Is It Time for Evangelicals to Stop Opposing Gay Marriage?

This article was first posted, today, on Philosophical Fragments, a blog by philosopher Timothy Dalyrmple. It is a part of a series on answering the question, “Is It Time for Evangelicals to Stop Opposing Gay Marriage?” I am promoting the link on Philosophical Fragments for those who wish to engage in this conversation, because that is where I was asked to write it. However, I have reposted it here on my blog, because due to space, some minor parts were edited. Here is the unedited version…

 

I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this series because I am not a philosopher like Tim, nor am I working within the legal system like Greg. I am a practitioner through my work with The Marin Foundation. My daily experiences are intentionally spent amidst the tremendously painful juxtapositions of the philosophical, legal and existential battles that inhabit the spaces of the LGBT and conservative disconnect. I am a bridge builder—some have called me a translator—between these two communities to facilitate a new medium of engagement beyond the currently accepted way in which “the fight” is conducted from both ends of the spectrum.

My experience is housed within the global community through local churches and LGBT communities, higher education institutions and government agencies. My relationship with these outlets have provided a clear perspective on the structural composition that is shaping the umbrella encompassing this disconnect. What stands out the most, specifically in an American context, is that both communities’ talking points are exactingly consistent and unchanging:

The LGBT community’s messaging revolves around equality in, a) the right to enter into a government (and some would argue for a religiously) sanctioned marriage union; b) the ability to access the legal benefits afforded to those who are married over those who are not married, in a common law marriage or in a civil union; and c) having the 14th amendment upheld for US citizens who are gay and lesbian the same as it is for their US citizen heterosexual counterparts.

Conservatives (and I must note here that conservative Christians—specifically evangelicals and Roman Catholic leadership— take the majority of the heat for all other conservative sects of Judaism, Islam and other notable religious entities because of their perceived public status as the representatives that speak for all) advocate for, a) governmental policy to reflect conservative Scriptural interpretations that marriage is only between one man and one woman; b) the upholding of the 1st Amendment allowing places of worship to practice their interpretation of their holy text without legal penalty; and c) the legal protection for private citizens, companies and large corporations to govern their practices under the same understanding.

The ultimate sticking point in our society’s system of thought is that unless the aforementioned talking points change, neither will the conversation. One step further, in order for the talking points to change, so must the core beliefs in each community’s argument. And that is not going to happen. Moreover, the expectation of what it means to live in a pluralistic, post-modern culture governed by a secular government should not expect anything different.

Too often LGBTs and conservatives work not from a place of reality, but from a place of an ideal scenario they wish to see happen; which they then use as a barometer for current situations. This is brought to light in conservative circles recognizing the secularization of government, while holding on to the expectation that America will once again—with enough numbers and/or legal victories—be governed through a conservative Christian worldview. LGBT circles recognize evangelicalism is the dominant religious force in America and yet function in a worldview where they do not legitimize the reality of conservatives’ claims against same-sex marriage. Whether each agree with the other’s ideal claims, those are secondary issues to the validation of their claims’ legitimate belief. The disconnect in both of these scenarios is the difference between each communities’ reality and ideal; which are ever present and ever problematic.

Here are three points that I believe are hampering any ability to work towards common ground in this debate: First, I believe the talking points listed above from LGBTs and conservatives do not have to change in order for the conversation to change. The biggest misnomer in contemporary society is that all have to agree in order to love well; including loving well within the spaces of equality, rights, legality, relationship, religious freedom and dignity. Extrapolating on that is for another post, another time.

Second, I do believe there is a culturally acceptable hypocrisy within certain contemporary progressive ideologies, specifically with their self-imposed label of being “inclusive.” It is not “inclusive” unless all, everyone, are included—which is not the case. Most contemporary definitions of “inclusion” include only those who are chosen to be included (e.g. when was the last time an ex-gay or fundamentalist Christian were “included” in progressive circles beyond a debate or panel discussion?). I should not, however, expect anything different from this current practice because it is the same system that white male conservatives practiced from our country’s inception: “We are inclusive by including only the people we choose to include.” That is not “inclusive,” that is a new form of segregation under the auspices of “progress.” Same illogical argument, just implemented by a new group of people, with a new topic, in a new century.

Third, I have no problem with anyone utilizing their inherent freedom within the United States to advocate for whatever they passionately believe. However what is frustrating many is the cause and effect relationship irrefutably attached to said free will activism. What does anyone expect the result to be, in a legal system that there is a clearly defined winner and a clearly defined loser, other than what we currently have? Laws either pass or they do not. Simple. It does not matter what the law, case, proposition, amendment or scenario; there are only two options. And in a win/lose system the fighting for each side to end up, as Charlie Sheen makes abundantly clear, “winning” (which that group claims the new power structure), must also show that one side is the loser (which that group is relegated as the minority).

The biggest problem in the same-sex marriage debate are not the beliefs, it’s the system. Yet short of the democratic legal structure in the United States dismantling and starting from scratch, a new set of expectations must be implemented within the current system if this debate is to move even one ounce past its current state of disfunction. By “disfunction” I am referring to the high levels of buy-in into a system which both communities are placing their entire worth, livelihood and legitimacy of belief on a winner/loser outcome.

My unique positioning in this debate allows my perspective on its structural components to be shaped not through the lens of an activist but through daily on-the-ground personal experiences with both LGBTs and conservatives in joint spaces. These experiences intentionally do not enter the back-and-forth court jostling or the latest and greatest theological, historical cultural context to definitively prove one Scriptural interpretation right or wrong. Thus I am free to root my experience in humanity. Real people in real time in real life situations. And that is what shapes what I am about to say.

I expect more from those of faith, specifically my own evangelical tradition who read the same Bible as I read; believe in the same Jesus I believe. I am not concerned in the least bit about what those outside my community do or how their belief defines them—not because I don’t care, but because I have not earned any rightful dictation. Just because I am compelled by my understanding of biblical Truth, does not mean anyone else has to. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 will not one day turn into the Great Reality. I, nor any of my evangelical brothers or sisters, cannot control even the smallest bit of those outside our community. So the question then becomes, what do evangelicals do with those not functioning in the same worldview, in light of the judicial battle over same-sex marriage?

Do not play in their system. Give to God what is God’s and give to the government what the government believes they own. How can religious conservatives dictate certain governmental aspects to those who are not working from the same worldview (1 Peter 2:13-17)? The best of American democracy is freedom and equality. Both of those variables must function simultaneously to each other while being applied in numerous contexts to groups of people with significant differences. Jesus wholistically compartmentalized these variables in a way that gave equality under the law while upholding religious convictions—compromising neither (Matthew 22:18-22).

Evangelicals cannot expect LGBTs or their allies to ever change their medium of engagement. If they do, great. If they don’t, it does not matter because we will change ours first. That’s right; if there is to be any shift it has to start with us. Evangelicals, and conservative Christians in general, need to let go of the same-sex marriage fight and invest in figuring out how to love like Jesus regardless of what system is in place. “Loving like Jesus” also includes loving within the cultural context we inhabit.

Jesus had a strong set of convictions and a definitive theology. Yet he continually engaged not through the court system, but relationally through people; whether the court system or people agreed or disagreed with him. The people Jesus engaged in turn influenced cultural structures—not through the courts but relationally. Reading through the life of Jesus makes abundantly clear a challenge that evangelicals overlook today:

To what expense was Jesus willing to make a stand for his message at the cost of cultural capital?

Two brief examples come to mind: In John 2:6-11 Jesus turned an intoxication-inhibitor (water) into an intoxication-accelerator (wine) by serving a steady flow of newly formed alcohol to already drunk guests. Jesus did this within a cultural structure that demanded such actions, regardless of health or theological implications. To what expense was Jesus willing to make a stand for his message at the cost of cultural capital?

Then in Mark 1:40-45 Jesus heals a man with leprosy and tells this man to go to the temple (the building Jesus came to destroy and rebuild in three days), submit to the Law (a law Jesus came to fulfill and usher in a New Covenant), and listen to the priests who teach the Law (listen to the people who will hang Jesus on a cross and kill him). Strange set of directions, no? Especially in light that Jesus could have set the record straight with this man by telling him, “I am the way, the truth and the life and you know the Father through me, as I have shown you by healing you.” But Jesus did not do that because he knew how people in his present day revered the temple, law and priests. To what expense was Jesus willing to make a stand for his message at the cost of cultural capital?

The Bible showed that cultural capital meant a whole lot to Jesus in how he disseminated, and lived in, his message. My experiences in the middle of people’s lives on both ends of the spectrum reveals that cultural capital means a whole lot to the effectiveness of how one peacefully and productively builds bridges within such divisive spaces. These personal examples have shown me that the legal battle over gay marriage has greatly hindered the ability for children of God to relate to each other, and to the outside world, in real and tangible ways… Ways that are centered on the principles of Jesus. Ways that use God’s lens of love for his creation to shine bright and clear as we look upon each other.

Do not look anywhere else but in a mirror for these answers. If the sacrificial nature of what it means to be a reconciliatory agent for the Lord is being stifled by court cases, those who represent the Lord need to stop focusing on spending time, energy and financial resources in the worst economic state in 100 years on something continually hurting the Church’s ultimate message of a saving grace. To what expense was Jesus willing to make a stand for his message at the cost of cultural capital?

You’re right. That is not fair. It means those with evangelical convictions will “lose.” And where will that slippery slope take society after a capitulation to the secularization of society, government and the gay agenda?

The Lord gave his followers big shoulders and a bold faith worth living for a reason. The season of martyrdom has passed, or maybe, it has just begun. I don’t really care which one it is. I’m going to be spending my time learning how to live and love in a world where same-sex marriage is already Federally legalized. If it never reaches that point, it wasn’t meant to be. Either way it was good practice on living like Scripture commands. If it does reach that point, I’m ready to lead the Church and society in reclaiming the name of Jesus not by his follower’s legal battles but by their unconditional love for all of God’s children regardless of time, place or amendment.

Doing so does not make Christians, or myself, a sell out. It makes us a people of strong faith with strong convictions who are not defined by rulings of the court—for or against. We are rather a people intently concerning ourselves with living in the Way of Jesus over continuing to fight a legal battle that should not influence how we view and live into the tenets of our faith in the first place.

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://xlilyliu.wordpress.com Lily

    Thank you so much for posting this. It amazes me what degree of wisdom God gives to those who walk humbly with Him!

  • http://www.4simpsons.wordpress.com eMatters

    While I appreciate the author’s tone and am all for finding ways to reach LGBTQX people (and everyone else) with the Good News of Jesus, the article seemed like a cop-out to me. Using that logic we could quit anything “political” just because it might offend the sensibilities of others — abortion, sex trafficking, the homeless, etc. We would also assume that anything bad in place would never change, so why fight it? But we shouldn’t let the world tell us what is political and by implication off-limits. Jesus is sovereign over everything.

    I’d say that preserving real marriage doesn’t have to be anyone’s #1 issue, but it seems Screwtape-like for someone to encourage others to give up the fight. Just like so many pro-abortion arguments that ignore the victims, he seems to ignore that preserving real marriage also preserves religious freedom, free speech, parental rights and the child abuse that is same-sex parenting and teaching little kids how “normal” LGBTQX relationships are. Those things are all worth fighting for, whether “same-sex unions” are affirmed by the gov’t or not.

    I’d say the time would be better spent educating people on all the solid reasoning to only affirm real marriage. By nature and design only heterosexual unions can produce children and provide a mother and a father to a child. That is the obvious ideal and should be encouraged. While other sexual unions may be permissible, there is no reason to promote them.

  • http://www.4simpsons.wordpress.com eMatters

    Correction: “the child abuse” should have read “helps prevent the child abuse.”

  • http://www.4simpsons.wordpress.com eMatters

    “How can religious conservatives dictate certain governmental aspects to those who are not working from the same worldview (1 Peter 2:13-17)?”

    That argument is frequently used to tell orthodox Christians to be quiet. Interestingly, if those advancing that argument were consistent, they would say the same things to theological Liberals who insist that Christians should favor government recognition of same-sex unions, taxpayer-funded abortions, etc. As one example, I have never heard Liberals tell the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice how they shouldn’t dictate certain government aspects to those who are not working from the same worldview. Same thing for all the pro-same-sex union arguments from the religious Left.

    The atheists and theological Liberals using that argument aren’t trying to enforce the 1st Amendment, because it explicitly protects religious speech and actions. They are acting hypocritically to silence those they disagree with.

  • Bryan

    Hi Andrew,

    First, I wonder if “eMatters” ever spent a day with a family with same-sex parents in his/her life. Saying same-sex parents are child abusers is disgusting and offensive. But I digress.

    I’ve devoted a lot of time reading your blog, watching your videos, etc. I strongly support the mission of your foundation. I think that you are doing great work for God’s Kingdom. However, I have to say that I am somewhat taken aback by this article and some of what you imply.

    This is the first article/blog post that I read of yours, where I get a hint of where your beliefs lie. I suspected that for some time, and it doesn’t surprise me much. The concern I have, however, is your use of the terms “gay agenda” and “conservative”. The “gay agenda” implies that gays have a master plan hell-bent on reshaping the culture completely against God’s design. The article also implies that being a conservative Christian or LGBT are mutually exclusive. By referring to non-LGBTs as “those of us who represent the Lord”, the message to those of us who are LGBT is that we are purely secular-minded and adversaries of Christ.

    Moreover, marriage equality is not a conservative or liberal value. It is a human value that strengthens the institution and sacrament that we all hold in the highest regard. Not all conervatives, who also happen to be Christians, believe that homosexuality or same-sex marriage are intrinsically sinful or contrary to God’s design. In fact, I know many conservative Christians, including myself, who do not hold that belief.

    Someone on the “other side” (or the person trying to bridge the divide) often does not understand how hurtful it is to have to have your life up for debate or considered cultural capital. It is very, very hurtful and demeaning. I love Jesus. You love Jesus. Why can’t we just love each other, too? I know you think this way, Andrew, but this article seemed to show signs of Christian hubris and the cliche “love the sinner, hate the sin” message.

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

      Bryan – Thanks for writing. Let me clear up a few things:

      1. When I wrote “the gay agenda”, as well as the rest of that sentence, were written in jest. Those are frequent response I get from other evangelicals who don’t like my work/message and rebut my stuff with a “slippery slope” fear tactics. I guess I should have made that more clear. Sorry about that.

      2. There is no easy way to describe whole groups of people and entire populations without having to generalize a little bit. I fully believe there are conservative gay Christians. In fact, my book Love Is an Orientation, is dedicated to one of them. He is one of my very good friends, and has been for a number of years.

      3. The article was written on a conservative evangelical site for other conservative evangelicals, many of whom don’t think gay Christian is anything but an oxymoron. (see the post before mine was written by an employee of a legal traditional marriage defense organization) who didn’t have too kind of words about anything LGBTs being honest in wanting to protect religious freedom.

      4. We can love one another, that is my whole message. That message also needs to be nuanced for those who don’t think that’s possible to ease them in.

      5. I’ve said in public many times (which you can find on The Marin Foundation’s website in our Media section), and also I wrote about it in my book, I don’t believe in “love the sinner hate the sin.” Jesus never said those things together. What he did say in Matthew 7:1-5 was “Love the sinner and hate the sin in your own life. And until you deal with your own sin, far be it for you to dictate anyone else’s.”

      Hope that helps clear things up a little. Thanks for asking.

      Much love.
      Andrew

      • Bryan

        Andrew,

        Thanks so much for your clarification. Even though I don’t know you personally, I know where your heart is. Please trudge on because you’re doing amazing work. After reading blogs and news sites that constantly polarize our society and make me feel very depressed, I consider myself blessed to have found your organization and blog. Is there anything that I can do to help the Marin Foundation (other than financially which I already intend to do)? Unfortunately, I live in NJ, but I’d love to help on the ground in any way that I can.

        Thanks so much!
        Bryan

  • http://www.4simpsons.wordpress.com eMatters

    “Saying same-sex parents are child abusers is disgusting and offensive. But I digress.”

    Please re-read my comment. That isn’t what I said. I never claimed that they were more or less abusive of children in the traditional sense (i.e., physical or verbal violence). My point was that the act of putting children in a same-sex household is by itself child abuse, and anyone who supports the practice is facilitating it.. The same applies to anyone who teaches school children that these practices are morally neutral.

    You may find that more inflammatory than your original misread, but I’m OK with that.

    • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

      As a Christian, as a married gay dad, as an adoptive father, and as a supporter of the Marin Foundation, I’ve really questioned whether or not it’s worth responding to your post, eMatters. Ultimately, I felt it important to say something — if only for the other LGBT parents who read this blog as well as for the children of such parents who also might read this blog.

      eMatters claims that telling people that placing children with parents like me and my husband is a form of abuse is a way of showing love towards LGBTQ people. I find it to be inflammatory and defamitory. Both of our children experienced forms of actual abuse by their birth families before being placed with us and subsequently being adopted by us. To imply that the love, stability, and guidance that they live with now is another form of abuse seriously minimizes the stark reality to victims of realy abuse actually struggle to rise above.

      I am frustrated that someone from TMF has not responded to eMatters’ assertions of abuse instead of letting them stand largely unchallenged for several days. I will say that I appreciated Bryan’s comments in this thread.

      • Jon Trouten

        Should read: “To imply that the love, stability, and guidance that they live with now is another form of abuse seriously minimizes the stark reality that victims of real abuse actually struggle to rise above.”

  • http://www.4simpsons.wordpress.com eMatters

    “marriage equality is not a conservative or liberal value. It is a human value that strengthens the institution and sacrament that we all hold in the highest regard.”

    “Marriage equality” is a fallacious term when used in that way. Relationships that do not, by nature and design, produce children and that can never provide a mother and a father to a child are not equal to those that do.

    “In fact, I know many conservative Christians, including myself, who do not hold that belief.”

    That is a puzzling use of the term “conservative Christian.” The Bible couldn’t be more clear. Even non-Christians and two out of the three types of pro-gay theologians* can see these truths:

    100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.

    100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.

    100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).

    0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.

    * 1. “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong but it isn’t the word of God” (obviously non-Christians) 2. “The Bible says it is wrong but God changed his mind” (only about 10 things wrong with that) 3. “The Bible is the word of God but you are just misunderstanding it” — no, not really.

    Should we be loving toward LGBTQ people? Of course. I get along great with gays and don’t feel the need to change them before I share the Good News with them. But true love doesn’t teach the opposite of the word of God.

  • Bryan

    Your comments regarding same-sex parents are not only inflammatory, they are reprehensible and disturbing. Think about a child with parents of the same sex reading that and how it would make them feel to know that you believe they are being subject to abuse. If you believe that somehow you will get to Heaven by acting this way, then good for you. I choose not to respond to any of your other comments because they’re merely bloviating about what you believe based on a certain interpretation of the Bible that I do not believe. I’m so happy that the past 2,000 years have not changed. Tomorrow, I plan to go out and marry 10 women, buy a couple slaves, pay a handsome dowry for those wives of mine, have sex with a few of those wives while they’re having their period, and murder any of my children who disrespect me. A few of those are also abominations. Can you guess which are not?

    Also, I’m so glad that you get along great with the gays! They must really enjoy being around you and thankful that you don’t try to change them before they know the Good News. So, what happens afterwards? Do you stick them in your torture chamber and torture them with a pink feather until they say they’ll turn straight? Yes, it is then that they will be true followers of Christ! What happens to those “gays” who already know the Good News? Are they fraudulent Christians by your standards?

    By the way, my original post was directed towards Andrew . . . thanks anyway!

    • http://www.4simpsons.wordpress.com eMatters

      “Your comments regarding same-sex parents are not only inflammatory, they are reprehensible and disturbing. Think about a child with parents of the same sex reading that and how it would make them feel to know that you believe they are being subject to abuse.”

      That commits the logical fallacy of begging the question, or assuming what you are supposed to be proving. If kids suffering physical abuse read about how physical abuse was bad, it probably wouldn’t increase their pain. In fact, it might make them understand it better and how they are victims and not the cause.

      “If you believe that somehow you will get to Heaven by acting this way, then good for you.”

      That is the logical fallacy of a straw man argument, attacking a position I didn’t take. I will be in Heaven because I trust in the real Jesus as revealed in the Bible. It is 100.000% based on what He did, not what I do. As a devoted follower of him, I seek to understand and follow the Bible the best way I can, regardless of how unpopular it makes me with the world.

      “I choose not to respond to any of your other comments because they’re merely bloviating about what you believe based on a certain interpretation of the Bible that I do not believe.”

      The original writings turned out exactly as Jesus wanted them to and have been accurately transmitted to us. If you don’t like them, your problem is with Jesus, not me.

      “Tomorrow, I plan to go out and marry 10 women, buy a couple slaves, pay a handsome dowry for those wives of mine, have sex with a few of those wives while they’re having their period, and murder any of my children who disrespect me. A few of those are also abominations. Can you guess which are not?”

      I can guess who hasn’t studied the Bible carefully and prefers to use the same fallacious sound bites that atheists do to attack it. If people can’t see the distinctions between an Israelite theocracy and Christianity — both of which were part of God’s plan — and which laws applied only to them and which applied to all people, then Christianity may not be their forte’.

      “Also, I’m so glad that you get along great with the gays! They must really enjoy being around you and thankful that you don’t try to change them before they know the Good News. So, what happens afterwards? Do you stick them in your torture chamber and torture them with a pink feather until they say they’ll turn straight? Yes, it is then that they will be true followers of Christ! What happens to those “gays” who already know the Good News? Are they fraudulent Christians by your standards?”

      If you study Romans 1 carefully you’ll see that those who practice that lifestyle are doing so as part of exhibit A in man’s rebellion against God. And the straights who encourage them are guilty as well. Oh, and there is a laundry list of sins that people of all sexual preferences commit. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. It is just bad form to call evil good and good evil. I don’t get in the face of straight people who fornicate, and neither do I get in the face of gays.

      But if they ask — and presumably this forum is interested in what God really says — then I speak the truth. But the truth sounds like hate to those that hate the truth.

      I know people who struggle with same-sex attraction but they freely admit they know it is a sin. I am friends with them and encourage them. When people shake their fist at God and ignore the plain teachings of the Bible then it is logical to question whether they are truly saved (fruit inspection, as Jesus recommended, no pun intended).

      God is ultimately the judge of whether they really repented and believed, and I gladly leave that to him. I’m just planning to be obedient in speaking the truth.

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

        eMatters – You are now blocked. If you have any questions as to why, see the Comment Policy above. Also gay parents, in no way, equate to child abuse. I know many that are so loving and supportive–adopting the kids no straight parents “want.” Such clear falsities in your comments will not be allowed on this blog.

        • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

          Thanks Andrew.

  • http://cqg.livejournal.com Mark L

    Whether Evangelicals continue to or cease to oppose marriage equality (and I use the term advisedly) is beside the point. The trend is clear in the secular, civil arena – more states are allowing gender-blind marriage and the tide of public opinion favoring this is swelling; even now is over the tipping point.

    Evangelicals are left with deciding whether they want to be the functional analogue of the segregationist churches of 50 or so years ago, increasingly isolated and marginalized as culture normalizes same-sex couples and families.

  • Peter’s Legacy

    Old news by now, I know. But thanks for leaving the blog open so I may comment also. As a life-long evangelical I want to make two important points—1) Andrew’s position is that evangelicals can’t ethically change their own position on same sex marriage, they can only choose to not battle an extant culture at the expense of the Good News. I admire that as a good start. But, in reality, one only needs to re-consider the basic point of the Good News which simply states that the Holy Spirit acting in the life of the Redeemed subsumes the law. The law gets redefined to serve in ways that bring love to the world–thus the Law may say same sex marriage is not OK, but married LGBT Christians who demonstrate similar fidelity, care, and support exhibited in straight Christian marriages are due the same recognition by the Christian community (i.e. the Church). In other words, when the Holy Spirit is obviously present in the lives of other Christians, who are we to hinder God? It’s simple. 2) Andrew’s position is that Progressives aren’t willing to be tolerant to conservatives and points out that there is no Progressive Christian group which tolerates full membership of evangelical conservatives. That is patently false. I know many Progressive Christian organizations in which several conservative evangelical Christians hold membership, office and exercise considerable influence. For example, the church I belong to has three pastors. One is a single gay man. One is a married gay man. The other is an African-American woman. Progressive as it gets. Yet, on the governing board of our church is a deeply respected white conservative evangelical Republican who is the mayor of our city. On the broader plain I would point to the debate on single sex marriage and ordination occurring in most main line Protestant churches. While some on both extremes abandon their denomination, most remain and continue to respect each other and serve side-by-side as faithful disciples. If you are going to encourage conservatives to be tolerant of progressives, you do a disservice to your aims and to progressives by asserting that they are not as able or as willing to show tolerance in return.