Evangelical Colleges and Their Gay Students

In my neck-o-the-woods, Bethel University‘s provost recently held an open conversation with gay students and allies, where they were able to talk openly about their experiences at a college that officially discriminates against them.

At one of my alma maters, Fuller Theological Seminary, a campus-wide conversation about sexuality was recently held. Heteronormativity was ultimately upheld at each of these institutions, but here’s what I think: As soon as you give LGBT persons a voice, they are humanized. And when that happens, it’s only a matter of time before discriminatory policies begin to collapse.

At HuffPo, Ron Davis writes about a similar debate being held at his alma mater, George Fox University:

Like many evangelical colleges, the school requires students and staff to sign a lifestyle agreement which, among other things, requires them to refrain from nonmarital sexual activity and proscribes homosexual relationships. A group of LGBTQ and allied alumni called OneGeorgeFox presented the administration with an open letter. The letter challenges the University’s policy, and disputes LGBTQ stereotypes, invoking gay student’s desire to have families and demanding their Christian community’s support.

The University responded to the letter with characteristic civility, affirming everyone’s dignity, and acknowledging the need for improved communication, but ultimately reiterating its heteronormative theological position. Less characteristically, the administration has told its faculty that, although they can facilitate discussions among students, signing the letter or otherwise publicly advocating for a position at odds with the University’s policy violates their employment contracts.

Consequently, a passionate, ideologically diverse faculty’s signatures are notably absent. This is egregious. Universities exist, in large part, to encourage truth-seeking, and the faculty form the backbone of this pursuit. That a Quaker university could display such gross epistemic hubris strongly suggests the administration has lost sight of these guiding principles. (Read the rest: Ron Davis: Evangelical Universities, Gay Students and Faculty Freedom.)

I am an adjunct professor at Fuller, and I can say that, to Fuller’s credit (most notably, Kurt Frederickson‘s and Rich Mouw‘s credit), they have never attempted to silence me. They have simply asked that while I’m teaching a Fuller class, I respect their Statement of Community Standards. That seems completely reasonable, and I happy to comply with that request.

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  • JoeyS

    At my alma mater a student tried to organize an official group, with a faculty sponsor to support LGBTQ students and have open conversation. He sat down with the dean who told him that it was fine to have a group, and he encouraged conversation but that because of the schools bylaws it could not be an “official” group. That’s a tough one for me. I know the dean and know that he doesn’t want to stop a support group from forming but the student felt discouraged and transferred out.

  • Frank

    So why would an individual or institution affirm a position that is against the word of God that they believe in and why wouldn’t they hold their employees/representatives accountable to those beliefs?

    Sounds like those school have integrity, a characteristic scripture calls us to have. So Tony what are you advocating? That these schools stand up against their beliefs?

    • Mind you, Frank is on record supporting genocide, child murder and slavery as being morally appropriate since they are “consistent with the word of God.” So, he has no credibility.

      • Frank

        Scott you only expose the weakness of your own positions by posting drivel such as that. Its dishonest.

        • Dude, I can go back and get the quote. It’s on this blog!

          • Frank

            Me too. In fact here it is. At least you are consistent with your misreading/misinterpreting text and

            “Frank says:
            April 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm
            Scot I have been through this before but I will try again:

            Racial based slavery is not the slavery in the bible. So we need to clarify that. Also much of what is called biblical slavery today was actually just willing servitude or debt servitude. So there is your first straw man! The rest of biblical slavery was around the spoils of war. Not too mention that we are all slaves to something but that’s a whole different trajectory. Therefore servitude is moral but that does not mean we have to participate as a society or culture. Once again we are NOT talking about racial based slavery.

            Secondly God does at times in the OT called for infanticide. He does not call us to do that. It was never a command to believers but was a situational decision that God made at the time within the current circumstances and context. God, as God, has a purpose in that which I am comfortable trusting him with. So no moral imperative for us to do the same. So there is your second straw man.

            So are you going to weasel out what you said about the biblical text being against homosexual behavior?”

            • Linda

              Hold it. Where does God “call for” infanticide?

              My Bible has Herod killing all children under age 2 (Jesus escaped), a Pharaoh of Egypt trying to kill all children under age 2 (Moses escaped), and Haman trying to destroy the Jewish people.

              Prostitution and child-killing were the evil norms of pagan nations — and that is what God tried to spare the Jewish people from, when they entered the land.

              But if you’ve ever taken “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement,” you see that AT EVERY POINT in Jewish history, there were peoples of other nations who joined up and became a part of the chosen nation. This includes Ruth the Moabite, Rahab of Jericho (another nation), and the women in the field that Israelites stole, not to mention the nation that pretended they were from a long way off.

              “Thou shalt not kill” is a commandment, and it was misguided people such as the Crusaders who misunderstood the heart of God toward all peoples.

              God is NOT a god of infanticide. He is the God of “Let the little children come to me.”

              Any other misrepresentation is to treat ungodly circumstances in the Bible as “God’s will.”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/2012/04/09/reading-gagnon-tonys-wrap-up/#comment-28975

          “Racial based slavery is not the slavery in the bible. So we need to clarify that. Also much of what is called biblical slavery today was actually just willing servitude or debt servitude. So there is your first straw man! The rest of biblical slavery was around the spoils of war. Not too mention that we are all slaves to something but that’s a whole different trajectory. Therefore servitude is moral but that does not mean we have to participate as a society or culture. Once again we are NOT talking about racial based slavery.

          Secondly God does at times in the OT called for infanticide. He does not call us to do that. It was never a command to believers but was a situational decision that God made at the time within the current circumstances and context. God, as God, has a purpose in that which I am comfortable trusting him with. So no moral imperative for us to do the same. So there is your second straw man.”

          So Frank is not opposed to slavery per se, just “racially based” slavery. He has no principled objection to slavery, since it’s in the Bible. And God HAS commanded genocide, and that’s OK with Frank, but God has not commanded US to commit genocide … yet.

          • So Frank, be clear for me: Are you opposed to all slavery, irrespective of what the Bible says about it? Do you acknowledge that you differ from the Bible in that it views slavery as morally acceptable and you don’t?

            Do you reject genocide, tout court? And would you acknowledge that you differ from the Bible in that it views genocide as acceptable and you don’t? These are straightforward questions. You should be able to give a straightforward answer.

          • Frank

            Scoot do some more research on the differences of racial based slavery, servitude and prisoners of war. When you have a better understanding of them and their differences my comments will make sense. Your question just exposes your flawed reading comprehension.

          • Right. So you’re refusing to answer the question. My point is made. Thanks.

          • Frank

            Oh Scott. You can believe whatever your little head wants. Almost like putting your fingers in your ears and saying “nahnahnahnahnah.” Well done!

          • Still no answer here. Not surprising. I’m moving on. Maybe Frank will provide an answer at some point instead of refusing to answer the question. Until he does, his words testify for themselves: Slavery? OK, as long as it’s not “racially based.” Genocide? Fine, as long as God commands it.

          • Carl

            Frank, ignore him, he clearly doesn’t want clarity. He just wants to be right and you to be wrong.

          • Fortunately, there is a clear correspondence between what I want and what is actually the case.

          • Frank

            Yes it is clear that you want to change the meaning of Scripture to fit your beliefs. Yes that much is clear.

          • Still not an answer Frank.

          • Frank

            Scott if you were as smart as you think you are you would be able to find my answer on this page.

        • Anindo Choudhury

          Frank, I read your exchange with Scott. You are equivocating. Spoils of war, servitude, killing off of entire tribes, whatever you qualify it as, it was nasty and “God” condoned it, but it cannot be condoned in a modern civilized society. So, no qualifications are required.
          An honest reading of the OT provides me with two conclusions: a) either men made stuff up and passed it off as this “God’s” word (and there is plenty of evidence for it), or b) this “God” was a nasty character, in which case I don’t see any reason to worship him.
          Either way, OT scripture is deeply flawed as anything other than an amazingly rich, fascinating, tribal story.

  • Dave

    I’m all in favor of choices and in favor of any lifestyles….but not good with the fact that in our fight for dignity and civility we now are asking institutions with certain beliefs to forsake them. Doesn’t that make us the bigots? If you don’t agree with the requests of the institution go somewhere else! They have rights too…..

    • Courtney

      One word: desegregation.

      That was forcing a belief system, too. A belief system of respect based on basic human rights.

    • Curtis

      Do you feel the same way about institutions that don’t admit women? Or blacks?

  • Frank

    If only sexual choices were civil rights. They are not.

    • aaron

      Sexual orientation is not a choice.

      • T. Webb

        Aaron, are you a Calvinist or something? Maybe it’s not a choice for some, but it certainly is a choice for others. You’ve read Cynthia Nixson’s recent comments about her sexuality, correct? She insists that for her it is a choice, and that she’s not going to let someone else define her gayness for her. Please don’t be so dogmatic about your position.

        • Carl

          Doesn’t matter if it’s a choice or you’re born with it… we’re all born inclined to sin and with the choice to sin. Doesn’t let any heteros off the hook, neither should it for homos.

        • Kubrick’s Rube

          Actually, Nixon does not believe orientation is a choice: “I would like to clarify: While I don’t often use the word, the technically precise term for my orientation is bisexual. I believe bisexuality is not a choice, it is a fact. What I have ‘chosen’ is to be in a gay relationship.”

      • Frank

        Sexual behavior is a choice. And science is showing us that sexual orientation is not fixed and immutable either. It’s fluid. Which suggests the word preference is more attuned to the truth than orientation.


  • Keith Rowley

    Can you two take it outdoors? Or at least stay on topic instead of throwing insults?

    Btw Scott just because you dissagree with Franks literal reading of the bible does not mean he lacks integrity. I think it takes a lot of integrity to defend a hugely unpopular view based on moral conviction.

    • Frank

      You are right Keith. This is not the place for a offtopic playground fight that Scott has already lost. 🙂

      So back to topic….

      Who actually believes that people should violate their integrity to make someone else comfortable?

    • Franks words speak for themselves. His kind of “integrity,” the world doesn’t need.

    • Scot Miller

      Keith, I’m not so sure that the exchange between Scott and Frank is really so off-topic. While it is undeniable that Christian colleges have the LEGAL right to discriminate against anyone they want (so long as the discrimination is required to fulfill the religious mission of the college), the question is whether discrimination against the LGBTQ community is REQUIRED to fulfill the religious mission of a Christian college.

      Is being anti-homosexual really a religious principle, or are Christians hiding behind a defective interpretation of the Bible to justify their bigotry or ignorance? Scott is pointing out that Frank’s position betrays its defective interpretation because of his inconsistency in applying his own principles of interpretation.

      I just wish Frank had the courage of his convictions. What he really wants to say is that God ALWAYS disapproves of homosexual practice, but SOMETIMES God approves of infanticide and genocide and polygamy at least some forms of slavery; after all, God actually SAYS homosexual practice is an abomination and God SAYS God’s people should kill babies (at least of some) of God’s enemies, the patriarchs in the Old Testament were polygamists, and God gave Christian slave-holders rules on how they should treat the people that they own (but not like the slaves that Christians owned in the antebellum South… why, that’s just WRONG).

      Hmmmm… this understanding of God entails that homosexual practice is absolutely prohibited in every conceivable circumstance, but that killing babies and owning human beings is not absolutely wrong in God’s eyes in every instance. I guess God’s ways aren’t our ways…. Too bad Frank doesn’t really admit to believing what he says he believes…. But I digress….

      It seems to me that the most important religious principle to guide policies at Evangelical colleges should be “Love your neighbor as yourself,” not “Homosexuality is an abomination before God.” Even if it’s true that God disapproves of all homosexual practice (which I doubt), why can’t an Evangelical college affirm the fundamental humanity of all of its students, gay or straight, male or female, etc. There seems to be no contradiction between saying “We think that some kinds of sexual behavior is wrong” and “We respect the humanity of our students.”

      An Evangelical college may disapprove of premarital sex, but provide child support services for unwed student mothers and not fail in their mission. In the same way, an Evangelical college may disapprove of homosexual practice, but approve of organizations for the support homosexual students who suffer anti-homosexual harassment.

      • toddh

        I wish we could “like” comments here. Thanks for the clarity Scot!

      • Frank

        I guess that depends if they are advocating or not. Providing care and support for those who struggle with SSA is a good thing. I suppose if the support group would agree to uphold the universities beliefs on the subject and only use the group to encourage students to stand true to Gods heterosexual, monogamous plan for sexuality and marriage, then they should allow it. I mean certainly those who provide child are for unwed mothers do not advocate for premarital sex.

        • Scot Miller

          But I do have your position on homosexuality, infanticide/genocide, and slavery right, don’t I? God ALWAYS thinks homosexuality is wrong, but infanticide is SOMETIMES OK and slavery is SOMETIMES OK (not always morally objectionable). Right?

          • Frank

            Scot what does that have to do with this topic? Yet another straw man from you. Your whole worldview is built on them it seems. But I will play along in your little game…

            Nowhere in scripture does God condone or bless homosexual behavior. Just the opposite in every case.

            God gives us clear instructions on how to treat people, both free and indentured and nowhere does he tells us to go out and make slaves.

            God does sanction certain war and violence in the OT but He does not ever tell us, as His people, to do the same. Why does God allow and seemingly sanction that behavior? I do not know other than it obviously worked for His purposes and His wisdom/morality is greater than ours. Nowhere does God promise that we will understand Him and His actions fully. That would take faith completely out of the picture.

          • Scot Miller

            If you bothered to read my comment, you’d see that I was testing your defective interpretation of scripture. Yep, just what we all knew, you have a defective way of reading scripture, since your premise entails the absurd claims that God gives slaveholders rules for owning other human beings (but God never bothered forbidding the immoral practice) and God at least once or twice commanded that his people kill non-combatants, including children. These are morally absurd positions to attribute to God. If God acted like this (or commanded these things) God would be a moral monster. And since it’s clear that your interpretation fails when it comes to killing babies and owning slaves, your interpretation of homosexual practice is equally suspect.

            If God’s commands can make fundamentally immoral acts (INTENTIONALLY killing innocent non-combatants in war and the practice of slavery) morally right and good, then all bets are off when it comes to God. If God’s moral ways are utterly different from ours, and if God’s ways are utterly beyond any human comprehension, then all bets are off when it comes to saying anything about God or knowing anything about God. Because on your premise, that whatever God says is right, what would prevent God from saying today that homosexual practices are good? Of course, you may also believe that God’s moral sovereignty is limited or restricted to whatever God clearly commanded in scripture. But if God’s ways are incomprehensible (or morally absurd), all of us had better shut up about what God wants and doesn’t want.

        • Frank

          Scot you continue to expose not only your weakness in logic but theology as well.

          I do not claim that God did those things, Gods Word does. You do not get to define morality. You do not get to judge God. You can do it but it only shows your own hubris.

          Whats in scripture is in scripture, nothing more and nothing less. Since nowhere in scripture does God condone or bless homosexual behavior there is no mind changing by God unless you want to rewrite or add into scripture (which seems like that’s something you would like to do).

          Why not just write and follow your own bible. That’s what you seem to be doing anyways. At least you would have honesty and integrity in your life.

          • Scot Miller

            Frank, I must have hit a nerve. Accusing someone of “weakness in logic” isn’t a rebuttal, especially since you fail to demonstrate where I went wrong. Because you seem so confused about basic logic and critical thinking skills, let me inform you: I employed a reductio ad absurdum argument to demonstrate that your argument fails because believing it entails an absurdity. (I wish I could say that I “utterly refuted” your position, or “clearly destroyed” your argument, but that would be overstating the argument. That’s the hyperbolic language of people like Gagnon who substitute rhetorical overstatement for genuinely strong arguments. Obviously, you are free to willfully persist in erroneous thinking, regardless of the strength of my argument.)

            It is telling that even you seem uncomfortable with what the Bible explicitly says, since you try desperately (but fail) to downplay the troubling parts of the Bible. “Don’t take it up with me, take it up with God,” is all you can say. Not much of a response.

            It’s also telling that you think I have no honesty or integrity because I don’t read the Bible like you do. It’s not that I have or want a different Bible; it’s just that I read it differently than you do. I don’t worship the Bible, but the God to whom the Bible testifies. The Bible didn’t fall down from heaven, Frank. The Bible records the very human attempts of communities of faith who are trying to make sense of their encounters with the living God. Just as Jesus was “wholly God and wholly human,” so the Bible is “wholly God and wholly human.” The Bible isn’t more sacred than the supreme revelation of God in Jesus Christ. So it’s OK if the biblical authors and redactors didn’t always get it right; the Bible still becomes the word of God in the community of believers.

          • Frank

            Scot I am sorry if the truth about you is not what you would like to hear. Your failure begins in denying the inerrant truth of scripture. Every false belief that you have begins there. It is really pointless for us to continue. Until you grow up and see the truth as it is, not as you would wish it to be, your opinions will always be just that and nothing more and therefore meaningless theologically except of course to the people you deceive with it. They are the real tragedy here.

            I trust God enough to not have to make perfect human sense out of His Word. You however only want to worship a god you can understand fully, intellectually and morally. What a small god you have.

    • Basil

      The reaction of George Fox University is both shocking and antithetical to our beliefs as Quakers. Equality is one of the four core Quaker testimonies (along with Integrity, Simplicity and Peace/Non-violence). To single LGBT students for discriminatory treatment is theologically questionable, as it defies this core Quaker testimony. To try and silence the viewpoints of faculty members is, quite bluntly, beyond the pale within Quakerism. As any casual reader of George Fox’s life would know, our denomination was born in opposition to the imposition of religious dogma by the religious authorities of the day (the Church of England). To be practicing a similar intellectual and spiritual suppression is, quite frankly, heresy for an institution that claims to be part of the Quaker legacy.

      It is my hope that the University, which takes George Fox’s name will reconsider its position, since it is both intellectually and morally indefensible. It is at notably odds with core Quaker principles, and with the practice at other Quaker institutions of higher education, most notably Earlham College and Guilford College. It is also my hope that the Northwest Yearly Meeting, under whose aegis George Fox University operates, will join other yearly meetings (both liberal and conservative) in becoming fully welcoming and affirming of LGBT persons.

  • Frank

    Tony I am wondering how you define respect. Your views seem to disrespect certain aspects of Fullers Community Standards such as:

    “Fuller Theological Seminary believes that sexual union must be reserved for marriage, which is the covenant union between one man and one woman, and that sexual abstinence is required for the unmarried. The seminary believes premarital, extramarital, and homosexual forms of explicit sexual conduct to be inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture. Consequently, the seminary expects all members of its community–students, faculty, administrators/managers, staff, and trustees–to abstain from what it holds to be unbiblical sexual practices.”

    • Evelyn

      Respecting someone or something means that you hold them or it in high regard. It does not mean that you adhere to their ideas or commands word for word in a rote kind of way. Doing so would be disrespecting yourself and also giving shallow and baseless respect to that which you hold in high esteem because you are following it like a zombie rather than agreeing with it according to strong personal belief based on your own experience.

      I would think that Tony’s use of the word “respect” in regards to teaching classes at Fuller pertains to the fact that he subordinates his own beliefs to Fuller’s code while he is there. Given Fuller’s code, I personally wouldn’t want to work there but Tony seems to be willing and able to forgive their inequities. Perhaps he recognizes a higher goal that he is willing to sacrifice himself for. That is soooo Christ-like.

      • Frank

        In other words its ok and good for someone to sacrifice the integrity of their beliefs for some self perceived greater good? Is that what you are implying? Sounds more like politics than Christianity.

        • Evelyn

          It’s only by sacrificing the integrity of your beliefs that you can ever hope to change them. It’s part of the process of maturing as a human being, coming closer to God, and closing the gap on sin. If you view the bible as a book of wisdom you have to admit that when you were a child you didn’t completely understand that wisdom and that as you grew and experienced life you came to a new understanding of the wisdom. The Gospel is that way – it means different things to different people at different stages of their lives but at the same time it ties Christians together.

          • Frank

            Do you believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth? If so, your position makes sense. I think it’s a losing proposition but it makes sense.

    • Traci Smith

      I was wondering if Tony would be able to elaborate a little more on what it means to “respect” Fuller’s code of conduct while serving as an adjunct professor. The thing that would be hard for me is knowing that I, as a heterosexual person (who is allowed to marry and thus express my sexuality) would not be sacrificing much by saying “Yeah, I don’t really agree with your standards, but I’m going to put aside our differences and teach here anyway.” My gay brothers and sisters in Christ wouldn’t be so fortunate. The only choice for them to be in compliance with this code is celibacy… a huge sacrifice. I can see making the same choice that Tony is making here (to live within a system with which I disagree in order to accomplish some greater good, etc.) but I would love to hear some more from you, Tony, about this choice. Have you considered saying “Actually, Fuller Seminary, because of this oppression of gay and lesbian people I can’t serve here in good conscience?” Would that be a good idea? Just thinking and wondering… Perhaps another post? 🙂

  • Today I wrapped up a series about God & Homosexuality.

    • Scot Miller

      Very nice work!

    • Frank

      Not sure what the point of recomunicating thoroughly debunk theological interpretations and word studies. I guess some beleive if they say something enough, even if it’s fallacious and dismissed, people may still beleive it? How sad.

  • Keith Rowley

    Scott M
    Maybe the fight is not that off topic but it is still anoying and disrespectful.
    Here is the thing, for a HUGE number of Christians the bible being inerrant is a primary doctrine (something I don’t believe but respect those who do) and Frank’s position is unflinchingly willing to face the darker logical conclusions of that belief. Thus while I may disagree with him about the inherant sinfulness of being gay, I don’t see him as in any way lacking integrity. And I do think an integrity that is willing to face and own the darkest pieces of what we believe IS something the world needs. We on the progressive side of Christianity too often want to pretend it is not possible for a good God to have ever done something we would consider bad, but that in my view is just trying to make God over into who we want God to be, and not letting God be God.

    • Again, the word doesn’t need integrity that reinforces bigotry. Beyond which, he IS flinching from the darker implications of his position, as evinced by his refusal to just come right out and embrace the idea that yes, God is pro-slavery, pro-genocide, and therefore, so is he.

      But even if he did fully embrace that position, to me, that would be a defacto reason to disregard anything he says. Any theology that could lead to that conclusion is a theology that is on its face unworthy of consideration. And any God that such a theology would say exists would be a monster unworthy of worship.

      Of course, at the end of the day, I’m just falling for Frank’s trolling, and I acknowledge it. I do however, enjoy the contributions of the other commentators here.

  • Keith Rowley

    Scott P
    While I respect your position that any God who is pro slavery etc is unworthy of worship I don’t think it’s as strong a position as you think given that the logical conclusion would be to say that any God who ALLOWS slavery etc is unworthy of worship. (You may dissagree but I don’t think this is that big a jump at all) but then we are getting into the problem of evil and this blog isn’t the right place for that. Suffice it to say taking the bible seriously and or taking God seriously requires in my view that we at least consider the possibility that Gods ways are beyond our ways and that God may do or may have done things we would consider morally wrong and still be good and still be God, otherwise we are simply forming God in our own image.

  • Maybe I just have a slanted view, coming from the other side of the Atlantic. But I *do* work in a University. The idea that my employer, in this context, might try to silence my speech (other than where it breaks the law, perhaps) is abhorrent – and completely at odds with the ethos of being a University. A college, or a seminary, maybe.

    I’m not suggesting that you cannot have a confessional test for appointment or promotion (though that would be hard to sustain, in general, under UK equality law) but silencing dissent among those already employed doesn’t seem a good way of seeking after truth.

  • Evelyn

    I think that the rules at Fuller seminary and conservative Christianity are out of step with society basically because they are trying to “contain” sexuality using outdated methods. Containing sexuality is written about by Pittman McGehee; poet, episcopal priest, jungian analyst, author; in his new book called “The Paradox of Love: A Jungian Look at the Dynamics of Life’s Greatest Mystery”. In a chapter on Eros (passionate love), McGehee states “What is fairly clear is that if we’re going to be vulnerable or intimate enough to be known, we need a container of some kind. That container can be a formal commitment, an informal history, or a professional relationship between therapist and patient; it can be formalized into a ritual process of sacrament like holy matrimony. Whatever the container, it must be able to handle the vulnerability and the energy.”

    We can look at sexuality as a passion that must be contained. This would be kind of like when you get angry and you let that anger subside rather than punching a person or a wall or by containing your aggressive tendencies in a boxing ring or martial art. I think that the sexual revolution that started in the 60s broke society’s containers and brought sexuality, both homo and hetero, out of the closet (so to speak). With our current divorce rates, bombardment with sexual advertising, and transgressions of “celibate” catholic priests we have to admit that both the marriage and celibacy containers are leaky and broken and don’t always control sexual passions the way that they should.

    I’m not going to get into it here but I think that a fresh look at what sexuality is is needed to get beyond running around in circles over it’s sinfulness because some people have aesthetic problems with anal intercourse, felatio, and cunnilingus. We live in a state of sin and it is by working through sin that we are broken and reshaped so that we can come to know God in a more intimate way. We can’t entirely stamp sin out by confining it to a marriage or a celibacy vow or a rule of law. As far as sexuality is concerned I think we are in a state where the cat is out of the bag, kind of like stage IV cancer, and we have to find new and constructive ways to both contain it and ameliorate the destructive aspects of it by seeing it for what it is.

  • Keith Rowley

    Frank, (and every one else for that matter)
    Insulting each other does NO good. It is NOT Christlike or loving. It does not show the fruit of the spirit. Can we try to be polite and loving in our disagreement? I believe this has a solid biblical mandate behind it.

  • Keith Rowley

    Scot M,
    While I agree (mostly) with your interpretive starting point, Frank’s position is not as illogical as you make it seem. Taking the bible as an inerrant document passed down by direct verbal revalation from God is something a LOT of very intelligent Christians do. I may not happen to believe this, but that doesn’t mean it is not possible for an intelligent person to hold this view.

    • Scot Miller

      Keith, I did not say that Frank was illogical; on the contrary, he has a perfectly consistent argument that entails what most people would consider a morally dubious conclusion. I think I’ve established that there aren’t very good reasons to interpret the Bible the way Frank does. Of course, it is possible that Frank is correct and I am incorrect; however, Frank’s way of interpreting scripture also requires us to abandon reason when confronted with inconvenient facts (e.g., that “God” told the Israelites to kill noncombatants intentionally, etc.). I’m not sure God requires us to abandon reason to be a believer.

  • Keith Rowley

    Scot M,
    I find your position that God is completly incapable of doing anything we modern western human beings would consider morally objectionable to show a troubling amount of hubris.

    • Scot Miller

      Keith, I think you misunderstand my position. As I tried to make clear in a guest blog post at the end of January, I do not think for a minute that God has to conform to our understanding. I believe that God is not identical to what I think about God. Some ways of thinking about God can more closely approximate the reality of God than others. For example, thinking of God like an old man with a flowing beard sitting on a throne is probably not the best approximation of God.

      While I’m especially fond of talking about God negatively (through apophatic theology, or the via negativa)whenever we speak affirmatively of God we tend to speak through analogies. So when we say that God is good, we are using a human analogy to try to approximate a property that is true (to some degree) of God. The problem is that when we make God utterly different from us (“God’s ways are not our ways, and God’s understanding is not our understanding”), the analogy breaks down, and we have little to say, because we lose the similarities. Since I want the moral analogy between God and morality to be more similar than dissimilar, you think it’s an act of hubris on my part. Perhaps it is. But like I said to Frank, once you retreat into incomprehension and unknowability, the best thing to do is just shut up about God. (Of course, silence is probably the most true thing humans can say about God….)

  • Keith Rowley

    Scott M,
    Ok, that makes more sense. I love this quote “I believe that God is not identical to what I think about God.”
    I just get antsy when people try to edit the OT and decide God could have never done some of the things the Bible says God did because that would mean God acted in a way that violates our current western American morals.
    I had a teacher in college who once commented sort of off the record that sometimes genocide is the only solution to a cycle of generational violence. She was by no means saying genocide was morally ok, just that as a practical reality one or the other group of people ceasing to exist is the only way the cycle of violence will ever end.
    I am ok with the idea that God might have actually commanded genocide based on a similar logic. Not that what was commanded was really morally ok, just that it was necessary and God understood this even while it broke Gods heart.
    I guess taking the bible seriously to me means we can’t shy too far away from the dark parts or pretend they are not there. I don’t think the bible is inerrant, but I do think it is “true” and formed by God in a special way that means God would have corrected the human authors if they were completly misrepresenting God.
    I don’t know. Just my 2c.

  • Keith Rowley

    Scott M,
    One more thing, I did not mean it as a personal statement about you when I said thinking God could never do certain things showed hubris. I hope you did not take that as an attack on you.
    The view you present is a common argument I have heard from more progressive Christians that I find troubling.
    I wonder if your view in its own way says “God’s ways are above our ways” in that it says God could never stoop to doing things I know every human is capable of doing.

  • Hi.

    I’m located in Chicago, identify as lesbian, and attend a Welcoming Church.

    I’m wondering if you could assist me with forwarding an anonymous questionnaire meant for LGBTQ Evangelicals. I have been posting on various social media sites, so I’m wanting a random sample (location not important).

    The purpose of this questionnaire is to better understand the needs of those in the Evangelical community who are either questioning their sexual orientation, are completely out and proud, or are somewhere in-between. Instead of a check-box survey, this questionnaire encourages participants to share their thoughts, experiences, and opinions using their own words.

    Once a sufficient amount of participants have answered, the information will be consolidated and shared with trustworthy LGBTQ-Affirming Christian church leaders. The feedback will help ministers in LGBTQ-Affirming churches to create and nurture safe spaces for LGBTQ / Questioning Evangelicals to explore their beliefs without pressure to make any life-altering decisions.

    Here’s the link to the questionnaire:

    Thank you,