Part 1: The Marin Foundation Featured on the 700 Club

Last week the 700 Club aired a segment about the work of The Marin Foundation. We have gotten quite a response – both positive and negative; and so has the 700 Club (I just got an email from them which said that this video is one of their most watched videos ever – and with over 1 million people around the world who watch the 700 Club on TV, and even more online, that is saying quite a lot).

Anyway, I want to take this space to address a few of the questions/critiques/etc that has come with this segment in a series of blog posts:

Background:

I was very reluctant to do a piece from CBN that was going to be aired on the 700 Club. Everyone knows what Pat Robertson has said in the past regarding homosexuality, and this is his station. When the reporter, Heather Sells, contacted me about the story she promised me “to make no judgement calls in the piece. I just want to present your work as it is and let the public make a decision for themselves.” Now, I have been promised many things by many reporters (of whom I trust about 0% – and even trust less of the editing process), and Heather Sells did exactly as she said she would. She made no judgement or morality calls, no biases, and let the work stand for itself. I couldn’t have been more humbled by her follow-through on her promises.

Ex-Gay:

Mark Yarhouse, professor at Regent University and co-author of the book Ex-Gays, commented in the piece about the work of The Marin Foundation. If you actually listen to what Dr. Yarhouse said, he commented about the approach of our work. Anyone could have said what he said about our approach. He made no judgement calls either.

It just so happens he teaches at Regent (Pat Robertson’s university), and does research on homosexuality—so if you watch practically any piece aired on the 700 Club about homosexuality, Dr. Yarhouse is the first person they turn to each time. He did not say: “I love Andrew Marin and we’re best friends and he wants everyone to be straight.” Nope. He was asked why he thought this bridge building message was being received so well in so many conservative and LGBT circles; and he answered with an overview of how he sees our approach to building bridges.

Being on the 700 Club = Andrew Marin is now proven to be a lying homophobic person who wants all gay people straight:

I understand that the 700 Club is about as conservative as you can get. I also understand that the 700 Club would not do a full segment on a lefty atheist LGBT organization. I feel these recent (and very few) accusations of feeling justified to ‘write The Marin Foundation off’ from a LGBT perspective because of the 700 club appearance bring up two interesting points: 1) All of those accusations are coming from LGBT organizations and people who are outside of Chicago. I am still yet to hear one Chicago LGBT organization publicly talk negatively about The Marin Foundation in any forum in any context. 2) This illustrates a broader point of something I wrote about a few weeks ago: Assimilation vs. Progress. Let me expand on that in the context of the 700 Club segment:

Our story is the huge outlier from everything the 700 Club has ever said or done about the LGBT community before. Not one time did they mention “ex-gay” or “the gay agenda” – which are more than common place in CBN’s everyday language about gays and lesbians.

Here’s the problem: culture today (from both sides) is not interested in progress, but assimilation. To me, this 700 Club segment is about progress, even though some LGBT organizations/people might think it’s about an association leading to assimilation. I have heard from a couple of my LGBT critics who have literally told me they ‘liked the piece but didn’t like other things Heather Sells and CBN have done’. What is that statement telling you? They’re mindset is not about CBN, the 700 Club or Heather Sell’s progress through this piece, it’s about people’s past and the forced need to assimilate. That is no way to move culture forward – which is why we’re currently stuck in this back and forth as the acceptable medium of engagement.

Part 2 later…

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

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).

  • Tess

    I find it entertaining that the 700 Club managed to twist around your perfectly plain message into a right-wing conservative viewpoint. Kudos for that, right? I think what you are doing is beautiful. God does convict people, but He convicts us in different ways. He convicts the individual in things that are specific for them. I have been convicted not to flee from homosexuality, but to embrace it. It may sound the opposite of Christianity for some people, but it’s people we’re talking about. Warm blooded human beings that have a deep need to be loved and accepted unconditionally. I don’t think the Church wants to get to know homosexuals, because they can’t look past “the sin.” That’s not Christianity. Jesus looks past our sin everyday, we should do the same.

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

      Tess – God does convict everyone in different ways…I mentioned this in a comment a while ago (sorry, I’d link to it but I don’t know where it is), but it seems that so many people point to conviction only coming from the Bible. That excludes divine revelation and the work of others’ lives in relation to our own. It is people we’re talking about – and as Obama so famously said: “Some stuff is above my pay grade”…so is the convicting and judging for me. I’m here to love and point people to Jesus to handle whatever the Trinity needs to do in the manner they see fit for each individual who gives their life to God.

      • Debbie Thurman

        “It is people we’re talking about – and as Obama so famously said: “Some stuff is above my pay grade”…so is the convicting and judging for me.”

        Aaaaah! Andrew, don’t you know that repeating those reckless words of Obama’s and trying to fit them to your ministry is like pouring salt in the wounds of most Christians who realize all too well, unlike our morally challenged Prez, what abortion is? He didn’t say “some stuff.” He was specifically speaking about abortion to Rick Warren during a presidential campaign forum at Saddleback Church. And he got slammed for it. He couldn’t or wouldn’t say what defined life. And all his Illinois senate votes and presidential acts have confirmed that he does not believe in the sanctity of life in the womb.

        I can forgive you for not knowing who Andrew Sullivan is — who cares? — but this slip you need to be held accountable for.

        Truly, brother, this is not a vendetta. I want you to be more savvy because you have such a huge mission ahead of you. Please think before you speak. I want you to be the guy who goes out and silences your critics because they are overwhelmed with the truth. Be that guy! I am praying for you.

      • Bruce

        My dear brother…. God may use many things to convict, the conscience, His voice speaking, a nudge of the Holy Spirit etc…. but it will not be contrary to the main and plain of what is written. All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness. Reproof and correction are jobs that the Word is meant to do. If you, (as I believe Tess above has) come up with a “conviction” that is contrary to God’s written word… it is at least to be severely questioned and examined. If it fails the test, it is to be rejected.

        Doing something in the name of love does not sanctify it, or make it acceptable to God.

  • Geoff G.

    Your work got a bump today on Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish, which led me to take a closer look at your site and the ripples your activity has been making both in LGBT media and among conservative Christians.

    I read Ross Douthat’s critique of same-sex marriage on his New York Times blog last week, and at the time my response was that social conservatives and evangelicals in particular have forfeited the right to even participate in the conversation on civil marriage because far too much of the movement is consumed in homophobia, with religion (evangelicalism in particular) being a willing tool used to justify hatred.

    Listening to your interview on Moody Radio, especially the callers, it seems quite clear to me that a lot of evangelicals rather like the status quo. But reading Box Turtle Bulletin and knowing plenty of gay people (particularly activists), I’m a bit dismayed, although not particularly surprised, to find that there are plenty on my side who seem to like the status quo as well, not least because it would appear that the political momentum is on our side.

    I’ve personally tried engaging constructively with social conservatives of all religious stripes online. I’ve tried to get some kind of understanding of the fear that seems to motivate them. I frequently do not live up to my own standards. I’m encouraged to find that evangelicals who go out of their way to understand the problems I have faced actually exist.

    I’m even more encouraged when they can get an unbiased hearing from the 700 Club. Unlike BTB, I don’t view endorsement of same-sex marriage (or any other political question) as a requirement for dialog or understanding. I’m starting to find that there may be more room at the table than I had previously thought.

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

      Geoff – Your level-headed rational thinking and experiences are proving quite the dichotomy to what both the conservative and LGBT communities have been telling you, I and everyone else for too long. If you think about it, many within both heirarchies need to keep the structure intact to keep everything running as they see as normal – for no other reason than ‘that has how it’s always been done/handled.’ Well, that’s not ok with me. If there is anything I have learned, and hope to disseminate to others, is at its simplest form: talking to each other in peaceful and productive ways without the intent of worldview conversion matters a whole lot more than just talking about each other to others who already agree with you.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to be so real in your comment! Also, I had never heard of Andrew Sullivan before your statement. Thanks for the info. Much love!

      • http://dwhwar.wordpress.com/ Joe S

        Never heard of Andrew Sullivan? Really?

        He’s pretty big in the gay commentariat world.

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

          Yeah, I never heard of The Slog or Michelangelo before they picked up on my stuff either. Guess they are huge too :) I’m not into that world, whether it be Christian commentary or LGBT. I’m not really concerned with national blog commentary or people who make a living forming a personal opinion about everything, because at the end of the day they’re just personal opinions. If I do read any of it, I like the large news outlets (CNN, USA Today, etc) – but they’re not really much better as of late either…

          • http://dwhwar.wordpress.com/ Joe S

            Sullivan was an early and influential supporter of gay marriage. Signorile was one of the highest profile gay activists in the late 1980s / early 1990s – and more of less launched the whole Queer movement. Neither of them are huge now but they are still (fairly) important names in GLBT history.

            Anyone under 30 probably wouldn’t know who they are but they did a lot to shape the views that are now “common sense” or taken for granted in the gay community.

  • http://timothykurek.wordpress.com Timothy Kurek

    Here is a response that hurt me to read…

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/when-does-700-club-profile-gay-friendly-ministers

    I think it’s sad that in order to be in conversation with each other, both the fundamentalist Christians and the radical lgtb-ers want the other party to conform to their worldview before a productive conversation can begin. If we could just recognize the hurt and humanity in each other labels wouldn’t matter.

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

      Um, preach that brother Tim!

  • http://timothykurek.wordpress.com Timothy Kurek

    Andrew,

    Everyday I realize just how on guard I’m going to have to be against bitterness within myself because I already feel jaded towards both extreme sides of the conversation. Honestly the “is gay a sin” question is irrelevant in the dialogue I find myself in with fundamentalist Christians. I always ask when replying to my southern baptist friends, “Is your gluttony a sin? Or your blatant speeding while driving? Have you repented for those things in your own life?” and I never get a response. When we focus on each others “sin” we aren’t focusing on Christ. The sin-centric approach is going to continue to widen the gap between everybody. I pray we realize that before it’s too late.

    Also, I completely understand lgbt folks wanting Christians to agree with them that their lifestyle is not a sin. The Bible is a powerfully offensive book when taken literally, and to be scrutinized the way they are has to be a difficult thing to deal with. Christians need to empathize at the very least and try to understand what it’d be like if their lives were put so abrasively under the theological microscope.

    One last thing. I heard the interview you did with Moody and was depressed after hearing what the callers had to say. Guess the producers decided to screen the calls completely in their favor. Ignorance must be bliss!

    ~tim

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

      Tim – Bitterness and hurt are two things I literally fight everyday. I couldn’t continue one more day in this if I let either one of those start to dominate my psyche and spirit. Not saying there aren’t days were I do give in, but I just keep trying to plug on either way.

  • Melissa

    Hi Andrew – I’ve been lurking on this site for awhile, but haven’t felt like I had the right words to adequately express how grateful I am for you and the work you are doing. I finally realized I didn’t necessarily need the right words, and that I shouldn’t keep my words of encouragement to myself (hopefully you’ll see them as words of encouragement, anyway).

    I can clearly see God at work in you and through you, and really appreciate you putting yourself in the hot seat so often and with such grace. What a world this would be if we could all follow this example, an example, in my opinion, clearly supported by Scripture.

    Of course it’s uncomfortable for you, and it makes those on both “sides” uncomfortable, too. I know as I was reading your book, I was initially looking for support of my “side.” I didn’t find it, and only then realized that was completely not the point. The fact that you can bring people to the table at all, on a topic that, in my experience, has been more divisive than any other, is proof of God’s hand in it all.

    You have helped me shift my perspective away from swaying anyone to my position and toward pushing for open, honest dialogue among friends and family who are sometimes fundamentally opposed. (And continuing to staying open to their words myself.)

    As a committed Christian, striving to follow God more and better each day, I am reminded that my hope is in Him and the knowledge that He is able to hold all of this (even the most severe disagreements) in His hands and make perfect sense of it all. I don’t have to be the one to figure it all out.

    As a gay Christian, striving to love my fiance and everyone around me more and better each day, I am reminded that my hope is in laying all of my relationships before Him, and not requiring agreement in order to have relationship.

    I carry a lot of baggage and hurt from family and friends and churches who have acted in ways that no one would call “loving,” but I am called to let it go, love them anyway, and continue to pray that a bitter root does not grow up in my heart because of it. You help remind me to constantly battle that bitter root.

    You’re doing a great job. Keep it up. God bless! -Melissa

  • Dora

    Andrew Sullivan wrote an incredible book, I think it was called “Virtually Normal” and it was a very powerful book about gay marriage, among other things. He’s not the greatest of political commentators…too neocon weird for my taste, but I do love his classical writing style, and how he talks about his faith. He’s very bright, and comes from that good old gay male Oxford/Cambridge school… really worth reading some of his personal books and essays if you are stuck on an airplane. I think his best stuff was written in the 1990s or maybe even the 80s, not sure.

  • Lisa

    Hi Andrew,
    A couple years back I read “Myth of a Christian Nation” (I think the title is mis-leading) by Gregory Boyd, it changed the way I think. I see how deeply entrenched views (which I see more and more to be the result of an insecurity or lack of confidence in one’s position or the fear of losing the argument) lead to defensiveness. Defensiveness leads to a break-down in communication, and often times also to a counter-attack on the perceived (or real) initial attack.

    Until we are all committed to seeking the best resolution and not just defending the security of our own safe little spot the folks building bridges will be persecuted.

    I don’t agree with all of your views or everything in your book yet I am challenged and blessed to see a straight Christian man honestly muddling through and making a case that the church could show me, a queer Christian woman, a little more love.

    Blessings,
    Lisa

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

      I just got Boyd’s book. I can’t wait to read it. And if you ever have any questions about mine, just email. I’d love to talk about them.


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