from my phone, as I’m in the airport right now…hope it works.

    Peter – That is true, I do believe in a conservative interpretation of Scripture; I just live out those beliefs totally different than almost all of the people who believe like I do. It’s because I understand, and live within my Kingdom job description: Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and mine to love. The interesting part for me is that whether a liberal or conservative interpretation, shouldn’t we all be living it out the right way? People are shocked that I am conservative because since I believe such a thing, how then can I have such an impact/influence in the gay community as in the conservative world…because that shouldn’t happen. But the Lord has solidly built this thing through my incarnational comittment to build bridges among; within. No one can build a bridge from one side – it takes both sides. And that is what I try to relentlessly model everyday within the gay community. I’m stepping out on my side, and ‘crazy enough’ the gay community is responding to that boldness by boldly doing the same thing from theirs. And here we are today. It’s a shame to me that my theological belief in comparrison to how I live my life is so odd to most people. It should be the norm. Because from my perspective that is Kingdom stuff.

  • James Wartian

    Your statement that all sins are equal is true in terms of the fact that they all equally lead to a break in our relationship with God. It is true that no sin is worse in God’s eyes than another — they all are equally an act that cuts us off from the source of life, God himself.

    But the effect of sin is not equal. If I were to lie and say I read my Bible today, the effect is not the same as if I got out a gun and shot you.

    God is clear that the effect of sexual sin is unique (1 Corinthians 6). We might debate exactly what that means, but if it is true, that leaves me with a tension. I agree with your goal to build bridges. I agree that we should love gay individuals.Yet if sexual sin does have an impact that is harmful to them (and, I would argue, to society), I feel like I can’t be quite as circumspect as you in saying it is wrong.

    Clearly evangelical Christians have a long way to go in balancing these things. And I don’t feel we have to beat anyone with a sin issue with the fact what they are doing is sin. But I am not sure avoiding saying something is actually anymore loving.

    Your thoughts?

    James

  • Iphimedia

    Andrew when I first read above that you find same sex behavior sinful, it gave me a jolt and hurt me, though I knew it from reading your book. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I know the difference you see between affirmation and validation of my life and loves as a bisexual woman. However, once I got over my initial reaction-I admire and respect you, and so who wouldn’t want such a person’s approval?–I see that this very fact that you see my behavior as sinful gives me hope. Actually, in my case potential behavior because by circumstance I have lived celibate for a number of years–anyway, the fact that you believe my potential behavior is sinful, yet act humbly in love and not in judgement, without usurping God’s job description, gives me hope of dialogue and reconciliation. As a liberal Christian bisexual woman I too believe that many things that conservative Christian clergy and church member in general do and believe is “wrong”–yet I can meet you on the bridge of my belief with you that Jesus’ overall message, call, to His followers is to love our neighbors and God, and not to judge. That is the perogative of God. So when I find myself judging something a conservative Christian is doing or saying, I can say to myself, “Despite my personal convictions, how can I live out Jesus’ message of love toward this person, in mind and spirit, in prayer, and preferably in action if they are nearby?” That is what your bridge building work has taught me: that I can hold my convictions and beliefs, honor my own conscience, yet leave remember my true, humble yet difficult, awesome, tiring, and fearsome calling before God: to love my love for God in my love for my neighbors.

  • pm

    Jesus spent time on relationships so they might enter into
    The Kingdom of God; no one ever asked Jesus to stop preaching
    or teaching daily except those who wanted to keep their power
    roles intact; they didn’t mind the miracles and it was OK to
    continue doing good unless it was on the wrong day of the
    week; repeated attempts for finding legit-loopholes failed as
    their inward parts were clearly viewed as well as revealed
    from the perspective of who they were actually serving within
    the context of their own motivation; some had their reward
    already from this life; it was harder for a rich-man to enter
    The Kingdom of God than those in their society considered
    as a sinner. He invited all to enter, but many left when they
    learned what the cost was all about; how can we stop serving
    ourself, especially when our needs and wants are in control?
    If He asks us to lay-down our life, then how are we suppose
    to survive and/or thrive in this life? Isn’t that why Paul was
    accused of being mad when considering how he lived and
    taught? If the Gentiles could inherit the Kingdom of God
    then was the Covenant to the Jews violated? If the Gender
    Culture can enter the Kingdom of God, then is the New
    Covenant to the Church violated?

  • sue

    What do you mean by “gender culture” pm and why is it a problem if that enters the church?

  • pm

    Sue, thank you for your two questions. I hope my explanations are clear.

    What is “Gender Culture”?

    Andrew Marin wrote in LIAO Chapter 3 page 62:
    “A great friend of The Marin Foundation is a former professor
    of mine, Dr. John Fuder, who always teaches the importance
    of exegeting the culture. We have to go to the culture before
    we know the culture, and for most of us this comes in slowly
    taken smaller steps towards involvement.”

    Again he wrote page 63:
    “Preparatory prayer and a humbled mindset of learning and
    serving release much of the fear of trying to single-handedly
    pave a path to make a new culture.”

    Adding to this Chp5pg84:
    “The GLBT community has tended to look to others for legitimacy
    regarding who they are and what sexual behaviors they have
    - whether that validation comes from other gays and lesbians,
    from sections of the religious community or from mainstream
    culture.”

    When I add these quotations together, it suggests:
    [GLBT community] + [validation sections] + [mainstream]
    equals = “Gender Culture”

    Why is “Gender Culture” a problem if it enters the Church?

    Andrew wrote Chp3pg57:
    “Over the years shame has been passed down through secular
    culture surrounding gays and lesbians. That shame has also
    imbedded itself in the core of the church. The overarching stigma
    felt by GLBT people with the church is continually brought to
    light by the ingrained cultural psyche that shame is supposed
    to be the inherent, default feeling for all who have a same-sex
    attraction – Christian or non-Christian.”

    A similarity emergies in how our modern day Church Culture
    shames the Gender Culture just as the 1st Century believers
    who were born Jewish struggled bringing into the Kingdom
    of God those who were not born Jewish (i.e., Gentiles).

    Thankfully, the 1st Century Church leaders elevated their own
    conversations so circumcision became a matter of the inward-heart
    and not of the flesh. Perhaps the 21st Century Church can also
    elevate our conversations as well.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    James – For this UK journal article that I did (in what this series is based on), my responses had to be brief to fit within their periodical. With that said, I gave them my general (and short version) of my missiological framework—one that includes sin being equal in God’s eyes. James 2:10 is so important for the conservative community to understand because in the majority of conservative churches and the believers there-within, there is a clear hierarchy of sins from ‘greatest sin’ all the way to ‘least sin’.

    If anything throughout the whole of Scripture, the greatest sin is repeatedly written about as ‘turning away from God’ – and this sin has the most far reaching earthly and eternal consequences: way more than any others, including 1 Cor 6:12-20 that you reference.

    Therefore I am not being circumspect in my analysis.

    Just because we have the ‘capitol T’ Truth, doesn’t mean we can fling it around without reverence to other’s current situation thinking we’re doing them, us or God any good by potentially just throwing something out there. We have to earn the right to speak our Truth; something we haven’t done in most cases. Whether anyone listens to our Truth or not; that is not the point. We think way more highly of our own opinions and beliefs than does anyone else on the outside! Let’s put that in perspective first.

    In the last chapter of my book I talk about “EARNING THE RIGHT TO HAVE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS”… therefore I am not avoiding anything as you so claim.

    James 2:10 is a part of humbly working towards that ‘earning’ process; starting with our own mindset of not ‘loving the sinner and hating the sin’ but ‘loving the sinner and hating the sin in your own life’. Matthew 7 is also a great place to start. None of this means you can never communicate what you belief; you just have to earn the right to do so first.

    Iphimedia – I am truly humbled by your words. Thank you – you give ME hope!

    Sue – pm is one of the most theologically deep people I’ve ever come across, and I’m privileged he found, and comments on this blog. His insights are profound and I encourage anyone who needs clarity from him, please, just ask and he’ll break you off a piece of deepness. Thanks for your analysis pm.


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