Me on Patheos on Gays

An interview with me on the issue of gays and the church just went live on the new interfaith website, Patheos.

Q: In a now famous post, you came to the conclusion that
GLBTQ folks can “live lives in accord with biblical Christianity” and
that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned by church and state.
Do you think this has given critics of the emerging church movement
another arrow in their sling?

A: Ha! “Famous” may be overstating it! Yes, surely this has caused
some conservative commentators to say, “See, I told you that the
emergent movement was just the newest form of liberalism.” But they
were going to say that anyway, no matter what we say. And it’s also no
surprise that they completely ignore it when I write something that
aligns with their own stances, like my recent affirmation of the
physical resurrection of Jesus. They go looking for what they want to
find, and, whaddya know, they find it!

They’ve also posted an essay I wrote for them on the same issue:

In English, a “shibboleth” has, since the 17th century,
meant a particularly meaningless differentiator of persons. It seems to
me that Evangelicals are particularly fond of shibboleths. (And, let me
say, when I capitalize “Evangelical,” I mean to imply cultural
Evangelicals – those who affiliate with the politics, music, media, and
churches of American Evangelicalism – as opposed to the many Catholics,
mainline Protestants, Orthodox, and Anabaptists who desire to spread
the gospel and thus consider themselves “evangelical.”)

There is also an editorial by Tim Dalrymple rebutting me:

It is the use of particular differentiators in particular contexts
(such as skin color in hiring or club membership) that we find
objectionable. Jones rightly objects to occasions when “particularly
meaningless” differentiators are employed to determine who is and who
is not truly Evangelical. The question is whether Jones is correct that
same-sex marriage qualifies as a “particularly meaningless”
differentiator.

Your thoughts?

  • Your Name

    A hundred years from now they’ll all be called villains. And rightly so. They don’t know how to love people.

  • Jason

    One hundred years from the Bible will still be here, it will still say that homosexuality is a punishment from God due to the hardening of sinners’ hearts, and there will still be false teachers who echo the lie of the serpent: “Did God really say…”

  • Jon

    Is it just me or are the links not functioning?

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/churchbasementroadshow/ Tony Jones

    I fixed the links.
    Regarding Tim’s response, let me just say a couple things. Firstly, Patheos asked me to write a 600-word editorial, which I did. It’s not a nuanced theological and/or exegetical treatise. It’s a very short essay which I wrote to be readable and enjoyable, not necessarily persuasive.
    Secondly, I’m not being dismissive of Evangelicals when I say that in 20 or 50 years, gay marriage will be a non-issue. I’m being honest. That’s what I really think.

  • Your Name

    “One hundred years from the Bible will still be here, it will still say that homosexuality is a punishment from God due to the hardening of sinners’ hearts, and there will still be false teachers who echo the lie of the serpent: “Did God really say…”
    Apart from the dubious exegesis of that comment…my partner, and our relationship, and the gifts we bring to our faith community as members, are all good gifts of God.

  • Jason

    I know you sincerely believe that, Tony, and I believe that you are sincerely wrong. You are a false teacher, leading people astray from the true faith, muddying what Scripture makes clear. This is what false teachers do.
    Your Name, you are deceived and in bondage to your sin. I would be in bondage to my own sin as well if it were not for the gracious, miraculous power of God to break its power through His mighty hand. I plead with you–repent and trust in the Christ of the Bible, not the false Christ of the homosexual’s wishful thinking.

  • Jules

    Jason-
    I tell you what, you worry about your own bondage and get free of that. That plank your throwing around is bothering my speck.
    Jules

  • http://existentialpunk.com Existential Punk

    @Jules – i LOVE YOU to pieces! You go girl!
    @Jason – G-D bless you, man! We just have to agree to disagree, and as sisters and brothers in Christ, extend grace to one another. Certainty from ANY side is not good and gets us nowhere. Arrogance can immediately shut down a conversation. i find that when a person tells someone else they are going to hell and needing to repent without taking the time to get to know the person is an affront to G-D and Christ. Love and graciousness will get you further with people rather than blanket certainty. A kind word turns away wrath. NONE of us has ALL the answers. NONE of us has a perfect interpretation of scripture. NONE of us knows fully G-D’s heart towards each of us. We draw/attract more flies with honey than vinegar is the old saying. All this is said in humility, Jason. May you be richly blessed in your journey with Christ.
    Warmest Regards,
    EP

  • Jules

    LOL
    I love you to pieces too EP!!!! *big kiss on the cheek*
    Enjoy the KEYS and time with your sweet heart!!! :)
    Peace out girly! ;)
    Jules

  • TimD

    Tony, I definitely understand the constraints of a 600 word piece. It is frustrating sometimes to treat such complex and important issues in snippets. And I didn’t take the 20 to 50 years prognostication to be dismissive. My response was directed solely to the piece you wrote, not to the interview (you reference cloning pastors in both, so that could have been confusing).
    I suggest, humbly, that those who are somewhat to the left on political and social issues tend to mischaracterize conservative evangelicals because it increases their credibility with their political-social confreres, while those who are somewhat on the right on political-social issues tend to mischaracterize liberal evangelicals/Christians because it increases their credibility within their sphere. I think we do one another, and do the body of Christ, a disservice when we do these things. It would be better to explain to those who are hostile why conservative evangelicals feel the way they do (charitably), and then to explain why you differ on the issue. It may be important to you that seculars or liberal Christians understand that you differ on the issue, but it’s at least as important that they understand why evangelicals have come to the positions they have (that it’s not simply bigotry, but a theology of marriage with a long history that is deeply rooted in a theological vision of human nature and the complementarity of male and female).
    As for whether gay marriage will be a non-issue in the future, of course it’s difficult to say. The leaders of the gay marriage movement have certainly cultivated an air of inevitability about it, and they’ve done so in part by setting gay marriage ‘rights’ in the tradition of human and civil rights. I see the gay marriage movement springing more from the sexual revolution than the civil rights movement, and I’m not really convinced that any two people have a ‘right’ to have their union recognized as marriage by the state. (The very notion of a ‘right’ is being misused here, I think.)
    It may come down to demographics. Or, as younger Americans and younger Christians age, they may care more about preserving the traditional nature of marriage. Or, as more immigrants come to our shores, they may bring their more conservative notions of marriage with them. I certainly don’t know, but I appreciate the conversation.

  • Jacob

    The issue is not so much about the liberal nature of gay marriage and whether or not it is acceptable and possible to live as such and still be in line with the gospel.
    The issue is the purpose and power of the gospel and what a person’s expectations are from it. If all a person wants is a reliable compass and foundation – well that can be based on the Bible and many other practical facets of our life put together.
    However the ability to create an enjoyable life is not unique to Christian wisdom – and in some ways other faiths do this better for some people. There are a lot of people who live happy lives without ever hearing about Jesus.
    The odds of us agreeing on the purpose of the gospel are slim, but I will put forward that the drive behind the gospel – the Aim it seeks to push us toward – has shifted significantly from apostolic times.
    Christ’s life alone suggests that lordship on earth – a gardener’s dominance over universal terrain – is not just possible, but necessary and expected, regardless of our ability – the desire is worth cultivating.
    Paul’s expression of the gospel rests in two priorities – first, the elimination of the political lines between those of the Way and those who rely on Moses’ exclusive connection to God for power – to put his contemporaries on the same page in the story of reuniting humanity with its humble and powerful purpose. Second, Paul’s concern is in regard to the ability of the person to resurrect – to become detached in such a way that the pleasures of this life do not impede our progress in death towards the resurrection. His race is to ascension, and yet in looking back at the history of aborted and botched exodus attempts, Paul has plenty of reason to fear that we will not be able to do as Christ did.
    Marriage is one of those events that has been touted over the years as the place where personal indulgence becomes acceptable – and for the purpose of living a happy life, selfishness is acceptable. However, the grip of death and the tears that wash that reality indicate to us that there is a challenge in letting go of that indulgence. When the cards are down and we pass through death, as Christ did, the question is whether our attachments to carnal attractions will leave us vulnerable to the coaxing of the illusions we will be enticed with in death.
    Paul clearly has a sense of the dangers of temptation while in the ‘middle’ – just as C.S. Lewis and other scholars have cryptically alluded to in their ‘non-theological’ works. The risk of satisfaction in the land of death is that a person will not want to leave. Turkish delight in a blizzard.
    When homosexuality and pederasty were philosophical ideals and not merely political devices and social crimes, they were even more of a threat to the resurrection because they promoted and justified the idolatry of the material world. And yet even Christ, a sinless king of the highest order, could be tempted with the simple need of bread. How much more will we be tempted when we walk in the shadow of death? Especially if we are not guarded against idolatry?
    This is the dirty laundry of the moral majority in many cases. On the surface we ask about whether we want to allow gay people to enjoy the same rights and privileges that heterosexual people have. But the unaddressed concern – Paul’s concern – is whether our fascination with the orgasm and birth control and the enormous DINK culture and worship that we afford to couples as a society, and the worship that couples lavish upon themselves – is balanced, healthy, and not a threat to our participation in greater things – like the resurrection, and service according to God’s tall order.
    Another way of looking at it – if you died and found yourself confronted with the Hades illusion of your spouse in the prime of their life at 22 and had to choose between living a vaporous dream life with them or following Christ out of death and back into the world as a new creation… having to start all over – which would you choose? Who wants to wake from a wonderful dream?
    How many people have visions of dying and seeing the pearly of gates of paradise – without the resurrection, without the final judgement, etc. Is this alone not enough of a diabolical trap to fool a lot of people?
    Another way of looking at it… had Christ turned stones into bread in the desert – why would He ever leave? Would He ever have completed His appointed task?
    Taking the ‘gay movement’ to task is a fool’s errand we conveniently accept at the devil’s hand – allowing us to ignore the real impact of materialistic culture on all of us.


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