What Jim Wallis Might Be Missing

So, it seems that Jim Wallis* has gotten into a bit of a kerfuffle for rejecting a magazine ad from Believe Out Loud, a pan-denominational campaign to increase the number of congregations that are welcoming** to LGBT folks.  The best rundown of the controversy with all the important links can be found at Religion Dispatches.

As RD posted and others have made clear, Wallis has avoided addressing LGBT issues for years.  And that’s because Wallis knows, as he states in his apologia, that LGBT issues in the church constitute a “wedge issue.”

But more to the point, affirmation of gays in any way in the church in America these days is a shibboleth, as I have written previously.  That is, if you affirm that homosexual persons who are in any way sexually active can have a role of leadership in the church or should be afforded to right to marry and awarded all of the privileges accorded thereto, then you are, de facto, kicked out of evangelicalism.  Suddenly, 60% of the Christian market in America is, for all intents and purposes, closed to you.  No more fundraising therein, and no more book sales thereto.

Jim Wallis knows this.  Jay Bakker and I and other straight allies of GLBT persons know this first-hand.  Rich Cizik knows this.  And any number of other Christian leaders on the scene today have watched the examples of those of us who publicly ally ourselves with GLBT issues in the church, and it has scared them off from publicly stating what they privately believe, which is that gays should be included in the church.

To those who pastor churches, I understand your hesitation to speak publicly in affirmation of gay ordination and gay marriage.  You have congregations to pastor, and you may feel that your commitment to the unity of the flock trumps your personal convictions on a particular and controversial matter.  But to Jim Wallis, I have this to say:

If you publicly affirm GLBT persons and their full inclusion in the life of the church and in the marriage laws of our country, you will be amazed at the support that you will receive.

I’ve been asked many times if I regret making the decision to publicly support GLBT persons and issues, and I can unequivocally say that, no, I have no regrets.  I’ve heard Jay Bakker say the same thing.  It may have cost us support, speaking gigs, and book contracts, but it’s been totally worth it.

Nota bene, I am not a martyr. I made a public stand on this issue as I have with many others.  I have no congregation to shepherd.  Therefore, I have more freedom to take controversial stands with minimal consequences.  I think that Jim Wallis is in the same boat (though I recognize that he shepherds a large, donation-based non-profit.)

But here’s the thing.  I get questions like this a lot: “C’mon, you know him, what does Jim Wallis/Rob Bell/Shane Claiborne/fill-in-the-blank really think about gays?”  The point is, a lot of people are making a lot of assumptions about leaders in the Protestant church who are progressive on other issues.  And the questions those people ask me, I think, disguise a more fundamental question: Can someone who is theologically thoughtful and progressive on other biblical and social issues remain conservative on issues of human sexuality?

Jim Wallis, Shane Claiborne, and others have, to this point, answered yes to that question.  I have my doubts about whether that position is tenable in the long run.

But here’s my final point, and the one that Jim Wallis may be missing: regardless of his stance on GLBT issues, I think that evangelicals have already kicked him out. They have Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, and me.  I think they have him as well.  So, if (when) Sojourners does publicly affirm gays, I don’t think they’ll see any change…except maybe an infusion of donations.


*Sojourners = Jim Wallis

**Welcoming ≠ open, affirming, gay marriage, or gay ordination.  Welcoming = welcoming, and nothing more.

  • Mark Van Steenwyk

    Well said, Tony. My views on this have changed over the past decade, but even when I was conservative (kinda) on this issue, I would have seen it as fundamentally inconsistent for Wallis/Sojo to refuse to post the ad. Now is precisely the time for Sojo to take stronger stances on such issues. Avoiding it will only start to erode their support among the most proactive of Sojo allies.

  • http://hughlh.com Hugh Hollowell

    Love the footnotes. :-)

    About 2 years ago, I came out as affirming. And yes, it cost me some support. But it has totally been worth it.

  • http://civilrites.blogspot.com Chris

    Tony, I wrote this open letter for Jim & sent it to him directly: http://civilrites.blogspot.com/2011/05/open-letter-to-jim-wallis-on-lgbtq.html. My hope is that he might change his public stance on this issue, from one of “civil rights” to one of full support in the *church.* Looking toward Uganda when I say that, and the harm that certain Christians have caused there, helping lead their government toward a gay holocaust.

  • http://www.chadholtz.net Chad Holtz

    Well said, Tony. As has been reported, my take on hell was just the last straw that resulted in being shown the left heel of fellowship. Leading up to it was my affirmation of gay people via my blog and Facebook. It has it’s consequences, but the rewards have been ten-fold. I don’t regret it one bit. The truth sets you free.

  • Annie

    “Can someone who is theologically thoughtful and progressive on other biblical and social issues remain conservative on issues of human sexuality? I have my doubts about whether that position is tenable in the long run.”

    I’m not sure what this means, ultimately. Scripture is pretty clearly “progressive” when it comes to economic justice in the sense of calling for justice for the poor. This is explicit. You don’t have to be progressive in your view of scripture in order to argue for it. On the contrary, if you take the bible at all seriously, justice for the poor has to be on your agenda.

    But in calling, say, the ordination of homosexuals a social justice issue, you’re extrapolating from scripture. Yes, we can argue for it from theological principles we may have gotten from the bible but we have to do that to the contrary of what the bible actually says explicitly in at least a couple places.

    That makes a difference to people. I’m not making any claims about what God thinks about the issue. But the relationship between economic justice and the bible is different from the relationship between homosexuality and the bible. When you take into account a position like that of the Roman Catholic Church, I think it becomes clearer that just because we marry these issues in American politics, it doesn’t follow that they have to go together. That’s a discursive link we’ve created–one Jim Wallis seems to be transgressing, here. From a purely rhetorical standpoint, it’s all kind of fascinating.

  • Bryan

    Ally = a person or organization that cooperates with or helps another in a particular activity.

    Tony & Hugh, Allies Rock My World.

    love ya
    b

  • Bryan

    Chad, the truth really does set you free. Especially when your gay.

    b

  • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

    Annie, I agree that economic justice does not require a progressive hermeneutic, although there are many conservative Christians who find defenses of capitalism in the Bible. However, a progressive hermeneutic is necessary to argue for racial equality and gender equality from scripture. I say if you affirm inter-racial marriage and women preachers, then you’re an eyelash away from affirming gay ordination.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/slacktivist/ Fred Clark

    Well said. And you’ve very delicately described the calculations involved without quite accusing Jim of being calculating.

    One can be accepted in the evangelical subculture as a Calvinist or an Arminian, as a Pentecostal or an anti-Pentecostal, or as an advocate of almost any doctrinal position you could manage to invent. There are only really two things that will get you kicked out and declared anathema. This is one of them. And the response is ten times more fierce when it’s the other one.

  • http://www.chadholtz.net Chad Holtz

    Bryan, did you just call me gay? :) (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    Tony, what you say about women ordination is so true. When I made that turn in undergrad, and wrote a research paper titled, ‘Let the Women Preach!’, I said to my feminist theology professor after turning it in, “I am convinced this is what the gospel insists upon – women pastors. But how do I continue to insist on my interpretation of homosexuality? The same mechanics are at work in both arguments.”

    She just winked and smiled.

  • http://jmsmith.org JM Smith

    Tony, I’m curious as to what came first in your decision to endorse LGBT sexuality as compatible with Biblical sexual ethics, a desire to include or Biblical LGBT scholarship arguments.

    Surely you see the futility in encouraging someone who truly believes Scripture teaches that LGBT sexuality is incompatible with the Gospel’s call to holiness to ignore that and endorse it anyway, don’t you?

    Can a church welcome individuals who practice other forms of sexuality, such as polyamorism, or consensual adult-incestuous couples, without endorsing them? If so, how is that different from what Wallis and Claiborne are doing?

    Not trying to be a smart alec. I believe you and other LGBT affirming Christians have a genuine heart for the Gospel and I don’t belittle it. I just believe that those of your view severely underestimate the centrality of Scripture’s teaching when it comes to discussions of church ethics regardign sexuality. For instance, see my multi-part discussion with my friend and LGBT affirming minister Chad Holtz at:

    http://jmsmith.org/blog/two-methodists-discuss-same-sex-relationships-and-scripture/

    http://jmsmith.org/blog/same-sex-discussion-part-3/

    and

    http://jmsmith.org/blog/humanizing-the-same-sex-discussion/

    Anyway, just curious as to what led you to step away from the orthodox position on same-sex sexuality personally.

    Blessings from the Dojo,
    JM

  • Charles

    In a previous post Tony wrote:
    “Stacy Johnson is one of my favorite professors at Princeton, though I never took a class from him. (He is also the author of possibly the very best book on GLBT issues in the church, A Time to Embrace.)”
    For those in church leadership positions, I can second Tony’s endorsement for Stacy’s book! Read it! It is the best book I’ve read on the LGBTQ conundrum, directed toward the religious.
    Having said that, for the church to continue to ponder this topic is ridiculous, from my perspective. Love trumps all, especially dogma!

  • Jim Smith

    Tony,
    I myself feel the church should be welcoming to the LGBT community. I support gay marriage in the church and gay ordination as well. I have also at times questioned the motivations of Rev. Wallis. But I have to agree with Annie’s comment.

    I welcome Rev. Wallis’ support in this area. But I think at least at the moment it remains tenable. And I think it’s a little overstated to suggest that only two worlds exist in American Christendom. As a former far-right conservative evangelical, I can tell you that I had to sit for a while in the world-view of Wallis, et al. in order to make it to the one that opens my arms to my gay brothers and sisters. As the name Sojourners suggests, it is a journey and help is welcome at every step.

  • http://tomryberg.wordpress.com TR

    So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

    Getting good and clear about where we stand and why takes courage, it’s true. But in some ways, the consequences of fuzziness around the specifics of an issue are often more severe, in that fuzziness is often irritating to BOTH sides, as Rob Bell and Sojo alike might attest to these days. Sojourners may have thought they were avoiding a firefight on this issue, but instead, many progressives will think they’re being cowardly, while the right has probably already abandoned ship over the economics stuff.

    Anyway, Tony, I appreciate your willingness to be hot and/or cold.

  • http://ephphatha-poetry.blogspot.com/ Brian

    In some ways it’s true that “Sojourners = Jim Wallis.” He founded it. He runs it. He makes the final decisions. And from what I understand, he is the one who made the final decion to refuse to run the ad.

    In other ways, it’s NOT true that “Sojourners = Jim Wallis.” Sojo is a diverse community that includes folks in the LGBT community as well as allies. For example, Jim Rice, the editor of Sojo has written some excellent articles in support of the LGBT community. Plus, some of the interns that I’ve talked with over the years have expressed frustration with Jim Wallis’ refusal to stand up for social justice for LGBT folks. There seems to be some movement within Sojo itself.

    One of the interesting aspects of this Sojo story is how Jim Wallis is going to handle the dissenters in his midst. Or if he, too, will become a dissenter from his own long-standing policy.

  • ben w.

    Tony @ 8 -

    I am a “conservative” Christian who takes the original words of the Scripture as binding and normative. I completely disagree that racial equality and gender equality are incompatible with my faith and hermeneutic. Do you know even 2 well-known “Neo-reformed” types who would condemn inter-racial marriage?? (I can’t think of one, but instead have heard multiple sermons from “literalists” affirming racial equality in the strongest terms). I can’t even think of the passages that one would go to to argue for gender inequality. (for equality, I would go to Gen 1-2 and Gal 3 as great starting points).

    I should note also that practically every conservative likewise affirms “gender equality” as a part of their complementarianism. The common mantra is “equal in value, different in role /function”. I assume that you really mean “a progressive hermeneutic is necessary to argue for … *women pastors* from scripture.” (or “is necessary to argue for gender equality (“true equality, not lip-service”) from scripture.” That’s fine, just don’t build straw men to rail on them. I do actually agree with your point that the hermeneutic that leads one to affirm female-eldership is only different from LGBT-affirmation by degree.

    If you want conservatives to be gracious in reading your work, you should extend the same courtesy to reading their work and explaining their positions.

  • http://mattmharris.wordpress.com/ Matt Harris
  • http://charlieschurchofchrist.wordpress.com Charlie’s Church of Christ

    I agree – it’s not as though welcoming the GLBT crowd is terribly liberal anymore, it’s just that not as many are as vocal about it. I think if more prominent people, such as Jim Wallis, take that stand they’ll find plenty of people poking out shouting amen.

  • ryan

    Doesn’t seem fair to state female eldership/ordination is only a hair from ordination for homosexuals…

    Does’t the redemptive movement that William Webb writes about in Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals actually give great reasons as to why that is not the case? (which, by the way, Bell quotes quite often in reference to women in leadership…)

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I think the argument goes something like this: Yes the Bible seems to constantly be pushing the culture of the day (whether it’s the ancient Hebrew of Greek/Roman) toward liberation of women and slaves, albeit sometimes in minor ways, but still. By contrast, it does not seem to do that with homosexuality – in fact, arguably, it pushes the culture of the day the other direction, toward stricter limits on homosexuality than was being practiced.

    Not trying to push that point of view but I think those who are throwing around that ordination of women and ordination of homosexuals are on equal footing, or at least real close, are not acknowledging there are some pretty decent arguments against that very line of reasoning.

    At least how I understand them…

  • http://www.chadholtz.net Chad Holtz

    ryan,
    This will be far too simplistic an answer to your question, but it goes something like this:

    The Bible CLEARLY states that women shall not a) speak in church or b) hold leadership over a man. Additionally, it always talks about a man being the one in charge (he shall be the husband of one wife, etc…)

    Those of us who ordain women usually take 2 approaches:

    1. Paul was just wrong. or,

    2. Paul had some very good pastoral reasons for saying what he said. First and foremost, women in their culture who “preached” were seen as priestesses in Rome’s many mystery religions. And, women were not seen by Jews as people who held authority – period. They couldn’t even be witnesses in court to a murder. Paul is trying to begin a new church- it’s in it’s infancy stages -and he is being pragmatic. Allowing female pastors at THAT time would stall the gospel.

    I go with #2. And as it turns out, scholarship shows those are the same reasons Paul calls “homosexuality” an abomination – it was used in cultic worship practices to honor mystery gods. He is talking about improper worship and the abuse of power.

    peace

  • Johnboy

    What would mark an advancement, in my view, is the recognition by all “sides” that the Good News is not mostly about moral realities. Our core evangelical mission is neither to describe nor norm nor even evaluate reality. What differentiates our brand in the human marketplace of ideas is, rather, an interpretation of reality that views it as both 1) created and, in a singular way, 2) friendlier than we could ever imagine.

  • Pingback: Come, Stand With Me – Time To Believe Out Loud | Dancing on Saturday

  • http://www.chadholtz.net Chad Holtz

    Tony, thanks for helping to inspire this: http://wp.me/pNoUu-w5

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    I think your argument hinges on whether or not evangelicals have already “kicked him out.” I think by your own measures, “support, speaking gigs, and book contracts” they clearly have not. For instance, just a couple of years ago my alma mater, Wheaton College, was still inviting Wallis to come speak to packed out rooms. I haven’t looked at Wallis’ speaking itinerary lately, but I would guess that’s probably still the case. And you’re right that these would be closed to him if Sojo took a clear theological position on same-sex relationships. But I don’t think they are closed to him yet.

    You’re also right that Jim would receive all kinds of support from other quarters if he changed his position. The question, however, is whether he merely wants “support.” Does he only want to preach to the choir, to the already converted? Or does he want to continue to be able to potentially convert conservative evangelicals to broader concerns for social justice? (Like he did me 15 years ago when I first heard him speak at Wheaton.)

    Does he want only more friends, or does he want converts? Is the social justice coalition in this country already so strong that we can afford to simply write off anyone who doesn’t toe the line on every issue? Or are bridge builders like Wallis still necessary?

  • Pingback: Standing with Sojourners: When Progressive Isn’t Progressive Enough » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog

  • http://pantheon.yale.edu/~kd47 Keith DR

    Very nice point, Mike Clawson (22) — and I say that as someone inclined to agree with Tony on this matter.

  • http://missional.ca Jamie Arpin-Ricci

    Mike #22, that is a significant point. Thanks!

  • http://mwkruse@swbell.net Michael W. Kruse

    Chad #19, you’re being overly dismissive. Yes, Paul says women should not speak in church while in the same letter he gives instruction on how women should prophecy. Clearly, something more nuanced was at work here. (Uneducated women brought into a public settings, not knowing how to behave, and needing instruction?)

    Yes, 1 Tim 2, talks about women not holding authority. But as scholars have noted (ex. Ben Witherington) the language is literally (I do not NOW permit a woman to teach …), suggesting that his instruction is temporary until some further criteria are meet. (Again, possibly better instruction, based on the following verses?) Furthermore, their is Galatians 3:28, the woman apostle Junia, Priscilla who teaches, women prophets in the OT and NT.

    With women, slavery, and race there clearly is a push beyond the traditional roles of that time, suggesting that the traditional boundaries were not transcendent. In fact, part of what troubled the Roman authorities was that all these folks were meeting together and this was a threat to societal structure. It seems likely that Paul and others must have sensitive to how their writings might be read by Roman officials and likely did not state their full views in such letters. With slaves, ethnicity, and women, there seems to be a go along to get along strategy but a rejection that these categories held any real distinction.

    In contrast, homosexual behavior was evident across the empire. A couple of first century Emperors were known to have held mock gay weddings. The behavior was less controversial then than now. To embrace homosexual behavior would have been a departure from Jewish traditions (just like elevating women or accepting gentiles) but certainly not controversial with Roman society.

    Yet there is not one hint of affirmation of homosexual acts in Scripture. There is Jesus and Paul affirming sex in marriage as covenant relationship as the design. There is Paul explicitly condemning such acts in 1 Cor 6 and Romans 1 (and yes I’m aware of the hermeneutic gymnastics to relativize them) . There is the unbroken witness of millennia stretching from the Jews, through Christianity down to the present.

    Women and race are different from homosexuality in Scripture. Furthermore, sex and race are about physical attributes to which social groups attach meaning. “Homosexual” is a subjective state of mind that only the subject can testify to. It is defined by participation in a behavior and the others are not.

    Now, there may indeed be a reason why we should abandon traditional views about homosexuality and the uni-vocal witness of Scripture and Church history. But it is counterproductive to pretend like Scripture really isn’t in opposition to the behavior and to pretend that the race and gender are useful parallels for assessing homosexual behavior.

  • Charles

    Michael,
    “’Homosexual’ is a subjective state of mind that only the subject can testify to. It is defined by participation in a behavior and the others are not.”

    Where did this definition of the term come from? It seems to be at odds with any other definition I can find. Perhaps it’s yours – thus explaining your position.

  • http://mwkruse@swbell.net Michael W. Kruse

    It’s not a definition. It’s a contrast.

    Think of being a medical examiner with ten autopsy reports to fill out. By looking at the bodies, you could fill out the forms with regard to sex and race. How would you identify which ones were homosexual? You could take samples of their DNA and confirm their sex and race. How would you confirm which ones are homosexual?

    Homosexual identity can only established by the person in question. Not so with sex and race. The determining question is a person’s behavior and testimony about his or her inner-state of being. What am I missing? How is it odds with other definitions?

  • http://michaeldanner.typepad.com michaeldanner

    Yes, Charles! I’m heterosexual, even when I’m not participating in sex. Attempts to “love the sinner and hate the sin” have led to a bifurcation of attractional orientation and behavior that doesn’t exist in the heterosexual sphere. It allows people to say, “I love gay people, I just don’t support their sexual practices.” It functions to make separation, discrimination, exclusion, etc. possible while obscuring the reality of what these things really are – violent and unloving.

    Another thing Wallis misses is that the seeds that grow into many forms of injustice are simple acts of exclusion. Gay bashing starts with gay excluding. As long as the church is gay excluding it’s complicit in gay bashing – all the way up to laws in places like Uganda that seek to make being gay punishable by death. Maybe I’m clueless, but this doesn’t seem Jesus like to me.

  • http://jmsmith.org JM Smith

    @Chad

    I’m afraid you’re missing an option in your above analysis of women ordination:

    #3 – The Bible does not CLEARLY prohibit all women from speaking/teaching authoritatively and actually gives NUMEROUS counter examples; thus Paul’s two commands to local congregations on the issue are analogous to his commands to “great one another with a holy kiss.”

    When it comes to same-sex sexual relationships there is NO counter example and the prohibition is trans-canonical and uniform in its rejection of it. It is most definitely not the same hermeneutic at work, as your professor should’ve known before disingenuously winking as if your comparison were correct.

    Much love my friend, but I believe you’re fundamentally in error when it comes to hermeneutics (a problem that will forever undermine attempts to legitimize same-sex sexual relationships in light of Biblical exegesis). In the end I’m afraid the position you and Tony are advocating falls back on emotional appeal and relies on obscuring and equivocating the Biblical texts.

  • http://www.chadholtz.net Chad Holtz

    JM and Michael,
    I very well could be in error when it comes to “hermeneutics.” And I agree much of it does fall back on matters of the heart – or love – something that ruled Jesus’ teaching and ministry far more than “hermeneutics” (is that word affirmed in Scripture?)

    But I will make a deal with you or anyone else:

    Prove to me that the love shared between 2 men or 2 women is destructive. Show me how their love for each other renders them as riddled with lies, guilt, shame, fear, remorse, and just plain sin as the adulterer who is ruled by their deceit and lust. Show me how their love for each other destroys a covenant relationship like adultery does or how it breaks up families and leaves children in ruin.

    Show me that their love is far more destructive and idolatrous than my own love for my wife, and I’ll recant and join you in calling their love an abomination.

    Until then, I’ll err on the side of love, not hermeneutics.

  • http://jmsmith.org JM Smith

    Chad,
    I’ll do that if you do the same for me:

    Prove to me that the love shared between 1 men and 2 women or a consenting brother and sister (such as the Stubing case in Germany), or an adult Aunt and her adult nephew is destructive. Show me how their love for each other renders them as riddled with lies, guilt, shame, fear, remorse, and just plain sin as the adulterer who is ruled by their deceit and lust. Show me how their love for each other destroys a covenant relationship like adultery does or how it breaks up families and leaves children in ruin.

    Show me that their love is far more destructive and idolatrous your love for your own wife, and I’ll recant and join you in calling their love an a “mysterious gift from God.”

  • Charles

    Once again Chad expresses so well what I struggle to communicate. Love trumps hermeneutics – I love it!!

  • http://jmsmith.org JM Smith

    Charles,
    Where do we get the idea that we should love? From reading and interpreting the teachings of Jesus in their context according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit–i.e. Hermeneutics.

    Hermeneutics is just a fancy word for “understanding the truth taught overall in Scripture.” You can’t pit faithful hermeneutics against love as if they are in conflict, I would argue.

  • http://www.chadholtz.net Chad Holtz

    JM,

    So does that mean you don’t have an answer?

  • http://jmsmith.org JM Smith

    Chad,
    It means that your criteria for determining what is sinful does not apply to similar sexual sins which you recognize as sinful. It means that the very challenge you posed is invalid for determining whether or not something is Biblically, objectively or theologically sinful. That is my main point, and one that no same-sex proponents have ever wanted to address. Why should the orthodox position be held to a standard that the revisionist position is not willing to apply to itself??

  • http://jmsmith.org JM Smith

    For the record (and for those who don’t know me from Adam!), I consider Chad a friend and while we vigorously disagree on this issue, I have zero animosity or resentment towards him and enjoy our discussions on the subject, as I believe they are important ones for the Body of Christ to have when it comes to such contentious issues–issues which usually receive a sound-byte or straw-man treatment by those on opposing sides. But such rhetoric does not honor God or reflect Jesus’ desire for unity among His followers.

  • http://mwkruse@swbell.net Michael W. Kruse

    Chad you are indeed right the love is a central theme.

    Some above have suggested that Jesus was a progressive politically and economically. (And I might and that “progressive,” and particularly “capitalism,” are only a couple shades removed from a Rorschach inkblot. Project on to them what you will.) That is entirely anachronistic. Progressivism and capitalism are products of modern economies and governments. Jesus lived in an advanced agrarian, pre-capitalist, pre-market economy. The Bibles teaching doesn’t translate directly into modern contexts.

    But the underlying sense that egoism and mindless pursuit of self-actualization are antithetical to the Kingdom is certainly a tenant of progressivism. We are called away from egoism and self-actualization, and to reorient ourselves to the Kingdom and its values. Progressives say this with economics but chaff at the idea that this applies to sexual ethics. Now I could make some arguments as to why it might not be desirable to have people engaging in homosexual acts, most of which I doubt you would find compelling. But that is beside the point.

    As Christians, while consequential concerns figure into our assessments, we are ultimately grounded in ethics of the Kingdom as revealed in Scripture. Sex outside of a covenant between a man and a woman are universally characterized in Scripture as egoism and misdirected pursuit of inner-drives.

    I reject the notion that I must define exactly how this harms society or compares with other concerns before it can be considered to be beyond the bounds of Kingdom ethics. What must be shown is what has changed that now causes us to reverse an ethic that has remained unchanged up to this generation.

    It is indeed about love. It is about subordinating our love of self and drive for self-actualization to loving God and his Kingdom.

  • Wayne Johnson

    Michael K, you say “Yet there is not one hint of affirmation of homosexual acts in Scripture.” I’m pretty sure that is not true. Not only are there very significant hints of affirmation of homosexual acts in Scripture, but the people involved are two of the three most significant figures in the Bible.

    (1) To my read, it seems very clear that David and Jonathan were physical sexual lovers. David *became* king because he was the lover of the king’s son. “Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan. He said to him, ‘You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness?”

    (2) The Bible makes it clear that there was one special loved on in Jesus’s life and that person was a man. This man was the narrator of the gospel of John. Jesus and this man physically held each other at the Last Supper. Their relationship was honored by the disciples: When Peter wanted to know what Jesus was meant, he asked the beloved disciple to ask Jesus. And as Jesus was dying, he asked his mother and this man to treat each other as mother and son, as mother-in-law and son–in-law, and they did. To my read, this is as good as a marriage.

  • Wayne Johnson

    “Sex outside of a covenant between a man and a woman are universally characterized in Scripture as egoism and misdirected pursuit of inner-drives.”

    No it’s not.

  • Wayne Johnson

    PS meant to say there, that may well be how you personally feel about it, but it is not by any means universally true within the text of the Bible. You will find some passages that agree with your generalization, and many others that do not. You’re imposing your own opinion or feeling as universal.

  • http://mwkruse@swbell.net Michael W. Kruse

    It is possible for two people of the same sex to have a very deep relationship without it being ertoticized. There is absolutely no indication that David and Jonathan had an erotic relationship. If it were so, then we most certainly would find evidence of such an interpretation among the ancient Jewish and Christian scholars, and debate over its meaning and application. This would be particularly true sense the same people who are generating and preserving the Leviticus 19 code are also the same people generating and preserving the story of David and Jonathan. There is no such debate. There is unwavering affirmation of sex between men and women in marriage.

    We have the same circumstances with Jesus and his disciples. Closeness does not mean eroticized. There is no mention of an eroticized relationship among the early church fathers. There is unwavering affirmation of sex between men and women in marriage.

    The idea that these passages are affirming homosexual acts is the same as suggesting that the Parable of the Talents was Jesus affirming capitalism. It is a projection of current sensibilities back on to the text.

    It is it just what I feel about it or making generalizations. It is about what is objectively there.

  • http://www.livingthequestion.org Riley

    To this point:
    “I think that evangelicals have already kicked him out. They have Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, and me.”

    … I was thinking you ARE the new evangelicals. Just in the seedling stage. And I doubt you’ll be in the minority for long. There are other ice bergs (= questions lurking under the surface that cause one a paradigm shift, and get one closer to God, but farther from evangelical culture…) ripping holes in the perceived ‘unsinkable’ old evangelical paradigms. I’m not sure y’all are even aware of some of these other pockets yet. But I see these ‘bergs merging ever closer. One day you’ll bump into each other and say, “What?! You too?!! No way!” And when that momentum merges, it will be unstoppable.

  • Wayne Johnson

    “There is absolutely no indication that David and Jonathan had an erotic relationship.”

    No, that is a false statement. There most certainly are many strong indications that David and Jonathan had an erotic relationship. There is even a narrative of them hugging and kissing “until David exceeded.”

    You are failing to distinguish between fact on the one hand, and your opinion and assumptions on the other. If we accept all your opinions and assumptions as if they were facts, then what a surprise, it turns out you are always RIGHT! :-o

  • http://jmsmith.org JM Smith

    I was wondering how long before the “David and Jonathan” sex conspiracy theory got voiced. Revisionist “scholarship” at its most reaching. David and Jonathan’s actions were perfectly understandable within the concept of Covenant loyalty and heartfelt friendship among a lord and a devoted vassal. The appeal to the Hebrew verb “higdil” (“become great/exceed”) as somehow sexually suggestive has as much credibility as the Loch Ness monster…actually, less; there are at least pictures of something that looks like a monster in Loch Ness–there is zero evidence of a sexual connotation of “higdil” in Scripture or ancient Hebrew. :)

  • nathan

    @Michael Kruse:

    the problem today is that if someone conceded your point about Jonathan and David they would probably lable the relationship “emotional adultery” if they were already married to women. think “fb adultery” before facebook.

    there’s a whole maelstrom of incredibly strange (and culturally constructed) anxieties within evangelicalism.

    what a mess.

  • http://jmsmith.org JM Smith

    “The idea that these passages are affirming homosexual acts is the same as suggesting that the Parable of the Talents was Jesus affirming capitalism. It is a projection of current sensibilities back on to the text.”

    That’s an excellent point that often goes overlooked.

  • Korey

    Michael W. Kruse,
    Is there historical evidence of committed monogamous homosexual relationships in the first century? I was under the impression that homosexual sex was basically associated with deviancy in that historical period. I think some argue that Scripture doesn’t countenance committed monogamous homosexual relationships because they were beyond comprehension. Perhaps deemed a self contradiction. Of course this doesn’t mean Scripture endorses or even tolerates homosexuality, but it might weaken if ever so slightly your implication that Scripture must condemn it regardless of how it finds expression.

  • http://thepangeablog.com Kurt W

    Tony,

    Your a great guy and although I don’t comment often, I appreciate much that you say. I preface with that so you don’t think I am some conservative nut-case spamming your page with some agenda :-)

    You said that “Welcoming ≠ open, affirming, gay marriage, or gay ordination. Welcoming = welcoming, and nothing more.”

    The website, however, on the front page slider has a link to “Find a welcoming and affirming church near you.” This is clearly a theological statement. If this movement was only about being ‘welcoming’ it would not be a big deal, but it is clearly with a conviction that homosexuality is not a sin. My conservative friends would be alienated from Sojo if such an add were to run.
    Case in point, their mission statement says: “Believe Out Loud seeks to accelerate the existing Christian movement toward LGBT inclusion and significantly increase the number of local churches and denominations that are fully-inclusive of LGBT individuals, both in practice and policy.” Then, if you go to this link (http://www.believeoutloud.com/… they define becoming a welcoming church via resources to become “welcoming and affirming.” It would have been foolish for Jim to run the ad on such a divisive
    issue.

    I think that some of the miscommunication in the progressive response has been to not clearly own up to the fact that for Believe out Loud, welcoming and affirming (theologically) are tied together. This isn’t even fair for the Andrew Marin “third way” type of folks.

  • Pingback: Adding Nuance to the Sojourners Kerfuffle | Theoblogy

  • Ryan

    Hey Tony,

    Good thoughts here. I am on the other side of the issue than you but still love to get your thoughts and make sure I understand both perspectives. I am genuinely curious though what your perspective is on pre-marital sex for both straight and homosexual relationships.

    Honestly its just an issue I don’t hear addressed that often from those in the Christian community who are affirming on LGBT issues.

  • Pingback: My hope is built on nothing less | slacktivist

  • Pingback: » Links for the weekend I Think I Believe

  • Pingback: My hope is built on nothing less | streamingsouthpark.com

  • Pingback: Jim Wallis and Believe Out Loud, Part 2 | slacktivist

  • Pingback: Jim Wallis and Believe Out Loud, Part 2 | streamingsouthpark.com

  • Pingback: for the record « The Sweet Bi and Bi

  • Pingback: The Wild Goose Festival: The Talks (#WGF11)

  • adam

    I think leadership should be gift orientated instead based on ordination, I am against the hierarchical ministry of church really, I think that is is one of the many vestiges of Christendom like preaching, so if the LGBTQ community have the gifts then by all means let them lead until it is someone else’s turn if you look at the five fold leadership structure that Paul writes about, two (teaching and pastoring) of which we still emphasise and forget about the rest (apostles, evangelists, prophets), when one leadershipr style is needed it should take the lead until another gift is called for because the laity are clergy as well and that is a mistake I think leadership makes we need to wean people off the clergy and yes, I realise that the “laity” may also perpetuate the way things have always been done mindset. I have been attending Quaker meetings mainly because I am so fond of the Anabaptist tradition, they and the Quakers have a lot in common such as a wariness for creeds, or statements set in stone.

    • adam

      Wanted to add that leadership is a function not an office as preachers, televangelsts and obviously priests, and the pope assume.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X